Dispatches: Nepal 2017
Mission: Nepal 2017, Part 2
By Gary Fallesen, founding president, Climbing For Christ
NOTE: This is Sept. 13-29 trip is the second Evangelic Expedition to Nepal in 2017, our 11th Mission: Nepal in six years, and the 14th overall since 2008. CLICK HERE for Dispatches from Mission: Nepal 2017, Part 1.
Friday, Sept. 29
Our team (left to right, Gary Fallesen, Megh Gurung, Jordan Rowley, Samuel Gurung, Zach Herbert, and Thana) at the top of the Chankheli Pass during our nine-day trek. We covered about 65 miles, ascending more than 16,000 feet and descending nearly 20,000 feet on a trek from the Humla district to the Mugu district. We spent the time hiking between 5,000 and 12,000 feet.
Zack, Jordan and I returned to where we live in the United States today, marking the end to this short-term Evangelic Expedition.
Thursday, Sept. 28
The children of SARA home. (Photos by Gary Fallesen)
We told the children at the Climbing For Christ-sponsored SARA home about our trek and how we were getting ready to start flying back to the States tonight. “I think we saved the best for last,” I said, and Jordan and Zach agreed.
We were blessed by our time with the children who are supported by our Project 1:27. We delivered cards made by the children at the C4C-sponsored orphanage in Malawi, Africa, where we’d taken cards from the Nepali children in June. Jordan sang for the children and they sang (and danced) for us. Zach then told them a story from our trek about meeting the blind man who could see with spiritual eyes, and was an answer to our prayer for a village in need of a church leader.
Jordan leads the children in the singing of a praise song.
I finished our time with the children by sharing how much they are loved by God and us. Watching children who come from non-Christian backgrounds sing praises and pray to the Lord is a moving experience. Especially in light of the growing threat against the church here.
We discussed the work of long-time partner ministry SARA (Savior Alone Redeems Asians) with Pastor Tej and listened to his prayer requests. We then met with C4C missionary Megh to plan Mission: Nepal 2018 and the ongoing work that is growing in the Central, West, Mid-West and Far West regions of this country. We’ll announce 2018 plans soon. Jordan, Zach and I had evening flights out of Kathmandu, thankful again for this time in Nepal.
Wednesday, Sept. 27
We prayed over Samuel before saying our goodbyes. He will return tomorrow to his home village in Phulkharka, where his older cousin Megh became the first believer many years ago and where our mission team in May visited. We lifted Samuel’s family and the church Megh wants him to pastor, which was led by Megh’s older brother before he died this summer.
Our team enjoyed fellowship during the day, including a meal at the venerable Rum Doodle restaurant.
Our second foot goes up in the famous Rum Doodle restaurant in Kathmandu.
The Rum Doodle is famous for meals after Everest climbs and other treks throughout Nepal. Teams sign and hang giant cardboard feet in the restaurant. Climbing For Christ has had a foot since the inaugural mission in 2008 trekked to Everest Base Camp (meeting Megh along the way). Several of our teams have eaten at the Rum Doodle. But the restaurant moved out of Thamel last year and occupies a much smaller space now. The feet were moved, too, and all hang from the ceiling. Unable to find ours among the thousands, we created foot No. 2 (or my left foot) and the five of us signed. It is now hanging for all to see and to glorify our awesome God.
Tuesday, Sept. 26
We prayed over and said our goodbyes to brother Thana, who set out on foot retracing our steps back to his home in Simikot. He will revisit those we were blessed to encounter and share Jesus with during our eight-day trek from Humla into the Mugu district. It will take him five days to cover the nearly 100 kilometers we walked.
On the tarmac at Talcha airstrip, which is perched on a mountainside at 9,000 feet. (Photo by Gary Fallesen)
As Thana started walking we began our air travel. We took a bumpy ride on a 15-passenger prop airplane from Talcha to Nepalgunj and then, after a 4 1/2-hour delay, we jetted from Nepalgunj back to Kathmandu. It took us all day to fly a total of 70 minutes across Nepal. But our reward was a delicious homemade dinner at Megh’s house and our first real showers in 12 days. We are grateful to God for these blessings and safe travel.
Monday, Sept. 25
Rara Lake. (Photo by Gary Fallesen)
It was our “rest day” so we only hiked eight miles today. We caught a Jeep ride up to Rara Lake, the largest lake in Nepal, but still had to walk two miles to get to the water at 10,000 feet. Then we trekked back to where we are staying for the night at Talcha airstrip (elevation 9,000 feet).
We are trying to get out a day early to return to Kathmandu because weather has restricted air travel the past week. It was sunny and only partly cloud today. Praying for the same on Tuesday.
Sunday, Sept. 24
“Steep switchback” is a common term used to describe the Karnali Corridor trekking route that stretches from Humla to the neighboring Mugu district. We finished hiking from one district headquarters (Simikot in Humla) to another (Gamgadhi in Mugu) with a third straight day of those severe switchbacks. We would descend 2,100 vertical feet in 1 3/4 miles then climb 600 feet in less than half a mile, and then do it all over again.
