Monday, June 22, 2009

Sheena's perspectives

Catching Up


Last night I began thinking; it has been quite a while since anyone back home has heard my perspective on South Asia and all that is new here. While I’ve been reminding Brian to keep up with the blogs as part of his schoolwork, I have neglected to report back myself. As you haven’t heard from me since May, we have some catching up to do.

Leaving KTM and the Himalaya of Npl was very difficult for me. For the first time during our entire duration in South Asia, I felt homesick. I hate to admit this, as I never want friends and family to be under the false impression that I don’t miss them or their companionship. However, we thrived in Npl, even though all the parasites thrived in us. It was very sad saying goodbye to our new close friends: our coworkers, national partners, and those we were working with. We went to my didi’s house the night before we left (we had gone once before we went to the mountains when our language was very poor) and enjoyed talking to her family in their own language this time. They were very impressed with our progress, and we promised to email and write. Friendships here in South Asia often are easier to form, and the one’s that become close, become very close – like family. These are people I already miss very much and desire to see again very soon.

However, after recognizing that I was feeling homesick for my home in Npl, we decided it was time to really get to work in our new location to the South East (but still in the North portion of the South Asia region working with our same PG). We have been helping our good friends and M supervisors move into their house (as Brian has already stated), and it’s a different process than in America. Here, we had to wash the walls first to make sure to kill all mold, and help them pick out their carpet and prime their bright orange walls to be neutralized to a light shade of brown. South Asians love bright colors, and it shows in all their d├ęcor.

Animals and Culture of South Asia

There are many things to adjust to in South Asia besides bright colors and loud noises. The other night at 4 A.M. we were awoken for half an hour by a cat fight. Once we discovered where the cats were from our window we took a candle from our room (the only thing we were willing to sacrifice) and broke the candle into pieces and threw the pieces out the window at the cats in an attempt to get them to stop. We were apparently the only ones concerned about this, but accidentally hit a house instead. Once we ran out of pieces of the candle, we had to retire in the hopelessness of the situation. Five minutes later, someone else decided to throw rocks at the cat (much more effective than a candle) and the fight ceased. People here also seem to have a fear of cats similar to our fear of mice. The other day when we went to a village, there were kittens running around. So I picked one up and pet it – and they all stared at me like I was crazy. I offered for them to pet it to, and they kept pointing out the fact that it has sharp claws and teeth. Once the kitten was trying to get away, I put it on the ground (to avoid those sharp claws), and it scurried away, but in the process it ran past one of the little girls. She began to panic and scream – exactly as we would do if a mouse of rat ran by. Suddenly, I realized the cultural equivalent of my actions, and how weird it must seem to them that I was affectionately holding their version of a rat. Scarier than the cats though, are the bugs. Here, spiders, mosquitoes, and cockroaches grow to about ten to twenty times their normal size! The cockroaches are the worst as they can fly – and are extremely hard to kill.

Arriving into a new town – and the work we did there.

After eating Domino’s for the first time in 6 months in a big city south of us, and meeting a brother from a neighboring country where no one from our company is working currently due to visa issues, we arranged time to head north to a restricted state. Very few tourists travel into this area, so as is normally the case, we got treated as if we were famous. By this, I mean we could not so much as come out of room without people standing around outside our door waiting to talk to us. They love that we know their language here (even though the dialect is like a Southern American talking to a British or maybe even a little more extreme). But regardless, we had friends waiting for us and following us wherever we went.

On Tuesday, we arrived from the 6 hour jeep ride. We arrived late because our jeep was broken for the first hour, and they had to fix it. However, we arrived and checked into our hotel. The hotel didn’t last long however, as the brother we were working with decided to move us into his house right away. We stayed with their family, avoiding the frog that liked to live in the bathroom outside our room. With us we brought 30 copies of the Good Book in their language, and 10 in English.

