Wednesday January 16, 2018

Jeff and I got up at 3:45 am to see Lachlan off. He and Clifton had the long drive to Delhi where they were going to explore for a couple days and then Lachlan was headed to Australia and Clifton back home to the mission.

Jeff found a new running partner in one of the girls here on the mission, so they took off on an afternoon run around the mission and they soon had quite a following.

This week we also got to celebrate lots of birthdays; I guess with 68 kids in care on the mission, birthdays are a frequent happening here.

The last couple of days I have been working on organizing several cabinets in the office that were full of school and project supplies for the kids, as well as office supplies for the staff. This has been quite an undertaking and I really hope it pays off for Priscilla and Katie who regularly use it to get supplies for the kids’ school projects. There was so much stuff just shoved into these cabinets that there is no way to find anything. The bottom two shelves have come along nicely, but there is still a lot of work to go!

Most people would read about this job and not think much of it, but for those that really know me, you probably understand how much I love this kind of project. I think it is the process of taking everything out and putting it all back in a way that is functional. The reward for the work is instant and I love it!

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Tuesday January 15, 2019

Proverbs 16:32 One who is slow to anger is better than the mighty, and one whose temper is controlled than one who captures a city.

We had two special events today…Lucia lost her first tooth! She was so excited and very ready for the tooth fairy to pay her a visit in India.

And then we had to say goodbye to our good friend Lachlan, who was headed back to Australia early tomorrow morning. Anjali was especially sad to see him go and she wanted to make him a special cake to say goodbye, so she and I spent the afternoon baking and decorating the cake(s) for his goodbye party at dinner (it was supposed to happen at 4 pm tea time, but it didn’t). Anjali seemed happy with the results and so did Lachlan. To be honest, I am not sure that the cake was specifically for Lachlan, but rather his leaving was a good reason for her to bake and decorate a cake.

Lachlan, it was no nice to spend the last two months with you. We wish you the very best in all that you do and look forward to our paths crossing again in the future. You will be very missed!

Monday January 14, 2019

Colossians 4:5-6 Conduct yourselves wisely toward outsiders, making the most of the time. Let your speech always be gracious, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how you ought to answer everyone.

Happy Birthday, Dad! This is one of the difficult things about doing this journey away from family and missing events like this, but we were able to do a FaceTime with my dad and wish him a happy birthday from India.

We ended up having a fair amount of pancake mix leftover from our breakfast feast yesterday so we were able to help the girls make a pancake snack for all of the school kids. This meant that I spent another 2 hours making pancakes over the fire. And while this task was smokey, it was a lot of fun to hang out and laugh with all of the big girls. We had a lot of fun and I am really going to miss this time with them. These girls work so hard cooking all the food their brothers and sisters, as well for us volunteers. Jeff and I have really enjoyed helping them in the mornings, learning how to cook the porridge and Chai tea, as well as helping wash the dishes after the meals. This time with them also included laughter and silliness while getting the work done, because let’s face it, work is so much better when you are having fun!

Our kids did a pretty good job with school work today. It is so hit and miss with them, and while 2 may be doing well there is usually one who doesn’t want to do the work. It is really frustrating, but this is just how it goes.

Sunday January 13, 2019

Colossians 3:17 And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father though him.

Everyone was up before the sun (some a little less thrilled about it), but it was for such a wonderful reason. Today we made breakfast for everyone on the mission, a full spread with scrambled eggs, pancakes, and fresh fruit salad. With a start at 5:45 am we were able to get the fire started so we can cook the pancakes outside on the griddle where they make the chapati’s. This was quite an undertaking, but with the help of the older girls, everything was ready on time and tummies were filled to the max. Everyone seemed very happy with the change of breakfast menu and we were so happy to be able to provide this little treat for the kids. Our kiddos were a little unhappy to get up this early, but once they were up, they did a great job cheerfully preparing the fruit salad while I made the pancake mix and cracking all of the eggs for the scrambled eggs. This would not have been successful without the help of the girls…we would have never been able to make the Chai! Jeff was able to finish the eggs just in time for breakfast while the girls and I sat outside making pancakes until about 8:45, but we at least had enough for everyone in time for breakfast. Once we knew we had enough for everyone to have enough we put the rest of the mix into a bowl to save for tomorrow.

