Serving in Nepal
Then this message came to Zechariah from the Lord: "This is what the Lord of Heaven's Armies says: Judge fairly, and show mercy and kindness to one another. Do not oppress widows, orphans, foreigners, and the poor. And do not scheme against each other." –Zechariah 7:8-10
This past June, six Boston Trinity students and two chaperones traveled to Nepal in what has become an annual two-and-a-half week service project, begun 12 years ago. Each fall, these students share their experiences with the student body in a Nepal Chapel service.
Ms. Shelby Haras spoke first, giving students a glimpse of the political climate in Nepal. The government allows people to practice the religion of their choice, but it is against the law to try to convert others from one religion to another. Christians there have to be very careful; organizations such as those visited by our students have to register as a "non-government organization" but are still monitored by the government. Global missions, Ms. Haras said, are about so much more than just raising money and donating it.
David Szatkowski and Sarah Mason both spoke of the time spent at ABBS (Asha Bal Bikas Sewa, which means Children's Hope Development Service), a school for children and young adults with special needs. They each told of developing a special bond with the child they cared for, played with, and ate with while at ABBS. They emphasized the importance of respecting cultural differences and being willing to learn.
Maggie McPherson shared that her pre-conceived ideas about what the trip would be like were wrong, and that she learned so much more than she taught. She talked about meeting and getting to know some of the neighborhood children, gaining their trust, coming to love them, and how sad it was to say goodbye.
Dan Mawhinney traveled to Nepal with his family in 2011, and had visited the Hope House orphanage then. BTA students have helped support the Hope House with Wednesday Chapel offerings for the past 12 years. In 2011, Dan met and formed friendships with children who were the same age he was then. This trip, however, he was struck by the extreme poverty. He said he learned so much more about what it really means to love your neighbor.
Yasmine Robinson admitted to struggling with her faith this past year. While in Nepal, she met a young teen, Rija, who was at ABBS when a different BTA team traveled there in 2014. As Yasmine got to know Rija, she soon discovered that Rija was the comforter, not the other way around; Rija comforted out of her love for others. Through Rija, Yasmine said, God revealed to her who He is, and she came home with the gift of knowing how deeply she is loved.
Ms. Judy Oulund has been traveling to Nepal with students for seven years. She is known to the children there as "Grandma J." Ms. Oulund reminded students that the people in Nepal have dreams, too. The physical therapists at ABBS dream of a therapy room with good, modern equipment. She also spoke of the Lydia House, a five month residential program that brings young women who might be susceptible to human trafficking into the capital city to learn tailoring. Upon completion, each woman is given a sewing machine; they return to their remote village with an income-earning skill.
"Relationships matter," Ms. Oulund said, in speaking of the number of years Boston Trinity has been traveling to Nepal and working with these organizations. "They see BTA students as very special."
Jonathan Hodge (Class of 2018) was unable to participate in the Chapel service due to conflicting college classes.