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
In the meantime, we are spending the few remaining days before our departure loving on our families and friends across the U.S. as well. One of our very special experiences in Ohio this week has been the reunion between Jim and one of his Viet Nam buddies, a cherished friend and respected infantry platoon leader whom he had not seen in 44 years. We spent a delightful day swapping stories with Stan and his wife, Gail, and were awed by the story of the pocket Bible he always carried in his chest pocket. When Stan sustained severe and life-changing injuries in a jungle ambush, the small Bible stopped a bullet that penetrated only halfway through the book. Stan quoted the scripture that he believes was a message from God when He saved his life. Though the time to say goodbye came all too soon, we parted with renewed spirits and assurances that this 44 year brotherhood has become part of our extended family too.
We are spending the 4th of July at the Garvin family reunion in Franklin, Illinois (Jim’s hometown) and enjoying this great opportunity to slow down a bit and reflect on our upcoming journey. Each year, we learn more about ourselves and God’s purpose for our lives while in India. Last year, in our final 2 weeks in India, I was very surprised to be contacted about a new job opportunity. Despite the circumstances, I interviewed for, was offered, and accepted a new job, all while we were still in India. It turned out to be the job of a lifetime for me and I love that God wrote the story the way He did, for His hand in the unusual circumstances is undeniable. We are always excited to return to India for we have come to expect the unexpected there. God’s touch is always obvious in the preparations and His presence and action in India is undeniable.
As we return to Texas, we anticipate a busy few days as we finalize details and gather a few more family hugs. We send our love to each of you and your families, as well, and once again, come asking for your prayers. We feel them so strongly while we are there and depend upon them in increasing ways. We appreciate your faithfulness to our ministry and your willingness to be “part of our family” too. In return, we are praying for each of you and your families and asking God to pour out special blessings on you. Please keep in touch and let us know how we may pray for you!
Your brother & sister in Christ,
Susan & Jim Garvin