Great day at Achiever Academy as we prepare for our School Year Dedication program tomorrow. The tent is going up, songs are being rehearsed, and everyone is busy with preparations. Jim led us in a wonderful teacher training this afternoon and after school, the teachers took me to the new saree shop in the village for “girls-afternoon-out”. Four stores later, and lots of bargaining, we got “local prices” for a very special new saree. Can't wait to show it to you all soon!
See Why I Love This Guy? I captured this great moment on video of Jim Sir loving little Trisha, (4 yr old). Her family has recently moved here from northern India and she only speaks Bengali. Children here speak Hindu and Tamil and are learning English. So you can imagine her fear at being all alone every day, isolated by language from adults and children alike. She spends much of her day crying, except for the hours she spends holding Jim's hand. He's working to assimilate her into the school and found her first smile when he danced the “Hooky Pooky” with her. Priceless!
Be sure to read Jim's written tour of Mahabalipuram below this video.
“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 Mahaballipuram. 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)
What a wonderful way to begin our 2014 visit to India. After a day of rest and restoration on Saturday, we received a call from John Christian inviting us to be at their home, Fresh Winds, by 7:50am Sunday morning so we could travel together to Chennai to worship with the Kontagious Community Church, where John is the pastor. We were also joined by one of the teachers named Grace and her husband Venket and their son Joshua. With John and Carol’s son, Aaron, we had quite a car full and there was much rejoicing and renewing of friendships with several conversations going on at once as we headed to Chennai.
We arrived at the church and rode the lift to the third floor and were greeted warmly by many of our Indian friends at the church. There was not nearly enough time to catch up, but we still have three more Sundays to work on that. We worshiped together with several new and a smattering of old songs to prepare us for John’s powerful message.
We're excited to be back in Mahaballipuram, India, for our sixth year. While we're here, we'll volunteer with Acts of Mercy, home of Achiever Academy, the Sparrows of Splendor Widows Rehabilitation program, and the Vayaloor Widows Village. Our hosts, John and Carol Christian have become dear family friends over the years and we always enjoy our visits together, both in India and when they visit the U.S. During our time here, we will be based at Achiever Academy, training teachers in English, teaching children in grades Pre-K through 5th, and generally having a great time loving on children! We hope you will visit the blog often to keep up with our activities. You may also access our posts from previous years by using the archive links on the bottom right of this page. Thank you for joining us on our journey. May God bless you through our Letters From India.
Susan & Jim Garvin
Friday was a hot day in Mahab for Jim Sir. The day started with a convocation and prayer service to dedicate the teachers and students of Achiever Academy. As honored guests, Susan and I were invited to sit up on the stage in the direct sunshine. The service was meaningful and short, but by 10:00 I was well-toasted. After the service I helped Justin and Saroop (the worship pastor at Chennai Vineyard Church) take down the PA system and load Saroop’s car to take it back to Chennai. Then John Christian and Saroop showed me a couple of store rooms full of clothes, files, and sound equipment stored across the street at the Acts of Mercy office and asked me to help Justin and Thynkassi (the watchman at the widows village) sort through and organize the items after lunch.
“Susie Mam” and I decided we would walk the 1 kilometer to our favorite restaurant for take-away lunch before her class, so we hurried off down what we affectionately call “Mulberry Street.” - for we never know what we will see on the way. On the way back to school, we parted company and Susan hurried back with the food while I stopped at the currency exchange to change some dollars to Rupees. Then I stopped at the laundry to pick up the clean laundry, but I had forgotten to bring the dirty clothes to drop off so I walked back to school, retrieved the clothes, and made one more round trip to the laundry and back. When I got back to school I had only a few minutes to catch my breath and eat a little before Thynkassi came to tell me it was time to get to work on the storeroom.
