Wednesday, October 23, 2013

James 1:3 Knowing this, that the trying of your faith worketh patience...

I am pretty sure that every one, young and old who has served a mission has had their faith tried one way or another....... and yet I am pretty sure that what comes through that trial is PATIENCE.   We have been in Nepal for fourteen months, we have had to get 4 visas and in the next 4 months we will need to get 2 more visas.  If and when the government of Nepal is working, it is always at a snails pace, it's pretty much "when we get around to it."  They have been trying for over a decade to have an election and to be able to write a constitution.  Elections are once again scheduled for November 19th, it looks like it may happen.  The PATIENCE of the Nepali people is pretty amazing, not so much for Sister Janet Mendenhall.  I find myself walking out the front gate and having little patience with the laws or lack thereof of Nepal, the crazy drivers, the torn up roads, the "when we get around to it" attitude.  I have 4 or 5 more months left, there is still hope for me to learn patience, I need to remind myself that my way is not always the best way, I need to remember that the Lord did not send me here to change Nepal but to help and love the people and I think that part is easy.  I love their patient attitude with me when I get discouraged and frustrated.  They are a loving and kind people.  I need to remember that when my faith is being tried, it's not about me, it's about Nepal and it's about loving and serving and learning patience.  I'm still a work in progress and the Lord is kind and patient with me and molding me to be the daughter of God that He wants me to be.  I just need to remember that sometimes.

Greg and Carol are leaving to go home next week.  I am really going to miss them, they have become very special friends and we will never forget our adventure in Nepal without thinking of the many fun times we've had with them.  Before they leave we all wanted to make sure we went to see the Tibetan Rug Factory and one of the hundreds of brick factories in Nepal.

          Brick Factory
This is the smoke stack where the bricks are cooked, there are hundreds of these around Nepal, hence one of the reasons for the pollution in the air

Tibetan woman working her loom, they sit on the floor for 8-10 hours a day making beautiful rugs.  It was lunchtime when we went and most were on their lunch break.

This is the rug Kent want to bring home

These Tibetans are also called Sherpas, the aprons the women wear identify their Sherpa cast.
The man is holding a prayer roll. and wearing Buddhists prayer beads.  I think he probably sits all day twirling his prayer roll and thumbing his prayer beads.

We also wanted to visit the Burn Hospital.  This was a very nice, clean, German sponsored hospital.  It is so interesting to see the discrepancies of so many things in Nepal.  We sometimes visit places that are clean and modern, not sure why the standards can not be the same or even close all over Nepal, maybe those hospitals or facilities that are sponsored or cared for by other countries makes the difference. This is Kent talking with the doctor at the SKM Burn Hospital. 

We have a very cute friend that works at the Radisson Hotel that likes all of us and she invited the four of us to the October Fest at the Hotel.  We stayed away from the Beer Bar but had lots of great German food.

The Nepalis in the leiderhosen and dirndl, aren't they cute?

October Fest at the Radisson

I had talked in a previous blog about Rakesh having been invited to BYU to attend a Law and Religious Symposium, he also had the opportunity to meet with Elder Gong, Elder Hallstrom and Elder Holland, each separately to discuss the political climate of Nepal and hopefully the writing of the constitution that not only allows all religions in Nepal but will allow the Church to bring proselytizing missionaries here.  What an experience that must have been.  He just got home today so we haven't had a chance to talk with him about his trip.  Can't wait to hear about their experience, they also attended a sessions of conference and met with some of our humanitarian bosses at the Church offices.

Kent greeting Rakesh with a traditional Nepali khada (scarf)

Sunila, looking as beautiful as ever even after a 26 hour flight

When they were in Provo, our girls went and picked Sunila up one day for lunch, because she had met Tiff and Lauren when they were here she wanted to make sure she got to see them again. 

Sunila, Tiff, Teresa, Kason, Tricia, Lauren and Kristen, Cami and Alisha couldn't make it :(

She even got to hold our grandson who we haven't seen yet.  I was a little jealous when I saw this picture.
Today when she arrived in the airport she gave me a big hug and said "this is from your cute grandson."

One of the interesting things about Nepal is that they have more holidays or festivals than any other country in the world but unfortunately most of these festivals take money to celebrate, keeping these people tethered to their traditions and keeping them impoverished.  Some are more extravagant than others but there is a festival for every stage of ones life.  These pictures are of a festival that is celebrated when a baby starts to eat solid foods, in English it's simply called "The Rice Eating Ceremony".  The baby gets new clothes, families and friends are invited for a large meal.  This is the little son of our HBB monitor, Karishma.

