Thursday, November 17, 2011

November 9, 2011

Well I’m not in Nepal anymore. But I still have so much to say about it! 

One thing that I’ve always really appreciated about reading other traveling friends’ blogs is when they describe a typical day doing whatever they’re doing. So that’s what I’m going to do! November 9th happened to be my favorite day of the entire trip (minus the trek), so that’ll be my model :). 

Days at the children’s home always started with waking up to the sounds of slamming doors and screaming kids, and this day was no exception. Breakfast was crispy rice with curry and warm milk poured over it. At first both Kirsten and I couldn’t eat more than a couple bites of this, but we eventually learned to really like it! 

That was the day that Nelson had asked me to teach a Bible study with the kids, so after breakfast we all went downstairs to the multi-gender room and had a time of worship and learning. It was SO much fun teaching the kids. I told them a story from Daniel, and how reliant Daniel was on his friends when he needed their help in prayer. Then I explained to them that since there are so many of them, they have an amazing opportunity to lean on each other and support each other in prayer. Then we played a fun demonstration game :). 

It was so rewarding to get to do that! I mentioned this earlier I think, but just being able to be in my element, teaching kids about the Bible, was just the best experience. It was really fun having Nelson translate everything too, because it gave me time to really prepare what I was going to say for every sentence! There’s a picture on one of the last posts of me teaching, so if you’re interested to see look there :). 

After the kids went to school, Kirsten and I went to get some delicious donuts and hop on the bus that would take us to our next destination. The bus system in Nepal is absolutely hilarious. Basically there are places called Bus Parks, where about 10 or so busses park, depending on the size of the place and how many people will be going back and forth. If you need to take a bus somewhere, you get on a bus with people on it and wait. Once the driver and money handler feel that the bus is full enough, it leaves! The crazy thing though is that it picks more people up on the way, so after a few stops the bus is always CRAMMED with people. 

Anyway, so that’s how Kirsten and I took the bus. That day we went to teach English with Tami Asia, a connection we had made at the international church. We had been there before, but didn’t really teach classes on our own since they had their own teachers and everything. But on that day we got there and there was a different translator, and he said that since the teacher was late all the teaching was up to us! 

So I go up to the board, and just started teaching. It was so great! There were two students, both women around 50. I taught them how to buy and sell, and we worked on emotion words as well. Eventually the teacher did show up, but he was happy with how class was going so just told me to keep doing my thing. It was so fun! I didn’t realize how much I enjoyed teaching until then. A couple days later when we went back, I had another awesome opportunity to work one-on-one with Sabita, one of the ladies from before. We had such a good time, but it was heartbreaking to make such a great friend like her and then have to leave two days later :(. 

Sabita and I
Anyway, back to the best day ever. After teaching with Tami Asia, Kirsten and I always went to a great Indian food restaurant called Universal Cafe. We discovered a lot of really great food there, I already miss it. My favorite dish was called Paneer Palak, or Alu Palak. Paneer is a type of cheese, and Alu means potato. Palak is a scrumptious curry dish with a spinach base, and its bright green. It looked so gross, but tasted so good! 

That day marked the middle of the week for Kirsten and I, so we went to the DeBortoli’s to shower. They took such good care of us! When we weren’t staying there, we still would go over for all of our hygiene and internet needs :). While we were there I got two amazing emails, one from my mom confirming that we’re going to a Mumford and Sons concert, and one from one of my best friends saying that we’re going to be able to live together next semester! Definitely a great day for emails. 

After that we caught the bus back to the children’s home and played with the kids. I got to play with two of the youngest boys, we play a game called “Down by the Banks,” but the only words they know are “Hankey Pankey” so that’s what they call it :). 

After a delicious dinner being stuffed down quickly due to a time crunch, we whisked away on the backs of Denesh’s and Nelson’s bikes to the DeBortoli’s again. We were meeting there and then heading out to Thamel on an outreach. In the day, Thamel is a very touristy place where they sell trekking gear at really low prices. But at night, all the bars open up and Thamel is where a lot of the sex trafficking in Kathmandu happens. So about 20 of us went down to walk through the streets, pray, and just see what happens. 

