Wednesday, June 25, 2008
In the meantime, I have to integrate myself back into this Western society. And when I get the chance, hopefully I can share with others the lessons God has accomplished in these last four months. This may be the last entry for this blog, or in two years, or three years, more entries will be posted. God knows! (Posted by Ken.)
To tell you the truth, none of us really wanted to leave Nepal and return home to Canada, even with the sporadic water supply, frequent power outages, garbage-strewn streets and permeating pollution in the air. It's the people whom we grew to love that we missed already even before we left. They became part of us and we them as our lives inter-twined, suffering the lack of water with them, rejoicing when the rain came or when God filled the well, as well as seeing His regular answers to prayer - and learning from THEM how to really pray! What can we say? We left part of us back in Kathmandu.
But here we are back in Canada where it was so good to breathe fresh air, turn on the tap and get not only readily accessible water but HOT at that, enjoy the clean streets and see stop signs, street lights and lane markings! And no constant honking!
But alas, when I entered my super-clean house (thank-you, Kurt & Heather!) and went into our bedroom, the sight that greeted me actually made me somewhat angry. Even after all the yard sales we had last fall to raise money, my room is still full of stuff - stuff that requires my attention whether to clean it, dust under it, arrange it, find a place to put it. How is it that I managed to live without all this stuff over there? How come I never even missed it? And now I have to deal with it all. I felt annoyed and angry. My first thought was, "Okay, maybe we can do another yard sale and get rid of it." I mentioned it to the girls and their response was, "Yeah, I have stuff I want to get rid of, too." What, did we miss it last fall in the yard sales? Or have we learned to live with less? We are so rich here, so full, there is hardly room for God to move. In fact, my own spiritual walk took a tumble when we came back. Nobody's fault but my own. There just isn't room for God here, since our every need is taken care of by our efficient society. I need Him to help me re-focus, make time for Him in my busy-ness (you know the old adage: I owe, I owe, so off to work I go!'). We're thinking of having a Nepal night where we turn off our electricity (and maybe water?) and pray for our brothers and sisters over there. We never want to forget. May God keep changing us so that we don't regress here in our satiated country, and keep our other family close to our hearts as they live their simple lives. Who is really richer?
Sunday, June 15, 2008
Then we arrived at Raju's parents' home. They are the folks who had just been baptized by Ken and Alexander Venter last month. They are in their mid-sixties and a wonderfully warm couple who put us up for 2 nights. It gets quite interesting when they have no electricity because it really gets dark without any city lights. And when you have to make your way to the squatty potty down the road, a flashlight would have helped (but fortunately we had brought candles). But their toilet is really well-engineered! (I won't go into the details). We also met Raju's grandfather while we were there, as he lives with them. He is 87 and is also coming to believe. They are thinking he may be ready for baptism as well (I'd love to be there for that!) We also met a woman and her 2 children whose husband has abandoned her since she refuses to give up her Christian faith. She now has no home but lives with whatever friend opens their house. Raju's parents are trying to have her stay in their 2nd home but, unfortunately, his grandfather isn't prepared to have a low-caste person reside with them. She works in their fields (of which they have many) in order to help pay for her children's education. Somehow she manages.
On our last evening there was when I met with an accident. It was really quite trivial, after having walked 3 hours down one mountain, 1/2 hour down another to the river to swim, and 1/2 hour back up the rocky terrain. I simply stepped in the dark down one single stone step, except off the side rather than in the middle, causing my ankle to wrench somewhat painfully. Well, Pastor Raju grabbed my ankle and I heard a tiny snapping noise. I thought he may have put something back in place. I don't know. I felt faint so I lay down, and his father massaged my ankle with some ointment. I didn't feel like putting pressure on it so, when I went to bed, I just kept it elevated. Sleep was somewhat elusive so what better thing to do than pray? Well, in the morning, I was informed that I MUST walk; there was simply no other way to get back home. So again they prayed (how glorious that Jesus' saints around the world all have the power to pray!). Then they prepared a 'home remedy' of boiling salt water and applied these HOT cloths to my ankle several times, after which I managed to walk (or rather limp). His father provided me with a walking stick and we proceeded to climb back down the mountain. Well, according to Alana, I was just too slow so she carried me down the mountain on her back. When she tired, I walked some more, then Matthew carried me down part of the way. I managed to walk down the rest and we arrived at the village by the river. There we waited 2 hours for a bus which took us across, into and through the river by turn (with the girls happily riding on top!). I should say that we almost had to walk the 3 hours UP the mountain (which we had earlier climbed down to Raju's parents' home), as the night before the river had swelled with all the rain. But fortunately the bus managed to navigate the river, driving over the stones (when I say 'stones', I don't mean gravel; I mean large stones and even rocks), only being stopped once to have its tire repaired (at least I think the noise was the tire!). At one point, it was leaning 20 degrees (on my side) and I began to think of my escape route through the window just in case! When we arrived at a big village, I prayed, "Oh, Lord, PLEASE let this be Gorkha Bazaar! But when I heard the motor starting up and saw the black smoke billowing out from beneath the bus, I knew I had to endure. Back around the mountain curves, swerving at times precariously, leaning other times, going around animals, children and other vehicles (one whole herd of goats!) until finally we arrived. There we found out the last bus had left for Kathmandu one hour earlier. Oh, Lord! Well, Pastor Raju bargained and bartered until he finally found us a more expensive ride home. This time, since I was riding in the front seat, I closed my eyes in order to be more relaxed, just in case we met another vehicle head-on (I heard that, if your body is not tense, you will be less injured in an accident!) Well, since you're reading this blog, obviously we all made it home in one piece!
The next day I went to the hospital to have my ankle x-rayed, which was another lesson in cultures. As the x-ray attendant prepared the x-ray tray and positioned my ankle, I waited for the protective cover. When he left the room and I heard the machine whirring, I wondered how they forgot that essential. So I asked him when he proceeded to take the 2nd x-ray. "Shouldn't I wear that protective covering over there (which was hanging on the wall)?" "Oh, yeah, okay," was his casual response. Only in Nepal! So I was protected on the 2nd time from the radiation. Who knows exactly what the effects are, anyway? I certainly don't. But I'm sure God covers us when we are unknowingly vulnerable! The good news is that there was no break or fracture (at least, that's what the man said who looked at my x-ray; mind you, he wasn't the orthopaedic doctor). But it's been getting better every day (even with all the walking!), which is a good thing because we've needed to walk a lot to get all the last-minute finalizations done.
