Sunday, 4 October 2015

Dad's Chemo - Round 6

Well, we are in the final month.   Dad has had 16 doses of chemo-therapy, including the first dose of this final cycle which he had on the 2nd of October (Gandhiji ki jai!).  

We are in the 6th and last month of this course of chemo-therapy and now have 2 more doses scheduled for the 9th and 16th of October.

The system is now down pat.  Dad gets his blood test done the day before - then meets his oncologist at around 8.30 PM.  The doc takes a look at the blood reports (this time the WBC count was just over 4000) and then takes a call about whether to go ahead with a dose the next day.  Dad then reports at Bethany hospital at around 9 in the morning and gets admitted to a room where he is prepped for the chemo.

After running a bottle of fluid, the real stuff is put in and it drips away into Dad's chemo-port which then sends it up the aortic vein and into the heart - which then sends the blessed poison to all the other parts of the body.

Overall Dad has been doing really, really well with his chemo.   We are now looking at the next step...

It looks likely that we will have a full body CT scan after his final dose on the 16th... and then?

Well, we would love to hear that 'there is nothing to see' and be able to have Mum and Dad head north for Shanti Kunj and the coolness of a Mussoorie October.  It is rather warm here in Thane at present - and though Mum has been at her never-complain-about-anything best, we know that the hills are calling her.

However, we don't want to put the cart in front of the horse.  At this point we still need to hear from the oncologist what he thinks.  And then have a good chat and pray and make a choice based on what we know.

Yesterday night was a bit rough for Dad - one of the rare nights where he has not slept well with a fair amount of discomfort and even some dry retching.  Dad woke up this morning with a fair amount of vertigo and so he and Mum decided to stay home today and not go to church.

He seemed a bit better at the end of the day.  I did not see him much since we had a blizzard of meetings.  I shared in church on 'God's dwelling place' and then we had a time of prayer in the afternoon, then a listening and personal prayer time with a couple before a final gospel meeting at JSK in the evening.  But at the end of the day, I sat with my dear Dad in the cool of his and Mum's room while he ate his 3rd bowl of suji for the day.  He was sitting on his chair. They had read the printout of my morning sermon and were in a calm and cheery mood - despite Dad still suffering from some vertigo when he is lying down or getting up.

And so the fourth day of October, the Lord's day, ends.   Sheba and I still have some praying to do, however.  The rest of the family have retired for the night, though.

Thanks for your prayers and walking along with us on this journey.

Wednesday, 30 September 2015

The curious case of the missing church

A few weeks ago we got a call from Bethany hospital.  One of the staff there said that her church was interested in helping out at Jeevan Sahara Kendra.  Could we organise something?

Yes we could!

We told the lady that we would be happy to take church members along with us, and asked her to convey this to her priest.

A few days later we were told that they wanted to do a programme with us on the 2nd of October.

Oooh.  We are running a week-long training for folks from North India (and 1 person from China too!), so that really is not a good day...  but the church wanted this day because it is Gandhi's birthday and that means a number of people can come.

OK.  Eager church.  Wants to help.  Let's bend a bit.  Seize the day.

Right - we tell them that we will have our field staff at their disposal on the 2nd even though the training is going on.  All hands available will be at the disposal of the church.  We will meet with them at the JSK centre to orient them in the morning. Our home-based care staff will then take the church folks in mini-groups of two each to spend time with our HIV Positive Friends.

The church had asked if they can help financially - we suggested that each mini-team brings a hamper of daily necessity things - food etc.

So far, so good.  The priest is happy.  The lady at Bethany is happy.  We have another opportunity to expose folks to the challenges that people living with HIV face.

Oh, and one more detail. We will be spending lunch time with the family.  Please bring about 200 Rs. with you so that you can buy some food and cook together with the family while you are there and then share the meal.

A few days later I got a call.  The priest wants to meet me.  Sure.  No problem.

We meet.