I wish I could describe the stifling heat of a closed storeroom in India whose only ventilation is the open door, lifting antiquated air conditioning units, oversized speakers and boxes of clothing and books out onto a narrow balcony, reorganizing
The days fly by so quickly here with so much to do and so many children and friends to love on. We teach English lessons and consult on instructional strategies and educational best practices. We raise money throughout the year to purchase computers for the school and work with groups back home to accept their donations of used laptops, which may be reburbished and sent here to provide critical Internet access to students and teachers. More about this great new program that God is blessing in a coming story soon. The children arrive at school by scooter, bicycle, Tuk-Tuk, private car, and any number of ways. They begin the school day in Morning Assembly, singing and praying together, singing the Indian national anthem, and presenting daily news reports. Once classes begin, teachers move frequently between classrooms designed to teach Pre-K, Lower K, Upper K, and 1st - 5th grades. This is an activity-based school and very different from a typical government-school (public school) where there are commonly up to 100 children in a classroom - even Kindergarten. Achiever Academy is happy place where children and loved and encouraged to develop every type of skill and talent. We hope you will enjoy this little glimpse into our days at Achever Academy, and why we return each summer. (Note: this is a video we created in 2012 but we never get tired of watching it so hope you will enjoy it too).
Jim and I are very encouraged by the strong show of love and support from back home that seems to grow each year we come to India. We are further encouraged by the many new friends we add to our mailing list each year. In honor of our new readers, I am re-posting the following from last years' blog. For our long-time, faithful followers, we hope you will enjoy this re-run as a reminder of the human condition of this village. For our new readers, we hope God will speak to you through this writing and video below and stir your heart as He does ours in this harsh reality.
Originally posted: July 4, 2012. A day of Independence in America. Little freedom here in India
"The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full." John 10:10
There's no understanding it. India is a paradox - contradictions at every turn. Most of it doesn't make sense to westerners and we are no different. Even after 4 previous visits, we still scratch our heads in amazement every single day. At the most confounding moments, we just laugh and say to one other, "Welcome to India!"
The village of Mahabalipuram, India, is home to Acts of Mercy, the non-profit organization for which we volunteer. Mahabs (as the locals call it) is a tiny rural village about 4 sq. miles and yet home to approximately 12.000 people and countless cows, goats, and monkeys, who all fill the streets, seemingly at once. India is a communal society, with multi-generational large families living together in relatively small homes. Known for its historic temples and beautiful beaches, Mahab is a tourist town and therefore, somewhat more prosperous than more rural villages nearby, many consisting of one or two dirt streets lined with thatched huts. Mahabs is a village of old and new, with Hindu temples carved from red sandstone in the 7th century standing next to newly constructed guest lodges. Brightly colored paint adorns the newer businesses in an
The village of Mahabalipuram is reeling from an accident here yesterday. A building under construction collapsed around 2pm. 14 men are hospitalized, some with head injuries, and 1 man died in the accident. Our prayer is that Jesus will come and heal the injured and comfort the family and friends of those affected. If you are willing to join us in this prayer, please post your name in the comments below, along with your city and/or state. Our teachers here would be very moved to know that people, on the other side of the world, whom they don't even know, are praying for the people of this village. We invite you to share this prayer request with others and let us know so that we may pass along this support to our dear friends here.
Two years ago, while we were here, 2 of our teachers experienced the death of the husband of a close friend and we were all moved by the plight of the widow. Her husband lost consciousness and died of unknown causes at this job site in a hotel restaurant. His co-workers brought his body home, where his wife found a friend with a car and they took him to the hospital, where he was pronounced dead of unknown causes. The police were called and the widow was accused of murder, because she had delivered the body to the hospital. She left Mahab that day, to escape persecution and never returned, not even for her husband's funeral. The story is heart-wrenching but an example of the treatment of women, and especially the horrendous persecution of widows that goes every day in this culture. Surely, it breaks God's heart. We know it breaks ours.
We are constantly reminded that India is a very dark place with many evil spirits. These people need Jesus so desperately. While we are here, we are also constantly reminded that the most important work we do here is to pray. Hindu and Christian teachers here with us are praying side-by-side - with us and for us. We believe that if you are following our story, God has called you to participate as well, even if from half a world away. Last time, many of you took this prayer request to your prayer groups, forwarded the story in emails, and asked others to pray too. That day, we received the highest number of readers to this blog in a single day - 192, many of whom even Jim and I don't even know. Our teachers were moved to tears and prayer. It was a powerful example of the expansive and deep love of Jesus around the world. This, alone, causes many to want to "drink from this water", as well. Won't you please join us? Please feel free to copy this URL and/or story and post it on your Facebook pages, take to your prayer groups, or forward in emails. Please let us know, in the comments, below, as you hear of others praying for this village. The impact of this simple networking may make the different in the lives of these teachers and their friends in their acceptance of Jesus as the Great Healer and Comforter for all people - Christians, non-believers, Hindus, and more.
