Monday, March 5, 2012

Our First Day Back

After my last two nights in Three Hills with very little sleep, Dad, Deborah Joy and I caught a couple of planes to Bangalore for the annual Conference circuit. Everything couldn't have been smoother as far as connections and the flight were concerned. Our plane arrived just before 1 a.m. on March 3; Ed and Raja (check him out by scrolling down to the PS on this entry from 2010!) were there to pick us up and we got to the College campus somewhere between 2:30 and 3 a.m. They ushered us up to our dear old familiar guest suite. This time Sarah had lovingly given us two suites, but we had to decline; who would have slept by themselves in the other suite?! We all wanted to be together, so Debs and I took the outer room, like we did last year, and gave Dad the inner room.

I couldn't get to sleep in the time we had left to us before breakfast, so I showered and then lay down for half an hour. After breakfast, Dad had one thing on the agenda. First we went to the foreign exchange office to get rupees:
And then off we went to ... Dad's barber! (Watch for a separate post on the visit with Dad's old friend of 42 years):

Walking home from Johnson Market I wanted to get a mango Popsicle. Fortunately Deborah knew where to find one - the meat / fast fried food / ice cream shop:
That night Dad had his first speaking assignment - the Church youth group was having a special "Old Youth and New Youth Reunion" and they wanted Dad to speak, as he had led the youth group years ago and was always the speaker at the summer camp week.

Over thirty of us gathered in a classroom and sang, spoke, laughed, reconnected. Then Dad got up to speak. His text was taken from the Old Testament book of 1 Samuel chapter 23, verses 13 to 18 but especially the statement in verse 16: "And Jonathan, Saul's son, arose, and went to David in the wood, and strengthened his hand in God." Dad's topic was Characteristics of a Real Friend.

He mentioned a lady from France he had read about many years ago who was asked what the secret to her successful life had been. Her reply? "I had a friend."

Dad gave four or five characteristics of a true friend as revealed in this verse. Contrary to my first post on this trip back home to India, it turns out there are several key attributes to friendship that we can glean. The first was that Jonathan "arose." To arise in this context, Dad said, is to get up with feeling and strength and determination. A true friend is someone who goes into action on your behalf. Secondly, Jonathan "went to David" - you can't physically care for someone very well at a distance. The well-known saying, "iron sharpens iron," is talking about the connection between friends. Third, Jonathan went to see David "in the wood." David was in the wood because he was hiding out from Saul, Jonathan's father, who had issued a death warrant for him. This was a particularly low point in David's life to date. But Jonathan, the prince of the realm, realizing that David couldn't come to him, went to his friend. A true friend meets you where you are, Dad pointed out, not where you should be.  

But the fourth characteristic of a friend, and the one that grabbed me in particular, was how Jonathan was an encourager to David. Encourage comes from the same root word as does coeur, the French word for 'heart.' To discourage someone is to make them lose heart. Jonathan built up his friend David's heart.

Backtracking to a few hours earlier: because this was to be the second year in a row that the highlight of Deborah's March 2 birthday would be the utilitarian Frankfurt airport - where most likely no one would sing her Happy Birthday - I arranged with my dear Sarah that we would order birthday cake for all the students on our first evening after chapel.

That was before we knew about the Youth group meeting. The boxes of cake arrived promptly from Durga Bakery at 5 p.m., just like they had promised. Chapel started when it was supposed to at 6 p.m. But because things  were running late at Youth meeting, Sarah improvised. She and I cut out of the meeting, dragging Deb with us. That accomplished, Sarah got the dinner bell rung a few minutes early, and when all the students had gathered she announced that it had been Deb's birthday the day before and that there was pineapple cake for all of them in celebration. Immediately over 300 voices broke into "Happy Birthday to you ... Happy long life to you ..."

Last stop that night was a quick visit with one of Dad's closest friends, our beloved Mr Subbaiah, and his gorgeous wife, Pravin, who had been so dear to our mother. They took us to a "little restaurant" for delicious curry, dal, chicken, breads and desserts. The best part of all was that we were with them again.

The perfume bar ...

Embarrassingly, I started to nod off at the table, however, so we cut our evening short with promises to get together soon.
Entrance to the "little
restaurant" ... in a
seven-star hotel!

The paan station, should you wish to
indulge after the meal ...

I fell asleep literally the second I reached my bed. But as I awoke the next morning, I thought about Dad's talk and the value of friends, and I thought about our first day back:

  • Ed and Raja
  • Sarah
  • Johanan and Mera
  • the barber
  • the students
  • the kids 
  • the Youth Group
  • Mr and Mrs Subbaiah

If having a friend means your heart is encouraged, Dad, Debs and I are going to have very strong hearts at the end of the month! Thank you, all of you, for your warm welcomes and your great love for us.

We're home!


  1. Love it! Have a wonderful time:)

  2. Are you sure you had enough cake?!

  3. Great to hear about the first day! God bless all your days. Dorothy

  4. It's so wonderful to see Dad back there - surrounded by friends - and being a true friend to all! Thanks for going! Your first day had all the essential elements of a lifetime in it! Love it - and you!

  5. The many who love you here in your 'second home' are so glad that you are having such wonderful time in your 'first home'. May your hearts continue to be strengthened and encouraged and may your time there be blessed even beyond our best thoughts!

  6. Sounds like a great start. Love how you pre-planned Deb's birthday. That's a good friend.

    Make sure you be a friend to your body and get some sleep so you can give your heart some rest so it too can be strong.

    I heart you three.


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