Friday, November 12, 2010

Week 6 - Trekking!

Arriving in Pokhara
Early Sunday morning (11/7) we began our journey by taking a flight from Kathmandu to Pokhara - a beautiful lakeside city near the Annapurna range of the Himalayas. The flight was amazing as we flew parallel to the countless mountains belonging to the majestic Himalayas! Our first day was a day of sight seeing around Pokhara. It also was an important day of Tihar, Bhai Tika day - where sisters worship their brothers. This meant that the city streets were pretty quiet during the day, but in the evening it became very busy! There was cultural dancing in the streets and we had the opportunity to see a cultural program during dinner, which included tons of music, dancing and drama. Even during this vacation part of my practicum, I was able to continue my cultural research! 
The next day (Monday) we again awoke early to catch a van ride to the starting point of our trek, Nayapul. We arrived, had tea and took advantage of the last toilet... well, squatty potty. We began walking at 9:00am, periodically resting to rehydrate, take pictures, catch our breath and eat, then arrived to Ghandruk at 4:00pm - right on schedule! 

Tom & I having tea :) 
Mom & I enjoying the amazing scenery before we started

Beginning the trek - with walking sticks in hand! 

We encountered many surprises on our trek! 
  1. It was MUCH warmer than we all anticipated - the temperature + 7 hours of elevated heart rates = massive sweating! 
  2. We shared the narrow trekking paths with many visitors - other trekkers, as well as donkeys, goats, oxen and cows! 
  3. The climb of more than 12 miles upward was MUCH more difficult than we imagined! We misinterpreted the phrase “easiest of the treks” for “easy trek” - let me tell you, they are NOT synonymous! Haha :) 
  4. Expected most of the trek to be windy paths with gradual inclines - the majority of the hiking was done on steep grades of stone steps. 
  5. Water seemed to be in abundance as it freely flowed in multiple waterfalls we crossed and in the pipe systems - while there is a proclaimed water shortage in Kathmandu. 
  6. Our trekking guide, Tin, was not only awesome, but also a Christian - a total unexpected blessing! 
Climbing those steep steps! 
Some of the visitors I mentioned! 
Although it was harder than any of us thought it would be, we completed the trek in the average amount of time! Being dirty, sore and tired, we checked into our simple hotel, showered, ate dinner, played a little bit of hearts and went to bed early. 

At the top - DONE!
A typical Gurung village home
Tuesday we shared breakfast outside surrounded by the gorgeous scenery of Ghandruk. We spent the day walking through the village areas, witnessing the Gurung (the people group/cast of Ghandruk) way of life - farming and harvesting. We even visited a small museum full of artifacts - current and historical. We learned some of the vast differences between Nepali village life versus Nepali city life by truly getting to experience some of both! The houses in the village area were more developed than I had pictured - made of brick and cement and were actually larger than I imagined them to be. Of course these observations are relative and subjective to the comparisons I was making in my own mind, having visited other developing countries. Even considering such observations, the living conditions were vastly different from my own. The simplest things, such as transportation or cooking a meal, require much more work and effort than I have ever had to put forth in my life at home. I am sure this teaches them to appreciate and value the product of such tasks more than I could ever comprehend. Observing their hard work has further led me to admire Nepali culture. After our day of more walking, we returned to our hotel and enjoyed a wonderful evening of togetherness - eating, discussing what we’ve seen and learned, drinking multiple pots of tea, playing cards and laughing a lot (mostly about me teaching them all how to be a pro at using the squatty potty)! 

