Rewa | Hope

GT

I eagerly waited for the arrival of the disciples of this Jesus, whose name had steadily risen in rank among the gods.  Since that time in 1986 many have asked my story, questioning why I left Buddhism, the religion of my ancestors.  I’d like to share with you the amazing, but true account of ho God lovingly reached down to me, my family, and our Tamang and Sherpa people in perhaps the only way we would have listened.

My story really begins with my ancestors and father, Lharkyal.  Ten generations ago the Tibetan border was moved after a war and our citizenship changed from Tibetan to Nepalese.  At that time our ancestor, Kham Sung Wang Di, brought in a gold-covered Buddha idol for the temple in the forest near Big Syabru.  My father, like his forebears, was the guardian of the key of this temple and faithfully carried out his duties as the temples main keeper.  At thirteen he went to Sing Gomba hoping to become a lama, but he served there two years without reaching his goal.  Zealous to learn all he could of Buddhism, father then lived as a monk, studying under the great Kamba Lama on the Tibetan border.  When the Kamba Lama learned of fighting starting up between China and Tibet they moved south to Poloche.  Life was often austere and in times of famine they subsisted on wild grasses and nettle soup.  By age nineteen father realized he would never become a lama himself and sadly left the Kamba Lama.

Father is from the Tamang group, so when he displeased his family by marrying Dolma, a Helambu Sherpa, his family gave him a home where only one other house had been built.  It was on the least desirable land around: a hillside near the temple where ghosts and demons were said to live.  A village idol where chickens were sacrificed stood on the other side of the house.  It wasn’t surprising that father usually entered the house, holding out his big curved Gurkha knife in fear, and like others in the area he drank a lot of millet and wheat whiskey.  At that time father’s main religious duty was to lead the worship songs at Gyawa festivals, rituals held 49 days after a person has died.  For income our family also kept Jomos (females from a Yak – cow cross).  When father was twenty and mother was twenty-four, my oldest brother Angdawa was born.  He was followed three years later by Mingmar, then a sister who died, and finally after seven years I was born.  Originally I was named Khaji, but I was renamed Gyalsang when, after a serious fall, I stopped breathing for a time.  M new name, meaning “Fainting”, was fitting, for I passed out very easily as a boy.

Rather than living in the stone and wood house on the hill, we usually stayed in a woven bamboo A-frame shelter that could be moved up and down the mountain as we followed the Jomo herd.  Sometimes our house was rented to Tibetans who ran a lodge for the budding tourist trade.  However, when I was eight to ten years old, we did live in the house and I was able to attend the school just above us.

Like twenty or so other village boys, I attended school but learned little.  Our languages at home were Sherpa and occasionally Tamang, not Nepalese, the language used at school.  What’s more, I was careless about attendance – we all were – making it to class about once every eight days.  Usually we just played around, hiding from Nepalese speakers who happened along the trail, and begging from trekkers for gum, pens, or “one Rupee please”.

In 1984, when I was ten, we moved back to the portable shelter.  My oldest brother Angdawa, had gone to India to work in a coal mine and Mingmar lived and worked in the cheese factory at Sing Gomba, a half-days walk away, so I was the only one free to help my parents.  Mother and I went out daily to graze the Jomos and to protect them from wolves and snow-leopards.

One partly cloudy day in May of that year we were out with the herd, mother in front and the stragglers and I bringing up the rear.  At mid-day I lay down in the grass to doze for a few minutes.  I felt that I woke up, but I could neither see nor hear because it seemed that two black shadow-men kept surging back and forth in front of my face like lightless lightning.  They wore crowns and wing-capes stretching from their shoulders to the up-turned points on their feet.  Mother said she heard me shout and came running.  She couldn’t shake me to consciousness and splashing me with cold water didn’t help as it had when I was a baby.  She called others who were grazing animals nearby, but in the evening she had to carry me back to the shelter, still unconscious.  It was too dark to go for a witch doctor, so mother and father slept, one on each side of me, on the shelter floor.

During the night the shadow-men stopped their surging and they spoke to me in Sherpa, “Don’t worry.  We want to use you.  We want to show you the Buddhist way.  Your parents are very afraid, so tomorrow they will want to call a witch doctor.  Tell them to not call such a person.  Tomorrow you will be better, but from now on you must sleep alone.  Tell your parents to make a separate sleeping place for you and instruct them to never wake you when you are asleep.”  Having said that the shadow-men left and it was morning.  I knew that what I had seen was more than just a dream.

