Nepal: A few random things

I’ve been telling stories from our Convoy of Hope interns and our trip to Nepal. Here are a few random things we saw while there…

Here you’ll see:
–The best burger in Nepal. It’s actually one of the best burgers I’ve had anywhere…and it was a nice surprise.
–A nepali “rest stop”. The team didn’t use those straw restrooms often…
–I think it’s the first sermon I’ve preached in just my socks. Great church…
–Fish on a stick
–A cow hoof in the trees. I think there’s a meaning behind that, but not sure what it is. Do you know?
–Beautiful kids
–I guess Leo and Hillary are paid spokespersons for this salon. I’m sure they know their image is being used to promote the place…
–Meat!
–Monkey! Our host has only seen 2 of this type in his almost decade in the country. It’s a langur, and they’re much harder to spot than the monkeys we’d see crossing the road and in many other places. Not a great quality picture, but at least I got one…
–I flew across the country. In a plane with no door on the cockpit. With a pilot who was reading the paper during most of the flight. Aargh.
–Shannon and Sam in a rickshaw.
–A nepali school bus. I loved these.

Slaves no more

kakidsFor centuries the Kamaiya people of Nepal served as slaves to wealthy land owners. Some were treated harshly, others as part of the family. All were given a place to live and food and water. 

A few years ago, after international pressure, slavery—specifically slavery of the Kamaiyas–was outlawed across Nepal. They were freed. Unfortunately, they no longer had their homes or access to the food and water they had for so long. They also had few skills outside of working in fields and helping in homes.

 They needed to learn to live in their new freedom. They need people to walk with them in their new freedom and show them the way to go and live.

Sounds like people who find their freedom in Christ for the first time…always good to have someone to walk with you and show you the way…

There are approximately 200-300,000 “ex-Kamaiyas” in villages across western Nepal. We visited with some of them from a local church. Special people. 

We played with the kids and laughed with the adults. Tiffany, a registered dietician from our team, learned about their diet. yakWe even drank yak milk tea with them. It was a special evening.

I’m not sure how we’ll help the Kamaiyas in the future. Their situation seems overwhelming and their poverty intense. We’re training people from their area to help with disaster response, and people from their church are helping them, but I know they could use more help than that.

Please pray with our team and others who want to help these ex-Kamaiyas. I know God has a great plan for these beautiful and generous people. If/when we’re able to help them in other ways, I’ll post the stories here.

 

Tomorrow…some random things we encountered…andycamkhouse

Fear & no fear in Kathmandu

templeIn addition to the Buddhist temples referenced yesterday, we visited one of the world’s most famous Hindu temples, Pashupatinath Temple, the most famous temple to lord Shiva.  Thousands of people from around the world pass through these 1500+ years old temple grounds on their pilgrimage to find enlightenment, peace, and answers to prayer. Holy men live in caves up river and seek peace and inner depth.                                        

bagmatiriverOf the many Hindu beliefs, people believe that if they die with their feet in a holy river (a river that empties into the Ganges, such as Katmandu’s Bagmati), they’ll go straight to Nirvana. Because of this, there’s a home for the dying a few yards from the river—a hospice of sorts. 

 

Here’s the Bagmati River.  We sat in silence while watching family members carry deceased loved ones to the banks of the river. We found it hard to process watching the cremation of three precious people. The still burning remains from one such cremation is shown here.                   

Because Hindus fear the afterlife, there are many sacrifices made to appease the 300,000,000 various Hindu gods. We watched priests and followers perform “puja” as people sought things like a good afterlife for deceased loved ones, fertility, finances, etc. We watched men slaughter a goat and offer it as a sacrifice to the god Shiva. I’ll spare a photo of the goat, but here’s where it died moments before this was taken.sadus

 

 There was a lot of silence the day we visited these temple. It helped us understand Nepal and the people. It helped us understand the history and holidays. It helped us understand the Nepali’s sincere quest for truth and hope, and the fear that accompanies that quest.

 

I’m so glad that Jesus isn’t the author of fear, but instead of love, power and a sound mind.

 

We also went to church. We loved church. We sang and worshipped and prayed and felt hope and peace and joy. We really liked church.goatblood

 

 

So what were we doing there? That comes tomorrow…shannonsfriend

 

sadu2

More than just spinning wheels in Nepal

_faceI’m in Nepal.

Fascinating. Old worldish. Beautiful. Religious. Smiling. Like nowhere on Earth.

This country is between the world’s two largest: India and China. Still, it’s never been conquered. Nepal is tough, powerful, proud, kind, and when necessary, fierce. I love it here.

Over the next week or so, I’ll share some thoughts, experiences, and insights I’ve gained during my time in this place.

I’ll also share about our Convoy of Hope interns who are in the midst of some incredible and important work.

First I wanted to share a bit about the country’s religious history. It’s an intersection of two of the world’s largest religions—Buddhism and Hinduism (with many Muslims as well). _monkeyThe founder of Buddhism was a Nepali man. The country is next to Tibet and contains numerous Buddhist Stupas (temples). Approximately 10% of the people are Buddhist and about 80% Hindu (about 1% are Christian). I’m learning that the Buddhist faith makes room for other beliefs and so often Buddhism/Hinduism are combined in various ways across Nepal.

With hopes of better understanding the Nepali people, we visited two of their largest Buddhist temples, the Boudhanath Stupa and the Swayambhunath Temple, also known as the Monkey Temple. At the Bouodhanath Stupa we saw thousands of people walking around the large statue of Buddha (and many smaller statues), spinning prayer wheels, burning incense, and offering sacrifices.

