Mission: Nepal 2019 (Part 2)
By Gary Fallesen, founding president, Climbing For Christ
Sunday, Nov. 17
Team photo (left to right): Gary Fallesen, Samuel Gurung, Jordan Rowley, Brandy Fisher, Corey Slider, Megh Gurung, Eduárd Nitkovszki, Kashi Lama, Matthew Fisher, Bhuddi Gurung and Amar Gurung in Tsum Valley. (Photo by Gary Fallesen)
Jordan and I flew 31 hours from Kathmandu to our homes in Rochester, NY. Brandy and Matthew flew similar hours to Beaver Mines, AB, Canada. We headed West while they went East. Eduárd traveled West and North to reach Hungary in about half the time. Corey stayed overseas to work and serve on another mission. Our prayers remain with those we have served with and those God has used us to reach.
“We use God’s mighty weapons, not worldly weapons, to knock down the strongholds of human reasoning and to destroy false arguments.” – 2 Corinthians 10:4 (NLT)
Saturday, Nov. 16
Preparing for communion at Pastor Tej's SARA church. (Photo by Gary Fallesen)
We worshiped at Pastor Tej’s SARA church in Kathmandu and the team had an opportunity to share about thankfulness. I told the church how, on our trek, I’d read the prophet Samuel’s farewell message to the people of Israel in 1 Samuel 12. In it, he told them to fear God and serve Him faithfully. “Think of all the wonderful things s he has done for you” (1 Samuel 12:24, NLT).
I reflected on this and gave thanks for the strength God gave me to complete a 95-mile trek with 42,000 feet of ascent. I repeated John 15:5 and Philippians 4:13 over and over, daily, as I trekked. I also thanked Him for good health and for His provision. Without God’s provision Climbing For Christ would not exist and would not have made its 17th expedition to Nepal.
Our team then shared their gratitude: Jordan was thankful for answered prayers, Brandy for the prayers to reach unreached people, Matthew for the service and humility of our Nepali teammates, Eduard for God blessing him with a gift for a baby, and Corey for recognizing how blessed he is and how we need to use our God-given gifts to glorify Him.
I condensed the message I preached two weeks ago at Megh’s church on “The Community of Christ.” I encouraged them to obey God, not man – and share Jesus with everyone.
This was the last task of Mission: Nepal 2019, Part 2. The team now departs on three different flights in the late afternoon and evening, sent off by Tej and Megh, heading for home. Praying for uneventful travel and thinking about all God has done during this wonderful trip.
Friday, Nov. 15
The kids at SARA Children’s Home with our team. (Photo by Gary Fallesen)
We delivered well wishes from our homes in the United States, Canada, and Hungary to the kids at Pastor Tej’s SARA Children’s Home outside of Kathmandu. These are our Project 1:27-sponsored children, who we are blessed to visit a couple times a year. (Note: We’ll soon be adding four new children in need of sponsors to our Project 1:27 page.)
This time the children were given physical check-ups by Dr. Matthew, Brandy, and Dr. Eduard. Overall, the health of the children is good – although there is a serious need for dental attention (rotten teeth needing to be pulled and cavities filled). We’ll address this in the future.
Gifts were handed out, letters of encouragement written again by students in Houghton, NY were delivered, and photos were taken of each child. We talked about what my wife Elaine taught them during Mission: Nepal 2019, Part 1 in February. And, of course, we were entertained with several Nepali dances – mostly by the younger children.
Brandy reminded the children how much they are loved by God and Sunil spoke for the children in thanking us for our visits and support. They are a very special group of children.
Thursday, Nov. 14
Tsum Valley. (Photo by Gary Fallesen)
We finished the 11-day trek with a local jeep ride back to the area closed by the Nepali military. The roads were repaired from landslide damages the past 10 days while we were hiking, but the government is still not letting outside vehicles in. Our Kathmandu driver was waiting for us past the checkpoint, which we hiked another mile to get around.
