It’s all coming together this week. So much work, so many projects, for which finally we are able to see the end in sight. The first big job that we have got out of the way is our central garden; seen by all who enter onto the mission compound our central garden is home to our John Deere B tractor. Soon the following plaque will be seen displayed in front of the tractor…
This humble tractor began its life in a John Deere factory in Waterloo Iowa, USA and yet, unlike all the other tractors that rolled off the assembly line that day, it was not destined for the endless corn and wheat fields that surrounded it. It was bound for India and bold adventure. Our founder, Rev. Maxton Strong and his wife Shirley shipped the tractor in boxes to what was then Bombay and then pieced it together there on the docks. After this the Strongs, along with their three children, drove it almost 2000km to the place where it now resides. The year was 1948 and at the time, there was no town of Banbasa, no road, only unbroken jungle for miles around. With the help of this tractor, the Strongs cleared the land, ploughed the fields and established a settlement that would become the Good Shepherd Agricultural Mission. Tragically, this tractor also played a part in the death of Maxton and Shirley’s son Jay; but there are victories and losses in every life. Today, long after the Rev. Strong and his wife have passed away, this tractor remains, standing as an enduring symbol of faith in action, of perseverance in the face of adversity, and of the way ordinary things—like all of us—can be used by God to accomplish extraordinary work.
Our second big project which is coming to a close is our 8000+ square foot extension to our School, the Samartha Saxena Memorial Wing. After almost a whole year of construction the only major job that now remains is the installation of the glass in the windows. On Saturday the power was turned on and we are happy to say that everything is working great!
The first student of the school moved in on Saturday morning, a small fruit bat. Hanging from the newly installed electrical conduit he oversaw our carpenter, Ganesh, as he faithfully continued installing mosquito wire in the upstairs windows.
Outside the new building things are really starting to take shape too. With the completion of the path last week our kids set to the gardens. Small stones and broken bricks had to be removed from the grounds and replaced with fresh topsoil and manure. The new plants are looking great!
Part of the fun of doing the gardening was the tractor rides each day. The bumps and jumps didn’t upset anyone -the cheers of our kids could be heard right across the compound as the tractor drove from the building site to the dump site.
Our paddy (rice) crop is also coming to a completion, we have begun the process of harvesting and by Saturday around a quarter of the crop had been brought in. Part of the crop was harvested by hand (using sickles) and the rest by combine harvester. After the combine had driven through our older boys picked up the straw ready to feed our cattle.
The Big Boys Hostel painting has steadily moved ahead; seven out of the twenty rooms have now been completed by our volunteer painters from Australia. The exterior of the hostel is being painted by a local painting crew and should be finished next week. The boys are very excited to see the results.
Our favorite piece of news this week is about Kelly; for those who are unaware Kelly, one of our children, underwent corrective eye surgery about nine weeks ago. A big deal for a thirteen year old. On Monday she returned to Delhi with Rick for a checkup and the specialist says she was amazed as Kelly’s vision and depth perception is now 100%!
We are overjoyed at this news!!!
Clifton and twelve of the younger boys had a ‘movie night’ midweek which was accompanied by waffles, mulberry jam and ice cream! The boys had a great time and surprisingly were up early ready for the day the next morning.
The work in our kitchen has also progressed significantly; after almost a month of scraping, grinding, smashing, scrubbing and chipping away the builders have now begun the process of putting it all back together. By Saturday evening two rooms had been completely plastered and are looking good!
Believe it or not… that’s it for yet another week! What a ripper! We are so proud of all our staff, children, volunteers and workers who have made this a fantastic week, and thanks for your part in it too!