We are praying for all readers of this blog and asking God to bless your faithfulness.
Jim, Susan, and Charlie
After yesterday’s comfortable homecoming to India, I think we could call our
second day in India an interesting detour of opportunities.
Detour #1 - AC
When Susan and I awoke we discovered that when the power went off and back on in the middle of the night, the air conditioner in Charlie’s room had not come
back on. He was a good sport about the discomfort, but had spent much of the night trying to make it work. You may recall our great joy yesterday, when we
discovered that all of the comforts of our home worked perfectly, even the first
time. It had been a great 12 hours of comfort, but I will tell you, we were not
completely surprised to wake to this new development. We called Kavita, our Acts of Mercy “fixer“, to find someone to fix the air conditioning, but based on our past experiences, we thought it might take a while to get the AC problem resolved so we also began thinking of alternative
solutions over breakfast. Susan spent a few extra minutes getting ready and I think she regretted not practicing, over the past year, how to properly drape her Sari. But soon she was beautifully wrapped in her Ivory Sari (with a more than a few extra pins for security) and we were on our way to school, all the while, the heat and humidity and the broken AC in the back of our minds.
We were greeted very warmly by all the teachers, who told us they were excited to see us again and had been waiting for us to arrive for several days. The children presented us with bouquets of flowers during Morning Assembly as we enjoyed seeing how they had grown in the past year. Afterwards, Susan and
Frosty cold milk, fresh mangos, French toast, & Indian coffee! Add warm
hugs and great smiles from our dear friends, John & Carol Christian. What a
warm welcome home!
It had been a long trip covering 2.5 days, from Houston to Chennai, and we
were happy to finally be back in India. We purchased tickets at a great rate,
but when CheapOAirfare.com wanted to charge us $45 apiece for 3 seats together, we went “CheapO” ourselves. We decided to trust in God and the airline and opted out of the $135 expense. When we checked in at the airport, we were delighted to find our assigned seats were all together in the center of the second cabin, which seemed like an answered prayer. When we boarded, however, God demonstrated His abundance when we learned that the airplane was half-empty and we could choose our own seats and spread out over several rows. Quite a treat for a 14 hour flight to Dubai. After a layover in Dubai, the connecting flight on to Chennai was a little more crowded but we were all together and it was only
about four hours and quite acceptable.
When we arrived in Chennai, we were greeted with unusually cool temperatures - 73 degrees (although 3:00 AM) and quickly claimed our bags and cleared customs. There was no wait at the taxi stand and there was a currency exchange 30 feet away so within a half hour, we were headed to Mahabalipuram in an “A/C Taxi”.
A week before our departure from Texas, our Indian hosts, John and Carol Christian, had invited us “come home for breakfast” at their lovely farm home, Fresh Winds. What a joy to be greeted with those glorious smiles and welcome hearts. Soon we were enjoying fresh mangos and French Toast and best of all, fresh milk from the Fresh Winds dairy.
We enjoyed renewing our close friendship and after a short visit, John drove us to our rental home in the village, which is the same house we stayed in last year. We were excited to be moving into the house so soon in our visit, as we had previously stayed in a hotel for several nights as logistics were arranged. We got REALLY excited when we found that not only did the air conditioners in
both bedrooms turn on, they actually pumped cool air. The refrigerator was in place and yes, it seemed to be working, too. Was it too much to hope for the well pump to actually deliver running water as well? We were not disappointed as we settled our luggage and enjoyed a refreshing shower for the first time in 3 days. Still in awe of how easy and comfortable our arrival had been, we thanked God and settled in for a long nap to sleep away a bit of the jet lag.
We’ve accumulated a number of Indian household items through the years and we store them at the Acts of Mercy office between visits. Before leaving us at the house, John had arranged for Justin, the Acts of Mercy caretaker, driver, and jack-of-all trades, to pick us up in the afternoon so we could retrieve our home items and pick up the Acts of Mercy van, our main transportation during the month we will spend here. As I shook off the cobwebs from the nap, I heard the familiar honk of the school bus and was excited to see Justin and school bus full of children, all waving at us with great big smiles. Susan was still a little groggy and missed the bus, but Charlie (our mission partner this year) and I climbed aboard and enjoyed delivering each of the children home. Back at Achiever Academy, my focus switched to re-familiarizing myself with the van and I was glad I remembered that there is no working gas gauge in this near-ancient vehicle. After getting reassurance from Justin that there was plenty of petrol, we headed back to the house to pick up Susan and headed to our favorite restaurant for dinner.
