Wednesday, April 10, 2013


Monday & Tuesday, April 8-9, 2013

Dear Family & Friends,

I had been dreading our long flights to Nepal and the 8+ hour layover, but it was not so bad after all.  I think it is because the Asians are such over-achievers, and when you fly on their airlines you feel so well taken care of.  We are flying Cathay Pacific and Dragon Air, and it reminded me of the times we flew Singapore Air to Singapore on our way to Indonesia--the planes are nicer, have more amenities, serve better food, and feed you all flight long.  We are now sitting in the lounge in the airport in Hong Kong.  It is the business lounge, and I can’t image what the first class lounge must look like, because ours is rather awesome.  You can even shower here.  We have a couch to sleep on, endless food selections, and Internet, all free.  Since we have just flown for nearly 16 hours and will be spending the entire day here, it is quite comforting.  Our flight to Kathmandu will be 7 hours because we have one stop.  We will be in coach instead of the premium coach that we enjoyed during our first flight, so we hope to survive our last leg (the plane was not full, so we luckily got to sit in an exit row).   It has been three years since our last trip.  We will be looking at proposed, newly completed, and old water projects while there.  The Area Welfare Manager will also join us after a few days.

We have met Elder & Sister Rempp (humanitarian couple in Nepal) by e-mail, phone and Skype, so we have become somewhat acquainted.  And as it turns out, Elder Rempp’s father was taught the gospel by my aunt, and she also baby sat Elder Rempp when he was a boy—how is that for another church connection?

Wednesday & Thursday:

It is now Thursday, very early in the morning.  I awoke at 1 AM after Jim wandered about.  Most hotels only give you a comforter without a sheet, so the air conditioner was too cold without the comforter, and too hot with it.  I got up, took a pain pill, and downloaded my pictures from the day.  I couldn’t believe all that had happened in just one day.

But I regress: We arrived by taxi to the Radisson Hotel in Kathmandu late in the evening and the manager gave us (for no extra cost and without us requesting) a junior suite—it is roomy and nice.  By the time we got to bed, after having showered and partially packed for the coming day, we had 4 hours left to sleep.  I comforted myself with the thought that it would be like flying…4 hours asleep on a plane would be really good, so I fell asleep quickly, waking at 5:30AM when Jim woke up.  We went down to breakfast just after 6:30 and were very surprised to see Rempp’s already there.  They were to meet us at 7:30 AM.  We had the buffet breakfast with them and their driver, and left at the 7:30 AM previously appointed time with our 2-day bag packed.

I was surprised at the difference in the terrain and air quality.  Our last trip 3 years ago was after the monsoons and everything was a verdant green from the brilliant rice fields to the endless foliage.  We instead saw dead fields, grasses burning to make way for new growth when the rains begin, and smoke-filled skies.  It took the usual amount of time inching our way out of town, only to be met on the cliff road with a major traffic jam.  It was either a broken down truck or accident that left us sitting there, jeep turned off, waiting our turn to circumvent the clogged road.  This delayed our trip for 1 ½ hrs.  Eventually we saw the problem (an overturned truck), and drove much faster afterwards.  We arrived at a nice restaurant high on the hills and had a nice lunch.

Waiting our turn to go, on the mountain road.  The problem turned out to be an overturned truck.

We drove in even less traffic, our skilled driver scurrying around slow-moving trucks, barreling down the mountain road.  Eventually we turned off and ended up in a town where we met a waiting Kiran, who is with CHOICE.  From there we drove to a new hospital, partially being used (the upstairs was still under construction).  This was a lovely facility with a dental section, a pharmacy, beds for birthing, examination rooms, labs, and even Western toilets, etc.  They previously had quite a turnover ceremony with about 1,000 in attendance.  The hospital was funded by various people, humanitarian groups, and local donations.  The ceremony was attended by Rakish’s brother (Rakish has worked with LDS Charities for years and is a wonderful humanitarian with connections to the government).  Rakish’s brother is a famous actor, and we heard that he drew quite a crowd of adoring girls and women.  LDS Charities funded the water that is supporting this hospital.  We all received little plaques from one of the doctors.  We also received the typical fresh flower leis, given with the ‘Namaste’ greeting.

