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We are a small team of veteran travelers to India with big hopes. We have claimed Ephesians 3:20-21 as our verse as we have all been witnesses to God who has already done more than we could ask for or imagine on the CEM Campus through this incredible family of believers! So it is natural for us to expect to see God move in incredible ways throughout the week. Please pray that even deeper friendships would be formed with all those on the campus who have committed their lives to the amazing work God is doing in this poorest region of all of India, of all of the world. Jeff Petherick

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Hello all, this is Abigail here! Looks like it is my turn to here blog on our fourth day at CEM. This is a really hard blog post for me, because I truly feel that there are not enough words to accurately describe my experience here so far. We have been here four days and they have been some of the busiest I have ever had in my life. They have also been one of the most relaxing and stress free days I have ever had. While I cannot speak for everyone here I feel most, if not all of them, would agree.

It is 4:23 pm and I’m currently watching both the Communitas and Kensington teams out of the office door playing games with the children, or showing them photos from back home. The children here at CEM did not have school today. I think both the children, and our teams, were happy about this. It gave us a day that we dedicated to do nothing but focus on the children here. Today it was the CEM talent show and playing games.

Some of the children here at CEM showed off some of their many talents. I’ve learned I need to start taking Indian dance lessons. Even at a young age, these children sure do own that stage. Of course, our U.S. teams are not to be outdone, and we also participated in the talent show with our own skits, singing, and dancing. While I sat there and watching the kids on stage, the ones watching, and all our team watching and recording these performances I just sat there in awe. I am in INDIA! I am halfway across the world, and I have seen more of God’s presence here in India in these last four days than I see back home in the States a majority of the time.

These children, by definition, have nothing. However, they are so much more fulfilled than most of the kids and adults I know in the United States. They have a faith that is so deep in the Lord that it is just mind blowing to me. They don’t have rooms full of toys, closets that are bursting with clothes, cell phones, Christmas trees during the holidays with presents spilling out everywhere, or mothers and fathers to hug and tuck them in at night. However, they love others, and our Lord, unlike anything I have ever witnessed.

I have also spent quite a bit of time with the women of the Agape home. There are two women there in particular that I have grown attached too – Chitamah and Yankamah. Please forgive me on the spelling of their names. I am spelling them phonetically, and not how they are actually spelled. These two women are so absolutely amazing. We do not speak the same language, but I have had some of the hardest and longest laughs with these two amazing women. Our group determined that I am the younger version of Chitamah, and that when I become old, we will be very much the same. We got along so well that she asked if I could bring her with my back home in my suitcase (thank you to our translators!), that she wanted my outfit, I let her wear my sunglasses, and ended it with telling me when I come back next year to make sure my nose is pierced.  I could have sat with her all day if I could have!

That last request struck me because both the children and the women of the Agape home have asked, if not begged, me to come back next year. I never really gave it much thought in the beginning. I was so overwhelmed with everything that was going on around me. Now, I couldn’t think of NOT coming back next February. It is really hard for me to comprehend that I will be leaving here on Friday. I know I will be glad to be back in my own apartment, in my own bed, and have a warm shower. Yet, I know the minute I am finally done unpacking, and preparing for the week ahead of me back home, and have finally had a moment to relax that my heart and mind will be with the people here at CEM. I will be counting down the next ~365 days until I can come back and see everyone.

God is absolutely amazing, and I could not be any more grateful to Him for allowing me to come here. Thank you. Thank you so much.

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Hello to my family and dear friends.

All of you that know me well, and even not that well, know I am almost never at a loss for words, I feel that way here.  The multilevel experience of  being in India and living and working with the children at the Christ Evangelical Mission has managed to take me to a place of awe and wonder. 

My best intentions were to journal every day and blog every day, India had other ideas. It’s hard to blog when the power is out for the third time that day, thank goodness for the extra flashlights Jim brought. As far as writing in my journal, try wanting to even find the time when 155 children all want you to talk to them, play with them, take their pictures and just touch you. I can write in my journal on the long trip home.

I am only wise in that I know that I don’t know how long it will take to process this journey. I am more than thankful for my time here, actually amazed that I don’t care when the power goes out,  it will come back on soon enough. I still haven’t touched on the fact that the majority of the 155 children are orphans, the rest brought here by their families that can’t really afford to do anything for them and believe being here will give them a chance for a better life.

I miss those dear to me but I really feel that you are here with me every minute and I look forward to sharing all of this when I return.

Faith, hope and love to all.

Sharon

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editor’s note: Any newcomer to CEM can experience quite a range of emotions. This place has a way of drawing the best and worst from even the seasoned veterans. What follows are team member and newcomer Vickie’s unfiltered thoughts and the story of God in the midst of it.

Enjoy!

After five planes, a bus ride and two days of non-stop travel, we were looking forward to rest and to sleep, laying flat instead of upright.  We flopped down on our mattresses with one-tenth of the padding of our normal beds in the U.S. and had the best, worst sleep ever.

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I left home several days ago to begin this amazing journey and my suitcase contained letters and cards from loved ones.  My wonderful family and friends took time to write me notes and cards of encouragement and love. Beautiful prayers and scripture, pictures and even funny cards! I have been opening them daily and been greatly blessed. What a delight to know that so many are praying for me, for this trip, for this team and for this place.

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Hands-1268     Wrinkles, callouses, bad backs and swollen knees – prayers, hugs, lotion and… nail polish!?   One moment I’m crying and the next I’m in tears of laughter.  Yesterday and today we visited the residents at the Agape Old Age Home. I’ll admit, they are what pushed me over the edge to jump into this trip. I’ve always loved hearing about and supporting the work CEM does with the children, but whenever I’d see the photos of the bent and wrinkled old folks, I’d find tears running down my face – not quite knowing why.

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What’s My Name… we have all heard that phrase dozens – no, make that hundreds of times since our arrival. Every one of these precious children here run up to us, grab our hands and ask us to say their name. They know ours and it is important that we know theirs.  They share hugs and clasp our hands with pure delight because they know we flew half way across the world to see them. They know Jesus and they love us as sisters and brothers in Christ.

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Sunday morning began with exercise, lovely coffee, delicious food, and a child with his foot stuck tight in the toilet.  It is gonna be a great day I just know it!   I love how God can take the most ridiculous things and make it work for his purpose. The child was introduced to his sponsor who was on the team and had spent the morning trying to figure out who he was – only to meet him while trying to help.

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After 30 some hours of travel including 4 plane changes, lay-overs and a bus break-down (by the way, if you ever have wires burning and smoke filling your bus…just cut the wire.  I guess we didn’t need those connections!) we arrived at Grace Children’s Home.

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It was so wonderful to see Naveen at the airport and be reunited with my dear friend Jaya. But of course, I was smiling from ear to ear when I saw the children.  God has blessed me with this amazing opportunity to be the hands and feet of Jesus.  I don’t want to miss a second of it!

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The leaves are starting to turn here in Michigan as the summer wears on and we start settling into fall. As we get our kids ready to go to school, the offices at Impact India 360 are buzzing with activity. Our friend Jaya Sankar is coming for a visit!

The schedule will be challenging, but we are hoping to connect with as many of our donors and friends as possible in seven different cities. Take a look at the schedule below, and please click on the contact name for each city representative if you would like an invite to one of the many events happening at each location.

There will be more updates coming soon, so make sure you stay connected with us on Twitter or Facebook!

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