Meet Our New Friend, Jackie

Since moving to Nepal we have made a lot of new friends and reconnected with old ones too. But there is one friend in particular who stands out from the others. There’s never been a time when he wasn’t happy to see us. He sometimes gets so excited he starts to shake. He’s not always the cleanest, but he’s really cute. He’s a pretty fast runner and he loves to eat! If you haven’t figured it out yet, our new friend is a dog! His name is Jackie. If you’re like some people and think that Jackie is a girls name, think of Jackie Robinson. That’s what I call him sometimes. I didn’t give him his name, the kids in the neighborhood informed me that his name is Jackie.

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Jackie lives on the same street as us, so we met him within our first week of moving here. Dogs in Nepal are usually left outside and not kept in a yard. That is the case for Jackie. He has free reign of the neighborhood, but he never strays too far from home. For being a dog that lives outside all the time, he sure is one of the most friendly dogs I have ever met! It always makes my day when I step outside the gate and there he is, or when I come home and he’s running down the road to greet me. He never fails to put a smile on my face. Now if any of you know me, (Sonja), then you know that I am a cat person. 100%. And I am still am, don’t get me wrong. But I have fallen in love with this dog! It could be that I don’t have to clean up after him, but that’s a discussion for another day. Cats are hard to come by in Nepal, they probably stay pretty well hidden because of all the dogs in the streets. Last year we did have a cat in our neighborhood here in Nepal and I fell in love with that cat too! Sadly, I have only seen one cat even close to our neighborhood this time. I love animals of all shapes and sizes, so it really is no wonder that a dog could steal my heart too.

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I know that Jackie doesn’t just bring me joy. The kids in the neighborhood like him too, although he is pretty scared of their soccer ball. His owner loves him too. I’ve had one conversation with her when she saw me petting Jackie. It wasn’t a long conversation since my Nepali is still a work in progress and she doesn’t speak English, but we were both able to communicate how much we like Jackie. I think that my love for Jackie brings other people joy as well. Just this morning he was outside our gate and two of the construction workers from the house next door were walking down the street and stopped to watch me pet him. I didn’t realize they were watching me, but when I looked up they had big smiles on their faces. I don’t know if that’s because they like Jackie a lot too (he likes to go into the construction area and hang out with the guys) or because they thought I was funny for how excited I got about a dog. Either way, it brought a smile to their face.

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I am so thankful that God created all these animals and that we can get so much joy out of them. “And God said, ‘Let the land produce living creatures according to their kinds: the livestock, the creatures that move along the ground, the wild animals, each according to its kind.’ And it was so. God made the wild animals according to their kinds, the livestock according to their kinds, and all the creatures that move along the ground according to their kinds. And God saw that is was good.” – Genesis 1:24-25. Animals are good, they are good indeed.

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A First Time for Everything

A few weeks ago we bought a new book called 52 Uncommon Dates. We enjoy going on dates and thought this book sounded like something fun to try. Even though we really enjoy going to our favorite restaurants and a movie all the time, it is fun to mix it up sometimes.

The first date in the book is titled, The First Time for Everything Date. Each date has Bible verses and things to pray about that go along with the theme of the date. We thought, we’re in Nepal, this should be easy to find things that we’ve never done before.

editedIMG_20170426_113206There are suggested tips in each chapter to help make the date happen. The first one for this date was Change your venue. You are supposed to start your date in a part of town (or new town) that you have never stepped foot in. Kathmandu is a very large city with over 1 million people, so it’s safe to say there are many parts of town we’ve never set foot in. We decided to hop on one of the buses and ride it until we were in a part of town we’d never been before. Don’t worry, we had google maps pulled up on my phone so we knew exactly where we were. We got to one of the bus stops near the airport and decided to make that our starting place for the date. We had driven through this area before when arriving or leaving Kathmandu, but we’d never gotten out and walked around, so we counted it as somewhere new.

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Tip number two was Expand your palate. Along with being in a new area, you are supposed to find the most eclectic restaurant and order something you have never eaten before. Being in Nepal, there are plenty of foods we have never tried before, so we thought this would be pretty easy. As we were walking along the road we saw Unique Food Cafe, and we figured a restaurant called unique surely fits into this date. Mitch decided to try the mutton curry and I had thukpa. I wasn’t even sure what that was, but the picture had noodles, so I figured that ups the editedIMG_20170506_115544chance of me liking the food. Our food arrived and I was quite enjoying mine until……I bit into a small, very spicy pepper! These peppers are hotter than jalapenos and I am not a fan of spicy food. My eyes started watering and my mouth was literally in pain. I had thought I was taking a bite of a green bell pepper, but I was very wrong. After that, I was a lot more careful about what was on my spoon before eating it, and had to pick out several more of these pepper pieces.

