Friday, March 23, 2012


Life has resumed. Classes, volunteering at BRCC, Kids stuff, family stuff, spring break visitors, etc have kept me occupied far too much lately. But I have gotten to catch up with a few dear people about the trip to Nepal and talk through some things that I observed, experienced and learned.

My Mom has a gift of hospitality. She has a natural gift of making people feel welcomed and loved all around her and in her home. It was always remarkable to me how comfortable people are in her presence and home. It's a beautiful gift.

Going to Trust Home was, without a doubt, an experience in being loved. "Love Languages" are still a topic of conversations in Christian circles. It's something I ponder often. If you don't know what it is, a few years ago, someone wrote a book about the ways we express and receive love. For instance, if "Acts of Service" is your primary love language, you express your love best through doing something service oriented for someone or feel loved when someone does an act of service for you (like washing your dishes, your car, or other labor task). Other "love languages" are words of affirmation (spoken or written), quality time (spending time with someone), physical touch, and gifts. Fairly straightforward, I've found that understanding a person's love language and speaking love to them in their own love language will make a person feel loved, appreciated and build a stronger relationship. I believe this is a way that God loves us in Agape love, and the way we are called to love others.

What happens, often though, is that we give in our own love language to the detriment of our loved ones. For instance, two of my most valued love languages currently are gifts and words of affirmation. One of my best friends' love language is primarily quality time. If I were to speak to her only in my love languages, she would never feel loved by me. This is something that happens in relationships and marriages all the time that leave people feeling unappreciated, unloved and left to question the care of the other person.

Interestingly, like I said earlier, when we left the Trust Home, I noticed that there was no love language that Trust Home left out in ministering to us, their guests. What was vastly different about visiting Trust Home is that Trust Home is actually these kids home. It is their 'Mo Mo' (Mom)'s home. So we were their guests. And every step of the way, they wanted to make sure we felt loved. Each of those love languages were touched.

Quality Time? Every waking moment we had, we spent with the kids, they grabbed us by hand, took us to play. MoMo (Dolma) made time for each one of us on the time through her day, would stop to talk to us and give us her full attention. Sometimes, without word, just a presence.

Physical Touch? Yes. The culture of Tibet is naturally not physically affectionate. Men and Women don't touch publicly, etc. But those little kids, they'd jump on your lap, grab your hand, the girls played with our hair. Dolma, sweet Dolma, would put her arm around our waist as we walked, talked or stood on the roof and drank in the view of Annapurna.

Words of Affirmation? Yes. On the last day we were there, during Devotion time, The Girls' biggest sister stood and spoke the things that the girls appreciated and thanked us for our time, our visit, the gifts we brought, etc. The Boys' biggest brother did the same. Then Arjun spoke, and finally Dolma. They spoke of how we were family, how loved we were, how appreciated Blue-Ridge was. It was quite an experience.

Acts of Service? This is the easiest answer. Everything they did served us. From meals, to our arrival of carrying our luggage to our rooms, not letting us do any work. The kids did everything for us. It was service as it's most gentle. Dolma wanted us to allow the Girls or the Boys to do it. "My Boys will do it. My Girls will do it."

Gifts? Yes. This was the most surprising. This orphan home is provided for, and takes care of the children well. But they had gifts for us. Bags, a yak-wool blanket, jewelry made by the older girls, all wrapped in a bundle. For each of us. We were called up one by one, blessed by Mo Mo, give a Tibetan welcoming scarf of honor and given a gift. I think we were all in tears buy the end of that final devotion time with our Tibetan family.

There was not one love language left unanswered for our hearts. Whether your love language was just one, or multiple, there was no way you were going to leave Trust home feeling unloved. From this, my greatest lesson was that this is what the Body should be like. We should be loving people so well in all language that there is no person in Christ who should ever leave feeling unloved.

My prayer, my heart is that people never leave my presence feeling the full weight of my love for them. Please, God, make that so in me.

Tuesday, March 6, 2012


Good Morning, Nepal supporters! Time for another snipped of processing from the journey there and back again. (Yes that was a Hobbit reference, for you non-nerds.) Last week after my return, a friend asked me three questions about my trip that promised to dig a little deeper into my psyche about this trip and what God was up to while I was in Nepal. I love the questions because it makes me think a bit about how to frame a lot of what was going on. With so much happening on the trip, it's hard to figure out a way to put it all into words. But her three questions were these: 1) What was your first impression? 2) How has your view of God changed? 3) What was your last impression? - So let me try to frame this up for you.

