Monthly Archives: December 2016

Little Miracles Bring Hope

Back when I was in college, someone gave me a short piece of rope with a knot tied in it. They said that I should keep it with me as a reminder that when it seemed that I had reached the end of my rope that I should tie a knot and hang on!

Last Wednesday (Dec 21), I felt I had reached the end of my rope. Hannah (youngest daughter) and Nathan (her fiancé) were in KTM – and were scheduled to come to Tansen on the mission bus the following day. While I was meeting with a group of friends, I heard the news that there was a strike being called in KTM for the day they were to come. I was devastated….. I knew having them come a day later wouldn’t have been the end of the world, but it was one of those times when I had been looking forward to it so much that the thought of the plans not working out was the final straw! I was thankful for my friends who promised to pray for me, and who encouraged me.

Hannah and Nathan did, in fact, arrive on the mission bus on Thursday as planned. They actually had quite a good trip for these days – only 11 hours! (Much better than the 18 Hannah had experienced a couple of months ago.) We have been enjoying having the two of them here with us over the Christmas holidays, and I’ve been thinking about the small miracles and answers to prayer that God so graciously provides for us to keep us from becoming hopeless.

There are several instances which I can think of in just the past few weeks. The first involved me returning from Kathmandu after staying to see Hannah’s Christmas programs. (Les had flown from KTM to near Butwal on Monday (Dec 12), and had gotten a jeep up the hill to Tansen that evening. I stayed on in KTM until Friday (Dec 16.)  I realize that the last blog I wrote was about strikes – and we did, in fact, travel from Tansen to KTM (via Pokhara) leaving at 5 am to get to KTM on Dec. 7.  We really enjoyed our visit in KTM and loved seeing Hannah and watching her performances.

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Hannah directing the KTM Chorale in their Christmas concert

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Hannah’s school performance

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So – back to Dec. 16…. I caught the flight to Pokhara mid-morning that day, and was able to view the mountains for the entire 25 minute flight. It was so beautiful. A taxi met me at the airport, and we had lunch and then started driving towards Tansen. I had decided to fly to Pokhara instead of the closer Bhairahawa airport because that day a 3 day strike started in Palpa district, along with the other districts around the Bhairahawa airport. We drove for about 3.5 hours, and arrived at the border of the Palpa district about 10 minutes before 5 pm. Now – usually these days in a strike, they open in the evenings to let night buses and other vehicles get through. Not this time. This time the plan was to have a continuous bandh (strike) from Friday morning through Sunday night.

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Arrival at Pokhara airport

Views from the road

Views from the road

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River on the border of Palpa district

Well – the taxi driver and I walked over to where the road was blockaded – and he started asking if we could be let through because I was a foreign doctor who needed to get to the mission hospital! (Well – a doctor’s wife is close enough, I guess?) Anyway – I was praying, and I know many others were as well, because after an hour or so, they let us go through! All other vehicles had been turned back – and I was starting to contemplate having to spend a night in the village….

Anyway – one miracle – we arrived to Tansen safely and without any troubles – in the midst of a 3 day strike (which did last the 3 days!)

The second miracle was that the strike which would have affected Hannah and Nathan was cancelled – an answer to prayers, again, I’m sure.

Finally, the other day we were invited to walk down to eat at a friend’s home in the village. After walking down the back of Srinagar Hill for about 45 minutes, I noticed that I was missing my right contact lens. I knew I had put it in my eye because the left one was in, and I always start with the right. But – I hadn’t felt it fall out, and I had no idea where it was. So – after a lovely lunch and visit, we walked back up the hill, and when we went into the house, I went to the bathroom where I put my contacts in in the mornings. I looked on the counter – and then on the floor – and just under the corner of the floor rag was my lens! Amazing! Not only that I found it, but that it was in one piece after others had used the bathroom after I had dropped it and hadn’t noticed. I still am not sure what happened, but I was very thankful for that miracle! (And I was amazed at how my brain compensated for the missing lens…. mono-vision!)

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Hannah and Nathan with Laxmi before lunch. (I could still see well enough to take the photo!)

I know there are many prayers that are apparently not answered – or the answers are very slow in coming. We have prayed for some of our friends here for over 25 years – and they still are not following The Way. We know that people are hurting and that it often feels that God is far away or uncaring.

But – for the moment – when I put my contacts in in the mornings, and when I enjoy the time with Hannah and Nathan, I am thankful for a God who cares for some of the smallest details of my life and sometimes intervenes to give me fresh hope.

