Thursday, March 8, 2012

Nepal: the Mission

Hello again! About a month ago, we got home from the K-YAV trip to Nepal. So naturally, I'm writing about it now. 미안합니다!

I tried to journal as thoroughly as possible, and I was successful for much of the trip. Near the end, there were so many things to say that I ended up not writing down any of them. Oops. But between the pictures and the subsequent reflection on this amazing trip, I think I can piece it together for you. I'll start with first impressions (dur) and a reflection on the mission work we witnessed there, and save the rest for later.*

Simply by getting to Nepal, I knew we were in for an adventure. I love traveling, and even getting on the bus out of Daejeon was exciting. Not knowing much about geography (I know, it's bad!) I wasn't entirely sure what we had ahead of us. We crossed a significant portion of China, pausing in Guangzhou for noodles and a passport stamp before finishing the journey. By the time we got to our hotel in Kathmandu, we were exhausted. But exhilarated! But exhausted. And goodness, but we weren't in Korea anymore.

It turns out we kind of did this.

That night, I wrote in my journal: "[Our room] is kind of drafty, the lights flickered, and apparently the toilet doesn't flush. But it's so great! We're in Nepal!!" That pretty much set the tone for the next few days, during which everything was new and shiny and really, really cool. Kathmandu was noisy and crowded, full of beautiful people and places and things. We stayed in a very touristy area, where the shopping and eating and sightseeing were plentiful, but much of our time in Kathmandu was devoted to looking back at how Uncle Simon and Haejung Imo spent their time there as missionaries a few years ago.

Let me tell you, they were seriously busy people during those three years. Our first stop on the old-haunts tour was the United Mission to Nepal, which acts as a support network with a variety of organizations aimed at helping the impoverished of Nepal.

It seemed like a pretty sweet place to work.**

Still in Kathmandu, we visited the Lalitpur Nursing Campus, which happened to be having exams that very afternoon. Getting there was an adventure in itself, but I'll address that soon enough. Even though our contact wasn't there that day, we got a lovely tour and experienced the kind of open hospitality that was a really charming feature of Nepal. (It was also across the street from a North Korean restaurant. Getting super lost Exploring Kathmandu was so interesting!)

Celebration and relief (exhaustion?) upon reaching our destination.

That same day we stopped by the Nick Simons Institute, a now-thriving organization that was just getting started when Uncle Simon was at work. We were given a tour by Dr. Mark Zimmerman, who worked personally with Uncle Simon and continues to lead the organization. This visit was especially interesting because of the work they do there: they took the time to identify a need, and are now providing training for doctors and assistants in rural hospitals.

A typical lunch at NSI includes excellent food and conversation at their rooftop cafeteria.

As a taste of Korean mission work, we visited the Ever Vision School which is supported by Korea Food for the Hungry International. It was definitely an unexpected connection, and seeing Korean in a Nepali school was really entertaining. The Children Development Program supports one child from each family in the area, which in turn benefits the whole family. Once the program is complete there, it will begin again someplace else as the school continues its basic work.

Look closely and you might see a YAV bonding with preschoolers through a window.

Finally, during our subsequent travels we visited the Tansen Hospital where they reconnected with fellow missionaries who were still working towards the same cause. It was amazing to see the places and people with which Simon and Haejung connected in just a few years.

Hospitals still squick me out, but I swear this is from Tansen. What a view!

To wrap things up, I'll share something that's likely to stick with me from Nepal. During our rooftop lunch, Dr. Zimmerman asked me if I was considering future mission work. I was surprised to find myself answering yes! Absolutely! I don't know when or where or how, but the future is pretty vague that way. It reminds me of our YAV slogan, "A year of service for a lifetime of change." I guess the good YAV people *did* try to warn me....

* Coming up: tourism, followed by fun facts, general impressions, and our action-packed return to Korea.
** I'll post a more complete collection of photos soon!

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