Also while we were at the restaurant we heard some loud music start playing right outside and we saw photographers and videographers and a whole crowd of people. After watching for a little while we realized it was a wedding procession! In Nepal, it is tradition for the groom to be picked up at his house by a band, and then walk to his bride’s house with the band playing the whole way. It was really neat to see and definitely added to the first time for everything experience.

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Tip three was Explore a new form of entertainment. We decided that since we were near the airport we would sit and watch the planes land and take off. It was something neither of us had done before and it was a lot of fun. We enjoyed trying to read which airline was written on the plane and trying to guess which direction the next one would be coming from. If you live near an airport and have never sat and watched the planes before, I would recommend it.

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The fourth tip was to Keep the conversation fresh. It said to declare your normal conversation topics off-limits and anything you’ve never talked about before is fair game. So we had a lot of fun coming up with weird questions to ask each other to get the conversation rolling, such as “if you could live in any TV show, which would you choose?” or “if you could be an imaginary animal what would it be?” My answer to that one was a flying cat. Definitely imaginary there.

At the end of the chapter it gives you questions to talk about before the end of your date about how the date went and if you enjoyed this type of date or not. Each chapter also gives tips on how to speak your spouse’s love language during the date.

On our way home, we even experienced something new on the bus ride. We got on a bus that was tall enough for Mitch to stand up straight, had a TV screen and speaker announcing each stop, and had a female working, collecting the passengers’ money. All of these things are not common for buses in Nepal. We have been on just a couple of other buses tall enough for Mitch, but we had never seen one announcing the stops in that way or with a female worker. It was neat that even the things we’re used to were “new” on this date.

Overall it was a very fun date and we created a lot of good memories. I don’t think I’d want to do a date like this every time, I do enjoy my favorite restaurants for a reason, but it was good to get out of our comfort zone and try something a little different. I would encourage all of you to do the same. Don’t be afraid, just have fun! “For God has not given us a spirit of fear and timidity, but of power, love, and self-discipline.” – 2 Timothy 1:7

Spread Some Joy

This past weekend we attended an Easter picnic with the employees of Purnaa. Picnics in Nepal are fairly similar to picnics in the States. There’s a lot of people, food and games. But there is one thing that is different. In Nepal, people like to get dressed up for picnics! It’s so fun to see everyone get dressed up, but still running around playing games.

The thing that really stood out to me at the picnic was the amount of joy from everyone there. You could just tell that they were having a good time and just happy about life. There was so much laughter and smiles going around, it was almost impossible not to laugh and smile right along with them. And that’s the thing about joy. It’s contagious. When you are with some one who is just happy about life and filled to the brim with joy, it’s hard not to catch some of that joy yourself.

IMG_6597It makes me think of a verse in the Bible. Romans 15:13 says, “May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in Him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.” If we give our lives to God, He will fill us with joy, hope and peace, to the point that we are overflowing and need to share it with others! The Nepalis’ joy at the picnic was a perfect picture of this for me.

And I think that we were able to add a little joy to their day as well. Some of them had found out that I used to be on the college dance team and so they had been requesting that I teach them a dance. The ladies in the HR department thought that the picnic would be a good time to do that. So I taught these 3 ladies the dance and our plan was to perform it at the picnic and then teach it to everyone there. But we wanted the men to know that it was a dance that they could do as well. So we had Mitch join our “dance team” and perform the dance with us! This definitely brought a lot of laughter and smiles. I always enjoy seeing my husband dance, but it was great to see him put himself out there to bring some joy to other people. Although, I think the 5 year old who came out to join us stole the show! To watch some of the dance, click here.

IMG_6312My encouragement to all of you is to spread some joy to the people around you! And it doesn’t have to be by dancing. It can be as simple as smiling and asking someone how they are doing, and really listening to their answer. Where ever you live, what ever you do for work, you come into contact with people. Be so overflowing with joy that it spreads to those around you. And if you don’t feel very joyful, ask the Lord to give you the unexplainable joy that comes from Him. “Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives; the one who seeks finds; and to the one who knocks, the door will be opened,” the words of Jesus in Matthew 7:7-8.

