Monday, March 31, 2014

What's the world coming to when your laundry isn't safe!

We thankfully have a washing machine. But we do have to hang our laundry out on the clothesline. The other day I hung it in the afternoon and left it out over night on accident.

The next morning I was in the kitchen and looked out the window for a minute and saw some kids with a white cloth, it was odd so I kept watching. It was then that I realized the kids were climbing our fence and taking our laundry!

I ran outside and the kid threw back one of the items, but the other they hid from me. I could tell they had something, but I am not quite sure what it was. I didn't notice anything in particular gone, so hopefully it wasn't anything important.

Very strange indeed!

Sunday, March 30, 2014

"Hey you are looking Fat"

When we look at a family picture of someone else's family we say things like, "Awe, they are so cute." or "What a nice family."

The other day we were showing a Tibetan lady some pictures of our family. She kept pointing at everyone and said, "Awe, they are so fat." "Wow look how fat he is."

Here it is polite to call someone fat. On the inside I was dying laughing,but I just said, "Thank you." To the Tibetan and Nepali people it is just like saying, "Oh you look so healthy."

I doubt I will get any compliments on losing 5lbs, nor will Luke on his 20! As that would be an insult to point out!

Saturday, March 29, 2014

Working on my Gag Reflexes

So before we came to Nepal I worked really hard at eating foods I didn't really like to eat. So that I could teach my "gag reflexes" that it wouldn't kill me to eat certain things. I new on the mission field when someone serves you something you have to eat it or drink it or you will risk offending someone.

Yesterday I was served a cup of coffee with a little bit of sugar in it. Now for those of you who know me, you know I don't like coffee. I've already been practicing drinking cold coffee, and actually enjoy a Mocha Frappacino or something similar, but this wasn't cold, and wasn't mocha.

But I did it. I drank the whole thing with a smile on my face! I kind of feel like I accomplished something!!

Friday, March 28, 2014

Burger King

After, actually during, our bike riding adventure we stopped for lunch. I knew I should just order some of the national food. But then I saw a sign for a Nepal version of Burger King. It can't be that bad right? The pictures are the same. Surely it will be decent food.

Luke ordered a cheese burger and I ordered a club sandwich. Surely it has to slightly resemble the pictures in the menu right?

Luke got a cheese burger alright--a CHEESE burger. It was weird.
Looks kind of normal from this picture but really it was a ton of vegetables which wasn't bad but the "burger" part was carrots covered in this strange cheese I guess and then fried into a pattie. It wasn't gross just not what you were expecting.

My sandwich however was way worse. It was white bread toasted--the best part. But there was no meat. And it was basically lots of mayonnaise and chopped onion. I forgot to take a picture of it. I don't recommend it.

Next time I will stick with the Nepali set.

This is delicious. The soup on the far left is kind of like lentils, then you have a vegetable soup, then the meat, which is usually more broth than actual meat then some other sauces. You dump it all over the rice and enjoy!

Or I will have MoMo's with achar sauce (spicy)

You can't go wrong with food the people make every day and love themselves. 

Bike Riding in Nepal Traffic

While Justin Levine has been away for a few weeks he let Luke borrow his bike. Luke has been having so much fun riding around and seeing new places. I however never thought I would ever get a bike or scooter or anything like that. The traffic is crazy around here and it didn't look like something I wanted to try.

But Luke has been running errands and taking Justin's bike. He'll hop on, go somewhere that would probably take me an hour to complete with walking and he'll be back in 15 minutes. This makes taking those hour long trips just to pick up a handful of things that much more tiring, knowing that I could be doing this on a bike and be done by now.

So one day last week Luke put me on Justin's bike and kind of showed me the ropes for driving around here. He jogged along side of me. I knew it would be fast, but in 3 minutes we arrived where we were going and it normally would have been a 10-15 minute walk. I loved it.

So yesterday Sheryl and I rented a bike and Luke took us around and helped us get used to the traffic. It was fun.

