Tuesday, 24 February 2015

Purple flowers

A scene from the front porch at Shanti Kunj in Mussoorie.  It's still winter there (we are already sweltering here) but the sun shines brightly and Mum's flowers are doing great.

She sent us an email today (along with the above picture) and included these words:

"The purple flowers in the photo are very dainty, but they stand against the cold weather, hail, snow and storms. They bloom each year from Dec. - March and  teach me such a lesson."

Saturday, 21 February 2015

Enoch at 12

For us living in Maharashtra, the great warrior king Shivaji's B-day rolls around each year with a special gift for Enoch - a school holiday on his own B-day which he shares with the pride of the state on the 19th of February.

Looking at Enoch's school schedule this year in his new school, we did not see the familiar Shivaji Jayanti day off.  Since we are not the state board anymore, we thought that for the first time in his school life Enoch would be in class instead of enjoying his birthday holiday.

Lo and behold - last week we get a circular telling us that Feb 19th is a holiday.  Jubilation among the younger Eicher members.

And so we began the celebrations.   The traditional early morning getting up and praying and giving gifts (with Yohan with us for his first sibling birthday).  Then for lunch, Sharon Joseph from church took out all three for a birthday treat at a pizza place - as her 19th birthday is a day after Enoch's.  And then for dinner we rounded off the day with Enoch spurring us to a barbeque chicken and mashed potato meal - a first for the Thane Eichers.  Enoch helped in making the potato dish and the chicken was cooked in our new oven...

How time just rushes by!  Just the other day it seems, Enoch was crawling around, and we were imagining what it would be like for him to walk around the corner and give us a cup of tea.  Today we have a young man who is the same age that Jesus was when our Lord decided to spend some extra time in the temple of Jerusalem, talking with the priests and learned men of the day.

Who is this man-child that we have in our midst?

"Where is the cake?"  Yohan asked after we finished our evening meal.

Well, we had baked 3 cakes to form into 'the B-day cake' for the next evening - but there was time for a quick bit of icing work on one of them and viola:

Something happened to it - it just did not rise properly.  We are still working out the ins and outs of the new oven...

But the chocolate one came up trumps.

In the mean time - we had our b-day song for our dear Enoch.

Sheba and I have the privilege of working in the building that Enoch was born.  Every morning we have our staff prayers at 9 AM in what used to be the main operating theatre of Lok Hospital.

On Feb 19th 2003 at 2.30 PM Enoch was delivered into the world.

We had wanted a normal delivery, but he ended up in a breach position and since Asha was also a C-section child, Enoch was born in the operating theatre instead of in the birth room of the hospital.

It was my privilege to be with Sheba during both of our first 2 kids births - and over the years to be with them almost every day of their lives.

With Yohan joining our family we now have the very unfamiliar situation of a son for whom the decade plus one years of his lives are a veiled mystery to us.  Who is Yohan, what has he experienced in his life so far?  For Enoch we know.  We are only at the very most preliminary stages of discovering about Yohan's years before he became part of our family exactly 4 weeks ago today!  And perhaps we never will find out - but we know our loving Lord and Father knows this precious boy's experiences - and our prayers is that the hurts and sorrows Yohan has gone through already will be healed at the right time, and with God's help guiding us in the day-to-day joys and challenges of being a family.

Since we thought Enoch would not have a holiday on his actual birthday this year, we planned our first boys' sleepover.  Two weeks ago Enoch made invitations and gave them to his school friends and building friends.  As of 3 days before the date we had 5 boys who Enoch said would come.

On the day, we had Mark join us all the way from Dahisar - and Joshua who lives in our building also come up - but since he had an exam at 9 AM today, he had to leave at 9 PM sharp.

What we lacked in numbers, we made up with fun.   The oven (thanks Mum) was pressed into service again to produce a string of pizzas and Enoch's early B-day gift from his Oma and Opa of a game of Risk was brought out to the delight of four pre-teen boys and one 45-year-old adolescent.

Bible time and Yohan's 9 o'clock meds saw our youngest off to sleep - and then the rest of us gathered around for a late-night film.

It was a happy lot that dropped off to sleep - all except a Dad who had to finish off the cake for this year.

