"I saw that these people really know what it’s all about and live their lives with such dignity."
When I was younger, I had a fascination with the small nation of Nepal. I had dreams of grand adventures climbing giant mountains and trekking through tiger-infested forests. Most of the time, when the nation of Nepal is mentioned, people immediately think about these same ideas and Mt. Everest.
That was really all I knew about the country as well, until my first visit there.
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For two weeks, our team of 4 stepped away from our normal routines to photograph and film the work our friends were doing in some Nepali villages. Our adventure into the small villages began with a long, bumpy, 6-hour bus ride on ‘roads’ that were more like dirt pathways etched into the side of the mountain. For the local people, it’s a normal part of life to squeeze into buses packed with animals, sacks of rice and other crops. As our bus swayed back and forth, it came to a halt in front of a suspension bridge that stretched over a river. We all jumped out of the bus and grabbed our packs to continue on the next leg of our journey. None of us knew what to expect, but we were ready to experience life in the small village we were trekking to.
"None of us knew what to expect, but we were ready to experience life in the small village we were trekking to."
After several hours of hiking, our guide pointed to a large white arch marking the entrance to a village. We made it! The arch had colorful Nepalese writing painted on all sides and stood next to the school that kids were running barefooted down the mountains to. We crossed over a river on a suspension bridge and prayed as we entered the village. Curious people looked our way and children ran to meet us with palpable excitement on their faces. Looking around, I noticed clean dirt pathways, trash bins hanging from trees, and hand-cut stone homes. The group we worked with during this trip has a community transformation focus and works hard to educate people in the area about human trafficking. On day one of our time in the village, I was blown away by the impact our friends and others have made on this village. Through partnering with the village leader and others, they helped start homestays, build fish farms, latrines, trash bins, and hand washing stations all while educating the local people on the dangers of human trafficking.
Though our time was short in this beautiful village, I learned so much from the people we lived with. I came with an expectation for God to speak to me about ways I can make a difference but was caught off guard when He used the beautiful people of Nepal to teach me so much.
As a mom, I was very impressed with the young kids and their willingness to help cook our food and pull weeds from the village leader’s garden. They would run up and down the mountains, barefoot, to visit friends and run errands for their parents. Everyone worked so hard and helped each other, living their challenging lives and everyday actions with such joy and peace.
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When asked what my biggest takeaway from the Nepalese people was, I have to say: Contentment.
With as little belongings as they have, they were content. They have their food, their goats and water buffalo, and their very limited wardrobes, but the most important thing they have is not a thing at all. It’s family and relationships with the people they live with. Eating a meal with your friends and family is highly valued and more important than cell phones or movies or video games or the latest trends. Some of my favorite moments involved sitting on grass mats in our host’s kitchen, watching as she cooked our food and served us tea in stainless steel cups. I saw that these people really know what it’s all about and live their lives with such dignity.
People may be drawn to this region of the world because of the adventure and scenery, but there is so much more to Nepal. They might be small but they are mighty and display the grace and beauty of our God to the world.
We left that place changed and with so much hope for all that God is going to do in and through this nation.
Kristen Anderson | YWAM Orlando Staff