We want to begin this year’s report by again expressing our thanks for all who have encouraged and supported the work we are blessed to be a part of in Nepal and other places. In all ways the glory belongs to the Lord and for His grace and love to all people everywhere we are most thankful. We thank you for being a vital part of these efforts to reach the lost and encourage and strengthen the Lord’s people in Nepal and elsewhere.
As last year, we began this trip in poorer health than we would like and so it was difficult for us throughout a major part of the time away from home. We were greeted at the airport in Kathmandu by Bro. Parsuram and Bro. Deepak. We would be working with Parsuram and Geeta his wife as well as being joined this time by Bro. Shanti from East Nepal. There was a needed change of scheduling for Mike and Brenda Brooks from Muscle Shoals, Al and since their time in Nepal and ours overlapped we worked with them for the first two weeks in addition to the other folks.
We began similar to last year except upon reaching our hotel we met Mike and Brenda, then rested. They had arrived 2 days before us so we were all leaving first thing the next day toward Chitwan to teach in the village areas. We would sort out the clothing and other items we brought for distribution to about 8 congregations in villages and Kathmandu when we returned at the mid point of our trip.
As you can see from the photo, the terrain is steep and rough once away from a big city and the people do the best they can to adapt to the conditions of living in hilly and rocky places. We are going by bus to Sauraha in Chitwan where we will stay for 4 days. Even though it is less than 150 miles away from Kathmandu, because of the highway and traffic conditions this will take us about 7 hours to reach our destination. After a hot a dusty trip we took our supper and refreshed at a local café overlooking the river across from Chitwan Natl. Preserve, the wildlife park.
This is Mike Brooks and his wife Brenda. They work under the leadership of the Highland Park church of Christ in Alabama. They work in Nepal and more extensively in Bangladesh with Khulna Bible College, a preaching training school they have started and developed.
Our first place to teach was in the village of Bhalumara in Chitwan district. We first met these brethren last year and again received a warm welcome. I brought the Sunday morning lesson and later in the afternoon Mike taught another class. Dresses made by ladies with the Highland Park congregation were given to the little girls and we enjoyed a full day of worship and fellowship with them. These people are farmers and the fields looked prepared for planting as soon as the early rains begin. Since we are here in mid March this year, the weather is much warmer; hot actually for us and very humid.
For the next 2 days we traveled to the town of Lothar and met with brothers and sisters from 5 different hill villages. Those are Sinlinge, Simaltar, Kuchure, Khankhare and Mysorong. There are located between 2 and 5 hours walk from Lothar so the brethren thought it best to again meet in the town for the teaching. Instead of the small sleeping room that we met in last year, they have secured a place behind the hotel area for our meeting place. We were directed to a upper level of a chicken coop where feed is stored. We climbed a ladder type stairway. You can get a good idea of it from the photos.
We taught lessons on Spiritual Growth in various aspects for 5 to 6 hours each of the two days. Our lodging house is a little more than an hour from this location so it made for long days. Again, we were received warmly and with good attendance and attention to the lessons. At the end of the day we were ready for rest and a hot shower which is funny because at this lodge the water is heated by the sun and by the time we got to that part of the day little or no warm water was available. The electricity situation is worse than last year so flashlights guide most of our nighttime movements. The generator here was broke down so once the power was out there was no light and of course nothing else except candles. The generator for the place next door was running though and was loud and defied our efforts to sleep until pretty late. Most of the time, once the power is gone even the cafes cannot provide some of the meal items we would like to have.
After the 2 days fellowshipping with the groups at Lothar we moved on further west to the city of Pokhara, the place we were at last year and had met up with Craig and Teresa Phillips. We stayed here for 2 nights and visited and taught in two different homes to encourage those there concerning the unity of the gospel and the truth found in Jesus. There still is no congregation of the church of Christ in this 2nd largest city in the nation. Parsuram and others are working to establish some and making contacts as possible.
For the next 3 ½ days we would be working with the Christians at Khatithok, the village people we are so endeared to from the last 2 years. Our travel to here was 3 hours by bus and then with waiting for our truck and loading supplies was another 5 hours before we reached the village. The greetings here were again warm and filled with smiles and people so happy to see us again. Our teaching here will be similar to what was taught at Lothar. We met a few new faces and missed not seeing some familiar ones. Our host Sube has had to go to another country for work and will be gone for almost 2 years. His wife and younger children are here working the farm and giving us loving attention as before. One new acquaintance was this little monkey named Sundali, the pet of a sister down the slope from Sube’s home.
We fellowshipped, taught and ate with the people here and enjoyed our short time before going back to Kathmandu. We are encouraged by these older sisters and many older brothers. This congregation is filled with many who have been faithful to the Lord for many, many years. It is a growing congregation as well and the leadership is very capable. Mencha assists this group about twice each month. On Sunday evening before our return to the capital a thunderstorm came up. All the congregation and we also huddled in the church building while outside the thunder, lightning and heavy rain made a loud showing for almost 2 hours. Of course we had no electricity so darkness prevailed but lots of laughter, tea and companionship was enjoyed.
We returned by bus to Kathmandu on Monday the 21st, the trip refreshingly being faster this time, only 5 hours since no breakdowns or wrecks occurred to block us. This picture shows a typical view of the way homes and buildings are situated. This is the edge of the city so more interior to the city there is even less space.
On the next day we traveled to Chapagaon, a district area of the capital and location of one of the congregations here. We again taught for the full day, sang and fellowshipped with the brethren here. About 50 people were in attendance so the place is truly crowded.
