Wednesday, December 29, 2010

The India Experience---Sandy Karcher

Wow. How do I describe our experience in India. Words cannot capture the vibrancy of the culture. On our arrival at the orphanage, we were met with huge welcome signs that had the names of each member of the family. The kids were lined up in 2 rows and showered us with flower petals and hung beautiful freshly made marigold leis around our necks. There was much cheering and hugging; we were treated as royalty throughout the entire visit. This kind of hospitality is not found in America. The kids are filled with such love.

On our first day we were taken to the local market to shop for traditional Indian wear since some luggage was lost in transit. The ride to and through the city was quite the adventure. Although I had been warned, it was quite different actually experiencing the driving in India. I have not quite figured out the necessity of the lines on the road since they drive down the middle of the road honking. We miss hitting other vehicles, people, cows and goats by inches. Honking is expected so that other drivers know where you are; in fact on the backs of each vehicle it states “please sound horn.” Thus, it is such a blend of sounds as each driver vies for position. The word crowded takes on a new meaning here. The market is filled with people in their colorful dress as well as goats, cows and dogs.

. Downtown Tunai is alive with activity       village market for daily food needs - intense fragrances

One of the most memorable days is the one that was filled with well dedications. Words cannot even describe this. We drove out on narrow, bumpy dirt roads to isolated villages where extreme poverty exists among some of the most beautiful scenery in the world. Although they are poor, we were again warmly received at each village with music, clapping, colorful leis/bouquets, drinks and snacks. We drank out of coconut shells. I was given the opportunity to cut the ribbon on the first well.

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The expressions of the villagers as the water poured forth from the well is priceless. Prior to this, they were drinking dirty murky water that they used for laundry and general cleaning. Villagers came up to us, placing our hands on their foreheads. Although they did not speak English, they wanted our blessings. This was so humbling and it was difficult to pray as I was so choked up. As we drove back to the orphanage that night, the road was illuminated by the most beautiful moon I have ever seen in my life.

Our visit to Hope Island was another day that cannot quite be captured in words. Although we took a boat out to it, we had to walk several hundred feet through murky water to get to shore where we were once again greeted with music, leis and flower petals being tossed through the air. A translator described how the island had been devastated by a tsunami and they were unable to get help by the government or by the Indian people. There was one light bulb for the entire village and they were asking for solar light. As I walked through the village, words from the Hosanna song ran through my head. “Break my heart for what breaks yours. Open up my eyes to the things unseen.”

The thing that stands out most in my mind is the loving and giving nature of the Indians. Although they have so little, they will give it all away to a stranger. One chilly morning I was playing Uno with some of the orphans. One little boy offered me his blanket so that I could be warm, even though he was shivering. Each morning I was met by Venkatesh, the boy that we sponsor. He would take my hand and lead me to prayer. We sat on the floor with crossed legs and interlocked fingers. One morning he traced each finger with his and said, “black and white.” The simplicity of the words caught the beauty of the moment.

The Christmas celebrations were like nothing seen in the US. I could not help to think how they truly keep Christ in Christmas. We had fireworks, food and plenty of dancing. The kids had practiced the dancing for days. The performance and costumes were unbelievable and cannot be matched in this country.

You cannot leave here unchanged or unfeeling. I came thinking that I would share my time and love with these kids. In the process they taught me so much about loving and giving. Their faces will be etched in my memory.

I am not a writer although at the moment I wish I was so that I could capture the beauty of the Indian people. I wanted to thank those of you who generously donated money to the orphanage. Believe me, it is money well spent. We raised more than expected and each child received watches, clothes and toys. The excitement of passing these out was incredible. I cannot help but think of all the excess we have in the United States that we take for granted, including life giving water.



Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Christmas Celebrations I & II

 We were blessed to have had two events to attend during our trip; one at the New Life children’s home where we stayed and another at the Lights of Love home. Both were enjoyable and exciting but each had distinct differences that made the nights fun.

The first event took place on the 23rd a few hours after the building dedications which started off the festivities. The New Life campus is smaller but the enthusiasm in which the kids performed their dances was anything but. For days before the event, the music could be heard in the building as it echoed off the stone walls as the kids practiced for hours getting the dance steps JUST right.

100_5530  The single stage for the events provided us with 6 excellent song & dance numbers and an more intimate setting for the evening gala. Thankfully nobody from our team has photo’s of us all, as we all had to get up on stage and dance right along with the kids…the saying – white men can’t dance pops right into your mind when you think about our performances. The kids however laughed and clapped like it was something off a Broadway play.

The Lights of Love event was much larger and more elaborate since the number of kids and guest were significantly larger. Tribal dancers moved rhythmically across the campus to start off the evening of dancing.

