Friday, April 5, 2013


We make bracelets now. Well, we don't. They do.

They look like this:

And you can get them here (feel free to ask if you have more questions about Blessed Hope):

Sometimes the tiny beads make my head hurt. And sometimes trying to bridge the gap between two opposite cultures, neither of which I fully understand, makes my head hurt a little more.

But it's beautiful. For a thousand reasons, it's beautiful. Many of the reasons are shown only by a squeeze on the knee or trading smiles over a cup of milk tea. And I often find myself anxious for heaven where there won't be any language barriers, where I will easily be able to sit and talk to my friends. And I already plan on blocking out a chunk of eternity for some of them.

The distributers of our bracelets want our women's stories. So we've been tasked with the assignment to write their bios. I promise you, I've never been more thankful for an assignment in all my life. Each story grabs a piece of my heart, and I wish I could tell every one because I'm convinced that knowing these women can only make a person better.

They have stories like this:

My sweet friend, Sijok, was raised in the village and moved to Kathmandu when she was around 20. When she got here, her older brother was already living in the city and had started going to a Christian church. She decided to go with him, and shortly after became a believer. They began praying for the rest of their family, and over the last seven years, all four of her siblings and her mom, who had been an alcoholic, have come to have a relationship wiht Christ! I love seeing the way our Father is faithful in families.

Sijok passionately feels that she is called to move back to the village and share the Gospel with her people, but right now she knows that God has her in the city for a reason. She says that she is just waiting for God to tell her when to go and she'll be there.

It's amazing really, how alike stories are no matter where you go, isn't it?

Her older brother, the one who first took her to church, has been in jail for almost a year now for killing a cow. Since cows are sacred in the Hindu faith, it's illegal to kill one. He could face up to 11 more years. One reason that Sijok believes she's supposed to be in the city is to help take care of her sister-in-law and their children. So she works for our cookie business and is a manager of Bless Hopeed and helps provide for them.

My favorite story of Blessed Hope thus far is the one of these bracelets.

Sijok decided to take some beads and string and a crochet hook to the jail last time she visited her brother. And she taught him how to crochet the bracelets. When she brought them in and told us who made them, I almost lost it. My heart was so full. We knew the story of her brother, and we had been praying for him, so to learn that by making bracelets, he had found a way to support his family while he's in jail was incredible.

Each week she goes back and delivers more beads and teaches him a new pattern, and each week, his bracelets are some of the best ones we get. I love it.

His hearing to determine whether he will be released or sentenced longer is in one week. It is impossible to predict what will happen because the cows don't really belong to anyone and just kind of wander the city, so the decision will be strictly political. The family and church know that God is in control of the situation, but I wanted to ask you to join us in prayer over our brother. It is a hard burden for their family, as you can imagine, but I promised Sijok that I would ask people in America to be praying with us this next week, so thank you. Thank you. Thank you for your prayers.

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

I'll take the DMV, thanks.

I'm always saying that I can't describe my life here, and I really can't. There's nothing I can think tell you to compare it to at home. But I can't resist attempting to at least try to paint you a picture of my day today because it is the perfect example life in Nepal. I want to preface this by saying that I love this country.

And I love these people. And I love my life. I don't, however, love running errands in Nepal.

So here goes. Background: Leah and I have been in the process of getting a student visa for a couple of months now. We turned in our paper work last week to the Ministry of Education with the man promising to call in two days(mmmhmmmm...). When we hadn't heard from them after 4 days, we spent about 2 hours yesterday morning searching the internet for the phone number of a government building with zero luck. Sidenote: this process also included me running downstairs in my PJ's to find a Nepali to translate an automated recording from one of the dead end phone numbers. After admitting defeat, we decided to get up and go there again this morning.

This brings me to today. Oh what a day. The following is an approximate timeline:

8:40 Catch a taxi from our apt to the Ministry of Education.
9:10 Arrive at the Ministry of Education-only to find out that there are apparently two, so we convince our sweet driver in broken Nepali/English to take us to the correct one.
9:20 Arrive at the second Ministry of Education-only for the guards to tell us that it doesn't open until 11. Again, this is a government building, why would it open before 11?
9:30 Walk down the road to find a cup of coffee and read (we were prepared).
10:50 Pay for our coffee and walk back to the Ministry of Ed.
11:00 Find the building and navigate ourselves to the correct office using this:

