4 November 2018

There have been moments in the life of the Good Shepherd Agricultural Mission that have defined us. Moments where big change has occurred or powerful blessings have been given to us. We're always thankful during such moments to give all the glory to God, as all of it is out of our hands. The proper rain at the proper time, the right person with the right skill or the right commitment. Our success is really an exercise in faith. And today was no different.

This afternoon, Saturday November 3rd, was a huge day for all of us as four baseless court cases against us were dismissed all at once. Without belaboring the details, a local troublemaker was claiming to be the Secretary of the Mission board (which he is not), and was attempting to kick Rick, Clifton and Eugene off the property. Additionally, he was suing to block the construction of our new staff housing, which has been on hold for nearly a year and a half.

Well, after many visits to courts and tons of spent energy and money, all cases were officially thrown out today. It was a verdict that our actual Secretary, Eugene George, has been working toward for many long and stressful months. When the order came down in our favor, it was time to celebrate and a large contingent welcomed Eugene at the gate like the conquering hero that he is. We launched fireworks, banged drums, ate sweets and danced for joy. It was a very good day.

Trudy (on left) came out of class to be a part of the welcome committee. Catherine (on right) came running out of her room.
Kirsten Elstner, Director of the National Geographic Photo Camps returned this week, waiting behind the gate with some of our small girls.
Eugene's wife, Filly, waits with David Sir, our school principal, for the party to start.
It was an emotional moment for Eugene when he pulled into the gate. Tears of joy could not be held back by the big man.
Drums and fireworks announced our victory for all to hear.
Even with painful legs and a mouth full of sweets, Auntie Josie was the first to start dancing!
Sonny Thomas couldn't resist getting his dance on.
Back at the office, the party continued with sweets and music, with old and new friends.
Peter was not going to miss out on the celebration.
Sunny taking Priscilla for a victory spin.
Huge thanks go to our actual board Secretary for helping make this day happen. We could not have done it without you, Eugene.

This was really the start of a massive party that saw the entire community come together, but we'll get through a few more bits of business before we highlight that. Because as usual, there was lots going on through out the week.

Like the end of our legal troubles, nothing gets done all at once. Step by step, sometimes brick by brick, improvements are made. This week, we wrapped up the new, waterproof roof on the nursery, and launched into preparing the big boys' roof for the same.

Rick, removing the boundary wall on top of the big boys' hostel.
This kind of careful demolition takes time.
It takes a lot more time when you include the wheelbarrow races.
Jimika carrying a load down from the roof.
The boys at the end of a long day.
Of course there is always some extra energy for play at the end.
Hearts filled with satisfaction at the end of a hard days work.

Of course no week would be complete without a few birthdays and this week we celebrated the birth of Atalia (age 4) and Cathy (age 28). Both parties were huge hits and both birthday girls were happy and beautiful on their big days. We love you both and we're so happy to count you as part of our family.

Atalia in her party dress at sunset. Happy to be four!
Cathy and her cake with a few candle blowers...
...then out to dinner with her sisters and a few friends. Happy Birthday, Cathy. We love you.

The week also saw the completion of the first ever Maxton Strong Chess Tournament with competitors turning up from thirteen different schools in our area to play for the glory of their schools (and some shiny trophies!). Some players were fairly new to the game, losing matches in just a few moves to more experienced students. But the final few matches were drama filled, with two Maxton Strong students playing for the top prize. Special thanks to Ben Elstner for hosting and fund-raising for the entire affair. With the donated boards and clocks he brought with him, we hope to make this an annual event.

Ben prepping the students for the tournament.
Around 40 students from 13 different schools competed in the tournament.
A student from a nearby school.
Catherine keeping a close eye on the scores.
Maybe not the World Cup, but still, coveted prizes.
The final four.
The final was a fierce battle in a room filled with silent spectators.
The winner, Manav (in green) beat a player who competes for the state in the semi-finals. Great job to all.
All the participants of the Maxton Strong School Chess Tournament.

But really, the week belongs to Eugene and our courtroom victory. It's hard to convey the relief and joy that is flowing around the mission but perhaps a few pictures of the massive party we threw on Saturday night will help put into words what we are feeling. In song, and dance, in laughter, and fellowship, we give thanks to God for this great moment in our journey, grateful for His so many blessings that protect us and hold us each and every day.

Celebration Party held on Saturday night.
Rick, Clifton and Eugene (in the front) welcome some 300+ people to the evenings party. Clifton opened the night with a prayer of thanksgiving.
It doesn't take more than a moment for the dancing to begin...
Jeffrey getting his groove on.
Ganesh diving head first into the celebrations.
The DJ lights, sub-woofers and tunes beat away until midnight.
Some of the boys took a sweaty break from the dancing to have a photo.
The girls quickly followed the boys lead.
Simultaneously with the dancing dinner was served.
A great feast was had by all.
Malika, Sabithri and Pinky lining up for dinner.

Clifton is also back after more than 2 weeks on a photography assignment with Indian motorcycle company Royal Enfield that took him along India's border areas with Bhutan, Bangladesh and China... but more on that next week.

For now we need a rest. Another week is beginning in just a few short hours. Thanks to everyone of our supporters who are celebrating with us in spirit tonight. We share this victory with you and we look forward to many more celebrations to come.

Blessing on you,
Rick, Clifton, Eugene & Priscilla

Copyright © 2018 The Good Shepherd Agricultural Mission
The Good Shepherd Agricultural Mission is a registered non-profit and society in Uttarakhand, India that undertakes the care of around 75 orphan and destitute children. The Mission works to be as self-supporting as possible through income generated internally by it's farm and school. For more information see our website.

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Strong Farm
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