Thursday, December 31, 2009

Day Thirteen: Lights

One of the visions/prophecies that our team had about a month ago when we were praying about our outreach was that we would see a lot of lights and/or lanterns in Nepal but that the light wasn't necessarily coming from us. We have definitely seen that fulfilled in the last few days. As we were boarding our bus for Pokhara Kaison was joking around with one of the street vendors and asking him if any of his stuff was free. Much to our surprise he said that yes, he would give us anything we wanted for free. When Gabriel encouraged him for his generosity he said it was no big deal because he's a Christian. Then only minutes later we were talking to a newspaper salesman and although we couldn't understand much of what he said we definitely heard him say something along the lines of: "You are Christian? I am Christain too. My country is Hindu but I know Jesus God and I am free." So we were pretty stoked about that. Then this morning as we were praying on the rooftop of one of our hostels in Pokhara we noticed that the hostel manager was taking a keen interest in what we were doing. To make a long story short, he is one of only a handful of Christians in Pokhara and tonight they have invited us to their nightly prayer meeting and a traditional Nepalese meal. We are so thankful that the first five or six places we checked were all full and that God brought us right to the place that we needed to be.
In other news, Pokhara is awesome. We are so glad to be here after the depressing atmosphere of Kathmandu. Tonight is New Year's Eve and is the last day of a ten day street festival that has been going on here. So there are tourists and backpackers all over the place. We're praying for lots of good opportunities to talk about what life is all about here at the end of one year and the beginning of the next. I don't have time for details right now but ask me to tell you about our afternoon with Rufus sometime. We're hoping to hang out with him some more in the next couple days so it may get better yet.

A few prayer requests:

-Thank God for how richly He has blessed us thus far. Pray that we would be an encouragement and a blessing to the little Nepalese house church here.

-Thank God that Gabe is feeling much better. Pray for Anthony who has been sleeping most of the day in between trips to the toilet. Tomorrow is his 19th birthday so we're hoping that he'll be better and we can do something special for him.

-Pray that we would declare the gospel boldly and unashamedly.

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Day Ten: I want to see mountains again. Mountains, Gandalf!

The last few days in Kathmandu have definitely been a bit of a stretch. The city is unimaginable to anyone who has never been outside of Western culture before. It's definitely a city of many distractions. We spend a lot of our time winding our way through little back alleys trying to avoid the bigger piles of garbage and dodging the hordes of taxis and mopeds (I've only been hit once so far) all the while shaking off two or three people trying to sell you hash, fix your shoes or take you on an all inclusive trek. It's always an adventure stepping out the door. One little guy, Raj, took a shine to us right from the beginning and he's been tracking us down every day trying to introduce us to one friend or another who always has the best deal on anything. He's quite the shrewd little businessman. Kaison actually ended up trading jackets and an Ipod with him. That was an adventure worthy of more detail at some point.
The constant crowds and noise and smell of incense make you crazy after a while and the only refuge is in our rooms or on top of the hostel roof. My favourite time in Kathmandu so far was this morning on the roof when we were singing worship songs and praying over the city. It's such an amazing privilege to carry God's presence with us wherever we go. As we were singing we could palpably feel the darkness and hopelessness lifting. As always happens when we worship in public we attracted a few spectators. A few of the Nepalese guys who work at the hostel were really interested in what we were doing and we were able to share with them a bit about how much Jesus has done for us and why we take so much joy in worshipping Him. It was a great time. We noticed a few tourists on nearby roofs stopping for a gawk and taking pictures of us, perhaps chalking us down as part of the diverse religious eclecticism (I may have made that word up) here in Nepal. The Nepalese are very proud of their religious tolerance. Yesterday Anthony and I spent a while talking to a Bhuddist guy who took us around to a few of the temples and explained about how some were Bhuddist, some were Hindu, some were mixed but anyone could pray to any god at any of them. He was slightly insulted that we wouldn't take part in any of the rituals but that gave us opportunity to talk about what we believe in and why. The concept of having only one absolute truth never really seemed to compute in his mind but we were able to pray for him and apparently most of his family became Christian when his sister was healed of cancer so we're praying that they will be a strong witness to him.
Overall we've found Kathmandu a bit discouraging. There are hardly any bacpackers here at all this time of year and the ones we've met haven't shown the slightest interest in even saying hello, let alone talking about God and life and what this crazy world is all about. The spiritual sense that God gave us for Kathmandu was of lights and brightly coloured masks and all sorts of distractions that hide emptiness and hopelessness beneath and we definitely see that all over the place as we walk these streets. Nonetheless, we trust that God placed us here for a purpose and that He will make an impact beyond what we can see.
Tomorrow morning we are boarding a bus to Pokhara at 6:30. Everyday we hear more and more about Pokhara and how amazing it is and how that's where all the backpackers go, so, that's where we're going. It's as simple as that. Besides that, we just really want to get out of the smog and be able to see the sky and again, and hopefully some mountains... big mountains.

