Bright neon flashing signs

Teaching five-year-olds does not often allow for quiet time. They just love to talk! About their families, their friends, their new toys, a wobbly tooth, just about everything! But what I love is when they talk to God. Their prayers are so honest and they are not afraid to ask God to supply their needs and to thank him for what he does for us. I must say it is hard not to smile when they pray for their teacher’s plane to stay away from eagles in the sky, or, “thank you Jesus that it’s summer soon because I can’t wait to have milkshakes.” Their honesty and thankfulness has made me think about prayer and its importance in our mundane day-to-day lives.

Prayer has always been something that I have done, but it wasn’t until coming overseas to serve, that I have found the importance of and daily reliance upon prayer. It started about a year ago when I was devoutly talking to God – nay – pleading with him to show me in “bright neon flashing signs” where on earth I was supposed to go after returning from two years away in an exotic location; England. He had planted Nepal in my heart months before, but I was having an inner wrestling match to properly accept my calling. I think the idea of going appealed to me more than the physical aspect of moving halfway across the world to a foreign, dusty, third world country. However, like many times in my life I have found that when I pray for leading, I imagine him smiling, leaning back and with a flick of his wrist or a blink of his eye, he answers our prayers in mind-bending ways.

So once again at the beginning of 2012, I found myself willing to follow God’s leading but not really sure where that was. But, as in so many instances before, God has allowed these prayers and pleas to be answered when and how he wants them to be. I had been home from London for a few months and things were starting to get a little desperate. I needed an answer, I needed funds, and I wasn’t quite sure which way to turn. However I made a decision to make sure that whatever I decided to do, that I would completely consult God in prayer on every decision I made. So I tried to subside the panic that was slowly brewing inside of me, like a good cup of green tea, and just hand it over to the Big Guy! So I did! And he was faithful.

I remember that day well. I was fiddling on the computer, organising things (not really organising, more agonising over future plans), when my friend Marilyn popped online to answer my questions about Nepal. I had been liaising with Marilyn because she had been in Nepal for two and a half years and it was she who initiated my interest in serving at KISC for the 2012/2013 school year. Marilyn asked if I had done anything in regards to finding funding for the year ahead. I hadn’t. So she said to me, “I will email a couple of my friends because they know how important it is for us to find teachers out here. You can start to write letters to friends and family, and that is at least a start.” We organised to talk again later once her friends had responded.

Not even half an hour later, she called me back and said, “Honey, stop writing those letters; I think you’re covered for the whole year!” A friend of hers had read the email and replied instantly with “I think we should be able to cover that!”

BAM! I was numb with shock, and fear, and disbelief. If that wasn’t a neon flashing sign, then I’m not sure what is! Later, I learned that the staff at the school had gathered to pray for me that very day about my finances and direction for me to come to KISC. My sponsor also informed me much later on that he gets hundreds of emails across his desk every day and doesn’t commit to helping others unless their message speaks out at him. But if he feels led to take it up, he does so without any hesitation and accepts immediately. Even in a season when business was quiet, he still decided to step out in faith and support me financially for the year. God has blessed his faithfulness abundantly with a business year so full that he has had to outsource to meet the demands. I was so humbled to hear this, and grounded in my calling to serve the year at KISC.

Since arriving on the dusty roads of Kathmandu, prayer has been a method of survival, necessity and comfort. Adjusting to a new culture, a new climate and a new school has not always been easy. At the beginning of the school year I had a few significant problems with my class and there are times when the pain of homesickness trickles in and little things like the crazy traffic, or no electricity can almost be the end of you. But I have experienced and witnessed things here that have changed me forever. The school that I have been working at has just finished 40 days of prayer and fasting for the future development of the school and seeking God’s leading. I have enjoyed being a part of a community where if there is a need, a problem, or even success, we turn to God. Sometimes during a lesson or lunchtime, we pray for the needs of a staff member or the school, taking everything to him in prayer.

The mother of one of my students came to me last term to explain her husband’s sudden-onset battle with a brain tumor and to ask if we could pray for healing. After many months of prayer and medical treatment the doctors found no tumor remaining. It was a miracle!
But despite the many miraculous times when he says “Yes”, sometimes God’s answer is “No”, and some sad and disappointing results this year have led me to ask him, “Why?” Yet, despite his occasional “No” answer, I have learned that his plans are bigger, his ways are higher and he is always faithful.

A favorite verse during my time in Nepal is, Phillipians 4:6: “Don’t worry or be anxious about anything, instead pray about everything, and don’t forget to thank him for his answers.”

If you had told me when I was a little girl that in 2013 I will be living in Nepal, working at a mission school and sharing God’s love with the people of Nepal, I would not have believed you.

I am thankful that God had a different plan. Stepping out in faith to follow his calling this year has been one of the most fulfilling experiences, and I will not leave the same person I was when I arrived. I have learned that prayer is not just part of our routine before bed, but a constant source of support and comfort, as God cares for us in every mundane and major detail of our lives.

Tara is an OnTracker serving on a one-year placement in Nepal.