Monday, April 30, 2007

Global Day for Darfur.

Write a letter.
Make a sassy phone call.
Help take a stand against apathy, inaction, and indifference that is leading to the deaths of thousands upon thousands.


Friday, April 27, 2007

My lungs feel free...

It's been awhile, we know... but we must share, the access to internet is quite a rarity up here in the hill stations of Southern India, therefore our communication is limited... and another admission = it's been kinda nice...

After a two day, two night train ride south (yes, please! to Indian Railways...) we made our way slowly south into the hill stations of Southern India (pictures to be posted - someday...)

Dancing through the fresh air filled with jasmine and eucalyptus...
Eating fresh picked mangos, papaya, jack fruit, etc...
Exploring our way through the coffee and tea plantations...
Enjoying the most wonderful company and care of the Gnanamanickam family...
Touching green grass...
Climbing tall gnarly trees...
Thinking, praying and working through our time up North...
Anticipating our flight to Thailand on the 7th...

Tasting love, listening to love, watching love, smelling love, and touching love...
Simply enjoying the fruits of being loved and in love...

Saturday, April 14, 2007

A short but sweet up-date

We're off... after aprox. four months here at Sewa Ashram Jake and I are moving on. We have been showered with many blessings, challenges, periods of growth, pain, joy, laughter, silence, and just being during our time here. For that we are endlessly grateful.

Today we move on. We will first travel south by train to visit some friends and enjoy whatever else comes our way. Around the beginning of May we will then make our way north to Calcutta, by way of east coast railway and fly off to Bangkok, Thailand on May 7th.

We are looking forward to our time in Thailand as we plan on spending short periods of time with some friends, getting away on a deserted island for a week and WWOOFing our way through various organic farms.

What God's intentions are for us after that... only He knows... but as we are truly learning and experiencing the truth of Him "preparing the way." We are finding that "things" are slowly falling into place, opportunities are opening and the manifestations of His love and presence are more present than ever before.

Please keep in touch and visit our blog often. We anticipate that our time e-mailing will continue to grow shorter and shorter, therefore, time responses to e-mails may grow longer and longer. Please know that we think and often pray for each of you often. Your love, support, time, feedback, concern, interest and hugs are appreciated and acknowledged.

love - Jess (and the cute guy often found beside me)

Friday, April 13, 2007

A fast, multi-faceted post...

For those of you that know Jessica well, you will probably remember your own sense of surprise when I posted pictures of her eating oranges. Yes, Jessica, the great hater of all things orange (except candy corn) is now a lover of oranges. Just this past weekend, before traveling back to Delhi on the bus, she is the one who suggested that we get a kilo or so of oranges for the ride home.

Well, for those of you that fully appreciate that little blurb, I bring a new and shocking revelation. Jessica, under her own will and power, decided to give blood. Yes, she faced down the huge needle and gave a full unit of blood. Of course she scared the crap out of all of the doctors and nurses on duty because of her contorted face and streaming tears, but she ever-so-confidently assured the medical staff that she was "not suffering" and it didn't hurt "too much". In her words, she just "hates needles".

OK, and for everyone else who doesn't know Jessica well enough to laugh at that, you can enjoy the back of the Muesli label that we recently finished. Just keep reading, it gets better and better.

Yes, Cory, we did see the Arabic script, and we were able to read it, though we don't know the meaning of the sounds we were making.


Wednesday, April 11, 2007

It's been a week or so...

Some of you have noticed our rather conspicuous absence during the past week. Jess and I thought it was about time to explain our lack of communication.

We have been looking rather in depth at our future, at least the coming year or so, and are trying to reach some decisions. Last week we took a trip out to a Delhi suburb where we spent 2 days being hosted by GrapeCity, a software development firm, as I (Jake) was looking into the possibility of working for them for a year or so. The trip went very well, we were treated exceptionally, the staff were wonderful people, but we are still undecided about the job and how it fits our long-term goals.

We were then back at the Ashram for only one day before we took 3 days out to go visit a new compound that is acting as a boarding school for disabled children. We knew it was not in a big city, but we did not realize what we were getting into. After 8 hours on 5 different buses and another half hour ride in a 4-wheel drive truck, we arrived at ASHADEEP. 30 minutes from the nearest town. No public utilities, no pollution, no cars, surrounded by individual agricultural families and small villages.

As much as I love the work here at Sewa Ashram, I have never felt more instantly at home within an organization as I did when we showed up at Ashadeep. The name Ashadeep is made from two Hindi words, Asha and Deep. Asha means 'hope', and deep is a small clay bowl filled with oil and used as a lantern. Lantern of hope. And they are.

Set on 100 acres of land, Ashadeep hopes to be completely self-sustaining in about 4 years. All of those little brick circles are guarding baby mango trees. Can you imagine what that will be like in a couple of years? They will grow all of their own organic food, produce their own power, pump and filter all their own water, recycle all of their waste, produce their own gas, and do it all for one amazing reason. In a recent survey of 50 surrounding villages to Ashadeep, there were more than 400 disabled children found. Ashadeep is already a boarding facility for nearly 100 children, all disabled, and they hope to act as a boarder for many many more children as well as a school for them and all the surrounding village children. Medical care, rehabilitation, therapy, exercise, school, vocational training, medical education, skills development, everything is included on their compound.

(Jess and I got to learn some Hindi sign language.)
It was incredible. It felt like peace. It felt like hope.
There was passion as well as structure.
There was mentorship as well as vision.
There was compassion but it had healthy boundaries.

Now we are trying to build Ashadeep into our future plans. We truly desire to work with them and help them move forward as well as learn from them and gain tremendous experience. We are just not sure how to do it. Please be thinking of us in the coming weeks and month or so as we have many big decisions to make regarding our future, finances, moving countries, etc...

(He is an artist, but I think he could be a boxer.)
The basic setup is that Jess has to go to Michigan for a wedding, which we can do. But if we both go, we will then need to earn some more money before continuing on. Should we go back to the US, work there, then come back to India? Should I take a job in Thailand or Korea or China for the next year and work/learn there before returning to work in India again? Should we even come back to India?

But even as those questions press us and start to choke us with anxiety, they quickly fall away when we remember why we are here.

Just a day after returning from Ashadeep we spent 2 days in Delhi. One of those days was a meeting with a cool young couple from the US who are living in Delhi and working with street kids. They were just good people, refreshing conversation, and fun companions.

The next day we were able to go and visit the adoption agency / orphanage where Rumi and Reshma were placed after they left the Ashram. They were really doing well. Reshma was eating much better, and had even moved on from just a bottle to spoon feedings. She was plump and healthy looking. Rumi looked very good as well. He had already started walking, was much healthier, but still had his sad little face constantly contorted into a look of fear. I am confident that constant love can pull him out of that state, but it is still hard to see him like that.

Wednesday, April 04, 2007

Right now I'm sitting in a Steelcase office chair that has adjustable:

1) upper back force
2) back stops (I don't know what this means either)
3) seat height
4) lower back firmness
5) seat edge angle
6) seat depth
7) lumbar height
8) arm rests

and I've never been so physically comfortable but emotionally and mentally confused as I am right now... I'll share more later.

- Jess