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Elephant Adventures

Updated: Jan 16, 2021

I don't know about you, but it seems like after a New Year begins, there is a bit of a struggle getting back into your routine. You might think that moving to another country could change that. As it turns out, it does not. Haha.


Nepal doesn't run on the same calendar, schedule, routines, etc. as America. Especially in schools. The kids here (and most adults) have school or work 6 days a week with Saturday being their only day off. I DEFINITELY took that for granted in the states! Their one day off is usually also filled with things that need to be caught up on that were missed throughout the week and we squeeze in fun and playtime where we can, but it really is a challenge!


The kids recently finished their midterm exams and were granted three total days off from school. To say they were excited about their holiday would be an understatement! Because 2020 was, you know....2020, the kids had not really been out to do anything fun in almost a year. (Remember, there are 20 people in this house, it's a poor country, and there is only one car, so going places is not as simple as you might hope.) Also because they were stuck at home most of 2020, they have had SO much catch-up to do in school. And they have done so well!! We haven't received their test results yet, but the amount of time and energy they have spent studying would make American kids feel like they were being tortured by comparison. So you can imagine, when we found out about their three-day holiday after exams, we wanted to make it special for them!


There is a district called Chitwan less than two hours away from where we live that is known for elephants. And even though it is not that far away, most of the kids had never seen an elephant in person before! (This was especially shocking to me because I adore elephants and if I had grown up so close to them, I would have hoped to see them at least once a year! But then again, I am an American and am accustomed to privileges like that). So anyway, we made the plan to take them all to a town in Chitwan called Sauraha where we could ride and feed elephants.


We loaded up the one car we had and hired a school van and took the kids and some friends who happened to be visiting on the two-hour drive to Sauraha! (I feel like it should be noted that there were somewhere around 30 people on this trip....in two vehicles. You just make things happen here! Haha)


The kids LOVED the elephants! In all, we took four elephants through the jungle and saw all kinds of wildlife such as deer, wild boars, cranes, rhinos, monkeys, crocodiles, parrots, wild hens, butterflies, and I'm sure there are many more that I am missing! After the ride, we fed the elephants bananas and I was so happy to see one of the elephants that I saw last week (no judgment please! Hahaha) again yesterday! She remembered me and came right up to me and was looking for bananas. The kids were equally excited and terrified to feed the elephants. I wish I could show you their facial expressions! After our bananas ran out, we had a little picnic and headed home. Side note- isn't it funny how a day of doing practically nothing can make you so exhausted? All we did was ride in a vehicle and ride on elephants and yet, almost everyone took a nap at some point in the day and some of the kids slept almost 11 hours last night because they were so exhausted!


Today is a new day and all of our friends and guests have gone home. The kids have been excited to write to their new pen pals, so we wrote our first letters and talked some more about yesterday's adventure. And of course, all of their letters shared about Sauraha!


Time is such a unique thing, isn't it? In some ways, I feel like I have always been here. Other times, I feel like I just got here. One thing still stays the same though. The longer I am here, the more and more I know and hope to be here for a long time. Only God knows what that will look like and you'd better believe I am in constant prayer about all of the options and what God ultimately wants! But I don't know how to explain it. It is as if my soul just knows it will be here for a while. I will keep everyone posted as God reveals to me bits and pieces, but for now, I am perfectly content where I am and am thrilled to be able to love on these incredible kids each day while I am here!


Enjoy some photos from yesterday's festivities! :)




DISCLAIMER:

If you know me very well at all, you may know that my favorite animal is an elephant. When I lived in Thailand and would walk by the elephant camp nearby, I felt so much heartache for them. Buses and buses of tourists came all day every day to ride and even though the trainers seemed to love them and treat them well, they didn't ALL treat them well. And I don't know. I just felt better being on the ground feeding them bananas and petting their trunks and couldn't even bring myself to try to ride one. Yesterday was my first time actually riding an elephant. On a personal level, I'm not sure how I felt about it. It was fun, but I also wondered the whole time about how the elephant was feeling and if we were hurting her. She was 40 years old! And I know different trainers treat the elephants differently, so I was thankful that our guide was kind and fairly gentle with her. He would stop for her to use the bathroom, drink water, and even took us down paths that were not trails so she could snack on fruits and limbs that hadn't been claimed yet. And I don't know if it's normally like this, but it didn't seem like the elephants had riders all day long like Thailand. I still have mixed feelings, but had a nice time and am happy to have had the experience.

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