“How do I say ‘hello’ in Nepali to the partners I am to meet in Nepal?”
It was a casual enough question (or so I thought) posed to my fellow travelers and IM development workers, Carole Sydnor and Debbie Mulneix, as we landed in Tribhuvan International Airport in the capital city of Kathmandu. I assumed, with my made-in-America naiveté, that their response, quite naturally, would be straightforward.
But, surprisingly, their reply was more nuanced. “In fact, there are two ways that you could possibly greet a person in Nepal,” Carole counseled. “When meeting someone who is a follower of Jesus, the greeting is ‘Jai Masee.’ The greeting to all others is Namastē!” In either case, I came to discover, a gesture of hands – palms together, fingers straight up (as in a child’s prayer) accompanies the verbal greeting. Keep eye contact … No bowing, thank you very much!
That simple exchange between Carole, who has 24 years as a development worker to Nepal, and me launched me on a journey of awakening to the wonderfully fascinating social and cultural norms that exist within this small country bordered by the behemoth super-powers, India to the south and China to the north.
The purpose of my trip as an International Ministries communications specialist was to capture the stories of hope that have emerged from the reconstruction efforts made possible by the financial gifts provided by US and Puerto Rico churches and individuals through the One Great Hour of Sharing (OGHS) Nepal Earthquake Relief Fund.
Physical recovery from the April 2015 earthquake has been long and arduous. The quake that registered a magnitude of 7.8 on the Richter scale and its many aftershocks, caused property damage and loss of life the likes of which this small country hadn’t seen in over 80 years. The pain and devastation is still being felt three years later. Even though the earthquake is in the rear-view mirror for most Americans, thankfully, the international community has not abandoned the rebuilding effort.
I was surprised and happy to see not only International Ministries but also the Nepali government, other religious-affiliated organizations, NGOs and even other nations have continued the work together to rebuild lives and livelihoods in this developing nation.
So, yes, I was reminded of the power of the generosity of IM’s donors. I was also deeply touched by the hospitality and warmth these lovely people extended to our group, and moved by their resiliency and determination to follow the path in which God is leading them, despite their obstacles.
To commemorate my trip and the third anniversary of the historic Nepal quake, I plan to publish a series of blog posts in the next few weeks. They will recount my adventures (and misadventures) in Nepal. I hope my fellow travelers will add their comments, insights and amusing anecdotes to these blog posts. Stay tuned!
जय मसीह Jai Masee! or Namastē! (also, good bye for now!)