Friday, November 12, 2010

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 :) 

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