Christmas for Ruchit. :)

The young fella I’m about to introduce you to is one of the sweetest, smartest young men I’ve ever met.

RuchitRuchit lives in the Tangturu boys home, one of my favorite homes the last two summers. These boys are super sweet, a little older, and FULL of energy. Sometimes to the exhausting point. :)

tang boys fun

beachRuchit is one of the oldest boys (perhaps THE oldest) in the CCH program. He is SUPER smart and talented – I know for sure that he won an art award. When I taught painting class at summer camp this summer it didn’t take long for me to see why. :) In fact, he actually TAUGHT that same painting class for the camp session for new kids this fall.

Ruchit paintingRuchit also speaks PHENOMENAL English – always willing to translate when an official translator isn’t around. He also has the sweetest smile. :)

As an older boy, Ruchit can sometimes be forgotten (especially with cuties like Ravi Teja and Samuel running around CCH events). Can you make Christmas special for him this year with just $25?

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Komali and Narasamma!

Today I want to introduce you to two beautiful young women.

Meet Komali:

Komali

….and Narsamma:

NarasammaThese young ladies are both older than Abinaya and Adithiya. Since they are two of the older girls in CCH, they were ‘recruited’ to help the CCH staff run camp this past fall for the new CCH kids. These girls got to attend camp this summer (while I was there) so I’m sure it was a blessing for them to get to go back as helpers!

Komali helped teach singing…

singing class

While Narsamma helped with photography class.

NarsammaAs in many orphan situations, the older kids are often overlooked for the cute young kids. However, these young women need to know that they are loved as well. Will you help bring joy and love to Komali and/or Narsamma this Christmas? Send me an e-mail at anichols84@msn.com if you want to sponsor one of these kids for only $25 this Christmas!

komali wrapping(Paige taught Komali and some of her sisters how to wrap presents last week! They got to help her wrap the presents for the home parents. Help give Komali a gift with her name on it for her to unwrap this Christmas!)

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Indian Christmas: Day 2

I am giddy with excitement to introduce you to Adithiya today.

AdityaThis handsome little guy lives in NTR Colony, my hands down favorite CCH that I spent time at. NTR is very near to Ongole, so we got to visit there a lot. The boys in that home are the SWEETEST things.

NTR boysWe even took them to the beach when I was there this summer! So sweet. :)

the beachAdithiya has the rare privilege to live in a CCH home with two of his blood brothers, Ravi Teja and Karthik. They are three of the sweetest, most polite, adorable, big hearted boys you could ever meet!

brothersThis handsome little man is in third grade this year. You can read an “interview” with Adithiya in his own, sweet words here – http://cch-india.com/adhithiya/ (it’s MORE than worth a few minutes of your time to read – it will make you smile, I promise!)

Can you bring a smile to this sweet guy’s face by giving $25 for him to have a Christmas gift this year?

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India Christmas: Day 1

Okay! I’m ready to start introducing you to my Indian sweethearts! When Paige sent me the pictures of the ten kids I was responsible for finding sponsors for, I couldn’t stop smiling. I KNOW these kids. And now I get to help them! :)

So, without further adieu, meet my first friend! :)

This sweetheart is Abinaya!

Abinaya

I’ve hung out with her both of the summers that I’ve spent time in India. She is oh so precious!

Abinaya lives in the Pondudru home. Here’s a picture of her and her “sisters.”

Abinaya - Ponduru(She’s the second from the right in the front row…pink shirt. :))

Since Abinaya has been in CCH longer than some of the other kids, this won’t be her first Christmas gift. The beautiful dresses her and her sisters are wearing in the above picture were last year’s Christmas gifts for the girls! Aren’t they beautiful?

Abinaya is a super sweet girl. Do YOU want to sponsor her Christmas gift this year? For just $25 you can be responsible for putting a smile like THIS on her beautiful face:

sweet sweet abinaya

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Indian Christmas.

As you should all know, I spent a month in Coastal Andhra Pradesh, India last summer and left a huge part of my heart there. As fewer of you probably know, I am planning a trip to Africa this summer to work with a missionary couple from my church! Though it may be awhile before I return to Ongole, that does not mean that these sweet kids don’t still have a special place in my heart, nor that I will stop advocating for them!

That being said, Christmas is coming and not just in America. Christmas is also coming in India. However, Christmas in India often looks quite different than Christmas here does.

No tree.

No candy canes.

No Christmas music filling the stores.

No snow.

No Christmas gifts.

However, for the children in Covenant Children’s Homes, the ministry I worked most closely with, Christmas will be a different story this year. Thanks to the help of generous donors in the States, these sweet, beautiful children will be receiving Christmas gifts this year!

