Before starting the trip, it was my hope that I would make a positive impact for at least one person while trekking the Himalayas. Although I may never know if my presence in those mountains truly changed the life for one of the villagers, I can say with certainty that it changed my life. I think God is funny that way, my intention was to positively change someone else’s life and I found a positive change in my own instead.
Even though I am a father of 3 children and I love kids, I haven’t always been a fan of touching dirty/snotty kids. God totally knew this of me and I believe purposely wanted to change my heart to focus on the person, not the outward appearance or cleanliness. Ironically, on the first day spent with the kids in a village I was the first one who had a child come up – hands raised – wanting me to hold her. I instantly picked her up without hesitation and knew God was speaking to me, softening my heart and showing me what is truly important.
I was continually challenged and taken out of my comfort zone through the rest of the trip. Doing house visits and going into villager’s homes, drinking their coffee and butter tea out of less-than-sanitary cups, caused mild anxiety but also allowed me to experience the people of the mountains on a more intimate level. Seeing how little the average villager lived with but how generous and friendly they were put life into perspective for me.
We are so blessed with things we have and things we have access to in the USA and yet it still seems like we are constantly desiring more. In contrast, the villagers have dirty, cold homes, limited access to clean water, limited or no healthcare, limited varieties of foods, very few clothes and required labor for long hours each day. Even through all that, I was constantly greeted with smiles and well wishes as I passed the villagers or spoke with them.
I pray that God will increase His presence in those mountains and bring the lost souls of those beautiful people into His kingdom. I will never forget the experiences and the scenery, but most of all I will never forget the people. I cannot wait to see what God has planned for the beautiful people of the Himalayas.
Seeing God use my gifts to serve Him halfway around the world is so very humbling. At one of the Tibetan villages in the Himalayas, we held a kids’ program for 50 young children one morning, and then a program for 50 older-aged kids that afternoon. This included teaching about “honesty” through games, skits, object lessons and even dressing up in costumes. Our team all played a part, bringing out principles little taught in the culture. This is a “new way” of thinking for the younger generation as they don’t even have a good translation for the word “honesty” in their language. I’m a believer in the idea of “impact the children — change the culture” and we were privileged to be part of this program.
I was chosen to lead and make the teaching connections throughout the program, partnered with a translator. When it came time for the older kids program, we trekked 30 minutes carrying a blow-up treasure chest, giant earth ball, and a bunch of props, causing quite a stir with the villagers wondering what in the world we were doing. (They had never seen a treasure chest before and one wondered if it was an infant’s bed.)
Starting with bubbles and more bubbles, the kids’ laughter was absolutely infectious. They are dirty-faced, snotty-nosed, beautiful-eyed innocent children, craving attention. Our translator started in the country’s main language, then after a few minutes one of the lead teachers at the school jumped in and translated into the native tongue. He is a young guy, so great with the children, and very respected. (Afterward, we thanked him over and over for his part to play.) The kids were extremely engaged, sitting outside in the cold on a piece of plastic held down from the winds by a few rocks, of course high in the mountains. They attended, participated, laughed and “thanked us for teaching them.”
These children were precious gifts to engage with. We were encouraged by those who live and work among the people in the mountain villages on two things: that relationships are most important; then secondly, the purpose of the teaching. If the children understood love and compassion, if they felt cared for and attended to, if they were touched and hugged, if they were “seen”, then mission accomplished.
Thank you Jesus for allowing us the hours we had with this remote “unreached” people group. (We learned that unreached means under 10% are Christians— in the ages of these children, that would be zero, with no indigenous community of believing Christians with adequate numbers to reach without outside assistance.) We pray that Your love would turn their hearts towards You.
“but Jesus said, ‘Let the little children come to me and do not hinder them, for to such belongs the kingdom of heaven.’ ” Matthew 19:14 ESV