Hello everyone!

Happy New Year to all.
I have been very fortunate to spend time in India at a family wedding. More on that trip soon.

I wanted to tell you a little personal inspiring story. Because it is so deeply personal, I hesitated sharing this. The time seems right to share this story now at the start of a new decade.

When I was a young teenager, my father died unexpectedly. To overcome my grief, I figured the best way would be to help others. I began to volunteer at ‘Asha Daan’ home for the dying and destitute run by Mother Teresa’s Missionaries of Charity. The center was not far from my home in Bombay. Soon, I started to go there to care for the dying right after I was done with my school work. I did this work for about 8 years, almost daily. At one point I considered joining the Missionaries.

At Asha Daan, I cared for dying adults, new babies, and disabled children. I got them off the streets and then tried to nurture them with food, music, and love. My home was across from a huge government hospital. Patients had to be discharged daily as more serious cases came by. They would then live on the street being so far from their villages. Many died on those streets. I started to walk by the hospital at night after my dinner to see if I could help anyone.

One evening, I saw a very thin and sick teenager on the street. I asked him if I could take him to Asha Daan. He agreed but told me he would get out of there. His name was Gopal. So for the next few months, I fed him and did my best to care for him. Then I went away for my summer holidays. When I returned, Gopal was gone. Because people died there daily, I assumed the worst and was so sad.

Months went by and I saw a very healthy teenage boy enter Asha Daan. It was Gopal! His words to me as he saw me were, “ I told you I would get out of here”. He had returned to say thank you.

I had the privilege of spending countless hours with Mother Teresa herself over the years. One afternoon, she unexpectedly showed up at Asha Daan while all the other sisters and staff were having their siesta. There was not a soul about but myself. I excitedly ran to greet her.

Mother Teresa

Me: “Mother, I am sorry, everyone is asleep”
She asked me: “ What can I do for you?”
I replied: “ Mother, I would like to be alone with you”.

So we walked about Asha Daan holding the new babies. Then she led me to the little chapel, gave me her little black prayer book and we said a little prayer and sat in silence for a long time. She sat on her tiny little stool, me at her feet.

She then put her hands on my head in a blessing as we rose to leave.

Being Blessed by Mother (as we called her), resting my back against her feet, praying with her, being alone with her, felt like I was touched by an angel and on a cloud. It is a gift I have carried with me all my life and never taken for granted.

No amount of money can buy these experiences. I write this to remind myself. We never know how we can touch lives. Start small, start somewhere but start. Start on yourself first - be kind to yourself before you nurture others.

With my love and blessings to all of you,
Trudy Ann
(aka Chai Walli - tea lady)

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