Years ago, I went to India. I was following in my college friends' footsteps, all of whom raved about their time in Kota. So I went. And I hated.
Unbeknownst to me, the group I connected with was a singing group who spent the entire trip traveling around town giving impromptu concerts. I, along with a handful of others, were left to either stay at the orphanage or play the role of groupies. But even the orphanage was difficult to stomach. The children didn't appear to be living in conditions much better than the homeless children, and so many of the children told stories about sleeping with rats that I cringed whenever I visited them in their rooms.
The day after I returned from India I contracted a weird bug and lost my voice for a week. I remember thinging, "Why did I waste the time and money on such a miserable experience?" Ah, yes, fond memories.
But the strangest thing happened last week. I was talking with my Indian neighbors about an upcoming Indian festival, and I mentioned that I had visited Kota. The wife immediately opened up to me and began sharing stories about Indian culture, tips on Indian restaurants, and invitations to drop by for authentic curry. She also invited us to this weekend's festival and promised to introduce us to all her friends.
I've lived here for two years and had yet to have a meaningful conversation with this neighbor. I'd never have thought God would have used my college trip to Kota as a bridge to a (hopefully) fruitful friendship.