I just returned from a two week mission trip in Nepal, part of it spent in the Himalayas. We trekked in the Mustang region to the highest place I ever climbed, just shy of 13,000 feet. It was a breathtaking experience. Literally. We all struggled with the high altitude. I grew up in Switzerland, and I am used to the majesty of the Alps. But really, as proud as I am of the Alps, they are like a miniature version of the Himalayas.
Our group included 2 sherpas, Phurpu and Dhombu, and six Americans. Bob Buse from Doulos Global Ministries http://doulosglobal.org, pastor Mark Moder from Pittsburgh, Aaron Copeman, John Ingram and Lorraine Gerhold from New Jersey – and me.
We ministered at two pastors’ conferences, one in Kathmandu and one in Pokhara. We loved on and brought gifts to widows and orphans and fed 300 slum kids. Along the way we encouraged many believers who have been persecuted for their faith in Jesus Christ. We prayed everywhere.
According to Quora, https://www.quora.com/What-are-the-top-ten-poorest-countries-in-Asia Nepal is the second poorest country in Asia. (Compare that to Bangladesh, the fifth poorest). What we saw on the streets in the capital Kathmandu was chaotic traffic. There is not one traffic light in this city of almost 1.5 million inhabitants. Half of the streets lack blacktop. The streets are full of holes and bumps, sprinkled with holy cows and lots of dust. And yet, and yet!
The people won my heart. Kind and humble and hospitable.
Here are four encounters that I will never forget.
One: Sherpa/Pastor Phurpu
Phurpu was our lead Sherpa. He has been on different expeditions on Mount Everest, and now leads his own groups on treks. The income from these treks allows him to minister to Tibetan refugees in four countries.
His ministry, the Reaching Himalayas Center encompasses an orphanage, a church, a ministry to widows, a Biblical training school, church planting, and trekking. His eldest daughter follows in his footsteps and his wife is also very involved.
They are badly in need of a website! A similarly named ministry has a beautiful website, unwittingly taking their contributions. Any volunteers to create a simple website for them?
Two: Widow Nadyock
When we visited the widows and widowers in Kathmandu, we were given a welcome scarf, laid around our neck. What a wonderful tradition! Then we sat down for a meal with them. We were not allowed to share our faith with them, so we shared some encouraging words and gifts of shawls for the ladies and T-shirts for the men. Phurpu translated what we shared, and soon enough the widows and I had a chat with gestures about their beautiful hats. They showed me that they always carry needle and thread with them, tucked away in their hats.
Afterwards, one of the widows, Nadyock, invited us to her home, a tiny shanty made from found objects. Inside I asked her, what is this?, pointing to a sandpit next to her bed. It was a place for her chickens at night, so nobody could steal them. Nadyock is happy in Kathmandu. She said it was much better here than in the mountains where she only had a lean-to, was constantly cold and lonely, far away from any other people. She touched my heart, having nothing yet being happy.
Three: Jewelry maker in Tibetan refugee camp
We visited a Tibetan refugee camp in Pokhara and met a woman turning the prayer wheels at the monastery. She invited us into her home and laid out her handmade jewelry. We bought several bracelets made from yak bone.
Again, we were not allowed to share our faith, but I asked her about her life. When she was eight she fled from Tibet and lived for twelve years in the Mustang region of Nepal before marrying and moving to Pokhara. She is now my age, and has lived in this camp for forty years. The sale of the six simple bracelets will sustain her and her blind husband for twelve days. I asked her where she would like to live. She immediately answered Tibet. I asked her why she is not going there. She answered with one word: China.
Four: Daniel Lama
Daniel Lama is the proprietor of our hotel in Muktinath, our last stop on this trip. He, his brother and his sister-in-law are the only believers in Jesus Christ in this town, a pilgrimage destination for both Hindus and Buddhists. His brother was away during our visit, shepherding yak much higher up in the mountains. Did you know that yak cannot survive below 16’400 feet? I did not know either.
Daniel was exceedingly happy to see Phurpu. He and his sister-in-law gladly received our prayers. As lone Christians up there, they were encouraged by our presence and spent time with us in devotion, being strengthened in their faith.
Now I am back with the refugees here in Thailand, continuing with the expressive art lessons. Even though this was a trip of a lifetime, I missed my peeps.
Do you want to help? Art supplies for each class averages about $10, the commute about $15. One class costs me about $25 a week, 3 classes about $75 a week or $300 a month but any amount you send is greatly appreciated.
To donate, please go to http://www.fcf.org/donates Under select campaign, scroll down and choose the very last line – Missionary Gerda Liebmann.
Thank you very much for caring. May God greatly bless you.