Can't remember the baby's name but here he is all decked out in his new clothes and tika on his forhead with his dad.

                 With his aunt, I need to ask about the 
garland around his neck, not sure what the significance is of the grass, but isn't he cute?

Hope he likes his solid food

We have one of our cute returned missionaries that is married to an artist.  I asked him to paint me a picture of Christ with Nepali children.  It turned out so good!  I'm having a print made so I can frame it and leave it here and take the original home with me.  
Mala (the returned missionary) is also an artist, she did the drawing and her husband Roshan did the painting.

Mala, Roshan and baby Rohana

The best part of the month was when Josh and Kristen came to visit, arriving just in time to celebrate Dashain.

The first day of Dashain - planting lemongrass, it will grow anywhere even on the dashboard of the taxi.  They plant this and let it grow for 10 days, on the tenth day they cut it and use it in their worship.  When they receive tika (a blessing by giving a red mark on the forhead) they also put the blades of lemongrass in their hair.

Josh and Kristen arriving, a looooong flight, Kristen was ready to go home before she got here, not a great experience in India, but I think they had fun once they got to Nepal.

They came on Friday, we went to Church on Saturday and then headed to Chitwan to ride the elephants on Sunday.  Before we got to our hotel we stopped by to see a couple of our wheelchair peer trainers.  We took two of our cute Nepali sisters with us, neither of them had ever ridden the elephants in Chitwan.  They were very fun to have along.

We first stopped to see Bikash, he works in the admittance office of a hospital.  He is also a Nepali singer.  He played one of his recordings for us.

Bikash, Josh, Kristen, Kent, Me, Maya and Sajana

We then went to Nishwar's home where they wanted us to stay and have a meal with them since it was Dashain.

Nishwar is between me and Kristen

Josh and Kristen's first real Nepali meal

We then got to the Paradise Hotel in Chitwan and we got settled, went to the elephant breeding ground, had a bite to eat and then went to a Nepali cultural show.

This is the first time we've been to this program, we loved it but Josh and Kristen didn't see much of it.........

Still feeling a little jet lag.......

Don't ask them how the show was, they didn't see much of it .....

The next morning we got up early to ride the elephants and it was raining, raining, raining......

Kristen just gave the elephant a tip and the elephant is giving Kristen "Namaste"

We then went back to our rooms, showered and went to the hotel restaurant for breakfast where the manager fixed us a special Nepali breakfast, everyone else was eating the buffet but we were treated pretty special. We went down to wash with the elephants but there was a long line, since it tourist season, and things had changed since the last time we were there.  Everyone had to wear life jackets and the elephants hardly went into the water.  Some of the adventure from the last time was missing. 

 Kristen did take a swing on the swings they put up during Dashain.

It rained the whole time we were in Chitwan, rather it just drizzled.

  We took the long ride, scary ride home in the pouring rain.  Josh was a little nervous on the way home after seeing many buses and trucks off the side of the road, and some hanging over the cliff.

Rickshaw ride in Thamel

Kristen saying her prayers at Swayambhu (Monkey Temple)

We went to Dubar Square and had Panna and his daughter Priti come with us and gave us a history lesson. He quizzed Kristen after, she didn't pass. They are both members of our branch, Panna used to be the branch president and Priti served her mission in Salt Lake.  

Priti and Kent (doesn't her name fit)?

Which is more colorful Kent's socks or the god behind him?

Dubar Square

All too soon the week was over and they had to leave, Kristen home and Josh had to go to India for two more weeks for work. For a minute I wanted to get on the plane with them.

Cute Sajana came to the airport to see them off.  They became good friends, and now Facebook friends.

Another good Nepali friend, Tendu Sherpa our best taxi driver.  Thought it was so nice that he gave them khada's at the airport as they were leaving.  Nepali's are soooo nice.

More Dashain pictures

They only have swings during Dashain but boy are they swings!

The kids all fly kites during Dashain..... this little guy was very serious about his kite flying, wish I could have got the kite and him in the picture.  He's only about 7.

I loved this picture of these Sherpa women walking around Bauddha Stuppa with their prayer beads.

