pashupati temple, kathmandu

Thursday, April 25

The very first full day Kevin’s parents were here, 
We headed to the biggest hindu temple in Kathmandu, Pashupati 

It was an experience. 

To begin on a lighter note, watching my mother in law walk down the very 
trinket infested road towards the temple was 
like omg.
we were all doubled over in belly laughter 
watching her interest as each sales person approached her. 
Knowing no nepali, she relied on sign language… 
“just looking” she said while taking her index and middle finger from 
her eyes to the object and then back again. 
Oh man, I’m giggling just thinking about it. 
one little man who was selling a nepali violin followed us the entire time,
once we thought we lost him, he popped out of no where and scared us all!
let's just say barbara ended up with a violin. 

walking into pashupati was very surreal, like I was entering another world. 
it is a pilgrimage site for hindu’s all over the world, as it is the dwelling place of shiva. 
we passed large tour groups of those from India, making their pilgrimage here. 

The very first thing you approach is the “holy river”, where platform after platform burns the bodies of the dead, their ashes them thrown into the holy river. To be cremated at this temple is supposed to assure the person will go straight to heaven. 

we watched intently as hindu guru’s led men and women through mourning rituals, 
intended to honor the dead and ward off evil spirits. 

we saw hundreds of people bring offerings to the shiva temple, 
touching the altar on which stood a massive falice. 
yes, a penis. 
(woops, did I just say that on my blog?) 
yes. I did. 

and can I tell you something? 
It was all very dark. Very dark. 
An oppression ran deep into my heart, a weight that pushed down hard. 

I didn’t even realize it till we began to pray. 
We stood off to the side up on a hill, 
Looking down at the temple, 
Prayers just began to pour our of our heart for these precious people. 

It was probably the most alive and blood-pumping-real I’ve ever felt while praying. 
Where I could sense the evil, 
and the complete sadness of watching people sacrifice and bow down to idols.
fear being a huge impetus for worship. 

Beautiful men and women with hearts that were searching for truth, 
Only to be looking in the wrong place. 

We prayed. 
And as we prayed, my mother in law began to cry, 
And then I did. 
It was both tears of sadness for people without hope, 

But even more they were tears of complete and utter JOY that we have a hope in Christ who came to SET US FREE. 

Freedom was the order of the day. 

You guys, it was so powerful.
So powerful. 

As we walked out, we all sensed a lightness and a freedom 
That came from a tender yet powerful God that says 
There is NOTHING you must do to earn my love, 

No pilgrimages, no sacrifices, no rituals. 

I love you, 
And I give you life.
life that is abundant and filled with un-ending grace. 

ahhh it was like a breathe of fresh air to speak Christ in a place of darkness. 

Also, there are SO many wonderful updates about the girls home we are working in. 
we received two new girls last friday, and they are seriously the most precious children. 
my heart wells up with love just thinking about them.
 i will share more next week. 
we are off for the next few days though to go out to the villages. 

much love and happy weekend! 
love Katie 

durbar square and my in-laws are here!

Monday, April 22

sometimes there are just not words to describe the attack on the senses, 
otherwise known as Nepal.

The colors that just wash walls and a whole city in vibrancy,
The people that smile and spit and pierce the heart with their eyes
The gorgeous clothes that swoosh and jingle and sparkle in the sun
The food that that is bright and colorful and fresh.

But mostly the caucaophy of voices and horns and animals and rain
that whirls tight around my frame, 
never ending, 
beckoning me to step into another world where I have much to learn.

So I soak.
as you do.

And sometimes the sponge of my heart just begins to overflow in thanksgiving,
That this place,
is now my home.

A few weeks ago, 
our new friends Jenna and Jon took us on an adventure through the city on motorcycles.
Not gonna lie, I think I wrote my last will and testmanet before I got on that thing.
But I made it, safely in one piece.
Jenna was such a freaking champion driving our bike.
Not only were we one point smack in the middle of a festival of marching people that were either hindu guru’s or homeless hippies from san francisco,
But we also stalled on a huge hill.
While I was hyperventilating, 
Jenna just rebooted the engine like she was baking a cake with her eyes closed. 
I think I commented about 500 times that she was brave. 
Driving in this city scare me. 
There, I said it.

