Built into a mountainside the monastery has an enviable view and a large property. The spaciousness allows the monks to walk around and be as contemplative as desired without distraction. All through the day I see the senior students, sitting, reading, studying away from the hubbub of the main building.
The entrance way is on the ground floor with the dining hall on the north end and a classroom wing on the south end. The two flights above serve as an office, guest quarters, and bedrooms. There is an open courtyard in the south wing; much air and light filter in.
Upon exiting the 3rd floor, you find yourself on a new level ground. A temple is being constructed to your right and a row of guest rooms is a path's walk up ahead to your left. On this second level there is a precipice that drops down into the valley with its distant sounds of life and music often floating up. Oh yes, and much horn honking.
Morning View from My Bedroom Door
It is on this open plain behind the monastery where a new temple is being constructed. Every day as I open my door I can see and of course hear the construction activity. However this is a veritable "manual" labor activity employing both men and women.
From the pictures you may see the level of teamwork and rhythm established to pass the cement up the chain. The mixed, wet cement is placed in a hub cap, OK probably not a real hubcap but it looks like one from here. It is presented to guy two who passes it to guy three who chucks it to guy four standing on the top. Guy four has just tossed the last empty HC down, so look closely and you will see a saucer like item just below midway. Guy four then catches the next laden HC, turns and pours the cement into the correct area. He then tosses empty HC down, waiting for the next one full of cement.
Presently there is not enough money to finish the project as a total of 450,000 American dollars is needed. Work will proceed as funds come in.
On another note, yesterday a volunteer team of a father and daughter from Australia arrived; Robert and Amanda. In fact I had them over for coffee last night. (In no way does this look like any time we have shared coffee together at one of our homes, so don't think we were living it up.)
Upon their arrival they were immediately asked to teach a class. After their initial performance, Lobsang the school secretary requested that they teach hygiene while they were here. This is of course is very important and much needs to be put in place. HOWEVER, teaching kids to wash their hands with soap when there is no soap???? Teaching kids to use warm water, when there it is only available sometimes??? Teaching students to blow their noses rather than let the green mucous run down, when there are no tissues??? Well, there was one strategy for containing illness that we could teach them and it could be utilized: coughing into your elbow.
So I close with a snap of laundry day – all clothes are washed by hand. Fresh clothes are given to the little ones once a WEEK. (No wonder the flies like them by Friday.) And when the monks returned from the camping trip they WENT DOWN TO THE RIVER TO WASH THE BLANKETS. Yep, and I am sure they have a special rock of their own, well worn though it may be.