and still they smile….

Once again words fail to describe what I want to share…I will try my best. Yesterday I helped at a small orphanage near where I am staying. There are ten children, ranging in ages from 2-14. One child was rescued from a trash bin. Another was found in the river. Others witnessed their father killing their mother and then himself. And still, the children smile. I spent my 3 hours with a young girl, 5 years of age. She was the size of a 2 year old, maybe. She was so trusting and was constantly smiling. She fell asleep on my lap while practicing the abc’s. I was in heaven.This little angel at peace with the world.We sat this way for about 15 minutes until I felt a warm sensation on my legs. She, in a deep slumber peed on me!!!!!!The other child I worked with was a 12 year old…we were working on her English skills as this week is testing week.We had so much fun. The problem of course is that though they are learning to spell words, they don’t know what they mean…..we played and studied on the floor. The orphanage is run by a couple who out of the kindness of their heart decided they wanted to help the children of Nepal. The need is immense. There are so many orphans….so so many. And still, the children smile.
I awoke early to travel to the Home for the elderly which Mother Teresa started about 60 years ago. It is a government run facility. I was to massage gently and have conversation with the people. The home holds 250 Elderly.The Sisters who run the place take care of 35 who are unable to care for selves. I was a little apprehensive, but I figured I had spent time with elderly before….walking through the front gate which borders Pashaputi whereby they hold cremation ceremonies I thought to self, all will be good. The people in the front courtyard were all smiles and everyone I addressed with Namaste and held their hands. This is good. Well, the sisters disappeared behind another wall and beckoned me forward. I don’t understand how someone can leave their parent in a place such as this. My duties were to clean beds, wash dirty clothes, wash floors and feed the people. None of them were able to converse, many needed assistance to move, some never left their beds. They were all outcasts from their families. They were literally dumped off. The place smelled horrifically. I was screaming to self that I would not be able to handle the situation. The flies were in the thousands. But I stayed. I fed them. I held their hands, and they too smiled………..Blessed be these people

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Wanderings through Kathmandu

Like a slow moving river, my thoughts meander through my awareness.This city so vast and varied. Garbage lies everywhere. We fed the homeless last night.It was truly one of the most intense things I have ever done. These people mainly children and men were so hungry they were pushing and shoving to reach the food. Their hunger radiated from the depths of their being. They were so very dirty. They were so very sad. The men reeked of alcohol. The children…some of them had white substance surrounding their mouth and nose, remnants of glue sniffing they do to mask the hunger pains.A little girl around 7 or 8 (hard to tell their ages as their growth seems to be slightly stunted because of the hunger) whose hair is totally matted, I couldn’t tell the color as it could have just been dirty. Her red dress tattered and torn. Her smile cautious and angry. I saw a group of the children that seemed to run around together. There were 3 or 4 older boys, 2 girls and a very young boy of 3 or 4. The older boys had large plastic bags full of garbage ( they were going to sell it) the youngest boy wanted to go with them…it was night time, Durbar Square was packed with people. The older boys didn’t want the younger to join them..they sent him back but they wouldn’t leave until they made sure he reached the girls…then they went on their way.The love they felt for each other was so evident. They were family and they watched out for each other. It absolutely broke my heart. The children were allowed to be at the front of the line for food. A young girl who walked on her elbows because she had no legs was at the front. A street child, with no legs, in the line to get food. It makes my heartbreak to relive this as I write it.
We traveled to see Bodnath, the largest Stupa in Nepal. It is a Buddhist site, a World Unesco Site. Walking into the entrance a feeling of grounding and supreme lightness of being entered my consciousness. I was able to be there and connect with this place in me that is enabling me to be here..in this place…and not come running home.
I helped some new friends in an orphanage today. There are 10 children. All outcasts. One young boy was found in a river. Another child age 5 looked like she was 2, so severely malnourished, yet….a smile on her face every time I glanced her way, dressed in a beautiful pink dress fit for the princess she was.Their need for something as simple as touch reminded me what life was truly about.
I will be leaving Kathmandu in a few days. I got a severe infection from the air quality. I can’t even run. I am going to a placement 10 hours from here. I will keep you posted. For now though, I will work in an orphanage helping with homework, reading, playing and loving these beautiful children of God.

