Not a lot happened this week. But that was good because it gave me time to reflect on the sad realization I had early in the week when I saved my journal entry as “Journal Entry 60”. In four months there are 120 days, this week marked the halfway point in my journey. Now I’m pretty optimistic, but I don’t see this as, “I have two months left.” I see it as, “I only have two months left.” So this week I did some thinking about goals and things I’ve accomplished and things I still want to do. It made me realize just how much I’ve accomplished. I haven’t died yet, which is always good. But most importantly I’ve bonded with all the kids, I quickly learned all their names and came up with nicknames for some and I have inside jokes with just all of them. I feel like I’ve done great at teaching them English, well, as good as I can do without a translator. I am learning cricket, which is a lot harder than it looks. A lot. I’ve visited some villages and seen where the kids come from. I’ve learned some of their games and songs. I’ve learned which kids are ticklish. I’ve learned why the men wear pants all the time. It’s because when you wear shorts the kids try to pull out your leg hair. I’ve learned how to eat with my hands only and tear chapatti with one hand. I’ve become a master of the bucket showers. I’m so good now, you’d think I’ve been taking bucket showers all my life. I’ve been enjoying every second but it’s gone by so fast and there’s no way to slow it down. I’ve still yet to travel, I still want to get up to the Taj Majal and Danny said he’ll take me to Goa. I have yet to ride on an ox cart, that’s actually Doug’s wish but I too would like to ride on one, and I also want to ride in an auto rickshaw. That would be crazy. I haven’t learned how to make anything yet except chapatti, but I’ll learn. I also want to create the biggest NCAA March Madness pool in the history of India by having each child and staff here fill out a bracket.
India is a land of great contrasts. There is such extreme wealth, and such extreme poverty as more than 50% of the population live below any other humanly accepted poverty line. India has such beauty, and such disgustingness as the ground is littered with garbage and feces. It’s a country where you have to be conscious of your deucers. The last think you want is to be out in the middle of the Punjab and have to take a dump in their open air system, using your hand as toilet paper. One day I asked Danny why a man was urinating just off the side of the road. He wasn’t even trying to hide behind a tree or bush. I said, “Why doesn’t he just stand on the side of the road and pee on the road?” India has the best food I’ve every eaten, and the worst. Everything has been delicious except for the mango pickle. The pickle is the name of the sauce, it’s basically a sauce of lemon juice and salt and other spices to give it a sour and salty taste. Basically, they found a way to make the mango taste horrible. Now I don’t want to judge a country of over a billion people, but the India’s seem to be the nicest and most welcoming people. When we would go to people’s homes they would give us everything they had to feed us and make us feel welcome. And here, the villagers always invite me to come play cricket with them.
Some things did happen this week. Monday was the 60th Republic Day in India. Everywhere the citizens attended a flag hoisting ceremony, and here at the home was no exception. All the children gathered in their school clothes at 7:00 and watched the flag being raised. It is a great tradition, one that I wish we did in America. Seeing the Indian flag going up that pole and knowing that was happening all over the country at the same time was pretty powerful. I can only imagine what emotions would run through me if it were the Stars and Stripes going up that pole. As powerful as this was, it was very similar to America in the sense that you only see this kind of patriotism once a year.
On Sunday 12 guests came to the home. One of them is a board member of Hosanna Ministries and the other 11 are friends and family of Daddy. All 12 of them attend the same church as Daddy’s mom. They visited with the kids and the kids put on a culture show for them. I’ve seen all the dances the kids did twice already, except one, the pillow dance. This dance is hilarious. It’s called the pillow dance because they put their arms and head in a pillowcase. But then they wear a sweater around their waists with a stick through the arm sleeves. So they can’t see anything and they have to dance around the stage. It was very funny to watch because they didn’t do the same motions and they weren’t together, they were spread out all over the stage. One of them, my dear son, kept going into the boys and Dede had to pull her back.
It was a very good week. I taught the 1-4 students verbs and how to change them into past, present and future tense. I work with the 5-6 students on the difference between this and that, and these and those. Also during the same lesson, I was teaching them how to answer the questions who and what. I would say, “What is this?” and they would say, “That is Ruth’s shirt.” For my high school class I showed them “The Green Mile”. When we finished we discussed the movie and then I gave them an assignment. I told them I wanted them to write about what they thought the theme, or themes, of the movie is or are. But I told them because I wanted them to get it right, I had them write in Marathi. I had Danny translate for me. I was very impressed with Mercy’ and Mukesh’s papers. They both were the only ones who really wrote the assignment how I wanted it to be written. And Mukesh mentioned things in his that not only did none of the other students mention, but I didn’t even talk about or discuss. I was very impressed.
The kids are very fast learners. One day I was helping Pooja and Salomi pick tomatoes and I while I was looking I was saying, “Let’s see. Let’s see.” And as I doing this, I heard little Pooja say, “Let’s see. Let’s see.” And all the kids understand when I say, “Get ‘em!” Like when a kid comes up to me and tickles me, I yell, “Karishma, get ‘em!” and they will, usually, go and chase the kid and try and beat them. When little Priscilla and Rahel tickle me, I say, “Big mistake!” and turn and chase them while they run away yelling, “No mistake!” On Saturday I gave all the kids a gift. I had bought prints of the pictures I took of the kids back in December, the ones I posted on Facebook. I really didn’t expect the joy it brought them. I guess I was expecting an American child’s reaction to getting two pictures of themselves as a gift. I called the kids up one by one to get their pictures and each kid got the biggest smile and just stared at their picture as they absentmindedly stuck out their hand for me to shake while they said, “Thank You.” For the last few kids I had to yell their names, as it became difficult talking over all the kids’ laughter and other noises they made as they moved about, sharing their pictures with each other. For ten minutes after I was done passing out pictures the kids were still laughing and sharing their pictures with everyone. Some of the kids would come up and quiz me to see if I could remember what their action was from their funny photo. I am proud to say I knew almost everyone’s.