While traveling, I rarely knew what day of the week it was and dates didn’t mean much. I totally immersed myself in the experience of awakening to the world. A world very different from the one I’d known before. Easter caught up with me in Nepal and it took my breath away.
I used puppets, string games and coloring to help the kids at the Global Dental Relief Clinic pass the time until their treatments. They drew pictures of their houses surrounded by lots of very steep mountains. They drew beautiful Rhododendrons, the national flower of Nepal, and also drew lots pictures of each other. There were some talented cartoonists too. I taped every picture on the wall with torn-up stickers, as tape was scarce. The kids smiled big when they spotted their pictures and sometimes brought their friends to see the spot on the wall where their picture hung.
I was so busy teaching them how to brush their teeth and playing with them that I didn’t really have time to admire their artwork. But one afternoon, there was a slow spell. A time between schools picking up students and dropping off the next group. While tidying the benches and organizing our supplies, I had a chance to really look at their drawings. Taped to the wall among gorgeous Himalayan landscapes and superheroes and portraits of friends and princesses and castles, there were a few portraits of…me––as a woman or a butterfly or a flower, with the word “Laura” written underneath. And next to me in each drawing, an even bigger surprise. A large cross with the word “Jesus” written in crayon or pencil. Jesus.
Somewhere between LA and Nepal I had come home to myself and the Lord. Seeing myself so beautifully in pink, gold, red, yellow and brown crayon made the transformation all the more amazing. I hadn’t felt beautiful or amazing in a very long time. They saw me the way Jesus did. I was blind. A picture of the cross was about the last thing I expected the children to draw in the mostly Hindu country. Especially with a likeness of me and my name written beside the name of Jesus. I love how the Lord likes to blow all our expectations. Humbled, I hit my knees. It would have been really easy to not celebrate Easter in Nepal. But the kids and the Lord wouldn’t let me. While applying fluoride to a beautiful young girl’s teeth it hit me…
I’d been doing dental relief work here and realized Easter is tomorrow. I don’t want to ignore Easter. Not this year. Not when the person sitting next to me on this entire journey has been Jesus. This year I wasn’t alone, even though at times I never felt more alone. When I thought I lost everyone and everything I loved. This year I realized I’ll never be alone. Who would have ever guessed that I would celebrate the most meaningful Easter of my life in the Buddhist section of a mostly Hindu country? Jesus.
When I was walking in darkness, He held my hand. The Spirit moved me to ask Sonam if there were any Easter services in Kathmandu. She said she wasn’t sure but she would ask around. Sonam and her husband Karma founded a local girls’ school that cares for and educates the lowliest in Nepal’s society, orphaned/abandoned girls. Sonam was such a girl. Their passion and graciousness are an inspiration.
Later that night Sonam found some Christians that celebrated Easter and arranged my transportation to the service––a brief car ride and walk through her village with a sweet, beautifully dressed, bible-carrying Nepali woman. Shortly after sunrise, we arrived at a converted mosque. Everyone took their shoes off. Men kneeled on one side of the mosque and women kneeled on the other side. Some women wore veils. A Nepali man offered me a translation machine so that I’d get the most out of the service. The teenage girls of the congregation put on a uniquely Nepali passion play that brought me to tears.
The words over the altar read: “God is the way, the truth, and the life.” Easter will always remind me of the time that Jesus spoke to me through the drawings of the children, whispering He’d always been and always will be holding tight to my hand.