Monday, February 3, 2020

Absolutely, you can help!!

I'm sitting in my warm comfy house, drinking a cup of hot tea, my beloved pups laying at my feet, and reflecting back over the last 2 weeks and trying to decide what to write at this point. There is so much information that I've tried to cram into this blog while we were in India and I truly pray that it has touched you in one form or another. I think about how I tried to capture the days events as I would write well into the wee hours of the night...and why I would do that. Of course one of the primary reasons was to keep our family, friends and supporters back home up on what we were doing, however my true prayer was to touch hearts and open eyes to the magnitude of this ministry in the hopes that it might drum up the much needed support to keep it going.   

In a nutshell, Joyful Journeys is a 501c3 organization that is run out of Immanuel Church in West Bend. I rejoice in the fact that our congregation is full of generous individuals who give of their time, talents, and financial support to a ministry that most will never see in person, but trust and believe in the good that it is doing.  But it's not just our church family who are committed to empowering the people of Madhavapatnam; three fourths of our pledged funding comes from Immanuel contributors, the other quarter comes from friends, our family members, and people who have simply heard of what we are doing and feel the desire to support it.  When this ministry started 15 years ago, our monthly budget was $450, currently we send approx $9,000+ every month to cover things such as teacher and staff salaries, school supplies, hostel children needs, food for Lunch Bunch program, support for Oma's Oldsters, and fuel for the vehicles, just to name a few expenses.  With the growth that has taken place over the years, we have recognized that we are to a point where in order to maintain the good works being done, WE NEED YOUR HELP.

Support can come in many different forms, the primary way is through our Student Sponsorship Program.  A pledge of $20 per month / $240 per year will cover a students educational needs, including uniforms and teacher salaries, for a school year.  When you commit to sponsoring a child, you are given a photo of one of our students; we can pick one for you or you can stop in at Immanuel Church and check out our India Wall and choose one for yourself.  Below are a couple of the kids I sponsor...
I met this set of twins before they even started school; πŸ’•

and have had the joy of watching them grow over the past couple years!

It was fun showing them the photos of us! 😊
At the risk of totally embarrassing myself, I will share this next picture for the good of the ministry.  You see, sometimes you just feel a personal connection with a child...

Here I am showing him our pictures together. πŸ˜‚ I can only imagine what must be going through his young mind!!
At least one of us cleaned up nicely with a haircut!

Currently we have 450 students in our school...many of them could still use a sponsor to support their education.

Image may contain: 1 person, smiling, possible text that says '$20 AT A COFFEE SHOP WILL GET you 4 SPECIALTY DRINKS $20 a month to sponsor a child will get them an education and so much more!! Joyful Journeys India Ministry making a difference one child at a time!'

Our Lunch Bunch program feeds over 100 children a day whose families are unable to send them to school with food from home. For $10 per month / $120 per year, you could provide nourishment for a hungry child. 

Oma's Oldsters provides support for basic needs to the elderly community within Madhavapatnam. $15 per month / $180 per year would help provide food, medicine and clothing to senior citizens in the village. 

Our House Pastor program offers a stipend for individuals who spread the Gospel in local house churches. $35 per month offers financial assistance to these clergy.

Any dollar amount given to the general fund can help with expenses such as building and vehicle maintenance and repair.  Or you can specify to a direct need like these donations...
Hot water heaters for the hostel

Sewing machine for the Cutting and Tailoring Center

A bus for the Marshall School

Computers for technological training

To pledge online, you can either access our website in the right hand column or click the link below

Donations can also be mailed to 
Immanuel Church
501 Walnut Street
West Bend, WI 53095
(checks payable to Joyful Journeys)

I thank you from the bottom of my heart for taking the time to read this blog, for faithfully following along on our travels, and for opening your mind to prayerfully consider how you can help our efforts in Madhavapatnam India.

Image may contain: 1 person, possible text that says 'Thousands of candles can be lit from a single candle, and the life of the candle will not be shortened. Happiness never decreases by being shared. ~Buddba Shine Brite and Share the Light... Ignite the world through education and watch it glow!'


p.s. Don't forget to join my fellow travelers and me on Sunday, February 16th at the 9:00am or 10:30am Worship Services; we will be sharing our reflections on our trip and Joyful Journeys Ministry.

Saturday, February 1, 2020

Never gets any easier...

Our last day in India began with our typical morning gathering; like every other morning we all came together to share our thoughts and have a short devotion led by Emma.  (as in past trips, this truly has been a beautiful way for us to start our day)  I started by asking my fellow travelers to give me their high and low point of the trip in a nutshell... Based on their responses, I believe I can sincerely say "mission accomplished"!! The time spent interacting with our JJM family, being with the hostel children, plus reading and doing art projects with the kids in Marshall School were all on the high point list; we came here to build relationships and I dare say we are all leaving with more love woven into our hearts!!  The low points varied amongst the travelers, but nothing overshadowed the experience we had here.

Since our flight wasn't scheduled to leave until later that evening, our plan was to go back to the hostel and spend the afternoon with our JJM family and the hostel kids.  We made a slight detour on our way there to pop in on a "Puberty Celebration"; yep, that's right, they celebrate a girl's "coming of age" with great fanfare here. Novahu and Manjula told me that families begin saving for this event as soon as they give birth to a daughter because it is such a grand occasion; after that, they save for her dowry. I can certainly believe that after what I saw... This was the sign outside her village welcoming the whole community to the event.  This particular girl goes to the Marshall School, hence the reason we were invited to attend.
The rest of these pictures were taken in a communal area outside her house where we greeted her and offered a blessing to her by sprinkling rice on her head...