This was such a fun experience and it was so great to hear all of the happy thank you’s from the kids. I am so thankful that God put us in this place to experience the wonderful love these children have for their world. They always have a smile on their face and I am so grateful to learn the gift of gratitude from them. I wish we had more pictures of this mornings breakfast and the kids, but we were all having such a good time that we forgot!

Everyone was really tired by the end of the day today, but we weren’t done with the excitement. This afternoon David started complaining that his ear was hurting inside and Lucia has been complaining since yesterday that her ear was hurting, though her pain was all coming from the outside of her ear, we decided to take it easy. Just after 4 pm tea time I was sitting upstairs with the kids while Jeff was tutoring some of the older kids in Economics and I just happen to glance at Lucia’s ear. Inside her ear had what looked like black dirt, but I soon realized that was not the case. I sent for Jeff to help and he confirmed my thought, a tick had burrowed into the cartilage of her outer ear and all the black stuff was actually dried blood. With the helpful and steady hand of Uncle Rick, the tick was removed with only a few blood curdling screams. Thankfully it was not a dangerous tick, just a common one for here that she likely picked up when we were in the jungle. Our thought is that she carried it back on her sweatshirt and when she wore it again yesterday, it attached to her ear. Once it was removed we covered it with some iodine and then when she had calmed we cleaned it out really well with an antiseptic rinse and more iodine. As soon as we had thoroughly cleaned the redness on and around her ear subsided and returned to its normal pink color. Since we had the otoscope handy we took a look into David’s ear to find out that he had an ear infection, so we started him on some antibiotics. Quite a crazy afternoon, but it all had a happy ending. Lucia’s ear was no longer causing her pain and with David starting that antibiotics he should be feeling better in a day or two.

There are no pictures for today, just the exciting stories of a pancake breakfast, a tick in the ear, and an ear infection.

Saturday January 12, 2019

Mark 9:23 Jesus said to him, “If you are able!–All things can be done for the one who believes”.

Today Jeff and the kids went out to the building site of the new staff housing project to help by move dirt and I spent my morning in the Strong House working on an organizational project. While I was not with the kids, Jeff said they worked very hard and that just filled my heart with joy. I love hearing that my children are lending a helping hand around the mission, especially since on Saturday’s the kids here are all in school.

The highlight of the day on the mission is that Dylan got a new catfish that he plans on eating once it dies : ) I can’t help but laugh at the thought process.

This afternoon while Jeff and the kids moved more dirt, I was charged with having the small boys clean up garbage around the mission. I figured that getting the boys to do a good job would require them to “buy into” the project, so I created two teams of 6-7 and we had a race/competition to see which team could collect the most garbage. After a bit of advice from a few staff members I ended up setting a few ground rules (we set boundaries and agreed that they could not go to the garbage pits to fill their bags). The boys were so excited and they cleaned up the whole front part of the mission in about 15 minutes. The boys seemed to have a ton of fun and they did a great job!

Friday January 11, 2019

Proverbs 3:11-12 My child, do not despise the Lord’s discipline or be weary of his reproof, for the Lord reproves the one he loves, as a father the son in whom he delights.

We have really been struggling with Anjali’s behavior; it seems that every other day she is aggressive, angry, and just all in all unhappy with life. We can’t seem to figure out why and she won’t talk with us. One of the most difficult things to explain to our children, and to help them understand, is that we discipline them BECAUSE we love them. I am sure it is this way with most children, that they view our discipline as us not loving them, but it is still extremely frustrating and difficult. I am finding myself asking the question, ‘how does one teach the children that discipline comes from a place of love?’ I m sure it comes from the way in which we, as parents, dole out the discipline, but this is still, how do you do it?. I don’t know about you, but our children have not yet figured this out and guess for that matter, neither have I. They still view our discipline as a way for us to control them or to make them do what we want. I have continually tried to tell them that they are loved when they are well-behaved just as they are loved when they are being disciplined. We try our best, but I am afraid that we have not been able to fully demonstrate this message.

