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Closing in on my 45th Birthday and my 25th year with Shiel Sexton, I, like a lot of you am busy with the life and time of juggling kids, work and maybe a hobby if you can find time. With four kids, 3 boys and a girl, ranging in age from 15 to 8, it seems like Kim and I have a morning logistical brief to figure out who needs to be where when, for how long and which of us is to pick up each of the kids in their activities. Parenting is one of the most challenging yet rewarding things I think you can do. I am not sure you call it a hobby but in the last five years or so my wife and I have become more and more involved in an organization called Hands of Hope. It is an adoption and orphan care ministry that supports those going through the adoption process as well as partners with 6 orphanages around the world and right here in Indiana. We have had the opportunity to go to El Salvador twice, each time taking a different one of our kids. It has been a great (yet difficult) time to go to another country and serve those in need. You find if you have been on a trip like this or do go on one that you generally receive much more then you give.

Having taken two trips to El Salvador, I was asked last year to lead a trip to India. I was most comfortable maybe leading a trip to El Salvador having been there before, but going to India was a bit daunting. Our small team left for India on January 14th of this year for a 12 day trip to the West Godavari District of Andrha Pradesh. After almost 16 hours of flying and another 8 hour van ride, we were at our destination. This trip was to visit Faith in Deeds, an orphanage with approximately 45 kids ranging in age from 2 to 17. Boys and girls alike, these were amazing kids with a lot to offer, and in some cases some pretty horrendous life stories that brought them there. Our team had two goals for the trip. One, was to help strategize, plan and coordinate the construction of a 7,000 SF dormitory for the kids on a new property. Hopefully, they will be able to start building later this year. Two, was to hang out with the kids and have activities, games and crafts, etc., pretty much like any vacation Bible school that many churches have for kids.

Not only were we able to experience a drastically different culture, we were able to hang out with some pretty amazing kids. One cultural thing we were able to experience was when the director had a guy bring four cobra snakes over for a little demonstration. After checking out the snakes, from a distance, I was able to grab one by the tail. It was a pretty good adrenaline rush for sure. I kept my distance from the business end of the Cobra and came out unscathed. I also wanted to share a story of two boys that was quite impressive. They are buddies, Prasad is about 13 and has muscular dystrophy. Due to his muscle’s failing him he has not been able to walk for about two years. At this point he is able to sit on the floor and “hang out.” His buddy is Andrew and he is a year older than Prasad. After being asked to do mock job interviews with some of the older kids, we peppered Andrew with some usual questions, “What job are you here for, why should we hire you?” Then someone asked, “How often are you late to school?” “5 times.” Andrew said. We replied, “A year, a semester, what?” Andrew’s response was, “5 times a week.” It didn’t look good for Andrew, until he followed up with, “I carry Prasad to school on my back.” WOW, what a kid! We were blown away. Truly a life changing experience and I look forward to the day I can return for a visit.