It’s been a quiet week. School is in session. The wheat is growing. Small jobs are getting done. Life is going on.
I (John) thought I’d just give a few snapshots of the farm at this moment. Here goes.
As I grab my camera and step outside, it’s 5:30 PM. Tuition (after-school tutoring) is over and the kids are enjoying a little free play time.
Cynthia is the first child I see. She’s playing marbles by herself in the dust with stones. “I’m practicing,” she tells me with an embarrassed laugh. Many of the nursery kids, especially the boys, are incredibly skilled at marbles and are in the process of amassing small marble fortunes. I helped Ram Pal count his horde the other day and he had a whopping 214 marbles!
There’s a soccer game underway on the main play ground, which is not unusual. Soccer has been the game of choice lately after a rash of cricket battles. As the ball rockets off down the field, little Santoshi is left behind, guarding her goal posts. “Take one picture on this pole,” she calls, and I do. This kid should be a model.
As the soccer tide ebbs and flows, several kids sit on the sidelines and play by themselves. Sheetal works on her “Cat’s Cradle” skills while Seeya plays on a simple toy computer. She’s struggling with a word identification game that’s like Hangman. You have to guess letters before a pixilated cannon shoots your pixilated house down on the screen. “What could this be?” Seeya asks me. The clue is PI_ _A. I have no idea. We guess until the house is rubble. The answer was PIZZA.
Not everyone is playing. Inside the dining room. Shane and Rajesh are hard at work, completing projects for school. All our kids are approaching final exams so it’s time to buckle down. For the older students, especially, this is an important and stressful time of year.
Out in the courtyard behind the kitchen, I find Sabrina and some of the Big Girls. Sabrina hates to have her picture taken, protests my intrusion, but endures a few snaps as she preps the last dinner ingredients. The Big Girls are still cooking outdoors but the newly renovated kitchen is almost ready.
One of the last touches on the kitchen went up this week; a solar power system and a solar hot water system. The hot water system is a test of sorts. If it works in the kitchen (as we expect it will), we’ll begin installing similar systems for all hostel, with a goal of producing free hot water for the entire Mission.
Over in the cow house, Rosie and Gladys are working on their chores, cleaning the brick floor and preparing a small fire that helps keep the nightly swarm of mosquitoes away. The work is messy and smelly but the girls seem happy, smiling easily for the camera when I hold it up.
Before long, Auntie Josie, the dairy in-charge, calls to me to come for a chat and I find her in the milking room. The constant splash of hand-squeezed milk provides a steady rhythm to our brief discussion. Auntie Josie is doing much better since the death of her beloved dog Jilly. I find Debbie paying her respects at Jilly’s grave as I head back to the office.
Inside Shipway’s House, I find Pinky and Sareena reading books in our growing library. We purchased lots of great young adult novels at the Delhi Book Fair last month and a nightly reading group has steadily grown, as a new generation of readers devour the works of Agatha Christie, Roald Dahl and JK Rowling and many more.
Before I hop on my computer to type this up, I stop in Rick’s room for one final picture. To my surprise, I find him alone, resting, listening to music. For a man who is constantly in motion, either busy and active or surrounded by adoring children, this moment is like a capturing a shot of Bigfoot in the forest. I leave him in peace. I know it won’t last long.
And so another week comes to a quiet close. A gentle spring rain is falling outside and we give thanks for every drop, every day as it passes. Thanks once again for all your prayers and support. Hope the simple moments of your life are adding up to something beautiful as well.