Sunday, March 9

Subathu Variety Show: In India, Days 6 & 7

Circulation sketches for the Kitchen and Dining Hall
On Saturday morning, we found out that the ministry leaders (Hmuni and Suvarna) had the time to meet with us that afternoon.  We started scrambling!  An architect's method of communication is largely visual, so I created sketches to convey some initial ideas and options.  We had the basic parameters of the project in mind, but still had lots of questions about how the building would be used.  I made sure that all these were written down, since our hosts would be busy with meetings during most of our visit and this may be our one chance to really talk.

Meeting with the ministry leaders
During the difficult situation they were facing (see previous entry), we weren't sure if discussing future plans would be stressful.  To our relief, planning with us proved to be both a distraction and encouragement.  Shanti Niketan has been hoping for more and better housing for their boys and a place where everyone can eat together for years.  Currently, the staff eats in Hmuni and Suvarna's house, the boys eat at the school and the girls eat in their dormitory.  Food and tea is carried across campus, the kitchens are small and everyone is crowded.

We also discussed putting staff housing below the dining hall, which would be accessed from downhill.  Some of the current staff housing is in really sad shape.  The Shanti Niketan campus used to be a leprosy colony, and mud buildings like some of the staff housing are relics from that time.  This would later prove to be a problematic idea, because the spot this building will stand doesn't get much direct sunlight from the East (the direction the windows would face).  And, like everything there, the building will heated only by the sun.  This was a different sort of design constraint than I am used to, and a bit of a reality check.
Janelle (more often behind the camera)

Now, dry shampoo had only taken me so far and it was time for a shower!  My Indian teammate Madi was extremely patient with us Westerners and explained the "Indian shower" ways of filling a big bucket from the tap, and using a small one to pour water over yourself, then cleaning up with a squeegee at the end... since the whole bathroom floor gets wet. 
The shower end of the bathroom

Overall, it was kinda nice, and really saved a lot of water!  But, since there was a high window open, making the room was about 40 degrees F.  So the experience was a roller coaster of the lovely sensations of hot water, lingering for a minute or so as I frantically washed and then ebbing away as the chilled air cut through and made goosebumps. 

Everybody adores this baby
Just hanging out
It was casually mentioned on Saturday night that Shanti Niketan would like us to be responsible for some of their Sunday morning program, doing... whatever!  We ended up doing everything from leading "action songs" (Peace like a river) to Madi's testimony, me story-telling through the book of Jonah, Alyssa greeting the children with verses from a Pauline epistle and Matthew talking about some strange difficulties he's encountered lately - comparable to some of Shanti's difficulties.  But most enjoyable was listening to the student-led worship in both Hindi and English - these kids are enthusiastic singers and musicians! 
Cows in the marketplace

The day was full, with helping in the kitchen, playing with the kids, attending afternoon church in the nearby village of Subathu. and walking around the Subathu market.  A clean, charming military depot - but in the streets there were still cows - which politely begged for peanuts - and monkeys, which rambunctiously raided the trash. 

Madi shows off the salad we made
That evening, it was my privilege to hear a little of the ministry leader's history.  Hmuni is from Mizoram, a small state in NE India.  An English Christian missionary came to Mizoram in the 1800s, and now much of the state identifies as Christian, including Hmuni's family!  She helped found Shanti Niketan as a missionary endeavour in Himachal Pradesh, a mostly Hindu state.  Much of the staff also comes from her church in Mizoram, but her husband Suvarna is from Nepal and was the first (but not only) person in his family to believe in Jesus' resurrection.  Praise God!


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