Thus begins my first night in Kathmandu, Nepal. God was crazy/good enough to give me 3 weeks adventuring with my little sister in the little country sandwiched between China and India . (She was actually often deemed the elder--"didi"-- when we asked people who they thought was "didi" and "bini"--younger. Wasn't sure how I felt about that.)
Since it would probably be boring if I relayed every detail of the excursion, I want to share a few highlights, and mostly, what I learned.
1. I was right all along. Elephants are my favorite animal and they are the gentlest and the kindest creatures. (see photo below.)
2. I love my sister. We had never spent time alone like that. She is an AMAZING woman who is making huge changes in the Nepal and will continue to do magnificent things. (see another photo below.)
3. For the people in the villages underneath the Himalayas, "Guest is God," and they mean that truly and deeply. I have never met a more genuine people. One evening, as we sat in a family's simple clay kitchen (our first evening in their home) and they fed us their best meal (meat included--rarity), I was overcome by their genuine love for two American girls they had never met in their lives. We were fed first, and the rest of the family watched with beaming smiles and glowing eyes. We could barely communicate (although Kate speaks pretty good Nepali-English) yet we tried to be as entertaining as possible and show our appreciation. (In the villages it was sweet 'cause we could eat with our hands like they do... dream come true, Mom. They loved watching us try to do that.) At one point, as they were beaming down on us and the father kept saying over and over again in broken English how happy he was, I was almost overcome. These sweet people really cared. They knew how to value others. Confession time: How many times do I put down the phone when it's ringing, saying I'll call them back later but I forget to do it? How often do I not respond to a text right away saying the same thing and also forgetting? (All of my family and friends out there are banging their heads against the keyboard saying "Duh! We KNOW!") I'm not saying I want technology to take over my life. I'm saying I want to VALUE people. I want to take that moment to call them back. I want to really make lunch happen with that person. I want to have people over for dinner and make them feel like I wouldn't want to be doing anything else. I want to stop talking about it (like right now) and really DO it.
4. The Nepali people are so kind. They walk down the street and call strangers "brother" or "sister." No one's a stranger. Gratitude is something unspoken and assumed. I was told so many times--"No say thank you--friends don't say thank you." You serve each other. It's a way of life, ingrained from birth. Being with each other is enough. I had to learn to calm down, slow down, and just be. When you are among it, you become it.
5. Even though I'm still in Provo and probably will be for a while longer, I hope God continues to give me opportunities like this. Leaving the country and serving, being served, adventuring, spending long periods of time on super sketchy buses = awesome think time, is necessary for my soul. I'm committed and devoted to what I am doing here, and yet know that getting out of dodge every so often helps me refocus my life, perspective, and attitude.
Thank you to everyone who helped me get there. I loved being able to spend a good amount of time in Nepal because, like I said earlier, I felt like I was there long enough to become some of it. And for that I will forever be thankful. I love the Nepali in me because of those who put it there.