My update has come late this week due to less internet access and the packed schedule with my family and the team from the states being here! Their arrival of course has a huge highlight of my week! Brenden and I had been apart one day shy of 4 weeks - 27 days to be exact! It is such a relief for us to get to be together - we both feel home again even though we’re thousands of miles from our physical home. We are looking forward to what the next two weeks together will hold! I could not have planned for a more perfect time for him to arrive - I was just starting to feel pretty homesick, but that seems to matter much less now that he is here! I am overjoyed for my family to get to experience coming to Nepal, since it is Brenden’s and my mom’s first time to a developing country. I am convinced that one cannot leave another country unchanged, especially one dynamically different than their own. Having them here has helped remind me that I have learned a lot about Nepali culture and I am, in fact, pretty acclimated even though it still does not feel like it at times!
This past week I’ve gotten to see and experience even more Nepali music - Christian and non-Christian traditional folk music! I went to a concert of a well-known Nepali folk band, Katumba, and I also got to sit in on one of their rehearsals - what an incredible experience! The guys in the band are true musicians and it was not only amazing to watch them perform, but also to watch them practice and interact with one another. I learned a lot about Nepali folk musical form and compositional styles that day - both are quite reflective of Nepali culture in general. I also got to visit a Christian music school and interview one of the founders. This was very interesting and helpful to my research while here in Kathmandu. Another thing I had the opportunity to do this past week was to visit and attend two other Christian churches. One was an English service and the other was Nepali. I actually had the amazing opportunity to share the message at the Nepali church Saturday morning. I also enjoyed getting to accompany my friend Shanti to work one day. She works for a local NGO called Tewa. This means “support” in Nepali and they work for equitable justice among Nepali women - raising funds for grant programs that teach women a marketable skill in order to support themselves, among other things. It was a privilege to see how an indigenous organization functions. It definitely confirmed in my heart, the desire I have to hopefully someday work for an organization that is truly bringing about transformational development and change in the lives of the less fortunate.
Earlier in the week, I was reflecting on the fact that while I am here in Nepal, I am in my Fall quarter at Fuller - ha! It doesn’t feel like class, but in many ways it feels like a typical quarter...when midterms come around is usually just about the time I’ve adjusted to the class format and such, and by the time finals come I feel as though I have so much more to learn (I will forever stand by the fact that the quarter system is significantly more difficult than the semester system)! I just know that that is how I am going to feel when I’m stepping on the plane to go home. It truly is very humbling to be in a new context - completely dependent on others for the simplest of things and being continually unsure of how their cultural system functions. Although this is true overall, this week I have finally begun to feel like I know a thing or two! :) My language skills are improving and I am finally familiar enough with major landmarks that I can make my way around. Being more adjusted in these ways, it is now more safe for me to be able to travel alone during the day time. Praise the Lord! So for the first time this week, I went out alone - walked through the markets, went on a Temple tour, caught public transportation and made it safely home all by myself! I was quite proud that day! The experience of it all - being alone, speaking Nepali, asking where the right microbus was and not getting lost - boosted my confidence level and diminished my fears. I am looking forward to the flexibility this will give me during the remainder of my trip!
The start of my fifth week here in country has been wonderful and I look forward to getting to write about all that has taken place!
(Sorry - no pictures this time. The internet connection is not strong enough.)