Our final day of official outreach was the day we went to the last of the villages. I was sick and almost didn’t go. At the last minute, I chose to push through, leaning on God’s strength because I couldn’t do it on my own. I am so grateful that I did because it was an incredible experience.
The plan was the same as the other villages: distribute Bibles, share the gospel, and invite everyone to the Jesus film and another gospel presentation later in the evening. We split up into two separate groups and got started.
This village was the easiest to distribute in because there were many instances when the heads of multiple different households were all hanging out at one person’s home. We were able to check off many houses at the same time because of this. On average the village had a higher level of education than the other ones. People would immediately sit down and start reading the Bible.
At one of the houses where we were able to give Bibles to multiple households, as the first woman sat down to read, other women started to follow her lead until nearly all of them dived straight into the Word. It was a lovely sight to see people hungry to learn more about this God they had only heard about a few minutes prior.
After our time in the first village, it was time to leave for the second. We chose a path that took 8 hours. It was one of the most physically taxing experiences I have ever had. We stopped when we reached out to the top to take a break, have a snowball fight, take lots of pictures with a 360 degree view of Himalayas all around us.
It was about an hour before dusk and we arrived at the second village. No house would take us in, so we had to zig-zag across this mountain to the tippy top to see if the last house in the village would take us in. If not, we were going to be out of luck.
The first village we distributed Bibles in was the farthest from the guesthouse. We passed the villages we would later be living in on our way back to the guesthouse. We walked with a river on one side and rice terraces on the other. The houses had colorful roofs, and kids would run out to take a look at us, the strange looking foreigners. There were herds of cattle, goats, and even a few horses.
Before we stepped foot inside the village we began collecting a group of kids who followed us everywhere we went. We spent a while trying to find a family who was able to host us for a few nights, and all the while these kids were right beside us. The timid ones watched us from a distance, the less shy ones giggled when we smiled at them, and the brave ones held our hands and spoke in circles of broken English. They laughed at our feeble attempts to speak their native tongue, and we laughed at ourselves as well.
Part One: The Healing
The girls and I were walking in a marketplace near our guesthouse when Sofie saw a picture of a green bubble jacket and heard the words, “back pain”. We started to head home when she saw a man in a green bubble jacket and the Holy Spirit confirmed it was him. We crossed the road to talk to him and make sure he was the one Sofie was thinking about. She straight up asked if he had any back pain. He looked shocked and mildly uncomfortable, probably because it wasn’t a regular occurrence for a group of five abnormally excited girls to surround him with tangible expectancy for what was going to happen next.
We had good reason to be excited because God was going to move in this man’s life. He looked at us apprehensively and then said, “yes”. I for one breathed a sigh of relief when we realized he spoke English perfectly because we didn’t have any translators with us at the time. We told him there was a God who would heal his pain if Suraj wanted him to. He said that yes, he did want to be healed. We asked if we could put our hands on his back and after he gave us permission, we started praying. I’m not quite sure how long the praying went on for but it felt very short because all of a sudden he jumped around and said, “How did you do that?!” We asked him to clarify what he meant and if he had any more pain, and he exclaimed that he had no more pain in his back!
He asked about what happened and how we were able to take away his pain. We made it clear that it was not us but that instead, Jesus was the one who healed him. Continue reading “Suraj: The Truth Seeker”
One of the aspects of this outreach we were all looking forward to the most was trekking in the Himalayas. The trekking plans had been changed numerously. They’d been pushed back, shortened, and pushed back again. I was beginning to wonder if we were going to at all. Finally, the day came and we were really on our way to trek.
We took a 16-hour bus ride from the lake town city we had been in for two weeks into the city where we would take a plane to the district’s bazaar which we then would be trekking out from. I don’t know quite how to describe this plane ride, but two words stick out in my mind: beautiful and terrifying. It felt like we were so close to the mountains we could touch them. We saw rice terraces beneath us, and we could see the vast Himalayan mountain range, completely snow-capped in a 360-degree view all around us.
The view was beautiful. The actual plane itself was terrifying. It was so small, so loud, and my seat started getting extremely hot so I panicked and started entertaining thoughts of, are we going to blow up in this plane ride before we even get to trek?! It was a very janky plane ride, definitely a one of a kind experience. The “best” part was when the plane hooked a left that I very firmly believe it did not have the capacity to do, praise God it was able.
