Sunday, September 9, 2012


Training Camp in Pardeeville, Wisconsin.

Our team was responsible for digging up stones and building a wall so that Royal Servants can now use the land where the stones used to be.

 Beautiful Training Camp Sunsets

    My first view of Nepal from the plane                            The monkey temple

Nepali cotton candy- yum!

Typical Nepali streets- crowded with trash, vehicles, and animals

 The view from our hotel in Pokhara, Nepal


A bridge that I walked across while I was on crutches

  A child playing with one of our puppets

 Hanging out at Gandaki Boarding School

 My amazing D-Group

 Me with my team leaders Job and Bethany

 To see more pictures, go to:

Thursday, September 6, 2012

Group report:)

One of the last things we did in debriefing was write a summary of our trip. We were broken down into small groups, and each group covered some aspect of our trip. My group wrote the culture and heritage section!

Here's our group report:

Group Dynamics

​The group dynamics played a great part for the Nepal team this summer. We had five senior staff who led the team. Job and Bethany Hammond worked together with the rest of the senior staff, Jack and Kelsie Becker and Ian Buettner to lead the team to Kathmandu, Nepal. Under the senior staff, ten college-age staff disciplers joined the team to mentor and lead 2-3 students in their discipleship groups. All 22 students came for the first time, while 8 of the staff disciplers came as alumni.
​Students were encouraged to put into practice their leadership skills over the course of the summer. These skills included two students leading worship, three students leading ministry, and students taking their initiative to lead and work together in Life Transformation Groups (or LTG’s) they were placed in. Along with these leadership roles, the staff disciplers assigned smaller tasks of leading the small group time’s wit in the Discipleship Group and leading the cooking tasks when the group had been placed in cook crew for the meal. The staff disciplers were pushed outside their comfort zone as well by being assigned the task of taking the jobs of the senior staff on the travel day to Pokhara, Nepal. The staff disciplers worked together with good communication skills to lead the team in ministry, medical, finances, food, and the position of Job as team leader for two days. The senior staff worked together by modeling leadership and taking turns leading the team.
​When our group met for the first time, we hit it off and that set things in place for the summer. Despite being a team of 29 girls and 3 guys, we were able to avoid drama and instead grow as a team by learning each other’s love languages, personality qualities, strengths and weaknesses and by putting into practice accountability and confrontations.
​Looking back, God had constructed our team to have our personalities blend, forming a unique team with many first time experiences. Our personalities came out when some members of the team chipped in a few rupees to buy Job and Bethany their first pet fish. On our last night in Pokhara, Job and Bethany treated the entire team to a Nepali buffet dinner served by the hotel. Afterwards, we all went to the performance stage for a dance party.
​When we came back to Kathmandu for debriefing, the staff disciplers tread Job and Bethany to a well deserved dinner at the famous Rum Doodle. Food in Nepali is pretty inexpensive so eating out is a very big part of our meal time in the Nepal team. Some of the favorite foods of the team were momo and milk tea. Dinner groups were an essential part to our bonding as a team.
​We have come to the conclusion that our team is simply the best. The things God has taught us and the memories we made will stick with us for the rest of our lives.

-Stacey, Michelle Bernard, Katie, Moriah, Courtney, Nina, Karissa and Kim

Spiritual Growth
​Job Hammond has hammered into our minds that everything we do is a ministry, and this started at training camp. Discipline was key and instituted promptly on our first day as a team. Through discipline we learned to represent God in all that we do. We became disciplined in our quiet time and how we functioned as a group. This caused us to grow spiritually by training us to take the way we live our lives and our walks with God seriously.
​Training camp was the beginning of D-group time, which helped us throughout the summer to be accountable and to have strong Christian fellowship.
​When we got to Nepal, the learning wasn’t done. We had daily teachings to help continue our spiritual growth throughout the summer. One of the key tools that assisted us in growing spiritually was memorization. With weekly cumulative memorization tests the discipline of scripture memorization was instituted to become a daily practice for the rest of our lives. Another daily practice that was installed in our schedule was quiet and devotional time. This helped us to learn the importance of learning God’s Word and taking time out of our day to spend with Him. One of our major studies was the book Do Hard Things which taught us to push beyond the expectations put on US teenagers and to push us to go beyond our best, get out of our comfort zones, and to make more of our lives. These teachings were engrained in us and were easily used to help us in our ministry experiences.
​As we ventured into Nepal, we grew spiritually through three types of ministry; village ministry, servant evangelism, and intentional shopping. Through sharing our faith openly with others we were able to solidify what we believe and how to portray God’s love to others. We learned how to show Christ’s love in a practical way through servant evangelism, by serving the needs of others without asking for a reward. This is a principle we can take home. Through forming relationships with the Nepali people we learned to hear people and the story of their lives, and take the genuine interest in each individual’s salvation. We also learned to meet people where they we at and how Christ is applicable in all stages of life. By interacting with the cultures and religions of Nepal, as a team we are able to see God’s character clearer.
​When we finished our ministry in Nepal, our spiritual growth didn’t stop. Through this time of transition, we were able to close our time here in Nepal and prepare ourselves for arriving and continuing our ministry at home. We learned to identify ourselves with who we are in Christ rather than with our experiences in Nepal. Through teachings we learned how to continue our spiritual growth away from the team environment.
​Throughout the summer we learned that when we trust God completely and seek His plan for us, anything is possible. God has displayed His faithfulness in indescribable ways this summer, and we will strive to grow closer to God and stronger in faith with each passing day.

