Tuesday, 16 September 2014


We have been given art.

Real art.  The painting kind.

Big art.  3 ft by 4 ft.

I should know - since I brought it on the train from Delhi - a big package that we stowed up on the top berth - half covering the lights - and then slipped down while sleeping - and then got onto a bus to Thane where the art-work was given a bus ticket as well...

Exciting art.  Red all over the canvas.  Images that challenge you to think.

And so this morning we had the unveiling.  Drs. Mokshaa and Marise did the honours:

The acrylic on canvas painting is titled "Possibilities" and is painted by Sanjay Kumar Biswal.

It is a big, challenging painting.

One that we can look at and ponder for a long time.  And we know that many thoughts will be sparked as this magnificent painting hangs at the Jeevan Sahara Kendra from now on...

But here are some of the ideas expressed in the discussion with our staff when we first saw the painting together:

  • the gap between those who have and those who do not have - the school-going kids and the rag-pickers
  • the painting is all red - is this blood?  it is the sun?
  • in the corner is a heart - or is it a garbage bag?  or both?
  • what is keeping the kids from going to school?  They are all wearing chappals - are their invisible chains holding them back
  • the girl with the biggest sack seems to be looking towards the school going kids... does she think she can join them? is she jealous? does she have hope herself?
  • the buildings in the background... don't they look like books?
  • the painter has called the painting 'possibilities' - surely these kids can also join the other ones
  • uniforms mean that rich and poor wear the same clothes
  • the busses are mobile  - the can take the kids away to a better place
  • who knows how many of the kids getting into the busses were ones that previously looked on?  Maybe a local church or organisation has helped them make the transition?
  • the pattern of the girl's dress seems to echo the pattern of the garbage around.. could something beautiful come out of trash?
  • if Jesus were born into this community, where would he be?  Still collecting trash - or getting into the school-bus?

We are so grateful to Stefan and Neeru for gifting us with this amazing piece of art - and know that it will resonate in our work for a very long time!

Monday, 15 September 2014


Look closely at this picture.

What do you see?

I see hope and joy.

A brother and sister sitting on a cot on one of the streets in a leafy posh part of New Delhi (I was there this weekend - and my good friend Danny Tauro took this snap for me).

Except this family is not posh.

What do they do for a living?

Well, the clues are all around the kids.

Several cloth bags - full of clothes - share the cot with them.  Behind them is a table with a cloth on it... and some more piles of clothes.  And yes, an old iron.

Another iron shows up in the right hand side of the picture.  It is open and you can look in to see what it is fed with.  Charcoal.  A small pile of charcoal waits to be burned down to embers - so that the ironing can begin.

This is a family who irons clothes for the folks in the big houses around them.  They have made this part of the street their work place.  Maybe even their sleeping place.  Certainly their living place.

They do not have enough money (or connections) to get electricity where they are.  So they use charcoal to get their irons hot enough to press the clothes of the sahibs and memsahibs.

And on a hot Saturday afternoon, we walked by these two kids totally absorbed in their books.  Nice new school text books.  Both poring over them.

Without a camera, I clicked the scene in my mind as we walked by.

Then I asked Danny to go back and get a shot using his mobile phone.

This is what he got.  By the time Danny went back the boy was looking into the girl's book and telling her something.

His face has a lovely smile on it.  Her face looks earnestly at what he is pointing out.

It strikes me as a picture of hope.

Two kids reading.  Expanding their horizons.  Their school bags open behind them.  Stepping into a world that their parents have probably hardly entered.

So much can be done.  So many destinies can be shaped.

Tuesday, 9 September 2014

To sleep, perchance to dream

Mr. Samresh (name changed of course) has been coming to the Jeevan Sahara Kendra for the past few weeks.

When he first came, he wanted to be tested for HIV.

"I don't have the disease" he said.  We tested.  The blood report showed that his sample was reactive indicating he has HIV antibodies.

The next few times he came by he asked our doctors to write a letter saying that he does not have HIV.  They talked to him.  Listened to him.

"I have done a test in another hospital" he would say.  Sometimes it was a govt. hospital.  Some times it was a lab.

"Bring us the test report, and then we can write something" was our response.

He would say that he would and walk away.

Our staff visited Samresh's room.  He lives walking distance from the centre. This is why we have been seeing so much of him.

His room is a mess.  His wife has left long ago.  No relative in sight.

The last few days he has been demanding another HIV test.   We finally did it.  "I know I am negative" said Mr. Samresh repeatedly.   Our test showed the same result.  Mr. Samresh is clearly HIV positive.

And Mr. Samresh is clearly also suffering from mental illness.