Even though it was fun it was also quite scary. Driving on the busier roads Luke said you could drive close to the sidewalk if you want to go slow. That sounds great in theory. But Buses, motorcycles and every vehicle in between are pulling up to the curb and pulling away from the curb without much warning. You have to be very diligent. 

I made it to the "Walmart" in just a few minutes which was awesome. I only almost died 5 times. Hahaha...I'm over exaggerating. I did have to swerve around people several times and one time I thought this minivan was parked so I went around it just as it was pulling out and I had to speed up as fast as I could to try to go around it which was trying to go around another fellow bicycler. A little nerve wrecking.

The nice thing is that even though it sounds very dangerous, people are only going 10 mph or less. It's not like America where you pull out on a highway and people are going 40-60 mph. I don't think anyone ever even gets up to 40 mph here. 25 mph is going fast in the city.

As we were leaving we had to walk our bikes across the street so that we could go the way we wanted. In America that would be like making a left turn onto a highway, not the easiest thing to do in congested traffic. So Luke and Sheryl made it across the street but I didn't go right at the right second and all of a sudden there were cars trying to turn both directions and now I felt like was I not only making a left handed turn onto a highway, but I was doing it dead center of a busy intersection that had green lights going in every direction! I was a little nervous and thankful for gracious drivers who went ahead and let me go even if they were laughing at the same time.

Finally we were driving straight and the traffic had died down when Luke turned around for a split second to say something then boom he was flat on his stomach flipped over the handle bars sprawled out like a squashed grasshopper.

Ok, so I couldn't find a good picture. But it was definitely terrifying for me to see the whole thing. I'm just glad it was over in about 2 seconds. He jumped up I think afraid a bus might run over him...or maybe he was thinking I might run over him...

Anyways, we made it home a little shaky, but still thankful we went. I am looking forward to getting a bike soon. I probably won't venture out on a busy road by myself, but definitely with Luke.

Monday, March 24, 2014

A Story from Luke

Caught in the Knick of Time!
Just seconds away from losing this bike
I couldn't believe it ... he was walking away with my bike! A few days ago, I had met up with a friend at a bank to open an account. Since we had to fill out some paperwork, we decided to do it over lunch. So I hopped on his motorcycle, leaving behind the bicycle I was borrowing in the care of the security guards - not bothering to lock it up.

 About an hour later, we pulled up to the garage of the bank, and something caught my eye. A teenage boy dressed in his school uniform was walking a bicycle out, as we were going in. The bike looked familiar, and I did a double take. Sure enough, it was the $150 bike I was borrowing! I jumped off the motorcycle and ran to the bike and grabbed it. I gave the lad a brief lecture of “Thou shalt not steal.” He probably didn’t understand what I was saying, but definitely knew why I was saying it!
As I walked the bike back in, I told the security guards what happened. They were quite sorry, yet relieved. Yes, I proceeded to lock it up before leaving it out of my sight again. I realized that though I can’t take ANYTHING for granted, God still sees everything. Had we been 5 seconds later, I would not have been able to stop the thief! Praise the Lord, He is a PRESENT help in trouble.

If you would like to hear more from Luke check out our website. 

Sunday, March 23, 2014

City-wide Water Balloon Fight

Our house, like most houses here, is surrounded by a large stone wall and an iron gate. When you walk out our gate, you are overlooking a relatively large field. The kids all around us congregate there and love playing with Paul (our 6 year old). I am constantly seeing Paul standing at the gate talking to someone I can't see on the other side of the stone wall. When we walk down the street, almost all of the kids say, "Hi Paul!" Luke has taken the boys out several times to play with the kids in the field.

A few weeks ago the kids around started throwing "water bombs" over our fence and trying to hit our kids. It wasn't malicious or anything, they were just having fun. And our kids loved it. We didn't realize it at the time, but the water bombs were leading up to a big holiday here, called "holi" day. They literally have a city-wide water balloon fight, where even the adults participate. 

