Mission: Possible 5
Reflections: Love in a valley of darkness
By Brandy Everts
As I was making preparations to go back into the Tibetan valley I'd visited previously, I had great expectations and anticipation for our reunion with friends we'd made last year. Before leaving on the trip, God had told me through a picture that I would be amazed at the foundation that had been laid over the past year.
On our first day in the valley, we were trying to locate the winter home of some friends. When we found them we were greeted by some family members I did not remember. But they remembered us.
When the man we came to see entered his house to greet us, he was spinning his prayer wheel. I felt all the hope that I had from God's promise deflate. But I continued to hold that promise before God and reminded Him that because He is the faithful and true God it would only get better during our stay in the valley.
As we continued to visit with our friends, we realized the love and trust that we have developed with them. One man had shared that after we left last year some police came to ask about us. Our friend responded that we were hiking and we were friends and everything was fine. As he was asked more questions, he shared with them that we believe in a different religion, but it is OK because “it is a good religion.”
A few of our friends even felt it was safer and better for us to give them the gifts we'd brought to distribute among their people. They promised to hand out the gifts to other Tibetans rather than have us take the risk of carrying them in the high valleys we were visiting. Again, they were telling us they love us and want to protect us.
The overall feeling of the trip was that we didn't have to do much this year. Just show up and continue to show the love of Christ through our lives to the nomadic people we are trying to reach.
I realized this year that love does not have to be said through words, but can be expressed as easily as looking at someone. As I stood in great anticipation, watching our crippled monk friend and his sister and her children walk down the hill toward us, smiles stretched across their faces. They were clearly happy to see us, and this brought an incredible sense of love to my heart.
I cannot communicate in Tibetan, but as the monk's sister sat with me and held my hands, glancing into each other's eyes, my heart broke again because I know I love this beautiful lady so much. It pains me that she doesn't understand the love Christ has for her.
My heart was also burdened for her 68-year-old father, who talked about the beauty of his grandchildren in the photos we were taking. He didn't like to see photos of himself because, he said, he is old and is going to die soon. As I kneeled in the dirt and expressed my love to him, sharing what I believe, my heart ached for this valley to know who this Christ is and to walk in that power.
As I reflect on this trip, I wish I could bury my heart away and not feel the love or pain I am experiencing for these people. But I know that God has put them in my life for a reason and I want to continue to press in and learn and love them, and see His kingdom advanced.
We have not seen any huge numbers of people accepting Christ yet, but hearts are being softened — ours as much as the Tibetans' — and this dark valley has been illuminated with Christ's love. Mindsets and beliefs passed through culture and lifestyle are being affected. I have been bound with an incredible love for these people, and cannot stop going on this whirlwind of a journey until Jesus dominates the valley.
Reflections: God at work
By Mike Wall
It's so hard to condense a trip of two weeks into a short story. So much went on, so much occurred. It seemed to be a trip where whatever could go wrong did go wrong, but God still got us to a place where we could accomplish the goals set for the expedition.
- Reach new valleys ... check.
- Distribute “gifts” ... check.
- Make contact with families we'd visited before ... check.
Thanks to God, we accomplished a lot of things. Reaching our first friend's winter home was certainly a big accomplishment. It took some foot travel to make it, too. When we arrived the man we'd come to see wasn't there, but his wife invited us to wait for him. He was out on the mountain herding his yak. It didn't take long before he arrived. When he walked in, he was swinging a prayer wheel. The sight was heartbreaking. We had put so much time into his spiritual life last year. He seemed to have come so far. But it all seemed lost when he walked in with his wheel.
When he saw us sitting there his face lit up. He immediately put down the prayer wheel. He told us we were sleeping on his land that night as his guests, as his friends. He insisted. The rest of the day was spent in conversation with him and with his family. When nightfall came we headed for our tents for what we hoped would be a good night's sleep.
The next morning, our trip leader awoke feeling pretty ill. His oxygen levels were bad and dropping. He had a fever. That meant there was an infection. After a satellite phone call to a C4C doctor in the States, the team made the decision to move to a lower elevation. (We were camping at 14,000 feet.)
This was difficult for us. We had wanted to share more of Christ with our friend. He seemed so open to it. At the time, it made me question why God had even brought us all this way. With everything bad that had happened and everything that was going wrong, it felt as if the trip was falling apart. What I didn't see was that God had His own plan working.
Before leaving our friend asked if we had brought more “gifts” for the people. He told us he would help distribute them. He told us that he wanted to do anything and everything within his power to help our cause. This was a huge blessing. With that, I began to see God was still working.
Soon we were on our way and a peace was coming over me.
After a long hike, we arrived back at our vehicle, loaded up and headed down the “road” in search of lower elevations. As we traveled, we came upon an old man walking ahead of us. He was short and using a walking stick. Wait, that's not a walking stick ... it's a trekking pole! The same trekking pole we'd left another friend we'd made last year. The entire team realized at the same time who was walking ahead of us. We shouted his name and our van stopped. We piled out of the vehicle to greet our friend.
We found out where he and his family lived during the winter and we gave him a ride to his destination. We told him we would return the next day, which we did.
If we had not needed to go to a lower elevation we would not have been on that road and would not have found our friend with the trekking pole. God's plan and timing truly are amazing.
The next day we spent quality time with another family, prayed for them, shared Christ with them, and enjoyed a time blessed by God. It happened just one day after things felt as if they were falling apart. Even though I couldn't see it, God was at work.
Many times in life it seems that's the case. We don't see God working until time has passed and we can look back in hindsight. We just have to remember that even in times of darkness God is at work. We just have to be patient and keep seeking Him. He'll take care of the rest.
Posted April 21, 2010