Monthly Archives: October 2013

Post 157. Leopards

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Leopards were real and they were in Mussoorie.  We heard one in our stairwell late one night and another one purring in the forest right next to our house.  Walking along the path was interesting; especially when we got home after dark.  We did a lot of loud talking and stomping in case they were nearby.  The kids had to be in the courtyard at sunset; especially Jordan who might easily have been mistaken for a small animal; the cutest kind of course. 

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They only appeared in winter.  Stray dogs weren’t safe.  The Masih’s dog, Lightning was attacked one night.  He was protecting one of his puppies.  His chest was badly wounded but his baby had a hero. 

The Dhobis had a huge black bull; which they dedicated to “Bhagwan”.  It was quite aggressive and we always prayed we wouldn’t meet it on our narrow path.  Fortunately we never did.

One night we heard it just below our balcony at the back of the house.  We knew it was there because it had a big clanging bell around it’s neck.  Tony dropped all kinds of things on it to chase it away but it didn’t budge.  Tiffany went out just after dark to see it and came back to tell us to bring a torch.  Tony shone it into a nearby bush, right into the eyes of a huge cat.  Its eyes were really far apart which told us how big its head was.  It stayed there for ages, looking into the torchlight.  We knew it could only have been a leopard.  Someone suggested it might have been a black one.

Aunty and Uncle, who lived in the small farmhouse next to us, had a big dog called “Johnny”   He reminded us of the dog in “The Perisher’s” cartoon, except he wasn’t nice.  They tied him up all day; which was probably the cause of his aggression.  Whatever it was, we were glad he wasn’t off his chain during the day. We woke up one morning to find he wasn’t there.  Uncle told us a leopard had taken him.  There were signs of a struggle but no one had heard anything.   

Sasha had a few more litters and a couple of her babies were taken.  She loved wandering off into the bush but always came back late in the afternoon.  There were times we were called to Woodstock School to pick her up; quite a few times actually.  She would wander onto the grounds to play with the kids, hoping they would share their lunch with her.

One day we realised she hadn’t been home for while.  She just disappeared.  We looked everywhere.   After a few days we had to tell the kids.  “Sasha has been taken by a leopard.”

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Post 156. An accident and a short summary

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Guy Ramsbotham came for a visit.  He did a lot of driving around with Tony.  On one of their trips back to Mussoorie, they were winding their way through the Shivalik hills and were hit by a truck.  It missed the jeep’s chassis by an inch.  They went swerving towards the edge of the mountain but were stopped by a small concrete wall.  It was one of the few places where there was any kind of barrier.   Tony’s chair broke off and the driver’s side was a right off.   Guy was unharmed and Tony had some big cuts on his arm and upper back but nothing serious.  They were happy to be alive. Tony told me he had been having thoughts about dying.  After that accident he knew it wasn’t going to happen any time soon.

It took a while to get our jeep back.  It was driveable but there were some problems.  We drove around with a broken back seat, roof rack, choke and windows for a long time.  A black garbage bag was taped to the back window to keep the cold out.  It was so noisy with all the rattling, we could never hear what the kids were saying right behind us.   We drove around shouting to each other at the top of our voices.

We had written the letter we needed to write to Dudley and his team.  He sent us a very gracious reply.  Way more gracious than what our letter had been.  Replies from others started coming slowly but regularly via snail mail and faxes.  We also started getting some friendly phone calls.  It was a relief to hear that more people would be coming to help us with ACTS.  It was also good to know we didn’t have to do it alone.

Jason and Ali arrived with little Michaela.  They had come to stay.  We had waited for that moment for a long time.  They settled in quickly and were loved by everyone.

It wasn’t really working with the young lady who had come to teach Ash and Zo.  She was sweet but kept going “walkies” and didn’t seem to be able to focus on their schooling.  It was difficult  for her to settle into our life style.  We realised again how important it was to talk about expectations right from the beginning; for both sides to spell them out very clearly.   It was our experience that even though expectations were talked about, they tended to change over time.  That was fine, as long as the changes were talked about.  Talking was important.  Things didn’t work if there was no talk.

Tony brought copies of his CD “Off the Edge” back with him from South Africa.  On his way through Dubai, he realised we didn’t have anything to play the CD on.  He arrived home with a portable CD and cassette player.  We were excited to have music in the house again.

