Thursday, December 18, 2008

Christmas Time

Looking at Christmas this year is different than before I went to India. Right now I feel so blessed and I have everything I want. I bet I am driving Ryan nuts as I have no idea what I want.

Anna on the other hand is so easy to shop for. I know I bought way too much for her, including a Wooden Kitchen off of Craig's list :)

I think its that I was to celebrate the gifts of Christ, not just that he got gifts when he was born but also the gift of eternal life. I have that. Pray that I keep that in mind as we go to 6 parties in the next few days before the celebration of Jesus's birth. That's the reason for the season, not Hallmark or the Gimme-Gimme monster.

Friday, December 5, 2008

The Car

I just wanted to share a couple pictures of Ryan's Car.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

And how was your day dear?

Welcome to Erie Snow!

It started out with Anna spilling cereal before she even got to the table at breakfast. Ryan was home working on a specification for work so he was in the front room.

Our door bell rings - I am excited we don't know many people in Erie. Its a friend who was going to help us out on a project and I thought he was here for that. Turns out he backed into Ryan's car with his truck. Oops. Its still drivable, just part of the door and side panel need some help and the tire is flat.

I left Ryan at home to run up for a mystery shop and to check out a quilt shop. I did my shop, found yet another quilt shop closed and started to drive home in the slushy snow. I slid and ended up some how straddling a ditch.

I got out of my car not knowing it was a ditch and had water up to my knee. I tried to get it to move by myself but I knew I was over a ditch and really thought this was a job for professionals. I did not call Ryan, what could he do, he was home with a flat.

I walked to a near by house and asked if she knew a tow truck. She helped me out and kept Anna inside while the tow truck dragged me across that ditch. The car seems fine. All Anna says is we went boom. I thank God for his protection, I was 6 inches from hitting a tree. We were safe and so is the car.

I got home, that's where I am now. Ryan even offered to take me out to eat but I really don't want to get in a car right now.

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Yes we remember you!

I was sitting at the dinner table last night with Anna cutting out snow flakes. She was coloring the paper and I was cutting them out.

She just turns to me and says "Do you remember at the office where I would go up behind Bonana and go Boo and annoy her?"

We talked a bit about Bonana (how Anna says it) - Bhuvana is her real name and how good of a friend she is and how fun she is.

Yes my 3 year old remembers India.

We pray for our Indian friends daily and miss them...

Wednesday, October 29, 2008


Sleep, wake up eat breakfast, go to work, eat, work, go home, play with Anna, play with Nancy, sleep.

That is what the schedule feels like for me. I might steel a private moment or two but not enough to be glad. I have some trains out but just when i am about to grab a knife Anna comes in and sits on the lap or Nancy calls that dinner is ready or we decide to go for a walk.

Snow is flying around here, it is not sticking near our house yet but the lake effect is sticking on the other side of 90, about 4 inches out there. Glad we rented in the city.

Nancy will have to add her routine which involves shopping, zoos, libraries and much more fun stuff.

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

It is starting...

... to feel like home.

With only a handful (5) of boxes on first floor, and a second handful (6) on the second it is really starting to feel like home here. It also helped that Nancy made a chicken pot pie and apple brown betty too. She had trouble finding a recipe for the pot pie, she has lots of cookbooks but the problem is most of them said add a bag of frozen peas and carrots to a prepackaged.... she had flour, butter, fresh corn, fresh beans, and all the rest fresh.

After dinner, (we could not do it before as Anna was worried about a bear finding her pot pie cooling while she was out) we walked the neighborhood. We are finding some of the more interesting architecture here, houses built in 1880, churches turned into houses, and run down unfit for human habitation homes.

Then after the walk we loaded all the electronics into the new TV table I made and Nancy stained, it all just fit... the stereo, the DVD player, the VCR and the new digital ant box. It was fun trying to figure out the wiring of it all. Sadly given the age of the equipment they vary on the outputs and inputs they accept, and the cables I had on hand has made me have to compromise. The 15 year old TV is mono and will only take coaxial, most everything else is RCA, I use the VCR to transfer over the signal for the TV. Then I learned that the VCR can only take one input, so my theory of having the digital ant run via coaxial to the VCR and the DVD come in as RCA is not working. ... but no maybe it will work... yea I just have to turn the VCR off for the digital ant and on for the DVD, or what will work is going to get a RCA trio to run the digital ant through the stereo. And sadly I could not get the fiber optic to work between the DVD and Stereo nor can I get anymore than 2 channel sound between the two... though both are 5.1 capable, maybe that can be fixed after I get batteries for all the remotes and can control more menus.