I'm writing this on our last full day in Nepal, after a week of no Internet (AGAIN!). We're having a community dinner with our beloved family here, and I'm sure we'll all be crying when we leave. Please continue to pray for the people here. Our hearts are already longing to return. And thank-you SO much for holding us up all these 4 months! We love you, too. Lord willing, we'll be back home on the 17th, unless He calls us to our REAL home. But as long as He allows us, we'll just keep helping to build His Kingdom here on this side. See you soon!
Friday, June 6, 2008
Lastly, you can pray for me and the 3 older girls who are accompanying Pastor Raju to his home town of Gorkha (where Ken travelled last month to baptize his parents). We plan to leave on Monday and return on Wednesday. Pray for our safe return and that we can also bless his family there. Then it's the final countdown!
Thursday, May 29, 2008
One day someone noticed a helpless, unloved and filthy little girl sitting alone on the dirt road. He reached out and took her hand, leading her to his home where he cleaned, fed and properly clothed her. He loved the little girl so much that he decided to let her stay and adopted her as his own daughter. She not only had a new home and good food, but she also had all the rights and privileges as his heir and soon forgot her past life on the unforgiving streets. Can anyone guess who that Someone was? Yes, God. And the little girl is Israel, the church, His Beloved. This is the story of love:
It was an early Thursday afternoon when I was sitting in the courtyard with nothing to do, and frankly felt like doing nothing. rolled around and a bunch of people were heading out to a house fellowship. It's the one I normally also attend, but didn't feel like going on this particular day. Finally after lots of urging from a few different people, I went. We bussed there on those crazy Nepali metal pieces of junk, had a good devotion time with a group of about 15 others from the church, were given lovely Nepali tea at the end, and then headed out to catch our bus home.
This particular day was also the day before their Nepali 'holi'- day, which is a day where everyone (mostly kids and teens) fills up water balloons with water and red dye and throw them at passersby. But on this day (before the actual 'holi'-day), they merely prepared you for the bombardment coming the next day and only threw water balloons at you. So, we just finished fellowship and exited out the back. All together there were Karina, Hari, a gal from one of the villages and me (Alana). We had the choice of either taking the bus back or walking through the twisted paths and past countless houses of potential battle zones. Karina and I expressed that we were not afraid of getting hit by (or rather dodging) balloons. So, Hari finally gave in and started leading us back. We came to a fork in the road and Hari said, "Ok, we can choose to go the long way with less balloons or the shorter way with many homes." The vote was still undecided after a couple minutes of standing there. So I said, "Let's ask God," and I spun in a circle and pointed to a path, so we went down it.
We passed through many zones of activity always on the alert for a balloon attack. Soon we came to another fork in the road. This time Karina chose the one that promised less of a threat to us and which led down a quiet alleyway.
We didn't walk for very long, before coming to a small little shop on the side of the path. Wandering along by the side of the dirt road not too far from the shop was a tiny baby puppy. The sight of it made me stop dead in my tracks. She was wandering frantically around looking for something to eat and she was no bigger than both of my hands put together. I turned to Hari and said, "Can I take her? We can't leave her here to die like all the other stray puppies in
There we washed and cleaned her up, as she was dirty and full of lice and ticks. I had to feed her milk with an eye dropper. Then Anup, Pastor Shyem's son-in-law, proposed the name 'Maya' - the Nepali word for love. So that's how she got her name. And that's how we got our dog.
Wednesday, May 28, 2008
But seriously, Alexander shared the Word in the Saturday morning service and also taught at the Saturday afternoon Bible School. The messages he shared were so simple and 'back to the basics', and our hearts were drawn back to the elementary yet powerful principles that we all learned from John Wimber - worship first as the highest priority, then the Word, fellowship, and ministry to the sick, lost and the poor, then training/equipping and sending out. Then he reminded us of something most churches have forgotten: WE do not build the church, it is Jesus who builds His church. We merely seek His Kingdom, seek Him first, then reach out and do the works of and advance His Kingdom. He will build the church because it belongs to Him. If we are concerned with building a church, it will probably end up belonging to us and then we get concerned about how it functions, how many people come, how much offering, etc., etc. I came away so impacted and re-energized and excited! Isn't it something how God always brings you back to the most important thing - the ONE THING - Jesus and His Kingdom. Then he also reminded us that we have authority to do the same things Jesus did - heal the sick, drive out demons, go into all the world and preach the Good News, making disciples of all the nations of the world (including Nepal!).
We were blessed to be able to have dinner a couple of times with these 3 men (Alexander, his son Zander and friend Brian) and we were all really touched by their warmth. We all felt loved; Sheri felt they were 'kindred spirits' (i.e. crazy like us are the words she used). Vanessa & Alana especially found Brian a very warm person. Yet they also shared struggles in their pasts where God had to heal them. Maybe that was partly it: they became so real, not just theological or ministry-oriented. They were real men with real challenges past and present. And they weren't afraid to be real, though Alexander and Zander were both 6'6" tall! Talk about imposing! Ken also had the privilege of travelling to Gorkha, Pastor Raju's home village, with them and baptising both his parents. He says he is still being impacted and is 'delightfully wrecked' by the passion for Jesus they imparted. Theirs is a visit we shall never forget and we thank God for allowing us to meet them and be reminded of what it really means to be in the Kingdom of God.
Tuesday, May 20, 2008
Later that evening we had a meeting scheduled in Paul's village. As we gathered, the meeting began with the villagers thanking us for coming. They danced and sang songs of welcome. We reciprocated our thanks and told them of the honour it was for us to be in their village. I spoke that evening giving my testimony and geared it to Jesus being the hope and salvation of all mankind. The villagers listened intently to the message and later 15 of them responded to come forward for prayer for specific prophetic words that Alexander felt the Lord had given for them. Most were touched by the Holy Spirit. I was surprised later to find that, out of the 50 or so villagers that came, at least two-thirds were Hindu. As this was our last meeting in Gorkha, I didn't find out from Brother Paul whether any had responded to the message. God knows their hearts and whether or not they truly heard the word. But now the door to the Kingdom is near. All they have to do is open it. (Posted by Ken.)
