happiness is...

happiness is...
kenya 2010

Sunday, June 17, 2012

answers to "how was your trip?" and other unanswerable questions

since returning home from my "vision trip" to nepal, i have had innumerable people ask me, "what do you think? was it fun? did you like it? was it an amazing experience? is that where you want to go?" i had no idea how difficult it would be to answer those questions and not sound like a raving lunatic. truth is that i am still processing the experience and my reaction to it. even as i write this, i am learning, little by little, what i think and feel about the trip and my future in nepal.

i say "my future in nepal" because regardless of my answers to the above questions, i still feel called to serve there. that isn't where my struggle lies.

my struggle lies in reconciling my experience with words like "fun", and "like", and "want". everyone expected that i'd go to nepal and i'd have this really rewarding visit and love the people, and the place, and know without a shadow of a doubt that this is where i belong. that is what i expected, too. instead, i had a trip full of challenges and obstacles, and fears that i had to face head-on. i was met with occasionally unimaginable conditions and the understanding that it was in these conditions that i'll eventually be living, no matter where i end up serving. i struggled with the knowledge that i, and everyone i know, have always envisioned me living and serving in africa. more than on any other trip (and there have been 15 since 2005), i struggled. that sounds bleak, doesn't it?

then there's the flip-side. no matter the challenge or the obstacle, there was always a way over, under, or around if i had the courage and the faith to take the path open to me. no matter how impossible the situation seemed at times, after much prayer, it became possible. no matter how inhospitable the conditions, the people met me with unparalleled hospitality- especially the other missionaries living both in kathmandu and "up the mountain". at times i felt like job in the bible, where god says to satan, "do what you want with her, just don't kill her" and satan had his way with me...testing me with spiritual warfare to see how obedient and faithful i'd really be in the face of such adversity. as a result, i felt myself getting more and more stubborn...and developed a "bring it!" attitude- because i felt that god was always there, ready to be my support and my strength when i didn't have any more of my own to rely on. while i didn't have an overwhelming sense that i "want" (on a conscious level) to spend my life serving in nepal, i DID have an overwhelming sense that it is what god wants of me- at least for now. he made a way for me there and is paving a path for me to take. he will be my strength when mine fails and he will be even more glorified by the fact that this is his agenda and not mine. i get a real sense that he has ordained this ministry and will show his glory through my uncertainty.

or i'm a raving lunatic.

so i told my story to my priest, who responded with characteristic transparency by saying that it was very overwhelming for him and he needed time to decide if i'm a lunatic or not. :) my story is overwhelming for me, too. this whole concept became really overwhelming for me as i was there living it. it hit home that i am really on the path to doing this, and that i’ll be leaving behind life as i know it back here and moving forward into a new and unchartered life. it’s not that i’ll be gone forever, even if this assignment is “permanent” -there are times of furlough and currently the plan is for me to furlough back in Lawrence for 3 months each year, instead of being gone for 3 or 4 years and then coming back for a full year…but i will be immersing in another culture and living the majority of my time in a completely different environment. i was hit with this wave of anxiety as i was standing on the street in kathmandu, surrounded by honking horns and cows in the road and dirt and trash and diesel smoke and heat and scooters and craziness….i had this almost unbearable longing for the peace, serenity, and “zen” of my life back here… and for the very first time i was truly afraid. funny, because in all of my travel trials and adventures (even in nepal) i was never really afraid. afraid of creepy spiders, yes (haha) but not afraid in any real sense. i was trapped alone in the terai with machine gun wielding soldiers and no ride, and i wasn’t afraid. i was left alone by those soldiers and left sitting in the desert heat with no ride and no cell phone and no idea what i was going to do- and i wasn’t afraid. i accidentally ventured into an army commando camp in the heart of the jungle and wasn’t afraid. i was staring into the eyes of a jackal/leopard/jungle cat on the path to my guesthouse, even then i wasn’t truly afraid. but standing there in kathmandu, envisioning what my life is to become….THEN i was afraid. i don’t think the fear has anything to do with the “wrong path”…. i don’t think it is a sign that this is not god’s will….i think it is the very real fear that i am not who i think i am (character-wise) and that i don’t have what it takes to be fully god’s. it is the fear of failing god, maybe… or the fear of not accepting this new life with enough grace…or the fear of being weak…maybe also the fear that this IS god’s path and i will be on it- alone- indefinitely... the fear that i won’t ever find that life partner that i always thought i’d find, to share in this really challenging journey… i don’t really know how to put a label on it, but it’s fear. period. the farther i get down the path, the more real it gets and the more freaked out i get. and the more excited i get, and antsy to move forward and get started. it is a constant tension between the pull back and the pull forward. yike.

how screwed up am i? you can tell me. i can take it.


Friday, June 15, 2012

pics of the peeps

i thought i would include a blog featuring the people i was blessed enough to encounter on my trip to nepal. this is in no way an exhaustive visual list...just a cross-section of humanity half a world away- in no particular order. enjoy!
pemba- my trekking guide. yes- the one that that got us lost and instead of taking me to a village for lunch, wandered onto a commando army camp in the heart of the jungle...much to their irritation

kripa- a super sweet and very compassionate nepali nurse. and short don't forget short!

the rickshaw driver

flora helping me buy my sister's bday present

marcy and "mim"

ona and jeremy

me and ruth- of cooking fame :)

 doug and a very special patient

more twins!!!  


Friday, June 8, 2012

the HDCS/TEAM hospital. i'll let the pics tell the story

the hospital, as seen from inside the compound...that is a guard that mans the gate at night and keeps watch over the comings and goings of the hospital

the crowd is beginning to gather for the day, waiting to be seen in the outpatient clinic. they see about 38,000 outpatients a year!

one of the "wards". not much patient privacy, for sure- but those ARE new beds!

i guess instead of being horrified that they have to wash and re-use their surgical gloves, i should be glad they have gloves to wash
"central supply"

the ER

newborn baby warmer. recognize the warming contraption? the diffuser on the hair dryer ensures they they are warm, yet not frizzy

playing with those cute babies every chance i get!

this mom's in labor. she had her baby less than 5 minutes later

what they use as hand sanitizer- alcohol in an old urine dipstick bottle with a hole poked in the top for dispensing

hanging the xrays in the courtyard to dry. they view them here, too (as well as start IV's)- it's the best light in the hospital
typical footwear for the healthcare professionals. that is an RN on the left and an aide on the right

for more information about the HDCS TEAM hospital and all they do for the far west region of nepal, please visit their website.