Monday, January 30, 2012

Final Thoughts

Well, after two and a half weeks we are heading home and I have some time to think about our trip. First of all, we didn’t really have the best India experience. For one, we never were just tourists in Delhi and I never was one for just sightseeing. I much prefer to live with someone, experience life together, eat their food, ride their bikes, ride their buses and just experience their culture. India drove us crazy with all the pass port checks. I think it is the only place in the world where you can’t get into an airport without a ticket in your hand. When we arrived today at the airport in Siliguri (Bagdogra) the army guy wouldn’t let us in without seeing our itinerary. Then we get in and 5 ft later there is another army guy who wants to see our passport and itinerary. Then when we go upstairs to go through security, there is a guy who wants again to see our boarding pass etc. Then literally, 5 seconds later another guy comes up to us and we show it again. Then 1 minute later, after we snake through the empty isle ropes, there is yet another army person who wants to see our documents. Then we show it two more times through the security check where they stamp them. I won’t bore you with the rest of the checks but you get the point.

This drives us all crazy so on the way to Siliguri, Nathan Rieger has a direct flight to Bagdogra. The plane finally lands and Nathan is ignoring all the loud speaker rhetoric like a parent tunes out their noisy children. Nathan places his boarding pass in his seat pocket and gets off the plane and once more, they want to see his boarding pass. At this point, Nathan is totally fed up with all the document checks and basically tells them that they don’t need to see it “one more time” and that he left in on the plane and walked passed them.

He collects his luggage and proceeds to hail a taxi and asks the driver if he knows were “the Marina Hotel” is. The taxi driver nodes “Yes” and Nathan climbs in. Finally, after driving in circles, Nathan realises that this guy really has no clue. He looks directly into the eyes of the drivers and states emphatically, “YOU DON’T KNOW WHERE THE MARINA HOTEL IS...DO YOU!?” of which he hangs his head low and sheepishly mutters “No.” “But for 50 rupees, I take you back to airport!” he pronounces. Nathan told him that he is not getting one more rupee from him (he already paid him 240rs), left the taxi, slammed the door shut and started walking.

He has a GPS on his phone and heads towards the direction the GSP is pointing him too. As he looks closer at the phone, he notices it says “600 kms” of which he mutters under his breath “stupid electronics...600 kms.” He then sees a sign pointing to Calcutta of which he thinks, “Wow, there must be some kind of super highway to Calcutta to Siliguri for there to be sign pointing to it. Then he started to get an inkling and asks a guy where Calcutta is and the guy pointed towards town. Getting a little more worried he asked another person where Calcutta is and the man said, “Calcutta...2 kms...that way.” Nathan then said, “Oh No! I am in Cal-Friggin’-Cutta!” (I think that might be the more sanctified version). “I am in friggin’ Calcutta!”

Well over the next 24 hours, in Calcutta, he shared some stories over a roadside fire with a homeless guy, had a pint with another group of people, hung out with some Russians, and challenged an American woman who sold Nuclear reactors to China. So while he made good use of his time he was out about $150 and one day late. So the moral of the story is, pay attention to the rhetoric, and show your boarding pass when asked.

While I am writing this, I have passed all the security checks and am sitting at my gate. Now they announce that we all have to leave this area and line up outside the gate area. Yep, they once again, before they let me back in, check my documents, make me take my shoes off, scan them and scan my “carry on.” Another wasted 20 minutes. I think this last one pushed me over the edge for India. It has left me with a bit of a bad impression. Also, I tried to get onto the internet. I try for a half an hour, and to make a long rant short, after they get me to add my credit card, the “Verify by Visa” page times out and there is just no way to get on. The problem - yep, all that extra security layer. The charge is 60rs or $1.20 and they have a couple extra layers of security for a $1.20 transaction.

My advice to those wishing to fly to Nepal is to go through Hong Kong and Bangladesh and avoid India. There is a saying the India is an acronym for “I Never Do India Again!” After the Visa hassles and the crazy security checks and the airport, hotels and even obtaining a phone SIM card, it is definitely good to say I did India once.

