Monday, February 27, 2012

Little Flower School

This was such a day of blessing as we shared the day at the Little Flower School. Dimbeswar runs a school of approximately 250 students ages 3-16. We visited in some of the classes early in the morning. The children jumped to attention as we entered each room giving a salute and a crisp “Good morning, Miss!” They were each one eager to shake my hand and ask, “How are you?” then respond back “I am fine, thank you.” It reminded me of the days I took Spanish in elementary school and so enjoyed the opportunity to speak to “real” Spanish speakers in Puerto Rico while visiting my grandparents. Classes were interrupted in the bamboo rooms lining the school yard as the echoes from classes nearby gave hints to the approaching American women visiting their school. Children grinned from ear to ear as we took the time to shake hands and to call Ruth Gunter children by name as we recognized them in the rooms.
After visiting and greeting teachers and students in each of the classrooms, we were set up in a larger room that doubles as the kitchen for the school and home, dining room for church meetings, bedroom for guests and auditorium for smaller groups. There we taught music for most of the day as several classrooms would convene to learn songs from America. We taught the basic four songs to each class…65 6-8 year olds, 78 3-5 year olds, 57 9-12 year olds and about 20 13-16 year olds. We started by placing stickers on their hands of a frog and a butterfly to teach “Bullfrogs and Butterflies” in our own short version. This has been repeated daily with our Ruth Gunter children, so they were able to serve as leaders for their groups at school. We have shortened greatly the song “Make a Heart for Jesus” to four lines, but it is a calming and comforting song after B&B. Then we used “Head and Shoulders” to get them into TPR (Total Physical Response) strategies for learning a second language. I enjoyed teaching “If You’re Happy and You Know It” to each group. I think they enjoyed it too. Then we ended each session with “You are a child of the King” playing on the CD while we shook each child’s hand. I asked their names and then spoke my only Assomese sentence, “Jesue ama morom koree’” which was greeted by all but the last student with great grins. The last child was actually the best English speaker in the school, and had been the MC for Saturday’s program. She grimaced at my attempt to speak her language, then realized that I must be speaking Assomese. She is from Nepal and does not speak Assomese, so only communicates in her new homeland in English. Thus, a wonderfully strong English has developed for her! Our last group was both small enough and old enough to venture into one additional song/game. We introduced them to the “Hokey Pokey” much to their delight. (B&B had been a bit slow to draw them into our band.)
The children dismissed at 2:00. The busses loaded up and headed in several directions. Recently I had seen the Indian school bus on an internet site, but here we found them act ually being used. They are three-wheel cyles with metal cages on the back lined with two two-by-fours for seats. I can only imagine the experience of being transported in such a vehicle over rock and gravel roads! Other children walked home or road with the Ruth Gunter students back to the village of Chakihali some ten minutes away by car.
Jonnie and I then met with the lady teachers of Ruth Gunter to present them the lovely book bags made by Donna and her friends and gifts such as the Bible study guides written by Yvonne and bound by Carolyn. The ladies were honored and reciprocated by presenting us with a traditional Indian token of honor- a gamosa or bihuwan which is a stole or towel draped over the shoulders. They also pinned us with a replica chapi--a hat used by the rice farmers during the rainy season to protect head and body from the rain instead of using an umbrella. We shared teaching strategies and Jonnie shared the Cds and posters of the butterfly and bullfrog life cycles she had brought for them.
We had been served lunch in Dimbeswar and Mamu’s home by Mamu. It was a delicious rice with cashew nuts, fried eggplant, corn and the tiniest potatoes sliced and grilled that I have ever seen! Then she brought us a bowl of corn flakes for dessert! Mamu also presented us at that time with a suijer and dupatta which she had had made special for us. We enjoyed wearing them the rest of the day.
After the teachers had to leave, Dimbeswar took us to visit the Ruth Gunter Home again. We were too late to be able to share with the teachers there, but left their bags for them to receive tomorrow. The children were sprucing up for our visit as they awoke from afternoon rests. Some were still eating lunch. Others were out bathing in the water hose and washing their morning clothing to be hung to dry for the morning to come. Older children were helping to groom the younger ones. Coconut oil was used in abundance to tame bed-tossed hair and to smooth dry skin. They were thrilled to show off their cubbies and their backpacks of belongings…some shared among the throng, others specific to the individual. Mostly they share.
We had another time with the children and shared with them some more trinkets-bookmarks, markers, stickers, etc. and a last piece of bubble gum! We loved on them, sang with them and toured their home and grounds. Jonnie even got to meet Beauty and her reluctant calf! They were proud to herd the ducks and hens around for us to see. Dimbeswar, Jonnie and I were served tea while we visited outside with the children. The sun was low in the dusty sky as we said good-bye to the children.
Dimbeswar accompanied us back to town to our hotel with stories of the day spilling over the seat to us in the back. He seemed very pleased with the week we have shared and the reactions he has received from his church members, teachers, students, houseparents and the Children of Ruth Gunter. Dimbeswar will pick us up early tomorrow at noon. “No Wheels Turning” is the slogan for twelve hours across India in protest of high prices.
Thankfully, we will be driving the four hour trek to catch our flight on Wednesday and not tomorrow!
As we left the dining room of our hotel, the principal of James Connection School and his wife and his child were waiting to visit with us. They drove over an hour from Manikpur to Bongaigaon spent twenty minutes waiting for us to finish eating to approach us and only about fifteen minutes visiting us before they headed back home…and all after dark on very busy streets. We were honored with another gamosa by his wife and left with a letter to Gary Tate.
Bullfrogs and Butterflies

Mamu's dinner on brass plate

Little  Flower Female Staff

Priscilla & Daniel


Dainty tea sippers
Our day was complete…a spiritual and emotional blessing that will accompany us through eternity!

1 comment:

  1. As God leads you through the lives of these delightful people you are making such a difference! the Butterfly effect and the What ifs give evidence to God's ways.......... All the way around the world. Hard to believe your time there is drawing to a close.... As we say our evening prayers we will think of your drive back to the airport.... Safe travels will be in our prayers.......