Wednesday, February 08, 2017

Just Wow!

So we took our first trip to the far West of Nepal.  We were all very excited because this would be a dream come true.  Our first time as a family to meet all the kids in the Family Home.  We decided to rent a jeep and a driver for the long trip.  Little did we know what awaited us.  However, I have to say that the boys did an amazing job at being patient and having good attitudes. 

The first day was a 6 hour drive from Pokhara to Butwal.  This trip is through the foothills of the Himalayas.  So in other words 6 hours in S curves.  David didn't feel great, but we made it to Butwal without anyone throwing up!  Major success!

One of our many stops.

Although it was a very hard drive, the scenery was amazing.  I do not regret the drive just to see what we saw.

One of the towns that we went through on the way.

When we finally got to Butwal we decided to take a walk.  This city is large, but not touristy, so we were stared at the whole time.  The boys really didn't like it, but it is just one of those things that you get use to here. I thought that the foothills would go into rolling hills and then flat.... but it was foothills and then absolutely flat.  You can see the mountains in the background.
A view of the sky from our hotel.

The first day of travel was relatively uneventful, and that is a good thing because the next day was more eventful.  We had a nice meal and a clean place to sleep.  For that I was grateful.  The next day we actually had rain as we were making our way from Butwal to Dhangadhi.  What was meant to be a 7 hour trip, but became an 11 hour trip. 

We drove on flat land for a while, but there is a mountain range that comes down into Nepal, so as we were making our way up the mountain something broke on the jeep.  It is a little unnerving to hear metal hitting the underside of the car.  Thank the Lord for a good driver and handyman. 

This is were we stopped to fix the jeep.
 We stopped at a roadside restaurant.  Not one that we could eat at, but we had cover from the rain and a toilet to use.  Not really anything more was needed.  As I was shown downstairs to the toilet the pictures below unfolded in front of me. 

These homes were made from wood and clay inbetween. It was not warm and there is not heat pumps.  Open fires were what kept people warm and dry. Not to mention ingenious stoves made from clay.  I am constantly amazed by the ingenuity of the Nepali people.  They are truly amazing. 

After the first fix, which actually included a piece of wood, we made it down the mountain.  A bolt had come out of the shock system, so the ride was really bumpy...  especially for me who had a bruised rib!  We made two other stops on the road  to try and fix things. On one of the stops we took a small walk.  This roadside town had never seen anything like our family.  We were followed and at one point a woman asked me about my kids.  After sign language, broken Nepali and English, they realized that we had adopted our boys.  One woman reached over and tried to give me her son.  He would have nothing to do with it.  (Don't worry it was all a joke).  The second stop fixed our problems and we were off.  We made it through Bardia National Park (without seeing a Tiger...bummer) to the other side which has this bridge.  It is a very unique bridge here in Nepal.  I believe it goes over the Kanali River. I had been here one other time in 2013 with Andreas' father.  I was thankful to see this bridge because there is actually a restaurant we can eat at on the other side.  Everyone was hungry and ready to eat. 

Picture was taken from the restaurant
 After eating we had 3 more hours of driving, but it was done in the dark. Nepali people are not afraid of the road (which I think they should be).  As we were driving along in the pitch black there were people riding bikes and walking with no lights.  Again, we were very thankful for our driver Suman.

Nepali Terai Homes, mainly of mudd.

Finally in Dhangadhi we were met by Delindra (Family Home Father).  All tired and bumped out we headed to bed.  It was the next day that we would finally see the Family Home kids.  To be continued...

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

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.