-Kristen, Ashley, Mimi, Michelle Linde, Gage, Whitney and Hannah Petersen


​One summer, 38 hours of travel, 19 days of ministry, 13 villages, 1,000 seeds planted and 55 new Nepali brothers and sisters in Christ. Over the course of the summer we engaged in a variety of ministry opportunities. We participated in steer evangelism, servant evangelism and other types of evangelism. Through these experiences God gave us multiple opportunities to minister in the lives of the people of Nepal.
​One major part of our ministry this summer was traveling to 13 different villages to share the gospel of Jesus Christ. Walking, busing, paying, inviting and performing were all vital aspects to a typical day of village ministry. Once we arrived at our designated village we immediately jump into a time of prayer; praying for open hearts, high energy, and souls saved. Next, we begin inviting people using the phrase “Nataak herna aanus” ("come watch our drama") and watch our performance area fill with locals. A typical performance included two dances, two puppets and two dramas. Splitting into pairs, we then jumped in to conversations with the Nepali people, sharing our faith in Jesus.
​The language barrier was often difficult and most of the time frustrating, but we are thankful for the three translators that we had throughout the summer. One story in particular, where one of the translators and three students were used by God, was an exciting and powerful day of ministry. The three students shared the gospel with an 89 year old man who had practiced Hinduism hi whole life, and had never heard of Jesus Christ. He was very open and receptive to the gospel and reading the “Four Spiritual Laws” in Nepali for 50 minutes. He could not find anything wrong with the facts that were presented before him. He did not accept Christ immediately but told the group of students that he would follow the Bible and the commands of the Bible from here on out. Those three students and translator took the initiative to share Jesus Christ in the power of the Holy Spirit, and they chose to leave the results up to God.
​Not all of our ministry required a lot of traveling. The second type of ministry we were involved in was in the form of intentional shopping. The purpose of intentional shopping was to go out and build relationships with the shop keepers of the city we were staying in. We were able to buy things for our friends and family at that time, but the main goal was to initiate conversations with the hope of going back to that shop to build on the relationship.
​Another branch of our intentional shopping was in the form of servant evangelism. The purpose of servant evangelism is to establish relationships, not by shopping, but by serving the shop keepers in any way possible, with the goal of showing Christ’s love in a practical way. Incorporating intentional shopping and servant evangelism, one group decided to help with the construction alongside the road at a local German bakery and coffee shop, known as Black and White. As a result of their service and intentionality with the owners, a relationship has been established and trust has been built. Actions speak louder than words, and their actions planted a seed that will hopefully be watered by other believers.
​Apart from our two specific types of ministry, our team also participated in a plethora of other ministries such as: teaching/leading a kids Sunday school class at an evangelical church, playing with kids in an orphanage, building relationships with girls who have been rescued from the sex-trafficking industry at Shanta’s House, loving on the people of a leper colony; rubbing lotion on their disfigured hands and feet and giving them snacks. They live on 400 rupees a month, two kilos of rice a year, and three pairs of clothes a year, and we were able to show them Christ’s love through physical touch and simply being with them. A few other ministry opportunities we participated in were: a college age evangelical Nepali youth group, the Ghandaki Boarding School and Rainbow Ministries. Rainbow Ministries is an organization, led by a local church that is designed like a weekly VBS to reach out to the children in the community. Our team was in charge for a whole afternoon and we divided up into four stations: song, games, story-telling, and craft. Through each of those stations we were able to hang out with a couple hundred kids and show them God’s love.
​In conclusion, God greatly blessed our ministry and evangelism time in Nepal. We saw God move in powerful ways in all areas of ministry we participated in. With the effort of the whole team and leading and guiding of the Holy Spirit, 55 Nepali people professed Jesus Christ as their Lord and Savior.

