Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Final thoughts from Melanie

Seeing poverty is so difficult. Just the feeling is out of this world. You become overwhelmed with compassion and you get this crazy 5-minute adrenaline rush to save the world. If you're fortunate enough to have friends sharing your experience, they'll feel it too, and you guys can feed off each other's ideas: let's start a non-profit organization of our own to save these kids! Let's get them into better homes! Let's give them more food! Let's bring them new, undamaged clothing! And eventually it comes to: let's move to Nepal!

Well, I can't move there any time soon. I'd have to save up money even to pay for my one-way ticket. But I can do something every single day while I'm back here in America.

God has given us a huge tool we take for granted every single day. I know I do. It has the power to change lives, to comfort, to strengthen, to bless, to request.

God has given each one of us the special ability to pray and to speak to Him. And that is what we need to do. Motivation, inspiration like the above, the compassionate feeling to help the people afflicted with poverty can be cured with a prayer to God, like this:
I know I am just one soul in Your world of billions, Lord, but I want to make a difference. I have seen Your power work through many, many things, and I ask for Your help. I ask that You further my inspiration to serve Your kingdom and help the cause presented to us in Nepal.. or I ask that You continue to bless those who are working in Nepal and call me into something equally rewarding. It's not my place to choose what my path is, but it is my place to ask. If it be YOUR will, Lord, I would be thrilled to be involved in directly helping these people. I ask that You give me the means to do so. Provide me with talents so that I may serve Your people during my time of grace.

I am so blessed to have had this experience and I hope and pray I'll be able to return or serve on another mission-helper trip with Pastor Ohlmann. Thank you, to those who supported us, who followed us as we documented our experiences, to our parents, our friends and most of all, thanks to God who gave us safe travels, good weather, courage and patience for teaching, and strength to climb the mountains. God is good!

Monday, August 1, 2011

Naomi Bernthal- "This is a Last but it is not an End."

On one of the last nights in Kathmandu, two other girls and I were talking about how much we will miss it in Nepal. One of our new very good friends said something along the lines of the title of this blog. He meant that this will be the last time we see each other now, but we will eventually see each other. This really made me smile. It is such a comfort to know that no matter how far away I am from these amazing fellow Christians, I will still see them on the Last Day. As Kathmadu slowly faded beneath the clouds as we took off and I was fighting back tears, those words popped into my head and I took comfort in them. 
I can't even begin to express in words what this trip has done for me. When we were saying goodbye to our friends, I really felt unworthy of their thanks. They have done so much for us, they put a hold on their daily routines, they planned everything out for us, and they gave us food and anything that we needed. God has truly been working something amazing in Nepal. These Christians have built me up and helped me more than they know. I feel very privileged to have these fellow Christians in my life. 
When we finally hit American soil and I heard the sweet sound of a Midwesterner's accent, I knew I was home. It's nice coming back to a place where people understand you and you aren't disreguarded as an ignorant tourist. For some reason though, as we were driving home from Chicago I thought that I would be happier to be home. Don't get me wrong, I was very happy to see my family and friends and drink safe tap water and enjoy the luxuries I have been blessed with, but a part of me really didn't mind the conditions we lived with. It really was an eye-opener to see firsthand how different things are between my normal life here and the normal life of our brothers and sisters in Nepal. 

I am so grateful that God has blessed me so richly, more importantly though, I am grateful that God has blessed all of us with the gift of eternal life. After visiting some of the Hindu temples and seeing all the shrines to stone figures, it really hit me how much more work we have to do! The harvest is plenty but the laborers are few! I encourage anyone and everyone to take every opportunity you get to spread this wonderful news. At one of our stops, one of our friends had a devotion and he took it from Isaiah 52:7,  "How beautiful upon the mountains are the feet of him who brings good news, who proclaims peace, who brings glad tidings of good things, who proclaims salvation, who says to Zion, 'Your God reigns!'" These words are a comfort and a motivation to do the work God has laid out for us.
One very big lesson I learned that has stuck with me since I've been back is having a child-like faith. While in Nepal I never once felt anxious or scared whether we were going the right way, whether we got on the right bus or whether we were going to get there on time. I trusted that everything would work out. I knew that our friends knew exactly what they were doing and I knew no matter what happened, it was what God wanted. It's very easy to fall into the trap or worrying and stressing out about stuff but now I have found myself a bit calmer with things. Apparently it only took a trip overseas for it to finally hit me. I had always tried before but now, after being in a situation where I was clueless about all of my surroundings and I needed to rely completely on someone else, it's clear to me now. God is in control, He knows exactly what He's doing.
I encourage anyone who is even slightly thinking of doing a Mission Helper trip to do it! I almost didn't go on this trip. I had the application all written out but I chickend out at the last minute because I doubted that I could cover the expences. But then Pastor Ohlmann was in Eau Claire for some meetings and convinced me to hand it in. I thank God to this day that I handed that application in. And I would also like to say thank you to Pastor Ohlmann for everything he has done for us. I don't know how he can do this every summer but at the same time I understand. It is sad to say goodbye to your good friends not knowing when you will see them next, but just knowing that they have saving faith is worth more than any saddness or pain. He sacrifices a lot to do this work and we obviously could not have done any of this without him. So Pastor, thank you for being an effecient tool in the building of God's kingdom.  
And so, I ask you all to pray for our fellow brothers and sisters and please pray for the many souls who still need to hear about their Savior! This was a wonderful opportunity and I pray that we all see the many opportunities God gives us in our everyday lives. I know that I will always have a special place in my heart for Nepal and the wonderful friends that I now have there.

