Tuesday, January 30, 2007

Driver's License

While I was in India my NJ driver's license expired. Nowadays you just can't send away to renew, oh no, every four years you have to drag yourself down to the DMV with 6 points of proof that you are who you say you are.

Unfortunately, in May when my wallet was lost I lost my old driver's license and my SS card. All the rest of my ID proofs had not-matching names on them. Like my passport is different from my bank statements from my birth certificate- in the end I had to dig my high school diploma out.

I knew it'd be good for something someday.

The main problem was my Indian marriage license and the fact that it is laminated- rendering it VOID.

Men have it easy, you get married, your name stays the same. I get married and Ii have to make 12 trips* to the far away DMV to get my stinkin' license renewed because all my "points" of ID have varying forms of my maiden and married names.

Ultimately, they changed my name to that on my passport and hopefully, in the future, all will go smoothly - ha!

Nothing and I mean Nothing- ever- goes easy for me.

Builds character, at least that's what I tell myself.

You know the really rotten thing is this- the very people that are not who they say they are probably get false IDs in a snap and nice, non-criminal people like me have to jump through hoops for a simple thing like a license renewal.

* only 2, felt like more

Those Stinking Tears

I did make it through the first Sunday at church in the USA. It's always emotional and overwhelming. I think I did pretty good.

I can barely sing tho. Every single song in English chokes me up. After so many days and weeks and years of singing worship songs in other languages, there is just nothing like singing to the Lord (corporately) in your mother tongue.

Friday, January 26, 2007

Visas Denied

As for the 4 guys who went for visas on the 24th, they were denied but encouraged to reapply.

The main question was - "Why do all of you have to go and not just one?" (we all think this was a stupid question)

Which makes me think their hesitation was financial. The four guys were registered as a group and their affidavits of support were all from the same organizations.

We're going to have them reapply as soon as possible as individuals and beef up their support documents.

Most of the Indians we know who have recently gotten visas were rejected several times before they actually were granted the visa.

As for us - we were really sad and disappointed. ALL of us. It wasn't shocking but sad. We've been in line for this appointment since August 4th and within an hour and a half - it was all over.

The waiting time for visas is much shorter now, so they're going to restart the process and see how soon they can get another visa appointment. We'll wait and see.

Thanks for praying. We have peace knowing it was all God's will. And hey, we're used to nothing ever being easy for us.

In The USA

Here I am writing from New Jersey and it is COLD. Whew. But I'm not complaining. Except I need to buy shoes other than these flipflops and I couldn't find anything today. Plus with my still broken toe, wearing shoes - Hurts!

The direct flight was great, about 16 hours and Delta is no frills to say the least, but I can't complain about no stopovers. My legs swelled horribly and I felt a bit like a pig roasting on a spit - during the long hours of the night I had visions of my legs swelling so much that my skin would split open ( like the above mentioned pig). It didn't - thank goodness.

Monday, January 22, 2007

Last Post Probably

We leave our city at 9:45Am tomorrow and will be in Bombay for 2 days before catching a flight to NY late Wednesday night.

Church yesterday was hard, but I only cried 3 times and we said goodbye to our children's home kids last night but they didn't realize that it was the last time they would see us, and I chickened out and wasn't inclined to inform them, so I was able to get through that fairly well.

I'm sure lot's of people will be hanging around tomorrow as we leave and it will be a not fun time. But once we get out of the city it will be just my family and our nearest and dearest who are going for visas as well as dropping us off.

We're all pretty much focused on the visas right now. That's on wednesday morning (India time) so I can't really think about the - parting - yet. Sigh.

When are they going to invent a cheap Beam Machine so we can beam ourselves here and there for the price of a phone call. Huh HUH?

I have no idea the spelling of beam , altho I prefer it with 2 "ee"s.

Visa Interview

Please pray for our 4 guys going for their visa interviews on Wednesday morning.

Their names are: Aiyub, Anoop, Praveen and Suresh.

We'll find out on Wednesday if they get the visa to the USA or not. We're hoping and praying. Please pray with us.

We fly out on Wednesday night at midnight for a 17 hour flight to NY. This is our 1st non-stop India to USA flight ever. We'll see how it is. Pray for us, me especially. Please.


I probably won't be able to post again until the end of the week.

Saturday, January 20, 2007

Peace - Shanti - Shalom

In whatever language you want to say it, I have it.

The last 2 days have been unexpectedly and pleasantly - peaceful.

I know it's prayers. You only get this kind of peace when people are praying for you.

As much as can be, things are set to go and I rarely stress too much about the packing, etc. (at least when coming from this side). I registered out from the Police station today which was, amazingly, a 1 stop, 10 minute procedure. The necessary stuff is getting done.

It's the Goodbyes that really get me. Since my breakdown on Tuesday, I haven't shed a tear. Now, tomorrow is church, lot-O'- goodbyes, but there is a time for tears. Sometimes you just gotta go through it. I'll just bring a hankie in my purse (not surgecially attached) and do what's got to be done.

