Life continues in Nepal at such a fast pace that I am not even sure what to blog about.

I feel like such a stranger in this country--To their language, their food, their chaotic movement around the city, their religions. We spent an entire day yesterday visiting some of the most sacred temples of the Hindu and Buddhist religions. Monkeys surround all the temples and cows roam freely. Sadhus, dressed in beautiful fabrics with their skin exquisitely painted with bright colors, sat outside the small temples where they live. A cremation was taking place beside one of the holy rivers.

I’ve been hit with the realization of how little I know about these people, how little I understand their lives, and how much of a stranger I must seem to them.

And day after tomorrow we leave Kathmandu to go South to Damak. There we’ll meet and interact with yet another population. A population with which I have even less in common. Refugees. Expelled from their home. Currently without citizenship anywhere. Preparing to be relocated once again, this time to the western world. Maybe even to Durham…or Charlottesville. And I’m starting to get a glimpse of what they are about to go through. Feeling like complete strangers. To our language, our food, the way we move to and from places, even our religions.
To be completely overwhelmed at how another people live life by norms so utterly different from their own.

We are all strangers somewhere. In fact, we are all strangers most everywhere.

But I think being a stranger--
Feeling really strange somewhere,
Is life-bringing in a weird, humbling, authentic kind of way.


Nepali Land

Just a quick story:

Today we went to buy phones. The city was extremely crowded—this happens when there are pedestrians, bikes, cars, motorbikes, cows, and dogs all sharing the same road. There are no road rules and no safe bets. At least that’s how it seems.

After wandering through the streets full of vendors we reached the small kiosk where we intended to buy our cell phones. Unfortunately, only two of us were prepared to buy them. Not because we were the only ones with money, but because we were the only ones with an extra passport picture, our passport, and a copy of our passport with us. Oh, and 2,575 Nepali rupees, which I’m pretty sure wasn’t a very good deal. As we proceeded with the purchase process (and OH was it a process) we discovered that in addition to the three above noted forms of identification they also needed our passport number, date of birth, hotel and contact info of our hotel, thumbprints of both our right and left thumbs, and the name of our Father. It took the better part of an hour.

They tried to take my right arm too but that’s where I drew the line. I’m right handed. I just need it.

We weren’t renting them. We were paying with cash. Seemed pretty much like an I-give-you-money-you-give-me-phone kind of exchange. But I suppose that is not the Nepali way. And so for the next 6 weeks, I suppose that’s not my way either. And dad, if you ever come to Nepal some family in a small electronic kiosk will already know who you are.

I promise more exciting things have happened since we’ve been here, so more later.

Oh, and speaking of Hills…they have some here. They call them the Himalayas. They are majestic and they take my breath away.



I'm sitting alone in my little apartment.

All my bags are packed.

I think I'm supposed to be feeling excited.

But the reality is, I'm just feeling a little lonely, a little scared, and completely uncertain about what lies ahead of me for the next couple months. I leave for Nepal today to do research in the Bhutanese refugee camps on the SE border. I've been told it will be "hot as hell" (110-115 degrees) and 100% humid. We'll have power...sometimes. Maybe AC occasionally. We'll almost certainly get sick at some point (or many points), But not to let feeling hot and miserable take away from our energy toward the research.

The truth however, is that there is purpose in this trip. Even beyond the research. There is a reason why God is intending Adam and I to spend almost two months apart during our engagement. There is a reason why God chose this season of my life to take me somewhere unfamiliar and uncomfortable.

There is a beauty in fears and unknowns that require us to fall heavily on God's love and protection.

So friends, I'll try to blog when I can. I'll have some guest bloggers for your reading pleasure. I'll try to respond to any emails that people feel like sending to say hello. And even if I can't respond, please know in advance that they brightened my day.

Namaste everyone!



Neglect--sadly this has been the state of my relationship with the blogging world lately. It has also been the state of communication with my friends--even my closest friends. And frighteningly, it depicts my attitude toward preparations for leaving for Nepal, Thursday.

On each of these accounts, I'm sorry.

