Welcome home!

We have only been in the country for two days, and there’s already too much to write!

Let me set the scene: we flew out of Indy at 8pm on Monday and arrived in Nepal at 7am on Weds with a full day before us. We spent all day doing things like setting up phones and dongles and changing money and meeting our host family, and when we went to bed that night, it had been about 52 hours since we had last gotten out of bed two mornings before. That might be the longest I’ve ever been awake at one time.

One funny note from the airport. Our travel time door-to-door was about 30 hours, so I was feeling a little less than fresh and very sleepy when we lined up for our Nepali visa at the airport. It was one of those quick and chaotic find-the-right-papers-and-get-in-the-right-line-before-everyone-else-on-the-plane-does situations, and we were thrilled to be relatively close to the visa counter when we realized we needed extra passport pics, and I didn’t have one. Jeff saved our place while they pointed me to the photo booth, which was locked and forming a line itself, but a young guy from behind a different counter switched hats, grabbed his keys and ran over to the photo booth, told me to sit on a stool, snapped a pic before I even knew what was happening, and here it was:

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confused, tired, quick and chaotic

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We were greeted at the airport by Sarah, the Tiny Hands Overseas Liaison. She helped get all our phones and dongles set up for us, took us to a guesthouse to shower, helped plan out our week, and hung out with us until our host fam was ready at 3p.

We could not have been blessed with a better host family!

At the family’s gate, a door swung open and a teen girl with a big smile said, Welcome home! Our host family has 14 girls and 4 boys. FOURTEEN SISTERS!!! They range in age from 4-26, and are a combination of siblings and cousins, as their dad’s two brothers, one sister-in-law and one brother-in-law live in the home together. The house is tall and skinny with four levels, maybe 10 bedrooms(?) and bunks everywhere. The host dad, G is a pastor and runs a separate ministry supported by the church and other organizations—his (and his family’s) story is so inspiring, I’m hoping to be able to share more about it later.

Jeff and I are in a room on the first floor, which is where all the kids do their homework.

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Our room

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Homework area outside our room

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Our host home

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Everyone’s shoes all organized outside the door

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The kitchen and living room area are warm and welcoming, and we have felt at home from the very beginning, especially when we discovered a basket of cookies and candy in our room on our arrival. We have Nepali tea with the parents in the mornings and tea on the roof in the evenings, share dinner together as a family in the kitchen, and the kids have come around at different times to talk and hang out one or two at a time. Someone is always home, always friendly and available, and almost everyone speaks English. We are slowly learning everyone’s names, and we’re impressed with how many of the kids come sit with us on the roof to talk or visit, which helps with the name learning one-by-one and is just so darn sweet.

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Family dinner!

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The home has a water filtration system built in, so we’ve had clean water, and there is a solar panel on top to heat water for showers! Which brings me to my favorite room of the house: the roof!

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Evening tea on the roof

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Looking West down our street from the roof

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Our little friend practicing her English homework at dusk

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Some boys playing volleyball on the street below

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Facing south, looking out over the neighborhood

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Looking North

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All the tomato and chili plants- the potatoes and garlic are kept inside because the monkeys steal them!

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The little chili plants

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Hanging the chilis to dry

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The water tank and solar panel

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Our home is a five-minute walk from both the main Tiny Hands Nepal office and the Freedom Operations office, not to mention a restaurant with delicious momos for a dollar. [More on momos later!]

We’ve spent the last two days at both offices meeting and getting to know the Nepali staff, learning a ton about the border monitoring process and the local church’s involvement, and trying to understand things like Bandh- a government issued political strike where no vehicles are allowed on the road at all and nothing is open. Kids are out of school and the only transport option is walking, or sometimes bicycles. Our first morning in the Tiny Hands office was a Bandh day, so people trickled in one-by-one over the course of the morning fanning themselves and gulping water after having walked, some of them, two hours to get to the office (what?!). Our host fam dad, G, had to officiate a wedding that day and had no choice but to walk with several of the kids to the church 5 miles away. All the guests had to walk, so the wedding, which was supposed to start at 11a didn’t start until 1p, and then a second round of guests began to arrive at 5p, so they did another round!