102_2204  I was surrounded by beautiful women

everywhere.  102_2209  and had a great time sharing Christmas with all the kids. The Indian people really have a great time putting on an event for the holidays. I felt very welcome into different culture and would recommend it to anyone!


Sunday, December 26, 2010

Travel day and long goodbyes…

The team had a 6:30am wake up -which for me was sleeping in - so that we could eat and pack since we arrived “home” after a long night at the Christmas Day celebration at the Light of Love home in Tuni. Even morning prayer time for the kids was delayed an hour because of the late night festival. A caustic realization hits you that today is your day to leave… How can this past week flown by so fast? Didn’t we just get here to cheers and greetings…I was just getting to remember the names and it’s time to go.

100_5327 After sitting the kids down and saying our  verbal goodbyes to them as a group, the process of actually looking into each of the eyes of these kids begin. Tears flow and hugs linger as you try to squeeze as much love into them as you can…or at least until the next team arrives. How does someone you may never see again tug so deeply at your heart? Well this is a short post as I’m waiting for my plane to board  and my battery life is short…

What comes next: well I think this is only the beginning of something but I sure hope you continue reading. There will be more guest posts and photos from the girls after we get back.

What am I looking forward to...a warm shower and maybe a juicy hamburger to start with. After that I'm not sure; you may see the same faces as we return but I don’t think that we are the same people that left for Christmas in India. You can’t come back from these trips and not be changed…the question is how well we use that change.

Friday, December 24, 2010

Christmas in India…12/23 and more

So the big event is here, these Indian people know how to party as Christmas lasts 3 days…sound like a coincidental number? Well party they do, as the kids receive their gifts on the 23rd and clothes so that they can wear them on the 25th for the final presentations at Light of Love with all the kids together.

100_5289 The 250 kids that are staying  here at this location are all lined up and seated patiently in the 92F heat. It’s my first Christmas in warm weather and it seems odd not looking out at a winter wonderland like many of our friends are back home…I’m not complaining mind you, but it still is weird. Each child is called and given their age appropriate gift and set of new clothes to wear for the big parties yet to come. After nervously “posing” for a fast one-photo they run back to their seats and fumble over the gifts. They examine the new clothes which now proudly display New Life Children’s Home on an patch over the pocket. It reminds you of a club membership patch they can now call their own. It’s fun to watch SO many kids enjoy the season! The Indian tradition is to say Happy X-mas in which you reply Merry  X-mas; then they reply back Merry X-mas back to which you respond Happy X-mas. This can go on for several minutes with each child as they gleefully enjoy the exchange in a never ending cycle.

After the gifts are given they prepare for the main event, a Christmas in India presentation which includes dancing, singing and overall joy. One of the many different traditions is to celebrate Jesus’ birth with a cake…CAKE….this is going to be AWESOME.100_5511 After a few seconds of singing the flower candle opens up to be a fully in bloom lily candle with each of the petals burning brightly to announce the arrival. When I get some faster internet connections I may try to upload some of the dancing videos and they are incredible how hard the kids worked.

This will most likely be my last post until I get back into the states when I will continue more interesting things we did…busy time now with flying and last goodbyes will keep me from the computer and focused on what I came here for. It’s been great to be here and our TEAM wishes you all the best.

Thursday, December 23, 2010

The gift of life…

One of the projects that we got to see completed here were some well dedications for the villages done by Wells for Life. Many of the problems seen around the world related to illness is directly proportionate to the availability of fresh drinkable water. What many industrialized nations think of as unpotable is exactly what third world nations are forced to drink…and as a result become sick and\or die.

100_4758  This is an open well that one of the villages we visited was using to drink from. The water was oily and black and trash and other waste float and contaminate the well. These types of wells have been used for thousands of years but really are outdated in the standards of health issues they create in the 21st century.

Wells for Life goes into these villages with funds raised from the USA, and uses local people, supplies and labor; create safe water do drink for the village. Along with filling an immediate need for water they do share fellowship and the gospel with the Christians,   100_4718 encouraging them the love  of Jesus. Villages put on a quite a show to promote the blessing of the wells; decorating the streets with flowers and ribbons for the wells themselves. The big eclipse of the “event” comes with the cutting of the ribbon and priming of the well to provide the living water that flows. No longer are water borne illness’s the biggest threat to their daily lives…what that might be could be an upcoming note…Thanks for reading!


Building dedication

With the completion of the 2nd floor of the orphanage which will house 100 more students, it was time to put on your Sari and Punjambi and get the festivities going. The workers had finished their mad dash of paint and cleaning and all the decorations were up so the fireworks began. Huge claps of thunder from the explosions from bottle rockets and firecrackers – one thought of a nice independence day celebrations – announce to the world that blessings were about to begin.