P.S. Nathan – your questions are answered in the blogs below. Yours too, Keith.
Monday, May 19, 2008
Raju came to our rescue by finding a ride in an old land rover. The driver told us we were to descend to the old river road. On arrival in the valley, he followed a somewhat weather-beaten path that soon ended in the river. But he didn't stop at the river's edge. He crawled slowly into the river following what I hoped was a continuation of the road. The current was strong and, at mid-point, it pushed at the side of the land rover. The vehicle seemed to heave downstream. During the crossing, I caught myself alternating between 2 thoughts: "This is such a rush" and "We're going to die." Having water gush up through a rust hole in the floor boards did not help the situation. We had to endure these crossings 3 more times. Within 2 hours, we arrived at a small village at the base of the mountain. I asked Raju if this were it. He said, "No, we must climb 1 mile up the mountain." It proved a difficult climb with a combination of humid heat, steep rocky grade and a 45-pound pack. Within an hour we arrived at a somewhat level area, sweat soaked, overheated, but feeling victorious over the accomplished trek. Fifteen minutes later we found ourselves being warmly greeted by Raju's parents (his father was the village leader) and Raju's brother Rebat. An evening meal was served along with chia (tea). Shortly after we were shown to our open air sleeping accommodations and fell into a somewhat restful sleep, (I won't mention the nightly mosquito attacks).
Our days were consumed with ministry to villagers who stopped by to say hello to Raju's parents but were surprised to see western Christians staying there. Most of the villagers are Hindu. So we were surprised when they asked us for prayer for healing. Some sad stories came from these ministry times. Many of the village women who's husband's were away in the British Gorkha, Nepal, or India armies shared of husbands who remarried or who didn't return home when their time was completed. This often led to poverty for these families. Sad as this was the divorced Christian women were always more content and offered a ray of hope to those Hindu women whose husbands didn't return. (Posted by Ken.)
Tuesday, May 13, 2008
But tonight we all learned something. First of all, we hadn't prayed as a family for quite awhile (I mean, community prayer-and-fasting days don't count). Then finally after we opened up and shared honestly with each other what we all felt, it led to a family prayer time. Some of us cried and asked the Lord for some kind of encouragement, some lifting up of our spirits. That led to some keen insights and words of wisdom from (who, Mom or Dad?) - No, from the girls themselves. And that led to the girls playing and singing worship music. And you know what? My own little weak discouraged family were the very ones to lift each other up. It didn't need to come from outside, from our own poor, beaten-down, struggling Nepali brothers and sisters.
So why at this time, in the middle of the 'highs' of youth missions trip to Gatlang, Ken's trek to Gorkha (Pastor Raju's village - he'll share about that next), John Wimber's associate Alexander Venter bringing a very encouraging and strengthening teaching on Saturday, these troubles should come and hit all of us, maybe we will understand. Maybe God has already accomplished something good out of it (and He has). We only have one month more. We don't want to just 'get through' it; we want God to do everything He can through us. But we need His strength. We almost ran out of our own steam. Ha! It turns out we have to practice what we preach. Thank-you all for listening. Thank-you even more for praying for us. Without you, we'd be toast.
Monday, May 5, 2008
Breakfast, lunch and dinner were all cooked over the fire and we would occasionally get milk from one of the farmer's yaks, so we could have some nice white tea for breakfast. The people from the village were very attentive to everything that we did, so we would occasionally have a group of either kids or adults gathered together watching us cook and eat. There was one occasion when I was playing the guitar out behind the church on the ledge, and about 5 kids came and sat down- listening very intently. There's no TV or radio of any kind way out in Gatlang, they live very secluded lives, so I'm sure that listening to worship in another language was a new experience for all of them. I saw the potential in a young boy sitting beside me trying to copy my strumming as he watched and listened. Who knows but that God had His hand on this boy's life to mould him into a future worship leader. As I played I sung out a prayer over the boy's life. It excited me to see God's hand moving through the village.
A bunch of the youth gals and we three went into the village to visit a few of the believers' homes, for encouragement and fellowship. One of our youth, who was from the village, translated from Nepali and English into their native tongue, Tamang, they shared needs for prayer (ie. Sickness and we found out that many of the children with distended bellies had worms). We prayed in and outside peoples' homes, often in the view of non-believers. And let me tell you, praying with other Nepalis is not a mutter-under-your-breath kind of prayer…quite the opposite actually. This loud, passionate group of prayer warriors attracted a lot of attention in the middle of the village homes, many of whom then asked us to pray for them. We snatched up this opportunity to also witness to them and invite them to come up to the church- which ended up being a jam-packed final service on our last day there. It seemed like the entire village had come. After talking with Shem Dai, we found out that they had been praying about this mission's trip to Gatlang for 4 years. How exciting that we got to partner with them in furthering God's kingdom into Gatlang!
(posted by Alana)
Friday, May 2, 2008
The first day there, we watched a group of the villagers travelling up the mountainside, up a steep path. The path is extremely dangerous, even for them (they lost someone last year, who fell off the path) and it's a one hour climb, only to gather grass for their livestock. We found as we went through our time there that all of their life is full of adventures like this. It's daily work for them, but awe-inspiring for us. We had to hike down into the valley to get to the river below for baptisms on the last day (after we had gone on hikes both days previously!). It was killer on the legs, but worth the pain. After the baptisms, we and all the youth went swimming in the river, which was completely pure but ice-cold. I've had experiences similar to this - rock-hopping and swimming in small rapids back in Canada - but there was just something different about doing it with Nepalis, and having a mountain face on either side. It's probably imprinted in all of our memories.
