So here we are, the last few days before I bid farewell to this country that has been my home for the past few months. It's bittersweet. I'm not quite sure to express what's going on inside me at the moment.
Mohan asked me the other day if I was ready to go home. I told him I wasn't sure.
"How could you not be sure? I don't understand. That makes no sense."
"I know it makes no sense. I'm glad to be going home, but I don't want to leave Nepal."
"That makes no sense."
"Ta chiana" :I don't know:
I said goodbye to the school yesterday. They threw an impromptu goodbye program. It was also my first time toeing the the ling between religion and culture. I thought I handled it tactfully, and the other Christian leaders thought so as well. But i got many disapproving looks as well as a few shocked ones from some of my new found family.
I should start by saying that my home in Gharmi was recently invaded by more than half the Church Plant Teams (CPTs), about 35 people. We were able to get most of the construction done before they came. Enough to house all of these people. Most of them I had met in my travels, some I was just meeting for the first time. They all came for staff training.
The celebrations at the school included whats called a "thik." Which is the red powdery stuff you see on Hindus' faces after they've preformed some religious ritual. I knew that, but I also knew that this was no religious right. So in order to keep face with the students and staff, who are all Hindu, I elected to receive the thik. After the celebrations, I returned home, were I was met by laughter from Sangeeta, Mohan's wife. She demanded my camera and took pictures calling me the "Prime Minister of Gharmi."
Soon after, the CPTs came out of class and the tension became thick.
"Oh Andrewson, what happened to you?" asked Rajendra, who always smiled at me and had become a good friend, now wouldn't even look me in the eye. "Ramro chaina sathi" : Not good friend. One sister, who I had just met blurted out "Dai Christian hoina?" : Brother isn't Christian?
It was very tense, and it took some explaining as to what happened. I washed my face as soon as I could. With the red stuff gone, things calmed down a bit. All the leaders were just laughing at me. Most of the staff were appalled.
There's a very thin line between culture and religion in Nepal , one that can be very very very very thin. The Christians here completely separate themselves from the Hindu religion but still embrace their culture. To an outsider, it is very difficult to what degree the separation exists. I could right a book on this topic alone, it's that complicated.
Anyways, I leave in a few days. Today Pokhara was at a stand still for hours. Some taxi drivers decided to blockade all the major streets with their vehicles. And there is rumors floating that they might do it again. Which means for me, that my only way out maybe a very expensive flight from Pokhara to Kathmandu. With the government currently non existent, the possibility for worse things to happen at any moment is very high.
A few prayer requests:
1) Safe travels to Kathmandu
2) Safe travels home
3) An easy transition back into American life
4) That the CPT training will run well. It lasts two weeks.