He tells me that some on 'the committee' are concerned.  How can we eat with the Positive People.

I explain to the priest that there is no risk at all.   He is young.  He knows.  But he is also new.  And the committee folks call the shots.

"Could we just visit and give a gift" the priest suggests.  "Then on the second or third visit we could have a meal with them?"

Nothing doing.  I tell the man that we do not have blanket distributions with photos - stuff to make people feel that they are 'doing something good.'   We invite churches to experience life and dip into the reality of what God's love means.

I tell the priest that we will be happy to even take 2 people from their church along with our staff.

He promises to speak with the committee and get back to us on Monday.  We pray and part with smiles and hand-shakes.

Monday came and almost completely went.  No call from the church.   Towards the end of the day I asked Peter to call and find out.   He finally got through to the priest and had this to say:

The church won't be coming on the 2nd.  Most of the members are not getting a holiday on that day.

Hmmmm.  Wasn't that the day that was specifically asked for at the beginning?  The day when most of the people could come?

Sad that the folks won't be coming.

But sadder since the reason given is highly unlikely to be true.  And shouldn't followers of Jesus - who is the truth - not be fudging and covering up - but rather making a clean breast of whatever actually is going on?

Though I would not be happy about it, I would have so appreciated it if the priest were able to sit down and talk to me about the real reason for the turn-about.  It think there could be healing in praying with a sad priest whose idea has been shot down by some folks on the committee.  

Are we surprised that so many of our churches are so flaccid?  That righteousness and justice and love and truth are in such short supply... and yet so much could be done.

And by God's grace somethings are being done.  This church has missed the boat.  At least this time (hopefully they will come by again, thought it looks unlikely).  But there are others who are reaching out in love.  Each in a different way, but there are folks who are quietly doing things - much of which is not seen here, but which our heavenly Father sees very clearly.

Sunday, 27 September 2015

Who would have thought?

We are almost 3/4 the way through 2015.

It's proving to be quite a hing year for our family.

Who would have thought on Jan 1st this year that...

... we would be welcoming Yohan into the family on Jan 24th - and that Asha and Enoch would get a 11 year old brother with all the joys and challenges that Yohan brings

... that we would be rushing Dad down to Thane for emergency cancer surgery - and then go through multiple challenges to get him 'stable enough' for the surgery...

... and that the surgery would be done, and that too so successfully, and that Dad's post-op recovery would be so good...

And who would have imagined at the beginning of this year....

... that we would have 'Oma and Opa' living with us for most of the year so far?

... that Dad' would be undergoing 6 months of chemotherapy and that we would already have completed 5 months of this course with no side-effects to speak of...

... the people near and far would be praying for Dad and we would be riding an avalanche prayer and love by so many, many, many dear ones...

Yes, would we have believed someone who would tell us on New Year's Day that....

... Stefan, Neeru, Ashish, Anjali would be in Indianapolis as a family - with Stefan starting a 2 year Master of Fine Arts in painting programme...

... that the authorities in Bhiwandi would refuse our request for us to take Yohan with us on a family vacation to Mussoorie, thus effectively squashing the summer break plans that we had...

... but that Sheba, Asha and Enoch would be able to make a quick trip to Vishakapatnam and meet Daisy Aunty and Ramesh Uncle and their cousins the lovely Frankie and robust master Shofar at Amma and Appa's home...

And would we have imagined that by this time this year...

... our dear Agnes would be married to Ezra Kannayan and move to Delhi after 3 years of faithful service here at Jeevan Sahara Kendra...

... that we would hear God telling us that our time at Jeevan Sahara Kendra is up and that He would like us to take steps of faith and look into moving back North and seriously explore serving with EHA out of one of their hospital units...

... that we would be earnestly praying and looking for folks to hand over our leadership roles to at Jeevan Sahara Kendra, with the very real possibility of the work being dramatically down-sized if we do not find a person who can be trusted by the Trust...

