Friday, September 5, 2014

From Birtamod to Kathmandu

Last night Madison wanted to take us to eat at a restaurant across town owned by a guy who had stored a yak's head and horns for him while he was here as a missionary (don't ask). We walked a mile or so until a guy in an electric rickshaw offered to give us a ride for about $1.30. i don't think that little machine has the needed suspension for the 800 lbs. payload it was suddenly carrying. But we made it across town to the restaurant which prodly proclaimed on a large banner: "BEST TASTED NAM IN NEPAL." Madison's friend was there and was very happy to see him. He brought us out some dry-rubbed BBQ chicken, dal, and some truly great nam (that's fresh flatbread made Nepali style). Mmmmm. The other people in the restaurant just stared. there was a guy there who had served for Nepal with the allied forces in Afghanistan near where Jesse was stationed. Pretty cool. The whole meal with drinks cost about $10 for all of us. We rode the electric rickshaw (this time the driver brought his wife!) back to the hotel and went to bed.
Today began as usual with roosters crowing and car horns blowing. Will I miss this? No. After I took a shower in the grossest, stinkiest bathroom yet (and that's saying a lot), we ate a toast and eggs breakfast at the hotel. We packed up, those who hadn't showered did so, while the rest of us hung out for a while until eating lunch (butter chicken) before paying and leaving.
This is the face of a happy man with his butter chicken!
"The Roach," our affectionate name for the Suzuki Omni. 
I'm writing now from the front seat of a Suzuki Maruti Omni minivan. When I say minivan, I mean take the weird-looking, first-generation Toyota minivan from the 80s (remember those?) and shrink it down to 3/4 scale. Madison calls it "the roach." This one rides like a bucket of bolts, no a/c, and there is virtually nothing between me and the bumper. I'm looking at a framed picture of a four-armed Hindu god with a mustache riding on an elephant, which is bolted to the dash. All our backpacks are on the roof and the $35 guitar I brought is between my legs. Jesse, Madison, and our guide are sitting on facing seats, knees intertwined in the rear. We're riding to Chandraghadi to fly a Yeti Airlines flight to Kathmandu. We've been joking about "the roach" vans we've been seeing--they're ubiquitous in this part of the world. Madison says he wants one as his car back home. I don't think he's joking. 

Just got off the flight. I'm on a hot bus filled with Nepali-Bhutanese refugees bound for the US. They'll be there before we will. I feel for these people. They are being kicked out of Bhutan by the government there because they are not pure Bhutanese, even though most were born there. They will be sent to America and be lost and alone in a completely crazy culture to them. This makes me see how important our Global at Providence ministry is. We can't imagine what kind of culture shock this is, and it is a great opportunity for the church to be the church of Jesus. I am convicted of the importance to be more intentional about welcoming and befriending internationals in Knoxville. Will you imagine what it would be like if you were in similar circumstances? What if someone--anyone--was nice to you and helped you navigate your way, learned the language, invited you over to eat, etc. God, help me to be a Christian to these people. The foreigner residing among you must be treated as your native-born. Love them as yourself, for you were foreigners in Egypt. I am the LORD your God (Leviticus 19:34)
We got a taxi (another roach!) and the driver is an elderly man who recognized Madison. He's a friendly and talkative former Gurkha soldier who speaks good English. Very nice man. One potential problem: he has Parkinson's or some other muscular disease. This makes him drive spastically and with many jerks and lunges. Another problem: he has cataracts. Combine these factors with the already crazy driving experience here and it is quite a ride! As I write now we are five-wide (not counting motor cycles or pedestrians) on a two-lane road, forcing the oncoming traffic onto the shoulder! We have been inches from a collision many times and no one has stopped. 
Ok, we made it to our hotel in Kathmandu. Went to the only restaurant in town that serves bacon cheese burgers, and washed it down with Mountain Dew. Thank you, Jesus.

Here are some more pictures from our day: 

Not an unusual sight. People all over a "taxi."

Women planting rice.

Another Royal Enfield. They're just cool.


Anonymous said...

It has been such a pleasure to follow the trip via your blog, Chad. Thank you for fighting bad internet to post these regular updates. I know they have made each of us feel "alongside" you, Jesse, and Madison on this adventure. We are thankful for how God has protected you three, opened doors, provided guidance and wisdom, and sent fellow brothers and sisters along the way. It's clearly the beginning of something exciting! Safe travels home and continued grace on your journey.

Brett said...

I can see it now, Madison will be getting a Roach when he returns, you will be getting a Royal Enfield. Not gonna say who will look the coolest.

Chris said...

Really enjoying these updated and pictures. It is so cool to see Gods work in remote places of the world. Fun fact: my first car was one of the aforementioned Toyota flat fronted mini van "roaches". I loved that thing! Drove it like a sports car and off road truck though!