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There are, of course, benefits to living in the same compound that houses the hospital and community development offices for which you’re volunteering…

… dropping off work at people’s offices never requires more than a five minute walk.

… low commute time.

… unlike the surrounding community, we have continuous (if sometimes briefly interrupted) electricity.

But there are also down sides…

… it’s hard to get away, be alone.

… work is always calling.

… and then there is the wailing.

***

Every morning begins with devotions in the chapel and every chapel service ends with us reciting the Lord’s Prayer. I’m trying hard to memorize it in Hindi, so my voice can blend with theirs in glorification and petition.

I’m on the third line right now…

Your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is done in heaven.

***

Her cries ring out over the compound. It’s the South Asian way to grieve – loud, gut-wrenching wailing. I do not know who she is and who she has just lost in the hospital. Was it her husband? Her child?

I do not know her, but I want to find her. Follow her cries and hug her. Weep too. Let my gut wrench with hers.

Your kingdom come, your will be done on earth as it is done in heaven.

***

Around a table which includes two doctors, a nurse, and me our dinner-time conversation is less-than-appetizing. The starving boy who’s so far gone they’re not sure his body can start absorbing food again. The man with a massive abdomen infection. The ruses men use to lure local girls into being trafficked as slaves.

Your kingdom come, your will be done on earth as it is done in heaven.

***

Women are learning to hold dignity in their hands like weighty gold jewelry. The uneducated are learning to read. Children with disabilities are being taught while their communities learn there is a place for them in society. Farmers band together to get better crops and better prices. Families construct and learn how to use their first toilet. A village’s first church begins worship.

Little places where the darkness is peeled back and Light forces its way through.

Your kingdom come, your will be done on earth as it is done in heaven.

***

Never before has that line of the Lord’s Prayer felt at once like a battle cry and a desperate whisper.

We rally ourselves with it in the morning – come, oh Lord! Bring your kingdom! We march with you! Let’s storm hell’s fortresses and bring your kingdom together!

We sob it in the evening – oh Lord, only your kingdom. Only your perfect, good will. As in Heaven, so let it be here. Until then we are alone and wailing. The weight of death and hunger and disease crushing us until all our breath has gone out of us. Our stomach burns, our chest aches and with our last breath, we gasp out.

Your kingdom come, your will be done on earth as it is done in heaven.

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