Today she was pretty angry when she woke up, but as the morning progressed she came back around, probably because she knew that we had plans to go shopping to Khatima with the ladies on the mission. As much as she didn’t deserve the reward of going, we really needed this time together and it turned out to be a wonderful afternoon. We left just after 10 am tea time and all 9 of us piled into a taxi we waved down on the street just outside the mission (we were planning on the bus, but this worked just as well. We actually split into 2 groups and hit the markets of Khatima searching for our treasures and then we all met up for lunch. I have to say, Anjali was so excited that she was able to get some pizza and french fries. We had a really great time, and it was pretty successful. I was able to find a saree and 2 suits (traditional Indian tunic and pants), along with scarves for both Anjali and I, as well as her best friend, Nadia. Plus we had a lot of fun. According to Anjali, the best part of the day was lunch. The restaurant was upstairs from a sweets store. Anjali picked out Sour Skittles and Nutella for her brother and sister.

Today was also the birthday party for one of the girls and the big girls did a beautiful job decorating the rooftop of the Strong House with balloons, birthday cake, music, and of course a fire to keep them warm! I was so happy to be able to stay long enough to sing happy birthday, but then took off to the let the girls have their fun. These kids really know how to through a party and celebrate each other.

This picture of Lachlan and Niyati is too funny to not include.

Thursday January 10, 2019

John 9:5-11 As long as I am in the world, I am the light of the world.” When he had said this, he spat on the ground and made mud with the saliva and spread the mud on the man’s eyes, saying to him, “Go, wash in the pool of Siloam” (which means Sent). Then he went and washed and came back able to see. The neighbors and those who had seen him before as a beggar began to ask, “Is this not the man who used to sit and beg?” Some were saying, “It is he.” Others were saying, “No, but it is someone like him.” He kept saying, “I am the man.” But they kept asking him, “Then how were your eyes opened?” He answered, “The man called Jesus made mud, spread it on my eyes, and said to me, ‘Go to Siloam and wash.’ Then I went and washed and received my sight.”

[A]nd his name is called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. (Isaiah 9:6) But Jesus looked at them and said, “For mortals it is impossible, but for God all things are possible.” (Matthew 19:26)

The John verse for today brought these other two scriptures to mind and I just could not help but to include them. I love the reminder that Jesus will always take care of us and that there is nothing that He cannot accomplish. When we live and walk alongside Him anything is possible and this fact is incredibly reassuring in this crazy world; I may not have any control, but He does, and what’s even better is that He also knows what I need.

I guess today we needed a break. Eugene and Phyllis (Filly) invited us, along with Gail (a GSAM alum), Lachlan, John and Sara, and Frank and Rosie, to spend the day at the Jim Corbett National Park in Ramnagar. This place was amazing. We all piled into 2 cars and then headed off into the jungle. As we were driving through the jungle we stopped along the side of the road to grab some firewood so Eugene and John could cook us lunch over the fire. Our drive through the jungle and over the dried up riverbed, up to Jim Corbett’s cabin was absolutely beautiful. Trees formed a canopy over the dirt road and we were all on alert hoping to see an elephant, but that didn’t happen.

This afternoon was such a blessing. This was the first time we really got to spend some quality time with Eugene and Filly. The adults sat together overlooking the dried up riverbed while the kids ran around the property. Eugene and Filly brought 3 of their kids, so ours had a ton of fun with them. It was so relaxing and wonderful to share stories and to get to know one another. Eugene and John cooked us an amazing meal of chicken and rice, also known as Biryana, and of course some homemade chutney. After we all had our fill of the food, Filly was kind enough to share a secret with me…chutney with some fresh squeezed lime juice and raw onion made for a wonderful, but really spicy treat. The two us just continued to take chutney/lime shots until there was no more lime; it was awesome! Of course our meal would not be complete if it wasn’t followed by some spiced chai. We got home right about 4 pm, just in time for another round of Chai tea.

