Welcome to India

This blog is intended to make a country that most Westerners find to be otherworldly not so much so. We enjoy sharing our experiences, noting our observations, highlighting our impressions and otherwise recounting our adventures in India while helping our blogwatchers to be vicariously closer to this grand country. Welcome to India.

Monday, December 16, 2013

Jaya Rolls Over and the CCH Christmas Rolls On...

A first taste of latte love in Nashville.

Playing with close friend, Vivie Haun, in Dallas.

Delighting the Deeble girls, Brianna and Hadley, in Kansas City.

A self-imposed tummy time for the first time ever.  Yay, Jaya!

Auntie Kelley drove all the way from St. Louis to see Jaya and family.  Thanks, Kelley!

We are currently in the midst of what has become an annual trip to the middle of the country, visiting friends in Dallas and Kansas City along with occasional stops in places like Denver, Tulsa, Nashville and more to share about the children in India.  We love these trips and, quite frankly, at times this past year we wondered if we would ever be able to do another one.  

Then Jaya got better.

Then Jaya recovered from her October heart surgery.

And we were off again.

And will be off again to India on January 9th.

Then, get this, yesterday Jaya rolled over on her own for the very first time.  Milestones, progress and growth and development are just a little more treasured than normal.  Yeah, Jaya!

Our holiday season is extra special this year, not just because of Jaya, but because we are nearing our goal of 545 kids in India receiving Christmas gifts of new and dignifying clothes that make them feel special, that help restore their beauty and accelerate their view of themselves as anything but once-orphaned or -abandoned.

If you'd like to help us finish off our campaign, we still need your support:

Thanks to all of you, friends, family and acquaintances for your help, encouragement and support through 2013.  

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

CCH Christmas - A Special Chance to Give

These Kuderu girls love their new dresses, something they never thought they would ever have.

The boys of NTR Colony are about to open their first Christmas gifts.

This picture of the Nelaturu girls is our favorite picture from our entire experience in India:  renewed beauty, restored dignity, smiles that reflect the love they are experiencing despite their once-orphaned or -abandoned spirits.

Every year we add new children to CCH, and this year there are 145 more than there were last year, we also have the privilege of giving Christmas gifts to children who have never opened a gift, much less a Christmas gift.

What does this look like? 

Here’s a classic video of what it looks like for a child to open a Christmas gift (or any gift!) for the first time:   

Christmas Gifts 2011 from Covenant Children's Homes on Vimeo.

You simply won't find a better place to give this Christmas season than to these first-time gift receivers in India.

For $25/child we are giving:
     1.  A new and dignifying outfit to the children.
     2.  A new outfit to the pastor’s biological children.
     3.  A new outfit for the pastor and his wife.
4.   2 battery operated lights (rechargeable) because the power outages that are so frequent and impact the children’s studies.
5.   Money to have a special chicken dinner as a family sometime around Christmas day.  

That is 545 children at $25 each, a total Christmas campaign budget nearing $15,000.  We need to raise this by mid-December so we can confidently purchase all the gifts for the kids before Christmas.  

Here is the mailing address for sending checks.

U.S. Mail and Support:
Checks made out to “India Christian Ministries” with a designation for CCH
PO Box 3925
Dana Point, CA 92629 USA

Here is the link for online donations for our Christmas campaign:

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

A Good Doctor's Report and Go Bruins!

These follow-up appointments with Jaya’s cardiologist are a double-edged sword.  For instance, on Monday there was just as likely a chance that we would have to be immediately readmitted to the hospital as there was for him to say “Lungs all clear!”

A test of breast milk again for Jaya had been successful, so we got the “all clear” and this not only means that Jaya’s health is getting better, but that the likelihood of us returning to India as planned on January 9th is only increasing, much to our relief.

Contrary to what some might think, we are only becoming more and more excited to return to India and finish what we started there.  There is no second-guessing or second-thinking about our return – we have further things to accomplish and we’re determined to make it happen, but not at our daughter’s expense, which is why the cardiologist’s “all clear” for both the heart and the lungs is so critical for us.

So far so good.  Making progress.  Thanks, Team Jaya!

And we’re even attending UCLA football games to show our support for the school that has now made such a difference in our lives (and because Daddy has always loved the Bruins.  That, too.).

Thursday, November 7, 2013

Good Heart, Eating Grown-Up Food, But a Small Concern...

We came home from the hospital one week ago.  Jaya’s release was full of anticipation and many of her nurses came to celebrate and express how much they want to keep up with Jaya as she grows (thank you, Facebook.).

Our little girl’s personality has fully returned, she is able to do more than she ever has and, while still small (11 ½ lbs), she is ready to really take off on the growth charts.  We wanted to start her eating adult food immediately after surgery and, a few sweet potatoes later, our latest milestone is achieved. Pictures above.

We love every day with our sweetest of little girls.  Daddy is smitten.  Mom is enjoying every day (and many nights, too).

However, on Tuesday, we learned we are not out of the woods yet.  A follow-up appointment with our UCLA cardiologist revealed that there are still a few areas of Jaya’s heart to monitor and watch:

1.    The ventricle wall created in this surgery has a small bulge and needs a decrease in the swelling.
2.   There is a small leak in one of the areas of the heart that needs to fill out.
3.   A band around one of the arteries is smaller than expected at this point and we need to see if the band needs adjustment or if the artery just needs to mature and grow bigger.

