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!"

From Ryan Augustin

After a ten day excursion throughout Nepal's southern country side, we are back in Kathmandu for some much needed rest. For those who have been faithfully reading these posts, I'm sure the phrase, "This trip has been unbelievably amazing!" has been rather redundant, but completely accurate.
As amazing as these experiences have been, there nonetheless have been some trying times. Although I am an experienced runner and am relatively in shape, I could not have even imagined the amount of work put into our seven hour hike to one of the first mountain villages. With only one set of clothes completely soaked through with sweat and grime, there was no shower, good food, or air conditioning to look forward to on the top. Just when you are ready to start the complaining, though, the Lord provides the most spectacular views and generous people to keep you going.
Of all the humbling experiences we have encountered so far, the magnificent way the children breakout in song with incredible fervor and expressive dancing has been very inspirational. As fond as I am of our traditional American worship, the spiritual unity seen with even the smallest children is incredible.
Although the sun has been hot and the sweat overwhelming at times, the Christian camaraderie along with the natural excitement of spreading the Gospel has given us more than enough energy for our treks in Nepal.

melanie----i know the world is filled with sin, but this is impossibly perfect

the people here are living happily on one set of clothing, white rice, and a hut shared with other families. it's amazing to me how three or four days ago i thought i was --by far-- the sweatiest, dirtiest, hungriest i'd ever been. but day by day, i prove myself wrong. last night, it had been about 2 days sleeping in 8-hour sweat matted on my clothes. i was wearing a brand-new target tee.. and it's really discolored and pill-y now. i didn't really think that was possible. my feet were sending shocks of pain as we tumbled our way down the mountain yesterday. i was sure my brain was bruising against the sides of my skull. my fingernails were discolored with dirt and left-over nailpolish from the last time i manicured myself in america. my muscles were sore and tired from the fouth day of hiking sequentially. but.... despite all these little physical weaknesses, God has blessed us all with a strong pull to follow His Will. there's no way pastor ohlmann would let me sit and watch while everyone else hiked ahead of me. there's no way any of us would leave each other behind! this isn't hard work for the locals. that's why it's funny to laugh at later. well, not yet, but maybe in a couple years. OH MAN, that time i was sweating more than all the guys?! ha. i'll feel better about that one in a couple years.

yesterday, we caught a ride back from the bus station to where our hotel was. from the hotel, we got our ride back to our base camp!! we took a van and had plenty of space (even with the some 14 people who occupied it, we were used to tiny rickshaws and buses filled with dozens of bodies). the ride over was incredible. let's see, i think we left around 5:30? so our scenery evacuating the mountains included a beautiful purple-yellow setting sun. it was gorgeous. i stuck my head out the window and fought my body's heavy inclination to give in to a nap with all my might. these drives are always different, every single one. no matter how many times you take a TATA through the mountains or a city bus or a rickshaw, each experience in entirely unique. the curious eyes you meet along the road, the smiling children, the twists in the road, the vegetation, the songs on the radio. every family and house we pass as we drive along, i can't help but wonder what if? what if we stopped and talked to them? what if we stopped in every single village and taught our little lessons on the bible to every person.. every single soul? if only time was on our side. it seems to be our constant battle here. we just whoosh past these beautiful people and their beautiful lives. we just drive through, carrying on our own mission here. but we still have that fifth of a second to recognize and acknowledge another's life.
well, that's what i think about when looking out the window.

in the last village we visited, the worship room was no bigger than my sister leah's bedroom back home. and some 40 children filled it. we got recordings of them singing praises to the Lord. they would close their eyes for prayer, every last one of them. even the 2 year old little boy who was completely distracted during the lesson. it's obvious, the hold the Lord has on this congregation. they are filled with love for the Lord. and in their harsh living conditions, they cling to what they love, what is absolutely vital to them in their lives. food, shelter, clothing, and their Savior.

wow, i think listening to music while blogging probably isn't the best idea. i get a little carried away sometimes. so many emotions fill me while i think about the passion of the kids here, and i try my best to word it right :)
now i sit here on the balcony in the middle of all my new friends who've experienced similar experiences, listening to the head and the heart, drinking pastor ohlmann's authentic new nepali tea, freshly showered, wondering how everyone back home is going to respond to my experiences. i wish i could've brought you all along. there's nothing i'd wish more than for you to have similar experiences.
God is good and has kept us all in relatively excellent health. good food, good exercise, good experiences. thanks for keeping up with us!

