Saturday, January 25, 2014

The Village Church

It's been a while since we've posted to this blog, and so much has happened. Most of the posts about the India trip went to our Facebook page. If you want to catch up with the events between our efforts to gather shoes and today, take a look there.

One of the most memorable days in India was spent in the area around the village of Daburuvaripalli, near Kadiri in southern Andhra Pradesh. Our plan was to tour the area and finish the day with a village meeting where we would visit homes, preach, pray and distribute blankets to the elders. (The blankets were purchased with the money donated to us by all of you - thanks again!) After a delicious breakfast of idlidosa and spicy peanut chutney, we set out into the countryside in a borrowed church van.  The landscape is beautiful, full of peanut fields, banana trees and granite hills.

Saturday, August 24, 2013


Today, we will begin collecting shoes for two groups of kids we will meet in India.  We leave three weeks from today! You can help us by purchasing a pair of children's shoes - we need sandals for girls and sneakers for boys in all children's sizes. We will also be collecting money to purchase additional shoes in India for any kids for whom we didn't bring enough of the right size. At the end of this post is a way to contact us - we are happy to pick up the shoes from you sometime in the next three weeks.

The children at the +ve home in Ongole
The first group lives under the care of the UCLI church and Nathaniel Kodavatikanti in the city of Ongole.  The home for HIV+ was founded recently and currently cares for six children. One of our goals is to raise money to help care for more. There is a large HIV+ population in Ongole, and these orphaned children face extremely dim prospects without intervention.

The other group is in Bangalore, living at the Hanna Krupa Memorial Church under the care of Pastor K. V. Chandra and his wife, Manjula. I have posted information about and pictures of several of these children in previous posts in this space.

We have heavy hearts for the challenges faced by all of these children, but we rejoice that they are in the care of such capable and dedicated people.  They are also treasured by their Creator, and we feel the call from God to raise up support for more of these precious children. We look forward to meeting them face-to-face very soon!

If you are interested in helping us, please consider purchasing shoes or sending money.  You can reach us at our new Madhuri's Mission Facebook page.  You may also comment on this post to respond. Thank you in advance for your help!

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Ready or not!

After more than two years of waiting and wheel-spinning and preparation and prayer, the time has come! Jennifer and I leave on September 14 for an 11-day whirlwind trip to India! As of now, I've scheduled time off from work, amazing grandparents are set to live in our house and handle the kids' schedules, our passports and visas are in hand, and we are booking in-country travel plans.

Many of you have asked if there are ways to help - there are two things that you can do for us.

Sunday, September 16, 2012

A life changer...

Channeling his best Yogi Berra, a wise old football coach once said, "Hindsight is 50/50." (I'm forever grateful to a few of my friends who are fans of Alabama football for reminding me so often of the source of this quote!)  It's true for all of us that seminal moments in our journey often escape our notice until hindsight allows us to make connections.  As I trace the steps on our journey with our friends in India, I see God at work in small conversations, offhand remarks, recommended books and articles.

One of the burning questions as we started to consider partnering in ministry with Pastor Chandra and Nathaniel was the primary question of what needs to be done.  We knew that the girls they care for don't have much - they are materially poor.  We knew that we wanted to do what we could to alleviate that poverty.  This was the impetus of our desire to send financial assistance to help with the girls needs.  (See my prior post, Getting To Know You.)  After a while, we began to fear that just sending money would make us the "bank," and that wasn't our purpose.

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Toy Sale...

Emma's Toy Sale
Earlier this summer, as Madhuri was getting ready to start another term in school, we asked Pastor Chandra and Manjula if we could send her a new backpack for the year.  Manjula, who oversees the girls' schoolwork, responded with the suggestion that we send a little extra the next month so that she could purchase one there.  (We had already experienced the high cost and long delay of shipment when we sent them the laptop.  Western Union is extremely efficient and very inexpensive!)  After talking about it more, we decided that if we sent $120, we could buy six backpacks for the girls.

There are a few other families who have been partnering with us for the past couple of years to pay tuition and fees for some of the girls to attend an English school.  One of those families heard about the backpacks and wanted to join in - we decided to split it at $60 each.

One day, as we were cleaning house, we saw Emma gathering some of her old toys together for a sale.  She wanted to sell them from the front steps of our house and send the proceeds to Madhuri and the girls for the backpacks!  We agreed, and she set about making signs, organizing the toys, and arranging them on a table. It was the middle of the week, and traffic on our street is sparse, but she was determined to have the sale.  We feared that she would be disappointed at not selling much, but she stayed with it for hours.  Word spread about what she was doing - we had visits from neighbors, ALL of my co-workers (I work with wonderful people), my parents, my sister and her daughters - and by the end of the sale, Emma had raised more than $50!  She was thrilled, and we were overwhelmed by the excitement of everyone who came by.

Sunday, September 9, 2012

Cheesecake and the Gospel...

In my last post, I asked the question about what God would write on a blank check for my life, and attempted to answer that question, to the extent that it has been answered.  If you're like us, you may have struggled with how to deal with this, and how to apply this blank-check lifestyle in 21st-century suburban America*.

I love cheesecake.  In my pantheon of desserts, cheesecake occupies one of the most honored pedestals.  I like them creamy or firm, plain, chocolate, pumpkin, topped with fruit or whipped cream.  Jennifer, my lovely wife, who was labeled by my young son years ago as a great "cooker," makes a chocolate cheesecake that makes me lose all grip on reality.  Not many things will cause me to take food from my children's plates, but I will consume any amount of uneaten cheesecake since throwing it away is unthinkable.

When I was growing up, my family had lunch at my grandparents' house after church every Sunday.  The menu was traditionally Southern, right down to the beef roast and green bean casserole.  The weekly variations were few, but one of them was dessert.  One of my favorites was a recipe from my great grandmother called "Orange Ladyfinger Dessert" - a chilled orange custard poured over lady fingers and covered with whipped cream.  Yum.  My most favorite was usually prepared on weeks when time was short.  You may have had it before: the Jell-O Cheesecake from a box in a store-bought graham cracker crust.  A little dollop of "whipped topping", and I was in artificially-cream-cheese-flavored heaven.

One summer as my birthday approach, my mother asked me what I wanted for the party - cake?  "No," I said, "I would rather have cheesecake."  Thus began a misunderstanding that would live in the lore of my family for decades.

Saturday, September 1, 2012

A blank check...

And as [Jesus] was setting out on his journey, a man ran up and knelt before him and asked him, “Good Teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life?” And Jesus said to him, “Why do you call me good? No one is good except God alone. You know the commandments: ‘Do not murder, Do not commit adultery, Do not steal, Do not bear false witness, Do not defraud, Honor your father and mother.’” And he said to him, “Teacher, all these I have kept from my youth.” And Jesus, looking at him, loved him, and said to him, “You lack one thing: go, sell all that you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow me.” Disheartened by the saying, he went away sorrowful, for he had great possessions. (Mark 10:17-22, ESV)
Over the last 12 months, this passage has dealt me two devastating blows.  I've heard this story many times, and to my shame, I have always considered this story to be directed at someone other than me.  Surely Jesus wasn't talking about my life - I would have been a member of the crowd listening, and egging Jesus on.  Besides, that guy was probably what we could call a "one-percenter" - the disenfranchised bystanders would have cheered the idea that Jesus favored them and made rich guy walk away dejected.