I've been putting this off for awhile now. I've thought about it a ton, but so much time has gone by and so many things have happened, its hard to know where to start.
The biggest thing is the earthquake, but there have been several other big changes too.
April started and we got a motorcycle! Benj put a lot of hours in with a good friend here searching through secondhand bikes. After plenty of duds, they found a Honda Unicorn (please send handle bar streamers, I will gladly attach them) at a price and condition that seemed too good to be true. There IS a bus stop just outside our neighborhood. It's very convenient, super cheap, and surprisingly good for getting you close to where you want to be. The downsides include being stuffed to at least double capacity and constant stopping (making the drive very long). Imagine a hallway full of students, many with bags and purses and things. Then imagine the walls moving in until everyone is squished to the point when they cannot move. Add wheels to that image and head up a hill trying to support you and the guy next to you when the driver swerves to avoid a cow crossing the road. Then it slams to a halt, you're at the back of the line and you have to push and squeeze to the front before it takes off again. This may sound like I'm complaining, I'm really just trying to convey how happy I was to get on the back of that motorcycle!
Sometime between April and May, we got a business visa! It's difficult to explain what a huge blessing it is. Its the easiest, most consistent way to stay in the country but it's REALLY expensive. At this point it time, you have to invest $50,000 into a business in Nepal. A few months ago, I started volunteering at a business called Beauty for Ashes that provides alternative employment for women at-risk of sexual exploitation. One of the owners was planning to go to the states for awhile and needed someone to fill her position. It turns out that it is very similar to what I did in America. So, she transferred her visa into my name covering Benj and me for up to the next few years. It's been such a privilege to work there so far! I'll write more about all of this sometime to give you a better idea of who BFA is and what I'm doing there. For now, be praying for me as I have a lot to learn and I'm growing in ways I never have before.
At some point in May, we found out we're going to have a baby! I'm due sometime towards the end of January. I also have a great story from the weekend we found out! For those that don't know, I was diagnosed with narcolepsy when I was 16. It's not a huge hold-back but it does require some powerful meds to keep you awake. These types of prescriptions are definitely not good for unborn babies. The weekend we knew for sure I was pregnant, there was a short term team here helping with earthquake relief. One of the ladies had been healed from narcolepsy earlier in life and prayed that I would receive the same. I did. I can't show you an x-ray and prove that I've been healed, but I can tell you that I've tried to go off of medication several times before and felt like I was losing my mind. This time was, and is different. After 10 years, I've been off of it for more than a month and I feel normal! All that to say, we have no idea what we're doing or getting into as parents, but He's already proven He'll be with us every step of the way.
Finally, there's the earthquake. It feels like it happened forever ago and honestly, Kathmandu has picked itself up to an almost normal pace much quicker than I had expected. But its not over. Even this morning we had a large aftershock that sent all of our neighbors screaming and running outside their houses. Every day we're reminded with toppled buildings of what has happened. It feels overwhelming at times and talking with people, its easy to pick up on the hopelessness that's been floating around here the last few months. There's so much panic here and it's emotional trauma that seems like it could take forever to heal. I realize that, especially over the last several years, natural disasters have become an almost regular thing. But its different for us this time, its our home for now. We're thankful for all of the aid and prayers and support that have flooded this country and trust me, it's made a difference. But once its old news and forgotten and we're still here, homes are still fallen, people are still terrified that there's a bigger one to come, what do we do? How do we help? How do we make a lasting difference? Jesus is that answer for us. The government here is unreliable, people come and go, but He is forever and gives us a forever hope.
After the earthquake, Iris asked again, "What does love look like?" We started out by heading to our church in one of the poorer areas of town. We opened up every day to feed people and help care for whatever wounds we were capable of. Many people were too afraid to come, thinking another earthquake might hit and they would die along the way. Instead, we brought food to them. It was a heavy, sad, time as we heard peoples' stories and let them process. After about a week, fear started to settle, relief was coming in, and we felt like we were meant to start something else. Through a close friend, Iris made a connection with a village a few hours away. Most of the houses are either completely fallen or unsafe to live in. We've had people up there constantly to help tear down houses, sort through rubble for reusable materials, and help in any other ways we can. Benj has been spending Monday through Friday since the beginning. They've started to build some great relationships with the people who live there and its a joy to hear of the progress being made! Check out some of the pictures and we'll do our best to keep you updated on how that project progresses. Pray for Benj and the team as they continue working hard. It's extremely hot and humid there and with monsoon season around the corner, landslides are a very real danger after such a big shift in landscape.
Thank you for all of your prayers and support. Its a new thing to navigate and we often feel in over our heads. Random reminders that what we're doing matters have been so encouraging. Please keep praying for us as this is a problem Nepal will be dealing with for a long time and for as long as we're here, we want to be part of the solution. We want to do that well and with as much love as we can.