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Feb 22 | Feb 24 | Feb 25 | Feb 26 | Feb 27 | Feb 28 | Feb 29 | Mar 1 | Mar 2 | Mar 3 | Mar 4 | Mar 5

February 22

It has been an exciting week in the life of our church as the much-awaited return of our mission work with our long-time mission partner Children of Faith in India has finally become a reality, five years after Covid shut down international travel.  The LOPC adult mission team was commissioned on Sunday February 18th, followed by a packing party and dinner together to sample some fantastic Indian food and exotic local snacks (Masala spiced Lay’s chips and Chutney Cheetos!)  15 extra, large suitcases of teaching materials, books, games, crafts, medical supplies and other necessities and gifts were packed to bring to our friends at COF.

Now at the airport, we are all preparing ourselves for a 30 hour trip to see what God has in store for this visit. Despite months of planning various programs to present to the kids, most of us have never visited India or COF previously, so we are keeping open minds about what we will encounter, knowing God’s plan may be different:  

“‘For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways,’ declares the Lord. ‘As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts higher than your thoughts… You will go out in joy and be led forth in peace…” –Isaiah 55:8-9, 12. 

Despite some anxieties, we are all definitely going out with joy, knowing God has led us this far and will continue to lead us throughout this trip; Also knowing we are a tiny representation of our amazing, loving and supportive LOPC community.  We hope you will continue to follow our blog to see how God might also speak to you in learning more about the children and caring adults who are Children of Faith. 

February 24

After departing on February 22nd, we had a long layover that allowed us to take city tours of Singapore, including the giant Merlion Fountain, the beach, and a couple of the numerous parks and gardens, as well as the amazing airport sights such as the indoor rain vortex. We finally arrived in India the evening of February 24th. What an overwhelming surprise when we exited the airport to find more than a dozen boys from COF holding a huge welcome sign for us and running to help us with our bags, as Rosie and Anand handed out hugs. It was the most gracious welcome, and we were excited to finally get to meet some of the children.  

COF brought two vans to transport all of us, one of which was purchased through the generosity of our LOPC congregation. Thank you LOPC! It’s so much fun to see and experience in person exactly how the financial support is being used. The kids must love this van as much as we did with the multi-colored party lights! It made our arrival feel even more special!  

As God commanded in Romans 15:7, “Therefore welcome one another as Christ has welcomed you, for the glory of God.” God’s love was truly shinning through Rosie, Anand and the boys as they welcomed us enthusiastically to their home. We look forward to sharing more of God’s blessings together over the next week. 

February 25

This morning we enjoyed a delicious Indian style breakfast buffet. Since it was Sunday and the children were at church, we had the morning free. We practiced our music together as a group for the first time. It was a wonderful time of praise and fellowship as we prepared our harmonies and hand gestures for worship with the kids this week. Afterward, we walked down the street in search of gifts. We encountered everything being sold on the street from fresh fish, to sunglasses, to coconuts. Ultimately we entered a family clothing shop and were again greeted with the warmest of welcomes with all of the young ladies eager to help us and wanting to take pictures with us. Visakhapatnam is a very friendly city!

At long last, we got to Children of Faith, and were welcomed into the newer girls dormitory that was completed less than ten years ago thanks to the generous funding of LOPC. The building was lovingly named after LOPC. After lunch cooked by Rosie and some of the girls — Bhavya, Swathi, Sonia, and Ramya — we unpacked the 15 suitcases of supplies and toured the classrooms where our team would be teaching science, sewing, harmonica, and creative writing. 

The afternoon welcome assembly was the highlight of the day, with all 120 perfectly-behaved children sitting quietly and enjoying every word. Several of the children gave welcome speeches and told us their stories of what life was like for them both before and after coming to COF. They were all very happy and grateful to be here with Rosie and Anand, who they sweetly call Mommy and Daddy. They then introduced us and gifted us each with a lovely flower garland. The hand-sewn bags from our LOPC members and small gifts were handed out to each child, after which the kids all lined up and we got to speak with each of them one-by-one to learn their names, ages, and interests. Some of us even got to meet and interact with the children they sponsor. After a bit of social time, that included a bit of dancing and harmonica playing, we had a lovely dinner. It was truly a blessing to get to speak with and see up close the excited smiles of each and every one of the faithful children at COF, and we are even more excited to start bonding with them tomorrow in smaller groups. 

