It was an unusual December, for me at least. In a majority Hindu country, Christmas is still small, largely only among the Christian minority, and focused on the baby in the manger.
The first unusual thing was the weather. It was warm during the day – in the sun – but once indoors and when the sun set, it was very cold. You took your coat off when you went outside, and hurriedly pulled it – along with hat, scarf and finger-less gloves – on indoors.
I sang in the Kathmandu Chorale Christmas concert, attended KISC’s, sang at the largest Christmas market and festooned two floors of KISC with paper chains (a project that had taken most November evenings and lots of scrap paper!). We (eventually) decorated the Guest House – an amusing saga that involved a disappearing tree, eventually found, and the loss of existing decorations (still missing!).
But it didn’t feel like Christmas – at least, not the one I’d grown up with.
Here, among the missionary community, Christmas is far more spiritual – far more true to its actual meaning – than to a time of spending lavishly and eating too much food. I helped the Year 3-4 Sunday School class twice during advent. The first time, we looked at the ancestry of Jesus, how he could be traced back to Abraham, fulfilling the promise that he would bless all the nations through Abraham. The other time, the Sunday before I left, we looked at the Christmas story, the fulfillment of many promises. Jesus was very much the center of Christmas here.
Arriving in the UK early on December 21st, with a suitcase full of Nepali coffee and honey, I was soon assaulted by the commercial side of Christmas – shop displays and music. But, to me, it felt like it should be November, and not a few days until Christmas Day. But Christmas Day came, and went, and I had a wonderful time seeing family. I spent the next few weeks meeting up with friends from both Primary and Secondary school, some in London and some at their universities.
And then, two weeks after term had started, I returned to Kathmandu for my second five month stay. I almost missed my flight to Kathmandu, as I fell asleep at the departure gate! Luckily, a member of staff woke me as the last bus to the plane was about to leave and I made my flight. I returned to Nepal in the evening of the 19th, but unfortunately missed a bit of the following week due to sickness exacerbated by jet lag.
The school is about to move site, out of the city to a suburb/village called Techo. This means all hands on deck as the move starts on Friday the 9th. There are a few hiccups (like the floor Science is on only being finished with one day to move in before school starts!), but everyone remains hopeful. It certainly is going to be a larger site, and the Walkathon to raise money for a covered-sports facility smashed the US$45,000 target (actual money raised: US$60,005!). It is an amazing achievement for the students, who walked 7km from the current site to the new on the 12th, and a testament to how God has been faithfully providing for the building project.
As I wasn’t in the country for the Walkathon, my contribution to the move is far more admisitrative. I’ve (finally!) completed the inventory and am in the process of converting it into a packing list. Packing starts this week – and I doubt anyone is looking forwards to that. I also, for the first (and probably last!) time, made use of my GCSE in Product Design by drawing a scale map of the new department off the architectural drawing so we could work out how to arrange the furniture.
I’m looking forwards to what challenges these next five months throw up, though I’m not sure the bus journey to school will rank among my favourites. However, I do know that, whatever comes, God is watching over me and the whole community and everything will go according to His plan.