You prepare yourself for the showers of marigolds that are streaming through the air as the prayers are said at each room and a ribbon cutting affair happens as each door. Blessings given to protect each student and to thank God for all He has provided. When the ribbon is cut, showers of  flower petals and cheers of joy. Photos wont do the event justice nor express the excitement that you feel, but here are a few…

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One of the big surprises of the evening is that our presence here is honored by them very seriously; a plaque engraved with our names and all the American guests from our team now is displayed as a testament to this event. So what does this all mean? I think for me it’s knowing that this project here that I’m involved with…if you find something you have a passion for, and want to support financially do it even if you don’t see the fruits of efforts – know that the people who are here are appreciative of all that you do and pray for you and thank you for your support.

One day two missions

Today the team split into two groups to divide and conquer sort of. One adventure took to the high seas for a three hour tour…but returned safely from Hope Island in the bay of Bengal. Hopefully one of the girls will step up and write about that since I haven’t been there since last January…if you are interested in seeing about it download Google earth free and punch in Hope Island, India


My group had the pleasure of working with the AIDS\HIV women and the lepers of Tunai. One of the most important things in a persons life is to have value and  feel self worth. Being poor drains a person of both those as they struggle and beg to provide for their own sustenance each day. NASA provides micro-finance loans to these people to help give them a hand UP instead of a hand out like the American welfare system is. Small groups of people, usually 6 –10 will band together to form an alliance and they will ask for a 90 day loan of say 500 rupees so that they can “fund” 100_2119 daily expenses or business ventures like selling trinkets or cleaning supplies that they would sell to others. The neat part is that the repayment rate for these types of loans is over 95%  as it is culturally frowned upon to NOT payback loans. Once repaid, the group is eligible to get another loan; all done at zero percent interest rates which is a far cry from the 30% they would pay   the local banks IF they would even be given one.  Well, an exciting day here…Christmas Indian style begins on the 23rd and runs through the 25th – I can’t wait!!

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Market day adventures


One of the exciting things for the girls was the promise of shopping for Christmas outfits here in India. Some of the staff ladies loaded onto the bus with us and we made the short drive –  time is relative in India to the Tuni market place. A call was made ahead to prepare the store owner for an influx of cash flush Americans were going to arrive and to prepare for the “event” with extra staff. 100_4665  Going into the store you are

hit with the smell of incense from the gods they are praying to to help bless these sales they are about to make – probably not unlike your local department store sales meetings, minus the smells! Funny how consumerism knows no boundaries. As you can see the ladies poured over dozens of outfits all looking for the right color and sizes. As one of the few men around the shop owner saw my lack of enthusiasm and offered me and the children a “drink”. Along many of the shops you see marketing signs for american products like Pepsi or Sprite albeit with Indian models…but this drink we had was nothing like that…Thumbs UP is a locally made beverage that is supposed to mimic those sodas. Although they serve beverages without ice and refrigerated temperatures…it was quite refreshing and not unlike a cross between Dr Pepper and a root beer if that makes any sense.  After what seemed to be two hours but was probably more like 30 minutes to a bored husband; along for the Sari’s and Punjabi’s what does any well dressed american woman need,,,jewelry!

We made our way through the Tuni traffic100_4670 yes that is a cow… and headed down through very narrow streets and alleys to JUST the right 20’x15’ store front that specialized in bangles and jewelry. It was helpful to have the staff along this time but it was also neat that we were allowed to haggle and question the locals even though we didn’t know the language. It’s funny how you just say rupees and they give you a number you can understand. If the size wasn’t right, you made hand gestures and said our words LOUDER like that might make them understand any better…so funny! This one little boy was behind the counter running back and forth to boxes of floor to ceiling shelves to find just the right things All my girls had a great time finding gifts for themselves and others and then comes to time for ME to pay since I was dealing with all the money. After the numbers were added and the amounts agreed upon we exchanged money for goods. At the very end after the process was done, this little boy comes over to me and holds this really cool necklace and says “You want” in broken english…I guess they do understand a little english – and the whopping total for my prized find…10 rupees or about 25 cents American. I asked if he had anymore but “NO” was all I got.

Well the day was good, our outfits are purchased and being tailor cut to fit by a local resident and our Christmas dress will be festive. I’m sure I will post about that later, just wanted to give a quick taste of an afternoon here.

The circle of life…

Each morning for me begins around 4am so that I have time to enjoy the solitude of the pre dawn; I want to spend my time to do this busy work on the computer so that when the precious time with the kids is available I won’t have to waste it. The mornings were warm at first, a toasty 70F - late June standards in Kansas Ctiy but without a lick of the humidity that is usually associated with that time of year. It’s funny how fast you acclimatize as now I feel the chill that the kids do as they wake from their slumber.