Family pic :) 

One of our sunrise photos!
On Wednesday morning my mom, Brenden and I watched the sunrise on the Annapurna range that was easily visible from the roof of our hotel - it was undeniably one of the most memorable and beautiful sights I’ve ever seen. After enjoying this and taking multiple pictures, we packed up our things, ate breakfast and prepared to trek back to Nayapul. This day of trekking was significantly easier than Monday’s trek because we were simply taking the same route back, which was almost 100% downhill. I found that I was able to enjoy the scenery more this time, having to focus less on my physical endurance. The level of difficulty aided in the duration of our trek this time - we began at 8:00am and had already made it to the bottom of the mountain by 12:15pm where we had lunch! After lunch we only had about a half hour left of walking, which was mostly flat. Once we reached Nayapul it felt like such a huge accomplishment to have completely finished a true Nepal trek - even if it was the “easiest of the treks.” For not having any trekking training or experience, we each did quite well. Praise the Lord for no injuries or sickness! We again had a van ride back to Pokhara, where we rested and got massages to help with the soreness we all felt :) It was honestly one of the best massages I’ve ever had, as well as the cheapest - double score! 
Trekking back down
Group picture with our two guides at the very end - we did it!
Thursday we took a flight back to Kathmandu, rested for the afternoon and then had dinner with the same missionary family I met a couple weeks ago. It was a blessing to get to introduce them to my family since I hope to get to serve with them in the future. This was also their last full day here in Nepal - I seriously could not believe it! Their time here has flown by, but we’ve savored every moment and memory together. This morning, Friday, they packed and I took them to the airport in the afternoon. My mom, Tom and Brenden are actually in the air currently on their way back to the states! Prayer for their safety is welcomed and appreciated :) It is a long journey back home. Mine and Brenden’s goodbye was much less tearful this time knowing that I will see him again in only ten days! In comparison to the beginning of my trip, this next week and a half apart will be a breeze ;) I am also really looking forward to wrapping up my research to complete my time here in Nepal - praying for diligence in my writing, reading and concluding cultural experiences! 

Our last pic all together in Nepal!
Derai derai dhanyabad (“thank you very much”) to all who have kept us in their prayers as we’ve been away from internet access, unable to post updates as often as before. I have been continually in awe of God’s provision and hand in my time here, bringing together so many connections and blessings. He who is worshipped in Nepal, even among a small number of surrendered hearts and He who will be worshipped by every tribe, tongue and nation - remembering who He is and His care for me is ever humbling. 

Week 5 - sharing the gospel of God, and ourselves

Brenden & I with a map of Nepal
“...we were ready to share with you not only the gospel of God but also our own selves, because you had become very dear to us.” (1 Thessalonians 1:8)        

This week has been FULL! Full of family, happiness, busy-ness, ministry, sight-seeing and of course, full of learning. Continuing from the weekend before, the pastors conference (also called “Covenant School of Ministry” sponsored by Reach The Nation of Nepal Ministries in partnership with Kent Covenant Church) lasted through Wednesday. Each day about 90 Nepali pastors and leaders from all over Nepal gathered to hear teaching sessions and testimonies, as well as for worship and fellowship with one another. Each day my mom, Tom, Brenden, Harvey (the Seattle pastor) and I attended/taught the sessions prior to lunch. Pastor Harvey spoke two sessions in the morning and then one of us from the team each took a session in the late morning. My mom and Tom each shared their testimonies one day and my mom also taught about health concerns and answered many questions. Another day I had the opportunity to teach about Biblical worship and how music fits into corporate worship. During this time I also encouraged them to continue using music styles from their own culture to worship Jesus, even providing some methods for group composition of new songs of worship. I also got to sing an example of an originally composed Nepali song written from Psalm 103 by my Nepali friend, Karuna. It was a good experience that taught me a lot, as well as stretched me. Although nerves were present, it reminded me that I do enjoy speaking and sharing, especially from Scripture. I hope to be afforded many more opportunities such as this!

In the afternoons we left the conference since the rest was in Nepali or Hindi and was not translated for those of us who don't speak either of these languages. During these times, our hosts scheduled some city tours for our group. Some destinations were repeats for me, but it was awesome to get to experience and see such things with my family, who have different eyes, ears and thoughts than I do. Because of this it was definitely still a time of learning for me. Also in the afternoons, when a tour was not scheduled for us, it gave me the opportunity to display my “Nepali-ness.” I was quite proud to be able to navigate around and take them places safely and without getting lost! I still feel like a beginner when I speak Nepali, but even with the little I know, I am usually able to communicate simply and Nepali people are enthralled by my attempts! We went on some adventures in the evenings looking for restaurants we had heard about, which included a Nepali Jazz Club and a restaurant called New Orleans! 
Our group on a tour of Bhaktapur -
an ancient royal city area in Kathmandu