-Kaila, Amy, Emilie N, Jamison, Cody, Chelsea and Hannah K

Culture and Heritage
​Nepal has one of the most fascinating and unique cultures in the world. Our team really enjoyed getting to learn about it. We found that freedom of religion is so new to Nepal, the majority of the people we encountered where Hindu or Buddhist. Their religion is more than a belief system. It is a family tradition, passed down through generations that impact every part of their lives. We took several days to learn more about their religions by visiting places of worship. Doing this allowed us to more effectively minister to them.
​First we visited a Buddhist temple called Swayambhunath. It is more commonly known among tourists as the monkey Temple for the abundance of free-roaming monkeys. Because it is more touristy, it was difficult to see it as a place of worship. There were lots of prayer flags and prayer wheels, which the Buddhists use as avenues for sending their prayers to heaven. There were also Buddhist monks chanting ritual prayers, but they seemed very stiff and for show. Everywhere we walked among the temple, vendors tried to sell us souvenirs.
​The next day we visited a Hindu temple called Pashupati Nath, It is a common site for cremations, which we got to witness. There were also many holy men sitting around known as Sadus. As a form of worship they are known for their dreadlocks, colorful face paint and frequent use of hashish, also known as pot. They will take pictures with you, but there is a small price.
​One of the most unsettling things our team was a young girl called the Kumari, worshipped as the incarnation of the temple of the goddess Shiva. She spends her life locked in a building except for three daily 30 second appearances in a window and an occasional festival experience. This is her life from age three until a drop of blood leaves her body.
​In Pokhara, we visited a Buddhist monastery in a Tibetan refugee camp. It was much more worship focused instead of just for tourists, and it was much darker spiritually. Again we watched the monks chanting, but this time it was a mix of adult and child monks. The atmosphere was very demonic, which made the team feel very drained, while opening our eyes at the same time.
​After being in so many spiritually dark places, it was a refreshing change to visit an Evangelical Christian Church in Kathmandu. The entire time we were in Nepal, people greeted each other with the word Namaste, meaning I salute the god within you. Among Christian, we learned to used the word Jamase, meaning I greet you in the name of Jesus Christ. Being able to worship with other believers was extremely encouraging.
​Outside of visiting places of worship, we also experienced daily life in Nepal. We took two days and hiked the Himalayas. In Kathmandu we hiked 8 miles, and in Pokhara we climbed over 1600 steps to an ornate Buddhist temple with an amazing view. It was amazing to see the cities we stayed in on a bigger scale and admire the gorgeous landscapes. Almost every night, we ate out for dinner. We each got 100 rupees per meal, equivalent to about $1.16. Even on such little money we were able to eat a full meal. Some of our favorite entrees were mom, which are dumplings stuffed with anything from buffalo to apples; chowmein, which is a noodle dish; and tenthuk, which is the Nepali version of chicken noodle soup with large dumplings in it. For drinks we were unable to drink the tap water because of bacteria. We instead drank Coke, Fanta, Sprite, milk tea (a creamier sweet version of black tea) or water that we had in our water bottles.
​Living in Nepal was quite the experience. The streets are ridiculous. Traffic is fast and chaotic. The roads double as sidewalks for pedestrians. Livestock such as dogs, chickens, water buffalo and cows, which are considered holy and are the national animal of Nepal, roam the streets. Outside of our hotels we rarely had access to western toilets. Instead we used squatties, which are simply holes in the ground. When we walked the streets we were regularly offered hashish or asked to buy items from the shopkeepers sitting on the curb outside their shops.
​Overall, Nepali people are very hospitable. It was super easy to get to know them, and they frequently offered us milk tea. Our entire team enjoyed our time learning about Nepali culture.

-Marci, Anna, Meredith, Mallory, Emily K, Heather and Penny

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Back home!

I made it home safe and sound! After 43 hours of flying and sitting in airports, our team finally made it back to Chicago. Some went on to spend the night in a hotel and fly home the next day, but I was greeted at the airport by my amazing family that I missed so much, who were holding up a 6 foot, neon, sparkly banner that read "Welcome Home! We Love Penny!"

We spent the last week of our trip debriefing our experience, spending as many as 5 hours a day journaling, sharing stories, and preparing to return home. It was great to have this time set aside to process the tremendous things that God accomplished in our lives over the course of our 6 weeks together. I took intentional time mentally preparing to return home, knowing that 4 days after I returned home I’d be back at band camp for a week and a half. Having rehearsal from 8 AM to 9 PM didn’t exactly leave me time to be jet-lagged!

The past 2 weeks has been a week of readjusting, from little things like eating protein and dairy and sleeping at normal times to bigger things like not living with a family of 37 and having to make time to do devotions daily instead of one hour of my schedule being set aside for it. Thankfully, we had some pretty phenomenal teachings during debrief week that prepared us for coming home as best they could.

As I was reflecting back on my trip, 3 of the conversations I had after street performances really stuck with me. These 3 people not only made an impact on me, but they were also impacted by the message we had to share through our street performances. Their names are Krishna, Thapa, and Kirsingh.

Krishna: a well-educated man who had never heard the name of Jesus.
I met Krishna when I was walking through the crowds after a street performance in Kathmandu. He had seen a large crowd gather, so he decided to stay and watch our show. He was very intelligent, fluent in Nepali, English, and German, but he said he was very confused by our drama. He didn't understand the message. Keep in mind, the dramas we perform are somewhat confusing on purpose for someone who is not a Christian so that we are able to start conversations by explaining them. He had actually never heard the name of Jesus before. After he explained to us his philosophy on life, I was able to have a great discussion with him. Some of the things I said he agreed with, while others he did not. He thought that as long as your actions did not negatively impact anyone, you were not a sinner. Even so, he agreed to attend church with our translator's contacts the next week. We left him in connection with the local church, 2 of our tracts that explained the Gospel and common questions about Christianity.

Thapa: an upper-caste Hindu school girl curious about Christianity
Our last day of ministry in Pokhara before heading back to Kathmandu for debrief the team visited a boarding school called Gandaki. This particular school prides itself in teaching English, so there were many, many great conversations that day. I got to talk with 4 of their 5th grade girls. At first we talked about everything from the girls’ boyfriends to their love for Justin Bieber to what it’s like living in America. Then, we started talking about the street performance they had just seen. One girl named Thapa was very interested. She explained that she was Hindu, but she had heard about Christianity and wanted to know more. As we worked our way through the Connecting with God tract, which is similar to the 4 Spiritual Laws, she told me that she wanted to become a Christian, but she didn’t want her parents to find out. As the oldest child, she bears more responsibility in the family religion than other children. Even though she did not commit to becoming a Christian then, as we were walking out, I could see her continuing to study the tract.

