Connection and contemplation
Walking up the road on our first day back in Kathmandu, we were touched by the number of Nepali people who stopped to talk to us, welcome us back and ask why had they not seen us for so long? The local taxi driver, the veg seller, the cafe owner and the girls working in the coffee shop all showed interest in our well-being. We felt such a sense of warmth and belonging as our return was acknowledged by our small “road” community. Although from a different culture and speaking another language, each with a different life story, we still felt the connection with this microcosm of humanity – God’s love for us being expressed through this varied collection of people. We felt welcomed and humbled.
We moved back into Kathmandu life without really noticing the transition and suddenly it is November. The monsoon is thankfully over, Dosai and Tihar (Nepal’s two main festivals) have passed and cooler weather is ahead. We had a short break during Dosai visiting Bhaktapur, an ancient town about 30 minutes’ drive from Kathmandu. Bhaktapur is a city full of temples and devout Hindus continue to offer sacrifices of goats and chickens to their deities but we managed to avoid witnessing what we felt were very much like Old Testament practices. What stood out to us and reminded us of Christmas time in the UK was the large family groups dressed in their best clothes enjoying time together, teenagers enjoying the tradition of flying kites and the whole community coming together to celebrate their main religious festival.
Mark 1:35: “It was very early in the morning and still dark. Jesus got up and left the house. He went to a place where he could be alone. There he prayed.”
Our priority since returning in August has been to focus on our own rhythms of life, being mindful of balancing work, prayer and rest. This has meant continuing to develop our spiritual life, where prayer is always a challenge. It is so easy to find a “good” reason for not having time to be still and to listen to God. We often think of Jesus, who sought solitude away from the demanding crowds in order to spend time with his Father. Our own quiet space is in the garden of a nearby hotel and when we look at the magnificence of the trees and flowers, we see God’s signature. It has become a tranquil space of solitude for us, away from the demands of our role and the noise and pollution of Kathmandu. We give thanks for quiet spaces and God’s creation which is still evident in a busy city. Pray that we can prioritise solitude and listening to God.
From the start, our work goal has been to catch up with UMN mission partners, some who are new and others who have been here a number of years like us. We have enjoyed offering hospitality and have had many conversations with our colleagues from the UMN team in Kathmandu, Okhaldunga and Tansen. Out of these conversations has emerged a theme that led us to reflect on the need for time and space to allow a deepening relationship with God, affecting the way we connect with one another. Our challenge as pastoral carers is to help people to find the necessary space to do this.
The flat below us – our new office and prayer space – has begun to be used by people for personal quiet times and this month we begin a regular “pray as you go” session as an introduction to listening prayer, along with a simple breakfast before work. We also organised recently an English afternoon tea (Nepali style!). It was lovely to be able to offer our new space for people to come together and get to know one another better, and the success of this shows that part of our ministry is to provide a space for people to come together to connect.
It is largely through relationships with one another that we see God working and where we are able to glimpse our Father’s love. Our hope is to find ways to make the downstairs flat a place of welcome, accessible to the UMNers and the larger expat community, and a place where people can connect with God through contemplation and conversations. Kathmandu can feel a lonely place with people rushing around doing many things and not really connecting to others. Mission partners are not immune to such loneliness…
We give thanks that what was just a seed of an idea six years ago is now a tangible reality. We pray that we will be open to listening to other people’s needs and to different ways of using the space. We pray also that the downstairs space can be used to help mission partners thrive emotionally and spiritually.
Part of life here means there is always conflict of some sort; for us, our visa situation causes us to feel conflicted. UMN is beginning to process a work visa for Andrew but Andrea now has to go on a dependant visa and rules around these are now very restricting. Please pray into this.
In other prayer points, please pray that Andrea is given opportunities to share her counselling skills and develop her supervision skills with Nepali counsellors.
Finally, we would like to mention that we face a funding shortfall against budget going in to the new year. So, could we ask you to please give it some thought, pray about it and, if you feel like you are able to support us financially, then visit our online giving page: churchmissionsociety.org/young
Also please feel free to discuss the situation with Paul Read, our funding manager at CMS, on firstname.lastname@example.org or 01865 787525.
We give thanks for our link churches and individuals and pray that our partnership with you in our ministry continues to develop.
We send our love and prayers,