As you would suspect, it's not a good holiday. And has roots in very bad hindu tradition. We weren't sure what to expect when this day arrived, and planned for the most part to just stay home. In a way it reminds me of halloween in the states. Where a long time ago it started for bad reasons, and yes people still celebrate the "bad part", but others just celebrate to have fun dressing up and eating candy. Over the years, some people remember the real reason for the Hindu Holi day, while others do it for fun. 

When the "holi" day arrived, we looked out over our gate and could see people all around throwing these water bombs at people. Adults standing on top of their roofs with buckets to dump on unsuspecting people. Others with water balloon launchers and kids throwing these water bombs everywhere. It was strange to see even the adults laughing hysterically.

Here is one neat video. We were able to zoom in from our house to see it. Watch the guy get hit upside the head. I can't believe Luke got this on video.

Here are some of the boys that were playing.

One of my friends wrote a blog post on why we shouldn't celebrate and lists what the meaning behind it is. Click here to read it.

Saturday, March 22, 2014

Washing the Dishes

In my entire married life (7 years, almost 8) I have never had a large kitchen. One of my kitchens was literally the size of the space you would need to open the front door. Our front door was in our kitchen and if you were opening the oven or standing in the kitchen you would get smacked with the door if someone opened it.

When I knew we would go into missions I never dreamed that I would have a nice large kitchen. I am amazed at what God has given us. You can check out the pictures here .

So up until now, I've never enjoyed doing dishes because there's never any room. But here it is fun.

When it was cold our kitchen sink water did not get hot, it didn't even get warm so we would have to boil water on the stove about 3 or 4 times to wash all of the dishes. Once you get in the swing of it it's not that bad. And having really hot water to stick your hands in is a nice reprieve to the cold weather you are in. Too warm for a heater, too cold for just a long sleeve shirt.

I am happy to say that now that the weather is warming up we have semi-hot water to wash the dishes in now! Unless it's early in the morning or late at night, I don't have to boil water any more!

Thursday, March 20, 2014

Caught in a Windstorm

Sheryl and I (thankfully we didn't have the kids with us today) were out visiting someone down the road from my house. About a 10 minute walk. While we were talking the husband of the lady we were visiting said it just thundered and that we should probably leave soon. We kept talking for a few minutes more, when he came back and said, "I don't want to be rude, but you should really go before you get all wet."

Sheryl and I left. As soon as we were outside I realized how windy it was. If we weren't on the side of a mountain I would have thought for sure a tornado was coming by the way the wind was blowing. (Not that I've ever been in a tornado, but at least it's what I imagine it to be anyways.)

We started for home and decided we should run to try to out run the rain that was surely coming with this weather. As soon as we made it to the main road I realized we should have left sooner. It was so hard to see with all of the dust blowing around. It's also disconcerting to see other people literally running for cover--especially adults.

We took off towards home. It was sprinkling a tiny bit, but mostly it was wind. I had my hand over my eyes with the tiniest of crack so that I could see at least two foot in front of me and not kill myself.

There were things being blown all over the place.

Remember this picture? See how the tin is standing on the side of the road? It is kind of protecting the road construction or something. Anyways near where we were walking it was falling over on the road and blowing around. As you can imagine this tin is very dangerous. And you could be seriously injured if it hit you, from its size and from the sharpness of it.

When we realized that it was falling we took off running to try to get past it. Part of it almost hit us but we ran into a little side chute till it fell and then kept running. Thankfully no one was hurt at that time.

It was still really windy, but we were able to catch a little breather going up hill.

One of Sheryl's favorite produce places was coming up and the older lady that runs it was trying to gather all of her vegetables. (You can see how this storm snuck up on everyone.) We ran over and helped her gather her things to safety and started up the hill again.

Next we heard the windows 3 stories above us start clapping together and slamming shut. We both took off running again, imagining the glass falling any second. (The next morning we saw the ground showered with glass.)

Thankfully we arrived home in one piece. Safety is truly of the Lord. We probably weighed about 5lbs more just with all the dirt we came home with, but I was thankful for another good story to tell and to be indoors in the safety of our home.