Brenden looking very Nepali,
wearing a traditional mens cap -

Throughout the conference, Pastor Harvey spoke on First Thessalonians and the title I gave this entry is how I’ve come to feel about the Nepalis I’ve met and befriended here. I think I can safely say that my parents, as well as Brenden, definitely felt the same. We can relate with Paul’s feelings as he wrote these words to the new believers in Thessalonica. All Nepali Christians need prayer and support from fellow followers of Christ so that their faith may be sustained and continue to grow in order to share with all of Nepal who the One True God really is! It was a blessing to get to be a part of an event with this goal in mind, which truly is the purpose of the global Church - to equip the saints and reach the lost! 
Further watching and participating in Nepali worship through music this week has confirmed in my heart that there is not one Christian worship music form or style! I have long believed this, but every time I get to witness and experience Christian worship in a different context it solidifies my conviction and propels me to continue to be a catalyst for encouraging contextualized worship. It is so beautiful to see Christian worship lived out in culturally appropriate and authentic ways. I wish for every American Christian to seek to understand this about worship - for too long the Western church has been blind and ignorant in their thoughts about worship through music. It is a deep heart prayer of mine to see Christians come to the realization that the only universal form required for Christian worship is our unified 
object of worship - JESUS. 

Here are all the attendees of the conference! 
 Mero Ama ("my mother" in Nepali) and I

The second half of our week included me taking them to new parts of Kathmandu, shopping, trying new foods and resting up. At this point in the trip, Pastor Harvey left to go back home to the states. It was great getting to know and serve with him, but it was truly a blessing for my mom, Tom, Brenden and I to spend some quality family time together. This weekend, Thursday through Sunday (11/4 - 7), was another Hindu festival called Tihar also known as Diwali, the festival of lights! Each night many candles were lit all of the city, mostly around the entrance of homes and businesses - signifying the welcome and ushering in of the goddess Laxmi, the goddess of wealth. Nepali Hindus worship her, animals (crow, dog, cow and oxen) and their brothers during this festival. During this time they pray for blessing and fortune from Laxmi as well as pray to the Hindu god of death, Yam Raj, to give long lives to their brothers. It is a time of celebration among families in their homes, so we got to minimally experiencing the celebration that happens publicly such as the candle lightings, fireworks and Tihar songs! Another tradition of Tihar, which I was especially interested in, is a type of carol singing. Small groups of girls and boys travel from house to house or shop to shop singing songs about Tihar - some are worship songs to Laxmi and some are alms songs, where they ask for money.

Walking through the markets...
At one of our many delicious dinners

Toward the end of the week, we readied ourselves for our trek from Pokhara to Ghandruk! We had no idea what was in store :) 

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Week 4 - One month!

My update has come late this week due to less internet access and the packed schedule with my family and the team from the states being here! Their arrival of course has a huge highlight of my week!  Brenden and I had been apart one day shy of 4 weeks - 27 days to be exact! It is such a relief for us to get to be together - we both feel home again even though we’re thousands of miles from our physical home. We are looking forward to what the next two weeks together will hold! I could not have planned for a more perfect time for him to arrive - I was just starting to feel pretty homesick, but that seems to matter much less now that he is here! I am overjoyed for my family to get to experience coming to Nepal, since it is Brenden’s and my mom’s first time to a developing country. I am convinced that one cannot leave another country unchanged, especially one dynamically different than their own. Having them here has helped remind me that I have learned a lot about Nepali culture and I am, in fact, pretty acclimated even though it still does not feel like it at times! 
This past week I’ve gotten to see and experience even more Nepali music - Christian and non-Christian traditional folk music! I went to a concert of a well-known Nepali folk band, Katumba, and I also got to sit in on one of their rehearsals - what an incredible experience! The guys in the band are true musicians and it was not only amazing to watch them perform, but also to watch them practice and interact with one another. I learned a lot about Nepali folk musical form and compositional styles that day - both are quite reflective of Nepali culture in general. I also got to visit a Christian music school and interview one of the founders. This was very interesting and helpful to my research while here in Kathmandu. Another thing I had the opportunity to do this past week was to visit and attend two other Christian churches. One was an English service and the other was Nepali. I actually had the amazing opportunity to share the message at the Nepali church Saturday morning. I also enjoyed getting to accompany my friend Shanti to work one day. She works for a local NGO called Tewa. This means “support” in Nepali and they work for equitable justice among Nepali women - raising funds for grant programs that teach women a marketable skill in order to support themselves, among other things. It was a privilege to see how an indigenous organization functions. It definitely  confirmed in my heart, the desire I have to hopefully someday work for an organization that is truly bringing about transformational development and change in the lives of the less fortunate. 