As for the ministry with the people, that was the more difficult part - for me, anyways. It was more difficult because the language they speak there is Tamung, with the adults being able to speak Nepali as a second language. Whatever I wanted to say had to be translated into their second language, and so it made communciation a lot more difficult. Karina and I were working with the children on the second day. The children, of course, were not so fluent in Nepali and were only beginning to learn it. So as I did children's ministry I began to realize that Rabin, who was helping me, couldn't communicate with the kids either. He tried to translate what I was explaining (games and what not), but we couldn't even get them to understand that we wanted them to sit in a circle! All in all, though, I had a lot of fun and learned a lot about the people and how they live their lives. It's very similar to pioneer days, except put a little spin on it by placing the village on the side of a mountain. I may never see anything like it again, but what I saw I was glad to have experienced. If I could, I would relive those three days, beginning to end! (posted by Sheri)
Thursday, May 1, 2008
This wasn't the end of our ministry. As we walked back to the land rover, we greeted some other believers who were sitting outside their house. The grandfather who, a short time ago, accepted Jesus was asking for prayer for asthma. Again we laid hands on him and prayed. Nothing appeared to happen but he, too, seemed blessed that we would take the time to pray for him. We parted company with them only to be asked by another believer two homes over to come in for tea. It turned out that this was the home of one of the girls who accompanied the Kathmandu Vineyard youth to Gatlang. As we were seated and drinking our tea, I felt an urging from the Holy Spirit to speak to her regarding her life's direction. I felt awkward sharing with our Nepali believers prophetic words, not knowing whether or not they've received proper teaching. I tried to caution myself but felt the urge to share the words far greater. Hmmm…..how do you spell faith…R.I.S.K! We gathered around her and all prayed with the result that the Holy Spirit touched her through her tears. Bless the Lord, for he is good! (Posted by Ken.)
Tuesday, April 29, 2008
I had a rather unenjoyable night and day losing all of my contents in both directions, if you know what I mean. But try to imagine doing all of that in the bathroom with a cockroach scurrying around by your feet and a mosquito buzzing around your head at the same time. The one and only blessing (!) was that the power was on. I don't even want to think about heading off to the bathroom in the middle of the night, having first to find a candle and light it by the cookstove, after trying to find the lighter and knob to turn it on - all in the dark. Thank God for small miracles. I suppose it wouldn't have been impossible but it was surely better to be able to see. Then yesterday Alexander Venter - one of the original team with John Wimber - arrived here in Kathmandu and, together with several others, came and prayed for me. Oh, I am coming to appreciate the value of prayer for healing. In the past, it was I who tried to learn how to pray for the sick. Now I am on the receiving end and my faith is growing accordingly!
Thursday, April 24, 2008
Today Vanessa & I got to have tea with a 'family' who live quite close to the church compound and who bring all their 'children' to church every week. I add quotations because it turns out that they have almost 20 'children' living with them. All are orphans (like so many in Nepal), many of whom the husband 'found' as he went trekking in the mountain villages. So for the last 15 years they have been raising them in a large apartment (actually 2 floors of a building). These children sang to us (oh, I wish I had a camera with video recording!) songs in Tibetan and English (the 'mother' is a former Buddhist from Tibet). They sing their hearts out! It was such a joy to hear. I think they are so happy to have a home and it comes out in their voices. But I noticed that they closed all the windows before singing for us. They are very well-behaved and respectful. I couldn't help but hug them all and their faces just beamed. They even took Vanessa up to the roof (where everyone hangs their clothes) and danced for her. It seems to be an honour to host Westerners and, when you return the friendship, they open up even more. As always in Nepal, the biggest challenge is to send the children to school. But even if they do attain an education, some don't even have citizenship (as they have no blood family) and so can't even get a job. I felt like my heart would burst; I don't know how much more it can hold. These people have so little but they give you so much. And all I could do was smile at them and receive their graciousness. Oh Lord, would you bless and help all these little children of the world!
Sunday, April 20, 2008
Mind you, we lost electricity in one-half of the church compound and had to get the electrician in to fix it. That included the fridge in our apartment and we had quite a few eggs in there which we would hate to see go bad! But that's Nepal - you may have power scheduled to come on but that doesn't mean something else won't interrupt it (like lightening storm or fuse!)
The water truck also came today - hooray! We have continuous running water from the tap for the first time in almost 3 weeks! What a luxury! Yesterday some of the boys managed to procure some nice cold, clean water from the neighbours (not sure where they got it). I am strongly suspecting (I don't know this for sure) that, if you pay enough rupees, somehow the water truck manages to get through the fuel line and water line more quickly. I learned that some of the women in the compound get up around 4:00 some mornings to get access to water, as there seems to be some coming then. They fill up whatever jugs or pails they have for when it gets turned off (or whatever the reason is that it comes only early in the mornings). And I also learned how little water I actually need to wet down during a shower - just a trickle. Even the cold showers are quite tolerable now with the warm weather, as the middle of February when we arrived was not quite so.
We're still not sure how the Maoist win will affect our lives here. We did find out that, before the election, a group of them tried to overnight at the church compound during a rally here in the City. Most were from surrounding villages. The church finally managed to take a collection, along with all of their neighbours, to lend them tents and pay for them to stay at a nearby basketball field. Reminds me of early Mao Tse-Tung days in China. Keep praying.
Thank-you all for upholding us. And it's exciting to know that, while He's changing us here, He is also making you more acutely aware and appreciative of the blessings of being Canadian. I know we certainly will when we get back!
Friday, April 18, 2008
We shared that the main reason we come to the riverbed is because of our desire to share the love that Jesus has given us. She could understand that.....a little. But she was baffled at Karina and Alana coming to visit this stinking slum area. In her words, "No beautiful western girls ever come here! They go to Thamel, to beauty parlors, to restaraunts, to do shopping, but never here!" Her own thoughts were authenticating what Shyem had just told her of God's love. Hmmm.......the kingdom was drawing near. So be it!
Tuesday, April 15, 2008
Although it's almost 1 in the morning, I thought I had better get in a post while we have both power and Internet, both of which have been rather unpredictable in the last 3 weeks, probably due to the frequent thunder and lightening storms. We've even been challenged by the water (or lack of) situation lately. But I must say that we have mastered the art of sponge bathing! And washing/rinsing dishes with a couple of litres water. Our baptismal tank has been used lately to collect the rainwater and that is used for washing clothes or flushing the toilets. Where there's a will there's a way! But we all agree that it is much easier to work around the frequent power outages than it is to do without water. We do buy bottled water (the big blue jugs like back home) but it's hard to have a shower with it. Tonight I got desperate, since we were all seriously in need of a decent shower. I managed to wash my hair, rinse it and sponge bathe all with half a bucket of water!