From Chad Seybt

I had many mixed emotions upon leaving Nepal to return home.  I hadn't realized just how close I had become to my brethren there.  There was the heartache of realizing that I had not been able to do some things that I was most looking forward to, namely trekking up to the villages and living among the people.  However, there was also the joy of realizing that the purpose for which I came was accomplished even if it had to be done without me.  As JB put it: "The Lord saw to it that the gospel went up into the hills even if Chad did not."  And of course that was the most important part.  

There was something that I noticed while traveling through Nepal that I will not be able to forget and actually caused me great sadness.  And that was the obvious influence of our Western culture on the culture in Nepal.  Two hundred to even one hundred years ago this would have been a very welcome thing as Western culture then was predominantly Christian and had rather positive influences to share with other cultures.  Today however it is quite different.  Today our secularized Western culture is having a largely negative spiritual impact abroad.  You could see it in their clothing and television and also hear it in their music.  I noticed rather revealing clothing on women in a culture that normally seeks to have their women modestly clothed in non-form fitting clothing.  I observed scantily clad women dancing provocatively in music videos and television programs.  And the music videos themselves also revealed that the text of the music was less than desirable.  What this all impressed upon me was the great need in our own country for evangelism efforts.  It's funny (and rather sad at the same time) that I had to travel half way around the world to realize just how great the need for evangelism is in my own back yard.  And what's more is that this need is even great among those in our country who would consider themselves churched because American churches have compromised so much in regards to God's Word.

Finally, I also noticed how we can apply several things in our mission work in Nepal to here in the United States.  One of the blessings we enjoyed on our trip was the lack of distractions we had while carrying out our work.  We were all so focused on the work at hand.  What a great lesson to take back with us to the U.S.!  How much more evangelism could we do here in the States if we would just remove ourselves from all of our distractions!  What if we gathered around God's Word in our CLC congregations on a routine basis with the idea of spreading that word to those we know around us?  How much more work could we accomplish if we just turned off the TV, disconnected from Facebook, shut down the video games and computers and really focused in on the work our God has called all of us to do?!  What if each CLC congregation had a mission society that met weekly to discuss and encourage each other with ideas and stories of mission work in our own backyards?  I believe these realizations are some of the greatest blessings that I personally took away from this mission trip, and I look forward to starting on this important work here in the States.  I have been emboldened and strongly encouraged to share what I have learned as encouragement for my fellow CLC brothers so that we see mission work not just as something that happens in Nepal orIndia or Africa, but also something that so desperately needs to be conducted in our own neighborhoods and towns and country.  

Despite all of the negative things that happened to me on this trip, they could not compare in the least with what the apostle Paul went through on his missionary journeys nor what my Savior went through on the cross in order to redeem me, a lost sinner.  I am eternally grateful to God for this experience, and I pray that He will bless the work that was accomplished so that I and my Nepali brethren will see each other again in our heavenly home.  

Sunday, July 31, 2011

From Emily Hulke

The three weeks we were in Nepal went by too fast. I’m glad to be back in America and really excited to tell my family and friends all about Nepal. But at the same time, I miss all the people we met and worked with in Nepal. 

I will miss all the children we taught. The children were always so excited to learn, and I wish I could have told them more about God. I was always sad that we had to leave them so soon. I wish we could have stayed longer and spoken with them about more Bible stories, other than the ones we already taught them.  And I wish we could have travelled to more congregations and taught more children. My favorite part of every lesson was when they would sing us their songs. They were always the most excited and happy when they sang of God’s love for them.

I was sad to leave because there is still so much work to be done over there. On one of our last days in Kathmandu, we saw many Hindu and Buddhist temples and idols. After all the work we did teaching children about Jesus, we were forced to remember that Nepal is still less than 1% Christian. Seeing all those lost people praying to objects of stone made me sick. I just wanted to help them find the truth. There are so many people in Nepal who are going down the wrong path and who need pastors and teachers to spread God’s Word and show them the way. There is so much more work to be done in Nepal.

Although there is much work to be done in Nepal, God is there helping the pastors grow in His Word and spread His Word among the people of Nepal. I met so many amazing people over there who live to tell others about Jesus. These people hike to remote villages to spread God’s Word, are willing to be arrested for the Gospel, and are always eager to grow in their faith and knowledge of God’s Word. They willingly and joyfully endure so much hardship for God. I miss these amazing people whom I had the honor to work with over the past three weeks. I want to return someday and work with them and help them once again. But even if I never return and even if I never see them again on earth, I know that I will see them again in heaven.  Everyone I met there will always be in my prayers and in my heart.

I want to thank everyone for your prayers for us while we were on this trip. But I want you to continue to pray for the people of Nepal. Pray that the Lord strengthens the faith of the children that we taught, and that those children tell their friends and parents about Jesus. Pray that God continues to strengthen the pastors and congregations to grow in His Word. And pray that God continues to help and strengthen the brave people who work so hard to spread Christianity throughout the Hindu country of Nepal.

From Carl Reim

After being up for roughly 24 hours, it felt absolutely amazing to crawl into my own bed after getting home at 1am Friday morning. And later that day I was treated to some good old home cooking. I was very glad to get back to a few things like: air conditioning, hot showers, beds that I fit in, beds that are soft, drinking tap water, and nice clean clothes. 

However, there are still a lot of things that I am going to miss about Nepal. This has been, by far, the most amazing and inspirational experience of my life. The kids that I taught were all so happy and excited about learning. The church members were so passionate about worshiping. I will never forget watching them sing songs for us. 

I am so proud to be able to work with the people of the HCLCN. First of all they were all so helpful and easy to get along with. They never complained about having to travel with a bunch of stupid Americans who wouldn't even be able to get on the right bus without them. They never complained about how slow we were at hiking. They never complained about how much we talked about American food. They never even complained about how much we complained. These people have worked incredibly hard to help start the HCLCN, to spread the HCLCN to new towns and villages, and to check in on and help these churches survive. These men have other things to do in life such as school and their jobs. Yet they still take time to work hard at spreading Christianity around Nepal, sometimes risking their lives. 