Kirsingh: an adult hated by his parents for his faith
If I had to pick the experience that single-handedly changed me the most, I would pick my interaction with a man named Kirsingh. This particular day of village ministry was a little bit different than most. Instead of performing in a town square, Job, our team leader, took us to a bus station, which is basically just a really big parking lot. We began, as we always did, prayer-walking through the area where we were going to perform. As we then went out to go invite Nepali people to come watch us, we noticed an abundance of men with very few women. Later we came to find out that we were in the red light district of Pokhara. In addition to the people waiting for buses, we also had many owners and workers in this district were in attendance. Because my knee was injured, I wasn’t allowed to perform, so I instead stood on the side and began talking with people in the crowd. After many brief conversations, I began to talk to a young girl. She called her friend over who in turn called her dad, Kirsingh, over. I began talking to Kirsingh and soon realized that I needed a translator. My friend Michelle and I were trying to carry on a basic conversation when out of nowhere one of our new translators appeared (When we first arrived in Pokhara, we ran into a full-time missionary on the street and ended up using his 3 translators in addition to the 3 that travelled with us from Kathmandu- a huge blessing!). As we continued to talk, we learned that he, his wife, and his son had once been in the Christian church, but his parents were angry and began physically abusing him because of it so they left. As the conversation began to wrap up we asked if we could pray for him, and our translator told him what we were praying as we prayed. A big part of Royal Servants overseas trips is memorizing scripture. We memorized over 50 verses in our 4 weeks of ministry, and we also were allowed to choose some verses of our own to memorize. God really lay on my heart to share 2 Corinthians 4:16-18 (“So we do not lose heart. Though our outer self is wasting away, our inner self is being renewed day by day. For this light momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison, as we look not to the things that are seen but to the things that are unseen. For the things that are seen are transient, but the things that are unseen are eternal.”) He really took the verse to heart and said he would consider becoming a Christian later in life.

One of the biggest lessons I had to learn this summer was trusting in God’s timing. Another bit of Royal Servants memorization is the definition of successful evangelism: taking the initiative to share Jesus Christ in the power of the Holy Spirit and leaving the results up to God. Even though I did not immediately see the effects of my ministry this summer, I realize that God is capable of working in these people without me. My job was just to go a plant or water a small seed in their hearts that may lead to salvation at a later time. In all things, God’s timing is perfect. God’s perfect timing also applied to my life coming back home. On July 15th, I fell and injured my knee hiking. I was able to keep walking on it, but by July 27th I needed crutches. Learning to be dependent on other people was quite the struggle, but it also taught me how other people might need someone to serve them, even if they don’t want to ask. I had to rely on people to carry my backpack everywhere we went, to get my food at mealtimes, and to walk a little slower while I navigated the Nepali streets on crutches. Going through international airports on crutches was also very interesting to say the least. Thankfully, I was only on crutches for 2 weeks and only missed a day and a half of band camp. My knee is now doing much better, but I will be going to physical therapy for a while to completely recover.

As I move forward with my life, not only will I be continually praying for the people I encountered, but I also feel God burdening me with a passion for the water crisis. Having encountered first hand the effects of drinking bad water when I was sick with an 104 degree fever among other medical issues, I am deeply sorrowed at the thought of children growing up without access to clean drinking water. These same children fall ill with many life-threatening diseases all the time because of their lack of access to clean water. Please pray with me for this water crisis and for me as I figure out how this new passion plays into my life back home.

This summer, my team had the priviledge of being used by God to bring 55 Nepali people to Christ. Countless hours of preparation, dozens of performances, thousands of tracts, and the end of it all was witnessing 55 Nepali people come to Christ. It doesn't stop there though. We talked with hundreds of people daily. Thousands of people watched us as we walked through the streets, ate meals, and interacted with each other. Through our words and actions, we were able to show the love of God to many people who had never heard the name of Jesus before. We may never know the final count of how many people came to Christ because of this summer, but what I do know is that each of you had a hand in it. Without you and other supporters like you, our team could not have done what we did this summer!
Thank you guys so much for all of your support this summer! Every dime you gave, every prayer you said, every time you thought of me meant so much. This trip truly has changed my life in more ways than I can count. I have matured physically, emotionally, and spiritually. The memories I made in Nepal will last forever, and I couldn’t have done it without my supporters. I hope that someday I will be able to share more of the countless stories that I have with you guys in person, because I could literally write another million pages about how God used me, worked in me, and changed me this summer. Thank you so very much for everything you did to support me this summer. I wouldn’t trade this experience for anything in the world!
My wonderful, amazing, fantastic team!

- Penny Shirey
2 Corinthians 12:9-10

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Returning from Orbit

So we are now officially done with ministry. We have been back in Kathmandu for about a week now debriefing. Our trip has been compared a lot to astronauts returning home bc of some of the different struggles we face. but its a good change.

I'm on crutches because of my knee injury. I have been for about a week. It's... challenging to say the least. And i get lots of stares when i go out. but my knee feels better when i dont walk on it and my arms are definitely getting stronger. the only problems are that they are 2" too tall (yay 3rd world medical supplies) and they are rough to use on slick surfaces. which is pretty much all the time bc it rains so much. oh and i have to walk up 106 stairs to our meeting room from the lobby of our hotel (The Manang) when the power is off. and its off pretty much constantly. its been quite a humbling experience bc i can't carry my backpack with my crutches and i have had to rely more on other people then i am used to. God has definitely used it to grow me though.

we fly out of KTM august 3rd and have a 15 hr layover in Dehli, india then fly to London, england then finally back home. We land at 8:10 pm on the 4th.crazy that its finally august and we are so close to going home!!?!!

please continue to pray for our team as we debrief and prepare to go home. we are all quite excited and nervous at the same time. pray that we will rest well while we travel. pray that i will be able to get through the airports on crutches ok. im really worried about that.and pray that our last few days as a team will give us closure and great memories.

i can't wait to tell u guys more stories when i get back home and have more than 15 minutes on the internet at a time!

thank you for all of your support and prayers- i really need them:)

