Jane Doyle, from Belfast, Northern Ireland, writes about her family's trip to Nepal with the Kathmandu 2015 Christmas HOPE Youth Corps.
This is the story of my family trip with HOPE worldwide to Kathmandu, Nepal at Christmas 2015. Our family consists of my husband Daniel, our two girls Hannah (15) and Sian (13), and our son Rory (10).
Even though we had wanted to go on one of these HOPE worldwide trips for a few years, when God opened the door for our family to serve in Kathmandu, the reality of it brought up fears in me, and challenges that only faith in God could overcome.
First of all, I am ashamed to say that I was tempted to think about what else we could spend the money on, if we did not go on the trip. I could feel a pull on my heart to want to use the money to serve our own needs rather than on traveling to help the poor. I knew that this would be empty and unsatisfying. It was really a decision for us to trust God, when he said that "whoever refreshes others will be refreshed." Personally, I didn't go this trip because I loved the poor, but because I wanted to learn to have a compassionate heart like Jesus towards those in need, and it was important for me and my husband to help our children with this also. To me this was more valuable than anything money could buy.
A large challenge for us was that our two daughters were incredibly unhappy about missing Christmas at home, and didn't want to go. It was a real challenge for us to trust God, and have the faith to make this decision for them, not knowing how they would respond to the trip. As a mum, I also had fears that the kids could get sick going to a developing country.
A month before we went to Kathmandu we decided as a family to do a 10-mile sponsored swim to raise money to help support HOPE worldwide's work in Kathmandu. This was so encouraging to see how generous people were, and see people's hearts to want to support the work in Nepal. God helped us to raise approximately £3,000 (approximately $4,250 USD), which is more than we could have asked or imagined. I had the complete blessing of helping use some of the money that people gave us to help meet needs in Kathmandu. So many people are still in temporary accommodation since the earthquake eight months ago. They live in small corrugated tin huts, and the temperatures are very low at night in winter. We bought blankets and had the blessing of distributing them to these people. We discovered later on that night that 26 people died in another area due to the cold. I didn't realize how desperately they needed these blankets until I heard that news.
We were also able to buy and distribute school jumpers and other uniform to kids in the school that needed them. We bought badly needed classroom equipment and a freezer for the school. It was great to be able to let people know how their money had been used. True to his word, where Jesus said, "Let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your father in heaven," I heard God's name being praised simply by stepping out in faith to do these good deeds that he had orchestrated in advance. All of this inspired, encouraged and built our faith. Raising money raised awareness of our trip, and opened so many doors to us sharing our faith. It inspired me to see what an impact deciding to love and help the poor had.
As a family, we helped teach classes in the school while the teachers received training from one of our volunteers. I had a lot of concerns about what I would be able to give, and how I could help - and I knew that if I was feeling this way that my children would be feeling it more. Again, through stepping out in faith God used us. My girls loved teaching the nursery children who had an insatiable appetite for high fives and hugs. They also helped me to teach the tin whistle, to make bracelets out of loom bands, and play lots of games. All of these things were out of our comfort zone, but the whole experience helped us to grow in our confidence in God to step out in faith, and allow God to worry about the details. They were victories for our kids and us.
My husband helped to build an extra room in the school and in the afternoons taught 14-year-olds to build web sites. The power cuts which are just part of daily life in Kathmandu sometimes caused obstacles which they managed to find ways around. These things also helped us to appreciate the things that we take for granted in the UK.
Our Christmas day was so special, as we helped organize a party for the children from the school. It really struck my 10-year-old son that the children were so grateful and excited for the small presents that we gave each of them. Also, my children were impacted at how happy the school kids were with a lot less and by the warmth and welcome that the children gave them every day. It definitely made me think that it is the poor that are the blessed ones rather than us, with all our material possessions, which I think a lot of the time only make us more dissatisfied and greedy. In Luke it talks about how God fills the hungry with good things, but has sent the rich away empty. Seeing the joy of these people helped me understand this.
A huge highlight for us as a family was to spend time all day everyday with disciples for two weeks. It was like a taste of heaven being together. My kids’ favorite thing about the trip was the friendships they made. They are so excited about meeting their friends again in teen and pre-teen camps, and as families we are planning reunions again soon. Also, we come from a small church in Belfast where there have been no young singles, so it was so encouraging for my girls to spend time with young single godly women each day, who would take them round Kathmandu every evening after work.
I was so moved when one of my daughters, who while being very sick, prayed that God would make her better, so that she could have a quiet time with one of the single girls who had been a great friend to her. This was priceless for us to form strong bonds with the Christians, and see our children do this too. We also loved forming connections with the church in Kathmandu who welcomed us with open arms. We are so grateful for how the disciples in Kathmandu who were working with the HOPE worldwide program sacrificed their time to tirelessly serve us.
It is so hard to express in words what an encouragement to our faith and our souls that Christmas serving with HOPE worldwide in Nepal was. We are strongly considering and trying to figure out how we could make another trip in the future possible. I would so recommend this to anyone who is thinking of doing this.