The Purpose of Life is Not to Be Happy – But to Matter, to be Productive, to be Useful

Monday, 1-17-2011
“Patience is waiting. Not passively waiting, that is laziness. But to keep going when the going is hard and slow. That is patience” ~Unknown

It is Pongul; the Celebration of the Feast. Today is a holiday and for the third day in a row I am not getting my paint. Must remind myself  be patient. The girls took off for Assisi and I went to the hospital to paint. As it was particularly warm, i found the paint not cooperating the way  I wanted it to. Patience…The wall mural is just about done so i asked  the hospital custodian to get me a ladder. Under the assumption, the  key word being: assumption, that I would get an American-like ladder, imagine my surprise when in comes at least a 15 foot bamboo ladder. I  looked at it and thought…patience. Anyway, with the help of my new friend, I was able to climb the ladder and begin working on the parrot that I am drawing for one of the blank  walls. I held my bady in THE most precarious positions thinking, I wish  Shelly A. could give me a massage! Doing all I could do there, I wrapped it up and headed downstairs to wait for the rest of the group to pick me up. While waiting, I was approached by an elderly nun who proceeded to hold an entire conversation with me in Tamil. I must handle nodded and smiled in all the right places because she continued on not missing a beat. After the crew picked me up I was able to find that Lisa worked this  morning with two of the orphans who were having physical problems. She did what she could do before losing their interest. Carol too to working with the child, using her motherly gifts to calm them down.Julie worked alongside Shellly taking cues from her as to what rhymes  they would be doing. Shelly has endless energy and a voice like an angel. She mesmerizes those kids when she starts to sing.
Lunch followed our arrival home and then Lisa, Shelly, and I headed out to the tailors. Closed.. Then Lisa and I went to Jothi fashions to see if  anything struck Lisa’s fancy…which it didn’t. At 3:00 we headed to SEAMS. It’s always a pleasure to be  there. I got to work with the  boys on Microsoft Word documents and how to save them and attach them into an email.The rest of the girls worked with the kids, reading stores, playing games, and singing songs. After SEAMS, Stephen took us into the city to the GRT Gold & Silver store as well as the Textile store. There I traded in my beloved ankle bracelets for 2 new ones. Carol bought herself some lovely rings and earrings. She also found chudidar material. Sheeba treated herself to a new sari.As Lisa, Julie, and I sat pie-eyed (we were beyond tired) on the steps waiting for the others, I was struck not only by the fact that we stood out amongst the sea of brown, but by the sad condition of the beggars. It hurts my heart everytime I see one.At long last we headed home falling into our own routines. It’s been a really long day. Full of work, lots of love, and plenty of hugs.

January 18, 2011
The day began early for me as I was up before Shelly T and Lisa. Lisa did her usual exercise routine stepping from one side of the common room to the other, Shelley T drank her needed cup of coffee while engaged on the internet waken the others. When I got up, Stephen was at door carrying a sleeping Roshan. I thought, “Oh no. They are taking him to the doctor.” Sheeba said they were on their way to mass.

After breakfast, we got on with our usual schedules. As Lisa and I were in the car for our ride to St. Joseph’s, Shelley T joyously skipped past holding high a quart of paint as though it was an Olympic torch. She WILL finish her murals before leaving India. Julie went off to finish her final tasks for Global Volunteers. Lisa and I were welcomed by our 3 Kindergarten classes, who were glad to see us after a 4 day holiday for Pongal. We have improved our lesson plans based on what we learned about the children in week one. It’s amazing that my lessons complement Lisa’s and vice versa, since we don’t plan together. As we leave the site, I enjoy walking past the classes eating their home-packed lunches just outside their classrooms and seeing the variety of lovingly packed food