It was just as God promised in Ephesians 2:19, “Consequently, you are no longer foreigners and strangers, but fellow citizens with God’s people and also members of his household.”

February 26

Today was our first full day of school activities at COF.  We started off with a tour of the classrooms, where we met the teachers, looked at insightful posters and art made by the students after being resourceful with their scraps, such as pencil shavings. Their crown jewel is the COF library, full of books donated by LOPC. We were told not even private schools in this area have such extensive libraries as they have at COF, and they are super proud and grateful for all these books. Thank you LOPC!

Our cookie decorating, sewing, gardening, and local care packages teams went shopping for supplies, interacting with the local community, while others taught science, reading, creative writing, woodwork, harmonica, and other classes.   

In science, the kids got to learn about predictions and had to predict which brand of bubble gum would blow bigger bubbles. After classes we played cricket with the kids, and taught them a zumba dance, which brought huge smiles to their faces. 

Our night ended with devotional time, where we taught them to praise God with the Greg Murai version of “I’ve got the joy down in my heart”.  They caught onto the words and actions very quickly. We discussed kindness, and some of the children shared ways in which they were treated with kindness by others when they first came to COF, and how the long-time students, in turn, treat new students with acts of kindness. We discussed the Golden Rule, “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.” Kids then made a kindness tree with their handprints and played kindness Bingo. We ended with a happy birthday celebration for a beloved neighbor who had finished his studies and came back to celebrate his birthday with treats for the children at COF. Their prayers and birthday song were filled with love and praise to God for all his good gifts. Kindness was on full display today at COF, and it was incredibly joyful to be a part!

February 27

Today we crammed a lot of activities into our morning including health screenings, reading, creative writing, card making, and beginning to sew. Our woodworking class finished cutting, sanding and painting the blocks for two giant Jenga games. We also taught the kids two science experiments to learn about what agents polish pennies the best and which will keep an egg from breaking if it falls. We will find out Friday if our predictions are right. 

During afternoon devotional, we taught the kids a jazzier version of Kum By Ya (The kids in harmonica class learned the original version earlier that day). The lesson was on support and encouragement, and the kids were eager to share how they support each other here at COF, including helping the younger children with their laundry and their studies. After our discussion the kids played Jenga in teams, with each block move representing an act or word of support. It showed them that many supportive actions by individuals builds up the whole group. They also wrote an encouraging sentence on a note card and put it in a blown up balloon. The kids had fun hitting the balloons around the patio while music was playing (and then retrieving a few from the tree)! Once the music stopped, we popped the balloon they ended with so each child could read the encouraging words written by another student. This all reminded us of 1 Thessalonians 5:11, “Therefore encourage one another and build each other up, just like you are doing already.”  The staff and children at COF are certainly already showing these virtues, resulting in a community of children who are very happy to be living and learning at COF. They are shining examples to us that God desires these virtues, so that we can better the world around us. 

We ended our day at COF early because Anand and Rosie wanted to treat the team to an evening of shopping and dinner downtown. After a long bus trip through the city and past the beach, we ate at a buffet that had dozens and dozens of different Indian foods. We braved the spice, and it was worth it! I think we all tried at least one bite of everything, and found some new favorite dishes we had never seen before. We are very grateful that we got this time to experience a little bit more about Indian culture and get a feel for what it is like to live in Visakhapatnam (population 4 million). It is certainly a very different lifestyle from what we see in California. 

February 28

Today we continued with daily classes, including creative writing, harmonica, reading, and a class for the older kids on local government, as India has an election coming up just like the U.S. The sewing class made significant strides in finishing their homemade skirts, while the older boys and garden team started digging for a new garden patio so that the girls have a place to hang out and relax. 

During science, the kids learned about force and inertia by making and launching homemade rockets out of film canisters. Some of them flew past the roof! It was a favorite project for sure, but this huge project could not have been done without the help of the wonderful teachers at COF. We are so impressed with their knowledge and grateful for their joy and hard work. 

At our evening gathering, we did the macarena and  chicken dance. The kids LOVE to dance!  We then taught them how to harmonize to This Little Light of Mine. Our devotional was about Loving Care, where two team speakers described how our activities related to our lesson. First the kids heard about the parable of the sower and then planted flower seeds and were reminded that the way we care for a plant is also the way we care for a relationship, whether with God or others. It will either thrive or wilt away. The kids also created rock paintings which were inspired by reminders of how they are loved by God, and how God cares for them and wants them to have joy. They are amazing artists. 

