Wow! We've been here for a whole week already!
Things are going very well. Mommy Aneena is out of the hospital and recuperating. She's still in a lot of pain, but she is getting better every day.
I haven't been able to write much this week for several reasons. A) the internet is very spotty, sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn't. B) the power is also spotty, sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn't. C) our daily schedule has been very random and it's hard to plan any down time/time to write when so much is happening at a moment's notice. D) lovely kiddies! :-) We've been spending a lot of time with all the children here, learning their names, getting our hair braided, playing cards, and a host of other fun things! Once our schedule settles in a little more I hope to be writing much more regularly.
Where to start?? I've divided our week into a few simple sections. These sections only capture a drop of our experiences which could soak a large woolly mammoth from head to tail. So here goes!
Church on Sunday
Sunday was our first Indian church experience. There was a lot of clapping and sitting (Indian style on mats made from reeds) and standing and clapping and singing and clapping, Oh yeah, and did I mention the clapping? :-) Other than that, it was a good experience. I'm excited to eventually understand the sermons, or at least part of what they say. We even sang a few songs in English, just for Sydney and I. I was pretty impressed by that. It made me happy that they intentionally went out of their way to try to include us even if it was only by singing a few verses of a song. Part way through the service Pappa Joseph invited us up individually to speak to the congregation (he translated), and to tell them some of our vision for coming to India. Basically, he wanted us to address everyone and let them know what we're about and why we're here. He called on Sydney first. Often she is asked to do things first, or correction is directed to her (and not to me). We are still figuring this out. Our best guess at this point is that she is Chechi (she's the oldest). Anyway, Sydney spoke to the group and it was good. As she was speaking I could hear my pulse as I stood up trying to come up with something to say on the spot like that. I was nervous to speak to everyone, but I was also ready. God has been faithful. It was kind of surreal actually. After so much anticipation – I'm finally here. I'm finally at this place where God has been calling me for the past 6 years. So I stood up and looked at the congregation. Men on the left, women on the right. Younger kids in the front, older people behind them, the oldest seated in a single row of chairs near the back wall. I looked around at the many faces of people whom I hardly know or haven't met yet. These are the faces of the people of God. These are the faces of my brothers and sisters. These are the faces of people I will soon know and love. What a moment that was. I took a deep breath and spoke. "6 years ago, God gave me a special vision. That vision was for India, in particular, for Kerala…" And then we continued to praise the Lord. We took the Lords Supper and we were dismissed.
The kids all split up into their Sunday school groups. Today was a day of competitions. They competed in scripture memorization and preaching among other things. Then we all shared lunch together seated on mats on the floor. It was good. Haha, my ankles were sore from sitting Indian style for so long. I'll get used to it eventually.
Story about Appu
Ok, so there's one little boy here, the youngest (3 years old), named Appu. All the other kids talked to Sydney and I since we got here. They weren't very shy at all. But Appu, no. He wouldn't say a word to us! He'd stare at us, but he wouldn't say anything. On Thursday night he FINALLY talked to me! He wouldn't say my name or call me Chechi (elder sister) but he calls me Auntie. H spoke to me so indignantly and only in Malayalam as if to say "come on auntie! WHY don't you understand what I'm telling you??" it was adorable! It took him a while to work up the courage but he finally climbed up into my lap and started hitting me, saying "Auntie! blablablabalI-don't-speak-malayalam-so-I-don't-know-what-he-saidblablabal!!" Haha, so I asked one of the older boys here who speaks English well, Moses, what he said. Appu was telling me to give him candy! "Auntie! Give me some candy!!" is what he was saying. Hahaha, oh children. This is going to be fun.
"It's So Cold" Here!
It's in the upper 70's-90's with humidity levels ranging from 90-100% every day. So I still think it's pretty hot here. So one day it was probably in the low 80's MAYBE upper 70's and the humidity was on the lower range. After morning prayer on a day when I felt particularly hot with my head covering on one of the senior girls here commented "it's going to be hot today." Remember, Indian English is heavily British English. She does not pronounces "hot" "h-ah-t" as I may have, but more like "h-oh-t." Then Moses comes out and asks if Sydney and I have warmer shawls to wear. If not, he would get us something warmer. ?. Ok, I'm confused. One girl says it's going to be h-oh-t, and Moses is worried about us being cold. Then I looked outside at all the kids doing their duties for the day – and they're all in wool hats and sweaters! Later I found out that the senior girl had actually said "cold" but with her accent I completely misunderstood. So here they all are, running around the place with sweaters on! And literally, Sydney and I were standing on the porch, sweating. I don't get it. I can't see how they actually felt cold, but they all said it was cold. Haha, I wonder how I'll feel when I return home and have another Pennsylvania winter.
So we've been teaching for two days now. So far, so good! In the morning we have a bunch of little rug-rats who are all between 2 and 3 years old. We will have then every day. These last few days were spent just trying to gauge where our students are with regards to their English comprehension levels. Sydney and I are each teaching 9 classes a week. They gave us a schedule on Wednesday. So far, every day the other teachers have changed the schedule on us. This has been difficult. Today we came prepared to teach second graders, and they give us to the Lower Kindergarten group (LKG, there is also an Upper Kindergarten group, UKG). Then when we were supposed to teach first grade, it was both the first and second graders. Both worked out fine in the end, but it's kind of stressful to be prepared for one thing and be thrown another. Similar things happened yesterday. But overall, I'm glad with where we are. It's going to be tough, but it will be good!
How You can Pray
Pray that we have wisdom while we're teaching. Pray for creativity and understanding. Pray for continued good health and for good rest. Mostly we need to be kept at the foot of the cross daily. Daily committing ourselves to the Lord and daily relinquishing our frustrations and fears to Him. Pray that Sydney and I are receptive and obedient to the voice of the Lord.
Thanks for reading, and I will be posting more soon!
P.S. I have added a "contact us" page which includes a snail mail address, as several of you were asking about this.
Smiling children, and clapping hands, and peace,