Nepal mission inspirational’

PUBLISHED: 08:53 18 January 2008 | UPDATED: 15:38 11 May 2010

BACK HOME: From left, the Rev Ian Smart, Graham Blair, and Paul Harris. Picture: DANIEL 
WILSON

BACK HOME: From left, the Rev Ian Smart, Graham Blair, and Paul Harris. Picture: DANIEL WILSON

THREE volunteers on a mission to build a church have returned from their inspirational trip to Nepal. Royston Methodist Church members Graham Blair and Paul Harris spent six weeks in the country and were joined for the first two by minister, the Rev I

LAYING CEREMONY: The Rev Ian Smart leads a service from an 8ft hole.

THREE volunteers on a mission to build a church have returned from their "inspirational" trip to Nepal.

Royston Methodist Church members Graham Blair and Paul Harris spent six weeks in the country and were joined for the first two by minister, the Rev Ian Smart.

The group first visited the Glorious Ministry in Katmandu before heading to Hetauda to help build a 200-person church from funds raised by the Methodist church.

A laying ceremony was held to mark the first stage of the building work.

Mr Smart, who has now visited the country twice, said: "It was quite an event. I've never led a service 8ft down in a hole.

"There were lots of people's feet just above our heads and they were passing us bowls of concrete.

"It was a very unique and wonderful occasion."

Mr Harris, a steward at the Methodist church, said: "The people use basic technology when building.

"It was very labour intensive work."

Mr Smart said: "The wages are so low in Nepal that the cheapest resource they have is people, sadly."

The three also travelled a mile and a half from Hetauda to a refugee camp during their stay where they met a woman called Vishnu Maya.

Mr Smart said: "Most of these people's houses were taken away by Maoists.

"For 50 houses there is one toilet and just four taps for the entire community.

"They are so disgusting most people will not use them. They use water from the river bed instead.

"But Vishnu never stopped smiling, it was a privilege to meet her."

While Mr Smart headed back to Royston, Mr Blair and Mr Harris continued with the building work.

Mr Harris was struck down by an e-coli bug during the work in Hetauda.

Mr Blair, a member of the Royston Methodist Church, said: "Going to somewhere like Nepal is a big learning curve.

"You learn what to do and what not to do, even the clothing to take. We took things that we didn't need which we will remember next time."

The working trip was a humbling experience for all involved.

He said: "It was uplifting to experience the children singing in the mornings, they are very positive."

And Mr Smart agreed: "They were some of the happiest children I've seen yet they had so little.

"The standard of written English is amazing.

"We met a four-year-old girl who just wanted to show us her school work, she was doing three hours of homework."

"I won't look at anything the same again, I measure everything against what we saw.

"If I see a jacket for £45 I think that would put one child through school for a whole year in Nepal."

The men lived and worked with the Nepalese people for 45 days.

Mr Harris said: "We have a very privileged life.

"The positivity of people there is amazing and their belief in their religion is inspirational."

The men completed the foundation wall of the church building - and the hard work will continue in their absence.

Mr Harris said: "What we found was not what we expected.

"We thought the job would be done soon, but it is ongoing.

"It is not just the building, but support for the community and we will continue to raise funds."

The team will be heading back to Nepal later this year although it has not yet been decided when.

Mr Smart said: "We said we would go back for the dedication service of the church.

"All three of us are committed to supporting this in the long term and if anyone else can give their support it would be gratefully received."

# The group will be giving a talk at the Royston Methodist Church on January 24.

They will show photographs and talk about their experiences at the open meeting from 8pm.

# For more details call the Rev Ian Smart on 01763 230210.

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