Tuesday, January 24, 2017


The name Gurung is pretty common around here.  It is one of the casts that have become the Ghurkas.  The elite fighting men for the British or the Indian armies.  Although many of them live in England or India, they still have homes and land in the hills above Pokhara.  And let me tell you, it is amazingly beautiful land. 

Ages ago, when Andreas and I first started dreaming of this adventure, Andreas met a soon-to-be friend on Airbnb.  Ajit Gurung had many apartments available to rent and Andreas contacted him.  Then the devastating first earthquake hit Nepal.  As we were checking on friends to make sure they were okay, Andreas contacted Ajit.  Him and his family were okay, but he was trying desperately to raise funds so that he could get supplies into the most devastated areas.  They were many villages that were closer to the epicenter, but were receiving no help.  Our wonderful friends and supporters in Sweden and Norway gave and we were able to help buy rice, tarps and clean water.  Ajit made sure it got to the people that needed it.   

Last February, Andreas traveled to Nepal to check on the Family Home.  He also made a detour to Pokhara.  His motive was to check out the apartments for us.  He met with Ajit and looked at several apartments, including the one we now call home. 

Ajit has been extremely helpful and a friendship is growing.  We had the priviledge of being invited to see Ajit's home village.  So on Monday we set out on another adventure.  We started on paved roads and made our way to a man made stone road.  I believe that I know what popcorn feels like now.  The stone road is an amazing testimony to the hardworking people of Nepal.  I cannot imagine the time and labor it took to build it, but it was "slightly" buppy.  However, we were well rewarded with beautiful vistas and wonderful Nepali people.

All these stones were hand laid and there were many of them.

These stones are to hold bamboo fences in place. Made by hand without machines.

The Annapurna Range
It was a beautiful sunny day.  We took snacks and water with us.  I believe that might have been David's favorite part of the day.  Both David and Sam were troopers as we walked quite a ways.  They both enjoyed getting to know Ajit also.  (Love the pic below of David)

Chowing down on some chips when he thought no one was looking. 
Unfortunately for him, mommy has a long zoom on her camera!

This is Fishtail Mountain.  It is considered a holy mountain by the people and it is not allowed to climb to the peak.
We have the pleasure of waking up and seeing this grandeur everyday!
The other side of the foothills that look away from the Himalayas is covered in terracing.  Right now the terraces lay dormant, but in rainy season they will all hold rice.  It is astounding to see all the terracing and know that it was done by hand, not machine.  For hundreds of years the people have lived here and farmed this land.  Now, not nearly as many live up on these hills.  There is little water and Ajit says it is a harder life on top. 

Handmade stairs and road. 

No filters needed!

Ajit has a love for his village, even though he did not grow up here.  His ancestors and dad are from here and he claims it as his own. He did not even know his village had such amazing views of the Himalayas till he was 24 years old.  Now, Ajit and his father are trying to buy land to start a farm.  It was beautiful land and we were priviledged to get to experience it. 

Ajit's new admirers.
Both Sam and David took this time with Ajit to ask many questions that they would not be able to ask a stranger.  I loved listening to their interactions with him and the indepth questions that flowed.  Ajit was patient and wonderful with the boys.  I think Sam really liked that he was just about as tall as a full grown man!  Thank you Ajit for this wonderful day and the experience of seeing your village.  It is a special and awe inspiring place.  Pictures can never do it justice, but I tried. 

In whose hand are the depths of the earth, The peaks of the mountains are His also.  Psalms 95:4

Thursday, January 19, 2017

Back Street Academy

Today we did our first Back Street Academy class.  For those of you who are interested, Back Street Academy is a way of getting to know the locals as you travel and taking classes in their homes.  It is also a way that some of the locals make their living.  It is an amazing concept and I am really excited that my husband found this.  The Back Steet Academy is in several countries.  The list I could find said: Nepal, Laos, Malaysia, India, Singapore, Indonesia, Cambodia, Philippines, Vietnam and Myanmar.  If anyone is interested you can look them up at backstreetacademy.com

So today Samuel, David and I took a taxi to a meeting spot and a beautiful young woman named Dawa met us and took us back to her home.  Dawa's mother Tenzin would be our teacher.  We were learning how to cook Dhalbat, rice and chicken, Nepali style. 

