By Lim Ai Leng
It was Pastor Danny’s fourth trip to Nepal but it was the first time for the rest of us, namely Felicia Kwong, Khai Chew, Catherine Chiew and myself. We had been toying with the idea since last year but finally decided that it was time to make it real.
The main purpose of the trip was for Pastor Danny to check on the welfare of some of the returnees from Malaysia, the churches that some of them have started or are helping and to meet their families. Felicia and Catherine are actively involved in the Nepali ministry in Taman Asean and in a sense, it was a reunion with many of the “boys” they had taken under their maternal wings when the boys were working in Malaysia. Generally it was an exposure trip for the first-timers, to see for ourselves how these Nepalese Christians fend for themselves when they returned home and where they come from.
Mornings are beautiful in Nepal. Daylight peeps from the shadows of the previous day by 5.30 am. On the first day, we set off about 8 am to Melamchi area in the Sindulpulchowk District which was about 3 hours away. The church was in the countryside. The journey was a bumpy one as the terrain was really rocky most of the way. The church was started by one of our returnees, Pastor Amar from Air Keroh. When we arrived, it was almost time for lunch. We ate before joining them for a service in a small room in a nearby rented shop-house.
The room was filled with little children, young men and women and the older ones- all cramped together sitting on the floor. We were officially welcomed with garlands of flowers and while the ladies were gifted with shawls, the men were given quaint-looking caps which must be worn with a specific tilt! After sharing by the team members, the Word was delivered by Pastor Danny, followed by ministry time. There was no hesitation on the locals’ part to beckon for prayers and they received the prayers with open hearts and humility.After the service, Pastor Amar enthusiastically led the group to view a piece of land they had bought to construct a new church building. The path, like the weather that day, was terribly hot, dry and dusty. We all learnt soon enough that the Nepalese have a different sense of distance. “Not far away” may actually mean about 30 minutes walk or more, not forgetting their natural uneven and rocky terrain! It was going to be a recurring lesson over the next few days.
As a result of an unexpected stop at Pastor Amar’s home, we reached the Centre by nightfall. It was the first time climbing up to the Centre in darkness. Most of us had torches or hand-phones to light up the path. Thankfully we also had the boys’ help. Upon arrival, we wasted no time to clean up as best as we could in order to get enough sleep for another long day ahead of us.
Hom Tamang’s Orphanage
The next day, we travelled to another village to visit a home-cum- orphanage set up by Hom Tamang. Unfortunately the children were in school in the morning and so we couldn’t see them. We decided to have a quick look-around. It was a new experience to walk on a hanging bridge behind Hom’s house and after some photo-taking, we walked further down the road to a school beside a river.
This school by the river caters for less than 100 kids. Though they were in uniforms, they looked unkempt and were probably not adequately supervised, judging by their physical appearance.
Most children here are left on their own without much parental supervision. But children being children, they have this captivating ability of switching from mischief in one instance to innocence in the next. The children couldn’t be happier to interact with us and were ever ready to be photographed.
We walked back to Hom’s place to have a meal with the family.
While food was being served, a message was conveyed to Pastor Danny to share God’s Word after the meal.
Pastor Danny remarked,
“In Nepal, you must expect the unexpected!”
By then, a small group of believers and neighbours had already gathered waiting for spiritual Food
After the sharing which was translated by Pastor Ram, the listeners were ready for ministry. They never wavered from the faith that God can heal or set them free through Jesus. Even without any language, the women indicated their needs by pointing to parts of their bodies which required prayer. It was a moving experience, and if the people felt they had been blessed, we felt doubly blessed. We left the place believing that God had been with us.
Before leaving, we decided to leave the gifts behind for the children who were still in school.
Another Border Town
We were told it might be interesting to visit a border town between China and Nepal- not so far away. It was an unforgettable experience because of the harsh terrain as we pushed on relentlessly. There were no proper roads here and we just let the driver maneuver as best as he could through the harsh but majestic terrain. It was rocky and dusty and we were utterly tired out with backaches and headaches. The “not so far” took more than an hour, but it really felt so much further than that.
There was one spot along that long and dusty road that made us pause and even stop our inner murmurings. It was the location of a huge landslide that occurred some months ago.