The dental section of the new hospital, just one of three dental chairs.  (Mike, this picture is for you).

We continued onto the spring that was still under construction that is providing the hospital water and citizens nearby--this began the first of our Billy goat walks.  I had on my African shoes, which in this instance did not serve me well as we trekked to the water tank and then another, on narrow paths on the edge of the hills.  This walk probably took about an hour, but it seemed longer.  When we came down I changed my shoes to better ones for the next trek.  I had no idea how much exercise I was in for.

Our first trek of the day (higher path) to two water tanks supplying the hospital and local villagers.

We drove to another area and met with a very organized community that wants us to develop a spring high above their city (more leis and greetings).  We drove as far as we could up a narrow dirt road, and then began our climb up ancient terraced rice fields, all with a few inches of rice stubble, waiting for the rains.  This village was greener than what we had previously seen.  While at the beginning of this path we ran into other villagers who met us with yet more leis, but also smeared our faces with their red dust—we were quite a sight.  An older gentleman began to sing and dance and the villagers were also singing.  I joined this man in his dance, and then after a bit gently tugged at sister Rempp so that she could sing and dance with him.  She has been learning some Nepalese and has been trying to learn the words to this well-known folk song.

At first the walk was fairly easy and not terribly steep, so I kept up rather well.  Half way through I began to be passed by young men from the village.  Still, I was doing okay, but as the terraces became steeper and I was constantly twisting my ankle on loose rocks, I became a bit discouraged.  When nearly there I told the others I would wait where I was so that I wouldn’t hold them up.  The first group had already reached the spring.  As I stood there a fierce wind nearly blew me over, but when it died down I decided to finish my trek and meet up with the others (never say die).  The gentleman I had danced with decided at that point to help me along, and hauled me up the steeper transitions in the terraced and rocky terrain.  I reached the others, not feeling so old.  Once the man wrote on his hand (he spoke no English) what age he thought I was.  I was flattered because he put down 10 years younger than I am.  I thought he was referring to his age.  I wrote my age on his palm and then he put his age as the same.  After this he became one of several that I called my personal Sherpas (they are the ones who assist the climbers that come to summit Everest.)

This hike was to take 50 minutes, which I’m sure would have been true had they not had us in tow.  It had to have been at least an hour and a half to the top, and then 20-30 minutes back down.  My feet were sore, and my toe hurt from bumping into stinging nettle.  The afternoon cloud cover and winds made the walk more pleasant.  In the heat of the day I could not have made it.  We were all dying of thirst when we got back to the jeep.

At the top of our climb up ancient terraced rice fields.  I can hardly squat for the picture—I was so sore!  My personal Sherpa, still holding my arm, taking good care of me.

We arrived after dark to what Kiran called ‘the best awful hotel’ available in this city.  The room was rather pleasant and the hotel seemed fairly new.  It was only when we went to shower that we found the only problem—no hot water.  Sometimes these places simply have tepid water.  This one did not.  It felt a bit like it had come out of one of their springs.  As I yelped a bit, Jim told me not to be a baby…till he got in and added to my complaints.  We were filthy and sweaty so I braved the cold to feel clean again.  We realized we didn’t bring enough clothes, so Jim washed some of his.  I was worried mine wouldn’t dry, so maybe I’ll have more time tonight to wash mine.  We went to dinner with Kiran, Rempp’s and the driver, but all I really wanted was to drink so I gulped down my water and juice. We fell into bed at 9:30, completely exhausted and sore, but when Jim scrambled around at 1AM I was not able to return to sleep.  I can’t believe this was only one day…

Love, mom & dad, Jim & Karen, E/S Greding

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