A story of Agriculture and how we can help.

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“Effort is the struggle to keep going against a mounting desire to stop.  It is a lack of effort that often limits us, not a lack of talent, time or resources.”

Just reading that, in a running magazine early in the morning truly helped me tie together two uniquely different requests coming from Nepal in the last week.  Effort is required of us.

Some housekeeping.  Thank you to those of you who have donated recently.  We are not at goal, but between prayer and your tithes, we will get there.  I have an inventory of blankets available for those of you who wish to purchase them.

Nav Raj update:  After completing his semester at Liberty, thanks to your financial contributions and prayer, he returned to Nepal and got a job as a Headmaster at a local school.  He immediately started implementing his learnings about curriculum and changed the school.  There is no school like it in the area.  He has submitted an application for his school to become the equivalent of a community college to teach sustainable agriculture to the next generation of Nepali farmers.  He has asked for help from us.

Some perspective is in order.  During the monsoon season, people plant rice in every available piece of dirt in the country.  They also fertilize the ground using every spare dollar available to them.  As a result, much of the land’s nutrients have been depleted, and in Dang, rice will not grow without copious applications of fertilizer.  The issue of dead soil has become such an epidemic that the government has set quotas on the amount of fertilizer that a farmer can buy.  As you can imagine, nearly every farmer has a working relationship with someone connected to the black market who can provide him with additional fertilizer so he can feed his family.

If you ask any Nepali farmer for his insight as to what happened and how to fix it, the canned answer includes a commitment to his family above his land (admirable) and a resignation that additional effort to address the problem of dead soil is beyond his reach.

That definition of effort has hit Nav Raj, and he is choosing the path less travelled and opening an agriculture school to give the next generation of farmers some additional tools to overcome this situation.  I am proud of him!

When he was living with us for a month, we often talked about agriculture, and he watched the large combines harvest corn at a rate measured in acres per hour.  He saw the trucks spread the chicken crap on the fields that we use to grow the next crop of soybeans, and he listened as I translated stories of the cycle of how farmers rotate between wheat, corn and soybeans on a two year cycle.  He saw the use of pesticides but not the use of wholesale fertilizer.  He saw that we would and could plant corn without first tilling up the soil, and he was fascinated.  If I could do a direct translation of his summary, it would, “this is not that hard and not impossible, either.”  He has taken the proverbial yak by the horns, here.

When he was a young boy, I would go to his house and visit with his parents tilling the fields with their hands and make wonderful use of the limited space available to them.  His mother was, and is, a wonderful cook, and she can prepare a meal fit for a king using only what was in the back yard.  In fact, the memories of that way of living impact how my wife and I live today.

Nav Raj’s plan includes exposing the next generation of farmers to newer sustainable ways of farming, and that requires Internet access and equipment.  He wants us to help the school buy some computers.  Since the price of a computer makes them out of reach for nearly all farmers, he can’t ask them to provide their own.  His idea is founded, has merit and has community approval.  All that is lacking is some money.

Do you remember the last time we got a request for computers, and I sent out a mass email?  We got some $, but we also got 50 computers donated to us only to learn that we couldn’t legally get the computers to Nepal, due to recent legislation that prohibits the import of used technology.

My first response was to ask everyone for computers (again) and get some colleagues and employees to go through them, one at a time, to confirm that they worked.  I would then ship them to Calcutta and have NR meet me in Calcutta, and we would overland transport them to the Nepali border and sneak them across.  Much of my previous work in Nepal was successful in the eyes of the local community, because I didn’t hesitate to break the rules and play Frank Sinatra and do it “my way.”  With great pride, I still recall stories of getting around the laws at the time to build a school or get an official to deliver seedlings to start a nursery.  To be frank, my heart yearned to return to the days of my youth and go rouge.  I imagined that I could bypass the tariffs and probably get a pallet of computers into Nepal for cost of a single Ben Franklin and a bottle of Jack Daniels at the night shift officer in a remote town on the Indian border.  Been there.  Done that.  It works.

Really.  It would work.

Enter Christianity.  Romans 13 says that we are to obey government.  Those who refuse to obey the laws of the land are refusing to obey God.  I so want to take on this adventure….when I got the request, my first thought was “when can I go to India for two weeks?” and I began to review my calendar.  Professional events, personal goals, parenting, fathering and commitments as a scoutmaster give me few windows of time to do this….but there were a couple.  Then, at 3:30 am during some quiet time, it dawned on me that this would not be God’s will but Jeff’s will.

Nav Raj’s request is for computers….legally!  For us, that allows only for the donation of money to be used for the purchase of legitimate computer hardware within the country.  One computer used to cost $300.  However, currency valuation if very much in our favor.  The Nepal Rupee is indexed to the Indian Rupee, and the Indian Rupee has lost much of its value against the US Dollar and Euro lately, so our money goes almost 50% further than it used to.

I would like to send him money for the purchase of 4 computers.  That amounts to roughly $1200.  If it is on your heart to help correct farming issues for a valley of 600,000, step up.  I am committing to sending him the $ to buy one.  I am seeking three more takers of $300 each.

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