Saturday, October 31, 2015

10 Things I Wish You Knew About Nepal

Every day I wake up in the middle of Nepal and there are things I wish everyone back home knew about this place. It's hard to even experience it all when you come and visit for just a few days.

I absolutely love this place. I feel like I have a purpose. Each day I have something special to do and be. I am here and love that I have a mission, something beyond waking up, eating, cleaning, playing with the kids, eating, cleaning, family time, eating, and sleeping! I get to be part of something bigger and it really fulfills me as the person God has created me to be!

So Nepal--

1. I love the food. We eat dhal bhat at least 6 days a week for lunch. I love it. It is rice, lentil soup, and vegetables. It doesn't get old. It is delicious, and I happily eat it every day and look forward to it. We took a week off and had a "staycation". I told the kids if they helped me around the house so I wouldn't have so much work to do I wouldn't make any dhal bhat for a whole week. They were ecstatic about that and gladly helped every day, but I missed the dhal bhat! It makes me hungry just thinking about it.

2. I love how friendly everyone is. Some people get annoyed by people constantly looking at you and staring. But I personally love striking up conversations with people and talking about the surroundings and getting to practice the language I am learning. People absolutely love it when you take time to talk with them. I love seeing the people smile as they watch us and hear us talk to our children. It is just nice to be around people that enjoy being around you, even if it is just to laugh at the crazy American.

3. I love being close enough to everything to walk everywhere. We are in the midst of a huge gas shortage and most of our friends have no petrol for their vehicles and are forced to walk everywhere or be stranded, but we are used to it. I can walk 5 minutes and buy everything I need for day-to-day needs. I love walking too because it helps me get to know even more people and get a chance to talk with them.

4. I love how everyone loves my husband. My husband is naturally goofy. He says goofy things just to make people laugh. I love how he walks down the road and can easily joke with the taxi drivers about taking us across town for $1 and they agree to it, already knowing that he is joking. It makes me feel safe that the people around us like us and know us.

5. I love how cheap fresh vegetables are here. We can buy a pound of tomatoes for 25 cents, sometimes even less. We can buy pretty much every vegetable that we were used to eating in the States here for a fraction of the price. Potatoes 30 cents a pound, broccoli mid-season 50 cents a pound, onions 30 cents a pound, and the list goes on. We eat roughly 15 pounds of fresh veggies every single week. It makes me feel good to be able to fix healthy things for my family!

6. Rice cookers! How did I ever live without one? During this gas shortage I have been learning new ways to conserve gas as much as possible. I have learned that our rice cooker can be used just like a pot on the stove. I have learned how to cook basically everything in it. Tonight I made shepherd's pie for dinner and I did it all in the rice cooker! It takes a little forethought to make sure you have enough electricity (today our's turns off at 6pm), and you have to plan it out just like cooking on the stove with only one pot, but everything is doable and totally takes off the stress for 
when we do run out of gas!

7. I don't like coffee, but my husband wants everyone to know that we have the most amazing coffee in the whole world located here in Nepal. 

8. Riding in a vehicle can be crazy at times. In America you only take as many people as you have seats for. Here you stuff as many people in as possible. Especially nowadays with only  a few vehicles on the road. We road in a vehicle that normally seats 12. We crammed 19 people in there and adults sitting on each other's laps. And the funny thing is no one here cares much about personal space. If there is an inch of room they gladly scoot over so that other people can ride as well.

9. Here in Nepal a guy can get a haircut and a massage for about $2. My husband loves going to get his haircut and enjoys the back/head massage the barber gives. They even massage your eyelids! Now that is a little weird!

10. I love that even though we are in a 3rd world country, we can still get some good American food here once in a while. We have a good Woodfire Pizza Cafe, a place to get a beef burger, and a KFC that has good soft serve ice cream. It sure does help to have something taste like America every now and then. 

This is part of a Baptist Missionary Woman's Blog Hop. Around the world other missionary ladies have also written "10 Things I Wish You Knew About..." Please click here to continue reading!!

Monday, August 24, 2015

Village Trip

Last weekend my husband asked me if I would like to go on a village trip. Unbeknownst to him I had been praying about the possibilities of doing this. In my mind I was thinking some grand hike with only what we could fit in our back packs and scavenging for food, well not that bad, but you get the idea--sleeping on the ground, maybe a tent, cooking over a fire.
THANKFULLY, that is not what God had in mind for us.

This was supposed to be an easy trip. A 3 hour bus ride on nice roads, stay the night in a hotel, and then take a 30 minute bus ride up to the village. 

In Nepal nothing is done on time or in the time range you are given--usually. so I was planning for a 7 hour bus ride and a 3 hour truck ride.

