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.