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I made a new friend yesterday… a talkative 5 year old, the daughter of my friend’s maid. Farheen confidently rattled off, “A for Apple, B for Ball, C for Cat, D for Doll…” She was in the first grade and had been learning the English alphabet at school, but she shyly admitted she couldn’t remember what M was for, and jumped from H to O in her enthusiasm. I doubt she knew what any of those words meant. It was just something she had been taught, and she had dutifully learned.

In her hand she carefully held two pieces of paper on which a doll’s picture was drawn, kind of like a mini animation. She showed me how if she flipped the little pages it would look like the doll was changing its form. I asked if she had drawn them. She said a “didi” at tuition had drawn them for her. Farheen enjoyed drawing, but she didn’t have paper or color pencils of her own to draw and color.

I asked Farheen about her friends at school. She said she had none. She only spoke to her little brother, Mohammed. The teachers didn’t allow them to play in school, and she seemed afraid to talk to others in class.

After school her elder brother (a cousin, I assume) would take her to a tuition center to do her homework. She liked going there because they would sometimes serve her biscuits, samosas and Thumbs Up.

Farheen was happy that her mother Aisha had packed Biriyani for her lunch that day. It was the left over from Sunday’s dinner. She usually carried Rotis and sugar for lunch and didn’t like eating that. She preferred snacks, “pan biscuit” in particular. She laughed about her “fat little brother, Mohammed” who ate a lot, unlike her.

I spoke a little to Farheen’s mother Aisha too, while she swept and swabbed the floor. She told me that she had 3 children – Farheen who was 5, Mohammed who was 3, and another son who had recently died of some heart disease. Aisha thought this son had brought her good luck and restored her joy. She felt all her problems and sadness had returned after his death. Aisha still loved this little son of hers more than the other two and thought about him a lot. I could hear the sadness in her voice as she told me about him. I sympathized with her and tried to explain in my broken Hindi that God had given her 2 beautiful children, so to be thankful for them and love them the same way she would have loved the son she lost.

Farheen told me she liked her father better than her mother. He was a painter and would sometimes take her and Mohammed on his cycle. He would go out to some place on Sundays and buy eggs, biscuits, etc… for them. He had bought them a new fan recently, but Farheen had put it away because she was afraid other children would play with it and break it. She complained that her father made the house dirty though, and she and her mother had to clean up always.

I asked her what she wanted to be when she grows up, and to my disappointment she replied that she wanted to be a maid like her mother. “You don’t want to become a good teacher or something else?” “No, I want to clean homes. People make their houses dirty, no? I want to clean their houses.”

I saw a big mark on Farheen’s left arm and assumed it was a vaccination mark, but it didn’t strike me that she had probably never been to a doctor in her life. What it was was the scar from a brutal beating. Her teacher had beaten her with something (I couldn’t understand what) because she hadn’t paid her fees on time. The scar seemed so deep. Farheen told me it had swollen so big and didn’t heal for a long time. Her parents had shifted her to another school soon after. I asked her, “Farheen, did it hurt?” “Yes.” “Did you cry?” “No…” “Why not?” “Only small children cry…”

So little, and yet she spoke as if she was 10 times her age! I had to gulp down tears and the lump that had formed in my throat by then. My heart went out to this little child who had an entire lifetime before her, but had already suffered so much, lacked so many things that I took for granted, and had resigned herself to her fate. In her little mind, all she knew was the life she lived and she didn’t even think or wish that life could be any better for her. She was content being who she was, willing to accept her life as it was, and was determined to become whatever she thought it was her duty to become.

All the words in the world are insufficient to express what I felt at that moment. When I returned home and thought about it, I was moved all the more and could not contain my tears. To think that there are millions of Farheens all over India (and probably the world), needing a good education, a safe environment at school and home, basic amenities, nutritional food, better facilities and opportunities, genuine love and care… and just needing to know that God loves them, cares about them, and wants nothing but the best for them…

What am I doing to make life better for someone like Farheen?

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Yesterday my mother asked me to help her with a skit for her Sunday School kids. Her theme was “The Potter & the Clay”, and the first thing that came to my mind was the famous story of the teacup written by an anonymous author. So I quickly converted it into a short skit, and here it is… I thought it might be of use to someone somewhere.