Maybe while I am out getting batteries I should just get a whole new setup: TV, DVD, stereo, Blueray, computer, and popcorn maker.


Tonight I will fiddle with that just a little more but my main task will be to corral all my tools and organize them and figure out if any more are truly missing...

Thursday, October 2, 2008

Moving In, Starting Work

Wow how quick things go once you got to move. We chose the brick house, had the movers pack us up and move us in. We are unpacking boxes, trying to work with Verizon to get our phone and Internet, the issue is that ordering via the website saves us $60 a year but the website is broken and sends us to living in Titusville instead of Erie.

We will post pictures of our home eventually, we are only halfway through the boxes in unpacking so it is a MESS. Though we did a wise thing and do not let boxes into the living room. The living room is our little haven, though the dining room has some boxes that need to be shifted up to the sewing room. As for other rooms the kitchen is settling in, the TV room is still a mess, the office was good but became a dumping ground, the bedrooms are livable (Anna picked up all her toys last night before bed), and the sewing room is a mess. There are about 200 boxes in the attic that need to be sorted. We have a lot of work to do yet including setting up a budget plan. At least a couple more weeks of unsettled living.

Rain the last two days, there is water on the basement floor, makes me very glad that I sent the boxes to the attic.

Back to work, more after the stress wears off in a few weeks.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Three Choices

Well like all those H&G TV shows we watch too often we have three choices.

Choice one, a large 4 bedroom near a funeral home nine blocks from the lake shore, no yard to speak of, several blocks from the nearest playground. It has a basement, attic and a sun porch off the back. It has a drive way for parking.

Choice two, a small three bedroom on a bluff overlooking the lake with on street parking, very small yard to speak of and a playground down the street.

Choice three, four bedroom cape cod a block from the water, wood fireplace, one car garage, large yard, farthest from work, better school district than other two, rent is $200 more per month than other two.

There were many other options from double wide trailers in the country to houses walking distance from a McDonald's. The bathroom pictured below has matching wallpaper, toilet seat, shower curtain, and light switch and the only bathroom in the house :)

Sunday, August 24, 2008


Processing paperwork at a large corporation takes time, due diligence now pays off, it costs a lot less than fixing mistakes. When you are a future employee spending a lot of time waiting it is easy to get impatient. What to do with all that pent up energy?


Better yet DO home and garden!

Nancy and I extended three downspouts under ground and 40 feet away from the house each. This gets all the rain from the roof of the house away from the foundation of the house where it could potentially do some damage.

The second project was fixing some of that damage. The front walk had settled about an inch from one section to the next resulting in a trip hazard. Nancy dug under the side walk and I placed a 12ton jack under to lift a 3x12foot section of sidewalk back up to where it should be. Then Nancy mixed up 32o pounds of new cement which I pushed under sidewalk to keep it in place. A couple days of waiting and the jack was pulled out, the hole filled in, the landscape returned to pristine condition. Now there is a lot less worry when the rains come.

As for the job, I will be starting on the 29th, all the major paperwork should be done today or tomorrow (pray that it is) and then we can start officially finding a place to live and moving there (pray we find the right place and timing works out for it.)

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

New Career

Good news! Ryan has been offered a job and he has accepted the verbal offer.

Lots of things need to happen before it is official, drug tests, background checks, salary checking, and of course signing an actual job offer and moving to the new city. All this will take time, maybe only two weeks, maybe a month but soon it will happen.

The big choice has been made now for many small choices.

Wednesday, August 6, 2008


We are traveling.
From the 5th of August until the 13th or so we are in St. Louis, MO
If that is near where you live and you want to talk with us email us or call us 570 2509 area code 616
If you are in India and want pictures of our travels...
wait. we left our camera download cords in South Bend.
If you are in Detroit and want to see us...
wait. We plan to go there next.

Pray about the job search, got an interview on the 8th and another on the 11th.
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Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Ten Questions?

