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.