Is 62 photos too many? I, Clifton, find myself asking myself this question as I put together this week’s newsletter. Here on the mission we have good weeks and we have great weeks, these last 7 days certainly tip the scales towards the great side… and, as I sit by the fire and begin to write, I realize those days truly do deserve 62 images to tell their tale.


6th January 2018

Of course the obvious event this week was our New Year’s Eve celebrations. Like millions the world over we celebrated the revolution of our planet around the sun in spectacular fashion. On the mission we join together on NYE, hold a short thanksgiving service in our church, a large meal with our family and then the party really begins.

Lachlan and Katie led the music of the NYE service.
Simeon shared a message with all in attendance.
Balloons joined our Christmas decorations to give a special feel to the room.
The big boys table was filled with cheer.
Shivani enjoyed her dinner!
Once the meal is devoured, the dishes are washed and the floors are swept the lights are turned down, the smoke machine heats up and the DJ dance party begins. Where many of the kids danced under the disco ball and laser lights, others chose a quieter, less Footloose style environment to spend their final moments of 2018; a huge bonfire at the back of the kitchen.
This is the only photo that we have of the DJ party, mostly cause Clifton has a phobia of dance.
The bonfire was a much quieter place to hang out.
What NYE is complete without fireworks?
Happy New Year everyone!
On New Years Day our kids headed into the jungle for a picnic by the river side. They had a wonderful time playing in the sand, the water and the grass. There were loads of wild beros (small tart berries) for all to pick and munch on and Priscilla cooked a wonderful meal with the help of Kamal, Malika and Jyotika.
Rajesh picking beros, small tangy berries that grow wild in the jungle.
You have to watch out for the thorns!
Manisha loves beros!
Santoshi chose to sit by the river side to enjoy her tangy treats.
Santoshi's handful of beros.
Raju spent the day making a "house" for the youngest ones.
Malik, Danny and Dylan decided the sand was as good a spot as any for a wrestle.
Post-wrestling bliss.
For the older ones there were plenty of photo moments.
We are not sure what Rosie thought she was doing in this photo... but rest assured it didn't work.
Shane's shot however worked a whole lot better.
He didn't even need Roma to lift his legs!
Ayushi wanted to show everyone the dress she got for Christmas.
Raj decided to climb a tree and try to spot elephants.
Cynthia decided she wanted to chop down the tree, with Raj in it.
Somewhere along the line a huge 'sword fight' broke out. No one was injured (don't ask us how that happened).
Priscilla cooking lunch for the group.
Lining up for the meal.
The Nursery kids enjoying their lunch.
Lunch was a scrumptious chicken biriyani.
Niyati found a use for the cooking pot that none of us expected: a little girls boat!

The biggest event this week wasn't the New Year, it was an older girls trip to the Himalayas for an adventure they will remember for the rest of their lives! On Sunday morning 12 of the girls piled into three taxis with Rick, Clifton and Priscilla before heading high into mountains. Their destination was the same place the boys went last week: the lakeside towns of Bhimtal and Naukuchiyatal.

Basanti reserved her window seat in the taxi.
Breakfast on the road was a lot of fun.
The group at the Bhimtal lake, ready to start the day.
Corinna and Sonia having the first of many (many, many) photo shoots by the lake.

Bhimtal is famous across India for it's beauty, many thousands travel the winding roads up to the lake each year to enjoy boating on it's lakes clear waters. For our girls this was a huge adventure, for most it was their first time in a boat. Most were a little bit nervous but everyone had a good time; though for some the experience was better than for others.

Sonia was very excited to head out into the open water.
Gladys and Dylan had Rick to assure them on their first boat ride.
Corinna, Aaron and Jessica were not concerned about the ride.
It didn't take long for Malik to realize he could shift his body weight and scare the pants off the girls in his boat. He pretty much terrorized them the whole way.
Rosie had tears in her eyes but simply could not stop laughing as the boat rocked in the water.

After the girls firmly established their 'sea legs' they headed into shore and made a straight line toward the momo shop. Momos are a delicious type of Tibetan dumpling filled with meat and spices cooked in a steaming basket.

The girls almost ate all of the momos the store had to offer.
A yummy plate of chicken momos.
Riva beautifully framed through the window of the momo shop.
Rosie would have stayed in the momo shop all day if we had let her.

With bellies full the group climbed back into their taxis and made the 10 minute drive to the next destination: Naukuchiyatal. This new lake was even more beautiful than the first and no one could resist a walk around it's borders (even with tummies full of dumplings).

Off on a walk (or swing) around the lake.
Jessica in a moment of a pure fun.
Dylan pointing out the fish swimming deep below to his brother Malik.
Roma and Catherine climbed out on an overhanging branch to meet a family of ducks swimming by.
A few snacks convinced the ducks to come in a little closer.
Sonia couldn't believe how close the ducks were willing to come to her.

After the walk it was back in the boats to explore the lake a little more. This time paddle boats, or rather 'paddle swans' were used to give a new sense of freedom and excitement to the adventure. The kids were able to steer their own swans, which meant they inevitably ended up playing a game of '"dodge em' swans" out on the water. Don't worry, they all had life jackets.

Dylan, that might not quite be your size jacket.
Malik steered the swan while Roma and Catherine paddled. We are not sure where Rosie found the courage to get back into another boat with Malik from!
You know of "Bumper Cars" but do you know "Bumper Swans"?

After the kids were sufficiently wet from the splashing of the boats, they ate some more food, headed for a walk up the mountain for a view of the lake and then returned back prepared to get in the taxis and head back home...

At the end of a long and tiring walk up the hill. the drivers began to unlock the doors of the car one of the girls noticed something: a man standing by a shelf of sparkly material right by the waters edge. "What is that?" asked Jessica. "I know what that is", replied Riva, "that's a dress up shop". "Wouldn't it be great to dress up in those funny clothes and take some photos?" Catherine asked. Everyone agreed and in that unexpected moment some life long memories were crafted.
Riva the dancing prince.
Priscilla the Bandit.
Like characters from a story book. This was the best 40 rupees (60 cents) these girls had ever spent.
As a final little cherry on top of an incredible week two of Clifton's friends from Delhi arrived on the weekend for some fun at the mission and beyond it. After a late night bonfire and dinner out in the jungle the boys headed up into the mountains on their motorbikes along with a group from the mission and stayed the night at our old property in Abbot Mount. Though the roads were dusty, filled with landslides and perhaps a little too long, they had a great time and came back late Saturday afternoon.
Dinner in the jungle under the stars was a special treat for the visitors from Delhi.
The property in Abbot Mount was previously used as a summer retreat for our kids.
The journey into the mountains was a beautiful one.

And so, this brings to an end our increidble week. What a start to the new year! We hope that yours too has been filled with adventure and fun. Enough words, were going to end this newsletter here. Until next week...

Blessing on you,
Rick, Clifton, Eugene & Priscilla

Copyright © 2019 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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