Earlier in the week, I was reflecting on the fact that while I am here in Nepal, I am in my Fall quarter at Fuller - ha! It doesn’t feel like class, but in many ways it feels like a typical quarter...when midterms come around is usually just about the time I’ve adjusted to the class format and such, and by the time finals come I feel as though I have so much more to learn (I will forever stand by the fact that the quarter system is significantly more difficult than the semester system)! I just know that that is how I am going to feel when I’m stepping on the plane to go home. It truly is very humbling to be in a new context - completely dependent on others for the simplest of things and being continually unsure of how their cultural system functions. Although this is true overall, this week I have finally begun to feel like I know a thing or two! :) My language skills are improving and I am finally familiar enough with major landmarks that I can make my way around. Being more adjusted in these ways, it is now more safe for me to be able to travel alone during the day time. Praise the Lord! So for the first time this week, I went out alone - walked through the markets, went on a Temple tour, caught public transportation and made it safely home all by myself! I was quite proud that day! The experience of it all - being alone, speaking Nepali, asking where the right microbus was and not getting lost - boosted my confidence level and diminished my fears. I am looking forward to the flexibility this will give me during the remainder of my trip! 

The start of my fifth week here in country has been wonderful and I look forward to getting to write about all that has taken place! 

(Sorry - no pictures this time. The internet connection is not strong enough.) 

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Crossing the half-way point...

Well I’ve officially been in Nepal for 3 and 1/2 weeks now and I’m almost in disbelief that this means my time here is half way gone! My time has now exceeded the length of any other overseas trip I have ever taken...if someone were to honestly ask how my trip has been so far and was willing to hear the extended, honest answer in return, I would say: 
It has been...
wonderfully challenging 
sometimes lonely 
often unexpected 
occasionally frustrating
often joyful
full of constant adjustment
sometimes overwhelming
highly educational
patience testing
full of questioning  
a test of my ability to trust in the Lord
Overall, I am learning a lot - even if it is not what I expected to learn. Also, I know that I will be processing all that I have and will still experience here in Nepal for even years to come. For the second half of my trip, it is my hope and prayer that much of what I have learned will start to come together and that my mind will be inspired with how I can creatively report my findings in the papers and reports I must submit when returning home! 
The next 3 and 1/2 weeks are going to fly by with my family being here and my schedule being more packed. I am ecstatic that I get to see them tomorrow! It will be awesome getting to serve together as well as simply enjoy exploring new places! After two weeks, Brenden, my mom and Tom will return home and I will have 10 days remaining in country. I will wrap up my experiences and attempt to compile my research into reports! 
“He has made everything beautiful in its time.” Ecclesiastes 3 
Earlier this year during an Old Testament course, I got to more carefully study the book of Ecclesiastes, which caused me to marvel at its honesty and depth. To some, this book may seem the most dismal of all the Writings because it talks extensively about death and the futility of life. However, I personally find that it gives the most accurate depiction of how we often feel about life and subsequently, I find it the most life-giving. Ecclesiastes shows that what we believe about death, should effect what we believe about life and how we choose to live it! Although the futility of life seems to often overtake human existence, this book shows that life is still worth the living because Yahweh is God and He has given us this life to live in reverence of Him. An important aspect of this book is to know that the author wrote such encouraging words without the hope the heaven that believers have today - I find this even more amazing. A life committed to following Yahweh was still worth it, even without knowing the promise of heaven. Through this study, I learned the importance of living with the hope of heaven, instead of living for the hope of heaven - we must live to serve God on earth while we can, in ways that are pleasing to Him! 
I am further learning that there is something beautiful to be seen and experienced, in even in the most simplistic circumstances, as well as during both seasons of sorrow and joy. 