We got up at 5:30am on Friday morning and finished getting ready. I wasn't sure what to pack and I didn't want to bring everything. I kept reminding myself we would only be gone for 1 night. We wound up with a change of clothes for everyone, and three for Emily, two for Jason because he was going to be baptized, disposable diapers--because I didn't want to carry around our cloth ones, 2 small blankets in case someone had to sleep on the floor, a flannel sheet just in case, one towel to share, a small pillow, a teddy bear for Abby's pillow,  toiletries--including toilet paper, and umbrellas. This came out to 2 small/medium sized duffle bags and 3 back packs. On top of that we had school supplies, Bibles, and backpacks for about 30 people. 

We finally made it out of the house at 7am. Thankfully, I made banana bread the day before so we brought that for breakfast. We took a taxi to the bus stand and met up with our Tamang friend whose village we were going to. 

There was no one on the bus so they had us sit wherever we wanted. At first glance this is awesome! But because of that we had to sit on the side of the road for an hour waiting for more passengers--but it's okay I had planned for a 7 hour ride. I sat on the side of the bus next to the door because it had a lot of leg room. I had Emily in my carrier, which I don't know what I would do without! Had I known the driver was going to keep the door open the entire time I might have moved, but thankfully Emily did great in the pouch the whole time! I fed her at the first stop and she went right back in and slept most of the time.

We arrived to Dhading 4 hours after we left; I was impressed at how close to the time we were supposed to arrive that we actually arrived.

We found our hotel room, again I was pleasantly surprised. We had a small room, but there was a queen size bed and a single bed, a tv, a bathroom--with a normal toilet, and an AIR CONDITIONER, and a fan that went around like a hurricane--It was amazing and very comfortable. After being in the room for a while we realized we had some little visitors--thankfully not roaches, only tiny ants. So no one slept on the floor. The boys had the single bed, and Luke, Emily, Abby, and I all slept in the queen size bed. It actually wasn't that bad! If it weren't for the AC it would have been quite uncomfortable, but thankfully the Lord had given us a little special blessing.

The next morning we got up early thinking the pastor was coming at 6am and we were leaving then. But by 7:30 he still hadn't shown up. Once he got there we took off in a big truck. This truck was humongous. I got to sit in the front and the seat was head high to me and I am 5 ft. 9in. We drove to a nearby shop and wouldn't you know what we pull up beside?

Yes, that is a goat without a head, and yes that man is touching the unattached goat head!

Let's just say my kids got a good lesson in anatomy! My husband kept saying, "It's okay, their cousins live on a farm and do this all this time. They have to learn some time." They dissected this goat in front of the kids. Thankfully it was already dead by the time we arrived. 5 minutes earlier and we would have witnessed the decapitation!

We took off up the road, thankfully I had a chance to feed Emily before we left. The 30 minute drive turned in to 2 hours of bouncing and sliding all over the mountain in the mud. I have to admit I was a little afraid of going over the edge and Abby was really scared at times. But we did well.


There were so many people standing around the two trucks just staring at the giant hole in the road and no place to go. Everyone was just looking around. This boy down in the hole is the only one actually doing anything to help. He found several large rocks and stacked them up to fill in the gap.

The people from the village we went to visit.

We arrived at the village and had a short walk to the village itself. It is monsoon so everything is slippery. Over the course of the day I slipped and fell three times and hurt my ankle--we will call those war wounds. :) Thankfully the kids didn't get hurt. I used to go camping all the time and was used to uneasy grounds, but I must be getting soft! Oh well. 

Isn't this a dream house!

The people were so nice to us and extremely grateful. We had a quip trip to the squatty potty, which had recently been scrubbed clean. Cleaner than a lot of toilets I have seen, and then we headed to the church building.

This is the pathway to the church building, and that is a pretty steep drop off to the right.

You can see that one wall has fallen down and there are a lot of cracks everywhere. But we filed in and sat on the ground. It would cost approximately $10,000 to rebuild this one room church building.

They gave us these "welcome" scarves.

We sang together in Nepali and then they asked Luke to speak. So he gave an impromptu message and even did about half of it in Nepali. He did awesome, especially for not preparing ahead of time. 

Afterwards they fed us a delicious lunch and we headed over to the baptism area. It was a water reservoir for the rice fields. It had a beautiful view. 21 Tamang people were baptized that day, mostly adults.

There was an older lady you could tell was quite scared. She got in the water and when she went to be baptized she went down in the water but came up just a tad short for getting her whole head under the water, just the tip top of their head stuck out. But she jumped up and was climbing the ladder to get out. While she was scrambling out the the pastor threw water on the top of her head to make sure she was fully immersed. I feel for her, when I was baptized a picture revealed later that my foot came up out of the water during my baptism, so I know how she feels. 

