Judy Stephens

Meherabad, 1952


1 Jan to 15 February 2007

Jai Meher Baba to you all!

I want to wish you all a very Happy New Year, filled with Beloved Baba's wonderful love! It seems each year there is something special about the arrival of a new year. It is really just another day; yet, it seems to bring a possible promise, a hope. For we lovers of God, it is a hope to get closer to Him.

For me, being here in Meherabad, I am reminded of the great blessing my heart feels in being here, in His home, at the foothill of His Samadhi. My heart is so unbelievably grateful to be allowed to live here. What fun and joy it is to love Baba!

Monday 1 January 2007. Even though I was up late last night, I still had to get up early for my full day at the Meher Pilgrim Retreat. Coffee is such a pleasant way to start the day. I think coffee is one of the blessings of life!

When I got to the Retreat, I walked up the ramp to the Reception Office. I looked up and saw the beautiful, shiny decorations in the foyer. I looked again. It was so beautiful! It looked like there were lights strung throughout the streamers! They were glittering from the morning sun shining on them.

I walked into the Dining Hall and just enjoyed seeing all the pretty decorations. It is a shame they could not stay up more than a few days.

A lot of pilgrims had come for the New Year's Eve celebration. So, there were a lot of departures. With so many pilgrims, it was very busy. I got home near 7:00 PM.

Tuesday 2 January. I stayed home and was working in the garden when a rickshaw drove up to my room. In it was the dresser I had one of the local carpenters' make. The top and front were of teak wood. The rest was made of plywood. It was stained a beautiful brown, and the varnish gave it a rich golden brown look. It looked so pretty! That is until I saw the sides and back!

I could not believe my eyes! The back was untouched plywood. No stain, no varnish. On one side, showing through the stain, were all the lines the carpenter made to mark where he was to put the drawers. On the other side was the writing that often comes on one side of plywood. Instead of reversing it, putting the writing on the inside, where no one would see it, he left it facing out!

"Why?" I asked him, "Why?" He looked surprised that I would find anything objectionable about it. I thought to myself "Judy, this is India!!!!!!" I have had enough experience to know things are just not the same here. However, this was one of our Trust workers, who I hire to do jobs. I told him when I go to the States in March, he is to take the dresser back, and at his own expense, sand down the two sides and redo it. He is also to stain and varnish the back. Otherwise, he did a very good job! And I told him so.

It was my rotation to attend the Tuesday volunteer Staff meeting at the Retreat. The meeting was at 12:00 PM. I hopped on my scooter and off I went to the Retreat. In the early afternoon my Satellite Dish TV box was returned. I had been using a temporary one because something was not working right with mine.

In the evening, I walked up the hill for my 6:00 PM Samadhi duty. You can see the Amartithi preparations going on everywhere. Fields are being plowed, women are pulling weeds along the paths, and the hill has the huge steel beams being assembled for the pandal.

Wednesday 3 January. It was my half-day at the Retreat. Just as I was arriving there, my cell phone rang. It was my daughter, Mehera, who lives in Southern California. She said Rabia, my other daughter, was in the hospital. I had her call me back on the phone in our Reception Office.

You can imagine, as a mother that is not something you want to hear. Rabia is five months pregnant with twins. Before I left New York she had to be on bed rest for one week because of the pregnancy. It seems this was more serious. The doctors were afraid they might have to do immediate surgery. She was to be on a 24-hour watch.

When I got myself together emotionally, I called Rabia. She was in such good spirits! She said, "Mom, I am in the best place I could be in. So, it is in God's hands". The doctors said she might very well have to remain in the hospital the rest of her pregnancy. Thank God for hospitals.

Bhauji returned from his trip to Saoner, near Nagpur.

Thursday 4 January. I took my sewing machine in a rickshaw into the bazaar. The shop where I bought it said a part was broken. So, I left it to be fixed and serviced. I stopped at the Trust and saw Bhau. He looked as cute as ever.

In the evening, at 6:45 PM, we had a Receptionist meeting. We discussed the upcoming Amartithi and what we may need. We want to hire more porters for those crowded days.

When I got home I called Rabia. She was doing fine. She said she had her ipod, computer, and cell phone. And her friends scheduled visiting times.

Friday 5 January. I did my workout and then got ready to go to the Retreat. I had an 11:00 AM appointment with Cindy Lowe. I have been videoing Baba lovers who had gone to the 1969 Darshan in Guruprasad, Pune.

