Joy Abounds in Nepal
Article written by: Dr. Richard Tayrien, DO, FACOI
HFI Board Member; leading physician on the Nepal Medical Team; VP, Clinical Informatics at HCA Healthcare
On the long flight back from Kathmandu, I reflected on the Hope Force International [HFI] Nepal trip; in a word: "incredible!” God’s hand was truly on this work, and your prayers and support were evident every day. Thank you so much!
Leadership, Planning and Execution
The leadership and planning provided by Jack, Marianne, Joey, Karen and Dani were remarkable. Only in the execution -- and now in retrospect -- do I fully appreciate the miracle that brought a multi- national team representing five countries together on the remote edge of the Himalayas to serve two distinct mission needs: construction and medical outreach.
The coordination was flawless. The team's depth in deployment experience made the usual adjustments in agenda and schedule seamless. There were some delays in the arrival of building materials and challenges in village communications for clinic schedules, but there were no work delays or under-utilization of medical resources.
The construction schedule, five weeks behind upon the team’s arrival, was ahead of schedule upon departure. In addition, the team built some stairs in a nearby village while assisting the medical team.
Each village was a novel site for medical outreach. Our expectations were exceeded each day as we saw greater than 100 patients on full days, and 60 patients on two half days over the Easter weekend.
A Multi-national Team Comes Together
We were given an incredibly warm welcome by our Nepali hosts and the Brazilian missionaries given to the full- time work of "Apple of God's Eyes" in Nepal -- as well as those children currently under the care of the ministry.
After introductions, and an overview of the ministry, we were treated to music and traditional Nepalese dance and a wonderful meal. With these introductions, we also met the Canadian construction team. We immediately bonded with our Canadian team members -- and within a few days, it was as if we had known them for years. They exercised their faith and skill with joy and enthusiasm, and we had many hours of wonderful fellowship with our Canadian brothers (and sister).
Rugged Beauty - The Landscape and the People
The following day, we made the trip from Kathmandu to "The Farm" – where children rescued from trafficking are brought for counseling and healing, and also educated with life skills. The five-hour trip through the rugged terrain of eastern Nepal revealed some beautiful vistas and a better sense of the geography and terrain while we became better acquainted with our new colleagues. The lifestyle of those living in these remote regions is rustic and physically challenging. The landscape is essentially vertical, as most of the mountainsides are terraced to provide living space and flat surfaces for cultivation. Most of the agriculture appears to be subsistence farming -- and because of the challenging terrain, most of the cultivation and harvesting is done by hand.
The Power of God's Love
Many stories and images will be shared over time, but I would like to share evidence that demonstrates God's hand on the work in Nepal, and the near-perfect synergy that emerged when these two organizations -- HFI and Apple of God's Eyes (AOGE) -- came together. When AOGE first showed up in the Dolakha region two years ago, they encountered resistance with some physically destructive opposition. The chief of the nearest village specifically expressed his dissatisfaction with Christians moving into the neighborhood. The earthquake of April 2015 changed everything. When a commitment by AOGE to bring help was fulfilled by Hope Force International, AOGE found favor with the village chief and many other surrounding villages. Our return strengthened that bond, demonstrating our commitment to this community. We saw this in the way we were received everywhere we went and when the neighbors showed up -- drawn by our music at the end of our first week. That night, after dinner, Christian and non-Christian Nepalese from nearby villages just dropped in and a spontaneous party erupted with music, dancing and fellowship that went on for two hours! The village chief accompanied the medical team – and having introduced us, he created opportunities for visits to four surrounding villages. He also assisted us in setting up our tents and engaging the local village leadership while we cared for those in need.
The Joy of the Lord
By design, we know very little of the personal stories of the individual young people living in the AOGE homes, who assisted us during our trip. We only know that that they have been extracted from horrible situations in which they were entrapped in human trafficking, slavery or abusive homes. Remarkably, there was absolutely no observable evidence of distrust, bitterness, envy or lack of self-confidence among the dozens of residents we encountered. In fact, just the opposite was evident as they celebrated everyday with praise, joy and thanksgiving as we awoke every morning to laughter, singing and celebration from the kitchen crew. This celebration of life continued throughout the day from every single person and involved all.
I, personally, was very convicted, and I believe for the first time understood what it truly means when Nehemiah says that "the joy of the Lord is your strength." Every single person on the Nepal-based team was a joy to serve with. They are strong and confident in what the Lord is doing in their lives. I feel extremely privileged to have had the opportunity to join the HFI team on this trip. If you want to experience the "joy of the Lord" -- I highly recommend a trip to Nepal!
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