Sunday, March 16, 2014

10 feet from a rabid dog

Yes, I know my titles are catchy and some what scary, but if I don't do it that way no one reads my blog. Haha. Yes, through Blogger, I can actually tell how many people read them. And the ones with great titles are the ones that are being read.

Of course I'm not "crying wolf" because I was near a rabid dog....but I'll get to that in a minute.

One of my biggest fears in life is letting God control all things. Whether it's here in Nepal or in Okeechobee, FL where my parents are located. I like to control things, fix things, and prevent things. As most people do. I know God is in control of all things, and most of the time we say that to comfort someone else. But when "something" goes wrong that's not necessarily the first thing we think of. At least I don't. So I'm constantly resurrendering (not quite the right word) this to the Lord. I battle with it a lot.

Walking down the road can be scary with all of the cars, people, and motorcycles that go way too fast down these narrow bumpy roads. Besides all of those things there are also dogs everywhere. We are constantly reminding the kids not to touch the dogs or let them lick you. Just in case they are carrying some sort of disease. Well last week we were walking down the road with our friends and we sat all 6 of the kids down on the sidewalk outside of the store while Sheryl went in to get something. When Sheryl was done we swapped places and I went in to grab a few things. When I came outside Luke, Sheryl, and all of the kids had moved around the corner and were further up the road. When I came out they pointed out a small dog about 10 feet from where the kids were sitting that was foaming at the mouth and looked sick. We are almost  positive it was rabid. But once again God has kept us safe even when I didn't realize what danger we were in. I am so thankful that even though I like to control things and prevent things and keep my kids safe, that God is really the one in control watching out for us.

This past week Abby (3 years) started having a lot of accidents even though she is potty trained. I chalked it up to Culture Shock and we just went with the flow. Until Wednesday when I realized she was going every 10 minutes. About 4 o' clock the burning started and I realized she had an UTI.  I started to panic. I can't go to the doctor. It's already late in the day and the doctor is almost an hour away. I tried calling several friends and couldn't get a hold of anyone at the time. Luke was gone and I was watching my 3 kids and 3 of our friends kids. I didn't know what to do and my mind was racing a mile a minute. Suddenly I realized what I was doing, or not doing, depending on how you look at it. I stopped everything and prayed. Resurrendering again that God is in control.

We had our Bible Study that night and the next morning called and got an appointment for that afternoon. Abby is doing great now. She has been on the antibiotics for 3.5 days now and we have seen much improvement.

When we were at the doctor's office they wanted to do get a culture from Abby to see what the infection was. I told the doctor we would try. The only bathroom they have at this particular place is a squatty potty. Then when they gave me the cup I almost couldn't stop laughing. The jar was about 2 inches tall, not bad, but it was super narrow. The opening was about a half an inch in diameter. These people are nuts I thought. Let's just say at least this bathroom has soap. It worked out fine and once again God used something in our circumstances that I can't control to teach me that he has always been and always will be in control of our situations.

Monday, March 10, 2014

Road Construction Nepali Style

Road construction here is crazy. Imagine a two way street with a little bit of a sidewalk on either side. Now, take away the fresh grass you also imagined with that and throw in a whole lot of dirt and trash. As the city grows, just like in America, you want to widen the streets to help the traffic move through with ease. The only problem here is that there is no room to expand. If you take out the sidewalks (which by the way, no one walks on) there is a building right there so what do they do? Carve off part of the sidewalk. 
If that wasn't enough room then you literally carve off the face of the building. A shop that was once 12 feet deep is now only 3 feet deep! Can you imagine what code enforcement would do in the States if you did this? It's so weird to watch.

There is one road by our house that we take every time we have to leave by taxi. We call it the bumpy road. Road's in Nepal are normally bumpy but this one is different.

During the road construction there would be a stone wall surrounding some property, but the government wants to widen the road. So they build a new wall a few feet behind the old one, and then destroy the old wall.