We received a very warm welcome from the waiter at the restaurant and were honored when he remembered Susan’s and my favorite order and even how we preferred it prepared. Soon after we ordered, the owner of the restaurant, our friend Jacques, came by to give us a warm and familiar greeting and we enjoyed renewing our long friendship with him. How wonderful to have such good friends and relationships half a world away.
After a delicious dinner we dropped by the market to pick up a few staples to get us through the next day and once more, realized how good it felt to be “home“ again in Mahabalipuram. When we walked in the market we were greeted us with a squeal from Kavita, the gracious office manager of Acts of Mercy, and the one responsible for all our living arrangements. Kavita introduced us to the clerk at the market and a new friendship was formed. Susan had just been talking about how our relationships are similar to a spider web in that we have direct contacts with individuals, but there are also so many branches of people who know the same people we know. Our web of influence and blessing in India just keeps widening. No trip to the store is quick, as Susan frequently discovers a few more things we might need but it was not long before we were on our way with a 5 gallon bottle of drinking water, juice, cereal, bread and a flat of fresh eggs, and a generous supply of cleaning products.
As I wove the van through the traffic and pedestrians (both human and bovine) I was contrasting the ease of transition these three travel days to India had been - a stark contrast to previous trips here. Those who have followed our previous travels to India may remember that in years past, we have waited more than a day for air conditioning and sometimes longer for a refrigerator. Fresh, clean water was iffy at best. How could we have ever imagined just four years ago that we would be able to fly to India, be greeted by true Christian friends, easily move into a wonderful house for a much needed nap, have a vehicle provided, enjoy a
delicious dinner and shop on the way home. It was a blessing to be greeted as treasured friends and made so very welcome at every stop.
On the drive home, we marveled at all the blessings of our warm “Welcome Home”. Comfortable, spacious airplane seating. Unseasonable cool temperatures in India. Easy navigation of our airport arrival. Wonderful breakfast with dear friends on an Indian farm. (Did I mention the milk? ) Simple move-in process for our home for the next month - so simple we had time for a long nap. Delicious dinner and the renewal of friendships all across the village. Yes, it was a very comfortable and happy “Welcome Home”.
It reminds me of a favorite prayer: "God is good all the time. All the time, God is good. For such is the nature of God."
From our home in India to yours,
Four years ago, we accepted God's invitation to join him in his work in India. As we worked side by side with Acts of Mercy and the villagers of Mahabalipuram through the years, our relationship with many people grew. At the same time, we received yet another blessing as the personal relationship between the two of us grew as well. Over time, we recognized the gift of love for one another that God placed in our hearts and we honored that gift by deciding to marry.
Because our families are so important to each of us and also to one another, we chose to host our wedding in a family-reunion style weekend and as the families joined together, we realized that instead of a family re-union, in reality, God was giving us a Family New-Union. On April 13, 2013 in the presence of our families and a few close friends, we pledged our lives to Christ and to one another and we became husband and wife, as well as partners in ministry.
In 2 Corinthians 5:17, Paul teaches us, "Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation." We are living proof that the Creator's creativity in our lives never ends, no matter our age or stage in life. We are leaving for India today, Tuesday, July 9th, and will spend 4 weeks in Mahabalipuram as a New Creation in Christ. We would be privileged to have you join us on our journey, through this blog and through your prayers. And, as always, we would love to hear from each of you and pray for the new creation Christ is bringing to your lives as well.
On the road to India,
Jim & Susan Garvin
Got Milk? My answer to this question is, "yes, by God's grace, I do."
I have often mentioned the struggles I have with the oppressive heat in India. Sometimes, when I'm
especially blessed, I receive a little relief in the form of a fresh breeze or a drink of cold milk.
When I was a boy in grade school, back in Illinois, a high school boy named Chris honored me by asking me to lead his Grand Champion Dairy Cow named Bessy in the Parade of Champions at the County Fair. Although I have never been a farmer or even lived on a farm for any significant period of time, agriculture has always been an integral part of my family life and my upbringing.