... that we would be able to trust that God *will* provide and look after our staff in whatever the next dispensation Jeevan Sahara Kendra will take...

It's been quite the year so far for us Thane-based (at least at present) Eichers, and as we come to the end of the 9th month we can only wonder what the next 3 will hold for us all as a family.

Oma actually told us early this year that she thought a lot of changes would take place.  Well, she certainly seems to be right on the dot with that!

Sometimes I wonder whether everything that is going on is not some kind of a dream which we may awaken from any minute...

One thing is for sure.  Our times are in the hands of our Lord Jesus Christ.

There is a lovely hymn that Sheba and I will occasionally sing together which captures where we stand today:

How good is the God we adore
Our faithful, dependable friend
Whose love is as great as His power
And knows neither measure nor end.

'Tis Jesus the first and the last
Whose Spirit shall guide us safe home
We'll praise Him for all that is past
And trust Him for all that's to come

And so we have the privilege of trusting Him more and more as we step out in faith.  Stepping into situations where we don't have all the answers by a long shot, and where we probably will see very few things perfectly falling into place.  But where we have the privilege of knowing that we can trust our Lord to take us through the way He would like us to go.


Friday, 25 September 2015

We love Salman Khan


Salman Khan is a popular man in the Eicher home.  His name is on our lips every day.  We religiously turn on the computer almost daily to get our fill of the man.

We are talking of course about "Sal" Khan - the guy on the left!  This Salman Khan is an American educator of Bengali origin (Dad from Bangla, Mom from old Kolkotta) whose amazing "Khan Academy" is a treasure trove of knowlege made accessible by the magic of the internet.

We are not talking about Mr. Muscle on the right hand side.  Heart throb of millions. Cine star.  Known colloquially as "Bhai" (brother).  Whose picture is found in many a magazine, on many a phone, in many a barber shop (and whose hair has gone through a varied set of appearances over the years).   This SK is a complex person and we will do well to skip his shenanigans (with women and the law and other sundry controversy).

Our true Khan is 'Sal.'   Born in the USA of fine Bengali parents.  Studied at MIT among other places - and who has set up the amazing Khan Academy.

A free online set of courses where Sal and his pals share mini-lectures on a mind-boggling set of mathematical and scientific concepts - all marshalled into a lovely set of learning plans which are non-threatening but really get you down into the actual foundational concepts.

For example, one of the other open tabs on this browser at this very moment looks like this:


We are just amazed at us getting access to this remarkable set of tools at just the right time.  Asha and Enoch transitioned from a school that was using the state board for their curriculum to BSS which is under the ICSCE board.   The level of science was a quantum leap ahead - with Asha never having had chemistry, biology and physics as separate subjects - she had a steep learning curve to catch up to.   Enter Sal with his mini-lectures.... and also hats off to Sheba for her patient coaxing and measured teaching of Asha in all these subjects.

Yours truly shows up mainly when it is time to revise history or geography.  And to give ideas for projects.

And yes, you can't just turn on good old Sal Khan on the comp, and then do something else, hoping that his vast body of knowledge will arrive in your head via osmosis....  You have to jolly well crack down and take notes and help facilitate the problems.  But the beauty is that it is all so 'jolly well done.'  With each mini-lecture / demonstration, a little more is understood, and a little bit more of science- or maths-phobia is removed.

Our kids swear by Sal Khan - and we don't mean Mr-take-off-my-shirt-aren't-I-a-star.   The adult Eichers do too.  And so we can honestly say that we love Salman Khan!

P.S.  There is another Salman Khan too - or make that many other Salman Khans - the poor large goats who enterprising goat sellers have christened 'Salman Khan' after Mr. Beefcake and his other big film-star rival Shah Rukh Khan.  Do you have between 10,000 to 1 lakh rupees?  You can then buy yourself a goat and have it slaughtered for the Id fesival tomorrow.  Stranger things have happended.