As each day goes by, we learn more about the children, their past and present situations, and what our visit means to them. We are the first of their mission partners to visit since before Covid, so there are many, many new students who have never experienced this kind of positive attention and are soaking in the face time with our caring team. They crave connection, and we believe God led us here at this precise time to meet needs that may still be unknown to us. It reminds us, “your calling is a gift from God, and you were called before you were born” (Galatians 1:15)  Now all we need to do is answer. 

February 29

More than halfway into our mission trip we mostly feel contentment and joy with what has been accomplished on this trip, but also wanting to finish what was started. For some it’s finishing classes so that kids can showcase their harmonica skills and model the new skirts they made in sewing class. For the young men here, they are so proud of the skills they learned in creating the garden and engineering a brick patio with our LOPC experts. Although it is still in the works, they have made significant progress. For some of the other kids, they gained knowledge in science, reading, and creative writing. A fun and educational slideshow presentation was even given today on the Galapagos Islands and the various animals that live there. The kids are really intrigued by animals they have never seen or heard of before!

In science, the kids made hoop gliders and learned about learned about the four different forces that interact with objects. They also learned what a variable is, and how to change a variable to change the outcome of their experiment. We could see their eyes light up as they understood all of these concepts. 

Our team discussed highs and lows and their were at least 5 times the highs as compared to the lows. We were blessed to have Rosie and Anand recount the detailed journey of their lives and how they ultimately heard the call to move back to India to support COF full time, after starting the organization in 2004 from Walnut Creek CA. This story is lengthy, so will be featured in a subsequent blog post… so keep reading!  

After some joyful singing, our final devotional tonight was about hope. All of the children made a beautiful beaded cross out of nails so they can be reminded of the hope we have in Christ. The Bible verse not only related to our hope for what God has planned in the future for each child at COF, but also relates to God’s plans that have already come to fruition through Rosie and Anand’s commitment to the children at COF. “Furthermore, because we are united with Christ, we have received an inheritance from God, for he chose us in advance, and he makes everything work out according to his plan.”  We finished the evening by creating a time capsule, where the kids wrote their names on a card and wrote one thing they hoped for in the next year. None of them had ever heard of a time capsule before, which astounded us, but they eagerly participated and promised to share the opening of that time capsule in one year. (Then we realized it was Leap Day, so they will open it a day earlier!)  The evening ended celebrating two of the children’s birthdays. 

Tomorrow we look forward to wrapping up classes and projects, as several of us leave the following day. The weekend will hold more relaxed fun and interactions with the kids, followed by another 2-day trip home. During this time we plan to use the last few blog posts to reflect on what we have learned from this trip and what we all hope for the future of COF.  The culmination of any mission trip is to share what we have learned, identify needs, and to determine how we can move forward with God’s plan within our own faith community to support our mission partners around the globe. We all look forward to seeing our LOPC brothers and sisters soon and sharing our in-person experiences upon our return.  

March 1

Today the boys building the garden had the whole brick patio laid and the garden cross painted by the time we arrived, before starting school. We were honored to take part in their daily, morning assembly, where prayers, songs of praise, world and local news were all shared.  Harmonica class finished learning 4 songs in just 5 days. In science, the kids made lava lamps and dropped their eggs that had been sitting in water vinegar and Alka seltzer. After classes, the teachers each made us a special dish from home, and we had a huge lunch buffet together.  The teachers here are all incredible people and very good cooks!

In the afternoon, we had a meet and greet with a number of local residents. In addition to their children’s home and school, COF also gives back to their community.  Every month COF provides visits and financial assistance to about 50 widows and elderly people in the nearby town who are living in poverty and cannot read or write. This month they came to COF, and we had the privilege of talking with them through the help of the children who are great translators. Prior to their departure we gave them each a community care bag full of hygiene necessities and a few fun items such as nail polish. It reminded us of Jesus’ teaching, “Whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me” (Matt. 25:40). 

The highlight of the evening was a celebration planned by COF. We had a fashion show of new skirts made by the girls, a harmonica concert by students, speeches from kids, teachers and team members, and an amazing dance created and put on by every grade level. We then shared a catered meal together with the children and did lots of dancing, with the kids teaching us Indian dances and us teaching them American dances. Enjoy the pictures of our celebration and please look forward to seeing some great videos upon our return!

March 2

The day commenced with all of us gathering, our hearts brimming with anticipation and gratitude, to witness the ribbon-cutting ceremony for COF’s new garden. 

