Of all the wonders the Mainali family hoped to experience in America, salvation through a newfound faith in Jesus Christ was not on the list.

Then the family matriarch, Bishnu Mainali, discovered a Baptist church near downtown Alameda and listened each Sunday to the scripture and sermons. The lifelong Hindu found camaraderie among the friendly congregation and a positive message in the Christian teachings. Now, she is trying to convince her reluctant family it is time to be saved.

“The U.S. is a country of Christians,” said the 64-year-old refugee, speaking at her apartment a few days before Christmas. “We have to move toward the side of the majority.”

The Bhutanese refugees knew the United States would bring surprises and require adaptation when they left their refugee camp in the plains of southern Nepal seven months ago and flew to California. They settled into an apartment in the Laurel district of Oakland in late May, and quickly learned to navigate the bus system, find the cheapest groceries and adjust to the busy pace of American life.

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