Nepal and the Maithili


Today I got my Visa, and tomorrow, if there aren’t any hiccups, I will be on a plane back to Thailand.

For those a bit out of the loop, I’m in Nepal right now.

I came to Nepal in order to make an evangelistic film for the Maithili people. This will be the second time I go on set for one of these films. The Maithili people span the Napali-Indian boarder and could have up to as many as 46 million people who speak the language. If even half of these people classify themselves as “Maithili” as a way of identifying themselves, that would be more than the whole population of Nepal, so they occupy a huge chuck on the unreached in this area of the world. Throughout my time there the people I met always classed themselves as “Maithili” as a way of describing themselves, as a people, not as a language they spoke. They had their own Maithili food, and their own Maithili customs. It was an amazing time to be enveloped by another culture, especially one so different from myself.

The time there amongst the Maithili was good. It was difficult though. Speaking honestly, I found it hard to connect to people, found it hard to meet peoples eyes, or draw a smile from them. They always seemed extremely suspicious, particularly, I guess with some good reason, women. The inability to smile easily, or at least their unwillingness to smile to a stranger, was particularly hard. No matter how much I would smile, no matter how much effort spent to speak and play games with the children, to laugh, or to make yourself seem at ease, it wouldn’t matter. Mostly it was blank faces, sometimes just outright suspicion or dislike. This of course is completely through the eyes of my own culture, my own feelings. But it still made it hard. I have certainly missed the Thais, and look forward to going back.

I guess this is not the “correct” way to come back from an outreach. We are supposed to come back wearing odd-ends of their clothes, speak of how hospitable and perfect they are. We tend to ignore the “flaws”. Largely I have done that, but I see no need to be false about the experience. I didn’t manage to get  my hands on a piece of clothing though.

I can say that we did meet some extraordinary people. I had great experiences in the village that we often found ourselves in. The families we met there, as well as individuals around the village were extremely nice and hospitable. Once they figured I liked their tea (and that I could drink it all day), I ended each day having to say no to a third (okay maybe the fourth) mug (the biggest they had) of it. We were fed very nice food. The people never stopped, they were happy and content and wonderful. I will miss that village, and miss the family more. The guys who helped as actually make the film were amazing too. The stories they had of God’s love, forgiveness, grace, and transforming power, were unending, it was amazing to hear, and see, God’s work so clearly in their lives. Their belief in God is a solid rock they stand on, and it’s obvious with every decision they make, not a fanciful feel-good belief, but a solid fact they stake their life on, every hour, every day.

My willingness to “get out there” in creating these films hasn’t been lifted up, it hasn’t really been “encouraged.” My passion for missions has not been given a breath of fresh new air. I haven’t come away from this with a huge feel-good experience to draw from. That sounds depressing, but it’s not. I’m kind of glad this didn’t happen. I’m hugely suspicious about making decisions based on those elevated heights of joy that come out of cross-cultural experiences, where we’ve fallen in love with the people and love their culture, and come away having to “give our all” for God. This isn’t bad, I’m just suspicious of them because of it’s longevity, and it’s ability, or inability, to really change anything. What has happened is that I’m determined. I may not be on a feel-good high, but I’m more determined to do these films, more passionate about what they mean. I absolutely love making these films. But not just because I like filmmaking, but because I love God, and I love how He uses us to create tools for His Kingdom, and I love how those tools work, and the difference they make. More than anything I wish to extend His Kingdom, to make Him know, throughout this world.

This film is being edited by Create Perth, so I don’t know when it will go through it’s final edit, but when it is finalized, I’ll be sure to share it! Until then, you can find some pictures here: Maithili Photos

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