It has been a difficult transition – returning from Nepal to the United States. I’m just being honest. Perhaps it is the jetlag. Maybe it is returning to “normal” whatever that is. As the old song goes, somewhat paraphrased, “I left my heart in Kathmandu.” As difficult as it was to climb the small mountains that we climbed, hiking up the steep narrow paths, dealing with the heat and humidity, there was a sense of fulfillment in what we did that overcame the hardships we faced.
Sunday night found us at the end of Day 3 and sleeping in the Guest House which was a good thing considering we had to get up early so that we could leave the city before the “bundai” began. Our journey took us about two hours away from Kathmandu into the mountains. It was a spectacular trip filled at first with blaring horns, lots of dust, and a little trepidation. As we left the city and entered the mountains, the horns still blared as we went around hairpin turns meeting motorcycles, trucks, cars, and buses. And I do mean meeting them. We were close enough that you wouldn’t have to reach far to shake hands with the passengers in the other vehicles. The roads were broken up by the earthquake – some with as much as a two feet deep drop. All along the roads were homes that had crumbled.
But then there were the mountains. God blessed us on Day 4 with a view that is not often seen during monsoon season – snow-capped mountain peaks. The pictures cannot do it justice. They were breathtaking.
We arrived in the Sindhupalchok region of Nepal where we unloaded our backpacks, extended our walking sticks, and began our journey into Village #1. Sonya and I were blessed to be teamed up with Rebikah, our Nepali translator, who was responsible for helping to develop and implement the psycho-social program being used to help bring healing to these people. Words again fail me as I try to describe the beauty of this young woman – physical beauty, yes, but a spiritual beauty that went far deeper. Rebikah is wise beyond her years and as compassionate as she is wise. In the few days we were with her, she became like family to us. She was Sonya’s constant companion, holding her hand going up and down the mountain, helping her to navigate the steep terrain. We looked to her for insight into the people as well as direction to keep us from crossing cultural boundaries that would cause offense. She was amazing. As I said numerous times to our hosts, she could have handled the program much better had we not been around.
Our first stop was in the home of a family that had been drastically affected by the earthquake. Their house stood next to the shelter in which they were living. A two story mud/brick home that was structurally unsafe. Their current dwelling was more of a shelter, open on three sides with a small enclosure for a sleeping area. Under the shelter were their remaining livestock, storage for the crops they had harvested, and the fire used for cooking their meals. When we arrived, Mom and Dad were working the fields while the older sister watched her two brothers. We talked to them about how they were doing physically and emotionally. We shared some cards from the GAs from Whitesburg Baptist Church, and then we asked them to make some cards to send back to the girls. With cardstock, crayons, and stickers, they were only happy to oblige. They drew pictures, wrote their names, and placed the stickers – some of the stickers ended up on their bodies just like they would here in our country. In fact, the oldest of the boys followed us around most of the morning proudly displaying his sticker. I read them a story about Joshua, a man of courage who obeyed God. We shared the plan of salvation using a gospel bracelet. We prayed for them. When we asked about what we could pray for them, one of the boys said, “Pray that I get my stationery.” No, he wasn’t asking for some fancy paper and envelopes with which to write letters – he was asking for school supplies. It just so happened that God would use us to answer that prayer. What a thrill!
Everywhere we went, we saw great need, and yet the people always managed a smile, offered a helping hand, and shared the little that they had. Unbelievers? Yes. Hindu and Buddhist? Yes. Generous? Gracious? Absolutely. I couldn’t help but wonder what the people of our country would be like given similar circumstances. I thought back to the days following the April 2011 tornadoes. To Katrina 10 years ago. September 11, 2001. And I realized that in our great land, tragedies like this bring out the best and the worst in us. People are people everywhere you go.