Its wedding season. And what a blessed time it is.
As a family we attended 2 receptions in the last week. Both times of great joy.
The first one was for Dr. Vimalin and Dr. Rohini Samuel. Dr. Vimalin's parents Bor. Vedanayagam and Sis. Johnsy run the Living Water Mission - a programme that reaches out to women in prostitution and helps them start a new life. The Living Water Mission is right next to Jeevan Sahara Kendra - and we have seen many of their ladies in our clinic as many of them are starting a new life with HIV in them.
We were able to walk over to the time - and saw many a local pastor and friend of ours studding the well-wishers.
With Vimalin and Rohini having already been married in Chennai the reception here was mainly for the friends, neighbours and supporters of his parents. The new couple are both from the Christian Medical College Vellore - and are currently living there while Vimalin is doing his higher medical studies. Vimalin's sister Dr. Vinotha and her husband Dr. Sudarshan (who were also at the reception) are also at Vellore where she works in Obstetrics and he is doing a Fellowship in Intensive Care.
What struck us was the simplicity of the do. A real time of prayer. A time of sharing joy of the parents. A time when the ministry that the parents have poured themselves into merged seamlessly with their lives. This was the simplest and best reception that I have attended in Mumbai town (where the marriage business puts many people in debt for years - all because of the social pressure to 'excel' at this time).
What a tribute to a set of parents who have put God first in their lives - and clearly see the blessings on their children.
The second reception saw us going considerably further afield.
Rolly and Doris Jayakar graciously took us over to Pune on a Sunday afternoon (and back on a Sunday night / Mon morning) to attend the reception of our dear friend Ethel and her husband Durai.
On the first Sunday of the month both our house-fellowships meet at Rolly and Doris's house for worship and for lunch. Since this was the first Sunday we did so and then left for Pune at 3.30 in the afternoon.
The drive up was pleasant and filled with conversation. It is amazing how much we all still have to learn from and about each other.
We slipped into Pune at just the right time for the 6.30 PM reception and were whisked up to the roof-top of a hotel in the middle of down-town. The place was It was called '7th Heaven' and it certainly was a stunning location. There under the night sky in a garden we rejoiced in God's goodness to Ethel.
It was humbling to see an amazing group of family and friends turn out - parts of Ethel's life that we were only dimly aware of - a legacy of God's faithfulness to her - and her impact on others in the years prior to her 5 years with us in Thane.
The testimonies about Ethel and Durai were touching in their celebration of this couple. We just sensed a wave of joy that God had been so gracious in keeping these two for each other. Durai is a stranger to us - but what we heard and saw of him confirmed our joy as a man after God's own heart. Ethel joins a formidable family with Durai's father a bishop with the ECI and his mother a leader in the women's wing of the church. But more than the backgrounds of the new union we see that they both want to move forward and serve God as a family. Rolly's blessing to them was shared by us all when he told them "we want to see you as a church-planting family."
With the greetings over (and the dear couple to brave another 500 or so folks with their brilliant smiles) we then settled down to a quick feast before it was back on the road. Enoch took on Shane who along with Accamma had come up from Mumbai in a spirited game of table football - using a large confetti ball and a goal made of confetti and toothpicks!
And then it was back in the car and back to Thane.
We decided to take our table guests Shawn and Accamma along with us since their train was only at 11.30 at night.
As the car pulled out at 9.30 PM we were looking forward to being in bed at 12.30 AM.
Didn't quite happen.
For one the as-usual-un-marked roads of greater Pune led us to explore a bit more of the urban sprawl that Pune is becoming than we had wanted.
We breathed easy once we were on the straight-as-an-arrow Pune-Mumbai expressway.
Once we passed Lonavala and started down the ghats of Khandala we were dodging heavily-laden trucks trundling down with their loads testing many a brake-pad. With three of these behemoths around us we could hear that some-one's tire was punctured. The flap-flap-flap was unmistakable. "I wonder whose it is?" ventured Shawn. Well - it was our own back left tire that decided to give up the ghost.
Where to stop? We finally decided to do the necessary in the tunnel since it was well lit.
And so with trucks grinding by - and with cars zipping by at quite a speed - we had the three of us men enjoy the grunt work of half an hour of getting the offending tire off and a spare one on.
The others who had been alternatively sleeping and chatting - were now all up. The conversations continued be the in an air-conditioned SUV or in a grimy tunnel.
While one member of the party was blissfully unaware of all that went on. Afterwards Enoch claims that he knew what was happening - but continued on in sweet slumber.
It was a tired but happy party of Eichers who took the lift up to our 7th floor flat at 2 AM on Monday morning.