I am going to try posting new blogs every week. I could easily post a new blog everyday since my journal entries are about as long as my blogs. Sunday was an amazing day. To summarize how great it was, I took 213 pictures. In the morning I started taking pictures of the kids getting ready for church. Most the pictures were of the same kids because anytime they see me with my camera they all rush over to me and get in some goofy pose and yell out to me to take their “copy”, “Brother! Brother!” To combat this I ignore them and only take pictures of kids who aren’t yelling at me, but some of the kids didn’t understand that and still yelled to me. So I went on the roof and took some great pictures of the kids on the other side of the big hall. These kids had no idea I was taking dozens of photos on the other side of the big hall, they were just sitting there, quietly reading their bibles. These made some great pictures. For church, which was lead by Ishwar, the boys got me up in front of everyone to help them lead worship. They let me pick out all the songs. I don’t know any of the words or the motions, so I was up there trying my best while all the kids were laughing at me. After church I took my favorite picture of the trip so far. A little back story first. One the songs the kids sing, “Peace Like a River”, has a verse that goes “I have Joy Like a Fountain” and when ever the girls wear pig tails I always tease them about how they look very much like a fountain. So this morning one of the cutest girls here, Saloni, was looking like a fountain. She would come up to me all morning, show me her hair and then say, “Fountain.” I would try to take a picture but she would run away, laughing. So after church she did it again and I tried to take her picture. She started running away and I yelled out to Karishma who was right next to her, “Grab her!” So in one of the funniest moments yet, Karishma did to Saloni what everyone here does to her, she grabbed Saloni and held her so I could take a picture of her. Later after Mommy and Daddy returned the kids broke off into their five groups to study for a Bible Quiz. After studying it was time for the quiz. I joined the Powerful group, and we dominated. “We are, Powerful!”
Monday was the first day of the rest of my trip. Since Mommy is a nurse, she has a regular job which she has almost everyday. So I was all alone today. I ate breakfast alone and when I was done with my English classes I was all alone until around 16:00. Now I say “all alone” but the nursery kids are here all day, but all I can do is play games with them, I can’t talk to them. But all this alone time does give me some good time to get some reading done and personal time, so its fine. My English classes are doing a good job. I’m having the most trouble with the high schoolers because they are so much farther than even the 7th graders that they are experts one the stuff I’m teaching the other kids. I told Mommy and Daddy I want to go to their school someday to see what they are being taught so I can teach them better. For my other three classes I’m working on simple questions I ask them that they don’t know, like “How is your food?” Now I’ve also been teaching them past, present and future tense so I throw them a curveball and ask “How was your food?” They would have to change their response from “My food is…” to “My food was…” And I would throw other variations in too but the kids seem to understand and are progressing quite nicely.
Thursday was a great day. It was a Muslim holiday so the kids didn’t have school. Today was Sports Day 1a. Games all day and I was able to take 226 photos to capture all the excitement and intense action. For each event they have three teams and have ongoing scores and today was the semi-finals and finals for three events, kabaddi, longare(?) and football. Only the boys had competitions for kabaddi, the girls played longare. Watching the boys was fun. I had seen them play before but that was just for fun. This was Sports Day and first place was on the line, so it was more extreme. They were going all out, there was no place for friendly sympathy here. After they boys finished their semi-finals they took a break and it was time for the girls to play longare. First it was the little kids turn to play, so while they were playing longare, the older girls started playing kabaddi. This was by far more fun to watch than the boys. They were just out there having fun. No one was keeping score, or even watching for that matter, but they didn’t care. And seeing the smiles on their faces and hearing their laughing as they tackled and wrestled each other to the ground was a very fulfilling moment.
Longare is played inside a circle with two teams at a time. One team is the “chaser” and the other team is the “chasee”. Three players from the chasee team enter the circle and are chased by one player from the other team who must hop on one foot and try to tag them. If that player touches the ground with their other foot, their teammate comes in and replaces them. Once all three players have been tagged, three more come in and it continues. They play for about five minutes and then switch roles. After lunch and a mid day nap it was time for the football final. Watching these kids play football is like watching a group of five year olds play. All they do is kick and chase. Sports day was concluded with me showing the pictures I took from the day on the TV after dinner. And it seemed that the kids agreed with me that the girl’s kabaddi match was more entertaining as it drew the most laughs.
On Saturday I was able to go into the city and make some prints of some worksheets I found online to help me with my English classes. After we got back to the home I hung out with kids, made fun of all the girls and their new haircuts then watched the kids practice their opening ceremony for Annual Sports Day 1b. As we were walking over to the field I was talking with Prathna about her birthday tomorrow and got a complete shock when she told me she will be turning 14. 14? I know 14-year-old girls and there is no way they are in the same league as her. Prathna is more mature than most 20-year-olds I know. Here is a girl 8 years younger than me, who is 10 times the servant as me. I joke with her all the time and tell her that when I grow up I want to be just like her. I hope I can learn from her about being a servant.
Throughout my trip and this past week I have been able to video chat and IM with some of you, and that has been awesome. Thank you for all your e-mails. I enjoy getting your messages and hearing about things back home. I got my first letter in the mail on Monday. It was from my Aunt Cindi and Uncle Larry. I discovered it takes about three weeks for mail to get to me since the envelope was stamped Dec. 13, 2008. Thank you to everyone for your support. There are new photos on Facebook to go along with my blog.