One of the goats that will most likely meet his end tomorrow as the Bakri-Eid festival is being celebrated in specific localities across our city.

We love Salmon Khan (both of them - though we do not idolise the filmi-walla).  And we hope that you will rope in the Khan Academy for your benefit - and that to benefit others too. 

Thursday, 24 September 2015

A Short Trip North

A week ago. Wednesday afternoon.  Asha, Sheba and I bundled into a train from Thane station.  It was going North.  

The loco first pulled us east out along the Mumbai-Howrah line, up the ghat to Igatpuri and then on to Bhusaval Junction, near where my great-grandfather Christian Eicher helped start a small Marathi-language Bible College 108 years ago.

The train was then click-clacked over to the northern line, and chugged through the night towards Jhansi and its eventual goal of Lucknow - historical seat of the Awadhi nobles and currently the capital of our largest (and some would say unruliest) state of Uttar Pradesh.

But we were not headed for this past and present seat of power.  Our stop was  a more humble one.

When the train ground to a halt at 10 AM, a fashionable 1.5 hours late, we stepped out onto the platform of the Lalitpur station.

Truth in advertising - this shot was taken on our way back - not when we arrived.
The train was a fashionable 2 hours late going back to Thane town!
The three of us were in a way recreating a journey that we had conducted 14 years previously.  At that time, our then 6 month old Asha was carried by us as we took the train to Barharwa in eastern Jharkhand, and then over to Igatpuri and finally on to Mumbai before swinging back through Delhi to Jharkhand again.

July 2001, was a prayer journey of discovery for us as a small family.  We were seeking whether God wanted us to take a new step away from the Nav Jeevan Hospital.  I had worked there for 4 years, the last year and a half of which were in joyful partnership with Sheba (with Asha being born there early that year).

We were on a prayer journey.  A time to be on the ground and see what the Lord wanted to tell us.  Mumbai was the last place we really wanted to go to, but we had made a decision that 'if someone calls us, we will go and pray.'  And my boyhood pastor Viju Abraham called us, so we stopped off in Mumbai too.

On our return from that prayer journey, God spoke to us clearly through Hebrews 13 - and we found ourselves called to the big city of Mumbai - to work with people with HIV and local churches.  A big shift.  One that defined these past 14 years for us.

This trip was similar.  Over the past 6 months we as a family have been praying.  And now we sense that the time has come to shift back to North India.  God spoke through Psalm 84.5 - blessed are those whose hearts are set on pilgrimage.  Pilgrimage means motion.  Means moving.  Means setting out on a journey with God as our destination.

And so here we are, stepping out in faith.  We wanted to take a quick look around and walk the land and pray.  We got what we wanted.  Since Asha and Enoch had a few days holiday, we managed to get train tickets for a day of prayer up north.  Asha came with us, while Enoch manned the fort with Oma and Opa and Yohan in Thane town.

Why Lalitpur?

For those who are not familiar with the place - we are not talking about a town in Nepal.  Rather, a rather strange part of Uttar Pradesh - an elongated district that sticks out of the South Western side, dangling down into Madhya Pradesh like that little bit of flesh at the back of your throat (yes, yes - the medically inclined called it a uvula).

Lalitpur is a district of 1.2 million souls - with the namesake town serving as the district headquarters and having a neat 10th of the district with 1,33,000 folks residing in the Lalitpur municipal area.  The district is largely agricultural and is part of the broad, rolling hills of the Bundelkhand region with Madhya Pradesh bordering the district on 3 sides and Jhansi district is north.

Well, the centre of attraction for us is the Harriet Benson Memorial Hospital - a mission hospital started up in 1935 and which the Emmanuel Hospital Association has been running since the mid 70s.
EHA has asked us whether we would be interested in serving out of this campus.

