Author Archives: kmyvz

Day 13+ Where am I now?

Las Vegas
2001 ft/609m

I’m two years overdue writing this final post. Though I’ve spent a lot of time reflecting on this trip it’s taken me this long to get myself to sit down and share it. Here’s why: the experience led to great revelation but not necessarily to great change, and I find that embarrassing. Bear with me for a minute and I’ll explain.

Before this trip I didn’t know anything about Nepal and never desired to visit. But a friend of ours who’d done the trek before extended an invitation and my husband was enthralled by the idea. I was scared, as I usually am by international travel. I always imagine that a coup will break out or traffickers will slip drugs into my bag at the airport and I’ll end up in jail. (I never should have watched Brokedown Palace.) But I agreed to the trip and figured I’d turn it into an opportunity for motivation and growth. I’d been needing to get to the doctor for a checkup, which this trip required, and I wanted to address a longtime issue that’s worsened year by year: anxiety.

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Stop, In the Name of Love

A post is circulating on social media with the caption “Why isn’t this going viral?” It’s about a Chick-fil-a restaurant in Orlando which, despite being closed on Sunday cooked up and brought sandwiches and food to people waiting in line to donate blood following the Pulse shooting. The story is awesome, but the post is abhorrent.

It originates with a website that lands on the conspiracy end of the far-right spectrum. They think the media is out to get conservatives – Christians for sure – by always profiling the ugliest warts of the church but the most lovely Instagrammed images everyone on the political left. There is some research about media bias, but the problem really isn’t as bad as most people like to think. Being a martyr is fun!

The post is disgusting because this act of kindness is the very least that the Christian community should be doing in an event like this. And we should do it without fanfare, with faces hidden and our hearts crying out to God for grace and comfort for these hurting people. Who cares if the news pays attention, as long as the people in front of us know we are there to serve them unconditionally. There is nothing heroic about opening on your day off to provide comfort, because our doors, as believers, should be available 24/7 to whoever needs us. Whether we agree with their lifestyle or not. Whether they leave our presence and go straight back to doing whatever we disapprove of, we are to be their resource. We don’t get to have the details about how God is working in their life we are just called to provide our barn for them to sleep in, and a manger for their newborn.  My father always said “You don’t win awards for doing what you’re supposed to,” so no, you don’t get to go viral. We are the least of the least. It’s what we’re called to.

I know there are arguments against enabling self-destructive behaviors and that’s another conversation for another time. It’s the reason the body of Christ exists, so others can come alongside prodigal children or loved ones and bouy them up when family support would simply be destructive. This excuse is not a deal-breaker.

Author Jen Hatmaker made a great point on Facebook today about one problem with the way the church is responding to last weekend’s events. This is not an opportunity for any believer to pretend to be big-hearted. If you haven’t loved the gay community up until now, don’t pretend. Here’s a snip of Jen’s post:

“Can we have an important discussion together? And can we do it in love and respect?

I’ve been listening to my gay friends and leaders the last two days (Listening! It’s so 1991), and this is what I am hearing:

It is very difficult to accept the Christian lament for LGBTQ folks in their deaths when we’ve done such a brutal job of honoring them in their lives. It kind of feels like: “We don’t like you, we don’t support you, we think you are a mess, we don’t agree with you, we don’t welcome you, we don’t approve of you, we don’t listen to you, we don’t affirm you. But please accept our comfort and kind words this week.”

Do those words make you bristle? Then you may need to spend some time talking to God about your heart. About how, in your eager desire to please Him by what you think He wants you to do you have circumvented what He actually commanded.

Read the rest here.

Enough, Christians. Enough about viral news. Enough defense about every.way.we.are.persecuted. (We are not.) If you’ll look up for a moment and stop listening to carnival barkers posing as webmasters you’ll realize that we are in no little of having our religious freedoms circumvented. We still live in America, where we have the right to speak to our representatives and impact our government – using facts.

Hundreds of Muslims gathered to pray for the victims in Orlando yesterday. This mosque in Pennsylvania made a public condemnation of the actions of the shooter, if he indeed is trying to represent some radical Muslim theory. But instead I see my evangelical friends posting links to one video, of one Imam from Iran who was invited to speak at an event in Sanford, FL. He condemns gays and calls for their execution as an ‘act of mercy’. This is who Christians are choosing to give attention to? Then Satan has already won Christian hearts because he has made you afraid, angry, and protective of yourself. How can you possibly love in that condition?

Go without fear. Love with abandon. Serve with joy and live in grace.

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22 Things to Do Rather Than Stage an Armed Takeover

A group of armed men have have taken over a federally owned wildlife refuge in Oregon, protesting the way some local ranchers were treated by the legal system. Effectively, they’re bad parodies of squatters, since you’re supposed to wait until property is abandoned to try and take it for yourself.