We met in the Music Room. Cindy played a song she had written that expressed what the Darshan meant to her. She spoke of when she first saw Mehera, not really knowing much about her, yet recognizing immediately "here was the queen of the universe."

I had lunch at the Banyan Tree Café. Then I took the video camera to the old Meher Pilgrim Center to video Bhauji. This was his first talk since he returned from Saoner. He talked about his trip.

Saturday 6 January. I was up the hill by 5:30 AM to clean Baba's Cabin Room. I then went down the hill to clean the Jhopdi and Table House. At 10:00 AM I went to the MPC to meet anyone who wanted to go on the Historical Tour of Meherabad.

I had lunch again at the Banyan Tree Café. I enjoy having it so close, the food is very good.

At 4:00 PM tea and cake were served on the verandah of the Music & Arts Center. At 4:30 PM a film was shown of Eruch Jessawala on 'Learning Meher Baba's Ways'. It was part 4 of the Witness Series Video 'Becoming His.'

Sunday 7 January. This was Mehera's Birthday according to the Christian calendar. I took Virginia to Meherazad to share in the special program. There was singing before a film of Mehera was shown. The film was a premiere that was done for Mehera's 100th Birthday. Kacy Cook and Bob Frederick did an amazing job of putting it together. We were all spellbound, seeing photos and video scenes not shown before.

Monday 8 January. This was my full day at the Retreat. I got stuck at the railroad track gates for twenty minutes. I am going to have to start going a little earlier. I was happy to see the arrival of the seventeen Argentines. For most of them it was their first trip. The few who had come before had been part of a large group that were here several years ago, and their singing was beautiful. So, I was happy to learn this group also loved to sing.

Tuesday 9 January. There was a MPR volunteer Staff meeting with the Meherabad Trustees up at the Retreat at 12 Noon. So, we Retreat Staff had a meeting first at 11:00 AM. We wanted to make sure we had all the information we would need to give the Trustees. The Pilgrim Reservation Office volunteers said they had 400 reservations when they began looking at their Amartithi requests. And we still have three weeks to go. We can only take 280 at the Retreat because of the plumbing system.

In the evening I had Samadhi duty at 6:00 PM.

Wednesday 10 January. I woke at 4:00 AM to sounds outside my window. I heard a sawing sound, then whispering. I thought, 'oh no, not again. What is there to take?' I quietly got up and tip toed to the window. I parted the curtain slightly and saw two men trying to quietly saw the remainder of the Sandalwood tree stump.

This time I did not yell out that there were thieves. I was hoping we could catch them. So, instead, I quietly went to Anne's room and asked her to call security. When the security men came, the two tree thieves ran away. They left behind two saws and a screwdriver. They also left half of the stump they had cut. It had a nice smell to it.

I did not bother to go back to sleep. Instead, I had some coffee and did some computer work. Then I went early to the Retreat, getting there at 8:25 AM. I did not see our porter to open the office. I went into the Dining Hall, visited some pilgrims, and went back to the office at 8:45 AM. Still no porter! I asked the Lobbyman where was the porter? He said he went to get the lunch tiffins from his home and the newspapers at the MPC. I asked what time did he go? I was told 8:00 AM. I was shocked! I told the Lobbyman; it does not take one hour to pick-up two tiffins and the newspapers. The Lobbyman said the porter had walked. "Why,' I asked? We have six bicycles for the workers to use. He said they all have flats. "Why," I asked? "We have an account with the bicyclewala." I was told four different departments use the bicycles. "Oh," I said. There was the problem-no one to be held accountable to have the work done.

Until the volunteer Staff decide how to handle this problem, I suggested each department have the keys to one bicycle. That bicycle would be theirs to use and their responsibility to keep in good shape. We Receptionist would have two bicycles because we also let pilgrims who are doing volunteer work use the bicycles.

We have three pay phones in the Administration Wing. We Receptionists collect the money from the phone boxes. We have a separate plastic box for each phone number. This way we know how much each phone collected when the phone bill arrives.

As I was taking the money out of the two phone booths, I saw each one also had a direct-dial phone wired to the wall outlet. I went to ask the Lobbyman why the direct-dial phones? He said they were only for extensions; you could not dial outside on them. We had only had one extension for pilgrims to use, and that was in the Lobby. Now, the pilgrims may have their conversations in private if someone calls them.

Tony Griss went to pick up Virginia to bring her for lunch at the Retreat. Her native language is Spanish. And we have 17 Spanish speaking Argentines here. She was to have lunch with them. They all sat on the outside verandah of the Dining Hall.