We said our goodbyes and thanks to Samuel, Amar and Bhuddi, who hiked back over the hills in the lower Manaslu area to their homes about four or five hours away.
In what is typical for Nepal, our five-hour ride back to Kathmandu lasted nearly eight hours with traffic creeping along between 0 and 30 mph on the “highway.” There is only one main (two-lane) road in and out of Kathmandu valley and it is usually clogged with trucks, buses, and four-wheel-drive vehicles. But we made it safely. Megh then took the team out for celebratory pizza.
I shared with them the incredible statistics from our trek: 10 days, 95 miles, and more than 46,000 feet in vertical gain. In other words, we climbed Mount Everest 1 ½ times. We praise God for giving us the strength and drive to survey the Tsum Valley. Our sense, as we completed this trek, is that this is only the beginning. We will be praying into this and seeing what God desires for us to do.
Wednesday, Nov. 13
Megh starts the day by giving “The Treasure” to a mother with her baby. He also shared several treasures with a believer on her way up the valley. She can share with others. (Photo by Gary Fallesen)
We hiked the last stretch - another seven miles in less than three hours - to more or less finish the 10-day trek at around 95 miles (150 kilometers). Day 11 will involve local jeeps and some walking to get us to our Jeep ride back to Kathmandu.
The lower we went the hotter it got and the busier the trails became - with trekkers, mule trains, and locals hauling all sorts of loads up to their villages. The mountain bikers were gone, but today we saw trail runners heading up. For many, this place is a target for adventure, a way to push personal limits. For us, it is a path to reach people in need of saving. Some seek thrills, we seek souls.
Tuesday, Nov. 12
Trekking over bridges and along cliff-side trails. (Photos by Gary Fallesen)
Megh spoke encouragement into our walk as we studied Luke 21 and preparing for the Son’s return with a sense of urgency. We cannot force people to accept what we have to offer; we can only GO and share the Good News. That’s what we’ve been doing and continue to do in the Manaslu area and elsewhere in Nepal and to the ends of the earth.
After Megh’s stirring message our team set out again and hiked 4 1/2 miles in two hours back to Jagat, where Eduard and Matthew again conducted a medical clinic. Among those treated was a baby with pneumonia.
Villagers arrive for medical care.
We prayed for Pastor Ganesh and his wife before setting out once again and completing a 12 1/4-mile descent in less than five hours. We again met the trekker who was ill and Matthew provided more medicine to help him. Legs and bodies are weary from trekking almost 90 miles in nine days over rugged terrain.
Monday, Nov. 11
Looking back toward the Tsum Valley. (Photos by Gary Fallesen)
We waited for other trekkers and, believe it or not, mountain bikers to clear out of the guesthouse so Megh could speak again to the owner about our Father. This was the man who, along with his son, showed great interest when we stayed at his guesthouse on the way up the valley. We’d left “The Treasure” with him and he’d listened to the audio telling of the Gospels in Tibetan.
Did he want to become the first follower (to the best of our knowledge) in the valley?
He was interested, but scared to make the leap of faith alone in a Buddhist stronghold. “He's 70 percent of the way there,” Megh said. We prayed with him before again hitting the trail.
We descended back into the forest and out of Tsum Valley, covering 11 2/3 miles in 5 1/2 hours of mostly downclimbing.
Megh hikes past villagers cutting grass for livestock this winter in the Tsum Valley, where it will be very cold and snowy up high.
We stopped for lunch in the village where we’d stayed our third night. Megh gave “The Treasure” to a local government leader, who was pleased to receive it. Megh also instructed Matthew to give another one to a man passing us on the trail. More seed scattered.
We will continue to pray for those who have heard as we keep walking many miles the next two days to leave the Manaslu area. Other divine appointments likely await.