As for the political situation, it seems the Maoists are winning a majority across the country. It turns out that they were electing representatives to write up a new constitution. But the Congress Party seems to have been roundly defeated and hence may end up with very few delegates to take part in the assembly. This will probably result in a new government made up of mostly Maoist and some other party reps. No-one is sure what exactly will change but most are sure things probably won't remain the same. We'll have to wait and see.
The youth are gearing up for their missions trip next week. They leave on Sunday for the village of Gatlang in the mountains just north of Kathmandu. Karina, Alana & Sheri will be travelling with them, helping out in different ways. They have been raising support for all the expenses the last few weeks and, I think, are almost there. You can pray for all the youth (there are about 20 going), their continuing health, their walks with the Lord, and that this outreach would be effective and encouraging for all. Ken will also be going, as Pastor Shyem asked him to help out (I guess partly as chaperone of the mix of teenage guys and girls; their culture is actually quite strict, as you probably gathered from the stories of arranged marriages). Vanessa & I will be holding the fort back here, doing school work and maybe some fun stuff.
Tomorrow (Wednesday) Pastor Shyem, Ken & Karina go back to the riverbed community, mostly to check on the woman who is expecting a baby. Amazingly enough, the Maoists did not win in that area, even though they had promised new housing for the people there. Our contact fellow phoned Pastor Shyem to tell him and we all rejoiced! It was an answer to prayer, as we were afraid that might have closed the open door we have right now. In the one area where they should have won, since the people had nothing to lose, the Congress Party did instead! Isn't that miraculous? But almost ironic, the area where the church is located was another Maoist victory.
We're having a birthday party for Sheri on Thursday as she'll be away in Gatlang on the 21st. It'll be a real community celebration with lots of Nepali food (courtesy of the Lewis cooks). We were even given a 'Miracle Oven' (they don't have real ovens here, just gas burners) so the girls have been baking cakes! AND we found a pizza delivery place so everyone can taste New York pizza (hopefully it's like back home). What a great excuse for a party!
As always, there's more to share but this is long enough already. We'll try to get more regular posts in now that the Internet is working again. We heard that you had 18 degree weather. But you can't beat the 30 degrees here! We've already started on our tans! (but we know you wouldn't trade the cold for water shortages). Thank-you all for your encouraging comments. Some days we live for them! They warm our hearts here when the going gets tough. Bless you all! (posted by Bonnie)
Friday, April 11, 2008
We were woken up one morning just after 6:30 a.m. to the sound of loud knocking at our window. I (Ken) was called outside by Pastor Shyem to accompany them to collect the body of a believer who died in the middle of the night. A previously built coffin was hastily finished in preparation for the body. We rented a bus to take the group to Koth Gaun for the funeral but, because the driver of the bus was Hindu, he wouldn't take the body, so we ended up borrowing a separate truck to carry the casket. On the way, I found out from Shyem that the Christians have to handle the entire procedure - from making the casket to picking up the body, the funeral service and the interment. The bus couldn't make it up the mountain as the roads were too narrow so we ended up hiking the rest of the way. When we arrived in the village, we noticed a group of people assembled around the house of the deceased. The covered body lay right out front of the house beside a pen of yaks. The truck arrived with the casket shortly thereafter and the service commenced right there. Crouched down in the front row, I had the privilege of getting a first-hand view of a Nepali funeral. What a mistake that was! The yak nearest me was relieving itself and, at the same time, swatting flies with its tail. The result was that the lucky recipients in the front row 'seats' were christened. I calmly rose from my squatting position and retreated to the 'safe' back row, far out of reach of any further personal violation. One of the believers from our church smiled, leaned towards me and whispered, "Welcome to Nepal."
The funeral service, which was officiated by Pastor Raju, ended after a brief sermon and some singing, and we proceeded back down the mountain to the burial place. At the first village we came to at the base of the mountain, I wondered why we suddenly stopped. Apparently we had forgotten the essential ropes with which to lower the casket. Shortly thereafter we were off again. We arrived at the Christian burial grounds some 20 minutes later. Some of the boys began carrying the casket through a gate up the hill. As we made our way through the forest over several mounds, I finally noticed a marker over one of these mounds and realized they were all grave sites. It felt rather disrespectful to be traversing over them but, again, this is a funeral Nepali-style.
As we proceeded up the hill, Hari (one of the street boys) and I met with a bull who seemed intent on charging us. He was stomping on the ground and thrashing his horns into the side of the ravine. Then the bull briefly lowered his head to chew on some vegetation so we quickly took that as our cue to make our escape. However, 2 other ladies from our group were still behind us and had to confront this animal. Hari warned them when to run but one lady missed the cue. Instead, she just lowered her head and stood very still. I thought that she knew something about bulls and that she was showing her submission in this manner. The bull did seem to slow down and calmly walked behind her. When she heard the bull's movement behind her, she quickly made her way up the hill to us. I found out that she actually knew nothing about bulls and was merely reading a headstone.
We caught up to the procession who were just attaching the ropes with which to lower the casket. But on the way down, one fellow let go of his rope, with the result that the coffin fell at an angle and got stuck head-down in the hole. The opposite fellow also dropped his ropes so now we had no ropes with which to level the casket. The other problem was that the lid had popped partly off in the process. One of the boys grabbed the shovel and began levering at the foot of the coffin to try and drop it, but with no success. Rabin, another street boy, was standing at the side of the hole with his hands on his hips, assessing the situation. The next moment, I saw him springing up and into the hole, landing with a loud thump on the head of the casket. He took another 2 good jumps and realized it was no use. He then managed to retrieve the rope from under the casket. He climbed out and began pulling at the head of the coffin while another fellow continued prying at the foot with the shovel. The casket finally fell into the hole with a thud. What a comedy of errors! The poor son & daughter of the deceased could do nothing but politely view the entire procedure.
After a short prayer and song, we all took turns covering the casket with dirt - no mortician, no funeral director - just the local believers interring one of their own. This was my initiation to a funeral ... Nepali-style.