I loved Nepal and its people. The acronym for Nepal is “Never Ending Peace and Love” and that has been my experience. While they also seem to have multiple roadside checks, they seemed to be very quick and non-intrusive. Over the last 13 years, the number of churches has grown from 1 to around 24 in the Himalayan region with more plants ready to spring up. There is a genuine work of the Holy Spirit at work here and most seem to be started by miracles and power encounters.

The main purpose for me was to go to Kathmandu, Nessing and Gatlang, as that is where I have always been drawn to. It was a good experience and we needed to see how the relationship will develop. Communication with Kathmandu will be the easiest as pastor Raju speaks English fluently and is good with email. The Nessing and Gatlang first language is Tamang and their second language is Nepalese. They have very little grasp of the English language. Raju is in regular contact with them so what we are going to attempt is for me to write those two in English and Raju will read it to them. Then they will email me their response. They want to know what our needs are so they can pray for us. They also want to share their needs and would like us to pray for them. River City Vineyard has been supporting the Himalayan Vineyards for over 10 years now for $200/month.

At the conference, I met another man named Shem who was a pastor at Kathmandu and is going to do more work up in the Nessing and Gatlang area amoung the Tamang people. I feel that there are a least 4 more churches that need to be planted in that area and I feel he is instrumental in that endeavour. So we will have contact with him too and work on building a relationship with him.

Sometimes is seems like a lot of money is spent and maybe it is not worth it but I have been assured by the people, who have been visiting here for a while, that our face to face visits and our relationships are very important to the people and the work God is doing here. My flight cost me $1,700 and I spent another $900 on travel, paying for the Nepalese people who travelled with us to Gatlang, and for food and shelter. Raju asked me to think about bringing a team of people to Nessing to bring hygiene, teaching and friendship to these people. So those reading this blog, pray about that if it might be you.

So we have entered the next phase of a journey with Nepal and the Himalayan Vineyard Region. I ask that God blesses the work there and blesses our work at River City Vineyard and all the Canadian Vineyard Churches. Thanks for reading my blogs and being part of this journey with me.

The Conference

The facilities were really nice (for India/Nepal) and Aaron and I each got our own room. While it was warmer in Siliguri on the whole, the rooms are made from concrete and tile and are just plain cold to sleep in so I still slept in my clothes and in my down sleeping bag.. Also, it was very humid here and so the cold hit you more and it even took a few days to dry your clothes. After a shower, my hair was still damp 4 hours later. It was a Christian conference centre and was well suited to our group.

The conference included meals and we had more Bhat (rice with "lentil soup" and/or "Chicken soup" poured over it) every night and for lunch. For breakfast we had 4 slices of white bread. The first and third morning, the top slice had a dollop of jam on it and sported a boiled egg beside it. The egg was a welcomed treat. The second day breakfast was just 4 slices of bread with some cooked lentils beside it. (The lentil breakfast didn’t go over real well with many of the Westerners after 2 meals of Bhat). I don’t mind Bhat as long as I don’t get it twice a day. I did eat it twice a day but many of the westerns skipped a few Bhat meals as their stomachs seemed to rebel at the thought of more Bhat. Over all the meals seemed to really be enjoyed by the Nepalese and Indian folks.

The conference had 1 pm session on the first day and 2 sessions each of the other two days; 9am-1pm and 4pm-7pm. Meals were at 7-8am, 1:30pm and 7:30pm. The conference had worship each session. David Ruis did part of the worship on the first and third night. The Kathmandu Vineyard played the second night. There was also another modern style band and then a more traditional style of worship of their former more ethnic music. The crowd really got into that traditional music with much participation including dancing. There were several western teachers (interpreted by Noel) and there were testimonies, sharing and an ordination of 9 pastors (5 men and 4 women.) The whole conference’s main purpose was to get everyone to be one big family and meet face to face. I believe that objective was met. There also seemed to be a lot of ministry and healing going on.

This is a picture of (left to right) Asher Isaac, Noel Isaac, David Ruis and George Esser. At night, we hung around with the Western folks. It is kind of silly but in order for Western people to get together, we need to go to India to hang out. I really connected well with David Ruis again but didn’t finish all of our conversations so we agreed that David should come to Sarnia and we can finish where we left off. His kids are both in Toronto and he is looking for an excuse to come to Ontario. We also would put together some event that we could invite the whole congregation to; either some kind of conference or a Worship session. David was very instrumental in the church planting of the Kathmandu Vineyard and had also travelled to Nessing and Gatlang, like Aaron and I did, 10 years ago. I wanted to get the history of that all but there was not enough time to do that plus to catch up what is going on in our lives.