When we got there we split up into about four groups. Kirsten and I found ourselves with Ganga and Dinesh, and since Kirsten and I had been invited to a specific bar the first time we had been to Thamel we decided to go there first. When we got there, there was a (very small) bouncer who told us that we had to pay 200 rupees each in order to get in. But then I had Denesh tell him that we were invited personally to the bar, and we all got in for free! 

While we were there we got to talk to a girl and tell her about how Jesus loves her, and she immediately asked us to meet with her for lunch the next day. It was so great! After leaving the bar we got to talk to a couple more people, and buy food for a women who’s husband had recently died and was selling cigarettes on the street. 

To get back to the children’s home was an adventure in and of itself. First there were six of us who had to take a taxi, so Joel climbed into the front seat, then Kirsten, Katy, Nelson, Denesh and I all crammed ourselves into the back. Hilarious! Then I got to ride on the back of Nelson’s bike through the empty streets of Kathmandu from the Debortoli’s back to the children’s home, and it was my favorite bike ride ever. There was a full moon, the streets were empty, and we were flying. Apparently everyone else was freezing on the bikes, but I loved every second :). 

So that was my favorite day in Nepal. I loved being used, I love seeing God work, and I loved being surrounded by such great people.

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Here is Where We Are

Well, today is the day that Kirsten and I were supposed to go to China.

By now, we should have been safe and snug in Em and Steve's apartment, enjoying the comforts of a nice bed and the promise of Seinfeld in the morning.

Instead, we're in a hotel in Kathmandu still, with the sounds of Nepali music blasting from the bar just down the street. Long story short, our flight got canceled, and we have to wait until tomorrow morning to leave Kathmandu.

But the awesome thing is that while we're technically in Kathmandu still, it's more like we're in an alternate reality. Because THIS Kathmandu is completely different from the Kathmandu we've been staying in these past four weeks! And while we may not be in China in Em and Steve's apartment, we had a HUGE Chinese feast and the room we're staying in is the same exact number as their apartment.  So our night is actually looking a lot like it would if we had made it to China, but we're just not locationally there.

At one point during dinner, Kirsten and I both realized that we had completely forgotten about the crazy day we had and how we had gotten there, to that very dinner table. And let me tell you, it was a VERY crazy day, and forgetting about it was a huge blessing. But we HAD forgotten about it, and we sat there realizing that we could honestly have been anywhere in the world at that moment. So we declared that "here is where we are!" And since the food and the company were both great, it didn't really matter what the specifics were.

But this got me thinking, what if we lived our whole lives that way? What if we could simply enjoy the exact moment for what it was worth, and not judge it based on how we had gotten there? If Kirsten and I had been sitting there, eating our dinner but dwelling on all the things that had gone wrong, we probably wouldn't have been able to enjoy it very much.

Now as I (hopefully) leave Nepal, I hope to spend a lot of time reflecting on the events that have happened here. But one thing I really hope is that I won't try to evaluate it, or compare it too much to other experiences or even the life I'll be living when I get home. Because there's no point to it, here is where I am, and although many things have brought me to that place (wherever it may be), I need to learn to appreciate it in the moment, and not put so much emphasis on a). how I got there and b). where I'm going next.

There's my two cents for the evening, hopefully the next time I blog it will be from China!


Well, it's my last week in Nepal! I'm very torn about leaving. When I think of going back to China and seeing Em and Steve I get really really excited for the week that is ahead of me. But when I think of leaving Nepal and saying goodbye to this amazing place and these amazing people, I get really sad! So, pray for me on Sunday, because I can almost guarantee I'll be an emotional wreck.

But while this is my last week in Nepal, I think it's safe to say that it has also been my very favorite week! I've been able to spend so much time with the kids at the children's home, and I was even blessed with the opportunity to teach them a Bible lesson during their morning worship! I really loved that. I finally felt like I was able to do something that was both helpful AND I was already good at.

