Oh how good to be home. I wanted to kiss the soil of our precious farm when I got home last night, but I was too tired! I settled for kissing a husband and 5 kids instead! After a 20+ hour train ride to Chennai and 24+hours of air travel, my journey to India has come to an end. Oh, how I missed my family.
I think Nora must have grown an inch or so. Everyone seems to be doing well, despite my absence. Philip has greatly improved his milking technique. Thanks to many friends everyone seems to be well fed. I so appreciate the whole gang making it possible for me to get to know a little bit of India.
Many stories clutter the mind. Some are pretty sad. I got to stay a night in the home of Rajesh and Bobbi. They are taking care of 15 Khandamal kids whose families lost everything in the riots. I fell in love with those kids! We had so much fun together. Two of the big guys, Swabesh (10) and Amiya (12), were a real pair of characters. They love Abraham Lincoln. They asked me to tell them everything I knew about Abraham Lincoln. Unfortunately that didn't take very long. All the kids enjoyed seeing pictures of the farm and my kids. They want me to go back to Orissa next month and be sure and at least take Patrick and Maggie with me. If I could bring them a puppy they would like that, too. Bhumika is an 8 year old fireball of a girl, 8 years old and very much like my Rose. Spunky, spirited, full of energy and quick to flash a mischievous smile. Jablal is a 5 year old little fellow who sat in my lap when I told silly stories like Goldilocks and the 3 bears with their big pot of rice (none of those kids had ever seen oatmeal or porrige). Karish is an 8 yr old fellow with severe hearing loss due to having malaria or some illness go untreated. Abinash is an 8 yr old fellow with a serious head injury. His father was murdered by the Khandamal rioters. They went house to house, hunting down pastors. Beheaded some. Burned some others to death. They rounded up families and poured gasoline on them and set them on fire to burn to death. Abinash tried to run into the jungle and was caught and hit on the head with an ax. So was his mother. They were left to die, but miraculously survived. He is such a clever boy. His scar is healing nicely. He and the other children will be starting back to school in March.
These kids were brought out of the relief camps. Their parents are in shelters or camps. The camps have no running water or even latrines. Very little good food or meds. People are still dying of dysentery. They have scurvy. It is such a blessing that people like Rajesh and Bobbi are taking in kids to give them a clean, safe place to recuperate while parents try to find a way to start a new life. It is still too dangerous to go back to their homes. Even when they do go back, there are no jobs. All their furnishings and homes are completely destroyed. There are others just like Rajesh and Bobbi.
I am thinking of my dear little friends this Valentine's day:
Jablal (5yr old boy),
Roshni (7yrold girl)
Nsumon (6 yo boy)
Shantimayee (7yo girl)
Pritem (7yo boy)
Umez (5yo boy)
Elin (6yo girl)
Sagarpradhan (7yo boy)
Karish (8yo boy)
Abinash (8yo boy)
Marvin (9yo boy)
Bhumika (8yo girl)
Uttam (10yo boy)
Swabesh (10yo boy)
Amiya (12yo boy)
Just a few of the new friends I made on our journey. So many more. Maybe I will share their stories later. Right now these guys are on my mind. I wish I could give them a big kiss. I can't send them a puppy but I might be able to locate a book on Abraham Lincoln. If anybody has a good recommendation, let me know.
Please pray for these guys. Also for Rajesh and Bobbi who are working hard to give them a safe clean place to stay, with good food and love. Also for the other families who have taken in refugees. Especially for the children and families who are still living in the camps. They need medical care, food and water. And a chance to get back to their homes and their lives.
And here's a special note to Philip:
Happy Valentine's Day! I love you. Thank you for loving me. Thank you for giving me the opportunity to go and do when it seems really important. Thank you for backing me up and for learning how to milk a cow and for bringing us here to this farm. Thank you for all your hard work. You are a man I admire. You are so very smart. You are an amazing dad. I am glad you pursued me. I know it was a huge sacrifice for you to send me off to India for 2 weeks. I am glad you did.
And to the kids:
I LOVE YOU SOOOOO MUCH! I wanted to cry almost every day when I was away because I missed you so much. But I knew you were safe and sound and now we are all back together. Thanks for being willing to sacrifice so I could go and meet new friends and give them vitamins and milk and other good stuff. Don't you wish we could bring all our new friends here to the farm for awhile so we could give them big glasses of Coco's milk and scrambled eggs?
And to my blogging friends:
Happy Valentine's Day to you, too. I enjoy sharing our world with you. I wish you all love.
"If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal.
If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but have not love, I am nothing.
If I give all I possess to the poor and surrender my body to the flames, but have not love, I gain nothing.
Love is patient, love is kind.
It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud.
It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs.
Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth.
It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perserveres.
Love never fails." I Corinthians 13:1-8a