It had been a full year.  There was not a dull moment.  No day was like another.  We were kept busy from morning ‘til night with the community, trainees, family and our many visitors.  There was always someone needing a listening ear or a loving kick in the pants.   There were many relational issues and we spent hours encouraging people to forgive, talk, confront, let things go, give things up, move on and grow up.  They did.  So did we.  We all knew that if we didn’t, we weren’t going to go anywhere, or fulfil the purposes God had for us; and there was no way any of us wanted that.

Post 155. Territorial spirit

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Pic- Hike to Kedarnath

A few months before our move, the Watkinson family joined us for a hike to the Gangotri Glacier.  We had done the hike to up to Kedarnath with the Ferreiras and Jono and Char in 1996 and now we were going to the source of the great Ganga River.

From my journal:

Tuesday:

Left at 4.30 a.m.  Gorgeous drive to Gangotri.  Huge landslides and incredibly steep gorges.  Drove over a 410-foot bridge.  Awesome and scary.  Nice weather with soft rain most of the way.  Arrived at 2 pm.  The trainees were waiting for us.  Had lunch and all slept for two hours.   Woke up with such a bad headache.  This place is full of the dark side.  Little men sitting in caves and tents doing all kinds of cultic stuff.  Incredibly powerful waterfall and amazing rock formations.

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Wednesday:

Good sleep.  Girls in one dorm, guys in another.  Set off early for Bhojbasa.  Vasanti pulled something in her leg and was in a lot of pain.  She was determined to get there.  Hiked for fourteen kilometres up to 12,385 feet.  The guys took turns to carry Jordan in his carry seat.  When the girls got tired they went on the mules; SO close to the edge at times.  It was so good to get to Bhojwasa.  Heard mice scuttling around all night. 

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Hike to Gangotri

Thursday:

Found all kinds of things in our shoes in the morning.  The mice had fun while we were sleeping.  Left early for Gaumukh.  It was a challenging nine kilometre hike but not difficult. We went up to 13,000 feet.  Did a lot of boulder climbing.  Vasanti said it was too humiliating to get on the mule,  so hobbled almost the entire way.  When she finally gave in, she was healed instantly!  SO funny.  Amazing to be at the source of the Ganga.  The glacier is HUGE.  Saw massive blocks of ice breaking off and floating down the river.

We all stood on a big rock and prayed and prophesied over India for an hour.  Good time.  Really felt God’s presence. 

It was a long walk back to Bhojbasa.   I walked most of the way with Esther.  Talked about how spiritually easy it had all been. 

That night I had a really oppressive dream.  It may have been a vision because I wasn’t able to get to sleep.  I dreamt that I was thinking how easy it had been.  Suddenly, Shiva’s face appeared.  His mouth was huge and he was laughing right in my face.  He said, “It was easy because I’m not afraid of you; twelve people praying on a rock.  This has been my territory for decades. What do you think you can do?”  The laughter was loud and intimidating.  I was struggling to breathe but didn’t want to wake anyone up.

I woke up feeling really discouraged and oppressed.  I told Tony about the dream on the hike back to Gangotri.  I felt my throat closing up and I started gasping for air.  Everyone prayed for me and I was fine.  I knew it wasn’t true.  I knew our prayers had made an impact.  I knew Jesus was more powerful and that He had been there not just for decades, but from the beginning of time.

After a night in Gangotri we drove back to Mussoorie.  It was going well until we hit very thick winter mist.  It was so scary.  We could barely see the road in front of us.  Just before we got home, Tony and I saw two huge black holes in the mist.  If we had been too distracted by them, we would have been over the cliff.  When we got to our house, we were all shaken up but so happy.

A cup of tea later and we were all in bed.  As my granddad used to say, “A nice cuppa tea and I won’t need no rockin’ tonight.

Post 154. Spacious place

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When we arrived in India, we had four bags.  They all fitted into each other.  Our clothes were in the two bigger ones. Accessories, shoes and books were in the medium sized one and the girl’s special toys and books were in the smallest.  When we drove from Goa to Mussoorie, we had a jeep-full.   When we moved from Barlowganj to Dhobi Ghat we had a community of twelve, two big truckloads and a few trips in the jeep.  We had grown in more ways than one. 

We moved on the 2 Dec 1997.  It was cold but sunny.  The truck arrived early for it’s first load.  We could see it was going to be a challenge to get up it up the steep hill once it was full, so it parked twenty metres away up on the flat. 

When we had emptied the house, the kids and I went with the first jeep load.  We walked around our new place, deciding where everything should go.  It was so exciting.