Throughout the week, our dedicated LOPC gardening team of 3, alongside as many as 8 COF students, worked tirelessly in the hot sun to bring the patio and garden to life. From dawn till dusk, they toiled in harmony, each stroke of the shovel and each brick laid with purpose and intention. Amidst the flurry of activity, many heartfelt bonds were formed, and interactions occurred that otherwise would not have unless for this beautiful project.  

The older COF boys exemplified remarkable dedication, often commencing their days at the break of dawn before the gardening team even arrived accomplishing herculean tasks such as moving soil, rocks, and bricks, digging holes in the clay soil and standing on tall ladders to paint the cross. Thanks to the garden team, the boys garnered expertise in engineering, landscape design, and plant cultivation.  All these skills they will carry forward in their lives. Their infectious smiles and unwavering eagerness to contribute were a source of inspiration to all.

The Rose Garden was dedicated to Rosie, a beacon of strength and compassion.  She embodies a profound faith in God that illuminates in her every action.  The dedication to her symbolizes not just her role, but her nurturing spirit that has enriched the lives of countless students.  Rosie not only imparts knowledge but installs in the children a resilience and fortitude to navigate life’s challenges with grace and determination.  Her kindness and love radiate effortlessly.  Through her guidance, she not only educates minds but nurtures souls.

Beyond the roses, the garden embraces additional elements of serenity and contemplation, with a brick patio and two benches set to be install next week, offering a tranquil space for reflection and prayer.  Alongside these features, pathways wind gracefully, and bougainvillea vines will eventually weave along the walls softening the surroundings with their vibrant color and delicate beauty.  Given the fact that the team was only here for one week, the garden was a monumental undertaking—one that tested the team’s resolve, pushed their limits, and strengthened their faith. Yet, amidst the challenges and obstacles, they found grace and perseverance. Through their collective efforts, what once seemed like an impossible dream became a tangible reality—a sanctuary of beauty, tranquility, and spiritual nourishment. We are so excited that Rosie and Anand, the teachers, staff, and the students of COF will have a beautiful garden to spend time in.  May it be a place of solace in times of turmoil, a beacon of light in moments of darkness, and a reminder of the boundless power of God’s love.

Our afternoon unfolded with a symphony of creativity and joy.  Lots of preparation culminated in a delightful cookie decorating extravaganza, an activity carefully orchestrated to nurture not just culinary skills but a sense of empowerment and possibility.  In the days leading up to the event, the cookie decorating team along with several COF students diligently rolled out fondant and meticulously covered 400 cookies in various shapes—heartwarming hearts, perfect circles, and charming squares—laying the foundation for a masterpiece in the making. 

Guided by Rosie’s unwavering commitment to the children’s development, several students eagerly embraced the opportunity to learn the intricacies of cookie decoration, not just for the day’s enjoyment but as a skill to cherish long after our team’s departure. With precision and care, they mastered the art of making and coloring 10 pounds of royal icing, deftly prepared piping bags, and honed their finesse in working with fondant. As the decorating commenced, laughter filled the air as children unleashed their creative spirits, each unique style reflecting their individual personalities and imaginations. From edible marking to royal icing piping and embossed fondant shapes adorned with sparkling powder, they embraced each technique with gusto and enthusiasm, their faces alight with delight and pride. The COF staff also joined in on the fun and decorated their own beautiful masterpieces.  

The supplies generously provided by the church will endure beyond this day, serving as a tangible reminder of the knowledge and skills acquired, allowing the children to practice and refine their craft, one cookie at a time. In this shared moment of creation and camaraderie, we witnessed the transformative power of love, creativity, and community, leaving an indelible mark on hearts and taste buds alike.

Amidst the anticipation of yet another delectable dinner prepared by Rosie and her talented kitchen team, the evening was filled with more than just the aroma of savory dishes.  While waiting for our delicious feast, Dara, introduced a lively dice game called Poof to some of the girls – an entertaining pastime she learned from her Auntie Charity.  As the dice rolled and laugher filled the air, a sense of camaraderie and joy enveloped, providing a precious opportunity to forge closer bonds with the children.  