I was hungry.  While I ate, father and mother bombarded me with questions:  “What happened?”  “Are you well?”  “What did you see?”  I reported all that had happened and what the shadow-men had said.  My parents thought much on what I had told them.  They didn’t call a witch doctor and they built a two foot high plastic wall to separate my sleeping area from theirs.

The following night the shadow-men returned and wanted to show me somewhere.  As we flew I felt them touching me, one on the right and one on the left.  It took some time and it was as if we had left this world.  Then we were in a dark un-natural place where no other living things existed.  From the right hand of each of my escorts shone a tiny light, so that, though I could feel their bodies beside me, I could see their fingers but no more.  Then we went on to another place.  Here was light but no sun, moon, or stars could be seen.  It was a place more beautiful than anything I’d ever seen. The shadow escorts retreated and there in front of me I dimly saw a Buddha image.  A voice spoke, “From today I want to use you.  I’ll teach you about my way.”

The shadow-men emerged from behind and took me back through the dark place to the world.  They said, “From today you are not to mix with others.  Stay alone with your parents.  Whenever your father and mother enter the shelter they must first cover themselves with incense.”  After that, every night for three years I slept with a butter lamp by my head.  While I slept I had to go to the place of light to learn the Buddhist teaching.  My father was amazed as I reported all I learned: it corresponded exactly with what he had learned from the Kamba Lama years before.  As I directed we bought the religious dress, drums and bells.  Father was further amazed that though I’d never been taught, I could play the instruments.

One night the shadow-men told me to get a special pot we had in the family.  On the night of the full moon I was to clean it, and set it empty, on a shelf near my head.  The following morning it would be brimming with water.  Using that, my parents, Mingmar (who had come home from the cheese factory) and I were to wash our heads and each drink as much as we could.  Normally the pot only held two glasses of water, but on mornings after a full moon it always provided plenty with which we could all wash and drink liberally.  After three months a green tree branch sprouted from the pot’s spout.  There was no soil in the pot.  The shadow-men ordered that father should make a special box out of fragrant wood for the pot, which he did.  Thereafter, we would sometimes find, upon opening the box, new sprouts or flowers coming from the spout.  Once a branch came from the top.

After some time of receiving teaching and witnessing such wonders, the shadow-men took me to the Buddha image, but this time a plate similar to a computer screen was attached at the knees.  Letters were etched on it, and a voice explained the meaning.  I couldn’t even read Nepalese or write in straight lines.  Nevertheless, every day I wrote clearly and neatly in a notebook the messages from Buddha’s “screen”.  I wrote in another language, which, to this day, no one has been able to identify.  I could always read what I had written and from these writings I could also tell father and mother amazing things such as what they were thinking, and about their past sins.  I also gave them instructions about how they could atone for those sins: They had to daily bow down before the bow 108 times, first on their knees, then prostrate with their heads to the ground.  Mother did this so diligently that she developed a callous on her forehead.  They also had to buy strings of 108 seed beads and go through those saying the traditional Buddhist chant.  At one point we were given ten days to go to Kathmandu in order to buy Buddhist idols.  Having done that, we were then to put two idols in the box in place of the pot.  Every Saturday we had to do a special ceremony, in which I walked with a five-foot trident before the idol box carried by my father.  As time passed we had to do more and more rituals.  I was given a list of 35 gods’ names.  Every night all of us had to prostrate our selves three times for each of the gods, saying the gods’ name as we bowed.  The Dalai Lama was number 35, the lowest in rank among the gods.

Then one day my notebook said, “After the Dalai Lama bow down to Yesu.”  I didn’t know that Yesu is Sherpa for Jesus.  In fact, I had never heard of Yesu (Jesus) before!

Every Saturday we opened my notebook for teaching and week by week, month by month the name Yesu rose higher in rank.  With the name of Yesu came teaching about this unknown God.  We learned of Adam and Eve and the first sin, Yesu, the Son of God and His crucifixion and resurrection and much more.  We were also told that God will come to judge the world.

