You know that song? The one we sang as children to persuade the rain to come another day? Well I am certainly grateful that I stored up enough of these “another” days to withdraw them now, in the midst of the most scorching heat I have ever experienced. After weeks of waiting for the sun to break through the winter’s gloom back in Wheaton, it felt strange to beckon for this rain, but now that it is here, I am overjoyed.
Enough about the weather: most of you are likely still suffering in the heat of the summer and don’t want to hear about my (finally) tolerable climate. You are here to learn about what the heck I am doing halfway across the world. Well, as of this week, I can confidently say that I am helping. While I was certainly busy up to this point, I couldn’t say one way or another if I was making any difference; if I was anything more than a needy guest who might make a few spreadsheets or brochures. This week (my first official week as the only white person in the area) I was in charge of managing substitutes. Which sounds easy enough, right? Wrong. There are 12 full-time teachers here, with 4 part-time teachers for PE and Bible. However, 2 of these are not even hired yet, and, for example, on Wednesday, 3 of them were absent (without any notice). So it was my job to figure out how to get a teacher into each classroom, at the right time, without any outside substitutes. I ended up subbing for many of them myself, but I also had to tell people 20 years my senior that, no, they couldn’t have their break right now because 3rd class was empty. It was a pretty tough set of days, but I am very glad that I was there to manage it all and that God gave me the strength to do so. Yesterday, Joice, the principal, even told me:
“Heather, I am so glad you are here. I feel so much less stress.”
I was elated. Joice is the main reason I am here in India, in the hopes of making her life easier, but so much of her job involves meeting with parents (in Telugu) and regulating finances that I felt kind of useless, especially since she still often works until dinner. Thankfully God is using me in smaller ways to relieve some of her burdens, or sometimes just to listen to her struggles. I can’t say yet if I will do anything more than this, but for now, I am comforted with the knowledge that my presence here will help at least one (brilliant, strong, amazing) person.
In regards to life here, I recently enjoyed walking through Mori village with Alex, an older science teacher from the UK volunteering here for two months. Originally from Kerala, a state in western India, he has many fantastic stories about frolicking through the paddy fields as a child, and later serving in Botswana, Africa for 14 years. We still get many stares as we walk down the main road (Mori is not really a tourist destination), but I am grateful for this chance to witness village life firsthand. The smell of fried peppers tantalizes our taste buds, though we know we can not try them (darn sanitary conditions): we stop to purchase fruit from our “banana man” instead. Bicycles and motorcycles blaze past us, honking their horn as a curtesy, not out of frustration. When the school bus comes by, we all move to the side of the dirt road, careful not to step into the piles of trash there. It is a different life from what is found on the streets of suburban California, but I cherish the fact that everyone is out on their porch, whether it is of their mud/thatch hut or their large multi-family mansion (financed by a family member working in the Middle East), which are often right next-door.
I haven’t been amazing at taking pictures (I stole the ones below from Melody), but I will have some more for you next week. Once again, thanks for reading. God bless!