I had no idea I was needing a break, and maybe I really didn’t need it, but today was just perfect. I am so grateful for God’s grace in making this happen. We all had a wonderful time. We laughed and joked while we got to know each other better, all while the kids ran and explored. Lucia seemed to have a really fun time with her new friend Jeffrey!

David, taking full advantage of his longer hair.
Here is the view from the property.

Our adventurous kiddos!

Anjali is sneaking around the corner.
The dried up riverbed! During the monsoons, this river can be uncrossable!

Once we arrived back home Jeff and I were asked to help make Dylan’s birthday cake for tonight. For a last minute cake, I’d say this dinosaur turned our pretty good!

Happy Birthday Dylan!

Wednesday January 9, 2019

Isaiah 41:10 do not fear, for I am with you, do not be afraid, for I am your God; I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with my victorious right hand.

This scripture gives me so much comfort, especially when I start to feel anxious or uneasy about the journey we are on right now. I fall back to this passage often when I begin to question what we have done and what we are doing, and it is then that I feel God’s arms wrap around me and I feel safe. Even in the beginning of this journey God has strengthened both Jeff and me at different times. He continually shows me that He will strengthen and help me through the difficult times and the times that I feel unsure. Time and time again He has carried us and paved the way for us, even changing the plans we made, to complete the work that He has for us.

Still our biggest struggle is homeschooling. It is not that I don’t like teaching my children, it is that they are not wanting me (or Jeff) to teach them and, to be honest, I don’t think they want to work. They are having difficulty remembering that this year is not a vacation or holiday from school, but rather school is incorporated into our service. We assign them work to do for the day and when they complete it they are done, but they take no ownership of their work and then complain when they don’t finish it because they were messing around all day. We usually end up with one who does a great job working and accomplishing their assignments for the day, but there is usually one who wants to throw a wrench into the situation and we then have tantrums all day.

Jeff commented today that he is beginning to question whether he can continue to do this for another 6 months, not the service or the traveling, but the teaching. I really think this is our biggest challenge and it made me wonder if this is one of those moments where God’s blessings are in disguise. Maybe this is what our family needs and His divine plan will bring our family closer together. In my opinion our kids need to learn a bit more obedience and respect for Jeff and me, so maybe this is how God plans to achieve this.

As I am typing this up, I am remembering an old song by Garth Brook (yes, a country song!) called Unanswered Prayers in which he sings:

Sometimes I thank God for unanswered prayers; remember when you’re talkin’ to the man upstairs; that just because He doesn’t answer doesnt’ mean He don’t care; some of God’s greatest gifts are unanswered prayers

I love this song because it is a reminder that I may pray for something, but that just because I don’t get what I want I need to have faith that He will give me what I need.

While I may not know why things are so difficult, stressful, and frustrating, He knows and His divine plan is way better than any of mine. I guess this is one of those things that I need to hand over to God so He can help guide and direct me through this. He can help my children see that being obedient and respectful will actually benefit everyone and allow them more freedom and independence from us. Anjali is constantly fighting with us for more autonomy, but she is failing to show us the obedience and discipline to warrant it. I keep telling her ‘if you don’t listen to me when you are right in front of me, how can I trust that you will be obedient when you are on your own’.

Starting today I will make this a daily prayer and will hand this over to God and be happy and content in His way. I know that He will be there for me and will provide for my family, just as He always has.

A total side note, here is a picture that Jeff took of the bloom of fire that was the result of massive amounts of garbage being tossed into the pit to burn. This is a taste of what the air quality is like here.

Tuesday January 8, 2019

Matthew 6:9-15 Pray then like this: “Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name. Your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread, and forgive us our debts, as we also have forgotten our debtors. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil. For if you forgive others their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you, but if you do not forgive others their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.