First impressions were hard to really give words to. My first impression of Nepal formed the word "decaying" in my heart and mind. Physically, the buildings were falling apart, piles of rubble everywhere,   the wires of electric lines were in disarray, and things looked like they might collapse at the first sign of destruction. Beyond that, though, dust and exhaust shaded everything, from buildings to people. It was, visually, everything I ever expected a third world country to look like. The people we encountered were kind, hospitable but also had empty and hallow eyes - void of life - from the smallest child to the oldest eyes. I was exhausted by the time we landed in Kathmandu, but even with that weariness, there was a a clear heaviness to the atmosphere. This brought to mind Ephesians 6:12 because the heaviness was not physical. "For our struggle is not against flesh and blood but against the rulers, against the powers, against the forces of this darkness, against the spiritual forces of wickedness in the heavenly places." (NASB) The spiritual oppressiveness is tangible in places like Nepal. Before I left, a friend of mine mocked the spiritual battle I felt raging inside my heart. It was someone who I don't think has ever encountered real demonic activity. If you've never truly felt or seen the grip of the enemy over a person's life, I understand the difficulty with accepting it. To quote a favorite movie of mine, "The greatest trick the devil ever pulled was convincing the world that he didn't exist." That is so true. North America, as a whole has no real concept of the spiritual battle raging because we have images of a red-skinned, horned devil with a pitchfork and tail. He sneaks around our culture masked in pretty faces, subtle religious activity, glossed magazine pages and other subversive ways. One of the girls on our team described Nepal as the place where Satan was out on the lawn relaxing in a lawn chair relaxing because he's got a firm grip on the people there. Destruction, lies, decay, hopelessness. I saw it everywhere and the enemy's finger prints were all over it.

This was vastly different once we pulled into Trust Home. There was an overwhelming joy, peace and refuge to the environment of Trust Home. Whether or not that's a side affect of the kid's joy in a secure and loving environment or the constant stream of prayer that comes from Dolma's heart and presence or the pressing of Jesus-exampled behavior the kids are trained in...I don't know. Before I arrived in Nepal, Shea had shared her heart that God as "refuge" had been something she'd been digging in. I took that in myself and started pressing into that concept because before I left the U.S., I was in need of a refuge, a hiding place. Psalm 91's image of a refuge and hiding under the shadow of His wings was something that resonated with me. It still does. More so, even when I drove through Nepal. I wasn't afraid of the oppressiveness or heaviness of darkness that existed. But the safe harbor of Trust Home where you don't have to be concerned with the darkness or oppressiveness of the culture was a tangible example of the Harbor that God is for us in hard and difficult times. There was safety at Trust Home, our team felt safe enough to share, safe enough to love freely, safe enough to breathe. I wouldn't say I saw God differently, per se, but I did see a physical representation of this Refuge-ness of God.

Safety is such an important part of Love. Loving is a vulnerable activity and requires that both parties give safety and refuge. God never fails to be faithful, safe and a refuge. How desperately the church needs to be this to and for each other. How often I fail at this is something I can't even express. I want to love like that. I want to be a safe harbor for broken hearts, oppressed and heavy people. But I cannot do that on my own strength. I must seek refuge for my own brokenness, my own heaviness in God and not depend on myself or other people to be that for me.

Last impression as I left? We had to drive back to Kathmandu from Trust Home and the oppression and heaviness was still there, but overall, I was ready to go. I wasn't ready to leave Trust Home per se, because I'd grown to love and enjoy my days there. But I knew God had accomplished what He had done in me - at least for the moment. And like I said in my last post, it was time to leave and put all of that into practice at home. What I left Nepal thinking was "There's hope for hopelessness." After listening to the young man, Karma's soft-spoken voice share his story of being the only Christ follower in his village and how his young and tender heart is to go back and change his village for Christ and hearing Dolma share how she is training her kids to share the gospel with their own people, I knew there was a light, a beacon shining brightly in Nepal. Even after visiting the downright evil places of worhsip for Hindu and Buddhist faith the day we left, I left knowing that even though the enemy was lounging in his chair, God was busy in Pokhara and getting ready to bust out all over Nepal and Tibet through those kids. I'm praying for those boys and girls and all the people that encounter Trust Home through Pokhara's community, or the hired help at Trust Home or through encounters with the kids in various camps, colleges, etc.

