May 2010

Dear Life Sharing Sunday School Class,

So many things we wish we could join you for!  It’s Sunday morning here and I’m trying to actually write some emails for a change…   We haven’t been going to church much.  Our choices are not very inspiring.  Instead, we’re part of a small group that meets for a potluck lunch, worship and book discussion on Sunday afternoons.  We finished Craig Claibourne’s book and are now discussing A New Kind of Christian by Brian McClaren.   It usually last from 1-4 or 5 pm.  Thanks to previous Menno staff, we use Sing the Journey during our worship time.  A nice touch of home for us!

I still don’t know what I’ll be doing next year.  I am finishing as the Interim HR manager on June 7th – and don’t know what I’ll be doing for the two weeks left in the school year.  Due to budget constraints, the principal is not supposed to invent/create positions, but here I am – on contract – with no position to move into.  But, knowing how things change at Woodstock, something will come up.  In the meantime, I could go take some Hindi lessons at the Language School. In fact, that might even be my preference!

I have loved my stint in HR, though it has also been extremely demanding and frustrating when policies and procedures aren’t always followed.  There’s a lot of work to be done and some updating of policy and the staff handbook.  Updating the Employee handbook has led to some changes already, we are now starting to pay actual time and a half wages for employee overtime.  That will happen for the first time this month.  Some employees will get a huge bonus… India is different in that there is a clear division between staff and employees.  Class IV employees are the lower caste Indians who do mostly menial labor-type jobs, such as janitors, guards, kitchen help, etc..  Staff at Woodstock refers to the academic, residence, and support staff.  It’s a very ingrained system and few people make the transition from employee to staff.  It’s been a real challenge and growing experience.  I’m not quite sure, when we come home in a few years, what kind of job I would even look for in Newton!  There’s truly no HR job in the states that covers the breadth of experience that I’ve gotten here.

Normally, the HR department hires about 25-30 new staff per year.  This year, we are going to go over 40, in part due to new positions. (Which means we are short on housing.) My predecessor says HR can handle hiring 30, beyond that, it’s simply not possible to get everything done.  I don’t want to turn over the dept. with lots of loose ends to Mr. Suryanarayan on June 7th, but it’s going to happen anyway.  I also will not have any overlap with him.  The principal said “I don’t believe in overlap”.

With a couple of rains, the fire risk is a bit lower – and the scorpions have started to come out.  Saw one on the porch last night, so far, we’ve only found one in the house – right at the foot of our bed when I could easily have stepped on it.  After a rain, the sky is clear and you can see clear past the Swaliks – the hill range before the dun (plain) below us.  Temperatures in Dehradun and Delhi are very hot, there’s little incentive to take a day and go down unless you really have to!  It’s simply too hot.   Which, of course, means there are more (Indian) tourists up here escaping the heat of the plains.

Schedules are hectic as we approach the end of the semester.  Last weekend was Jazz Jam.  This Saturday, the 10th grade class initiated a garbage cleanup along the road between school and Mullingar Hill (top of the bazaar).  The photo album is online at   I”m not sure you can really see the extent of the garbage problem.  Just image dumping all of the garbage off the khud (hillside) for years, especially since the advent of plastic bags.  It’s pretty gross.

We had a Settler’s of Catan game night last night with a couple of games going at once.  The game with three new players (out of six on a set with extensions) took over twice as long as the game or four.  We also continue to improve our pool-playing…  I’ve even beaten Dave once or twice.

We will have renters in our KS house as of June 1st.  (Thank you for praying.)  Two recent college grads and a girl friend of one of them.  I’m sure they’re nice folks, just wish we could hope for long term, but at least one of them is job hunting.  It’s also hard to see how our small house is going to work – it doesn’t have lots of privacy when shared.  We managed with having Sophia, but it wasn’t always easy for either her or us.  Speaking of job hunting, some of our staff going back to the states are having a hard time finding jobs to go to.  Following the emails from SS, it appears that at least our youth are having a hard time too.

Abra appears to be doing okay, she’s been busy during the week off work on writing projects.  She has a journal at with lots of good stuff for fellow writers.  It’s also the best way (even for parents) to keep up with her.  Thank you for your prayers on her and Phil’s behalf.

Blessings to you all and to First Menno in this transition.  It sounds like an interesting time!

Much love,

Cookie (and Dave)

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