Well there is a subtle shift in the focus of our blog now that we are home... those interested in our adventures in India are waning, maybe just checking up to see if they will see us in person or if Ryan has a job yet, while those in India are wondering the same thing.
  1. Where are you? South Bend, Indiana.
  2. What are you eating? Pizza, raspberries and other fresh fruits, wraps and others things that mix veggies with a little meat. We are trying to eat smaller portions, less meat and more vegetables than last time we were living in America. No we have not eaten Indian since we stepped off the plane.
  3. How is Anna? She seems to be adjusting well enough but she is being a little bit of a pill with grandma. While she is still shy she does not seam to worry about getting pinched when she is out.
  4. What do we think of the weather? It is really cold here, I am using a blanket a lot, when will it get above 85F???
  5. Will you go back to India? Maybe... not right now.
  6. So what is your next step? Ryan is applying to engineering jobs, we are visiting family and churches and trying to give Anna some structured days too. Nancy has started working as a mystery shopper again.

Where are the rest of the ten questions? You will have to email us :)

    Monday, July 21, 2008

    Visiting Plans

    Good news! After a week of Anna always being in contact with either Nancy or I we were able to have her walk into a house we have not been at for a year while we stood next to the car. Ah the joy of visiting Gama and Papa! We stayed with them for several months before leaving for India and now we are back. Though this time it is for a couple weeks before we travel to other towns to visit some friends which is before I settle down with a job.

    We have a couple of talks scheduled for the next couple weeks.

    On July 27th we will be visiting Lakeshore Baptist Church in Stevensville Michigan.

    On August 3rd we will be visiting First Reformed Grandville Michigan.

    Also on the 3rd we will involved in an open house from 1-3pm in Rockford Michigan.

    In between this we are visiting individual supporters and I am applying to jobs, I do have one good prospect now and many more resumes being sent out each day.

    We plan to visit St. Louis and then Detroit the first and second two weeks of August, subject to change due to job search.

    Wednesday, July 16, 2008

    We are Home

    The travel started with tears... saying goodbye to friends you know will never come to America to see you, and maybe do not even know what the Internet is... is hard. I cried giving Ruth a hug, I cried as Mary Glory prayed for us, I cried as I prayed thanking God that both our families are brothers and sisters in Christ. Anna Cried when she tripped and scraped her elbow. I cried when the airplane took off and we circled over Chennai. I cried when the plane tracking map showed we were closer to Michigan than Chennai. Anna cried when she had to get onto her third airplane in 24 hours. I cried when I saw Michigan outside the window.

    Our travels were good, Jet Airways was kind to us, though it was disappointing when they told us that Anna could not sleep on the floor and had to be in a chair. All our luggage made it to Newark, but we are waiting for a lost bag to be delivered to the house today.
    We will be staying at Ryan's brother's house in Grandville for the next few days. We are doing pretty good, though Anna is waking up several times a night crying and saying 'I don't want to.'

    Congratulations to John and Peggy for responding first to our "Who got your newsletter " game.

    Sunday, July 13, 2008

    Travel Details

    Some answers to the questions you have:

    1) Are you all packed up?

    Yes, since Saturday.

    2) What are your flight plans?

    Monday we leave our home here at 9 pm India time, driving to the airport and then flying to Grand Rapids, Michigan (We leave our house at 11:30am, July 14th Michigan time.)

    Here are our flight numbers and times (all in Michigan time):

    2:45pm Monday July 14th, Flight departs (9w0226) Jet airways from Chennai
    11 hour flight 2 hour layover.
    3:40am Tuesday July 15th, Takeoff from Brussels Belgium (9w0228) Jet Airways
    8 hour flight 3 hour layover.
    2:45pm Tuesday July 15th, Depart Newark New Jersey (CO3015) Continental
    2 hour flight.

    4:47pm Tuesday July 15th, Land in Grand Rapids Michigan.

    3) What size is Anna?

    She is a 3 T in shirts and pants very tall and skinny. She is 8.5 in shoes. That's our guess as the sizes are different here. We think when we get back she will have a growth spurt.

    4) Where are you going to stay?

    For the first week we will be in Grand Rapids area and then after that we are going to travel to Detroit, Stevensville, and St. Louis visiting churches and friends who have supported us.