While I support our American right and privilege to question our government, the way these people are staging their protest is making them a joke and it’s not going to accomplish their goals. Sure people are hearing about the Hammond case, but the protesters attempt to posture as modern-day knights is undermining any effective message. During American’s founding staging an armed takeover of someone else’s property might have made a statement, now it just makes you look like progress has passed you by.

If you want national attention – and concern – paid to a perceived wrongdoing by all means there are fantastic ways to make that happen. Look at the way Serial and Making of a Murderer have sparked conversation and analysis over long-settled criminal cases.

In 2016 if you want to invoke change then get involved in the legislative, corporate, or creative process. Learn how to talk to the media. Be respectful. We’re not in the Alamo age anymore, and, unless you’re wearing a uniform, you’re not defending America by standing there holding a gun.

Off the top of my head here are a few things one could do besides squatting on someone else’s land with a gun and a month’s worth of venison.

  1. Get a job in the industry you oppose in order to learn the methodology behind current systems.
  2. Volunteer at a homeless shelter.
  3. Write a cogent, spell-checked letter to your current local, state, and national representative. (Remove all run-on sentences)
  4. Run for a local, state, or national representative office.
    1. Think of reasonable, cost-effective, workable, sustainable ways to bring about change.
    2. Make those proposals to the people who matter.
    3. If they won’t listen, take your story to the press.
  5. Visit the gym. Do some yoga.
  6. Request interviews with local radio or television news shows to present your concerns and opinions. (If nobody will take you it may be time to reevaluate your thinking. The media may lean toward liberal but they’ll also take any story that will draw attention.)
  7. Join a society of Civil War Re-enactment. Or Lord of the Rings. Or whatever.
  8. Write a book.
  9. Write to your mother.
  10. Visit a veteran’s hospital and listen to their stories.
  11. Remove derogatory words and phrases – which weaken any and all arguments – from your vocabulary.
  12. Chaperone your kids’ high school dance.
  13. Talk to people who disagree with you, and really listen to their viewpoints to learn. Then, start trying to craft a better argument.
  14. Broaden your knowledge. Read The Kite Runner, or Mountains Beyond Mountains, or Long Walk to Freedom.
  15. Go for a hike.
  16. Visit with local people who hold opposing viewpoints to learn why they believe the things they do.
  17. Ask a cop what they think of your opinions and plans.
  18. Adopt a homeless family. Visit a shelter, find out what one family needs, meet with the mom or dad to help mentor them on their road to recovery.
  19. Sign up with CASA to become a Court Appointed Special Advocate for children in the foster care system.
  20. Volunteer to clean the bathrooms at your church.
  21. Take your significant other on a date doing something they’ve wanted to do.
  22. When you’ve done all the above, and still think armed, illegal activity is still your best option, call some Embassies and start exploring citizenship in another country.
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Day 11-12: Namche Bazaar to Lukla

11/17-18/2015
Namche Bazaar 3446m/11270 ft.
Lukla: 2845m/9383 ft.
17km, 11.1 miles, 7-8 hours hike time

We spent a day relaxing in Namche Bazaar and trying to transition our minds to reconnecting with reality. Namche has a measurably better wifi connection than other stops along this route so we all updated friends and family, sent photos, and shared them with one another. We also kind of quietly retreated into groups of two or three, picking cafes or bars for lunch or a drink rather than congregating in the communal dining room at our teahouse. There is definitely a sense that the worst is over. Where once the team was our focus, now exploring the local experience is more prevalent on our minds.

I was still tired but felt better after a solid night’s sleep. I went out to stock up on the local cold meds, using my pantomime skills to explain to the Nepali woman that I needed relief for a cough and (now) head congestion. I wandered the streets for a bit, enjoying the warm sunshine and odd sites you only find in towns like this. I found an ATM and marveled that 400 rupees will tide me over for a long time here in Nepal and only cost me about $40USD.

Farming outside Namche

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Day 10: Pheriche to Namche Bazaar

11/16/2015
Pheriche 4371m/14340 ft.
Namche Bazaar 3446m/11270 ft.
19km, 11.8 miles, 7-8 hours hike time

Unfortunately I was awake and coughing for a lot of the night in Pheriche and I was horrified to hear that I kept our neighbors awake too. They offered me cough suppressant the next morning. I felt terrible doing this but I declined since Ryan had told me it was best to just let all these mountain maladies work through your system. It’s faster, he said, when you don’t take a lot of meds that suppress but prolong the symptoms.

We’d decided to head to Namche Bazaar in one day so we could have an extra day there to relax. The trail is mostly downhill, but there’s a lot of distance to cover. We’d done this stretch in two days on the way up to help deal with acclimatizing.

