30 April 2010

Top of the World

Jomson is NOT the top of the world, but it seemed so to me as I stood on a small plateau surrounded by and in the midst of the spectacular Himalaya. The beauty and majesty of this piece of creation is indescribable and moving to any heart. I do not know exactly how high these mountains are, but high enough that several members of our group had headaches. I did not have any problem. I had the medicine for altitude sickness, but kept forgetting to take it. By the time I remembered, I was having no symptoms and it seemed unnecessary. Few people come here and those who do are intent on trekking or climbing the mountains. But--our group of ten Americans, eleven Tibetans, one Nepali came to bring the gospel to the people who live here. The first village we visited was reached by bus. We packed into the rattletrap vehicle and proceeded onto some terrain that would not be good for those who embrace safety and security over adventure and challenge. The roads were unpaved and gently defined around steep cliffs with barely enough space for the 4 wheels. We looked over the unprotected drops and hoped the brakes were in better condition than the rest of the bus. The possibility that on some occasions two vehicles might need to pass did not seem to be considered by the folks who built the road. We gathered together to pray before Dolma asked permission from a school master to share the gospel with the children. We should not have been surprised that he said, yes. Our kids sang gospel songs in Tibetan and Dolma shared for a few minutes. Each child received tracts which will certainly be taken into the homes. In most cases, the Americans were observers to the actual outreach as we walked along speaking to those who showed interest and offering tracts to almost everyone we passed. It is best for Tibetans to be approached by Tibetans to lessen the perception of Christianity as a western religion. But the Americans were a part of it. We helped train these kids. We funded. We prayed. Our God led. It was a precious blessing to see the fruit in the lives of our kids as Trust Home reaches out and begins to plant the seeds in the remote areas.

Wedding at the Trust Home

Weddings are always special occasions in the lives of the participants and their families. But this Tibetan/Nepali wedding with American pastor officiating and gospel message presented was unique to everyone in attendance. Among the 500-550 people were a group of Tibetan Buddhists who may never have heard the gospel before-- and may never again. The bride is a Tibetan, but she is not a Buddhist. She is one of the very few Tibetan Christ followers in the world. Her new Nepali husband is also a committed Christian believer, but a number of friends and relatives who attended are Hindu. And so the American pastor had a challenging task in the presentation of the gospel to these diverse groups and to make the wedding special for the couple as well. He did an outstanding job, with mannerisms that fit the Asian cultures before him perfectly. In a gracious voice, as if sitting in a living room, he made a clear picture with words to show the gospel for people with no Christian foundation or experience. There was no invitation or request for a response by lifting hands. This audience would not have understood any of that and even I (with my traditional church background)cringe at the thought of asking a newly decided believer to be public immediately. The goal was to feed just a small bite of food, to draw the heart, to create an atmosphere where another step could be taken. The wedding was a mixture of cultures and languages. Both of the young man's parents walked with him to the platform. I did not know until a few minutes before the fact, that I would be escorting the bride, along with Dolma and the girl's birth mother. Hymns were sung in Nepali and Tibetan. Tibetan dances were performed. Testimonies were spoken. Rings were exchanged. An important part of a wedding in Asia is the signing of the wedding certificate. The parents and pastors involved all signed. Dolma and Arjun signed. I was also included and then the certificate presented to the couple as a proof (I suppose) of their marriage with the blessing of all these documented. My special memory of the ceremony came after Arjun signed the certificate. He put his hand on the girl's head and leaned over to whisper something to her. It made her cry and Arjun was also crying as he left the platform- a tender moment between a daughter and the father who raised her.