With Enoch being an avid follower of the English Premier League football this year - the cake this year followed a football theme again like last year's edition.  Simplicity was the name of the game and so we had a football with Enoch's favourite team (and current EPL table-toppers) Chelsea FC emblazoned in the centre.

Today dawned with promise.  Day 3 of Enoch's B-day celebrations!

It isn't often that we start our day with pizza - but the 2 that were not wolfed down last night were waiting for the morn!

At 10 AM we were joined by Asha's friend Divya and our dear dear Jim and Leena Varghese with their wonderful triple-joy-boys of Nehemiah, Elias and Daniel.

So the cake cutting bit was very much in order!

Jim and family live in far-away Ambernath - and we miss not having them as our neighbours, but they graciously drove out to be with us for the day - and what a joy to have them with us.

Besides the joy of celebrating with Enoch - our friends were eager for their three to meet our three!

After we sang our B-day song, Enoch showed his lung capacity with the ever growing number of candles...

And since we wanted to get on with our little hike that we planned for the day we stowed the cake in a plastic bin and bundled ourselves into our vehicles for the short drive to the gate of the Sanjay Gandhi National Park.

Once inside the gate we were transported to another kingdom.

A place where green reigns (ok make that brown as the monsoon ended a good 6 months ago now).  But a place where trees and plants grow and concrete is seen only in the odd boundary marker or at a distance.  Looking down at Thane as we climbed higher and higher up the hill, we again marvelled at the steady sprouting of more and more high-rises.

On one side we heard the rumble of the city below us, a clearly audible growl which we actually live in all the time - and though we do not acknowledge it much is the constant ambient music of our days.  And from the hillside the sounds that came were... a russle of leaves, the occassional twitter of a feathered friend, but mostly blessed quiet. 

When we first started coming to this lovely walk, we would have to push and shove the kids up (and do a fair amount of carrying).  Today, they were off in the distance in front of the 'big folks.'  Our calls were for them to wait up and not fall off the sides.

The forest fire tower was an obvious place that demanded a climb up.  And before you could say Jack Robinson (or whatever our desi version is... Praful Billamoria?  Mafaruz Nizammuddin? Mario Masceranas?) the lads were off to the top (with the lasses joining in of course too).

How is it that fearlessness seems to be the norm for boys under the age of 13 - and hestitant caution the name of the game for men who have seen 2 score years and more of life - and have emerged basically unscathed from the pulls and tugs of life?

My respect for the latitude of my parents' allowing me to do various outdoor things in my boyhood keeps climbing up.

And so we were up on top with a view looking down.

Now how about recruiting a lovely crew like this to man the forest watch towers!

And looking down, we could see the mothers deep in conversation.

One of the best things of a hike - even a small one - is that it allows us to talk.  To hear and listen to each other.  To share in each others' lives and we walk and stop and look.

What a joy for me to dig deep into conversation with Jim about his life and times and family - and to be able to share with him the joys and challenges we have as we suddenly grew from 4 to 5 on the 24th of January.

One of the joys of Jim and Leena is the incredibly positive way they go about things - and so as we men brought up the rear guard - with Jim carrying a brave Daniel who walked almost all the way to the top - our conversation spread far and wide as we gained in altitude...

And then, before we knew it, we were at the ridge.  It gets pretty warm when you come to mid-day in mid-Feb, so it was a blessing to sit under a tree and take a rest.  The folks who practice a seasonal agriculture in the national park had done their burning in preparation for the next monsoonal rains - and so the area was pretty much black with soot.

Onwards - along the ridge to our favourite place.

The boys had outfitted themselves with sticks by now.

Sticks are essential for hiking.

You can use them to stabilise yourself as you walk up or down a mountain trail.

You can use them as swords and other weapons as you fight imaginary foes (or each other).

You can push and prick and whack and do all the jolly things that a boy likes to do when he has a fine stick in his hand.

Needless to say - with 6 boys on hand - many a stick was used.

The top of the ridge have a number of huts which the farmers use when they sow their crops in the rains.  The kids found the temporary homes to be a good place to explore.   And the shade was welcome too - as most of the huts had a small porch and were in the shade of a mango tree.

But we still had some ground to cover.