But what to do?  We talk to him.  He is lucid for some time.  Then he gets agitated.  He listens and talks, but how much registers?  Who is he actually?  What he says or what he does?  Does he know of his condition?  We pray and Mr. Samresh does sit in on staff devotions on the odd morning too.

This morning Samresh was at the JSK centre again - especially agitated.

"I have not slept for 3 days" he said.  "I need to sleep."

After another round of talking, listening, praying with Samresh, we gave him a weeks worth of low-dose sleeping pills.  Take one each night he was told.

A few hours later he was back.

"I can't sleep, give me something so I can sleep he said."

"But we just gave you some pills for you to take, one each night"

"I ate them all and still can't sleep.  I want something that will help me sleep."

He had swallowed the whole week's worth.  In one go.  And was roaring for more.

What to do?  Who to call?

We said a prayer and sat him down.  Again.  We explained that the seriousness of what he had just done.  That he may be in an overdose situation.

To our surprise, he took it seriously.  When we told him that we would like to take him to see a psychiatrist, he agreed readily.  When we told him that he may need to be admitted, he agreed as well.

Wonders never cease.

Giri took Samresh over to the Govt. Civil Hospital to see the psychiatrist.  They sent him to the mental hospital.  So off to the mental hospital they both went.  When they got there, they were told that the OPD is only open from 9 AM to 1 PM.  Come back tomorrow.

Giri brought Samresh back to his room.  It was a mess.

"I am feeling sleepy" said Samresh.

Giri prayed and left him.  Hopefully to sleep.

What will tomorrow hold?

Saturday, 6 September 2014

Space race

It's been a long time, dear gentle reader, since we have seen anything lego-ish on this quainte olde blogge, yea and forsooth!

Part of the problem has been that you olde blogger has not been spending enough time with young Enoch on the floor with the lego bricks spread out on the floor and various contraptions being built.

Today was a small exception to that.

Using the pieces from the Taj Mahal set which the super-generous Vethanayagam family gave us earlier this year, we set to building something out of this world.

Space craft may be out of fashion for receiving large funding from governments with the 'cold war' on cold storage (or so we thought till the recent Ukraine adventures).

But at the scale of the little men in yellow - space craft will always continue - as long has they have boys - from ages 11 to 45 to dream about blasting off to other planets...

So here is Enoch's latest - a beefy rolling vehicle - made entirely from Taj Mahal pieces!

He also crafted a planet hopper.

Where the astronaut is able to take off vertically for easy access to deep gorges...

Asha in the meantime was pursuing more painterly quests.

She continues to delight us with her various artistic skills. This painting a copy of a picture in her school art book.  It is now being displayed at the famous gallery of called "Asha's Room Door."

But before I blast off to sleep, I have to have one final picture of today's outer space construction.

In the end, the old style still comes out tops doesn't it?

Here is the rocket Enoch and I worked on for most of our time playing with lego today.

You can almost hear the countdown taking place.... will the massive engines be ignited and send this beast shuddering through our atmosphere and then sling the capsule into a helpful trajectory towards the moon?

Friday, 5 September 2014


I love talking about Dad.

I had the privilege of mentioning him today a number of times.

73 years ago today a boy was born at Wanless hospital in Miraj, Maharashtra.

His mother had told the hospital that she would be giving her child for adoption.  She did.  The boy was taken in by a missionary couple Elmore and Alice Eicher who were serving with the Christian and Missionary Alliance.

The boy is my father.

Today I had the privilege of telling his story to a young woman who had just walked the path his own birth mother had trod.  Unmarried.  Did not take the 'easy' option of an abortion.  Who has just come back today from having been away from the city during the latter part of her pregnancy.  God answered her prayers and the delivery was normal - so that the scar of the C-section would not be seen.  And yesterday she went through the legal process of relinquishing her child.

Tonight she will be staying with us.  Tonight her daughter is being cared for by others.  But we are so grateful that this little girl is alive.  She has a future.

Like my father, whose 73rd Birthday anniversary we celebrate today.

How many people Dad has blessed over the years.  Can we count?  No.  And he would anyway not want us to.  His legacy is not set in a corporate head-quarters or in a pile of papers published or in a fat bank account.

Dad's legacy is written in people's hearts.

He and Mum have lived out their lives in simple obedience and joy to the Lord Jesus Christ.  They have had to shed many tears along the way (most of which I did not see).  Their set of disappointments is at least a mile long.  But they have been life and joy to so many.

This morning, up in the rainy mountains of Mussoorie, Mum had a birthday breakfast with Dad.

I don't think our card arrived in time to be added to the goodies Mum prepared for the 'birthday boy' (hopefully Asha and Enoch's handiwork will have made it through today).  But though we are far away from our parents, our thoughts and prayers were with Dad as he stepped into this new year.

