Sunday, January 12, 2020

750 Washcloths...

You know the tune...๐ŸŽต100 bottles of beer on the wall๐ŸŽต
well, here's my version...
750 washcloths for India, 750 washcloths,
knit one up, pack it to go
749 more washcloths for India!
That's right, we're taking 750 handmade washcloths with us to India to give as gifts for the students, teachers, staff, family members, oldsters, the butcher, the baker, the candlestick maker๐Ÿ˜ƒ...we've got enough to cover them all! These colorful gems were all made by 2 woman who have a passion for knitting and our beloved India Ministry...thank you Oma and Carolyn!! ๐Ÿ’– Thank goodness for ziplock bags, you'd be surprised how many we could flatten down to the size of a pancake!!
In addition to washcloths, we also collected Beanie Babies to'd think they were all rabbits the way they multiplied in the collection bin! ๐Ÿฐ Thanks to all who contributed, with a special shout out to Ms. Rachel's students who brought our number up to 80!! There certainly will be a lot of happy faces the day we pass these out!! ๐Ÿฎ๐Ÿต๐Ÿถ๐Ÿท๐Ÿธ We stocked up on "Sophie's Sweet Treats" and other miscellaneous goodies too that you'll see throughout the duration of our trip.

What an exciting morning the travelers had on Saturday as we gathered one last time to go over final details, check-in with how everyone is doing and load up our suitcases. It's amazing that we got everything into our luggage, and kept it at one checked bag per person!๐Ÿ˜ฒ And, thanks to Jordan for being willing to stand on the we know our bags all fall into the allowable weight range! 
Although Emma couldn't be with us for the Packing Party, we know she was with us in spirit and no doubt preparing herself down in St. Louis! ๐Ÿ˜‚

This morning at Immanuel UCC was that heartfelt time when our church family sends us off with a blessing and their well wishes... I give thanks for all the love and support of our congregation; their prayers and financial contributions certainly lighten our heavy burden of travel and strengthen our hearts for what lies ahead. ๐Ÿ™๐Ÿ’ 

One final note... The other day when Sophie and I popped into Coffee Corner for a "treat yourself" breakfast, we found ourselves in a conversation with our barista about our upcoming trip; she was so sweet and genuinely interested in what we were saying, then when she delivered our food this is how it came...
She has no idea how her words of encouragement touched us, that is unless she's checking out our blog...I hope so!! ๐Ÿ’•

If you have the chance to share supportive, encouraging words to my fellow travelers, please do so. It is so uplifting knowing people are behind you, and in times of uncertainty that they are sending good vibes your way!!

My motto for this trip...
In a world where you can be anything, be kind!

Now we wait...⌛


p.s. can you tell I'm lovin' the new emoji feature! ๐Ÿ˜‰

Friday, January 3, 2020

2020 Travelers are assembled...

Greetings! Welcome back to those of you who have been following this blog since the very beginning, and welcome aboard to those who are first checking it out! As in the past, there are several things I hope to achieve within my posts...  First, to keep our families and friends back home connected to us as we travel to India. Secondly, to open a window to all those who passionately support Joyful Journeys India Ministry so they can travel with us in spirit and observe what is happening throughout the trip. And finally, to bring awareness to others so that they too can see the good works being done in the remote village of Madhavapatnam and beyond! I hope you will continue to join us on our journey...

It is beyond mind-boggling for me to imagine that I am heading back to India for the 5th time since our first trip in 2011; so much has changed within my life over the past 8 years, as well as within the life of this ministry! Looking back to some of the earlier posts, and remembering what it took for my family and me to travel there is just a gentle reminder of the importance of appreciating life each step of the way. Our first time to India, after my gals and I spent 9 months "workin' 4 change", was supposed to be a "once in a lifetime adventure"...we were blessed with 3 more times after that to travel together as a complete family, proving that you can never "relive" a special moment, but you can choose to simply live your life as if it were a lifetime of adventure and continue to embrace all that is put before you!!

This time however, will be the first time only five out of six of us will be going; my daughter Olivia is staying home since she recently started a full-time career as a Firefighter / Paramedic on the West Bend Fire Department. Good thing this isn't a "vlog" (video blog for those unfamiliar with the term) as I'd hate for you to see me tearing up right out of the gate! I couldn't be happier for her and all the exciting things going on in her life, but words can't describe how I will miss her on this more ways than one!!