Picture of (left to right) John Rademaker, George Esser and Nathan Rieger. I also really connected well with Stewart Singer from Calgary and John Rademaker and Nathan Rieger both from Winnipeg. We also connected somewhat with Navi Navindra Persaud and Jessie Penner from Winnipeg, SuHale (sounds like Soo-Hail sorry but don’t know how to spell your name :( and Psalm from US/India /Hong Kong/Israel. We also met and had a good connection with Danny Mullins and Mark Morgan, both pastors from a Vineyard near Phoenix AZ. Relationship is a high value in the Vineyard, yet in reality we seem to really suck at it because there are so many people to connect with and so little time.

The conference ended officially on Thursday night January 26, 2012. We left the next day by flying from the airport near Siliguri to Delhi. I am sitting in the Delhi Airport as I write this. More in the next post.

Siliguri India

We were scheduled to leave for Siliguri India on Monday at 3pm. The purpose of the trip was to go to a Vineyard conference for the Himalayan region. There are between 22 and 24 (depends who you ask) churches in this region with about 8 from Nepal and 16 from India. The 16 churches from India are mostly Nepalese in culture and language. Near as I can figure, India, at some point in history, took over part of Nepal so the region is primarily Nepalese in culture and mostly from the Himalayan mountain region that borders India and Nepal.

The conference had around 435-500 (counting plates of food) in attendance and one larger church (35 people scheduled to go) couldn’t be there due to a funeral. Some prominent member of their church had their vehicle go off the edge of a mountain and fell 2,000 feet to his death,which of course had a huge effect on them. There were 113 people from Kathmandu, Nessing and Gatlang that left from Kathmandu in 3 buses. We were on the last bus that left at 4pm. The bus was much nicer than the buses we were on to Gatlang.

After an hour we stop at a road side cafe for a bio break and some food. I opted for some noodle dish and Aaron opted for some kind of deep fried potato filled wrap. Mine was pretty good but Aaron couldn’t finish his as he started to feel sick. For the next 12 hours he was feeling crappy. He couldn’t throw up, until after several attempts and finally filled a small plastic bag.

We stop again in the morning at about 5am and many people got out and ate breakfast. Aaron didn’t seem interested. When we were ready to go, the bus wouldn’t start; not enough battery juice to turn the motor over. I just prayed and thought, "Oh well, all part of the adventure." I am not sure how they did it but they somehow pushed the bus in neutral and then dumped the clutch which was enough to get the engine to start (and to cause the whole bus to lunge backwards.) They ended up doing this twice to get the bus started. Another interesting thing about the bus was that I was convinced that they removed the shock absorbers and welded the frame to the axle. Well not really, but that is how the bus ride felt. It was very, very rough and you felt every bump...a lot.

We eventually arrived at the border and so we stopped again for a break and there were money changers and the people on the bus told me that I could go out and exchange money. I asked Uddav how long the break was for and he said 20 minutes. I got out and saw a shoe shine guy that was looking rather unemployed so I took off my boots and put on a pair of sandals that were about 4 sizes too small. He removed my laces and started to go to work. After about 10 minutes were done and he has the laces back in one boot. I notice the bus moving slowly and I figure that he is just moving ahead a bit. The other lace was now going in the boot but the bus it still moving. I put the boot on and notice the bus slowly keep moving. I gave him the 20rs (that is what the English speaking shoe shine guy beside him said) but he said, “No, 30 rupees” so I found a 50, tossed it to him and started going after my bus.

Next I noticed it go around the corner so I opted to start running after it. I finally caught up to it at the next corner and the bus driver said, “Going to Kathmandu.” I noticed it was empty and now I was very confused. Aaron ended up running after me (still sick) and said that all of a sudden there was some confusion and they said, “Get you your stuff off of the bus. You have a pack in the back don’t you?” So he hurried and removed my coat, my pack and his. He then had seen me booting it and went after me. It ended up that this bus only went to the border and we had to catch another one. All we needed was a little communication to help keep the stress level in check.