Over the years, we have made a certain place on the hill our own. 

And to get their, we leave the fields at the top of the saddle behind, walking back up to the ridge.

We then follow the path as it straddles the top - and enters the jungle again.

The trees are not very large on top - mainly scrub bushes - but there is a magical place where the path opens up to a small clearing under a tamarind tree.

It is on the side of the hill that does not face Thane, so we do not hear the steady rumble of the town.  And the sight ahead of us is one of rolling hills and forest as far as the eye can see.

I often feel like I have entered Narnia at this point.  What with the grime of 1.8 million folks just a few hundred metres away from us - and to have this amazing beauty of creation all around us.

Having reached our special spot, we break out the blankets and spread them out in the shade.

Our young guns are sent out to gather fire-wood and kindling - and with a few rocks brought back, we have a beauty of a fire going - just right to cook up some lunch with!

Its the first time that we have brought up hot-dogs - but I think we have a weiner - oops a winner - on our hands.  The inspiration for todays lunch is Enoch - who dearly loves sausages (we only get chicken types here) and so since this was a birthday outing we put two and two together and celebrated with hot franks on a hot day.

What can you do to beat the joy of eating a picnic out in the jungle?

Some of our happiest memories as kids were the summer outings in Kodaikanal - day hikes to Leving Stream, over nighters to some shola forest, camping at Berijam lake or along one of the trout streams.  Food cooked outdoors and eaten in fresh air or under stars tastes just so very much better.  And that too when you are eating it with people you love... magical.  Better than Enid Blyton books.  Needless to say our hungry hordes gobbled down the stash we had hauled up.

And soon it was time to head back down the hill.

Jim's family and ours were swearing that we have to do this regularly - and our thoughts moved up to the mesmerizing thought of spending some of the summer in Mussoorie (though the sheer steepness of it all was enough to give Jim the shivers already).  Let's see what the summer brings.

So we found ourselves back in our home-sweet-home by mid-afternoon, thoroughly happy and dusty and ready for a bath.

Here's to our birthday boy.  As we finish our third day of celebration - we thank God for the opportunity to rejoice together - and we thank God for a wonderful son called Enoch!

Wednesday, 18 February 2015

Prayers of little saints

Tuesday evenings mean Bible study for the Eichers - and a few others too.  Just after 7 PM the 5 of us pile into our Papaya and drive over to sister Shanti's home.  This evening a local festival saw the main road being blocked and turned into a fun-fair around a temple - and so we took a wide detour and then crawled through the crowds before we finally made it (1/2 an hour late) to the home.

We remembered Yohan's meds this time - and so when my alarm went off at 9 PM I had the little pill box ready and slipped out the pills and gave him his water to drink - while the study was moving to its end.  I expected Yohan to just swallow them down - we have not seen him grimace at the pill burden so far.  So I was a bit surprised when Yohan did not immediately take his meds. 

A split-second later I saw why.

Enoch was next to Yohan.  Eyes closed.  Holding Yohan's hand. Quietly praying into Yohan's ear for the medicine to be a blessing to Yohan.  All this while the study continued.  A moment to melt a father's heart.  Spontaneous love from one son to another.

At the end of our Tuesday nights at Shanti's home we share a meal together.  We normally bring one of Sheba's famous dal or bean dishes (this evening it was rajma) and plenty of papads. Shanti provides the rice and has started adding something else too (this evening some 'chinese' noodles).

But before the food is dished out we have a time of prayer.

Yohan looked and me and asked me when we asked people to share what they would like prayer for.  He asked me quietly whether he could ask for a request - and I said of course...

"Please pray for my friend Kushal" said Yohan.  "He is very sick and has been admitted at JSK."

Kushal (not his real name of course) was admitted yesterday evening.  Re-admitted I should say, since we first admitted him for care on December 14th last year.  At that time he was very sick.  Yohan had just pulled through his first 2 weeks at our centre - and was a real encouragement to Kushal.

Kushal's parents had died last year.  And he was left alone.  All alone.  So alone that he was starving and sick.  Finally, a cousin of his took him under her wing.  She was studying in a simple 'Bible college' and persuaded the folks there to take in Kushal into their 'orphanage' (a small hostel for children from difficult situations). 