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Our house and uncle’s farmhouse- way in the distance on the ridge. (Pic not mine)

The road into Dhobi Ghat was too narrow for the trucks.  Everything had to be unloaded onto the Woodstock School field and the jeeps took it all from there.  They drove down along the steep, narrow roads, through the washer man’s village and stopped where the road ended.  From there, everything was carried along the narrow five to eight minute path to our house.  We were amazed at how strong the guys were.  Small built Jyoti, carried the generator all by himself.  Fridges, cupboards and furniture were no problem for the Nepalis.

Our place was on the first floor.  It had two bedrooms, a bathroom, a kitchen (with cupboards!) and a lovely lounge and dining room.  The windows were big and when we stood on the balcony, all we could see was forest and jungle.  We were in our elements. 

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I draped autumn coloured fabric over the curtain rods.  All our furniture fitted perfectly and it looked so pretty. Our favourite spot was the balcony where we hung our much loved and well-used hammock.

ImageThe trainees were downstairs.  There were five bedrooms, a kitchen, dining/living room and a beautiful courtyard. The trainees had three rooms and we turned the other two into a teacher’s room and a study for Tony.  We used a small storage room above the stairwell for the girl’s classroom.   There was another storage area under the stairwell; which we turned into an office.  It was there that Guy Emery taught us about computers.  We thought we were the bee’s knees. 

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The bird life was amazing.  Our favourite birds were the Red-billed blue magpies also called Himalayan Pigeons.  Another little bird, which I nicknamed “Wagtail”, sang the longest and loudest songs in the morning. 

We couldn’t believe all the space we had.  Tony loved having a study and could walk out of the gate and into the forest to be with God whenever he wanted to.  Jordan would take his bow and arrow and walk with him, looking for leopards.  It was as if we had landed in Paradise and we wanted to live there forever. 

The kids woke up early the day after our move.  They wanted to make sure they hadn’t dreamt the house up.  We could hear them shouting on the balcony and went out to see what all the noise was about.  Everything was white.  It was snowing.

Post 153. Moving again

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It was time to move from our house in Barlowganj.  Our landlord wanted to increase the rent and we needed a bigger place. We were sad about leaving it, especially the girls.

So much had happened there.  It was where the community started.  It was off the beaten track and we were surprised that so many people had come to visit us. 

We had really wanted to be in the centre of God’s will.  When we left South Africa all we knew was that we would be in North India.  When got to India, we felt we would be near the source of the Ganga.  Dehra Dun seemed to be the obvious town.  On a survey trip, Tony, Rigby, Phil and DJ all knew we were meant to be in Mussoorie.

When we got to Mussoorie, we stayed in a little cottage at the top of the hill.  We spent lots of time praying about which part of the town to stay in.  It was very important for us to know exactly where we should set up our home.  One day, while praying, God spoke to Tony, “I am going to take you to a place where you will put your feet in water.”  His first response was, “Yay, outpouring of the Holy Spirit!”  When we saw the house “Ebenezer” we had a good feeling about it.  Within the first week of moving in, the house was flooded.  Tony was upset until God reminded him, “See, I told you I would take you to a place where you will put your feet in water.”  We had no doubt that was the perfect house for us.

It was a full, happy house.  Every room had seen much laughter and many tears.  Jordan and Rebecca had been born there.  The girls had started home schooling there.  Sarita and Jugdish had Angie and baby Joshua there.  Two years of training had run their course and many experienced the deep love of God in that house. 

We heard about a place in the forest near the Woodstock dormitories.  The only way to get there was through Dhobi Ghat.  It was a pretty little washer man’s village.  There were just a few houses and I was amazed to hear that most of Mussoorie’s laundry was washed by so few people.  There were hotel sheets and towels hanging on lines and covering every bush available.  Woodstocker’s branded clothing hung next to salwars and pajamas.  The dhobis looked a bit suspicious when we drove past them.

We parked our jeep next to the house at the end of the village and started walking.  There was no road access, just a narrow dirt path along the hill.  Five minutes later we passed a little farmhouse and were barked at by “Johnny” the big grey dog.  Fortunately he was tied up.

The house was up the hill,  to the left.  It was in the middle of nowhere, perched on a ledge, overlooking thick forest as far as the eye could see.  There was a balcony around three sides and the view was spectacular.   The house was locked, but we fell in love instantly. It was so perfect that we laughed when we thought about living there.  That was a sure sign it was going to be ours. 

