Snake Tale

It was a rainy night in early August in a village a couple hours north of Tansen.  Something woke the mom in her typical Nepali mud house – and when she looked over to where her 12 year old daughter, B, was sleeping, something didn’t seem right.  As she lit a lamp in order to see better, she was shocked to see a large snake wrapped around her daughter’s neck!  It was a Krait – and it had bitten her!.  The mom yelled for her husband, and they managed to get the snake off of her and killed it.  They realized they needed to get help as soon as possible.  Calling for an ambulance from where they lived wasn’t possible – so the father hurried out into the night and managed to find a vehicle willing to drive them to Tansen.  They started off towards the hospital.  Unfortunately, the car broke down after some way.  They got out and found another vehicle and continued on in the dark and the rain.  This next car ran out of gas…but the third vehicle finally made it to the Emergency Room at Tansen Hospital.  By now, this young girl was struggling.  The Krait is the type of snake which causes paralysis of the nerves – and it was getting hard for this girl to continue to breathe.  Within minutes of her arrival in the ER, she had to be put on a ventilator as she was no longer able to breathe on her own.  She was moved to the HDU (High Dependency Unit), where she was given multiple doses of anti-venom, and the prayers for her healing began.

Les was doing rounds the next morning with the medical team, and saw B on the ventilator.  Her face, neck, and breathing muscles were completely paralyzed from the snake venom.  This made her look unconscious, except that she was able to weakly squeeze a hand when asked to do so, and to wiggle her toes a little. Her mother, who had stayed at the bedside all night, was convinced that her daughter was as good as dead, and was quite despondent despite assurances that she would now likely recover.  As they were checking her, they realized that perhaps she shouldn’t be a medical (adult) patient – Her mother said she wasn’t 14 as her chart said, but only 12.  So – she was taken over by the pediatrician and his team of doctors.  She has had a long journey back to health – she will hopefully be discharged in the next few days from the hospital.  She took a long time to get off the ventilator, and then developed a pneumonia which required intravenous antibiotics.  However, we are so pleased that B has survived and is now thriving and almost ready to go home.  Her smile lights up the Pediatric ward and warms our hearts.  Her family will be able to return to life in the village – and won’t go with a huge debt over their heads thanks to the generous giving of so many friends from around the world who support the Medical Assistance Fund.  Thanks for your continued prayers for Tansen hospital – and for B and her family.b-snake-bite.jpg


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Hope even in sorrow

We are so thankful for the prayers and responses to our last blog about the little girl born so very early.  We are sorry to say that she only lived about 4 days.  We don’t understand all of the ways God chooses to work – why He sometimes intervenes miraculously, why He sometimes slowly works over a long time, and why He sometimes seemingly doesn’t respond to our prayers.  But – we have hope – hope in God’s love for us and for all the patients who come to our hospital.  We have hope that these young, grieving parents will remember the care that was given to their little daughter, and hope that they will feel the compassion of the staff here at the hospital.

We also continue each day to serve with hope – in the face of so many sick people with so many needs.  This morning at church, we rejoiced to hear the story of a young woman who came to the hospital thinking she would need surgery – but when she was examined again, there were no signs of the trouble she had been having.  She credits her healing to prayer – and we know that many prayers are answered here each day.

We continue to teach others in hopes that they will continue the work here after we are gone.  Les just finished another ALSO (Advanced Life Saving Obstetrics) course – so now more moms and babies will be able to be saved in difficult situations.

Thanks again for your prayers – they are vital for us!  God Bless You!


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Prayers for a Preemie

Les was on call the other night – when he came home for supper, he asked for prayers for a lady who was only 27 1/2 weeks along and in labor.  We don’t have an NICU here – we have just a few incubators and lots of prayer.  Later that night, the call came and Les went for the assisted breech delivery.  After 55 minutes of ventilating by hand the tiny girl and praying constantly, she took a breath!  This little one weighed in at 1090 grams – just a couple of pounds.Preemie girl.1

Les took the above photo of the baby about 14 hours after she was born.  This is the first child for this young couple – the mom is only 20.  They live about 3 hours from here (by vehicle) out in a remote area of Palpa district.

Preemie girl

Today (above photo), the baby is on IV fluid and oxygen in the incubator – but she continues breathing on her own.  (We don’t have ventilators for newborns.)  She still has a long way to go before she is out of the woods.

Please pray for this little baby and her parents – for healing, strength, and that God would be glorified through this little girl.


