Sunday, 23 December 2012

45 years together

Forty-five years ago today, on the 23rd of December 1967, two young people promised themselves to each other.

The setting was the Eicher Memorial Chapel at the Maharasthra Bible College near Bhusawal.  The young people were Raymond Elmore Eicher and Christa Roesli Fischer - who were married 45 years ago today - and whom I am blessed to call my parents.

Dad had taken Churchill's promise of 'blood, sweat and tears' and offered it to Mum (with a lot of prayer and Scripture of course).  Being the God-soaked young people they were, the only response possible was a 'yes' to Dad's request to 'magnify the Lord with me, and let us exalt His name together.'
A year and a half later I was born on Malabar Hill in old Bombay...   Mum and Dad were well into the rough and tumble of an idealistic commune-lifestyle which was centered around Jesus and included taking the Bible seriously - to the extent of 'forsaking all' - even cameras.  All the early shots of the family were taken from communally owned machines - or by a passing visitor....

Andi in May 1969 - a month old and already a strapping baby - how come my parents look so young?
I am writing these words from outside Vishakapatnam (Vizag being the old name that we grew up with).  Sheba, the kids and I arrived here at Amma and Appa's place two days ago.  Oh the joys of air-travel!  To leave your home at 3 AM and arrive in Vizag at 9 AM - amazing.  And have hot dosas and ginger tea and two different kinds of coconut chutney in Amma's kitchen!  Bliss.

As Eichers we are slowly unwinding and taking a deeeeeep breath (make that many deep breaths) after what was a crazy last few weeks in Thane.  A lot of time so far in Vizag has been spent in busy things like this:

But even before Amma and Appa moved here after retiring from the Rourkela Steel Plant in 2002, Vizag had a certain ring for the Eichers.  We came to Vizag as a family in 1972 when the Logos ship was docked here.  Mum and Dad were 5 years into their marriage then.  That visit led to another iconic shot of the early Eicher family:

now its Stefan's turn to be less than a year old - he joined the family in Aug 1971
Mum and Dad's adventures continued.  Despite an early dream to spend the rest of their lives living for Jesus in Rajasthan, the leaders of OM had asked Dad to help with the leadership of the movement in India.  This meant being in Bombay after all - and travelling all over India to meet the young people in the teams.

I was growing up and the issue of my schooling led to Mum and Dad exploring various options before finally getting admission at the Cathedral and John Connon Infant School on Malabar Hill.  We moved to Byculla to be close to school and then miraculously were able to shift to Nana Chowk in 1975.

Premila had in the meantime joined the family in 1974 and so our next family shot was a five-some (with cats adding 2 more members to the Eicher clan).

The Eichers at 'Elim' - the OM base and our childhood home.  The shot is from 1975 and we are carrying Snowy and Tiger - the original cats which led to many generations of cats throughout the Nana Chowk years - the last being a tomcat called Charley who moved with us to Mussoorie in 1987

Mum and Dad have been through many hard times as well.  The blood, sweat and tears bit that they talked about as young idealists did come to pass.  But with each challenge, they clawed their way back through prayer and hope and forgiveness.  They still have some rough edges, but have many many many smooth ones which these years of mutual putting-the-other-first has etched into their beautiful faces.

As Sheba and I navigate our own marriage, we are so grateful for the love that both of us received from our respective parents.  Giving love.  Guiding love.  Love that accepted us and gave us a security to be who we are.  Love that can really never be repaid back directly.  I still don't know the full extent of what Mum and Dad sacrificed for each other - and for our sakes - but our own experiences as husband and wife - and as parents give Sheba and I a little glimpse of what Mum and Dad have gone through.

Forty-five years is a long time to be together.  We salute Mum and Dad for not only 'surviving' but for 'thriving!'   We thank the Lord for you and pray that we too will be able to see such a day - and with such a legacy as you have left us!

Mum and Dad at 'Shanti Kunj' in Mussoorie in December 2012

Your children will rise and call you blessed!  Prov. 31.28

Looking forward to the Golden Anniversary celebrations on December 23rd 2017!

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