Last we updated you on our journey, we were about to leave Kathmandu for Pokhara. We all arrived safely in Pokhara on Monday to the view of a beautiful lake, surrounded by mountains. The pace is less frenetic and it is much less crowded, the air is cleaner and it feels like there is slightly more space to breathe there. Soon after our arrival we visited a Tibetan Refugee Camp. Tibetans, like Nepalees, are caught between two powerful and large countries and have been shaped by the geopolitics of the region. In 1959, following the Tibetan Uprising and the exile of the Dalai Lama, over 20,000 refugees from Tibet settled in Nepal. The camp we visited is one of three in Pokhara, and one of 12 in the whole country. It is run by a Swiss refugee organization. We witnessed a prayer time at a Buddhist monastery, walked through the residential area, and saw the small medical clinic established there which, we learned, has been an incredible gateway for people learning more about Jesus.
The next day, our group split into two groups of 8. Our community engagement team
stayed in Pokhara to continue to work with some of our contacts there and build relationships, and 8 of us went on spiritual retreat in the form of a long walk in the Himalayas.
Over the course of the 4 days we were apart, the community engagement team visited the
slum area of Pokhara with a local pastor friend, prayed for its inhabitants, visited a kindergarten being established by a young couple originally from Singapore, and enjoyed interacting and exploring some of the beautiful sites and nature around Pokhara. There were boat rides, unexpected fishing trips, and good times of reflection.
One of the most significant takeaways from the community engagement team was the miraculous stories associated with the people leading the ministries in Pokhara. In almost every case of a first generation Christian, there is an incredible testimony to how God can reach into any heart, at any time, in any place. “For the son of man came to seek and save those who were lost” (Luke 19:10). Everyone from the team is excited about ways that they can use their skills, gifts, and hearts to help the amazing people of Nepal, and we are all committed to the ways we can help them grow and encourage them in their uphill battle against government regulations and strict control, and the very simple difficulty of reaching people, since a large proportion of the population of Nepal lives in small villages in very hard to reach places. And yet, churches continue to be planted and even thrive there.
Specifically, our team is committed to helping the couple opening the kindergarten. They hope to finish this project by April. They have formed an action committee and will start working on ways forward for fundraising. Contact ARDF if you are interested in learning more about how you can help too!
As for our trekking team, we started out on Tuesday morning at Nyapul and ended Friday afternoon at Ghandruk. We walked 35 miles to an elevation of over 10,600 feet and viewed some of the most stunning works of God’s creation on this earth. The views were hard-won with long stretches of nothing but stone staircases either straight up or straight down. We were blessed with views of two incredible sunrises and clear skies with panoramic mountain views of the Annapurna range. One we had to wake up at 4am and hike a short but intensely steep distance to attain, and the other the Lord just dropped right in our laps at Tadapani.
All along the trail the Lord spoke to many of us personally, either through the site of the mountains, through our companions, the ecosystems we passed through, or in our times of silence and prayer.
Common to both our teams was incredible sense of togetherness, and being a team, helping one another wherever it was needed. If the trail got long and difficult, we were aided by guides, and fellow hikers. If the steps down into the cave in Pokhara were dark and slippery, the team just held hands. The Lord created a sense of togetherness and community in the group, even though we were split for a time, that blessed each member of it.
And, more broadly, we were fortunate enough to attend two church services, on in Kathmandu and one in Pokhara. In our final debrief session it was clear that those services gave us each a stronger sense of our place in the larger, global body of Christ, and our instant family through it. Sure, our hymns are in another language, but we understand why we’re all together, and we’re very glad for it. In the church we attended on
Saturday morning in Pokhara before flying back to Kathmandu, there were representatives of an estimated 25 tribes from different parts of Nepal. And yet we were all there together, worshipping with one voice, in a language some knew and some didn’t, but all receiving the power of the gift of the Holy Spirit dwelling in a place.
It’s been an incredible journey in Nepal with ARDF. Many lives have been shaped by our experiences, souls restored, joy discovered, and hearts opened. Praise the Lord!