Monthly Archives: March 2012

First Official Greetings from Nepal!

(E-mail received from Les and Debbie 3-24-12)

Well – it’s been a month since we left Middletown to return to Tansen, Nepal.  In spite of the fact that our 2 barrels have not yet made it here, we are feeling pretty settled into our “new” home.  We are living in an old Nepali home which has been worked on to make it more comfortable for westerners to live in.  It is a big house and we are actually sharing it with another missionary.  She (the tutorial group teacher) lives on the ground floor.  We have the second floor and the attic.  Most of our time is spent on the second floor where we have a kitchen, living room, bedroom, and bathroom.  We do have water piped into the kitchen sink and into the bathroom.  Water continues to be a big problem in Tansen – many people want it, and there never seems to be extra.  We get water sent into our tank every other day, but we share with our landlady who lives right next door, and with the other missionary downstairs.  Les is actually outside now as the water is coming trying to make sure the bottom tank fills, so we will be able to pump water up to the tank on the roof.  Thanks for prayers for enough water and rain – the hospital has been having to have tanker trucks of water already to help fill their tanks, and it is several months until monsoon season arrives.

Okay – Feb. 24, Rachel drove us to Columbus where we had to have a meal at Schmidt’s Sausage Haus before going to the airport!  🙂  We wanted to fly Southwest because we could get our suitcases to the west coast for free!  However, Southwest had some problems that day and instead of getting to Phoenix that night as planned, we only made it to St. Louis.  They put us up in a hotel and paid for our dinner and got us to Phoenix the next day where Debbie’s parents kindly met us and we drove together to Victorville, CA. We enjoyed several days there with Debbie’s sister and family and then we went down to Claremont and had a couple of days with Les’ mom and sister.

On March 1, Debbie’s sister and family drove us to LAX where we checked in on Thai airlines.  We left Los Angeles around 9:30 pm and flew through darkness for almost 18 hours until we landed in Bangkok the morning of March 3!  For such a long flight, we did okay – we had our own little TV screens in the backs of the seats and we could choose from lots of movies.  We tried to get up and walk every couple of hours – and there were several meals served, as well.  I think we even slept a bit!  From Bangkok, we flew into KTM where we were greeted by an old friend from our former days in UMN and taken to another friend’s house where we were staying.  Kathmandu has changed – it is even more busy and crowded than before.  It seems you can usually walk faster than drive as there are so many vehicles on the road there isn’t room to go fast!

We went to UMN headquarters on Monday morning – to be greeted with a cake and tea to celebrate UMN’s 58th birthday!  (And here we thought they were celebrating our arrival!! HA!) It was good to meet the new (and many familiar) faces around headquarters.  We spent the next few days enjoying visits with friends and doing shopping for things we knew we would need in Tansen.  We rode on the Buck (Bus/truck) out to Tansen on Thursday – it was a quick trip as we left KTM at 7 am and arrived in Tansen before 3!

We were so happy to see Ganesh (our former gardener – now Guest House manager and asst. ASO) and Sarda (our former and now current house helper) who were there to greet us.  We spent one night in the guest house and then moved to our new place in upper Gairi Gau.  We had to purchase a refrigerator and a gas cooker but many other needed items were left in the house by the family who had been here previously and we are very thankful for that!  We are especially thankful for the wireless internet here – not as fast as in the U.S., but we have been able to skype at certain times and to download (slowly) small items on youtube, etc.

I was a bit disappointed to learn that some of the TV shows I used to watch on are not available “in the geographical area in which you are residing”.  Well – I guess God was letting me know I have watched enough NCIS for awhile!  🙂  I am enjoying doing the Beth Moore study on James – I downloaded her audio teachings onto the IPOD before we left the U.S.  It is a bit strange to be doing it just on my own – I miss all you ladies I used to do Beth Moore with!!