Post 152. Made in India

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Made in India and lived there too

Rode a camel in the desert by the time I was two

Seen the stars from the dunes

Know the Bollywood tunes

Fascinating, scintillating

Life’s been good

 

From the mountains to the sea

And lots of tea

Thousands  of people on crowded streets

The rich and the poor

Came to our door

Eaten with them both

Life’s no bore

 

Hunting in the jungle, without fear

With my bow and my arrows and my Manipur spear

Making clay marbles in the village sun

Playing in the forest ‘til the day was done

Panthers in the jungle, eyes in the dark

Life’s been nothing like a walk in the park

 

Colours in the market, smells from everywhere

I wish I wasn’t white, that’s why they stare

They don’t know that inside I’m the same

An Indian dipped in bleach

Life’s a great game

(Song/rap I wrote for young Jordan)

Post 151. It is not good for a wife to be alone..

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It was Tony’s birthday and the girls and trainees burst 38 balloons outside our door at 7.30 a.m.  He got such a fright.  It was our custom to open presents on our bed first thing in the morning.  It was also our custom to wrap up silly things like old onions, carrots, socks or even an old shoe for the birthday person.  The fun part was trying to get them to guess what the gift was.  He left in a taxi and headed for Delhi that afternoon.  He was going to Johannesburg to record his “Off the Edge” CD with J.B. Arthur. 

It was a real faith trip.  He left with a few hundred rupees and knew that somehow God was going to provide for the album.  When he got to the studio, Joe told him it was a gift and he didn’t need to pay for it.  Victo Masondo, Nick Carter and Lloyd Martin all said the same thing.  They were professional musician friends who wanted to bless Tony.  He was so relieved and happy.

While he was away, it seemed that all hell broke lose.  Well, not quite, but every day was challenging.  Jordan woke up with amoebic dysentery the next day and he was on the toilet every 15 minutes.  Once when he was sitting on the pot he looked at me with watery eyes and said, “I’m a sick boy, mummy.”   He didn’t act sick.  He was full of energy.  I also got a tummy bug and Ash started throwing up. 

Our house was busy and so were things in the community.  The Woodstock students came back from their term break.  It had been quiet without them.

From my journal: 3.8.1997

Woodstockers back: Kirti, Sharon, Grace, Chuki-Om, Dechin, Alia (new) Joshua John (seems to be in a good place), John Hudson, Sabina Tyle and quite a few new faces.

4.8.1997

Demanding day.  Jordan’s appetite returned with a vengeance.  Cried and cried because he was hungry.  All got in the jeep to go down to Barlowganj to get medicine and bread.  Jeep wouldn’t start.  Guys pushed it out of the drive and up the hill.  Felt so sorry for them.  Gave it a run down but ended up in neighbour’s drive.  Battery still dead as a doornail.  Thank goodness for Bhaktu.  Asha and Zoë are so noisy and out of hand. Put them to bed early and we had a chat about obedience.  They are always more difficult when Tony is away.

There were a few issues with the trainees.  We had a week of one of them manifesting and threatening to die.  We kept praying for him but there were no changes.  He told us an angel had come to him to tell him to say goodbye to his children and his wife.  He called them around his bed.  His hands were ice cold.  Bhaktu took him to the doctor.  There was nothing physically wrong with him.  We told him we wouldn’t put up with it any longer.  If he carried on we would send him home.  He snapped out of it and was absolutely fine.  He must have needed some personal attention.

The brother and sister trainees decided they weren’t learning anything and they left.  They had been stirring things up quite a bit and we were planning to call them in to ask them to leave.  Fortunately they made the first move.  The next day, we heard from friends that the brother had worked with them.  When he got upset, he had threatened to blow up their office.  Nice. 

Our house was full of children.  There were families visiting every day that week and because our house was perfect for kid’s parties, we had two.  I arranged everything on the roof and let them go nuts.

Zoë got tonsillitis and Asha,  Jordan and I all got really bad colds.  We were up all hours of the night and there was no stopping during the day.  I was exhausted.  Bhaktu and Hiram were so helpful.  They were always willing to help with the kids.

It was difficult to run the house as well as see to the trainees and their programme.  They were all young believers and didn’t always behave themselves.  One day I was called downstairs.  Sanjay and Bhaktu were having a full on fight.  They were so worked up with each other.  After a chat,  there were tears and apologies.

I couldn’t wait for Tony to get home.  He had a great time with his recording and it was a successful trip, but we all missed him.  He was like our generator.   Life just wasn’t the same without Tony.