Our new missionary couple arrived on Monday night, they've been so tired I have not taken a picture yet.  We love the Rempps and will miss them but it looks like we're in for another adventure the next few months with Elder and Sister Wasuita from Mountain Green.  He's a dentist, I wonder if he could fix my broken tooth?
We have not yet heard from the couple that will be replacing us, thought we would have heard by now. But I'll patiently wait for our release date and know that the Lord knows best. 
Where does it say that patience is a virture?  
...glory in tribulations also; knowing that tribulation worketh patience
And to knowledge temperance; and to temperance patience; and to patience godliness. (Hopefully I'm  heading in this direction).
....continue in patience until ye are perfected....
..... for ye have need of patience that, after ye have done the will of God, ye might receive the promise.

The scriptures are full of direction and truths regarding the importance of being patient.  The one thing I have an opportunity to learn in Nepal is patience, it is a work in progress and I know that all these experience I'm having are teaching me patience.  I'm grateful and feel blessed for the opportunity.  This is a once in a lifetime experience, I have learned many things about God's children on the other side of the world, in many ways I want to be more like them especially when it comes to patience.................. 

Sunday, September 22, 2013

"The Lord Loves, The Lord Lives"

Our internet has been off, on, off, on for the last 5 weeks, and so it's been difficult to write and load pictures for my blog. Today they were here a couple of hours so hopefully it will stay on so I can get this sent. This blog will be a little random because it's been so long since I've been able to write.

We're getting close to hopefully having an election that may provide a way for a constitution to be written, but with that said, the next few months we will also see many bandhs (strikes).  People shutting down the country because they want things their way and if not they will make life even more difficult here in Nepal.  Last week we had 2 days of bandhs, we can walk around, it's just that there is not much open and there is no transportation, but it is usually a quiet, relaxful  day.

The Lord Loves, The Lord Lives, a simple and powerful testimony of Yaknath Adhikari , our 22 year old "rm" who has gone back to school to finish his education.  He is in a 9th grade class with all 14 and 15 year olds.  The teacher whacks him when he gives a wrong answer, it's very embarrassing to him, he says, " I am an adult, I should not be treated this way" but he returns everyday and tries to do his best.  School is very difficult for him, but he knows how important it is to get an education.  On top of going to school he is taking care of his younger brother and sister, who his parents have left in his care as they have returned back to his village. He has no job, what a difficult task for this young man but such is the life of a Nepali.

Yaknath Adhikari and President Bishnu

Not only is it bandha season it is also Nepali festival season, at least one and sometimes two a week, probably until the middle of November, so nothing gets done around here.  We are waiting for our new project agreement to be signed.  We were hoping to have it signed by the sixth of September, when our Visa's expired, but no such luck so we had to spend two days in the immigration office getting a tourist visa until the project agreement is signed and then we'll apply for our last non-tourist visa which will last until we come home.  The immigration office could not understand why we'd be applying for a tourist visa, it took us two days for us to explain, your country is very inefficient and we can't do anything until the 50 or so people who have to sign the agreement get around to signing it.

August 21 and 22, 2013: Janai Purnima and Gai Jatra:
A most colorful religious procession of cows and people with peculiar head dress painted as figure of cows goes round the market places. Relatives of deceased of that year send religious groups to join the procession  The ‘Gai’ or cow is holy to Hindus. She represents Laxmi, the goddess of wealth, and guides the souls of the departed to the gates of the Netherworld. (maybe this is Never,Never Land)  But Gaijatra is not a somber occasion. Satire, jokes, fancy costumes, and colorful processions are the order of the day as people recall how an eighteen-century king rallied his people to cheer his queen upon the death of their son. Those who have experienced the death of a close one during the past year share their sorrow and take comfort in the fact that the Gai (cow) has safely transported the departed souls on their afterlife journey.
Young men wearing women’s saris, children dressed up as cows, and whimsical characters of all sorts fill the streets.

We were having a RS activity making breadsticks and homemade noodles, so our husbands went to town and get away and watched the colorful and strange procession.  Kent said it was a little too strange for him as many of the men were dressed as women,  A little too weird.  But us women had a good time.


 And more NOODLES

Fun day with our Nepali sisters

TEEJ Festival (Women's Wish-Making Day)
Teej is the women's festival, there is always a little variation as to how and who is celebrating but this is the beginning of all the fall festivals and it's a big deal.  Carol and I (no husbands) were invited to Sunila's mother's home to celebrate with her sisters, mothers, aunts and cousins.  This is their big meal before they begin their fast the next day.  They fast for the long life of their husbands or if they are not married they fast for a good husband.  When we got there Sunila had bought red saris, necklaces and bangles for us.  She took us upstairs where she helped get us dressed.  I do not know how these women can put on a sari by themselves.  A sari is about 6 yards of fabric that they wrap, pleat, tuck and drape, oh and pin just in case your sari falls off when you're dancing.  I've actually heard of this happening to one of the previous missionaries.