Dad has lived a good life.  And he is still actively living it!

We are so blessed to have this Godly man as our father and friend.

A hymn comes to mind, one that was sung by the Jim Elliot and Nate Saint and their friends before they went to meet their Maker.  The third verse summarises much of Dad's life - one that with God's help he has been faithfully living out:

We go in faith, our own great weakness feeling,
And needing more each day Thy grace to know:
Yet from our hearts a song of triumph pealing,
“We rest on Thee, and in Thy Name we go.” 
 We rest on Thee, our Shield and our Defender!
Thine is the battle, Thine shall be the praise;
When passing through the gates of pearly splendor,
Victors, we rest with Thee, through endless days. 

We thank God for you.  We love you and are blessed by all that you are and all that you are becoming!

Happy Birth Day!

 pictures courtesy Christa Eicher and the wonder of the internet which allows me to post something that took place this morning in Mussoorie!

Small update:

Mum ended the day in the same celebratory way that she started it:  she took Dad out for a dinner date at Rokeby's

Here is a shot of the two young love birds:

Monday, 1 September 2014

Cross stitch

We have a new picture on the wall.  For a short time at least.

Sheba's latest cross-stich is up for a short time.  We are about to give it away to a dear person in our church - but for now here is the latest artistic offering from my wonderful wife!

The framing is a tiny bit haphazard - but since I already complained twice about it - and they tried 3 times, I think we will just have to live with it.

But far more to the point - this was one of the verses that helped me understand that Sheba was the person whom I should say 'I do' to.  As we come up on 15 years on the 15th of Dec this year, I realise just how much of a prophecy come true this has been!

Book list

I am reading "Freedom at Midnight" again - this time aloud to Asha and Enoch on the days they are here for lunch (school holidays and Saturdays).  It's just as good as it was when I discovered it as a 13 year old.

The joy of reading this book again got me thinking about some of the books which were door-openers to new worlds in my younger days.   And then last week one of the current memes circulating on facebook has been asking people to make lists of books.   So here I am on a Sunday night thinking about which books have influenced me the most?

Now that I have crossed two score and five years - it's hard to disentangle which books have really influenced me.. but here are some of them at least. 

Number 1 is and will continue to be the Holy Bible (I prefer the 1984 NIV version - but try to read other versions occasionally - currently I use the ESV and The Message as well).  In fact, the more I read it (and I do a lot) the more it shapes me.

And after this 'Book of Books'?  Well now, here we go...

"The Chronicles of Narnia" (I keep changing my mind about which one I like the best) - CS Lewis
"What's So Amazing About Grace?" and "The Jesus I Never Knew" - Philip Yancey
"The Power and the Glory" - Graham Greene
"The Lord of the Rings" - JRR Tolkein
"Midnight's Children" and "Shame" - Salman Rushdie
"Cry the Beloved Country" - Alan Paton
"Gilead" and "Home" - Marilynne Robinson
"Freedom at Midnight" "O Jerusalem" and "Is Paris Burning?" - Dominique LaPierre and Larry Collins
"The Idiot" and "Crime and Punishment" - Fyodor Dostoyevski
"Amusing Ourselves to Death" - Neil Postman
"Resurrection" - Leo Tolstoy
"Till We Have Faces" - CS Lewis
"The Wind in the Willows" - Kenneth Grahame
"Shadowlines" and "In an Antique Land" - Amitav Ghosh
"This Momentary Marriage" - John Piper
"The Soccer War" - Ryzard Kapuscinski
"Bonhoeffer: Pastor, Martyr, Prophet, Spy" - Eric Metaxas
"Savaging the Civilised" and "The Unquiet Woods" - Ramchandra Guha
"Weapons of the Weak" - James Scott
"War in Heaven" - Charles Williams
"Red Sea Sharks" - Herge (hard of course to choose which Tintin book is my favourite, but this one ranks up there)
"To Kill a Mockingbird" - Harper Lee
"Screwtape Letters" - C.S. Lewis
"History of the Second World War" - Winston Churchhill
"The Man Called Intrepid" - William Stevenson
"Carry on Jeeves" (and many others like it) - P.G. Wodehouse

and of course "The Landour Cookbook." I have been up writing this post because the banana nut cake which I made from TLC has been rising in the oven.  The good news is that is has come out wonderfully!

So, there we have it, a kind of portrait of me in books.

There are of course many other books, friends which I have made along the way, but I think these are the books that have stuck with me.  Most of these tomes are ones that I come back to again and again.  Though I do not have the joy of re-reading them a lot (the re-reads tend to be the ones that I am trying to get Asha and Enoch hooked on)  these would be the most likely to bubble up in conversation....

I wonder, gentle reader, what books have shaped you?