Happy New Year!
We want to thank each one of you who supported us through 2021 through your prayers, care, financial partnerships, and conversations.
Honestly the years 2020 and 2021 are just one big year in our minds and it is hard to separate them. We tried to look back at the year 2021 and realized this has been a unique year for us in many ways.
We began the year with helping our church in Mysore move to a new larger space. Just as we began to enjoy gathering in that place, a lockdown was put in place due to the second wave of the pandemic in India. We moved to Eddie’s parents place in Mangalore assuming the lockdown will be two weeks long. Turns out it was two and a half months long. During this time, friends, family members and acquaintances were grappling with COVID-19. While God kept many of them safe, many of our friends lost loved ones to the illness. The spring of the 2021 was melancholic all around us. However, being isolated from the rest of the world in the spacious space at Eddie’s parents place, we were able to wait on God and serve our church through online meetings.
In 2020, Eddie was accepted at Bethlehem College and Seminary to the M.Div. program. 2021 was supposed to be completing the required pre-requisite Greek courses, visas, and travel. We did not expect it to be smooth or hard. We prayerfully placed those needs before God since we began the process of admissions. But 2021 came with such a surprise. The US banned travel from India, they shut down the consulates. There was just simply no way of knowing what would happen. Our eyes were fixed on the one whom we knew was in control of the whole universe, yet we were being practical and prepared for the situation that we might not get to go to seminary.
In the summer, we were able to get back to Mysore. Nothing was usual. We were back in our house waiting for life to normalize – whatever that would look like eventually. The consulates were opening, state borders were opening for certain situations apart from emergencies. And we were able to get to our visa interviews in time. There were a few hiccups in the process, and we were placed on ‘administrative processing’. We headed back to Mysore and the wait continued.
12 days before the planned departure, we received our passports with visas stamped. The feeling was surreal. We had spent years building a community and a home in Mysore. Eddie used to assume “I will be part of God’s family with CCube in Mysore and then I will be with the Lord.” We had not ever imagined a different life. And now we were going to leave everything behind and go on to a new place and be uncertain about everything from this point forward. The next 15 days had moments which seemed like everything was zooming past at sci-fi speeds or were moving in slow-motion. We had to plan and execute what to take, what to give away or throw away and what to store. The take was little, the store was little, and the giveaway was the maximum. People kept asking us about our plans – where will you stay, what are the quarantine requirements, do you have money for this or that… Our honest answer was ‘we do not know’. Tearful goodbyes. We went to the airport where they were not sure if we could travel as a family. The airline had to figure out what the guidelines were. We stood by the counter praying for them to figure it out. If we could not travel, we would have to go back to our house which has nothing in it. A supervisor arrived on the scene, cleared our travel and we continued our journey to Minneapolis.
On arrival, we were surprised by the providence of God through brothers and sisters in Christ who set up our house with furniture, food, and cookware. We had budgeted our take off from India, but we had no idea what would happen on landing. God knew, God provided for. We are grateful to God for the support and partnership from folks on both sides of our travel – those who helped us take off and those who helped us land.
Eddie’s classmates had already arrived earlier in Summer for Greek classes. So, he joined them in their class to refresh his memory and deal with jet lag. Lauren spent the days unpacking and setting up our home. The kids were enjoying the newness of everything.
In 2 weeks, we had to rush to the ER because Mia had a fever that was not breaking, and we were running out of medication that we had brought with us. Eddie was away on a school retreat. In God’s providence, Lauren had invited one of the sem-wife’s (a seminarian’s wife) to lunch. She rushed them to the ER. The doctors tested Mia for everything from Covid to Malaria. She was negative. She just needed paracetamol and we came home after 8 hours. Being uninsured we were then sent a bill for $3500. Once again, we sought God in prayer. We contacted the hospital and informed them that we are still uninsured and in process of getting insurance. They assigned an attorney to our case. The attorney helped us with an emergency insurance from the state that covered most of the bill and the attorney fees of $500. We ended up having to pay about $50 for the whole thing. We are grateful to God that he helped us through it.
Our time here has been different. Meeting new people, learning their names, meal fellowships, studies, homeschooling (and legal work for it). We came here at the end of summer. In the fall, there were a lot of fall activities that Lauren and the kids did with various people who took them along to. Through many brothers and sisters in the Lord, we were blessed with more things for the house – furniture, clothing, winterwear and advice to survive the Minnesota winter.
Eddie’s studies have been going well. He finished his first semester well. The seminary has a relaxed first semester. The first semester is acclimatization and intentionally easier. He is on winter break now and will resume classes in a couple of weeks.
Lauren and the kids enjoyed early winter with Advent activities and Christmas. The kids have enjoyed the snow. The first time they saw snow, they screamed so loud, our neighbors came running down! And they then celebrated with the kids the first snow of the year. When the snow accumulated more, they played with the kids in the snow. The household is now gearing up for the new season of learning post the holidays.
There has been so much that has happened in the 5-month period here, it is impossible to recount even just the highlights without making this newsletter insanely long. In short, God has held our hands and walked us thought the year. For this, we are grateful.
One of the things we have learned coming here is how seasons are different – different activities, different expectations, different abilities. Coming from a place where seasons do not affect us much because we are not farmers. We do not care much about the seasons because we are at best trying to stay dry in the monsoon. We do not have to fix roofs; we do not have to plough or sow or harvest. This does not help us to appreciate the ‘waiting on the Lord’ aspect of the Bible. But when you live in a place where everyone around you waits for spring, you learn what that means.
Pray for us:
- For a means of transportation to get around
- For the children to be able to resume music classes
- For pending paperwork on our health insurance (we are insured till February, some paperwork is still required to get coverage till December)