Rob Robideau is a missionary serving in a village on the south side of Kathmandu, Nepal, through the Northwest Bible Baptist Church in Elgin.
Robideau moved to DeKalb when he was 12, then later to Sycamore, he was home-schooled through the ninth grade. While attending Northwest Baptist Academy in Elgin, he participated in extracurricular activities through DeKalb and Sycamore high schools. He graduated from Providence Baptist College with a degree in missions.
In 2011, Robideau and his wife, Grace, moved from Sycamore to Nepal with their 6-month-old son, Timothy. The newest addition to the family, Caleb, was born in Nepal last summer.
"Nepal is all they have really known, so they are used to our entire family traveling around town on our scooter, pronouncing Nepali names, eating Momo, etc.," Robideau said in an email. "They love all the cows, goats, sheep, wild dogs, etc. that wander through the streets."
Robideau, a pilot, author and a web show host, shared some thoughts about being a missionary in an email interview with MidWeek reporter Doug Oleson.
MidWeek: How did you know you wanted to be a missionary?
Rob Robideau: In my junior year of high school, I felt that this was what the Lord wanted me to do. Through my training and preparation to move here, I had a number of jobs, from working for Laing Management in DeKalb through high school to working line service at Lake in the Hills Airport. I used to deliver newspapers in DeKalb and in high school, I even sold personalized Christmas cards to many businesses in the Sycamore and DeKalb area.
MW: Are you with a specific church or group, or are you on your own?
RR: We are sent out by our home church, Northwest Bible Baptist Church in Elgin. We are accountable to them and they manage the donations and finances that come in from other ministries and individuals (who) give to support our work here in Nepal. There are a number of other missionaries here in Nepal and some helped us get set up and settled in, but none that strictly work "with" us.
I also supplement our income through several books I have published while living here in Nepal, including a book about settling into a foreign country as an (expatriate). While we do have a number of "foreign" friends from the U.S. or Canada, we had never met any of them prior to moving to Nepal.
MW: Were you assigned to Nepal, or did you choose it?
RR: It is not an assignment, but rather a personal calling. I can't even really describe it as my personal decision. Nepal definitely wouldn't be at the top of my list of most appealing places to take my family and live, but I have a burden that I believe came from the Lord to come and work in this specific area. We presented our burden to several local churches who volunteered to help support us while we are working overseas.
MW: Had you ever been to Nepal before?
RR: We took a short survey trip before actually moving to Nepal, but at that point, we already knew what we were going to do. We were just figuring out the details and the best way to transition to Nepal.
MW: Was it difficult to move your young family?
RR: Yes. It was difficult to say goodbye to family and friends and take our 6-month-old son from his grandparents, aunts and uncles. Logistically, it wasn't that easy, either. Shipping a container, or anything large, would have been exorbitantly expensive and extremely unreliable, so we took only what we could carry with us on the plane. That ended up being seven military-style duffle bags. We basically started from scratch in a completely new country.
MW: Just what does a missionary do?
RR: Missionaries do different types of work, from working with orphanages to medical missions, but our work is specifically centered around religious outreach: telling people about the Gospel of Jesus Christ and what it means to them. It involves studying the language, meeting and teaching individuals and groups, and writing lessons, materials and tracts.
MW: Do you teach or preach? Or do both?
RR: Yes, I do teach and preach. We have a weekly Bible study in our home as well as individual meetings and lessons throughout the week. I also write, print and distribute literature.
MW: Where do you live?
RR: We live in a very nice brick house. In our neighborhood, there are many different types of houses. On one side of us, there is a large home with servants, several vehicles, etc. On the other side is a very small brick house with an unsecured tin roof, boards that they set in the doorway, and no indoor plumbing. Our house is somewhere in between. We live in the upper two levels of a three-story house. It, like all Nepali homes, has no insulation, central air, etc., but we do have indoor plumbing and Western toilets.
Water shortages, petrol (gasoline) shortages, and power blackouts are a way of life here and we have to have water delivered in a truck on a regular basis and pumped to a tank on the roof that gives us water pressure. We have a solar water heater, so you don't want to try to take a hot shower until the sun has been out for a little while. Right now, we have scheduled load shedding seven hours per day, but during the winter dry season we get about two hours of power per day. We have a battery backup system, but we still have to be very careful about how much power is used or we end up sitting in the dark all evening.
We also store petrol so we can still get around during the shortages. Yes, our whole family fits on our 100cc Honda Dio scooter.
MW: With such a young family, are you ever concerned for their safety?
RR: There is always the heaviness of the awesome responsibility of raising the sons that God has given us, but I truly believe that the safest and best place for us is in our place of service where God wants us to be. We do take our personal security very serious here and have numerous safeguards, from a walled-in property with a dog to barred and reinforced doors and pre-planned procedures in case of emergencies. I have even written a book on the subject of personal security.
Yes, there have been a number of violent protests in Kathmandu and Lalitpur, but we have become quite adept at avoiding them and they rarely affect our smaller village outside the big city.
MW: Anything you'd like to add?
RR: While living here can be difficult, we have made some amazing friends and it is truly an honor to be able to serve the Lord in this amazing place. It also might be of interest that since moving to Nepal, I have taken up mountain biking. I ride (about) 10 hours each week on small footpaths and reach areas that no vehicle could go. This allows me to meet people that, despite being relatively close to the big city of Kathmandu, rarely travel there and often have never even seen a white foreigner.
MW: How long do you plan to stay?
RR: Our work here has no real end date. As long as the Lord allows us to do this work and provides for us to to be here, we will continue our work here.