We ended up waiting 2.5 hours at the border for our bus. They had 3 scheduled, but because we were late, they filled it up with cash customers and left. Because we had some time, I decided to call Janet on my Nepal cell phone with my last 100rs card. We spoke for 11 minutes and it only cost me 46r (~$0.55). Half of the conversation was about Aaron being sick. Before I left, Janet spoke to Al Remley, a pastor friend who has gone to India numerous times and he suggested that if we get the runs in India to pick up some Ciprofloxacin. I had done that and Janet suggested I give that to Aaron (It had been packed away in the boot so I couldn’t until now). So, under the advice from Dr. Janet, I gave Aaron one. That, and a few grapes later, he was as good as new.

But now there is another problem, besides waiting for the new set of buses. The border is closed due to demonstrators. There seems to be some civil unrest and some dissatisfaction with the government so there is a tire burning in the middle of the road and a line of people sitting underneath that 40ft bamboo pole across the road at the border.

So we wait around for a few hours and no one is in a hurry and then all of a sudden, we have to So all 113 of us need to cross the border on foot and off we go, single file, just to the left of the bamboo pole, past the army dude with guns, past all the official looking stuff and on a very long bridge over a very dry river. We cross without a hitch. Aaron wonders if we need to stop and I tell him I am going to keep walking slowly, make eye contact and keep walking. So we enter India, past some guards, keep walking and it seems like there will be no border crossing.

After about a half of a kilometer, a man spots us and directs us down a long driveway to a building that sports a sign “Immigration.” We fill out all the forms and then see the official. He keeps looking over our passport and mumbles something about a Nepal exit stamp. I just shrug my shoulders and look perplexed. (Later on we found out that when you exit the country they want to stamp your passport.) He then shrugged his and soon we were on our way.

We eventually caught up with the rest and eventually got on a bus that resembled the ones to Gatlang. This bus was an even rougher ride than the last one. At least the last one you were still in your seat, this one would throw us up about 8 inches (20cm). We eventually arrived in Siliguri about 18 hours later (~12:30pm) after our departure. I had managed to sleep in the bus but it was not a very restful sleep.

Sunday, January 22, 2012

The River Bed

The pastors here take the month of January off as far as ministry goes. They still do the basics like Sunday morning but they don’t go and visit, evangelise or minister to the poor. The goal is to regenerate and spend more time with their families. It is a type of Sabbatical. Usually, every Friday, they go to the river bed and minister to people. Because I wanted to experience what they do, they took me out to the river bed. There is a major river running though Nepal and there is a bridge going over that river.Here in the picture you can see the two public toilets.

By that bridge, many squatters have built lean-tos, and make shift living quarters. The place is evolving and there are now even brick houses and a really nice brand new church there. Ironically, there is even a disparity between the rich and poor in one of the poorest sections of town.

Sarita,Urmila and Nobin took Aaron and I to the river bed. Our plan was to take the bus when it came by but it was more than full. We ended up taking a taxi which took about 15 minutes. At our destination, we saw two wild monkeys; one on a building and one walking along the electrical wires. There is a small shop at the river bed and we purchased enough rice, onions, potatoes, and sundry items to make three care packages. Here in this picture they wanted me to sit down so that there was not such a disparity in height.

The girls have a heart for 3 specific families and those were the ones we specifically went to visit. The first family, the father and mother are blind and they have at least one child. She looked very pregnant but I have learned throughout the years not to ask. The father was not present so we prayed for the mother, for her sight and overall well being.

Next we prayed for an old woman who has no family. The third targeted person was out protesting. From my understanding, the government is planning to bulldoze down the riverbed and displace all the people and this is what she was protesting against. If I understood correctly, this is supposed to happen as early as tomorrow.

The river bed has its own temple which I think it is a Hindu.

I can see that the Kathmandu Vineyard has a real heart for the poor and is worthy of our support.

