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Nepal -- A Visitor's Perspective

February 21, 2008


Dale and Bethsaba Nafziger - Nepal

Warmest greetings from a "cooling down" land of Mt. Everest.  Since we have past been in-touch; a highlight of the past month has been having family visitors.  On October 8th we welcomed nine family and friends at the Tribhuvan International Airport.  Now, a full-month later, they are successively returning to the USA.  During this time together, we have enjoyed seeing Nepal through their eyes.  Also, if there was one major lesson-it had to be "flexibility!"  Enjoy the following update in the lines that follow....

Some of you will recognize Phillip Hunsberger-Dale's uncle and also Leader of our newly-formed "Ministry Support Team" under Mennonite Mission Network.  We'll begin this letter with some of his insights.

On October 23, 2007 at approximately 7:00 a.m. Dale and I reached the summit of Mera Peak, 21,247 feet.  This was the culmination of ten days trekking needed to reach the summit and allow our bodies to acclimatize to the thin air present at that altitude.  Cold, damp and windy weather added to the challenge.  Our reward was to stand on top of a high peak and view all the other mountain peaks in the region, including Mt. Everest.  Nepal has so much to offer visitors in the way of natural beauty.

Nepal also has its challenges.  Overcrowded population and under-employment appear to me to be the overriding ones.  It was nice, therefore, to visit with Dale and Beth and see first hand how they are meeting these challenges in daily living and in their work.  Beth gave us a tour of Patan Hospital and showed us her office where she does counseling.  In two rooms of their house we saw employees produce French fries and pizzas for sale to restaurants.

A 6 hour road trip to Bokhara allowed us to tour Wonder Products' juice making facility.  Production of orange, apple and pineapple juices allows the employees to work several months of the year.  Both businesses provide jobs and Christian teaching for Nepalis.

Attending a new and growing church near their home gave us a special glimpse of their weekly worship with other Nepali Christians.  Even though we could not understand their language, we could sense the Spirit of God, their love for each other, and learn about outreach efforts in other areas.

What is it Like to Climb a Mountain?
Probably the most-essential skill in mountain in mountain climbing is the ability to wait: wait for the porters to catch up, wait for one's body to adjust to the altitude, wait for the clouds to clear, wait for the wind to die down, wait for the water to boil, wait to catch one's breath (there's less than 50% of the oxygen one finds at sea level!).....  The second basic skill in mountain climbing is well-articulated by Ed Viesturs where he notes, "It's a round trip. Getting to the summit is optional, getting down is mandatory."  Despite our natural tendency to resist waiting I (Dale) came to appreciate the times-of-delay imposed on our recent climb of Mera Peak.  Even in a country such as Nepal, life can become very intense.  Removed from phones, computers and other "essentials" however, it is amazing how much time I managed to occupy recently-simply being in touch with both my body and my Creator.  In the context of waiting the second facet of successful mountaineering is also essential: a round-trip.  Jesus needed times away-but it was always with the intent of coming back "into the thick of things" again.  So it is in our lives also-the mountain top experiences need to better-prepare us for our workaday world.  If you haven't done it recently...take a few minutes to "climb a mountain" today!

Here are some things happening...since the last time we have been in contact:

* In September our church started a day care centre, as part of the outreach here in the village where we live.  The intent is to serve working families by providing them with a safe, clean place to leave their young children throughout the day.  Bethsaba invested major amounts of time in this.  We are appreciative of both the prayers and the financial generosity of you, our friends and supporters that allowed this project to get off to a successful start.

* September also saw the successful registration of a new company; Top of the World Coffee, Pvt. Ltd.  Many of you prayed faithfully for this over a period of months.  Continue to pray that meaningful employment and a natural means of community outreach will come from via our "business as mission."

* October included the beginning of Jomson apple juice production under Wonder Products.  These apples are transported via mule train from the northern reaches of the country to our juice factory in Pokhara.

* October also witnessed a significant 22% increase in the price of basic fuels for both transportation and also cooking.  For us, with income from abroad, this presents a significant inconvenience.  For local people, such price increases verge on economic privation.

* We appreciated a visit from our Common Global Ministries (UCC/Disciples of Christ) Southern Asia Area Executive, Rev. Dr. James Vijayakumar, in early October.  It is very special to have support of this nature in-the-field.  Thank you Global Ministries!

* Finally, the major update for October has been the opportunity to "connect" with family visiting from the USA, including Dale's mother.  We thank God for the safety and the memories of the past month.

We Hope to See You in the USA Soon!

It was in 2004 that we last visited the USA... we are anticipating another visit during the first-half of 2008.  Many of you are aware that passport issues do not allow our daughter Shova to travel abroad.  For this reason (similar to 2004) we are temporarily "splitting up" as a family.  Sushma and Dale will travel in early January whereas Bethsaba will not come until May, after enrolling Shova in boarding school in India.  Flexibility!  Dale will be doing church visiting and speaking during the winter/spring months, during which time we anticipate the opportunity of meeting and sharing with you. 

Thank you...and God bless!
For Sushma, Shova,
Bethsaba & myself-

Dale & Bethsaba Nafziger are missionaries with the United Mission for Nepal.  Dale serves as an electrical engineer.  Bethsaba works for the health department of the United Mission to Nepal in midwifery and general nursing.

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