As I said I am very proud to have been able to meet and work with people like this. I am very thankful and blessed to be able to go to Nepal and have these experiences. I can see the HCLCN continuing to grow throughout Nepal, but I hope and pray that they may stay faithful to God's word, and that the pastors there can receive the training and support that they will need in order to help spread the church throughout Nepal. 

Leaving Nepal on Tuesday was very difficult. After exchanging gifts, we said some emotional goodbyes to our new friends. After a rough 8 hour layover in Dehli we headed to London for a day and a half layover. In London we were able to take a tour bus around the city and see some of the sights. I think when we first got there, everyone would have rather just gone home instead, due to exhaustion and sickness. However, after a little while we started to have fun. I think it was a good way to end the trip, and to help us deal with the extreme time difference. 

All in all, it was an amazing trip, and I have some amazing memories that I can carry with me forever. Thank you all for reading these posts, I hope you have enjoyed them. Please continue to pray for the continuation and growth of the HCLCN, and for all of our missionary efforts around the world. 

Saturday, July 30, 2011

Natalie Schreyer - Home Sweet Home...Heaven!

Well here I am, sitting in this comfy La-Z-Boy chair, holding my laptop, in an air-conditioned house, eating my first Oreo in a month, and sipping an ice-cold glass of tap water – (yes, safe TAP water! woohoo!) – and I can’t help but notice how much more I am…noticing things!  Little things that I took for granted before my trip to Nepal…like safe tap water, electricity that runs all day, quiet and orderly streets, “bug-lessness…” J  And most of all, my family.  It sure is good to be home!  J

But although I knew all these comforts of home were awaiting me as I stepped in the plane to take me back to America, leaving Nepal was so hard.  Only after a tearful goodbye to our unforgettable new friends, Raju and Rajan and their family and friends, whom we all grew so close to over the past month, were we able to reluctantly board our plane.  I know I can speak for all the mission helpers when I say that Nepal, and the people in it, will always be in our hearts. 

Our return flights from Nepal, to India, to London, to Chicago, were all safe and smooth.  We’ve all returned to our homes safely as of yesterday.  I’m not sure about the other mission helpers, but I for one have been chatterboxing away to my poor family and friends about anything and everything Nepal, haha! :p  I really appreciate their willingness to listen to me!  ~ what troopers! J 

But of all my thoughts and feelings I express through my Nepal stories and photos, I hope that what really comes across is that this country needs our prayers.  Though poverty and political corruption are significant problems in Nepal and are certainly things we can pray for, what’s worse is their need for the Word.  The people there are really just like you and me;  they just haven’t had the privilege, as we have, to grow up in a country as financially able to take care of them.  It makes their faith all the more important.  They need something to rely on, and it needs to be the fact that this difficult life on Earth will quickly pass away, and that there is a much, much greater Life to look forward to!  Just like the hymn “I’m But a Stranger Here” says:
What though the tempest rage, Heav’n is my home;
Short is my pilgrimage, Heav’n is my home;
Time’s cold, wild wintry blast soon shall be over past;
I shall reach home at last, Heav’n is my home.

There at my Savior’s side Heav’n is my home;
I shall be glorified, Heav’n is my home.
There are the good and blest, those I loved most and best;
There, too, I soon shall rest, Heav’n is my home.

Therefore I murmur not, Heav’n is my home;
Whate’er my earthly lot, Heav’n is my home;
And I shall surely stand there at my Lord’s right hand.
Heav’n is my fatherland, Heav’n is my home.

To wrap up my thoughts on the 2011 Mission Helper Trip to Nepal, it is such a blessing to be home in America.  And even though I miss the people in Nepal, I know that I will see them again in our heavenly Home someday! J

Please keep Nepal in your prayers!  Thank you for reading! J

Ryan Augustin - Final Blog 7/30/2011

Today I am experiencing a very bittersweet feeling. As great as it is to be home again, it also saddens me to wake up from a very amazing dream that I actually lived through. My trip to Nepal provided me with great perseverance, strength (spiritual and physical), and encouragement—each succeeding day amazed me with ever increasing inspiration. Through risky traveling conditions, physical ailments, and weather disturbances, there was absolutely no denying the hand of the Lord in our successful trip. I pray that God will especially watch out for the children that we taught, and that the Holy Spirit will strengthen the hearts of all those who have heard the Good News.

Although hundreds of children were taught in various churches, visiting the Hindu and Buddhist temples throughout Nepal really gives you an idea of what needs to be done. The sadness and despair within these religions is so self-evident that even the tiniest sparks of the Gospel can provide hope and life-saving opportunities to the Nepali people.

I especially want to thank our Nepali hosts—Raju and Rajan—for their extreme humility and hard-work from the past few weeks, the HCLCN pastors who continue to learn about God’s mission work, all the Nepali children who were taught about their Savior and teach us many things as well, Berea Lutheran Church for incredible support, and most importantly our God whose powerful hand is made evident to me every day. 

Whether home or abroad, the Lord’s work is always in need of your support. Prayers, services, and financial aid help spread the Living Water to all of God’s children. 

Becky Sippert - Final Thoughts

It is our 2nd day back from Nepal, and I must say that no one ever told me the hardest part of the trip would happen in the U.S.-- coming home.

Yesterday, I spent about 3 hours in the afternoon feeling really sick and jet lag-ey and passed out on the couch. All I really wanted the whole day was to just be back in Nepal. Thankfully, telling family and friends about the trip and looking at pictures has been a great way to overcome the separation anxiety from leaving.

