Commit your work to the Lord, and your plans will be established. Proverbs 16:3
“Namaskarandi, ni peru Annela. Are you Subba Lakshmi Ma’am?”
“Hello, nenu Annela. Mori Riverside School-lo unnanu. Nenu music therapist.”
After three attempts to use my broken Telugu over the phone, I decided I needed some help. I had been trying to reach a government special education school since April, and the process was difficult. When I finally reached the school administrator, Subba Lakshmi, I realized that she did not speak any English. I guess she barely understood my Telugu as well…
One Telugu-speaker helped me out, and the school agreed to let me come for a visit. They did not give an address, so I scoured the internet until I could find a nearby landmark. I brought along someone to translate, and I was on my way.
We pulled over many times to ask people where to go, and finally someone pointed us in the right direction. I got out of the car, and introduced myself to the woman standing outside.
“Are you Subba Lakshmi Ma’am?”
“Um, I am M. Lakshmi. Who are you? Why are you here?”
I gave my spiel about wanting to do music therapy in the community, and explained that I was there to volunteer for people with disabilities. She took us inside the physiotherapy building to meet the kids. We had a productive conversation, and she agreed to have me come twice monthly. I asked if I should get permission from the MEO (Mandal Education Officer) and she said, “No. This is an NGO, so there is no need.” I left feeling elated!
When I got in the car, I paused and realized, Wait…I don’t think that was the right place. The school I was TRYING to reach is a government school. Subba Lakshmi…M. Lakshmi….maybe not the same person.
After a few calls, and a meeting with the MEO, I finally found the school I was originally looking for. Preparing myself to fight for music therapy, I again gave my “speech.” Two minutes into the conversation, the administration said, “Yes! Can you start next week?”
This past month, I have conducted music therapy sessions in both special needs facilities and at a home for older adults. The language barrier has been challenging, but with the help of some translators, my first sessions went smoothly.
As I reflect, I can clearly see God’s hand orchestrating all of this. I’ve been praying that He would open the right doors, and close the wrong ones. That day was an obvious answer to prayer.
Currently, my main job is teaching music to grades 3-9 in Riverside School. Although I’m not trained as a teacher, I’ve been trying to use my music therapist skill set to manage my classrooms and teach social skills, English, history, and writing. I am also giving guitar and piano lessons to a few students.
I also have spent time with the students who live on campus. I have befriended the smallest boy, the naughtiest boy, and the older girls. I have taught them guitar and ukulele, and Carly and I hosted a movie viewing of Moana last week.
My naughty students are teaching me to be patient. The Riverside staff is teaching me to be loving. Learning Telugu is teaching me to be ok with failure. And introducing music therapy in an Indian village is forcing me to trust God. Most of the time, I feel like I have no clue what I am doing. However, the Riverside students always encourage me with their favorite assembly song, “Trust In The Lord.”
I am reminded that it’s ok to be clueless. I can rely on God for wisdom and guidance. God doesn’t call us to be successful, He calls us to be faithful.
Madness in the classroom...This is what happens when I give students free time to explore!