Good question! I asked myself the same thing over and over again over the past few months. Where should I go and why?
Everyone makes decisions differently. My strategy is a combination of gathering (some) information, talking with knowledgeable people, and praying for clear understanding of where God would like me to go. In this instance, I did not get a direct order from God, so I continued to seek information and discuss with people. Here’s what I found.
Nepal is a small country, located between China and India. It is in a unique position of never having been colonized, giving the culture a unique openness and welcoming attitude. The climate and landscape vary widely, ranging from desert lowlands to the highest mountains in the world. Its people are as diverse as its landscape: at least 121 languages are spoken in a population of about 26,621,000.
The SIL office in Nepal (where I will be working) is located in the capital city of Kathmandu, which has a population of about 2.6 million. They dynamics of the office there seem wonderful! The expats have great relationships with each other, and work well together to accomplish the linguistic research that they are there to do. The survey team is currently in transition, but there will be many people for me to learn from and two new women who will be learning alongside me.
There seem to be many different types of language assessment needs in Nepal, and much of the linguistic work is still in pioneering stages. We will be working alongside a major university in Kathmandu, aiding the government’s initiative to help catalog all of the languages in Nepal!
One of the other things that I am excited about with regards to Nepal is SIL’s desire to encourage more Nepali involvement in the work. Natives of Nepali language and culture have a major step up on us Westerners, and my hope is that we can continue to train and work alongside Nepalis to survey, translate, etc.
Finally, the religious situation in Nepal was a major factor in my decision. Nepal is 81% Hindu, 9% Buddhist, and a few other religions sprinkled in. Exciting things are happening in the Christian church there; I have heard that it is growing rapidly! Although I am interested in linguistics and am passionate about the material benefits of literacy and education, the biggest reason that I have joined Wycliffe is that I believe God wants every person on this earth to have access to His word, the Bible, in the language that means the most to them. There are still many languages in Nepal that do not have the Bible, and there are many people who are living in spiritual despair, unaware of the hope and grace that God has for them.
And so, here we are! Today I received an email with all of the things that I need to do before I go. Vaccinations and visas and signatures oh my! My prayer is that through all of these logistics I will not lose sight of the reason I am here: God has called me to join in His work and follow Him wherever He leads.