This may have been the most followed US election in India. Of course in Jharkhand there are so many other greater concerns that most of the people didn't know the results but they all seem to have a sense of who Trump and Hilary are. There are of course extreme right wing Hindus who have made him into a god. But for most people I think it is a bit bewildering to many that the nation that represents democracy in the world (debatable, I know) is possibly poised to change that (remains to be seen). The Hindustani is not perhaps the best representation of newspapers, but is one you can read.
"Don of a New Age" Don means mafia thug here.. But Bollywood has managed to make that somehow into a heroic figure by casting India's beloved SRK movie star in a series entitled "Don" Who knows maybe we will learn to love this Star-wanna-be. I doubt it. I'm sure those who voted him in will quickly be disillusioned if it is no longer in his best interest to appease their sway.
Meanwhile what is really stirring India up is a sudden announcement that all 500 and 1000 rupee notes were no longer valid. ATMs were shut down and people are expected to go to the back to trade in what ever you have (I have 3 thousands and 1 five hundred. Value is about $15 and 7.5) Only apparently gas stations were permitted to accept the old currency and so there were long lines. I thought there would be long lines in the banks also, but I guess they are closed. The point is to get all the black market currency out. So apparently temples are being filled with donations in the millions of these large notes as people try to ditch their dirty money..
Meanwhile my time here has been most productive and enjoyable. Remarkably a young woman named Unupama from Delhi University came to do research at the GTC. She is from Chattisghar, an Oraon and learned German because the church where she grew up had a library of books that the German missionaries had left. She is going to study the impact of the German Missionaries on Language and Literature. We had so much to talk about.
Last night I was invited to be the chief guest at the sports award ceremony at the Gossner Theological College (sadly I didn't take my camera). I told them the story that my kids love about Olympic winners. That the difference between first and second place is no bigger than a hair width. We make a big deal of the winner, they become famous. But everyone after them become unknown. By a nose a man becomes the most famous man in the world and every one else is "koan hai". Luckily, as people in the light we don't have to live like that. Everyone is known and recognized for their achievements by God, and we must honor all as God honors them.
The staff of the HRDC guesthouse where I stay have been busy working since there is a conference going on of Mennonite partners in India. They've been having to cook for and clean after about 60+ people. I made a comment to Sucheema about how everyone is working so hard (maybe about 10 staff members). She replied with her contagious smile, "But we are all working doing our part. As long as we work together it is a good thing." It made me think that if they feel the ripples of our angst and disunity in the US all the way over here, wouldn't it be nice to have the ripple roll back. From the heartland of India, the original peoples, may the lessons of unity, hard work and team work be followed.
My next adventure is 4 days in Lohardaga, a village further into the interior of Jharkhand. It is where our ancestors once lived for 20 years. I don't know what I will find, but it is remarkable the kinds of things that I've learned.
For instance at breakfast one of the men at the conference came up to me and told me his whole family tree. Five generations going back to Hanukh Lakra the third ordained pastor among the people of this region. He has pictures and stories to share with me. What a valuable connection.
It only makes me recognize that I am just an instrument. God is leading me and guiding me in this process. I don't know who will cross my path, I don't know what I need to know until it simply crosses my path. I must confess I feel a most inadequate vessel. If only I was younger with more energy, and more equipped to ask the right questions and how to dig deeper, but as I see that my ancestors only had their zeal and their determination to go by that I also, led by the same Spirit, just push on forward and I can only say it's an amazing adventure.
I am praying that people in the US recognize their own potential to be the change they want to see, that we can leave this season of truly atrocious hate-mongering and slander and flow into a season of reflection, reexamination, renunciation, repentance, rejuvenation, restoration and refreshing. The people here just finished singing: "let there be peace on earth and let it begin with me." Let it ripple out!
Note: After a few days I see that there have been a lot of hat mongering demonstrations as well as people raising their voices to make it know that there is plenty still not right in the USA. We cannot assume that the march of hate will just stop over night, but don't let it weaken your resolve to go higher!
These musings include the journey of my writing on the history of my great great grandparents and the travels for research to India, Germany and other places of interest.