Today’s blog post was written by Wendy Lemmons, Administrative Director of Abba’s House. Wendy shares her story about how her experience in Nepal has given her a heart for the guests of Abba’s House.
Long before becoming a Christian in my thirties, I had a heart for the less fortunate, but as I became a Christian it grew even stronger. I recall looking at a map one day and wondering if God called me to live in another country, where I would want to go. Of course, I thought a tropical island would be a nice choice… I distinctly remember deciding He should NOT send me to India or China or pretty much any Asian country, because I didn’t like Indian food at all, and liked very few Chinese or Asian foods… and I like to eat, so obviously, those places were out of the question!
Maybe you’ve heard the saying, “Want to make God laugh? Tell Him your plans.” So, of course, years later, He sent me to Nepal—the small little Himalayan country right smack in between, you guessed it… India and China! Luckily, He also changed my taste for Nepali and Indian food, which I now crave and will gladly eat multiple times a day!
My love for Nepal and her people is greater than I will ever be able to put into words, but even with that deep love, adjusting to life there was not always easy, and honestly, I had it easier than most, because I lived in an apartment directly beneath an amazing Nepali family who spoke English well, became like family, and helped me navigate life in a whole new culture, where, even after living there two years, I still only speak a very broken Nepali-English mix.
People often say how amazing it is that I quit my job, sold my home, car and belongings to move to Nepal. For me, that was the easy part. The hard part was two years later when God called me back to the U.S. I’ve been back for several years now & had time to reflect on why it was so much harder to move back, & one reason is because of my Nepali family. Although I have family & amazing friends in the U.S, this is where I am from, so no matter how long I lived in Nepal, I always knew I could come back to the U.S. whenever I wanted, whether to visit or to live. But when I left Nepal, I knew there was a real possibility I might never return, and even if I do return one day, it will most likely only be to visit, not to live.
And although my experience in Nepal was not due to the devastating circumstances like our guests at Abba’s House will have been through, I do know what it is like to try to adjust to life in a culture different from my own. I know what it is like to have to leave a country that you love and don’t want to leave. Most importantly, I know how much it means to be embraced as family by people in a foreign and unfamiliar place who speak the language, know the customs, culture, and simply how to navigate day-to-day life that looks nothing like life as you know it.
To be able to offer that to people coming here under much worse conditions than I will most likely ever experience, to help them feel welcome, safe, cared for and like family not only fills my heart with joy, but also makes the world seem a little bit smaller and my having to leave Nepal a little less painful.