We began with nearly no visibility in the dense fog and landed in Janakpur with the sun shining brightly. A beautiful drive …on switch backs up the “hills” (mountains to us) and through communities that tell us the story of Nepal. As we passed by one small community the prayer flags were everywhere. “This is an important place”….Hugh’s words draw us to attention. Nothing to do or say, just be aware and know.
Kathmandu is primarily Tibetan Buddhism influence and where we are now is primarily Hindu. Nepal is grounded in its spiritual life and you can sense the peace everywhere. Prayer and ritual are the norm, not a weekly event or occasion; it is the way the people walk through their days.
So here we are…in Janakpur. The leprosy colony (or community being the better word) is quite lovely. After hours of poverty views along the roadside, the arrival at a planned, intentional and well developed campus is like arriving at a retreat center. Lalgadh sits on 100 acres that were purchased and developed by a woman who felt called by God to build a leprosy hospital here. No one thought she was right at the time. No one thought leprosy was a problem in this area. She began with some wound care. Now this campus is filled with hospital wards, training centers, dining hall, staff apartments and a deep sense of mission.
I am so impressed with what we saw today. Meeting the staff and hearing their compelling motivations to “care for the least of these” is, as Jim said, “humbling”. Their love for the people they serve is overflowing. Their organization and approach to their work is beautiful. Their results are incredible. No quick fixes…but long-standing, intentional practices and improvements have cheated the lives of many on year after another. Many of the key leaders have been here over 15 years.
The girls are staying in the guest house which was Hugh And Diana’s home for the first 5 years they were here (1990’s). It is lovely. Our beds are covered with white mosquito nets. The guys report cool gykos in their house and all of us are talking about toilets which is a common topic in these parts. The Asian toilet is flat to the ground but we have an option for both American and Asian types in this house. I’m thankful.
I am also grateful that we are staying inside the leprosy community with those who are affected by the disease. Tomorrow we will visit two villages where the people come from..their home villages. Hugh tells us that we will “see it, hear it, taste, smell it and feel it” because it is the only way for us to know.
The American Leprosy Mission is a Christian organization. The Lalgdah Leprosy Community is one of their most successful missions. Lalgdah was started by someone called by God to do it. It is led by equally called Christian leaders who believe they are following Christ’s instructions to care for the sick and the hungry. Their devotion is amazing; they have given their lives to this work. And now by God’s grace we are being given the gift of seeing what the Lord has done with their obedience and faith. Going to sleep amazed tonight.