Also tricky are the intentional rolling blackouts. I think there’s a schedule, but I haven’t seen it yet. Wait, I just googled it and found this. Hmm.

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Electricity in certain seasons can be out for up to 16 hours per day. Right now it seems to go out at 8a and come back on around 3p. Some places have generators, and at our house, each room has one working light during blackouts, so that’s nice.

Weather right now is pretty awesome. It’s hot during the middle of the day, but 60s in the mornings and evenings. It hasn’t rained yet so far, and we’re looking forward to doing some cultural things in the city this weekend, before heading down to the borders and to Pokhara with Tiny Hands next week.

We are so impressed with Tiny Hands, it’s difficult to figure out how to fit everything in our short time here, and how to best share everything through World Next Door and on the blog. They are doing SO much SO well, and we’ve already been inspired after only two days.

The International and Nepali staff each have community nights for fellowship and meal sharing, and we’ve been invited to one tonight, which we’re pumped about. We haven’t met the international staff yet, so here’s to hoping we avoid Lost in Translation moments tonight.

Thanks for coming with us via the Internets!

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We Harts You.

Hi buddy-ol-pals,

This is one of those lump-a-bunch-of-news-together kind of updates, with one embarrassing picture of our packing status.

We are only 8 hours from flying out for our next assignment in Nepal. We have been home for about 4 weeks and jam-packed a lot of family and friend visiting, although we didn’t see or talk to everyone we would have liked to visit with. We are in a state of constant disconnect it feels like, and wish we could stop time to catch up and share a meal with more people than there are days home. If you’re wondering, yes, we mean you!

World Next Door just released our 6th magazine issue this month (the 3rd for Jeff and I) and have seen growing success with increasing in downloads and readership each month!  We have also discovered many personal stories of individuals and families getting involved with different organizations, kids getting sponsored, trunk parties hosted, inspired US teens diverting birthday gifts to other teens in faraway places, etc. and have started a new section of the magazine called “Wild-eyed”. This section tells stories of ordinary people who have gotten personally involved in the fight against social injustice after reading an article in the magazine.  It’s how we’ll begin to share the effectiveness of the magazine with those who have invested in our mission of engaging others to action. We continue to be inspired, and we’re more excited than ever to get to Nepal and produce our next magazine with Tiny Hands International, scheduled for publication in December.

While CGI in Cambodia focused primarily on the prevention and re-integration of sex-trafficking, Tiny Hands actually intercepts girls being trafficked from Nepal to India through 26 border stations, and partners with International Justice Mission to build a case and prosecute. Each station has the capacity to rescue up to 130 girls per year if fully staffed. Tiny Hands also has several children’s homes staffed by a local married couple, a prayer initiative, and are in the middle of establishing a Dream Center and a US-accredited School of Injustice. Below are two behind-the-scenes videos about the Tiny Hands border stations and how the interceptions work.  The first video is embedded, the second is a link called “Trafficked” you’ll to click through. I was floored:

Trafficked: https://vimeo.com/45765371

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At the end of our six weeks, we’ll be spending time with a different organization called Nepal Outdoor Adventures, a Nepalese owned and operated trekking company who who are passionate about reaching young people in Nepal for Christ. They have developed a business model to help keep youth workers in their community called, Nepal Outdoor Adventure Treks and Expedition. Every 10 trekkers that use Nepal Outdoor Adventure Treks and Expedition will employ a full-time youth worker in Nepal for a year.  We will be going on a 10-day trek to the Annapurna sanctuary with this organization for an article or two.

The next six weeks will be packed! I sure wish we were packed.

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Now for the goods.

Below are the pictures and links for the iPad version of the Cambodia issue that came out last week, and the online version of the magazine for those who prefer to read the content online. We’ll also list the specific articles Jeff and I wrote for easy access, though I recommend reading the three features by our summer interns- SO good.

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Online content (click the image below to go to the table of contents):

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Our specific articles this month, with most of J’s photography scattered throughout the sections in the iPad version:

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Thanks for following along and for all your support, love and prayers. You guys carry us! Feel free to follow along while we’re in Nepal via:

Twitter.com/brooky

Facebook.com/brkhartman

Instagram.com/brkhartman

And the ol’ blog: www.brkwilson.wordpress.com