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.

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Dispatches from India: Torn in Two

These CV Palem boys welcomed Sean back to India.

The girls of Ponduru

A new father at Ponduru

Do these kids look like orphans or abandoned children? 

The boys of CV Palem check out some pictures of Jaya, 
the subject of so many of their recent prayers.

A whirlwind of preparation in a very short time frame, saying good-bye for the longest amount of time so far in our marriage, a long flight followed by a long, bumpy drive, I wake up and it’s a Monday morning in Ongole.

Less than one week after deciding this was a good and useful journey to make (and a number of helpful financial supporters generously agreeing with us), I am back where Paige and I spent two years laying a foundation for a program that continues to seem one or two steps ahead of us…

The thrill of being here, the intensity of the immediate and urgent, “seize the day” mentality of this kind of trip is tempered by the growing feeling of being torn between two places that my heart is fond of.  Just three days into my trip, I miss home, or rather the people at home, but am also so glad to be here for this week of critical importance. 

A glimpse into the opportunities:

·      70 pastors to train – some who have been with us for four years, some four months…

·      8 staff members to remind who we are and that their work is not in vain…

·      31 student leaders who are growing up so quickly and need some building into before the rest of their lives…

·      8 village homes to visit – just so good to reacquaint with these kids

But Paige and Jaya are the ongoing primary topic of conversation.  Everyone here knows what we have been through and their concern, prayers and continual curiosity about our well-being is so moving. 

I keep promising them, “January.”  January 15th is when we return to India, and when both of my commitments are, once again, all in the same place.

Monday, September 16, 2013

A Spontaneous Trip to San Francisco? Vegas? San Diego? No, India.

Hopefully these boys will still be excited when they learn that Paige & Jaya can't quite make the trip this time...

Here are some of our CCH Student Leaders.

Jean-Paul always makes everyone laugh.

India won't be the same without Paige, but we'll fix that in January.

Last week we shared about the critical training needs for our pastor fathers in CCH.  Later this month, we will have 69 of the most important participants in our program all together for a conference meant to inspire, empower and equip our pastor fathers. 

But, as we began planning, it was clear that there was no one available to conduct a training of this magnitude.

After we raised the $1,100 needed to do the training, it became clear that the training would not reach its potential under the current circumstances.  We had to get creative.

We had to get creative.

For a couple who is not known for being spontaneous, Sean will be enthusiastically heading to India for just ten days starting next week, the 20th – 30th

Training these fathers, training our eight CCH native staff members, teaching our CCH Leaders program (30 promising student leaders of CCH) and simply re-connecting with all of these critical components of our growing program is on the short, weeklong agenda.  A big thanks to many faithful financial partners for helping make this unexpected-but-vital trip a possibility. 

For those of you admirably concerned about Paige and Jaya during this time, we’ve got that covered as well with people from La Canada to Santa Barbara to Portland waiting in the wings to offer necessary help and company in Sean’s absence.

Watch for Rickshaw Writer dispatches from on the ground in India starting next week.   

Monday, September 9, 2013

Support this Month's CCH Father's Training Conference!

Training these pastor fathers and more is the key to our work in India.

When I was a Resident Director in charge of residence halls, the key component to the success of the program was not the student residents, but the ability, training, skill level and maturity of the Resident Assistant staff.  My main focus every academic year was building into those RAs.  The results would then unfold well.

In India, the key component of CCH is not the children, but the pastor fathers (and mothers) who are charged with raising 5 – 10 boys or girls, guiding, supporting, disciplining, challenging, encouraging, fathering them all the way through their university education.  Training these pastors is an essential part of what Paige and I are doing to lay the foundation for the future of CCH.  In our absence, our staff will fill in well, but whoever conducts the training, it is vital...

Our next of tri-annual trainings is the end of September where we have more pastors to train than we ever have, 70!  545 children in 70 homes means that we have 70 pastors to train, all with differing levels of experience (“ability, training, skill level and maturity”). 

Each pastor costs us $16 for a total of right around $1,100.  Please consider sponsoring one or five or ten pastors and helping us build into the future of what will become thousands of children (if these pastor fathers can get it right!).

Click here and give these kids a chance to not just survive, but thrive:

Monday, September 2, 2013

Jaya's Second Heart Surgery

Sunflowers and little girls...

5 months old this past Saturday

As if watching our newborn daughter be wheeled away in May for heart surgery wasn’t excruciating enough, we get to do it all over again this fall.

A second heart surgery?  Really? 


We knew leaving the hospital in May that we would need to return one more time for an essential, but fairly common, heart surgery to make sure Jaya’s heart continues to function at a normal capacity for many, many years to come.

On October 15th, barring divine intervention which we have the faith to pray towards and have been doing, Jaya will have open heart surgery to repair the “A/V canal,” and making the proper two heart chambers out of what now is just one (and a very common heart defect among children with Down syndrome).

The surgery is estimated to take approximately 5 – 7 hours.

That will be a rough time for her parents, and the hundreds of people whose lives have already been so touched by this precious little girl.

We love UCLA now even more than before!

Dr. Hillel Laks, who does approximately 100 heart surgeries on children every year is one of the most esteemed pediatric cardiac surgeons at one of the most esteemed medical centers in the world (Go Bruins!).  He will be performing the surgery and, after six weeks in the Newborn ICU which included an initial heart repair performed by Dr. Laks, we have supreme confidence in him and the whole medical team that will oversee our little girl’s life that Tuesday in October.

Hard to even imagine what that day and week will be like for us, so we choose not to.  We’re just praying for our little Jaya continually – health, healing, peace, joy, perseverance, and a whole lotta love.

She is expected to be in recovery for 10 -14 days.

If recovery goes as expected, Jaya will be “whole-hearted” and healthy through and through by the holidays and our anticipated return to India in early January.

Please join us in praying for our little girl to be healed, divinely and humanly.

First dip in Grandma's (and great Grandma's) pool was last week.

Where's Jaya (amidst the onslaught of love we received in June)?