Coming Home, I was just glad to have seen what I saw, experience what I did. I pray that I never forget the reality of Spiritual Warfare but also never forget the fact that God is MORE than the enemy, Greater than any power on earth. The danger in the Church is to either make too much of the enemy or not enough. Both are greatly dangerous pitfalls of faith. Balance in this is so incredibly important.

So that's my answer to my sweet friend's questions. Hope it's good. Anyone else who has questions is absolutely able to ask, I'd be glad to answer. :)

Thursday, March 1, 2012


I'm home. Back from Nepal, from Trust Home, from the journey God took me on over the 9/10 days I was gone. It was definitely time to come home. Back to real life, back to responsibilities, back to fitting the lessons into a day-to-day living. That last one will likely be the hardest. Or at least, from this vantage point, it feels like it will be.

We arrived at Trust Home after 36 hours of travel and experiencing some interesting things. From having to read a book called "The Jewish Enemy" (about Nazi propaganda in WWII) in an Arab nation's airport; landing in Kathmandu and being unable to breathe (just me being allergic to the air in Kathmandu, apparently); mystery sausage (either chicken or goat); a 6 hour drive turning into an 11 hour day which included sitting on the side of the road for 4 hours in traffic; to arrival at Trust Home where the headlines shone on 71 smiling faces so excited to meet and greet their new "Aunties." Those are just some of the things we learned, saw and experienced in the first 36 hours from leaving Lynchburg. It's going to take a awhile to process it all, so, I ask your patience as I work through trying to write about it all.

A lot of people who go on these kinds of trips have purpose and reason for going. All I knew was God prompted, provided and pushed me out the door when it came to this trip. Not that I did not want to go, quite the contrary, but I had no idea what God wanted for me to do there or even learn. In one of my first journal entries on the trip, I even wrote "God, I don't know why you even have me here," in a moment of resignation. Truth is, my greatest fear was that God wouldn't do with me or show me anything while I was there. I was afraid - terrified, actually - that this trip would just be a trip and nothing more. I wanted something from God. It didn't take Him long to come through for me, but it was quite different than what I expected.

I mentioned in posts before I left that the theme of life was about resting in God amid the busy schedule of life. I thought maybe that the point of all that resting was to be able to jump into action when we arrived. I could not have been more wrong. This trip was all about pushing more deeply into rest, silence and quietness. And a whole lot of not doing but being. This might seem counter-intuitive. It did to me. With a leadership bend in me, sitting back in observation, silence and solitude is not really what is natural for me. Which is why this trip was so important in my own life. It was all about doing what is not natural in me.

On the flight from Doha to Kathmandu, God planted a verse deep in my heart regarding what He was up to in my heart. "This is what the LORD says: And I will extend peace to her like a river..." Is. 66:12a This verse lined up with several verses and things people had spoken over me in the few days prior to leaving. When I read that verse, I knew that was something God was getting ready to plow deep into my heart. I went to bed our first night in Kathmandu with that ringing in my ears. The following morning after breakfast, Shea handed me a slip of paper that had this on it:

Amanda - God has taken me to Isaiah 30:15 as I pray over you and I wanted to share it with you. "this is what the Sovereign Lord says: Only in returning to me and resting in Me will you be saved. In quietness and trust is your strength." God has you here for this, to rest in Him and find your strength in Him. I'm praying for you! <3 Shea. 

The trip was that. A place where I discovered rest, but more than that. I had my eyes opened in the silence and rest that mature faith, strong faith is a quiet faith. Watching younger believers on this trip, I saw a lot of "noise" - voices in their heads, fretting, stresses, pushing back against God, working, busy-ness, moving, etc. Contrasting that with the faith and leadership of Dolma, Shea & recalling those I respect and honor as deeply mature believers at home (like my Mom & older brother), I saw stillness, quietude, silence, and peace. A mature faith is a quiet faith.

Things started clicking in my heart right away, as God did not wait until the end of the trip to speak, but gave me His heart for me in this trip in the beginning. He didn't stop emphasizing this either. After Shea gave me that note, our drive to Pokhara took us on an 11 hour drive through the mountains all the way beside a river-road. We followed the course of the river almost the entire way. When we arrived at Trust Home, my assigned room was right beside the canal as it poured into a small outlet and so for the 4 days we were at Trust Home, I heard nothing but rushing water in my room. And the rest of the week was puzzling through the concept of "peace like a River" - when Rivers appear anything but peaceful at times (rapids, waterfalls, etc).

On that note, I will wrap up this first post but God did something in me deeply showing me and growing something of a quieter faith in my heart than I had the day I left. Now as I've come home, the challenge is to live that out.