Healing Takes Time

Today is the one-year anniversary of the earthquake in Nepal.

I still remember the exact moment when I heard the news. It was a Saturday morning, and I had woken up early to go on a run. I randomly glanced at my phone to find several texts from friends, asking if I had heard about the earthquake in Nepal. I immediately googled “Nepal earthquake” and found story after story detailing a 7.9 quake that had rocked the country. And then I began to shake.

You see – I love Nepal.

I love Nepal with an inexplicable, steadfast, ferocious love. I’ve tried more than once to find the root of this love, and I have yet to succeed. My best explanation is that Jesus has birthed this love in my heart for reasons that I have yet to fully understand.

And on April 25, 2015, it didn’t matter that Nepal was a place I hadn’t yet been full of people I hadn’t yet met. Because of my love for Nepal, the earthquake wrecked me.

The hardest part was the not knowing. Not knowing the extent of the damage, not knowing how this would affect the country long-term, not knowing if I could trust media coverage of the aftermath, and not knowing if I would actually be able to go to Nepal anytime soon.

The uncertainty was excruciating, but God was faithful. I ultimately was able to go to Nepal, and although our trip was not exclusively centered on earthquake relief, being in the proximity of such a recent disaster taught me so much about brokenness and hope, pain and resilience, trauma and healing.

Fast forward to today.

Nepal is still hurting. Just a few days ago I read an email update from a missionary family who had visited a village near the epicenter of the quake that, a full year later, had yet to receive aid or support from anyone outside of the village. And that’s just one village among thousands.

In September, Nepal passed a constitution that led to an unofficial, winter-long fuel blockade from India that completely crippled the Nepali economy. Although the blockade is now over, between the earthquake and the fuel crisis, the country is still reeling.

Here’s the truth: healing takes time.

In our fast-paced, globalized world there is a new disaster on the news every day. When you pair that with the fact that technology has given us the shortest attention spans of any humans ever, it becomes far too easy to think, “wow, that’s sad,” maybe say a prayer, and move on with our lives, while the people who are hurting the most are left to clean up the mess alone.

Hear me out on this – I am not advocating for you to get intimately involved in every disaster. Compassion fatigue is real, and jumping from one disaster to the next only continues to feed your ability to forget about any pain that is not directly in front of you.

But, I am asking you to do a heart inventory in order to rediscover those things that break you. Find the things that jolt you out of your comfortable world and wreck you. And once you’ve found those things, pour into them! Because healing takes time. For every disaster there are years of rebuilding. And if we allow our culture to sell us a short attention span, we won’t ever stick around long enough to see healing through to completion.

So here’s my challenge for you today – do some follow up. Call that friend who lost their parent last year and ask how they’re doing. Pray again for those little village girls who stole your heart all those years ago. Ask your coworker who got the cancer diagnosis six months ago if you can make them a meal this week.

One year later – how will you respond? Are you willing to put in the hard work it takes to help someone heal?

Just remember, longevity speaks volumes about the depth of your love.

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“Though the mountains be shaken
and the hills be removed,
yet my unfailing love for you will not be shaken
nor my covenant of peace be removed,”
says the Lord, who has compassion on you.
“Afflicted city, lashed by storms and not comforted,
I will rebuild you with stones of turquoise,
your foundations with lapis lazuli.
I will make your battlements of rubies,
your gates of sparkling jewels,
and all your walls of precious stones.
All your children will be taught by the Lord,
and great will be their peace.
In righteousness you will be established:
Tyranny will be far from you;
you will have nothing to fear.
Terror will be far removed;
it will not come near you.”
Isaiah 54:10-14

Peace Home

I have a new blog post up on the Tiny Hands Blog! Also, I promise I won’t only be posting Tiny Hands posts to this site. At two weeks into the semester I’m still working to establish a routine, but I’m playing with lots of ideas for new blog posts, so stay tuned!

Peace Home

On our sixth and final Saturday in Nepal our team leader announced that we would be visiting Peace Home, the one Tiny Hands’ home in Kathmandu we had yet to see.

Normally, when our team visited a children’s home, we would spend the afternoon doing fun activities with the kids and seeing the work of Tiny Hands firsthand. Because we had already done multiple visits, I thought I could anticipate how the afternoon would unfold. We would introduce ourselves in English and in Nepali, and then play games like Dutch Blitz and Fire in the Mountain with the mainly elementary school aged kids.

Unbeknownst to me, God had a better plan.

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You can read the rest at http://www.tinyhandsblog.com/?p=223.

A Life Update

Hello Friends!

I greet you from the beautiful, snowy land of Eastern Washington. I am home on Christmas break, and am basking in this chance to breathe, and rest, and be.

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After four months of hearing from me on a weekly basis you’re probably wondering where I’ve disappeared to. The truth is that last semester I had a standing assignment for my Magazine and Feature Writing class to blog once a week, which cleared glorious space in my schedule to write much more frequently. However, much as I would love to see the weekly blogging continue, in this college season of twelve-page research papers I just don’t see it happening. However, I do promise to continue posting at least once a month, and I have an exciting announcement that will hopefully help me blog even more frequently than that.