2 Corinthians 12:9-10
2 Corinthians 4:16-18

Saturday, July 21, 2012


So we are sitting in our favorite internet cafe right now next to the hotel, and my dgroup (small group) just had dinner together which is always fun. Now i'm eating a 500 mL (~ a pint) of strawberry ice cream, aka heaven in a container. It's nice to come back to the hotel after a long day of ministry and get ice cream, which is way more available here then in KTM. yum:)

We have been doing a lot of village ministry here, but we have also been doing a lot more other forms of ministry, too. Yesterday we had the annual Day of Serving, where we went out into Pokhara and just asked if there was any way we could help. It was suprisingly difficult to get people to accept our offers for volunteer work. Most everybody thought we wanted a job for money. Side note: the Nepali government came and told everyone in Pokhara that the streets are going to be widened, so everything in the overlaying area must get torn down. The hotel that we are staying at had to remove part of the front desk lobby area, others are being forced to move locations, and the sidewalks all have to be torn up by the people who own the land that is being confiscated. So some groups did physical labor, like tearing up the sidewalks, while others helped sort things into boxes for shopkeepers who are relocating. My group went to help a really disorganized bookstore by alphabetizing their books and dusting them off. Suprising how helpful little acts of service can have such a big effect.

Today we went out to a church-affiliated ministry called the Rainbow Ministry. It's a hang-out place for both Christian and non-Christian kids ages 2-15 to come and chill, play field hockey, swing and play on the jungle gym, and learn Bible lessons. Our team of 37 helped divide approx. 175 kids into 4 groups and rotate them through craft time, songs, story-telling, and games. I was a part of the craft team, and we helped the kids make animal masks out of paper plates, which they then took to storytelling time to participate in the stories of Noah's ark and Daniel and the lions den. We were only working with the supplies we happened to have on hand, and since the majority of our team had a surplus of paper plates, we decided to use those with the crayons Rainbow Ministry had on hand. Games had a fun time. They tried to teach the "red light green light" but they didn't get the concept, understandable given that I have only seen 1 stop light the entire 3 weeks that I've been here.

It's crazy to think that today marks 3 weeks. We only have 1 more week of ministry, then we have a week of debrief that helps us process everything that we have learned and done this summer and prepare to take our ministry back home. Really applies our tagline for the summer "A summer of service for a lifetime of ministry"

On that note, a few prayer requests. I've had to sit out of the last few street performances because my knee has been bothering me so much. I bought a brace here, and I'm taking meds, but they just don't want me injuring it further. Understandable with how much walking we do. It's crazy- we only eat carbs basically here, and we burn through it so fast that we constantly are hitting up the corner grocery store for snacks (like ice cream! and mars bars and white chocolate toblerone;) )
Also, Pokhara is a much more forest-y, nature filled area so everybody who has allergies is basically dying. I thankfully found some allergy meds, but still be praying for us as the group of 10 of us are suffering big time.
Being on such a packed schedule is really wearing us down. We typically wake up around 7 am here and lights out is around 11. Everyone is super tired and worn down, so pray for strength and energy.
As we are now through hump week, it's more difficult to stay here mentally and push through our last week of ministry. Pray that we won't get homesick and we will be strong enough to stay present mentally.
Pray that God opens the hearts of the Nepali people that we will be interacting with.

Only 2 weeks left- so crazy to think about! God has done so much both in me personally, but also in the people of Nepal. Thank you so much for your emails and comments- it's super encouraging to hear from people back home!

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Now in Pokhara!

Our time in KTM is now over. We have moved on to Pokhara, a lovely relaxing lakeside area. We will be back in KTM for debriefing before we leave. We definitely enjoyed our time in KTM. The kareoke bar that was right by hotel got shut down so on Friday the 13th we actually got to sleep instead of being blasted by Poker Face and Boom Boom Pow. On Saturday we got to lead Sunday School for the church in KTM. Even though it's on Saturday, they still call it Sunday School. They sit in height order front to back with the girls on the left and boys on the right, just like the adult church. First they sang a few songs, then we got to jump in and do our street performances songs. I don't know how much you guys have seen on the Reign Ministries website, but performing Cray Button in the ankle length skirt that we are required to wear to church was fun, near impossible. Normally for street ministry we wear our Royal Servants tshirts and black wind pants. They smell veryyyy fresh after wearing them every day for several days straight.

After church some of the girls went out to go get traditional kutas and saris with Bethany and one of her friends from last year. They got to pick out the fabric, then take it to a tailor and pick out the cut and style of the tunic. Super fun with literally millions of combinations between the 500 different fabrics they had. All for around 1000 rupees! I can't wait to see them.

On Sunday we had a great time hiking the Nagarkot Ridge that surrounds KTM. In 4 hrs we covered almost 9 miles of every terrain imaginable- clay, bricks, dirt, sand, rivers, up cliffs, down mountains. Super crazy but I semi injured myself when I slipped on some clay. My ankles ended up by my shoulders some how and I basically belly flopped onto the clay. Screwed over my knee, but I'm taking meds so I feel somewhat better. It was crazy- we walked almost 14 miles on Sunday walking to the bus (1 mi) and back then walking around.

Our standard meal is peanut butter sandwhichs and hot cereal (malt-o-meal, oatmeal, porridge) with hot tea. Lunch is typically PB&J. It doesn't really fill you up. We always have awesome dinners. Everywhere in Nepal there are tons of momo places- Momo Cave, Momo Palace, Momo king. I loveeeeee momo- its the dumplings stuff. My favorite place in KTM was Momo Cave. It's legit a cave- 5 ft doorways, a sketch alley, and up some stairs. This adorable little 7 year old takes your order. He's super crazy and he totally has a 13 year old girl attitude some times.I love it- i can get buffalo chow mein, buffalo momo, and a fanta (my favorite drink here) all for 145 rupees.