On Wednesday, we went around to do initial research for the M’s and were able to share our Father’s story and our story with about 30-45 people. We spent time learning about them, their pol. situations and their family structures. We learned about their PG divisions and worldviews. We gave out about 10 Books, and invited them to come see a film and to our Family meeting that night. That night, Brian spoke about the Samaritan woman and encouraged the new brothers and sisters. The room (normally about 10 people) was full with about 30 there that night. One man was requesting to be dunked, and others were all very encouraged by our presence. But the biggest blessing of the night as being able to distribute gifts. In the room, (besides the Books we distributed earlier in the day), there were only 2 Books that people owned before we arrived. We were able to give every new brother and sister a Book, which they received with such gratitude.

Our national partner’s wife told us later that evening that she had been yarping for Books just this Sunday, and claiming Mt 7:7 as a promise. She said that she was so encouraged, and told us all about her life story through tears. We yarped over her and her family that night. (As we also yarped for the food we ate pork that was still bloody…)

Over the next couple days, things were about the same. We traveled to 2 villages near the capital and interviewed 20-25 people each day, sharing the Story wherever we went. On Saturday however, we traveled to the West, expecting to be based in the city. Instead, we had to hike about half an hour down a mossy hill to get to our location. Brian wasn’t feeling well, and we soon discovered the amoebas were back. After yarping, and encouraging the group of brothers and sisters, we made a quick diagnosis, and hiked back up the hill to get to a doctor. Now this may sound easy, but don’t be deceived. The walk up the hill was steep and slippery. Brian’s stomach was in pain, and the only way out was up. As we were hiking up, it began to rain, and soon, the monsoon season presented its face again. Already drenched with sweat in 90-100 degree weather, the rains came pouring down. Refreshing, and discouraging at the same time. My heart was racing (as my family know is normal), so I just counted it as a good strong workout. When we got to the hospital, the entire building smelled strongly of urine. The nurse came, asked Brian some questions, and prescribed some medication with no real physical evaluation. Since antibiotics were prescribed however, we simply filled the prescription and stayed in a hotel for the night. The next day we returned back down to a city near home where we are helping to now find language teachers for future workers and other logistical stuff that might bore you.

While our time was cut short, we know that our Father’s purpose was still accomplished as we met together with brothers and sisters and shared with those who have literally never heard His name before! We challenged our brothers and sisters to tell others their story, and to overcome addictions such as alcoholism. About 100 people heard Hope offered and some believed – though how many we do not know.

The Harvest here is white, but the workers truly are few.


Yarp Ideas:

- Thank our Father for the experience that we had over the past week.

- Thank Him for keeping Brian safe during his illness in the village.

- Yarp that those who received the seed will receive it as good soil.

- Yarp for the new believers to become sharpened as a sickle for the field, ready to harvest new Brothers and sisters

- Yarp for them to be encouraged by their own brothers and sisters

- Yarp for supplies to be brought to them like the Good Book.

- Yarp for them to remain faithful through difficulty and hardship. These new brothers and sisters are being trained to go back out to their own village to work in the field to harvest new brothers and sisters as well. In the process, many face hardship, and are sometimes beaten or ostracized by family and friends.

- Yarp for those here struggling with alcohol addiction. Many, many struggle with this here. The enemy has his stronghold here. Please yarp for those trying to overcome to be perseverant and comforted by our Father’s strength.

- Yarp for us – we only have a little over two weeks left until we come home, and a busy time planned. We are doing a LOT of traveling during this time. Yarp for our safety in travel, and for a good debriefing time that is approaching.

- In this state that we went to, foreigners are only allowed in for 2 weeks every 3 months. The brothers are requesting a training soon, so please yarp this is possible for them.


Right now we are also really evaluating the work we did over the past 6-7 months and how it could have been done better and CPM methodology. Please yarp for us to have wisdom as we are considering how to better do this work in the future.

Saturday, June 13, 2009

Recently, Sheena and I have discovered how busy we can become in a very short time. For those of you who do not know already, we have relocated to another area for this last month of our trip. This logistical and has nothing to do with security as many of you were aware that security issues were developing in the last country we stayed in. However we are still working with the same people group, just in a different area. While this transition has been a good one and allowed us to see a different part of the world, we have also had the opportunity in assisting our new supervisors as they are moving as well making life just a little bit busier around here.

