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Today was marked with better team involvement throughout our VBS program: each piece was more organic and energetic, even though we sometimes forgot about continuing on to the next part because we were so wrapped up with the kids! We got to eat snacks together (I can only describe it as a potato turnover), and giggle together even when we didn’t have anything to say. (We did have one girl visiting from Mumbai who was able to translate for us – thank God for polyglots!)
We were also very thankful for the help of the Riverside teachers. They helped us to communicate with the kids in Telugu, and generally to keep them in line. It was so nice to get to know them as friends, and sisters in Christ! Sarah Miss, for instance, gave Ilse the friendship bracelet she made!
Chairman Solomon gave us a tour of the Riverside campus in the evening, sharing the absolutely incredible history of the place (including, but not limited to God providing the exact amount needed for buildings multiple times, gifting a former Hindu temple for the hospital, and granting the Untouchables caste access to the main road – more on this later!). He is a great storyteller, despite his initially intimidating demeanor, and even told us the beautiful story of how he met and pursued his wife!
Another vital part of our ministry here is the construction team and the provision of technical knowledge. Through Taylor, one of our team members, we were able to convince 3 awesome guys to spend some of their valuable time here with us. Mike, Taylor’s dad, is an electrical contractor, who sets up for conventions back in the States. He and his buddies Tony H. and Tony I. have been a hilarious addition to our team, and will be under Martha’s direction for the duration of their stay.
Today, while we were away our fantastic VBS, these jovial 3 worked with Martha and Judah, Chairman Solomon’s son. They scraped, sanded, and stuccoed the walls of the girls’ dormitory, with great results.
One of their main goals is to help the school with their electricity problem. The countless power outages that we’ve faced so far are even more disruptive when they occur during the school year, when hundreds of school kids and teachers are dependent on the fans and lights in classrooms and dorms. The generator eventually kicks in, but this leaves the school with charges over $1000 a month for its operation. Our construction team has therefore already contacted 2 solar panel companies to come by next week to give a quote. It is their hope to make Riverside School more sustainable, both in terms of the environment and their budget.
Another issue is that of water. While we are grateful to have (relatively) clean running water here, the current pump is working too hard, as well as racking up a lot of electricity bills. Tony will advise Martha on how best to install a new one that will work efficiently for the school.