    I think that is the most important answers for now. Pray we have safe travels, all our luggage is safe, Anna tolerates the seat belts and sleeps a lot, everything is on time, we don't get sick etc. etc.

    While we will keep our blog up to date with what we are doing we plan to only email out a couple more times. If you were not aware these emails are selected copies of what we write at, we do not email out every post we write.

    Thank You,
    Ryan and Nancy and Anna

    Tuesday, July 8, 2008

    A Couple Fun Days

    This is Pudhiya Padhai trust bank group from Narikuravargal colony. They are gypsies who make glass beaded jewelry. Here they are saying "nandri Linda." On Linda's behalf we bought a lot of necklaces and bracelets and earrings and a glass ring.

    Nancy did not tell me until we left that we overspent her planned budget by four times... oops that was my fault. They separated us and overwhelmed us with so many options. They are crafty in more ways that one! ;) Nancy has been watching prices throughout the city so she was firm on prices which helped us.

    Usually I am the one stressed out by people and pushy sales, but today I was having a blast! As we were leaving I learned that Nancy was on overload. She is doing better now but I can still tell she is on overload.

    We were surprised how much of a fuss they made over our coming. We got the royal treatment with flowers, glitter filled balloons, and songs and dancing. It was great. As this was also a regular trust bank meeting they had a short lesson, this week it was about verbal abuse in the home and what to do about it. These clients are on their fourth cycle with Growing, and they have truly grown, these 10 minute talks each week have improved their health, self worth, business skills, and community. I think as a company this is the group of women we are most proud of serving. Read more about them here.

    For us this whole past week has been a true blessing, many great gifts have been given to us; free lunches, free auto rides, cookies and candy, surprise and not so surprise parties, actual gifts such as pictures, clothing, tablecloths, jewelry. On top of it all we have received so many compliments about all we have done here. We see it as we were only doing God's work and at the same time God is telling us thank you for doing his work. There are many more surprises and fun and some work planned for the rest of the week. Monday night we will board a plane and head to the USA saying goodby to all our friends here.

    Saturday, July 5, 2008

    Anna in A Sari

    Here is Anna in the Sari that Ram's tailor on Ramasamy in T Nager made for her.
    Rams also made my sari, she does great detail work. She has done all my clothes since I got to India.
    It is fantastic and she looks so cute. She has room to grow which is great.

    Anna picked out the fabric.

    Here is our family picture too :)

    Tuesday, July 1, 2008

    Last Mailing

    We have our last mailing almost ready and are sending it from India. Its a bit time consuming, while some parts are enjoyable.. like writing personal notes to people, other parts make it feel like a factory job.

    • Your address, oh so nice to have them printed... and this time I remembered to have USA printed on there so they don't just float around India.

    • Gluing stamps on... sorry no prestick or lick and stick here.

    • Closing the envelope - Again glue. All the gluing is best done when Anna is gone or asleep. She is 3 and wants to help so much, and well that she did, she piled up a stack of wet envelopes, sticking some of them together... consider yourself lucky if you get one of the ones Anna 'helped' with.

    • Air Mail Stamp - I don't have the patience to write it 250 times... I did not write it on my parents anniversary card and it only went up to Mumbai and back to us.

    • Return Address stamp - we chose to go with Ryan's brothers American address so there is hope that if it does not make it to you it will come back to us. We have had a Christmas newsletter come back to us five months after we sent it!

    • Map of India stamp - now that's the fun one that tells you this is not just another bit of junk mail!

    It is comforting to know that there is not a return envelope and a plea for money inside. While that is how 90% of our income came in it is such a challenge to be personal if you know there is going to be that donation form in the mix. The great news it that God has provided, abundantly fulfilling our needs including our plane tickets home :)

    We will be sending out 248 letters on Thursday, the quickest they get to the USA is about two weeks. Seeing how we only have twelve more days here there is a very good chance that we will be home before anyone gets the letters. How about we give a prize to the first person to tell us that they got their newsletter! We are going to go pick up some beaded necklaces from the gypsy clients on Tuesday... first one to get their letter gets one.

    Thursday, June 19, 2008

    Quilt Class

    We only have 3 more weeks in India. For a long time I have been asked to teach four of the staff we have been working with at IID Tabitha college how to do quilting. I finally got over my fear and did it. You know what? It was fun teaching Sumithy, Hilda, Sarao and Kanatara, all tailoring teachers and export quality goods makers.