The kids awake at first bell at 6am, just enough time for a stretch and a hug before beginning morning prayers. What starts out as a hug between 2-3 kids quickly progressed to a group hug of about 20 kids all trying to warm themselves from each others body heat. The only sounds are the laughter and giggles and the chatter of teeth.  It’s electric being a part of this intimacy with the kids…the only thing that broke the mood was one little boy who in typical 6 or 7 year old fashion – farted and all the kids ran away in laughter – Oh the joys of being a kid!


After prayer time which usually lasts for 30 minutes both morning and evening; there is a bit of play time before breakfast. This is a special time to interact with the kids before they get too excited during the day. I had a really cool exchange with a couple of the kids. You get to see and hug and just love up on them and while that is great you sometimes feel overwhelmed by the sheer number of them you wonder if you really make a difference: today my questions were answered.

I was sitting on the steps to a classroom with one of the boys and he was between my legs looking up at me - something that has happened dozens of times in my trips here – but today I just took his face in my hands and REALLY looked at him into his eyes. It was a magnetic connection that you could just feel the love of God flow through us as his eyes just opened wide and he just smiled…content in just knowing that he mattered to someone. I guess this is the main thing we can hope for here in our work and anywhere you go, that we mean something to someone. Thanks for all your prayers and comments.

Sunday, December 19, 2010

A New day begins…


After the stress of the prior days travels the excitement of the trip begins, the kids are all lined up in their best school clothes and stand in line waiting for us with open hearts and flowers to bless our travels. We pass through the now completed gates past signs welcoming and blessing each families arrival; and step out to meet all the excited faces each blessed with the love that comes from the care provided by the staff and the knowledge that someone back in America cares for them too. It’s difficult to describe the overwhelming feelings you have as each child greets you with hugs and smiles, only asking you “What is my name?” or “One photo?” I am limiting my photo taking but the girls I’m sure are using the full capacity of their cameras…

The trinkets of beads and string mad a huge hit with both the girls and boys. The girls as you would expect took painstakingly amounts of time to make sure each bead was placed in the proper order. The boys however were not so detailed focused; their hands worked clumsily trying to copy the girls but the results…well let’s say it must be a gender thing and leave it at that. The boys seemed to have more fun with the Indian footballs (soccer balls) we had brought for them. My only disappointment so far has been that the damage you saw from my luggage, caused 1/2 of the thousands of beads I had packed, and one of the “footballs” to be either lost or damaged along the runway. This is an easy fix with the money we as Americans would take for granted…the end result of spending time here with these kids is priceless.


Sorry for the double posting, our internet connection is damaged here and my time is EXTEMELY limited by internet speed and availability; you will most likely see even more multiple posts. I’m sorry you can’t include the joy and love along with the blank words and pictures you see here, this really is a place that will change your lives. Thanks for all your prayers and for reading.

Chris – Sandy – Sara – Christie

The demons of dislocation

Well the first leg of the trip is over and things had gone really well; we met up with our California friends and got set for the international portion of the adventure.We had high hopes that things would continue this way…unfortunately that ended on the London connection. British Airways decided that they would hold off on boarding our international flight for 45 minutes due to some weather delays…ok; that still gives us an hour once we hit London to get to our flight. The big issues hit when we sat on the tarmac for 45 minutes and the once we finally got inside after unloading a full 747 we had to shuttle 4 kids under 7 and 16 “adults” to get to the gate and we thought we made it there with 2 minutes to spare but were informed that we had not “cleared” the security and they wouldn’t hold our flight…Bummer! So after 2hours of standing in line to get another flight – along with the other 400 people who missed their connections – we got a flight to Dehli instead of Chennai.

This was the “good” side of my luggage when we hit the baggage claim. They had drug sniffing dogs and guards all over this mess of a travel carry on. Apparently this bag had dropped off the truck and was dragged the better part of a mile to the new plane we needed to catch. The funny thing is that British Airways doesn’t really consider this a real loss – only minor damage…something that should be taken care of immediately…we now need to be handle via the internet on my own once I get to my final destination.

Oh well, I told the girls that I wasn’t taking anything that I would mind loosing…the only problem is that I don’t know what is a total loss until I get to the orphanage as the zipper was melted shut and will need to use a knife to open it up! I hope the soccer balls and fun kids stuff isn’t ruined. If this is the worst that happens this trip will be more than fun! more later…still sitting at the airport after 24 hours.


Tuesday, December 14, 2010


A Irish rock band that has some of the best music...but if you listen to the words it really goes deeper than just stuff that is loud enough to melt your earwax. I was on a walk this morning and this song came on my iPod and got me thinking. The lyrics really explain (to me at least) how I had felt in my life over the past couple of decades...I'm glad things have changed; I know where I'm going...

