A photos update on my way out to Bali

April 26 (Happy BDay Mom!)

It’s been four months since I last wrote or posted on this page. Do you ever go a few days without replying to an eloquent email from a friend, only to realize that now that you’ve procrastinated your reply you’ll really have to make the reply as articulate and worthwhile as possible to justify the time you’ve made them wait? That happens to me with this page, and in the end it’s slightly egotistical since the purpose of a blog (or this one, at least) is really just to share news.

And of news, there is plenty! I’m writing this on a text file titled “Blog, March 6” when I did a brainstorm of news I could share, though I never actually got around to posting anything.

The first bit of news would be that we have the walls of three classrooms up and standing proud. There are some frustrating aesthetic inconsistencies that suspend a question mark above each classroom, given they may or may not be reparable. But… the point is, we have (walls on) three classrooms! So let’s do a bit of math, here. I’ve now been here for (gulp) almost three years. We’re planning sixteen classrooms, so at this rate I’ll be forty when all the classrooms are finished.

Ha. But actually, I’m really striving for a Christmas 2017 finish, here. The tendency I mentioned in the opening paragraph about procrastinating an email applies to my experience here. There’s been no procrastination, but the delayed delivery of a school campus creates this self-imposed expectation that it simply must be extraordinary to justify the time I’ve spent. [It is, after all, almost fucking May of fucking 2016. But at a certain point, you have to accept that in order to grow corn in the desert, someone needs to have come before you to cultivate soil and establish a water cycle. Otherwise, be content being the one cultivating soil and bringing water to a dry place.]

Last October, we had a film crew from Holland at Kopila Valley filming Maggie, the kids, and the many projects of the organization. The crew was from a show whose weekly episodes cover people that voluntarily choose to live “far from home, doing extraordinary things.” I’d say Maggie qualifies well for that. The episode is mostly in Dutch, but it’s fantastic, and everyone wants to see stunning imagery of Nepal and where I live, take a look: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GhbQHQtqqSo

Ravi was still alive during this filming. Hearing him babble and begin to form words both warms and crushes my heart. It’s like when you smell some scent coming from a kitchen and it wrenches you back to an old memory. God, I miss him. We all miss him.

Jamie and I planted a sacred bar tree down by Ravi’s grave. It dried and wilted, turning into a bare stick in the ground after we transplanted it. We kept watering it, though, and a month ago it once again sprouted leaves and the beginning of branches. We also have a (soon-to-be) married couple of bar and pipal saplings at the entrance of our vocational campus. In a blunder, Jamie and I spread chicken manure on them. The priest from our local temple saw this and shook his head with shock. He came back the next day and I spent 2 hours doing cleansing ceremonies for each tree. This involved me bowing to the tree, spreading tikka on its leaves, tying colorful cloth onto it’s stalk, chanting various gods’ names, and walking five times around the tree holding a flame. I must have messed up on the bar tree, because since that day the pipal tree has absolutely exploded with a rate of growth I’ve never encountered in a tree.

Eventually, the two trees will be tied together with a string in a marriage ceremony. We’ll have to do this once they age enough that the string won’t block the main gate. The marriage is complete once the string breaks on its own accord – whether by sun-wear, a strong gust of wind, or divine decree.


May 2

I wrote everything above over a week ago, intending to attach photos of the campus’ progress and other updates from the Children’s Home: we have passionfruit growing on our roof! I measured the kids again (every April) and they continue to grow like crazy! We had a drone here recently and go some amazing footage of the site from the sky! Nena is leaving! 😦 😦 We got in trouble with Nepali police for flying a drone without permission (oops) 😦

Just so so much. I wouldn’t say I’m burned out but I’m definitely ready to leave for a mini vacation – I’m headed out in just a few minutes with Nena, Maggie, Patty, Christen, Chris, Autumn, and Jeremy to Bali for 10 days. Our direct flight from Surkhet to Kathmandu got canceled one hour before it was scheduled to take off (because c’est la vie içi), so now we’re taking a longer route through Nepalgunj. Either way – ready for some time away!

I’m making a promise to myself that I’ll post some photos and more detailed updates when I’m back. I left my blog sitting on the post about Ravi’s death for a long time. Life has continued – this place is still beautiful, the work is still inspiring (and all too often frustrating). More to come…



5 comments on “A photos update on my way out to Bali

  1. Josh says:

    Great great update, Luke; really covers the gamut, and is replete with rich images and metaphors. Now I’m greedy for the next!

  2. Cass says:

    Great post. Now, go have a blast in Bali!! You deserve it.

  3. Linnie and Jimbo says:

    Whenever and whatever you write, with or without photos, is read with fascination and much appreciation. No guilt or apologies ever, please.

  4. janemetcalf says:

    luke, i loved reading your tree stories. such wonderful news that Ravi’s sacred tree is sprouting new growth. and how delightful that certain nepali trees are blessed with a marriage. i’m rooting for the bar tree in hopes that it catches up with its partner.

  5. coastsurfing says:

    Hi, I have truly enjoyed reading your blog. Being a fellow nepali who has settled abroad, I can’t help but feel a little bit nostalgic and a bit guilty. I think what you and Maggie’s team have done back in Nepal is incredible and reading your posts and seeing photos is inspiring and comforting in so many ways. I don’t know how you guys have managed to adjust in Nepal, it must not have been easy. To find happiness in the simplest of things is hard, I’ve realized, once we’ve become accustomed to a certain lifestyle. Kudos to you guys.

    I hate to read about the bad things that have happened recently because like you, I don’t think that you and your team of people, or any human being for that matter deserve to go through this. Know that there are people across the world who are rooting for you. I hope that you find the peace and solace you’re looking for in Bali, and I hope that you never lose faith in Nepal. 🙂 Good Luck!

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