It is an understatement to say that the last year has been full. I don't know how to share it all with you, but here are a few of the more recent stories that I feel capture the heart of what we are up to in Nepal and celebrate what we have been working hard to bring about.
While Iris Nepal does a lot, the three areas where we have been focusing our time and energy are the Banquet House, the Freedom House, and the Pottery House. Notice the theme? It is no mistake that these ministries have similar names. More than simply providing a meal or support for the poor, as important as that is, our goal goes beyond the humanitarian aspect of our work. We aim to demonstrate the love and nature of God in everything we do. God is a "Father to the fatherless," He "places the lonely in families," and He "decided in advance to adopt us into His own family to bring us to Himself through Jesus Christ." Our goal is that through these three "House" ministries people will encounter that love and experience a sense of home and family that helps to bring greater and lasting freedom and transformation in their lives.
The Pottery House
We have some exciting updates with the Pottery training center. The workshop is mostly complete and we fired up the kiln for the first time! As part of our first rehab program, the Freedom House, we have been training the guys in pottery. The program had its challenges, but was an incredible success and we have learned and grown so much. It was a great joy to finally, after so much work getting the workshop ready over the past year, be able to work with people and provide a creative space where they can enjoy making something with their hands, learn new skills, and overcome challenges they face in their lives. Last week we had a dinner to rejoice with those who completed the rehab program. Friends and family joined us to celebrate and to view an exhibition of all of the pottery they created throughout the program.
There is still a long way to go to fully establish the Pottery House as a business. We have officially registered the business as a vocational training center and have already jumped through many of the necessary hoops, but have many more ahead. Financially, we are about halfway there to meet the $50,000 required investment amount. If you would like to help us meet that goal, you can give here. We are humbled and excited about how far God had brought this in such a short time and are really looking forward to all that lies ahead.
The Freedom House
When we decided to start a rehab program, we did so with guys like Danyabad Yeshu in mind. That isn't his real name, but it is what we liked to call him. It translates to "Thank you Jesus." It is also the name of one of the songs we sing often during our worship services. Every time this song would start, Danyabad Yeshu would stand, full of joy or tears, and dance his heart out. He was also, more often than not, so drunk that it was amazing he was able to stand at all. His life was incredibly difficult and broken, living on the street, with barely any ability to work. He had come to Kathmandu from his village to look for work, things fell through, he fell into addiction and lost connection with his family. Shame and guilt took over from there and reinforced the bonds of addiction, imprisoning him on the streets of Kathmandu.
Each week, we would see him weep as he sang "Thank you Jesus" with his whole heart, but return the next without any more freedom evident in his life. We were beyond excited when he agreed to do the program, and even more so as he started to experience healing and freedom. He has been doing incredibly well in every way, has enjoyed doing pottery and being part of a healthy community. He has since been reunited with his son and continues on as a valued member within our family. We are excited to carry on and see many more experience freedom and healing as he has.
Our Growing Family
We expect our new baby to be born sometime before Christmas, and we can hardly wait! Due to some unexpected family issues, we have decided to come to Colorado for the holidays and the delivery. We will be in America until mid January.
Your continued prayer, support and encouragement have helped to make all of this possible, and we are sincerely grateful.
Benj, Gwen and Odella