Tuesday, January 26, 2016

Catching Up in Kathmandu

I'm back in Kathmandu and seem to have pretty good internet access on my laptop. We'll see if there is enough bandwidth to upload some pictures.

I'll be in Kathmandu for the next several days for the HCLC-Nepal Pastoral Conference on Wednesday and the Graduation/Ordination service for the HCLCN pastors who have successfully completed their training on Thursday. Friday will be spent making preparations for Raju's wedding and worship service on Saturday. And then on Sunday (1/31) will be the big day for Raju and Sanju as they begin their new life as one together in service to the Lord!

Yesterday (Monday) Pastor Rob and Kate Sauers, Missionary Peter Evensen, and David Lueck arrived. Rob and Peter were in seminary together with Raju at ILC and David is a friend from the congregation in Mankato, MN where Raju did his seminary vicarage a couple of years ago. Today is a down day while Raju makes some final preparations for the HCLCN Pastoral Conference and Graduation/Ordination ceremony.

We drove around Kathmandu this morning and took a walking tour of Bhaktapur. This is the most ancient part of the Kathmandu Valley and some of the buildings date back to the 12th century AD from the time when the Gurkha King united the three kingdoms of the valley into one kingdom. Since this is the oldest part of Kathmandu many of the buildings are very old and thus suffered the most extensive damage in the earthquake. I was told that a good percentage of the 9000+ deaths occurred in this part of the Kathmandu valley. I've visited these ancient buildings several times before and it was hard to see so much destruction. Since this is a UNESCO world heritage site there will resources for these historic buildings to be rebuilt with much care being taken to do so with construction and artistic techniques that are authentic to the time period of each building. Much of the materials, such as timbers and bricks, are being salvaged so they can be re-used in the rebuilding process. I was a bit surprised at how saddened I was to see the destruction of this treasured place.
Building at Bhaktapur...picture to the right is what the building looked like before the earthquake

Bricks from the 12th-16th century that have been salvaged for reconstruction

Over the past week, Rajan and I have walked together through several earthquake devastated streets and villages where local residents have simply returned to life. Out in the rural areas where most of the HCLCN congregations are located, walked through the hillside villages where were often stopped by fellow believers who have come to know and grown to love Rajan, his family, and their pastors very much. At every home we visited we were offered a cup of tea and some sort of snack as we walked around and looked at homes that are half destroyed and have been repurposed into barns and grain storage while the families were living in shelters that have been constructed by tarps and corrugated metal sheeting that have been supplied through donations to the Nepal Earthquake Relief Fund. While much better than living in a tent or out in the elements, I heard stories of the difficulties that the people are facing in these cold winter months where temperatures regularly drop into the low 30's at night. They are not able to have a fire in the shelters because of the lack of ventilation and flammable nature of the timbers, tarps, and blankets that have been used to construct the shelters. And yet, as Rajan and I commented several times as we observed and visited with the folks,..life simply goes on. I heard no complaining or begging from anyone. The people who live here are incredible. Life goes on...it has to...there is really no other choice. And so we saw so many people just going about the work of survival and rebuilding their lives one rock on top of another as they rebuild a wall of a home. Or one strike of the hand-held plow/hoe into the winter-hardened ground as they ready the soil for the spring plantings. It is amazing to see such resilience. And even more so, it was amazing to see the joy in the eyes and smiles of my fellow brothers and sisters in Christ as we so many set aside their work for a few hours, or even the whole day to worship together and be encouraged by God's word. I was told that some of the folks that came to the special Bible seminar in the Dhading district walked 4 hours to be there. In the midst of such loss and suffering and uncertainty, the Lord has given these believers a confidence and a hope that is awe inspiring. God is Good!
The home in Maidi where other Mission Helpers and I slept in 2014

A three story rock-wall home in Dhading district that has been rebuilt into a one story barn for the animals
The temporary shelter where the local HCLCN pastor is now living
It looks like we have some errands to run so I'll sign off for now. Hopefully I'll have some time over the next few days to describe the events of the past week spent among some of the pastors and members of the HCLC-Nepal in the hills, villages, and towns west of Kathmandu.

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