Kushal really was not cared much for at this place.  The head of the college had called me a few weeks earlier and told me that they had a boy who was HIV positive.  I asked him to bring the boy to us so that we could assess him and help with treatment.  They finally brought him in a precarious condition.  Kushal was semi-conscious.  Sheba thought we would lose him.  He pulled through.  And this is where Yohan met him first.  He prayed with him.  Encouraged Kushal to eat - as Kushal was painfully thin.  Told him that he also has the sickness.  And eventually played with him.   We discharged Kushal just before Christmas as his cousin had to rejoin the college.

Sadly, Kushal has slipped back to where he was.  He is very sick again. 

Yohan went to JSK today to be part of the first session of our Adolescent groups.  There he found out that Kushal was back and went to see him.   The meeting was not a happy one as Kushal was sleeping and Yohan knows that he is very sick.

And so we have the prayer request from our son Yohan to pray for his friend Kushal.

Could you join in this prayer too - for a brave, skinny, sick orphan boy who our nurses and doctors are working to keep alive tonight?

The prayers of the little saints directly touch the heart of King Jesus.

Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of God belongs to such as these... (Mark 10.14)

Monday, 16 February 2015

Eicher Academy

So here we are - in our mid forties - engaging on new careers as educationalists!

The Eicher academy used to be a coaching shop.  A low-profile mom-n-pop operation where our two kiddos got their home-work done over and prep for the dreaded exams by Mummy - with Daddy being the go-to man for help with class projects and printing out pictures and general ideas for essays and such like.  The main learning was (supposedly at least) taking place at Asha n Enoch's current school - the Bombay Scottish School at Powai.

Well, coaching days are over - well they continue - but there is a new educational enterprise in town.

Enter master Yohan.  11 years young.  Knows the alphabet in Hindi and English.  And apparently precious little else.

Details are still sketchy on exactly what he did in 'school' - he was enrolled at a govt. school in Juhu.  We have a 'bona fides' certificate for him (which lists his birthdate as 1.1.2003 ... go figure).

But the lad with the charming smile is deeply functionally illiterate.  He can do some sum using his fingers to count.  But that's about it.

I asked him the other day "did your teachers shout at you?"  I was expecting him to say 'yes, all the time, and so I never liked going to school and played in the streets"   But instead he said "no."  And then the heart-breaking reason "they knew I was sick."

There is a lot more to all of this of course.  Yohan talks about what seems like a pavement school where people came in some kind of a bus.  He seems to have been in different places too... so there is a fair amount of murk that may or may not clear up.

But what is crystal-clear to a set of new parents is that their boy needs to get learning and learning fast! 

And that no school in any direction would take our charmer.

So we took a deep breath, and are jumping into home-schooling! 

We are of course good friends with our very own home-schooling-evangelist Dr. SP Mathew - and have had some good discussions over the years as our kids have grown up together.  But it always seemed a luxury that we could not afford.  But now we cannot afford not to.

And so for the sake of Yohan, Sheba and I have just gotten the Std. 1 materials from Griha Shiksha in Pune and on the 12th of Feb, we plunged in!   

Currently Sheba starts the day off with scripture, english and maths - all that between 9 and 11 AM.  And then I come over for the 11.15 - 1 PM slot.  My brief is to help Yohan in a pot-porry of other subjects.  The ones I have tackled so far are science and environmental studies - and in coming days will be venturing into social studies and some IT too...  But in the end - at this point everything is actually one big English lesson for Yohan.

It's all so new - for all of us.  And we are discovering p a t i e n c e - and will need ever greater measures of that precious resource as we plunge ahead.

After lunch the plan is for Yohan to do some artsy-craftsy stuff on his own while I do some 'work from home from 1.30 - 2.45 and then drive him over to the home of a lovely young couple from our church - Rajesh and Shweta Kamble.  Shweta has very kindly offered to help out with Hindi and we hope to have her help 3 days a week from 3-5 PM.  Yohan had his first lesson with her today and loved it (and came back with home-work which he did while Asha and Enoch were poured over their books).

Learning by doing.  It's all happening here at the Eicher academy.  

By the way - we are most interested in having others help out too!

