Be sure to read Jim's "Incredible !ndia" blog post below this video. We hope you, too, will enjoy Incredible !India
For the previous blog post honoring President Abdul Kallam, please continue to scroll down below these stories.
Today, India is in mourning. Schools are closed in memory of former Indian President Abdul Kalam, who suffered a fatal heart attack last night as he was making a speech in the village of Shillong. This is the same village where our friend and teacher, Grace, currently is with her family. Today, we are learning much about this amazing man and leader. From the India Times: “...Abdul Kalam was a President like no other. … Kalam embodied the new India story, born into a poor Muslim family in Tamil Nadu, he rose by sheer force of education to become a missile scientist, the "missile man of India" becoming chief scientific adviser to the Prime Minister, then secretary of the DRDO, and then President of India.”
There is sadness in this country today, as this beloved leader is remembered. We are encouraged and inspired by his story. He was raised as a poor boy in Tamil Nadu, the same region of India where we serve. We can imagine him on the streets of our village, huddling in the huts handmade from palm branches, watching his mother cook over an open fire each night, yet somehow finding his way to school each day. He attended Madras Institute of Technology in Chennai, nearby to where we worship each Sunday. He rose to greatness, first as a missile scientist and then to the Presidency, by “sheer force of education”. Love those words...”sheer force of education.” He embodied the vision of Achiever Academy and is the role model for every one of our Achiever Academy students. We come and train and teach and pray, so that these children may learn and grow, think and solve, experience and create, discover and explore - all for the greater purpose of serving society and improving the lives of others. We are growing leaders and thinkers here. They are worth the effort and deserve our best. We have the added vision of believing we are furthering God's Kingdom for a higher purpose. In the words of the beloved leader, Abdul Kalam, "Let us sacrifice our today so that our children may have a better tomorrow."
Please join us in praying for President Kalam's family and the children of India,
Susan & Jim
Be sure to read the Fancy Dress Fun blog post below the video for the rest of the story.
It's Fancy Dress Day at Achiever Academy! Colorful tents have been erected as protection from the blazing hot sun and as Justin (Achiever Academy driver, watchman, handyman, and our dear friend) puts the final touches on the mike and sound system, Jim Sir finds it hard not to boogie in time to the raucous music. No, sadly, I did not get my camera focused quickly enough to catch those moves.
One of the things that sets Achiever Academy apart from any other school in most of India is that it focuses on the whole child, encouraging, enabling, and empowering values, talents, skills, strengths, interests, and personal growth in all intelligences for the total child. What may look like a beauty pageant or costume party to the outside observer is really an exercise in creativity, self-confidence, poise, and authentic learning – all rolled into one fun event. Excited parents and children arrive early, chattering in nervous anticipation of the opportunity to shine. Each grade (“standard” in Indian culture) is assigned a different theme, such as flowers, animals, cartoon characters, international
Our journey and arrival in India have been filled with a flurry of activity and we will have some exciting news to share soon about our work this summer. In the meantime, as we work to get our plans underway, we hope you will enjoy this "rerun post" from Jim last summer, sharing more about our setting, the exotic, colorful village of Mahabalipuram. Enjoy!
Originally published July 2014
“This is the message which we have heard from Him and declare to you, that God is light and in Him is no darkness at all.”
1 John 1:5
As we begin our Indian adventure each year Susan and I always wonder what new development there will be in Mahabalipuram. 2014 would be no different. The village of Mahab (as the locals call it) covers about 4 sq. kilometers and is located about an hour south of Chennai on the southeast coast of India. Driving south into town along the East Coast Road from Chennai, the landward side of the road is lined with stone carving shops turning out an endless supply of huge stone idols. Although I do not recognize all of them, many are massive figures of well-known Hindu gods. When I say massive, I am talking about granite figures 10 to 20 feet tall. Specially designed cranes must be used to lift the raw stones and the completed figures. The tapping of chisels and the whine of electric grinders is incessant. (click "read more" below-right to continue)
Be sure to read Jim's written tour of Mahabalipuram above this video.
A Baby Changes Everything
After the 4th of July fireworks in Illinois late last Saturday night I stayed up late writing a first blog post for our 2015 trip to India. I planned to write about trip preparations and losing my To Do lists but the words just wouldn't come together. The more I wrote, the more my writing changed into the topic of family, a twist that surprised, yet pleased me. It became emotional for me to write and emotional for me to read as I was being reminded just what a precious gift our families are to us. I thought it was emotional because I was anticipating our India trip but would soon discover it was more - a preparation for the changes that were to come. I was anxious to get the blog posted online, return home to Texas, and get back to those endless To Do lists. Jim and I left Illinois at 6:00am Sunday morning, settling in for our 15 hr. drive home. Though the road trip would be daunting, we were excited to start the journey home and anticipated a busy 2 days of last minute preparations before our departure for India on Wed., July 8th. Within 2 hours, we were reminded of that expression, “If you want to make God laugh, just tell Him your plans.” With a buzz of my phone, our world changed.
Around 8:00 am, I received a message from my son, Ben, that he and his sweet wife, Ashley Marie, were at the hospital. She was 7 months pregnant ( 1 day short of 32 weeks) and when she saw her doctor last Thursday, had been complimented for having a “picture perfect pregnancy”. But now, with this concerning news, Jim and I began to pray and he pushed a little harder on the gas pedal as we raced across southern Illinois, my heart racing even faster than the car engine. Almost immediately I heard the
“A happy family is but an earlier heaven.” John Bowring
One of the most important common values and priorities we share is the love of our families. When we married, we planned our wedding celebration as a casual “Family Reunion” style event and were blessed to be surrounded by so much love from both families and many dear friends whom we consider extended family. In the 2 years since, the love has continued to grow and at the same time, our families have continued to grow as well. In recent weeks, we’ve enjoyed some extended time in family celebrations and we consider this time together precious. We also have learned that spending time with our families is an important part of our preparation for our trip to India each year, for from each of them we draw love, peace, joy, and renewing of our spirits.
Next Wednesday, July 8, we leave for Mahabalipuram, India, where we volunteer with Acts of Mercy, an international mission agency dedicated to education and compassionate outreach to widows and children. This will be our 7th trip to India to work at Achiever Academy, an English-language school, where we teach and love on pre-K through 5th grade children, and train teachers in English and 21st Century
Find all your favorites with our great new features:
We love your comments & others do too! Click the Comments link to the left to follow the conversation or share your own thoughts.
As with most blogs, most recent posts appear at the top of the page. Scroll down for previous stories or check the Archives section below to read from the beginning of our story in 2011.
Jim & Susan Garvin are volunteering with Acts of Mercy in India, June 11-July 6, 2016.