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.