Today was another day helping the girls make breakfast and doing dishes. I think they really enjoy having Jeff in the kitchen. He is breaking their cultural norms, plus he can be really goofy in the morning (actually all day!) and the girls get a total kick out of it. I am a bit nervous about cooking on Sunday, so I think we will be coming to help breakfast as much as we can manage this week, plus it is a lot of fun (and quiet) in the morning with these girls.

I love this prayer that Jesus taught to his disciples and I am really missing reciting this prayer in church every Sunday. Reflecting on this prayer for today makes me a bit homesick for our church back in Madison. I have loved worshiping with the family on the mission here in India, just as I did with the wonderful people we met in Germany, but it is not the same as back home. I miss the organ, the hymns we used to sing, and the prayers we recited together as a congregation. I miss the structured worship service and the fellowship that followed. Even though I am missing this aspect of home, I am so happy to be where I am now. God has placed us here for a reason and we have loved every minute of His plan. He has guided us to this time and place, just as He did for Germany and Thailand, and He has never failed us or let us down. We continue to learn from Him and from those around us.

This has been a go-to prayer for me since we left the US. “Our Father who art in heaven, hallowed be thy name. Thy kingdom come, Thy will be done, on Earth as it is in Heaven.” This verse reminds me that God is in charge, not me. God has control and will always be there for me. He will comfort me when I am down; He will pick me up and dust me off when I fall. And no matter how much I try, my plans are not mine, but they are His and He is in control, hence the phrase, ‘Thy will be done on earth as it is in Heaven.’ We don’t need to worry or fear the future, we just need to trust in His and have faith in His plans for us.

Monday January 7, 2019

Ephesians 4:2 with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love, eager to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.

I love that even with the ever changing activities that make up our days here, the schedule of the mission still provides a routine–7:30 breakfast, 10:00 tea, 12:00 lunch, 4:00 tea, 6:00 dinner for kids and 7:00 dinner for the staff and volunteers. For us, we have been regularly helping the girls with dishes after breakfast until about 8:30 and then we move on to our laundry which we finish around 9:15, leaving just enough time to clean up and head to morning tea.

Jeff and I are planning to make breakfast for the mission on Sunday morning so we need to learn how to make the Chai (Chai is a very important part of breakfast and we don’t want to screw it up) and how to do all the little things required for breakfast. So we headed to the kitchen at 6:00 in the morning to learn how to do all of that is necessary to prepare and serve the first meal of the day. While we didn’t actually do much today, we just watched these girls make breakfast for 80 people in just under 90 minutes.

Right after lunch I helped the big boys move some furniture from the old school to the new school; I think I really shocked them when I showed up to help. One even told me that this is man’s work and that Indian women don’t do this kind of work, to which I replied, that “I am not an Indian woman”. They seemed to get a kick out of this and we were able to move all 5 cabinets and a couple tables in two truck loads over to the school. I absolutely loved getting my hands dirty and doing something a little more physical than cooking, dishes, and laundry! I also got to drive the truck, which is really fun because it is a manual transmission, but everything is on the opposite side for me. It felt so weird to sit where the passenger would sit and to have the stick on the left, instead of the right, but I didn’t even stall once! Again, I don’t think they expected that and I just get a total kick out of surprising these boys and making them laugh.

Anjali was super excited to receive a package from her best friend today; she had no idea it was coming and was totally surprised. Thank you Nadia!

As I was hanging out in the Strong House this evening I attempted to video one of the nursery girls laughing. She has the best laugh I have ever heard and I just want a video of it so anytime I am feeling down I can capture it forever. However, her laugh tonight was not the real thing, so this will have to wait until I can capture it!

I was able to help Priscilla and the girls make dinner tonight and I took a photo so I can try to figure out how to make this when we get home because it is absolutely wonderful. This subji is made with potatoes, peas, and cauliflower and served alongside chipati and spicy chutney.

As Jeff and I walked back to our apartment we ran into these two beautiful girls. They are so amazing inside and out, and I feel so blessed to have met them and to get to know them.