May 2010
The First SOJASI harvest !

Some of CC's children learning how to make mushroom cylinders

PEACE!!   Peace            JOY!!   Joy            LOVE!!   Love

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Dear Friends-

I have so much good news to tell you that I'm afraid this letter might turn into a book! The first item is about the day that Ben's Training Center really became a training center, I still live in the afterglow of that day! The government of Sikkim sent thirty farmers— most of them women— to take the SOJASI training. It has been a long, long time since I have experienced so much happiness. I learned that day why God snatched me by the hair and pulled me out of SASAC. (Only God can pull someone out by the hair when he has no hair to be pulled!) During the reign of Abraham, SASAC was almost inevitably 'a one-man show. At one time I feared it might carry on being just that. But the 'one man era' is over, SOJASI is no longer run by an individual but by a team. During the training of these mountain farmers, all the SOJASI leaders were trainers.

And they didn't train the trainees by talking at them. They trained them by making them 'do' what they came to learn. Every trainee made her or his own mushroom cylinder. All of them, trainers and trainees, sat around in a circle and produced cylinders together. So in a half-hour they were smiling like the cat that swallowed the canary; each one justifiably proud of their cylinder. The same 'do-it' process was followed in teaching them our SMVG gardening method. Each trainee planted a square meter bed with their vegetable of choice. The trainees were deeply impressed with the skill and expertise of all the trainers.

I watched it all with positive delight. The agricultural official of the Sikkimese government, who had brought the trainees was himself so impressed, that two or three times, he mentioned that he would certainly be bringing more groups of farmers for training. What could give me more joy than seeing all the leaders of SOJASI in action! ? It was like watching the first spaceship lifting off the launching pad and flying into orbit. I was so grateful because I knew there would be many spaceships to follow. Alleluia!!

Fifty years ago when I was beginning my work for the poor at SAS and in SASAC, Kurseong was a very poor town with many refugees from Nepal and Assam in it. So every year I could find 150 extremely poor children of four, five or six to take into my Headstart School in Edelweiss. They were badly undernourished, dressed in rags and bloated with worms. With the generous help of my friends and partners "back home", we were able to educate each child as for as he or she could go. In twenty years, thousands of poor children were educated. When I was on my sick bed in Siliguri assiduously studying the ceiling above me and listening to the always-whirring fan, by turns during the day and night six nurses gave their bed to keep me in the land of the living. Three of them were graduates of Edelweiss and so proud to be! They were better medicine than all the pills, tablets, capsules I was swallowing like a kid with a bagful of candy. The first night I was in the hospital, they sent a young Jesuit to make sure I wouldn't sneak off to the 'happy hunting ground' without my Superior's permission. His name was Alphonse and he too was educated at SAS!

I am now back up in the hills and living at the Sisters' home for the handicapped, The Flame of Hope. I'm proving to be a candle that is hard to blowout! The child specialist in Kurseong, Doctor Giri, feels so privileged to be able to help the sisters care for their children. They asked him to come to check what my 57 varieties of pills etc, were for. As he was doing this, Birendra, the electrician they had called, was arranging a bell, so during the night when the Sisters heard it they would know 'for whom the bell tolled'. Both Doctor Giri and Birendra are old students of mine, one working to keep the tube light on the other working to keep the Abraham light from going off!

Speaking again of fifty years ago! I was once interviewed by a magazine editor. She asked me what projects for the poor I was developing, I answered that I wasn't developing projects; I was trying to develop people so they could make use of the talents God had given them so they would be free to take care of themselves and to contribute to the needs and the good of the community they lived in. The 'powers that be' can close down projects. Fortunately they can't 'close down' people, unless of course they start dipping arsenic into their soup. So while looking at the fascinating whiteness of my hospital ceiling and being lulled to sleep by the lullaby sound of my fan, I had old SAS graduates around me to insure happy dreams.

And here, seeing flames of hope dancing merrily in the eyes of the handicapped children around me, I'm doing a little bit of flaming myself, I have a lot to be thankful for. And I am! And I'm also grateful for the love and prayers that came to me by spirit-mail from halfway round the globe. If you keep it up, Abraham of Kurseong will outlive Abraham of Ur who was 125 when he handed in his dinner pail, Certainly A of K is giving A of U tough competition in producing offspring like the stars in the sky.

On top of all these blessings, Cecilia gives me regular updates on the progress at SOJASI. The 3-year desert of SASAC II is becoming the Garden of Eden of SOJASI! So, as usual, the Lord is generously pouring his blessings into my lap, 'heaped up, pressed down and flowing over'! Every time I open my mouth a Alleluia! pops out, while Sister Usha pops a pill in! If she keeps at it, I'll become more of a two-legged pill than ever. My love to you all,
God keep you in the hollow of his hand!

Sikkim Trainees making mushroom cylinders under the
watchful eyes of Dimple and Lalchand

Trainees learning SOJASI S.M.V.G. method

The most expensive wall in the world!

Loving "TLC"

In Him,
  Father A Signature