These people still have "outhouses" and wash only with a bucket of water. Can you imagine the fear they must have of getting their whole bodies in the water including their head? But they were tough and you could see the love for the Lord they have. It was a wonderful time.

Our son Jason was saved almost 2 years ago, and for the last year has been asking about baptism. We wanted to make sure he clearly understood what he was doing so we have been waiting. Well we felt this would be a perfect time for him to be baptized so he made number 22 that day with his baptism. What a wonderful experience.

The trip down was a little easier than the trip up.  We got back to town just in time to get the last bus back to Kathmandu. We found out that there was going to be a bhanda (protest) the next two days and if we didn't make that bus we would be stuck there until it was over. Apparently everyone had the same thoughts.We paid for our tickets so we could have a seat on the bus, but that really only includes the seat itself and maybe 6 inches of air above the seat. Everything else is fair game for others. There were people squished in the middle aisle and some were hanging off the side of the bus. One lady was sitting on my arm rest and I had to lean sideways just so my head wouldn't be in her back. It was a long trip, but God helped us through it. I think we stopped literally every 5-10 minutes to pick up more people or let people off. We made it just to the outskirts of KTM, still a good hour from the buses destination which was still 30 minutes from our home. It took us 4.5 hours just to get there. At the first taxi stand we got out and made our way home skipping the last hour of the bus ride--it was well worth the extra money in the taxi fare.

All-in-all it was a great trip and I am happy to have met those wonderful people, and had the experience of a "village trip", even if it wasn't as adventurous as I first imagined, it was just enough for us!

Tuesday, August 18, 2015

Secret Pizza Seasoning Topping

About a year ago we bought a pizza seasoning to go on top of our pizzas. It was called, "Pizza Seasoning", imagine that! I didn't really know what was in it. But we ran out recently. So I decided to experiment on my own.

Besides the blurry picture, it looks yummy doesn't it?

Well, here is what we used.
3 Tbsp of oregano
2 tsp. basil
1 tsp. garlic powder 
1/2 tsp. salt
 1/4 tsp. chili flakes (use as much or as little as you like of this)

Mix it all together

Top your pizza before baking.

Our kids said it was the best one of the batch! And yes, that is an upside-down casserole pan! Some times you just have to improvise!

Monday, August 17, 2015

Fast Food?

One hard thing to get used to here in Nepal is that there is no such thing as fast food. Every thing is cooked from scratch here. I love learning new things and cooking new food, but some times you just want something easy!

We recently bought a deep freezer to help with this problem. So I have been doing my best to fill it up with quick things--still made from scratch, but will be quick to make when they are needed.

Project #1
Frozen Pizza

This turned out super easy. We don't eat pizza a lot because cheese is expensive and we bring our pepperoni from America, but I figured if I'm making some for dinner I should double the recipe and make some to freeze.

Still haven't succeeded in teaching him to "not" eat like a dog, but at least he enjoyed it!

First thing's first
1. Find a cute helper, even is she does sneak pepperoni when you aren't looking.

2. Make your dough.
This is the recipe I used and it is by far my favorite so far for homemade pizza. I doubled the recipe for this.

Pizza Crust
5 cups of flour
2 Tbsp. sugar
1 Tbsp. salt
1 Tbsp. Yeast
2 Tbsp. Olive Oil ( I only have sunflower oil)
1 3/4 c. water

Knead this all together. The dough will be sticky, but you also don't want it to stick to your hands or the counter, so keep adding flour as needed. I only added 9 cups (remember I doubled), just to make sure I didn't have too much flour, but then ended up using almost 12 cups of flour.

Let it rise in a warm place for 2 hours. Divide into 2 balls if you didn't double the recipe, divide into 4 balls if you did. Let them rest for about 15 minutes.

Roll out dough to the size of your pizza pan or cookie sheet (pizza doesn't really have to be round to taste good.) Now remember, you will be freezing some of these so don't use a pizza pan that's bigger than your freezer!

Bake your crust for about 5 minutes at 425 degrees. Just till the outside is starting to get hard, but not turning any color.

Once it cools completely, top it with your favorite toppings.

Place your pizzas on the pan (or cardboard cut to the right size ) in your freezer for about 3 hours. Once they harden then you will wrap them in Saran wrap and tin foil.

Now it's ready to freeze until you need it in a hurry.

I did this last week, and we ate some for dinner. Everyone loved it.

Even Emily wanted a piece!

So it has been frozen for almost a week now. Today our plans changed and last minute I didn't have anything ready for lunch so we pulled out a pizza. 

I heated the oven to 425 degrees and baked the pizza straight from the freezer without thawing. In 15 minutes it had a beautiful color and was nice and crispy!

We even had some visitors join us!