Naomi Bernthal- In Love With Nepal

Whenever people asked me what country I would like to visit most, I would always say places like Australia, Scotland or Ireland. Nepal never crossed my mind. Now, I am absolutely in love with this country and the amazing work God has been doing here. Not only does the sheer beauty of God's creation take my breath away, but also the beauty and hard work of the people who live in His creation. On the 15th, my team set off on a 3 hour hike around 1:30 or 2. We had a group of kids following us and I asked our guide what they were doing. Apparently, they had come down the mountain for the lesson that team 1 had given that morning. They were now hiking back to their village which was about the same distance as ours. Most of them were just walking in flip flops or sandals! One little boy got some entertainment from me whenever I would start gawking at the scenery instead of focusing on where I was walking. These mountains, well hills according to the Nepali, are more beautiful than words can describe. Just seeing how beautiful this sinful world is, it makes me wonder how much more beautiful it was when it was perfect.
I do have to say, I have never EVER sweat this much in my entire life. Each time I thought it was the most, I would sweat even more on the next hike. The heat was so intense, I felt like I had a blanket permanently wrapped around my body as I walked. But once the village was in view, any and all amount of pain that I may have experienced was all worth it. Once I saw the children staring and smiling up at me, I knew it was all worth it. It just amazes me how obvious the presence of God is. He has worked everything out to go exactly how He wants it to work.

We just finished our final hike yesterday it was 5 hours up and then I think 3 or so back down. As we were hiking we would pass locals who would smile and say hello to us. It blows my mind to think that some of these people do this every day. For example, a little boy from one of the villages walked back down with us because he had a tooth ache and was going to visit a dentist or something in the city where we had left our luggage. He then would hike back to the village with his older brother. Now, back at home I would sometimes complain about having to drive across town to go to the dentist. These people work so hard to make our stay pleasant for us and they do it all with a genuine loving smile. It's really hard for me to even put into words the things that I have seen and experienced here in these past couple of weeks. When they sing their hymns and songs, I absolutely love it. I wish that i knew the words to them. They sound so beautiful and they look so happy playing their drums and everyone clapping. There is nothing more beautiful than seeing believers singing praises to their God from their heart.

At one church, there was a girl who asked me tons of questions. When it was time for us to leave she suddenly grasped my arm in a vice-like grip and stared at me intently with these huge dark brown eyes that seemed to go on forever. She pulled me close and pleaded "please never forget me." Just the look on her face and the intensity of her voice made my heart feel like it melted and fell down to my toes. I was speechless at first. Then I finally choked out "of course I'll never forget you." It really hit me then that I might never see these people again here on earth. I have met so many amazing fellow believers on this trip and I hope that someday I can come back here. At the last church we were at, which was actually a room in someone's house because they don't have a church,Pastor Todd was describing what the Bible told us about Heaven. As I watched the wonder fill the children's eyes, I couldn't help but tear up. There's so much pain and suffering in this world and I thank and praise God for being so merciful to us by sending His Son and giving us the gift of Eternal Life. When that Last Day does come, I will be overjoyed to see all those that God has called to be His own. I pray that the Holy Spirit is working in the hearts of these people and in our hearts too so we can spread the wonderful news of this great gift God has granted to us. Please keep all of these fellow believers in your prayers.

Monday, July 18, 2011

From Becky Sippert

Hello everyone!