It was now 1985.  As usual in the autumn, we moved the shelter down closer to Big Syabru for the coming cold months.  Father was glad to be able to bring a gift and again visit his old friend, the owner of the Yeti hotel.  While there father noticed a Tibetan tract lying on the table and was immediately interested, not only because he reads Tibetan, but more so because he saw the name “Yesu” on the cover.  Father asked the owner about the tract.  It had been left behind by some tourists and the Yeti hotel owner didn’t want it. Father brought it back to our shelter and I looked in my special notebook for guidance regarding the tract.  I read, “keep the tract – it is good.  Read it” We did.  We also bowed down to it when we bowed down to the idols.

Two months later Mingmar wanted to quit his job at the cheese factory in order to reopen our house as a lodge.  He asked me to look in my notebook for guidance in this matter.  I bowed down three times and began to read, “If Mingmar wants to open a lodge that is fine, but don’t sell alcohol.  When the lodge is opened followers of Yesu will meet you.”  Mingmar happily opened the lodge and six months later the disciples of Yesu came.

By this time many lodges had opened along the well traveled Langtang trek and the lodge and hotel owners had a system of lining up for chances to meet the trekkers on the trail in order to invite them to their own places.  On that particular day Mingmar was late in the line so he opted to just stay home.  But while at home he noticed three trekkers on the less-traveled trail from Sing Gomba to Big Syabru.  He ran out to meet the young men, asking them to stay at his lodge.

The previous night the men stayed at a tiny lodge run by two young women, who had eagerly requested, “When you go through Big Syabru, please stop at our cousin Mingmar’s lodge.”  Jon, his brother Dan, and Jay had intended to go farther than just to Big Syabru, but they hadn’t wanted to hurt the women’s feelings so they said nothing.  However, the following day it was slow walking: snow and rain had made the mud paths slippery.  They were wet cold and tired, so at my brother’s invitation, they decided to stop for the day.  They didn’t know yet that Mingmar’s lodge was the very one my cousins had recommended the evening before.  They also didn’t know how God had gone before them to prepare the way for Sherpa’s to hear His Good News.

Actually Jon and Dan had been praying earnestly for the Helambu Sherpa people for two years.  They had been sent to Nepal by Gospel Recordings to learn Nepalese and then make Gospel message tapes for evangelism in the lesser known languages and dialects of the land.  Knowing that there were not yet any Christians among the Helambu Sherpas, they had contacted a translator working with that people with the hope of making a recording.  Her Sherpa friends refused.

Arriving at the lodge, the three men changed into dry clothes and ordered instant noodles and hot lemon drinks.  As usual, they bowed for a prayer of thanks in Jesus’ name.  Mingmar noticed.  Later Dan and Jay went out to explore the village and Jon stayed back at the lodge, settling on a bench by the mud and stone stove in the narrow dark kitchen off to the side of our big sleeping room.  He pulled on a thicker pair of socks and warmed his hands over the fire as my brother started to organize things for the evening rice meal.

“What religion do you observe?” Jon asked.

“Buddhist”, Mingmar answered, giving his full attention.  “Is that all right?”

“What’s really all right is what saves your soul”, Jon told him.  Then Jon continued, telling him about God, creation, sin, and finally about Jesus – His life, death, and resurrection which had made the way for us to God.  “The things you’ve told me and the things my brother has told me differ in not even one area!” Mingmar exclaimed.

“Where is your brother?” asked Jon, “Can we meet him?”

“He seems to have gone crazy”, was the reply.  “I can take you to where he lives in the Jungle, about a three hour walk up the mountain from here”.

Jon, Dan, and Jay were thrilled and curious about what Mingmar had told them and they wanted to meet me, but Dan had a plane to catch in Kathmandu.  They couldn’t take the time to hike all the way up to where our shelter was.  Later however – when he realized the importance of what had happened – Jon promised to return as soon as possible with a Nepalese friend.

Just two weeks later, Jon and Barnabas, a Nepalese Gospel Recordings worker, came to us.  Recently the name of Yesu had moved up to second in rank in the list of gods we were bowing down to.  I was also told that when the followers of Yesu come they should be allowed to enter our shelter without the customary waving of incense over their bodies.  We had beautified the shelter with fresh ferns and flowers all over the floor and walls and as usual, I had on my white clothing.  We were ready.  It had been exactly three years since my first vision to that afternoon when Mingmar and the two arrived, about 5:00pm.  Father, mother, Mingmar and I began to take turns bowing down before Jon and Barnabas, but they stopped us saying, “Don’t bow down to us.  We are people just as you are.”

