The Words of the Nicholls Family
Returning to Nepal last April 1 was a greater challenge than in the past due to our age and having gotten used to the comforts of England over the previous 3 ½ years.
At the end of August, five months later, we were trying to make last minute decisions about our future -- bearing in mind that school starts in September in England. We were still living in two rooms with a lovely open balcony in one of the centers that had no water shortage. It was great for the majority of the year (minus the barking dogs and smelly river) but would be cold in the winter. Our business visa had only been granted for 3 months due to the new Maoist led government and lasted till the end of August but we had applied for renewal.
The center we were living in had gone through a bit of collapse with the center leader and his wife catching typhoid while she was in the first weeks of pregnancy. So for the entire month of August, it wasn’t sure if the center would close down or not -- leaving us to find a new accommodation. We were receiving a partial stipend from the Nepalese Church with rent free accommodation so unless that situation continued, we felt we could not afford to stay in Nepal as there were still school tuition fees, medical, dental and visa costs as well as travel.
I already had an unexpected medical cost for an ear operation to drain a fluid-filled inner ear that had resulted from a misdiagnoses for a simple ear infection. John, also, is having dental work done to replace a bridge of 21 years, things that we take for granted to get done comfortably in England sometimes at no cost or low cost.
Finally, our national leader decided to close the center and gave us two weeks to find a flat that he would support with rent. Moving again! Although we struggled that evening with the stress of it all, once we united, John found a suitable flat the very next day. The rent was a bit higher than our NL had agreed but it was a realistic amount and we felt it was God given. Once John decides something, he goes for it 100% and acts quickly to avoid delay and losing opportunities.
So within a few days we were packing after cutting up carpets from the soon to be closed center and washing curtains that would just be enough to fit in our flat, as if God had designed it that way. Although the brother deputizing for the NL had encouraged us, he was waiting for confirmation from Eknath, our NL who was outside of Katmandu and prone to delaying responses when quick action was needed.
As we began packing early on the day before moving (our visa still not confirmed), John was called in at 10:00am to meet the lawyer at the Dept. of Industry to secure the visa. Leaving me to do the packing with the help of our didi (sister helper for Sophia and household), John called me late in the afternoon to say that it was looking very difficult and drawn out regarding securing the visa -- a real spiritual battle. What to do? I went into the bedroom to pray.
To be honest, I was tired of the daily struggle to overcome various obstacles to stay in Nepal, as well as the emotional feelings of not knowing whether we were coming or going for the last 5 months and whether we were valued enough to be supported by the Nepalese church. John had established the financial foundation through MFT in Nepal which had finally broken through for members to join MFT and leadership teams in the USA. We continued to miss all the best of England but time was alleviating that pain. I couldn’t go through this struggle again in 3 months time when the visa would have to be renewed and winter season setting in.
So I told God with tears, if we are just becoming a burden to the Nepalese church, then we are willing to return back to England and start over once again. However, if you really want us to stay here, if you really need us here, then I won’t give up. But, we need the business visa completed today and we want one full year. We also need Eknath, NL to confirm his financial support of our flat and we need 3 months rent by tomorrow morning which was 30,000 rupees (approx. £240). I also prayed that John would have the confidence to speak out on his own behalf to secure the business visa, rather than just relying on the Nepalese lawyer. Interestingly, the lawyer had secured 30,000 rupees that day from our NL to pay for taxes relating to the (church) construction business that was enabling us to get the business visa.
Some time after my prayer, John called with some excitement to say that the spirit in the Industry office had changed after the lawyer asked John to speak up on his own behalf for the visas. The authorities appreciated the direct give and take with John and decided to grant him a one year visa. The lawyer said he only needed to pay 10,000 rupees for taxes which left the remaining 20,000 rupees for John to return to the HQ. At the same time that John was speaking to me on my mobile, the land line phone rang and a member came to tell me that it was a call from HQ. I quickly took the call from Binod, second in command, who told me that we could go ahead and move into the flat and he would have the money ready tomorrow morning. I explained to him that John had 20,000 rupees to return to HQ and Binod was very surprised and happy to hear that news, telling us to keep it and he would send the remaining 10,000 rupees in the morning.