Two weeks down, one to go. I would have posted sooner, but we have been away from Kathmandu and traveling for the past 11 days or so. It will be impossible to summarize all that we have seen and done since being here in one post, but I will try my best.

I would like to say thank you for everyone's continued thoughts and prayers. It truly does make a difference. The LORD has clearly blessed us through overall decent health and energy (with few exceptions), our awesome translators and guides - Raju and his brother Rajan, great food, safety, beautiful scenery, and most importantly, the wonderful church members and children we have come to serve.

There are also a variety of new challenges that God has given us on this trip. There really are so many luxuries we take for granted at home that are not always found here. Air conditioning, toilets, and comfortable beds are a few that I miss at times. To come from a land where, for the most part, we can get what we want and to go to one of the poorest countries in the world can be a difficult transition. There have been many times when I've needed to bite my spoiled American tongue while tired, hungry, thirsty, hot, etc. Because even during our short stay here, we are living in much better conditions than most of the locals. For some, including myself, sickness has been a challenge. Another challenge has been taking 5-hour hikes in hot and humid weather. This trip has been plenty challenging, but equally rewarding. Through each challenge we face we are reminded of Who brought us here and what we are here to do.

It's hard to believe we have already visited all but one church on our itinerary. I have to admit that at first I didn't really know how to act when visiting these churches and teaching these kids, but it didn't take long before I was hooked to seeing all the children at each new church, hearing their beautiful praises to their Creator, and listening to them shout their answers of faith. It really is a whole new worship atmosphere. The music is incredible. In the churches nearer to the city, more contemporary forms of song can be found and in the village churches, songs usually sound more tribal. For the most part, the children will greet you with a smile that is just contagious, and when we teach our lessons, it is evident that although we are not united in language, we are united in faith in our Savior. At one church in particular, the kids were dancing with us and talking to us after the service, and I think it was the hardest time I've had leaving a church. When we left, one of the boys said, "I will see you tomorrow?" It was heartbreaking. A bunch of the kids ran after our truck as we drove away. And although it is unlikely I will meet these children again on this earth, the hope that I will see them again in heaven is wonderful.

In between teaching kids and traveling, we have done some relaxing things as well. We spend a day visiting the Chitwan National Park area, where we went to an elephant breeding station. Many team members took an elephant shower, and we also took an hour and a half long elephant ride through the forest. We got back to Kathmandu a day early, so we have a nice full day of downtime. Tomorrow we are leaving for a town where we will get to visit hot springs.

It looks like the rest of my team will be eating breakfast shortly, so I'm going to wrap this up (finally). Thanks again for all the support. God Bless


From Carl Reim

Well I think it is either day 14 or 15 since we left home. Or somewhere in there, I'm not sure. Nepal so far has been pretty amazing. When we first arrived in Kathmandu, everyone was so impressed by all of the crazy driving, and the busy city life. After a couple days in the city though, I was happy to get out of the city in the the country, and travel around the Nepali countryside. When I first signed up for this trip, I have to say I was expecting to be traveling in the Himalayan foothills. However so far all of our experiences have been south of Kathmandu, which is roughly in the middle of the country. The views, however, are still nothing short of spectacular. I've spent most of my life living in Colorado, with views and frequent visits into the Rockies. The terrain that we have been traveling through reminds me very much of Colorado, only the locals insist that what we are traveling through are only hills. The first hike that I went on was stepper and much hotter than anything I've ever done before. It felt like hiking straight up a mountain, in a tropical forest. Water has become my new best friend here. Although the terrain is often steep, the Lord has kept us safe from serious injury. Yesterday the whole group hiking about 4 and a half hours up to a village, but the final half hour or so was downhill on narrow slippery paths. I thought I had been doing pretty well, but in that downhill section I ending up falling 4 times in about 5-10 minutes. Most of them were just slipping onto my backside, but the one involved me going face first down a terrace and ending up on my back in a cornfield, feet straight up in the air. No harm done but plenty of laughs.