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Giving Thanks

This morning I was in the weekly devotion/prayer meeting in the administrative department of the hospital, listening to our Nurse Supervisor talk about 1 Thessalonians 5:16 – 18. I was struck again by verse 18 – “give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.” In these past months (in which I haven’t written anything – sorry!) how many times have I forgotten to give thanks for whatever circumstance I have been in? We have had some wonderful “highs” in these past months – enjoying family time celebrating our oldest granddaughter’s 3rd birthday; watching Rachel (our oldest daughter) graduate with her Master’s in Social Work; celebrating Hannah (our youngest) getting her visa so she could go back to England to be with her husband; having Rachel here with us in Tansen for almost 2 months…Those were easy times to be thankful. Then there were the other times… watching Hannah have to wait 4 long months in the U.S. while Nathan was in UK; mourning the unexpected deaths of several hospital staff here; being discouraged over difficulties with visas; late monsoon arrival, along with floods and landslides; and just finding it difficult at times to balance living in two worlds – missing one while in the other! (U.S. and Nepal)

Being thankful at all times is not easy – trusting that God is good through the hard times and remembering that the good times are blessings from Him.

Les and I recently celebrated 35 years of marriage. It is hard sometimes for us to believe we have had so many years together! But – while we were in the U.S., we were so happy to be at the 75th wedding anniversary celebration for my great aunt and uncle. Now that is amazing! Truly a time to thank God for all those memories and experiences and life together – both the good and bad times. They have been married for longer than our hospital has been serving here in Nepal! This year, United Mission Hospital Tansen is celebrating 65 years.

We are thankful for you – thanks for your prayers, your notes, and emails, and for your support. We ask your prayers especially for the Hospital agreement with the government here which expires in Jan 2020. We know it is all in God’s Hands – but we know that your prayers make a difference! It is our hope that this hospital on the hill would continue to follow its motto, “We Serve, Jesus Heals”.

If you are interested, here is a link to an article about our family and the Methodist Mission 200 year celebration.

Happy 3rd Birthday to our beautiful first granddaughter.

Congrats to Rachel on her hard earned Masters in Social Work!

Even the mountains appeared in monsoon to welcome Rachel to Nepal!

Flooding in the Terai area of Nepal

Huge rocks blocking road between Tansen and Butwal. One person died at this slide.

65 years! With hopes for many more years of service.


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Words and Water

Lately I’ve been stretched in my language abilities here.  I have never been as comfortable speaking in front of groups (in Nepali) as Les, and really preferred not to do it.  However, lately it seems that God has had other plans!

Every Monday morning, I’ve been going to the workshop (maintenance department) for their meeting and devotion time.  For a long time, there was a Nepali Christian who did a wonderful devotional each week, but he has retired.  Since then, one of the other staff has been reading a short bible passage, but not really doing any sharing or explaining.  So, I offered (in a moment of insanity) to bring a short devotional each week.  (They had asked me previously, but I had declined…)

Debbie with Workshop (Maintenance) staff

On Sunday afternoons, I had been attending a ladies bible study, and for a long time we just read a bible passage together and talked about it.  But recently, they needed more leadership, and again – in a moment of craziness – I agreed to use a bible study book on Abigail that I have and lead each week.  (The book is in English – I do a loose translation to get the discussions going!)

Bible study with another friend starting things off.

My prayer is that the words that I say will be both understandable, and will be glorifying to God.  But as usual – I end up getting more inspiration from the people attending these groups than what I offer.  Recently we were talking about how sometimes God surprises us by answering prayers we haven’t really even spoken.  One of the ladies shared about trusting God and obeying him and having a surprise following that obedience.

Many of you know that water is a problem in Tansen.  (By the way, this year we have had some good winter rains, so we are happy for that.  Thanks for your prayers!).  In Nov/Dec, when it was very dry, this lady was due to go to church on Sat morning and was leading the children’s class that day.  Just about the time that she was due to leave, the water started coming at their house tap.  This tap is shared among the people living in the house, so everyone has to line up with buckets, basins, etc in order to save the water to use for the coming days.  This lady filled a bucket, but then had to leave for church – realizing that she might not have enough water to last her through the coming days.

Kids carrying containers to get water from tap

Containers in line at the tap

When she returned from church, she found all of her buckets, basins, pails, etc, filled with water and waiting for her!  Turns out that her landlady had seen that she wasn’t there, and had taken the time and effort to fill all her containers so that she would have water.