As we gathered around the dinner table, enjoying not only the nourishing but also the delicious meal prepared by Rosie and her dedicated kitchen team, laughter and conversation filled the air. Sated and content, we were all pleasantly surprised when the evening took an unexpected turn. Our hearts were touched by a surprise reunion that transcended time and distance.  Niharika, a graduated COF student returned to the fold, surprising her long-time sponsor in a beautiful and heartfelt reunion. The joyous exchange between them, after ten years apart, was a testament to the enduring impact of their connection.  

Her journey, marked by early hardships and resilience, unfolded before us as she shared her story. Abandoned by her father when she was seven and her little sister was one, she faced the challenges of single-parent upbringing.  Though she tried to help, the future seemed bleak, weighed down by the incredible burden of uncertainty and stress. At the age of eleven, Niharika’s life took a transformative as it was decided that she would come to COF—a decision that she divides her life into “before” and “after.” Within the nurturing embrace of COF and loving guidance of Rosie and Anand, Niharika found solace, safety, belonging, and the opportunity to pursue her dreams. A pivotal moment came in 2014 during an LOPC trip at the age of fourteen when she crossed paths with Brandt Uncle.  They had an instant connection and spent hours talking to each other.  She stated that she was “thrilled and shocked” to learn afterward that he would sponsor her education.  Brandt was equally thrilled to have the opportunity to support her.  This generous act of sponsorship ignited a spark of hope and possibility within her.  Initially her plan was to become a doctor which entailed two years of “junior” college, four at university and then training as a doctor.  However, in her first year at the university she discovered computer science, and switched her major, with the blessing of both Brandt and Anand.

Now twenty-four, Niharika stands as a beacon of strength and inspiration, leading a data group at a prestigious national company in Vizag. Despite being the youngest by 3 or 4 years, the shortest by a foot, and the only woman in her group, she is the most outspoken and she navigates challenges with grace and determination, embodying resilience, and leadership. Her journey serves as a testament to the transformative power of education, mentorship, and the unwavering support of the COF community and its supporting partners. Niharika’s story not only inspires but also underscores the profound impact of believing in oneself and the power of dreams.  She is a force of nature and a model and mentor to all the girls at COF.

As the evening ended, our hearts overflowed with gratitude for the blessings of the day. We headed back to the hotel and are excited to return tomorrow to worship with the children. 

Romans 8:28 “And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.”

March 3

Today began with a morning dedicated to worship at the local church. Graced by the generosity of our community, we traveled all together in the bus generously provided by LOPC.  The service unfolded with heartfelt contributions from members of our team. Rosie opened the service with a prayer and a song and set the tone for our time together. Anand shared today’s scripture reading from Mark 4:21-34, imparting its wisdom to the eager ears of the children gathered. Dara, in a poignant Lenten devotion, reminded us that our very presence at COF was a testament to the kingdom of God in action. The music team, led by Nancy’s harmonica melodies, filled the sanctuary with praise. Mary’s testimony echoed the transformative power of prayer, while Brandt expounded upon the pillars of his faith—tolerance and service—finding resonance within the mission of COF. Nancy, in her reflection, stirred hearts with the assurance that nothing is impossible with God. Courtney led us in a prayer of thanksgiving, grounding us in gratitude for the opportunity to serve. And Carolyn, with her angelic voice, graced us with a solo that resonated deeply within our souls. As Rosie closed us in prayer, the warmth of community and the presence of the divine enveloped us, setting the tone for a day.  We then had an opportunity to mingle with the children and meet some of the locals.

Once back at COF we had free time with the children. We sang songs, played games, and simply enjoyed each other’s company. Carrie, with her infectious enthusiasm, taught the children one of her favorite songs, “King Jesus is All,” bringing a piece of her own upbringing from LOPC to this special moment. Joined by members of the music team, we delved into rounds of familiar tunes like “Row, Row, Row Your Boat” and “Brother John.” Witnessing the children’s joy as they learned to sing a round for the first time was nothing short of magical. 

The children showcased their talents in other ways too. Several of the COF kids took center stage with courage and grace, offering soulful solos that resonated with emotion and depth. Their willingness to share their gifts with us reminded us of the power of vulnerability and authenticity.  We then had another delicious lunch prepared by Rosie and the incredible kitchen staff. After lunch, we all gathered again, and we were blessed with an opportunity to hear some of the amazing poems and stories the students penned during the week in the creative writing class.  This was the first time the children had ever been exposed to writing stories with their imagination and they excelled incorporating many of the techniques Nancy taught them in class.  The writing pieces ranged from humorous poems to suspenseful tales and hopeful visions, each story and poem offered a glimpse into the rich imagination of these young minds. 