Now that we are settled into our own apartment for the first time in 15 years, with deepest gratitude to God and spirit world for their help, we have a bit more stability for the next year and can put more focus on the spiritual mission -- that is, after dealing with the 35 hours of electric shutdown per week due to heavy flooding and wondering whether our gas cylinder used for cooking will last long enough before the new supply gets to Katmandu. Just in case, we found a rice cooker with a steamer on top to cook rice, veg and chicken all at the same time -- that is if your electric is not shut down!!!! The good news is that the petrol shortage has alleviated somewhat and we can actually get around to do a mission -- in a car sometimes.
Well, it is a new experience living in a country with a Maoist led government. Although the situation for foreigners remains non-threatening, our Service for Peace leader, who set up three orphanages, was accosted at one of the orphanages where there are children from both Maoist and police family backgrounds living together in peace and harmony. A Maoist political leader demanded that our brother hand over two Maoist children from the orphanage (against the permission of the mother) so that they could be educated properly in Maoist teachings thinking that the orphanage was indoctrinating the children with Buddhist teaching because it was Buddhist funded.
That not being the case, (in addition to the fact that the mother of the child confessed that she and her dead husband had been involved in killing people but wanted her child to grow up with peace), our brother held his ground refusing to hand over the children and explaining the real situation. Apparently, the Maoists have already established a huge school just outside Katmandu that would house and educate thousands of children with books that have already been printed teaching children to fight with Maoist ideology. They have a plan to close down orphanages and start with those children who don’t have parents or families that can take care of them. Fortunately, Sophia attends a Christian Nepalese school where they can openly teach songs about Jesus and God’s love. She has settled in well and is slowly learning the Nepalese language having recently celebrated her 5th birthday.
In reality, the Maoists have to win the support of the society to begin closing down orphanages. Prime Minister Prachandra has publicly spoken in BBC interview, saying that he will rule the country as a federal socialist republic with democratic overtures, such as multi-party elections, because he knows that it will take hundreds of years to establish his true goal, a full Communist State, which he calls heaven on earth. But the positive side of this situation is that neither he nor any leaders of his party are allowed to own private property. They are trying to set an example, especially in relation to the past greediness of government leaders who misused public funding to live in comfort. Sometimes God has to use the devil to get things on the right track.
Throughout our last 5 months in Nepal, every time things got difficult, I would hear the echo of words that Keiko Shaw left with me before leaving England. She told us, if you are going to return to Nepal this time, then you have to determine that you will stay no matter what. That has helped my determination. There are numerous experiences John and I could share during our last 5 months that could fill a book but one of the most valuable was receiving our new regional leader and his wife, Dr. and Mrs. Yong, previously from Oceania.
Mrs. Yong is Japanese and 3 years younger than me. I appreciated the long talk I could have with her and her heart of support. They have had to move their school age children from continent to continent more than once and it doesn’t get easier. Dr. Yong is my age and from a later Blessing but with a profound ability to deliver lectures with very deep heart and content. He gave two days of internal lectures to all of our leaders and some blessed couples which were appreciated by all. He also stood in front of us during one of the lectures and expressed his deep gratitude for our couple’s sacrifice to stay in Nepal so many years, resulting in the present foundation. That deeply comforted our heart. He asked us to visit the centers and give parental love to the members.
Until now, the focus has been on students and CARP activities as well as VIP seminars leading to AFP. Then in April when our NL was elected into government, most of his time was dominated by his responsibilities in government and the Nepal Family Party. In fact, since True Father told him to educate the entire constituent assembly, he has been inviting groups of them first to our Peace Embassy, and then to ILC seminars in Thailand, including Maoist members. Several main church/CARP leaders also support those activities so the development of FFWPU, education for blessed family life, and church development has been somewhat neglected, although Eknath does his best to keep one foot in the church leadership.