For your Tuesday entertainment, best listened to if you turn the speakers up and\or put in some ear buds to get the full effect. Watch - listen - enjoy!

Monday, December 13, 2010's not just something rattling around in your pocket.

There is a great old story about a young girl walking along the beach when she came upon a large number of starfish that had washed upon the shore. The girl starts frantically throwing the starfish back into the ocean one by one. The people on the beach tell the girl that she can't possibly save all of why attempt this sisyphean task? The girl gently replies, I'm making a difference in THIS ONE life...

Ok, so this is the second time I have written about some type of change; it IS important in your life! We are creatures of habit that need to learn and continue to learn things from a young age. What parent has ever had their toddler instinctively share a toy to a playmate? Usually the first words out of the child's mouth in such a situation is "MINE!!!" No, sharing with others is definitely a learned process as a child. The problem is that sometimes as adults, we sometimes regress back into those same type of feelings we had as toddlers, with our stuff. Mom's were right as we grew up, telling us that it's good to share. You may not remember it from back then, but there was always a good feeling you got when you gave to others who didn't have. Even when your best friend didn't have a GI Joe or skates to play with, you felt better when you lent him yours so that you could both play together.

So where is this headed...that is entirely up to you reading this? Are you going to be the people on the shore or the little girl? It's not MY place to judge so don't think this is condemnation. Change starts within yourself, and becomes something bigger than you alone, could ever claim precedence to. How is that for a Monday morning at 3:30am...I'm a little slow on the posting!

Saturday, December 11, 2010

It's starting WAY too early...about 4 days and counting.

For those of you who have ever traveled with me know my one, of many quirks, is my inability to sleep when I travel. I'm one of those odd-ducks that can work all day and then still throw my suitcase in the car and drive 9 hours through the night to arrive at my destination early in the morning instead of late that next afternoon after the proverbial "good nights rest". Why waste my time in bed tossing and turning the night before travels when you can just as easily drive through the night and just get there.

It has been this way...sleeplessness ever since I can remember traveling. When my work had taken me on business trips for sometimes up to 35 weeks of the year it was even worse! There are memories of trips my buddy John and I had taken to no-name cities were we literally would work through the night...sometimes two nights just to get projects done. All this without sleep because there was so much to think about and do.

Not that I have insomnia, for when I do sleep it's usually a deep one like an old hunting dog after working the fields all day. No, the problem is lying in bed thinking about the trip and things that I want to do. I need a completely dark and quiet room to sleep in...I can almost hear the digital clock changing numbers as the minutes click past. To ensure total darkness I often block the alarm clock with a book so that I can't even see the dim glow into the night; but alas this still hasn't been helping much lately. My internal clock that usually gets me up without fail by 5:15am has been running a bit fast...3:30-4:00am seem to be the norm for me.

The last few nights have been tough, thinking about the trip to India - the kids much to see and do; all the people and places. It's not like I have any input over the itinerary; I can't just hop a 747 and get the pilot to fly me to Chennai, there ARE others on this trip Chris...relax! Easier said than done folks.

There isn't a problem that I'm worried about the trip but rather I want to make the most out of my time there. I don't want to waste the little time there with least a nights worth! Maybe I should just take 20 minute power naps... Well that's about it for now. Two weeks until Santa is here, I wonder how they celebrate in India?

Monday, December 6, 2010

Time...the moments that make up a dull day.

Ok so some of you may recognize this title from the Pink Floyd album, I'm dating myself just by calling something an "album" since they haven't been produced and sold since the late 70's. Now everything is digital mp3's or downloaded music from iTunes. Anyway...before letting any more moments slip away; let's get back to topic.

Time is a funny thing today, we all have those same 24 hours in the day. We start each morning awaken from our sound sleep, to the flashing digital numbers on the alarm clock and so our day begins. Walk through just about any room in a modern american home and I'm sure you will find as I do in mine, a plethora of devices telling you that you are already running behind. My kitchen is well illuminated from the darkness by the green glow of digital time on our microwave, stove, coffee pot. And if those three things (often displaying different times themselves-who can synchronize them anyways) weren't enough we have an old school wall clock to let us know where we are. As I sit here typing away on my computer I watch the tiny numbers in the bottom right hand corner tick by telling me when I'm supposed to finish. My cell phone (and who can't have these strapped to your side 24/7) readily awaits the next call always telling me the correct time and even adjusting itself automatically for daylight savings time. Jump into your car to head off to work, your trusty stereo not only gives you the road conditions along with music to soothe the savage tells you you may not make it to work on time as you watch those darn digital numbers click away. Don't even get me started on the office...who doesn't have meetings and presentations to make...never enough time. Ah, but there is one time of the day that is nice...quitting time. Now there is a time that seems to drag - why does 5pm come so slow when 5am comes so fast.