The eighth day of trekking delivered us to Gamghadi, where Pastor Dadhi was waiting to welcome us. Dadhi pastors one of five churches in this town of about 5,000 people. He shepherds 35 of the 150 Christians in this otherwise Hindu town. His church is 13 years old and soon he will move from rented space, where he also operates a momo restaurant, to land he plans to build on. We visited his land and prayed over it and Dadhi. It is a joy to see the encouragement such a simple act (albeit after nearly 60 miles of trekking) can bring believers visited in a remote place.
Saturday, Sept. 23
Our team has witnessed for two mule drivers for the past week. Today, as Basdur (the “boss”) loaded Megh’s duffle on the mule, the On button on an audio Bible in the bag was pushed. Basdur listened about Who created the world and he heard about Jesus being the only way to heaven.
Tonight, after our second longest day of our trekking so far, we did our team devotional. Two locals and the two muleteers, all non-believers, joined us. The study was about Jesus. By the time we were done, Basdur and his co-worker Dirat asked to accept Christ.
All of heaven rejoiced with us!
We are outside the village of Bam, in the district of Mugu. This is our first time in this district.
Zach looking out at Mugu districts from the Chankheli Pass. (Photo by Gary Fallesen)
We left Saththatle in Humla this morning, dropping down for a mile before climbing up to Chankheli Pass at 11,500 feet. It was Zach’s personal high for hiking. Our views were limited because of clouds that have dumped rain throughout the region (and snow farther to the north).
From the pass we made the toughest down-climb I have experienced in 12 expeditions to Nepal, descending steeply for 2 1/2 miles. The hard hiking was made well worthwhile, however, when Basdur and Dirat became our brothers in Christ.
Friday, Sept. 22
We hiked more than 7 miles while climbing nearly 3,000 vertical feet in the steady rain that turned the trail into a quagmire of mud and running water. Arriving at Saththatle, basically an isolated house at 10,200 feet, we watched as a blind man came up the trail from the other direction.
Gnesh is a brother in Christ returning to visit his home village of Darma, where we were yesterday. He fellowshiped with us and may be the answer to our prayer last night for the church at Deuli-Darma. We love witnessing God at work.
Thursday, Sept. 21
Climbing away from the Loti River, which feeds the Karnali. (Photo by Gary Fallesen)
We ascended steeply from the Loti River, which flows into the Karnali, and made our way toward the village of Deuli. As we passed through another village, a man followed us and began speaking with Megh and Thana. We paused on the trail for a water break and the man drank of Living Water. Datta became our brother in Christ. All of heaven rejoiced with us as we prayed with and for Datta.
We finished the five-mile hike, climbing 2,300 feet from the river. In Deuli, we were blessed to worship with a family of three in a tiny house church. Pray for the Deuli-Darma Gospel Church and the great need for this body to shine brightly.
Wednesday, Sept. 20
We prayed for a brother in Christ and for the body of believers in Sarkeghat yesterday, said to be 21, to be a better witness to the Hindu community. Then we set out on another hot day on a 6 1/3 mile trek farther down the Karnali River to a little outpost named Sal Sale. A Christian named Himal (which mean mountain in Nepali) was staying here overnight and rejoiced in meeting six brothers.
We leave the Karnali tomorrow, day five of our trek, and begin to climb. The first 31 1/2 miles has seen us descend nearly 5,000 vertical feet. Over the next three days we will ascend more than 8,000 feet to cross a mountain pass into the next district, all the while seeking to answer divine appointments.
Tuesday, Sept. 19
Sarkeghat, a Hindu village more than 25 miles from our team's starting point in Simikot. (Photo by Gary Fallesen)
We made our shortest and easiest hike so far, following the Karnali River for 6 1/4 miles with no major ascents or descents from Limne to Sarkeghat on our third straight day of hot temperatures. We arrived having been warned that Christians were not respected because of mistakes made by other ministries that had previously visited.
We were greeted with a mix of those who fled the name of Christ and those arguing for Hindu traditions. To all, we merely attempted to show the love of Jesus, and will continue to do so in this remote, rugged stronghold.
Monday, Sept. 18
Two hours into a 7 1/3-mile day of trekking along the Karnali River we encountered a boy in need of some medical care and an older man in need of spiritual healing. Megh treated the boy with the nasty cut on his foot and then began to share about Jesus. This led to the man, Gambir Nepali, accepting Christ.
We rejoiced along with heaven as we prayed with him.
Many came to hear about Jesus before we left the village of Laili in the morning. Five audio Bibles were passed out and we prayed for God to have His way among those people. As we left Laili to hike to Limne, Megh said: “We planted the seed. Someday it will grow.”
We are encouraged and expectant of a harvest – during this trek and in the days that will follow.
