Its the 24th of December and we are off to Vishakapatnam today for a very long awaited holiday with Sheba's parents. The train leaves Kalyan at 4 PM and we get to Vizag on the night of the 25th at 9 PM.
We have been bone-tired for the last few months. Its hard to believe that the time has actually come.
Having Sheba's brother Peter, his wife Yashmeet and little Anmol with us for these last 3 days is a long-hoped for dream come true. How precious it is to be with our loved ones - esp. ones that live so far away - in this case Nairobi, Kenya.
Yesterday was a special day.
We celebrated 'Emmanuel' - remembering that our Lord was really born - and that God's plan really is that all should be blessed.
Peter and Yashmeet were part of the worship time we had at our regular Sunday meeting at Jolly and Suma's house in Samata Nagar. We focussed on Luke Ch. 2 and were amazed at the breadth of different joyous insights this beautiful account of Jesus' birth and youth gave us. Starting with the fact that he was born at a time when a cruel Roman goverment was in charge - and yet God uses the very act of census to bring Joseph and Mary to Bethlehem at the time of Jesus' delivery - and so fulfilling the prophecy of old...
No matter who comes to power (or stays in power - like Mr. N. Modi showed today) we know that God is in control.
And we know that he loves all people - and told this to the poor and outcaste of the day. Shepherds doing the night watch in the fields.
We also had the joy of testifying how God had heard our prayers - and how one lady who was so hopeless has now found a home in a Christian Ashram - and also how Mr. Babulnath passed away - and yet God gave Sheba the insights and ability to share comfort with his wife and parents - through God's beautiful word.
A lovely lunch and then it was on to a time of baptism. We had the joy of baptising 5 of our church members. Then a quick visit to brother Babukutty - a Brethren evangelist- and home for dinner and Emmanuel.
Its a long Eicher tradition to read from the Bible and explain the joy of who Jesus is - and the real purpose for his being born.
We Eichers taking talking about the Gift seriously. The junior Eichers have their thoughts on other gifts. I remember similar times in my own boyhood days. What a thrill to see the same excitement 'from the other side.'
After sharing about the joy of Jesus and thanking him for being our greatest gift, we have the joy of giving each other gifts too.
The next part is a treasure hunt.
The kids are herded into one bed-room and the gifts are hidden around the living room. Then finally the impatient little ones come to search. A hilarious time is had - and we end up with a small pile of gifts in the centre - which are then delivered to whose name graces the wrapping.
An inspired idea by Sheba got us looking for a bongo for Enoch this year.
We found one for a lot less than I had expected and it was spirited into the house last week.
A blue wrapping job and it was ready to take its place in the treasure hunt pile.
Enoch was just thrilled to unwrap his new treasure.
Immediately his hands were on the skins - beating out a simple but steady beat.
He has a long way to go - of course - but we hope and pray that Enoch will learn to make sweet music to God - and make a joyful noise as well (which he already is pretty good at).
Asha was thrilled with her tamborine - and shoes - and did a dance hopping on one foot - while using both gifts - till she had a small fall and decided to wait a bit before starting again!
There is something very very exciting about seeing the kids with musical instruments.
A whole new era is opening up for us Eichers.
We thank God so much for being with us - living out his name of Emmanuel.
As we finished off the day with a heavy chocolate cake - we are so grateful to God for all he has done.
We leave for Vishakaptnam later today with very tired heads and hearts - but the joy and realisation that God is lovingly looking after us.
We want to thank you again for standing with us - so many of you - and especially for your prayers.
We are not sure whether we will be able to blog from Vishakapatnam - but if not - then see you next year!
Merry Christmas and a very very happy New Year.
Happy Emmanuel - and may God shake right-side up in the new calendar year we are shifting into!