Thursday, April 25, 2013

Fund Raising Update

It is good to give thanks to the Lord,
to sing praises to the Most High.
It is good to proclaim your unfailing love in the morning, 
your faithfulness in the evening, 
accompanied by the ten-stringed harp 
and the melody of the lyre. 
You thrill me, Lord, with all you have done for me!
I sing for joy because of what you have done.  (Psalm 92:1-4)
Absolutely fantastic news: as of right now, with pledges and donations, I am fully funded for my trip to Nepal! And as far as I know, my entire team is fully funded as well. Thanks be to Jehovah Jireh, the Lord who Provides, for both this opportunity and for making it possible for me to go. And THANK YOU so much for those of you who contributed to me financially and for lifting me and the rest of my team up in prayer.

Bag Packing

The trip is getting real! Our Nepal team met last Wednesday to pack duffel bags of supplies that we will take with us to Kathmandu. It was quite a fun night. We had great fellowship among the team and several people of our church and community who showed up to help. We wolfed down some Little Caesar's pizza and slowly diminished the large quantities of items on pallets designated for Nepal.

All 24 of us will each carry two 50 pound bags through security and customs! I think that will be quite the sight going through an airport. We stuffed clothes, shoes, seeds, personal hygiene supplies, medicine, and kids toys into our bags.

Please Pray: 
  • that our bags arrive safety and all in one piece. 
  • for customs--that all of the items intended for the people in Kathmandu and in the mountains make it through customs. In particular, Bread that we will be flying into Vietnam.
  • that all bags would be under the weight limit or overweight bag fees would be waived. 

Friday, April 12, 2013

Destination in Nepal

Well, hot off the trail of the College M in Bozeman, my team is gearing up for an incredible adventure bringing supplies to the people in the Gorkha district! Rumor has it that we have our work cut out for us with elevation gain and loss, as well as trekking at altitude. Not to mention 60-75 pound packs at the beginning of the start of the trip.

As mentioned in a previous post, we will fly into Kathmandu when first arriving to the country. Then we will take a bus west toward the Annapurna Area Conservation District (I think some maps will say "Refuge"). I don't know the exact details but we will hike a large loop through the region ultimately ending in Pokhara, the second largest city in Nepal. Then we will take a bus back to Kathmandu to rendezvous with the rest of our teams.

Exciting news: we plan to have a SPOT device with us to send back messages and our locations like I've done on this blog on previous trips. You'll be able to follow along on our progress here at home!

Please Pray: Pray that we might be physically fit and conditioned enough when we arrive to be able to carry out our mission.  Pray that our bodies and our heads will adjust to the altitude quickly and not suffer too badly from side effects (headaches, lack of appetite, etc.). Pray that God would open doors for us with the Gorkha people.

Thursday, April 11, 2013

March Ice

What's cooler than being cool? ICE COLD! 

I've been writing a lot about an upcoming trip to Nepal: preparations, fundraising, culture...but what's going on in the rest of my life? Back in March, right at the end of the ice climbing season, I had a flurry of days up in Hyalite Canyon. Great training and team building for Nepal (okay, I had to make it relate somehow).

The first of the two days I have pictures from I went out with a fellow Nepal team leader Jeff and his daughter. We had a stellar afternoon in the sunshine amidst some fresh snow. Jeff is shown above leading the first pitch of a climb called "Hangover."

One of the things I love about ice climbing is the feeling. There is just something about walking around with sharp things on your feet and sharp tools in your hands that makes any outing feel like an epic adventure! Here Jeff and Aime are walking around a rock outcrop on the way back to the truck. If I were able to crop out the tree, it could be a ridge somewhere in the Alaska Range or high in the Himalaya, right? Like I said, epic feeling. 

Another thing about ice climbing that adds to the "epic" feel is the weather you go out in. Sometimes it feels like an all-out blizzard. This picture is kind of deceptive though: it was probably 32 degrees while it was snowing. 

Here are my buddies from the next Friday after climbing with Jeff: (l to r) Chris, Brett, and Josh. Great group of studs just out for a morning jaunt on ice. 

And I love climbing! Swinging tools and working with ropes is an incredible experience. If you ever get the chance to get out and climb, please do so for me! Even for those of you less attracted to the vertical world: get into the fresh air of the mountains. Or at the very least watch some kind of climbing video or documentary.

I'll leave you today with a quote from John Muir:

"Climb the mountains and get their good tidings. Nature's peace will flow into you as sunshine flows into trees. The winds will blow their own freshness into you, and the storms their energy, while cares will drop off like autumn leaves."