Tuesday, 10 February 2015

Sweeping changes in Delhi?

A few months ago I had my finger 'inked' for the first time.  No - it wasn't a tattoo - rather I had my left index finger daubed with permanent ink, with half of it on the sensitive skin at the base of the nail, and the other half painted up my index nail.  

That was the 15th of October last year.  A day when I voted for the first time.  The elections were for the Maharashtra state and the ruling national party easily overran everyone else.  My little 'beep' in the electronic voting machine was one of the many that supported a losing candidate - certainly not one who celebrated with saffron flags and fire-crackers a few days later.

I have been watching how that 'permanent' mark has gradually been making its way up my finger nail as the nail grew.  No amount of soap could get it off.  The only way out was to let it grow and clip. But over the weeks and months since, it was a small reminder of participating in the choosing of our rulers.

And deep inside there was a small question.  Given what seemed such an avalanche of wins that the Lotus guys have been having over the past year, given the almost ubiquitous popping up of the Prime Minister in almost every space imaginable, given the way that folks who had previously been on a platform denouncing corruption were happy to jump into the band-wagon when a CM-ship is dangled in front of her... was it even worth voting?  Does it make any sense to vote when folks are so steeped in corruption and the whole setup comes down to money?

Last week I clipped off the final bit of black - and now I have an unstained index finger again.

And over the past two weeks some of the faint rays of hope started showing up.

And then today happened.

Counting time for the votes in Delhi.  The nation's capital.  The heart of power.  The place which rules the land.

In 2013 a quixotic chap and his merry men (and women) managed to upset the odds and get 28 of the 70 seats on offer.  Not quite the majority, and not even the largest number of seats (the BJP wallahs got that with 32 seats), but enough to be the spoiler - and then surprisingly - enough to form the government.

They lasted 54 days.  Arvind Kejriwal resigned when his anti-corruption bill was blocked by others - and after the national elections were called he and the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) rolled out a plan to take the nation by storm.  Contest 434 seats across the nation.  Have Kejriwal fight against Modi himself in Varanasi.  The results were a wipe-out.  They only won 4 seats.  All in the Punjab.  Kejriwal lost heavily to Modi.  They got over 30% of the vote in Delhi - but that didn't translate into a single seat as the saffron boys (and a few girls) wiped up the spoils.

So when the Delhi elections were notified for Feb 7th this year, few gave the apparently rag-tag folks from AAP a chance.

I was talking to a local pastor yesterday.  He told me that one of his church members is a new follower of Christ - and also connected politically.  He has been given Rs. 5 lakhs by a local political leader.  Cash.  The brief: get him votes.  How he uses it is up to him.  He can keep it all, he can give it out in crisp Rs. 500 notes.  He can buy booze.  Whatever.  As a person who has just started following Christ his question to the pastor is - what should I do now?  What do I do with this cash?

For the past decades this is the story of our democracy.  Vast amounts of cash flow out before every election.  The locals love it as free liquor and notes flow around.  Who will not accept something for nothing?

Well, the Aam Aadmi chaps had something up their sleeves in Delhi.  In the run-up to the Delhi polls they blanketed the areas where the main handouts are given (read:slums) with volunteers who walked around at night, smart phones held out in front of them at arms length, and loudly telling people that these were 'spy phones' which would take pictures of people giving cash or booze...

A different world.

And then the results were announced today.  The media was saying that AAP would win.  The boys in orange had changed their tune.  The exit polls are distorted! Wait and see - the lotus will bloom after all!  Don't be swayed by people who try to buy you went the refrain - all the way up to our respected Prime Minister himself...

But what a result.

Who would have thought the BJP would not only be humbled, but humiliated.  Aam Aadmi getting 67 out of the 70 seats on offer.  Well over half the votes cast.  

Appropriately enough, since the Aam Aadmi Party's symbol is a broom (to sweep out corruption) they literally swept everybody else off the board.  Including the Congress who had been ruling in Delhi for years and years before them.

 Lessons to be learned:

1) We actually do live in a democracy.  People do vote. Governments can be humbled.  Every vote counts.