    We have discovered that quilt making is different than the clothing they usually make. The project was a 16 patch pillow cover with many matched corners.
    Here is Hilda with one.

    They had a great time and made 4 great pillows. I was able to teach them the basics of quilting.... chain stitching, matching corners, color choosing. Once they have these basics down the next step would be to add triangle blocks.

    I also had to learn the way they did things. I learned with some cool tools: a rotary cutter, a mat and a nice square plastic ruler, I set the fabric flat on a table and cut it. They have these 2-pound scissors, a sewing tape measure and ingenuity, it takes a lot more skill to get perfect cuts. I learned just as much from them about techniques of cutting as they learned from me about piecing.

    We all had fun and in the end we have five very colorful throw pillows.

    Here is Kanatara winding a bobbin.

    Delhi Belly

    We have a hitchhiker.

    When we were up in Delhi we must have eaten something contaminated with an ameba/bacteria combination. When we got back, I started to feel gassy and no amount of Coke (I am so happy we have Coke here) could get it all up. Nalini next door kept telling me I had Delhi Belly.

    I started taking Cipro, an antibiotic we were given in the USA just incase we started to feel sick. Even with a week of that, there was something wrong so I went to the doctor. Yep I have an ameba and got to go on a double antibiotic, basically what we have is Dysentery. After a few days, I was not having the pins in the stomach feeling and was able to do more and eat again. That is when Ryan came down with it. Ryan is now being medicated too.

    Pray we get it all cleared out of our system so we do not re-infect each other.

    Anna is perfectly fine :)

    Sunday, June 15, 2008

    A Video About Growing Opportunity

    This is a video about Growing Opportunity.

    திஸ் ஷோர்ட் வீடியோ தல்க்ஸ் அபௌட் தி வொர்க் பெதிந்து ஒஉர் வொர்க்.

    Sunday, June 8, 2008


    One of the advantages of volunteering with Growing Opportunity is seeing other companies they work with.

    One of the closer partnerships is with IID or Inter-Mission Industrial Development Association. They do many different things, orphanages, schools, colleges, and export crafts.

    The way school works here is in tenth grade a major test is taken, those with high scored go on to two more years of schooling in prep for college. The others with lower scores buy their schooling if they are able. IID is filling a gap among those that can't pay high tuition. They are offering skill based trades training to those that otherwise would stop schooling in tenth grade. IID works hard to find their students jobs when they graduate.

    IID teaches skills, such as carpentry, plumbing, catering, fashion design and information technology. IID currently has 18 branches educating men and women in Chennai in tailoring, batik, welding, wood work, electrical work and computers.

    A new concept is also a community college, where instead of trades the focus on office skills. (There is even a one year program that readies a person to be a Client Relations Officer at Growing Opportunity.)Ryan and I have been volunteering for IID half a day every other week. We help in their export division. They make shirts, pants, purses, scarves, bags and other custom orders mainly for Europe. With the money they make they help pay for the orphanages under IID. We aren't doing the sewing, we check for the seams straight and other quality concerns and suggest better sewing methods. Yes I am using my quilting experience here.These blue scarves are for Switzerland.

    If you would like any batik (or other items) the prices are very competitive. Between myself and Ryan's mom we bought many yards of batik at 1/4 of what similar would cost in America. I will make a quilt with these below. Tell us of you would like anything and we will bring it back to the states in July :)

    They have many designs in both scarves, and quilt / clothing quality with bible stories, animals, rural life, classic designs, from small handkerchief sized all the way up to table clothes.

    Saturday, June 7, 2008


    We got to see some of God's grace up north in Shimla.

    It was a relief from the 100F temperatures in Chennai. In Shimla we found rain, fruit and friendly people.

    It was nice to just rest and let some one else take care of the cooking ( I sound like a mom).

    Ryan, Lois & Jeff loved the many hours we spent on trains getting there.

    I learned I can only ride forward in a train that has 915 curves. Here is a track marker for those of you who read Hindi.