So much for can be a stress if you become a slave to it. I look forward to my trip next week when the only way to tell time will be the rise and fall of the sun. No watches, no cell phones, no problem...well I might need my computer! Ten days and counting...I'm running a bit behind.

Saturday, December 4, 2010

Living a good life...or Life works best when we do.

A few years ago this was the thought that always ran through my head. I went to church...ok as a confessing Easter\Christmas catholic I admit my church going days were mostly behind me - I thought I had built up a stockpile of them in my younger days. Another misnomer was that I was leading a "good" life; giving to some charities, not cheating on my taxes or stealing or anything that most people would consider bad. So what is the big deal, why change what is working for you Chris? That is the million dollar question.The problem with thinking that I was "good" just because I didn't do "bad" stuff like criminals for example is walking along a slippery slope.

I guess there came a realization in my life that there just has to be something more than to just "being" good. I knew in my head that trying to earn my way into heaven was something that nobody ever trying to do good things... why? Again, another tough question and I'm positive that everyone at some point in their lives asks themselves these type of questions.

For me, it came a bit later in life. In my 20's I was excited about starting life - newly married. In my 30's it was building a financial foundation - preparing things for ME and MY financial future. In my 40's, as the kids were getting older I came to some revelations, at least for me, that what I was doing and preparing for, wasn't really working...and so the change began. For those who have known me for a long time I'm sure they thought it could have been a fad..something I was attracted to like a moth to a flame...but this is different. Things really have changed and I hope that what I'm experiencing in my life has had a positive influence on everyone I have and will meet. And the hope that if you might be feeling some of the same things I have described here that you take a good look inward...change can happen if you take a step towards it. If this old dog can learn a new trick...well anyone can!

One last thing, I just wanted to say thanks to those people in my life, the last 3-4 years have been pretty special and I'm glad you have been a part of this change. It's comforting to know that when a 2am crisis arises you would be there without question or condemnation.

Friday, December 3, 2010

In what, can you believe?

I heard a conversation on the radio the other day between two atheists who were complaining about the protest that the Christians in their community were making about a billboard sign that the atheist community had put. The conversation between these two men was very loud and their positions were adamant - there is no GOD and there is no evidence to prove that there is. The content of the billboard in my opinion was inconsequential, what really was disturbing to me was the hate these two were spewing during this 10 minute interview.

Hold on here...there is no God? If this is the mindset of these two men then I sure do feel for them and would love to have a personal conversation with either of them - not on the radio where their POV could be made to intimidate anyone. Maybe they were just on for shock value and a ratings ploy for the radio station. But if you think there is no God...well, I just don't know what purpose you were created for. I won't get all deep and theological, because my knowledge could barely fill a coffee cup. But the whole aspect of no God - well that just doesn't sit with me and I don't understand it.

I'm sure the atheists love the fact the imprinted on our money it says IN GOD WE TRUST. How many of us grew up saying the pledge of allegiance? - I pledge allegiance to the flag of the United States of America and to the Republic for which it stands, one nation under GOD, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all. At the end your life, if there is no God and you just die...well that could be the topic of another post.

There is an old military adage that goes something like this: there are no atheists in a foxhole. This probably dates back to WWI during some trench warfare - when things looked bad for soldiers...yea, they were praying to God to get them through the struggle.

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Christmas is coming...

Ok, so after watching the video you are probably saying to yourself..."He hates Christmas, or Scrooge..." It's not that I dislike Christmas, but rather what it has become. You can turn on the television at any hour of the day at this time of year and be bombarded with ads for savings on items; Black Friday - Cyber get the picture. I saw stores with Christmas decorations up before the halloween costumes were even down. Where does it all end? I can empathize with stores needing to have good sales to make salaries for people and employ more folks. I get, that people are out of jobs and need a strong economy to feel that things are starting to go right for them.

The problem I have as the video so aptly depicts is that we become
dependent on those "things" as a substitution for the real things in life....God; along with family. Do I really need a camo snuggie or a gift certificate to my favorite restaurant? (which is Jose' Peppers for those who may be buying...) I don't know, call me crazy but I would much rather have the gift of spending some quality time with the people in my life doing something together than a gift paid for. I may complain about it, but take the time to talk with me; ask me REAL questions and give REAL answers. Don't tell me everything is "fine" if you're worried about something. Building relationships takes time and can be an imperfect process...we all have baggage and we as american's want it fast and easy. Time is such a precious commodity...we all only have those 1440 minutes per day; I don't want to spend my time wandering through the wrappings to get to the real things in life we are all looking for.

