Nepal Update – Monday October 13th This is the first time I’ve been on a laptop and able to write up a longer update post. Thank you for praying for our travel. Our flight to Philadelphia and hotel stay went without incident, but the flight to Qatar on Saturday was canceled due to a plane problem and we spent 12 hours in the airport until they sent us to an airport hotel for a free meal and night of sleep. On Sunday morning we took the same flight out (10:25am Eastern) so we’ve lost 24 hours, which is hard with such a tight timeline. But God always has reasons for the curve-balls He throw, so we are trusting in His perfect schedule.
I haven’t traveled internationally in a very long time, and even then it was only to London. They fed us three full meals and offered us snacks and drinks constantly. I managed to get a little bit of sleep (though it was daytime for us), listen to some sermons, and have some devotional time on the 12.5 hour flight. Doha airport was very large and new. Sadly we couldn’t see much of the surrounding countryside from inside of the airport. We did not have a long layover, so fairly quickly we boarded the plane to Kathmandu. We were able to get on Wifi and make some phone calls and it was nice to connect with our families. The second flight was only 4.5 hours long and I met my seat-mate, a Nepali native who was actually a Roman Catholic who worked for the church in some capacity (cleaning is the only thing I could understand). He was very helpful in telling me a lot about Nepali culture and Christianity.
It took a long time to get our Visa and we hit a snag with customs when trying to leave. They were suspicious about why we had so many instruments, especially after asking us whether we would leave any there. We explained that we were there to pay music with friends and leave instruments with them because they were our friends and had a hard time getting some of them in Nepal. After probably 15 minutes of questions and confusion, they just let us go and we think that they just got tired of trying to figure out exactly what we were doing and how to notate it on the declaration forms (there wasn’t a spot for musical instruments). Saturday evening we met Jeewan who is the main contact and host for this first portion of our trip in Kathmandu.
The vehicles are all very small, so it was quite an adventure trying to get us and all of our gear (personal things, instruments, studio equipment, and Wycliffe electronics we agreed to courier) to our guest home. The three of us are very comfortable with having no personal space by now; good thing we get along! After dropping off our things at the guest house, we headed out for a cup of tea and light snack and a chance to sit down with Jeewan and another Nepali who does a lot of the audio recording. After that we headed back and went to bed very early Nepali time (7pm or so). I think that I managed to get about 11 hours of sleep but keep in mind that was for 2 nights in one.
In the morning a US Catholic male nurse who is staying at the home made us Starbucks coffee and explained that the windows were tied shut with string because last week a pack of monkeys got into the kitchen. Now that’s something that doesn’t happen in America! I hope to see some monkeys. Driving through the city during the busy time was an adventure. Our ride was filled with narrow, dirty roads with lots of trash and other obstacles everywhere, no stop signs or traffic signals, tiny alleys that are technically two-way but only big enough for one car. The number of motorcycles and scooters is astounding – they are just everywhere. I hope that I don’t have to drive anything anywhere. Worship and teaching
After visiting with Jeewan last night I’m even more excited about how the Lord has brought this trip together. He reminds me a lot of myself in my 20s, having responsibility to plan and lead worship and being looked up to as a leader in these areas without having much teaching or training. Even though cultural things like instruments might vary, some of the issues he is facing as a church in these areas are very similar to those issues in the American church – things like generational stylistic musical preferences. It looks like I’ll get to do lots of teaching about foundational biblical principles of worship and also lead some songwriting workshops, hearing from local people and offering advice and support. Maybe I’ll even co-write something with some Nepalis! Our American house-mate told me about one of the most beloved Nepali folk songs that he said was begging for an English hymn lyrics. I’m always on the lookout for folk melodies and am listening to this right now
Personal Spiritual Life I am feeling very encouraged and close to the Lord. I listened to some sermons on the trip, one of which was about mercy ministry (helping the poor and needy) and feel like this is a theme that the Lord has been working into my life and heart for some time now. I have been repenting of my lack of attention to mercy needs around me (and being willing to meet those needs) and a spiritual sloth that has crept in as I’ve settled into American suburban life in Tennessee, and have been moved to tears at the forgiveness, compassion, and mercy that God shows to me, and calls me to pursue. I am grieved by how often we evangelicals don’t get involved with helping others and see this as a core aspect of what it means to be a Christian. But I’m not talking about putting in a few mercy-related things into our calendars – I’m talking about mercy as a lifestyle. God has been opening my eyes and heart to start seeing opportunities to help people all around me in “little” ways and I’m convinced that Jesus’ life was like this. You can pray that this same awareness and willingness to help will pervade my time here in particular.
On the plane I was also starting to become aware again of the intense spiritual struggle between light and dark that is going on all around us, which we (especially in the West) are often so blind to. I also thought about how this spiritual warfare for souls is just as intense on the “mission” field as it is in my everyday life even though traveling so far to such an “exotic” place can make it feel more spiritually significant. Before my trip I listened to a sermon with Sherry where the preacher was speaking to thousands of youth, chastising them for thinking that radical Christianity looked like coming to youth conferences, wearing T-shirts with verses on them, or going on foreign missions trips. Instead, he encouraged them that radical Christianity meant respecting and obeying your parents even when you don’t agree with them. I want to be excited about the truth of the gospel and its ability to change us not only here where it’s “easy” to be excited, but back home in the seemingly mundane and will fight for that.
You might find the following analogy silly, but I don’t care ???? I watched Spider-man 2 on the Qatar flight and a scene brought me to tears because of the spiritual significance that I saw in it. After helping the city in heroic ways for a long time Spider-man leaves the scene for about 6 months while grieving, leaving the city desperate for his help. A little boy who had met spider-man earlier in the film was in public with a crowd when a villain began to threaten the police. He was wearing a little Spider-man suit and escaped from his mother to run out into the street between the people and police and the villain, believing that since he was spider-man that maybe he could save everyone. I lost it when he boldly stepped up, challenging the villain, only to have the villain laugh (rightly so). As he was facing the villain, the real spider-man returned and hovered behind the boy (that’s when I lost it). I saw myself as that little boy, facing the enemies of mankind (Paul refers to them as the spiritual forces of wickedness), dressed in the outfit of my king (who everyone says is gone never to return), drawing boldness from my identity as belonging to Him and my believe in his power over my enemies. Please pray that through the areas of worship and music, I’ll boldly proclaim the gospel of salvation in Jesus Christ alone, and for the conversion of souls to Him through my efforts and those of my team and the churches and ministries we are helping here.
Today and tomorrow I’ll be studying and visiting various ministry leaders, and being a resource to Sam and Randy who are working on the recording studio. I may teach a devotional and songwriting workshop tomorrow (Tuesday) and Wed-Thurs is the Kathmandu worship seminar (9am-5pm). Friday we travel to Hetauda for my preaching and teaching roles there on Saturday and Sunday we return. It looks like I’ll get to visit with Ed and Kelly Boehm Tuesday evening.