Monday, February 20, 2012

T.I.I. - This is India (part one)

UT Orange?
"HAPPY NATIONAL REPUBLIC DAY!" is the greeting of the most popular of the three major holidays in India. For, today, the nation celebrates it's official Constitution and it's independence from British rule only a short 63 years ago. We clap as India's flags are hoisted and unfurled with streamers showering those below who sing the country's national anthem. Um, I don't know the words, so I'm gonna stand right, here, and look as patriotic as a Non-Indian can. Hey! That flag has a stripe of Tennessee Orange!

Also, we celebrate Founder's Day on the main campus downtown for this would have been Mark Buntain's birthday who came to Kolkata in 1954 by ship with his lovely wife, Huldah, and their toddler, Bonnie. Planning to stay only one year, Mark quickly set his pace to full-steam-ahead to work in a country branded as the "Missionaries' Graveyard," because of the harsh conditions and seemingly impenetrable reception to the Gospel of Jesus.
Buntain Education Center - Founder's Day Celebration

Over 1200 students, friends and faculty are gathered in the assembly hall of Buntain Education Centre to hear of the history and the loving gratitude expressed by School Principal Victor Singh and Headmistress Bansria, both raised in Kolkata and educated at the school. I am caught off-guard when our name, "Reverend and Mrs. Terry Allen," is called and we are welcomed with the traditional garland. CRUD! Why did I wear the cargo pants and ponytail, today!

"Building A Better India by Building Better Boys & Girls
My Utmost for His Highest" - Founder's Day Celebrations
Each grade level performs a song and dance in national costume as praise to God! I whistle and hoot for the high school students who present a human video complete with a heaving Jesus! HA! It's just like being in the Tennessee Fine Arts Festival! Just as the President of Calcutta Mercy, greets everyone, a pigeon invites itself to the celebration flapping it's wings low and over the heads of giggling students! A few girls shriek as it decides in mid-air whether to land on them or keep moving. Oh, yeah, this is funny stuff! We just need a redneck to pop the pigeon in the rafters!

Huldah with grandsons in front of Mark Buntain's Grave
At the conclusion of the celebration, we parade out with the Buntain Family to the church's courtyard where floral wreaths have been placed to mark where Reverend (Dr.) D. Mark Buntain is buried. The inscription reads "Only One Prayer I Ask. Only One Good I Crave. To Finish My Task And Then To Lie Within An Indian Grave." The three grandsons, Mark, Daniel and Paul, speak of "Grampy" while Huldah silently dabs at tears.
A view of Kolkata from the
Buntain Education Centre 

God, This is India. I can't believe Terry and I are standing in the middle of Kolkata with this family remembering a hero of the faith. It's surreal. It's humbling. Thank You for this new bend in my journey.

"T.I.I. - This is India  (part two)" 
to be posted...


  1. OK ...I'm on the edge of my seat ... it's Friday here in the US ...

  2. Tammy "Teva-Diva"~ Did you ever catch up on the India posts? When you are coming back to TN?