    Below is the train Ryan wanted to ride :)

    Friday, May 30, 2008

    Lotus Temple

    While we were up north we got to see the Lotus Temple for the Baha'i faith. Its a universal temple where all all faiths can pray. As we approach the door the hosts do a presentation in both English and Hindi saying respect this place and be quiet inside. As you walk in there are people posted who again tell you to be quiet.

    The funny thing is for a huge and wonderful a building this is made by man, man can't conquer it.

    There were a pair of birds in there and they were chirping. The echos of their voices resounding loudly throughout the space. I kept thinking that even if man is silent the rocks will cry out (Luke 19:40) ... and they did.

    We also had the chance to visit the Taj Mahal. That place is so beautiful. And once again we saw signs of the Lord's beauty. Birds, flowers, chipmunks and trees, and even a small weed growing in the cracks of the walkway around the building. A place so special we had to take off our shoes and wear those thin hospital booties.
    We are very thankful for Ryan's brother Jeff and mother Lois, plus their spouses for letting them come, and for them covering all the costs of seeing another India, the north is so different than the south, and at the same time very similar. It is was a whirlwind short visit of 14 days but such a blessing. Also thankyou to Ryan's brother Robb for buying a new camera on Ebay and sending it to us.

    Where have we been?

    Ryan's mom Lois and brother Jeff came to our house from the USA:)

    We showed them around Chennai, Dehli, Agra and Shimla. It was good to take a vacation and see other parts of India by train. With all that travel none of us have seen a computer in almost 2 weeks.

    We had the opportunity to tour part of northern India together this past week including the Taj Mahal, Red Fort, Lotus Temple and the hill station of Shimla.

    We enjoyed some great architecture from the 16th century. It amazes me that the Taj Mahal was build to honor a mans wife who died while giving birth to his 14th child. It looks as amazing as it did 400 years ago. It is so huge I am by the entry gate and I fianlly could get a picture of it all with the camera.

    Even Anna was impressed with the visiting quarters.

    I was also surprised that our Indian friends told us to go but had never beenbut they always watned to go to the Taj Mahal. Only one person had been and that was 20 years ago. It seems so simple to me, hop on a train and then anohter. I forget that many people here have not ever been out of their state and really won't ever leave. You stay where you know. Also up north Hindi is spoken not Tamil.

    Within being back home to Little Mount for an evening we had 5 neighbors asking how our trip to Agra where the Taj is and if we had pictures. We are almost to the point to renting out some place to show everyone what we saw.

    A special thanks to our freind Cheryl who helped arrange this trip! Also thank you to Ryan's brother Robb who sent a replacement camera so Ryan could take pictures again!

    Thursday, May 8, 2008

    Smells While Traveling / Stay at Home Dad

    This week I have been going up to our Molokai Office, about 2 hours from Home. I take a train and then a Share Auto. Here are some of the smells I want to share with you:

    • The lady in front of me has jasmine in her hair (the strong sweet smell fills the air)

    • We just went through a warm fish market (also a strong smell... not so sweet)

    • Vehicle Exhaust from buses, other autos, lorries, & bikes (cough)

    • Street vendor selling cantaloupe juice (sweet, musky cantaloupe)

    • Passing an oxen cart on the bridge, I don’t know if they ever get baths (Not like the river would help a high school boys locker room smells better)

    • Driving slowly past a man who has defiantly been wearing the same shirt for a week

    • Passing a truck holding vegetables (the cilantro overpowers everything else on the cart)

    • Tiffin shop with fried cakes for breakfast (reminds me of all the fried things at the Berrien County Youth Fair)

    I have included a pictures of one of our trust banks getting their first loan :)


    And now from Ryan:

    This past couple weeks have been different for me. Nancy and I have been been job sharing for most of our time here; bringing new meaning to the idea of 'two become one flesh.' Our skills nicely complement each other but this week Nancy's people skills have trumped mine in observing the GO staff while they work, as you can see above.

    The challenge is she has an hour and a half commute each way to the office, and a long day of work once there. For me that translates into long hours watching Anna. I have taken the time to be intentional about it... I am not throwing a movie onto the computer (until late in the afternoon when I am exhausted.)

    I have a new respect for all the stay at home caregivers. I am so glad that I had Gnana and naps. This time has also allowed me to spend a lot of time in prayer. While it feels really odd to not be sitting at a desk being productive, I was in the right place interacting with Anna and spending her quite times in prayer.