Back to Dhunche and Kathmandu

We left Nessing in the morning, after we did a house visit and prayed for some people. A man gave each of us a silk scarf as a “thank you” for coming. While it was time to go, it was hard to leave these people as we developed a bond with them over the short 1.5 days. Our next destination was Sano Hakku. There are 3 Hakkus, Little Hakku, Big Hakku and “I forget the other name” Hakku. We are visiting the little Hakku called Sano. If you look at this picture, it is one I took from Dhunche and it is a picture of Sano Hakku (Circle is Sano Hakku and square is Nessing on the other side of the mountain). While it is hard to gage by a picture, it can give you some kind of perspective of our trek.

We have two actual churches in this area; Gatlang and Nessing. We also have 4 villages that have a small group of believers who meet in a home; Sano Hakku is one of these villages. We begin our assent down from Nessing to Sano Hakku and it takes about ½ an hour. We end up at a home of one of the villagers, encourage them and pray a blessing for them. After that we are homeward bound. Our goal for the day is to hike to Dhunche.

As we begin our descent I am reminded how hard it is to go down the mountain, especially on the feet. Feeling some potential blisters coming from yesterday’s climb, I take small calculated steps and seem to be lagging the other 3. I really don’t know how far we are descending but my guess is about 3,000 feet to the gorge and then 3,000 feet up again on the other mountain. We take a few small breaks and after 2 hours, or so, we are at the bottom of the gorge.

At the bottom is a bridge which is a bonus as I had visions of trying to cross the river rock to rock. We take a break and eat a boiled potato. In North America, we would make sure that we had granola bars and other such similar items. Here, they boiled a pot of potatoes and we now take a few out and gnaw away. There were lots of children who followed us down, laughing, racing and having fun. It is always nice to see children laugh and play.

After our break we started the ascent up. This time I am now leading the pack as my long legs are my advantage. Aaron is mostly behind me and sometimes ahead of me. We stop every 20 minutes or so and let the short legged guys catch up. In this picture, Sano Hakku is on the far side of the mountain we came down from. Because it is the dry season, there is no water at any of the taps along the way. This proves to be a bit of a problem because we run out of water about one third of the way up. This path is a well worn path and used by many people. Over the last 400 years, people have been careful to lay out stones to help create a great path and staircase up. They have also built cement water stations, at strategic places and use plastic pipes to divert water from the streams to the stations. At one point, near the top, we finally find an active stream and we fill up our water bottles.

This path is not only used by people but by animals too as evidenced by the droppings along the way. While ascending, you tend to only look down, at your feet from stone to stone and while your main goal is to go up, your secondary goal is not to step in any brown piles. The closer you get to the top, the more tired you become and the less you care about what you step in. At one point, we step aside and allow 4 mules, loaded with about 200 lbs of sacks, pass by us. They are reluctant to pass at our sight, but their owner, along with a stick, has a way of convincing them.

We also pass by some villagers who are carrying roofing supplies. Most roofs are made from corrugated steel and they are each carrying a sheet rolled up. To build a house in the village, all the supplies have to be carried by people. In Nessing, they carry the supplies from Gatlang; a 3 hour journey. In Sano Hakku, they have to carry it from Dhunche using the route we are on. There are people here who do this for a fee. One 50kg of cement (one bag) can be ferried by a porter for 800 rupees. Their body weight is about 50 Kgs,

The other problem with mountain climbing is you always think you see the top, but when you get there, you discover that there is at least one more top. We do eventually get to the top and I recognise the gates of the village from our trip to Gatlang. As we walk the streets we are befriended by hotel owners hoping to we will stay with them. Raju’s first goal is to find out if there are any buses running back to Kathmandu, if not, we had previously agreed to walk 2 more hours to the next town. Fortunate for us, there is one leaving at 7:30am and so we go to our hotel and take a break from a good workout.

Our motel room is nice, and fairly warm due to the sun shining through the window. But soon the sun disappears and the warmth with it. The room is just large enough for two single beds and a little table 1’x3’. We have the extra bonus of having one extra blanket, much to Aaron’s delight. It is now 3:30pm and not much to do. I ask Hari to find me an internet cafe and after a few minutes he informs me that he found one for 40 rupees for 4 hours.

