So I'm currently drawing a blank as to what week I'm on. I've gotten used to life without luxuries like calendars and computers.
Ahhhhh, where to begin? So much has happened the past few weeks it's hard to arrange my thoughts. I'll try my best.
So the banda finally ended and Uttar and I were able to catch a bus to Far West Nepal. We stayed with a CP team in Atteryia. We traveled around the area praying and meeting with local believers.
We took a day "off" to go fishing Nepal style. (I say "off" because I ended up cycling double [someone sitting on the rack] uphill for a good 30Km. needless to say I passed out as soon as I laid horizontal) Nepal style fishing uses a net to catch little three inch fish. Once these suckers our caught to a sufficient quantity, you go home and gut them. since they are small, all it takes is a good squeeze for the innards to come out. You then proceed to cook the fish, whole. After cooked to a desired golden brown, you then eat them, whole. I've never in my life ate a whole fish. I usually cut the head and toss the tail. I stand before you a new man. A changed man. One who has eaten fish heads. And liked it!
That Friday night we cycled to the village where the CP team is doing most of their work. We went to a home fellowship that night led by one of the local church leaders. If anything has changed my perspective on church and christian living, it has been my time with these fellwoships. I have never seen the amount of joy and faith exhibited by these small bands of saints anywhere in the west. The simplicity of worship and prayer puts to shame any praise and worship band (Sorry Jody). We stayed that night with one of the families there in the village. The church was constructed quite literally in their backyard.
Church Saturday was a sweet time as well. I'm starting to get used to the eyes that start to follow me as soon as I give my introduction. "Jaymasi! Mero nahm Andreas ho. Ma Amerika vata iygo." translation: Jaymasi! My name is Andrew. I'm from America. This is usually followed by many smiling faces and constant staring for most of the service.
To give you a general idea of a Nepali church service, here is a very basic schedule:
Worship (usually only accompanied by a modal [nepali drum]) - usually lasts for an hour
Testimony and introduction (jaymasi! mero nahm...) - 5 to 30 mins. depends on what's going on
Worship - another 15 to 30 mins
Announcements or a word from the church leader/pastor - 5 to 15 mins
Preaching - 30 mins to an hour. this depends on the speaker. i've kept it at just around 30mins, but some have gone well over an hour
Prayer is interjected whenever the Spirit leads and can often times last for 10 mins at a time. Here, everyone prays at once and it gets pretty intense. My church background has been quite conservative when it comes to prayer, so this has taken some getting used to.
I've learned enough of the language to pray over dinner, describe the weather, introduce myself, order food, and to get from place to place. And with each church service I'm starting to catch on to more and more of the songs. Some of them are traditional songs translated into nepali.(eg. Raja haruka raja, stuti , hallelujah, provo haruka provo, stuti, hallelujah : King of kings and Lord of lords, glory, hallelujah) Most are original Nepali choruses. I'm also starting to understand most of the preaching without an interpreter.
From Atteryia we headed north to Dadeldurha and onto Anakohli. Anakohli is a small town up in the mountains. The climate reminded me of home as it was quite chilly in comparison to the very warm Terai region. There we stayed with the CP team that is working in that area. This is about as remote as one can get in regards to safe traveling and ministry. I looked out on vast forests and jungle whose inhabitants have never even heard the name Jesus, let alone anything about Christianity. There is quite a bit of work to be done in this region. The CP team is just one married couple. They are diligently working with local church leaders and believers to expand the kingdom in to this remote area.
A side note: One of the villagers in Anakohli was excited when he heard I was from America. He kept smiling at me with this big goofy grin than was kind of creepy. I could tell he wanted something from me. The next day he saw me walking down the street and called out to me. "Oy babu, oy!" (Hey boy, hey) So Uttar went to talk to him. He had somehow received two American dollars and wanted me to give him rupees in exchange for them. "They are no good to me here" he told us, "and your the first American I've seen since I got these." Let me tell you, I have never been so happy to get $2 in my life. It's the little things that make the difference.
I have made my way back to Pokhara and will be here for a few days before I head out again. The current plan is in shambles at the moment as I'm trying to figure out how properly reach certain areas and honor the requests of new friends. Please pray for guidance as I work through this. The original plan was to head back to Koholpur on Monday and stay there for another 2 weeks, but that doesn't seem like it will work out as Mohan has other ideas in mind.
grace and peace