This was a very exciting week. I was Chief Guest for Annual Sports Day, the boys caught the first snake of the New Year and of my trip and I was part of the greatest moment in Ankoor Children’s Home cricket history, but first things first. On 11/1 I was named Chief Guest of the Annual Sports Day and I got to be apart of the opening ceremony and hand out awards after the events. This was a great day full of excitement and photo finishes. Once the games commenced, which consisted of mostly running events, I took some great photos of the events and the kids cheering on their teams, which there were three teams. I joined one team even though they told me I couldn’t because I was wearing the colors of another team. For some reason I was into taking pictures from the grass’ point of view. I would set the camera on the ground and take pictures that way. I think they actually turned out pretty nice, see for yourself. Watching these games really took me back to my childhood when I too used to compete in three legged races and sack races. However I never compete in an event where you tie a bread roll to a string and tie that string to a rope that hangs over you and try and jump and grab the roll with your mouth. After all the games were finished the teams gathered around for the closing ceremony. Since I was Chief Guest I got to hand out the awards. The awards/gifts went not only the top finishers in the events from today, which I refer to as Sports Day 1b, but also from Thursday’s team events, kabaddi, longare and football, which I call Sports Day 1a. After posing for some pictures with the individual and team winners, it was time to, as Doug put it, start a new Indian tradition. For Prathna’s birthday I told Mommy that Doug wanted to give Prathna some water balloons. I don’t know if she didn’t understand or just wanted to do this on her own, but we gathered around Gauri and Prathna and after we sang Happy Birthday to them we pelted them with water balloons. There were only five balloons but every one hit their target. I took two great pictures of this although I am a little disappointed in the first one. In the first picture you see Prathna turned around and trying to run away. You also see the biggest balloon in midair between Rajesh’s hand and Prathna’s face. And I took this picture about a second too soon because immediately after this picture was taken that balloon, the biggest one of the five, hits Prathna right in the face as she is trying to run away. It’s still a great picture though. Afterwards we took Omana to the bus station to send her back to school.
14/1 is a festival in India were everybody flies kites, well, except in Yavatmal. So since Daniel and I weren’t able to watch any kite flying, we decided to do our own flying. So we drove around the city and bought two kites. After getting the strung we went on the roof and started flying. I learned that it is extremely difficult to fly a kite without wind. However, we did get it going for a good five minutes and I took some video of Daniel flying our kite, then he gave the string to me and I instantly flew it right into the neighbors antenna, three houses down. Good thing we bought two. Despite my frustration and disappointing kite-flying abilities, I’ve never had more fun flying a kite in my life. Later this day I learned that women are internationally petrified of mice. Back at the home Mommy and Prakash were putting a new curtain pole up and they were both holding one end of it. I had just come out of my room and saw them with the pole between them, and a mouse running along the top. I figured they already knew about the mouse until I heard a shrill like the sound of a teenage girl who just waxed off her eyebrows hours before prom. She dropped the pole and ran as fast as she could outside, screaming all the way and finding safety behind the nursery kids.
Well on my 48th day in India, my 42nd at the home, I finally saw a snake. The kids had holiday and were doing yard work around the home. I was near Sonali, Ruth and Mahima at the far end of the home entertaining them by imitating all the goofy mannerism they do. All of a sudden a bunch of the other kids started running to the front of the home and asked what was going on and one of the kids told me “snake.” I instantly got excited and thought today is the day. They aren’t going to let this one get away like the previous three times. They’re actually going to do it. And do it they did. As excited as I was to see my first cobra, I was equally disappointed that it was a female. The male cobras are the cool ones. The females are smaller and aren’t even poisonous. After the boys posed for some photos and tortured it, they eventually killed it.
On Saturday I went with Mommy and Daddy to a nursing college, the same one they sent Ravita’s sister, Kalpana, to. We went to fill out Savita’s admission paperwork. Once we got home it was time for our ODI as I was referring to it, America vs. India. While I was warming up and messing around with the younger kids, some of the villagers passed by and invited me to play with them on the community field next door. I woke Daniel from his nap and we and the high school boys went over and played a LOI, consisting of 8-overs, against the villagers. Now since the villagers are all men and older than me, we were in for it. We lost the match 47-38 and I played terrible. In field I dropped the only ball hit to me. I did manage to take two wickets in the over that I bowled. I bowled on player and ran out another. But when we were up to bat I went one-and-done and was bowled, by the same player that I bowled, on my first ball. Needless to say I was disappointed. Our match turned into a two day LOI when they invited us to play again on Sunday at the same time. I knew I had to do better tomorrow.
On Sunday after church I practiced cricket with the boys. Afterward I went into the city to buy ice cream for all the kids and after lunch we served them the ice cream. The kids had their bible study and I joined a group during this time, which I love so much. Watching these child-run prayer and bible study groups is awesome. At 17:00 it was time for our 2nd LOI. We rounded up the boys for our 2nd LOI vs. the Villagers and marched to the field with a bunch of the little kids holding our hands like we were marching onto the pitch of a World Cup final. What happened next will go down in history as the greatest moment in Ankoor Children’s Home cricket history. We put up a valiant effort and we all played better than yesterday, especially me. I caught both balls that were hit to me and the second one was hit just in front of me, which I’ve always had trouble with in baseball. The first one was hit to my right and I sprinted as fast as I could to catch it, I thought I was going to have to dive. In fact, no one dropped a ball. So we all did better fielding, holding them to only 32 runs. Batting we did better as well. I did better than one-and-done, although I did get bowled again. We managed to score 31 runs, only two runs shy of victory which was the greatest moment in Ankoor Children’s Home cricket. We marched back to the home like we were the Romans returning after the Battle of Zama. All the boys were giddy with excitement from our one-run defeat and I sat with the older boys during dinner that night and all they talked about was our next cricket match against them.
So this was again an amazing week. I began teaching the older three groups about using grown up words and being more descriptive. Like, instead of saying, “I am eating.” say “I am eating with…” I also told the high school that since all the younger kids look up to them as role models, I want them to help me teach the younger ones English by asking them “How are you?” and “How was school?” I’ve heard this done a few times but I want it done more, so I am going to reiterate this request I have. There are new pictures on Facebook and I am hoping that in 12 hours I will have posted my newest slideshow, as well as the first one I made, on Facebook as well. I continue to love getting your e-mails and I, as well as the kids, thank you for your prayers.