Thursday, September 28, 2006

Wes and Heather's Wedding

Here are a couple photo's of the Goertzen wedding that were sent to me by Angela, but taken by Daphne. I'd also like to include here what Angela wrote about the ceremony as what she said was lovely and captured the day:

This weekend I had the privilege of attending the wedding of Heather & Wes, who are dear to me even though I haven't spent a lot of time in the same city as them. They serve with Word Made Flesh in El Alto, Bolivia among exploited women and their children. Their wedding was the celebration of the great surprises God has in store for his children.The setting of the wedding was a beautifully deep greeny-blue back yard in Port Huron, Michigan with a creek running through it, chairs on the lawn, and a rustic chuppa draped with lace. The homily was a charge, a blessing, a celebration of sacrament. The Episcopalian father who delivered it reminded us that "sacrament" is defined as a visible sign of an inward grace. I think it was one of the most moving weddings I have attended. Their lives are concecrated first to the giver of that invisible grace and, as a mysterious blessing, a covenant and visible sign of that primary sacred bond, to one another.
It was even better getting to spend time with friends whose wisdom, humor, compassion and convictions are a blessing to me and to those around them. And who can forget the generous hospitality and plethora of pumpkin spice donuts provided by good old Tom Horton and Bob Newton? My favorite line of the weekend had to be: "This fillet o' fish is SO good." Or maybe: "My jacket is missing. I left it at Curves. You just get so hot working out."

I had such a great time seeing old friends, talking about India, dreaming for the future. Wish we all lived sooo much closer to one day, one day.

Tuesday, September 26, 2006

Ava and Me

I was trying on a dress for Heather's wedding and my niece Ava ran to put on a dress, too. As you can see, I adore her.

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

"In bad times good people must do more good, so that justice does not die."
from Afghanistan: Where God Only Comes to Weep

Proverbs 3:3
Do not let kindness and truth leave you; Bind them around your neck, write them on the tablet of your heart.

and verse 27 of that same chapter:
Do not withhold good from those to whom it is due, when it is in your power to do it.

Friday, September 15, 2006

A poem

Jonah ran
and in the middle of a storm
he said: throw me in!
He would rather have died than live through the storm.
And then, he was swallowed.
By a whale.
Lewis says God shouts in our pain.
Storms can cause suffering,
but being in the belly of a whale,
had to hurt as much as any storm.
Still, he stayed, three days,
holding out, holding on.
Did God lose his voice?
Was Jonah deaf, dumb, or just selfish?
More willing to die holding on to what hurt the most,
than to let go and live?

Friday, September 08, 2006

Pastor Pavamani

I was honored to receive this email from the daughter of the man who pastored the church I attended in Calcutta.

Dear April,

I don't think we've met. I'm Kavita, the youngest of Vijayan's four daughters. He was visitng with me in Towson, Maryland when he had the heart attack. I wanted to let you know some details.

He had one heart attack while he was watering the garden in my home. He didnt tell us. We heard of it much later. He suffered with the discomfort all night and then in the morning, my sister's brother-in-law's wife who is a nurse came to do a quick check up. We the took him to the ER where he suffered a second heart attack. The first heart attack blew a hole in the wall separating the two chambers, the second heart attack just made it worse.

He was in the ICU for four days in a St. Joseph Medical Center just 5 minutes down the street from my house. The doctor said that open heart surgery was inevitable but it would be dangerous at the same time because he wasnt sure if my dad would make the recovery he needed.

We were all sure my father would make it. This man faced challenges every day, faced death so many times and came through victorious....we knew he would pull through. What we did not know that God was arranging to take my father home to Him and He did everything so well, perfected every detail.

My mother heard the news, a friend from the US bought her a ticket and within a few hours she was on a plane. She was in the air when the madness hit London with that whole terorrist scare. But like I said, God arranged everything and her flight was the last one to leave Mumbai before they cancelled all flights to Heathrow.
Sh was only a few hours late - another miracle. She came straight to the hospital. My father was overyjoyed, the graph dangerously fluctuating on the monitor screen.