Do any of you ever get that intense desire to just live in the moment without worrying about things you're neglecting? This can't be a good trait always. But can it sometimes? The past two weeks I've been traveling around NC and VA with my family. We've spent time in the mountains and at the beach, with Jordans and with Neals, at rehearsal dinners, weddings, afternoon wine tastings, breweries, ice cream and coffee shops, porch swings, rocking chairs, thunderstorms and sunshine. And until yesterday I barely thought about preparing to leave or Nepal for 6.5 weeks. My bags are empty. My apartment is a disaster zone. And yet, in two days I'll be gone, somehow.

I'll be saying farewell to Durham.
To western comforts.
To routines and regularity.
To bearable heat.
To health and a happy feeling tummy.
To constant communication.
To a fiance whom I love and am anxious to marry.

And as I say my farewells I'm not sure what I'll be saying hellos to on the other end.
But there will be hellos--new, unexpected, uncertain, unpredictable, undiscovered hellos.
And In 6.5 weeks, I'll be writing about saying farewells to all of those hellos.

But for now I'm trying to un-neglect all of the latest neglects. Calling friends, packing bags, blogging when I can. So hello friends, I've missed you lately.


Playing Along

Recently a friend of mine who writes a lovely blog, posted about "little-knowns"--things that people, even close friends, might not know about her. One of her friends initiated the idea, and she played along. At the end she asked anyone who blogs to play along too.

I told her I just might.
She said please do!
So here it is.

I hope Marcy was right when she said that the quirks of our friends are some of our favorite things to read...

-The fastest way to put me to sleep is by rubbing my feet, or my tummy. I don't know if my parents knew this when I was an infant. I hope they did.

-I remember taking my first steps. Only one person has ever believed me about this--my Godmother.

-I have wanted a King Charles Spaniel since the 2nd grade.

-I hate airplanes and airports. But I love traveling. By boat or by train please.

-When I was little I used to sleep with my butt sticking up in the air. Sometimes, I still do. It's how I got the nickname Mizz Butt from my mom and sister.

-I was over two weeks late and my mom was in labor for almost two days...and it's amazing how much this parallels my personality now: First, I'm stubborn. Second, I love being warm, I hate being cold, and once I'm warm and cozy don't make me budge. Especially in the morning.

-I've always loved math. My dad used to pay me 10 cents a page to do extra math worksheets. But I secretly felt like I was fooling him, because I'd probably have paid him to let me do extra math worksheets.

-I'm tremendously afraid of the dark and being home alone.

-I never carry cash. Ever. So don't ever ask me for a dollar. I'll feel bad.

-My favorite event as a gymnast was the balance beam. This might be because it was my best event, but I think it was also because I loved the rush so much. I used to pretend I was dancing and flipping on a tight rope.

-I used to pick the fuzz out of my toes every night before bed. I couldn't sleep if I didn't. I must have worn very fuzzy socks or something as a child.

-Hymns are probably my favorite songs, and I love to sing them in the shower. One of my roommates second year used to say, "Elise is in the shower singing Jesus songs again..." It made me laugh.

-I make my bed, everyday.

-I have a horrible tendency to compare myself to others. It's something I've wrestled with since middle school.

-I don't mind being dirty. Or sweaty. But I hate being germy. So camping is fantastic but public bathrooms horrify me.

-The first time I learned to sail, I capsized the boat and Adam and I both ended up in the water. I wasn't wearing a life jacket.

-I hate shaving my legs. I do it of course, because how gross if I didn't. But I absolutely detest it.

-I have never had the flu. Once I had a 24-hour bug that was going around, but I've never had the flu.

-I skied my first double black diamond when I was 11.

-I always write in script. I don't really know how to print, and when I try it looks like a Kindergartener.

-I seriously considered going to the Culinary Institute of America out of high school, because I love the culinary arts so much. My dad wouldn't let me. In retrospect, I thank him.

-I summitted the tallest mountain in the continental U.S. the summer after graduating high school, and if I hadn't already believed in God, I am convinced I would have after that experience.

