By Emily Theresa 

Even as you read this, friends, I’m preparing to fly home from Sri Lanka.

I had thought I’d be flying home from India.

When I was young, I dreamt about Mother Teresa.

In my dreams, she would fly into my backyard in a private airplane, and take me with her to the streets of Kolkata where we would work together.

So imagine my excitement when, this summer, I finally booked round-trip tickets to India.

Left: The daughter of one of our microloan mothers, petting her rooster. Right: Women prepare lunch for the financial seminar

I was going to go visit the wonderful work being done by Lulu Tree partners in the villages, equipping mothers through tailoring centers

But I was also going to visit Kolkata.

Maybe I felt close to Mother Teresa because Mum named me after her.

Maybe it’s also because I shared her heart for the poor.

When I was 18, at Bible School, I watched a video of Mother Teresa’s work and ran outside shaking and crying. I fell on the ground, overcome by a sense of deep love for the least of these.

While in Kolkata, I planned to visit the Home for the Dying. I even wrote an email requesting to serve for the little time I was there. I also planned to visit the Motherhouse, where Mother Teresa lived. I had seen a photo of her room online.

It was a simple room, with nothing but a twin bed and a wooden table. Beside the bed hung a crown of thorns. Over the wooden table hung a map of the world. It was reminiscent of the bowed-over frame of a woman whose prayers and love have changed the world – and my life.

All I needed now was a visa.

The day I had enough money to book the visa, I opened up my phone.That’s when I saw a Whatsapp message from a friend. It said, “India bans visa services for Canadians.”

Left: This single mother now teaches computer classes at the local high school because of the laptop the Lord provided for her through Lulu. Right: Daughters of Lulu mothers playing

I was stunned. The timing of it all was startling.

I hoped it was a cruel joke, but scanning the internet, I realized it was all too serious.

Apparently, just three days earlier, on September 18th, our prime minister had accused the Indian government of killing a Sikh leader on Canadian soil. The Sikh leader, Hardeep Singh Nijjar, had been fatally shot outside a Sikh temple in Surrey, BC, exactly three months before that.

Trudeau declared “Any involvement of a foreign government in the killing of a Canadian citizen on Canadian soil is an unacceptable violation of our sovereignty.”

A diplomatic crisis erupted, and now, three days later, India had released the news that all Canadians were banned from getting visas until further notice.

I cried. It was a grieving, really. A grieving over the hurt amongst nations, and a grieving over the postponing of my dream.

And then I remembered all those for whom this was truly serious – those needing medical procedures in India, those with weddings to go to, those for whom family and hope and a future lay across the waters. I simply had friends and a dream.

But in the midst of all this sadness, I had peace.

Graduation in Sri Lanka with these beautiful women, most of them widows.

First, I had booked my ticket with a humanitarian agency, so a refund was possible. Secondly, on the very day I was going to book my visa, the government made getting a visa impossible.

From the start, this trip had been covered in prayer. Every detail had been committed to my Savior, the one whose thorns hung from the wall of Mother Teresa’s room. This is our greatest comfort, in an age when “nations conspire and people plot in vain” (Psalm 2).

He who holds the world holds our very days.

And so, even as I canceled my tickets and instead, scheduled a longer stay in Sri Lanka,  I had peace. No nation holds sovereignty. God alone is sovereign, and the government rests upon His shoulders.

May we reflect the posture of the very woman whose legacy has so shaped my life, friends: a bent-over one, bowed before a suffering Christ and a map of the world.