We had three wonderful days together in the room in the ICU. my sister and her husband. My mom. My husband and I. We laughed, prayed and talked. My father had a balloon pump assisting his heart and he had to lay very flat and still but he was just as cheerful, just as lively. News of him spread throughout the hospital and the doctors and nurses just loved him. They said there was something different about him. Some called him a "holy man". But he was just simple, loving Vijayan, concerned about the nurses and their long work hours.

On the day of the surgery we prayed together and sang his favorite songs. He closed his eyes, raised his hands and said 'I have perfect peace. This will be for the glory of God." We all said goodbye. That were the last few words that he spoke.

The surgery was supposed to be 3 and 1/2 hours long. It took almost 9 hours. The doctors later said that his heart was so damaged it was like sewing on cheese. The sutures to repair the patch burst open right as they were ready to close him up. They had to redo the entire procedure.

He was in a stable condition for a day and a half before everything started to go downhill. His blood pressure really fluctuated. His heart was not pumping adequately to support his body. His kidneys started to deteriorate. They started dialysis. This whole time they kept him heavily sedated and on a ventilator so he could not speak or open his eyes but they told us he could still hear. So we encouraged him and loved him and prayed.

They tried one last effort to help his heart heal. It didnt work. They called us in on Saturday morning and told us to get ready to say farewell to our beloved Daddy. I will never forget that ride to the hospital.

We surrounded him all day. People travelled from as far as Colorado that day just to get a chance to see him. I sang his favorite song close to his ear.

Finally at 2:25 AM on Sunday morning, the machines started beeping. One by one, the machines shut down. We clung to him.

The nurses were so kind. They wept with us. I will never forget the kindness and compassion shown to my father and all of us in that hospital. So the question was asked by many here in Calcutta: Why did God take Daddy to one of the best cardiac hospitals if he knew he wasnt going to make it? Why did he have to go all the way to America?

These are our thoughts regarding those questions: My father's whole life was spent in service for others. In many way, I feel his heart was physically broken with the pain and suffering that he took on himself. He always, always showed kindness to those in need, even to those who were undeserving. I feel that God, who loved Daddy far more than any of us, wanted to show him the same kindness and compassion in his last few days on earth. Honestly, the care imparted to him by those nurses and doctors was really, really special. They were so kind even to us, his family. Just the way they spoke was so encouraging and gentle. It would not have been the same in India.

Even though those last few days in the hospital brought many visitors, we stildl had some wonderful, private, family times of togetherness and fellowship. That also would have been difficult here.

There are other many details that prove that God's hand was in all of this. So we have no questions. We accept that God called His faithful servant home. We miss him terribly. The loss at times is unbearable. The man who spoke at his funeral, Dr. Tony Sargent said that 'Vijayan was a man who was twice alive". Its true. Thats why he's left such a deep void.

At the same time, we are witnessing the fruit of his labor. The entire ministry and church has shown amazing unity. My mother will be taking over. SHe spoke at the funeral. It was awe-inspiring. The funeral was so unique - it was more like a celebration of his life. he would have liked it. God got all the glory, just like he said.

I want to thank you from the family for what you wrote in your journal. You captured the heart of my father. He truly did weep for the city of Calcutta. I saw that many many times. It is true that something beautiful that once was, is gone. You are right. Things will not be the same. But I believe that his dream will continue. He instilled something in us that will never die. We will continue what he started.

Friday, September 01, 2006

What is it we want most?

A couple weeks ago in church, the speaker said that what people long for most is beauty...

I wonder about this thought. At first I agreed. But then I began to reconsider...and I wondered if we in white upperclass America too easily run to things like beauty and say it is what we long for most, when those in other cultures, especially cultures of poverty, would have a differing response.

Perhaps, what we long for most, no matter the culture, no matter a person's story, is to belong.

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