In America, you know how we always think, why don't they finish one section before they go on to another section, here it is the same. When they build the new walls and are ready to destroy the old wall, they do the destroying all at one time. So on both sides of the road they knock down these walls. The rubble is now covering the whole road and a once bumpy road is now, "watch your head so when it bobbles it doesn't smack against the side of the car bumpy."

I did find out one of the reasons they do it this way is because every has one job that they do. You won't really find a "Jack of all trades" here. You have the wall builder, the wall destroyer, the rubble carriers, the man who hammers, the man who drills, the man who sweeps, the man who wires things, and on and on.

Over the next few weeks they have these ladies come through with baskets on their backs and slowly pick up the rubble to remove it out of the way. It's really weird. And I'm so grateful that I don't have to carry bricks all day long.

When they are ready to work on the road or the building next to the road or anything, they take all their supplies and dump them in the road. I'm constantly having to remind the kids that if a rock is on the ground someone probably owns it and would get mad if you kicked it or took it.

Here is a view of rubble from the taxi window.

Some supplies

When looking at the next picture my house (you can't see it in the picture, but directionally) is on the left hand side back behind those buildings. So we use this road a lot.

The sidewalk on the left, and probably the right too, they are about to get rid of. They are going to go in and take out the sidewalk leaving only maybe a foot of it. If you follow the line down you can see where they will have to start taking out buildings eventually.

When they tear it up I will post another picture so you can see the difference.

So next time you are driving through construction, just think, it could be worse.

Sunday, March 9, 2014

2-Liter Coke that lasts forever

Not everything here is bad or hard. One of my favorite is the Coco-Cola Classic soda. It's a little more expensive here about $1.50 for a 2-liter, but it is very good. It is made with real sugar and if you have self control (haha) it will last for days without going flat.

I try to limit myself to a glass a day. It's a nice thought, but doesn't always work. When it does work I take a glass a day and it lasts about 4 days with Luke helping me drink it. The soda in America lasts about 4 hours maybe less before it goes flat. I'm shocked at how long it will last without going flat!

Short and sweet!

Friday, March 7, 2014

A Fire in the Kitchen

Last night we had some company over and then another unexpected guest so I thought to make food go further I would make some banana bread for dessert. I forgot that I was already using my one casserole size dish which I usually put the banana bread in, so I decided to use the muffin pan and a bread pan for my doubled size portion of banana bread mixture. I knew it was going to be tight but banana bread doesn't rise that much so I thought filling the muffin pan almost to the top as well as the bread pan wouldn't be a a big deal, but it was.

About 10 minutes into the banana bread baking I noticed a little smoke from the oven. We have a spill pan that came with the oven and it was smoking, I thought (because things here are cheaply made) it couldn't handle the heat and the actual pan was burning so we just took it out.

All the kids (6 of them) were eating dinner at the table only a foot away from the oven. I started working on something else when Paul our 6 year old started saying fire fire fire. As I turned around I was about to say only say fire when there is a fire, when I realized there WAS a fire! I called for Luke while Sheryl and I grabbed the kids and pushed them all out side and left the men to deal with it. They turned off the gas and got the fire out easily, although there was quite a bit of smoke left in the kitchen.

I am just amazed at the grace of God. Nothing was harmed, not even the partially cooked bread. Apparently the butter in the bread melted and when it boiled in the bread it boiled over and dripped right on the open gas flame after we removed the spill pan. Had the kids not been watching and alerted us to what was going on it could have been very bad and very dangerous.

We decided to take our dinner outside to eat. The kitchen aired out quickly with 7 windows and a screen door. I wiped the oven clean and recooked the bread this time with no accidents. Luke said it was the best banana bread ever, hopefully it was the recipe and not the whole adventure. I would hate to have to repeat that one.

I'm so thankful that God was looking out for us and prevented a huge disaster, now we just have something funny to laugh about while eat the delicious bread that doesn't even taste like smoke!

Sunday, March 2, 2014

Public Transportation

The easiest cheapest transportation around these parts is absolutely free! That would be your feet. We do a lot of walking around here. We don't own a vehicle and don't plan on buying one. The tax on a vehicle here is 200%. We may, hopefully soon, get a scooter or motorcycle.