Since moving into our flat, we feel better situated to support in the development of FFWPU together with some of our younger blessed families. John created a Nepalese One World fundraising/witnessing pamphlet using the old British model to inspire and challenge the fledgling fundraising efforts in Nepal. Members have been selling pens for 9 years so people are tired of it. But new ideas always take time, especially if it means being more upfront about our activities. We have two years to compete with the Maoists to influence society before the elections that will determine whether God or Satan claims the country.
Our WFWP activity is limited, but recently God sent one very determined American sister who works with UPF in Washington DC to visit Nepal. I had been praying about how to support our Service for Peace Orphanage and she was already gathering sponsor families from among the AFP in Virginia to sponsor orphans in Nepal. We connected and I am organizing a service project for our WFWP members in Nepal to manage the sponsorship program for our Service for Peace war orphans.
Finally, there is one profoundly deep experience that we had together with Nepalese members recently at the misfortune of one Blessed couple. The national accountant of our church, a Filipino Blessed wife gave premature birth in August to a 7 month old baby girl. She was told at the beginning by one doctor that the baby was not growing properly and suggested termination but after getting a second opinion and medicine to assist, she and her Nepalese husband determined to continue the pregnancy.
She had a similar condition to myself, making it difficult to get pregnant. She also had a hearing problem but her Nepalese husband had accepted her unconditionally at the Blessing with the full knowledge of these medical conditions. It seemed the baby was developing normally, although small in size and she had many dreams of giving birth. In one dream, her father from the spirit world told her to go back to the Philippines to give birth. She consulted with her mother who agreed to help her, but after discussing with her husband, they decided they could not meet the financial cost.
As the pregnancy was not so difficult for her, she worked long hours, dedicated to the mission and the demands that came with it. The doctor did not detect the build up of water as a sign that she may have needed more bed rest and finally, the baby was born premature. Jenny went to the only hospital where they could find an empty incubator, however, it wasn’t working properly so after keeping the tiny baby in a respirator for two days, the husband had to move the baby to a hospital outside of Katmandu that took a one hour journey. Along the way, the baby developed an infection and only survived another 3 days. The mother never had the chance to hold her baby, only once to grasp her daughter’s hand.
It was the first Seung Hwa ceremony held in Nepal and difficult to rejoice at the passing of this very young, pure spirit to the spiritual world where it would never have the chance to experience physical life nor give physical birth as a mother. There are no mortuaries or even freezers to keep bodies of those who have passed away in Nepal so plans have to be carried out quickly and the Seung Hwa ceremony was held the following day making it difficult for the mother to attend, having just given birth.
The infants body was kept in a small wooden coffin in our Peace Embassy wrapped in ice where members prayed in shifts throughout the night. The next day we all saw the tiny baby’s body and said individual prayers for its ascension. It was a new but sad experience for everyone, especially the young Nepalese members and Blessed couples who had never been to a Seung Hwa ceremony nor a Western funeral. As the eldest members attending, I was grateful that John and I could be there to offer our support.
Hindus generally cremate in open fires at the riverside, although infants are the exception, along with some of the Mongolian castes who bury their dead in the mountains. There are no Christian cemeteries established yet, so Christians cremate and then keep the ashes in the church. It had been an issue that John and I had reflected recently when we heard about a burial ground being established in England. Since our Nepalese church is in the process of searching for land near the mountains where we could build our own workshop center, it may be wise to consider buying enough land for a burial ground as well, especially after this experience.
There is a famous Hindu temple and tourist area called Pashpati not far from our HQ where there is a small mountain hill. Some Mongolians and infants have been buried on either side of a path going up that mountain. So the blessed baby was buried at the top of this mountain under a tree and many of us climbed the hill together. There were two adult gravestones near by. A Mongolian husband and wife who died in their 70’s were buried there, as if to represent grandparent caretakers.
We all offered prayers of repentance to comfort God’s heart at the death of this newly formed spirit, the purest among us all, this daughter of heaven with the hope that her death and the sacrifice of her life could be used by God for His victory in Nepal.