Makwanpur is a district in south Nepal that has lots of steep hills and many rivers. During the monsoon season [June 15-Sept 30] it is hills of mud and flooding rivers. Three of our students live in this district. Gajendra [school director] and I visited their three villages recently. There is no way to properly convey the experience. If you ever need to count your blessings and gain some humility, visit Makwanpur.
Over a period of five days, visiting 8-10 homes, in 3 villages I never saw one piece of furniture, except for some rough wood frame beds with wood slats. The quilts and pillows, the beds, and the straw mats that we sat on were all home made. The very few toys for the children were all home made. The homes are made with local rocks that are “cemented” together and then finished with a mixture of dirt, sand, cow dung, and water. Everything is home made except for the nails, hinges, windows, tin for the roof, and some tools and cooking pots/utensils.
Silinge has a government school. Jeet lives in Silinge so his children don’t have far to go. Suka’s children have to walk a total of 2 ½ hours every day to and from school. Dev Kumar’s children walk 3 ½ hours each day.
They have chickens, goats, pigs, and grow their own food. They will make the 3-5 hours hike down the hills, crossing the rivers, and sell their animals and vegetables for spending money, and make the return hike. Many do this 3-4 times a week. Each of us have a pair of shoes or a jacket that costs more than all their clothes.
They are poor by worldly standards …… BUT …… they are rich in friendship and hospitality. The church is growing in these hills. With 3 very fine Christian men ready to graduate it should mature and grow for years to come.
The trip begins early Thursday with a four-hour ride in an Indian made four-wheel drive regular size vehicle with ten passengers and the driver. Cozy! Then you have a 45 minute ride in a van that I call a “sardine can”. We had 19 people “stacked” in a gutted out van the size of a passenger sedan. The people were delightful.
Now you begin the 4-5 hour walk. You begin in the riverbed of the Rapti River. Walking the riverbed means that you wade across the river 11 times over about 1 ½ hours. This time of year the river is ankle to knee deep. In July it will be waist deep, and shoulder deep in September. Next, and last for the day, is the 3 hour trek [hike] up, down, and up the hills. You reach Maishirang, which is where Dev Kumar lives with his wife, three children, parents, and much family and friends. His six year old daughter, Premika, came with him to meet us before the river crossings. She gives new meaning to “cute”. The rivers and the hills were her territory. I was sweating, huffing and puffing the last hour [or more] going up [2,500 feet elevation gain] while she was prancing like a mountain goat. Gajendra asked her if she was tired and she replied, “Only a little. It is our habit”. We provided the money for a church building here about 7 years ago.
Friday it was back down to the river, cross it 11 more times going back, another ride in a sardine can” [14 passengers], and begin the trek up the Lother River. This was shorter, but we still crossed the river 7 times and had to climb over some extended rock piles [land slides]. This time it was only 45 minutes up the hills to Suka’s home. He and his wife have two children. We hiked back down to the river to take a bath, wash clothes, and refresh ourselves. “It is our habit”. Then back to Suka’s. Each evening was a devotional in a different home.
The next day we began our climb at 6:00 AM and reached Silinge two hours later. Breakfast [hardboiled egg, beans, and tea] and the Bible classes began at 9:00 AM. Classes all day Saturday. We provided the materials for a church building here about 5 years ago. Sunday we had worship service in Silinge, had lunch, and began the 2 hour trek [downhill and no rivers] to Khankhare. A 15 minute trip to a river to get refreshed was fantastic. We had evening worship in Khankhare. They desperately need a building here.
Monday was going home day. We crossed one river one time and hiked 1.5 hours to where we could catch the “bus”. The “bus” turned out to be a tractor pulling a metal two-wheel trailer half full of bags of rice and corn. It was a very bumpy two hour ride. My tailbone is still tender a week later. Then we had the five-hour ride in a minivan, which took us home by a different route.
My sore muscles and a couple of blisters [sandals crossing rivers] made it home in one piece. I am very happy I went. I am equally ashamed that it was the first time I have been there. Each day was a blessing for me. I also believe the time of Gajendra, Jeet, Dev, Suka, and me working together was a benefit for the churches in Makwanpur. Please know that your prayers, your support, and you personally are also part of that spiritual benefit and encouragement.