25 June 2010

Nepal meets Central America

The summer team trip to Guatemala and Nicaragua was planned about a year ago. We have been working through deadlines for deposits, ticket purchase, project planning for the last few months, long before the decision was made to bring a Nepali partner back for the summer. I had no plans to take him to Central America, mostly because of the cost, but it was also nice to have someone to "man" the office while Tamara and I are both traveling. New information and tasks come into the office regularly, but the volume of work that we had at the end of May has been divided and conquered. We are not just caught up, but comfortably ahead with everything that is vitally important. Another worker in the office makes an amazing difference. I do not even want to think about the time when he will be gone. Anyway-- I digressed from the story.... Two of our Guatemala trip participants were compelled to cancel due to a medical situation. They welcomed us to use the funds already committed for someone else. The cancellation meant that there was no adult with the group of teens on two of the flights. Our organization had one ( Nepali) adult who could be added to the team to supervise the kids. The financial issue was solved, and the need for work to continue in the office was not urgent,but a visa problem remained. With an American passport, one can enter Guatemala without a visa. Another group of nationalities need a visa, but can apply by mail. Nepal is not in that category. Application in person is required and the Guatemala consulate is not in Lynchburg. But-- thankfully, it is not in the heart of the nation's capital, either. A trip to Silver Spring, Maryland, on a little side street that can be found only by GPS was necessary. We presented the required items: passport pictures, color photo copy of the passport and multiple entry visa to the United States, $25 fee. He was given a short form to fill in-- mostly contact information here and in Guatemala. We were finished. No interview. No questions. No problems. We were promised the passport would begin its journey back to us,in the envelope we provided within 48 hours. The next day, I should not have been surprised when it became possible(schedule wise) for him to continue with us for Nicaragua as well. However-- he would need a Nicaragua visa. Would that mean another trip north? I called the consulate. Does he have a tourist visa or a resident visa for the United States? Answer: tourist visa. Resident visa would have been easier. With a tourist visa, they needed a police report, a health record, among other documents and process time was twenty days minimum. And, so the trip to Nicaragua seemed impossible, until as the conversation was ending, the girl asked one more question. "Are you going to any other Central American countries? Does he have a Guatemalan visa? He can go into Nicaragua on a Guatemalan visa." Who would have thought? Does the God of heaven want this Nepali servant of His in Central America? Yes. Why? I don't really know yet. Can God move His people, even those who have no money at all, to the place where He wants them to be? Yes, He can.

11 June 2010

Nepal meets America

I arrived in the United States about two weeks ago. Sometimes it take me a while to make the adjustment back to this way of life. My surroundings seem familar, but with an odd sensation that I do not really belong here. This time I brought one of my Nepali partners back with me to spend the summer. He seems to be handling the lifestyle differences well. He can drink water from the tap and ice for drinks is always available. We keep the indoor temperature at a constant level of our choice. We wash clothes and dishes by machine. He has his own bedroom and bathroom for perhaps the first time in his life. But-he is struggling with the fact of so much meat at every meal, even though he does like chicken and fish. He has no intention of becoming a "cow eater" while in America-- which for him is a cultural and personal preference, not a religious reason. This man is not on his "first time out of the mountains." He has traveled before-to India, to Singapore, to Holland. But still, there is no place on earth like America. We go through a "drive through" and get a chicken sandwich (handed to us through the window) for lunch and then on the same day, I give him some chicken dish for dinner as well. Too much. But it is what we do here in America. I bought a rice cooker and a big bag of rice because I know that a huge plate of it for dinner every night is common in Nepal-- with a few cooked vegetables on the side. But we do not do that in America and I just cannot think about rice every day. We've only used it once. He does not ask many questions, but he seemed confused when I entered the driveway only partially, then backed up and aligned the car with the mailbox. "I am getting the mail without getting out from my comfortable seat and air-conditioned car," I told him and he smiled. I showed him what we call, "mountains," and he smiled again. I think he enjoys having his own computer and work station. He has helped us a lot with the office work on that computer and also freely communicates with his family and co-workers back in Nepal. He understands that he can take something from the refrigerator whenever he wants it and just a plug into the wall will have some boiling water within a few minutes. There are many things to enjoy here in America. But I miss the life in Nepal and before long, I think he will as well. We do not have the closeness of families or the interdependency of the Asian group dynamics. We love our independence and probably have more choices, but our relationships are completely different-- both with one another and probably with our God as well. This past Sunday, he was asked to give the closing prayer in the church. With hands raised, he addresses the Lord on behalf of the congregation in his own language. I understood a few words. The rhythm and tone of the words were beautiful and familar. I miss Nepal. And while my friend and partner is seeing a whole new world and I am enjoying it from his eyes, I long to return to his world-- a place where life is not so easy as here, but it is rich in many ways that are just too difficult to explain.