Today, I am feeling much better. I attempted to go for a run this morning, but it made me feel sick again. I actually ran into my dad about 1.5 miles in and joined him on his morning walk for the rest of the way, so that was a nice surprise. I told him more about the trip and all the different places we stayed. Today will also be filled with the pleasant distractions of errands, chores, hopefully a nap, and spending long-awaited time with friends.

I know that this Mission Helper Trip turned out to be more of a blessing to me than I could have possibly imagined, and I pray that it was just as much of a blessing to those we visited in Nepal. The Mission Helper Program is great, and I strongly recommend going on a trip to EVERYONE. Of course I realize that time, money, and responsibilities prevent many from going, but for some they can also be excuses not to go. That is why I want to say that if anyone reading this is even a little interested in going on a Mission Helper Trip, give it serious thought and prayer. If I have learned anything from this trip, it's that anything is possible with God. Ok, I guess I didn't learn it so much as have it reinforced, but my point is that obstacles such as lack of time and lack of money will not get in the way of God's will. So even if you don't think you'll be able to afford a Mission Helper Trip or you don't know if your job will let you take the time off or whatever else may be a problem, you shouldn't write it off as an impossibility.

Someone asked me recently what the best part of the trip was. The answer I gave was the kids we came to visit, especially their singing. I can still hear the children's songs in my head from the very first lesson we gave, even though at the time I was only half conscious from sleep deprivation. One of the songs they sang was taken from Psalm 118:24, which is a new favorite of mine since hearing it sung so often in both English and Nepali. The passage is "This is the day the LORD has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it." And it's such an appropriate passage for all of us Mission Helpers. It's a great reminder that even though this day may feel less significant to us because we aren't traveling through a different country teaching children, it is still made by God and still holds opportunity to do His work and praise Him. Those days that we were given in Nepal were certainly blessed, but just because they have come and gone doesn't mean they can't continue to be a blessing to us. We all saw and experienced so much on this Mission Helper Trip that will help us in our further work in God's kingdom in our own country. For that, I am so thankful.

To God alone be all the glory,


Friday, July 29, 2011

Safely Back in the U.S.

Just a quick post to let everyone know that we all arrived safely in Chicago where vehicles and family were waiting to welcome everyone home. Thank Pastor Pfeiffer and members of Ascension in Batavia, IL for their assistance in shuttling cars to and from the airport.

My flight to St. Louis was the final flight for a pilot who was retiring after 34 years in the air with three different airlines. His daughters were on-board for the flight and received special permission to serve everyone cake on the flight. It was a fun way to finish up a very long trip home. Now it's off to bed for a much needed sleep.

Keep an eye out for upcoming post-trip posts from many of the Mission Helpers.

In Christ,
Pastor Ohlmann

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Almost Home!

Our short flight on Tuesday afternoon from Delhi to Kathmandu followed by an 8 hour layover followed by an 8 hour flight brought us safely to London for a day of sigh-seeing, rest, and jet-lag prevention.

Before we head to the airport we will gather at Russell Square park for one final devotion together.

Many of the Mission Helpers will be posting their final thoughts after we get home. So, check back in a few days.

Thanks again for your prayers, support, and encouragement.

In Christ,
Pastor Ohlmann

Monday, July 25, 2011

Carl Reim, cant believe its almost over.... :(

Tonight is our last night in Nepal. In some ways it seems like I've been in this country and with all these people for a very long time. However, at the same time it seems like everything went way too fast. I don't feel like I should already have to go back to the "real world" of work and school. My time here has been filled with numerous good times and amazing experiences. But I feel like the people I have met and observed have had the most impact on me. I have been so inspired by the all the pastors, laymen, Sunday school teachers, children, and everyone who has been involved with this church body. They are so hard working and involved in what they do. They are so eager and hungry to serve God, praise God, and spread his word. The only thing that is keeping this church body from growing is funding and training. As the pastors are so enthusiastic when they talk, yet you can tell that they and their congregation could greatly benefit from better training.

I was a little disappointed that we could not travel and see more congregations. Of course I understand why we can't, with our limited funding and limited transportation. Yet I am very glad that the people of this church spend so much time and effort in traveling around Nepal (which is not an easy country to get around) and helping to start and support new churches. These men have their own jobs and school. Although we may have been excited about a long hike up hill in the 100 degree weather, they don't necessarily enjoy their journey to these remote village churches. Yet they still do it. They still consider these 'tribal' people worth long bus rides and long hikes.

There were so many wonderful sights on this trip, from watching children get so excited to sing to God, to beautiful landscapes and waterfalls. However, I have also seen some very sad things. Yesterday we went to one of the biggest tourist sights in Kathmandu. I forget what they actual name of the place was, but everyone calls it the Monkey Temple, from all of monkeys that hang out there. It was a temple built for worshiping Buddha. We also saw a Buddhist monastery, and a few Hindi temples. As inspiring as it was seeing so many Christians in Nepal, it is extremely sad seeing so many people taking this Buddha and Hindu thing so seriously They truly believe in having to do all these crazy rituals, while all they need to do for salvation is believe that Jesus, the Son of God came and took our sins away from us. I really wish we could do more to help this country, as well as the many other countries following false religions.

All in all I have torn feelings about leaving. The time has gone so fast, probably the fastest three weeks of my life. There are many things about America that I miss though. I think we end up talking about food about twenty times a day. I would defiantly encourage anyone reading this to help in any way that you can. Whether it is joining a mission helping trip, or just help in supporting the Mission Fund. The opportunities our out there.

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Natalie ~ Remembering Isaiah 55:11 ~

Hi there, everyone!