Ware greatly enjoying our time here for it is alowing us to see a different part of the work that is being done on this side of the world. So far we have made a short trip with our supervisors to meet with a national partner that is doing great things for the Father in an area that has little to no gospel presentation and no foreign M's in their country from our company. Also during our time in our new city we have been involved in doing some ethnographic reasearch for the new team that we are working with. This means we are meeting with people in the city to find out what people groups live here.

Over the next few weeks we have many things planned and are going to be doing much traveling, meeting with other brothers and sisters, trying to do some reasearch (especially in villages) including trying to find where these people groups are and what would be the best way to present the Good News to them.

Friday, May 29, 2009

On the Road again

So as many of you may have noticed we have not posted a blog in a while. Recently we have been very busy as a team came into town and we were involved in helping with their orientation. So in the few moments that I have here with internet access, I just wanted to write a quick note to let you all know how we are doing. > > We are now in the process of changing locations, moving into a different city to help a couple start a new work. As for what else we have been doing, I (Brian) was able to share with a Buddy the other day. Also we have been very busy in establishing old contacts and saying our goodbyes. The last 2 weeks were full of goodbyes in our city.> > Well I will write more later but as for now I will leave you with the knowledge that we are safe and well. But please lift up the many students that are going out to work in the South Asian region. Also lift us up as we will be traveling again tomorrow to get to our final destination. We've been in transition for the past 2 weeks in hotels, and for the past 3 days in a city nearby to where we will be. We're surrounded by beautiful mountains again - though we haven't seen them yet past the fog, and wonderful Tibetan and Nepali peoples. Tomorrow we'll be helping our new supervisors for this last leg of our journey in their move into their new house. Once we have better internet access again, we'll update about our new work. I will be traveling a lot over the next couple weeks and will be preparing for conferences etc., so they may also be something you can yarp for.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Sheena's report back - the spider, the goat, Bob Marley, and the future