Tenzin and her famiyl live in a Tibetan settlement in Pokhara.  They are also known as Tibetan refugee camps because the families here fled as China took over Tibet in 1959.  Dawa's father was 4 when his family made the treacherous journey over the mountains.  He lost 2 sisters during the trip. There are four of these settlements in and around Pokhara.  Several of the Back Street classes are taught by the Tibetan families.  They still do not hold citizen papers in Nepal, so they make their living by making jewelry, rugs, etc. 

The Tibetan Settlement.  It was clean and well kept.  There was also a SOS barn children's home here. 

The boys both got to participate in the cooking and we wrote down everything so we could recreate it in our own home.  Sam turned twelve last September and on his list for this year was learning how to cook.  Pretty cool that it is a Nepali meal that he will be cooking.

Samuel quietly said to me, "Mom, how can they cook when the kitchen is so small and they don't have nice stoves?"  I love that my boys are seeing another side to life.  My answer, "they cook with what they have and it will be delicious."  He left it at that.  I think he was quite excited to be a part of this.  He repeated many times that he was excited that this was school.  We will be taking a few more cooking classes with Tenzin.  Their family was extremely kind. 

The picture above was Dawa serving the completed dishes.  Ahhh, rice!  My boys love rice.  They also really enjoyed the meal they learned to make.  David would not stop eating!  It was amazing that we were able to be in someones home and learn a little more about their culture and language.  Tibet culture is different from Nepali and they have done a good job trying to keep their culture while adapting to Nepal.  Tenzin still wore a sweatshirt that read, "Stand Up for Tibet" on the back.  They have their own schools, monasteries, temples and dress.  Yet you would not be able to pick them out on the street.  Dawa said that the Nepali people treat them with respect and do not discriminate against them.  However, because they are not allowed Nepali citizen papers they cannot leave the area either.

We were not the only ones to be educated today.  It is not often you see a Caucasian American mom with two beautiful Asian boys.  So we were asked lots of questions about adoption and the boys' stories.  The boys' pitched right in and explain a lot themselves.  I love that they are owning this! In the end you can see that these women were smitten with David and Samuel.  (Isn't Dawa beautiful!)

We will definitely be returning to take more cooking classes.  I believe momos are on the menu next time.  David will be glad because they are his favorite!  There is also one for learning to make Tibetan bread.  I think we will be enjoying them all. 

On another note, we were invited by our landlady to enjoy a Nepali meal with them.  She is an excellent cook and I am still stuffed!  She has two boys ages 14 and 11, so I hope that Sam and David might develop a friendship with them.  That would help them not feel so isolated.  I did not get a picture tonight, but maybe Andreas will post one on FB. 

Have wonderful day.  Your prayers and comments are appreciated! Don't forget to find your own adventure, or come join ours!

Sunday, January 15, 2017

The Seti and people

Today we took a cab and wanted to see the Seti river and the expansion bridge that goes over it.  So we called a friend to ask the name and he told the cab driver.  When we stopped we thought it looked a little different.  But we paid for a ticket and went in.  In total it took 15 minutes and we saw the Seti River gorge.  Cool to see, but not exactly what we were looking for.  So we set off again and found it on the second try.  A little outside of Pokhara proper there is the Seti River and rock quarry. There is also a very long bridge that goes over it.  It probably looks scarier in the pictures than it was.  It was metal and felt stable.  However, there was a little twinge in the belly going over it. 

I love the prayer flags hanging from it.  It makes it look festive.

One of the reasons we came here is because Sam wanted some open space to fly his drone.  That was the one toy he really wanted to bring with him.  Well, not many have seen drones here and we became quite the spectacle.  One lady even tried to talk with Sam in Nepali and was confused when Sam asked her to speak English.  Luckily we had our taxi driver with us.  (He is the brother of the Landlord for our apartment.  His name is Prem and he is very nice and helpful.)  I started taking pictures of the children that stopped to watch and ended up with a few really nice pics. 

