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.

Friday, February 28, 2014

A Visit to CCH and India? Really?

Some members of the Parent Vision Trip we recently hosted.

Activities such as teaching, planting and singing are all a part of a day with CCH.



Not only do the visitors pray for the children, the children pray for the visitors.

And a good time is had by all.  India's never been closer for you!


A trip to India? 
A trip to visit CCH in person?
Really?

Really.

This past week we at India Christian Ministries hosted a group of 30 from the United States visiting their globe-trotting sons and daughters who are on the "World Race," a worldwide year-long trip of overseas missions for young people.

It was awesome.  

You can do it, too.  Here are the details on how realistic it actually is to come visit us at CCH in India:


Average cost and time budget from the United States:
  • Time needed:  10 days (Taj Mahal included? 13 days)
  • India Visa:  $120
  • Average round trip plane ticket:  $1,500
  • Average hotel expenditure per person/night in India: $20/shared room ($200)
  • Average food expenditure per day in India: $20 ($200)
  • Average transportation costs for 10 days:  $$150/person ($150)
  • Ministry money and misc. expenses:  $100

Total upon landing for ten days with CCH in India:  $770

Total approximate cost:   $2,270

(As you can see, once you get there, India is very inexpensive, but still comfortable.)


No one has ever regretted a visit to see God on the move in rural India.

Possibilities for participation*:
·      English speaking and teaching with children
·      Worship leading
·      Bible teaching and activities
·      Games and activities
·      Personal sharing with and praying for villagers
·      Painting, building, enhancing the children’s living environment.

*Itineraries and activities will be tailored to the nature and strengths of the individuals and teams.


Consider an adventure.

Consider a home of children.

Consider a visit to CCH in India.

(And yes, this text was adapted for the Rickshaw Writer from a recent flyer we produced...)


Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Life on Support, NOT "On Life Support"

For those of you who only follow this blog for Jaya pictures, well, this is your special week!



It is common in public for perfect strangers to practically rip cute kids out of their parent's arms and parade them around the immediate area.  Even so, we were a little stunned when Jaya went behind the counter at a local McDonald's here in Hyderabad!




Though, yes, sometimes it does feel that way.  Especially after a big move to the metropolitan city.

One of the most curious, perplexing, silent and mystifying elements about doing what we do in India is the financial part, living life on the financial support of others.

We mean, it’s downright Anti-American to not be “self-sufficient.”

Yep, in some ways we wholeheartedly agree and in other ways, we are very self-sufficient, and very aware of our actual reality as Americans, and human beings. 

Let me explain, and address some of these most curious and mystifying elements of our financial reality.

In order to raise support and gain people’s trust, you need to have a compelling vision and purpose.  Our “earning of our salary” is communicating this vision and purpose and matching our work with the hearts of people who believe in what we’re doing.  Since our work is anything but “for-profit,” we rely on those who have a financial foundation and a healthy perspective on giving in order to be able to achieve what we hope to here, without having to worry about finances.  If we’ve done our job, both on-the-ground here and in the communication of what we’re doing, we should be okay.

And we are.

But what about American self-sufficiency?

Considering the above, we view ourselves as very “self-sufficient.  We have “earned” our salary in our work, both in practice and how we communicate it.  In other ways, we are totally reliant on others’ believing in us, giving to us and sharing our vision for a different reality for the future.  We are at once, self-sufficient and reliant on others in ways many people are not.  This is a healthy position to be in as it accurately reflects everyone’s reality a bit more than a traditionally self-reliant job, and subsequent self-sufficient income.

We Americans are self-sufficient and yet, also, in reality, reliant on others for our health, hope and fulfillment through relationships, community and that longing to be a part of something bigger than ourselves.  That something always involves others, just like our current financial circumstances.

Thanks to those of you who have willingly received and shared our vision and work here and….wait for it.

Wait for it…

If you’d like to join us on this adventure, please click here:



(Just mark "staff" and include "Sean and Paige" somewhere in the memo area.)

Thursday, February 13, 2014

CCH Core Values - Guess How Many We Have?


Orphaned or abandoned no more.

This is what dignity looks like.

A team is with us setting up one of our first home gardens.

If we had a 5th CCH Core Value, it would be "Fun."

So many people from all over the world help us achieve these 4 Core Values.