 

 

THE TEACUP SKIT

– Janie S G

 

Characters:

Thomas – Husband

Martha – Wife

Store Owner

Tea Cup (Also the Narrator)

Clay

Master (Potter)

 

Props:

2 Identical teacups or paper cut outs of teacups

Other crockery props on a shelf

Clay or paper cut out of clay

A Wheel

Half done clay teacup or paper cut out of clay teacup

Iron rod/Stick

Paints

Big paintbrush

Mirror

 

Split Stage:

Left – Crockery Store

Right – Potter’s House

 

Location: Crockery Store

(Thomas & Martha enter the shop.)

 

Store Owner: Good morning Sir. Good morning Madam. How may I help you?

 

Thomas: Well, my wife and I are celebrating out 25th wedding anniversary today, and we would like to buy something special to celebrate. Could you please show us some good crockery…

 

Store Owner: Of course! (Pointing to a shelf) These are some of the best cups and saucers I have.

 

Martha: Oh Thomas! Look at that teacup! May we see that? We’ve never seen a cup quite so beautiful!

 

Store Owner: Here you go. (phone rings) Oh, let me attend to that call while you look at this cup.

(The store owner hands them the cup and exits.)

 

Teacup: You don’t understand! I have not always been a teacup.

 

Thomas: (shocked) A talking teacup? What do you mean teacup?

 

Teacup: Well, it’s a long story…

 

Martha: Oh, that’s alright. We’d love to hear a story from a teacup!

 

Teacup: Very well… You see, there was a time when I was just a lump of red clay…

 

(Teacup continues narrating the story on the left side of the stage, while the scene below is being acted out on the right side. Thomas & Martha can watch the enactment on the other side or listen to the narration. If use of lights is possible, dim lights on left half of stage and use focus lights on the right side to shift attention. The Master & the Clay must act out what the teacup is narrating.)

 

Teacup: My master took me and rolled me pounded and patted me over and over…

(Master takes the Clay, rolls it around and pats it.)

 

Clay: (Shouts) Don’t do that. I don’t like it! Leave me alone!

 

Master: (Smiles) Not yet!

 

Teacup: Then, WHAM! I was placed on a spinning wheel and suddenly I was spun around and around and around.

(Master puts the Clay on a spinning wheel & turns it round and round.)

 

Clay: (Screaming) Stop it! I’m getting so dizzy! I’m going to be sick!

 

Master: (Nods head) Not Yet!

 

Teacup: He spun me and poked and prodded and bent me out of shape to suit himself and then he put me in the oven. I never felt such heat.

(Master spins, pokes & prods & bends the Clay, which now looks like a clay cup. Then he takes & puts it in an oven.)

 

Clay: (Yelling & knocking on the door) Help! Get me out of here! I can’t bear it!

 

The Master: (Shakes his head) Not yet.

 

Teacup: When I thought I couldn’t bear it another minute, the door opened. He carefully took me out and put me on the shelf, and I began to cool.

(Master opens the oven door, takes the Clay out & puts it on a shelf.)

 

Clay: (Heaves a sigh of relief) Ah, this feels so good! I hope he’s done with me!

 

Teacup: But, after I cooled he picked me up and he brushed and painted me all over.

(Master picks up the Clay & starts painting it. Clay struggles.)

 

Clay: (Crying) This is horrible! I’m going to be sick! Oh, please! Stop it, Stop it!

 

The Master: Not yet!

 

Teacup: Then suddenly he put me back in to the oven. Only it was not like the first one. This was twice as hot and I just knew I would suffocate.

(Master picks up the Clay which is now a colorful cup & puts it back in the oven and closes the door.)

 

Clay: (Screaming & crying) I can’t take this any more! I don’t think I’ll make it. Oh please, please! I beg you! Please let me out!

 

Teacup: Just then the door opened and he took me out and again placed me on the shelf, where I cooled and waited… and waited…

(Master opens the oven door, takes the Clay out and puts it on the shelf.)

 

Clay: This is taking so long… I wonder what he’s going to do to me next?!?


Teacup: An hour later he handed me a mirror…

(Master holds a mirror in front of the teacup.)

 

The Master: Look at yourself.                   

 

Clay: (looking in the mirror) That’s not me! That couldn’t be me. It’s beautiful. I’m beautiful!