I just realized that this will probably be one of my last times posting from Nepal!  It's hard to believe that I only have two more days here...where did the month go?! :) 

We sure have had some excitement the past few days in northern Nepal.  We scaled a landslide on foot (during which a HUGE boulder half the size of a car came hurtling down the mountainside toward Pastor Ohlmann!~ It missed him by maybe ten feet!), unintentionally created a ruckus at the Nepal-Tibet border (our group was ordered to be hastily escorted away from the border by a Tibetan spy!), and were stranded on a bus for over an hour due to a severe bus crash ahead of us!  But through it all, God kept our team safe, just as He has been safeguarding all of us our entire time here in Nepal.  We are very thankful!

But the most significant event on my mind from our time in northern Nepal is the fact that I taught my lesson for the very last time.  We taught at a school that had so many kids that we had to split our team into two groups to teach them all!  My group taught in the church building.  As we began to teach, something awesome happened that I will never forget!  I noticed some kids passing by on the street.  They must have heard us teaching through the open church windows, and they curiously came closer to listen.  Before long, a large group of kids had crowded around the windows outside the church to listen to us tell our Bible stories, and the saving message that they may have never heard before!  It was amazing to see! :)

After we finished teaching our lessons, putting together Jesus puzzles with the kids, and spending time afterwards laughing and playing with them, I felt so sad that our teaching sessions scheduled for our trip had been completed.  I thought back to all the times this past month that I had the privilege to teach, and to all the unforgettable faces of the adorable kids and sweet people I met along the way...They are all so precious to me, and so hard to say goodbye to!  My favorite part of teaching was watching the facial reactions of the children as I taught.  My lesson focused on Jesus' death on the cross, and His resurrection.  As I would describe Christ's suffering and crucifixion, the room would quiet down, and sad, almost hopeless expressions surfaced all around the room ~ some kids even put their hands up to their faces as if they were close to tears!  But when I'd explain to them how Jesus conquered sin and death, and rose again three days later, their faces would light up with excitement and their smiles would return! That chain of emotions was so great to see in these kids.  And honestly, it was a wonderful reminder for myself how truly amazing the saving work of Christ is!  We should never let our own excitement and thankfulness for our Savior fade!  

I just hope and pray with all my heart that God worked faith in the hearts of every child through the words we spoke.  And I am so reassured when I remember Isaiah 55:11, " is the Word that goes forth from My mouth;  it shall not return to Me void..."  :)  I love that passage!  And I am confident that the HCLC pastors here will continue to "water the seeds" God planted through our lessons -- they are so dedicated to their work!  Please pray for them!  I will sincerely miss teaching here in Nepal, but I am, as Pastor Ohlmann encouraged all of us to do during our final days here and also when we return home, praying for open doors to any unexpected teaching opportunities we may run into. :)

Speaking of open doors, I may have missed a few today...  This morning and afternoon, my team and I (minus Pastor Ohlmann and Chad Seybt, who were attending the HCLC pastoral conference all day) went sightseeing all around Kathmandu!  We hiked up a hill to a phenomenal view of the vast city, visited the Nepali National Museum, and toured the Nepali Military Museum.  Oh, and saw LOADS of monkeys!  :)

Lastly, we visited many Hindu and Buddhist temples and idols.  Although it was so impressive and interesting to see these carved statues, and the sheer size and intricate features of them, I admit that I walked away from these places feeling more sad and depressed than anything. Maybe it's just because I have been surrounded by many Christians while here in Nepal, and forgot the fact that Nepal is still less than 1% Christian. Witnessing so, so many people, from very young to very old, worshipping these Hindu or Buddhist statues, spinning prayer wheels, chanting, donating the little money they have, and performing all sorts of other ridiculous rituals was just so heartbreaking to me.  I felt like I should be doing or saying something to these people to point them away from their futile idol worship and toward Jesus, and maybe I should have...I don't know.  There were just so many disturbing things to see around every corner that I didn't even know where to begin.  Yet, seeing all of this just brought to a greater light the fact that there are still so many people unknowingly heading down the wrong path, and they are in need of the Word too.  So thankful that God has positioned people like Raju, Rajan, and other fellow believers here in Nepal --  It is a great blessing to know that even though our time here is drawing to a close, they are here keeping the faith alive and being so very, very willing to proclaim and spread it here!  I'm also so thankful for getting the chance to see what I saw today -- Those painfully real memories will always be there to fuel my lifelong work as a Matthew 28:19 Christian.  :)

All in all, it was just another fabulous day in Nepal!

One last full day here tomorrow! (tear!)  Can't believe it.  We will spend the day shopping for gifts and preparing for our Tuesday flight home to the US. 

Hoping all is well in America!  And wherever else readers may be. :)


One more day - Becky Sippert

Hello again,

It is our last full day here in Kathmandu. Tomorrow, we board a plane back home, but we won't arrive before making a day and a half stop in London. For that, we are all quite excited, but I don't know that anyone is looking forward to leaving.

We have been here since Thursday night. Friday was another relaxing day full of reading, chatting, the occasional ride on the back of a motorcycle, and playing with the young son of the couple who tends to our guest house. Then on Saturday morning, the team split up one last time to attend two different worship services. At the church my group went to, Emily and I were pulled away into their children's worship service for one last impromptu chance to work with the kids, which I was so thankful for. Afterwards, we also had a chance to experience Nepali communion. On Saturday evening, Rajan and a few of his friends cooked a delicious thukpa soup for us.

