“Listen to my instruction and be wise; do not disregard it. Blessed are those who listen to me, watching daily at my doors, waiting at my doorway. For those who find me find life and receive favour from the Lord.” (Proverbs 8:33-35)
Healed! After many weeks of being housebound, I am nearly able to walk without pain. It is wonderful to be able to walk again and I marvel at the miracle of the human body and its ability to heal. Thank God for his healing touch.
Our second home in Nepal is at the hospital in Tansen where many UMNers work. The hospital is nestled in the foothills of the Himalayas in the Palpa District, and a couple of hours by road from the Indian border. To get there involves a 10-12 hour bus journey, which is not for the faint hearted. A long stretch of road has been damaged by landslides between Mugling and Narianghat and the road is so dusty that the driver is not able to see 20 feet in front of him. During this part of the journey the windows of the bus have to be closed which raises the already high temperatures even further. It feels like slowly being baked in an oven and not so good if you suffer from claustrophobia.
As well as being so dusty, the “road” is more like the bottom of a river bed – a very rocky ride. The team here call the bus “the buck”, aptly named, and it takes a day to recover from buck lag!
One of the recent families to join UMN, arriving in February, are the Bauman family who stayed in Kathmandu until the end of March when they moved to Tansen. One of the joys of our job is welcoming and introducing new people to the UMN family and life in Nepal. Nick, Becky and their three children Silas (9), Selima (7) and Freda (5) come from Canada. Spending time with them has brought back many memories of our own adjustment to life here with young children many years ago and coping with children’s reactions to food changes, smaller friendship groups, different schooling, illnesses and the climate change.
One week into their time in Tansen, Becky had to become “teacher” to their three children because the current teacher’s wife gave birth to their second child. No calling supply teachers here – Mum had to step in; along with a change of roles, and coping with their own responses to change, it makes for a challenging time for the family.
As well as checking in on the new arrivals we have been catching up with Pearl and Calvin, who we introduced in our last letter. They are now six months into their term here and are just beginning to start work, Pearl in her role as a doctor and Calvin working in the social services department. They appear to be settling in well. We are amazed at the international dimension of the Tansen team, with people coming from Canada, South Africa, New Zealand, Australia, England, America and Northern Ireland. All this makes for an interesting mix of cultures even before adding the Nepali culture that everyone is adjusting to.
For ourselves, some changes may be afoot. Firstly, the way in which we get our visa to live in Nepal is changing. The government department that has given UMN gratis visas for many years has changed the rules and it looks like we will now have to pay about $800 a year to get the visa. Other restrictions may come with this new visa so please pray with us that we will be able to continue our work without disruption. Secondly, on a more exciting note, Andrea and I have been working towards a vision of starting a Christian retreat house on the outskirts of Kathmandu. It will still be part of our work to support UMN but we want it to serve both expats and Nepalis and to help other Christian organisations in the area.
After being here for almost a year, one of the things we have learned through our listening to those working here is that there is a need to have a place that provides a quiet space to listen to God. We are still in the early stages of working on this, and are looking for an appropriate property on the outskirts of Kathmandu and are looking for funding streams to get the project off the ground. It would be good to be up and running in the next few months. Please pray with us for this vision to become reality.
A week ago, both Andrea and I were involved in the UMN annual retreat, which was held in Pokhara. It was a feat to keep 75 adults and children happy and occupied. We were encouraged by the speaker for the retreat, Alistair Turkington, the pastor of the international church in Kathmandu. His theme, from the churches in Revelation, reminded us of our central commitment to Jesus Christ and the need to put him before all else. Living here, we are ever aware of keeping that relationship with Jesus fresh and to find space in our own lives to listen to God.
Andrea has been invited by a women’s group to lead a day retreat in September and will be helping participants to focus on their spiritual journey with Jesus using listening prayer. Please pray that the preparations for this will go well and that Andrea is inspired to lead this time.
On the theme of listening skills, we have been asked to work with a group of UMN interns as they come to the end of their year in UMN. We plan to use an Acorn Christian listening course that starts by learning to listen to God and then works through the basics of listening to one another. Listening is a major part of our work, but we realise that listening, as the opening verse from Proverbs 8 says, is something that we all need to engage in daily to find life and favour with God. So it is a challenge to us to keep that priority, before all else, as we journey with God.