Sunday, Sept. 17
On the first day of what promises to be a physically grueling nine-day trek, we covered 11 1/2 miles from Simikot to Laili in unexpectedly warm conditions. We descended steeply from Simikot, which sits perched on a mountainside like so many villages in Humla. As the day progressed we descended thousands of vertical feet down to the Karnali River, which we’ll be following for several days. At mile 9, however, we started climbing back up to reach Laili.
Thana entered the village ahead of us announcing to anyone who would listen that a Christian team was here. He invited everyone to come to the house where we are camped (in tents on a rooftop as usual for Nepal) tomorrow morning to hear the Gospel. We are praying for open hearts willing to seek what we are delivering throughout Humla and into the neighboring district on this long walk.
Saturday, Sept. 16
We were again delayed by airlines, this time by more than three hours on our early morning flight from Nepalgunj to Simikot. We arrived at worship late, but the church was waiting for us.
(Photos by Jordan Rowley)
We shared about faith and encouraged this body of believers to live out theirs bravely and obediently. There are about 50 found souls in the church at Simikot. There are also numerous believers in other villages we have visited. We learned that the mother of a sick baby treated by our Mission: Nepal 2015 team has come to Christ in Takla, a distant village we trekked to the past two years.
It is amazing to witness the growth of the church in a place where only a few knew Jesus when we first landed in 2012. I told our brothers and sisters in Christ that God created a church here from nothing. Once all of them were lost. We discussed Hebrews 11:1, 3 and 6, and how God is at work in and through them. He is producing a church body and provided through Climbing For Christ for the construction of the first house of worship in Humla.
We told them to remain obedient to their faith and God's call on their lives to glorify Him and share Him with others. Until all have heard.
“So you must be brave. Don't give up! God will honor you for obeying Him.” – 2 Chronicles 15:7 (CEV)
Friday, Sept. 15
Battling the usual jetlag after 1 1/2 days of travel across numerous time zones (Jordan and I are 9 hours, 45 minutes ahead of home and Zach is 12:45), we flew today from Kathmandu to Nepalgunj. Ministry partner Pastor Tej, who we saw this morning after he returned from a training not far from Nepalgunj, promised us “scorching” heat. The weather was true to his word.
We are on our way to Humla, but domestic flights (less than one hour each) require an overnight stay in Nepalgunj. We will finish flying early Saturday morning in time to join worship in the church at Simikot.
We are carrying audio Bibles, which we customarily distribute on treks. Security in the Kathmandu airport questioned me when the box of audio Bibles showed up on the x-ray machine. I told them they were gifts for friends. “Not gold?” the man asked. “No,” I told him. What I didn’t tell him was that these Bibles are more precious than gold. The Word we carry is a priceless gift.
Thursday, Sept. 14
Wednesday felt as if everything was moving in slow-motion. We were delayed for 2 1/2 hours taking off at JFK after rising early (or in Zach’s case flying all night) to meet in New York City. The late departure had us landing in Abu Dhabi, UAE at the time our flight to Kathmandu was scheduled to leave. But by the grace of God that flight also was delayed and we made our connection. So, too, did all our luggage, which was a huge praise report.
Megh had been waiting for over an hour for our late-arriving flight. But all was well when we exited the airport and he greeted us with the traditional flower necklace. Welcome back!
Wednesday, Sept. 13
The Americans on the team met at JFK after Zach flew a red-eye from California and Jordan and I made the much easier commute from Rochester, NY. We are underway, flying overseas the rest of today and parts of tomorrow. We are excited to see where the LORD will lead and the work God has prepared for us to walk in.
The approach into the airstrip in the remote northwest corner of Nepal can be unsettling. Particularly when, on our first flight in, the co-pilot was holding up a map to read – and it was upside-down. But this flight is the only way into that part of the country, and we’ve been going there since 2012. Besides, God is our pilot.
As the LORD has taken us into the district of Humla to grow the church from a handful to hundreds, He has shown us many things. One was a route not taken.
It began in 2013, as our little 14-seat, two-propeller plane flew out of Simikot, the district headquarters of Humla. Spiritual coordinator Jordan Rowley looked out the window and saw the countless villages on the mountainsides below. He felt the burden and asked the question: “Who will go there?”
The answer is our Mission: Nepal 2017, Part 2 team, consisting of Jordan, Zach Herbert of southern California, C4C missionary to Nepal Megh Gurung, Nepali brothers in Christ Thana and Samuel, and yours truly. We will follow the Karnali River from Simikot out of Humla into the neighboring district of Magu. We are trekking over terrain we have only flown, using our feet to transport us from one airstrip to the next.
It is both a physical and a spiritual journey. As brother Megh said: “The devil travels up and down the river. It is his stronghold.”
But, as Paul wrote in Romans 8:31, “If God is for us, who can ever be against us?”
CLICK HERE FOR OUR MISSION: NEPAL 2017 (PART 2) PRAYER BULLETIN.