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Week 3: Illuminations

 I cannot believe that I left for Nepal three weeks ago already! In many ways, it has gone by so fast. The start of this week was rather slow since it began to rain, making going out a little more difficult. It gave me some good time to complete some of the my assigned readings. I have to remember that they are a part of my practicum too - not only going out and doing things! It has been an introspective week for me as I seek to discover what God is desiring to teach me while I am here and as I seek to process what I have so far learned. This perspective has illuminated my experiences this week - in becoming an Ethnomusicologist &  in growing as a disciple of Jesus. 
On Tuesday I had the opportunity to spend an evening with a local missionary couple that I had a connection with here in Kathmandu! It was an amazing evening as I learned about their work in Nepal, some of which included music. They were a part of mission to a formerly unreached people group in a remote Nepali village. They began to tell me the journey of how their congregation came to write their own original Nepali Christian worship music! Before this people group had been evangelized there was no Christian music available in their dialect, so the natural choice was to compose. These missionaries, being of a culturally sensitive mindset, encouraged the people to use their own culture’s musical styles. This has allowed for indigenous and authentic Christian worship to take place among these people! I was and still am incredibly moved by their story and am hoping that I will get to conduct research within this village - if not during this trip, maybe during another. Discovering that we shared similar hearts and visions for mission made this night incredibly refreshing and special. I look forward to seeing them again and hopefully getting to work together in the future. 
On Wednesday I went to Thamel, which is a high tourism area in Kathmandu. My hosts suggested that I go there to explore because there are many music shops there! My experience was better than I imagined. Yagya, the husband of the couple I have been staying with for the past ten days, accompanied me. When we arrived, it was immediately obvious that this was a high tourist area because I was no longer the only “badeshi” ("foreigner" in Nepali) walking on the street! We spent time walking through the allies looking at the different booths selling souvenirs and clothing. The first music shop we found was a small one room shop filled with indigenous Nepali instruments. It is pictured on the right. This was an awesome find in comparison to many of the music shops that also carry Western instruments, such as guitars. We spent about an hour there, because the man who owned the shop and handcrafted all of the instruments was so helpful. His name was Sobit. He showed us all of the instruments, played them for us and allowed us to play them too. It was so great to see, touch and attempt to play the indigenous Nepali instruments I have studied about. Sobit spoke a little bit of English but we mostly talked through Yagya who translated my questions and Sobit’s answers. I captured some really nice video clips and learned a lot about the sarangi, the stringed instrument in the picture above. Hearing and seeing this instrument confirmed that this was the Nepali instrument I wanted to purchase and learn, so I did! Sobit described to me how it is tuned and showed me how to play a scale, which is a great knowledge base to start from. I was glad to be able to purchase my sarangi from Sobit since he had spent so much time with us and had been eager to answer all of my questions. He even gave me a free copy of his band's CD that plays Nepali folk music, "Namaste Band". I took my very first steps in becoming bi-musical today, therefore propelling me toward becoming a true ethnomusicologist. Because of this, I was thrilled with my experience and research on Wednesday. It has quite possibly been the highlight of my week! 

This is Sobit and I each holding sarangis.

 This is the sarangi I purchased! 

