Tuesday, June 24, 2008

21 weeks and counting...

So, I've got a baby bump. I'm definitely in the "Gosh these pants are soo tight" stage and thinking that all of the tricks of fastening the button on my pants with a rubber band or getting one of those belly bands will be a necessity in the next couple of weeks. Here's a picture we took last week, when I was 20 weeks.

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Live from Nepal...

Here's the long-awaited update. Sorry it's so late - several of you have asked about it.
So, Nepal. The quick details of the trip are that we traveled for 3 days, hung out in Kathmandu for 2 days, and trekked for 15 days. Here's the break down of our trek:

3 days of travel to get to the Tazig region
9 men to carry our bags, tents, and kitchen supplies
11 days of trekking
1 day of rest
75 hours on the trails
over 125 miles of Tazig ground trekked

This is 'Dindy' carrying some of our bags. These guys carried between 50 and 80 pounds and trekked the same trails that we trekked. They are AMAZING!

The paths were varied - sometimes rocky, sometimes smooth, sometimes grassy, sometimes muddy, sometimes dry, sometimes snowy, sometimes sandy, sometimes incredibly steep, sometimes level, sometimes very narrow - only inches away from the edge of the mountain, sometimes wide, sometimes shaded by trees, sometimes uncovered and subject to the blazing sun, and almost always within the sound of the roaring river below or beside us! And one time, the path disappeared. Yes, I said disappeared. Apparently a there had been a landslide or something, so we just had to figure out how to continue and find the rest of the path on the other side. Our friend who invited us there led the way - he held my hand and led me through much of it. I was pretty scared and rightfully so. I mean, the path was unclear, we were walking on loose sand in some parts at quite the downward angle. In other parts there was literally enough room to place our feet on the land between the mountainside and the edge of the cliff. At this point, Daniel was holding my hand leading me and one of the porters grabbed my hand in the back to make sure I wasn't going anywhere. And...after much stress, we made it to the path on the other side!! God was faithful!!
At the highest point we, very unexperienced and slow hikers, hiked up to 17,400 feet. I can't really explain what that is like, but maybe it will help to say that we all commented a couple of days later when we were descending and were at 14,000 feet, "Ah, the air here is thicker and we can breathe more easily." Now, 14,000 feet is higher than many of the peaks we Americans ski in Colorado. That we were commenting on the ease of breathing at that height should give you some indication of what in the world it was like for us at 17,400 feet! We were never totally out of breath, but we'd have to pace ourselves as we ascended to that height. We would count out 50-100 paces, then stop to take 10-15 good breaths. It was crazy! But, oh-so-amazing.

One of our teammates said, "There aren't many things you do in life that you were unsure that you'd actually be able to accomplish and then are able to look back on it and say that you had in fact achieved your goal." And that's just what I feel like - there were many times I wasn't sure that I could make it to the 'finish line' that particular day. But, with God's strength in me, I did. And we all did!! And we've now experienced something not everyone gets to experience.

As for ministry, the trails were so difficult that prayer walking was also difficult. As we trekked we were very much focused on the next step and on breathing and getting enough water to stay hydrated. However, much of our ministry was being an encouragement to the man who invited us to come to Nepal in the first place. He said over and over how special it was that we would come and meet the folks he's been translating the scriptures for over the past several years. His family has yet to go out to the village because of different circumstances, and in his prior trips out there he's only gone with his language helper and a handful of others. We are the first from our church to come out to see his work. Looking back on the time we were with him, I believe one of our big purposes was to get to see this Valley where the Tazig people live. This is our friend's 'baby', and just as I know we will one day love having guests in our home to meet the little one who grows inside my womb now, he was just that excited to have us meet the Tazig people, his 'baby', and see what it takes to even get out to their village. For us, it was 2 days of travel from Kathmandu and 7 days of hiking up and over mountains and in rain and snow to reach these people.

Meeting and praying with a couple of the seven believers in the village was also part of our ministry. Can you imagine? Seven believers among the entire people?!??! And they live tucked away in a valley between the mountains - hidden. One night in the valley we met with two of the believers. We walked in the dark with our flashlights - not because we were going in secret, but it was just dark. (There's no electricity in the village. In fact, we weren't around electricity for 12 days.) Daniel made the comment on the way to the ladies' home, "It seems like we're going to visit people in the first century church." There was something really special about what we were doing. Something very holy. We were meeting with people who had chosen to leave Buddhism and follow Jesus. And, with little discipleship and no scripture in their language, they are following Him as babes in Christ. We spent the next hour or so in the home asking the ladies what we could pray for and praying over them. One thing that asked pray for was to grow in their faith. They recognize that even after 3-4 years of following Christ, they are still infants in the faith. The book of Mark has just been translated in their language, but they are an illiterate people, so the translation will have to be recorded and then it will be useful for them. For now, the Holy Spirit is their Guide.
Nepal was amazing. And we learned so much. We learned that when God told us to go to Nepal and gave us a peace about me going with the baby, that He wanted us to believe Him that He would take care of me and Daniel and baby Audi. And He did just that. We all came home healthy and the sonogram showed that the baby is growing just as he should. God is good! I often let fear overtake me while we were on the trek. Fear that something was wrong with the baby, fear that he wasn't getting enough to eat, fear that I was expending too much energy. I'm so thankful that I am married to a man of great faith - a man who regularly responded confidently and tenderly with, "God has sent us here and He is taking care of you and of the baby."

We return to the States with a sense of responsibility to pray for the salvation of the Tazig people and the growth of the 7 believers' faith. We count it a privilege to have walked among them and seen the land God has placed them in. Although they seem hidden and tucked away between the mountains to us, our God sees them and cares deeply about them! What an indescribable God!

Thursday, June 05, 2008

drum roll please....

We are off the hook for paying for a wedding for our first child! Yep, that's right...he's a BOY! :-) Here are his photos. Isn't he handsome!??! The first one shows he's a male. The next two are pictures of him, head on - his face is at the top and the two longer images on the left side of the picture are of his forearm with his hand right up against his temple and his knee scrunched up touching his elbow.
It was such music to our ears to hear his little heartbeat yesterday at the doctor's office after having taken him on a 2 week trek through the Himalayas and up to 17,400 feet. The sonogram man measured his head and femur, etc. and said that he is right on schedule for his November 3rd arrival date! We are so grateful for God's faithfulness to keep this little boy growing inside of me despite all of the energy I burned while trekking and despite the lack of fruits and veges while there. GOD IS SO GOOD! We are praising Him for our son.

A sweet addition to the story: After the sonogram I had to go to the bathroom. Daniel stood in the hallway, holding the sonogram pictures of our son. I came out of the bathroom to a teary-eyed husband who said, "That's our son!" It was such a sweet moment. Some of the sweetest moments of my pregnancy so far have been those moments with Daniel - hearing his tender comments after visits to the midwife. It's really been the greatest joy in this journey!
Here's a closer up shot of picture number three from the top photos.

Wednesday, June 04, 2008

31 Flavors for 31 Years

Daniel turned 31 on May 11 and we had a Baskin Robbins birthday party in order to celebrate. It was his fantastic idea to have it there since their theme is "31 Flavors". It was also his fantastic idea to have people bring gifts with a "31" theme. So...he got

31 strings of Twizzlers
31 ounces of candy
31 quarters
$31 gift card to Target
and other sweet gifts from friends.

We had a great time celebrating with absolutely fantastic friends! We are so blessed to have the friendships that we have here in Fort Worth. Great folks!
And then, we left for Nepal the very next day. More to come on that a bit later.