It seems that when God asks us to do something for Him – he will take care of the other needs in our lives.  I pray that he will “fill” my language abilities as he filled this woman’s water containers!


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Don’t give up

“Do not be daunted by the enormity of the world’s grief. Do justice, now. Love mercy, now. Walk humbly now. You are not obligated to complete the work, but neither are you free to abandon it.”
We are one week into the New Year – 2019 is rushing by as quickly as previous years have done. We have really enjoyed hearing from many of you at Thanksgiving and Christmas. Thank you! The above quote was in one of the Christmas letters we received, and it has really stuck with me. We are so often overwhelmed by the needs around us. By the patients who don’t get well. By the struggles of families to feed and house themselves. By the hatred and anger that seems so prevalent in the world and throughout social media.
At our bi-weekly English service this past week, we shared the story of “The Other Wise Man” by Henry Van Dyke. It is one of my favorites, and it reminds me that Christmas isn’t the end of the story. And that not all circumstances surrounding Christmas were happy. We also looked at a painting of the Massacre of the Innocents – and remembered the grief of parents then and now who faced the loss of a child.
Here in Tansen, there have been several babies and children who have died while under care in the hospital. Les recently spent multiple hours trying to revive a newborn baby – but it wasn’t possible. It is devastating to us all – but especially the parents who go home empty handed. We ask ourselves – “Are we making a difference by being here?” We encouraged our gardener to get a needed operation (but not an emergency one). She was the 1 in 100 who had complications which now require more surgery and probably travel to another hospital. We ask ourselves – “Are we just causing more grief by being here?” We have multiple friends asking us for money – for children’s education, for needed housing, for medical issues….. We ask ourselves, “How can we ever do all of this? Will the work ever be done?”
Daily we need to remind ourselves – Do justice – in all the ways we can. Love mercy – for all the people we encounter. Walk humbly – knowing that only God can make a difference, and being thankful when He chooses to use us in a small way.
We are not obligated to complete the work – but we cannot abandon it! Keep the faith! Happy New Year.


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Back in Tansen – Les hard at work from Day 1

We’ve been back in Nepal for 3 ½ weeks now after our 4 ½ months away. We are enjoying beautiful mountain views, and reconnecting with friends.

And soon it will be Christmas! We pray Christmas blessings and Happy New Year for you all!





Les wrote down some thoughts after his first day back at work in the hospital (3 days after we arrived in Tansen).

“I (Les) returned to my clinical duties today – In some ways it feels like I have been away forever, with several new faces on staff and changes that have happened to the training program in my absence, which I need to familiarize myself with. But in other ways, it feels like returning after just a few days off, with many of the same problems to deal with. I was scheduled to work in the male clinic in the morning, and then help in the Emergency room in the afternoon, but due to a scheduling error, I had to start covering the ER from mid-morning. As soon as I arrived, I had to start ventilating a premature baby. KB was a first time mother, living in a remote village in Gulmi district. She found out she was expecting twins, but everything had been going well until this morning. She was 30 weeks pregnant with about two and a half months left to her due date. She had gotten up at 3 AM to use the outhouse, when she experienced sudden lower abdominal cramping. Before they could get any help, she delivered twin boys. The midwife from the health post was summoned, who finally arrived at 6:30. She found K was doing well, with her uterus well contracted and no significant bleeding. But the babies were both very small, weak, and not breathing well. They were advised to go immediately to the mission hospital. When they arrived at about 10:30 AM, one baby had already died, and the other was only taking gasping breaths. We ventilated and warmed the surviving baby, who turned pink and started to move better. He was admitted on oxygen and antibiotics in the incubator, but was critically ill all day. I continued to see other patients with a variety of infections, injuries, and other maladies. J, a 16 year old girl, arrived just after noon. Her family brought her in saying she had taken some poison at about 7 AM. They had purchased some insecticide for their vegetable garden yesterday containing organophasphate, a nerve toxin. She had pin point pupils and copious secretions, which confirmed she had ingested this. She was drowsy and not speaking much. After receiving the antidote, atropine, she was alert, but still confused. She was admitted to continue administering atropine, and to monitor her carefully. She will need counseling about why she took the poison when she is no longer confused. The Social Services/Pastoral care staff were already contacted and starting to be involved with the family. By evening, I had admitted another 6 people. Thankfully my night duty was on with an experienced resident, so I was still able to get a good night’s sleep. But my prayers for the patients I had seen continued whenever I was awake.”

Both the tiny baby and the young girl survived for which we are thankful. We appreciate your continued prayers!


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