Our time in Nepal started a little slower than anticipated as when we arrived we discovered the whole town was on strike created by the pro Hindu activists. But apparently strikes in Nepal are very common and often scheduled, resulting in many weekends with everything shut down from stores to transport. This gave our team the chance to settle in to the new base and explore the surroundings a little. We were thoroughly impressed from day 1 as we wandered along the rugged, rural paths with the mountains towering overhead and small villages spotting the horizon.
Once we got started our ministry times were still a little slow but so worthwhile. We got to spend time with many different groups – sometimes a men’s or women’s rehab group, sometimes a youth group. It seemed a little weird to be doing our silly dramas for them but let’s face it – it’s just as entertaining no matter the age. It also saw our first man be saved and ask to come to Christ. This was very encouraging and reminded us why we do what we’re doing. It’s worth flying around the world even for one soul to be saved. Other ministry opportunities we were able to experience was going to pray for a leprosy and rehabilitation hospital, run a small Sunday school and share some small devotions.
The reason our ministry was a little less then usual was because it took about 2 hours to get anywhere. It was comically uncomfortable with the buses filling all available space so that a 40 person bus now had 70 people. People were literally standing on the bus steps outside holding people in as we drove. Now imagine this in the sweltering heat or the pouring rain and that’s Nepal for you. Our team has learnt along the way that if you find the humor in everything, it’s not so bad. Most of our funniest memories are in buses or jeeps revolving around fitting too many people in. Like the time we caught what we thought was a private van and then 30 people joined us?
But when you are visiting a country as beautiful as Nepal, ridiculous transport is just part of the culture and a means to get to the next beautiful place. Pokhara particularly was amazing with every house decorated extravagantly with colors and intricate patterns. Even though most days were cloudy, a few times we were able to glimpse the Himalayas behind the already beautiful landscape and just add to the splendor of it all. It was a sight I don’t think I could match to anywhere else in the world. Imagine standing on top of a tall mountain that took you an hour to get to the top by van and walking and then suddenly the clouds part and there are the Himalayas towering above your now tiny mountain. It was breathtaking and put into perspective how small we really are.
Our free day was spent walking up to a Buddhist refugee area and shopping around, drinking Tea and enjoying each others company. We got to the area via the coolest suspension bridge ever and were able to watch workers far below gathering silt from the river and meet all sorts of children along the way. This resulted in at least 6 different children throughout the day following us around, some talking, some not. It was rather funny and for them probably a very new experience.
Despite knowing next to nothing about Nepal before I arrived, it didn’t take long to fall completely in love with this beautiful country. Our living conditions weren’t the best with squatty’s, cold showers and the same meal twice a day (rice and potatoes) but somehow this place felt like home. The people were so genuine and kind, the landscape was stunning and God was definitely present in all that we did. As we flew out of Nepal, seeing all the tiny villages and spotting Everest in the clouds, I was reminded of why I love to travel, why new experiences should be chased and how that anywhere in the world, wether you think you’ll like it or not will give you all kinds of new stories to share.