When I first heard I was going to Nepal for my DTS outreach, I was so excited. Some of my excitement waned as we started doing research on the nation. We found that Nepal is mostly Hindu with only a small Christian population. Laws are in place that do not allow for public preaching of the gospel. This made me think that we would not be very welcome in Nepal, and I did not expect to meet many Christians.
As we continued to meet and prepare as a team, God started to speak to my heart. I knew we were supposed to go. I decided to trust that God would keep us safe and provide ministry opportunities.
After over 30 hours of travel, we arrived in Kathmandu. Everything was so different! The streets were full of vehicles, people and animals. Rising over the noise of traffic was the sound of the Nepali language. The smell of car exhaust and street food filled our noses. There was so much to look at.
Our first week was spent in Kathmandu. We went to prayer meetings, performed our skit, shared testimonies, did prayer walks, and helped tear down a brick wall. The entire week was full of new experiences and getting stretched in different areas. One of the ways that happened for me was when I gave my testimony in front of Seminary students. I went up to explain our skit and what it meant to me.
I was super nervous and wondered what I could give that the students did not already have. I simply prayed for God to speak through me, and He did!
Our second week was to be spent in a smaller town many hours from Katmandu. We got all of our stuff onto the roof of a van and started our long journey. Only 1 hour into the trip, the van started to make disheartening sounds. I looked up at the front and saw the driver pounding on the dashboard. This could not be good. Finally the van came to a complete stop and would not be coaxed any further. The driver finally told us that we would have to wait for a new van, which would take a few hours. This was the perfect opportunity for us to get discouraged, and I was tempted.
However, God used this situation to show us how He can turn situations around. We got to take a mini hiking trip and saw a beautiful view of Nepal. We happened to stop on the mountain top and could see for miles. The view was the mixture of jungle and flowing rice fields. Not only that but when the van finally did arrive, it was larger and newer then the original!
The next day we were served breakfast by our host family. They watched us eat with expectant faces. I had never experienced this before, and I almost felt uncomfortable. However, I forgot this feeling as I ate the delicious food that had been carefully made for us.
The place where we slept was a long building made of bricks. Outside was a place to wash dishes, a shower (made of sticks and blankets), and two squatty pottys. None of us were used to this way of living, and it was not easy. I had never felt this dirty in my entire life.
Every person that I encountered in Nepal had so little (compared to the normal American family), but they always gave generously and with a smile on their face. This inspired me to live with more gratitude.
While we stayed in the smaller town, we visited many local believers. Every house would be full of people, excited to meet the team from America. The greeted us warmly and served us drinks. Selected members from my team would give a message, testimony, or Bible story. After sharing we would pray with those who expressed a need.
I loved every part of home visits. I especially enjoyed getting to hold and love on the children. Through every little moment, God showed me that He loves the Nepali people more than I could ever know.
In Chitwan we got to stay 3 days at an orphanage. This orphanage is home to around 200 children ages two to tenth grade. When we came into view of the gates of the property, we could see the faces of the children gathered to welcome us. As soon as the van came to a stop, we were surrounded. They greeted us with the smiles and hugs. They then took our hands and led us to where we were to stay. A sign that said “Welcome Texas YWAM” was hung over the door.
At 7 o’clock we went to their daily worship time with the children. I loved watching as every single child worshiped Jesus with their whole hearts. One of the most beautiful things I have ever witnessed. Before heading to bed, my team and I got to give all two hundred children a goodnight hug.
The next day started at 5am with worship with the founders. The founders then shared with us about how they started the orphanage. It was not an easy road and they encountered many trials. Many things came to destroy what they were doing and to hurt the children. Despite all of that, God had protected and blessed them. As they spoke I was amazed at their bravery and endurance.
The rest of the day was spent doing a program we had prepared for the children. We started with everyone together so we could perform some of the clown skits we had prepared. There was lots of giggling and clapping.
We split the children into two groups: youth and elementary. I was put with the youth. We shared a testimony, a Bible story, and played a game. What impressed me was the sportsmanship and joy they had towards each other.
After lunch we had the youth do intercession with us. Intercession is when you ask God for what to pray for and wait for Him to speak. He can speak in words, pictures, or even a Bible verse. I explained this to my group, and we then waited for a few minutes. When I asked my group if anyone got anything, I received blank stares. I was a bit discouraged, but I decided to do something else. I asked if they would like to pray for their country. They seemed to perk up at this suggestion. I started praying and then was joined by a few other voices. We still had some time, so I asked if they had any questions for me. They asked me about my family and life back in America. They seemed very surprised and delighted by my answers.
After my group was dismissed one of the staff at the orphanage (he had helped me with translation) told me a bit about Nepali culture. He said that it is unusual in Nepal to share things in a group setting. That was why the children did not want to share during intercession.
This made me realize that I had no reason to be discouraged. Their culture is just different than mine.
That night we had one more worship night with the children. The children had prepared dances for us. We hugged the children extra-long at bedtime because, we knew we were leaving the next morning.
When morning did come, all the children surrounded us as we made our way to the van. As we passed each child, they gave us a hug and a homemade card. The children followed the van. As we left the property, the children ran along the top of the wall. We all cried as we watched the orphanage fade into the distance. The children had loved us like family, and we did not feel we deserved any of it.