At the end of the day, a lady named Bimala expressed her desire to be baptized. Praise God! What a refreshing end to our day. I hadn’t seen a baptism myself in a few years here and Janis had not ever witnessed any on our trips so this was a thrill for certain. About 20 of us crowded into a microbus, about the size of a Subaru but with a box on it for seating, and drove 30 minutes to a river area for the baptism. It was certainly a joyful time and a glory to God to see this firsthand. She is a widow and has one son. We pray for her strength and growth as a new Christian. While in Kathmandu Brenda taught 2 ladies classes in which Janis participated, one here at Chapagaon and one at the Baneshwor congregation. We stayed in the city until the morning of March 25th. Mike and Brenda left the previous day to Calcutta, India for a few days and then on to Bangladesh to teach at the training school for 6 more weeks. Even though our meshing of schedules had not been planned, we worked well together, enjoyed each other’s company and saw it as a compliment to our individual work.
Since we had more that we had wanted to accomplish in Khatithok and the lower village of Thakre, we returned on Friday the 25th planning to teach on Saturday and worship there Sunday morning before going on to Thakre, where Bro. Mencha leads a congregation and provides a room for students who are too old to go to the school at Khatithok. We purchased more supplies in Dumre for the next 3 days and headed up the hill. Our arrival was again met with happy faces and promise of more fellowship.
We ate that evening in the kitchen at Sube’s home, making ourselves as comfortable as possible on the dirt floor. As you can see, these rooms are designed for utility and practical use and are a “no frills” addition to the home. New this year is an additional cook/smoke shack outside in the yard to allow for more flexibility in meals and other uses. It is a simple structure of light wood smeared over with the clay mud the same as the homes use and thatch for the roof. There are no windows in it and it has a bamboo strip and frame door.
Parsuram and I taught all the next day at the building helping the people understand the importance of “falling in love with Jesus” as believers and servants. The attendance was good and there was much feedback over the illustrations and content of the lessons which seemed to hit home very well. We were happy to be able to provide a small gift to each family of the congregation consisting of cooking oil, salt, sugar, bar soaps and toothpaste. It will last them a month or more. They were thrilled with these things that are staples to their lives.
That evening, we learned that a few folks from here and the neighboring village of Dordor who had been at the meetings this time and for awhile before this had decided that they desired to confess the name of Jesus and be baptized into Him. We were elated at the news and were given some of the details of the event. We were told that perhaps 6 or 7 people wished to be baptized. We rose before 7 am the next day, Sunday. At a little after 8, a large group of us started walking “down” the hill to the place which is being used for baptisms. Since all of the water for the peoples’ use has to be carried uphill in cans from the well nearly a half mile from the village, there is not a place up at the village area for baptisms.
There was a lot of concern for us, the white people, as to our being physically able to go down and witness the events. They said it takes the residents here 30 minutes to get to the little pool formed by the trickle of a stream which flows from about halfway down. We were determined to be with our fellow believers and committed to the task. After about 40 minutes we finally reached the area just above the pool. The terrain had flattened out a little here and the hillside was terraced with rice paddies formed and some of them freshly planted.
Those about to be baptized went on down along the crevice of the streambed along with a few others and the men who would assist them in this. Parsuram went all the way down while I stopped about 15 feet above the pool at a good vantage point where I could see and take pictures. Janis was helped to an area over to the left of this about 50 or so feet away so she could see a little bit. There is no doubt; this was hard for us to get down here. It amazes me that these who decide to follow Jesus and give themselves to Him go to great lengths to become children of God. One by one each person made their confessions of faith and went down into the waters, baptized into the Savior for remission of their sins. Nine people in all were baptized that morning before the worship period.
What a glory to God! It took us 1 ½ hours to climb back up the hill accompanied by a lot of huffing and puffing, resting often. The brethren were relieved to see us back and were actually surprised we made it as quickly as we did.
We said our final goodbyes for this year to these beautiful people later that afternoon and went down the hill to the village of Thakre where Mencha lives. We would teach here, fellowship and spend the night before making our return to Kathmandu. One sweet child we met was Saru. She is the granddaughter of Mencha’s sister. She was born in a prison and shortly afterward her father abandoned the family. Not long ago her mother also abandoned her, leaving her care to the grandparents. She is 5 years old and smart as a whip. She is pretty well skilled in English with spelling and vocabulary usage. I taught the lesson that evening beginning after 9 pm in the room the students use for sleeping. There are just rock walls, no furniture at all and a dirt floor. No power is in this room and it was off anyhow so we used candlelight to study by.
We went back to KTM the following morning and spent the remainder of our time in Nepal doing a bit of shopping, visiting and business for the next visit. We enjoyed 2 evenings during our time this year with Parsuram and his family at their home and are so thankful to God for providing us with such good fellow workers.
With the 10 people baptized during our time here, we are told that a total of 28 souls have come to Christ in Nepal since January 1st. Nepal has a great future for the church as far as we are concerned. The government is very corrupted and the communist factions are gaining more power. Even in the midst of such adversities, the Christians here are growing. There is always a need for your prayers for these people. We again thank all of you for your prayers on our behalf, for your support for this work and your desires to be a part of it. We want to thank Mike and Brenda for their time with us and the assistance they provide for the people in these regions. We look forward to our continuing ability to work in His kingdom wherever we may be. God bless all of you.