The wonders of Nepal. The breathtaking vistas of the Himalayas. No, I’ve never been, but Larry and Jill Goring were just over there to encourage the believers in Nepal. I want to let Jill tell you about their trip.
From the third floor terrace of ‘our’ guest house I have a 360 degree view of this amazing city…mostly 3-storied half-finished, some un-painted and many brightly painted cement houses and apartment complexes stretching to the foot of the mountain ranges that surround the city on this 4000 foot plateau. Here in the outskirts most of the narrow ‘roads’ are dirt and rock or crumbled asphalt; people on bright motorcycles, bicycles, rattle-trap trucks, ingenious tractors and the occasional beat up taxi go by. And lots of people on foot: ladies in brightly colored loose pantaloons, jackets, scarves; men in jeans and down jackets and the ubiquitous wool cap. ‘Holi,’ a huge Hindu holiday last week, celebrated the official end of winter, but the weather is still pleasant and everyone seems to wear their jackets indoors and out [in cement houses, it is often colder indoors than out].
Looking down from one side I see men shoveling sand and dirt and stacking red bricks for a new house going up…SO much construction in the city. Next to them a family is living/camping outside, cooking on a wood fire, with partial brick walls on two sides, and some aluminum roofing balanced on top. The day’s laundry and mattresses are spread out on the tin roofing, drying in the bright sun. A few yards away from the campers sits a gorgeous bright-blue mansion with intricate white trim, beautiful clay-tiled gables, expansive glass windows, surrounded by a high cement, flower-covered wall. The housewife next door just finished hanging out her laundry on the rooftop clothesline. Everything is SO dusty here, though, I just wonder how clean the laundry will be by the time it dries. ☹ We’ve watched with interest a local house painter perched day after day on a precarious-looking bamboo ladder, balancing himself with a bare foot against the wall, painstakingly brushing on a bright lime-green with purple trim. [I’ve never seen a whole house done with a small paintbrush.] Most houses have flat rooftops, and locals seem to always gravitate to the highest point to observe life below. I’m thinking that perching on the highest point must be part of the psyche of people who live in a country with eight of the world’s tallest mountains …
I sit here on the terrace waiting for the last of the morning mist to clear, hoping for a glimpse of the snow-peaked mountain ranges beyond these close ones—and yes, maybe even a glimpse of that famous, 29,000-foot highest point on earth, only 100 miles from here. So now you know where we are: Kathmandu, the beautiful, bustling, enigmatic, sadly increasingly dusty and polluted city of contradictions: the capital of Nepal. On a clear day you can see Mt. Everest. As I’m sure you know, tourism — especially trekkers — is an important ‘industry’ in Nepal. In a country where childhood malnutrition rates are alarmingly high, access to good sanitation and healthcare is limited, only 5% of the rural population have electricity, and half of the working-age population is unemployed, it’s strange to see so many western-style cafes full of tourists, drinking lattes and checking their social media. You can buy or order-in almost any kind of food imaginable, from tacos and enchiladas to phad thai and hunan chicken and spaghetti carbonara and, of course, lots of things I don’t know how to pronounce [although momos sound fun]. For lunch today we enjoyed the national dish, prepared and eaten every day in most Nepali households: dal bhat–lentil soup and curried vegetables over rice. Yum.
The most lovely sight we’ve seen is the brightly flickering lights of joyful believers who name their businesses ‘Grace’ and ‘New Creation’ and ‘Bethesda’ and ‘New Life,’ greet each other with ‘jaimashe’ [Jesus is victor], and gather in small worship houses on Saturday mornings [the official weekly ‘day-off’ in multi-cultural, multi-religioun Nepal] raising their beautiful voices in praise. Officially, only 1.42% of Nepali’s claim Christianity as their religion. We are so challenged to pray even more for them as they desire to share the wonderful good news not only here in the city but also out into the most remote places — a hugely complicated task in a politically unstable country with very ‘iffy’ infrastructure, where the beautiful mountains get more daunting the further west you go, and it can take weeks to travel from one end of the 500-mile-long country to the other. And that’s not to mention the fact that the people speak more than 100 different languages.
There’s lots of life and light here, but like the food options and trendy cafes, much of it is clustered here in the capital city. Please pray for the believers, and for the church world-wide, that we would be more intentional in finding ways to stand with them and encourage them in all they have to do beyond this mountain range.
Love and thanks,
Jill (for Larry too) Goring