While the religion would take much more than a blog entry to explain, one element is their belief that the more prayers they pray the better off they’ll be in this life and their next. Hence, spinning these prayer wheels means (among other things) they’re praying many prayers and will have a better chance at a good life/afterlife._dalai

I can’t help thinking about how many Christians think that “spinning wheels” somehow gets us closer to God. _wheelWhile faith without works is indeed dead, I’m thankful that salvation isn’t something I must earn…because I never could. I’m thankful for His grace and for redemption though Jesus.

We also visited one of the most “holy” Hindu temples in the world. I’ll share about it & one other place of worship tomorrow…it was a day we won’t forget.

_walkingstupa

(update, wrote this in Nepal, but just made it home)

Some thoughts from this side of the world

Yesterday I left the world’s densest country* to head to the world’s highest.  It’s been a wild ride full of wonder, intense poverty, beautiful people, and opportunities to serve.

 

I’m here strategizing the work our interns will do during the spring ’10 Convoy of Hope internship term.  So many places with so much need.  Opportunity.  Impact?

opportunity(1)

We’ll work with little girls who live in the slums but who are finding a way out with help from people who love them.

opportunity (2)

We’ll work in a very special orphanage where the lives of children are changed forever.**

opportunity (3)

We’ll connect with churches that are making a difference and do our best to encourage with a sweet partnership.

I’m actually pretty overwhelmed by this trip…and excited by the opportunity.  More thoughts from here a bit later…

 

 

*For those keeping score, it’s the densest except for city states like Vatican City, etc. 

rice

Thanksgiving: Moldovan style

mihthanksIn Moldova, Thanksgiving isn’t so much a day on the calendar, as it is something they make sure they do.  Each church I’ve seen has an annual “Thanksgiving” service.  It’s not on a certain date, but is during the harvest.  Everyone (and that’s pretty much a literal statement) in Moldova has a garden…it’s where they get their food.  Without the food from their garden, it would be tough to get enough food to eat.  Gardens grow and man gives thanks.

 

The churches have people bring some of their best produce to the altar of the church where they display it for all to see.  There’s then  a service with music, stories, preaching (sometimes by numerous people) and more music.  They thank God for what He’s provided, then they share what’s been brought with the people present.

troyHere’s Troy Darrin from last year’s service in Mihaileni.  That’s some BIG cabbage!

 

We got to be a part of numerous Thanksgiving services this year, like at this one in Beltsi (say it like, “Belts”):

I miss Moldova!beltsi

More wall photos…

When I was at Book of Hope, I remember working with Leah to try and go back and get photos of all of the former interns…never got it done. Too many to track down. When I came to Convoy of Hope to work towards starting this intern program, I thought it would be fun to start from day 1.

So…in the back of the intern training area we have a wall full of photos. We started two years ago with just one…Josh…


He was the lone team member that went with the field guy, Sean Kelly. We added his photo the first day of the 2nd term. Then, on the first full day of the 3rd term, we added 8 photos from our summer team. It continued. Today was the first day of the 6th term. We added 12 photos from the fall team from last year. There are now 57 photos on the wall.

I’ve always been a nostalgic guy, as a shelf in my room from growing up would prove, but the wall helps me remember to pray for those people, to see what’s up with them and their lives and to even check in on occassion. Of course, facebook helps with that too…(it turns out Noah was indeed having fun with his status change to “married).

Anyways, it was fun hanging the photos (actually Jorel did). We’ll hang more on June 19…

I look forward to seeing the wall a decade from now with knowlege of where some of those people have gone…great days are not only behind but ahead for them…

wall

Convoy of Hope in Sarata Galbena

Today we're about an hour from the capital of Moldova in Sarata Galbena. I'm sitting in the first Pentecostal Church sanctioned by the Soviet Union…a miracle story (blogged it in June).

Tomorrow we'll work with this church to host a Convoy of Hope outreach. We're finishing the bagging of 500 bags of groceries, we'll soon set up and then pass out even more invitations in this village.

Clear and beautiful day.

Some thoughts on Moldova

 

We’ve been in Moldova over a week now. I’ve heard that the best time to document some differences you see is at the beginning when they’re still abnormal. Things are quickly becoming normal, but here are a few fun things from Moldova.

Virtually all people in the villages and even many in the cities use wells with buckets for their water. They’re quaint, decorated wells, often near an Orthodox cross or small building which they build to help bless their water and land.

There are many horses/wagons in the villages, and again even some in the cities. People can use the horses in more locations than the land, and they’re better on snowy roads. Most don’t need to travel very far and a horse will get them there just fine. Also, the wagons can be filled with vegetables, wheat, corn, etc. to bring in from the fields.

 

 

People bring their cows home about 6:30 p.m. If you’re driving then, you’ll have to slow down for the cows. If you’re talking with someone, they’ll need to leave to go bring them in.

The fruits/vegetables are very, very good and very, very big here. The soil and climate are great for growing things. Virtually everyone has a garden where they get much (most?) of their food. Many have beehives, lambs for cheese, cows for milk/cheese, chickens for eggs, etc.

The people we’ve met have been very hospitable. They’ve prepared amazing food, have welcomed us in their churches and even homes, and they’ve gone out of their way to show us kindness. It’s been fun getting to know them.

Here’s a video of some random moments…

moldova2