Sunday, Nov. 10
High up in the Tsum Valley. (Photo by Gary Fallesen)
We presented the lady of the guesthouse and a neighbor with Tibetan audio Bibles before setting out from the last villages in the Tsum Valley. The woman, whose husband was away at market a three-day hike across the China border, was very friendly and open to our visit.
The long walk out began with a 13 1/4-mile descent covering the past two days in 5 1/2 hours. We left the cold and hiked back into the sun-bathed warmth.
Along the way, we stopped in the village we’d visited the previous day. Matthew and Eduard treated a pregnant woman who was sick and Matthew and Megh gave her “The Treasure” audio Bible. She warmly sent us down the trail, like the woman at the guesthouse, with a scarf and a “see you again.” If that is God’s will, it will happen.
Megh showing woman treated by Dr. Matthew how to listen to the solar-powered audio Bible. (Photo by Jordan Rowley)
We have viewed this trek as a seed-scattering expedition from the start. We are only beginning to “engage in business until I come,” as we read from Luke 19:13 in our daily Spirit Walk study yesterday. The valley is spiritually desolate with no believers.
We have encountered two other Christian groups trekking here. Both helicoptered in to shorten their hikes. Our little ministry cannot afford such luxuries – so, by God’s power, we have walked more than 65 miles through the first seven days. We trust this gives us more opportunities for divine appointments.
Our team descended narrow, dusty trail in the warmth of the day. (Photo by Gary Fallesen)
Saturday, Nov. 9
Sunrise over a dark village. May the Son’s light shine here. (Photos by Gary Fallesen)
We reached the end of our route, high up in the Tsum Valley. It was a 51-mile walk, which began on Monday. We ascended to the last villages in the valley, not too long a walk from the China border, and then divided to conquer this spiritually oppressed land.
Samuel and the crew took Corey and Eduárd another 1 ½ hours up the valley to visit a monastery, while Megh led the rest of us on a prayer walk through the last two villages situated at about 11,000 feet.
The last village in the Tsum Valley.
This is our summit. Starting tomorrow, we turn back and retrace our steps. We will cover in four days what took six to get here, stopping along the way to deliver “The Treasure” (Tibetan audio Gospel stories) as the Spirit leads.
Friday, Nov. 8
Megh translates as Eduárd, left, gives the parents a snowsuit. (Photos by Gary Fallesen)
Eduárd was shopping for things for this trip in his hometown of Debrecen, Hungary when he saw a snowsuit for a baby. The Spirit moved him to buy it and pack it with his trekking gear and medicines. When he saw that the son of the guesthouse owner where we were staying Thursday night had a little baby, he knew that’s who the snowsuit was meant for. The guesthouse owner and the son had sat with us, listening with interest as Megh talked about Jesus Thursday night.
We are being cautious about sharing on the outward leg of this long trek. The government has eyes here.
But when the guesthouse owner heard Megh playing a pocket audio version of the Gospels in Tibetan, called “The Treasure,” he asked for it. This opened the door. We pray for opening of hearts - in this family, that village, and through the Tsum Valley. Buddhism has a stranglehold on this area.
When we were leaving the guesthouse, Eduárd presented the snowsuit to the baby’s parents. A gift from above.
Megh gives “The Treasure” to a man treated by Eduárd on the trail.
We then began a seven-mile hike that took nearly four hours of walking time as we ascended to the next village at about 10,000 feet. Along the way, a divine appointment that Jordan had prayed for this morning: a man on the trail with a deep cut in his hand from a fall. Eduárd treated him and Megh presented him with “The Treasure”. Jordan prayed for him and we left the man with a big smile on his face.
May more smiles be seen in this land. We did a prayer walk in the physical and spiritual darkness of the next village as storm clouds surrounded the mountains looming nearby and night set in. Praying for a new day in Nepal.