25 days and counting... :)

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Thanksgiving Blessing

With the holiday here people tend to focus their minds on family and turkey dinners.Many are gearing up for the proverbial - over the river and through the woods - drama. Others still are counting down the minutes to BLACK FRIDAY and the onslaught of consumer hedonism. There is still a few who live for the inevitable football games that you can fall asleep to after the overindulgence at the dinner table kicks in. Whatever your notion of thanksgiving is, take the time to look around - really look around. Is there a neighbor who needs help? A mother struggling to juggle an anxious toddler and groceries at the store? What simple act could you do to make somebody ELSE feel cared for?

Mine came today on a coolish damp dreary day on the way home from work. I was driving along I-70 annoyed that the mist had ruined a carwash I had just done the day before. I was listening to christmas tunes and thinking about all the stuff that needed to be done before we celebrate Thanksgiving when I saw him...He was WALKING his bicycle along the side of the freeway. Traffic was blowing by him at 75mph kicking up wind and rain and making his westward travels very unpleasant. Nobody was probably even aware of his presence on the side of the road. I didn't even think of stopping until I got about a mile past him, and then something told me to turn around. I double backed around and came up and parked in front of him. The bike was a well worn mountain bike normally used for trail riding, loaded up with a tent and sleeping bag and seemingly everything you could want for a long trip. I asked if everything was alright and if he needed some help.

Edward, older hispanic man is blind in one eye. His hair was long and matted down from both the rain and his explanation that he hadn't showered in two weeks since he had begun his bicycle journey from NYC after a relationship breakup. He had been sleeping outside each night in parks while he was making his way to Denver to start a new life. You could see by the callouses on his hands (he wore no gloves) and the leathery texture of his skin that he was used to hard work out in the elements. I'm sure that this weather was still of no concern to him. We loaded up the bike in my truck and he asked me where the nearest hotel was since he was going to "treat" himself to a warm bed and shower. As he sat in the seat you could see how thin he really looked like he hadn't eaten well in days. We talked the few minutes it took to get the the motel. Its strange how you can get a feel for someone in such a short time. The motel didn't really want to rent a room to him because of how he looked - well like a homeless guy which is really what he was. I prepaid a room for him and got him a meal never with him asking or implying that "could I". It was really humbling when he shook my hand in thanks and handed me all the money he is a guy with almost nothing but the clothes on his back giving me his last few dollars. Obviously, I said no but the fact that he OFFERED to give whatever he was very important to him to show his thanks.

Isn't this the spirit of giving and thankfulness that we want to share during the holiday season? I will probably never see him again but I don't think his memory will ever leave me. Thank you Edward.

Monday, November 22, 2010

And let the stress begin...

It's funny how two people look at the same situation and one thinks of all the fun ahead and the other, well that is what this is all about. First I want to start off and say that I love my wife and all the kidding around that I do with her both in public and private is one of my ways of showing her I care...that doesn't do much when you are on the receiving end of some Karcher humor which can at times be relentless albeit in good nature fun. In the end, it just goes to show what a trooper she is given we have been together for over 30 years. Well honey I guess the cat is out of the bag, you can no longer say you're 29...

Back to the stress...most folks look at vacation as a break from the daily grind; a time to refresh both the mind and soul from the headaches we call work. It doesn't matter if you flip hamburgers or perform brain surgery, EVERYONE needs a break and looks forward to that time away. I think that there should be a scheduled time off called "pre-vacation" so that the chaotic headaches that you put yourself through just to make up for the time you are going to miss while you are gone..melt away, just before you leave for your break so you can actually enjoy your time off.
Although we haven't taken many "vacations" in the past, this trip to India is leading up to be a big one.

If you know of any A-type personalities you can imagine the detailed lists that they make in their daily lives - to do lists for everything from groceries to timetables to getting out birthday cards. Everything is well documented on a little handwritten daily planner that is sitting beside my computer. Well, I'm married to an A-type personality and you would "think" that planning for a trip would be a piece of cake; for the most part, that is entirely true. Passport photos - check, immunizations - check, getting the mail stopped - check, packing for trip - Hold On There...You mean I have to "pack" for this trip? I think you might see the problem here... It doesn't matter if it's an overnight retreat to a weekend getaway. I searched about this and believe the "technical" term for this is
sarcinaphobia but don't quote me on that, I haven't found a support group yet for fear of packing.

