Wednesday, April 30, 2008

The Month Of May

Everyone is on vacation. Or going on vacation. Or acting like their on vacation already. May is so depressing. I love the hustle and bustle of the other eleven months. May is way too quiet (not to mention HOT) for me.

We leave for vacation on Saturday. A week in the South Indian beach state of Goa. We were there 4 years ago and loved it. I think we’re gonna have a great time. I’m a little apprehensive since it’s just going to be me, O. and the 3 girls*. No highchairs, no strollers. Nine days of lugging a 1 year around, with a 5 and 7 year old in tow. Doesn’t sound like a relaxing vacation to me, but I’m going with the flow and I’m sure we’ll have a wonderful time. I’ll probably even develop some arm muscles with a side of stiff neck.

*We’re all way too adapted to the communal living thing. Just the five of us, weird.

Bible Stuednt Report cards

Our Bible students received their first year report cards last week and most of them went home for the summer that night. They’ll be back at the end of June.

Please pray for them while they are at home that they would not fall back into any sinful lifestyles. Also, pray that they will have many opportunities to serve the Lord alongside their local pastors.

I miss them already and can’t wait til they come back in June. It’s so quiet around here.

Monday, April 28, 2008

Conversion Law

"Conversion law violation is a criminal offence now"

That's the headline of a recent newspaper article in The Times of India that refers to people converting from one religion to another. We call these laws "anti-conversion" laws and in our state it came into effect on April 1st after 5 years of pending.

The article states that, " From now on anyone wishing to convert (from one religion to another) will have to tell the government why they were doing it and for how long they had been following the religion which they were renouncing, failing which, they will be declared offenders and prosecuted under criminal laws."

Basically this law states that if you want to convert from one religion to another you have to get government permission to do so first. Failing to do so can get you arrested and charged under criminal charges - you know like, Murder and Rape. It's that high an offence.

There's not much I can say about this other than let's pray and watch what God will do.

Shankar And Manju Got Married

In 1998 I traveled to India for the first time. I stayed at a Children's Home/Orphanage in Rajasthan. It was there that I fell in love with India AND my now husband.

Occasionally, the (now grown) children find their way to O. and me. Two children who were at the Children's Home the same time as me in 1998-99 were Shankar and Manju. I don't remember Shankar, but I remember Manju. She and her little sister, Anju, were two of the lovingest, sweetest little girls there and they attached themselves to my good friend Karen.

Shankar is from O.'s village and came to work with us as a security guard. Last year he brought Manju from the orphanage with the intent to marry her.

Their wedding was last night.

I told Manju her wedding reminded me of mine.

We were both married in this city.
We both were married on a Sunday night.
We both were at our weddings without a single family member in attendance (she's an orphan)
We both married men from the same little village in Rajasthan.

She wore my veil.

Signing the register (of course these pictures are in backwards order).

There was a real wedding photographer. I'd really rather not jump up in the middle of the ceremony to attempt to get good shots, that's why most of mine stink.

Party Pix

The little monsters from C.'s birthday party last week. C. is in the blue top near the front. Don't let their angelic expressions fool you, they were only behaving for the photo becase they knew the cake was coming.
I made a pinata, at the end O. broke it open. You can see the little nightmares, I mean kids, kids, rushing for the candy on the floor.

Saturday, April 26, 2008

C.'s Birthday Party

The Kid party we had for C. was a Night Mare. Over 40 children came, many of whom I had never seen before in my life.

They were all little animals. I'm never doing this again, or at least not until I forget sufficiently enough to consider another "Kid Party."

Thursday, April 24, 2008

5 Years Old Today

Sweet C. (a.k.a. "Barbie") is 5 years old today.
I woke up this morning and thought I'd make her pancakes, her favorite. After brushing my teeth I went right to the kitchen. C. came in and said, "You didn't wish me Happy Birthday!" and she was right, and that's just like me and my Martha tendencies. I was so focused on making her the pancakes for her birthday I didn't even remember to seek her out to say "Happy Birthday."

Poor kid with a lousy mom.

She forgave me. As it happened, I didn't have any eggs for the pancakes but they turned out ok. C. didn't much like them and asked if I could go to the store and get her a Pepsi instead.