You see, while I was in Nepal, God spoke very clearly to me about the direction my life is heading. You already know that He has confirmed my calling to Nepal, but what you don’t know is that I went into Nepal wanting to be a teacher, and came out wanting to be a writer. How that directional switch happened is a very neat, yet very long story of God slowly and faithfully speaking new dreams into being in my heart. It’s a story I hope to eventually write down for all of you to read, but I want to do it justice, and I sense that now is not the time for that story. Suffice to say, my new post-college dream is to write for nonprofits. What I will write remains to be seen, but at the heart of my passion is storytelling and giving a voice to the voiceless.

The best part of this new direction is God’s faithfulness in already beginning to bring it to fruition. At the end of my six weeks in Nepal I discovered that one of the nonprofits we worked with was preparing to launch a blog, and needed several writers who could commit to contributing to the blog on a monthly basis. I volunteered to write for them, and was met with overwhelming enthusiasm. And now, five months later, the blog has finally launched!

So without further ado, here is my first blog post as an official Tiny Hands blogger!

Cultivating Creativity

I deeply believe that each and every human being possesses creative potential. This creativity may be buried deep inside of us, but I guarantee it’s there because, in the image of the Creator, we create. And yet, while creativity is an innate human characteristic, it needs to be nourished. Just as discernment must be developed, creativity must be cultivated.

In our American education system, that’s exactly what we do. Think back to your kindergarten days. How many times were you asked to draw, or play with blocks, or use your imagination? If your experience was anything like mine, the answer is nearly every day. That’s creativity being cultivated.

Now imagine an education system where rote memorization is the norm. A system in which a fourth grader can tell you more about the human skeletal system than you’ve learned in your entire fifteen years of school, but will grow up not being taught how to creatively solve problems. The repercussions of this education style are enormous, and unfortunately, this is how the school system works in Nepal.

You can read the rest at http://www.tinyhandsblog.com/?p=126.

Three Little Girls

A few weeks ago, my school’s Latino Heritage Club sent out an email inviting students to perform in the next Spoken Word Night, which would be on the topic of social justice. For the past year I’ve contemplated performing in one, but I’ve never had the courage to actually do it. As I read through the email, however I started to seriously consider performing, and when they said the topic was social justice, it cinched the deal. For better or for worse, I was in! And I immediately knew that I needed to write my piece for the three little girls I met in a village in Nepal. So without further ado, here’s the written version of my spoken word piece.

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Three Little Girls

Houses

made of nothing more than stones and mud

lie flattened

unable to withstand the quaking that occurred.

Young children with ripped pants

climb the trees like mischievous little monkeys

while women work the water spigot.

Most schoolchildren have already marched down the mountain

in their light blue uniforms

but three young girls linger.

They’re 8, 10, 12 at the most.

Slender bodies, undernourished.

Bright undereducated minds.

Underappreciated beautiful souls.

The epitome of vulnerable.

Every year,

10,000 girls are shuffled across the porous border between Nepal and India,

undetected,

unaware.

And you could be 1 in 10,000.

Your parents are desperate.

The vistas may be stunning

but you can’t eat the view.

“See that man over there?

He’s a friend of your uncle, and he says he can give you a job in India.

Be a good girl and go with him.

You may be a bit young to work,

but at least you’ll have food in your belly.”

It’s a way out,

an escape,

no wait, it’s a trap!

10,000 girls per year?

That’s nearly 30 a day!

Numbers don’t have faces.

But girls do.

And I can’t seem to erase your face from my mind.

So little sisters, please listen.

Your body is not a commodity.

That man with the job in India

is a fake.

The stranger who wants to marry you,

he’s a sham.

To the pimp

you’re just property. And if you die,

it’s nothing more than a bad day on the job.

They will measure your value

by what your body can do for a man.

And in selling your body,

they’re stealing your soul.

But you were not made to be bought and sold

used and abused.

And at the end of the day,

money can’t buy happiness,

and it shouldn’t be able to buy you either.

For Such A Time As This

For the past few months the six word phrase “for such a time as this” has been rattling around in my brain. It is a phrase that is originally found in the book of Esther. Esther 4:14 says,

“For if you remain silent at this time, relief and deliverance for the Jews will arise from another place, but you and your father’s family will perish. And who knows but that you have come to your royal position for such a time as this.”

In the story of Esther, an edict is issued in Persia stating that all the Jews are to be killed. Esther is a Jew who is married to the king of Persia. This particular verse refers to the fact that Esther has potentially been placed in a position of power for the purpose of saving her people, but she has to choose if she will step up and live into the reality of being the queen for such a time as this.


On April 25th, a meager six weeks before I was scheduled to fly to Nepal, a 7.9 magnitude earthquake rocked the nation.

nepal_mapFor an agonizing week and a half, I had no way of knowing if I my trip to Nepal would still happen. Leading up to the trip I felt incredibly confident that Nepal was where God was leading me to spend my summer, but finding out I would still be able to go in spite of the earthquake further heightened my awareness of God’s timing in sending me there. I was going to Nepal for such a time as this.