Still in school uniform

Not so sure about me!

Flying the drone with Prem taking a picture


This little one warmed up to me when I showed her the picture that I took of her.  She is beautiful!

Here is a view when we made it down to the river.  David loves rocks and we wanted to get to the river so he could find a few that he liked.  This plan may backfire as we have to get things home after being here 5 months and a suitcase full of rocks does not sound so good. 

My three boys.  Love them so much. 
It was a really nice trip.  We also got to see oldtown Pokhara and we found a Catholic church that
has English speaking services every Sunday.  We will try that next Sunday.  I miss worshipping in community so I am looking forward to it.  Although, I do not know how they will react to protestants worshipping there.  I guess we will see.  I am looking forward to it because Nepali people worship loudly and I enjoy it.  God created us all to worship and relate to him differently.  I am excited to see how the kids handle it. 

On a side note, Saturday is Holy Day in Nepal.  It was interesting to see how everyone treated it here.  I would say most went to the Hindu or Bhuddist temples and did the rituals that they always do.  However, I really liked how everyone referred to it as the Holy Day.  It got me thinking how we as Western Christians treat the Sabbath and what we consider Holy.  What do you consider Holy?  Does it make an impact on your life?  Do we treat the Holy like the mundane?  I feel lulled into apathy so many times. However, as I experienced directly tonight, with a  major answer to prayers that have been prayed for a long time the Holy is here.  He is listening, loving, beconing us to Him.  Take some time to think about it.  I know I am. 

We are still trying to settle in and get the things we need. I have found Iodine solution to wash the veggies and we are starting to cook a little for ourselves.  I look forward to more of that and less restaurants.  I think the kids are actually looking forward to it also.  I will be working on cooking Nepali food because we all love it.  The kids miss their friends, but say they are still really glad to be on this adventure.  I am really proud of them and how they have adjusted.  Finding a new normal is not easy, but we are doing well. 

Have a great week to all those out there.  As I mention before, God does answer prayers and He loves to hear from us. 


Friday, January 13, 2017

Simple Thoughts

Well, we have made it just over a week in Nepal now.  There are moments when I think we just may be crazy.  Then there are adrenaline moments of adventure and sweet moments meeting people or watching Sam and David playing together.  I had several sweet moments today that I would like to share. 

As many of you know, Andreas and I are homeschooling the boys here in Nepal.  We have started a little each day.  Today, after eating breakfast on the rooftop, school just happened.  It ended up being Sam and I together.  We went through several subjects, but the last is what became sweet.  My oldest is like me.  He is extroverted and likes to move and be social.  He likes to read, but struggles to calm himself enough to get into a book (he will grow out of this like me).  He loves stories and being read to and making stories up on his own.  Today I was talking to him about books that we are going to read while here in Nepal.  I especially focused on reading about missionaries. 

I began by telling him the beginning of the story of Jim Elliot.  I would like him to read "Through the Gates of Splendor".  He hung on every word, but of course I didn't give the ending away.  He wanted me to tell him so badly, so just maybe I have given him a reason to read.  We also talked about Dr. Livingstone and Amy Carmichael.  (Any suggestions would be appreciated). 

Talking about these missionaries led us into a discussion about faith.  Sam will be 13 this year and it is time that he starts making decisions about his faith.  He will have to decide for himself and not believe just because mom and dad do.  This is a scary, but also exciting, time as a parent.  He answered me very thoughtfully with a little bit of teenage attitude.  As a mom my biggest prayer is that he grows into a man that follows after Christ. It is these sweet moments, I get a glimpse of Samuel's heart. I see a lot of deep thinking and an amazing heart for people.  I can see that being here in Nepal has started him thinking about a lot.  We see Hindu and Bhuddist temples everywhere.  We experience things that has never crossed his radar before and it is all going in to tumble around in his amazing heart.  The sweet moments come when some of that comes out and I see how Jesus has shaped his heart for bigger purposes. I will hold onto these moments as he grows and I continue to pray for him.   Your prayers would also be appreciated. 