Yesterday morning, we were up bright and early for a "surprise" hike, which turned out to be only 15 minutes uphill. However, seeing as our definitions of the word "hike" have been changed significantly on this trip, some of us were not so thrilled about this surprise at first... :) At the top was a Buddhist monastery and several brilliant views of the Kathmandu Valley. After we made the climb back down, we visited another Buddhist temple right across the street and then climbed up to the Monkey Temple.  This temple is not actually a giant room full of monkeys, as I originally thought, but a Buddhist temple on top of a hill that monkeys flock to because of a certain fruit growing there. Climbing up the hill, we saw a bunch of monkeys race to a man with a bag of apples. It was fascinating-- I've never seen so many monkeys in my life.

After visiting the temple, we made a couple visits to the military museum and the national museum. Both were fairly interesting. When we visited the national museum, it was made evident that Hinduism and Buddhism really do permeate this country more than I had imagined. There were at least four floors in the museum dedicated to artistic representations of Buddha and other false gods.

We went to a restaurant for a big dhal-bhat lunch, then headed over to Hanuman-dhoka Durbar Square, where we encountered several more Hindu temples, some dating back to over 400 years ago. The temples are all beautifully built and constructed, and it's a shame to think of what they represent and are dedicated to. At some of the temples, you would find Hindus or Buddhists chanting and saying some kind of prayer before spinning the prayer wheels.

It was eye-opening to see so many people outwardly practicing these religions. It is one thing to be taught in school or read on Wikipedia that such and such a percentage of a certain country is Muslim or Hindu or Buddhist or whatever else, and it is an entirely different thing to witness it firsthand. While this realization was certainly a sad one, it did give me a renewed appreciation not only for my freedom of religion and belief back home, but more importantly for the young souls we met here who have the truth and love their Savior Jesus.

Today, we wrap up our trip with souvenir and gift shopping around Kathmandu.
Once again, thank you all for your prayers and support. Yesterday, Pastor Ohlmann reported back to us from the pastoral conference that the pastors were overall pleased with how our lessons worked out, and we certainly couldn't have done it without all those who offered prayers and donations. It all goes to show that if you don't have the time or money to put into going on a Mission Helper trip, you still can be a part of it. It has been a wonderful and blessed 3 weeks.


Pastoral Conference and Final Days

With only one more day in Nepal the emotions are all over the place. There is a sense of sadness that we are leaving so soon with so much left undone. And there is the joyful anticipation of family and home that is just a few days away.

Today Chad and I met with 18 of the 22 pastors of Himalayan CLC of Nepal at rented room in a very nice hotel that is under repair. Four pastors were unable to attend due to illness, field work that needed their immediate attention on their farm, and illness among church members. The dedication of these men is incredible. Some of these pastors hiked anywhere from 2-8 hours down a mountain and then another few hours to catch a bus that would take them another 6-12 hours to Kathmandu. Their return trips will take longer because uphill hiking and walking is slower and much more difficult. I know a few Mission Helpers (myself included) who can testify to that! Praise the Lord for giving these men such love for His Word, dedication to their training, and love for the souls they serve and those they are trying to reach with the Gospel.

Chad led a study on preaching that was well taught and well received by those in attendance. I had the opportunity to discuss the programs and opportunities that the Lord has given to the HCLC-N as we discussed the goals and programs of the CLC foreign missions program. The HCLC-N is eager to train pastors for the work and hope to start a pastoral training college or seminary sometime in the not too distant future. They have already started an orphanage with seven children in Kathmandu. There are many, many children (who have been orphaned during the 10+ year civil war) living on the streets in Kathmandu after child traffickers abandoned them. It is a very sad situation. The Bhitrokoti family was moved by compassion and have begun taking them into their home. With the help of others they have rented a house that is now functioning as an orphanage. Praise the Lord for the compassionate hearts that He has given to this family!

The other eight mission helpers did some sigh-seeing around the Kathmandu valley today. They witnessed first hand the darkness of Buddhism and Hinduism that so dominates this land when they visited the famous monkey temple. I will try to encourage one of them to share their experiences on the blog.

Tomorrow (Monday) we do a little shopping to find a gifts for family and friends. We also plan to all chip in and buy something nice for our hosts and for the orphans they are caring for.

On Tuesday we head to the airport at 12:00 noon and head home.

Thank you for your many prayers!

In Christ,
Pastor Ohlmann

Friday, July 22, 2011

From Pastor Ohlmann

It's just after 10:00 pm on Thursday night here and we have safely returned to Kathmandu for the final time. Our remaining work and time will be spent here.

During the last three days we have traveled by bus, on foot, in a jeep, school van, on foot again, and finally by bus back to Kathmandu.

  • We walked several KMs through mud, mountain streams, and tumbling boulders as our bus could not make it through the landslides that destroyed the road we were to travel. 
  • We flagged down a jeep on the other side that took us to our destination...for a price.
  • We soaked in the Totopani (Hot Waters) near the China (Tibet)/Nepal border, famous throughout the world for their supposed healing powers.
  • We walked up to the heavily guarded border (a red line painted on the bridge) that separates Nepal from Tibet as we were told quite firmly that we were to take no pictures and then suddenly we were being escorted back to the Nepal side of no-man's land by a Chinese security agent who told Raju "please get these Americans away from our border." as other Chinese security agents took pictures of us and our rented vehicle as we got in and drove away. 
  • We crossed over (on foot again) the landslide area of the road again as we departed this very beautiful part of northern Nepal.
  • We  sat delayed for over an hour on the road just 23 KMs from our Kathmandu destination while they cleaned up an accident on the road.
  • We ate a glorious KFC meal in downtown Kathmandu.
  • We arrived back at our hostel ready for bed just a few minutes ago.
  • MOST IMPORTANTLY -- we taught the Good News of Christ crucified and raised again from the dead for our forgiveness, salvation, and eternal life to more than 200 children at a school that is operated by a congregation whose pastor has been studying Scripture and doctrine with and is currently pursuing fellowship with the Himalayan Church of the Lutheran Confession of Nepal!
Tomorrow we rest. Saturday we attend,(Chad and I will preach) worship service at two HCLC-N congregations here in the Kathmandu valley. On Sunday Chad and I will attend and teach at the HCLC-N monthly pastoral meetings while the others do some sight-seeing. Monday we spend the day getting ready for our Tuesday flight home via London.