Thursday, April 10, 2008
We finished our meeting with him in prayer for his family and the new baby. He then took us to the other lady we had encountered in the slum area, who had informally invited us to her home. We were immediately invited in and seated on floor mats. Her son ran out the door and soon returned with cold bottles of pop for the 4 of us - what hospitality! At 20 rupees apiece, this almost totalled a Nepali's daily wages (150/day). We graciously accepted them but drank them knowing the cost to our hosts. Soon several children from other homes surrounding this hovel made their way in and soon we had about 20 of them crowded into this 10x10 room. Karina wanted her picture taken with the baby of one of the women present, which was a mistake as it led to the children eagerly gathering around the camera. This led to a 'photo shoot' of what seemed to be half the riverbed community coming in and out to get their pictures taken. They were overjoyed to see their instant pictures appear on the camera screen (of course it's a digital). It became so packed in the room that we had to cut the meeting short, after a short prayer again for the family. We promised to return next week, after the elections.
Praise God for His Kingdom advancing into the lowest of places (which is where Jesus seems pleased to go)! Continue to pray for hunger and an open door, perhaps even to start a weekly service here (as the Lord leads Pastor Shem). (posted by Ken)
Sunday, April 6, 2008
On Friday morning Shyem and I left by Tuk Tuk(a very small three wheeled bus) for a prayer walk through this slum. Arriving near the end of the airport runway we walked from the main road down an alley to a gravel road that followed the river. The first sight one sees is garbage heaps spilling down the banks. Raw sewage pours from city pipes and garbage floats on the river in a metre thick layer. In places the water is open and the colour is a black flowing sludge. A boy with an open cut on his arm was reaching down into the sludge. He was searching for something of value to sell. Behind him a women threw garbage into the river. I wondered at what diseases or bacteria must be in that river. Moreover if the boy would be well the next day.
We crossed the river via a bridge into the most concentrated slum area. All the shacks are built of varying materials, plastic bags, corrugated metal, pieces of cloth, all lashed together with twine, cloth, bits of rope. Whatever could be found or salvaged from the river. All the shanty's offer little in regards to privacy. As we walked we spoke to a few people. They were friendly but no one was eager to carry on a conversation beyond formalities. I noticed a few paces behind us two men who seemed intent to hear what we were saying. Especially since a westerner is present. Westerners don't ever come to the river. They finally approached us and began a conversation with Shyem. As Shyem spoke I prayed that God would give him wisdom and grace for these men. The older man soon left leaving the younger (22-24 year old) still talking with us. We told him we were Christians and that we wanted to talk and spend time with some people here. He said that once before Christians came from a church. They took pictures, gave them some food, promised to come again and then never returned. This saddened his heart and he said he's not sure he could trust a Christian again. He then invited us to his house. We followed a side walk way that served as their alleys. It was barely wider than my shoulders, with rusted corrugated steel roofs that projected at neck level into the walk way. Very dangerous for any westerner over five foot six.
As we wandered through the maze of walk ways I was looking at some of the worst poverty I've laid eyes on. People with open sores. People with barely a complete set of clothes on, torn, filthy, or both. Few of them did have a full set of clean clothes on, yet one could tell they were quite old.
Arrivivng at his house (a six by nine foot hovel) I was stunned to see the conditions he lived in. An open toilet in the corner running its effluent under the plastic covered wall. A cooking burner and two small beds that served as sitting furniture and sleeping/eating areas. A bare ended electrical wire that had no light fixture or plug end. A small cabinet that seemed to have been salvaged from the river that he used for clothing. As I looked around he began to share some of his story. He and his two sisters lived with his parents in a remote mountain village. One day a flood came and washed the village away. He didn't tell of the fate of his parents. They had no where to go (scant possesions), so they left for a better life in Kathmandu. The only place for them was this area by the river. As he continued his story I thought to myself that this was as good as it got for him. Hmm......."as good as it got." I couldn't even call this good! My heart was breaking!
He asked if we would come again. We told him yes and gave him our phone number. We made an appointment to meet with him on Monday at noon. And that we would meet him at the well where we first saw him. His eyes shone with hope and anticipation. I was glad to meet my new friend. Hopefully I can tell him of my friend Jesus. But for now I'm content to just be his friend. More to follow after Monday! (Posted by Ken.)
Thursday, April 3, 2008
Did I give God permission to stretch us in the last post? That reminds me of many years ago on the mission field when I asked God to humble me. He took me so seriously that He actually answered and I had to beg Him to lay off! I couldn't take it!
Well, our family is also experiencing some reality. We are not your super-spiritual missionaries who are walking on a higher plane. Oh, no. Lately we've been having our share of squabbles, disagreements, 'who ate up all the bread?', 'you didn't ask permission to wear my clothes!', 'you didn't clean the floors' - 'yes, I did!', plus one night with some fairly unkind words that were supposed to be in jest. I guess God has some more cleaning up to do in our lives. The one good thing is that every week they have a prayer-and-fasting day and it's hard to hide your mood/attitude. Needless to say, not everyone showed up at the prayer meeting (I mean, living in the church compound makes it difficult to wear a mask!). So when one of the leaders asked where another member of the family was, we just told the truth. Well, he came and prayed and then shared his own family struggles. It opened up another path both ways. God always somehow brings good out of pain. And I think He's trying to make us a little more Nepali in the way they share everything. Here we are trying to keep our own things (including treats) as our own and it just leads to greed and selfishness. Well, it was one of the girls who suggested we try to share better, rather than hoarding our supplies. But that means, if you buy a little bag of chips and walk into the compound, be prepared to actually only eat a couple of them. The boys will even get a 'ring' (it's like a donut but bigger and thinner) and break it into smaller pieces and pass them around. He only eats one piece. God make us more like them! (Oh, oh! Am I praying a dangerous prayer again?)
Well, I'm sure we'll come back different but probably in more ways than we thought. It was also somehow good to share that our family has its share of problems, too, and find out that we're the same as them in that way. The term 'flatlanders' has made its way here to Nepal, too!
