Update from the frontline:

Bangladesh and Nepal

Two amazing couples. Two wonderful countries. Six incredible months. The latest from Team Lynch and Team Vokuhl.

New friendships, hard work, lots of prayer and one very embarrassing language mix-up. These past few months have certainly been challenging and rewarding ones for BMS World Mission workers the Lynches and Vokuhls. Louise and Peter Lynch are working with church leaders in Bangladesh, while Toby and Pippa Vokuhl are helping Nepal rebuild after the 2015 earthquakes. They couldn’t have got this far without your support so please read on for an update on their work.

Photo of Louise and Peter Lynch
Louise and Peter Lynch are currently based in Dhaka, the capital city of Bangladesh.
Photo of the Vokuhl family
Pippa and Toby Vokuhl, and their children Jakey, Ella and Millie, have been adapting to life in Nepal

Tell us what it was like when you first arrived?

The Lynches:

Peter: It was a bit disorientating. We were tired, and we went straight into meeting people, being at church and getting our bearings. That was easier than going to bed though! The Proctors (BMS workers) were our chaperones for the first couple of weeks. They were really good, very kind to us.

Louise: They took us shopping, showed us how to dress, helped us buy our clothes and showed us the supermarkets. It feels like we’ve settled in well.

The Vokuhls:

Toby: When we first arrived in Pokhara we were very warmly welcomed, which was great. Our housing situation was a little bit of a challenge because our flat was still under construction and we didn’t have a kitchen at all, so for two months we were living in a building site. We now find ourselves in what is a really lovely flat, not far from the children’s school. It’s worked out really well for us as a family with our children having friends nearby.

How is the language learning going?

The Lynches:

Louise: We have completed three books, so we’ve finished the basic course. We’re given about 25 new words every day and we’ve learnt tenses we never knew about. So we’re doing our homework. We get most of right, but there is quite a lot of red ink on it most days too!

Louise and another lady are walking away from us down a Dhaka street
Louise and Peter enjoy exploring the streets of Dhaka

The most useful phrases we’ve learnt so far are things like ‘kemôn achhen,’ which is ‘how are you?’ So we spend a lot of our time saying that, and ‘bhālō,’ which means ‘fine’, ‘āstē āstē,’ which means ‘slowly slowly’, and ‘ami janina,’ which is ‘I don’t know’, or ‘I don’t understand’. I think we are the entertainment sometimes, but sometimes you just have to go for it. People come along and they come and watch us trying to speak Bangla, and it is almost a sport!

Peter: We make everyone laugh! People appreciate us trying because they’re very proud of their language and they love people trying to learn it. They’ve been great.

The Vokuhls:

Pippa: It’s hard work! We started off doing four mornings a week and we are just doing one or two now. It’s nice to have some basic conversations with friends and people at church, and the local shops, but we have a lot more hours of study ahead. I’ve had a few embarrassing moments. I went into a shop to try and ask for two kilos for carrots and I managed to ask for two kilos of marijuana. The poor shopkeeper looked extremely shocked and distressed, and then said in English, “Oh, you want carrots.” I mentioned it to my language teacher who pointed out what I’d asked for.

Toby: Our landlady seems to think we are doing well settling in. The other day I could make out her saying to me in Nepali, “Toby, you’re so fat… your wife also.” I relayed that to Pippa, but in Nepali culture when you call someone fat you are just referring to how well they are doing. It was still rather funny!

Louise and Peter give us a slice of life in Dhaka and fill us in on what they’ve been up to

What else have you been up to?

The Lynches:

Louise: We just want to build relationships and understand the culture first before leaping in. We sat alongside pastors in some training for discipleship making, I think that’s an area where we’re looking to see how we can support them and help them to put their training into action in their churches.

We’re going up to Dineshpur for a month soon, and we’ll be staying with some of the pastors who were on the training, so it’ll be interesting to see what they’re doing.

Praying for Louise, Peter, Pippa and Toby? Click here

Peter: We’ve met most of the key people we’ll be working with in Dhaka, and people from the districts have come here for conferences. It’s been great to meet pastors and regional leaders. We’re developing a really good relationship with them, they’ve been so gracious and welcoming to us.

Everyone says to us that life outside of Dhaka is very different to life in Dhaka, so it will be great for us next month to just be outside of the capital and mix with the local community there.

The Vokuhls:

Pippa: Until recently, I’ve been doing language study and orientation, and at the moment our three children (Jakey, Ella and Millie) are on school holidays so that’s keeping me out of trouble.

Toby: We were waiting for a work visa for quite some time, so we have focused quite heavily on language study, and we’ve also been attending the local church. We’ve had a slightly longer language and culture adjustment period than we expected, but it has helped, and we’re pleased to have moved into the space where I can contribute to the work here.

Life in Nepal: Pippa and Toby Vokuhl chart some of the highlights, and ask for your prayers

What’s been a highlight so far?

The Lynches:

Peter: I just enjoy the life and vitality of the city, everyone is so industrious and active, there’s so many people everywhere doing so many things. It’s an energetic, lively and colourful place. We love the people.

Louise: We like walking around and we like the buzz of the place.

The Vokuhls:

Pippa: We went as a family to have a look around some of the projects that INF (International Nepal Fellowship) is running in the west of the country in villages and hospitals. It was amazing to see some of the projects that are making a difference to the poorest of the poor in Nepal.

Toby: There has been a wealth of experiences, such as being in a different culture and in a beautiful environment when you get out into the hills and mountains. Another highlight has been being able to make a difference through my work. That has been very rewarding.

What have been some of the challenges?

The Lynches:

Peter: I think pacing ourselves has been difficult. It is hot, and you find yourself on certain days having lower energy. So, I think knowing how to pace yourself and how to navigate your way through that.

Louise: It’s hard on your downtime because it’s not a recreational city. What to do when we’re not studying Bangla is the biggest challenge for us. But we’re enjoying Bangla learning, so it’s quite a win win really, as that’s what we spend most of our time doing.

The Vokuhls:

Pippa: Subtle cultural differences that you don’t necessarily see or understand. For example, our language teacher came around and she had very bad back pain. I said she should sit on the sofa, but her feet were dangling so I got some books to put under her feet. She went very quiet and said, “Oh, in your culture do you put your feet on books? In our culture, we believe that if you put your feet on books, all the knowledge from your brain will go.”

Toby: Not being able to communicate is disempowering, such as when you can’t say what you want to say to the local shopkeeper. Another challenge is finding your way around locally.

Photo of street scene in Pokhara, featuring motorbikes and overhead cables
The Vokuhls have been working hard to find their way around the streets of Pokhara

What can people be praying for?

The Lynches:

Louise: I think for next month, that we travel and stay well in Dineshpur, and that we make the most of that chance as it’s a really unique opportunity.

Peter: We’re moving house at the beginning of September and we’re moving to an area that’s close to the office. So please pray for that process of moving and getting into a local community.

Pray too for the church in Bangladesh. They’ve got big hearts and a big vision but it’s quite tough. So pray for them, that God would empower them.

The Vokuhls

Pippa: Please pray for my ongoing language study, and also pray for developing deeper relationships with local Nepali women. I’d also appreciate prayer as I find a role for myself. Please pray that God would move me into what I can do to serve him here.

Toby: Please pray for continued cultural awareness. Please also pray for a construction project that I’m managing at the Green Pastures Hospital, where a new chapel is being built. Everyone would like that to be a success for the hospital and for the people of Pokhara.

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