Later in the week I was supposed to return to my original hosts’ home, but they had relatives unexpectedly come into town so I have stayed a few days more with the YWAM missionaries. This latter half of the week has also been a little slow due to my hosts feeling under the weather - luckily I haven’t caught anything! I am capitalizing on the quiet time by further working on my readings and practicing my sarangi a little bit. I also have been spending this time preparing the session I will teach during the ministry conference next week. I combed through many of my notes from the different classes I have taken and was gently reminded by the Lord how incredible this journey through seminary has been. HE has done the work in shaping my heart and speaking to me through the wisdom-filled words of His committed followers. I have again become enthralled with the topic of Global Christian Worship as I am able to compare what I’ve learned in the classroom with what I am learning on the field. To see others worship Christ in authenticity is the ultimate goal!
I recently finished reading a discourse on the history and development of Christianity in Nepal and have been thoroughly impressed with a few different elements. Firstly, the Christian church in Nepal has been extremely committed to unity among all churches that claim Jesus. It is a beautiful and Biblical picture of what God desires from his followers - to be united, although we may be diverse. Secondly, this unity has not been specific to denominations but has sought to bring together and keep in contact all the Christian churches of Nepal. I admire the fact that their devotion to Christ far outweighs their devotion to a denomination. I also admire that the differences between denominations do not hinder the unity they feel called to maintain! The American Christian Church has MUCH to learn from this model. I have seen such divisiveness among Christians over denominational differences and it is saddening as well as maddening, in my opinion.

“How can a divided church ever prove the victory of the cross, when the very sin of all sins is division, or separation? Through the fall man was separated from his God and Creator, and through the same fall he was also separated from his brother. Can a divided and crippled Body of Christ ever prove anything, let alone reflect the glory of the risen Lord? Did not the Lord utter in His great high-priestly prayer in the garden that He had given His people God’s glory in order that they might be one? That really means that God’s glory is forever closely linked with the unity of His Church.” - Johannes Facius 
This statement was quoted in the book about Nepali Christianity and I think it is an amazing truth that the global body of Jesus Christ must seriously consider. Another professor of mine once stated that our unity does not have to be found in the sameness of opinion, but in identity of spirit. Belief in Jesus, the Son of God, is our point of unity. 

The ministry conference Brenden and I, as well as my parents (Ann & Tom), will be involved in next weekend is a demonstration of commitment to such unity as pastors from all over Nepal, across denominations, come together to fellowship, learn and grow in the context of community. We are blessed to be able to participate in this event and are looking forward to what God can and will do in the Nepali pastors, as well as in and through us. My family, as well as a Seattle pastor, will leave for Katmandu next Wednesday. Please pray for traveling mercies on their behalf and also pray for the final preparations for the ministry conference. I am beyond excited to be able to see, spend time and minister with my family for the next couple of weeks. It will be a definite blessing to have them here! Thank you for the prayers that are being lifted up for me - I have settled into the peaceful protection of my Lord this week. As I am here, please remember the gracious people who have so willingly opened their homes, lives and ministries to me - pray that God would bless their efforts to share His love in Nepal. 
I pray that my experiences and thoughts shared on this blog will bring you encouragement, contemplation and cause you too to consider how God is calling you to carry out His mission. 

*A Nepali Christian greeting meaning "Praise The Lord" 
used between believers to say hello and goodbye

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Week 2: Unexpectedness

My second week here in Nepal has been filled with the unexpected. 

HINDUISM. What I have experienced and seen in Nepali Hindu culture has been much different than I expected. In my spring quarter at Fuller, I got the chance to take a class in Hinduism , which was very interesting and enjoyable. However, I am learning that text book Hinduism is quite different from organic Hinduism. As I’ve pondered this, I am realizing that my class mostly studied the philosophical aspects of the beliefs in Hinduism as well as its origins. But here in Nepal, I am observing the practices that reflect these philosophical ideas and being in the midst of it has generated completely different feelings within me than my class did. During my class, although I did not accept any of the Hindu beliefs as truth, I was able to understand how and why such beliefs made sense to those who are devoted followers of the Hindu gods. But now that I am here, so much of it makes no sense to me whatsoever. I feel as though the more I learn about it, the more complex it becomes - no wonder Hindus don’t even bother to understand it all. This became more apparent to me as I had the opportunity to visit three different famous Hindu Temples here in Kathmandu this weekend. The history was quite interesting and I really do enjoy learning about culture through live experience rather than simply reading about it, but there was spiritual heaviness that hung in my heart during such visits. The pictures below are at the different Temples I visited.  