Thereafter, three of the COF young ladies share their incredible talent in henna painting. The intricate designs they meticulously crafted on the hands/arms of the LOPC women were not just a form of adornment but a symbol of the beauty that exists within each of us. 

Amidst the joy and camaraderie of our day at COF, there was a bittersweet moment that touched one of our team members, Carolyn deeply. Just two days before our arrival, Sneha, the child Carolyn has sponsored since she met her in 2017, had to leave COF to return home and care for her ailing mother. It was a poignant reminder of the harsh realities many of these children face, even amidst the love and support of the COF community. Anand, graciously drove Carolyn to her home. It was a journey filled with emotion—sadness for the circumstances that led to her departure, but also gratitude for the opportunity to reconnect and offer support in any way possible.

In the late afternoon Anand took us on a tour of COF and the surrounding area, showing us the dorm rooms, offices, and kitchen facilities etc. We had the opportunity to discuss various areas of need and witness firsthand the potential sites for Hope Academy.  Along the way we were joined by two former COF students, Veejay and Manahar.  Veejay was one of the five original students when Rosie and Anand opened COF almost 20 years ago.  He is currently an engineer.  He met Manahar at COF, and they remain close friends to this day.  Manahar is currently getting his master’s in chemistry to become a professor. Their journey from COF to becoming professionals in their respective fields is a testament to their determination and the transformative power of education and support of COF.

As the day drew to a close, and we gather for a delicious dinner, little did Carrie know that an incredible surprise awaited her. Rosie, Anand, the LOPC team and the children came together to wish Carrie a heartfelt happy birthday, with a delicious cake and we all sang to her.  It is a tradition at COF, and for Carrie it was a moment of pure joy and gratitude.  

As we all depart tomorrow, some of the goodbyes began this evening as the children said a heart felt goodbye to Dara and Juanita. Those who remained, journeyed back to our hotel filled with a gratitude for the privilege of being a part of such a beautiful community – a community where love is not just spoke but lived out in every action and every gesture. 

March 4

As our church mission trip came to a close today, we seized the opportunity for some last-minute shopping while the children were in school. Our first stop was a local grocery store, where we stocked up on spices for the delicious chicken dish that Rosie had prepared for us—a culinary delight that had become a favorite among all of us.

Next, we explored a multi-level clothing store, indulging in the vibrant colors and textures of saris, shawls, and jewelry. Some of us even found outfits, adding a touch of Indian flair to our wardrobes for the upcoming gala- a celebration marking 20 years of COF’s impactful work in the community which will be held on May 9th.

As lunchtime approached, we split into smaller groups—some returning to COF while others accompanied Rosie on a fabric-shopping expedition for the gala. Stepping into the fabric store was like entering a world of rich tapestries, with brilliant colors and textures all around us.

Once we were all back at COF, we savored our last delicious lunch prepared by Rosie, feeling the weight of all the “lasts” of the day. Afterward, we enjoyed some more free time fun with the children.  Mary, Lisa and Carolyn played some of the ukuleles that were given to COF as a part of Joshua Summerlin’s Eagle project a few years back. The cheerful strumming filled the air harmonizing with the laughter and joy of the children as they sang along.  Brandt gave a final lecture on the Galápagos Islands to the students and teachers that were not able to attend the first time, while the rest of us soaked in the remaining precious moments with the children.

And that time finally came….

The children’s farewell was an experience beyond words, a scene of pure warmth and affection that enveloped us like a120 hearty embraces. It felt as though we were the stars of our own concert, with the children eagerly reaching out to greet us, yet instead, it was to bid us farewell and a safe journey home. It was a moment of overwhelming emotion, but in the most beautiful and heartwarming way imaginable.

As we reluctantly departed, surrounded by the love and well-wishes of the children, it became clear that while we came to COF with the intention of giving, it was ultimately us who received the greatest gifts—the gift of love, the gift of connection, the gift of seeing the world through the eyes of these incredible children and the gift of new bonds and growing friendships within our own team. As we reflect on our time at COF, we are filled with gratitude for the opportunity to be a part of something truly special. And though our mission trip may have come to an end, in a lot of ways this is just the beginning as we are coming home with a stronger resolve to continue to support and also find new ways to support COF so that it can continue to do the deeply transformative work it has been doing for the last 20 years.