I still couldn’t speak Nepalese, so Mingmar and Father translated as our visitor talked with us.  Barnabas began by telling how Jesus was born, lived, was crucified and three days later, rose again.  They also played a gospel tape in the Tamang language for us.  Most of the evening I sat quietly, intent to hear every word, but finally I was so excited that I jumped up and got my notebooks.  Flipping through the pages, I found and read some sections corresponding with what we had heard.  (During a later visit from Jon and a Nepalese co-worker, I read from one of my notebooks the complete accounts of how sin entered the world in the Garden of Eden, and Jesus’ life, death and resurrection.  Jon, amazed, said I had confused Pilate’s name with Caesar’s in the part about the trial, but that everything else was just as recorded in the Bible.)  It grew late.  After giving our visitors milk-rice to eat I offered them my sleeping place.  “We have good sleeping bags,” they assured us, asking instead that we spread out the pine-bough bedding a bit away from me.  Jon later explained why: He said he would have felt uncomfortable sleeping just where we were because of the ever-burning butter lamp, idols and ruffled cloth canopy.  It looked too much like a monastery.

That night the shadow-men came as usual and escorted me to the Buddha image.  A voice came, “Today my kingdom is finished in you and you no longer need to serve me.  One comes after me who is greater than I.  You must do what the men say and follow Yesu”.  I had no power to question.  The dark men took me back.  It was my last vision.  Morning came and I felt as if a heaviness had gone.

The day was warm and relaxing with plenty of time to talk further.  Jon told us that God doesn’t want us to bow down to the idols – nor even the things written about Yesu – as we’d been doing.  Barnabas explained more about why Yesu had to die in our place, how He fulfilled all the requirements of righteousness, ritual and law.  He also clarified that believing in Yesu means entrusting ourselves to Him.  Barnabas and Jon played a cassette tape in Tibetan as they flipped through a corresponding set of forty pictures.  These went over some Old Testament stories and told of Yesu, and they also showed what new life in Christ is like.  Though no one suggested that I do it, I yanked the charms and beads from my neck and we told Yesu we would follow Him.  Mother had been out milking the Jomos so Jon and Barnabas gave her the Good News too.  She also wanted to follow in faith and by herself she prayed a beautiful prayer:  “From now on, You are my Lord.  I don’t know much, but You are my Lord.”

Leaving the Buddhist way, the way of our ancestors, was a struggle at first, especially for father.  After Jon and Barnabas had left I saw him light some coals and incense in a pot, bow down three times, and then sob uncontrollably.  I hated to hear him cry and went to him, telling him the words I had heard from the Buddha image, in my final vision, two nights earlier.  He calmed, and when peaceful again, agreed to stop doing the rituals.  A few days later I got chicken pox and was seriously ill for seven days.  We knew that this time we couldn’t call a witch doctor.

By now the weather was getting too warm for the Jomos so we had to move the shelter higher.  Before doing so, we burned our religious things, including most of the notebooks.  I saved only the smallest notebook in which were the messages about Yesu.

From that time the things I had written in the notebook became to me as a completely foreign language usually, though I was still able to read parts of it from time to time.  I understood that the ability to read it occasionally would last only until I could read a Bible myself and my faith was stronger.  The last time I read it was the day my mother went to be with the Lord Yesu after a long battle with cancer.

Mother is perhaps the first Helambu Sherpa standing before the throne of God in praise.  Father composes Sherpa and Tamang hymns and leads in worship when the believers in our area gather.  Mingmar and his wife, Karmu, have been able to go to Bible school in Pokhara.  God has helped me learn Nepalese and made it possible for me to record Gospel message cassettes in Sherpa and do the translation of the Sherpa New Testament, my heart language.

Maybe this is difficult for you to accept.  I could show you my notebook as proof, and you could ask anyone in my whole village and they could testify to the three-year period during which I had the dreams and visions while living in the shelter.

God can do anything if it’s his will – this is my strong belief.  Nevertheless there is much opposition.  The lamas consider me a bad example for Buddhists.  If you are a believer in Jesus, I ask you to pray for us, the Christians in Syabru.  Pray also for our people who do not yet follow Jesus.  Just as it seemed impossible for me to become a Christian, and yet I have, please pray that others in Syabru will also follow him.  One day you may hear that according to God’s will, everyone in our village has begun to follow Yesu, the name above all.

Our Lives