MCC photo/Carol Zook

Krista VanderHout, left, laughs with Elizabeth Kunjam at a gathering of women from the Mennonite Church of India, one of nine Anabaptist conferences in India.

Name: Krista VanderHout

Hometown: Hamilton, Ontario (The Commons church

Assignment: Through MCC’s Serving and Learning Together (SALT) program, I work with Mennonite Christian Service Foundation of India (MCSFI), a service and fellowship organization of Anabaptists in India.

Typical days: Visiting projects supported by MCSFI or that bring Anabaptists together in India. My first visit was to an amazing example of a successful MCSFI food project! I saw neat rows of corn and rice paddies, healthy cattle, goats and pigs and a wall that reroutes a stream for irrigation and drinking water. Women told me about the chicken barns they planned and created through self-help groups.

In October, I joined women from nine different Anabaptist conferences for a weekend of fellowship and sharing. At another event, a Sunday school competition, children competed in song, dance, theater and art. My favorite part was the dancing! By the end of the music, all the children were in the front of the small chapel praising God with such fervor. It was intoxicating and brought to mind the passages of David dancing without inhibition!

Joys: Meeting people from Anabaptist conferences all over India and seeing how they’re working together. I’ve been welcomed as family in many homes and have made friends everywhere I’ve gone.

Challenge: Not blending in. I do what I can to avoid looking like a tourist, but I have just no way of accomplishing that in India.

Advice for a young adult considering SALT: It's an incredible opportunity, and you should really look into it. However, make sure you are ready to leave any and all expectations at home for your placement, the culture and the people. Flexibility is the key to success, and the more open you are, the more you can take in and appreciate. I consider myself very open and flexible, yet I still have to learn how to let go of some of my personal desires. It’s not easy exchanging everything you know for a totally different world, and you will never be totally prepared, but focus every day on the beauty of your new surroundings, and you will love it! Give yourself time to process. It's OK to admit when you are feeling lost or lonely. Find someone you can talk through it with.

Depending on God: I tend to get wrapped up in the “whys” of my faith, but now, I am content just to be in constant conversation with God. He just gets me. Whether I am right or wrong in a moment, He knows where I am coming from, and is slowly shaping my relationship with Him into something much stronger. I'm learning to be honest with Him regarding all my feelings, whether that is anger, hurt or joy. 

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