Les is happy to be back at the hospital – and everyone seems really happy and pleased to have him back.  He has stepped into the role of doctor and teacher – and is trying to avoid administrative jobs as long as possible!  The people in place now in the admin roles are doing excellent jobs and we are thankful for that.  He works in either the male medical ward, the female/maternity ward or the pediatric.  Every morning still begins with prayer and doctor’s meeting/report, and then ward rounds.  Late morning, he goes to the outpatient clinics and sees patients the rest of the day.  We live off compound, but it is less than a 10 minute walk, so he comes home for lunch.  We have really been enjoying delicious Dal Bhat every day – the Nepali meal consisting of rice, lentil soup and curried vegetables.  Also – the various pickles and condiments add great flavor and variety.

Yesterday we walked down to where we used to live.  Some of the area is almost unrecognizable as the same road!  Our home is now housing several Nepali families, and the garden area is very different.  We were sad to see many of the lovely fruit trees were gone – the peach trees, especially.  We were able to visit many old neighbors and friends as we walked – more people remember our names than we remember theirs!  Fortunately we can always use “didi” (older sister) or dhai (older brother) when names don’t come to mind!

We have been taking Nepali lessons every day for the last couple of weeks.  Les really didn’t need much review – in fact, he was using a couple of his new words at lunch with our house helper and she didn’t understand them!  He is now learning words only really highly educated Nepalis know!  Debbie, on the other hand, who was never as good at Nepali as Les anyway, is struggling to remember words and to be able to be at least close to grammatical correctness.  Lots of hand motions and smiling!  🙂

Debbie is once again taking on the role of Area Services Officer – a job which now involves a lot more than it did when previously was here.  She has been meeting with the current ASO and learning the job a bit at a time, and will probably take over from mid-April.

We have enjoyed getting back to our church here – many of the same faces that we remember, but the kids have all grown up!  How did that happen?! 🙂  Les has already been asked to preach – on Easter!

Next week we travel to KTM to meet with our “boss” from the General Bd of Global Ministries of the United Methodist Church.  He will be coming from NYC for a few days and will be unable to make it out to Tansen, so we will go to meet with him in KTM.

Thanks for your prayers – and we would love to hear from you. You can email us – or you can send us a card or letter.  We get snail mail once a week – and it is very exciting!  🙂  Our address is:
Les & Debbie Dornon
c/o United Mission to Nepal (Tansen)
Box 126
Kathmandu, NEPAL
South Asia

God Bless You!

Love, Debbie & Les Dornon



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Home (photos and descriptions from Les and Debbie)

This is our house taken from the path as we are walking from the hospital towards the bazaar.

This is the front of the house – taken from the garden.

This is looking across the front of the house – our water tank! (Standing in our front door looking to the right)  The blue “house” beyond is where the land lady lives with her family. When the water comes from the city (about every other day) the land lady puts a hose into our tank and fills it.  Then we pump water up to a smaller tank on the roof so it flows down into the house.

Sophia (our downstairs neighbor) had this small gazebo built.  We kind of feel like we are living in a resort when we look out at that!  Sophia lives on the ground floor of the house, and we have the middle floor and the attic.

“This is our “living room”.  It actually has a mud floor, but is covered with linoleum.  We love the shelves in the walls, but you have to keep an eye on things – books have been known to have been eaten through by silver fish and other bugs as the walls are mud, too, just white washed. :)”

“More of the living room.  The chairs and small couch belong to our landlady – she doesn’t have room for them in her small place now.  Don’t look too closely – a few have holes that mice have chewed in them. :)”

“Our kitchen.  Also mud floor under linoleum.  We purchased the fridge in Tansen – big change from when we were here before.  The small oven is electric – we use it to bake our bread and make granola, etc.  We have no other oven right now.  We hope to get a gas oven from friends who are leaving in a couple of months.  That will be nice as it is a bit bigger, and if the elec. goes off, we can still use the gas.  (Although, gas is getting more expensive and harder to get).”

“Kitchen – Sarda, our helper, is by the gas cooker we have – 2 burners.”
“Other end of kitchen.  It is a nice big room – wish we could have had it with all the kids when they were growing up!  🙂 “
“The bathroom!!  We can now sit on our toilet, but we still flush it by pouring water from a bucket – either from under the hand washing sink, or left over water from washing clothes or showering.  It is tiled, which is nicer than the plain cement we used to have.”
“The shower.  It is an instant gas water heater.  Seems to work pretty well so far.  Since the bathroom is rather drafty, I am happy for the hot water!”
“Our bedroom.  There is a chest of drawers in the corner, but that’s pretty much it.  A small room, but quiet and right next to the bathroom!”