Thursday, January 18, 2007

Professional Wedding Pix 1

We recently got the professional wedding pictures from Ramesh and Aruna's wedding. Here are a few more fun shots.

Bride, groom and O. dancing along the way.
Cute family picture.
Kicking up the dust from far away.
Exchaging rings.

Professional Wedding Pix 2

Final prayer.
Feeding each other the cake.
Full family photo, with only 2 brothers-in-laws missing
E. really liked that cake - me too!
Time to eat.

Wednesday, January 17, 2007

The First Of The Lasts

The crying started yesterday.

We leave our city for 4 months in the USA on Tuesday the 23rd (next week) and the crying has already started.

Yesterday was my last Church mtg. I love my Tuesday church meetings and I cried through the entire last prayer. Alright, it started even before then.

I wanted to take a group picture but watery eyes and the red nose are not really my best features so I skipped it.

I have 6 more days of lasts ahead of me... I've considered surgically applying a hankie to my face - still looking into it.

Beginning The Preparations

1. Buy Lice Shampoo

2. Shampoo the children

3. Comb stunned lice from hair

4. Squish the lice to prevent reinfestation

Tuesday, January 16, 2007

Pastors' Conference Is Over

The conference went from Thursday to Saturday and it was really my last BIG thing before coming to the US.

I was there from 7:30AM to 10PM everyday and it was a lot for an 8 month pregnant lady. But by God's grace I felt fine, still do and am now focusing on getting ready for our flight to the US on Jan. 24th.

The conference was a blessing to all of us. There were about 100 people in atendance. All our pastors were able to come except for 1 and lots of other people were also there.

The 3 special speakers were fabulous. Two of them are a couple who teach a lot of marriage and family messages and they do a great tag team job.

I spent a lot of time catching up with our pastors and running them down to get their 2006 year end reports and family photos. It Was Not Easy - but I got all the information I needed. I was a determined woman.

Here are some photos of our pastors' families and I have lots more that will come into use in the next couple months as we get the pastors' year end reports ready to go out.

Rajasthan Pastor (the little baby girl in this picture got named just this day - Esther)
Rajasthan Pastor
Madhya Pradesh Pastor

White Shirts - Thanks!

Plenty of people donated gifts and white shirts for our pastors as well as money to put on the conference and money to ship the gifts. We can't say thank you enough, but at least here are some pictures to say thanks from us.

The shirts were beautiful and much appreciated.
The pastors got their shirts as well as gifts for their children during a special gift giving time at the conference on Saturday.
On Sunday morning everyone wore their shirts and here is a group photo of our pastors with their families. See all that white - those are the shirts!
Thank You!

Group Photos


Some pictures of our main speakers.

Suresh (Mission Director) who put it all together, with Anoop translating.

Giving The Christmas Bags

Here are some pictures of our pastors getting their Christmas bags. We were able to give a bag to every person who came to the conference, whether they worked under us or not.

Happy faces.
Pastor Somraj getting his bag. Pastor Mangilal getting his bag.

Thursday, January 11, 2007

Thieves Are Everywhere But Heaven

Our conference started from this evening but I was there from the morning doing registration and other things.

So far there are about 70 people who have come from outside our city, from at least 7 different states. We had a good time of worship tonight. I'm enjoying myself.

However, when we got home at 10Pm we found that someone had tried to break into our house through a bathroom window. By God's grace, that bathroom door was locked from inside the house and the thief wasn't able to do anything but break the bathroom window glass.

When I got home and saw all our family members gathered around the bathroom and I asked what happened and they told me a thief had come, my eyes flew first to my computer.

"They didn't take anything?" I asked.

I later found out about the locked bathroom door.

The heck with my purse, money, jewelry, just don't touch my computer!

Oh, and I did find out today that the man who had the visa money stolen in Bombay also had his entire month's salary with it. He learned the lesson of "Don't keep all your valuables in one place" the hard way. That's for sure.

*My mother is thinking as she reads this, "Oh I'm so glad they'll be home soon." Lest you forget mom, your own in-laws were robbed in their own home in NJ - how many times?

Thieves are everywhere - but heaven.

"Sell your possessions and give to the poor. Provide purses for yourselves that will not wear out, a treasure in heaven that will not be exhausted, where no thief comes near and no moth destroys." Luke 12:33

Wednesday, January 10, 2007

Pastors Conference Tomorrow

Our January Pastors' Conference starts from tomorrow and goes til Sunday.

I'm not sure how many pastors are coming with their wives but we'll see tomorrow after registration.

For the last 2 days we've been trying to get the remaining work for the January 24th visa interviews done. We sent one man to Bombay to submit the paperwork on Monday night and he finished all the work by 9AM Tuesday morning but one of the other men's photographs was not quite right. Picky picky visa people.

So, that man had to get on a train and go to Bombay and get another picture taken and they submitted that this morning. Hopefully, everything is over and done with now and they're on their way back home.

While going to pay for the new visa photo the first man reached for his money and realized that he'd been pickpocked.

I'll just be glad to have it all overwith in a couple weeks. It gives me a headache just to write about it.