Thank you for your many prayers. The Lord has blessed us with safety and caused His Good News to be spread to many!

In Christ,
Pastor Ohlmann

Chad Seybt

Yesterday was our last child evangelism.  I don't know why I haven't done this before now, but I want to commend my team on the great presentations they have done.  They came a long way from their first one in Mulpani.  They took the constructive criticism  given by Rajan and really adapted their lessons for the better.  I have been so impressed with how complete and concise their lessons have been.  Also all of their graphics were completely incredible!  They even had them laminated!  Something I don't think I would have thought to do.  They each presented with much clarity and enthusiasm, and I could tell that they really enjoyed what they were doing.  Great job team!
Tomorrow I get to preach in Kathmandu, and then Sunday I will present some things at  the pastoral conference.  I am so very excited for both.
My thoughts these past couple of days have been with my sister as she is planning to have her baby today via  Csection.  Please pray for her and the baby.  Much love to all.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Natalie ~ More Stories :)

Hello again! It's only been about five days since my last post, but I already have so much more to say!

Hiking up and down mountains has been our main activity this past week or so! The hikes have been strenuous, slippery, long, and hot. Having to carry our heavy backpacks over rocky mountainsides, muddy leech-infested foottrails (I've gotten 3 leeches so far!), and slick stones across rushing rivers has definitely been physically challenging (yet fun!) for me! I feel so fortunate to have such a great team to hike with! The entire team has had such a great, optimistic attitude during these tiring treks. As we were climbing one particularly steep hillside, Melanie observed that although we were sweaty and exhausted from carrying so much weight in supplies on our backs, our climbs up to these mountain villages were really nothing compared to Jesus' excruciating climb to Calvary carrying His own cross on His back. At least for me, that definitely put our hikes into perspective. :) And being able to teach our Bible lessons to the sweet kids we've met, to interact with them, and to listen to their amazing singing makes every ounce of effort for us to get to these villages fully worthwhile. :)

Having spent the night in a few more mountain villages, I have come away with a bunch of funny stories to share!

My team's night in Village #1 brings a lot of laughs to mind! When we arrived at the village, we were treated to a nice meal of pineapple, rice, and cooked pumpkin leaves. We had to eat with our hands!--very comical! :) Our drinkable "dessert" that followed was very, very...interesting..., hehe! It was called "Curd," and was described by Naomi as "a chunky mixture of sour milk, cottage cheese, and something else." :) Although we were supposed to have a church service at 8 pm, the monsoon rains postponed the service until about 9:30 at night! I was amazed that despite the long delay, and late time of night, many villagers still trekked through the dark to make it to the service. After church, Melanie, Naomi and I were escorted by a large throng of villagers to a tiny 2-room hut in which we were to spend the night. We were led into a small room with a single bed. At first, we thought that it was meant for one of us to sleep in, and that the other two of us would be taken elsewhere to sleep. But as we stood there surrounded by the staring, smiling villagers motioning for us to get into bed, we gradually came to the realization that this little bed was meant for all three of us to sleep in!! We burst out laughing, and climbed in! The bed was just a board covered by a handmade straw mat which was only about half an inch thick! Needless to say, we had a hilariously sleepless night full of tossing, turning, and a whole lot of giggling about this unforgettable Nepali mountain village "sleepover!"

Our night in Village #2 was yet another funny experience! We girls stayed in another small room with two "board" beds. The room was so swelteringly hot that we decided to leave our door open a crack that night. We all were startled awake in the middle of the night to a fluttering frenzy of angry-sounding chickens that had invaded our room! We were all too scared, and too tired, so get out of bed to chase them out! In the morning, we found a nest in the corner of our room with eggs in it! Maybe we should have shut the door that night...haha!

One more story! I spent another night in a Nepali mountain village, but this time, I stayed on the floor of the church building. I woke up that night to a huge thunderstorm! The rain was pounding on the tin roof, and dripping through the ceiling! My sleeping bag was already halfway soaked! I felt pretty miserable for awhile, but was ashamed after a few minutes. Since the day I was born, I have ALWAYS had a trusty roof over my head, and have ALWAYS had a dry, clean, comfy bed to sleep in. These kids and people living in these villages have never had that, and in reality, most never will. Yet they still are so happy, and make the best out of everything they have. I had no right to complain! With that in mind. it was a whole lot easier to have a better attitude, and accept my long night of dodging raindrops and puddles, haha! And hey, at least the pounding rain drowned out the guys' snoring! :)

I am just so happy to live among these people -- to do what they do , and live what they live for a moment. It's amazing to know that what we are seeing here is the REAL Nepal. I'm sure the tourist hotspots in Nepal are wonderful, but being able to experience these real people, places, and lifestyles that the Nepal tourism industry overshadows is absolutely priceless to me. Witnessing the conditions these people live in has given me a great deal of respect for these tough people, as well as a newfound appreciation for the many blessings I have at my own home in America. We are so, so fortunate to live how we do.

We are now resting for a day in Kathmandu before jumping back into traveling and teaching mode. :) It's so nice to have a day to recharge. I can't believe we only have one more week here in Nepal! We'll do our best to make it count! :)

Once again, thank you all so much for your prayers and support for us while we are here! They have helped a lot, as we have all been healthy for the most part, and have tackled our teaching itinerary with almost no setbacks! Thank you also for praying for the congregations and pastors here in Nepal ~ those prayers are needed, and are going far! :)

Randy Wittorp - Late Night Kathmandu

MHT 2011 has been moving along quickly and quite smoothly. The majority of our child evangelism sessions having been completed, we've returned to Kathmandu for a day to gear up before heading north for our last few groups of children. The treks into the mountain villages have been physically taxing, but the nature of our work is more than motivation enough to continue the work we've begun here.

