For those of you who don't know, I'll re-cap a bit of our story.
Before we ever met each other, Benj and I both wanted to be missionaries (to us, that means being Christians in another country) and since we got married, it's been a major directive in our life. About three and a half years ago, we went to Harvest School in Mozambique. It's a three month missionary training program through Iris Ministries started by Heidi and Rolland Baker. We learned and experienced more than I can explain and came out of it knowing that whenever and wherever we were meant to serve as missionaries, we wanted it to be with Iris.
Shortly after Harvest School, we went on a scouting trip to Thailand, Cambodia, and Nepal with every intention to stay in one of those three places. However, the only direction God gave us on that trip was to go home, rest, and enjoy Him. We reluctantly said yes trusting that He had the best for us in mind. We went back to Colorado and were quickly hired at jobs we loved, moved into our own place, and waited on the Lord as he filled our home with incredible friends. God did so much in our marriage, in us as individuals, gave us time with family, gave us lifelong friendships, and prepared us for where our life is headed now. The last three years have turned out to be the best we've had so far!
Fast forward to January 2015 - our families, employers, churches, and friends blessed us and sent us out on our new journey. After a relaxing vacation in Thailand, we landed in Kathmandu late one night where a few members of Iris Nepal welcomed us and picked us up. They took us to the base directors' house (Joel and Tammy DeBortoli) where we stayed the first few weeks we were here. During that time, we started to get to know the team, joined in with the regular, weekly ministry opportunities, and found a place to live. Benj also spent about a week with part of the team on an outreach to some mountain villages in an area called Gorkha (check out the photos and blog for his stories from that).
In the first few weeks here, we've done a lot of observing and taking in. There are so many fantastic things about the culture that we've loved experiencing. The Nepali people are talented artists, creative with what they have, great cooks, very welcoming, kind, and always ready to offer a seat and milk tea if you'd like to spend some time with them. But there is the religious side that is not so great. Every day, we see people worshiping a Hindu god or performing a Buddhist ritual to gain karma. I admit I know very little of either religion so far - but what I've seen on either route is that everything is done with the motivation to please a god or earn enough favor that they might be kept safe and maybe one day move on to something better. Introducing people here to Jesus has reminded both of us how beautiful, simple, and powerful the gospel is because Jesus offers something entirely different. He died for us and took care of all of our debts so that we don't have to try and earn anything. All He asks us to do is receive the gift he gives freely.
Already, we've seen many people here meet Jesus and experience the love and freedom that comes from Him. It's been a major jump start to the thing we wanted most in moving here - to be challenged and grow in our faith and love for God and people. We could share so many stories (and we will as time goes on) of miraculous healings, freedom from addictions, and changed lives. But for now, we want to share where were at. We are learning again that:
The gospel is real, it is simple, and it changes lives.
No matter what we do (raise the dead, smile at a stranger, heal the sick, open the door for someone, cast out demons, or buy someone lunch), without love, it's nothing.
We must abide in Him. It is our joy to love Him and know Him and let Him fill us with love for our neighbors.
Thank you all for joining us on this journey! Having people follow up with what we're doing and going through and praying for us along the way is so important to us. One thing I know many of you have prayed is that we'd be walking into a community and place that God has already prepared. That's exactly what's happened. The team here is amazing and feels like one big family. We already feel like this is home. Please feel free to e-mail either of us with questions or encouragements any time:
Benj - firstname.lastname@example.org
Gwen - email@example.com
Things to be praying for:
Language - we started classes this week, we want to catch on as quick as we can!
Health - there are a lot of new germs here and we've been sick pretty often so far.
Visas - we're praying about which way to get a visa and for favor with all of the officials along the way.
Vision/Focus - we're praying about where God wants each of us to invest our time and energy.