My First Two Months in India
January to March 2012
One thing in particular that has helped me write this article is the fact that I kept a diary about India – a year before I came – and I have continued to write thoughts in it during my trip. I call it my ‘Naïve about India’ diary, and in it I scribbled my fears, my excitement, what I expected India to be like – having never been outside Europe.
Just a couple of weeks before leaving Britain, my biggest fear was what was expected of me. What did Shunem expect of me? Would I ever be able to give them what they wanted?
Two Minutes Preparation
After two months I’m looking at it from a very different angle. Not only am I helping the children to grow in whichever way I can – through music, through different ways of teaching, through showing love to one other; but I am being shown so much about myself too. It was easiest to just go with the flow of what was going on and be thrown into whatever I was given. It’s amazing to see the abilities God gives you when you have two minutes to prepare a Sunday School lesson to thirty children. It has given me so much more confidence to stand up in front of people and talk about the Bible – something that would have never happened at home. I have learnt to bring out the most important or interesting point to me in a passage, and share it with the children – and give them a practical lesson from it.
My predictions of what India would look like were pretty accurate – cows wandering amongst traffic, a lot of litter, the roads filled with scooters and bikes, lots of people everywhere – but I didn’t take into account how friendly so many people would be, both in Shunem and in public. Shunem welcomed me with open arms and I was playing chase with the young children almost instantly.
The children always want your attention; it is difficult to get any peace from them! I have changed from dreading teaching lessons every day, to really enjoying getting to know the children and having the privilege to help them progress in their education. What I didn’t realise was that every day would be so different! Even though these children can be incredibly naughty, I can’t help but love them.
A Day at Shunem
One beautiful thing about being at Shunem is that every day your life is surrounded by the Truth. As the sun rises, we are gathered together singing and doing the first daily reading. In the evening as the sun sets, we are gathered together singing lively Telugu songs and doing the second or third daily reading. It feels so right to start and end your day with the Bible. On top of that there are the various other events that take place, such as Sunday School, Elders Readings every day after the kids go to school, Bible Class, Study Group, CYC events…
For a year I tossed and turned between feeling like my trip wasn’t actually happening, to feeling excited, nervous, experiencing hesitations and feeling incredibly scared. Now that I’m here, I can’t come to terms with the fact that I will actually have to leave this place.