It was very hard to leave. As we rode to our next destination, we read every letter we received. I loved reading the sweet messages writing in broken English. I would never forget the wonderful kids that welcomed us with open arms.
Our leaders told us that the next two days would be for resting and team building. We would be doing that by trekking the Himalayan Mountains.
Slowly we started to ascend the mountain in the rain. We encountered steep stone stairs that had become slick. By this point, my shoes were soaked through and I could hear them squish with every step. A little further up I heard someone cry out in alarm. One of my teammates had encountered a leech. This was even more terrifying then the possibility of falling down stone stairs. I made sure to check myself every couple of minutes for those little creatures.
After going about one third of the way, we stopped to rest. I was very thankful because I felt like my legs were going to turn into mush. I looked up and noticed my teammates were looking behind us. I followed their gaze and was pleasantly surprised. I could not believe how far we had come. You could see the little village we had started, and miles beyond. The rain made it that much more magical. We all forgot our wet shoes and tired bodies, if only for just a moment.
Finally we had to continue on our journey upward. The stairs continued and got steeper. It felt like was hours before we reached the top. Finally we saw where we would be spending the night. It was a cute collection of little cabins and a central restaurant. We changed out of our wet clothes and joined everyone in the restaurant for dinner. The building was very simple and had a traditional woodstove in the middle to keep it warm.
I got up very early the next morning to see the sunrise. I put on my sweatshirt and went outside to see if anyone else had decided to brave the cold. As I walked toward the grassy clearing, I was surprised to see most of my team already waiting. It was still pretty dark so we all huddled together and waited for the sun. It slowly started to peak over the tips of the mountains.
I had seen some very beautiful views, but this topped them all.
The sky turned from grey to yellow to orange. The colors illuminated the clouds clustered around the Annapurna Range. It was beautiful, and the mountains seemed so far away. Once the sun was mostly up I heard someone exclaim in excitement. I turned, and then I saw it! The Mardi Himal Mountain clear as day. I could see every detail of the snowy peak. This huge mountain had been behind our cabins the entire time. It had been too dark and rainy for us to see it when we arrived.
After we descended the mountain, we headed to our next destination in Pokhara, a guesthouse called Beth-Eden. It was a cute little compound full of charming little gardens. There was even a tree house! We spent the rest of the day resting.
The next day we headed out to help build a local church. We learned our first task would be to move a pile dirt to a new location. We were given old rice sacks to carry the dirt and got right to business. As the hours wore on, the new pile of dirt got bigger and the ceiling beams were almost fully covered in paint. The sun was beating down and sweat was starting to drip into my eyes.
The next day we came to finish what we had started. What we found out was that most of what they had for us to do, we had finished the day before. We decided to stay and help with whatever else we could. We finished painting the windows, clearing the floor, and putting up the ceiling beams.
We were able to come back the next day and take part in their service. I was able to share the story of the women who Jesus healed from bleeding. I then explained that the women was healed because of her trust in Jesus and His love for her. Then Emma (one of my teammates) came up and gave her message on trusting God. Everything seemed to come together so perfectly, and it seemed to be what that church needed. They were very encouraged.
The next week we ran an English camp, children in the morning and youth in the afternoon. I enjoyed preforming as a clown and hearing the giggles and squeals fill the room!
The third night all of us got invited to stay at different homes. Some of the youth had invited us and we gladly accepted. Kena (One of my teammates) and I stayed with a family that had all of their children in our camp (all the daughters were on the red team with Kena and me).
The house we stayed at was a simple three room house made of brick and mud. The main room housed the stove and eating area. We were greeted warmly by the parents and given the seats of honor. As we sat watching the mother cook, some other relatives came to see who the new visitors were. A few of them asked for prayer. After we finished our prayers, we were served our dinner. We were given plates with a generous helping of rice, chicken, soup, and cucumbers. The food was delicious and I knew that lots of care was put into the preparation. I ate until I could not eat anymore. I asked if I could help with cleaning. I was kindly refused and shown into one of the bedrooms. There Kena and I watched TV with the family until it was time for bed. The bed that Kena and I shared was a raised board covered with a thin cushion. All the children slept on one bed so that we could have somewhere to sleep.
This family did not have anything fancy, but they were more than willing to give up their bed so that we would be comfortable.
Our last two evenings of the camp we went with some of the youth to pray over their houses. They had requested that we come and bless them and their families. This made me so happy because many of the youth were the only Christians in their families.
We were warmly welcomed into each home. Many of the family members came up to us requesting personal prayer. We prayed for peace, strength, and even healing.
One of my team members prayed over a man’s eyes and they were healed!
Overall doing the English camp was an eye opening experience. It was not easy, and we were not experts at teaching children. None of that mattered because all we had to do was to simply be, and let God work through us. That was one of the many things that God taught me while in Nepal. I don’t have to make things happen or know everything. When I completely trust and give up control, that is when people are impacted.
Nepal seemed dark from a distance, but got brighter the closer I looked. I believe that Nepal will turn into a light for the Nations!
A note from Anne: This experience has been transformational for Areli, stoking the fire of God’s love for the entire world in her heart. She is asking God to provide the funds for her to be able to return to Youth With a Mission in January to continue her training. Would you like to be part of this miracle for Areli? You can contribute at Give Send Go. Thank you!