Back at the guest house I gave up taking a nap in order to visit the tailor shop with Sheeba and ordering 2 chudodars and one silk sari. From the tailor’s, I rode directly to Grace School to meet with my 8 fourth graders and 4 fifth graders. I dictated sentences to the fourth graders emphasizing correct punctuation and contractions. I began reading Charlotte’s Web to the fourth graders, a book I have read aloud many times before. I dictated sentences with o’clock to the fifth graders, but was interrupted by their eagerness to show me the new earth box just delivered to the classroom. I tried to hold an English conversation with them about who gave them the boxes, how many boxes the school had received, and what would be planted in the boxes, but in spite of their eagerness, I still don’t know the answers to those questions. But they were able to tell me how to initially set up the boxes. After the excitement, we resumed dictation with sentences about earth boxes. Toward the end of class one of the girls repeatedly opens the door to see how much time is left before dismissal. With 5 minutes to go, they wanted to know when I would go back to America we spontaneously did the Hokey Pokey. They do like to wiggle their booties. One of the boys always carries my book bag to the car and one of the girls takes my hand and escorts me out. They check to see whether Stephen is there with the car, and if he is not they make me wait inside the gate. I never saw Lisa this afternoon, as she walked to Grace and back.

After a bit of rest, we all headed to SEAMS for our evening work. Ajit was delighted to finish a beginning sight word workbook, but then he thought his time with me was up. He said the next workbook was for his friend. Mainly he wanted to see what the other children were doing with the earth box just outside. He would not begin a second workbook saying it was for another child. We both were relieved when it was time for Julie’s farewell. Now I understand his impatience. He and his friend preformed an elaborate and somewhat sensual dance in the farewell program. Many handshakes later, we finally headed back to the guest house to get ready for Julie’s farewell dinner in a nice hotel restaurant. Roshan slept through it all in Sheeba’s arms while the rest of us gorged on delicious salads, main dishes, and most important of all-dessert. Back home everyone soon went to bed, except 3 of us. Julie and Stephen had a telephone chat with people in the MPLS office, and I stayed up to type the Journal.

Quote of the day: Peace and war begin at home. If we truly want peace in the world, let us begin by loving one another in our own families. If we want to spread joy, we need for every family to have joy.

Mother Teresa

Wed. January 19th 2011

The first time I woke up this morning I was woken up by the super loud banging of Shelly and Lisa from inside their room. Somehow they got locked inside! Why did it have to be the two girls that get up the earliest??? I had to assure Lisa profusely that it was not my fault since after I knocked I didn’t even touch the door after it was opened. Beware of the self locking doors.

Then I got up again a little early than my usual luckily since I have gotten back into my morning grogginess. A shame I was enjoying waking up bright and alert, so once again I am dragging myself out of bed in the morning. We had a slight change of plans this morning since Julie who left today was having a meeting with all the host leaders for the program. Surprisingly it is the first time they have all met. I was nice to meet Julie she was bright, expressive person and I enjoyed her jokes and stories. I hope she has a nice trip to Agra.

I went to Assisi and Shelly T to the hospital to continue working on her mural. I had a wonderful morning with the children teaching them, capital letters. For the first time since I have started this project I actually managed to accomplish to get each child to write the letter they were working on, hallelujah! Working with them one on one is making a difference with the amount of progress they are making and I feel greatly pleased with my decision to insist on it. I went downstairs at 11:30 as requested and sang songs with the rest of the group. Sister Matilda insisted we stand up to sing even though I enjoy keeping them sitting because it keeps them calmer. I believe that the sister really just personally wants to enjoy a good round of the hookie pookie since she always seems to request it. After lunch I was feeling ill and they let me lie down for a short nap, when it passed I got up went downstairs and read to the children and once again sang Christmas songs. Its cute that ever since I sang the full version of Jingle Bells they have started to ask me to sing the song Dashing instead because that is the first word in the song.