How we got Home...
On March 1 at 5:00 AM, I dressed into hiking gear, put on my heavy coat to block the wind, picked up my 35 pound Osprey pack, cinched it down tight, and put my day pack on my stomach. We left a note for my housekeeper, locked up the flat, and said goodbye to the guard. We walked down the stony dirt street by the dirt field (now ripe with a plant that we laugh about here), past the closed shops, around the great stupa where people were already doing their kora (worship) and sat on the stairs to wait for the J-girls. With Brian’s pack around 75 pounds with materials, we were already hurting. But as always, ke garne – translated, what to do?
The J-girls were running a little late, but once they got there, we loaded everything onto a taxi, cinched it down tight again, and then proceeded to the bus stop. On my way, I made my confession. I told them, “I don’t think I’m ready for this.” They laughed, and told me they’re never ready. From the bus, we watched the scenery change from mountains to tropics. Once we got off the bus, we went to the hotel, where Brian got sick with dysentery, went to the hospital, and we waited for recovery.
Once he was better, we then took a plane. A little plane, that can only fly at certain times of day, because when the wind gets bad in the afternoon, it could be swept into a crash landing in the mountain. I’ve never been in a plane so small. We were served little butterscotch candies surrounded by cotton to look like snow. From the plane, we took our possessions for the next 2 months and headed out, walking across town while checking in with gov’t checkposts.
Across town, we grabbed a jeep (fortunately they built a jeep road up into the area last year, because it would have been a long walk otherwise). We rode for 2 hours to our final vehicle stop. We ate lunch at a guest house, and then continued walking again. For 3 hours this day we walked (because the weight was so strong, and the altitude so high, we were not adjusted and it should have only taken us 1 ½ hours if we were acclimated – but there was no time for that). We finally got to our village. When to our dismay, we found out the guest home which would be home for the next 2 months was still closed! The owner hadn’t arrived back yet.
On the way, my always racing pulse was racing more! Due to the altitude, my heart was fast this day, (between 190 and the pace where my heart rate monitor couldn't monitor it anymore). So it was evening by this point. So as we met the children (who were begging for school pens, candy, and money – none of which they need from tourists) my J-girl friend explained to the villagers that we were the new teachers in town, and that I had a heart condition (not exactly true, but they don't understand fast pulse), and we couldn’t travel back with all of our stuff, so we needed a place to stay. They asked if we can eat Dal Bhaat (which we love) and sleep on the floor. We told them that would be fine.
So that night, Brian and I had a bed, and the girls slept on the floor… those lucky girls. See, the house is all made of mud (as are all houses around this area). And the bed is built into the wall somehow, but it was not flat, and there was no mattress, just a carpet. Soon, we learned, the bed is also slanted away from the wall, and its thinner than a twin, so we fell out of bed all night and didn’t sleep. But we got some rest for day 2, and made some new contacts for our village. We watched a movie with some of the children and made some friends. (Yes, in the mountains they do have electricity, and they will work hard to carry a TV on their back just so they can have TV). But this is a new thing. Our county is extremely behind on their technology.
On Day 2, the young boy who cooked and cleaned, and did household duties came back. He made us fried rice. He became a great friend, but he really couldn’t cook well. I was just beginning to conquer this whole “you can’t take a shower up here” thing, and learning that it really is too cold to change your clothes, much less shower, or shave, or do any hygienic practices etc. This is something I think I’ll never be able to truly communicate – the daily lifestyle is so much different. For the next 10 days, we made contacts all over the area through our J-girls, and people began to know what we were there to do. Only, the school master was missing, so we couldn’t arrange our platform immediately!
The Spider
About the 10th day, after visiting the ani gompa (a nunnery for Buddhists), I found the gas powered hot water shower, and it was past time to take one. I relished in the joy of hot water and squeaky clean hair. But then, while I was drying off and checking my belly button for any dirt, out crawled a spider! I panicked, and knocked it away from me, and continued to clean my belly button. Those of you who know me understand my extreme arachnophobia. Convinced it was gone, I made everyone I knew check their belly buttons too.
The Goat
One day, we decided to go to the neighboring village, just a half hour hike away. We gathered together our materials, intent on sharing our story with these unique people. The kids at the school saw us on the way, and ran outside to tell us goodbye as we walked that way. But as we were leaving, I began hearing crying noises next to one of the biggest suspension foot bridges I’ve ever seen in my life. I looked down, and finally found the source - a little baby goat stuck by a rock. It couldn’t walk yet, and there was no mother around or shepherd. So after much searching for the shepherd so we couldn’t be accused of stealing a goat, I took the goat in my scarf (it was still kind of a yucky goat, it had just been born that morning) and carried it back to our village. Walking through the village, I realized I need to explain why I have a goat. Then I realized, I know the name for sheep, but what’s the word for goat? So when I found the kids, I asked them “Not sheep - What is this?” They told me reepko bacha (baby goat) and then continued to ask me, “Miss Dolma, why do you have the baby goat?”