Inspiration from a Friend

I received an epic email this week from a college buddy (and Wingman in my wedding) updating people back home and requesting prayers while he is working overseas in Liberia. I wanted to take the time to give a plug for him and what he is doing. He works for Samaritan's Purse, an amazing organization committed to meeting both the physical and spiritual needs of people around the world. What they are committed to doing with WATER in Liberia and the rest of Africa is incredible! Check it out here.

In his email, Alex spoke of experiences he is having with different people: talking to people while riding the bus, partnering with Peace Corps workers, leading Easter sunrise services, and conversations with security guards. At the end of his email he stated apologetically that he would send updates on the work with water he is doing. "Trust me, I am working hard out here!" he said.

I was struck by the thought that we have it all wrong. So many times, when we are first getting to know someone, we ask the question, "What do you do?" On the surface it's a question about someone's profession and how they spend their time during the work day. However, on some level (particularly with men, I feel) what we are really doing is sizing someone up, how do they compare to us? Do they enjoy what they do? How much money are they making? We want to make our jobs or our work define who we are.

What if we have it all wrong? What if the things Alex wrote about in his email really are the things we should be working hard at?

Sure, we want to use our gifts or talents or training or knowledge to make a living or to make a difference. This is especially true when we are being paid (as an employee or being paid a wage) or supported (evangelical or missional work); we are accountable to other people. But what is really true and good and lasting is the impact we make in people.

In my own life, I am really encouraged by what my friend is doing: looking for any and all opportunities to share Jesus with those around us, whether it is someone sitting next to you on the airplane, someone you ride the bus with, someone you work with, someone you go to school, or someone you with whom you recreate in the mountains. I am so excited about Nepal and experiencing the excitement of sharing Jesus with people who may or may not have ever heard about Jesus before (such a contrast to our American culture where people are either jaded about Christianity or hurt by past experiences). However, my team and I need to remind ourselves that Bozeman, MT is as big of a mission field as Nepal and that our efforts here do not stop just because of a trip planned in May.

Please Pray: Pray that our team won't let opportunities to serve and share the love of Jesus pass by because we are too focused on Nepal.  Pray that we would use the excitement and enthusiasm for an event like backpacking in Nepal carry over into the atmosphere of our daily lives right here where we live, work, and play.

Monday, April 8, 2013

Preparing my Stomach

I'm super excited about Nepal and everything that it has to offer. And what else to look forward to but food! I had fun reading this Wiki on Napalese Cuisine. Check it out!

Now, I probably haven't been able to completely mimic the meals that we will be partaking in while out of the country, but I'm doing what I can to prepare my body for less protein, more rice, and lentils. Shown here on the right is come curry lentils over a mix of rice and quinoa. A little bit of canned chicken tops off the ensemble. It's very good (especially with a little Sriracha hot sauce!) and very simple to make. I made these containers the night before and then Alli and I had them for lunch the next day.

Pray with me that our stomachs and our bodies will be able to adapt quickly to a foreign country, especially that we would have the fuel and energy to carry our supplies into the mountains.

Sunday, April 7, 2013

Trip Itinerary

We have our tickets finalized for our travel to Nepal, so at least we know how we will be getting to Kathmandu, just not necessarily how we will feel when we get there.
Here's our (abbreviated) itinerary:

  • Flight from Billings, MT to Seattle, WA on the morning of May 6th.
  • Fly from Seattle to Tokyo, Japan (longest flight, tickets seem to say 26 hours...!)
  • Tokyo to Bangkok, Thailand (long layover in the airport overnight)
  • Bangkok to Kathmandu, Nepal Woo hoo! At our final destination at midday on the 8th of May, tired and flight-weary but pumped to be in Nepal. (at least that's the hope) 
On the way back, we retrace our steps and arrive in Billings on May 21st mid-afternoon. Then we drive back to Bozeman to crash in our own beds. Somehow I feel like that will be very nice...

Please Pray: 
  • Pray that our travels will go smoothly
  • Pray that we will arrive to Kathmandu with all our bags of supplies for the villagers
  • Pray for our health on the planes and in airports that we might be strong and have energy to do the work we are going to accomplish. 

Easter Son-rise Service

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.  He was with God in the beginning.  Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made.  In him was life, and that life was the light of all mankind.  The LIGHT shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it. (John 1:1-5)

He has risen! He has risen indeed! 

Good morning!  One week ago, Easter Sunday, Alli and I along with a couple of other friends got up before the sun and rode the lift halfway up Bridger Bowl ski area for a Sunrise service. We sang several songs of worship together with maybe 100 other people and listened to a message about faith: how it influences our decisions about whether or not we should ski as well as how faith is an integral part of living.