Sister Rempp and Sunila  tucking, wrapping and pinning

I didn't have a red blouse, going to have to go and have it made.  It's funny, they won't ever share a drinking glass with one another but everyone pulled out their red lipstick for us to put on.  I don't think it's my color though.

We then went down and ate snacks before the dancing began.  I think I've shared this before but when a woman is menstruating she is not allowed to go into a room where food is served, in some Hindu families the women still are not allowed into the house during that time of the month.  Four of the women had to sit out in the hallway to visit with us, you are not even allowed to touch them.

Not allowed in the room with the others, so they sat in the hall with smiles on their faces.

I found this article in the newspaper today.  What year are we living in?  Oh yeah, 2070.  I just find it so interesting that they cannot move forward and they do not understand why.  A week or so ago I read another article about the WHO Millennial Goals that all countries are to meet.  Nepal figures they will meet or almost meet most of those goals accept the one regarding equal treatment of women.  They said they are unlikely to meet that one, the only goal that has no financial obligation attached to it.  Traditions are not always a good thing!

After we had snacks we all went up to a small bedroom where all the furniture had been moved out.  There were about 20 of us and the music started and we danced and danced and danced.  It was much more fun to watch the Nepali women dancing.  

So much fun!!!

We should have danced AFTER we ate

We then had lunch, rice, dahl, prawn pickle, potato pickle, chicken, buff and a few other things that I can't remember. Then we had curd and some cookies for dessert.  It was a fun day and it is fun that she includes us in so many of her family celebrations.

The women begin their fast the next day, they do not eat or drink anything for 24 hours.  We have heard that some believe it's okay to eat dairy products and fruit on this day.

The second day of Teej, all of the volunteers at one of the orphanages wanted to come with Sister Rempp and I to celebrate the 2nd day of Teej.  Two of these young women are members of the church, one from Germany and one from Switzerland.  They are all young single women, we were a little surprised that they wanted to hang out with us old women.  Our RS presidency wanted to fix us a Nepali lunch before we all went to the park to dance.  It was so nice of them.  Needless to say we weren't fasting, I'm not sure how they celebrate so when they have been fasting.

We live next to the big park where Teej is celebrated in all it's glory.  And I mean glory, look at all the beautiful women in their red saris.  We all wore our kurtas for fear if we danced too much we'd lose our saris.

 We first checked out the view from our apartment window before we headed to the park.

This is our next door neighbor, she's leaving her home to go to the park.

These women are leaving the park after going to the temple to worship and pray for their husbands.

There was a radio station or tv station that was putting on this big TEEJ celebration.  While we were out dancing (or making fools of ourselves)  they came down and asked Carol and I to come up on the stage and dance.  Sooooo embarrassing, we grabbed two of the younger girls and made them come up with us.  We were probably on the stage for 30 minutes, they asked if we would sing a Nepali song, which we did but we made the audience sing with us.  (I know my kids are dying as they read this)  We all got a CD for being such good sports and were on the local news station. and then when we got off the stage we were bombarded, everyone wanted to dance with us and have their pictures taken with us.

Here we are coming down off of the stage, Kent took this picture from the roof of our building with his super duper lens.  Can you find me? I'm one of the four white faces.......

Finally after 3 hours Carol and I told the younger women, we were done, we couldn't dance anymore so we dragged ourselves home.  This is what we looked like at the end of the day. 

Another festival a few days later, can't remember what it was called, but early in the morning we got a call from Nabin, our Apartment Manager asking if we wanted to come down to his office to worship the tools, I had to ask him several times, TOOLS?  I told him we would come down to watch but not to worship the tools.  We went downstairs to the office and there were 2 tables set up, one with a little statue of one of the gods surrounded by all kinds of foods, fruit, cookies, and cakes. a place where people could put money, the other table had the tools which had been blessed with tika, and flowers.

 The girls who clean the building then offered us sweets and fruit.  This is how this festival was explained to us, a day off for the tools andsince the tools aren't used this day, those who use the tools also get the day off, it only would make sense, right?  As we walked around the building we could see that the elevator had been blessed, that's a good thing since it's a little jerky around the 2nd floor.  The generator also had a blessing and the gates into the apartment building.  As we walked out to the road we could see that many of the cars were decorated and had also been blessed with tikas.  I should have taken better pictures.