At lunch I once again lied down to help myself feel better before going to Seams. When we got there they were cleaning up the days work of making chicken biryani in huge pots because there was a wedding at the church where the pastor works. I started with my second group first since I unfortunately had neglected them the day before because Stephen forgot to let me know when it was time to switch groups. I usually play a game of go fish after our studies but when we had been playing a an extended amount of time and I was becoming weary of the game I went out and asked Stephen what’s up and he said “Opps I forgot, sorry bring everyone down here because we are saying goodbye to Julie”. So today I didn’t play any go fish and just concentrated on our studies of flash cards for English and addition.

Shelly T introduced the boys to facebook at their request and loaded up pictures of them with her camera. Welcome to the wonderful and irritating world of silly applications, photo tagging and wall posting. Lisa had a hard time in her room because it was full of smoke and it was bothering her a little unfortunately she is not aware of being able to request the kids to use the fans yet.

After dinner I took Shelly T and Lisa to the textile store, But luckily we finally got Shelly to gave in and she bought a pretty blue sari. YAY! Now next week we can all go out and immerse ourselves in Indian culture draped in the wonderfully colourful fabrics of India. Go Team! For meeting our goal of immersing ourselves in the culture.

“Culture is the widening of the mind and of the spirit.” Jawaharlal Nehru (Indian Prime minister

Shelly -A

Journal for Saturday, Jan. 22 and Sunday, Jan. 23

“The purpose of life is not to be happy-but to matter, to be productive, to be useful, to have it make some difference that you have lived at all. ~Leo Rosten

On Saturday, was up at the crack of dawn to see Lisa off. Am going to miss my roomie. She was such an asset to the team. Stephen and I left early to go to the hospital to paint I think this elephant is going to be awesome that we got up on the wall today!! When I returned home, Carol was up in her room getting some much needed  R&R. I headed to the roof with my Kindle to promote skin cancer and work on a tan.
Sheeba, Stephen, and Roshan started planting one of the Earth Gardens. Tomatoes and other vegetables. These can be purchase for $50.00 in the  U.S. That is all…so all you blog readers, get on it now! The plan is  to have several at SEAMS, Assisi, Grace School, as well as St. Joseph’s. What satisfaction the kids will feel knowing they are growing their own food.
Later in the day, Carol and I went to the Government Emporium. We were able to accomplish a great deal of shopping in an hours time. Getting to know Carol’s style of shopping, I’d say she did incredibly well. We also picked up our saris and then the fashion show was on. I’d be totally surprised if I can figure out how to put it on once I return to the states. I figure if Shelly and Marie can do it, I can! Carol looked regal in her purple satin sari and I must admit, I cut quite the figure in my own. Sunday was not the best day for me. I woke up feeling sick, having been up all night fighting the bug that somehow managed to invade my body. Despite feeling badly, we all took a rickshaw to church. I lasted about half an hour and told Sheeba I had to go. She took me to their Indian style restroom…no flusher, no toilet paper, just a beautiful hole in the ground…surrounded by tiles for aesthetic purposes, I’m sure. But listen carefully, when you got to go you got to go. I left church and headed home. While on my walk I was graced by bird poop landing on my head. Pretty much summed up how I was feeling.
Later in the afternoon we went on a tour of the entire city of Chennai. We visited the slums, the middle class areas and then the Brahmin area, where the wealthier people live. We learned a lot (more) about the Cast System and how it works here in India. Upon learning these facts, I would have to categorize myself in the Shatrya’s Class…the warrior. Don’t know why, but I kind of like the sound of it. I’m definitely not a Brahmin and definitely not a Sudras, but somewhere in between.
We ended up at the Bay of Bengal where Sheeba yearned for some fresh fish. We stopped and she took to the vendors and found several different kinds!
Sunday evening, I discovered that the bug had creeped it’s way back in. Foregoing dinner, PIZZA! I went back to bed. Sheeba, Stephen, and Roshan went to a wedding. Shelly came home from an exciting fun-filled weekend.
All in all, it was a perfect, quiet, calm, weekend.

Shelly – T

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