|Earthquake Refugee Camp in Rasuwa District|
Monday, July 24, 2017
Like most of who live up in the Himalayan foothills, the people of the Rasuwa district eek out a living by farming the terraced hillsides they rent or sharecrop. Each monsoon/growing season comes with the hope of providing for their families. This hope is balanced by the fear of too much rain that could wash away the terraces that are made and maintained with nothing but shovels, sweat, and hours of labor. The goal for the growing season is to eat well, lay up enough food in storage to last the year, and to have enough money left over after paying the bills to purchase warm clothes for the winter, pay school fees, pay the landlord and othet debt, and to make a few improvements to their humble homes made of sticks, rocks, mud, and straw. That's the life that the majority of Nepalis have come to expect year in and year out. But on April 25th, 2014 a devastating earthquake hit and life got much more difficult for hundreds of thousands living in various regions of the Himalayan foothills. On that day, lives and families were changed in ways that most of us could never imagine. With no insurance policies or credit cards or rainy day savings accounts, families from hillside villages that lay in rubble fled to the valleys in hope of finding relief and stable ground. After days and weeks of near starvation and disease, roads and bridges were repaired to the point where aid and medical care could reach these remote valleys. Over the past two years refugee camps have been built (partially with aid from the CLC Earthquake Relief Fund). Hundreds, perhaps thousands, have been helped through donations to the CLC relief fund. Tarps, steel sheets, cement, posts, blankets, pots, and water pipes to bring in fresh spring water have been assembled into a villages with no name. They are simples known as "the camps." Two Mission Hepler teams found themselves in these camps today surrounded by a few Christians but mostly Buddhist men, women, and children.
The Rasuwa district north of Kathmandu was one of the most devastated areas of Nepal. The Himalayan Church of the Lutheran Confession of Nepal has two congregation in this district. They have been instrumental in getting CLC earthquake relief aid to this area and particularly to these two camps. The have brought thousands of US dollars in humanitarian aid to these people who have lost everything and have no where else to go and no home to return to. And in the midst of such loss, tragedy, sadness, and need, they have also brought the "one thing needful," the Gospel of Jesus Christ is bringing true and everlasting hope to the few in these camps who have been brought to faith by the Spirit working through the Word.
Today we had the privilege of bringing small gifts, food, and drinks to roughly 170 children in these two camps. But more importantly, we brought them and many more adults the gift that money can't buy, we brought Jesus Christ and the Good News of forgiveness, salvation, and eternal life.
As I sit and reflect on the privilege we had today in loving and serving our Savior by loving and serving the people of this camp, my emotions are a mess. A mess of heartbreak and sadness as I contemplate the overwhelming physical needs that will haunt my quiet time and hopefully spur me on to love and serve more. And at the same time I am filled with joy, because God has again been faithful in bringing the Gospel of Jesus Christ to His children. What a joy and privilege to be a part of His gracious plan...a plan laid before the foundation of the world. Humbling and encouraging and strengthening and comforting and so much more! Thank You Lord!
In Christ, Todd Ohlmann