Thursday, Nov. 7
A bridge attached to the mountainside (above) took us along the river (below), which we descended to and ascended from repeatedly. (Photos by Gary Fallesen)
We set out from one village toward our next stop, descending to the river, climbing up more than 1,000 feet, descending back to the river, and climbing again. Welcome to Nepal trekking. Steep ups and downs with plenty of things to see: from beautiful butterflies to monkeys in the forest to spectacular mountain views at every turn.
We hiked for 3 1/2 hours, covering more than six miles, and arrived at the next village. After a late lunch, we went for a prayer walk. We climbed above the village and sat in a field. There were 12 of us (five Nepalis, three Americans, two Canadians, one Hungarian, and Jesus). After our daily study in Luke (chapter 17 today), we prayed for this Buddhist stronghold and the Tsum Valley.
I shared with this special group something I’d written for our Board of Directors’ Annual Celebrations (in Canada and the States):
“GOD IS ON THE MOVE. In Deuteronomy 1:7, Moses tells how God gave the command to leave Mount Sinai. “It is time to break camp and move on. Go to the hill country of the Amorites and to all the neighboring regions – the Jordan Valley, the hill country, the western foothills…” He continues in verse 8, “Look, I am giving all this land to you! Go in and occupy it…”
That’s what God is saying to us. Go. Occupy. “Don’t be shocked or afraid of them!” He said in Deuteronomy 1:28-29. “The LORD your God is going ahead of you. He will fight for you.” He is asking: “Do you trust Me?”
I thought of these words on our flights to Nepal. I was studying the Word. In my Study Bible, I read: “The territory being divided by Israel in Joshua 13:7 was mostly ‘unconquered.’ What are our unconquered lands? They may be overseas missions… What territory has God given you to conquer?”
In my prayer journal, I felt led by the Spirit to answer: “Tsum Valley! God has gone before us and prepared the way.”
There were amens all around. And with that we prayed.
Climbing toward our next village and the Ganesh Himal (Ganesh mountain range).
We are where God told us to GO. We plan to occupy this land spiritually. The One who created the incredible mountains all around us made these people in HIS image, and now He is reclaiming them in the name of His Son, Jesus.
Wednesday, Nov. 6
Matthew prays for a man who suffered a stroke. (Photos by Gary Fallesen)
The day began with a medical clinic for about two dozen sick members of Pastor Ganesh’s church in Jagat, and the distribution of audio Bibles. The brothers who are serving with us from Samuel’s church helped explain the audio Bibles. Samuel is Megh’s dear cousin, who has been a part of four expeditions.
Samuel, Amar and Buddhi are also acting as porters, carrying our heavy duffels while we carry only daypacks. They are a blessing to us. Samuel and Buddhi participated in Mission: Nepal 2019, Part 1 in February.
I lift my eyes up to the mountains (in this case 7,000-meter Chamar, above). Where does my help come from? It comes from the Lord, who helped us arrive in Tsum Valley (below).
When the work was finished in Jagat, we hit the trail. It was five hours of walking as we covered another 12 miles. The last hour saw us ascending into Tsum Valley. This is where God directed this expedition more than a year ago. We will be in this remote corner of Nepal for the next week (Photo below).
Tuesday, Nov. 5
Jordan crossing a long suspension bridge at the start of the day. (Photos by Gary Fallesen)
We made the long ascent up a river valley with walls so steep there was no cell phone, satellite phone or GPS signal. It was sunny and hot with the familiar smell of mule dung. But all around us was the magnificence of HIS creation - towering waterfalls, a raging river, and snow-covered peaks in the distance.
The deep river valley leading to the high Himalayas.
It took seven hours of walking to reach Jagat, where a pastor lives. The first hour took us to the planned dropoff point, made inaccessible to our Jeep on Monday. This meant an extra 7.5 miles of hiking. That also marked an end to the retracing of our steps from February, when we exited the way we came in this time. We'd explored the opposite side of the river in the lower Manaslu area. Now we are heading to the upper reaches.