This was before he rowed the boat right into a branch with a snake on it.  Needless to say his dad was almost in a panic.  Sam thinks it was hilarious. 

Another sweet moment today was talking with some locals that have a small store (a hole in the wall) just a few doors down from us.  I was looking at lentils (which I have never cooked) and asking them how to cook it.  Now, you have to remember that they can speak some English and I can speak no Nepali.  The woman was laughing as I asked the questions on how to cook it.  She was not laughing to be mean, but in their world it is very strange that I have never cooked them before.  We all travel and think how strange some cultures are compared to our normal.  It is good to be reminded that I am the strange one here.  I don't mind being laughed at a little because I am willing to learn and make mistakes in learning.  For instance, to cook lentils, a pressure cooker (small pressure pot) is used.  A friend told us tonight that you have to be careful because sometimes the pressure nozel gets stuck and you don't realize the pressure is too high.  So now I am quite sure at some point I may blow up my lentils.  I promise to post a picture if this happens!  I hope that I can take some perfectly cooked lentils to them before I leave!

And lastly, we had a friend visit today.  This friend is one that has helped us find our apartment. Andreas actually met him through Air bnb.  We extended our relationship to him after the first earthquake because he was helping the villages that were near the epicenter of the quake.  We raised support to buy rice, clean water, tarps etc.  He has been honest and forthcoming in everything.  He is very nice and has helped us with details in Pokhara even though he was taking exams and sick, while trying to care for his family and run his restaurant (Nepali people are not lazy!).  This friend came today to take Andreas around to find the best places to buy food and other supplies.  He was very kind and I really appreciated it. 

So my heart sings praises to Jesus.  He has cared for me in my stubbornness.  He has ordered our time here and placed many in our path.  I am excited to see what the next months bring.  "Tis so sweet to trust in Jesus..."

I will leave you with a few more pictures of the colorful boats in the lake.  Can't get enough of them.  To all my friends in Scandinavia... say no to grey!

Wednesday, January 11, 2017

Promised pictures #1

Ok here are some of the promised pictures.  It has taken us a while, but my intelligent husband has figured out a way for me to post them.

On the plane to London, I noticed we had a Norwegian celebrity with us. Skavlan was kind enough to take a selfie with Sam and I.  Of course I forced Sam to come with me.  Everyone is kinder when there is a kid there. 

This was the first glimpse of the Himalayas out the window. 

 Sam, seeing his homeland for the first time in 11 years.  It was a happy moment for this mamma, but I think he was really too tired to appreciate it. 

After being awake and traveling for about 24 hours, we crashed.  This is what I woke up to on our first morning in Kathmandu.  My sons are such divas!

David was really interested in the Bhuddist prayer wheels.  You can not see it, but Bobby is behind the wheel teasing David and David is loving every moment of it. 

This is Boudanath Stupa.  It is the biggest in Kathmandu and a holy place for the Bhuddist.  Especially since Nepal has so many Tibetan Bhuddist exhiles.  I have been here a ton of times, but these maybe the best picture I have gotten so far.  There was some sort of festival going on a hundreds of monks and monks in training were there. 

That is all for now because I am frustrated with this program.  I will try to post more tomorrow.  Goodnight from Pokhara Nepal.

Monday, January 09, 2017

The Beginning

Wow, what a few days can bring is amazing.  It hasn't even been a week.  Today is Monday, I think.  We left on Thursday.  It feels like such a long time, but it is only 5 days.  We are worlds away from Scandinavia and we know it with every sense in us.

For those who don't know, we have been to Nepal many times before.  However, this is the first time with our children.  I thought I would be more stressed traveling with them, but it has been really good.  Don't get me wrong, I still worry about things.  For example, when I think they are getting out into the street too far and some vehicle is going to smoosh them, then I get worried.  But most of the time I really enjoy seeing things through their eyes.