One element of our ministry that we do a lot here is called intentional shopping- shopping with the purpose of meeting the shop owners and talking about Christ with them. We end up normally talking for like an hour and getting milk tea together, meeting their families. It's a lot of fun, and it was sad to say goodbye to them.
Our laundry here is really awesome- you just drop off your bag full of laundry and get a receipt. Come back the next day, pay 50 rupees a kilo (typically 3 kilos for a week of laundry) and you get your stuff back pressed and folded. It's awesome and not stressful at all, unless they lose some;)

Pokhara is really amazing. Our hotel is called the Lake View Resort, and the moment we set foot here we thought we were at a 5 star hotel. It's gorgeous. The best view of the lake, the bathrooms are actually 6 feet by 6 feet. The grounds are beautifully groomed. We actually have a bedroom on the first floor, a blessing after having to climb 68 steps to the 6th floor at high altitudes at the Khangsar Guest House. It's amazing and much less loud here. Quite calming.

I got ice cream yesterday for the first time! It was delicious Vanilla. 500 mL was only 140 rupees! It's a splurge worth taking. That, with my white chocolate toblerone, is my weekly splurge on myself. Soooooo good!

Continue to keep us in your prayers. We have hit hump week- week 3 out of 5 overseas- and a lot of the team is starting to feel worn down & tired. No sickness for me or the rest of the team  right now. Pray that my knee and my 2 team mates with dislocated knee caps knees heal well. Pray that God will open the hearts of the shopkeepers and villagers here, and that we will have the right words to say. Pray that we are able to mentally stay in Nepal without getting too homesick. Pray that we won't be discouraged by the language barrier which is more prevalent now that we are more rural location.

18 more days in Nepal- it's going to fly by! Much Love <3

Friday, July 13, 2012

Girl vs. Water

It's really hard to avoid ingesting the water here. Between the rain, showering, and dishes not being washed in hot enough water to kill bacteria, it's really rough. Somewhere along the way, I had some little bit of it. I don't really know where, but what I do know is that it made me realllllllyyy sick. Wednesday morning I woke up and I had absolutely no energy. I was completely drained. Instead of going to morning ministry, I slept in for another couple of hours. I got to go out in the afternoon, but it all went downhill from there.

By Wednesday night I had a 103 degree fever and a lot of flu-like symptoms. I then basically slept for 40 hours straight, with the exception of taking meds or checking my temperature. My fever finally broke last night, praise God. I've spent most of today just resting and trying to get my strength back because I haven't had anything to eat in the past 2 days.

Being sick in a foreign country is no fun. Because we don't have any ice here, I just had wash cloths and towels that we ran under the shower water to try and cool me down, but those had to be re-run almost every 15 minutes because I was so hot. Even though it was easier to sleep because I was sick, we had 2 parades come through yesterday who, although they were not as awesome as my Macy's band, were definitely as loud and as impossible to sleep through. We did manage to find a fan in the guest house, but the electricity was out (as it is quite often in Nepal) for almost 5 hours yesterday. The leaders did a great job of taking care of me though. They did everything in their power to keep me out of the Nepali hospital, and it worked. They stayed with me the whole day and all night and were continually checking on me and making sure I got everything that I needed. They did a great job:)

Please keep me in your prayers as I recover that I will be back up to speed quickly and that I won't relapse bc being sick is seriously the worst.

Anyways, for the 8 hrs that I was awake on Wednesday, I got to go with my team to the Peace Rehabilitation Center, a Christian home for girls who are victims of sex slavery. Even though these girls have lived through horrible things, the joy of Christ still radiated from within them. Even though I was not operating at 100% capacity, I still enjoyed watching the other girls on my team talk, dance, and sing with the girls. One of the things that the PRC teaches them is useful skills to support themselves with, such as making jewelry or knitting. They sell what they make to support the PRC, so I bought a really gorgeous bracelet from them.

It's kind of a bummer though, because my team went to visit the leper colony today, and I wasn't able to go with them. There's no way I'd be able to make the trek through the rice paddy and up the mountain when this morning I couldn't even take 10 steps to the bathroom without someone supporting me. Part of the Royal Servants schedule is to do a daily quiet time. Every day we get assigned 3 chapters of the Bible to read. We have read through Nehemiah and James, and as my team was leaving today, a verse we read earlier stuck in my head. James 1:2-3 says, "Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds. For you know that testing of your faith produces steadfastness." While I was looking forward to going to the leper colony, I can still find peace in the fact that God wanted me in the hotel today for a reason.

So more general description of Nepal. The guest house that we are staying in is super nice. Granted, it's no Four Seasons, or even a Hampton Inn, but it's great for a little while. It's slightly more run down than these pictures make it look, but each room does have its own bathroom with hot running water, and most of the toilets work. And while the occasional door handle does fall off, the windows work just fine as entry and exit until they can get them fixed :) it also has a fairly good restaurant at the bottom, and there is a convenience store right outside, which is nice.

The food is super amazing here. I missed 2 dinner meals (the meal we eat out) because i've been sick, and I can't wait to start going out again. It's great because it's super fresh. Most of the time they go out and get the ingredients after you order. Fried Buffalo momo with curry sauce- yum! new favorite meal here.