So I first got to practice with the child lama, then got to run and tell our story to our guest house owner, and the rest of the people in our national language. My guest house owner was very proud of her new possession, and took the goat to her goat house after giving the goat milk tea and feeding us popcorn.
The i-Pod and Bob Marley
One of the things we decided to bring for our trip was our i-Pods. When you have to hike 2 hours to get somewhere, music helps! So we each brought one. When our national partner found out, he asked to borrow Brian’s, and would listen to Bob Marley all the time (in addition to some Newsboys albums, etc). One day, when the battery died, he handed it to Brian and told him “Bob Marley is dead.” When we told him, yes that is true, Bob Marley is dead, he was shocked, and wanted to know all the details surrounding his death and family. Then he wanted us to write the lyrics to Buffalo soldier for him, so he could memorize it. We did, and now it’s his favorite English song.
In one village, we learned about a TB singer who came from there, and we bought his CD. Soon he wanted to listen to that on the i-Pod instead. So we converted it over for him on the i-Pod, and he listened to it, and let everyone else listen to it too. Then he had a great idea, he’d been working on a translation project (his wife works for another company doing similar work) about the story. He wanted to work more on this project, and asked us to transfer it to the i-Pod too. We did, and then we went all over the villages with people in lines to listen to this story in their language that they have never heard before!
When he left, we kept this story, and used it to share with nearly the entire village. Anyone who understood this dialect of TB was able to hear and understand. Some of the lamas listened to it 2 or 3 times. We also went from village to village with a new tool, and after they listened, we would ask them questions to see if they understood. Though we haven’t seen a commitment response, some villagers are now reading the story every day. Please yarp for them, as they now have the truth, that they can realize what they have, and be reconnected with our Father.
Back to the city – changes.
Monsoon season will be here in 5 days. That’s what everyone keeps telling us, even though it’s already raining everyday. But apparently 5 days is the magic number. I don’t know why. For my birthday, we went to tourist town. We bought 3 DVD’s all for under $5. I had some brownies that I made a couple days earlier, and steak imported from India. (Remember, it’s illegal to kill a cow in our country, although beef is our national partner’s favorite food). It’s been hot here though. While we were in the mountains, Brian lost 20 pounds, and I lost 30. So we needed some new clothes, and we only had hot mountain clothes, so we had to buy clothes appropriate for the weather too. With the change, we’ve walked past some friends around the stupa who didn’t recognize us initially due to our 2 month absence and weight loss. Here, they have no problem calling you fat either. So they tell me that before I was fat, but now I am thinner. And I just laugh with them now - they call themselves fat too and tell me we are same same. They also look at the ice water I carry around suspiciously. They will tell you that cold water makes you sick. So I always feel like they think I’m drinking poison, but I have to stay cool with no A/C! There is also no power to run the fan!
I also found out I love cooking now. After not being able to cook for 2 months in the mountains, and watching them cook as we sat around the hearth with them every night, I have gained excellent 'cooking from scratch' skills. Making tortillas? No problem. Kneading bread? No biggie. Making great veggie soup? Yummy. No powder spices, just the true raw organic cooking. And I learned to cook some ethnic food for all of you when I get back! I have my house-helper teaching me anything I missed while I was up there too. So be hungry when you see me next! I can’t wait to give you some of our delicacies! Just be glad when I cook for you, I can use water from the tap that isn’t guaranteed to make you sick! Ha!
Oh, and Brian got shaved, so all those bearded pictures, well, he’s no longer so bearded!
Pictures are on the new page (http://www.dropshots.com/SheenaBall) of the process of shaving from the street corner! You’ll want to view. There are also a few more pictures of me cooking momos, the village, and life back in the city from the past 2 weeks too. Also my house guest. It's worth a look. (Also, if you haven't noticed, some pictures have captions to explain what it is going on - some with yarp requests, if you have time)
Yarp requests
- We’ve been meeting with old contacts, finishing mountain debriefing with our supervisors, and polishing our language skills to non-mountain slang now. Yarp for them as we truly invest over these last 2 ½ weeks in country.
- We have summer students coming to work with our team in 2 weeks. We will be helping to train them about strategy etc. Please yarp for their safe travel.
- Our M’s in the next country we are going to (in June) are moving from one region to another. Instead of working on ch. planting, we will be working with another TB people group from a country to the east (also in our region, but a country where no M’s from the company are in). We’ll be training nationals who can go into the country and share the story there. Fortunately, the common language there is the same we’ve been learning here. We leave to go there in another 2 ½ weeks. And to answer the question everyone is asking, we still have until July 10th before we get back home.