Teaching with Nelson as Translator. Don't mind my confused-looking posture, I knew what I was talking about. 

The week started off pretty great, as we took communion at the international church that the DeBortolis go to. So on Sunday I took communion with people from England, Thailand, Korea, Africa, Brazil, France, Holland, Canada, Ireland, Australia, and I'm sure others that I don't even know about! You might have noticed, but that means that I took communion with someone from every continent except Antartica (which doesn't even count in my mind because I don't feel the need to take communion with a penguin).

How cool is that? I'll answer for you: it's VERY cool. To be able to partake in remembering the body of Christ with such a wide demonstration of how far it goes was incredible. People from so many different cultures, languages, and places in general were all claiming to be part of the same body, with the same purpose. Too cool for words.

What really brings this home for me are all the specific people that I've met on this trip from around the world. Let's start with the Nepali brothers and sisters: Ganga, Dinesh, Nelson, Sita, and and Nira. These men and women have such an incredible heart for the Lord, they work so hard day in and day out not only to make sure the kids at the children's home are doing well, but that people like Kirsten and I are safe and okay.

During times when either Kirsten and I would be sick, these men and women would be so compassionate and do everything in their power to make us feel better. The three men all spoke English, so we also go to know them pretty well too. They are so humble, so kind, and just so loving! At one point, Ganga told Kirsten and I that we could call him at any time ever and he would come rescue us. Sound like anyone you know? I'll give you a hint: his name starts with a J and he died for your sins.

Next I'll talk about Marshal and Lily. Again, these are NOT their real names, but since they are called to places who don't know how much they want Jesus yet, I have to keep them on the down-low. Anyway, Lily is from the Philippines, and I'm sure I would have never met her if she not only had married Marshal (who's American) and they had come to Nepal. But I am SO grateful for the brief time that I was able to get to know her!

Another surprise little treat at the end was meeting Katy, an English girl a couple years older than Kirsten and I who came basically with the same purpose as us: to see what's going on in Nepal and try and help in any way possible. We had a lot of really great conversations and some pretty hilarious memories with her. And again, there's probably zero chance of me ever meeting her if we had not both said "yes!" both to Jesus and to him telling us to come to Nepal.

And of course there's Kyle and Annie, a young missionary couple from Canada that we spent a lot of time with. They're so great! They've been here since April and just have such a great heart for the kids at the children's home and the ministry that Iris is doing here.

THIS is the body of Christ. All of these people that I've just described have come from so many different places, but our love of the Lord and our desire to serve him has brought us all together with one purpose. We have a lot of fun making fun of different accents and comparing cultures, but honestly how amazing is it that we can all come from such different places and have the same heart? The children at the home don't think of Kirsten and I as different from Katy or Annie or any of the other women from all over the world who come, they simply call us all "Auntie." Because we are all part of the same family. And when people in the villages remember the groups that come and tell them new and crazy things, they don't think "that group of people from all over the world," they think "those Christians."

My mind is blown by how awesome this is. I hope yours is too.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Dahl Bat

Before I begin my next blog, let me just make sure that everyone who read my last one understands that I’m NOT saying that women in ministry don’t need men at all, because that is certainly not the case! Men AND women are pivotal to ministry and even though Girl Week was great, it was also really nice when all the men came back. 

So anyway, food. It’s pretty great, no? Our culture loves food. We have food at almost every social gathering, and sometimes even create social gatherings just so we can have food! Good cooks are greatly esteemed, while children of bad cooks are greatly pitied. Food is so important in our culture some identities are even formed by it. People take pride in their sense of taste; “I’m a vegetarian” or “I just LOVE spicy food!” or even “I don’t eat fast food” can be major statements of how one perceives themselves and the world around them. 

You might think I’m being a little overdramatic, but seriously. If you doubt how much food affects our culture, just take one day and count how many times food comes up in some capacity. Whether it’s about an amazing meal that they had just last week, or a great new restaurant that you should try, or even just a story about something that happened in the kitchen or at the dinner table. Food is EVERYWHERE in our culture, not just our bellies! 

