Yesterday we celebrated freedom of various kinds.  We began the afternoon by visiting the Children's Model Higher Secondary School where nine of our Mitrata students attend.  They had just completed their last exams that morning, and were looking forward to their summer vacation.  When asked, "How do you feel?" the most common answer was "Free!"  Always accompanied by a great big smile.  And the smiles continued as they opened the letters and viewed the photographs from their sponsors, which mean so much to the children.  It is a connection half-way across the world.

Later that evening, Leena and Yogesh Satyal and their family hosted Rick and myself for dinner.  As it was Passover, a Jewish holiday celebrating the Jews' escape from slavery into freedom, Rick led us all in a very special Seder meal.  He read passages from the Haggadah, a booklet containing the prayers and rituals for the Seder meal, and explained the story of how Moses led his people out of Egypt and into the promised land.  We were invited to reflect on the ways in which we today are enslaved and how we might strive to free ourselves and others.

This particular Seder meal was unique, as it blended both traditional Jewish foods and Nepali foods.  We partook of matzo, an unleavened bread signifying how the Jews had to leave Egypt in a hurry, even before the bread had finished rising.  We were reminded of all of the refugees in today's world who have to flee oppression. And we partook of delicious traditional Nepali food, lovingly cooked by the Satyal family.  Our favorite might have been the dessert, gulab jamun, rounded dough balls soaked in a sweet syrup.  And overlooking the entire meal was the beautiful picture of Lord Shiva, the Hindu God who held the poisonous water in his throat in order to protect his people.

Our stories are unique and yet universal.  Sharing those stories with each other enriched us all.  When leaving to return to our hotel, Nirvana Home, we discovered that Yogesh's car battery wasn't working.  And then my camera lost its mind and continually flickered, rendering it unusable.  And so we were quickly plunged from the sacred to the mundane.  But then, that is life, isn't it?  Filled with challenges, but also with unforgettable moments when we celebrate our freedom and our deep connection with each other.

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