-I love reading Scripture. But one of my favorite things in the world is to hear scripture read. Or sung. Often when I'm reading it, I'll read it aloud to myself because I adore how powerful the Word of God sounds out loud.

So now I've played along. If you have a blog, maybe you will too. :)


Happier Than A Bird With A French Fry

Thanks to my good friend Linnea, I have discovered my love of "pinning." In the past month or two, I have enjoyed collecting, dreaming, laughing, and creating. Want to know more?...visit Pinterest. You'll love it too!

But one of my favorite things about Pinterest is the plethora of lovely, clever, oh-so-true quotes that pop up everywhere. So here are a few of my favorite "pins" to brighten up your Monday.


I really hope this one is true... :)


A Project Review...

I like secrets and surprises but sometimes they just go on far too long. Remember back in February when I blogged about A Project Preview...? Well I'm finally ready to reveal what it was.

If you remember it involved things like:
-Large pieces of wood.
-A salesman who was doing "extraordinarily well, thank you."
-"Our first...ceiling fan?"
-Cramming lumber into Cameron.
-Splinters in our rumps and feet.
-Paint on our faces, fingers, and floors. Also on Adam's new wool socks.
-Discovering our artistic sides.
-Disney Colors.
-Gooey Paper.
-Power Fingers.
-Dinner on the floor.
-Tea all over the couch.
-Quality time creating something beautiful for our wedding.

And, if after all those clues we gave you in February, you still had no clue what it was. Now you will. Here is the project in review...

Trusty Cameron was a good sport from the Home Depot on...even when we shoved large pieces of lumber into all of his nooks and crannies.

But these stencils didn't know what they had coming.

The moment of truth was painting the first number.

This was a science. Correct measuring and spacing of the days could not be compromised.

The stencils got really goopey.

The paint brush got really messy.

So did my face.

But everybody kept good attitudes and together as a team we got that thing finished...

Then it was back in Cameron for a ride up to Virginia for the engagement photos.

Careful assembly was required.

And power tools of course.

And then our calendar was ready for its photo shoot.

Success! Our Save-the-Date pictures are complete.

And thanks to His and Hers Press, so are our Save-the-Dates!

Special Thanks to:

Adam Nelson
Home Depot, and staff
Disney Paint
Those paint trays we didn't really need

October 29th
Jeannie Adler for not caring that we took over the apartment with our mess for a weekend
Trader Joe's for making such good bolognese that we could zap and eat on the floor mid-project
Ashley and Brandon's basement where the calendar is now living


Friday First: Antiquing

Adam and I always talk about how we want to be that couple that seeks out all of their home treasures in antique shops. I'm not saying that those beautiful pieces at Pottery Barn and World Market don't whisper sweet nothings to me every time I'm passing by...they do! I wish I could shut them up sometimes.

But in general, we prefer things that have lived, aged, witnessed some good history. Especially southern history. I love the idea of having things in my home that used to live in someone else's home. That witnessed other families, romances, hardships, parties...they kind of connect you to some other time and place, even to complete strangers. Which just intrigues me. Maybe we'll make up stories for each of our antiques and their previous owners...

But I'm getting ahead of myself because,

Until this week, we hadn't started our antiquing life together. I think being at the farm Easter weekend, and receiving some lovely antiques from my family got us revved up. So this week we went on our first official antiquing adventure. In fact, it was my first real antiquing adventure, ever. And we came away with some treasures.

We met Baaahrbara. A sweet, southern, old lady who was as full of character as the antiques in her shop.

We were told we were as sweet as William and Catherine...

We found a beautiful corner cabinet that I have been dreaming of every night since.

We didn't break anything. (Although we almost broke said corner cabinet)

And we actually came away with our first purchases for our home: A tiny little trunk, some old antique newspapers, and a beautiful lamp. And it was all cheap. Amazing.

So far, I really like this method. I can already tell this is becoming our "thing".

If anyone knows of any hidden gems of antique shops, let us know!

Happy Friday and happy weekend.

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