Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Natalie ~ More Stories :)

Hello again! It's only been about five days since my last post, but I already have so much more to say!

Hiking up and down mountains has been our main activity this past week or so! The hikes have been strenuous, slippery, long, and hot. Having to carry our heavy backpacks over rocky mountainsides, muddy leech-infested foottrails (I've gotten 3 leeches so far!), and slick stones across rushing rivers has definitely been physically challenging (yet fun!) for me! I feel so fortunate to have such a great team to hike with! The entire team has had such a great, optimistic attitude during these tiring treks. As we were climbing one particularly steep hillside, Melanie observed that although we were sweaty and exhausted from carrying so much weight in supplies on our backs, our climbs up to these mountain villages were really nothing compared to Jesus' excruciating climb to Calvary carrying His own cross on His back. At least for me, that definitely put our hikes into perspective. :) And being able to teach our Bible lessons to the sweet kids we've met, to interact with them, and to listen to their amazing singing makes every ounce of effort for us to get to these villages fully worthwhile. :)

Having spent the night in a few more mountain villages, I have come away with a bunch of funny stories to share!

My team's night in Village #1 brings a lot of laughs to mind! When we arrived at the village, we were treated to a nice meal of pineapple, rice, and cooked pumpkin leaves. We had to eat with our hands!--very comical! :) Our drinkable "dessert" that followed was very, very...interesting..., hehe! It was called "Curd," and was described by Naomi as "a chunky mixture of sour milk, cottage cheese, and something else." :) Although we were supposed to have a church service at 8 pm, the monsoon rains postponed the service until about 9:30 at night! I was amazed that despite the long delay, and late time of night, many villagers still trekked through the dark to make it to the service. After church, Melanie, Naomi and I were escorted by a large throng of villagers to a tiny 2-room hut in which we were to spend the night. We were led into a small room with a single bed. At first, we thought that it was meant for one of us to sleep in, and that the other two of us would be taken elsewhere to sleep. But as we stood there surrounded by the staring, smiling villagers motioning for us to get into bed, we gradually came to the realization that this little bed was meant for all three of us to sleep in!! We burst out laughing, and climbed in! The bed was just a board covered by a handmade straw mat which was only about half an inch thick! Needless to say, we had a hilariously sleepless night full of tossing, turning, and a whole lot of giggling about this unforgettable Nepali mountain village "sleepover!"

Our night in Village #2 was yet another funny experience! We girls stayed in another small room with two "board" beds. The room was so swelteringly hot that we decided to leave our door open a crack that night. We all were startled awake in the middle of the night to a fluttering frenzy of angry-sounding chickens that had invaded our room! We were all too scared, and too tired, so get out of bed to chase them out! In the morning, we found a nest in the corner of our room with eggs in it! Maybe we should have shut the door that night...haha!

One more story! I spent another night in a Nepali mountain village, but this time, I stayed on the floor of the church building. I woke up that night to a huge thunderstorm! The rain was pounding on the tin roof, and dripping through the ceiling! My sleeping bag was already halfway soaked! I felt pretty miserable for awhile, but was ashamed after a few minutes. Since the day I was born, I have ALWAYS had a trusty roof over my head, and have ALWAYS had a dry, clean, comfy bed to sleep in. These kids and people living in these villages have never had that, and in reality, most never will. Yet they still are so happy, and make the best out of everything they have. I had no right to complain! With that in mind. it was a whole lot easier to have a better attitude, and accept my long night of dodging raindrops and puddles, haha! And hey, at least the pounding rain drowned out the guys' snoring! :)

I am just so happy to live among these people -- to do what they do , and live what they live for a moment. It's amazing to know that what we are seeing here is the REAL Nepal. I'm sure the tourist hotspots in Nepal are wonderful, but being able to experience these real people, places, and lifestyles that the Nepal tourism industry overshadows is absolutely priceless to me. Witnessing the conditions these people live in has given me a great deal of respect for these tough people, as well as a newfound appreciation for the many blessings I have at my own home in America. We are so, so fortunate to live how we do.

We are now resting for a day in Kathmandu before jumping back into traveling and teaching mode. :) It's so nice to have a day to recharge. I can't believe we only have one more week here in Nepal! We'll do our best to make it count! :)

Once again, thank you all so much for your prayers and support for us while we are here! They have helped a lot, as we have all been healthy for the most part, and have tackled our teaching itinerary with almost no setbacks! Thank you also for praying for the congregations and pastors here in Nepal ~ those prayers are needed, and are going far! :)

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