During our first three-year term in Nepal, we would go to the mailbox weekly, usually on a Wednesday. That great place of anticipation was situated on the opposite end of the Pokhara Valley, past swollen rivers and an overcrowded hospital and beyond the three straggling bazaars, so it would usually take us at least an hour to get there. But it was always worth it. We would turn the key in the little lock and watch with delight as parcels, letters and aerogrammes from Australia all fell out into our eager hands. And we’d sit down right where we were on the concrete steps, with the sounds of Nepali conversation still floating around us – and we’d drink it all in – laughing and smiling as we tried to imagine Sydney again. And it never mattered to us that the news was three months old, it was still news! We loved to hear how our friends were surviving back in the west, the decisions they were making, the challenges they were facing, the questions they were raising in their churches as well as the delights of their world.
Of course sometimes, as well as news, the letters contained information of support money that had been raised in order that we could continue to work in the hospitals – and that would always astound us. We’d often feel overwhelmed by the generosity of the people that supported us and it would remind us that when God calls, he also enables and he does that through the body. And at other times, the parcels contained newspapers with chocolates hidden all the way through them so every time we turned a page we’d get another surprise. And it’s hard to describe how exciting it all was! With limited access to a phone line or world news or shopping centres, the parcels and the letters and their contents became the link to our other life and community.
The same thing happened of course during our second three-year term in Dhulikhel, except that then, the mail came to us. Often it came immediately via email and the internet and sometimes it came very slowly, via an erratic INF messenger on a motorbike from Kathmandu – when the roads were open. But all the same things arrived – news from home, funny stories, chocolate bars, and important reminders of the partnership we enjoyed in the gospel. So then, when the rain poured down, when the political state grew more uncertain, when we sat through curfews and when the work was discouraging, it was the letters from home that God used to encourage us. He kept showing us through the mail that he was in control and that he cared about the situation we were in.
In one particular week, I was about to attempt a unit on ‘electricity’ in home school with our three boys. And that was a challenging thought because there aren’t many electrical resources in the middle hills of Nepal. There aren’t many educational shops or museums or libraries… So I was a bit worried and I was wondering how we would manage it. But the week before we were due to start, three parcels came in the mail. And inside each one of the parcels was an electricity kit. Two came from Australia and one came from the UK and the most amazing thing was that none of our supporters knew that we were due to study electricity that term. But God, who knows everything and who works in his people as a body, reminds us that the work is his. He moves within his people and provides all that we need in order that his word will go out to the ends of the earth.
So what can we do and how can we support mission from here? Open up the email or pop down to the Post Office, and send a couple of words or a ‘something’ to a missionary this week. You never know how God will use it to support and encourage and bring about his purposes to the ends of the earth.
Naomi Reed is a former Interserve Partner. She is also a bestselling author and gifted speaker. Her latest book, The Plum Tree in the Desert shares stories of faith and mission from Interserve Partners over the last 25 years. Naomi is also speaking on the Australia-wide Unfolding Grace tour. For more information, see Unfolding Grace.