The hospital lies on a campus of 11 acres in the middle of town.  11 acres!  The founding mission has a church on the campus and runs a Hindi-medium school for 1000 children on 3 acres - with the rest of the land used by the hospital.  This includes some fields where crops are grown.  Quite a change from our urban sojourn of the past decade and a half!

Andi and Sheba on a prayer walk through the campus (most pictures in this post taken by our able photgrapher Asha Eicher)
The hospital has 40 beds and deals with a variety of different cases - with maternity being an important component and also an innovating palliative care unit having pioneered palliative care for the past 5 years.

Having seen Dad cared for in sparkling environs of Bethany Hospital - it was a bit of a culture shock to be back in the genteel dishevelment of a mission hospital again.

Meeting with Biju and Anu Mathew - who have been running the hospital for the past 8 years was inspirational.  They have been through hard times and persevered.  As have the main medical team of Dr. Tony and Dr. Asangla Bishwas.  This couple have both done their DNB in Family Medicine (like Sheba did) and have been caring for folks for 6 years now after responding to a call to come to the Harriet Benson Memorial Hospital.

The hospital is not the only place of ministry of course.  The Harriet Benson Memorial Hospital pioneered palliative care in among EHA hospitals, starting up in 2010.  Currently HBM is recognised nationally as a palliative care training centre.  They have a 5 bedded palliative care ward, but focus mainly on working in the community- and largely in the villages.

Cancer continues to grow in India - and the needs of those in the villages who are past cure is immense.  The team has the indomitable Ms. Leela Pradhan (who was away on this trip so we did not meet her this time) serving as a challenge to us all - esp as she herself continues to undergo cancer therapy.

Needless to say, there are folks with HIV among the case list - and we wonder how many of them could have been cared for with ART medicines if the district had such a treatment centre functioning.

The hospital also currently runs two major community health and development programmes - ably being managed by our dear Lukas Prakash who we worked with in the late 1990s at the Nav Jivan Hospital in Jharkhand!

I had visited HBM for a community health conference around 1998 or so when they had a large watershed management programme being run by Mr. Antony Samy.  Today they have a Reproductive and Child Health programe as well as a smaller but still significant watershed management programme.

We were blessed to meet the local pastor too - a jovial gentleman called Emmanuel whose daughter also serves at the palliative care unit.   It was good to see his enthusiasm and the opportunities for spiritual growth available.

All in all, we came away from the Harriet Benson Memorial Hospital having experienced much in a short time.

notice board at the RE Mission school - a Hindi medium school
on the campus where we understand 1000 children study
We had gone to pray - and pray we did.  In the end we were in Lalitpur less than 24 hours - arriving at 10 am and on the station platform at 8.30 the next morning.

The short visit gave us a chance to take a look at a local school - the convent-style ICSE board school which is the best in town.  60-70 kids per class is what we were told about classroom size. Sadly the Father who serves as the principal was out of town so we were unable to meet him.

Would the Hindi-medium school be willing to take Yohan?  Is there some access to open schooling in the small district head-quarters of Lalitpur?

We have lots of questions and are just beginning to see some answers emerge.

Being back in Thane has again thrown up the immensity of any change that we step out on.

What will happen to the work of the Jeevan Sahara Kendra?

Are we going to see the adoption process come through any time soon?

What and how much should the kids shift and change as we look into schooling options?

One of the words that keeps coming back to us is 'find out what pleases God.'   Do that which brings Him maximum joy.

Our time is short.  With both Sheba and I just into the second part of our 40s, we want to make sure that our lives count.  Right here and right now.  We also want to be able to grow together as a family - especially with Yohan on board now with all that he means to us.

We are very, very ready to stay on in Thane, and keep serving at Jeevan Sahara Kendra.  But we need a fresh mandate from the Lord, a fresh word to keep working.  And we did not get that.

Instead, we are hearing that it is time for us to pack up and move.  Strange, scary stuff in some ways. Especially when there seem to be so many loose ends.  But then life is never neat this side of the Holy City.