 The family was incredibly grateful that we accepted their invitation to stop by...

Professional photographers are on hand to take pictures.
 You can see by the size of the pots below that they are preparing to feed quite a large crowd; Novahu said that there are about 1,000 people in this village and they would all be invited.

Now onto the hostel for lunch and quality time.  Although we had a delightful afternoon, there certainly was this dark cloud lurking over us all, as we knew what lied ahead. 
It never ceases to amaze me how emotionally attached you can get to someone in such a short amount of time, like with the new little shine brites we just met this trip; they stole our hearts with their smiles and joyfulness! 😍And then there are the children who we have grown to love over the past several's heart wrenching to think this is their final year in the hostel, then off into the world...will we ever see them again?? 😒 One girl in particular, Vijaya, has been there since our first trip over; it's been our privilege to watch her grow into a smart amazing young woman through the years...good gore, this is hard!!  Pradeep, one young boy who I've gotten to know, along with his sister Deepika, have been with us for quite sometime now...when I told him I hoped he knew how much I loved him, he replied "I know auntie, I really do know, and I love you too". 

Then came that dreaded time for us to say never gets any easier!! I'm sitting here crying now just thinking about how emotional that time is for both sides.  As their tiny arms wrap around us with such strength, clinging on to you until you have to release them to move on to the next child, is a feeling like no other that I can describe.  The only relief I can get is knowing that they are in good hands, and that the people who care for them on a daily basis love them like their own.  What a gift the Joyful Journeys Hostel is to these children who come from lives filled with such brokenness and heartache. May God grant us all comfort and bring peace to our hearts as we move back into our daily routines, clinging to the memories and friendships we have made.
As I shared in one of my first posts, I had been reading the book Barnyard Dance to the kids as they joyfully danced with my fellow we waved farewell, I changed the words at the end of the story to...With a OINK and a MOO and a QUACK QUACK QUACK, we're heading back to America buuuut WE'LL BE BACK!!!

Then it was time to say our "see ya laters" to our Indian family that has cared for us with such love and kindness throughout our trip; we were truly blessed by their hospitality, and will definitely miss them all as well...especially Rajini's tea!! πŸ˜‰

So what do you do when your heart aches with the pains of chocolate cake, of course!!

After approximately 36 hours of traveling, we made it back home!! 

We are weary, but filled with gratitude for our Joyful Journey, and we are happy to be back, but forever changed! 

February 16th is India Sunday at Immanuel Church; join us at the 9:00am and/or 10:30am Worship Services as we share our experiences and shed light on how Joyful Journeys Ministries are impacting the village of Madhavapatnam and beyond.  All are welcome! πŸ’–

Watch for another post, as I still have more to say (I know, go figure), but for now it's time to rest!


Wednesday, January 29, 2020

Big Celebration Day...

Today was our last full day in Madhavapatnam and that meant a day full of celebrations!  It started with a special lunch for all the students from the Marshall School.  Feeding 450 children within an hours time took a great deal of effort; the words I use to best describe that process would be "organized chaos"! But many hands kept things flowing, as they needed to eat in shifts, so eventually the children were all fed and sent home for the afternoon so the teachers could also enjoy the meal.
Everyone washed their hands before they ate.

It's amazing how patient these children are!

Grateful children!!
Students shoes left outside the dining's amazing that they all find theirs when they're done.

Next crew of  wait staff.
Jo and the head chef.

Marshall School teachers
During that time, Olivia, Shekinah and I worked on handing out the remaining goodies and getting the last of the pictures taken for the student sponsors.  This has been a long process, one that we started at the beginning of our trip; hopefully we didn't miss anyone!

How would you like to wash these pots?!?
Following lunch we had time to rest and interact with the hostel children. We had picked up some henna and brought along cleansing face masks from home; what a great afternoon!


I was so tired and kept nodding off when this sweet little girl said to me, "it's okay auntie, you just take a sleep and I'll make your hands pretty".  So I did. :)

While the girls had fun applying the henna, the boys were really helpful in cleaning the "paste" off.

Meanwhile, Jordan was being pampered in a different way...

Fun with photo chopping...

Johanna had sponsored Sasikanth while he attended Marshall School, through our numerous trips to India the two of them became good friends.

 It was finally time to put on our new traditional outfits and go to the program.  But of course not before we had a chance to take some photos.

As always, the final celebration is one of great excitement and emotion. Being honored as representatives of Joyful Journeys Ministry on behalf of Immanuel Church is always a very heartwarming experience. We recognize that there are many individuals who give generously in support of JJM and that only by working together can we make a positive difference. Thank you for your support!! 

So I was just mentioning to some of the hostel girls yesterday how I never see the moon when I'm here, then tonight when Novahu was giving a brief synopsis of the ministry and remembering Terri Tybring for her initial work within the organization, I looked up and look what I saw... I do believe she was smiling down on the good works being done here!

 As you will see below, we were each brought forward to receive a garland and shawl from a different group within JJM...

After I gave words of love and encouragement, incorporating the washcloths once again into my message, and Jordan gave words of thanks, we then heard from one of the Marshall School teachers, a couple of students and a Cutting and Tailoring student. It was truly amazing to hear how JJM has impacted their lives!!

Finally it was time for the dancing to begin...

All the kids are incredible dancers!!

After a long day it was time to say goodnight to our precious hostel children...

I've really enjoyed reconnecting with some of the hostel children who I've met on previous trips, plus getting to know the newer children; once again, they have embedded their love into my heart; it will certainly be sad to say good-bye tomorrow!

As always, I will go to sleep counting my blessings!