Greetings from Nongkrem
I first visited Nongkrem in February of 2001 for the Annual meeting. The church had just been rebuilt, larger and beautiful, everyone gathered to celebrate. This time of year the days are sunny and warm (60's or 70's), but it quickly drops into the 20's at night. You need a lot of layers to sit in an unheated Church! I experienced that back in 2001, and again yesterday.
I am here visiting this church and one of my old friends from my Theology class from 2001. He lives in a lovely home overlooking a small agricultural valley. This morning when I awoke to the sunrise, it was sparkling white with frost. The weeds in the fields like that moisture and now, on the warm day, are turning green.
My friend recently lost his wife, and so I am glad to be here and support him a bit, listen to his story. Last night we had a home service at his place. This a really nice practice all the churches here have—Sunday evening they meet at someone's house (if it's a big church they are divided into zones). But everyone squeezes in, and they do another church service, siting together in someone's home. It's seen as a way to encourage people who are in need of a boost. And for me, these services always feel so cozy and warm. Afterwards, there was a bonfire in the backyard with some dinner. The fire was really nice in the chilly weather, as were all the smiling faces.
It's been a while since I have written. I'll try to back up and catch up a bit. After coming back from Kharang, I spent a day shopping for some more clothes. As of yet, I still haven't seen my luggage. So the quick change of clothes need to be supplemented with a fuller wardrobe, such as people wear when they live without heat in the winter. It was funny looking for things long enough for my long legs and big enough for my feet! But those supplies have been good and kept me warm and dressed nicely enough for more proper occasions as well as a few things for comfort around the house. Best of all—I found some great wool socks!
The next big adventure was to Karbi in Assam. The Unitarians there were having a gathering of the churches in their circle. As a rather recent start, it was great to see they are doing so well. Three new Board members and an Assistant Minister were ordained that day. It was wonderful to see. My poor brain, that was just starting to pick out some Khasi after all these years away, was again totally confused by the local language. But the smiles were big, and the food very tasty! The hardest part of this trip was leaving at 5am to be on the road for 4 hours to get there—have of which was an amazingly rutted dirt road with very steep uphills and downs! Then after a service, tea, a second service, and the lunch, we had to make another 4-5 hours back. What a long, long bumpy trip!
The following Monday I walked over to Madan Laban, the neighborhood where I lived for those 6 months back in 2001. I went to see my old friend, Kong Sngithiang and her brother Mang. They were so sweet and supportive when we were there before. It was great to catch up a bit, see the changes to their house and lives.
Then on Wednesday I went trekking with my friends Banjop and Yari, along with their little son, Bari and Nangroi's two kids and one of their cousins. It was an amazingly beautiful site, with lush greenery, steep cliffs, and a brilliantly clear stream. The path was mostly constructed from bamboo—bridges, walkways, and ladders—sometimes high on a cliff side to help us to get to a final huge rock that stood almost as high as the surrounding mountains. Using ladders we made ourselves to the top! It was stunning.
On Saturday I attended the Madan Laban Church's Sunday school Muscial Program with a Food Fest. This was a fundraiser. And many of the nearby churches sent choirs. There were lots of costumes, the teens had a very nice fashion show with all the local traditional costumes. There were some excellent dance numbers, and fun skit done by some teen boys about a boy who got into trouble his studies due to overusing his mobile.
I think that captures the highlights.
I've got lots of pictures, but I think I need to get onto a computer to post them. They don't seem to go via email.