Kathmandu

Deep sigh. How to put these thoughts onto paper? My head is pounding this morning as I awake to the very early morning sounds of Dhapasi, the area outside the city of Katmandu. The dogs seem to come alive at night..their incessant barking..perhaps they too are hungry. Yesterday we traveled by bus to Kopan a Tibetan Monastary overlooking the expansiveness of Katmandu. The bus was an experience in itself. Imagine being packed as tightly as possible in a bus reminiscent of the 60s , colorful fringes decorating the windows, statues of Hindu Gods and Goddeses lining the dashboards, music blaring , babies crying, smashed, literally smashed into your neighbor, body parts touching body parts, body odors, smog, pollution wreaking havoc with ones sinuses, and people literally everywhere, hanging out the doors, onto the windows…..yet I was totally being okay with it…actually savoring the reality of the moment. The Monastary a spiritual place of contemplation, such a lovely relief from the raw reality of the valley below. I will return later in my journey for a period of meditation and study.
I am trying to put together my placements. There is so much need it is hard to decide where I can be of the most good. The orphanage situation is quite intense. The organization I am with cares for over 130 orphans. They will also place you with various other orphanages, schools, etc. I was able to visit one of the homes yesterday to see if it was a fit for me. IT is called Rainbow House. There are 12 girls. The latest is a 5 year old blind darling that was abandoned. She lies on the bed rocking, hands on eyes seemingly afraid. The other girls ranging in ages of 5-20 adore her, their love is so immense. When I arrived they all, every single one of them came running up to me…Sister, what is your name? So happy to meet you Sister! They have so much, yet so incredibly little.
I had dinner with them and I have to be honest I was apprehensive to eat the food. So fearful of catching this or that, wary of the water that the food as cooked in…”what’s the matter sister, aren’t you hungry?”My emotions turning this way and that. We don’t come close to realizing what we have in the west…we just don’t have a clue.
My spirituality will be my saving grace during this time. Acceptance, love, belief….staying in the moment so important to keep me grounded.

High above Singapore

I am exhausted yet filled with this sense that something transformative is about to happened. I just finished reading behind the Beautiful Forevers. A haunting true story about life in the slums of Mumbai . I think what this story has done is increased the search within myself for the truth. Why? Because I believe we live in this sweet rendition of life and our denial about reality and what truly lies at the heart of life is so much more than what we in the west have interpreted to be our purpose. I think I hope to write a book. And then to write another. Lately driving early morning to town to get my five dollar soy latte I am struck by the poverty in my own city. People huddled in doorways, wrapped in black trash bags, dirty, soiled clothes on their backs. And I. I drive by. I let the tears flow, almost every time but beyond that I simply pray, afraid to truly see.We need, I need to act on the massive inequalities that I see and I know when I land in katmandhu that the journey will suddenly intensify.i think all of our journeys, all the paths we wander, the lives we intermingle with, the loves , hopes, pains all are preparing us for what we are meant to be. For what we are meant to dedicate the rest of our lives to.

Anticipation

Sitting quite comfortably in the San Francisco airport awaiting my flight. After a lovely dinner at Avanti with Nicole last night I slept not a wink. Anticipation…..Breakfast early at Kelly’s with Diana and Nicole..last minute goodbyes to some dear friends….and here I sit ,three hours prior to departure…Curiosity floods my senses. My heart is prepared for this adventure. I plan to share my moments with you, my joys, fears and realizations. I imagine it will be a journey of self exploration which I have truly been on for the entirety of my existence.I love this journey of life.
My stomach has been a bit anxious all week. I think because it is a journey unlike any other I have taken. I feel blessed. It is curious to take off by oneself because it forces you to live in the moment and also encourages the thought, the idea, the teaching that all we truly need is within
And I think sometimes we need to leave in order to come back…..We need to leave that which makes us comfortable to truly experience what this LIFE thing is all about. Off to wander…stretch my legs prepare for boarding in an hour or so….until Seoul….

these boots are made for trekking

early morning..
5 days prior to departure….
i lace up my hiking boots for the first time and head out to watch the sunrise …the path the sun lay across the ocean is the very path i am on..a path of exploration into another world..and into the depths of who i am…as the sun is rising i contemplate my life…and i realize ..in a few days i will be watching the sunrise over the himalayas!!!!!blessed be this life….so much gratitude for the people in my life…on my “trek” along westcliff this morning..i ran into a dear friend…we laughed…we smiled..we shared innermost thoughts…how beautiful it all is…the packing continues…the seeing of friends and family before departure…the praying and meditating for protection during this journey

Countdown

The final days before I leave on a jet plane for lands totally foreign to me.Packing has been quite a challenge as I typically pack a bikini, board shorts, running clothes and my surfboard. The Himalayas don’t require a bikini. My running clothes will be sweatpants and an oversized sweatshirt so that I am not stared at.My bag will ┬ácontain spirulina, hemp protein powder, probiotics along with numerous concoctions of pharmaceuticals to care for me in the event I get sick(which my travel doctor says is inevitable) thanks Doc!!my down sleeping bag, hiking poles and water purifying kit for the trek to Everest Base Camp, this IPad…which by the way has been my biggest challenge for this trip thus far. I have(dont worry Mom and Dad) registered with the State Department,updated my passport and purchased an IPhone(which probably wont work in the valley of the Himalayas anyway)My heart is full of curiosity….and gratitude for the opportunity that lies ahead of me.