I’ve reached the end of my notes I wrote whilst in India because after those first few days of settling in our pace picked up and things got busier!
I was busy working in the school writing and delivering a curriculum with Lindsay, one of the full-time staff on the campus. We worked with 2 classes of girls aged from 10-14 specifically doing what is known over there as “Life Skills”. We did some work on identity and our source of identity, as well as talking about feelings and how to manage those effectively as well as some work on boundaries, and the right for girls to say “no”. This final topic felt like a sombre but essential lesson as abuse within Indian families and households is fairly common. Whilst I was teaching my second class Rich was also teaching Lifeskills to a group of over 60 boys on issues more pertinent to them.
I particularly loved our time talking to the girls about how each person is uniquely made by God, teaching Psalm 139 to them as a framework for understanding this. Watching the faces of both students and teachers across the room as we taught psalm 139, and also from the feedback we received after the classes was pretty special – truth began to take root in some lives that day.
After a morning in the school we would then eat lunch with the older boys (always rice and dal) sat outside under the shade of trees. Then our kids would have some rest time out of the sun (the last few days the temperature rose to mid-late 30’s). Then we would help with little jobs around the farm, or have time catching up with the staff, or go for a swim. The pool contained no chemicals as the water was emptied regularly to irrigate the land. On Saturday the pool was shimmering clean and by around Wednesday there was green slime around the edges. But still fun, nevertheless.
Late afternoon Rich and Josiah would play 90 minutes of football whilst Esther and Samuel played with the younger boys. And then Josiah and Rich would do the devotional with the older boys. We would then join them for evening meal around 7.30 pm.
It’s funny, when people have asked our kids what their highlights have been about our trip I was kind of hoping they’d say something “meaningful” but usually their response has been “the pool” or “drinking coke” or “eating ice-cream”. But kids are kids and so of course these things will be their highlights! But I also know that some of the things they saw and experienced, and the people they met, will have forged something in their hearts that can never be taken away.
Much of the way we raise our family now has come from observing both Yip and Frieda (who started Shishya) and from observing the rhythms and routines set out on campus with the boys. And so it was great to be back among everyone, learning and observing as we went along.
One thing I really loved was watching Josiah relate to the older boys. Each night Rich took Josiah to the older boy’s home and led a half hour devotional with them. They went through the book of Matthew looking at the life of Jesus together. Hearing Josiah return with what he’d learnt from daddy and from the boys made me realise how hungry he is for a spiritual stretch. And so we’re beginning to process how we continue to facilitate that stretch here at home.
I was also reminded of the importance of working together as family. The boys at Shishya cook all their own food, work on the farm, as well as doing their homework and any other chores that are needed. Chores are seen as part of life, and part of being family together. I have always thought that giving our kids chores is a good thing, and also something that can help beat an entitlement spirit. But seeing the rhythm and routine of work at Shishya was a good reminder to think through how we can continue to implement this in our own family. I’m guessing at some point I’ll blog further on my thoughts on chores and pulling together as family.
And finally, being with the boys and the staff we saw a steely determination to press on in the things that God had called them to do. I guess you could call it perseverance. Perseverance to keep going through trial and difficulty, perseverance to keep going through setbacks, through betrayal, through intense heat. Perseverance to keep going through persecution.
And not only to keep persevering, but to not be slowed down by any of these things.
And so we were reminded of the need to continue in the call God has given us, and to keep running that race without being slowed down by distractions that come our way.
I am truly thankful that we were able to go to be with our Indian family, for the miraculous provision that made it happen, for the health and adaptability of our kids, for the wonderful family we have over there and for the wonderful family we return to back home too.
Two homes, two locations, one family.