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

How we’re helping in Nepal

trainingI asked the men if they’d ever been the victim of a natural disaster; over 80% raised their hands…the story:

After learning about the people and the common belief systems across Nepal, we drove west (and that was a long & crazy drive) to help the people of this country we love…

Nepal is a very poor country. In fact, approximately 60% of the country’s 28 million people live on less than $1.25 a day. Poverty. Malnutrition. Disaster. For many, despair. 

It’s geographically the highest country in the world with nearly 100 mountain peaks over 23,000 feet in elevation. They’re proud of Mt. Everest which we saw from a flight. The mountainous conditions lead to many things such as homes built on the sides of hills and the highest per capita number of rivers (think melting mountain snow) in the world. Homes on hills + rivers = flooding and mudslides.everest

We smiled as 24 godly men from 24 churches in 24 villages across the western part of Nepal gathered for the Convoy of Hope/Nepali Red Cross Disaster Preparedness training. One man rode 12 hours to be a part of the week. At least 80% said their villages and homes were affected by at least one recent natural disaster. For most, it was flooding and mudslides. For others, their village was transformed by drought, fires or other calamities.training

When I asked what they did to help their community in the midst of past disasters, they said they didn’t know how other than to get animals and food to safety.

 They now know they’re responders, not simply victims. They’re part of the solution. 

During this disaster preparedness training, many things like this were emphasized:

Preparing their family for disastersteamup

Preparing the people of their churches and villages for disaster

Assessing damage and resources when a disasters occur

Serving as resource people for the Red Cross and other organizations when disasters occur

Mobilizing to help across the country and region when disasters occur

Training others with the information they’re receiving

 

They’re excited about this week of training.makunda

 

When the training is done, the men will work with our team to distribute food, blankets, clothing and other supplies to a village hit hard by flooding last fall. They’ll put their training to good use…

 

Please keep these great guys and this beautiful country in prayer.

 

Tomorrow, the tribe of slaves no more…

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)