Please join us in praying for:

-Gabriel, one of our leaders, who has been sick the last three days but still in high spirits.

-God to bring a revelation of His truth to the nation of Nepal and expose the futility of worshipping gods made of wood and stone.

-Our bus ride to Pokhara, that we would redeem the time while traveling (it's a 6 to 9 hour ride, depending on weather, army checkpoints and so on), make good connections and be able to discern the best place to stay for the next few days.

Thanks for praying. It makes all the difference.

Sunday, December 27, 2009

Day Eight: Sabbath Rest

Greetings from Kathmandu!
Praise God for our safe arrival after over two days of traveling. We are all especially thankful for being able to travel with such a great team. Only God could give us so much grace with each other. It's amazing what cheerful attitudes everyone has had even after barely sleeping in the last 85 hours or so.
Christmas in Bangkok was a really interesting experience. We arrive about one in the morning and headed straight for Khao San Road, which is the touristy marketplace type area. The party scene was just picking up so we spent some time wandering around and talking to drunks, then napped in a park for a while until it got light and then spent the rest of the day wandering through the city and getting a little taste of Thai culture. The best part was being able to reconnect with our friends on the Thailand team. We took communion together and sang some Christmas carols and worship songs. On top of all that I bought some cheap Fisherman's pants and got a fish foot massage. All in all it was a good day.
We were there for about twenty hours then flew on to Delhi, where our next flight kept getting delayed and we ended up spending about twelve hours in the airport. Which was really frustrating but once again the team pulled together and made the best of a bad situation. Many people in the airport seemed to keep gravitating towards us and engaging us in conversation or just looking on as we played games and whatnot. We got our first glimpse of the Himalayas on our flight to Kathmandu and arrived mid-morning, jet-lagged and bleary-eyed. We were immediately mobbed by taxi drivers but assured them that we had friends coming to pick us up, as we had arranged to spend our first two nights at the YWAM base here, but with all the delays we weren't able to meet them as we had expected and couldn't get into contact with them so we ended up staying at a hostel instead. We all went to bed really early and slept for at least twelve hours, some were pushing twenty I think, and today we are taking our sabbath day and just trying to rest up and get somewhat acclimatised to the culture. It's been bit of a shock to some people. I was somewhat prepared after traveling a fair bit already, but even so, it's quite intense here. I gotta run, thanks for the prayers!

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Day Five: Popcorn Harvest in Queenstown

Team Sherpa just pulled back into Oxford for a few hours before we head into Christchurch to catch our flight. So much amazing stuff has happened in the last few days that I don't even know where to begin. I'll try and just give a few highlights.
So we did end up getting that free accomodation at the Reaver's Lodge, which was a huge blessing and we had lots of opportunities to witness to other guests. The question then was: "What do we do with all this extra money that God has blessed us with?"
We prayed about it as a team and all felt that God was asking us to act in completely the opposite spirit of the town by giving it all away. We changed about two hundred dollars into two dollar coins and went all over Queenstown giving them out to people and asking them not to use the money for themselves but to bless someone else with it. Most people were just weirded out and didn't want anything to do with us but it also led to many interesting conversations with people and was a perfect lead-in to telling people about all that God has done for us and how seeking after money, possessions and pleasure no longer rules our lives.
Before we headed out that afternoon we had spent most of the morning up on a hilltop overlooking the city praying and interceding for the people that we were going to meet and even for the town as a whole that the spirit of generosity would be poured out over it. We always put on the armour of God together before we go out and I had this awesome picture of us rushing down the mountainside in full battle array and taking the city by storm. One of the things that I prayed was that God would go before us in power and take the victory for us. Several people got names or faces of specific people that we hoped to meet. So we were pumped up and ready to go but we had spent so much time praying and saying goodbye to our friends at the Lodge that it was lunchtime by the time we got into town so we all took an hour of free time and Anthony and I decided that we would take this opportunity to try out Queenstown's famous Fergburger. We were standing in line looking over the menu and trying to decide whether we wanted to splurge on the $16 version or not when this lady turns to us, hands us two burgers and says that they had double ordered, Merry Christmas. We were absolutely blown away. We spent a good half hour turning to each other and saying: "Dude, did that just happen?" It was such a clear sign of God preparing the way before us and working in people before we even started our "ministry time". As that burger filled my stomach a completely uncharacteristic boldness filled my spirit and I couldn't even wait for lunch time to finish but I went out and started talking to people right away, which led to the amazing experience of being able to meet Chris, who was one of the people that God had specifically pointed out to us that day. It was a new experience for me to shake the hand of a man that I had just met, look him in the eye and tell him that God had set him apart for a purpose and that we had been praying for him by name that very morning. I will never forget the look on his face. Priceless.
We're packing up in few minutes so other stories will have to wait for another time but praise God that He is already at work in unusual ways. I am longing to trust and love Him more.