The landslide not only blocked a large river nearby, thus causing a sudden flooding of the upper region, but also the flattening of some villages along the hill slopes and the blocking of the roads here-all these causing a relatively short distance to take hours to arrive. The vast destruction before us left us dumbfounded as we viewed solemnly the excruciating impact on the environment – so many lives were lost and property destroyed. When I think of the tough times we sometimes think we are having, I realized how much tougher are the lives of the people here.
Meeting the Orphans
On the way back, we were told that the children from the orphanage we missed were waiting to see us. Although it was late, we did not have the heart to bypass them. As we approached, we could see the kids attired in their best waiting to welcome us in semi-darkness! What a heartwarming sight to behold! The little gentlemen were wearing their little formal coats with long pants while the young girls were smiling bashfully. We took snaps of them even though it was already dark by then. They were ever ready to be photographed! I hope we have sent the message that they are special and God loves them through our return visit so late that evening.
The day just could not end without another unforgettable incident. Pastor Ram wanted to cheer us up by telling us that there was another route up to the Centre and that the driver would take that way, sparing us the agony of climbing that night. Our sense of relief was short-lived. The minute the jeep maneuvered onto the path up the Centre, our terror ride began. The jeep was fighting for its life to overcome the steepness of the slope with rocky and stony terrain all the way. We actually clung tightly to our seats while saying our individual prayers nervously but silently. Some of us literally closed our eyes because to look on either side would bring even more fear. One side was looking down the steep valley below with thorny bushes and rocks while the other side was looking at the close proximity of the slope to the jeep. We heaved a huge sigh of relief when the equally-tired jeep came to a halt beside the Centre. Phew! That marked the end of another long exhausting day in Nepal.
On the fourth day, we took a domestic flight to Pokhara to avoid a 6hour road journey. Upon landing, two local pastors were already there to welcome us – Pastor Bedu Lopchan and Ps Jivan Raj. As we settled ourselves in a small hotel, Ps Danny interacted with the two pastors regarding God’s work in that part of Nepal. That afternoon itself, at about 4.00pm, we were brought to Emmanuel Light Church. It was a house church but was filled to its brim with believers. Catherine Chiew gave her testimony boldly. The locals listened intently as Pastor Jivan translated her testimony. After that, Pastor Danny shared God’s Word, followed by a fruitful time of ministry.
It was almost 7.30pm when we were whisked off to another destination, Trust Home, an orphanage for Tibetan children. The founder, Mama Dolma, gave us a scrumptious dinner. She and her husband, Arjun, were soft-spoken, humble and sincere.
A day later, it was time to make our way to the airport to catch our flight back to Kathmandu. Soon, we realized we had to make some fast decisions because it looked very possible that the flight was becoming impossible due to adverse weather. To top that, the clouds were darkening by the minute. The two pastors made some calls to locate a reasonably comfortable van, bearing in mind the 6-hour journey ahead of us. Just as the van arrived, we were quickly ushered into it for it was beginning to drizzle.
About an hour or so into the journey, suddenly we heard some strange noises from outside. The sharp-hitting sounds were none other than the impact of hail stones on the van! I could literally see small stony ice hitting against the wind screen and windows. We were truly terrified. The journey finally took about 7 hours because of the bad weather and we arrived safely at Kathmandu in darkness.
Then, we were driven to Pastor Ram’s home for a meal. That night, it was another tiring climb up the hill because we declined the offer of another jeep ride up the ‘long and narrow road’. Tired as we were, we had to pack our bags in semidarkness while taking turns to wash up in semi-darkness as well.
The next morning, the students had helped us to carry our luggage down to the church we were going to worship. We couldn’t imagine how they managed, but were filled with gratitude. After breakfast, we attended church service before flying home. At the church, Pastor Danny preached and Ai Leng was with the children. All of us were each given a token of thanks- a wooden plague with a map of Nepal- and with prayers, we bade farewell.
We arrived at KLIA in good time and thought we would be in Malacca by midnight. Alas! It was not so. We were delayed by the airport customs for bringing in a bag of Nepali Bibles for the Nepali believers here. Our explanations were in vain. Finally, we had to leave the Bibles behind, with *their assurance that we would be contacted once they were cleared. With that, we left the airport with a prayer in our hearts that God would take care of His Word for His children.
View of the Himalayan mountains at sunrise from Harvest Mission centre
* True to their word, Pastor Danny received a call from the authorities concerned to collect the bag of Bibles.
Lim Ai Leng is a retired teacher who enjoys helping out in church. She co-ordinates disciple groups and writes on whatever she finds inspiring, bringing glory to God.