Please continue to keep my team in your prayers.
  • My health & the health of my teammates
  • Strength to push through busy days on 8 hrs of sleep
  • A continued love and compassion for each other
  • For the hearts of the people we meet to be accepting of what we have to share
We leave Kathmandu for Pokhara on July 16th (happy birthday Mares!). It's a 6 hour bus ride on a super sketch road so pray that none of us are sick that day especially!
Thanks so much for reading! Feel free to leave comments or email me! I love hearing from everybody back home:)

Sunday, July 8, 2012

Namaste! Finally in Nepal!

 Namaste! Ke Cha? (Hi! What's up?)
I can't believe that I am finally here in Nepal! Our travel days were pretty brutal. We left training camp in Wisconsin at 6:30 pm on Monday and we got to our hotel in Nepal in late afternoon on July 4th. We had a 7 hr flight from Chicago O'Hare to London Heathrow. 2 turned 4 hr layover because they lost a wheelchair passenger and we had to wait for them to find him before we could leave. 8 hr flight from London to Delhi, India. That flight was very different. All announcements were bilingual. The elderly travelers were served their meals first as a sign of respect. The food was Indian food. As we left we were coated in coconut incense air freshner to cleanse us. 6 hr layover- slept on the floor. 2 hr flight from Delhi to Kathmandu (aka KTM- its shorter to type and i'm rushed for time).
The moment we looked our the window and saw  Nepal we were speechless. It is incredibly gorgeous here. It is very lush outside the city, and even inside the city is very colorful, albeight covered with  trash. KTM is definitely a city. On our second day here we visited a Buddist temple/ tourist site nicknamed the  Monkey Temple because it is so overrun by them. They were all very active which made for great pictures. You have to be careful not to provoke them or they will attack. One of my friends got a flying hug from one of them and then he nibbled on her skirt. We were pretty shocked to see how big KTM is. From the top of the mountain where the temple is you can look out and see what looks like millions of houses. We also visited a Hindu temple the next day were they were holding cremation ceremonies and smoking lotsssss of hashish (pot). We also went into the business district to see the Kumari, a young girl believed to be the incarnation of the temple of Shiva. She is 7 years old and for the past 4 years she has appeared in this window every hour so people can try to make eye contact with her for good luck. its very somber. While we were in the business district, some of the people on my team and I chased down cotton candy vendors who looked to be about 6 years old. It was delicious, natural sugar cane and it turned our tongues NEON pink. The Nepalese do church on Saturday so the next day we got to go to the largest evangelical church in Nepal, also the home church of our 3 translators. It was amazing to be able to worship with them. One of the songs also had English lyrics that we recognized from the tune of the piano and drum set. They also provided us headphones with a translator on the other end for the sermon which was amazing. Everyone removes their shoes and sits on the floor during the service. They also use flags as a form of worship. They had squatty potties (a dirt hole in the ground)- no western toilets for us! Another great thing about visiting these places is that we are allowed to leave the 2 block radius around our room. Everywhere we go we go in groups of 5 with at least 1 college age Staff Discipler. Everywhere you look in the city there is some kind of animal. I almost stepped on a dead cat twice! There are also an abundance of dogs, chickens, and cows. The roads here are ridiculous- no sidewalks. Everyone walks in the street, and everyone drives wherever they fit, and they can really squeeze into some tight spaces. Along with the cars there are rickshaws (bikes with carriage-like things for passengers), small taxis, and large buses. Lots of pedestrians too. And the trash just gets thrown on the curb which leaves a pleasant aroma of incense, food, and decomposing waste. It's also really loud here. They really like to use their horns, not in a "you cut me off" way but more of a "hey how's it goin" kinda deal. Its never quiet here. Even in the morning, you can here horns, dogs, bells, people, and lots of music. This one store that we walk by on our way to where the bus picks us up always has Adele playing, nice touch of home. Because we are staying in the tourist district there are tons of shops. The conversion rate is great too- 87 rupees for 1 dollar. Every night we go out to dinner on a budget of 100 rupees each- crazy. We love to eat momo (pot sticker like dumplings with fried curried filling like buffalo (my favorite), veggies, or chicken), tukba (soup), dahl fry (spicy corn chowder), nan (fresh pita bread), and some type of non-water liquid. You can't drink any water here that hasn't been boiled so we drink a lot of tea. The rest of the team likes the cocacola's too, but because they are sooooo sweet with real sugar they practically rot my teeth out so i don't get them.  Yesterday we got to visit an orphanage for children who's parents are in prison. In Nepal, the children can come live with the parents in prison but then they can't go to school, so they prefer to go here instead. There were 15 boys and 1 girl, all under age 16. We had a great time playing soccer, making balloon animals, and swapping dance moves with them. Most of them spoke English because in the more developed parts of KTM it is part of the curriculum. Today we did our first street evangelism. What a typical street evangelism looks like is us prayer walking for 10 minutes, shouting "Naatch Herna Ownoose" (Come watch our drama!" through the streets of the village, making a big riot gathering in the performance venue, then we go through and each skill group does 2 of their routines. Afterwards we disperse through the crowd and talk to the people about Jesus. Not trying to force it down their throat, but just sharing what we know. In today's case, we had to rely heavily on our translators bc very few of the approx. 500 people that gathered knew English. We were very excited to find a small church in the village today who invited us in for milk tea, a team favorite. A huge blessing. In our downtime, we like to go explore and go shopping. I have done a lot of bartering in the past couple days for souvenirs and clothing. The typical pair of gypsy-style Nepali pants is only 350 rupees- a great deal & super comfy. Lots of fun colors too:)
Please keep our team in your prayers too! Because it is monsoon season, it rains every day for anywhere from a 30 minute downpour to a 7 hour rainstorm. This rain is unlike anything i've ever seen before. Bc we are constantly wet, several of my family members have colds. We all beat jet lag in record time, but the daily grind is starting to get to us. We are in bet with a forced lights out typically at 10 pm with a strict wakeup time at 7 am. Our days are so busy though that we get very tired. A bunch of people are also very homesick or overwhelmed by the intense culture shock. 2 of our 11 dance skill group members have managed to dislocate their knees during dancing, which can make performances a little rough on the edges. Pray for their quick healing and lack of pain, as we have only 23 packs of ice left for the rest of the summer with no place to buy more.  We also have a lot of memorization to do this summer- Bible verses, teachings, and tracts to present. This can get really stressful- our first test is on Tuesday. Please keep that in your prayers. We are all getting along really well though which is great! God has really blessed us with a great team. Pray that we will continue to have an absence of sickness on our team. The food seems to be agreeing with us very well, which is a huge blessing. The language barrier becomes more and more evident as we venture out of KTM, which at times can be frustrating and discouraging.