It was so sweet to see Virginia enjoying all the talk in Spanish. After eating, the Argentines sang for about one hour. Virginia got up and danced with a couple of them. She was treated with such love and respect.

The showing of the afternoon Baba film was cancelled. Bhauji wanted all Residents and volunteer workers to attend a special meeting at 4:30 PM in the Hall of the MPC.

At 3:45 PM I took the video camcorder to the MPC to set up for Bhauji's talk. No one served tea, so someone went to make a cup for Bhau. Then at 4:30 PM Bhau began the talk on selfless service.

When I got home at 6:00 PM I noticed the gate to Foundy's yard open. I went to close it and noticed the other half of the stump had been cut off. I called Peter Booth, he said his workers came to cut it. I was relieved because the thieves would no doubt have return to cut it some night.

The Sandalwood tree that was cut was worth over $2,000. So, you can see why thieves go around cutting other peoples Sandalwood trees.

I was so tired in the evening; I went to bed at 7:45 PM

Thursday 11 January. I slept until 7:00 AM—late for me. My daughter called from New York. She is in the hospital for the duration of her pregnancy. She said one of the twins had shifted and the immediate danger has passed.

I took a bus to Pune at 11:00 AM. I wanted to run some medical tests. Plus have my eyes tested for glasses. Right now I just have reading glasses. I spent the night at the Meher Baba Pune Center.

While going down one of the streets, I saw something that I had only read about in books. Two men were balancing a long pole between them. In the middle was a small swing that an elderly woman sat on. She was being carried somewhere.

Friday 12 January. I finished my medical tests in the morning. But, I would have to miss getting back to Meherabad in time for Dhuni. My test reports would not be ready until around 4:00 PM. After I got them I took a bus back to Meherabad.

Saturday 13 January. I was up by 4:30 AM. I had to pick flowers to take up the hill. I usually do it the night before, and then put them in the refrigerator to stay fresh. But I had got home too late.

I was up the hill by 5:30 AM. Then I went to clean the Jhopdi and Table House. Mariko and Joseph have returned. I sure appreciate their help.

At 10:00 AM I went to the MPC to do the History Tour of Meherabad. At 3:30 PM I took my video camera to the Music & Arts Center to video the program for Bhau's birthday. There are so many pilgrims here that the MPC Hall was just too small.

A special area was decorated on the verandah for Bhau. On a stool next to a small table was a birthday card for everyone to sign. Lots of lovely decorations were around this area. In the front section of the M & A Center, tea, cake, and a special snack were served.

The program began at 4:30 PM. Suzie Biddu was the commentator. She told how she first met Bhau, how he was a guest in her home in England some twenty years ago. Then she introduced the performers. Adrian sang a solo in Persian. Richard, from Australia, played a 'digger-re-do.' The Argentines sang. Then the workers from the Ahmednagar Trust Office sang. A funny film, made for the occasion, by Hugh McDonald, followed this. In it were some scenes of Bhau walking on water.

Sunday 14 January. I had a pleasant morning doing my workout and then working in the garden. I transplanted some plants that were crowding one of the new trees.

At 4:45 PM Debbie Nordeen arranged a program in old Mandali Hall titled 'Celebrating the Divine.' It was a program where anyone could share poetry, songs, or stories in praise of Beloved Baba.

Monday 15 January. This was a full day for me at the Retreat. It was a busy day where I had my lunch at my desk. I did take fifteen minutes at teatime to relax with popcorn. There is one plant in our Reception Office called 'Song of India.' Each Monday I have it taken out into the shade of a tree. It needs periodic indirect sunlight. I'm in the office all day so hopefully once a week will work.

At 6:45 PM we had a Receptionists meeting. With Amartithi only two weeks away, we need to fine-tune what needs to be done. We have almost 40 pilgrims who will have to move out of the Retreat and move into the old MPC. There will be mattresses on the floor for 56 pilgrims. We had requested for well over 400 Amartithi reservations at the MPR, with new ones coming in almost daily. Over 100 were told we had no room.

The Retreat holds 200 pilgrims. We are bringing in an extra 80 beds for Amartithi. This means the MPR will have 280 pilgrims. Our sewer system simply cannot accommodate more people than that.

The room assignments are done daily by each Receptionist who is on duty. However, because of the number of arrivals, transfers, and departures in this short period of time, we decided to have only one Receptionist do the work. It would be way too easy to make a mistake otherwise.

In Beloved Baba's sweet love, Judy

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