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What are Things Like “On the Ground” in Nepal Nowadays?

Written by Dale & Bethsaba Nafziger
August 17, 2006

"Namaste"—and warmest greetings from the land of Mt. Everest! When a news article regarding Nepal manages a small paragraph somewhere well-embedded in the middle of the Philadelphia Inquirer, you may conjecture that it is major news here.

Image Sushma learning to ride a bicycle - with a little help from Shova.

When according to a recent letter from my mother, "There has been an article in the Phila paper almost every day this week, with pictures, etc." you know that it must be major news here. Although I usually try to write in roughly three-month intervals; so much has happened recently and so many of you have indicated that your thoughts and prayers have been with us, that I want to write these few lines updating you today—a month early.

During the past two months, since writing to you last, Nepal has passed through a minor revolution-of-sorts. Similar to a volcano acting as a natural pressure-release-value for the earth; the events happening here in recently are not a spur-of-the-moment phenomenon. Rather, they are simply the external manifestation of political issues that have been festering under the surface for well over the past decade. After several weeks of increasing political unrest in March and April, Nepal's King Gyanendra finally conceded and in late April went on national television, and announced that the "wishes of the people will be honored."

Since that time the national parliament has met on several occasions where it has, frankly, been an "uphill battle" to bring the country's many and differing political parties to reach a consensus for the common good. Eighty four year-old Girija Prasad Koirala was recently appointed as prime-minister. This was his fourth appointment as PM in the past 16 years. From my biased perspective it serves as a sombre testimony to the state of democracy in Nepal—that he is the best (?) the country has managed to produce, at a juncture when forward-looking leadership is so desperately needed. Why couldn't he have taken the Deputy PM position and mentored some young-dynamic protégée?

Neighbors around us (mostly poor farmers) continue to till the ground and plant corn. For most of them a change in government will mean nothing. Alternatively, a missed planting or a failed crop will. On a practical level daily the physical hardships imposed by the past two months of strikes and violence have allowed us many opportunities to both bless and be blessed. We live in a village-situation, quite distant from the centre of Kathmandu (where the major demonstrations occurred). While many living within the city limits only managed to "scrape by" in recent weeks therefore, we were blessed by local farmers dropping off fresh things to eat. Also when a nearby children's home ran out of cooking gas, for example, we were able to "bless them" by sharing from our ample reserve. In short; with so many government and aid organizations leaving the country (a "mice fleeing from a sinking ship phenomenon"), the affirmation accumulating for those of us choosing to remain has multiplied many times over.

I should conclude my writing about recent events by noting that at no time whatsoever did we feel in any physical danger. While people living within city limits could not leave their homes for fear of a shoot-on-sight curfew we, alternatively, were able to peacefully take our dogs on many walks throughout the countryside—when so much violence was happening just a few kilometers away! Symbolically, "now that the dust has settled," we join the Nepali people in praying that the lives recently sacrificed were not done so in vain—and that lasting political change will come about via a democratic process.

Other "Happenings"

  • New School Year. Since writing to you last, Sushma and Shova have started a new school year. Sushma is in Class 2 and Shova in Class 4. We are blessed that they can attend a well-managed local school where they have exposure to two languages and friends from many nationalities. One of the benefits of the recent strike days was that Sushma learned to ride a bicycle. She also completed the invitations for her June 8th birthday—well over a full-month in advance—and is anxiously counting the number of days remaining!
  • "Great Commission Companies." On Tuesday, 09 May, a group of 14 Christian investors gathered in my office for the purpose of introducing ourselves. It took us about 2.5 hours to "go around the circle" and hear each participant's storey. A common theme was, "I didn't come to Nepal with the intent of doing business!" Emerging from that first meeting was a commitment by all to meet on roughly a monthly basis to discuss the book "Great Commission Companies" (jointly authored in 2003 by Tom Steffan and Steve Rundle).
  • Church Building Upgrade. In early May workers began removing the leaky tin roof from our church building. Frankly, we had hoped to be at this point a full-month earlier, but the recent strikes did not allow. Our hope is to have a permanent concrete roof poured before the annual onslaught of the monsoon, which usually arrives in full-force by mid June. Our small congregation, having very limited financial resources, has "stepped out in faith" to complete this necessary task. Please know that we value your prayers and support!
  • Sushma learning to ride a bicycle—with a little help from Shova

Medical Camp - At the time I write this letter (in mid-May) Bethsaba is out with a medical team in the Everest Region conducting a medical out-reach camp among the Sherpa people. We are thankful for this opportunity Bethsaba has to share both her nursing skills and the Good News.

In closing thank you dear praying-friends for "being with us" and helping to make good things happen. God bless!

For Sushma, Shova, Bethsaba & myself—
Dale

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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