The traffic around here is pretty crazy. If there is an inch of room some sort of vehicle will move in that spot. There isn't a dividing line on the road, although they do drive on the left side of the road. If the person in front of you is driving too slow you just honk your horn and go around even if there is a giant bus headed towards you. The philosophy is, if there is an inch take it!

Surprisingly in a city with 5 million people in it and everyone driving crazily there aren't many accidents. Crossing the road around here is pretty crazy too. I feel like I'm playing frogger. When crossing the road you obviously don't walk in front of the buses and cars, but you are supposed to walk in front of the motorcycles. That's what they expect you to do. You are supposed to walk in a straight steady line and they anticipate what you are going to do.

This past weekend we got a chance to "cross the street" with our whole family. It was great fun! NOT! Even Jason said, "I'm scared mom!" I was too, but I didn't tell him that. I just said hold my hand and don't let go.

Taxi's around here are very cheap compared to the USA. But even $3 or $4 adds up over time. I needed something across town, not in walking distance, so my friend Sheryl offered to show me how to get there by using the bus system. I'm not sure what I was thinking by taking Abby (our 3 yr old.), but I did.

We took a walk down to the main road. Now with the buses they only go one direction. You can't flag them down, tell them where you want to go, and then expect them to do a u-turn for you. If you are going to the "right" you have to cross the street so that you are on the same side as the direction they are going. If you are going "left" then it's a little easier because you are already on the correct side of the road.

We made it to the main road and had to cross the street so we could go to the "right." Once we were on the curb there were many buses driving past with a man hanging out the window yelling which direction they were headed. If you want that bus you flag them over and they stop. The funny thing is they will squeeze as many people as possible in a vehicle, if it seats 10 people normally, they would fit at least 20 people, with the last person basically hanging on to the door for dear life.

We found a bus going the right way with 2 seats left, except the "seats" were actually the last two "standing seats". We went to jump on and thankfully a man traded with me so that I could sit with Abby on my lap.

We got to a cross section of bus lines and jumped off. We had to walk a little ways then flag down another bus to go to our final destination. The bus on this side of town stops in front of you and you have to run to jump on. I carried Abby so I wouldn't have to worry about her keeping up or stumbling. We got on the bus and it wasn't crowded at all--for about 5 seconds. Next thing we know we are squeezed in like sardines with perfect strangers smooshing you from all around. I thought Abby was going to have a heart attack.

On the way back when I "ran to meet the bus" the driver started going before I got on. Because of my forward momentum and holding Abby I didn't realize that I was falling backwards and not forwards into the bus until I heard shouts coming from the bus and about 10 hands grabbing me and pulling me on. The guy who leans out the window and shouts to everyone where we were going was even pushing me on from the backside. That was pretty crazy. Once I was safely seated on the bus I couldn't quit laughing. I didn't even realize that I was falling except for the look on everyone else's faces. It was great.

I have to say though that for now I shall stick with taxi's. At least until my culture shock wears off. That was enough of an adventure for me for a little while.

Today I took a taxi to the "Walmart" here. Some times taxi's like to take shortcuts, to me however I feel like they take twice the time as normal. A taxi here is basically a very small 5 seater car. (The other day we only had a little ways to go so my family and the Levine family took one taxi home. With us and the driver that was 11 people in this car! That was a lot of fun.)

This taxi driver took us down this alley that the curves were so tight he actually had to back up a couple of times to make the tight turn. With this small of a car you can imagine how small the road was. There were people all over this road so we had to go super slow and for 10 minutes he basically blew his horn the entire time to get people to move out of the way. But these taxi drivers take "shortcuts" like this all the time. It makes it difficult to learn the layout because it seems there are 100 ways to go to the same place.

I am starting to feel a little confident about going places though. Today was my 2nd time taking a taxi by myself somewhere. It is kind of freeing being able to be a little independent again.