Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Safely Home

Greetings from America!
We have arrived safely: home.
Here are the last of the pictures from the final month in India as promised.

In our last month we visited Ch.
and Catherine had her first reunion with her compassion child.

It was an amazing experience & in the end they ended up giving us new outfits.

We also visited some museums...

and took some lovely, comical pictures.

When we returned home to the orphanage it finally rained for the first time in years,
so us and the girls went playing in the rain...and dirt.

We also went swimming in a small pond...which Catherine found out later that there may have been snakes present!

Our staff friends from the mountains came to visit us and send us off the last week.
They brought wise words, big hearts, and BUTTERSCOTCH ICE CREAM (Erica's favorite)!

Then we said our Goodbye's for Second to last time.

We also taught all the girls how to put on Saree's while we were there.


Then we returned to the first orphanage we had gone to.

They gave us a grand welcome and a grand goodbye.
And we wouldn't have had our trip end any other way.

Thank you for your support.
We hope you enjoyed the trip.

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Shoot for the Stars

Greetings as you emBark with us on our last destination: ...home!
Throughout our journey we have climbed mountains, awakened to the peacocks song, taught health classes to orphan children, and taught the value of women to the poor, powerless, beaten, and destitute. We have lived withe many orphans and ate what they ate, slept how they slept, adapted their style of toilet use (which was pretty difficult at first). We  have regularly worn traditional clothing, learned the significance of various festivals, and seen the effects on Hinduism and the caste system of today's society.
The children, staff at Bethania Kids, and the friends we have made in India have taught us the value of family, community and the beauty of life in the midst of suffering, struggle, and poverty. They have taught us that there is no obstacle that cannot be overcome.
We hope that our blogs have encouraged you the past for months. And we encourage you to cherish your family, community, and all that you have because all things in life are a gift to be cherished.

Serve and love others with your whole heart and never give up because you could lose all that you have in a moment.

Serving the people of India was not always easy, but it was always a tremendous blessing.
When I, Erica, first decision to teach health in India alone (Catherine joined the team later), many thought I had lost my mind, and, now, here we are with a boatload of memories and over 200 orphan brothers and sisters and a many communities we can call home. We have also taught health, English, music, and massage, which changed the lives of more people than we know of.
So...! remember: Follow yours dreams, don't give up, and shoot for the stars.

Also, we are writing this on a friends phone, so we will add pictures from the last orphanage mid-November. 

Saturday, October 11, 2014

Recapturing the Wonder

 Greetings from India!
The nearest Town is about Hour from where we live.
Our Remote Resting and Work Place

We hope that all is well in the states and pray that each and every one of your friends and family is safe and well.

Thus far, our trip has been filled with adventure, love, and unspeakable joy!

 Your money donated and support have contributed in changing the lives of more than 300 people in the poverty-stricken areas of India, and we hope  and pray to help many more.

Throughout this trip, we have had great joy in serving the children, churches, and various groups of India. Some activities have included:

Teaching a group of women with HIV about health & the value of women.

Teaching health classes daily.

And teaching an English class through the use of videos.
 However, though there has been much joy it has not come without some privileged trials or two.
Some trials have been:
While others have been:
 a bit Toilsome 
Some humorous trials have include: 
  • Catherine getting chased by a large, growling monkey
  • A monkey stealing a diet coke from our room
  • Girls & boys producing unexpected displays of animals such as: dead rats, live snakes and forest crabs, and colorful, giant june bugs
  •  Falling over stairs during power outages at night and generally roasting in our room when the fans go out during these interesting events occur
  • And, almost getting ran over by a bus...TWICE (which is not an abnormal occurrence due to the interesting traffic norms)
On the other hand, some toilsome trials have included:
  •  Enduring each other in our good AND bad moods in the neverending heat!
  • Developing a cycle of continual lice... (We both think that the lice have created a permanent home with us!...)
  • Thorns in Catherine's foot due to some intense mountain hiking, and some uncomfortable skin allergies on Catherine's hands
  • And, having the daily struggle of awaiting water from the pipe of nearly dried up well or seeking water from a public area. (Each day we are extremely careful to conserve the water we have due to the fact that we are not sure of the next time we will find a sufficient amount of water to wash clothes and dishes, cook, drink, and bathe)
So...All in all, our trip has been full of great joys and struggles. And at times we have lost the motivation to move forward since we are so close to the end of our travels and have had to say goodbye to so many people we have grown to love.

However, in the midst of it all we are gradually learning to recapture the wonder and love of the land of India that we had when we first began.

Saturday, October 4, 2014

Home is: Where the Heart Is

A couple days ago we moved to our new home, which has been difficult yet extremely rewarding.

We actually ended up leaving our home in the mountains one day early due to some political uproar and disturbances among the people of the state. We are grateful to be safe in the midst of this troubling time.

Although we left many people that we loved dearly, we both know that it is truly for the best. The girls at this orphanage are small in number, but big in heart. Upon our midnight arrival, they awaited us and greeted us with open arms and smiles on their faces.