Many years later as I began my telephone career I moved back to that old home town and renewed a relationship with Chris. Chris invited me to help him complete some carpentry projects on on his dairy farm named Paradigm Farms. The agreement
Lost & Found & Lost Again.
Lost: One fuchsia sari underskirt. Last seen at the Top Star Laundry in Mahabs.
With just a few days remaining of our time in India, I discovered that the underskirt to my beloved purple teacher's sari was missing. The sari was a special gift from the teachers 2 years ago and I wanted to wear it today, one my last days, in their honor. When I remembered that the purple sari had recently returned from the laundry, I decided that the underskirt must have been accidentally left behind at the laundry on the last trip. With just two days remaining before we leave, I was very busy at school so Jim volunteered to go back to the laundry to see if it was there. At least that was the plan when we left for school. Have you ever heard that expression, "If you want to make God laugh, just tell him your plans."?
As almost always happens every day, how we think we're going to spend our day is not what actually happens. "Welcome to India."
Today was no different. Shortly after we arrived at school and enjoyed Morning Assembly with the kids, Jim got a call just as he was leaving for the laundry trip. John Christian needed his help in Chennai again, moving more items to the new church. I was happy for him to go and have one last male-bonding experience with the guys but I also knew I would have to work hard to squeeze in a quick trip to the laundry if I were ever going to see my underskirt again. The teacher trainings have gone so well that in addition to the all-afternoon trainings, I am also meeting individually with teachers before we leave, sharing and praying together.
Our time in India is rapidly coming to a close and until today, I had not yet had an opportunity to visit the Widow's Village at Vayaloor that has had such an impact on me for the last three years. As we discussed our schedule over lunch today, we realized that tonight was the last opportunity for us to go and see what, if any, progress has been made at Vayaloor in the past year.
There was a special program at school today so the lower grades were not present and the upper grades were dismissed at noon. This allowed Susan an opportunity to meet with all the teachers as a whole group for a very meaningful time of sharing and spiritual renewal for all. I was able to participate in part of this time and was especially touched as the last teacher shared a devotion that
Deuteronomy 10:17 For the Lord your God is God of gods and Lord of lords, the great God, mighty and awesome, who shows no partiality and accepts no bribes. 18 He defends the cause of the fatherless and the widow and loves the alien giving them food and clothing.
2012 marks my 4th summer to spend a month in India where I have had many significant and spiritually meaningful experiences with the students at Achiever Academy, the Vineyard Church in Chennai, the citizens of Mahabalipuram and with the extraordinary friends I have developed with members of the Acts of Mercy team in Chennai and Mahabalipuram. With all that and more to experience, still the most defining India moment for me was on a Tuesday evening during my first trip in 2009. Our group stood on the yet un-walled second floor of the Activity Center at the construction site of the Widows Rehabilitation Center at the village of Vayaloor. We looked out over the property and listened to John Christian, Director of Acts of Mercy, describe the plight of the widows of India.
That evening I listened as John described an Indian society which believes that if a woman's husband dies the wife is responsible because of a curse she has brought upon her family, as well as herself. For this reason she is banished from the community. John described that, when he was distributing food and water relief after the Tsunami of 2004,
Jesus said, "Let the little children come unto me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of God belongs to such as these....he took the children in his arms, put his hands on them and blessed them."
Oh yes He blesses them. Every single day. You can see it in their faces and hear it in their voices. You can feel it in their hugs. It's a Little Bit of Heaven on Earth.
It's great to be back at Achiever Academy in Mahabalipuram, India, where Jim and I feel very much a part of the school faculty and at home in this village. I work in the school each day, primarily training teachers in English literacy and reading instruction. When he's not working elsewhere for Acts of Mercy, shopping at the market, dropping off our laundry, or visiting with villagers while he runs errands, Jim sometimes joins us in the trainings. This year, we've noticed a healthy improvement in the teachers' English so we're conducting more advanced grammar lessons, often using scripture and even music for practice. A wonderful new addition this year is the opportunity to
Once again God has demonstrated that He is abundantly big enough!
Last Sunday morning, the congregation of the Vineyard Church of Chennai held its first worship service in their bright, airy and much larger facility.