2) We live in a time when there is a tremendous hunger for change.  People want to see a government that cares.  That will make a difference.  That is why they voted Modi in.  Not because they wanted to see churches burned.  Or Surya Namaskar mandated in schools.  They were told that Modi will bring about progress - and so they turned out for him.  Note to the victorious Aam Aadmi chappies and to Muffler-man Kejriwal: you and your folks have to deliver now.

3) Kejriwal, with all his contradictions, is a man who has tremendous courage.  He can come across as almost comical at times, but what chutzpah to actually believe that they could do what seemed impossible.  His willingness to apologise for 'resigning' seems to have been accepted lock-stock-and-barrel.  Instead of running away from defeat, he and the AAP folk have shown that they are the real deal - working harder than before.  Mobilising, mobilising, mobilising.  Showing that they mean business but actually getting out on the streets.

4) Defeat can be a great blessing.  By resigning and bearing disgrace Kejriwal got two huge benefits. People could see that he is afraid of nothing.  And many of the fellow-travellers who were just there for the power jumped ship.  Good riddance to Kiran Bedi.  Tata to many others who decided to become lotus-eaters - and got eaten in the process.  The folks who remained are the real deal.

5) It is possible to do something about corruption.  Yes, it's not going to just evaporate.  But the man on the street talks about how during the 54 days when Kejriwal was CM the first time, the policeman stopped taking the Rs. 500 bribe to 'allow' a truck to enter a street.  Every politician worth his (or her) salt always says that they are 'anti-corruption' - but who has actually acted on it?  We live in interesting times - get ready for a lot of public washing of dirty linen!  But more than getting the big boys (and girls) it is letting our nation know that we will not accept the constant demand for bribes that will pay off in the long run.  Can one change of government in Delhi do it?  Probably not alone -but what a welcome step in the right direction.

So here's to the folks who are wielding the brooms!  Our dear Prime Minister has asked us all to clean up our country - and I for one am so glad that this was done effectively by our Delhi voters on the 7th of February this year.  Here is to a lot of other dirt being swept away!

Mera Bharat mahan!

Sunday, 8 February 2015

musings on death and life

Yesterday afternoon we watched what Enoch said was 'the saddest movie I have ever seen.'

The Book Thief tells of Liesl, a German girl who is placed in a home of a middle aged couple as Germany veers into the full horrors of the Nazi years and the war.  There is a lot of death.  In fact, the narrator is Death himself.   Based on the novel by Markus Zusak, the film takes a beautiful look at a very ugly time.  

Take a look at the shot above.  The scene is the dirty grey steps outside her lower-middle-class home.  In the war. But Liesel looks gorgeous.  The colours are full of promise.  The clothes plum (literally).

Yes, there is beauty in despair.  Yes, candles shine brightest in the darkest places.  Yes, the film did not shy away from showing some of the horrors of the war and the terrors of Nazism.

My eyes were wet with tears at seeing the horrible actions of the German people to those they called 'sub-human.'  Liesl's agonising run in the midst of a column of Jews headed for the concentration camps cut to the heart.  Sorrows come in battalions.  And then some.

It's all the more real for me since my mother was a young girl at the same time in the same place.  Christa Fischer was born in Leipzig in 1937 - 5 or so years younger to Liesl - when Hitler and his henchmen (and women) were at the height of their power.  As the war escalated to large scale bombings she was sent away to her relatives in the Black Forest.

Her parents remained in Leipzig - my grandfather too small and because he supplied coal - too vital to be sent to the front.  My grandmother worked hard along side him.  I am told that they listened secretly to the BBC to hear the 'real news' of how the war was fairing.   As far as I know they hid no Jews - but their simple deep faith meant that they were more than kind to the allied prisoners of war who were drafted to help them in the coal business.   An elderly relative that I met many years later from their generation washed her hands off the Nazis by telling me that 'Hitler was actually not German at all'...

There are stains on all our hands.

Credit to the film.  Very little fairy-tale ending.  Many many deaths.  But an exquisite celebration of life.  With each life shown to be so precious.
So what jarred about the film?  I go back to the beginning.  The sheer beauty of every shot.  And the sub-text that you can be good without God.