Will our pilgrimage include us serving out of Lalitpur for some time?  We just do not know for sure at this point - but we are praying about it and have much to digest and further guide our prayers after our short trip North!

Tuesday, 22 September 2015

Living Legends: Ron and Lilo Penny

One of the great things of having Mum and Dad with us for this extended period of time as we work through Dad's chemo-therapy (5 months down - 1 to go now) is the joy of meeting their friends.

After the initial onslaught of emails and calls when Dad was going through the deep waters of the impending surgery and all that that entailed, we have gradually (and thankfully) segued into a blessedly normal life together.  And while the numbers of visitors is on the wane, we are thrilled to have the opportunities to drink deep of those who do wend their way here.   Earlier this month we hosted Uncle Augustine and Aunty Oomana Koshy for a day.

And over the past weekend we had none other than Ron and Lilo Penny.  

Wow.  Just the names themselves almost send shivers of delight down my spine.  This is a couple who are legend.  The stories both of vintage days as well as the latest escapades keep flowing - as does the laugther - and the occasional bouts of prayer as well.

Ron and Lilo were in town as one of the young men from their assembly in Bengaluru was getting married to a lovely lady from the Fort Assembly in Mumbai.  And instead of hurrying up and then bustling back down South, this goodly couple tarried for a bit with us.  What a blessing too!

The weekend was packed.  We arrived back from a super quick trip to Lalitpur (more on that later...).  Ron and Lilo had the wedding to attend.  Dad had his dose of chemo to take at Bethany.  We had a training for church volunteers on Saturday.  And then there was our Sunday morning worship in our house fellowship where Ron shared and our evening gospel meeting.  In the midst of all of this were the different strands of conversation that were spun and shuttled in and out of the weft of our time together - often around the succession of meals we enjoyed together.

Where do we even start with Ron and Lilo - their lives have intersected and paralleled Mum and Dad's lives so much.  Lilo and Mum are German and come to India to serve with Operation Mobilsation in the mid 60s.  The two couples married a week apart and have 3 children - two boys and a girl each.  And most of all - both of these amazing partnerships have stuck it out - serving for more than 50 years in India each (200 plus years of missionary life between them).

It was a delight to see our parents enjoying these dear friends of theirs - and a joy for Sheba and myself and the younger gang to also get a dose of stories.  Ron's memories of serving with Bro Bhakht Singh in Hyderabad.  Their life in Ranchi (then Bihar).  The Bangalore years.  The places and situations their kids and grandkids are living through (with the number of the latter into the double digits now!). 

Seeing the four interact with such love and sheer delight in being together, observing their laughing and talking and praying, knowing that they were also talking about the pains that they are going through - all of this was tonic to our soul.  There are friends who stick closer than brothers...

We had a string of great meals together too - and Oma's apple pies made their appearance too!  And then our dear guests insisted that we were to go out - so off to the fan-favourite Pizza Hut it was for all 9 of us!
It was all over so quickly.  We still feel some of the laughter in the home - but things are pretty quiet in the Eicher household with only 7 of us left (though the youngest can be pretty lively as you can see in the picture!).

However, don't count out the power of German enthusiasm.  Both of the Omas decided that they would like to have a day out - and see a bit of Mumbai since Aunty Lilo has not been here for many a moon.  So on the last day we packed them off on a State Transport bus that starts locally and goes all the way to the Mantralaya near Nariman point - almost as South Mumbai as you can get.

The original plan had them going to the Gateway of India and then going down to Marine Drive to Mani Bhavan in Girgaum (the house where Mahatma Gandhi used to stay which has been turned into a lovely museum) and up to Malabar hill if time permitted.

Time was short - so after the gateway and a quick nip into the Taj Mahal hotel, our ladies had a leisurely brunch at Cafe Mondegar - an amazing Irani cafe decorated with the late Mario Miranda's cartoons of Bombay types.  Not only that, the proprietor himself, a garrulous Irani filled them in on the history of the place (just next door to the other iconic Mumbai restaurant - Cafe Leopold which was attacked by the terrorists in 2008).

