I'm writing you to catch you up on places I've been...

Today we returned from our weekend in a magical land called Pokhara.

In case you don't know where Pokhara is:

(See Black Dot.)

In case you don't know what Pokhara is: It is (in my opinion) the gem of Nepal. It sits at the foot of the Anapurna range in the Himalayas. And it's where we spent our (more than) halfway break.

In case you don't know what one does in Pokhara: Anything and everything under the sun. But here is what we did:

Watching the sun rise over the Himalayas from the top of a large hill

Getting sunburned
Loving Life

And, in case you don't know how to put Pokhara into words, don't worry. Neither can I.
But, there is an answer for this too. The whole weekend the lyrics to one of my top 5 favorite Mayer songs of all time (bold, I know) were on repeat in my mind:

"I'm writing you to catch you up on places I've been...Today skies are painted colors of a cowboy cliche'.

And it's strange,
how clouds the look like mountains in the sky are next to mountains anyway.

Maybe I will tell you more about it when I'm in the mood to lose my way,
But let me say,
You should have seen that sunrise with your own eyes. It brought me back to life...

Maybe I will tell you more about it when I'm in the mood to lose my way with words.

I guess you had to be there.
I guess you had to be with me.

You'll be with me next time, I go outside."


Happys and Sads, Part Dieci

Yikes, the last time I blogged was almost two weeks ago…
Even scarier, the last time I did a Happys and Sads was May 1st!
Despite my inability to blog regularly while I’m here in Southeastern Nepal, this monthly edition is my favorite to write, and is one thing I’m determined not to neglect. So here goes. Happys and Sads of life since I’ve arrived in Nepal.
Name: Elise Leighann Jordan
Year: Done with 1, Waiting for 2
Program: Master’s of Science, Global Health

Weeks Completed: 3 since I’ve been in Nepal…
Focus: Hearing and telling the stories of Bhutanese Refugees

-Cockroaches. There is nothing positive to say about these creatures.
-Skeeters and those nasty bites they leave you with.
-Laundry that is never fully clean.
-Hands that are never fully clean.
-Floors, feet, everything that's never really fully clean.
-The smell of sewage everywhere in the streets here, because the sewage kind of is everywhere…
-The unrelenting heat combined with fickle air conditioning.
-Monsoon season. Wet, soggy, muddy, hot, monsoon season.
-Occasional access to internet that is sometimes strong enough to Skype chat, but never to Skype call.
-The absence of any type of digestive normalcy in our group. Enough said.
-Very little sleep.
-Beds that make us achy.
-Long, exhausting days--meeting in the mornings at 7AM and often working till midnight.
-Hearing the stories of refugees day in and day out and having to wrestle with how unjust it all seems. Then having to wrestle with how little I can do to help them.
-Never having time to blog.

-Getting to know the amazing women on my team—And then becoming friends with them. And then becoming good friends with them.

-Following the blogs of my other MSc.GH friends who are spread out all over the world right now doing groundbreaking research.
-Steph Glover and her ridiculously kind guest blog. I’m honored to have had her words fill the pages of my blog for a change.
-My beautiful Emily Morgan and her priceless wedding that I’ve loved reliving through the pictures that people have sent me, and the emails from home.

-Green hills and fields as far as the eye can see—that is until they reach the foothills of the Himalayas.
-Cows everywhere.
-Goats that roam the streets like dogs.
-Snuggle movie parties with six to a bed.
-Watching and becoming obsessed with this fantastical Bollywood film. Who cares if it is 3 hours long? Or incredibly cheesy? Or in Hindi with no English subtitles?
-Scarfing down the food in the refugee camps at lunch each day—the best meals we eat here by far.
-30 cent DVDs.
-Bucket Showers. For some reason, they just make me happy.
-The sweet family who lives in the guesthouse where we’re staying and the relationship we’ve formed with them despite our inability to communicate through words.
-Realizing the depth of communication that you can attain, even without words. Especially if there is a lot of laughter involved.
-Seeing lightening bugs here for the first time last night and feeling a little closer to the summer in the South.
-Getting emails from friends and loved ones.
-Getting my first ever “Smilebox” from my dear friend Jen. If you’ve never gotten a Smilebox, you are missing out on a delight. If you don’t know what a Smilebox is, no worries, neither did I…until today.
-Watching Kerri Strug’s 1996 gold medal, broken ankle, toughest, most spectacular vault of all time over and over again on youtube with my roomy Dominique--reliving the greatest moment I remember from my childhood as a gymnast.
-Listening to my favorite playlists and sharing music with my friends here on our long rides to the camps.
-Creating a Brooke Fraser fan out of one of my teammates. Who’d have thought?
-Discovering a small community of Christians in the smallest camp here, and feeling the bond of being brothers and sisters in Christ despite how different our worlds are. Because, somehow, we all know that this isn’t the world we were made for anyhow.
-A trip to this place last weekend.

Ilam is a town of tea farms in Eastern Nepal. These two pretties are Tulsi and Kiran.

-A trip to this place next weekend.


-A day to myself today to Sabbath, listen to an awesome sermon, spend time praying and enjoying intimate time with God.

-Time to blog. Finally.