I can't imagine being anywhere but here right now. Nepal has grown on me very quickly. I am healthy, extremely happy, and very blessed to be here! I can't believe that 2 weeks have already flown by and we only have 4 more weeks left here. Thank you so much for reading. I can't wait to show you guys my pictures- i have almost 300 from the past 2 weeks. I love all of my family and supporters so much. Dhanya Bad (Thank you!) & God Bless You!

Shout out to my lovely sister Mariclare- i don't know if I'm gonna have internet again before your birthday so HAPPY BIRTHDAY!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Love you a bunch little sis:)

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

News and Notes from Training Camp

This past week at Training Camp has flown by.  One of my Nepal "family members" put it perfectly when he said the days seem like they take weeks, but each week seems like it happen in the blink of an eye.  There is a certain level of secrecy about training camp in order to give each new member the full experience, but it's worth it.

From the very moment I arrived at the church, I was welcomed with open arms.  Each new team is called a family because we really are one.  We eat, sleep, learn, and do life as a family.  Each of our activities is designed to help us bond.  Looking back, I can hardly believe that I've known my family for only a week.  But this week can also be tough.  Training camp used to be called Boot Camp, and I can see why.  At first we learn to detox from the distractions that we brought with us.  Then we learn to release our burdens and accept the forgiveness and love that God freely offers.  We also play a lot of fun and crazy games.  Each day with meet in our D-groups, which for me consists of a Moody Bible Institute student named Kayla (she is great!) and 2 other high schoolers, Moriah and Emilee.

Another one of my family's daily activities is building a rock wall.  When you look through the pictures of Training Camp on the Reign Ministries website and see a brick wall about 2 ft high, 2 ft wide, and an eighth of a mile long, know that we built it ourselves with boulders we dug out of the ground with our bare hands. Talk about team building. It was a great source of joy, and also it was a great spot to do my quiet times this past week.

We also do a worship time together daily, led by a vocalist, guitar, and bongo drummer. The whole camp (roughly 500 people) gets together and just has an awesome time under the Big Top tent. During worship, we sing a song called "Your Love Never Fails." I love it a lot because it's a prayer and really connects with what I'm learning this week. You should YouTube it and hear it yourself. The lyrics go like this: Nothing can separate even if I ran away, Your love never fails, I know I still make mistakes, but You have new mercies for me every day, your love never fails, You stay the same through the ages, Your love never changes, There may be pain in the night, But joy comes in the morning. And when the oceans rage, I don't have to be afraid, because I know that you love me, and your love never fails. The wind is strong, And the water is deep, But I'm not alone here in the open seas, Cause your love never fails. The chasm is far too wide, I never thought I would reach the other side, But your love never fails. You make all things work together for my good.

Beyond just getting us ready for our trips, Royal Servants also does a great job of getting us ready to go home. One of their sayings is "A summer of service for a lifetime of ministry." It's really evident in how they are training us. Not only can I say the entire "Connecting With God" pamphlet from Campus Crusade word-perfect, I have numerous other studies that I can use to help new Christians grow in their faith. We have also learned our skill groups that we will use to draw crowds in Nepal. I am on the dance group with nine other people. We have learned four dances to songs, including a song by The Afters called "Never Going Back To Okay", another song called "Cray Button", Toby Mac's "Me Without You", and David Guetta's "Without You." It was intense but super fun. We've practiced walking in double file lines. We can function in the dark without our head lamps. We made a mock bus and got our time to board it down to 18 seconds - great for 37 people. We talked about ministry, food, water, culture, and life. We are all prepared, super-psyched, and ready to go. Our flight leaves out of Chicago at 6:30 pm on Monday. We will arrive in Nepal the morning of July 4th! I am so excited :) Please keep my team in your prayers. We are getting antsy and crazy. Pray for patience and endurance. Pray for good bonding and sleep on the plane. Thanks so much!

Training camp visit!

As a parent, I have to say that training camp is awesome.  It is obvious from your first impression that camp is well thought out, deliberate in its training and somehow they make it fun as well.  It was wonderful to visit with Penny at the end of camp.  She was sooooo happy and ready to go.  We were able to spend about six hours with her touring the camp, catching up, watching their skits and closing with a worship service. What a week.  Cultural and security training, exercise, discipline, teamwork development, worship and quiet times.  It was amazing to see how much Penny had grown in just a week.  We are so proud of her. 

And now she's off to Nepal with her team, 30+ young people and leaders.  In a few hours she will arrive after 20 hours of travel.  May the Lord bless them and their labors.  Hallelujah!