Towards the end of 2000 Maria Lancaster had hit a rut. She was studying a university course that she was starting to question and her plans for the summer had fallen through. She was questioning everything she believed in and thought she stood for. She was wondering what - if anything - was 'truth' in the world around her.
It was at this time that an invitation came to work with Initiatives of Change in Nagaland, helping to run workshops on 'Managing Conflict Creatively'. Maria had no idea how she would fit into this picture, or what she had to offer the team; she knew little about Nagaland and the nature of the conflict there, but something inside her said 'yes.'
Looking back, Maria reflects on her experiences in Nagaland: 'I believe that God was challenging me not just to talk about change and honesty, about purity and unselfishness and love, but to truly live it. When people asked me why I had come to Nagaland, I had to speak the truth and pray that God would give me the words to speak that 'truth' they were looking for.'
Now that Maria is back at university, she has tried to continue the deeper challenge God has issued - to practice what she preaches. Maria feels that life is so much more simple and free without the contradictions within her, and that she is a more whole person because of it.