Its Monday morning and we pile it into our mini vans on our way to teach at the Abohar school for the first time. We enjoy a simple breakfast in the staff room while the temperature starts to quickly rise. The weekend was spent preparing lessons, materials and praying – generally pretty exciting and fun. However the heat was beginning to take its toll on a few of us. Some of us felt quite lethargic but we mostly attributed that to the jet lag, fast pace and the discomforts of being away from home. Throughout it all though, we were thankful for the opportunity to be here and do God’s work. No one would have traded places with someone to be somewhere else at this moment.
The school is bustling with activity while we eat. The students from each class have been preparing acts for a welcoming ceremony for a few weeks now. We are seated at the edge of a stage and each class takes turns coming on stage to perform their act, which ranged from singing, gymnastics, skits to banghra. Around the middle of the whole ceremony, one of the girls in her very early teens gave a testimony. She tells about how she accepted Christ as her saviour, made possible by the education provided at this school, but in doing so was shunned and disowned by her Sikh family. She was under relative care now but the pain of disownership ran deep. Many of us fought back tears for this girl.
The temperature was high as we reached mid day. The MC, one of the teachers, was wearing full dress shirt and jeans, which I found absolutely amazing since I was sweating through my shorts and shirt. By the end of the ceremony, he had sweat through his shirt and the hip area of his pants! Some of the team were starting to not feel well from the heat and by the end of the ceremony, CP, EmHo and Adam had decided to head back to the hotel to rest.
The rest of the day was spent teaching our lessons. Sam and I had prepared a lesson on Canadian animals. We taught them about caribou, polar bears, beluga whales and beavers. When I help up the large beaver printout that we had and asked what it was, they yelled “RAT!”. In their defence though, the printout did only show the head haha. The running joke became that beavers were basically giant rats, which some of the kids found amusing while others found disgusting. We had even prepared a game of pin-the-tail-on-the-beaver which they seemed to enjoy. My balloon animals were very well received as well. I only wish I had an electric inflater of sort because after 5-6 balloons I didn’t have it in me to continue blowing them haha.
The older classes had advanced English skills and we could communicate with them no problem. The younger ones were a bit more difficult so we had the teachers translate for us. One of the things I did notice was the unspoken division between girls and boys there. Girls were particularly shy and didn’t command attention as well as the boys. The was a bit less evident in the older classes but still not completely gone. The students in every class though were more attentive than I could have asked for. I didn’t need to discipline any students and they listened and respected the teachers while we were talking. I really got a glimpse at how rewarding teaching could be given the cooperative efforts of the children.
After lunch, we headed back to the hotel but what we were faced with alarmed every member of the team. During lunch, Billy had said he wasn’t feeling well and that he should have gone back with the other group. He didn’t look good. We went to the rooms to check up on the people that went home early and they were becoming extremely ill. Barely conscious and suffering exhaustion, CP, Billy and EmHo were sent to a local clinic within an hour of us getting home. Adam, who’s symptoms weren’t as bad but still was very sick went along too. EmHo could barely stand and needed Cindy to help walk her down the stairs to the car. This left myself, Tessa, Betty, Emily and Sam. With both pastors and 2 team members down and no word on their condition, we weren’t sure where to go from here and what to do. What’s worse was that we were scheduled to visit a village that evening, where CP would give a message. How the hell were we going to pull this one off?