23 April 2010

Broken Things

Broken things--whether it is an object, a relationship, an appointment, or bone need immediate attention for the best chance of restoration. I actually use my little finger (right hand) more than I would have thought. Only one example is that it has a significant role in typing on a keyboard which is something I do a lot. However, back in early March, when I tried to use it to break my fall on a slippery, sloped surface, it was not up to the task and indeed in the effort, itself was broken. Now I do not have medical confirmation about that-- but as a professional nurse registered in the state of Virginia with a history of emergency department practice AND the one directly experiencing the symptoms, I am certain it is broken. I did not seek a medical evaluation when it first occurred because I was in GUATEMALA with a group. I was BUSY with lots of logistics to keep running smoothly and what will they do for a finger anyway, except splint it? I could do that myself--but I didn't. After Guatemala, my life did not slow and has not yet. I am in Nepal now, with trips to two other countries in between Guatemala and Nepal, and I am working on plans to go to Bangladesh in another week or so. Anyway, it has been 6 weeks and the finger is still painful and swollen and crooked. It might never be the same again. If I had taken proper care of it, it would probably be straight and painfree by now. Broken lives of children are all around me. The children have been damaged, but have the chance to be whole if we deal with their needs now. If we don't, things will continue to be painful for them as they face the future. They may grow up crooked. They may not ever be what they could have been, if only for a little intervention now. I was too busy to do what my little finger needed. Other priorities flooded my day and demanded my time. I thought it would be all right. But now, it might be too late.

22 April 2010

Puppy in the Storm

I arrived at Trust Home late last night, the place where we shelter, feed and educate 84 children who are also discipled daily. Today, we had the worst hail storm of my lifetime. Warning came as for any summer storm. The skies grew dark quickly, the wind picked up and the lightening flashed. Then, like a bucket spilling its contents, chunks of hail began battering the roof. Most were the size of a golf ball, but some approached the size of tennis balls. The sheer force and quantity of them was amazing. The sound was so loud, we could not talk with one another. Open "shutter" windows meant a soaking for whatever was on the inside of them and trying to shut them once the storm was in progress was actually dangerous. The assault continued for at least 30 minutes by most estimates. When it was over, ice chunks lay everywhere, completely covering the ground and accumulated into piles in some places. The crops in the adjoining lot were flat on the ground. The potted flowers all around Trust Home were bent and broken, all blooms gone. And--one more thing happened-- the puppy died. He was left out in the storm and the poor thing was literally stoned to death. I would have gone out for him if I had known. But I did not know. I just stayed safe and warm and dry in my room. He was unable to find shelter and no one helped him. The small boys cried for him. One cried all through the devotion time, as I held him in my arms. I cried a little bit too. I did not even know the puppy, but what a horrible thing to happen, and he could have been protected and saved so easily. But now it is too late to do anything-- too late for him. But maybe something else that I do can be significant, can make a difference-- before a hail storm comes and makes it too late.

19 April 2010

Maranatha-- O Lord Come!

Today, I stood on the land which will be the new home for Maranatha Children's Home in Nepal. They always told me it was BIG, in fact they told me exactly how big, but it was too hard for my little brain to compare Nepali ropani to American acres. I saw the land when we first bought it, but crops were growing and the boundaries were impossible to identify. But this time was different. The crops have been harvested and the perimeter wall has been built. WOW. The land is completely flat, which is difficult to find in Nepal. It is in a quiet village, a little far from the main road-- which makes transportation inconvenient, but everything else-- such as noise, safety, etc is better. The well is the next step and it is in progress. They want to make a "deep bore" well, rather than the less expensive, but more common hand dug variety.The main advantage is that the deep bore water is drinkable. The partner shared the plans for the place to put the house. Much of the land will still be in crops-- used for important training for these kids who will need to survive back in their villages and also important for providing a lot of their own food. The dream that we have dreamed for the past few years is starting too happen. Please pray for this important ministry. We hope to have space for 50 children and a training center for pastors and Village Evangelism gatherings--medical clinics, literacy training, sewing. We also want to plant a church on the property. The children will be "interns" in the outreach programs and in the life of the church. Maranatha! O Lord Come!