The next day was Indra Jatra 

A week long festival begins by hoisting Lord Indra’s flag (Indradhoj) at midnight and faces of Bhairavas deities are displayed in important public places.
Indra King of heaven and controller of the rains, has once again blessed the Valley. As the end of the monsoon nears, farmers look forward to a rich harvest, everyone is grateful to the deva for his help. For eight days, Kathmandu’s Durbar Square is the focus of a great celebration fit to “flatter the King of Heaven”. Indra’s dhwaj, or flag, is erected on the first day. It is said that many centuries ago, Indra’s mother needed specially-scented flowers but could not find them in heaven’s gardens. Indra discovered parijat flowers in the Kathmandu Valley and tried to steal them for his mother. He was caught and imprisoned by the Valley people. When Indra’s mother came searching for him the people were appalled by what they had done. They released Indra and dedicated one of the most colorful festivals of Nepal to him to appease his anger. Masks and statues representing Vishnu, Bhairab, and Shiva are shown to the public, and the living (child) Goddess Kumari witnesses the special occasion from her chariot. Indra is thanked for the rains and assured once again that he is respected in the Kathmandu Valley.

We haven't participated in this festival too much, but we've noticed shops closed, we're getting a little festivaled out and they've really only just begun.  

Some other things we've done in the last month.


We had President Bishnu and his family to dinner, they are a wonderful example of the gospel here in Kathmandu, I wish more of our members would follow their example

Rebecca, Smina and President Bishnu

Rakesh and Sunila took us all to dinner to celebrate Sunila's visa.  They are coming to Provo next week and this is the first time she has ever left Nepal, she is so excited but they will be doing a little traveling for a month and she is very nervous about leaving her children. It was fun to be included in another one of their family celebrations.  Sunila is wearing a t-shirt and jeans, Rakesh said she was practicing for when they come to the U.S.  I think they will be going to conference.  I told her she should wear one of her beautiful saris.

We've been having the YSA meet twice a month for FHE.  Sometimes we watch a movie, have a lesson or play games.  This night we were playing "Minute to Win It".  We're going to have to be creative and figure out a different way of holding FHE since it is getting darker earlier and we don't like sending the girls home on the buses after dark, it is just not safe for them.

Ajay playing Minute to Win It

Maya's turn

We also received approval on two of our projects, one is with the JAWS which is a program for the blind, teaching them how to use computers.  Once they learn this program the one thing they like doing the best is being able to FACEBOOK.  The program actually talks and reads to them so it is very interactive and really helps them in their college studies and hopefully to find better jobs. Yesterday we went to the first six month certificate ceremony.

Kent with the President of the Nepal Blind Society handing out certificates

The other project that was approved was the next years HBB  training that we hope to do before we come home and in conjuction with our replacements arrival.  It's getting pretty tricky but we'll see how it all works out.  We should be hearing from the new couple within a month.  

We had four baptisms, YEAH!  Kent's kind of had to push President Bishnu into making this happen.  President Bishnu wants them to all be perfect before they are baptized, and that is not going to happen.  Hopfully the perfecting will come as they become fully active and involved in the blessings of the gospel.
We had 3 brothers ordained as Elders and a new Deacon, and Kent is really working with one of our young men to get him to go on a mission.

Priyanka was baptised by her husband Siddhant and their daughter Prizam.

Santa was ordained an Elder and he also baptized his son Sajun and Sajun's friend Baudel

Ramela and Rebecca have become good friends.  Rebecca helped her get ready before and after her baptism.

Sajun and Santa

A wonderful day for everyone! 

 Elder Yaknath is on the back row with the black tie, Ramela is his sister and the young man in the suit is Jarek, who was just made a deacon, his brother, whom he now has to provide and take care of.  He said it his hard but it will prepare him to be a good father one day. 

 The Lord lives and the Lord loves all of us in ways I would have never, ever imagined. He blesses us and provides us with those things we need, though it may not always be those things we  want.
I've come to recognize the Lord's hand in ways that I could have never imagined and am so grateful for the blessings and opportunities He has given me while in Nepal.  I know He died for each of us that we may live again with Him.  I'm getting to know Him better as Kent and I study the scriptures together and read about His life and His teachings.  I want to be a follower of Christ and bring others unto Him so that they may find hope and peace in their lives, whatever their circumstances may be.
The Lord Lives, The Lord Loves, 
Thank you Elder Adhikari for reminding us by the example you set for your brothers and sisters in Nepal