For the rest of my family, I'll try and put it all in a nutshell...Big Bob continues to work for Waste Management and looks forward to getting both hips replaced when we return from India. (Okay, maybe he's not looking forward to the actual procedure, but he is excited about the anticipated pain relief down the road!) Emma will be graduating from Eden Theological Seminary this May, and will marry her life long sweetheart Nick in September. (We are all thrilled to officially welcome him into our family!) Johanna recently graduated from Blue Sky Massage Therapy School and looks forward to getting her career started once we return. (I look forward to her practicing on me during the trip so she can keep up on her techniques!) Sophia is using her artistic skills and gift of tenderheartedness as she works with adults with disabilities at ARTcycle in West Bend; she couldn't be happier there! (She's excited to buy art supplies for the children in India with the money raised from some of the artists she works with!) As for me, I continue to feel incredibly blessed with my job as Director of Ministries/Pastoral Assistant at Immanuel Church; to serve and serve alongside people I love has been a real gift for me. (My job truly is my home away from home!)

Now that you're caught up on my family, I'm incredibly excited to introduce you to the eclectic group  who we will be traveling to India with us in January 2020. Kaitlin Demmon joined us on our last trip along with her dad and brother, however this time around she's being accompanied by her fiance, Jordan Petrin.  Others who will be making their first trek over are Al Nevala, Jan Armato, Joan Dobberstein, and Olivia Gluck.  Each of these individuals share at least one thing in common, and that is a passion for this ministry, but more so they each bring their own unique gifts and talents to the trip which will certainly enhance the adventure!
As for the ministry itself, I look forward to sharing more about it in future posts.  To ensure you don't miss anything, sign-up in the box on the right sidebar to automatically get updates sent to your email.

Thanks for traveling along on this joyful journey with us!!


Saturday, January 14, 2017

Home is where the heart is...

And my heart is so full of love, it needs two homes to house it all!!
Is it good to be back to our US home, well of course; but that's not to say it wasn't difficult leaving our India home.  Being surrounded by a community of people whose greatest possession is love and they are excited to give it to us so freely makes it hard not to feel like you are part of their family.  From sharing a cup of tea in their homes that are no bigger than my living room to hearing how they've been praying for Big Bob since his diagnosis of cancer almost two years ago is a very humbling experience.  It is that reminder that it's not the magnitude of the offering within itself as much as it is that they are giving all they can out of love for us.  What more could someone truly ask for than to have that kind of gift given to them; and how many of us can say we are that generous with all that we have.
Mercy, have I been blessed!!

Now I just want to backtrack a bit to our last full day in India as there was so much that happened that day.  We started out by having one final outing with the hostel children.  
A hike through a forest and a river boat ride was the adventure, 
holding their hands and playing games with them was the gift.

Refreshing ice cream treat before getting back on the bus.

Upon returning to the hostel, both the kids and travelers took naps while preparations were underway for the big Celebration that was to take place that evening...

Local "scavengers" came to clean up the area. 
chairs were brought in for the occasion
a festive stage was set up

food was prepared to feed the hundreds that would be in attendance

Finally it was time to adorn ourselves in our new outfits...

Why the Big Celebration you might ask...
Within this culture, it is very important to recognize those you wish to welcome or thank with flowers, shawls, and food. Therefore you should understand their desire to "thank" Immanuel Church and other supporters for their commitment to Joyful Journeys Ministry in India. As ambassadors of this ministry it was our privilege to accept their thanks on behalf of all who so generously give and are committed to the people of this village, but may never have the opportunity to come here themselves.  Everyone is so grateful for what this ministry has done for their community, such as providing a school for children who otherwise may not have the chance for an education, providing higher education in the form of Adult Education and the Cutting and Tailoring Center for adults seeking to better their situations, providing jobs to local people for everything from teachers to scavengers, to cooks and construction workers, and of course offering a home to children who may otherwise find themselves on the street or with a relative that can't provide for them.

So here is what that Celebration looked like...

It started with Novahu offering his words of "thanks"
and me offerings greetings and encouragement from supporters back in America. 
That was followed by the ceremonial presentation of flowers and shawls for each of us...

 Next came the entertainment for the evening...

 The program wrapped up with special performances by 
none other than some of our travelers...

Although they were quickly joined by students and hostel children!

Oh, What a Night!!

There were hundreds of people in attendance who all received a hot meal, but some of the special guests were a few of the village "oldsters".  

So, on behalf of Joyful Journeys in India, they would like to thank 
Immanuel Church for it's commitment to this mission as well as all who support 
the variety of ministries through prayer and financial backing!!
Lives are being changed for the better because of your generosity and love!!

I would personally like to thank all who followed along on our trip through this blog;
I hope it gave you a glimpse of what this ministry is all about and how it is empowering 
those less fortunate than ourselves.

If you would like more information on how you can help, please contact me at
I'd be happy to give you details.

But wait, there's more...
Although I am wrapping up my posts, 
my family will be contributing their "2 cents" worth.
Be sure to watch for what they have to say.

In closing, I would like to leave you with a quote from Gandhi...
"Be the change you wish to see in the world."
You have the power to make a difference,
the choice is yours what you do with that power.

God bless you!