Sunday, March 16

Fish Intestines and making engineers happy: In India, Days 8 & 9

The easy end of surveying
While working, I make friends with the heat source
On Monday, it was my turn to lead the devotion.  Up until this point I had been emotionally stable, but oh the tears that morning!  Things went pretty well through the Bible study on Psalm 139 (with focus on story, intimacy and fear of the Lord), but once I got into my testimony and everyone on the team was listening so well, I was really honest and it all came pouring out! 

We were fairly productive on Monday -but before we get into that, let me tell you first that we spent that afternoon hiding in our bedroom.  I'll keep the reason why vague: foreigners at Children's Homes can be suspicious, and an inspection was scheduled.  During that time, Alyssa and I did got some work done, but let's be honest: there were also antics and silliness.  On top of that, there was an incident that was quite literally a "bedroom farce".  Matthew was standing at the door to talk to us for a minute, then stepped inside when he heard a car coming, and was caught!  In India, men do NOT go into ladies bedrooms.
this photo was taken after 5 hours straight in our room...
The process of kitchen inventory-ing
The site of the future Kitchen & Dining Hall!
Monday morning through Tuesday evening Alyssa and I were everywhere.  We inventoried the current kitchen equipment and recorded the cooking processes.  We gathered details about the place the building would sit and did a study of the sun's angles there.  With Madi's help, we interviewed one of the kitchen staff and later received his suggested floor plan for the future kitchen.  We imagined various elements of the building's program as a list and then a puzzle, put them together, questioned and tweaked them, and showed them to other team members, who inevitably brought up elements of local construction or structural limitations that we were not expecting.  Those engineers!  And then we started again. 

Tuesday night, with all our notes spread out and all limitations firmly in mind, we had a tentative plan for how the building could come together, just in time to start getting ready for our final presentation.
Playing around with table arrangements
This is us working hard
What else happened those days?  While Alyssa and I were out and about, we joined up with the rest of the team and I held the surveying rod for awhile.  We also met some more of the staff!  There was a nurse from Miroram, and the friendly schoolteachers from the local village, who invited Alyssa and I into their staff room during recess.  With maps and calendars, we had some points of discussion.  A couple of them even helped me with a little Hindi lettering.  After feeling some of the language and cultural barriers over the last couple days, it was exilerating to make this kind of connection!
the sentence game
Beautiful teachers from Himachal Pradesh
We even played a little.  My favorite was writing a sentence on the classroom board, which the kids tried to guess before I was finished - like a game show! So of course we put twists into the sentences ;)  Mine was "The monkeys are naughty, but God loves them anyway."
The bubbles Alyssa brought were a hit!
Finally, I want to mention our honorary teammate from Child of Mine: Chelsea!  Because of Chelsea, I had to eat fish intestines.  Her birthday was celebrated during our visit, and she loves fish!  So there was fried fish, fish soup, and fish intestines.  I tried everything, like a good little missionary.  The fried fish was delicious, the fish soup was fine and the intestines... bitter!  But not bad, really.  Another couple of different dishes I happily ingested were pumpkin leaf soup and tomato chutney.

Chelsea and the girls
But back to Chelsea and Child of Mine: they are Canadian group who sponsors Shanti Niketan and also sends large construction teams.  In fact, they will likely build part of the buildings we design.  Chelsea is their ambassador and is doing a sort of "career counseling" with the older students and generally trying to implement programs to help them prepare for moving into the world.  She's a fantastic woman who is loved by everyone at the home, took us under her wing, and held her own during our "dessert making" discussions. 
Matthew, Ivy and Shawn
Tuesday night, Matthew's wife and toddler son (Ivy and Shawn) also arrived.  And it was an event.  People had been asking all week about Shawn, and when their car pulled up there was basically paparazzi and general rejoicing.  Shawn enjoyed his celebrity status all week with the other children in the home.  This missionary family really has a wonderful relationship with Shanti Niketan.
Everybody loves Shawn


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