Last year while we were here John Christian (pastor of the Vineyard Church of Chennai and Director of Acts of Mercy) reminded the members of the church that the lease on their old facility was going to run out and it looked like they would not be able to come to an agreement on a new lease. Sure enough, our first Sunday here John announced on Sunday during worship that this would be the last Sunday at the old facility and that Thursday, all the members should come to the church and help move all the furniture, sound equipment, instruments and anything else to the new location. Everyone was upbeat and ready for the move.
"The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they
may have life, and have it to the full." John 10:10
There's no understanding it. India is a paradox - contradictions at every turn. Most of it doesn't make sense to westerners and we are no different. Even after 4 previous visits, we still scratch our heads in amazement every single day. At the most confounding moments, we just laugh and say to one other, "Welcome to India!"
The village of Mahabalipuram, India, is home to Acts of Mercy, the non-profit organization for which we volunteer. Mahabs (as the locals call it) is a tiny rural village about 4 sq. miles and yet home to approximately 12.000 people and countless cows, goats, and monkeys, who all fill the streets, seemingly at once. India is a communal society, with multi-generational large families living together in relatively small homes. Known for its historic temples and beautiful beaches, Mahab is a tourist town and therefore, somewhat more prosperous than more rural villages nearby, many consisting of one or two dirt streets lined with thatched huts. Mahabs is a village of old and new, with Hindu temples carved from red sandstone in the 7th century standing next to newly constructed guest lodges. Brightly colored paint adorns the
Here I go again ...
It came as no surprise that I did not sleep on the flights from Dallas through
Chicago and all the way to our layover in Helsinki. Not sleeping on flights is
not unusual for me but I had been so hopeful that with the abundant lack of
sleep leading up to the trip this surely would be the trip I could break that
Our joyful expectation of the 12 hour layover in Helsinki had been building every since Susan found this wonderful connection that would save us over $300 on the cost of each ticket and would fit so beautifully into our ongoing desire to experience yet another city and country. It also provided a welcome savings.
When we arrived in Helsinki the sun was out to greet us and the temperature was cool enough that Susan was glad to have her sweater. The cool weather also helped me overcome the fatigue. Although I found myself a little unsteady at times, we enjoyed the day. We were able go into the heart of the city and view a spectacular Lutheran cathedral and a smaller, but no less impressive, Russian Orthodox church. We even managed to fit in a tour to the famous island fortress just off shore of the city. This included a boat ride to and from that provided spectacular views from the water of this beautiful city. After a couple of hours of sightseeing at the fortress, we purchased some traditional Finnish food items and sat on the lush (click "Read More" below to continue reading)
God is big enough. The question is.... is He patient enough? Patient
enough to teach me the same lesson over and over and over again?
It was a lesson God taught me yet again just 2 days ago. It's been a busy few months and as I turned the corner into this last week of preparations for India, I kicked into a frenzy of creating list after list. Maybe I need a list of all my lists? You get the picture. But the secret to good list management is to set priorities and though there were medicines to pack & last minute shopping to do, high on my list were a few very special items - visiting friends and family before we go.
So amid the errands last Tuesday, I stopped by to visit a close friend who has been ill for a while and we enjoyed an extended time of catching up, swapping stories, and sharing about how good God has been to both of us. It was a welcome break from
It's been a busy few days. Tomorrow morning, Jim & I leave for India where we'll be volunteering with Acts of Mercy in Mahabalipuram until July 22nd. We're very excited to be returning to the work we love with the people we love but I just gotta tell ya, the hardest part of the trip each year is the few days prior to departure. This is my 5th year to go (and Jim's 4th) so by now, deciding what to bring is easy. For me, a few saris and fill the rest of my suitcase with bug spray, medicines, antibacterial wipes, and tons of small tissue packets that serve as toilet paper in rural India. For Jim, it's even easier - a few shirts & slacks and the rest of his suitcase filled with all the other things I can't get into mine. But as I said, packing is the easy part. Being gone for a month, there are last minute personal business issues to think about and this year, something new & poignant - saying goodbye to an old friend.
Biscuit, my 13 year old beagle, is quite literally, "on his last leg", as he painfully reminded me this morning as he struggled to get into the car for what will probably be his last ride to my son's house, where he will stay while I'm in India. His health has been
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.