The teaching here has also been such a wonderful experience. All of the children are so happy to see us. Most of the children learn English in school and know enough to ask us a few questions about ourselves. It is a wonderful feeling to hold up a picture of Christ, talk about it, and see all the kids so eager to listen to what we're saying. I can tell though, that even without us coming to teach to them, these children are in very good hands. The pastors are all so happy and grateful. Every church has a few Sunday school teachers, and they do such a wonderful job in teaching the kids. The teachers direct the kids in singing songs for us. Their music is so enthusiastic. Some of the more well off churches have electric guitars and drum sets that they use to play Christian songs.

After we left Kathmandu the first time, we spent about 10 days traveling and hiking. We just got back to Kathmandu a few hours ago. We were supposed to spend the night about 3 hours away but we rushed down from a hike so that we could get a van to take us to Kathmandu one day earlier. Tomorrow is a day of rest, then we travel north near Tibet. We'll be spending a couple days that way and then coming back to Kathmandu for the final time.

All in all I'm very thankful to be here. It isn't often that you can have these amazing experiences while helping to spread God's Kingdom to some of the most remote areas in the world.

Saturday, July 16, 2011

Ready for rest and a request for prayer

Just checking in to let everyone know that we are all doing well and everyone seems to be healthy again. We have a internet for a little while tonight but everyone is quite exhausted and ready for bed so I will keep this short. We will be back in Kathmandu for a night in a couple of days so hopefully we will hear from of few of the other Mission Helpers.

A friend back home heard from my wife that we had taken an elephant ride and emailed to ask if I was sore...I thought my response would make a good summary of our past couple of days. Our teams split up as one team rode the bus to their destination and one team went by foot where there is nothing but narrow foot-trails leading to the tribal villages. You will be able to guess where my team went by the following...Not sore at all from the elephant ride, it was only an hour and half...but the past two days of trekking 3.5 hours straight up the side of a hill in an extremely hot and humid jungle with every article of clothing soaked in sweat to the point where I rung sweat out of my pant legs and sleeping on a bed of boards with no mattress while chickens and goats came in and out of the open door (the door had to remain open or we would suffocate we were told, an I believe them because it was extremely hot in our little cramped house) at 4:00 am followed by three bouts of diarrhea before teaching about 50 kids and then trekking back down in more sweltering heat to enjoy the wonderfully cool breeze while riding on top of a very full bus for 2 hours has me looking forward to a good night of sleep. The cold bucket bath I just took is the best I have had since the last time I took a cold bucket bath after a grueling couple of days in a developing country.

Tomorrow we ride the bus for a few hours and then hit the trail again for a 5 hour trek along, what we have been told, is a very easy trail. We will teach the next morning and then head back down. This will be our last trek...all the rest of our evangelism opportunities will be accessible by public bus.

As you continue to pray for us, our families, the message we proclaim, and those to whom we have gone...please include in your prayers a special petition on behalf of five year Reuben and his infant sister. These two little children were in the tribal village we visited yesterday and they were both very sick with a high fever. Their parents had carried them both down and back up the trail and then on the bus to visit doctor twice but no remedy has been able to bring their fever down. I have Rueben's sad and sick-weary little eyes and face imprinted on my heart and mind. Thank you for your prayers!

In Christ,
Pastor Ohlmann

Thursday, July 14, 2011

From Natalie Schreyer

"Namaste" from the beautiful country of Nepal! And thank you all so much for all your prayers and emails ~ we all very much appreciate them! :)

I'm so sorry I haven't written until now...I've just been trying to absorb as much of this place as I can! I am having an incredible time here! It is definitely a different world, but an exciting and amazing one. :) So very much has happened in the past seven days! I've had so many new experiences, met so many amazing people and countless precious kids, and been through the entire spectrum of emotions, hehe! :) But most of all, I've become so humbled by God and His presence in Nepal -- it is so so evident in the breathtaking scenery He created here, in the strong dedication to God of the HCLC pastors and members I've met here, and in the optimistic attitudes of my teammates. :) This truly has been a great opportunity thus far for which I'm super thankful :) I'm so so excited for what lies ahead!