And it’s not just food in general that we’re obsessed with, it’s the variety of food that really gets us. New recipes are always being made. Everyone has their own favorite genre of food. Food is always being compared to itself, like “this burger is pretty good, but honestly you should try my dad’s. HE makes the best burgers ever!” or “you call that spaghetti? Please. I’m Italian, I know what real spaghetti is, and that is NOT it” (by the way I’m not trying to generalize, I knew an Italian once who actually said that sentence).  

Anyway, the point that I’m trying to make here is that America loves food, and a whole bunch of different kinds of food at that. Food is spoken of in terms of quality and how well it was prepared, not if there’s going to be enough. I don’t think it’s a bad thing, to love food and all it’s kind of variety, all I’m trying to do here is point out how different that is from most of the world! 

Here in Nepal, there is a wonderful little dish called Dahl Bat. “Dahl” means lentils, and “bat” means rice. So, Dahl Bat is essentially lentil soup poured over rice. And this is what Nepali people eat for breakfast, lunch and dinner. It’s actually pretty delicious, especially when served with vegetable curry (as it usually is). 

But for breakfast, lunch, AND dinner? Last week, we were blessed with a variety of food because we were staying with the DeBortoli’s. But this week Dahl Bat is our reality, which honestly is not that much of a sacrifice since it’s so good and just a week. But like I said before, Americans love a little variety in their food. Well I’m American, and I’m looking forward to a couple weeks when I’ll be back in the States with all kinds of food at my finger tips (for those of you who are planning on feeding me when I get back, spaghetti is what comes to mind most often!). 

So tonight as I was eating Dahl Bat and dreaming about In-n-Out, I was prepping my mind for week ahead where I’ll only have this one option of eating. But then I looked around at all the kids who were actually shoveling the food into their mouths, and I realized that they probably don’t have any trace in their minds of wanting to eat something different. 

Because for them, they’ve never HAD anything different for lunch or dinner. Sure there have been birthday parties where they had cupcakes and such, but for a meal, I’m sure between all of them they could count on one of their tiny hands how many main courses they’ve had that were not dahl bat. 

And then I started to think about all the people we met in the villages who served us dahl bat, and it must be the same for them! Nepal obviously has food other than dahl bat, there’s certain delicacies and such, but for every day meals it’s just generally known that dahl bat is what you’ll eat. 

That’s crazy. An entire country all eating the same thing for every meal. What’s even crazier though is that they don’t mind at all, in fact I don’t think they would ever even dream of something different! 

I’m not trying to make a point with this blog at all. It just blew my mind, and I wanted to share that :).

Friday, November 4, 2011

Girl Power!

"A woman must have a thorough knowledge of music, singing, drawing, dancing, and the modern languages, to deserve the word; and besides all this, she must possess a certain something in her air and manner of walking, the tone of her voice, her address and expressions, or the word will be but half-deserved." 

Jane Austen. Pride & Prejudice (p. 21). 

This week, I read Pride and Prejudice and learned a lot of different views of what a woman should be able to do in order to be considered "accomplished." But in real life, I saw a lot of different woman at work, and I'm pretty sure I didn't see a single one of them sing, dance, draw, or speak French. Their manner of walking was quite adequate I'm sure, but I doubt that Miss Caroline Bingly was imagining the women driving like they do in Kathmandu when she imagined an accomplished woman.

My point is, there are some pretty incredible women here in Nepal, and I'm SO GLAD we don't live in a society anymore where women are expected to sit around and either look pretty or make pretty things. Some people may THINK that that's what women are for, and that they can therefore take advantage of us, but after witnessing some pretty hard core girl power this week I think it's pretty safe to say that a few notions of what a woman can and cannot do were changed.

On Monday the four DeBortoli house residents along with all the girls from the YWAM team went to a ministry called "Beauty for Ashes," which gives women who have escaped trafficking a legitimate job of making jewelry. On the way there, though, we needed to stop for gas. In this regard (and this regard ONLY), Nepal is very much like Oregon and you just drive up, tell the workers what you want, and they pump your gas.

