We are quickly learning about a mentality here that we lovingly call “India Standard Time.” A perfect instance of this was Tuesday morning, when a pair of reporters was scheduled to meet our team at 9 AM. We waited for them for nearly an hour, using the time to sing together and debrief a bit, but they didn’t show up until Wednesday afternoon. They wanted to write a piece about our successful summer camps in the villages, which will be great press for Riverside. We also had one article written about us visiting the Hindu temple, published just this morning! Apparently Americans coming to this area is a big deal!
While not as glamorous as newspaper features, our team has been diligently sanding, painting, and varnishing about 150 of the school desks and benches. Now even these pieces of furniture reflect the vibrant colors of India! Matt and Jeff manned the two sanders, smoothing down the solid wood of the desks that Chairman Solomon and his wife Amy built on their honeymoon over 18 years ago!
Tuesday evening, we went to a part of our village where members of a caste destined to be weavers live and work (in the same huts!). Despite the tedious and intricate work, the community was very hospitable, open to answering questions, and very proud of their beautiful Mori. This craft of making the extensive fabric for saris (150 yards only makes 8 saris!) is definitely an art. We were so impressed by the quality of the artisans’ work, especially since they only earn about $1.50 a day! The wooden technology these men and women use is both rudimentary and incredibly sophisticated, but it still works, and with lovely results!
Wednesday brought us Christina, Pastor Mel and Gen’s friend, who will help with the pastor’s training conference. Our team is now nearly complete! The very large group of us took our beloved bus across our bumpiest road yet to the house and tomb of Charles Whitehouse, the British missionary who introduced Subbamma to Christ. He served in this one village for more than 55 years! We are all indebted to him, since this school and this memorable trip would not have been possible without him following God’s call.
On our way home, we stopped by a retreat center to scope it out for the teachers’ training this weekend. We were all happy to look out at the beautiful hotel along the river, but then the most incredible thing happened. Matt called us into a conference room, where lo and behold, World Vision India was meeting. They graciously invited us in, and beamed up at us from their chairs. We said a few words, sang our Telugu song, and then enjoyed some amazing fellowship with our brothers and sisters in Christ serving Him so faithfully in Andhra Pradesh. They were so happy to receive our encouragement, and we were so impressed by their humanitarian and spiritual work in their homeland.
I can’t begin to describe the drive back, so just imagine being on the Indiana Jones ride at Disneyland, with seats half the size and no seat belts. It certainly was an adventure!
We start our teacher training session tomorrow, to which the mayor of Mori is coming! Please pray for us as we strive to encourage the 15 Indian teachers who are essentially serving as missionaries here at Riverside. May they feel united and centered on Christ!