So here is what has happened so far.  Andreas took a sabbatical for 6 months, we sold our home in Mysen, took the kids out of school and have been planning for this trip for about a year and a half.  We left from Oslo on January 5, 2017.  We were flying to London, when low and behold, I spotted a Norwegian celebrity on the plane.  Of course I knew I had to get a pic.  So at some point on the flight I made Sam come with me and we took a selfie with Skavlan (this maybe the 2nd selfie I have ever taken).

We landed in London and then on to Muscat in Oman.  We landed late and of course left David's coat on the plane.  However, by God's grace, we got the coat back and made our flight to Kathmandu.  We landed in a warm Nepal, went through all we needed to obtain a visa and then met our friends. Bobby and Prakash took us to the hotel where I finally got some sleep after 24 hours of being awake.  Sadly our hotel, which looked awesome on the internet, was not.  We chose it because it had rooms with 4 beds.   The beds were fine, however, not very clean and we shared a wall with a night club.  Now it has been a long time since I have been in a night club, but I had a great dance party in my bed until 3 in the morning!  Let's just say I was not a happy camper.

We spent one full day in Kathmandu.  Bobby spent the day with us and we went to the normal sights to show the kids a few things.  Boudanath stupa was the first stop.  It is a Bhuddist worship place.  There was a big festival going on.  There had to of been hundreds of Bhuddist monks there.  We went over to the Hotel Himalaya.  This was the hotel that we stayed in when we adopted Samuel.  It was so cool to show him this place and a little of the area 11 years later.  We then went to Patan area, ate and saw some of the temples, or the destruction of the temples from the earthquakes.

On a side note, I am incredibly impressed at how much of the rubble is cleared from the earthquakes.  You can still see some the destruction, but it has been blocked off for safety, or the rebuilding has already been taking place.  To be honest, I expected to see a lot more destruction.  There are areas where people have set up tent cities and they still live there.  They lost everything in the earthquakes and they don't have the money to rebuild.  Not an easy life at all.  Over 8000 people died in those earthquakes.  Bobby said that the aftershocks are still happening.  It has been almost 2 years since they happened.

So after Patan we went to the monkey temple.  This temple is both Hindu and Bhuddist.  Some of it was destroyed, but they are rebuilding it.  It has a proper name, but most people know it as the monkey temple because it has a ton of monkeys running around.  Bobby was warning the boys about the monkeys and it scared them a little.  I was okay with that because the last thing we needed was a round of rabies shots.  By the end of all this we were ready to find our hotel and rest.  For those who have not been here it is chaotic.  Especially coming from Scandinavia.  We are used to quiet people and quiet streets. Here there is sound everywhere, they honk like crazy (Sam was not thrilled with this), sounds and smells and color and chaos is everywhere.  I love it!  However, it does make one tired.

Because of the early mentioned dance party we decided to leave one day early and get to Pokhara, which is where "home" will be for the next 5 months.  It was Sam's first flight in a propeller plane.  I think it scared him a little, but these pilots have done this millions of times and we landed safely.  The flight is a beautiful one.  Although we did not have clear skies we still saw some mountains.

We made it to our apartment, which is great!  This will be a good place to call home for a while.  We are now in the process of getting the things we need and settling in.  We have a friend here named Ajit who is helping us.  Tomorrow we will officially start school with the boys.  I think David is really missing routines.

All in all, life is good and this adventure is in full swing.  We are extremely thankful for our family, safety, and the friends that we have here.  I will have to apologize because this post will not include pictures.  It is not easy to get pictures from a Microsoft phone to an Ipad and then use blogger which is google when you have to download everything from a Microsoft one drive.  I know, it is a first world problem, but we are having it. So I will repost this with pictures as soon as we can get it to work.

Now it is time for bed.  So goodnight, no dance party tonight and I am grateful.

Wednesday, January 04, 2017


We are on our way tomorrow.  We will leave from Oslo and head for London, then Muscat then Kathmandu.  We would appreciate prayers as emotions and stress can run high during travel.  Pictures will start when we get there.