A CALL TO NEPAL
When I retired from twenty years of teaching in Boston, my husband and I planned to go on a mission trip from our church. It was 2001, and I was then a breast cancer survivor; and we wanted to find a way to “give back.”
Honestly, we did have an ulterior motive. We wanted to travel and feel good about what we were doing at the same time. The trip that fit into our schedule was a two-week trip to Nepal. It sounded exotic and exciting. We figured we’d go to Nepal that summer, and then the next summer we’d take a mission trip somewhere else, and so on. No surprise – God had a different plan.
When the pastor in Nepal learned that I was a teacher, he was excited. In the villages of Nepal, when a young person graduates from class 10 and the village needs a teacher, that person becomes the teacher. The problem is that person has no teacher training and mimics the style of his/her teacher—rote memorization, corporal punishment, a slap in the face and “sit down and do it again!”
We wanted to make a difference. I have to admit, we tried to cram a lot of information into the four-day seminar we ran in Nepal for 25 village teachers who had taken a 30-hour bus ride in the middle of monsoon season to get to us. We did learn that one major change that resulted from that first teacher-training seminar was that they stopped beating the children. That in itself made our work worthwhile.
Another part of our mission trip was to run a vacation Bible school for some 28 children, ages 3 to 15, living in a Prison Fellowship hostel in Kathmandu. The Nepali hostel director and his wife did a wonderful job of caring for these young ones whose parents were in prison or deceased. We had the privilege of helping them with their schoolwork, telling Bible stories, and playing with them during the two weeks we were there. Unfortunately, their teachers were not the ones to whom we had given the teacher training. It was then that we learned that these children had to leave the hostel when they finished class 10. Where would they go then?
Another highlight of one of our trips was meeting a young pastor’s wife, Bimala. She had opened a bakery and craft shop in order to hire women, mostly single moms, who had been rescued either from the sex trade or from a life of poverty. I learned that as many as 7,000 women and girls are trafficked out of Nepal to India every year. I was enamored by the jewelry the ladies made and Bimala asked me if I would help them sell the jewelry in the US.
When we were thinking about our summer mission trip for 2002, we were asked if we would return to Nepal primarily to give another teacher training seminar and visit the children again. We said “Yes!” The people of Nepal and their needs had stolen our hearts. When you go on a mission trip and then return again, the people you minister to really know that you care. When the teachers saw us and were surprised that we had returned, it brought big smiles to their faces and tears to our eyes.
While back in the states, we became active in finding sponsors for the children and keeping up to date as to their progress in school. (I, of course, bought more jewelry and took more on consignment.)
After we ran a third teacher training seminar for the village teachers, we had the opportunity to visit a few of the village schools. We discovered that not very much had changed in their teaching styles. We decided it was difficult for them to change when they didn’t have personal follow-up to reinforce our instruction and hold them accountable. So, along with the pastor in Nepal, we were able to help a church start a new village school and train brand new teachers in modern teaching techniques.
This was all the beginning of our work in Nepal. Allow me the privilege of giving you an update.
This fall, my husband and I, along with another couple who spend more time in Nepal than we do, will return to Nepal for the 16th time. We volunteer with their ministry called Foresight Development International (website: foresightdevelopment.org), which began to find sponsors for the children we met in 2001 as they entered college and university.
These young people are strong in their faith and appreciate the opportunity they have been given to go on to school. They are training in the fields of social work, medicine, travel and tourism, civil engineering, information technology, and business. Seven of them have graduated and are working.
We currently have nine males and five females active in the program. Some have brought siblings and other family members to a saving knowledge of Christ. We have email correspondence with them regularly and sometimes Skype with them if there is a more pressing issue.
We receive many emails from them every day. They are required to email a report to us monthly that includes information about their health, school work, church activity, personal walk with Jesus, and any other issues they wish to discuss. We answer each of these emails, usually more than once.
They are delighted to attend a two or three-day retreat and workshops we hold twice a year when we visit Nepal. We also conduct personal interviews with each of them during our visits. Our workshops cover topics such as traditions, worldviews, job preparation, formal communication, etc.
Most of them say the retreat is the highlight of their year.
This year our topic is leadership. Our retreats are not all work; we allow time for worship, Bible study, team building exercises, and fun, too. It is a difficult job to be “parents” from the other side of the world, especially for a culture that is difficult for us to understand, but it is truly a privilege for us.
The school we helped to start (website: www.facebook.com/nba.trishuli) presently runs up to class 8, with hopes of eventually offering Plus 2 (Class 11 and 12). We have outgrown our building and are presently using some borrowed church space. We are in need of funding for a new building. Anyone have any suggestions?
The bakery and jewelry business are still thriving and efforts continue to rescue women and children from abuse (website: higherground.com.np/hg). Higher Ground’s vision is to fight against human trafficking and sex trafficking as well as poverty through awareness, counseling, skill development, and micro-enterprise.
It is an ongoing privilege for me to help support this ministry through the jewelry sales. In addition, the bakery offers great brewed coffee and delicious chocolate cake—almost non-existent in Nepal.
God has blessed my husband and me with good health and the ability to travel to Nepal twice a year. We plan to continue to do this as long as the Lord leads us and we feel needed there. Please check out the websites to find ways you might take part in our ministry in Nepal.
Your heart, too, might be stolen by these beautiful people!
Editor’s Note: Please pray for Terry and her husband — they are currently over in Nepal for one of this year’s trips (September & October 2016)