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

A New Computer

I finally got my own computer in my office. Will this mean I'll blog more? I sure hope so.

Saturday, April 19, 2008

Himalaya School

I went to get C.'s Report Card from school today and on her last exams (she's in Lower Kindergarten) she got perfect grades in every subject except for Hindi. She lost 2 points for something. I told her to blame it on her mother.

However, her mother's lack of school-learned Hindi skills may not be such a problem in the future. A somewhat new friend of mine, Shelly, who is an American woman working among Muslims in our state, recently returned from a 6 week intensive Hindi course at Landour Language School in Mussoorie. (In the Himalayan mountains, it's a Hill Station. See photo above of the view from the school.)
Shelly told me that what she really wanted to learn was conversational Hindi but that all they teach at the school is Hindi Grammar. Since having that conversation I had been thinking and dreaming and praying and thinking some more. I've got the Hindi conversation skills, but no formal grammar. I picked up all my Hindi by ear.
I, of course, googled the school and stared at it for a while on the computer. The course is 3 months long, or a 6 weeks intensive course or you can take the classes by week - two being minimum.
Two weeks. In the Himalayan mountains. All alone. Improving my Hindi, perhaps significantly. It just sounded too good. I brought it up with O. a couple days ago and he said... "Yeah, sounds good - Go."
So, I'm preparing to go in September, probably over my birthday. Whoo hoo!

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

A New Project

We're opening a stationary store. Yes, you read that correctly, a stationary store. We're running it in conjunction with our school because we already sell textbooks, notebooks, ties, belts, diaries; it was just the next step to sell a bunch of other school supplies at the same time. One stop shopping for parents. Great opportunity to make money for the ministry.

But the thing is, we haven't got a clue what we're doing. We're learning, but we need to have this up and running by, let's see, next week.

School is out in India and parents are signing up their little ones for school starting in two months. Returning students will flock in in June but we really should have the store open this month the reap the full benefits. It's kind of stressing me out.

Sunday, April 13, 2008

Picture Of Me

I was just looking at the little snapshot of me that is on this allthelittledetails blog and, as usual, I considered changing it or putting up a new one. This photo is about a year old, G. was just a newborn then. She walks now, and is weaned, and although she doesn't talk, she's "big." Not a little squirt anymore.

But the thing I love about this picture (taken by my dear and talented cousin Amy) is that it pictures me exactly as how I view myself.

Very rarely do you (or at least me) find a picture that you look at and say, "Yep, that's what I look like." But this picture not only looks to me like I look to me but the entire atmosphere of the photo feels right and true.

I'm gonna keep it for a while longer.

Friday, April 11, 2008

Funeral Pictures - The Beginning

Personally, I think taking pictures at a funeral is about as tacky as... ummm... taking pictures at a funeral. However, I have no compunctions about using pictures taken at a funeral and posting them on my blog.

Really, a picture is worth a 1000 words.

The body - on ice.

The several hour meeting beforehand while we waited for Anil's parents to arrive. We heard four separate messages during this time.

At the cemetery, moments after Anil's mother and father arrived. Here his mother is seeing his face for the first and last time.
At the cemetery.
Lowering the casket.
Ashes to ashes...

Thursday, April 10, 2008

Funeral Pictures - The End

When I was a little girl I found an old photo album at my Grandmom's house. When I opened it I found an entire album of dead people. People in coffins, adults and children alike. There were also pictures of people standing next to dead people in coffins. As I recall Grandmom discovered me with the album and quickly spirited it away. I don't remember being scared or repulsed by the photos, mainly I was disappointed that I didn't get to see them all or look at them like I wanted to.

The thought of a camera at a funeral in the US today is absurd (unless the deceased is, of course, a celebrity.) However, I guess it was normal in earlier times. In India, taking pictures of the dead is the norm. (There will be no pictures of dead people in this post.)

O. wanted the camera at the funeral yesterday. I don't pick fights over things like that, I just said I wouldn't be the one taking the pictures. He gave the camera to Praveen and he snapped pictures for hours (he hates funerals anyway.)

Hence, I have a pictorial post of the funeral. My Internet has decided not to load anymore pictures today, so we're starting and ending at The End. I'll try to get up the rest of the pictures tomorrow. And, as usual for my pictorial posts, the photos are NOT in chronological order. Blogger picture loading hates me.

