Traveling internationally is quite an adventure! I did not know what to expect of traveling alone and I was slightly nervous; however, I soon found myself enjoying all the little details and watching people from many nationalities.
By the time I finally landed in Nepal I was tired, dirty and could barely feel my feet from how much they were swollen. Going through customs was an adventure in and of itself. There were no instructions of what all I needed to do. I knew I needed to fill out the application, but every time I went up to the desk the man would tell me of something else I needed. I remember thinking, "Why doesn't he give me a list of these things to do and I'll do them all before coming back up there?"
Baggage claim and going through security was chaotic. There was a man rattling off instructions for security, but it was all in Nepali. This was the first real instance of a language barrier for me. Finally, after much confusion, I made it outside of the airport where I would wait for my missionary contact. It was much darker than I was expecting and I was flooded with men asking me if I needed a taxi. Once they realized I was not going to use their services they pushed me behind the crowd of people waiting.
"You have friend coming?" They would ask.
"You wait here." And they would motion for me to step behind the crowds. More than once they told me to move. I remember wondering if April would be able to find me.
It wasn't long until I did see her coming my way. We drug our bags through the puddles and over the rockey parking lot. After a little elbow grease, we got all of it in the car. We made our way to their apartment (on the "wrong" side of the road) and they got to unpack the bag of goodies from family and friends. It wasn't long before I was ready for a good shower and sleep.
They have a good view from their apartment. I remember commenting on how nice it was to see the "mountains", and then being corrected that the people call what I was seeing "hills". I very much enjoyed watching the people plant rice. They do almost all of it by hand. In the states we hear how much we take our conveniences for granted, but we don't fully comprehend what that means. Now, after being here for just a short three weeks I see how much I really do take for granted.
The most common question I have been asked is, "What has shocked you the most." I have found this very difficult to answer because I came not knowing what to expect. However, I come from a very busy lifestyle and the slower paced lifestyle here was the most unexpected. The people here go from sun-up to sun-down and then their day is generally done. They do and make almost everything by hand. And, traffic is so bad that going out to do anything very easily could take up most of your day.
Recently, my pastor has placed a lot of emphasis on praying for the safety of our missionaries. I have always prayed for their physical, emotional, and spiritual safety. But, after seeing the dangers of simply crossing the road, or even driving through traffic, I understand even more the importance of praying for their physical safety. After seeing and hearing of a spiritual warfare that we don't understand in America, I can see how vital it is to pray for their spiritual safety.
For example, we were riding in a taxi and their almost four-year-old daughter asks about a little idol setting on the dash. In America, little Budhas and other religious symbols are often just a decoration, and doesn't mean anything to the person who has it on display. But for this taxi driver, and for the majority of the people here, this really is an idol. Can you imagine being faced with this on a regular basis and your little girl, who continually asks "why this?" and "why that?", asks, "Mommy, look at that elephant (this specific idol had an elephant head) up there, why does he have it up there?" If this were you, how would you respond? Before this trip, I thought I knew how to pray for our missionaries, but in reality, I had no idea what they face. I may still not fully comprehend their needs, but I understand the pressing need to pray for them.
Some of my favorite things you ask? I have thoroughly enjoyed spending time with this missionary family. They have been so welcoming, kind, and helpful. I came hoping to be a blessing, but in return I have been the one who was blessed.
A couple other favorites. I love the natural food! April has made American dishes, but the flavor is unreal. No preservatives. Fresh produce is exactly that, fresh. They don't spray their crops, they don't enhance their chickens with anything, she has to pasteurize her own milk. With this blessin, however, comes much added work; hence the slower lifestyle. I have also enjoyed seeing and getting to know their church family. This is another matter of prayer. People in America may be faced with some opposition from family after becoming a Christian, but here once they have made this decision they are basically losing not only their family and friends, but even their sense of community.
I could keep going, but the greatest thing I have learned is the importance of understanding the culture and lifestyle of the people to which you are ministering. The McTagues have observed the culture, the religion and lifestyle of their people and through this God has enabled them to better reach the people. I can tell you this, I will go back to America with the goal of re-observing the people in my hometown, to better understand them and reach out to them. I can't focus on results, just simply trust God and do what He has commanded, leaving the results up to Him. Another valuable lesson I have learned is the importance of a balanced scheduled. Knowing what God expects for me to accomplish and being ok with not always accomplishing what "I" think or others think I should accomplish.
Even if you never get the opportunity to go visit a missionary on their field, take time to get to know them. They are normal people in an land full of the unfamiliar, simply obeying God.
Malissa, is a faithful Christian at our home church in Nepal. Last year she requested to come visit us this summer. We thoroughly encouraged her to make the visit. While I didn't know her extremely well personally I expected a good visit. But it far exceeded my expectations. It was a wonder visit; full of blessings, encouragement, lots of chats and plenty of I Love Lucy:) I was excited to hear her perspective on visiting Nepal. I hope you will enjoy her Birdseye view of our little country of Nepal.