Can you say, “Culture Shock,” with capital letters? Well, that is what I experienced during our recent trip to Nepal.
Having grown up in America, a native Floridian, and although I have traveled to many nations in Africa and the Caribbean and even Turkey, I must say I was not prepared for what I experienced in Nepal.
It wasn’t just the fact that the United States is a Christian nation because I have been in Muslim nations before, it was the whole landscape that caused a cataclysmic shift in my perception of life.
The first thing that I noticed on full display was the beautiful mountains in the backdrop and although I have been to the Colorado mountains before these were different once we began traveling around them.
Because most of the roads were not paved, they had humongous potholes in them and there were no street signs or lights. The cars, vans, jeeps, and tour buses traveled at very high speeds navigating the twists and turns of the mountains sometimes barely missing head-on collisions or driving off the cliffs by mere seconds.
And there we were in the middle of it all traveling for hours around the mountains to get to the villages to meet our members.
The next thing I became acutely aware of was the large idols of Buddha and Krishna and other Hindu gods and goddesses all around. I had never seen anything like it before in my life. They were huge and beautiful and everywhere.
Sadly, there were no churches on display as they are not forbidden but frowned upon as a Western religion. That’s not to say there are no Christians, but they meet in homes and are very low key as Nepal is primarily a Hindu and Buddhist nation with only 3% Christians.
In addition to the idols there were cows roaming everywhere and sometimes in packs down the middle of the street. No one is allowed to harm them because they are worshipped as a part of the Hindu religion as are monkeys, crows, trees, and dogs.
They also worship vehicles and other objects at certain times as they have millions of gods. That is what really amazed me as I have heard of this before and seen documentaries, but to experience it up close and personal is quite different.
It caused me to open my heart and eyes to how some people experience life and religion.
We ate lots of curry and rice as well as a dish called Momo which is a dumpling that has chicken or buffalo inside. The food was spicy and tasty overall, and the people were very warm and inviting.
It was a blessing to meet our members of Turning Point International Nepal and discuss ways to support the impressive work that they are doing despite a multitude of challenges. That brings me hope.
Rosalind Y. Tompkins received a doctorate of humanities degree from the Five Fold Ministry Theological University in 2012. Find out more at makeahopeconnection.com.
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This article originally appeared on Tallahassee Democrat: Experiencing different culture in Nepal opens heart and eyes