I miss you all. And I miss talking to you through this strange little blog of mine. I’ll be posting regularly again soon. And in the mean time…watch out for some more guest bloggies!


Love from the USA

So this is going to be a bit backwards... instead of Elise telling fun stories about her friends and family and how much she loves the important people in her life... I'm going to tell you how much I love Elise.

Yup, I'm a "guest blogger." And although I do have a blog of my own, I kind of like this whole guest blogging thing. It took me a while to figure out what exactly I wanted to write about. The options seemed endless. And so I decided on this. Corny, but hey, I love corny and so does Elise:


"E' stands for eloquent. And although I'm sure Elise would say, "'Oh stop it, no I'm not," I would have to disagree. Reading the words on this blog of hers is one of my favorite parts of my day. She has a way of making everything, even life's trials, sound so refreshing. And, when we are lucky enough to have a catch-up phone conversation, I always leave feeling renewed and loved. Simply put, Elise has a way with words.


"L" stands for laughing. And snorting. Because if you know Elise well at all, she has a wonderful laugh. And if she thinks something is really funny, she snorts. And then everyone ends up laughing, perhaps not at the joke or funny thing that happened, but because a sophisticated young woman just snorted. I love this about her.


"I" stands for involved. Unlike my own life where I find myself spread too thin or running around like a crazy person, Elise seems to know how to find the balance in life. In college we were both committed to an organization called Athletes in Action, AIA for short. Elise was so good at making AIA, among many many other things going on in her life, a priority. And she has maintained this ability to balance and juggle life into the "real world" (although technically still in school). Planning a wedding... small groups at church... friends all over the country, Elise is great at staying "present" and devoted to the things that are special to her in life.


"S" stands for Sister. In a sweet note Elise wrote to me one time, she reminded me that I was her first true Christian girl friend in college. And although she soon after met lots of people who have impacted her life tremendously, I feel special to have been this fist "Sister in Christ" for Elise at UVA.


The final "E" stands for engaged. And although this seems obvious, I just wanted to take a moment to acknowledge this fun fact. I mean have you ever seen a cuter couple in your entire life? Adam + Elise make the perfect pair. I feel so grateful to have been a part of Elise's life from the "beginning" of their actual dating relationship. And feel even more grateful to be able to share in their special day in October. I know they are both going through a hard time right now being so far apart from one another, but be encouraged you two... this will make your time together later this summer so so very sweet.

So, there you have it. That's my description of my friend Elise. I love you dearly sweet girl and can't wait to guest blog some more and see you when you return to the states!!

Praying for you,



Every time I sit down to blog since I’ve been in Nepal, I’m at a loss. I’ve reached this place where my heart is so overloaded with new information, thoughts, experiences, difficult realities…that I actually feel paralyzed by it all, and can’t write anything. It’s a strange place to be.

But that’s where I am.

And, it’s probably the explanation for me writing about things like cell phones and showers, rather than anything of substance.

So I’m hoping that some of my friends who I’ve asked to guest blog while I’m gone will help pick up some of my slack for now. And, as I start to find ways to slowly unpack what I’m facing here, I’ll try to start sharing it with you as well.

Much love from Damak.


Back to the Bucket

When I spent time in Rwanda a few summers ago, my sister taught me a critical skill, bucket showers. Which are more accurately described as bucket washings. This memory is relevant to this post, I promise.
We are here in Damak now, a small town in the South-Eastern corner of Nepal. Damak is surrounded by a series Bhutanese refugee camps in which we will be conducting our research. My trusty team of researchers and I are staying at a small guest house in town. We arrived yesterday, to discover that things were both better, and worse than we expected:
The temperatures have been mild, hovering around 90 degrees and 100% humidity.
But, they are expected to climb another 25-30 degrees in the next few weeks.
The place we are staying has electricity.
Unfortunately, it shuts off for hours at a time unexpectedly leaving us rummaging around blindly for flashlights or cell phones.
There are beds for each of us.
But, they are just wooden boards on with a 2 inch think cushion on top.

The cockroaches only come out at night.
But, they are the biggest I’ve ever seen and fly around terrifying the faint of heart in our group. Last night I had to kill one to prove we’d all be okay living in the same rooms as them.
We have running water, sometimes.
But, no functional showerheads. So, you have to fill up a bucket and use a cup to scoop it out and clean yourself.

At least this time, unlike in Rwanda, the bucket washings are inside. The cold water feels good because of how warm it is outside. And after my first “shower” here, I was reminded of the time that I arrived in another place that was completely unknown to me, uncomfortable at first, but beautiful. And how Rwanda really became my home that summer.

Then, I was with my sister. This time, I’m with 5 women I hardly know, but who deeply intrigue me.

Damak is already feeling like our temporary home.
We are figuring it all out together.
We visited the refugee camps for the first time today. But more on that later…

Miss everyone at all my real homes like crazy still.
And in case I can't get internet again between now and Sunday...Congratulations to a best friend and future sister in law, Emily soon-to-be Morgan and her almost husband Bobby. I am so sad not to be standing up there with y'all Sunday, but I'll just have to settle with being related to you the rest of my life...
Lots of love. Xo.

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