Pastor Todd commented at one point that he was pleasantly surprised to hear so little complaining and to instead see such a positive attitude among the helpers here, something that is especially astonishing given the physical toll our work has had, as well as the uncomfortably hot and humid weather we've experienced almost everywhere.

There is such an enthusiasm among both teams, an enthusiasm to share the Gospel of Jesus Christ with the children of the villages, as well as the adults we encounter, an excitement and passion that overcomes the physical discomforts. I've seen more than sixty children crowded into a single room mountain hut smaller than many bedrooms in America, all gathered to receive the Word of God. It is such a wonderful thing to see and experience, and it is so good to know that our God is able to work through us weak human beings to perform His Will.

One of the most incredible and heartening things we get to see and hear is the singing of these Nepali children, the ones who have had the opportunity to hear the gospel already. They break out into spontaneous song, some of which I've been able to record and will hopefully soon be able to share with any who would like to see and hear it.

To see the joy and faith of these children who live in such difficult living conditions, and to meet these mountain pastors is nothing short of astonishing. God truly is great! The joy He gives is something that surpasses anything we have in this life, and nowhere has this been evidenced to me more in the lives of fellow believers than among these people.

The opportunity to share the Gospel with the many, many children who have not heard is overwhelming. We teach children of Hindu parents, some who have never before heard the truths of Scripture. We ask for your prayers on behalf of these children, as well as for all of the church here in Nepal.

Emily Hulke -

These past two weeks have been amazing! So much has happened that I hardly know where to begin.

I'm sad that I only get to teach my lesson one more time. The best part of this trip is teaching the children the Bible stories. They are all so excited to see us! At every church they sing us songs while dancing and clapping. They love it when we join them! Sometimes they even sing us songs in English. When we teach them, they all listen attentively and eagerly answer the questions we ask them. When we finish our lessons, we play games with the children and teach them some of our songs, like "Jesus loves me." Everyone we meet is always so happy and welcoming. I am so blessed to be here and to have met them.

Last week, Naomi, Becky, Melanie, Pastor Ohlmann, and I hiked 2 hours up a hill to a small village. A 2 hour hike up a Nepali hill doesn't sound bad, does it? EXCEPT a Nepali hill is more like a small mountain. So, a far more accurate description would be a 2 hour climb up a small mountain. Before I came here, I thought I was in good athletic shape. I lift weights and jog every other day. But even if I had run on a stair stepper for 4 hours every day in extreme heat for three months before coming here, I would not have been in good enough shape for that hike. After only 15 minutes up the steep rocky slope under the sweltering sun, all of us girls were completely soaked in sweat and needed a break. All the sweating made us feel almost nauseous, so that we needed breaks nearly every 15 minutes.

But our Nepali guides barely sweat at all! And they didn't need any of the countless breaks we American girls couldn't do without. They kept us going by telling us we had only 10 minutes left...but it was another hour before we reached the village, our clothes completely DRENCHED with sweat! And if Pastor Ohlmann hadn't been right behind me and Mel giving us pep talks and drill sergeant calls the entire way up, I'm not sure we would have made it!

But the painful hike was completely worth it! Many of the children we spoke to that day barely knew anything about Jesus, so I'm very glad we made it that day. That same day, the boys and Natalie did have much longer 7 hour hike! I can't believe they were all able to make it! God was definitely there helping all of us that day.

The views here are the most spectacular that I have ever seen! Nothing is so beautiful as the green Nepali hills. And climbing the hills may be tough, but the view from the top makes it all worth it! I will miss looking out at the hills every day.

Even more so I will miss all the amazing and inspiring people I have met here. Three weeks was not enough time to spend here with these people, talking with them and teaching them. The only comfort I have when leaving them will be that even though I may not see them again on Earth, one day we will be reunited in heaven.

We have all been so blessed on this trip! Most of us have stayed healthy and those of us who have been sick are only sick for one or two days. I know many of you have been praying for us back home and those prayers are so helpful to us here. Thank you for thinking of us and please keep us in your prayers for this upcoming week--our last week here.

From Chad Seybt

Well, again I have turned out to be the weakest link. Those four days of illness in Kathmandu made me weaker than I realized. On the 5 hour wike we were supposed to take up and down two days ago, I only made it about 10% up. The group was very gracious in cheering me on when I got to the "resting spot." But in just that little climb, I started seeing spots and my heart was pounding in my chest and my head was just throbbing. I had a really bad headache in the back of my head and the "spots" didn't go away until about a half an hour. I discussed with Todd and Raju what the rest of the hike would be like even with someone else carrying my bag, but ultimately came to the VERY difficult conclusion of staying back in Dhading. I was literally heartbroken because this was our last hike of the trip, and I had yet to make a hike. With a heavy heart and a head hung low, I made the climb back down to Dhading. But I was to have great company in the pastor's son from Maidi, Pramod. After reaching Dhading and fueling up on food he and I spent a good two hours teaching each other Nepali and English. He was very interested in getting my email address, and I hope we can stay in contact with each other. Being alone has allowed me to make some very special friendships with other Nepali Christians that the group just gets to meet. For that I am ever so thankful to the Lord. I am very much excited and looking forward to preaching in Kathmandu on Saturday and also our pastoral training seminar. I pray that the Lord will give us good health and safe travel and continue to lift my spirits. "This is the day the Lord has made I will rejoice and be glad in it!"