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All settled!

Email from Les and Debbie:

Hi!  We have been in Tansen a week now, and are feeling pretty settled.  It is still strange to walk from the hospital on the upper path instead of the road as we used to do.  And it is also strange to not have the kids here – I keep expecting them to pop in the door or to hear their voices from the garden.

We are in an old Nepali style house, but it has been fixed up pretty well.  We are on the second floor – the first (ground) floor is being lived in by the tutorial group teacher – a lovely young woman from Australia named Sophia.  So when my mothering urges become too strong, I can go and find her!  🙂  We have a kitchen, living room, bathroom and bedroom on the second floor – along with a balcony/porch.  We also have the attic which has been made into 3 large rooms, so we have room and beds for guests!  We share water with Sophia, and also with the landlady who lives right next door (literally) but right now that seems to be working okay.  There are power cuts (load shedding) every day – usually a couple hours in the morning and a couple in the evening.  But, we have a battery and inverter system here in the house so we have lights – and the internet still works, too, so as long as the computer battery lasts, we can use that.

When we arrived here, we were told that they had given us 2 weeks to settle in and study language, but Les was not for that at all!  We arrived on Thursday, moved into the house on Friday and Les started showing up at the hospital to work on Sunday!  We are taking some language lessons, but he just slips away for an hour to take his lesson and then is back to work.  I am also trying to fix the holes in my language that I never really learned last time – but I usually feel pretty old and unintelligent at the end of the lesson.  Words and phrases are coming back, but I still have this husband who remembers everything….:)

On Wednesday, Les was gone all day to a health camp in Nawalparasi – down on the Tarai.  They saw patients at a school there.  He left around 6 am and returned a bit before 9 pm.

We are currently 9 hours and 45 minutes ahead of Eastern time (daylight savings).

Well – time to get busy.  Thanks for your prayers and emails, etc.  Do keep in touch.  We hope to really get our blog going soon.

Love and hugs – Les & Debbie


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Email Update March 8, 2012

“We had a relatively painless trip today on the UMN “buck” (bus+truck) from Kathmandu to Tansen.  Pick up at 6 AM after making 3 trips down the alley with the heavy suitcases was a bit of a struggle, but the ride was smooth.  Daal bhaat was at the same old store in Mugling, with the same crispy thin French fries.  What memories!  The road had a few rough spots, but was mostly fine.  We arrived at 3, and were met by Ganesh, followed by a retinue of old staff and Sarda didi with one of her daughters.  Lots of Namaste-s.  We went over to the house, which is 2 houses over from Henwoods’ place on the upper path.  We have a nice balcony, as well as a dining room, living room, bathroom, and kitchen on the second floor.  (The tutorial group teacher lives on the first floor.)  And the attic can be used for guest bedrooms, sleeping at least 4 people comfortably, so it is more house than we really need.  So we will look for visitors!  Tomorrow we will shop for a refrigerator, and figure out some cooking arrangements, so we can hopefully move in tomorrow.  The only bad news so far is that the barrels have not arrived.  We will be getting a nice stove and oven from Tim and Lisa when they leave in May/June, as well as some other things.

Miss you all very much.”


Les & Debbie

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Safe travels!

(Email from Les and Debbie received March 2)

“WE SURVIVED!!!  Our flight was just under 18 hours.  It was totally dark the whole time, until right before landing.  We are now in the gate lounge for the flight to KTM.  Fortunately we did have on demand movies and games to entertain us, and we slept some, and the 3 meals were fairly decent Thai style food, so we are not in too bad a shape.

We love you all and miss you already.  Thanks for your prayers.”


(Email from Les and Debbie received March 3)

“We are back in the dusty noisy town of KTM!  The flight in was fine … We got our tourist visas put in and then found all 4 of our suitcases.  They waved us through customs with no trouble… We will probably start shopping for needed stuff tomorrow.  We are in KTM until Thursday when we will take the Buck to Tansen.

P.S. We are 10 hours 45 minutes ahead of Ohio time.”

Debbie & Les


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