I can't even pretend to comprehend the vast evil that has come to be summarised by the four letter word "Nazi."  But I do know that there were real life people who did stand up.  Men like Deitrich Bonhoeffer and others in the Confessing Church - some of whom were executed in the concentration camps themselves like Bonhoeffer was just days before the Allies took over Germany.   Women like Corrie Ten Boom, whose family served as a place of refuge to dozens of Jews when the Germans overran Holland - and who lost her father in the concentration camps - and who later was able to forgive some of the very men who had been her nemises during the years in the camps.

I wish I could talk to my grandfather about what he thought.  What his decisions were.  How his simple faith in Jesus had taken him through the dark years.  And what he would have done differently in hindsight.

But this I know.  That truth must be told.  That forgiveness and justice can embrace.   That life is very ugly many a time.

The four of us looked at each other with tear-stained eyes yesterday (Yohan was asleep).  We talked a bit about what we had seen.  We prayed.  We need to keep talking.

Death is real.  But certainly not a kind-sounding gentleman as the film characterises him.  There is a fundamental shabbiness to death.

But there is an alternative to the 'pie-in-the-sky-in-the-sweet-bye-and-bye.'  It all happened 2K years ago when a brutally executed and tortured man was laid in a freshly cut tomb - only to leave it on the third day.  Fact.

I humbly serve the man who took our pain upon Him.  To Him I look for hope.  Because death could not hold Him back.  He knows the deep sorrow that death brings to so many - and He can carry us through.

I have a lot to talk about with Willi and Roslie Fischer.  We will have a lot of time when I join them in the new Kingdom where death has no place.

Monday, 2 February 2015

Blessed medications

I used to have two alarms set on my mobile.  This week I added a third.

My 5 AM alarm wakes me up for the day - Asha and Enoch have to be out of the house with their uniforms and 'tiffins' at 6.50 AM.

The 3.20 PM alarm tells me that it is time to pick up our older 2 as their bus returns anytime between 3.30 and 3.50 PM.  

And now Sheba and I have added a new alarm for 10.00 PM.

It's an alarm to remind us to give our newest son his life-sustaining medication.  One dose every night.

What a blessing this medication is.  And how sobering it is for us to now be praying with our son - that the meds will really work in his little body, that he will grow and develop to be strong and healthy, that his mind and will and spirit will be honed and built up as well.

Till now there are no paediatric doses for the specific set of meds that Yohan has to take - and we have been cutting the adult dose into 2/3rds and giving it to our lad.  After praying with him, he takes the pill with a big smile and a large glass of water and just gulps it down.

Today we learned from our colleagues at CMC Vellore, that Yohan's weight is enough so that we can safely give him the adult dose.  No more cutting pills!

And so every evening we now have a new focal point.  To make sure Yohan takes his meds.  A week ago we quietly crossed a rubicon in our family - from helping and serving others - to becoming a family who ourselves is affected.  Humbling.  Today I pray for a cure in a very different way from the haphazard way I prayed before.  These days I project forward how Yohan will be as a young man and feel a very different set of emotions and hopes, than I had before.  There is a concreteness, a clarity and urgency to my talking with God, a clear edge which comes from being part and parcel instead of looking in from the outside.

We know that Yohan has many other needs besides meds of course.  His healing will be life-long - just as it is in each one of us as we allow ourselves to be fashioned and shaped into the persons God wants us to be.  As new parents we face a new set of issues - dealing with the shadowy sorrows that our son has already gone through.  Things come up in some of the talks we have had so far that tell us that this little fellow has already experienced a life-time of sadness.  And so much healing of the soul and spirit is in order.  Our prayers are that we will be able to facilitate a closure and restoration of Yohan's inner person as well.

In the meantime, we plunge joyfully on.  Lots of hugs every day.  Building a routine.  Trying to get a remedial learning programme up and running for Yohan as soon as we can (we are talking to Grih Shiksha for their curriculum).  Working with Asha and Enoch to integrate our newest and quite unexpected member in our home.  Helping Yohan understand that life is not just eating chocolate all the time - that we need to grow in love and self-control.  All of this happening all at once.   We appreciate your prayers as we step forward.

In the meantime, the alarms keep going off.  The next one will do so in just over 5 hours from now.  Another short night ahead!