This is taken at the grave site after the coffin was lowered into the ground and covered over with dirt. Last prayer.
The mound is covered with flowers, candles and incense.
Anil's mother and aunt throwing dirt onto the coffin.

The End.
More pictures from the beginning will hopefully be loaded tomorrow.

Mourning Without Hope

Yesterday, while watching this woman (the maternal aunt of the man who died) who is clutching the coffin I was reminded again and again of this scripture:

1 Thessalonians 4:13
"But I do not want you to be ignorant, brethren, concerning those who have fallen asleep, lest you sorrow as others who have no hope."
In this photo they are dragging her away from the coffin so they can close it for the last time.

Anil's Funeral

O.'s younger brother, Ramesh, is the pastor of a small church plant in a city about 2 hours north of us. He called us on Tuesday afternoon to inform us that one of his believers, Anil, had been killed instantly at work that day.

Anil previously was a member of our church for several years but when he and his family moved to Ramesh's city last year, they started to attend Ramesh's church. We all know him and his family and we were shocked to hear of his accident. A crane was moving some kind of material and the chains broke, dropping the entire load on Anil's head. He was killed instantaneously. He left behind a wife and young son and daughter. He was just a year older than me.

His oldest child, Yesudas*, was born the day before my C., same year. Every time I looked at him waiting for his papa to come home from work I thought of my little C.

We drove to the city on Tuesday afternoon and stayed overnight at Ramesh's house. Anil's parents live in South India and it took them a day and half to reach here. In India they bury right away, the very day they died or the next day at the latest. The widow just has to sit in her house and do nothing until her husband is buried**. We all sit with her. The men pray and speak words of comfort from THE Word and then leave to take care of the burial details. The women stay behind and sit. Sometimes sing. Sometime speak. Try to make her eat something, drink something. Sit some more. Sing some more.

We hoped to bury Anil by late afternoon on Wednesday but his parents weren't reaching the city by train until 9:30 at night. We waited and waited all day. At last we started the service. Eventually, we went to the cemetery and waited two more hours. Which is why I was wandering around reading tombstones last night (see next post). At 11PM his parents finally arrived at the grave site and it was very dramatic. They were devastated. We all are.

I'm just starting to accept it myself. We pray for Ruth, Anil's widow, and his children and family. We pray for Ramesh and his church. Anil was a main pillar in their small gathering and Ramesh is left without his "right-hand man."

*"Yesudas" means "Servant of Jesus"
**This must feel like torture.

Wandering In Cemeteries

For reasons that will become evident in following posts, late last night I was wandering around an old British (now Church of North India) Cemetery. I've always loved cemeteries and find them utterly peaceful and I have a strange fascination with reading old tombstones and their epitaphs.

While I was meandering in the dark by the dim glow of my cellphone light* I came across of line of stone crosses. The second grave in line had the saddest epitaph I have ever seen engraved on it:

"In fond and loving memory of
Thomas Hardie
The dearly beloved son of ...
Who departed this life on the ____ (unreadable) March 1901
aged 25 years & 3 months
Mourned, very deeply mourned by his sorrow stricken parents, brothers & sisters
After reading this I looked down below my feet** and saw three large stone letters across the top of the grave.
* this line sounds like it was written by Snoopy.
** I was standing right on the grave so I could see, I was reading by the light of the moon and my cellphone lamp.

Monday, April 07, 2008

We'll See At the End

I'm not sure where this post is going to be perfectly honest.

We're at the end of the school year over here. E. and C. will finish this week. Then it is (the dreaded) summer vacation... I'm actually going to attempt to teach them to read over vacation. Ask me how this is going, maybe that will make me actually do it.

I'm kind of in a limbo these days. I'm blaming it on the end of the school year. I feel like I'm not deeply involved in anything. I've got stuff that I do, my time is full, but I guess it's just that I'm the kind of person who loves to be heart and soul involved in something. Having ten things going on that I'm partially involved in, is just not doing it for me.

Wednesday, April 02, 2008

When Things Break

When something breaks, it just makes me all the more thankful for when it works.

When I'm sick and not feeling well, it just makes me all the more thankful when I feel good and everything is working.

I think God is teaching me about thankfulness.