Tuesday, November 16, 2010

....To Mount Olive with Love...

Godfrey H.I. Rajkumar, me, Gene Hennig, Paramadass

Sunday was sort of an "India" day at my church, Mount Olive Lutheran Church, in Minneapolis. Two visitors - Godfrey Rajkumar, from Mumbai, and Paramadass, from the remote villages of the Upper Hills of Tamil Nadu near Kodaikanal, were there to speak about Bethania Kids (http://www.bethaniakids.org/).

During the night on Friday and on Saturday, we got a heavy snowfall. It was the first time Godfrey and Paramadass had seen snow! Gene and Kristie Hennig hosted a nice gathering at their home in Chanhassen on Saturday night. On Sunday, I played the organ for our two Eucharists and the guys spoke at our education hour about how Bethania serves three categories of children: orphaned, semi-orphaned (one parent), and handicapped or mentally retarded.

In the service we sang the Tamil lyric, "Sangaraparanum," in a translation by missionary Daniel Thambryajah Niles: "Christ is All To Me." (Niles wrote, transcribed and translated many Tamil hymns, many of which are found in the East Asia Christian Conference Hymnal). At the Hennig household the night before, Paramadass sang it in Tamil - a goosebumps moment. As Sunday's postlude, I attempted an improvisation on another Tamil hymn, "Tandanei tuthi pohme," very popular with Christians in the Chennai (Madras) area. After the services, we hosted a large biryani luncheon. Aunt Miriam (nee Naumann) McCreary, Mom's sister who grew up in India and went back as a medical missionary, made ALL of the biryani! About 100 people came, and all were well-fed. With the biryani our wonderful church crew of workers also served pappadams, raita, sweet mango chutney, bananas, yogurt, lemon/lime-ade, chai, cookies, and fennel candy.

It was a great day...We wish Godfrey and Paramadass godspeed, and we hope that they return to India and our Bethania Kids with renewed vigor.
+ + + + + + + + +
Watching me with shepherd-care,
Lovingly my wants attends,
My Companion all the way till
Evening falls and journey ends.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

From India with Love

Breaking news from Bethania Kids!

Two Bethania Kids staff members will be arriving soon to spend several weeks in the States - Paramadass and Godfrey Henry Immanual. I met Paramadass in Kodaikanal, where he works in the mountain village of Pumbari, where Bethania has one of its six Kodaikanal centers and Mabel's Creche - a sewing center for young women.

Paramadass is a warm and caring man committed to offering love and nurture to the children under his wing.

On the day I left Kodai and went for a farewell walk on Coaker's Walk, Paramadass was the last acquaintance I saw. He was picking up some medication for his daughter from the Van Allen Hospital.

Paramadass and Godfrey will be at my church, Mount Olive Lutheran Church in Minneapolis, on November 14, speaking at the adult forum and joining us in an Indian meal.

Remembering Rev. P. Herbert Anandaraj

Photos received from Prem Anand from a prayer meeting at the one-year anniversary of the death of his father, Rev. Herbert. Rev. Herbert was a semi-retired pastor in Barugur and Krishnagiri and lived on the Barugur compound in the bungalow my grandfather had built.

From earth's wide bounds,
From ocean's farthest coast,
Through gates of pearl
Streams in the countless host.
Singing to Father, Son, and Holy Ghost.


Friday, February 12, 2010

Sad news received...

+ Miss Grace Subbiah +

From Gene Hennig, I received word today of the sudden and tragic death by auto accident of Miss Grace Subbiah, who for some 30 years cared for and taught young women the trade of sewing. The city of Nagercoil lies 10 miles from the very southern tip of India. When Bethania Kids started a home there for destitute, abandoned and disabled children, Grace was asked to serve as its director. The facilities expanded and are now providing a home for about 70 girls.

When I arrived in Nagercoil my plans were to visit the Lutheran Boys Boarding Home and Concordia Girls home on Tuesday evening. I was to present the children with portraits painted for them by students in Northfield, MN. I called ahead to urge Rev. Robert Rajeskaran NOT to plan anyting for me at the Bethania home that first evening. But sure enough - when I was in my hotel room getting ready to go to the other homes, Grace called and said "The girls are waiting." I asked her to tell them I would come the next night. Grace didn't seem too pleased!

I visited the Bethania facility the next evening. The girls presented a grand program for me. My impression of Grace was that she was a highly committed director and a firm, no-nonsense leader with a commanding presence, and that she was a motherly figure for "her girls."Pray for Grace's family, for the girls, and for Bethania Kids ministry, as it grieves this loss and seeks to find a replacement for her.

Now, Lord, you let your servant go in peace.

Listen to Grace and the girls sing:

Wednesday, February 3, 2010


Warm congratulations to Prem Anand and Anee Helda upon the occasion of their marriage

Krishnagiri, Tami Nadu
(South) India

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Photos received from H. Prem Anand

Prem sent these photos of his father's burial ceremony and subsequent prayer service in Barugur. His dad was laid to rest on the grounds of the Concordia School for the Blind. My thoughts and prayers continue to be with Mrs. Herbert, Prem, his siblings, and the good people of Barugur, Vengattisamuparum and Krishnagiri.



Tuesday, September 22, 2009


We just received word of the death of + Rev. P. Herbert Anandaraj + ("Pastor Herbert") of Barugur in the Dharmapuri District of Tamil Nadu, (South) INDIA. Pastor Herbert was a Bible student of my grandfather. (He said the class was at an ungodly early hour!). He and his wife live in Grandpa and Grandma's house on the IELC compound. Pastor Herbert was a shy, gentle, sweet man with a resonant laugh. He was so excited about my visit, and his wife got the biggest kick out of my love for lime pickle. Pastor Herbert was semi-retired, having been pastor in Barugur for 35 years. He was helping at a couple of local parishes as an interim/transitional pastor. He fell ill a couple of weeks ago, was hospitalized in Ambur and then returned home. Mother received a call this evening from one of his sons to let her know that he had, as Mom and some of her kin would say, "JJP" - "joined Jesus in paradise." His son Prem Anand met me in Kanchipuram and together with two of his friends we toured one of the temples there. Prem is a great guy, and I will call him soon to extend my sympathy.* To my knowledge, Pr. Herbert only recently fell quite ill (a couple of weeks ago) and had gone home from hospital just a week ago. The funeral service is going on as I write this. It's about 10 a.m. in India. Requiem aeternam dona ei, Domine, et lux perpetua luceat ei. Requiescat in pace. Amen.

*I called Prem this morning (Wednesday evening India time) and the funeral was held about an hour ago. He died at home, having refused returning to the hospital after a heart attack, and died a few days later, with his wife, a nurse, at his side.