We went to a lovely place on Saturday called Pondicherry. The very name, being actually easy to pronounce, and giving you thoughts of cherries and lily-covered ponds, should make one want to visit.
We went to the beach, hoping to swim. Most of beach is very rocky, but we found a little area by a dock that had a sandy shore. On the way, we found these cute goats. Although I've been taking goat photos, I haven't been posting them! Sorry, sorry!
Later that night, we went to the Saturday night movie night the Rising Star students have in their dining hall. They project a movie for all the kids who have earned enough stars (points for good behavior) to be eligible to attend. This is Subehda and me, she's in 6th grade. She's one of eleven children! That's pretty unusual for India. Most families I've observed have two or three children.
Sundays, even in India, are one of my favorite days. Today Carson played the opening hymn because the pianist was late, and we had a wonderful testimony meeting. A funny story....Carson bore his testimony and mentioned "my wife, Faith," and after Sacrament meeting a young woman who had led the music came up to Carson and said, "I had no idea you are married! I thought you were a bachelor!" I was in the bathroom soon after and heard her and her friend talking about how they can't believe Carson's married. Haha. I think they had a mini crush on him. Can't blame them.
One testimony that stood out to me was a man who got up and said, "I am thankful that Rising Star exists. I recently watched a movie called the Pursuit of Happyness, and I know this is not a place to talk about movies, but it made me think about how many kids are on their own these days. In India there are so many children with no one to take care of them. Children don't know anything. They have nothing. They cannot be on their own yet. I am so thankful for the volunteers who come to help at Rising Star and take care of these children and teach them, and also that the Church helps to take care of children."
I am thankful for the blessing of getting to know these children, too (although, let me clarify, they're not orphans. All of them come from families, but families that are in someway affected by leprosy, and thus these children would have few opportunities open to them). It's easy to see these 250 children, all dressed in their uniforms most of the time, their hair done exactly the same way, and think of them as just a mass of kids. But with effort, as we try to get to know each of them as individuals, hear about their experience here, their families, their hopes, their opinions, and get to know their very distinct little personalities, they become much more than just the swarm of "Indian kids" that perhaps most people see when they see photos or hear about "poor kids in India." They are incredible. I don't know how much we're actually blessing their lives, but I sure feel blessed to get to know them.