We finished the conference on Friday. The pastors seemed so blessed by it, and were praising the Lord. Our team loaded up in a van with Pastor Ram and the 3 young ladies who have been such a HUGE help to us: Pramita, Bimalay, and Samata. These ladies basically run the school and orphanage while Ram is away. They have waited on us hand and foot, helped us with the culture, taken us around the city and have blessed us beyond measure. Ram will be taking them to the States in the future as a gift to them for working so hard. You will all fall in love with them! They will come to our churches, Lord willing.
We started the drive out of Kathmandu valley. We were staring out the windows looking at all the sights. It was a 5 hour drive through the Himalayan foothills on windy roads. The van in many places was right next to huge dropoffs. After dark, the traffic stopped (the first of MANY traffic jams this weekend). There was an accident up ahead. Me, Wingo, Luke and Joseph got out and walked around. You could hear the river about 100 feet below the road. In the moonlight you could see the outline of the huge Himalayan peaks on both sides of us. Beautiful!
We got to Chitwan and spent the night. Saturday morning we split up and went to 3 churches to minister. Steve and I went with Ruth and Cathy to Pastor Harri's church (Ram's brother who has planted 64 churches in that area). The people sat on the floor, ladies on one side and men on the other. In front of them were the approximately 50 orphans who live in the first floor of the church building. They had a drum set, percussion, 2 acoustic guitars and a choir of young people. We worshiped for about an hour. It was amazing! EVERYONE sang with such passion, even the orphans. At times everyone would pray out loud. The kids had such looks of zeal as they prayed to God. Steve got up and shared from Psalm 4, and then I preached. The Lord put on my heart the message from our marriage conference, The Glory of Christ in Marriage from Ephesians 5. I spoke of marriage being a picture of Christ and the church. It was very well received. Afterwards I was asked to participate in a baby dedication. What an honor!
After a wonderful lunch we gathered at the church building again with about 30 pastors from that area, most of whom had not been able to come to the conference. There was an old baptist preacher present who was the very first Christian in the city. He has labored faithfully for many years, and has planted many churches. What an honor just to meet him! I felt like washing his feet. Ram introduced them to us and us to them, and then he shared his vision for spreading the gospel in Nepal and outwards. It is amazing how all these churches are coming together under Ram's leadership to work together. A couple of the pastor's had shared with us earlier (when Ram was not around) an amazing story. They estimate that there are now about a million Christians in Nepal, and that 75% of them came to Christ as a direct result of Ram's ministry!!! God is doing such an amazing work here. Ram has such a HUGE vision, and he needs a lot of help. We told him and the pastors that we are praying for them. So PRAY!!
After the meeting we loaded up and began the trip home. The 5 hour trip ended up taking about 8 1/2 hours!! There was a bad accident and a long taffic jam. We took an alternate route on one of the worst dirt roads alive. On the way we stopped to go on a cable car. I thought it was just over the river, but it ended up taking us almost a mile in the air over the Himalayas! We were packed in little cars, 6 to car, and it was very unnerving, but beautiful. About one in the morning we made it home exhausted. So today we slept in.
The clothes were distributed to the orphans today. We will distribute the rest of the candy and gifts tomorrow. They also took us to the famous Thamel tourist area, full of rickshaws, traffic, and persistent salesmen!
One thing that is blowing our minds is the number of shrines and temples. They are EVERYWHERE. It reminds us of Paul walking through Athens and seeing all the idols. This people needs Jesus Christ!
We are all doing well and we miss our family and friends. Please continue to pray for us, and PRAY for Ram and his ministry. God is building a glorious church in Nepal, and it is so amazing that we get to join him in this work! Glory to God!
Oh yeah, we ate a water buffalo pizza. It was so good!!
You can read Pastor Luke's thoughts on this trip at his blog, http://thinktheology.org/ .