Blessing the Children’s Village.
Have no fear for the Children’s Village! In the last two days, the site has received two blessings, one from the Hindu builders from Shillong and a Unitarian one from me and the local workers. Using Singing the Living Tradition for inspiration, I found one home blessing from Genesis chapter 28:
“Surely the Lord is in this place – and I did not know it. How awesome is this place! This is none other than the house of God, and this is the gate of heaven.”
Nangroi lent me his Khasi Bible, so I read the blessing in Khasi. We also placed a one-rupee coin in one of the foundation pits to ensure that the AMBCV will always be financially secure. I missed the Hindu blessing, but I know that it involved Roman candle firecrackers and therefore was probably pretty neat.
Now that I’m taking a “lazy” Saturday at home in Kharang – instead of making myself silly with the hustle of Shillong 🙂 – I’m going to catch up with some interesting Meghalayan happenings I have not yet shared with this blog.
First, we have a big pilgrimage of folks from America – including my parents, who’ve just arrived in Delhi!! – coming next week, but last week we also had a group of visitors from Canada! Of course, Sharmila was the most excited out of all of us volunteers. (After putting up with Jon and my American antics, I really couldn’t blame her 🙂 ) But, I also got to talking with one of the ladies about Child Haven, a Canadian-Unitarian-run organization with orphanages across India. I’m happy to have another place where from I’ll perhaps receive useful advice about running a home for children.
Next, I had a lot of fun attending College Week events at Lady Keane College, where Khlur is a professor. I met some really nice girls who took care of me when Khlur was busy officiating. I had the opportunity to hear the Minister of Education speak, and see some girls dressed in traditional and modern Khasi fashion. It’s also the first time in my life I’ve seen a no-talent-or-question-&-answer-portion beauty pageant. Certainly don’t have those in the States anymore!
I’ve also been able to upload a few more photos to my Flickr account, so now I’m caught up to some pictures of our big volunteer work day!
On the serious side, the Khasi Unitarian community had a tragedy the first weekend I was in Shillong. A prominent member of the Unitarian Union, Bah Phinton, passed away after falling critically ill in a short time. He was ninety years old. Bah Phinton lived a long and honorable life, serving the Unitarian community in a number of capacities, working with Annie Margaret Barr, and always assisting visitors from abroad. His daughter, son, and niece have been very kind to me in my time here, even though they are in grieving.
Another saddening event happened while I visited the Nongkrem Unitarian Church last weekend. Much of the visit was actually quite pleasant: Khlur brought me and his son, Mon, out to the village, which is notable because it is the birthplace of the Khasi tribe’s royal line, and I had a lovely time with them and with Cream Lemon, whose family is from there. The church itself is also beautiful. However, Cream took me to visit two orphaned children of her village, a pair of cousins who are forced to raise themselves and live in a separate, tiny room next door to their guardians. These children are clearly lacking in love and nutrition – the young boy, who is nine, is the same size as Cream’s four-year-old nephew! – yet they keep an immaculate home and were extremely polite and friendly to all of us. Obviously, they are at the top of our list for children to come into the Children’s Village!
Looking ahead, today is church plus barefoot-soccer (unless the rain thwarts us), Tuesday is Sharmila’s birthday, Thursday is Gandhi-ji’s birthday, and the first American visitors will be trickling in starting on Wednesday!
That’s all the news fit to print. Overall, I’m really enjoying watching the foundation building and thrilled that my parents will be here in a week!