Today is January 10, 2015 – wait! It was just Christmas yesterday, wasn’t it? We’ve been enjoying having our daughter, Hannah, with us for a couple of weeks over her Christmas break from KISC (Kathmandu International Study Center). She arrived in Tansen on Dec. 24 – bringing her new pet, Bugsy Malone. We have enjoyed having the little bunny hopping around on our balcony these past few weeks.
The week before Christmas, Les and I made a quick trip in and out of KTM in order to see the KISC Christmas pageant for which Hannah was music director. It was a wonderful musical program called, “Angels Alert”. We were so happy to be able to see Hannah doing a great job leading the children and to enjoy the show.
These days in KTM, there are a lot more “commercial Christmas” trappings than ever before. There are stores with Christmas trees, stockings and other decorations for sale – and one store had a big Santa in the window in a sleigh! However, out in Tansen, we found only one small store which had a few small Christmas trees and some lights for sale. We are happy with this – we much prefer the non-commercial side of Christmas. The Hospital Christian Fellowship plans outreach programs in the hospital – there is carol singing in the wards, and each patient is given some fruit and a small gift…. also there is a special “tea” offered for all the hospital staff on one day. The different departments are invited throughout the day to come to a big room to enjoy a cup of sweet tea and some snacks. The HCF members are there to share about why we are celebrating Christmas! It’s always a nice day.
The expat team has its own celebrations – we eat together at the guest house and enjoy a western type meal including roast chicken, mashed potatoes and gravy, sweet potato soufflé, stuffing, and various vegetables and salads. We all bring desserts to share – and we enjoy a tasty cup of hot roselle juice (roselle is edible hibiscus – and this year we grew our own in Tansen!). After dinner, we enjoyed some games (including Christmas carol Bingo and Pass the parcel) and we had a gift exchange, as well.
The church plans a big program for Christmas Day. We started to gather around 11 am, and there was time to sing and pray. When we arrived just before 11, there were probably already 200 children sitting in the front of the church. Throughout the morning, the numbers continued to grow – and we estimated between 500 – 600 people were there when we left about 1:30. There were so many there wasn’t room for everyone in the building. The program actually continued until around 2:30, and then there was food served – Nepali style rice, curried vegetables, spicy meat, etc. They actually had to cook several times as there wasn’t enough food for everyone first time round! This was the same at the other large church in town we learned later. What an amazing problem to have – too many people at church on Christmas day! We pray that the many seekers who came that day will have had seeds planted that will come to fruit!
Christmas is actually a National Holiday now in Nepal – has been for the past couple of years only. So, the govt offices were closed – as was the hospital. But it is only a one day holiday, and the western New Year is not celebrated here in Nepal (the new year here is in April.) So – we just had our “break” this past week.
We traveled to Pokhara for a few days with Hannah – the distance by road is about 120 km (75 miles), but there isn’t a straight portion for the entire distance! We went from curve to curve for 4 hours – and only one of us threw up once….but we were all feeling quite nauseated on the trip over! Fortunately we were fine once we arrived, and we enjoyed a beautiful couple of days. It was a much needed rest.
I’ve included a couple of shots from our time in Pokhara – we especially enjoyed good food, beautiful mountain views, and some time on the lake in a paddle boat. (You pedal it yourself!) Les decided the wind was good – and made it into a “sail boat!” (And the trip back to Tansen was better…. although Hannah went right to KTM on a nice, big tourist bus!)
Thanks to so many of you who mailed cards, or sent emails to us. We pray you had wonderful Christmas celebrations – and we wish you a Happy New Year in 2015. To quote one of our favorite movies, “God Bless Us, Everyone.” (This is from our favorite version of the Dicken’s classic, The Muppet Christmas Carol.)