Tuesday, April 1, 2008
Picture 4 white foreign women walking down the field past l-o-n-g lines of Nepalis waiting to be prayed for, accompanied by a few young Nepali boys. We had made it halfway when a woman approached Sheri. "Would you pray for me?" Okay, her companion explained that she had a heart problem. What to do? So Sheri & I (Bonnie) laid our hands on her and prayed. Okay, we did our little part; now let's go home. Yeah, right. We turned around and more people were gathered. Karina had a family of 3 (father, mother, baby) who asked her to pray for them. Alana got waylaid by someone else while Sheri & I found a next person waiting their turn. I looked around and almost wanted to laugh. What were we doing? We're not the 'trained prayer team'. We don't have any badges on (like all the volunteers). I know what you're going to say, Mitch - what you tried teaching us all that first year in Ministry Training back in 95/96. John Wimber said we all got to 'do the stuff'. Yeah, but we're the foreigners here. Why are they all surrounding us expecting US to pray for them? It was quite funny, actually. I really wanted to laugh. We were seriously getting surrounded. And we were just trying to make our way out of the stadium. Finally this one dumb woman (I mean that literally) approached us for prayer. Sheri & I tried tackling it but weren't getting anywhere so I thought we should take her to the 'expert' (after all, he was the 'healing evangelist'). While we took her to the front, Alana got pulled into a group casting a demon out of a woman. I got waylaid by another woman who was suffering what sounded like depression. So we all got into our battle modes. The end finally came when a shout came from the group (Sheri even heard a scream up in the bleachers, which were by now empty). The demon had been cast out. Praise the Lord! We went home (finally; it was already dark) rejoicing but amazed at what had just transpired - except the dumb woman. Her name was Bawani and I pray the Lord gave her back her speech. Truly the Lord has a sense of humour. He took us right out of our comfort zone and into the middle of the action contrary to all our intentions.
As if that weren't enough, the next day (Friday) I opened my big mouth (which is what usually gets me into trouble) to Noel, who in turn spoke to Pastor Shem, who then asked to speak to me. I thought he wanted to discuss something serious. Instead he said, "Would you speak at church tomorrow?" Yeah, right - speak at church. Ha! Ha! Prepare a sermon in one day. I am REALLY getting pushed out of my comfort zone. Not only that but I have to get the notes ready to be translated. Prepare a 20-minute sermon? In front of a church? I know Pastor Nathan reminded us that we have far more knowledge of the Scripture than they do here, even though they have more experience in praying for people to be healed. I just never expected to preach a sermon. But I also never expected to get waylaid by so many people at a healing crusade. But the girls got in some practice. Sheri got bold! Alana saw a demon cast out! Rabin (one of the 'new boys') really preached it and prayed in fervor for this lady. It was exciting & fun! Okay, God - we're ready (I think) to get stretched and thrown into battle.
This Friday we go to the riverbed ...
Thursday, March 27, 2008
When we arrived at the field, we found some 2500 people already assembled. The main stage had some music playing as people arrived. Within half an hour, the rest of the churches packed onto the grounds. It swelled our number to over 5ooo - an incredible turn-out of the church considering that, just last year, Nepal came out from under its listing as a Hindu kingdom. As the music played, the different churches that had assembled rejoiced and danced, sometimes mixing with the church group next to it. Hindus have said in the past that Christians don't stand in unity together. It was a strong show of unity for the church on this day! And of course a crowd attracts a crowd. So many Hindus came from off the streets to see what was happening. Hopefully some were touched by the Holy Spirit. (Posted by Ken. -Pictures to follow.)
Monday, March 24, 2008
We soon arrived at Jawalakel to find 10 to 15 other chuches already assembled. Within minutes 10 or 11 other churches arrived, all of us joyfully singing and praising the Lord. We were overflowing into the streets, beginning to congest traffic. The traffic control policeman at the centre of the circle began to have a panicked look in his eyes. Within minutes we were beginning our march to Tundkel, and much to the relief of the policeman. The joy on our smiling faces melted many a stern face. Strangely one street fellow came up to me and shook my hand. He stood amongst us for a few minutes listening to the songs. A contented smile came across his face, then he turned and disappeared into the crowd. Shortly after, a security guard in front of a store looked me in the eye, stood at attention and saluted me. I smiled and saluted back. He then left his post and joined the march. He walked with us for about a kilometre and soon fell back to another church group following behind us. Did he sense the presence of the Lord amonst us? Possibly. But for a few brief moments he had forgotten the hardness of life and was joyful. As we walked over the bridge by the river, I turned around a saw that the line had grown. It was now over a mile long. More churches joined and we hadn't even arrived at the field.
(posted by Ken)
Friday, March 21, 2008
So after 2 buses and an hour later, we got out and proceeded uphill for another hour. But that was just what the Doctor ordered! The higher you get out of the Kathmandu Valley, the fresher the air gets. I couldn't stop breathing! I'm sure I almost hyper-ventilated all the way up to Koth Gaun! (just kidding) trying to get my fill of oxygen from the evergreen-laden hills. And such a beautiful view; it reminded me of Switzerland with villages dotting the mountains. Finally we arrived at our hostess' 'home' - 1/2 of the main floor was covered in clean straw mats for sitting; the other half with straw and hitching posts for the animals. They slept upstairs, which I didn't see. Thank-you for praying for me; the teaching went well and 3 ladies helped translate. I have never had such a rapt audience of about 20 or so ladies. I felt very honoured. When they worship, one lady begins to sing and they all join in heartily. The neighbours passing by would invariably glance in to see what was going on. Then they served us a meal and - yes, you guessed it: their famous 'milk' (actually, it's like yogurty-milk). But this didn't have any black specks. In fact, I think the Lord has a special blessing for teachers (thank-you Lord!) The meal was a delicious curried potato dish plus what they call 'beaten rice'. It's cooked rice, beaten flat and dried. The ladies spooned the yogurt onto their beaten rice (oh, first they added sugar to it) and it tasted quite nice. So I never had to drink it! Then more worship and the inevitable Nepali tea (delicious!) These people have so little compared to us and yet serve us the best they have.
Then it was an hour walk back down the hill and home. Oh - I almost forgot! In the village of Koth Gaun, we stopped in at one old couple's home and prayed for the old man who had asthma and heart problems. Let Your Kingdom come!