After more than 15 miles of hiking we arrived, thankful to the One who gives us strength. We know that apart from Him we can do nothing (John 15:5).
Approaching the village of Jagat late in the day.
We began the day in Luke 15 and talked about GO-ing to find the one lost sheep. We prayed to the Good Shepherd to use us to find the lost in these rugged, remote mountains. I confess that Monday was frustrating and we give thanks for a new day and new opportunities.
The day was spent mostly walking, but the doctors (Matthew and Eduárd) treated a sick German trekker, Matthew had an encounter with a person of peace (Luke 10:6) and gave him a Tibetan audio Bible, and we even took a break at a coffee house making local coffee on the trail. Our coffee server was a Christian, one of several we encountered today.
Monday, Nov. 4
Our team in transport: (back row, left to right) Jordan, Megh, Eduárd, (middle row) Matthew, Brandy, Corey, and (front) Gary.
An unexpected hike in the rain on Day 1 of the trek.
Today was intended to be a long, bumpy Jeep ride from Kathmandu to the jumpoff point for our trek into the Manaslu area. the ride was long and bumpy, as usual, but it ended abruptly before our destination. The road (so called) was closed by the government because it was deemed impassable.
So off went the sandals and on went the hiking boots. A little bonus 4.5-mile walk uphill to start the 11-day trek. It also started to rain right where we had to get out of the vehicle. And so it begins.
We praise God for sending us here. By plane, Jeep, and foot.
Sunday, Nov. 3
Showing us the way: Megh, lower right, points to places on the map where our team will trek over the next 11 days. Eduárd, left, Brandy and Gary look on. (Photo by Jordan Rowley)
Jordan and I decided to follow Megh’s suggestion to continue the Spirit Walk as we walk the trails in the Manaslu area in the days ahead. We covered seven more chapters in the Gospel of Luke, each taking a turn reading and then allowing for group discussion. We have read through Chapter 14 and will read a chapter a day during the next 10 days.
As Megh read from Chapter 13, I envisioned the church in Nepal:
“Then Jesus said, ‘What is the Kingdom of God like? How can I illustrate it? It is like a tiny mustard seed that a man planted in a garden; it grows and becomes a tree, and the birds make nests in its branches.’
“He also asked, ‘What else is the Kingdom of God like? It is like the yeast a woman used in making bread. Even though she put only a little yeast in three measures of flour, it permeated every part of the dough.’” – Luke 13:18-21 (NLT)
The church here started out small, like a tiny mustard seed or the little bit of yeast used to make bread, and it is growing larger and larger still. Our prayer is that we may witness more growth in the days ahead.
PRAY ON! Today is the International Day of Prayer for the Persecuted Church. Join us in praying for Nepal, which ranks 32nd on the Open Doors World Watch List. (CLICK HERE for the complete 2019 World Watch List.) Most Christian persecution in Nepal comes from radical Hindu groups who want to see the country return to the Hindu kingdom it was until being declared a Federal Democratic Republic in 2008. The Hindu movement is closely associated with southern neighbor India.
A new constitution in 2015 limited the freedom of religion and anti-conversion laws went into effect in October 2017. There is no legal recognition of churches in Nepal. We lifted the persecuted church here and around the world during our Spirit Walk.
Saturday, Nov. 2
We celebrated Nepal’s Sabbath (Saturday) in worship at Megh’s Milap church in Kathmandu. I was honored to preach a message called “The Community of Christ.” It was intended to encourage a church facing persecution (anti-conversion laws) by urging them to stand together and alongside one another. The early church started that way (Acts 2:42-47) and the church today should walk with brothers and sisters – no matter how far away we might be physically – in suffering and in gladness (1 Corinthians 12:26).
We need to focus on eternal matters, not safety and comfort. Even if this means we run afoul of authorities and their earthly rules. As Peter and the apostles said, “We must obey God rather than any human authority” (Acts 5:29). That’s because God is the ultimate authority.