Cooking in Another Country

Sorry that it has been a while since my last post. Life has been a little crazy, but we are back in Nepal now! We have our own apartment and are adjusting back to life in Nepal. It has been great and we are loving it! But one part of adjusting is learning what and how to cook in another country. img_3078

In the States you can go to one grocery store and find just about every food you need. Well, in Nepal it doesn’t always work like that. There are a few larger stores that carry most items, but where we are living we have to make multiple stops to get all the items on our grocery list. We go to one store for our dry goods and meat, another store for our fruits and vegetables, and yet another store for our eggs. And on top of that, we have our milk delivered to our apartment. Grocery shopping takes a little more time here.

Another part of adjusting is figuring out how to make a recipe that you don’t have all of the ingredients for. That’s what happened to me a few nights ago. I don’t know about you, but I like to follow recipes. I’m not very good with just throwing things together and making it turn out great. My brother, on the other hand, is great at that! I must not have inherited that gene 🙂

My goal was to make a healthy version of chili from a cookbook I had recently received. Some of the ingredients I could find, but there were a few that I could not. On the list of items I couldn’t find was, ground turkey, canned beans, canned tomatoes, a red bell pepper, red wine and fresh cilantro. I know, that sounds like a big list, but some items had easy substitutions. For ground turkey I substituted ground water buffalo, for canned beans I used dry beans, for canned tomatoes I used fresh tomatoes and for a red bell pepper I just used a green one instead. Sounds easy, right? Have you ever cooked dry beans? I had not before this experience. It takes a long, loooong time! Needless to say, I ran out of patience before my beans got cooked as soft as I would have liked. But, I learned for next time to give myself more time.

So here we go, I’ve got my ingredients and I start cooking. When I get to the step to add everything together to bring to a boil, I realize that my chili is not very soupy. I don’t have any red wine to add to make it have more broth, so I think for a few minutes of what I can do. I don’t really want to add water because I’m afraid that might dilute it too much. So I go to my fridge and grab the milk that was just delivered that day! I think to myself, I’ve already changed so many things, why not throw another change into the mix! So I added some milk, hoping it would still taste good.img_20170216_183827

When it was done simmering I dished up a bowl for my husband and I and we sat down to the table. When I took the first bite, I realized that chili powder must not be the same in Nepal. My mouth was on fire! A word of advice, when going to another country, test out the chili powder before you add it to your food. img_20170216_183940

Other than my mouth being on fire and the beans being a little bit crunchy, the chili didn’t turn out too bad! I was pretty proud of myself. 🙂

So if you want to try something a little different, you can try my modified recipe of chili from Nepal! Here it is:

2 tsp. butter
1 medium onion, chopped
2 medium green bell peppers, chopped
2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1 lb. ground water buffalo, cooked (I don’t know if you can find that in the States)
2 cups dry kidney beans, cooked
1 cup cherry tomatoes, chopped
1/3 cup (roughly, I didn’t actually measure it) skim milk
1 Tbsp. chili powder
cheddar cheese

  1. Heat butter in a large saucepan over medium-high heat.
  2. Add onion and bell peppers; cook, stirring occasionally, for 5 to 6 minutes, or until onion is translucent.
  3. Add garlic; cook, stirring frequently, for 1 minute.
  4. Add water buffalo, beans (with the liquid used from cooking them), tomatoes, milk, and chili powder. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat; gently boil, stirring occasionally, for 20 minutes.
  5. Top with shredded cheese and enjoy!

 

 

The Adventures of Being Without a Home

It has been over 10 months since we have had a place to call our own. We have had our own room for a few months at a time, but not a place that was just ours. And you know what……that’s ok! It’s been an adventure for sure, but we have learned that there are more important things than having your own “stuff.”

We started a discipleship training school last September and that’s when this journey began. We were living in a dorm-style building where we had our own room and bathroom, but shared everything else. Then at the end of December, we went to Nepal, where for most of the time we had our own room and everything else was shared, including the bathroom. In May we returned to the States and have been traveling around staying with different friends and family for different amounts of time. It has been great! We will continue with this style of living for a few more months because we will be returning to Nepal in January! (If everything goes according to plan) So right now we are in the process of meeting with friends and family and getting things squared away to move back to Nepal. smallerIMG_3843.jpg

People have asked, “Is it weird to not have a place of your own?” My answer to them is, “Yeah, it’s a little strange, but it’s also great and eye-opening.” We have learned how to live on a lot less and how to live out of a suitcase. We have gotten to spend a lot of quality time with friends and family and share the love of Jesus. Those are the things that matter. God. People. “Stuff” doesn’t last and it doesn’t make you truly happy.

