ADRA Connections – To the Mountain Top
Last week saw the culmination of ADRA-UK’s first Connections trip, in which 20 volunteers flew to Nepal to refurbish a library in a local school. This was a unique project as all of the volunteers had raised funds to contribute to the project, which benefitted over 200 children at the ShreeBal Kumari Higher School in Kathmandu, the country’s capital.
On the Sabbath of the trip, the volunteers had the opportunity to trek in some of the mountains of Nepal, specifically from Dhulikhel to Nagarkot. This was an interesting experience, considering it was described the ‘Baby Trek’, taking only four hours to complete but actually lasting closer to eight in total! The volunteers climbed over 100 flights of stairs uphill, through jungles, rice fields and local communities in order to complete this walk.
This walk was a powerful testimony and indeed apt metaphor for the trip itself. For many of the attendees, raising the funds had not been an easy process. It too proved an uphill battle, with only a handful of months to collect over £1000. Volunteers took part in sponsored walks, concerts, auctioned drawings, gardening and even climbed mountains in order to contribute to the lives of Nepalese children hundreds of thousands of miles away! Just like the trek in the mountains on that Sabbath morning in Nepal, sometimes the journey seemed insurmountable and never ending! In truth, a feat of sheer determination and perseverance to reach the final goal!
However, the key moments of the trek occurred mid-way through the climb. As the team scattered amongst the path, after climbing stairs for over an hour, they reached the top, an impressive and awe-inspiring 2000 feet above ground level. It was here, from the mountaintop, that the group were able to see the snow-capped peaks of the Himalayas. The hours of walking provided this moment of sheer joy and excitement, as the small ADRA Connections party of 20 saw one of the natural wonders of the world on God’s blessed Sabbath day. What a fitting end this was to the months of hard work they had put in to be apart of this volunteering opportunity. Amid the mountains of Asia, how far removed were the cares and toils of the UK and how much closer seemed the presence of God in the untouched hills right before them. It was here they were able to have a Sabbath experience like none other!
Altogether, the 10 days in Nepal were a life-changing experience. Whilst there was obvious poverty, often in plain sight, it was our company of Adventist Westerners who learnt the most from their time abroad in the developing world. The hospitality, kindness and sense of community displayed by the people of Nepal was deeply profoundly, incredibly tangible and had an infectious effect on the volunteers. During the daily debriefs held by the group, it became apparent that while the refurbishment of the library had taken their time, effort and physical exertion, it was actually the hearts and minds of the ADRA-UK team that had been ultimately changed and made anew on this volunteering trip like no other.