“But the most beautiful things in life are not things. They’re people, and places, and memories, and pictures. They’re feelings and moments and smiles and laughter.”
The other day during a skype call with my mom she asked, “What is something that made you laugh or smile today?” The question took me back a little, and to be honest when she called I was not in the best of moods, so I had to think about my answer. Her question, though, has resounded in my mind numerous times as the weeks have passed on. I have always thought that laughter was one of the most amazing gifts God has provided us with. Our laughter is unique to us and I so enjoy listening to other people laugh. There is just something amazing about watching someone’s face light up with laughter. I can honestly say that one of my favorite things to do is laugh.
In my time here in Nepal there have been many frustrations and there have been things that have broke my heart bringing me to tears. However, there have also been many things in my time here that have made me laugh. These are the times I want to highlight in hopes of bringing a smile to your face as you read.
I do not know how many of you have spent time learning a second language, but in this process you are bound to say things that you did not mean to say. I have not yet said anything too embarrassing, but as I am getting more comfortable speaking Nepali to my language teacher she is feeling more free to laugh at my mistakes. Just so you know, Nepali people are some of the most lighthearted people you will ever meet and their laughter is contagious. The other morning for class I was tired and so I had made both of us a cup of coffee before starting the class. In the process of making coffee I was using my Nepali to ask how she was doing and if she slept well the night before. I then sat down at the table with my flash cards and what I thought I said was, “you say the cards and I will listen.” This is an exercise we frequently do so I can hear the correct pronunciation before I try and say the words. Anyways, what I actually said was, “you say the cards and I will sleep.” Since my language teacher knew what I meant to say, yet I looked so tired, she took this moment to tilt her head back and do a full belly laugh, leaving me no other option but to join in with her fun as I realized what I had said and corrected myself. Other times in my language learning she will maybe smile and nicely correct me but this day she just couldn’t help herself.
A reverse situation with language when someone tries to understand and speak English but pronunciation gets slightly misunderstood happened at one of my favorite restaurants. Here in Kathmandu, the capital of Nepal, many people speak English because it is a desired universal language. In fact, in most private schools half of the subjects are taught in English. So, I had taken my team leaders out to eat to say goodbye to them as they were headed out of the country for a couple of weeks. They had both placed their order and I asked for a virgin mojito (a mint and lemon drink) with my meal of chicken and potatoes. The waiter said our order back to us and I thought what was said was correct, so I said the order was correct and he left. After he left one of my team leaders looked at me and said, “Did he say mojito or burrito?” I responded, “He said mojito there is no way he said burrito.” As the drinks were brought out and mine did not come, though, I started to wonder. Then the food came, and I was served a burrito along with my other main course (yes, I eat a lot but not that much 😉). We all got a good laugh about this, although the poor waiter felt awful. Yes, I did eventually get my mint mojito, but it was just served with a great dose of laughter.
This Easter season for me was celebrated in a whole new way, as it was focused solely on the death and resurrection of our Savior and no emphasis was placed on candy or eggs. This was very refreshing to me, bringing a whole new perspective on the holiday. This year we looked back in the Old Testament and the different festivals leading up to the crucifixion and their meanings which was extremely eye opening for me. We then spent a full service talking about the crucifixion and another full service talking about the resurrection. My date to do a service this year happened to be over the resurrection, which to me is one of the most exciting services to get to do. However, when you are speaking to people who have never heard this story broken down before you are bound to get many questions. My favorite question this year that made me laugh was the question of, “Why did the women go to put spices on Jesus’ body?” To me this question was obvious as we have heard the story many times. Yet, in looking at this young girl, I realized that she was really confused. So, I asked what she meant by her question and her response was, “Why would they take spices like curry and put it on a body?” This response made me want to roll on the floor with laughter, but her expression and seriousness of the question kept me in check, allowing me to explain the tradition of putting spices like perfumes on the body in respect of a loved one.
Some of my other highlights are found in my morning workouts. These, as much as I have to talk myself into getting out of bed some days, are oftentimes some of the highlights of my day. From the dogs that bark at you or run beside you depending on the day, the children who smile and run with you for a short time, the shopkeepers who stare at you as you run by while they set up their shops for the day, to those who always run a similar route thus the familiar face and an out of breath ”good morning” or “good job” brings a smile to my face. On one occasion my team leader and I were carrying 5-10lb rocks up and down a huge flight of stairs for part of our workout. I was tired by the time we had reached the top for the third or forth time. Not really paying attention to who was around me, an older man stopped and picked up the rock I had been carrying just to see how heavy it really was. I guess he just needed to know. This gave my team leader as well as a couple other people around us a pretty good chuckle. The people here, as I have mentioned before, really are amazing and I am falling more in love with them with each day that passes.
Now I get to ask you–What made you smile today? What made you laugh? Each day we are given is such a blessing that is worth taking time to make memories, spend time with the people around you, learn from them, and laugh.
The next two months my team and I will be traveling to Humla. Keep us in your prayers as we go, that we would all stay healthy and that God would open doors. I look forward to sharing about our time when we return.