It could be a male\female thing with packing. Most guys I know could throw a few shirts and socks into a paperbag and say they were ready for a week long trip. Forget your have pants right? Ok, that was too much information right? When I think about packing I focus on the fun we are going to have and not if my socks match. Now I can fully appreciate the different "needs" of sexes when packing and can empathize with the hardships women face in all the things they utilize on a daily basis. You have just got to chuckle when you see a woman who has it so together in all other aspects of her life - stress when it comes to packing! Now don't get me wrong, she has lists of things she needs to pack and take along and knows what to do. She even borrowed 3 extra suitcases in the event one may fit better...but the task of getting it done - PLEASE!!! What if??? I think you get the picture...

Relax honey, I'm sure the girls will share some clothes with you...Love your paperbag carrying husband. :)

Friday, November 19, 2010


It has been said that you can pick your friends but not your family. An old adage that tries to minimize some of the stress that can come from dealings with your family I guess. So just who is #IN00096 and what is this post all about? A little background history might be in order.

We have all seen the commercials on television that plead for $XX amount per month you can help feed and sponsor a child. What had started out as "prank" in my sophomore year at college where some "friends" put my name in for a sponsorship - actually got my feet to the fire in this gig. We would have parties to raise money for (and I'm sure I will get the spelling wrong) Werachi Moon Tung Sook of Thailand and instead of the meager $20 month we would often send 3-4 times that amount. Ok, so that was how many years ago???

So fast forward to 2008; we are at church and the message had something to do with global impact and sponsorship of children. "Hey, remember that kid I used to sponsor in college...we should do that again." Sandy and I both looked at each other and knew this was something we could easily do. Outside in the gallery area of Westside Family Church they had tables set up with hundreds of kids of all ages from Thailand, South Africa and India. Walking among the tables and looking at all the photos it's a bit daunting to decide how you choose one child over another. Which country? Boy or Girl? All the questions stopped when I saw #IN0096.

I go back to that first line...You can pick your friends but not your family...Well this is one instance that I knew it was something more than me that made the decision about Venkatesh, Koda our new sponsor child in India. Although he was already 7 years old when the photo was taken, I felt that I had known him since birth. So the paperwork is done and the monthly support begins; a few letters and photo's come showing progress in school and typical likes of an then 8 year old child. Life seemed a little more normal for us - if that sounds weird I don't know how to explain it other than it's another step in this journey of finding purpose and living life.

I did have the great fortune of visiting Venkatesh this past January at the One Life Children's Home in India. It was a pretty amazing few days that I got to spend there with him and hundreds like him. Well that is about all for now. Just another piece of the puzzle that you are getting to learn more about me. Have a great day and don't be afraid to let the people around you how much they mean to you...

Thursday, November 18, 2010


So someone asks you why..."Why would you travel 10,000 miles to visit orphans?" That would be a tough question to answer if you were just looking at this as a vacation getaway. If you were thinking about exotic locations and sitting back and enjoying a tropical rum drink, India is probably the last place that you might choose. While there are many places that are very beautiful to visit; the place we are going to is probably not considered one of least for external beauty.

One Life Children's Home located in the Visak district in Andrha Pradesh, India is our destination for 11 days this coming December...actually in 29 days and counting. Things in the United States seem so easy to fix, throw a little money at a problem and it's gone from our minds, at least temporarily. So why not just pony up and spend some cold hard cash and just make way for something else?

The main purpose of this trip besides getting to spend some great time with some deserving kids is for the opportunity to change. Change not so much for them, or change for change sake alone but rather what happens to ME and those who go along on these trips. You can't stop the change that happens within yourself but you hope that the revelations you have will continue when you get back so that you can put them to use in your current life.

I won't get too deep or evangelical at this point; but I would say that if you have never gone on a mission trip because you think you don't have any skills or calling to go; you are missing a very special part of your life that you may never known that you could have. People from all walks of life, young and old, professionals and laborers, go and make a difference in lives. I hope you see something here in both mine and ours (my family) that may encourage you to step out of your comfort zone. Have a great day!

Monday, November 15, 2010

A New Life...Introduction

This blog will be a 10,000 mile journey, not only to visit some great kids and friends over at the One Life Children's home in Tunai, India...but to gain insight on who I am and what is the God given purpose in life that I'm destined to follow.

Wow...if that first line isn't enough to lull you to mediocrity I don't know what is! The real function of this will be journal my travels and share some of the experiences we have as our travels 1/2 way around the world during the busiest consumer driven spending spree - Christmas!

My family includes my wonderful wife Sandy, whom I've been fortunate enough to have been married for 26 and counting years. Two daughters, Sara - a recent KU graduate and Christie - a Mill Valley HS senior. You couldn't ask for a better family...yes we all have issues but what family doesn't? In the end, I feel more than lucky.

Well that's it for the first post. There will be some dry wit, meandering thoughts, biblical references, and sharing of some pretty cool things. Sound interesting??? I hope you join us!