Anand and Rosie, accompanied by a few of the older COF boys, graciously drove us to the airport, marking yet another emotional farewell. Tears mingled with expressions of love and gratitude as we said our goodbyes, knowing that we would dearly miss the warmth and hospitality of COF.  In closing, Rosie and Anand’s profound impact on the children of COF and the larger community cannot be overstated.  Their unwavering faith and selflessness have created a nurturing environment where every child feels loved, valued and supported.  Their dedication to serving others exemplifies the true essence of compassion and leaves an enduring legacy of hope and transformation.  It was an honor and a privilege to serve and support them. Galatians 6:9 the Apostle Paul tells us, “Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up.”

By the end of our week at COF, nearly everyone had gotten a chance to meet or visit the children they personally sponsor for personal needs and/or education (or both). Some of the previously sponsored children from COF even came back to visit the team, with several in college or enjoying successful careers in engineering and data analysis.  The meetings brought tears of joy to the eyes of all team members, just seeing how much the kids appreciate the personal interaction with a sponsor, some new and some with long-time sponsors they had never met. We learned about the stories of some of these children and the hardships they have overcome.  We cannot believe how much struggle they have endured, but thrived despite their horrible circumstances in childhood, due to the grace of God and intervention by COF who provided care and top-notch education, as well as the care and prayers of their personal sponsors.  If you feel led to get more involved with this amazing organization, sponsorships start at just $40/month and are still needed for many of the 120 children living at COF.  You can inquire or commit by clicking on this link and selecting the SPONSOR tab:

Tomorrow we will close this blog with a reflection on our time at COF and the message we feel urged to bring back to all of our brothers and sisters in the U.S. after personally witnessing the circumstances in this area. We hope you will open your hearts to the stories we have to tell, and reflect on how your story may intersect with those half-way across the world.

March 5

As we reflect back on the start of our trip, we acknowledge that many of us had some doubts. Do I have any skills to offer? Will the activities I am in charge of go as planned? Will I connect with the children and with the other members of our LOPC team? Despite our doubts, God was calling each of us to step outside of our own worries and outside of our comfort zones to see His hand at work.  If we had given into our worries, we not only would have missed God’s call to go on this mission trip, but also would have missed out on the growth this trip brought each of us.  When you are uncomfortable, God is growing you.  When you feel like you are alone amongst strangers, God is creating new and important friendships.  When you think you can’t, God will show you that HE can through you.  God promised us, “I can do all things through Him who strengthens me: (Philippians 4:13).

Now that we are back state-side, we recognize that we live in a totally different world. However, COF will forever be a part of our hearts.  For those of us that were blessed to go, we saw God’s kingdom as he desired it to be. We saw it in the children, the teachers, the staff, and in Rosie and Anand.  Their story began in 2004, when Rosie and Anand were living in Walnut Creek, CA working and finishing college.  Despite the distance, Anand felt called to start COF thousands of miles away in India, with his brother taking in and caring for just 5 orphaned children.  Despite living in relative luxury in the states, it was their belief that the person with the passion needs to be on-site, so they moved back to India according to God’s call, and have grown Children of Faith (COF) Missions to 120 children, with a waiting list.  COF provides a safe home and education for more than 100 of the poorest, most vulnerable children of Visakhapatnam, India, providing them with opportunities for a quality education and success that allows them to thrive.  That is their mission statement, and we saw this first hand.  We are amazed by these children who came from dire circumstances to become amazing young people who love first and consider themselves last.

This year, they celebrate the 20 year anniversary of COF, and we know they have come so far.  From a single housing unit that had no electricity or running water to dorms for 120 girls and boys.  This year they hope to bring their COF kitchen (pictured below) from third world to modern, so that they can better provide three safe and healthy meals per day, and provide better conditions for their cooking staff who generously serve meals with what they have.

I know by now you are asking, how can I be a part of this amazing mission at COF?  On May 10th, COF will host a 20th Anniversary celebration at Rossmoor Event Center, right here in Walnut Creek. Their hope is to raise funds to build the new kitchen facilities, but more than this, Rosie and Anand want to meet each person who wants to invest in God’s work at COF, whether with time, talents or treasure.  They want to talk with you and answer questions.  

We hope you will join us for a night of immense joy on May 10th as we celebrate 20 years of amazing work at COF and listen to what God has in store for this mission, which reaches so many.  “Show me your ways, LORD, teach me your paths. Guide me in your truth and teach me, for you are God my Savior, and my hope is in you all day long (Psalms 25:4-5)