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! :)


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