2440 Kilometers, two flights, and a seven hours’ journey on the winding mountain roads is what it took the District Apostle Helper David Devaraj to finally reach his destination at Khirsu in the Pauri Gherwal District, in Uttarkhand. It had been an early start – rising at 4 am to undertake the journey, and arriving at Khirsu at 9 pm. This trip also meant a complete turnabout in weather – leaving Bengaluru where temperatures hovered at 33 degrees centigrade and plunging to 7 degrees centigrade at Khirsu, which is a hill station nestled in the Himalayan ranges.
The ‘Mountain Folks’
It was interesting to observe the complete change not only in the landscape but also the people, their dress, occupation and food habits. Step cultivation is practiced because of the hilly nature of the terrain, and most village households have their own cattle. Those who do not work in the fields, depend on collecting firewood from the forest for their living. Since there are many tourists who visit this beautiful mountainous region, as well as those who come on pilgrimage to the temple towns of Badrinath and Kedrinath, travel and tourism is a booming trade. There are several small homely guest houses along the route, having breath taking views. Many locals, including some of our members, have their own jeeps which are available on hire.
Divine Service at Highest Altitude
On 19th March 2017, Apostle David celebrated a Divine Service at Ghandkula, which is in the Pauri District of Uttarkhand. Built at 2151 meters above sea level, this is the New Apostolic Church located at the highest altitude in India. It was established in 1984 by the late Apostle Ram Sahae. Apostle David was welcomed by the children and youth with a song, and after the Divine Service, all present were happy to partake in the fellowship lunch which had been lovingly prepared by the members themselves.
Divine Service at First Church in the Gherwal Region
On the next day, Apostle David undertook a journey through treacherous mountain roads to visit the congregation at Naugoan which was the first New Apostolic Church to be established in the Gherwal region in 1980. He held a teaching seminar, which was followed by a Divine Service, in which there was one Holy Baptism and one Holy Sealing. The small mountain congregation was delighted and insisted that the Apostle and his team visited their homes. This entailed crossing from one mountain slope to the other, which the members did effortlessly, but was not so easy for the city bred visitors.
House Visits at Pokhari
Pokhari is a small village, where two to three families belonging to the New Apostolic Church reside. It was a mid-week morning, with children at school, and the local priest had been hospitalized. The visit of Apostle David to their homes brought them great comfort.
It was the first visit of a District Apostle Helper to this region, which is characterized by difficult terrain, harsh weather and small and scattered flock. However, the joy and gratitude expressed by the members made the effort well worth it.