Notes from Nepal

Staff_team_2015 Posted by Roger Thompson on Mon, 09 Jan 2017 | 0 comments | Bookmark: digg this Post this to del.icio.us Post this to Facebook

I’m sitting on my borrowed bed in the family home of our CMSI partners at 8.30pm, but my body still thinks it’s 2.45pm. I’ve only slept for maybe four hours in the last 48 (I can never sleep sitting upright on planes and and last night I was still wide awake at 3am listening to the dogs barking!) As a result, my brain feels as tangled as the wiring on a Kathmandu streetlamp.

This cannot excuse the fact that along the way I managed to lose my wallet at Heathrow check-in, my sealed bag of liquids at Heathrow Security, my portable charger on the Dubai plane, my jumper in Abu Dhabi departure lounge and my watch in Kathmandu arrivals. Although all these items found their way back to me, Connor couldn’t believe I made it to Nepal in one piece; Jenny asked me to remind her not to travel with me again!

We were met outside the airport building by our host BA, who reversed the story of epiphany by giving gold (marigold garlands) to three visitors from the West! He drove us through the busy Kathmandu streets to his home where we met his wife, three-year-old son and parents BK and G.

This morning, we joined the folk at SD Church for their main, weekly worship service.
They moved into this building from a smaller place in 2013. In April 2015 the earthquake struck at 11.56am on a Saturday morning (church time in Nepal). BA told me he felt God had protected them – had they been in their old building they would have suffered tragic loss as the Sunday School room there collapsed. Fortunately their new premises are more up to date and withstood the violent tremors without any ill effects.

There was a lovely atmosphere in the congregation – very relaxed and welcoming. There must have been about 400 people present, an extremely diverse group of all ages, and with a large proportion in wheelchairs or otherwise disabled. The service was led by BA’s wife and lasted about two hours, the first hour being mainly lively worship songs.

Everyone except for the wheelchair users (about 20) sat on the floor, clapping along to the music and a number of older worshippers got up and danced in a free bouncy style, waving their arms a bit like a windmill…it was great! There was a slot where Jenny, Connor and I were welcomed, prayers led by BA, a Bible reading and a psalm. Then the children went out for their classes and I was invited up to preach – with BA translating for me.

I talked about the three visitors from the East in Matthew Chapter 2, explaining that they may have travelled to Bethlehem from southern Arabia (present-day Yemen) – the only place the Frankincense shrub grew – and how in ancient times this took around 50 days by camel caravan on the Frankincense Road. The reason they made such an effort and brought such precious gifts was that they were visiting a very special person – Jesus, God’s chosen Messiah who saves us from our sins.

It was very encouraging that lots of people came and greeted me enthusiastically on the way out, nodding with hands together, fingers pointing up and saying “Jai Mashi” (= Praise the Lord).

After church, Connor went back to the Kathmandu International Study Centre (the school he’s going to be volunteering in) to meet fellow volunteers, while BA took Jenny and I to a traditional Nepali restaurant. We sat on cushions on the floor next to low tables and ate a platter of dried rice flakes with curried water buffalo, beans and potato, followed by a rice-flour dumpling filled with molasses and desiccated coconut which tasted like melted liquorice – delicious!

He then drove us round Kathmandu through a labyrinth of narrow streets, tall red-brick buildings with intricately carved window screens, and a market area that reminded me of the Shambles in York, except much busier.

We visited an area that had been badly affected by the earthquake – with many buildings (including a once magnificent temple) demolished, or shored up with timber buttresses. In a back alley we happened upon a tiny wood-carvers’ workshop where craftsmen were sculpting wonderfully ornate panelling on religious themes. We dropped Jenny at her ‘home’ at the Rehabilitation Centre and finally got back here after dark at around 7pm. After some tasty home-cooked curry and rice, and a bit of a chat with BA and BK, I came up to my room to write this…feeling very blessed and privileged.

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