When we arrived, we went to the guesthouse we were going to stay at before and after our trek. There were a lot of the same teams who had been with us in the guesthouse in the main city. It was great hearing their experiences and how difficult some of their treks had been, and listening made the level of our expectation for what we were about to do rise!
Not long after we arrived in the district, about one day, we set out. Our bags were packed with 350 bibles, and we were all as ready as we could be. We started and it was beautiful! In the video I’m going to post, you’ll be able to see the scenery and fall in love with this country just like I did! We crossed bridges, walked through pastures with cattle grazing, walked along rivers, and passed through some villages where kids would run out and say “Namaste” to us.
We had walked about two hours when we were told to stop by our translators. We wondered why, because we had been walking for such a short time. When they explained that this was as far as we were going to walk, our jaws hit the floor. I was so shocked. Back in Hawaii when we were told the location our outreach was going to take place in, we were warned that we would need to do crossfit at least 3 times a week to be able to do the trek that was planned!
After spending 6 weeks here in the main city of the country we’re in, we took an 8-hour bus ride to a smaller city to spend 2 weeks in before a 2-week trek. We had stayed up late the night before, packing and reflecting and fellow shopping with other teams who lived in the same guesthouse as us. Since we had stayed up so late, when we woke up early to leave the next morning I was tired and slept a lot on the bus ride. In the beginning, there was not much to look at because it was still the dusty and dry landscape of the capital. When I woke up the first time to see the river we were careening past, at a frighteningly high speed on a very narrow and windy mountain road, it was completely brown as well as all the shrubbery and trees and everything else that was around. I had pangs in my heart because my eyes had been starved of the beauty of nature for a longer time than I have ever been used to.
Soon after, I fell asleep because I deemed the scenery to be unimportant and not worth paying attention to. When I woke up again I was looking back through pictures on my phone of our time in the city, but happened to look out the window for a few seconds. I had to do a double take when my eyes caught the sight of something they were not expecting to see: a crystal clear blue river!
It was something simple. It was just a beautiful river, yet it was so much more than that. It was food for my thoughts.
Where else in my life do I look down and not notice the change? Where else do I not take notice of the breakthrough? Where do I look over the process?
Our travel from the capitol to mountains (Follow the link to check out a short video of the bus ride!)
Look up. Look up from the distractions and notice the journey He is taking you on, notice His hand in everything.
Sometimes I imagine Eden. I imagine what it looked, smelled, and tasted like. Whenever I think of this I remember the original design God had for us. I remember that we were created to wander around beautiful places filled with beautiful nature.
There is a feeling in my heart I have when I am not surrounded by enough of God’s beautiful creation. It feels burdened down when that need God placed in me for reveling in his nature isn’t met, which is why my heart feels so refreshed living in the place my team is currently at. Here are some reasons why:
This city is nestled inside of a valley.
The main ministry we’ve been doing here has been in the slums. We’ve loved on the kids, helping them with their homework and playing lots of games with them. We’ve also made relationships with people, been invited into homes to hold adorable babies and to visit with precious grandmas (ammas). We’ve seen healings and we’ve seen the Holy Spirit move. It’s been incredible. Individually and as a team, the gifts we each have and what we carry together were meant to be poured out in the slums. Read more to hear some of the ways God has been moving here in this place.
The second temple we went to was called the temple of death. It is dedicated to the Hindu god Shiva. We had been told a little bit about the place before we arrived, but were not expecting what it actually was. We knew it was a place where Hindus came to be cremated because they believe they will be reincarnated into a higher being in their next life. I knew there would be a spirit of death there, but didn’t realize how heavily it would cover the entire area.
Something I learned about myself while on the mission was that I am able to discern the spiritual atmosphere of a place, and one of the first times I realized this was when we went to this temple. Before I stepped foot inside the bounds of the temple I could feel the darkness in the form of immense tension in my chest, like a vice grip. The feeling did not let up, as the dark atmosphere of death was everywhere. We could smell the bodies burning long before we saw the flames.
We bought tickets at the visitor center and this began our time in the temple of death. A tour guide explained the importance of observing every ritual aspect perfectly down to the minutest detail. Before the bodies were burned, they were draped with wreaths of marigolds, bathed in the river running through the temple, and then walked several times around the pyre where the body was to be burned.