May 5 - Reconciling Anniversary Sunday – Reverend David C. Shank, preaching
May 12 - Mother’s Day, End of the Church School Year and Choir Celebration – Reverend Dr. Amy McCullough, preaching
May 19 - Pentecost Sunday – Reverend Dr. Amy McCullough, preaching
May 26 - Reverend David C. Shank, preaching
Recent Ministry Here at Grace
OUR MISSIONARIES…The Zimmermans Send News from Nepal (Excerpts)
“Forget the former things; do not dwell in the past. See, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up; do you not perceive it? I am making a way in the desert and streams in the wasteland.” Isaiah 43.19
Eighteen months ago the demolition started. The general public was thrilled by the spectacle of a bulldozer tearing through the retaining wall and gardens of one of Kathmandu’s best known hotels as the owner’s legal maneuvers failed to stop a government order to widen the road below. At NPCS, where I work as nutrition advisor, activities in our slum project came to a halt as the communities were threatened with eviction and destruction. Despite months of advance notice, people were still dressing their children for school, brushing their teeth and washing their breakfast dishes when the bulldozer arrived at a settlement near our office. . . .
It all starts with the appearance of a number spray-painted in red onto the abutting wall or building: 0.82, 1.20, 3.6 … the number of metres back the property boundaries are required to move to accommodate the widened road. Recently I saw a narrow house perched between 2 roads with “5.44” sprayed on it, announcing its impending demolition. Initially the red numbers evoke little response and so within weeks a bulldozer is dispatched on a “pre-run”, swinging its frontloader randomly through garden walls, smashing columns and ripping great chunks out of driveways. Suddenly, landlords and house-owners are galvinised and the results are dramatic in both their expanse and detail. Multiple-storied houses have their outer façades lopped off, revealing intimate views of their interiors: the garish-coloured tiles of a kitchen, a wash-hand basin hanging disconsolately mid-air, dark corridors sliced open and exposed to harsh sunlight. Vertical iron shafts are jammed in awkwardly to support the many floors above, as pillar systems are swept away and hastily rebuilt.
With a meticulousness known only to those living in a resource-poor country, every scrap of building material that can be recovered is. If your wall is held together by mud-mortar, a good bang on each brick releases it for recycling. For those who used real cement, labourers sit on the side of the road and painstakingly chisel away the concrete, sliver by sliver, to clean off each brick. Last week I repeatedly passed a neighbour who spent all day, every day, chipping by hand at the 2 feet of his driveway that is now part of the ‘road’ as he worked to retrieve the pieces of iron re-bar. . . . . Rumour has it that a Nepali government minister travelled to Paris to collect an international prize for the great effort being made to modernize the city. The results to date are devastating chaos. From the main arteries of the city, the road-widening scheme has expanded relentlessly to embrace business areas, shopping streets, and residential areas. Wealthy landlords, middle-class home-owners, poor tenement-dwellers and street sellers – no one has escaped the devastation. Everywhere you go, roadways are constricted by huge piles of rubble, forcing pedestrians into the narrowed traffic-way where vehicles edge past each other in clouds of dust. The city’s trees, bordering many properties and footpaths, have been felled relentlessly. Respiratory and eye ailments were widespread this winter, especially amongst school children, and the quality of air in the city is at an all-time low. Apart from a single half-mile section north of here, I know of no piece of roadway that has yet been completed to the point of black-topping the widened area. . . . The most amazing thing about the whole project – which is true of so many other aspects of life in Nepal today – is that it continues at all in the face of a protracted lack of political leadership and governance. Seven years on from the end of the civil war, attempts to write a new constitution have completely failed, and the elected constituent assembly collapsed almost a year ago. Since then, we have had no legitimate government, and days have extended into months of haggling by the political parties as to how they are going to divide power amongst themselves. . . . Nevertheless, the effects of this chronic lack of leadership and good governance are eating away at the country. Unofficial figures quote unemployment at 46% — which is easy to believe when you see the numbers of men passing their time playing cards and gambling, or the many young people perpetually ‘studying’, often waiting for an opportunity to exit the country as migrant labour. . . .
Much prayer is needed, as both the road-widening and road-to-a-better-Nepal projects stretch on. What does God intend? Where is His promise of ‘life in all its fullness’? Wherever we look, we see the collapse of old ways and ask ourselves if the road will ever be cleared of rubble, the smooth, clean way laid. We wonder about the significance of our own daily work. Within our family we struggle for harmony, two parents trying to be better at raising two spirited boys.
But life under a higher authority does move forward. For the most part, Nepali people remain tolerant and enduring in the face of minimal progress and persistent lack of opportunity. With admirable resilience, they press on with the tasks of planting crops, wrangling together their children’s school fees, and putting a meal on the table at the end of the day. . . .We join the Christians of Nepal in their anticipation of the Easter celebration, with its resurrection joy and public street-rallies of praise. It brings the hope of a clearing of the way ahead, a leveling and a filling in. We ask you to pray for the fulfillment of that hope here in Nepal.
Love, Deirdre, Mark, Zachary and Benjamin
Upcoming Opportunities to Serve
VACATION BIBLE SCHOOL 2013!
We are currently looking for 10-15 volunteers to help out with Vacation Bible School this year. We have various ways available for you to help out. If you are available from June 24-28, 2013 9:00a.m. to 12 noon, then please join us with our children to embark upon a global celebration with the look and feel of a world’s fair. Make friends with neighbors around the world and discover God’s love is everywhere, even in your own neighborhood. We will Enjoy interactive Bible storytelling, global games, music , science and crafts. Contact Michelle Riddle: 410-404-9308 for more information!