Hello! Rebekah is packing, but then she has been planning the logistics of that for at least a month. Rachel (in denial about leaving for the last month) is thinking vaguely about packing sometime in the near future…we must be heading home soon!
On Friday, we said our first goodbyes: to the residents of the Prayer Tower. This was very special as, knowing that we are going back to the UK, they spent an hour listening to and writing down our personal prayer requests. They also asked about every member of our families, wanting to know their names and how they could pray for them. We have heard the names of previous Action Teamers come up in prayer meetings; our names will now be said in future ones! We have not found it easy to build friendship with those at the Tower, seeing them only once in a while and not feeling that our Nepali language is up to it. However, Friday morning taught us that we can continue to build relationships with those we have met in Nepal, by lifting people up in prayer to our God who knows and loves them all.
Today, we have said goodbye to our language teacher, Sarula. We have all found language learning quite challenging, but it has been worth it if only because Sarula has become such a good friend to us. We have loved chatting to her to while away a good hour of the lesson each week! In March, language learning has been replaced by shared cooking lessons. She has taught us to make various Nepali dishes, and we have shown her how to make mince pies, of which she is a now a very big fan! We headed to her house for the final time this afternoon, and spent it making momos with her and her daughter. Her family have been very welcoming and eager to learn about us and our lives back home. Some questions from Sarula’s very chatty husband, which caught us off guard, include: What is the origin of your surname? Why is the UK’s homicide rate so high? What does your parents’ marriage teach you about relationships?!
Now, at the end of the weekend, we are looking ahead to a very busy week full of last project days and more goodbyes. Tomorrow is to be our last day at Baal Bagaan preschool. Last Monday, we did something a little different with the children there, teaching them English country and Scottish ceilidh dancing! By the end of the day, they were able to produce an impression of the dances put to music, and the boys, especially, got very into the kicking and spinning. They were, however, indignant about the lack of a craft; so this week, we have crafts planned for them, including a big artwork of a tree, with owls sitting in it!
We have so much enjoyed getting to know all of the children, with their wonderful personalities, at Baal Bagaan. Highlights of our time with them include: making excessively flappy elephant ears which they wore around school for the rest of the day; reading the Nativity story and seeing how the children engaged with it; helping out with a winter holiday camp and enjoying the company of older children from the community; and acting out ‘The Enormous Turnip’ with as big a vegetable (a radish!) as we could scout out from the local veg stalls!
It has been eye-opening to realise the hold of the Hindu religion on education here in Nepal; and we would ask for your prayers for the preschool as its leadership and location are set to change over some disagreement as to how it is to be run. Please pray that, whatever happens, it would continue to be a happy place and a refuge for those children who need it.
Just two days are left for us at ABBS, which we will spend with the children in our classes whom, as you’ve probably gathered, we love very much. Here are some of our favourite memories…
“There is a boy in my class who is physically handicapped, having to use a wheelchair, but who is very smart. He can speak to me in English and in the last couple of months, he and I have spent the last hour of each day doing some little, impromptu crafts. He asks me every morning, ‘Didi, please can we make something this afternoon?’, and cracks a beautiful smile when I reply ‘yes’.” (Rach)
“At the beginning of my time at ABBS, there was a autistic girl in my class whose main method of communication was to slap others. I was unsure of how to build a relationship with her and, during my first week, became more and more anxious. God gave me the verse John 14:13 the morning of going back to school and He worked a miracle. Not only was I not slapped, the girl approached me holding out a lego brick, and I was able to play with her for the next 30 minutes.” (Rebekah)
“I have spent my time at ABBS with some of the youngest children in the school, which has meant that a fair number of new ones have come into my class since October. The newest member, Grace, was very unsettled at first and spent a lot of time in class crying. A couple of weeks ago, the class teacher put on some music. With little encouragement, Grace stood up, grabbed onto my finger, and started twirling. Encouraged by Grace’s new-found confidence, another new girl took her hand and joined in. These two girls, who arrived frightened, confused and alone, have become inseparable. It has been incredible to see the strength of the friendship they’ve formed and the joy that they have found in each other.” (Rachel)
Nepal is a country in which there is a significant social and religious stigma attached to disability, meaning that life can be extremely hard for disabled children. Please pray for the teachers at ABBS, who are all Christians, as they love and cherish the children in their classes and model this to the parents.
On Thursday, we will say goodbye to all of the ladies at Beauty for Ashes. Our days there have been filled with a variety of jobs, some more exciting than others: rolling saris, folding business cards, making tutus, lots of counting and cataloguing for the purposes of the business’ inventory. And of course, explaining the exasperating complexities of the English language!
We have also surprised ourselves by enjoying the devotions that we write and lead for the ladies each week. It has been wonderful to see how the women engage with the Word; through songs, prayer, and laughter. Last week, we shared some thoughts on Ephesians 3, and the women sat together in small groups afterwards, holding hands and praying for one another that they would become filled with the knowledge of the love of God.
If you’d like, you could pray with us for the ladies at Beauty for Ashes: that they would continue to grow in faith and knowledge of God’s love. And for the business, as it is set to move a branch out of the Kathmandu valley into a remote village; pray that it would be able to reach out to many more women and families.
Our week will finish as normal at our Nepali church, Crossways, where we have loved being involved with children’s work among a thriving community of Christians. As we spend our last Saturday with them, we will be praying for: the building work which will be ongoing for the next two years (at least!); and the English-speaking children who struggle to engage with Children’s Church on occasions when there is no-one and no Action Team to teach them in English.
And now to the packing…