The Master: I want you to remember, then… I know it hurt to be rolled and pounded and patted, but had I just left you alone, you’d have dried up. I know it made you dizzy to spin around on the wheel, but if I had stopped, you would have crumbled. I know it hurt and it was hot and disagreeable in the oven, but if I hadn’t put you there, you would have cracked. I know the fumes were bad when I brushed and painted you all over, but if I hadn’t done that, you never would have hardened. You would not have had any color in your life. If I hadn’t put you back in that second oven, you wouldn’t have survived for long because the hardness would not have held. Now you are a finished product. Now you are what I had in mind when I first began with you.

 

(Dim lights on right half of stage, shift focus lights to left half. Master & Clay exit stage; Teacup, Thomas & Martha in focus)

 

Teacup: And that is how I became the beautiful teacup I am today.

 

Husband: Wow! That is a wonderful story teacup! You know Martha, I think hearing this story is the best gift we’ve ever had!

 

Wife: That’s true Thomas! It reminded me that God is the potter & we are His clay. He knows what He’s doing for each of us. He will mold us and make us, and expose us to just the right pressure, so that we can be made into a beautiful masterpiece one day.

 

Thomas: Exactly! The next time I feel like I’m being pounded, patted & pushed more than I can bear, or when my world seems to be spinning out of control, you know what I’m going to do?

 

Martha: What will you do, Thomas?

 

Thomas: Well, I’m going to ask you to make me a cup of tea in this beautiful cup, so I can remember this story and talk to my Potter, Jesus.

 

Martha: I think that’s a wonderful idea Thomas!

 

Thomas: (Loudly, to the Store Owner) Excuse me, we’ll buy this cup sir.

(Store Owner re-enters)

 

Store Owner: Sure. That will be 500 rupees.

(Thomas gives him the money, Store Owner accepts it, puts the teacup in a box & hands it over to Thomas & Martha.)

 

Store Owner: Happy Anniversary to you both! And have a good day!

 

Thomas & Martha: Thank you!

 

(Exit all & Curtain)

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I’m not sure if this is something that only I experience, or if there are others out there who have similar experiences… and neither do I want to offend anybody’s religious sentiments… but one thing that always intrigues me is this little voice keeps singing all the time… 24 x 7, 365 days a year, there’s this non-stop record playing inside of me, singing songs so relevant to my situation at any given point of time.

 

For background’s sake, I’ve grown up in a family that loves music and singing comes quite naturally… in fact, my mother says that when she was expecting me, she heard an old Kid’s Praise cassette that had a little girl singing on it, and she prayed that she would have a child who could sing just like that. J I remember she even used to wake me up to music every morning, just so I would get up in a good mood!

 

And in answer to her prayer, right from my earliest days, I’ve sung at church or at camps or meetings and functions… I remember singing a solo at Parent’s Day in my very first year at school, and have always been on the choir at school and college or in an acapella group… and now I even lead worship at work… not that I’m an exceptionally good singer or anything, but it’s just something that’s in my veins and I can’t help it.

 

Anyways… the first time I remember actually becoming aware of this little singing voice was when I was in my 6th or 7th grade… I was on my way to the school Sport’s Day in the school bus and I was feeling quite sick and low, wondering how I would get through the day in the hot sun… and then I heard this little voice singing “He’s able, He’s able, I know He’s able, I know my Lord is able to carry me through…” For a moment I was shocked, and I wondered how in the world that had popped into my head from seemingly nowhere… I must have thought myself a genius or something…

 

But over the years, I’ve become quite accustomed to this little voice that peps me up in my lowest of times, celebrates with me through my highs, loves with me through my romances, and sighs with me when I’ve accomplished something big – but never for a moment is that voice silent. It’s always singing, singing, singing… and I wonder how and why?

 

This morning, for instance, I was in a very contemplative mood because something unexpected came up that seems like a big u-turn in my life. Everything I’ve been focused on for the last 3 years, my career, my goals, my ambitions… I will soon have to give them all up and step into something new yet again. What that will be, I’m still not sure of yet…

 

I was thinking about this all night and day when I paused for a moment to listen to the record playing in my head. It was singing this: “O my soul, do you not know, have you not heard? It’s been told from the beginning, the Lord your God is on your side, O my soul, don’t be afraid, trust in the Lord, by His righteousness and power, He will strengthen, He will guide… I will soar on wings like eagles, held by the hand of God, I will run and not grow tired, on His name I call, for the Lord is never weary, His ways are beyond my thoughts, I will trust in Him with all my heart.”

 

Fascinating? Yes, I was awestruck too… and I still am, as I wonder, is this what they mean when they say, “singing in the spirit”???

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