Tuesday, November 23, 2010


I left for Nepal with the goal of getting to know a new culture and hopefully making a difference in a few people's lives. What I didn't expect, was that the effect they would have on my life in return, would be much more powerful.

From the moment we arrived in Pokhara, we were constantly showered with blessings, flowers, ceremonial scarves, and smiles from the locals. I was afraid that, this being a blitz build with almost 500 people from around the world, that we would completely overwhelm the village and they would distance themselves from the mayhem. Instead, this was the event of a generation. Even the President of Nepal came to the town for the closing ceremony! They embraced us whole heartedly. We worked side by side with one another and by the end we were family.
Their hospitality knows no bounds. I've experienced nothing that can compare. They have so little, but they gladly gave us the food they had, literally offered us their bed to sleep in when we returned to visit, and without hesitation would hand you the shirt off their back if you were in need. I'd like to think that I could be as selfless in the same situation, but the reality is probably a very different case. I have more than I know what to do with and still get annoyed at times when asked to make any sacrifices.

They invited us to a special house dedication ceremony where they asked each of us up individually to have a handmade flower lei and a ceremonial scarf placed around our necks, a traditional hat or handkerchief placed on our heads, they gave us a bouquet of flowers, blessed us with red powder, and gave us a tearful hug. Their willingness to share their culture with us and the gratitude they so obviously felt touched my heart.

By far, the most humbling moment of all, was when Kamol, a young Nepali guy we were working with on the site gave me a goodbye present. He has practically nothing. He is the sole bread winner for his entire family, and struggles to find enough work to support them. Yet he always had a smile on his face and I never once heard a complaint escape his lips. We got to know him and his story bit by bit throughout the build. He taught us a few Nepali words, demonstrated the local construction techniques, and became a friend. Every day he wore a silver bracelet to work with a Buddhist blessing inscribed on it. It was one of the few possessions he could call his own and it was obviously very special to him. On the last day as we were all saying our goodbyes, he took off the bracelet, placed it in my hand, and just smiled. I was blown away. I tried to refuse, but he insisted that I take this blessing home with me and I couldn't say no. No gift has ever meant more to me.

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