25th November 2018

Weeks fly by here at the mission. Old and new friends come and go. Projects begin and end. Change is the only constant. For us, these weekly Prayer Letters are a chance to take stock in all that happened before another week sweeps through the mission gates once again. Thanks for taking this look back with us.

Let's start with a wedding. This week, our local village Chief's son got married, and in addition to a celebration in Delhi, a party was also thrown in Banbasa. Rick, Clifton, Eugene, Phil and Di Laidler, John Poxon (who just arrived) and Lachlan Brockbank (Clifton's cousin who is visiting for the next 2 months) attended along with a bunch of the older boys and girls from the mission. It was a time of loud music, fun dancing and really good food. 

At the wedding. We bid farewell to Di and Phil (right) and welcome Lachlan (left).
Dancing and eating when not taking pictures.
Cathy getting her dance on.
Above the wedding.

We also received another 10 huge bundles of quilts from CASA an Indian NGO. More than 300 of these handmade beauties were given to us, and we in turn passed them out to eager quilt lovers. Every child on the farm got 2, as did our staff members, workers and many local friends. It's always nice to be able to bless others when we are so richly blessed. Now, let the cold weather come!

Line up for quilts. Roma at the front.
Raymond ready to keep warm.
Girls wrapped in blankets.

One surprise that happened this week was a visit from the local Commanding Officer of the nearby military camp. The CO arrived with a small entourage of officers and their wives, eager to see what happens behind the mission gate. It wasn't an inspection. It was actually a friendly visit, with promises made to come again and really get to know the family. The CO even asked who among our Mission kids might be interested in joining the Army. When Kelly said she was thinking of possibly joining the Navy, he said he'd try to bring some Navy representative on his next trip. "There are many opportunities for women today in India's military," he added. As he prepared to get in his Army jeep and to ride home he said to Rick and Clifton "I really want to be a part of this big family, it seems like a place where everyone can be at home". We think he was absolutely right!

Everyone came out to say hello.
Clifton and Rick (with their children) with the CO (and his children).
Some of our girls wanted to pose with one of the fancy military cars.
The kids all sat in. Uncle John is back and standing in the back.
Clifton led a tour around the property.
A view from the back of the tour.
Saying goodbye at the end of great first visit.
The obligatory group shot.

One odd sight on the Mission this week was the plowing and grading of our playground. No, we are not looking for another acre of wheat. We are simply trying to remove the divots, holes and ruts that fill up and flood every time it rains. After some careful tractor work from Anish and some quick work from our new rotavator, the field should be ready to go...though there will be no rain in the forecast for many months.

Plowing the playground, leveling the ground.
Maintenance on the rotavator.
Pure rotovation in action!

The Big Boys' Hostel roof project is really taking shape as all the trusses are now in place. There will be concreting work to come and the tin roofing is on order, pretty soon the old hostel will be dry and ready for whatever the intense Indian weather can throw at it. Many of our bigger boys have really been working hard on this project that will directly impact the quality of their living spaces in the future. Great work boys!

When complete, the roof will no longer be subjected to the elements.
Lachlan came all the way from Australia to brush on rust-proof paint.
Raju hammering some pipes to be used to connect other pipes.

For a few final images, we'll take you out for a jungle walk. It's a common activity here at the mission, a chance to roam in some open space behind our property. We like to bring some food and drinks, some games, some music, and just play for a while. This week, it was a chance to pick beros (sour small round wild fruits), play soccer, cross lazy rivers and pose for far too many pictures at sunset. Here's a little slice of mission life on a very typical outing for us.

Santoshi steps into the stream of life.
Gordon taking  break from dominating the football field.
On the edge of the jungle.
Ayushi showing off a few of her masterful dance moves.
Shane was not going to left out of the dance off.
Kushbu and Shakshi ready to be models for your eyeglass company.
Dylan got a bad scratch near his eye and wanted to share it with you.
A game of "Jump the Gorge" was not going to defeat Ram Pal.
Uncle John proving you're never too old to potentially break a leg.
When Kelly gets hungry, she wants the food as quickly as possible.
This one's for you, Blanche!
Friends don't let friends get their feet wet.
Rajesh ending the day and another week.

And so another sun sets, another day ends, another week wraps up, and it all begins again. Thanks to everyone who makes this journey with us each and every week. These kids are our inspiration, but you are as well. Your support and encouragement and prayers sustain us day to day. With God's blessings, with the love of friends and family, we look forward to every day and every week that we get to live this life together. 

Blessing on you,
Rick, Clifton, Eugene, Priscilla & John

Manisha, Shivani, Ruhani and Saloni think they look like queens with their wrapping paper crowns. And they are right!
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
PO Banbasa
Dist. Champawat
Uttarakhand, INDIA, 262310

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