DOWNEY – A missionary team sent out by Calvary Chapel Downey recently returned from a two-week trip to Nepal.
The team of six was comprised of five Calvary Chapel members from Downey and one from a Riverside congregation.
In April of this year, Nepal was hit by a 7.8 magnitude earthquake, triggering an avalanche on Mount Everest and killing more than 8,000 people. Less than three weeks later, another quake, this one a 7.3 magnitude, struck.
The Calvary Chapel team’s top priority was providing shelter.
“The mission was to construct as many temporary shelters as possible prior to the monsoon rain season,” said Greg Welch, one of the missionaries and owner of Downey business Risher Mortuary and Cremation Service. “There was so much damage, however, that we spent much of our time clearing away debris from the existing structures prior to constructing the temporary shelters.”
The team was also able to lend some medical assistance, due to registered nurse and Calvary Chapel member Michele Sandoval being a part of the mission.
The group also wanted to spread a bit of their spirituality, however, conversion was not necessarily the end goal.
“Because we’re a Christian mission team, we also wanted to reflect the love of God while we were there,” said Zully Ruano, the mission coordinator at Calvary Chapel Downey. “Our purpose wasn’t to convert or anything, it was just to share the love of God through building the temporary shelters and that kind of thing.”
The mission focused its efforts on the village of Sikre, which lies in a valley about a three-hour drive from Kathmandu, the capital of the country. The villagers of Sikre had never seen missionaries prior to the team’s arrival, and approval of the village leaders had to be obtained before any work could be done.
“We didn’t want to just impose ourselves just for the sake of helping,” said Ruano. “At the beginning, obviously they were very skeptical, even though we got approval by the village leaders…every day we tried to kind of build a relationship. I guess little by little they kind of saw that love we had for them.”
“There was definitely some culture shock,” said Sandoval.
The temporary shelters that the team built were of the upmost importance, due to the fact that monsoon season was quickly approaching.
“Because the villagers survive primarily on what they farm, they had to get the fields plowed and planted prior to the monsoon season…this meant they could not spend the time needed to repair or rebuild their homes properly, forcing them to dwell in an unsafe work environment,” said Welch.
Monsoon season usually comes by late June or early July, said Ruano.
By the mission’s end, five shelters had been built and provided for those that the village leaders felt needed the most help. However. Nepal is still far from recovered.
“These are wonderful people that needed some help,” said Welch. “We need to return. There is much more that needs to be done.”