We go to the shop only to discover that it is the same place I tried to change money earlier. I sported a $20 bill and he said he was not interested in changing $20, it was either $100 or nothing. I opted for nothing. Exchanging money is weird here. My first hotel, I asked where I could change money and he whips his wallet open and asks how much I want to exchange, I said, “$100” of which he stated, after much calculating on his ancient calculator, “8,100 rupees”. I pull out 5 - $20 bills and he says he is not interested in that, he wants a $100 bill. I tell him I only have $20s. His fingers do some flying over the calculator; he looks up and says that he can only give me 8,000 rupees. I wasn’t going to argue over 100 rupees. Now this guy wanted a $100 bill. I later learn that there are lots of counterfeit US $20 bills that are worn looking so $100s and brand new $20s are more valuable.

We ask the guy about the internet and he says, “2 rupees per minute for me (foreigner).” “What about the 40rs we were quoted?” I declared. Apparently that is for locals. I feel a little violated and decided it was “nothing” again and went back to my room. After ½ hour I decided to just pay the fee, use the internet and give a quick post. Hari also used the internet. Eleven minutes later, I have my face book post. I could have done it in five minutes but I had a crappy keyboard and had to bang certain keys to make them yield to my commands. Also, the speed was of dialup quality. So my bill was 22 rupees for me and 10rs for Hari. He didn’t have change smaller than a 10rs so I ended up paying 30rs for Hari and I.

We ate in the restaurant with our parka and gloves on. We opted for something that didn’t contain rice or noodles seeing how we had rice for breakfast. I ordered fried chicken with French fries. We had to order it a few hours earlier and let them know when we wanted it. We stated that we would be back at 6pm. We eventually ate at 6:45 and the temperature of my fries indicated that they were done at 6pm. My chicken was warm and tasted okay but it was hard and chewy and I was convinced that another scrawny chicken bit the big one for these few nuggets. But hey, it was a treat and I did enjoy the non-rice, North American attempted meal.

We went to bed by 8pm as we were tired and there was nothing else to do. At 6:30am the next day, we were down waiting for our previously ordered “simple breakfast” which advertised being eggs any style, hash browns and toast. Here is a picture of our breakfast. The toast was more like a giant soft cracker and the hash browns were fried potatoes, and the “over easy” wasn’t so easy. While enjoying it we asked for a second egg. Our total bill for this hotel, food and lodging was 1,700rs ($21)and almost half of the charge of the Chauhottar guest house.

We mosey on down to our bus which is nicer than our previous bus. It was at one time a luxurious bus with air directors and reading lights like you find on an airplane. But that is now just a reminder of once was.

The last trip we found two other westerners who ended up being Canadians. On this trip, there were three more Canadians besides Aaron and I; all three from Quebec. We only spoke to one of them who had a stereo typical French accent; the kind late night comedians on TV make fun of. Maybe only Canadians come to Nepal in January and everyone else waits until it is warmer out.

At one point we stop for a break. As I am eating a meal, I can’t help but notice another bus passing by. The unusual thing to me was the goats on top of the bus. While it is not real easy to see on this picture, you can see them. Here is a zoom of the goats.

After an 8 hour ride from Dhunche, we arrive back home via a small taxi.

Saturday, January 21, 2012

Nessing Nepal

We head out to Nessing which is straight up the mountain. Once we reach the top, we are required to go down the other side, up another peak and down the side of that peak and then up again to reach our destination. This takes us about 3 hours. It is starting to get dark around 5:30pm. We meet pastor Kunni who brings us a load of fire wood and we don’t see him again until morning. We are going to stay in the church for 2 nights and we have to cook our own food.
Having a wood stove sounds great and it does keep you warm while the fire is raging inside the stove but there is no heat to be had in the building because it is drafty and the fairly open at the top.The building is constructed of stones piled one upon the other and you can see daylight through the walls and where the tin roof meets the walls. The woodstove has two holes in the top and the Nepalese people leave the lids off so the fire comes up along with the smoke. We actually need a drafty building so we can have some kind of air quality.