Within a few hours of meeting my teammates in the Chicago airport, we had discussed our suspicion that God was doing something extraordinary in and through our team, and a few of my teammates had already spoken the exact phrase “for such a time as this.”

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We all had a sense of God’s divine purpose in bringing us to Nepal, and for six beautiful weeks we got to live into that purpose. We had SO many moments, both individually and collectively when we could see exactly why God had us in Nepal. Eventually, however, as all things do, our time in Nepal ended.

Upon returning to the US, my sense of purpose changed dramatically. After six weeks on top of the world (literally) my regular life felt discouragingly aimless. I joked that after such a crazy summer I was ready for a few months of boring, but deep down I wasn’t so sure that was true.

Part of what helped me through the messy season of reentry was obsessively listening to music that had shaped me during our time in Nepal. One song I played on repeat was The Anthem by Jesus Culture. (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YIoZNqUQAGE) The chorus says “wake up child/it’s your time to shine/you were born for such a time as this.” The more I listened to the song, the more I got this nagging thought in the back of my mind – what if every day of my life is meant to be lived for such a time as this?

There are seasons of my life when I can clearly see why God has brought me to where I am. But there are other seasons of life where my purpose is far muddier. However, my inability to see the why of where I am does not change the fact that God has brought me here.

As I continue to reflect on what it would look like to continually live for such a time as this, I have found that seeing purpose in the ordinary changes everything. Suddenly I am motivated to be faithful in the small things, encouraged to look for places where God is already at work in my life, and inspired to be obedient to His promptings. I don’t know about you, but for me that sounds like a much better way to live!

Looking Up for Affirmation

It’s dusk when we walk into the garden of the Gethsemane House of Prayer in Kathmandu. We are greeted by several barking dogs and two rambunctious Nepali children. As we go inside the house, the children eagerly follow, running circles around our legs. We settle into the prayer room for the worship night, and one of the missionaries tells us that the young boy’s name is Arun and his sister’s name is Nisa.

The worship night begins, and Arun asks to color in Courtney’s journal. She obliges, handing him her blue highlighter, and watching as he proceeds to draw simple pictures on the lined pages. As those around me began to sing, I start to write in my own journal. I write in deliberate, looping cursive, not writing to get my thoughts on paper as I normally would, but taking time to truly listen to God.

Nisa

After running around the room for a while, Nisa comes over to me and crawls in my lap. She watches me write for a minute or two, and then she motions for my pen. With incredibly deliberate strokes, Nisa draws circles and squiggly lines on a page of my journal, and I sit and observe her attentiveness. As I watch her, I feel my heart swell with appreciation for this tiny human being, this beautiful daughter of God who has crossed my path. Every once and a while, Nisa looks up at me for affirmation, and I smile at her. And as I sit there, feeling her warmth on my lap, God reveals a piece of His heart to me.

Once Nisa finishes writing, I turn the page and write this reflection:

Dear God,
Thank you for revealing your heart to me. Those scribbles on the preceding page have helped me see your character. They’re from Nisa at the Prayer House, and as I watched her draw, I saw your heart for me. I am the little girl who takes the pen and meticulously draws on the pages of my life. But no matter how hard I focus, or try to imitate you, my scribbles will never be as beautiful as yours, And yet, as I scribble, you look on with love. When I look to you for affirmation, you smile. And then you gently take the pen from my hand, turn the page, and continue to write a beautiful story. Sometimes I say you laugh when I plan, but tonight I see that when I plan, you smile the most genuine and loving smile. You don’t condemn my plans, you just ask me to surrender them. In the image of the Creator, I create. And then I submit. So Father, take my scribbles and do what you will with them. I know I can trust you because you love me more than I can fathom. I love you!
Kelly 

Story Short: Joy

This final Story Short is going to be short and sweet, but first off I want to say thank you! Thank you for listening to me share about my experiences, and for engaging in what God is doing in Nepal.

Since being home I have been asked what surprised me about my trip, and one of my answers to that question is this: I was surprised by the deep joy I felt for the vast majority of my six week adventure.

I went into the experience expecting it to be good, but also expecting it to be hard. And it was. There was miscommunication and frustration, a morning spent puking, complete exhaustion, and a whole lot of spiritual warfare, to name a few of the trials I faced. However, through it all, I felt pure joy. And for that I can take no credit. It was 100% Jesus. Through my time spent in communion with Him, He enabled me to be joyful in most circumstances. (I’m haven’t quite reached the the point of joyful in all circumstances, but hopefully I’m heading in that direction).

I’ve always heard that joy is different from happiness in that it isn’t dependent on what is going on in your life, and on this trip, I experienced that on a deeper level than I ever have before. And that joy I felt in Nepal doesn’t have to stay there. If it transcends circumstances, it transcends location as well. So in new season that’s completely different from the one I just left, I’m committing to continually turning back to Jesus – the source of all joy!

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