If you’re fascinated by cardiology, let us know and we can send you further details.  Otherwise, your prayers for a whole heart and complete health for Jaya are coveted as always. 

Jaya’s clinical (outer) diagnosis is strong, healthy and positive as it has been all the way through.  Jaya’s parents are persevering and took the blow of Monday’s diagnosis in stride, immediately wanting to summon Team Jaya back to the sidelines.

This blog, originally focused on India and our work there, will temporarily return to the initial focus on Monday’s blog – so much to catch up on about India.  Here comes Christmas….and 545 gifts to get sponsored.  

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

You're Out!

Our second "family exit" photo of 2013.

Here is one of many of Jaya's nurses who came to say good-bye.

With Grandma out in the real world!

A little known fact about Jaya's day of birth last March 31st is that, in addition to being Easter, it was also baseball's Opening Day.  One more reason Jaya's Dad thinks Opening Day is the best day of the year.

So it was only fitting that, on the day that the baseball season ended, so did our second stint in the UCLA's hospital.  

"You're Out!"

Infant daughter's heart surgery complete and successful?  Check.

This was also the year UCLA baseball won the NCAA championship - not sure how that fits exactly but it's on the same theme.

Jaya's heart has long since been beating with the best of 'em, but it was the fluid in her lungs that kept us in the Pediatric ICU longer than expected.  Today was day four of no fluid in the lungs, which led even the most cautious of doctors to declare our little girl "Healed and ready to go home!"

Once again, our hearts overflow with thanksgiving and gratitude.  What a 2013 it's been.  

Now back to Santa Barbara for about a month, a December of travel and, as long as everything stays strong and healthy for Jaya, back to India in early January.

Thanks for all the love and prayers, Team Jaya.  We did it!


Monday, October 28, 2013

Okay! Anytime Now!

Like my jumpsuit?

Sleeping like a Bruin.

A visit from Grandpa John.

And Uncle Todd (with a special shirt, too)

Daddy/daughter finger hugs.  Nothing better.

Still here in the hospital, a place we've grown very comfortable with after almost exactly two months here in 2013.  The fluid in the lungs has decreased, is almost under control and it just takes a few days at a time to determine exactly what is causing it or whether or not it's fixed, healed, better and/or healthy.

So here we remain.

Our long overdue exit is anticipated to be Wednesday or Thursday of this week.  Not a moment too soon.  Fortunately, we have maintained perspective, continued to appreciate all the work of our dedicated doctors, nurses and medical staff, had many visits from people along the way and know that we'll be back in the game soon.

Our daughter's heart continues to beat as strong as ever, and for this we are forever grateful.

Friday, October 25, 2013

Step-by-Step, Almost There (Still)

Daddy and daughter.

Just before surgery at the local botanical garden, Descanso Gardens.

The "journey" metaphors when living in the hospital are just too appropriate.  The goal is clear, the journey is tumultuous, the end has seemed near for over a week.  Jaya's health and surgery are, by all measures, strong and successful, but we're still here due to some stubborn fluid in the lungs that keeps returning whenever we give her food (as opposed to nutrients via IV).

So here we sit, here we remain.  Trying to maintain composure and keep our heads up knowing we will be out soon, but not as of yet.  

Our overwhelming sentiment is one of thankfulness - our daughter had open heart surgery and not only lived to tell about it, but is better because of it.  Anything but thankfulness would be a loss of perspective.

Thanks for the notes, comments, prayers, emotional support and energy you've directed our way.  

Almost there.

Monday, October 21, 2013

On the Home Stretch (despite some small setbacks)

(Above are some pictures of our daily effort to keep Jaya tolerating this environment.)

And JUST when we were practically packing our bags to leave, doctors noticed some fluid build up in Jaya's lungs that would keep us here for a few more days.  The hope is to drain this fluid with medicine early this week.  Each day it does not drain, we will be taking further steps to make sure it's gone and our little girl is (as close to) 100% when we leave.

Jaya is getting a little impatient with the ongoing nuisances, discomfort and sedentary life of the hospital.  Still using a small dose of pain meds, she is generally comfortable, but knows that this is not the life her parents have promised her.

We're hangin' in there as a family - keep praying and holding Jaya close to your hearts.  Thank you, thank you for your persistence and support!  

Saturday, October 19, 2013

A Big Step Forward

Two steps forward, one step back, then a big step forward?  We'll take it!

After a couple days that felt somewhat like stagnation, understandable when your heart was literally in someone else’s hands just days earlier, today we made the biggest leap forward so far when all of Jaya’s connecting tubes were removed and she is now virtually wire-free!

She had open-heart surgery on Tuesday.

Today is Saturday and she’s wire-free.  And in Mom's arms.

How awesome is this kid?!!!!

It shouldn’t be long now before we get word that home is coming soon.  Always remembering to keep our hopes tempered for rapid progress in these children’s ICU kind of places, we are enthused by today’s results.

Your prayers and support continue to carry us, Team Jaya!

More from us coming soon.