For supper we are going to have chicken soup with rice. Chicken soup is not what you are thinking if you are from Canada. First of all, we have a local chicken which we buy from a local. He brings the chicken live and outside I hear the pitiful cry of the chicken as his head is getting severed. Next the chicken is getting gutted and de-feathered and eventually they bring in a scrawny local chicken of which the hold in the fire to burn off the pin feathers. The last day we buy one more chicken and they actually drop it in the fire for about 30 seconds. The first chicken, Raju takes half for tonight’s supper and just chops it up into little pieces; bones and all. All we really have left is several pieces you can fit in one hand. Putting that aside, you get a pot, add some oil, onions, garlic and ginger. Once that is saut├ęd you add the chicken and eventually some water. After a while we have about 16ozs of soup.

While this is being prepared they have previously boiled a huge pot of rice. They also take local lentils and make lentil soup. Again, it is about 16oz. Once supper is declared ready, you take a plate and add a pile of rice. Next you take a small bowl of chicken soup and you use it like as gravy on the rice. You do the same with the lentil soup. So we eat rice with chicken soup gravy and lentil soup gravy. Every piece of chicken is more bone than meat and I surmise that it is more for the flavour than the food value. The other half of the chicken is left hanging over the fire to dry out. Raju prefers it dry. Sometimes he just lays it on the stove, and sometimes he hangs it over the open flame. Once he dropped it in the fire and it took about 40 seconds to retrieve it. He was proud of how tomorrow night’s dinner was shaping up.

Here is a picture with Pastor Kuni and I.

Raju and Hari both state that they cannot live without rice. They are never satisfied until they have a good fill of rice. Every restaurant meal we ended up having they ordered the exact same dish. They call it by two different names; Bhat and Khana. There were a few variations; mutton or pork substituted for the chicken and some vegetables added. But they love that dish. In fact, at Nessing we had it for both evening meals and for breakfast the day we left. It actually is not a traditional Nepalese meal but an Indian meal.
Almost every home in the village has an open fire in their one room living space with very few having some kind of a chimney. As we visited from home to home, we were assaulted by smoke. The inside ceiling of the house had a thick layer of creosol (black tar/soot deposit). They used it to cook on. They have very few possessions. Below the house they seemed to house the animals. Mostly cattle, chickens, sheep and goats. We saw them let the goats from this one house and there must have been 40 goats come out. Aaron and I could not believe how they just kept coming out.

The first night it is 8 o’clock, cold and dark and nothing to do so we might as jump into our sleeping bag. I have a thin self-inflating mattress and my -6C down filled sleeping bag. I jump in with my long johns, pants, 2 undershirts, shirt, soft shell and my -20C parka. I am fairly toasty. I don’t have a pillow so I take a stuff sack and fill it with spare cloths and puff it up, while I think I really invented something great, the actual use proves to be useless. Through the night, I am a little too warm so I take empty my stuff sack and stuff it with my parka. Now I have a feather pillow that is about 20% as nice as my nice home feathered pillow. I wake up every time I have to toss and turn. I look at the clock 12am, 1:30am, 2:30am. I am used to 6 hours of sleep. At home, I might get up for a half an hour and make a tea or something but here...all you can do is lay there and make yourself fall asleep again. And it is very cold. I actually wake up around 7am so I got 11 hours minus the time it took to get back to sleep.

Aaron didn’t fare so well. He went to bed at 8pm and slept till about 12:15. He woke up freezing, and got up feeling sick and was stumbling around in the dark looking for matches to light a candle. As he is tripping over things and knocking over the chairs, Hari wakes up and gives him his cell phone to use as a light. Aaron now discovers the matches and lights a candle. He can feel he has to take a dump and to take it quickly or else there might be a problem. He now takes the candle and goes outside to go to the outhouse squatty only to discover the door is locked. He then walks away from the outhouse, looking for an alternative but walked over the septic tank cover which was made of logs with a few logs missing. All of a sudden, one leg disappears in the night, and with the candle now flying in the air, he spreads eagle and stops himself so only one leg actually goes in the hole. His boot now sports some excrement and Aaron has not figured out at this point what has happened. So back to the building he goes. He wakes me up and asks me for my flashlight, he then quickly disappears to the newly discovered hole, hangs his butt over the side and feels much better 15 minutes later.