And so the pilgrims progress was a bit slower than planned.  The Dynamic Omas made it to Nana Chowk and decided to take a look at the Elim building where we had grown up.  They were delighted that uncle Sumitra Gaikwad was at home (he is recuperating from a stroke) and were graciously welcomed by Timothy and Sonali Gaikwad as well.  Here is a final look at 'Mondi's' as the SoBo types call it.

"This is the part I never like" said uncle Ron, an hour and a half after our intrepid German ladies had returned and it was time to say good-bye and bundle off our dear Uncle Ron and Auntie Lilo into their cab.

We shared a time of prayer and then off the taxi went - taking our dear ones away on the first leg of their trip back to Bengaluru, Uncle Ron waving through the window until the vehicle swung out of sight once out of the gate.

When will we meet next?  Our heart both aches for the next meeting - and is at the same time so full of gratitude for these days of joy that we had together.

Monday, 21 September 2015

Another Blessing

September 19th was a red-letter day for the Sainani family.

Sheba, Asha and I arrived back home to Thane at 6 AM - tired and groggy from what ended up being almost a day-long train journey from far-away Lalitpur in Uttar Pradesh (watch this spot for more details on that trip).  After our baths and chai and unpacking and Bible reading, it was over to the hospital for Sheba and myself at just after 7 AM.

Not to the Jeevan Sahara Kendra - rather we went over to Bethany Hospital to see Sandhya Sainani who we knew was due for a caesarian section that morning.

When we went up to her room on the 5th floor of Bethany, we found she was not there! The nurses on duty told us that she had gone down to the operating theatre! 

Well, you can imagine that we hared it down to the third floor - and there standing outside the OT doors were Sandhya (very great with child and clad in the hospital gown) and Prajitmol (who had spent the night with Sandhya).

It was wonderful that we could make it before the delivery.  We have been praying with Anil and Sandhya for their second child for many, many months now - and were so thrilled that we did not miss the big day!

Abhishek - Anil and Sandhya's son had been telling everyone how he was going to have a baby soon. 

This was the day that we had been looking forward to.

And where was the father?  I sent Anil an SMS telling him that we were waiting for the obstetrician to come - and then it would be all systems go!

The nurse on duty called Sandhya to step in through the operating theatre doors - and just then Rachael Joseph from church also came by.  It was time to pray.

I have been on this side of the Bethany Hospital OT doors a number of times this year.  Most memorably, of course was Dad's surgery in March.  And now another opportunity to pray.  We committed Sandhya and the new child into the loving hands of Jesus and Sheba and Sandhya walked through the doors.

A minute or two later Anil arrived - and was quickly escorted through the doors into the little conference room where his soon-to-deliver wife was waiting for him.  Sheba snapped this shot just before Sandhya went through the actual OT doors.

And then it was time for Sheba to go back up to Room No. 508 and wait.

The waiting did not take long.

I was in our JSK training session just after 9.30 when I got a call from Sheba....

.... and the news was that Anil and Sandhya had been blessed with a baby boy!

Sheba got a shot of little Ashish (which of course means blessing in Hindi) when he was put into his happy father's hands for the first time!

Wow - are we every happy.

It has been such a joy for us to walk along with Anil and Sandhya - through their engagement and wedding - and then the delight of their first son Abhishek and now their second - little Ashish (who clocked in with a respectable 3 kg birth-weight).

Later in the day it was time to meet the happy mother again!

If you look closely at the above pic - you will see another cot in the right hand corner.

In that corner is this little angel - Ashish Sainani:

Long may you live Ashish - and may you be a real blessing to many, many, many people as you grow and develop and bring great joy to your parents and older brother and all of us.

The Lord has done it, and it is marvellous in our eyes!  (Psalm 118.23)