Finding God in Nepal

Julie Filby

UPDATE APRIL 29Mullen High School students launched a fundraiser April 29 to support relief efforts in Nepal,  devastated by an April 25 earthquake. Students are selling ice cream bars donated by Salti Sweet Ice Cream Factory in Littleton to raise funds for Shoes For Sherpas  and for clean water through Edge of Seven. Checks can be dropped off at the school at 3601 S Lowell Blvd. in Denver. Contact teacher Barb Figg with questions: figg@mullenhigh.com or 303-761-1764.

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Editor’s note: Twenty-one students from Mullen High School traveled to Nepal last month with social studies teacher Barb Figg to teach and work at a girls’ hostel in Solukhumbu, south of the Everest region; deliver more than 500 pairs of Shoes for Sherpas and 80 Kits for Kids filled with medical supplies; and work at an orphanage in Kathmandu. One student shares her perspective below.

When we left Colorado for Nepal, I knew my perspective wouldn’t be the same, yet I didn’t realize how deeply I would be affected. Ever since I can remember I’ve wanted to travel and see the world, to experience other people, other cultures. This trip was a chance to start my dream, though I didn’t know my dream would lead me to find God in places I never would’ve thought to look.

Our mission was to go to Solukhumbu, help build a hostel for girls, help teach at secondary schools, and see rugged Nepal through trekking along the way. Looking back on the journey, the most impactful realization for me was the respect gained for the girls living in developing countries.

Through the activities and experiences, I learned about life outside of privilege, especially from a female point of view. Girls in Nepal and many other developing countries have just recently gained the right to education, and even then usually only till eighth grade. They are not provided with the tools to acquire a job or make a living on their own. That is why we build the hostels—they allow girls to go to school an extra three or four years. There they learn how to get jobs and make it on their own. The hostels make an education possible for these girls, and an education means a future.

Knowing that I gave a small contribution to help build a hostel was an amazing feeling because by doing so, I was helping to provide a future for someone. Yet, this feeling became much deeper when I saw the girls in both the hostel and the Himalayan Hope Home. Their culture was alive and their happiness was infectious. They welcomed us with open hearts. Knowing firsthand the people we were serving was a privilege. I will never forget when a young girl grabbed my hand and said, “Let me show you my home, sister.”

The more I got to know the girls, the more respect I gained for each and every one of them and the struggles they face every day. They clung to one another, demonstrating their sisterhood and the value and dignity they place on each other. The girls are so talented and achieving something great in a place where greatness in women is not expected by the culture.

As time passed and we created relationships, I was proud to say I had made friends. Yet, as I left Solukhumbu, I realized I wasn’t leaving behind friends, but I had gained new sisters. It’s a unique thing when people half-a-world away, differing in language, tradition and religion can open their hearts to each other and create connections. That is where I found God: in our differences, in the relationships I made, and in the simplicity of being kind and open to the people in front of me. I found God in the hope that arises from a place of hopelessness, in the work I did for others, in the face of each and every girl standing up for her right to a dignified life.

Sarah DeLine is a sophomore at Mullen High School.

COMING UP: Lebanese priest: ‘We need your prayers’ after Beirut explosions

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A Lebanese Catholic priest has asked believers around the world to pray for the people of his country, after two explosions in Beirut injured hundreds of people and are reported to have left at least 10 people dead.

“We ask your nation to carry Lebanon in its hearts at this difficult stage and we place great trust in you and in your prayers, and that the Lord will protect Lebanon from evil through your prayers,” Fr. Miled el-Skayyem of the Chapel of St. John Paul II in Keserwan, Lebanon, said in a statement to EWTN News Aug. 4.

“We are currently going through a difficult phase in Lebanon, as you can see on TV and on the news,” the priest added.

Raymond Nader, a Maronite Catholic living in Lebanon, echoed the priest’s call.

“I just ask for prayers now from everyone around the world. We badly need prayers,” Nader told CNA Tuesday.

Explosions in the port area of Lebanon’s capital overturned cars, shattered windows, set fires, and damaged buildings across Beirut, a city of more than 350,000, with a metro area of more than 2 million people.

“It was a huge disaster over here and the whole city was almost ruined because of this explosion and they’re saying it’s kind of a combination of elements that made this explosion,” Antoine Tannous, a Lebanese journalist, told CNA Tuesday.

Officials have not yet determined the cause of the explosions, but investigators believe they may have started with a fire in a warehouse that stored explosive materials. Lebanon’s security service warned against speculations of terrorism before investigators could assess the situation.

According to Lebanon’s state-run media, hundreds of injured people have flooded hospital emergency rooms in the city.

Lebanon’s Prime Minister Hassan Diab has declared that Wednesday will be a national day of mourning. The country is almost evenly divided between Sunni Muslims, Shia Muslims, and Chrsitians, most of whom are Maronite Catholics. Lebanon also has a small Jewish population, as well as Druze and other religious communities.

Featured image: A picture shows the scene of an explosion near the port in the Lebanese capital Beirut on August 4, 2020. – Two huge explosion rocked the Lebanese capital Beirut, wounding dozens of people, shaking buildings and sending huge plumes of smoke billowing into the sky. Lebanese media carried images of people trapped under rubble, some bloodied, after the massive explosions, the cause of which was not immediately known. (Photo by STR / AFP) (Photo by STR/AFP via Getty Images)