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Day Two: Building Momentum

Hello from Queenstown.
Most of the day yesterday was spent on the looong but beautiful drive down the middle of the South Island from Oxford to Queenstown.
The atmosphere of the city reminds me a lot of Banff, though less rugged. It's a big tourist and backpacking hotspot. The spirit over the city is lust and materialism.
We camped about 15 km out of town last night by a small lake nestled in the mountains. We've had lots of opportunity for team bonding already. What with being squished together in small, leaky, pegless tents, missing essential parts for our campstove and improvising our meals over a free grill in the park and mostly just laughing a lot about everything.
This morning we attended a small Anglican church and made some really sweet connections over tea and coffee afterwards. Nicki met a guy who is an assistant manager at some sort of traveler's lodge here in town and he is going to try and hook us up with free rooms for our next few nights in exchange for a few hours of work. We're not sure yet if this will work out or not but it could be a huge answer to prayer as we would save over $200 and would be in a great place for meeting travelers and sharing our lives with them.
I was reading in Nehemiah this morning about when he was rebuilding the walls of Jerusalem and how when they faced opposition from the surrounding nations they refused to be discouraged but rather "those who carried materials did their work with one hand and held a weapon in the other, and each of the builders wore his sword at his side as he worked.
Neither I nor my brothers nor my men nor the guards with me took off our clothes; each had his weapon, even when he went for water."
I believe that is what God has for Team Sherpa over the next several days. This is a time to build up the breaches in the wall and prepare for the war ahead of us. Being mindful all the while that although Queenstown may not be as overtly pagan as India or Nepal it is still a dark place in need of God's light and we need to take up our armour each day and be prepared to fight.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Travel Itinerary

Team Sherpa leaves Oxford for Queenstown on Saturday morning, Dec 19. We will camp there for five nights witnessing to backpackers and anyone that we meet. However our main focus during those days will be to "warm up" for the intense spiritual warfare that we anticipate facing "behind enemy lines" on the Asian subcontinent. We are committed to being completely open and broken with one another. We stand together to renounce any past sins or struggles that may hinder deeper intimacy with Christ or give a platform for the enemy to attack from. With one accord we bind and break the power of the enemy, taking captive every thought to the perfect will of God and stepping out in obedience to his Word and the prompting of His Spirit. Those first few days will be an excellent time of testing and feeling out our strengths and weaknesses during a transitional stage of our ministry together.
On Dec 24 we drive back to Christchurch and board our flight for Kathmandu, Nepal. Our first layover is in Sydney, Australia which shouldn't be very long and we do not anticipate leaving the airport at all. Our second layover is in Bangkok, Thailand where our plane is scheduled to arrive at 1:00 am Dec 25, Christmas morning. Our next flight doesn't leave until 8:00 pm that evening so we are planning to meet up with the Thailand team that will already be in Bangkok at that time and celebrate Christmas together with them.
Finally, we should arrive in Kathmandu some time on Dec 26. From there we will begin our backpacking journey through Nepal, northern India and down the west coast. Flying out of Mumbai on Feb 11.

Please join us in praying for:

-Spiritual unity within our team and for an attitude of love and forgiveness to be the foundation for everything that we do.

-God to prepare the hearts of those that He is calling to Himself and for divine appointments with them.

-Health, safety and energy even when times are tough.

-Discernment of spirits.

-That we would walk in obedience to God's word and submission to His Spirit.