After worship, we enjoyed a home-cooked meal at Megh’s house. His wife Bhim and son Subash made us chicken, rice, and more momos than we could eat.
We then began our two-day “Spirit Walk,” the kickoff to every Evangelic Expedition, based on the late Steve Smith’s book of the same name. We are studying the Gospel of Luke as a team. We read through the first seven chapters together.
There was much prayer throughout the day as our team lifted this trip, this country, this time to the One who will be glorified.
“Because of God’s tender mercy, the morning light from heaven is about to break upon us, to give light to those who sit in darkness and in the shadow of death, and to guide us to the path of peace.” – Luke 1:78-79 (NLT)
Friday, Nov. 1
The team came together this evening in Kathmandu after Corey Slider (Pittsburgh, PA), Jordan Rowley and I flew in from the States, meeting up with Eduárd Nitkovszki (Hungary) in Doha, Qatar. Canadians Brandy and Matthew Fisher (Beaver Mines, AB) were waiting for us, having arrived Thursday night – albeit without their luggage. The Fishers’ bags landed this afternoon. We also landed in the afternoon but didn’t emerge from the airport until evening. It took us more than three hours to get through immigration; I never saw so many people in line for visas.
The line forms … where?! This is all the same line, snaking across immigration at the Kathmandu airport. This line was to pay for the visa. There was another line before paying in front of kiosks to provide visa information and then after the paying line to get your actual visa. (Photo by Gary Fallesen)
Ministry partner Pastor Tej Rokka and our Nepali kingdom worker Megh Gurung also were waiting for us outside the airport. They drove us to the hotel, where we thanked God for everyone’s safe arrival, including all the luggage. We lifted the days ahead to HIS glory. May we walk in HIS ways.
Trekking into Manaslu. (Photo by Gary Fallesen)
Megh Gurung met Climbing For Christ in 2008 when he was serving with another ministry. Our team was on its way to Everest Base Camp and spent four days helping Megh’s team do medical clinics in the villages of Phakding, Namche and Thamo. That was C4C’s first Nepal expedition.
“I was able to keep in touch with the late Jim Doenges (who led Mission: Nepal 2008) and he introduced me with the precious man of God, Gary Fallesen,” Megh said in sharing our HIStory in Nepal.
“Since 2012 I am working with C4C. C4C is reaching unreached people groups and going where there was no missionary working in Nepal. C4C built church buildings in the remote areas and is planting churches in the different tribe groups. (We are) distributing audio Bibles among the people groups, and through the electronic devices people are converting by listening (to the Word).
“Since 2010 C4C is doing a wonderful work in Nepal. We can see many fruits in the different corners of Nepal. In Humla (in the northwest corner of the country). In Rolpa (in the Mid-West). In Dhading, where C4C raised the funds for relief for victims of (the 2015) earthquake. In Pokhara (where Climbing For Christ hopes to build a church and evangelism training center).”
Now we trek into the Tsum Valley in the Manaslu area, where the 2015 earthquake left people living in tent villages. This remote area is considered unreached. Thousands of Tsum people call it home, isolated from the world. They are 100 percent Buddhist.
Megh, who has served as our Kingdom worker in Nepal since May 2017, will again guide an international team, consisting of three Americans (Jordan Rowley, Corey Slider, and me), two Canadians (Brandy and Matthew Fisher), and one Hungarian (Eduárd Nitkovszki). Please pray for this team as we do “the good things He planned for us long ago” (Ephesians 2:10). This will be our 17th Evangelic Expedition to Nepal, including a trek into the lower Manaslu area earlier this year on Mission: Nepal 2019, Part 1.
“Highest God,” Megh prayed, “glorify Yourself from the highest place through Climbing For Christ in the Himalaya region in Nepal.” And all God’s people say, “Amen!”
CLICK HERE for our Mission: Nepal 2019, Part 2 Prayer Bulletin.