The Himalayas and Pokhara, Nepal – viewed from the World Peace Pagoda.
I’ve been listening and watching for more than a few decades now. And I’ve got a story to share. It’s true, every word. It takes a few hairpin turns, so hang with me.
Not long ago Jon traveled to Nepal on a missions trip. http://www.globalmissionnepal.org He had an incredible experience, met many wonderful people.
Near Death By Elephant by Allie Taylor
Chitwan National Park – Bharatpur, Nepal
The scenery was amazing, the Himalayan mountain vistas breathtaking.
So transportation looks a little different in Nepal. (Butwal, Nepal)
Chitwan National Park
One morning early early, Jon and several team members set off to experience local culture on an elephant ride. The taxi driver cheerfully dropped them off and waited.
They saw the rough-hewn sign “You ride at you risk”, but didn’t pay much attention.
If you’ve not ridden an elephant before, it’s an experience to remember. (Even if all goes well.)
You climb a very tall platform and wait for the elephant to come by for mounting. The elephant’s back holds a tiny wooden platform with rails all around. Four passengers sit on a proportionately small platform, straddling corner posts. (Let’s just say, I’m thankful we already had our children?) It is uncomfortable at best. The driver’s “seat” is the elephant’s neck.
This elephant across the way gives an idea of the tight quarters. (Note the large stick in the driver’s hand.)
Early on, Jon’s elephant halted for a significant potty break. One would think he’d be “relieved”, but it seemed to have just the opposite effect. For some reason the elephant got spooked, angrily jerking the wooden platform to the far left. Jon and the other three passengers instinctively leaned hard right. Then the elephant slid the entire platform hard to the right, so the riders nervously scrambled left. Not sure what happened next and in what order, but sadly, the elephant driver beat the elephant on the head with a stick. Understandably, the elephant didn’t care for the treatment. As velocity increased, the Nepalese driver shouted back words of comfort to his passengers: “This elephant VERY MAD!”
It was a close call, but all’s well that ends well. The elephant eventually calmed down, but the damage was done. The terrified riders were never more thankful for solid ground and vowed never again to ride an elephant.
As they got back in the taxi, the cab driver said cheerfully, “You know elephant riding very dangerous?” (Thanks buddy. Timing is everything. He’d been cheerfully mute at drop-off.)
Meanwhile, back in suburbia, the boys and I fended off wild turkeys on our way to school one morning.
The next morning was rainy, and Jon still gone. Our littlest got sick. The older boys all had early dentist appointments before school. Realizing it would take ages to reschedule three early morning appointments together, we forged on.
I stayed in the car with my little sniffly guy. While waiting, dire weather forecasts and ominous radar maps poured in on my phone. There were flood predictions and potential road closings. The boys finally came out from their appointments. Two reported they needed orthodontic work. Another noted a couple of the tires were low. VERY low. We drove at a snail’s pace in the pouring rain to the nearest gas station for air. Cars honked, frantic fingers gestured towards the tires. I grimaced, nodded and kept on rolling. “Just keep swimming, just keep swimming.” The predicted monsoon was now in full force. Simultaneously, one child’s nose poured. Another howled of imminent death from the “hydrochloride” the hygienist had purportedly used.
The short of it is this: we made it to the gas station. We scrounged up the necessary quarters for the air infusion. We got drenched in the process. No one melted. No one died from hydrochloride poisoning. And we arrived safely home to find city workers raking leaves off the street drains out front. (Never have we seen that before.) “When it rains, it pours.” Morton had it right. And somehow we survived, phew. (We later discovered a screw in both tires. Suspicious.)
So here’s the uncanny twist. Just a few mornings later, I was in the car downtown, fairly close to home, running errands. Jon called in from Nepal, his time difference nine hours and forty-five minutes ahead of ours. I picked up the call and we chatted a minute. I was headed north on Maple Street, and suddenly found myself in a bad situation: police cars everywhere, lights flashing, TV cameras in abundance, folks directing traffic. There were at least twenty emergency vehicles and police cars.
So I say, “Jon, this is crazy,” and explain the situation.
“Oh yeah,” he says. “There’s a lockdown at the high school right now. There’s a weapons threat in a nearby house.”
Excuse me? I’m here. He’s seven thousand miles away. I have no idea what’s going on. He does?
WHAT IS WRONG WITH THIS PICTURE?
Apparently local news of the lockdown flashed across his phone screen just prior to calling.
But this is what really gets me. In this technological age we live in, we often don’t know what’s going on around the corner, but know what’s going on around the world. We have a boatload of overwhelming information, but lack the ability to make tangible difference in the heartbreak and tragedy we see globally. We feel numb, powerless at times. We have so much information, but often lack personal relationship. And we were created for relationship.
I hope to be around to listen and watch for a few more decades to come. But I want to be more than a mere spectator. I want to be a player. A player who poignantly cares about the needs locally and around the globe, but isn’t paralyzed by them. I’m intending to spend more time “thinking globally, acting locally.” How ’bout you?
Beautiful Phewa Lake – Pokhara, Nepal