DASHAIN. The day of sacrificing I attended was also different than I expected. It was actually much less gruesome than I assumed it would be. As non-Hindus, the group I was with and myself were not allowed to go inside the main Temple to view the sacrificing, so we had to attend a smaller scale ritual in Durbar Square. I was actually quite relieved at this unexpected part of our journey that day, because of the sheer volume of sacrificed animals inside Hanuman Dhoka - the main Temple. It customary for 108 of each type of animal - buffalo, goat, chicken and duck - to be sacrificed to this Temple, as well as the animal each Hindu family brings to the Temple. The ceremony we attended only sacrificed six animals - 2 bulls and 4 goats. I watched the ritual in its entirety for one animal, which included the worship of two Hindu priests, the blessing of the animal slaughterers as well as the blessing of the animals themselves. Following these rituals, the animal is beheaded and then its headless body is drug around the ceremony area creating a circle of blood, which is believed to be an act of consecration. After I had observed the first goat sacrifice, I chose to move toward the outside of the crowd so as not to allow my nausea to worsen. For the remaining five sacrifices, I stood toward the outside of the crowd and frequently looked back in on the rituals. 

As I watched the rituals, instead of focusing on the inherently evil strongholds that were present in such rituals, I kept thinking about how we, the people of God, were at one time (in the Old Testament) required to also perform animal sacrifices. The sacrifices Israel made were for the purpose of atoning for sin, while the Hindu animal sacrifices made today are for the commemoration of a mythical tale which also honors their goddess Durga. Although these purposes vary, the concept of sacrificing is similar as both groups sought/seek to work toward pleasing the God/gods they serve. This further led me to thank my Savior that we do not have to do such a thing anymore. My wise professor encouraged me to allow these sacrifices to lead me to a deeper understanding of Christ’s sacrifice and I really believe that per her suggestion, this experience has indeed done so. I remembered that the sacrifice Jesus made for us was actually much more gruesome than what I witnessed, not to mention the fact that it was a human sacrifice, not just an animal sacrifice. After this experience, I am left with the emotion of extreme gratitude - I am so incredibly thankful, that as Hebrews says, Jesus was a one time sacrifice for all sin! I no longer sense the fear I first did before attending these Hindu rituals, yet I still have a deep sadness and empathy for them. They still very much need our prayers! Lord God, I pray that they might find freedom in knowing that Christ willing sacrificed Himself for those who choose to follow Him and that they, these Hindus, have the opportunity to be freed from the obligation of sacrifice also. Thank you to all who prayed for me during these days - they were truly felt as the Lord protected my heart. 

WESTERN MUSIC. This week I have heard more Western music than indigenously Nepali music. This is mostly in relation to Nepali Christian worship music. This is one of the anomalies I am here to study - Why is this? How do Nepalis feel about it? Should more indigenous Nepali music be incorporated into Christian worship? Luckily I have uncovered some of the answers this week through conversations with worship leaders and congregants of Nepali churches, as well through attending different Nepali Christian gatherings. Saturday morning I got to worship with a congregation of Nepali Christians and my heart was uplifted and filled during this time. I love experiencing the global church of God - hearing them pray, speak and worship in their own language and culture. It is so beautiful to my ears as it is the partial fulfillment of God’s promise to preserve a remnant of people for Himself from every tribe, tongue and nation! 
OUTSIDE THE CITY. I got the chance to go to the Kathmandu YWAM base with the missionaries I have been staying with. It is located in a near by village with beautiful scenery   - here are some pictures of the area! I loved getting the chance to see this aspect of Nepal, since I’ve mostly been in the city. 

As I process through all of my unexpected experiences and reactions this week, please pray that I am able to glean and learn from it in the way God desires me to. I find myself naturally comparing this trip to other overseas trips I have been on, which has shed some light on the ways that I am feeling. Although this is helpful, I do not want to allow such comparisons to lead me to disappointment. Pray that I would remember my purpose as a student and that in this role, I am also participating in the mission of God.