He is still freezing so he gets the woodstove going and manages to get a few hours sleep on and off between feeding the ferocious appetite of the stove. At about 3:30am, he runs out of wood and crawls back into his 0C sleeping bag and curls up into a ball. He slept for about 2 hours and woke up “so cold” to put it in his own words.

The next night I had the bright idea of filling our two steel water bottles with boiling hot water and putting some socks around and use it like a hot water bottle. Hari, who also froze with his thin sleeping bag, manages to score a thick blanket from Kuni and is able to put it over himself and Aaron. Aaron puts one bottle by his feet and the other by his torso. He slept very warm and had a great sleep other than he got sick again. At midnight he got up , went outside to the now unlocked squatty and purged from both ends. After 15 minutes, he felt okay again and continued his nice warm sleep.

The first morning we were awakened by the awesome sight of Lang Tang. We also had lots of curious children hanging around. After we had noodles for breakfast, we went out and took pictures of the children. They wanted to see the pictures and so Aaron gave them their own personal slide show from the back of his camera. They just loved it and couldn’t get enough of it. Aaron found it a very special time with the kids and it was one of his many highlights. He also had brought a bag of suckers and they were a hit amongst the children. Here are some photos of the kids.

Aaron and I had a break from 11am till 1pm lunch so we decided to climb up the mountain. It was quite a hike and the mountain top we were aiming for we ended up ditching for a higher peak behind it. Along the way we passed sheep and ruins of an old village long since abandoned. Reaching the top was awesome. On the way down, I went a little to fast and hard and started to form blisters. I realised how out of shape my feet were for downward decent. Going down a mountain is actually much harder and dangerous as going up. 80% of mountain climbing accidents happen on the way down. This little excursion was really worth it to me. I also realised my foolishness in not bringing my Tilley hat, sun screen, lip sun screen and water. In fairness, we were only heading for the little peek. This whole adventure is wising me up for Kilimanjaro.

The last group that came here was a medical team from Hawaii. So the people here associate us with doctors. It was cute; Aaron had a sick day in Kathmandu and one of the little girls said to Raju, “the little doctor is sick. (Aaron is the little doctor and I am the big doctor)” Thinking we are doctors, a man brings me his daughter with a major infection in her wrist. They said she fell in the snow. Her wrist is oozing puss and her hand is really swollen.

Before I left, there were two things I felt like I was to bring; a spare set of glasses and antibiotics. My glasses broke at the nose so I was glad I took some reading glasses. I went to the periodontist the day before I left for my trip and I had a bump on my gum. After he found out I was going to Nepal he gave me a prescription for antibiotics, just in case. I knew I had to fill that prescription.

After I prayed the little girl with the infection, I knew that I had to give her one of my antibiotic pills. So I got some water, gave her a pill and motioned her to swallow it. I instructed the father to make a poultice and put it on the wound to draw out the poison. I also asked him to bring her back that night. They never showed up that night so I asked Kunni about her. He told me that she went with her family, up in the mountains, that night, with the sheep and were not in the village. I was disappointed and I prayed for her. I asked Kunni if there was any way I could see her in the morning. He said he would send word to her father. When we were ready the next day, she did show up, by herself and I looked at her wrist. Her oozing stopped and her wound had closed. Her hand was still red but I could see that we gave the infection a major setback. I prayed for her again and gave her one more antibiotic pill. It felt good to be obedient to a prompting and I really believe that I made a major difference in her life.

We ended up going from house to house visiting and praying for them. Every house offers you “tea.” There version of tea is mostly milk with lots of sugar. I did notice one person breaking off a piece from a black substance that resembled anthracite coal. It tasted really nice as it was something warm. Every house had an open fire going and the smoke always blew Aaron’s way.

One place asked us to come and pray for their daughter City-mia (no clue how to spell it but that is what is sounded like.) Ctiy-mia was married and had four children and lived in another village but was so sick, that her father got her to nurse her back to health. When we got there, she was lying beside the fire and had been there for 15 days. She looked pretty sick and we prayed for her. At the end of the visit you could tell that she was much better. When we left the next day, we visited her once more on our way out and this time she was well enough to come and meet us outside. She sat down and we prayed for her once more.

We left Nessing and started our long hike to Dhunche. More about that in the next post.