Four.
Isn't that how many you're supposed to have?


1. Dignity
When a child has been orphaned or abandoned, questioning her own self-worth is inevitable.  When a child is a low-caste orphaned or abandoned child in India, there is very little in society to give them hope as human beings.  Dignity is the elevation of character and worthiness in a person back to what it was originally intended to be.  Building into these children the dignity they have in God’s redemption for their lives is critical to their transformation from the orphaned or abandoned spirit to one adopted and restored with the identity that Jesus instills in their hearts.

2.  Service
The transformative vision for these children is for them to not just survive being orphaned or abandoned, but to thrive as educated and discipled men and women who have a purpose in their lives, and in turn give back to their communities and the region.  This giving back will primarily be in the form of service, whether professionally or personally or both, always considering their God-directed opportunities for the long-term transformation of Andhra Pradesh.  Additionally, the value of Service is meant to represent the Biblical model of servant leadership in a culture that is hierarchical and servant-oriented in all of the broken ways of the world.

3.  Worship
These once-orphaned or -abandoned children are now fathered by God and worship is the expression of this mutual love and spiritual adoption.  Cultivating a heart for worship in these children is central for the spiritual transformation necessary to establish their identity as adopted sons and daughters of God.  All other values of Covenant Children’s Homes are intertwined with this value of worship, these children knowing their true identity and living it out in a worship-filled sense in every area of their lives.


4.  Holistic Restoration

Rebuilding the physical, cognitive and spiritual health and strength of these children is the only way to bring true transformation, individually and communally, to the villages and cities of Andhra Pradesh.  To break the cycle of poverty requires a holistic approach to renewing each child’s personhood and dignity.  Education, Christian discipleship and physical health are all critical to the hope and vision of a transformative role for these children in India’s future.

Sunday, February 9, 2014

The One Key Criteria for Working in the Developing World


Jaya checks out our new home office.

Sean's favorite meal in India?  This sampler platter-like lunch meal called "Thali."  And get this, it's vegetarian!  Who knew?

From the United States to India, nurses far and wide love Jaya.

And beyond, for that matter.

One of the most famous passages of the New Testament is the “love” passage in 1st Corinthians when the Apostle Paul essentially calls all human skills and gifts “nothing” if we don’t combine it with love.  Love, he says, makes all the difference in everything we do.

And the first description he uses for what love is? 

Patience. 

Paul had been working with fledgling first century churches for decades by this point, and certainly he needed patience in working with the famously debauched and difficult Corinthian church, so he knew what he was talking about.

Last year I had forgotten how much patience is needed in order to “love” India and to love in India. 

It’s tempting, on a daily basis, to grow disgruntled and resentful of India (or any place where work of this nature is undertaken).  Fortunately, as a pair, Paige and I only let each other get so disgruntled before we call it out, pray and talk it away and continue moving forward (and a good Sunday Sabbath day of rest at home also helps). 

Patience is more than “a virtue.”  Patience is the key and critical ingredient to love. 


Whether it’s marriage, parenthood (as we’re realizing) or working to better the lives of children in crisis in India, patience is the first step in loving one another well, and to avoid becoming disgruntled in the many exasperating circumstances that so often present themselves here.


Thursday, February 6, 2014

Hoola Hooping for Happiness!










If you're like us, hoola hooping was fun as a child and one of many activities on the playground or at recess or during camp.  Girls probably did a little better than boys and the boys eventually found a basketball or a kickball and moved on.

But some people have turned hoola hooping into a chance to give joy and happiness and huge, gigantic smiles to children all over the world, including here in India with CCH.  

Carissa Caricato, a new friend working with children here in India (and Brazil and the Middle East), joined us a couple weeks ago for a series of camps and sessions on none other than Hoola Hooping.  

And the kids went crazy.

And by kids, we mean kids of all ages.  

These are still orphaned or abandoned children.  They shouldn't be very happy.  However, CCH's pastors and opportunities have given them reason to smile.  And with a hoola hoop, the broadness of smiles expanded even more.  

Check out Carissa's ministry:  http://hoolaforhappiness.org

And check out what great strides these kids are making in recovering their childhood.  

Thanks for all your support, help, encouragement, "likes" and prayers for Covenant Children's Homes.  It's working!