I have TONS of catching up to do! Wish I could go into more detail ~ if I typed out every moment captured in my memory, this email'd take dayyysss to complete! :) Please let me know if you'd like to know more about any part of the following "novel" hehe! :) (Also, I apologize for leaving out some names and places :) )

After 25.5 hours of travel, my team and I finally made it to Nepal! The flight into Kathmandu was beautiful! Colorful, clustered buildings and streets full of motion surrounded by terraced countrysides and cloud-covered mountains ~ so pretty!! After meeting up with the brothers Raju and Rajan, our HCLC guides while we are here, we embarked on our first of many CrAzY rides through the action-packed capital city! We ate our first Nepali meal ~ Nepal's traditional food, called "dhal bhat" (rice with a lentil soup, a spicy veggie curry, and usually chicken or 'buff" (water buffalo) meat). We spent the next three days in Kathmandu, becoming familiar with Nepali culture and organizing and preparing our lesson plans and craft packs for our teaching sessions. We went to church in Kathmandu, and had our first of 16 child evangelism sessions. We take about 1.5 hours to teach our lessons/sing songs with the kids through a translator, and then we finish up by handing out little puzzles, which we help the kids put together and color with crayons. It is incredibly fun and very rewarding to see the kids learning from the lessons! Many of the kids do not know much English, so it's fun figuring out ways to communicate with them! I usually draw pictures, and they teach me the Nepali words for them. :) One great way to break the ice is to take pictures of them with a camera! ~ They LOVE that! :)

Our fourth day, we took a 4 hour drive through some of the most stunning scenery I've ever seen! -- A beautiful mountain pass bordered by the occasional hill village ~ awesome to see. We made it to our next destination, and our team split into two groups to reach two different nearby congregations. My group (Group 2) and I used several hilariously fun modes of transportation to get to our teaching site. :) We first rode in jam-packed buses -- and by jam-packed, I mean absolutely stuffed with passengers! All the bus seats were occupied, the entire aisle was full of standing people gripping onto the overhead railing, and people even climbed on top of the bus by our luggage, or were hanging off the side! Crazy :) Our last "vehicle" to transport us through the farm village roads was a rickshaw -- a bicycle-powered 'sleigh.' We all had to carry our backpacks and big suitcases on our laps, hehe! :) We finally reached the farm village church -- a small, old, barn-like brick building. We were instantly greeted with some of the sweetest hospitality I've ever received. Members carried all our bags inside, fed us, publicly welcomed us by decorating us with pretty garland necklaces :) They (and every congregation we've been to since) treated us w/ so much more kindness and respect than I deserve. We taught our lessons and put together the puzzles with the kids. Funny story ~ Some of the kids noticed me putting on some hand sanitizer haha! They were curious, so I offered it to a few of them, and it became a hit! Before long, everyone had their hands stretched out toward me for a drop of sanitizer! It was so funny! :)

The ride to our rendezvous site with Group 1 was yet another crazy experience! We rode a whole hour on the TOP of a bus! SO FUN! We drove into the night until we reached our next stop ~ a "hotel" in a mountain valley. It was an interesting hotel to say the least! No A/C, no shower, no toilet! :p It really wasn't so bad tho, haha. :) There was a mango tree outside our room that we ate from ~ so yummy!