It was so amazing to be out in God's cathedral, in the heart of his beautiful creation celebrating the greatest moment in the history of the world: Christ Jesus rising from the dead, going to be with the Father forever, and be in relationship with us, living in our hearts and guiding us to love more and more every day!

My favorite part was the leader read from John 1: 4-5, and turned around and pointed at the ridge behind him to the east and the sun popped over the top. God, how radiant you are!

The true light that gives light to everyone was coming into the world. He was in the world, and though the world was made through him, the world did not recognize him. He came to that which was his own, but his own did not receive him. Yet to all who did receive him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God— children born not of natural descent, nor of human decision or a husband’s will, but born of God. The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his GLORY, the glory of the one and only Son, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth. (John 1:9-14)

Saturday, April 6, 2013

Successful M Summit

Successful M Summit event for all of us Nepalers! The weather held very nicely, none of us had injuries, and everyone reached their goals. That's what I'm talking about!

And that's not all: we had a table with water and gatorade set up at the trail head. Our efforts on the trail today sparked many a conversation with people out for a Saturday hike, both at the water cooler and on the trail. You get a lot of shocked looks when you tell someone you are working on your 7th lap up to the top.
And kids (adults too, for that matter) loved figuring out that they had seen you before on the trail. Everyone was impressed and wanted to hear about why we were running and what we were going to do in Nepal.

What a great group of people I get to travel and work with: everyone has a upbeat personality and is pumped for the trip. And everyone took ownership of this event to raise awareness, raise funds, and train for hiking in the mountains.

As I mentioned earlier, everyone reached their goals. I was personally able to hike/run/scramble up to the M ten different times. A rough calculation in my head tells me that our group summitted the M at least 80 times! Thanks to everyone for the encouragement and support.

Kyler was such a trooper: she ran 5 laps with me and kept up for the most part. She and I were pretty tired and hungry when we got home. Right now, both of us have had food in our bellies and a little bit of rest. Now I'm off to the shower, cheers!

Building Day

 Last Saturday (March 30), another team leader on the Nepal trip, Jeff, generously offered to host a work day. If we would come and help him "raise the barn" then he would donate the money he would have paid a normal crew to do the same work toward our expenses. We had a really great group of guys there for a beautiful morning of work. We put up the walls for a garage and sheeted the outside for shear strength (I had to throw some enginerdiness in there).

The group cranked from 8 until about 10:30 when a "coffee angel" showed up, Jeff's wife, with coffee cake, muffins, and hot coffee! What a treat! We stopped for a break, chatted about preparations for the trip, and then got fired up for finishing the job.

I am excited to say that we each received nearly $150 toward the Nepal trip. Thanks a bunch to Jeff!

Friday, April 5, 2013

Summit the M for Nepal

 It's almost here! Our Summit the M event starts tomorrow at 10 am and goes until 3. Our team of Nepalers will be at the M hiking, running, and otherwise making our way up to the iconic M located at the foot of the Bridger Mountains just north of Bozeman. We're gunning for as many laps as we can get and hoping to raise funds in the process.

The M trail (at least the loop that I will be doing) has about 800 ft elevation gain and covers 2 miles. I'll be trying to do 10 laps. Please consider being a part of this effort. Sponsor me per lap for as little or as much as you like. What about 10 cents? What about 50 cents? Every little bit helps and I might need a little incentive to get that last lap or two tomorrow. I have a spreadsheet for sponsorship here. Thank you so much!

If you're in the Bozeman area come out and brave whatever weather happens tomorrow and hike the M yourself. Come and meet us and see what we're all about. If you're not in the Bozeman area...I'm really sorry. :) Please come and visit some time!

Sunset at the M, Fall 2011.

Monday, April 1, 2013

Nepal Fundraising Update

Things are progressing well for our group's trip to Nepal. We are training together, discussing gear, memorizing scripture, and praying hard. We're also raising money from several sources. Our group has already done a spaghetti dinner and slave auction, as well as a donation-only pancake breakfast. We are selling raffle tickets for two package prizes of gift certificates for the Bozeman area and are preparing for a "Summit the M" event this Saturday.

The slave auction was successful (I was sold for manual labor at someone's ranch for spring-cleaning yard work) and we raised quite a bit of money split between us at the pancake breakfast. I have also received a number of pledges and donations. With all of these combined, I'm sitting at just under a third of my goal of $3000.

Thank you to everyone for your support, thoughts, prayers, and generous gifts!