Dear friends, thank you for reading another instalment of our blog and for sending in all your questions; we hope you enjoy!
- What have you learnt about God so far this year?
Erin: I have not really been in a situation to have learnt this yet as I think that it is something that maybe I will only see when I look back. However, something that has been highlighted to me again and again in the last two months is that there are no coincidences with God and that every little event is a part of his bigger plan for my life.
Cameron: I have learnt in a very solid way that God demands more than the bare minimum, a cheap stingy effort is not good enough. Instead God demands prayer and contemplation, service and patience, above all to love and serve Him in all things and to respond to the graces He sends our way, to do His will. Seeing this in the lives of so many over here has made me understand the great cross that God gives everyone, but also the great reward of bearing it, which we must for the love of Him, with His help. Always saying ‘your will be done.’
Emily: One of the main things is that God has a bigger plan far beyond my understanding and I can trust him and he will provide me with everything I need in both big and small things.
- Weirdest thing
Team response: In honesty, this is a question we have struggled with. We have struggled because although we’re sure that we do all have weird things about us, we have lived with each other for so long that any quirks seem normal to us now.
3. Differences between India and home?
Team response: There are many differences between India and home. The noise and the number of people is a big and very obvious difference. Another difference is of course the food as it is much less varied here and can be rather spicy! However, these are just a couple among a multitude of differences!
4. What has been difficult/easy?
Erin: I have found teaching rather challenging at times as the children are not used to being in an environment where they have to listen and do their work. It has also been difficult at times to be so far from home and my family-sometimes I just want a hug from them! However, I have found it easy to spend time with and to love the children in all of our projects!
Cameron: Certainly, it has been very difficult dealing with the weather when it was at its hottest, although having access to air conditioning in the rooms has helped a lot. It was easier than expected to adapt to the food, I feel very lucky to have had the kitchen staff here making our meals for us most days. Perhaps the most difficult has been seeing a general lack of civility among many Indians, people spit on the floor, throw litter everywhere and drive with little courteously. It has also been difficult trying to bear in mind that lots of people will overcharge you, always having to be a little suspicious of the prices given. However India is developing rapidly and with many new shops and stores opening the high street isn’t too dissimilar from something you might see at home.
Emily: I initially found being away from home difficult but this has become a lot easier now. Also, planning lessons can be quite difficult and coming up with ways to teach that are engaging to children who aren’t used to sitting and learning is sometimes a challenge. Adjusting to having very little variety in food has been a lot more challenging than I expected! I have found the heat a lot easier to cope with than I thought I would. I now find life a lot easier here because this is normal now so almost all things have become easier, knowing more language has also helped with this.
A couple of difficult things have been living away from family – this was especially tough at the beginning but is a lot easier now. Also adjusting to life with little variety of food has been a bigger challenge than I expected.
Some things that have been easy are getting along with the local people because they’re all incredibly welcoming, learning language has been less of a struggle than I thought as has the heat!
5. Miss most about home?
Erin: Other than family and friends, the variety of food that we have day to day. Although we are fortunate not to have to worry about buying food and cooking, eating rice and dhal for lunch and dinner most days is a struggle for us. Often, I crave a big bowl of pasta or a lovely fresh salad!
Cameron: As I live in a small village there are lots of little things I miss, the nice green fields and farms, the fresh air, being able to see the stars at night. Most of all I have missed my family.
Emily: Variety and freshness of food, family and friends
6. Anything about God or in the Bible that you see differently?
Erin: I struggled to think of anything that I see differently as such but there are definitely attributes of God that I have become more aware of and have a stronger sense of now, such as his provision and faithfulness.
Cameron: It has been very enlightening to see the service of lots of the volunteers here, especially those who come to volunteer for a long time with the Missionaries of Charity and the sisters themselves. Often people have a tendency to talk without action, but it has been wonderful to see people really serving the poor and needy just as Our Lord did.
Emily: I think being in a very spiritual place where the vast majority of people believe in a god of some kind has opened my eyes up more to the reality of a spiritual world.
I’ve witnessed and heard stories of spiritual happenings and this has made me realise in a more real way that there’s a whole spiritual realm that I wasn’t overly conscious of before.
7. What are the children’s favourite things to do?
Team response: The children at GNCEM love singing and dancing, especially when actions are involved. They also love skipping so we spend a lot of time with a skipping rope in our hands!
At Daisy, the children love any new game that we teach them but the current favourite is Ninja (a fast-reflex game where you have to try and hit other peoples’ hands to get them out).
8. What one thing have you enjoyed the most?
Erin: It is really hard to choose one thing but spending time with the kids at Daisy Project in the evening has been a real blessing and is something I look forward to. I also really enjoy volunteering at Mother Theresa’s with the infants (I know I’ve cheated a bit by picking two but it’s just so hard to choose!)
Cameron: I have particularly enjoyed spending time and playing with the children at our projects. The children are mostly very happy and a pleasure to be around, when they don’t fight! It has been especially nice getting to know some of the children and their little personalities.
Emily: The thing I have enjoyed the most is getting to meet and make relationships with lots of different people. The children at school, at Daisy, the guests and staff at the guesthouse. I know this isn’t a specific day or event but my highlight is definitely the people I’ve met and have lived with here!
9. What is the most unexpected/surprising thing you have come up against and how did you deal with it?
Erin: This is a difficult question as, although we were prepared as much as possible by BMS, we were still coming out to such a new country and culture that we didn’t really know what to expect so everything was unexpected! However, one of the things that maybe was a little bit unexpected was that the kids at school knew so little English. Obviously, we knew that they would not know a huge amount but when we arrived we realised that they only knew “Good morning” if anything at all. I dealt with this by just trying to learn as much of the language as I could during our language lessons which I feel has paid off as now I can speak to the children more which is nice!
Cameron: Sometimes the schedule at school can become confused; there isn’t any way to react to this other than to just try as best as you can, and not to grumble.
Emily: This has been the most difficult question to answer – maybe would have been easier at the start of our time here when everything was surprising! We have experienced many surprises with the school that we work at. We have had many occasions when we have had lessons prepared and then been told that there’s no school the rest of the week with lots of festival holidays or vice verse where we have been spontaneously told to teach a lesson we hadn’t been told to plan for. I found this especially challenging towards the beginning of our time when on multiple occasions we were last minute told that there was no school for yet another festival because I just wanted to get into a routine and not have so many holidays and free time. I coped with this by trying to keep busy by going for walks, reading, doing some arty things and spending time with Jesus and taking my free time and frustration to Him.
-All of you for sending questions for us to answer-we have really enjoyed thinking about them! Also, for your continued support; we appreciate it a lot!
-Us as we prepare to finish our time in Kolkata-that mixed emotions about home wouldn’t distract from enjoying the last month here.