The next morning, the boys and I took on a long, tough, 7-hour hike up an 80 degree slope to a tribal mountain village. It was prettyyyy intense! We had to take breaks often so we could adjust to the altitude changes. We climbed so high that at the very top, we were completely surrounded by clouds! The scenery all around (until it was blocked by the clouds..haha :) during the hike was so beautiful! The mountain villagers use every possible inch of mountainside to terrace and grow corn. We walked through paths winding through many cornfields, and passed several waterfalls before we finally made it to our village. We arrived there 7 hours later at 1 or 2 pm, and spent that afternoon inside the church resting our sore legs and making friends with the very shy, but curious villagers. I felt so bad for the people here -- most of them were wearing dirty, ratty clothes with lots of tears and holes ~ for many it was the only pair of clothes they had. They had untreated cuts and scrapes, and we were asked to pray for people suffering from parasites or other weaknesses. The nearest nurse was a tough 3-hour climb from the village, so most sicknesses are left untreated for a long time. Most of the people here looked so much older than they actually were because of their long, hard days of working the harsh terrain for planting food. They all work so hard, but have so little...I just couldn't help but tear up a few times. I wish I could do more for them...I think I will leave my clothes behind for them at the end of this trip. :) But I know that what God allowed us to bring to these people that day is far more important than food or clothing or healthcare, and that is a great comfort! :)

I'm running out of time on my internet cafe session! More to come :)

Take care! :)


A day of rest in Chitwan

After a six days of evangelism and extensive travel on foot in the hills (very steep mountains to us) and in a variety of buses, trucks, tuk tuk's, and rickshaws, we arrived at the Chitwan National Forest for a day of much needed rest and recuperation. We were happy that Chad was able to join us yesterday evening at the lodge where we are staying.

We are all relatively healthy at this point. A cold/flu bug is making its rounds but for most it is only lasting a couple of days.

Please continue to pray for those who have and will hear the Gospel message we have come to share and for God's continued blessings upon our travel and health.

In Christ,
Pastor Ohlmann

From Chad Seybt

So here I am still in Kathmandu while the rest of the crew has gone on ahead. Yesterday, I came down with what I thought was a bad sinus infection. I had a fever of 100 and felt really bad. In discussing with Todd, I felt it best to remain back and catch up with the others should my condition improve. Boy am I glad that I did! JB ended up taking me to the hospital, and I found out that I had a throat infection as well as an upper respiratory infection. My fever jumped up and stayed around 102 for quite a while. Last night was pretty rough, as my fever stayed between the 101 and 102 marks. I brought every vitamin/supplement and drug for stomach illness that I could think of but didn't anticipate having allergy issues. It's like what Todd told me in preparation for the trip, "You can't plan for everything."

That was a very interesting visit to the hospital. The staff did their job well, but weren't very personable. The doctor was very friendly and helpful however. While I was sitting waiting for my blood test results, I noticed a large spider on the wall across from me. It was about the size of my palm. It didn't really move at all so I just ignored it. No one else seemed too concerned about it either. The patient in the bed next to me went to the bathroom in a bed pan. Never experienced that one in the States before. I found it a little awkward.

My fever is down now, but it could be primarily to the tylenol. I hope it is gone for good, but won't know until the tylenol wears off. If it is indeed gone the plan is for me to meet up with my team in Shaktikor (spelling?) tomorrow. I will arrive after they have finished their child evangelism in the hills, but JB says that it is good that I not do trekking in the hills right away. I agree. This infection has really weakened me. I hope that I will be able to keep up with the others when I do meet back up with them.

It has been nice having JB's company while I have been sick. One of my reservations with staying back was having to be by myself. JB cancelled a meeting he was supposed to have in order to stay back with me and help nurse me back to health. He has been a wonderful blessing and kind friend throughout this ordeal. It is amazing how being sick away from home makes one all the more intensely homesick. The Lord has blessed me with being able to chat with my wife online while I have been sick. It has really helped to lift my spirit and has been an extra dose of medicine as well.

I look forward to rejoining the team and continue on with our child evangelism. I also look forward to preaching at the church in Kathmandu near the end of our journey. With my down time, I hope to work up a sermon that will leave our brethren here with confidence, boldness, and hope in the life to come.

Thank you to all who have prayed for me especially while I have been sick. Please continue to pray for me and the rest of the mission helpers that we might have good health and safe travels and that the Word we preach will take root and grow in the hearts of those who hear it.