They took us to Durbar Square, 
where honestly, I could have just sat and people watched ALL day.
The area is comprised of a collection of hindu temples but also doubles as a market where the most stunning produce is sold.

At the expense of being a creepy stalker, 
I tend to just stare into the worn beautiful faces of the people selling vegetables. 
They all have stories, and I want to know theirs. 
Does that old women with the basket below not just scream “I have a story to tell”. I think so.

And in the midst of all the beauty of the architecture and deep, rich hues,
I became so ever aware of our Savior who died for these beautiful people, 
many of which do not know Him.

And my heart broke.
So I just prayed “keep breaking it Lord” because I want a desperate faith that clings to him and intercedes for the world.

And it’s happening.
Would you pray with me?

I hope your sense are attacked in the best possible way while seeing these pictures:) 

 And….lastly, my in-laws are here!!!!
Mama and Papa Cook arrived today and it was seriously Christmas. 
Kevin and I were bouncing up and down when we saw them come through customs at the airport.

They were tired, but so happy to have arrived.
And  they surprised me a mattress pad! Seriously, can you believe it? I almost cried!
I pretty much adore my in-laws, they are some of my best friends, so to have them here is beyond special!!

Happy Monday dearest ones!!!
Love Katie 

that time we almost died. like last week.

Friday, April 19

 this week has been filled with the most beautiful and small inspirations. 
living life alongside precious girls who teach me joy in pain. 
all that to say, i've been a little preoccupied so the blog has landed last on my priority list. 
well, that and removing my month old nail polish. 

but today my mother-in-law called, 
and out of her mouth spilled
"katie! you can't leave us did you almost die?" 
I forgot to share that minor detail with you! 
my b. 

so yeah, the truth is, we did almost die.

we had been visiting the town of Pokhara,
an 8 hour drive from Kathmandu where we live.

We went river rafting, which was flat out fun.
The tour had promised us "transportation" back to KTM.
Our notion was that they had a company van to drive us back.
it was more like the guides start bus hitch-hiking for us,
which, well....okay.
I get it, we're in a 3rd world county. 

bit, here's the freakin' deal. 
it was nepali new years, and every nepali and their five kids was on a bus back to KTM. 
Like seriously, these buses swelled with so many people that there were arms, legs and faces pouring out the windows, people standing in the aisles. 
Not gonna lie, I wasn't super stoked about carting my big bag onto a bus that probably didn't have room for a cricket. 

soon our desperate rafting guides were literally flagging down anything that had 4 wheels and a motor. 
kevin and I exchanged glances. 
jumping up and down, our guides soon pulled over a jeep. 

i stared, wide-eyed. 
There were already 7 {count it, 7!} people in the jeep, AND all their luggage. 
and Kevin and I had 2 backpacks and a huge suitcase. 
where in God's name did they plan to put us? 
kevin and I exchanged more glances. 

So basically at this point, 
we are shoved into the trunk of the jeep while all the luggage gets strapped on top of the car. 
We hop in, greet the family of 7, and then we all head on our merry way back to the city. 

At first, Kevin and I thought this was hilarious. 
Here we are with a bunch of strangers in a trunk with a LONG car ride ahead of us! 
We sat on pull-down seats, backpacks strung across our lap, our legs interwoven.
Kevin was so big he couldn't even put his head up straight. 
This is pretty funny for the first 5 minutes. 

Then, without warning, the driver starts picking up some major speed. 
now, mind you, we are on a cliff, hundreds of feet up above a river. 
faster and faster and faster we go. 
I clutch Kevin's hand with nervous laughter. 
like, haha this is funny, I can't wait to journal about this. 