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Day 9: Kala Patthar (Gorak Shep) to Pheriche

11/16/2015
Summit of Kala Patthar 5643m/18514 ft.
Pheriche 4371m/14340 ft.
10km, 6.2 miles, 3-4 hours hike time

When our group descended Kala Patthar we found the rest of our team packed up and waiting. Even though we were headed downhill it was getting late and we wante to get to Pheriche for the night. We hurried to grab some tea, replenish our water, and get going.

The summit of Kala Patthar had been windy, cold, and dry and by the time we left I felt my chest constricting and a rattling in my lungs. Departing Gorak Shep took us up a small rise, and as I climbed I kept looking around and lifting my earmuff to listen for a repetitive, soft whistling noise that was bugging me. I thought it was coming from someone’s pack. When I finally took my earmuffs off and heard myself breathing I realized I was making the noise. I laughed. When I go to the doctor’s office with my all too regular bouts of bronchitis, they ask if I’m wheezing. I tell them I don’t think I am because I don’t know what that sounds like. Well, apparently it sounds like this, and I knew it instantly since so many people have described it to me.

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Day 9: Kala Patthar (we made it!)

11/15/2015
Gorak Shep 5164m/16942 ft.
Summit of Kala Patthar 5643m/18514 ft.

Kala Patthar is brown, snow covered Pumori behind, Gorak Shep bottom right corner Image: Nepal-dia

From Everest BaseCamp you can’t actually see Mt. Everest, it’s blocked by smaller, closer peaks. The only place for a rookie like me to get a good look at the peak – besides a distant view from Namche Bazaar – is by climbing a ridge above Gorak Shep called Kala Patthar. This is really the goal of this trek but since nobody has heard of Kala Patthar it’s just easier to say you’re going to EBC.

Kala Patthar is just a small peak, too small to qualify as a mountain, and it’s part of a ridge up to the mountain Pumori. The “summit” is 18,500 feet but we started from 16,900 feet at Gorak Shep, so it’s a steep 1,500-foot climb that takes 90-120 minutes. Many people leave pre-dawn to catch the sunrise over Everest but, after a long day yesterday we decided to sleep in. We left at 6am.

Last night was quietly joyful as we reveled in our success and also worried a bit about our friend who was on oxygen. You definitely notice the altitude here through the cold, dry air and a slight headache. It was no surprise that the bedroom here was the coldest yet. I so wished I could just curl up by the wood stove in the dining room. Even though I was in the habit getting into my sleeping bag before changing into the long johns I slept in I was still shivering. I used my clothes and jackets as a makeshift blanket on top of my bag.

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Day 8: Base Camp

After a quick stop for tea at Gorak Shep a few of us hurried on in the late afternoon. And here we are at our first goal, 17,600 feet, the site of the Base Camp for Mt. Everest expeditions! (And yet this was not the most exciting day, stay tuned for tomorrow.)

I’d forgotten that the weather window to summit Everest comes in the spring so was surprised to find the area deserted. A pile of stones strung with prayer flags marked the unofficial entrance, overlooking the Khumbu glacier and icefall, and the rocky valley floor where camp is built. After brief disappointment, the isolation and history of the area turned the moment magical.

Base Camp is set up in the flat area circled in black in the center of this photo. The Khumbu Icefall, which is the first step up to Everest, follows the red line, and the Khumbu glacier follows the green line on the right. Continue reading

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Day 8: Lobuche to Gorak Shep to Base Camp

11/14/2015
Lobuche: 4930m/16175 ft.
Gorak Shep 5164m/16942 ft.
Base Camp 5360m/17650 ft.
6-8km, 4-6 miles, 7 hours hike time

Terrain: A steady sloping up on a rocky trail that alternates between valleys and hillsides.

A fun surprise for us at Lobuche as we reconnected with two team members who’d split off at Namche wanting to move faster and skip Base Camp on their way to climb Lobuche peak. It was fun to catch up and hear that they’d made their goal and were safe and sound.

The teahouse was the most crowded yet, not unlike a Colorado ski lodge during spring break. I noted the ratio of women to men, probably in the range of 4 to 1, and most people looked like serious climbers. I suspect this must be a launch point for expeditions to many of the nearby peaks. Continue reading

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Day 7: Dingboche to Lobuche & The Valley of Ghosts

11/13/2015
Dingboche: 3867m/12687 ft.
Lobuche: 4930m/16175 ft.
8km, 5 miles, 5.5 hours hike time

Terrain: Rolling hills climbing above the treeline. Surrounded now by the big peaks.

In 1996 journalist Jon Krakauer signed on with an expedition to climb Mt. Everest. He was, and is, both a climbing fanatic and a writer, on assignment for Outside magazine to research the recent boom in climbing outfitters taking people up the mountain.

The story of the blizzard that engulfed the summit, trapping several climbing parties and killing 8 people, is well-known. Until the 2014 avalanche, it was the largest loss-of-life in a single day on the mountain. The very commercialization Krakauer was there to research is blamed for a large part in the tragedy.

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