Convenient right? You would think so. But when a Jeep roles up with nine very blonde and very American looking woman, things get a little more complicated. Instead of putting in the diesel gas like they were supposed to, the gas station workers tried to take advantage of Tammy and put in normal Petrol. Little did they know that we had a secret weapon: nine year old Joy! She knew that we needed diesel and she almost immediately picked up that they were putting in the wrong gas. So after some pretty crazy siphoning and lot of "I can't believe they would try to do that!"'s, we were finally on our way to BFA.

Women: 1, Scary outside world: 0.

At BFA, we were able to learn some of the stories of the women who were working there, and pray for them. It was such a great ministry, we literally had nothing to offer them except our prayers, and they took them so readily! There's a lot of different kinds of smiles here in the world, but I've begun to notice a  specific smile that comes when an unbeliever gets prayed for and encounters the Holy Spirit for the first time. There's sometimes a little hint of tears, often times a look of surprise, but there's ALWAYS a pure deep joy and a whole lot of teeth :).

That afternoon, us ladyfolk were once again challenged by the scary outside world as some welders who had come to fix the gate blew all of the electricity in the house. Not exactly ideal, especially when electricity is needed to cook dinner! But Tammy figured out a way to have some electricity and we were able to not only have dinner but watch Emma too :). Just because we're hard core now doesn't mean we can't get back to our roots once in a while!

Women: 2, Scary outside world: 0.

Anyway, the next day Kirsten and I indulged ourselves with some amazing Christmas shopping at this place called Thamel. Bargaining is the name of the game there, and once again us two blonde Americans were seen as easy prey to make a couple bucks off of. But we knew what we were doing, and we got some AMAZING deals on pretty cool stuff! I won't spoil what I got because like I said, I was Christmas shopping, but the lucky few of you that will receive the gifts will be very pleased I'm sure come Christmas day :).

Women: 3, Scary outside world: 0.

On Wednesday, I was really sick and took advantage of having no schedule and slept most of the day. But that night we were invited to a time of worship and praise for foreigners and women only, to encourage all the women here in Kathmandu who have give up their whole lives in order to serve full time here. It was incredible! There were four women who had come from Tennessee to encourage a specific missionary couple from their church, but they blessed about 20 other women with their worship and kind words. That was great for me, because clearly I didn't need any hard core encouraging since I'll be leaving in 9 days, but I could really pray and try to be a part of the uplifting.

The worship was awesome, it was such a blessing to be in that room with so many incredible women praising God. Also, having worship with only women was AMAZING because every single song was sung in my key (haha).

Women 4: Scary outside world: 0.

The next day, Kirsten and I got to meet some connections we made at church to help out at their ministry which educates women who are at risk for being trafficked. We specifically got to be a part of a class that teaches English to older women, and it was great to see how eager they were to learn. There were only two on that first day, so they had a 2:1 ratio of teacher to student! Pretty cool.

We went on Friday too, but that time there was only one student, making the ratio 4:1. Hilarious. She was so smart though, it was so great to learn a little more of her story and why she wanted to learn English so badly. She owns her own little tea shop, and since she's a little older she's very eager to learn English as quick as she can so she can speak it for the rest of her life.

Unfortunately I can't remember what the ministry is called at the moment, but all I can say is that it's awesome. It's incredible that they focus just on women and educating them, because they know that if women are educated, they're much less likely to fall prey to trafficking.

Women: 5, Scary outside world: 0.

Now our girl's week is over, and we'll spend our last week living at the children's home again. But the kids will be in school during the day, so Kirsten and I have decided to spend as much time as we can at the women's center, furthering the relationships we made there and just being a part of the awesome process of educating women.

Like I said before, I encountered a lot of really awesome women this week. The men may not have been present, but the ministry did not stop. And that is a beautiful thing. The world may be scary sometimes, but who cares. The same Holy Spirit lives in me that lives in men, so what do I have to be afraid of? Answer: absolutely nothing :).