When I last wrote, Katmandu, Nepal was home. I had joined with the greatest human trafficking prevention team in the world and I was headed into the Himalayas. For safety purposes I can’t mention the name of that organization. Let’s call them Two40. Their unique vision is a great example of how weird missions can look, but how effective it can be when your heart is in it.
Two40 began with one purpose: To stop sex slave trafficking in Nepal.
First they built a breakfast style hotel to fund their mission and host others who shared their vision. Then they picked a village and went to work.
Two40 didn’t start small. They chose the number one village for sex trafficking in Nepal. Let’s call this village Geapa. Conditions were so bad in Geapa the newspapers claimed they were selling every young girl in the village.
When Two40 first arrived they found it was worse then they had imagined. There were Indian kingpins set up with guns, drugs, and money. They even had a helicopter pad for moving the girls through Asia.
Two40 educated the parents about what happens to their daughters when they are sold. Together with the villagers they discovered new ways for generating income. For example, they now have thriving fish hatcheries in Geapa.
Things have changed since Two40 first arrived. The village has done a complete 180. Most of the leaders have come to Christ. In just a few years time and Geapa has vowed to never sell another girl!
Following this success Two40aimed to reach another group of villages. That’s where we came in.Two40 sent my YWAM team to the front lines of this new effort.
They gave us two main goals.
Goal 1: Pioneer a new pass in Langtang National park through the Himalayas to these villages and scout a location for a new teahouse.
Achieving this goal would bring foreigners to their houses, generate revenues that didn’t exist, and reduce the pressure to sell their children.
We were the first foreigners to attempt this pass. Much less in the winter! On the 4th day we trekked 10 hours down frozen waterfalls and deep snow. At one point, the conditions were so bad, we reached a dead end.
The guide had to make a judgment call for our safety and take us around the mountain instead of straight through. After crossing the Gosaikunda pass and back to our projected course we began part two of the adventure.
My phone was stolen on the first day heading up the mountains. I’m glad I could rely on two amazing photographers on the team: Jacob Hopkins and Stacey Sipple.
Photos: The Trek
Goal 2: Locate endangered red pandas, take photos with them to prove our findings, and give the photos to villagers for advertising.
After 4 days of camping high in Himalayas and searching through the snow-covered jungles, we saw nothing. We only had 2 days left and our hopes were sinking.
On day 5, we split up as usual and went searching again. This day felt different to me. I said a quick prayer. I just knew I would see one right away, but there was nothing.
Then not a full 3 minutes later I looked through the small clearing ahead, and a red panda walked perfectly into my view! He stopped and turned to look at me. I was completely shocked.
They gave us a procedure to follow. If we saw one, we were supposed to whisper quietly to the others and gently stalk the panda until it climbed into a tree.
Once it was treed, we were supposed to wait for the team to come take pictures. This was not the case for me. I was so full of excitement; I started to whistle loudly and I sprinted after the red panda! Sure enough I lost him and we didn’t get the picture. Haha.
I feared I blew it with our only opportunity for a photo. But the next day in a total God moment, our guide cornered two of them in a tree and signaled to us for the photo!
We now have a rare photo of two red pandas in one tree, in the wild.
The impact of our trek and that red panda photo is hard to imagine. The average annual salary for the people in this village is $500. Now with each red panda tour they will double or triple that salary! It’s amazing to know I helped make this happen.
On our way back down the mountain, we stayed in villager’s homes and payed the people well for letting us stay with them. We were intentional with our love, making a mark on each home we visited. This lowered the chance that they might sell their daughters and blessed them in many other ways.
Photo: Camped and waiting for the red pandas.
Photo: Two Red Pandas
Photo: Because of our efforts, these village girls have a good chance at never being sold into sex slavery.
The Himalayan Mountains were cool and so were the red pandas, but to me the highlight of that trek was meeting a man named Tinzing. He was one of our two guides and the most humble man I’ve ever met. Tinzing was like a character from an inspirational movie. He reminded me of my grandfather.
Tinzing wants to build a teahouse on the pass where we had to take a detour. With Tinzing’s teahouse hikers will travel straight through the pass to the red pandas and then on to the villages without having to go around the mountain like we did. The cost is only $6000. In the future I would love nothing more than to help him do this.
Photo: This is Tinzing
Photo: This is where Tinzing wants to build his teahouse. Beside the frozen lake below.
After Nepal I returned to New Zealand for the DTS graduation. It’s official now. I’m a world missionary. I just graduated from one of the greatest missionary schools in the world!
I feel proud to be a permanent member of this wonderful community. I believe that YWAM is a big key to my future. I know I’ll be working with them again.
Everyone young and old should spend 6 months in a YWAM school. If you have any questions I would love to talk with you about it.
After graduation I spent another two weeks in New Zealand with a few of my YWAM friends. We hitchhiked the entire country south to north without spending a dollar on transportation (except for a ferry between islands), just trusting the right people to pick us up.
I made so many friends along the way. I met the coolest people and impacted them in many different ways. I also spoke to a group of teenagers and greatly encouraged them.
Photo: North Point, New Zealand.
Photo: South Point, New Zealand.
I could have come home right after this. But I had a wild thought and I wanted to test it out. “What if I put God to the test and see what would happen in two months of living intentional?” I wanted to live in the real world with the same mindset I’ve developed over the past 6 months. I wanted to show up in a completely random location and see how I could really make a difference.
So here I am now in Indonesia. I came here with no clue about where I would be staying or what I would do. My only goal was to make a difference for someone or some family before my time was up. I wanted to live with my heart set 100% on making a difference.
I’ll write more about this in my next blog, but for now let me say that my mind has been completely blown. You wont even believe my stories about the doors that have opened and the differences I’ve made! I can’t wait to tell you about it.
After Indonesia I’m taking some time for myself in Vietnam before I return to America. I’ll still look to make a difference, but I’ll be mostly focused on seeing sights and making friends.
After Vietnam I’ll meet up with my Mom and Dad in Los Angeles, California. I’m so excited to see them! My dad is speaking there again at Angelus Temple for Pastor Matthew Barnett and The LA Dream Center. Can’t wait!
After Los Angeles I’m going home to see the people I’ve missed so much in Virginia. It’s crazy to think I will be writing my next blog from home.
I want to say thank you to everyone who has been apart of my life and helped to make this a reality. You have literally changed me with your encouragement, prayers, and finances. You also changed so many other people—in several nations, in 8 months time.
I can’t wait to tell the stories and then focus on what comes next. See you soon!