May your New Year be filled with that Hope.

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Strikes again. Looking for Peace on Earth!

We’ve been enjoying sitting in our back garden and admiring some of the most beautiful scenery in the world.  It all looks so peaceful – like there should be no worries, cares or problems.  However, we are once again in the midst of a political struggle and we’re not sure how it will all end.

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We first became aware of difficulties last Wednesday when all the staff were talking about a strike starting at 1 pm.  Of course we wanted to know why, and found out it is due to the possible new state lines being drawn in a constitutional amendment proposed to change the originally approved state lines in the new constitution.  Our district would be affected (most people believe in adverse ways) if the new states were implemented.  So – people out here decided to call an indefinite strike.

For us, the first hurdle to overcome was the fact that Les had plane tickets to fly to KTM on Thursday afternoon for a meeting on Friday.  Now, the planes do fly during strikes, but first you have to get to the airport!  And it wasn’t going to be possible by car – which causes a bit of a problem when the airport is approximately 60 kilometers from where we live.

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Never fear!  Les hopped on his trusty bicycle (still in working condition even after various accidents in the past) and started down the hill towards Butwal.  The best thing is that it is almost all downhill (literally) from here to Butwal.  As Les was nearing the last hill into Butwal, his chain broke!  So, he coasted in to town and slowly went along until he found a bicycle repair shop that was closed – but the owner was inside working.  (During the strikes, stores are forced to close, but some people open doors or shutters part way and watch for possible customers.)  He agreed to repair Les’s bike – and they only had to close the door once when a group of protesters came by.  (He also turned off the radio, and turned down the lights until it was “all clear”.)

After getting a new chain, Les continued on down the road to the airport in Bhairawa.  He was able to lock up his bike in the nearby shed of a friendly guard and had a couple hours to spare before getting his flight.  He brought a change of clothes and his computer in the backpack, as well as water, snacks, pajamas, toothbrush, and money. (Good thing  he didn’t have to carry a suit.)

Les enjoyed an evening meal with Hannah, and spent some time with her the next morning, as well.  He attended his meeting – which was mostly to show the people there that Tansen Hospital is very serious about continuing to train anesthesia assistants. (One of the training programs we run here)  After the meeting, Les had another nice meal and visit with Hannah.  (Kathmandu wasn’t under the strike restrictions.  No one there is quite so upset about the proposed state line amendment.)

Saturday morning, the strike in our area was continuing on.  Les got to the airport in KTM about 7:30, and saw the notice that the airport in Bhairawa was closed due to bad weather.  (Mist and fog)  The flight was scheduled for 9 – at 10:30 it was delayed to 11:30, then to 1.  They finally boarded the plane around 1:15, and sat on the runway for another hour!  So, Les arrived in Bhairawa airport just before 3, where he collected his bicycle and began riding – this time UP the hill!

The first part of the ride was rather uneventful.   No cars out, and most shops closed.  Major intersections had people sitting across the road in chairs, making sure no motorcycles or cars were going through, but bicycles and rickshaws seemed to be exempt, and there were plenty of them out.  (The other exemptions are milk trucks, ambulances, and wedding parties!)  But coming into Butwal, there was a huge crowd of protesters blocking the road, facing off with riot police, so Les found a side street and went around to avoid the crowd and the stone throwing which was also happening.

Because it gets dark here soon after 5 pm, we had arranged for a taxi from here to go down to meet him partway.  (During strikes, the roads are usually only closed between 6 am and 5 pm).  Les and the taxi actually passed each other without noticing, but they did find each other and he was able to throw the bicycle on the top of the taxi and get up to Tansen before 8 pm.

This is now Tuesday afternoon, and the strike goes on.  The shops all open at 5 pm and are absolutely jammed with people getting food and necessities.  It is getting difficult for shop owners to replenish supplies as it all has to be done at night.

Tomorrow, Les and I have planned to go into KTM to be with Hannah as she has several performances coming up this next week.  The current arrangement is to go on the hospital bus – leaving at 5 am, and going the long way around via Pokhara.  Because our district of Palpa is the one on strike, and the district of Syangja (Pokhara) is not, we hope to get out of Palpa before 6 am when the strike begins again.  Should be possible – but we have learned that nothing is a certain and sure thing here!

We are thankful that we can be sure of Jesus and His love for us.  As we are celebrating advent here at church and with our missionary team, we are glad to again remember the amazing sacrifice God made in leaving Heaven to come here to earth as a baby.  Merry Christmas!

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