Wednesday we planned to use as a day of rest and reflexion. Mark is still under the weather. He joined us at the breakfast table for toast and juice, but is planning another day of rest and recuperation.
The sun is already in full force by 7:30. Without the rains of the monsoons, the heat is intense. Even in my air conditioned hotel room, my laundry dries before I can return from a meal in the restaurant! In Manikpur where the monsoons have only just begun, clothes washed on Wednesday afternoon were packed wet Saturday morning for the train ride to Bagdogra!
Ray and I headed over to the school here in Bagdogra run by Naris, one of Ray's contacts. They had planned for us to have a short visit at the school and lunch in their home. The school houses grades nursery through class three. In each of these schools the lower grades are larger as the school is gaining prestige in the neighborhood. English medium school is an option these areas have not had before, so there were very few brave parents who took the chance five years ago to trust their children's education to a startup school. This school has only six in grade three, but twenty nine in nursery! The eight teachers rotate through the classes teaching various subject matter during the day. While most classes are taught in English, the children also learn to read and write in Hindi (national language) and Bengali (state language)! As we entered each class, the children rise and salute us with, "Good morning, Sir. Good morning, Miss." They only sit again when directed to do so. We made our way to each classroom, shaking each hand with personal greetings. Precious children and loving teachers!
This is a page from the copy book of a five year old child learning to read and write in four languages with four different scripts!
We visited in the home of Naris and Shamila and toured the chicken farm under construction. When the children were dismissed early due to the intense heat (A child died from the heat in the southern part of the state this week.), we took the opportunity to visit with the teachers for a few minutes. In India, it is not necessary to have formal training to become a teacher. Teachers teach as they were taught. They are eager to learn from anyone who is willing to share.
Lunch was delicious! Rice, dahl, vegetables, chicken, cucumbers and carrots and warmed chips were followed by Sophna's signature dish...noodles, cashews and toasted coconut in sweet milk! A small lunch by nobody's standards!
On the way back to the hotel, we dropped in on Joseph to learn of his current endeavors beginning a children's home called David's House. He had a delightful family and a fairy tale love story that has produced precious little Jasmine currently in UKG.
Still no internet connections at the hotel! Still no peep from room 306!
This evening Ray and I walked to the home of Naris' in-laws. Shamila and Naris met us there along with other church/family members. We had a blessed time sharing with them. Nine year old Grace sang a solo in English and shared right along with the adults in Bible discussions! It was a day of refreshing joy and fellowship.
We returned for a light meal before bed and actually found the wifi had returned!
Tomorrow morning we expect a hotel visit from Mahendra and from Naris before we leave for the airport at 11:30 (1:00am in Texas!). The journey home will be long and arduous. We will arrive in Midland at 6:30 Friday night!