I haven’t been the best at keeping the blog updated thus far since I’ve been either jet-lagged or already running along, so I apologize, but now it’s turned into a novel. Here we go:
It’s strange…I feel like this is normal, like walking these streets is just what I always do.. no culture shock (yet): it’s just El Salvador in saris. I could exist here comfortably. And, surprisingly, I have more space here than I did in the dorms at Loma lol! Lovin that! I’m a happy little camper right now (except for cold showers and already having to use my cipro after eating a goat cheese salad lol lesson learned: even at an Americanized, upscale restaurant, do NOT eat uncooked veggies because they turn your body into a cramping conduit). Maybe it’s because it is so much more global here than I expected – many people at least understand a little English, are used to white faces, and are more relaxed as far as clothing requirements. I have found that it’s much more accepting, relaxed, and safe than my “training manuals” made it out to be. It’s just very free-flowing, and everyone knows how much I LOVE that 🙂
I am really loving where we’re staying. My fellow partner in crime, Alyssa (22, from Minnesota yah) and I are staying in a guesthouse just outside Kathmandu in Lalitpur, so it’s like being in a hostle/apartment building. I posted a video tour here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3yxQq8NjMkk. The electricity and water don’t always work (shortages), and the hot water I don’t believe exists though my roommate swears she had one hot shower once, but I am told that this is the best Nepal has been as far as shortages in a long time. Small blessings. We have a children’s school next door, and a few “nicer” restaurants right down the path. We’re super close to the Saleways (ghetto walmart – third world style), so Alyssa and I have ventured out twice to pick up water and such. I haven’t really taken pictures yet, and the ones I have are from my point and shoot; I don’t want to draw attention to my fancy camera equipment just yet. I’ve posted what I have, though, on facebook from our taxi excursion to Kathmandu to buy Nepali tops (long shirts) for ministry.. that shows Durbar Square and more “traditional” Nepali architecture, but it’s really not representative of the rest of the environment we’re in. I took a few shots yesterday at the “park” where we took the boys from our street ministry to play footie, so a little more “normal” urban Nepal will be seen there.
Speaking of which, I should update you on the “ministry game plan”….subject, of course to change at any moment, with or without notice, as Nepali missionary time is a bit unpredictable/lax 😉 Aside from the massive undertaking Alyssa and I have been assigned (developing a whole new girls’ empowerment component) to complete in 6 weeks, which I’ll discuss later, we have a full 6-day a week ministry schedule (which we’re lobbying to have altered a little bit as it doesn’t have us going into any of the prostitute centers downtown or at the border). At the moment, we’re in one of two CarNet Nepal (the Nepali version of Global Family) school location Sunday – Wednesday helping kids with their homework (like an afterschool program) then preparing a lesson for the kids (Alyssa and I) in either art or ESL as we see fit. I was totally unaware of this component, but I thank God A. Alyssa has been in charge of ESL/teaching before and B. I got the experience as a substitute teacher/tutor and as a children’s church leader in Indiana before I moved to Cali.. It is AMAZING how God takes us on “tangents” to prepare us for the goal, because I started teaching right after I got the Nepal fire lit under me. And, had I tried to do it in CA, I would not have qualified due to different qualification requirements. God had to keep me in IN just long enough to give me this vital experience. This teaching component also opens up the chance to do some art therapy.. I just have to convert it into “art lessons” and find places to buy supplies.
On Thursday and Friday, we go to a shelter for street boys run by a lovely lady named Charmela (Karuna is her ministry). We went yesterday, and wow. Basically, street kids can come in and eat and learn.. if they choose to stay, they can live in the home with Charmela, her family, and the other boys, but they have to agree to rules and schooling (street kids normally hate this because in the streets, they don’t have anyone “controlling” them and many are addicted to drugs, mainly a glue that they sniff which has horrible withdrawal symptoms and is very difficult to get off of). She has had great success, but many heartbreaks as the kids who stay will sometimes be lured by other kids back into the streets (Niramia, a little girl I now love is one of those kids). Now, she also has children from area schools drop in during the afternoon, and all the children have “school” there together. We were there for the day, playing games with the boys who live there and the street kids (only 2 came yesterday) in the morning, then helping a school group teach in the afternoon. Alyssa and I are in charge of coming up with ESL games/lessons/etc for an hour each day that we are there.. and boy, it’s gonna be interesting!! Luckily, we have Smirti, Charmela’s neice, who is our age and super helpful..she’s been a blessing 🙂
One little girl at Charmela’s already has stolen my heart: Niramia. We thought she was a boy, actually, because she was dressed in boys’ clothes, covered in dirt (one of the 2 street kids), and had shaved hair. However, Charmela told us that she had been sexually abused by her father, so she asked Charmela to make her look like a boy ☹ This is good because she lives on the streets and avoids male attention that way, but terrible because she has become very masculine and hardened.. she is hurting. She is 13 and has the body of a 9 year old boy. Sometimes she would join us, sometimes she would disappear.. last week, she lured one of the boys away from the home back into the streets where his “boss” (a druglord who sends the children out to beg and sell drugs like in Slumdog Millionaire) beat him and Charmela has not seen or heard from him since. Niramia was using the glue while she was gone for those moments while we were there, so she was almost asked to leave. However, we made her stay and watched as she painfully began withdrawal within hours. We just kept praying that she would stay, and the harder we prayed, the longer she stayed, even changing into a girls’ top to come play footie at the park with the boys and us. I know, though, that she went right back into the street that night. We are just praying that she’ll keep coming back when we are there. She held my hand during Red Rover at the park, and it was all I could do to keep from crying.
