Sometimes the most interesting conversations develop in language class. One word leads to another and before you know it, something entirely unexpected evolves.
This morning Umesh made some statement and I commented in agreement “पक्का हो” (pakkaa ho) It means “that’s for sure” or “that’s for certain.” I then asked how one says “that is true.” That led me to ask “what is the word for ‘truth’ ” which in turn led me to think of the all important question: Who (not what) is the Truth? So I asked Umesh to write out the name Jesus, “येशु” (yeshu). Then, what is the word for truth (satetaa).
For the next hour our conversation covered such subjects as what is an Orthodox Saint, who is the patron saint of my Nepali mission, how many saints are there, what are the differences between Orthodox worship and Protestant worship, what are Orthodox hymns like, are there new Orthodox hymns, and on and on it went.
Umesh made the interesting observation that the few times he visited a Protestant service it was like a Western Rock & Roll concert. It left him cold and he said even if he had entered with a desire to worship, that desire was taken out of his heart by Rock & Roll music. There was no sense of holiness or reverence toward God. He was surprised and confused by this.
He observed that the Protestants seemed to be using the ways and means of the World, but that the World was always changing, and so the Protestants must also always being changing and following the World. How much is lost in such change he wondered. He himself brought up the newness and novelty of Protestantism, coming nearly 1,600 years after the founding of the one Church (whose Feast we just celebrated last Pentecost Sunday).
Later I asked him for the dates of the Dashai and Tihar festivals this year. I explained that some Orthodox believers wanted me to take them on a pilgrimage to Greece to visit the churches and monasteries. I explained that I had once lived in Greece and that I had taken many people there on pilgrimage. He immediately said, “Take me! Please take me!” I was really surprised by this, though I had once thought how I wished I could take Umesh to Mt. Athos. I asked “are you serious?” “Yes,” he replied. “I really want to go!”
However, from that moment of hopeful expectation, his countenance fell a bit. It is very difficult for Nepalis to get visas to other countries. Most foreign governments believe that any Nepali who travels abroad will remain illegally in the country and become a financial liability. So in the end, Umesh was not very hopeful of being able to get a visa. It is a long and difficult process. The former Hindu Priest, Shubhas, was never able to get a visa to visit Greece or Russia.
To complicate matters, Greece does not have a consulate here in KTM. Russia however has a large embassy. Perhaps a visa for Umesh could be arranged to Russia with the help of some Russian clergy there in Moscow.
Please pray that the Lord will open the doors for Umesh to make a pilgrimage to an Orthodox country. At the moment, he is very interested in the Orthodox Faith, but has very little idea of what the Orthodox Christian Faith is. He needs to visit Orthodox churches and monasteries. He needs to “taste and see.” May God grant His blessing. – Fr.S.