Thursday, March 20, 2008
During the week the church here sets aside Wednesdays as their prayer and fast day. There is a corporate block of time (four to five hours) where we pray for leaders and people in the Vineyard church here and back home. We also pray for events such as the local upcoming inter-denominational healing conference or the political situation in Nepal. (The political situation still needs much prayer as it is in a peaceful but fragile state with the elections coming in mid-April.)An answer to prayer for all Christians in Kathmandu has come throught this week. In the past the Christians were not acknowledged (being a former Hindu kingdom) in their days set aside for holidays. Christmas was a day as any other where believers had to go to work as normal, with no time off. This week the government announced that, for Christians, two days are now granted as official holidays for them to celebrate. In announcing this Pastor Raju's smile was so wide it just about reached from ear to ear. They have been faithfully praying for this for years! And now, at a most unlikely time, God has bent the will of those in power as a result of long-suffering prayer. I asked myself at that moment why God waited so long to answer. Although I didn't hear Him answer audibly I could see the result to His answer on my brothers and sisters faces. Those faces were reflecting glory to God. His goodness was evident. We have three months left for God to spend us here. May He burn through us like pocket change! (Posted by Ken.)
Tuesday, March 18, 2008
Anyway, we finally fell into bed, after managing to kill the roach we found in the kitchen earlier, had just dropped off to sleep, when I heard Karina now getting sick in the bathroom. The previous day it had been Vanessa. I fell asleep again but kept being awakened by Ken continually brushing something out of his sleeping bag. I dropped off again, but then had a disturbing dream. I confronted this black dog, stared it in the face, and it lunged up at me with its fangs bared. Then I was jolted awake. Ken woke up and said he kept feeling insects crawling on his face and his arm. I told him my dream. Then we prayed, as we felt this was some kind of attack (or, like I said, just coincidence). You never know around here! Or should I say, more often than not, it IS black and white, not shades of grey like back home.
Oh yeah, we also hear what must be 'Templeton' running around on the roof. Maybe he's got his whole family now, too! It sure is quite a racket. The sounds and activities of the night!
Sunday, March 16, 2008
Saturday, March 15, 2008
Friday, March 14, 2008
Thursday, March 13, 2008
But I wouldn't have thought of them as an aggressive people, not until Sheri, Vanessa & I (Mom) encountered the 'beggar from hell' (no, not literally). We were innocently walking down the sidewalk and passed by the same woman who always lies on the sidewalk just before the main department store. We had dropped some coins on her mat before but, this time, didn't have any. Well, she noticed we were (rich) Westerners, I guess, and wasn't prepared to just 'let us pass', as Gandalf would say. She took her stick and whacked Sheri on the leg. Okay, that was a little rude. But wait till the return home. Of course, none of us was feeling very predisposed towards her anymore. But she employed the same tactic, this time meeting with Bonnie's exposed wrist with a vengeance. It literally broke the skin and left a bruise by the next day. Whoa! What was that? What did we do to deserve that? Be born in the West? So now we travel on the other side of the street. What to do? Maybe one day we can sit down on the sidewalk with her; if only we could speak the language. Such are the challenges.
Wednesday, March 12, 2008
I was making coffee at 5:00 this morning (my usual time lately) and listening to the sound of scurrying above in our false ceiling. Roaches? It sounded much more heavy. Karina suddenly called out somewhat fearful. 'Dad, I think the rat's in the corner!' Taking a candle I investigated. Nothing. I told her it's probably the roaches. I've told the girls to start keeping their suitcases closed at all times. They seem to have taken our latest house guests' arrival with grace. I hope they remain so when they actually catch sight of them. They're quite big!
As for the rest of the day. Karina, Alana, Sheri and I are off to the wedding in Kote Gaun.(see previous posts of engagment in Kote Gaun.) Yes, we're taking the land cruiser up the same narrow mountain road. Hopefuly the brakes will hold! (Posted by Ken.)
Saturday, March 8, 2008
Thursday, March 6, 2008
After it ended, we were taken up into the mountain village where we experienced the Real Nepal... yaks, lots of goats, chickens, and older mud-thatched homes. People in the village were all helping to build a home for the engaged couple. We saw women carrying loads of stone and sand for the foundation. They carried sacks on their backs with the strap around their forheads. The loads must have been like 80 pounds or more! It was crazy. There were women and children helping out. Then, pastor Raju started leading us back down the path towards where we parked our jeep. We cut through a yard with loads of goats in it and approached one of the mud-thatched houses. But we didn't pass it after all... they led us into the house. I thought we were on a tour, just to see what the houses looked like inside... but oh no... they had other plans for us. We walked in the entrance and the main floor had rooms of straw and hay-apparently the goats and yaks stayed inside the house on the main floor. Then we went up a steep set of ladder-like stairs to the main floor of the house. When you walked across the floor, you would notice the floor flexing under your weight. They led us into a room with 2 beds on one side, on the other side, there were sacks of rice, vegetables laid out in piles (from their field). Apparently this was their storage and bedroom. We sat down on a mat on the floor. Once we were seated, i knew that they would soon bring in the tea and serve us. Which was nice, we were kind of parched from the long walk. The ladies came into the room and gave us all a cup of what looked like white tea. I love white tea! It's my favourite. But when i took the cup from her, it was cold... then my father turned to me and said, "This is it!" He was referring to a concoction that he was given when he last came to Nepal in 1999. Yes, it was the milk. The milk that we've heard so many stories about. And alas, the stories were all true! As i gazed into the cup, there were thick chunks floating with black specks throughout it. And then... then the smell hit you. Wow, my dad wasn't kidding. Karina and I looked at each other with fear-stricken eyes. How were we going to drink it? My dad looked at us and said... "you have to drink it. It's an insult not to." Oh dear...!
Then they brought in plates of food with a mountain style of rice- cooked, flattened and dried, quite tasty actually. There was also spiced chicken, spiced vegetables, potatoes, some beans and dark brown things that i've never seen before and don't want to guess what they were. The whole meal was very extravagant for the family- as they were quite poor, but we realized it was for the engagement celebration. The groom sat amoung us. We finished the meal, thanked the family for their generosity, and headed back to the jeep. The ride back down the mountain was just as scary. I even started hyper-ventilating. The fellow nepali's in the car were laughing at our reactions as we went down. Pastor Raju had to pump the breaks before every turn because the breaks are very bad. It was an exhilirating ride. I'm not sure if i'm gonna want to go to Kath Gaun again... i think it'll be the memory of the milk. (posted by Alana... and karina)