There are 317 beautiful children sponsored for their Christmas gift this year already! However, there are still about 50 more that need someone willing to pay for their gift. Precious little faces like sweet Karthik:

Karthik

I know, I know – I’m just another voice throwing my name in the crowd asking for money for a “good cause” at this time of year. I may be biased, but this cause is special. Maybe it’s because I’ve seen it with my own eyes. I’ve shed tears, I’ve tasted life in the homes these children live in, I’ve lived life with them, prayed for them, shared giggles and joy with them, shared meals together, the list goes on. I’ve experienced what life looks like for these children and I see how much they deserve the joy and dignity that comes with getting a simple Christmas gift.

I’m doing a Bible study right now called “Hope Lives.” It’s about finding my role in the fight against poverty in our world. One quote that really stuck out to me was this:

“If you don’t know the poor, it’s hard to serve them.”

How true that is. These children have a special place in my heart because they are REAL to me. I’ve been there, held their hand, seen their daily life. But for most of you, you never have and never will experience that. And quite honestly, that might make it hard for you to care as much as I do.

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That being said, I have agreed to advocate for ten children still needing Christmas gifts this year. I have committed to getting these ten kiddos sponsored over the next two weeks – in time for Christmas. But I can’t do that without your help.

Since it’s harder to love the poor if you don’t know them, I’m going to do my best to introduce these children to you. Each day, I will create a post that will help you get to know the children so dear to my heart and give you the opportunity to sponsor them for their gift. $25 can bring far more joy to a child in India than a meal in the drive thru tonight could for you. I guarantee it.

So, be watching for my children over the next several days. And pray about getting involved.

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10,000 reasons then forever more.

I’ve been back from India for a little over five weeks now. While it seems like a lot longer than that, I still think on my days in the villages (that includes Ongole) like they were just a few days ago. The Kansas heat has been killer – triple digits for what has seemed like forever, and into the foreseeable future (though not as humid as India, thank goodness!).

I’m at a point now where my heart is a little torn. I miss my time in India – the children, living with Sean, Paige, and Courtney, the new experiences I got to have, the pure bliss of a cold Diet Coke, and I even caught myself missing wearing a sari the other day.

However, as I think back on the things that I would have missed had I been in India for the last five weeks, I instantly turn grateful that I came home when I did.

The big one? The only grandpa I ever knew (my mom’s dad died when she was pretty young), the grandpa who taught me how to drive, took me on my first “dates” (to the animal farm, Dairy Queen, and probably Wal Mart, I’m sure), checked himself out of the hospital when I had a school play in first grade then went right back and readmitted himself, the grandpa who was my biggest fan, died last week.

Grandpa had been fighting emphysema for as long as I can remember. He’d been on oxygen off and on for over ten years, and in and out of the hospital every several months or so. He’d always bounced most of the way back, but when he went into the hospital just a week after I returned from India, we all knew that something was different this time.

Watching him progressively get worse and worse, hearing the doctors say that he would never go home, being called up so he could tell us goodbye, him drifting in and out of conciousness…none of these things were easy. But I am so grateful that I could be here for the three weeks he was in the hospital (a very taxing time for my family as my parents were at the hospital virtually around the clock some days) and when he requested that my siblings and I come up for the last time so he could tell us goodbye.

I am thankful that I was here to be of assistance for the days between his death and the funeral. I’m grateful for the chance to spend time with the family from out of town who came in to celebrate his life with us. I’m thankful that I wasn’t faced with the decision from a foreign country of whether or not to pack up and come home when he started getting so sick.

In addition to spending this last time with my grandpa, I’m also so grateful for the time that I’ve gotten to spend with friends. For getting to be a part of the wedding of my dear, sweet friends Kaleb and Kaedra. For getting to jump back in at the coffee shop and be a part of that on a daily basis again.

Another big change is that I am officially in-move to my first apartment of my own. I’ve lived out of the house when I was living on campus at Sterling, but I was home every weekend and this will be an entirely new adventure for me. I hope to be officially “in” mostly tomorrow or by the end of the weekend for sure.

When I think back on this summer, it has already been full of an incredible amount of changes. Little did I know what the life-changing month in India would be the beginning of. It’s been a rough summer, to be honest. However, in the midst of all the trials and bumps, there has been plenty of joy mixed in as well and for those moments I am eternally grateful.

(However, when I get pictures with faces like these – all these reasons that I’m grateful to be back in the states fly out the window and I long to be back in India cuddling with these kiddos!)

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Home Sweet Home.

I’ve been meaning to write this post for several days now, but this is the first chance that I have gotten to sit down and do so!

So…..I AM home! I got back to Wichita late Tuesday night. I was greeted by my mom, dad, sister, and Jim and Myra – a lovely surprise! :)

My getting home process was a little (okay, a lot) rougher than I hoped. When I got to the Hyderabad airport (at like 4 AM), said my goodbyes to Sean (the only one willing to get up at such an ungodly hour to see me off…I don’t blame Paige and Courtney! ;)), and went inside, I was greeted by the lovely news at the British Airways counter that I don’t have a ticket.

Wait, what?