16 April 2010

New boy at Timothy Home

Timothy Home has increased one to make a total of seven boys,living in the city of Kathmandu, Nepal. Somaj is very small for the eleven years of life he claims and certainly undernourished. He has spent those eleven years in a village, a far different life from the busy city. CLASS THREE was stated as his education, but the local school here tested him and assigned class one. It is not likely that he had ever seen a foreigner before and certainly never been close to one, never been photographed by one-- but we have to do that to prepare for a --yet unknown-- sponsor who will join us to provide for his needs. He has no idea what is about to happen to him, what his life will be like or how to grasp so many new experiences. He is wearing clothing that belongs to the other boys. But-- he has a clean bed in a safe place and a full stomach, just since last night. If he will study faithfully, he will get a good education and he will be fully involved in the strong children's program of one of our partner churches, only a short walk away. Please pray for Somaj as he faces this adjustment period.

07 April 2010

Departure day approaches

I seem to spend my life these days confused about whether I am in "recovery from trip" mode or "preparing for trip" mode. People are asking me if I am really busy (YES), when I am leaving again (12 APRIL), if they can still get a letter in for their sponsored child (YES, but QUICKLY PLEASE). On Monday evening,I will be enduring the hours once again that are necessary for travel to Nepal, but once I arrive, my life will shift to a completely different kind of busy-- and I long for that to come. Please pray for the decisions that must be made-some that will effect a child's life for years to come. My own part in this will be small. One of our pastors or children's home partners will have already evaluated a situation before it come to me. Please pray for the teaching/presenting of God's Word. I am already scheduled for the third day after I arrive in the country. With so many small issues filling my mind and time, I cannot focus on preparation here, but the pressure will be fully upon me soon. And finally, please pray that whatever comes, however Allow is impacting the beloved in Nepal that it will fully please our Lord.

01 April 2010

In the beginning.....

Hello Everyone, I am just starting with the concept of blog. I appreciate your patience and suggestions as I am learning this new communication tool. The following notes are working "backwards" from the most recent ministry trip. Actually all of these are pretty recent. I have had a heavy travel schedule in the past few months. Holy land..... I left the land of the Bible only a few days ago, full of anticipation for the future. Our Allow The Children involvement is small here, but opportunities abound to be a blessing to believers in need and a part of bringing the lost to the Savior. We are working with a small children's home for boys in Ramallah. This city is the capital for the Palestinians. Crime level among the residents is low. It is safe for a woman to walk alone on the streets in the night. But these people know violence-- all of them. The pain of the past and the present living conditions is in their eyes and not far from their conversations. Americans or any kind of foreigner are not common guests, but they made me feel welcome and accepted among them. We are working with this partner ministry to disciple boys to be come godly men. One boy at a time-- to make a difference in the Holy Land. Nicaragua....I had a "layover" in the US of less than 48 hours between return from Nicaragua and departure to Israel. Nicaragua was a sweet break as we shared some time with the children of Hagar de Ninos Belen in the city of Managua. We also launched a new pastor's children program, as we have in several of the other countries. We screened one child from each pastor's family for sponsorship. This blesses the pastor as well as his child and gives the opportunity for some prayer support between the American sponsor and the pastor in the field. Guatemala... We had a wonderful ministry trip with the senior class of Timberlake Christian Schools. The students funded a home for a pastor and did some painting and other work on the church. They visited homes in the village and successfully drew the people, filling the little church, to hear the Word of God on Sunday. They fed poor children gathered in the community dump. They played with orphanage kids and developed relationships that blessed both ways. We are looking forward to our next group going to Guatemala at the end of June. Nepal... I will be leaving for Nepal on 12 April. This is my usual twice yearly ministry time, with certainly some definite objectives, but the Lord generously fills all of the time once I am on the ground. I will be taking new pictures and updates of children in our program, screening some new children that our partners request for the program. I will be teaching Bible to adults in churches and a small Bible college and children's devotions in the homes. We have a group coming in at the end of April for about a week of outreach in the high mountain area of Jomson. And... somewhere within the seven weeks that I will be out, I need to schedule some time with our Bangladesh ministry. I will return to the US at the end of May. I am grateful for those of you who pray so faithfully.