Friday, May 1, 2009

The Adventures of Pokemon

Well to those that thought that we fell off the edge of the world you were wrong but not by much (you will understand when we are able to post the pics of some of the trails that we walked on). Anyways for most everyone we have been a little slow on communicating back. That is because there are only two internet stands within a 12 mile radius in which we were living for the last two months and both of these were far too slow for us to be able to post anything. It was barely able to work long enough for us to send an email back to our families. As for what we have been doing, well that is hard to tell. We have been working in a small school working with a group of young monks. We stayed with a wonderful family who owned the only guest house in the city that we were staying in. Also there was not even a completed road for any vehicle to be able to get to us. The family consisted of the father, mother, the cook/helper/go-for etc. and the shephard. For the last two months we lived, worked, ate and slept with this family and became a part of the family as well. We came to consider this our second homestay. Another interesting note about this family was that durring the time that we stayed with them, we only saw the father for 3 days. As for the place that we stayed, it consisted of a small room that had only a bed, a small table, and 2 chairs. Now, the walls were made of mud and that when the tempture got down below freezing (which it did all but a few nights toward the end of our stay), that it made the room very cold. Also, I believe that I forgot to mention that there was no heating system inside the home. (During this time we tried to post a blog stating how we stayed warm... we were unable to do so, but this blog will still be posted along with other short stories at a later date). During the day we would go to the school and volunteer teaching English. When I was young I would listen to my grandfather talk about how he had to get to school and how it was uphill both ways and I never believed him. Well now I do now, because for us it was up hill bothways - and sometimes in the snow. As for the school itself, it was usually utter chaos. There were three teachers (and us 2 volunteers) but for most of the time that we were there only two were present and then for a while there was one. Then on one day it was only us and the 20 students that happened to show up that day. On the positive side of this, we were able to share the Story with some of the students in their own language. Please remember to yarp for this village that the seeds that we were able to plant may take root and Grow in the Father's time. For a three weeks I had the geat pleasure to work with an incredible national brother (S) who worked as my translator, language helper and then became my very great friend. S and I traveled everywhere together (we would travel an average of 10 miles a day by foot). While I would never choose anyone else in which to have worked with, there was some very interesting thoughts that S has. He loves to tell the stories from his mountain village about the Yeti and Pokemon. Now this Pokemon is not like the cute loveable Japanese anime cartoon. This creature is very mean and will come into your house and steal your food and take your clothes and hang them in a nearby tree. If you are bold enought to tease the Pokemon then he will do even worse things than this which I can not write in a blog. If you email me, I will tell you. Anyway this became a very big joke between S and me, and anytime we would go into a valley (where Pokemon is claimed to live) we would tell the other one to be careful and watch out for the dangerous Pokemon. Well one day, as we were out visiting another village, we decided to go back another way and try and see a few more villages in the process. As we went up a very steep hill we finally came to the top and saw a house sitting all by itself, which is very strange in this area of the world. As we got closer, we saw that no one was home so we proceded just to walk by on the trail and continue with our journey. As we passed the house the BIGGEST POKEMON ever came at us from on top of the roof and tried to attack us. Now from S's stories Pokemon was very small the size of a cat but this one was the size of a bear, a very big bear. Needless to say we both jumped and then hurried down the trail. As it turns out it was just a average size dog but at that time it looked a lot bigger. On a more serious note: Yarp Requests- For our cook friend. (S) We gave him the Story and he has been reading it.- Our friend from the city living in the village. (M) Also reading the Story.- For the lamas (monks) we taught in the school. We also gave them the Story just before we left and shared it with the many times. - For our friend (D) who works in the monastery. He has many questions, and we gave him the Story before we left and had some great discussions with him. - For the guest house owner - (S). She asked if becoming a sister would make her rich. If so, she wanted to be one. Yarp she realizes there is a richness outside of money.- For us - we are now going back to the city to work here in this country for 1 more month before moving south. Yarp that we can reunite with old contacts and meet new friends. PraisesWe came back tired - but healthy and safe. We love the area where we worked and know a little more about our Father's plan now. We've learned more about strategy. PicturesWe have TONS of pictures. But it takes so long on a blog page wih the slow internet here and I found a great new program. So for the time being - we will post the link. www.dropshots.com/SheenaBall

Friday, April 3, 2009

We are trying to update, but...


We would like to post a blog, but are finding it hard up here.
With internet, loadshedding, and computer issues, and being a
mountain away, we finally wrote something on our laptops,
copied it to a cd, and brought it to the internet cafe, only to
find out that they don't have Microsoft Word.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

From the remote areas...

I just wanted to let you know we are in the mts, but internet works very very poorly here. We are unable to blog due to the fact that the computer is literally shutting down every 30 minutes due to loadshedding power outages - even though we had to hike clear to the other side of the mts to get to an internet site. Sorry for that inconvenience.

We should be able to email a blog and emails in about 10 days when we head down to meet our supervisor.

I'm feeling better now, but it is cold up here! The temperature is staying around freezing and there is no relief inside or out.

We appreciate your yarps back home.