It’s 4 AM, Sean is gone, I just want to go home, and I don’t have a ticket. The man (Indian, of course, speaking in broken English) explains to me that the reservation shows up for these flights, but my ticket still showed up as the Abu Dhabi/Frankfurt flight I was originally taking to go see Bethany in Europe. He told me that there was nothing HE could do, unless I got ahold of my travel agent here in America. He said the ticket simply needed to be released or something and I would be good to go, a simple few minute process. He handed his cell phone over to me and I called the agency which, as I knew it would be because it’s night in America, was closed.

So, I called my mom because I had no idea what else to do. She didn’t answer. So I called again, this time she did thankfully. She agreed to try and get ahold of the agent at home and see what could be done. About this time, Mr. British-Airways-I-Can’t-Do-Anything-For-You picks up the phone and calls the airline. They say, “oh yeah, we can do that!” and the ticket is released within ten minutes.

However, I have no way to let my mom know this because the dude with the cell phone had bolted by now after turning me over to the manager. So, I was good to go but her and Courtney’s parents are frantically trying to get ahold of the agent here in America and bothering him at home when it had already been taken care of. :( (I feel bad about that!) And, the HYD airport has 45 free minutes of Wi-Fi, but of COURSE you have to have an Indian mobile in order to receive a text with the code. So that was out of the question too!

So, I get through customs, blah blah blah, and have plenty of time to kill before my flight. I did a little shopping (I DID find a shop that has some t-shirts and souveniers that say India on them – happy day!) and relaxing before my flight. I got on the plane (no joke – I was the ONLY white person on the entire plane.) and was ecstatic to find that on the two – five – two seat layout, I was in the two seats on the side of the plane, and there was no one next to me! SO I had both an aisle and a window, and was able to curl up on the two seats and sleep SUPER comfortably! What a blessing.

I landed in London, finally was able to let everyone know that I HAD gotten on the plane and was safe in London, went through another round of security and stuff, then had some time to eat a few snacks before getting to the gate for my flight to DFW. There was a LONG line to get checked in at the gate (I’m guessing that this is an increased security measure due to the Olympics? I’ve never had to check in at a gate before…) but I got on the plane and was ELATED to find that I had the SAME seating arrangement as last time – the two seats on the outside row, and, again, NO ONE NEXT TO ME! I smiled and said a thank you to God. Little did I know how much more important this arrangement would be on this flight…

About four hours in, I started to feel awful. Stomach ache, headache, light headed….just terrible. I knew it wasn’t motion sickness (I’ve never had problems on a plane before, and this was a different feeling than that would have been) but I wasn’t sure WHAT it was. Of course, this was “sleeping time”, so it was forever before a flight attendant walked by that I could ask for water. She said, “sure!” and never brought me water. By now, I was scared to stand up and walk to the bathroom, certain I would pass out and cause an emergency landing and all that. So I sat for a bit longer, praying like crazy that I wouldn’t die on this airplane, and finally felt confident enough to get up and go to the bathroom. I wiped my face down with a wet paper towel and just drank as much sink water as I could in the bathroom. It helped a little bit, but not for long. I was back and forth to the bathroom several times – super grateful that there was no one in the aisle seat next to me that I would have to keep climbing over! (Like I said, I had no idea what a blessing it would be at the beginning of the flight!)

I eventually got some water finally, as well as some Sprite. I finally felt confident that I could lay down and close my eyes without dying (I was seriously worried for a bit :P) so I did that and got some rest. Each time I woke up I felt a little better, and by the time we landed six hours later, I felt a little better. I still didn’t feel great and was pretty weak, but good enough that I was sure I could get through the airport and make it home.

We landed, I got through security, and called my mom to complain about how miserable I felt. I got to the gate, then went off and found some pretzels and gatorade which helped quite a bit. I sat for a long time as our flight back to Wichita was delayed. But I finally boarded the short flight to Wichita and made it HOME! I was exhausted, still felt awful, and was just super weak. I practically collapsed into my dad as he hugged me, then made it to the baggage claim where I stood spaced off with the tea I was brought in my hands. Jim and Myra showed up, which was great and I loved seeing them and more hugs. They brought me tea too, so when my first one was finished, we dumped theirs right in and I was good to go! :)

I got my suitcase, walked out, and collapsed in the car. Got some food, then made the journey HOME! Hutchinson has truly never felt as great as it did then! I went home, took my first shower that I could control the temperature on in a month (with high pressure to boot!), and crawled into my BED! The first BED I had slept on in a month as well!

I slept pretty darn well, and got up Wednesday morning and went to work at 11:30 for the afternoon shift. It was SO GREAT to be back behind the counter – the place I missed most while I was gone, for SURE!

The past couple of days have just been a lot of catching up with people, getting back in the swing of things, and a little extra sleep. :) (I would say that I have given jetlag a run for it’s money though – I have had minimal issues with it!) I am so grateful to be home and am looking forward to being back at Westside on Sunday!

I’ll be doing a few more posts soon along the lines of reflection and such. Keep an eye out for them! :)

Thanks to all who followed me, prayed for me, and sent me encouragement while I was gone! It was all SUPER appreciated! :)

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