The lights go out and there is silence. How long the silence will last? Time will tell. In the United States when the lights go out expectedly, like before a play or movie, there is silence in anticipation. However, if they go out unexpectedly there may be a brief second of silence, then a lot of times there is panic as we rush to find a source of light. Here, the lights may go out but it is not unusual; everybody just sits and waits. Conversations may continue in low tones, a few cell phone flashlights may be seen, then the lights flicker back on as the solar panel takes over a few lights or the electricity returns to the building.
As I was sitting drinking a coffee this 4th of July and those around me enjoyed some apple pie the lights in the restaurant went out. My team and I sat in silence waiting, listening to the hum of conversations going on around us, hearing the thunder roar, and watching the lightning flash as the rain made rivers in the streets. It was in that moment I found myself reflecting on the beauty of silence. As the lights came back on and we paid our bill and headed out I found myself thanking God for giving me a few minutes where everything was still and I was able to just be in his presence. Often I think that we get so caught up with all we need to get done that even when moments of silence are put into our lives we miss them because we are so obsessed with their hindrance that we lose out on their blessing.
This 4th of July holiday for me was amazing. My team and I went to a city called Pokhara, a place that is known for its tourism and beauty. We stayed at a place near a lake where we were able to enjoy some paddle boarding and kayaking. Since I had grown up with a family who enjoys canoeing and I love water, kayaking and paddle boarding just seem simple and fun. However, I forgot to ask the important question of who all had done these water sports before having some of my team members get in the water with their boats. Our kayaks were not the best but manageable in my opinion. After a little playing around it looked like everyone was getting the hang of their kayaks, so we paddled out towards the other side of the lake in hopes that we might see monkeys ;). We then turned around to do a small lap around the lake and the next thing I knew my team leader had tipped his kayak, so now he and his dog were in the water. I turned around to help him and got out of my kayak next to shore in over 5 feet of water and eventually we got his kayak emptied and flipped back over. We then realized that his kayak had a hole in the bottom, so he headed back to the other side of the lake. About in the middle of the lake, however, his boat flipped again, and he ended up just swimming with the boat and dog back to where we put in. While our focus was on him and making sure he made it safe to shore we completely had abandoned our MAP girl in the middle of the lake (MAP is a program where anybody over 18 can come and spend a 1-11 months under a missionary on the field). This poor girl who was not able to swim (something she told us after we got back to shore) had managed to lose her paddle and was stuck in the middle of the lake until a nice man stopped by and assisted her to the shore. Once everybody had made it safely to shore I had to laugh at their faces and apologize for all the unexpected excitement that had happened that day. The next day, on the 4th, my team leader and the MAP girl staying with us agreed to come out on the water again with me and we went paddle boarding. Everything went much smoother than it had the day before. We then went and had hamburgers for lunch at a local restaurant and spent our evening at one of the children’s homes in the area. All in all, it was chocked up in my mind as a very enjoyable holiday full of laughter and many memories.
Since arrival back from Humla, things have stayed busy. We welcomed our girl who was staying with us through the MAP program in the middle of June and she was able to help my team leaders with different business things in the office. We then had a small team come for a couple of days who assisted with a children’s program in one of the local churches. My team and I have had the privilege of speaking in several different churches in the area throughout this past month. It is always a joy to speak in front of the people here and I am finding that with each new message I get to share I am becoming more and more comfortable speaking to an audience 😉
I am trying to focus a lot of the next couple of months on my research project on herbal medicine and how it relates to the Humla culture. This is a subject that interests many people in the area. However, a lot of the remedies or plant names they can give me are in their area’s language or in Nepali and they cannot give it to me in English which creates some problems when I am trying to research the plant specifically. Pray for me as I continue to do this research that God opens doors and that I can find someone who knows plants well in both English and Nepali so they can help me translate. I really feel that learning more about herbal medicine and its connection with the Humla culture can be a huge connecting point as far as health and medicine in the Humla area.
I am taking motorcycle lessons again in hopes of taking my driving test and getting a bike here in the next couple of months! I have been able to survive with taxies since I arrived here, however, the freedom and availability a bike of my own creates makes pushing to get my license to drive here worth it. I also continue to take Nepali language lessons which has seemed to be a huge struggle for me this past month, so if you would pray for me in this as well. The ability to speak the language here is vital in making the strong connections here and to open doors and share God’s love, so I just ask that you pray that God will just loosen my tongue and give me the willpower to continue strong in this area. To me right now language is an area of quite literal silence in my life, I just haven’t decided if it is an area of anticipated silence or of panic as I rush to find an area of light 😉
Here I work to make connections with different people: I take my different classes, I work on my different health education things, and try some days to just survive ;). However, in all of that, at times I somehow find myself missing the whole reason I am even here–to share God’s love with the people around me. I somehow get so caught up in the “me” and what all I need to do to make me better that I completely step away from them, the reason I am here. It is in those times that my focus needs readjusted that I find that God sometimes gives me a moment of unexpected silence: something suddenly getting canceled, people arriving late, or me becoming sick. I’d often find events like this a huge hindrance and I’d miss out on their blessing—the blessing of time to do something I was not planning to do like letting myself get consumed by God’s presence or taking an evening to spend with a friend.
My little eight-year-old nephew the other day in one of my Skype calls asked me if there was anybody over here that followed God. My answer to him was, “Yes, there are people here that follow God, but there are so very many more people here that do not follow God.” He then asked if I was helping share God’s love with the people, because if not he misses me back home. The question to me hit me square in the face, first off, because it was a very direct question that everyone wants to ask but only my eight-year-old nephew gets away with. Also, though, because he asked me because he wanted me to know that I was missed. The reality of the question is right now I am working in many different areas here, and the fruit of the labor on our team is something that is a little slower to be seen. This is something that can be frustrating at times. However, with how the culture and religions work here it is important to have a solid foundation of trust built before rushing in with things that cause them to put walls up because of their fear that we are here to change their culture and who they are. In the time of building a foundation and learning the language, the culture, and areas to connect with the people where they are, in a way we are in an area of anticipatory silence. We are excited to see what God all has in store; however, right now the silence seems to be a little long and at times frustrating. I ask that you pray for my team and I in this.
“He says, “Be still, and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth.”
“but they who wait for the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings like eagles; they shall run and not be weary; they shall walk and not faint.”
“For God alone, O my soul, wait in silence, for my hope is from him.”
We serve an amazing and great God, who knows when silence is needed and whose timing in all things is perfect. I do not understand many things, but I do understand this–in the middle of a thunderstorm in Pokhara, Nepal, on the 4th of July, God can choose to speak in the silence of darkness. So, as the lights go out and there is silence in our lives, let’s not be frustrated by the hindrance the silence seems to be keeping us from getting done. Instead embrace the blessing of the silence, relying on God’s timing, knowing He is in control.