There is so much traffic on the these cliffs, that our driver begins to pass buses like it ain't no thang. 
but here's the deal, the road is like NARROW, and we are like HIGH.
Not to mention that up to this point Kevin and I had counted 4 massive wrecks on the road, 
and by wrecks I mean like 2 huge buses collided head on. 

Now,  you may think i'm over exaggerating about the speed,
but finally one of the Nepali men in the car decides it's time to acknowledge us. 
He turns around, with a twinkle in his eyes, and says
"95 Kilometers an hour!" 
as if he wants me to be PROUD that his driver is trying to kill me. 
"Afraid?" he says laughing...
Kevin shakes his head and says "no", 
but i'm like YES, I'M AFRAID! 
{and I don't care if i'm being culturally insensitive now, I will tell you I fear for my life!}

he laughed. 
it's not funny homeboy, it's not funny. 

calming down a bit, Kevin and I decided to take in the surroundings, 
you know, get our mind off rolling down a cliff in our car.  
we tried to be a bit Pollyanna-like in our observations, 
suggesting things like "I bet this car is better than being in a bus"or "this will make a great story" 
but after a while our observations and conversations shifted:
me: "it smells like B.O. in here" 
kevin: "i just farted"
me: "what!?? we are stuck in this tiny space and you just farted, seriously??!?!?!"
kevin: "no one seemed to notice"
me: "that's true, ok i'm going to fart too then." 
kevin: "ewww gross. ok." 
me: "that guy hasn't stopped talking the entire car ride"
kevin: "i know {insert laughter}, and no one else has said anything"
me: "I bet you $5 that he doesnt' stop talking the entire car ride"
kevin: "ok, but I think you'll win" 

in case you were wondering, I won the bet. 
this guy had skill. like olympic medal status in speed talking. 

i digress. 

soon we hit a bit of a rough patch. 
and Kevin and I are bouncing up and down with such frequency and speed that i don't even know how to control my body. 
i'm pretty sure we both drooled. i know. gross. don't judge us. 
but no one seems to notice the massive white people trampolining in the back of the jeep. 
i'm really not sure how that was possible, but evidently it was. 

then we hit the breaking point. 
where our driver thought it would be a great idea to pass a huge truck, on an incline, on a cliff, hundreds of feet over a river gorge, with a car of 7 nepalis and two strangers. 
As we started to pass, Kevin and I gasped as we saw a van coming at us in the other direction. 
I dug my fingernails into Kevin,
all the while thinking, 
this is it. I'm bound to die in a jeep with strangers in a foreign country on a cliff with a maniac driver
(and by "maniac" I mean a very nice nepali man who saved us from being stranded in the middle of no where in asia)

you guys,
 we missed the van by an inch. 
and inch! 

after that, I couldn't even look out the front window. 
I just stared out the back window and prayed. 
that God would SAVE us. 

and guess what? 
He did:) 
And in all honesty, I know it was because of your prayers. 
you all have NO idea how much your prayers mean to us. 
Last week when I shared how discouraging my first nepali lesson was, 
so many of you shared that you were praying for me.
 This week language lessons have been amazing! 
{and I do NOT attribute that to my language skills, or lack-there-of!}
so thank you for walking this road with me in prayer! 

I cannot wait to share more of the exciting blessings Abba has poured out on us this past week. 
happy weekend:) 
love Katie 

Pokhara, Nepal

Monday, April 15

what an adventure Kevin and I had this last weekend in Pokhara, 
a lake-side village about 8 hours driving from Kathmandu. 

we spent the weekend boating on the lake, 
hiking up to the peace stupa (buddhist temple), 
and white water rafting down a huge river nestles between some very huge and incredible mountains. 

we laughed and ate
and mostly looked around at the intense beauty
and felt the majesty and awe of a creator who sculpted it all. 

and we almost died. 
true story. 
but i'll leave that for another post. 

I hope you can sense the beauty from these pictures! 
happy monday friends,
love Katie