11:15 Pick up our completed paperwork and start walking to the immigration office, which we were instructed was "estraight."
11:25 Come to a fork in the road. Ask a Nepali where immigration was. He gives us directions..
11:26 A white man across the crazy busy road flags us down, runs across the street, tells us the Nepali man's directions were wrong and points us in the right direction of the immigration office(how he interpreted our conversation, I will never know).
11:35 Arrive at immigration...for the first time.
11:50 We are directed to three different offices before we finally get to the right one, where the man tells us we need a bank statement-we ask, "Is that all?" He looks at our paperwork and says, "Yes, that is all."
11:55 Get directions from the Nepali guard out front to the nearest branch for our bank. Take off walking.
11:07 Realize there is no bank.
11:08 Asked another Nepali...then interrupted by a second...then third Nepali-we repeatedly explain what we're looking for, they discuss our plight in Nepali and come to a consensus of what we should do.
11:15 Flag down a taxi, and,on faith,tell the driver where our new friends told us to go
11:40 Arrive at the bank, miraculously.
11:40-12:30 Yes, an hour. First, we were directed to the wrong line and waited 30 minutes. Finally got to the right window-where they told us we couldn't get a copy because we signed up for e-statements. Eventually, we talked them into printing it for a fee of about $1.70. During this time, I caught myself absentmindedly doodling, "USA" on things.
12:35 Flagged down a taxi. Ate a granola bar.
1:00 Arrived to immigration for the second time.
1:15 Got back to the office and to the front of the line.
1:16 The same man told us we needed a copy of our passport and visa and to go next door to get it.
1:17 Slightly frustrated, we go next door. Next door tells us no-go across the street.
1:25 Across the street tells us there's no power-walk down the road.
1:40 After walking in to approximately 6 shops, we finally find a place to copy our passports.
2:00 Arrive back to the immigration office for the third time. The man, he signs our paper and sends us to the next office.
2:05 We are near the front of the line, and they bring in food for the workers, and send everyone to the lobby for 30 minutes while they eat.
2:35 Go back in. Give the man our documents. He looks at them and tells us to come back tomorrow at 11:00 a.m.

6 hours.

I will never ever ever ever complain about the DMV again.

Friday, January 25, 2013

Rooftop Restaurants and Subtle Reminders

The other morning I set my alarm earlier than normal and dragged myself out of my warm bed, got all bundled up, grabbed my bible and journal and set off to have breakfast at a rooftop restaurant around the stupa. I did this quite a bit when we first got to Nepal, but as schedules filled and temperatures dropped, I had let quite a bit of time pass since I had last done this. Laura left us an envelope full of letters when she left, and she suggested this one particular restaurant that I hadn't been to have breakfast and pray over the people and country, so I went.

The few days before this I had found myself in a bit of a funk, for no real reason. I could find excuses and explanations, but mainly I just kept thinking, "I should be home for that."

Daniel hit a half-court shot at the buzzer; I should be there yelling louder than anyone else.
Katie gets a new boyfriend; I should be there to make sure he's good enough.
Jon gets a promotion; I should be there to take him to dinner to celebrate.
My grandma's sister passed away; I should be there holding her hand.

Isn't it frustrating how just when we think we have something under control, Satan comes up with an entirely new way to lie to us?

But as I made my way to the rooftop, the view that early morning made my hands tremble and my heart pound. As I looked down from there, I could see the hundreds of people circling the stupa in their futile attempt to earn karma and repeating prostration after prostration, and I could see the smoke from the incense wafting through the air, and for the first time in a few months I could literally feel the hopelessness.

And as I sat there and began pouring prayers out over these people, it was as if there was suddenly a very clear line that separated what matters at this point in my life and what really doesn’t matter at all.

Jesus himself said, “Follow me, and let the dead bury their own dead.” And if the dead can bury their own dead, then all of those things that I think I should be there for can surely carry on just fine without me.

And none of this was God telling me that my family or home wasn’t important, not at all. He created the family. Scripture is clear the value that should be placed on building a Godly home and honoring Christ through that, and that made the message of this morning even more powerful. It was so very clear to me that as much as He loves the family, the fight for the souls of these people far outweigh anything I am missing out on at home right now. And with that again came the peace that I am exactly where I should be.

So today I am thankful for God's goodness, even when my heart lousy.
I'm thankful He's holy, even when I'm sinful.
And I'm thankful that He's faithful, even when I play the part of a harlot.
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