Dear Williamsburg Christadelphian Foundation,
The month of March was far from boring. During the first two weeks Aunt Sarah Galbrith and I prepared for the Sister’s Conference that was held here at Shunem. The theme was Peter and the turnout was abundant and inspiring. Sisters came from all over Andhra Pradesh. I have already made plans with my Virtuous Women’s group to host a similar event next summer. Although having my home, Shunem, taken over by so many women was not always fun the weekend was very rewarding and humbling.
Sisters’ Conference at Shunem
After the Sister’s Conference was over I had the opportunity to visit Bangalore for a study weekend and a weekend off. I really enjoyed my time there, the weather was cool and the people were very welcoming. Some of the young people showed me how to play backyard cricket and where shocked that I’ve never played cricket in my country.
As I returned home to Hyderabad I discovered two things; one that everyone looked purple and two that the rats had returned to my room while I was away. After asking Bro. Malcolm why everyone looked purple he explained, on the first day of spring, which was two days before, people throw paint on each other and on total strangers. Apparently it is a Hindi tradition that I thankfully was able to avoid. The returning rats however proved impossible to avoid. After a night or two of minor disturbances I had the unfortunate experience of waking up at 4 in the morning (about an hour before prayer) to what felt like a nibble on my toe. After turning on the light and checking I still had all ten I discovered there was a rat in the room. I then quickly got dressed and got outside to wait for others to wake up. Thankfully the kids were up soon after. Aunt Jenni sent Joseph, in third grade, and CH Naveen, in fifth grade, to kill the rat. All they brought with them was a broom. As Joseph chased the rat and CH Naveen yelled where it was I stood on a chair and screamed just like my mother when she sees a mouse. Once they finally killed the rat by smacking it to death with the handle of the broom it was taken away and my room has been rat free ever since. During the next few nights I tried to ask God what he was teaching me rather than why he was doing this to me. I believe he was showing me just how well we learn through fear. Through this fear of rats I learned to have patience and to trust that God has put this trial in front of me because he knows I can handle it. Remembering those lessons in the following weeks proved to be more difficult than I thought.
Junior Class at City VBS wearing their Pentecost fire hats.
After my return from Bangalore I began planning for both City and Shunem VBS (Vacation Bible School). Unfortunately Aunt Sarah was not able to run them this year because she and Uncle Tim, her husband, are in Australia till the end of May. Remembering that the trials put before me are God’s way of showing me what I can handle was reinforced when Aunt Sarah explained to me that I would be running both schools on my own. By God’s grace the two schools where shortened from fourteen to eleven days.
City VBS was a great way for me to gain a little confidence in running these two bible schools. It was a smaller gathering of children than at Shunem VBS. I taught the largest class of about twelve, the juniors. Every day we gathered together at four (four thirty in Indian time) and sang, had lessons, crafts, a snack and played a game till six (or six forty five). The Last day we had all the parents come to hear the children sing the theme song along with a few others and we put on a play. We did it on Peter breaking out of prison and Herod’s death.
The Shunem VBS Junior Class
The theme of both schools was Peter so all the lessons, songs, and my skit were used again at Shunem VBS. I had about 60 children from fourth grade to sixth grade in my class alone, which was more than we had with all the classes combined at city VBS. God blessed us with two hundred and twenty children to teach at Shunem. Every morning around eight we had all the classes together for singing, the biggest problem everyday was crowd control. I tried a lot of different things to keep the kids quiet (some more successfully than others). I quickly discovered that yelling to quiet them down does not work and its very difficult to yell when you no longer have a voice. I also tried raising my hand and waiting until they stopped talking, that proved to be a useless method because they would ignore me just like I would have if I were them. Finally I remembered a method Sis. Abi used at my first Indian bible school at Kurnol. It starts with clapping; once most of the room is also clapping you switch to snapping or patting your shoulders. For the most part this method worked really well as long as you where ready to start a song or a prayer right after otherwise the talking would begin again quickly. I was still forced to raise my voice once and a while but not as much. Shunem VBS really drove home God’s lesson to me about how much I can handle with His help.
In the beginning of the month of April I felt as if I was never going to go home. Three more months seemed like an eternity, and having to run two bible schools was daunting. Now that April is over and the Shunem children are going home for a month long holiday I feel as if I do not have enough time left here. It hurts to know that the next time I have to say goodbye to these amazing kids I won’t have to wait a month to see them but a few years. I know that I have done my best to teach them all that I can about God and what he has given us but I also know that they have taught me ten times as much.
Your Sister in Christ,