So, while I wouldn’t suggest being homeless for a long time, (because you don’t want to take advantage of others and you should want to take care of yourself) it does open your eyes to what’s important and what really matters.  smallerIMG_3343.jpg

Friendships Formed, Lessons Learned

Our first trip to Nepal is almost complete. We head back to the United States in less than a week. It’s weird how quickly five months can go. In the beginning I thought five months would feel like a very long time. But now at the end, I feel like it was hardly any time at all.

In the short five months we have spent here, we have learned a lot and made some really great friends. It will be hard to say good-bye, but hopefully it is just “see you later” instead of “good-bye.” Even with the language barrier at times, it was so easy to make friends and connect with the people we met, which was not how I thought it would be. We’ve learned many things while in Nepal and we wanted to share some of them with you.

  1. You can find friends any where you go. No matter where life takes you, God will bring people into your life to become your friends. You just have to put yourself out there and interact. People are usually willing to engage in conversation if you just try.IMG_1284
  2. Don’t let anything hold you back. Although we did not know very much Nepali and some of the Nepalis didn’t know very much English, it didn’t stop us from trying to connect and become friends. There are ways to communicate without words. Facial expressions and gestures are a good start, but you can connect with people other ways too. I (Sonja) experienced this by taking photos of/with people. Photography is a universal language. Most people like having their picture taken and seeing pictures of themselves. (Photo below by Mary Faber)Purnaa_Easter2016_117
  3. Love. Jesus tells us to love one another. He tells us to love our neighbor as our-self. Don’t let things like a time frame stop you from pouring out love onto those around you. We knew we would only be in Nepal for five months, but that did not stop us from loving the people we met and forming meaningful relationships with them. IMG_3075
  4. Don’t be afraid to try new things. Going into a new culture brings about a lot of new things to try. When trying new things, you will fail some times, but don’t let that stop you. If you have never failed, then you’ve probably never tried anything new. Trying new things is fun! It lets you experience some things that you might never have thought you would do. (Photo below by Mary Faber)Purnaa_Easter2016_85

If you’ve never traveled outside of your home country, we would highly recommend doing so. It lets you experience life in a different way and helps you to learn more about yourself and about others.

You probably won’t hear from us again until we are back in the States. Stay tuned for where God takes us on our next adventure!IMG_8471

Follow our adventure

Hello friends! Welcome to our blog. Our names are Mitch and Sonja Kraft. This is a blog about our lives and the adventures we go on. 2016-01-13 23.44.36-2.jpg

If you don’t know us very well, I’ll give you a few facts about us. We have been married for about 2 1/2 years and absolutely love being married. Mitch is a businessman and Sonja is a photographer. Some random facts about us, Mitch has an identical twin. He loves running and eating meat. Sonja is about 1 1/2 years older than Mitch. She loves cats and pasta. But most importantly, we both love Jesus and want to follow Him in every aspect of our lives. Mitch grew up in South Dakota and I (Sonja) grew up in Wyoming. We met in college in South Dakota and that is where we have been living. But currently we are in Nepal, which is quite the adventure!

Right now we are part of a team of 10 people, but soon most of our team will leave and we will stay in Nepal for an extra two months. We are very excited for this new phase of our trip and it will help us really see what it would be like to live in Nepal for a longer amount of time. It is a dream of ours that God would lead us back to Nepal after this trip. Nepal is full of wonderful, caring people and we are loving the people we are getting to know here. If you have never visited Nepal, we highly recommend it. And, as tourism is one of the largest industries in Nepal, you would also be helping the country out too! Win win. 🙂

Since this is just my introductory blog, I don’t have a lot to put on here, but I will share a story that happened today. We hopped on a bus this morning, and in Nepal, the buses are usually very crowded with many people standing. The bus we got on had all the seats full, which is not uncommon. A young boy, maybe about 10 years old, stood up and gave me his seat. It was just a simple act of kindness, but it put a smile on my face as I graciously said thank you.

Thanks for reading and we hope you’ll visit our blog again!