Saturday Fun Day
Yesterday, we had a “day off”, so we slept a little, ventured around our neighborhood for food, and did a lot of research for the girls empowerment program. We rewarded ourselves with a popcorn and (pirated dvd bought at store) movie night that night 🙂 It has been pretty cool, because Kathmandu is so inundated with tourists that we have eaten pretty much every cuisine EXCEPT Nepali so far.. American, Mexican, French today, etc. The Nepali Chai Chai Café across the street had Irish music playing. It’s been so much fun.. I almost feel like I’m traveling the world every block I walk.
KICC – International Church
Today, we went to an international church down the street.. AMAZING! Almost every country was represented by a missionary in attendance, and it was so cool! Talk about taking Christ to the nations and being one united body! It was a small thing in a school, but the music was in English, message was by an American, and everyone was encouraged to fellowship and keep each other strong. I love it! I really REALLY needed the worship (which, apparently they switch up every week to keep everyone kinda happy.. last week was hymns, this week contemporary, etc). This is a huge answer to prayer since I was floundering in El Salv because when we went to church, we were either teaching or it was in Spanish…was hard to be fed/refilled. But here, I will be replenished. 🙂 And, Alyssa and I agreed to listen to worship music back in the room more frequently, which helps so SO much. It also helps that everyone else in the guest house we live in are either missionaries or Christians, we think. We’ve met an English guy here from Uni, a Southern Baptist missions family from Texas, etc. And, we all went to the same church this morning. So good.
After church, we went to our Sunday/Monday ministry site in a church/school in Bhaktapur. The children were doing homework when we arrived (writing English words and phrases repeatedly into notebooks), so we sat and helped as much as they would allow us to. Then, Cort played guitar while Charity, Alyssa, and I taught them songs with motions. We weren’t prepared to be in the spotlight today, but I think the kids had fun. To kill time, I asked them to teach US songs, which was amazing.. they are so cute to begin with, but they were so excited to show us their songs/motions! They sang one in Nepali and then one in English for us.. so good. I got my point and shoot out to snap a couple pics, but it’s telling me there’s a lens error, so PLEASE pray that that goes away or else I don’t have A. a discrete camera or B. a camera to let the kids use/shoot alongside me with.
I started pitching my idea today to Clark about bringing art back from the women here to sell in galleries in the US, and apparently they are already in the works for that! However, he hadn’t thought of targeting higher-end art markets, etc, and is excited the see if I can network back home, find a market for Nepali textiles and art, and to find a way to train the women here to make goods that will fetch a higher price in the US to support themselves.. it’s one component of a plan I’ve been plotting for a year now, so I’m excited.. I have a task when I come home!! And, it’s something I will have access to anyhow since I am an art major who has to start networking with galleries in SoCal to set up my senior show!! God is good.. this might just be the next step: high-end art shows and galleries and sales, all the proceeds of the Nepali women’s art goes to them to create a completely sustainable income. I’m excited! But first, the girls’ empowerment curriculum 😉
The Girls’ Empowerment Curriculum
which is basically Alyssa and I coming up with a program to give girls ages 9-16 a sense of worth, self confidence, purpose, and community.. a girls’ club, if you will, that teaches literacy, microfinance, health, and self esteem/worth. If we can give the girls value and confidence and a way to get a job/support themselves, we can cut off trafficking at the source. Much of the research we’re been reading says that illiteracy and being a financial burden to their families are two of the main reasons that women go willingly into prostitution-our curriculum seeks to prevent that. Pray for us.. we’re a bit overwhelmed at the task of not only all the research but also getting it all written, mapped out, and into practice for a trial run by August…all while doing ministry everyday. Like tomorrow, by 9am, I am supposed to have read hundreds of pages of research, have an art lesson prepared for the kids, and they just told me that tomorrow is my day to lead the team in a 10 minute devotion.. um.. AHHH!! Good thing it’s not in my power but God’s because I wouldn’t be able to pull it off unless they’d have let me have some forewarning! lol Oh well.. I’m thankful to be here and that God’s chosen two random girls to be the agents through which a curriculum will be written that could prevent hundreds from choosing a life of horror. For those of you who really would like more info on the trafficking issues here in Nepal and India, let me know…I have some really great articles/resources right now that Clark gave us to be researching.
By the way, Jen mentioned today that she wants me to take photos of all the kids, print them, and have them make frames and take their pictures home.. they often never have a photo of themselves, and what an awesome blessing that could be!! I’m so excited! This also gives me the “in” I need to start bringing my camera and have freedom to use it whereas, right now, they don’t want me to have it out. God is so good.
I will end here for today. At some point, I will try to rig up a way to post pictures online that aren’t on facebook. I know of some methods, but most have a space limit, which, if you know me, would fill up real fast haha. Suggestions welcome. But anyhow, it’s my day to lead devotion tomorrow and I have yet to figure out what to discuss, so I need to get rollin’. Love you all!