We are both extremely excited to teach health, English, and spiritual classes of encouragement to the children of this new forest home we have entered.

In the midst of all the change and adjustment, we have been continually learning that home is not among the previous places we have been (although we do miss them dearly),
But home will always be where:
Our Heart and Hope Is.

Saturday, September 27, 2014

The Hills are Alive

Greetings! Our stay in the mountains has been full of fun and laughter...and pranks.

We had the opportunity top visit a shelter and learning center dedicated to the empowerment of village girls.

We also had an adevnture in the mountains to a pond....

and swam in a water fall!

Erica got the chance to drive...down an empty street...on the LEFT side of the road!

AND we had the chance to attend Christian Indian wedding:
there were over 200 guests and the food was pretty great.
Catherine ate more than she thought she ever could!

Saying Goodbye to many children and staff in various places has been rough.

But, we have definitely learned a lot from the entire experience.
(Including, not to get to close to monkeys and that they have the ablity to steal diet pepsi bottles...)

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Around the bend.

Greeting from India, 
Sorry for the lack of updates, but we have been extremely busy! I, Erica, have been teaching 7 health classes a week at various daycare and after school centers as well as the orphanage, and Catherine has been working with the physically disabled children at 2 different places. All in all, everything is well and good in the land of India, and great things are happening through our ministry among the people.
A couple weeks ago we had the chance to walk
through the Coaker's walk after church.
Although advertised as exciting,
we didn't find much interest in it.

We also had a chance to visit a rehabilitation center.
They actually teach mentally disabled children to create
plates, bowls, cups, and many more things in order that
they can support their families.
If they were not taken in by this center, they would be left on
the streets and cursed by the community due to the belief that
the mentally disabled are possessed by demons.

We celebrated Teacher's Day with the Bethania staff
and spoke the native language in a play!

Here is a group photo of the staff of all the centers
in the area we are working.

Then in the midst of all of the work we do
we get to come home to the orphan girls everyday,
which always make the work we do well worth the
time, effort, and struggle.
After three hard weeks of painting two tables at the
special needs center in a remote village....

We finally completed the children's main table!

And, again, I mention that we had some more fun in between all of the work
with the lovely children that we lives with. :)

Most recently, we took a trip to Bangalore,
and we met the president of Bethania Kids.
He was a true joy, and desires Erica to create a ten-year
health care plan for the community of Bethania.
She was pretty excited about that!

We also did some site seeing with an amazing family we stayed with in Bangalore.
To be honest, I, Erica, did not think that castles like this existed anymore!
One of Erica's class of students
at the women's empowerment program.
One week remaining!

Another health class at the orphanage.
Also, one week remaining!

The last day of class at an after school care program after 2 and 1/2 months of teaching.
It was a blessing to have had the pleasure to teach such young, wonderful children,
and I, Erica, have faith that they will all do great things!
I, Erica, will miss them dearly.
Our time in the mountains is soon coming to a close, and we will be moving further north into the land of India. The next home will be a completely new experience, and we have faith that great things await just around the bend.

Thursday, September 4, 2014

Hope Without Borders

Five days ago we moved into the girls home, which is conveniently five minutes down the street from the boys orphanage. The girls have been a great joy to spend time with and have a tremendous amount of energy. While Erica has been teaching 7 health classes a week, Catherine has been massaging special needs children and staff at 3 different locations. Busy! Busy!

Today we may be learning a traditional Indian dance for the big teacher's day event taking place tomorrow! We are also attending an event at a school nearby on Saturday to see a friend dance for a community event. We are so ecstatic to be a part of the community and the events that surround Indian culture. Indian men and women have been outstandingly kind and open to our friendship, which has been a true blessing.

Below is a story of a young orphan boy at the boys home. 
I, Erica, pray that it encourages you to have Hope Without Borders. 
No individual, 
from your worst enemy to an abandoned child, 
is hopeless. 

Anyone can be made into a new creation, 
and all those who are lost can be found. 

Thus, I urge you, to have:
Hope without Borders
Imagine that:
You are a three-year-old boy with a one-year-old sister. Your mom takes you to town; you are excited as you watch her buy your favorite snack at the corner store. Your mom politely tells you to sit down with your sister and eat your snack. She also says, "Stay here until I come back."
You watch as she casually walks away.
Hours pass...
Tears of fear gradually form until you break into an uncontrollable sob; you shake as time continues to pass and your mother is not returning.
Your sister and you are abandoned, 

At last, a passerby recognizes your sister and you; they take you home.

Your father is taken by surprise and outraged when he finds that your mother has eloped with another man. He immediately seeks her out and attempts to kill your beloved mother......
Your mother is near-dead in the hospital.
Your father is taken to prison.
Then, there is you and your sister...Where shall you go? Where shall you find rest?
Someone suggest a place of hope called Bethania, which takes in children in troubled situations. Your sister and you find hope, reprieve, and safety.

11 years later...
Your dad visits, your mom vanished, and you feel a sense of hope. You have 30 brothers, your sister is safe, and you are genuinely cared for. Thus, you learn to have hope without borders for all the downtrodden and lost like yourself.