Saturday, January 06, 2007

The Actual Ceremony

I have very few pictures, but it was a lovely service outside in the HOT sun. The poor bride and groom and party suffered.

Afterwards the pastor asked me, "Was my sermon really long? Everyone is saying it was."

I said, "No. but it was really hot outside and it probably felt like eternity to those standing in the sun.

I had to take someone's sweater and put it over my head to block the sun and I still got sunburnt.

There were about 800 people present and we did get to give a good Gospel message and a much needed message for married people.

Thanks for your prayers. It was a fun, whirlwind, and blessedly uneventful trip.

The Wedding Procession

There was a long procession of people with the bride and groom from the road to the actual ceremony site. It wasn't far, but it took about 1 1/2 hours with all the dancing and fireworks.
The carriage that brought in the bride and groom.
Cute Rajasthani E. She had a blast. C. was sick with a fever from Wednesday morning and pretty much slept or whined throug all the festivities.
Ramesh and Aruna. At least they got to sit in the shade. The rest of us walked in the heat.
Actually horse drawn.

The Celebrating

We had to pause every 10 feet or so to dance and kick up some dust.

The Night Before

The night before the wedding there was a program. I think about 1500 people came for food.

Then there was the gift giving. Everybody in our immediate family receives gifts and we give gifts to all the relatives.

It was long and late and REALLY cold, but generally fun (or funny).

Notice the garland of 10 rupees notes around Ramesh's neck. ( It probably amounts to a whopping $5)
Notice the guys with towels on their heads in the background. I think they're relatives.
The wedding and night before program were outside. This is a view of the tent.

Tuesday, January 02, 2007

Ramesh's Wedding - Again

My brother-in-law who eloped last month is having an actual church wedding in O.'s village on Thursday the 4th. So, I'm leaving tomorrow morning with the bride and a few others for Rajasthan and we'll arrive some time in the evening.

O. has been there in the village since Wednesday getting things ready and I am sure it's going to be a Big Deal. They were dancing in the background when I talked to him on the phone tonight.

There should be hundreds of people there. At the ceremony we'll be sharing the Gospel, no use wasting an opportunity to do so.

Pray for us.

We'll be back on Friday night. Talk about whirlwind.

Monday, January 01, 2007

New Year's Day Baptisms - 2007

We had a baptism service after our New Year’s Day Service today. 7 people were baptized.

I couldn't go, or rather, I chose not to go. The political/religious climate in our state and basically in INDIA is such that baptisms are Big Political Stinks. So, we do them but we're not showy about it. All our church believers could go to the river for the baptisms and no one would pay attention, but since I am the ONLY foreigner in who knows how many miles, I attract a lot of attention - wherever I go.

We didn't need attention.

I nearly killed me not to go, but it was the best thing. Esp. after my toe injury of last night.

So, I sent my camera instead and got the pictures a little while ago.

This is the first picture I saw and it got me immediately teary. This boy is a convert from Hinduism, he lives in our city. His father and neighbors are against him for his belief, but for several years he has faithfully attended church and participated in everything. He's extremely helpful and desires to study in Bible College.

I had no idea he was getting baptized today.

His name is Prakash, please pray for him.

The group photo of the baptized and the baptizers. (All of the 7 are coming out of Hinduism and one is one of our Bible Students.)

Individual Shots Of The 2007 NYD Baptisms

Here are some individual shots of the other people being baptized today.

Please Pray for them.

My New Year's Verse

Over here we go to church on New Year's Eve (and Day). Last night we shared testimonies with each other of God's faithfulness in 2006.

It's always a wonderful time. I shared, once again, about E.'s fall from the 2nd story window and her miraculous deliverance from death or injury. (see June 6, 2006 entry) Truly the Lord is with His people.

We also pass out "promise verses" to everyone. We prepare them beforehand and then pick them from hat. After sharing our testimony we read them in front of everyone.

I wanted mine read in Hindi so I had our Pastor do it, which was good because everytime I looked at my verse I started to tear up. I would have never made it through a reading in a million years.

Isaiah 54:10 "'Though the mountains be shaken and the hills be removed, yet my unfailing love for you will not be shaken nor my covenant of peace be removed,' says the Lord who has compassion on you."

Into The New Year With A Fall

We had a nice night of testimonies and worship last night at church during our New Year's Eve Candlelight Service.

Then at midnight we hugged and went downstairs for chai and samosas (really.)

My 3 1/2 year old daughter C. was sleeping so I luggged her into my arms and hiked my almost 8 month pregnant self up onto the scooter for the short ride home.

We reached our house safely but when I attempted get off the scooter my pant leg hooked on to the kickstand (unbeknownst* to me) and down C. and I went. I landed on my knee and rolled slowly onto my back. C. was fine, her legs were wrapped around my waist so one leg got a little squished but she was not permanently injured in any way.

I, however, slightly skinned my knee and somehow wrenched my little toe. It's black and blue and very painful today - the toe that is. I just try to walk slowly and hope no one notices.

When it comes to embarrassing falls (I know all about those) or painful ones - I'll take a painful one anyday.

* I have no idea of the spelling of this word.