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  • Monique-1157

Navou! … A perspective from behind the camera lens.” – Monique J. Nienstedt

Monique-1157Navou is a Telugu word that has become a standard one to leave our teams’ lips when taking a photograph during our stay here in India. Through scientific method and testing of such, humans have discovered that our eyes process visual images to our brains in the same manner a camera was developed. Thus, the invention of the camera was engineered to recreate the very image of our human eyes from God’s flawless design. Light is refracted through a structure in our eyes known as the ‘lens’. And just like a camera filter dictates the detailing/lighting of a photograph, God’s love and direction filters the images we see with our lenses. It’s of my opinion, however, that as convenient as this invention of the camera has been for our brains, it is unable to perform the specific filtering of what is written on our hearts by the pen of a third world country.

I sit here this evening as an impending physical end nears for our trip with a seemingly endless array of thoughts and more importantly, sights to process. If ever a time that writer’s block has had me within its clutches – this is the time. I am just an ordinary person trying to build extraordinary, God-like relationships in this world. To be able to summarize in a few paragraphs that which I have been blessed to experience this past week is indeed proving to be a daunting task in this quiet moment. No doubt that this processing may take up the duration of my life.

I believe it now to be an unlikely reality, to move forward each day without the following verse filtering through all futures images on my human eyes and heart. Romans 12:1-2 – “Therefore, I urge you, brothers in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God – this is your spiritual act of worship. Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is – his good, pleasing and perfect will.”

God has good, pleasing plans for his children. He wants us to be transformed people with renewed minds, living to honor and obey him. We should joyfully give ourselves as living sacrifices for his service. 2 Corinthians 12:9-10 – “But he said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.’ Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong.”

I stumbled to find a tissue today to wipe away the tears of an elderly villager I was praying with during a church planting ceremony within an Indian village that is not on most maps. I found my hands instead drying her tears. Tears founded in the lie that her walk is proceeding in solitude. Selfishly, I admit that I simultaneously felt my American worries wash away with each wipe of her tears. And in response to my simple act of kindness for this person, she cradled my head and held it securely with a pair of the most gentle human hands I’ve known. I’m sure I was, in that very moment, being touched by the hand of God.

The experiences I’ve had in the last week – when one of the children from the Grace Children’s Home made a fish face to blow an air kiss over my way from across the courtyard ‘just because’ or hearing Jaya convey to our team tonight at dinner of the impact we have made at CEM – are moments that my two human lenses captured and imprinted on my brain. But I wish they were captured on a memory card or photo paper for others to see as well.

I have truly experienced God at work this past week. Through all the children and staff of Grace Children’s Home, The CEM hospital, The Agape Home, and my new family of mission teammates – truth, need, and patient love was conveyed into my eyes from various generations of India. Despite my flaws, despite my fears, despite my weaknesses, and sin, God found a way to do miraculous things through my life and will continue. His will and love is greater than anything we could ever do or not do. And yet by His grace we are saved and forgiven and we are called to save and forgive others, and to help those in need.

I am so grateful for the opportunity to admit that God has once again become the primary rhythm of my life, no longer muddled amongst distractions, since leaving my hectic Western lifestyle. To quote a fellow mission teammate tonight at our last dinner here in India together, “God, I just pray that you move me forward with my India heart and continue to wreck and rebuild me every time it’s needed after I return home.” This is the prayer that I will be diligently praying for myself as well as my team – that we all take advantage/seize the day.

I’ve been challenged this evening to go out and do something for others after I return home. To do Gods work. I certainly will be up for the task – but not without my Bible and of course my human lenses.

To end tonight, my advice to anyone hesitating to go on a trip because of there not being a perfect time or not feeling emotionally or spiritually ready – just go. But most importantly remember to Navou and enjoy all of the images you process through your human lenses.

Monique for the Team