What I’ve began to notice, is, that time doesn’t exist in your mind abroad. You just experience it. You feel it in the moment. It’s as if I’m always mindful.
We were on an outreach this past week, 8 hours away from our original home. The ride was magnificent – I stuck my head out of the jeep window, closing my eyes and remembering the similar feeling in Uganda when I rode on motorcycles.
I was asleep when we pulled into the facility. When shook awake, I realized I wasn’t wearing the traditional (and modest) kurta, but instead a comedic $1 shirt from goodwill. I frantically pulled a kurta over myself. We were given welcome scarves of bright colors. An older man greeted us (who I presumed owned the land), shaking our hands. “While you are here, you are home. I am your grandfather.” We sat down in the living room, given black tea. It was sugary, warm, and delicious. I was grateful when half my team mentioned that they couldn’t drink it, as I pulled all the teas closer to me in a hugging motion. Bless these sweet mormons. After, they served us some of the best Nepali food you can imagine. The rice and lentils were perfectly warm and fluffy, and the sides of potatoes and curry were flavorful and tasty.
That day, grandpa showed us around his property. It was a big chunk of land, with cows, gazebos, a clean kitchen, and a new building being constructed. The rooms we were staying in had ceiling fans, but the beds were hard as rocks. It would have to do. I took a couple minutes to rest afterwards, until my coordinator’s knock woke me up. “He’s asking for the artist,” he said through the door, “come on out.”
A large, rocky fountain awaited me. Dusty and not in service, I was curious what he wanted us to do with it. “Paint a mountain.” Grandpa said.
You got it, gramps.
After we coated it in plaster, we started to paint it grey. The paint was thick, and solidified almost instantly. We painted the inside blue, as if there was a waterfall. The walls on the sides were a darker blue, with puffy clouds scattered around. Running on multiple cups of black tea every 5 hours, I felt unstoppable. In a team of 3, we finished most of it by the second day.
Later I learned that grandpa served as a civil engineer in America way back when, earning his wealth with dignity and grace. The old man grew on me, always greeting the team with a smile and asking how the food was (we always replied that it was delicious, of course). He snuck up behind me a couple times, covering my eyes with his hands. “Guess whu!” He’d say. It was so adorable.
At night, the team would gather to learn Nepali together. Luckily, one of the volunteers learned to speak it almost fluently over a mission. After a group lesson, we’d carry plastic chairs outside and engage deep talks. After everyone else would go to bed, I’d climb to the roof and sit cross-legged, pointer finger and thumb touching over my knees. Soon the sound of the crickets and howling street dogs would fade out. I would imagine myself in a pine tree forest, light rays warming over me. Every random thought that would pop into my head, I’d watch as a fox (representing the thought) would run past, leaving me in a state of tranquility again. It wasn’t easy, a lot of the foxes that ran by had to do with food I’d been craving. Oh, there goes hot wings.
What I’ve learned:
- The illuminati is real
- Meditation also is real, and I have started to get the hang of it
- I now have a Nepali grandpa
- All the paint never comes off