Who is responsible for them?

A few weeks ago, our head of Social Services/Pastoral care in the hospital posted this photo on his facebook page.

From the Kantipur News in Nepal

From the Kantipur News in Nepal

His post read, “This young man was treated worse than an animal – for six months he was chained to a post in a shed because of mental illness.  Who is responsible for him?”

Pun Narayan (the head of social services) has been passionate in his campaign to try to help people in Nepal suffering from mental illness.  There are no govt supports or structures to help people, and families either keep people hidden away, or send them out into the streets and abandon them.

A couple of years ago, our hospital helped to start the New Life Psychiatric Rehabilitation Center.  When local police find mentally ill people on the streets, they bring them to the mission hospital to get help for them.  After they have been treated, and are ready to be released, there is a problem.  With no family or friends to help most of these people, they just end up on the streets again.  This “half way” house was set up to try to help these people learn to function and take care of themselves even without a family to help.

For several years, we have been renting a place for the NLPRC, but finally they were able to purchase a nice piece of land and have started building a home there.  This land has its own water source (very important in Tansen!), fields which can be used to plant rice or graze animals, and space for the residents to do other crafts or work to help create income.  Les visited the site in April, and Debbie saw it just last week.  You can see the progress that has been made – and we would ask for your prayers as the first building is finished and the residents are able to move in and start taking care of the land around them.  Please pray also for Pun Narayan that his vision and dreams would come to fruition – so that one day in Nepal there will be no more people chained in cattle sheds or suffering due to mental illness.

Looking down on the building site - April

Looking down on the building site – April

 

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The empty rice fields in April

 

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Just getting started – April

 

The building in June!

The building in June!

 

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Rice fields – more ready for planting now that some rains have started

 

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The building is coming along nicely.

 

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Pun Narayan shares his joy in the progress of the new building.

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Memories, Miriam, and Mohan

Four years ago – Saturday, June 2.  I was on skype with my parents, and Les was out for his morning run (including racing up and down the stairs on Srinagar hill).  We had only been back in Tansen for 3 months, and were just feeling settled and back into the work and life here.

A few hours later, we were on a helicopter to Kathmandu – taking Les to the Neurologic hospital because he had suffered a bleed in his brain.  Hearing the CT technician say the words, “Bleed bhayo” (there’s been a bleed), was such a shock to me.  Why would God allow this just after He had asked us to return to Tansen?

The night Les spent in the ICU in the Neuro hospital was life changing for him – as he watched all the other patients around him who were in comas or dying, and realizing that could have been him.

Les in hospital roomLes in hospital room

God has given us 4 more years together – and we hope and pray for many more.  But we are much more aware of how quickly life can change… and how much we need to hold on to Jesus as He is the only unchanging one in life.

About 2 months ago, we were blessed with our first grandchild.  Miriam Rose was born to Luke and Laura, and Debbie was able to visit within the first few weeks of her life.  We are so proud and happy to welcome baby Miriam, and also to watch Luke and Laura being such loving, attentive parents.  Now, Nepal seems farther away than ever!

Such a joy to hold my baby's baby!It’s such a joy to hold my baby’s baby.

We are very thankful for life giving rains which we have been receiving over the past several weeks.  The hills went from brown dust to green in just a couple of days.  Unfortunately, the roads often don’t fare so well during monsoon, but we are in need of a good, long monsoon, so we’ll pray for lots of rain but no landslides.

Dry and burned areas on Srinagar in April

What a difference some rain makes.

Unfortunate side effects of those much needed rains...Top photo – burned and dusty Srinagar hillside in April.  Middle photo – what a difference some rain makes.

Bottom photo – unfortunate side effect of rains on roads.

In the face of many discouragements, there are bright spots to which we can look and remind ourselves that God is at work.  A young boy named Mohan from a nearby district came to the hospital about 6 months ago.  He initially presented with fever and hip pain.  Surgery was needed, but the father was at first unwilling because of lack of money.  After meeting with our social services staff, the father agreed to the surgery.  A hip arthrotomy and debridement were done, and that night Mohan was moved into the High Dependency Unit (HDU) due to sepsis and ARDS. He developed a progressive paralysis, probably Guillain-Barre syndrome, and could not move.  He was very sick and on a ventilator for 2 weeks, and then continued to get oxygen for several more weeks.  Doctors didn’t have much hope for Mohan, but he survived, and was moved into the pediatric ward.  He later got acute osteomyelitis in his femur and needed another operation for bone decompression and debridement.  Mohan finally recovered fully after much care and many prayers.  He spent almost 2 months in the hospital.  His bill was about $2400.  This was completely out of reach for this poor family in which the mom couldn’t work due to poor health, and the father only had a low paying blacksmith job, and not enough land to grow crops even to feed his family.  The family was able to pay about $250, and the hospital Medical Assistance Fund paid the remainder.

Mohan and parents

The family returned home to their village with a restored-to-life son, and hearts full of gratitude for the help and support from the doctors and staff at the mission hospital.  They also asked for a bible to take home – and invited the social services staff to come to their village to visit them.  We are thankful to so many of you for allowing us to be here to care for and pray for Mohan and patients like him – and for giving to the MAF so that charity care can be given to families such as this.

 

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What is our value?

This morning I read the verse from Philippians 2:3….Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves.

As I thought about that, I remembered a talk I heard once about how we (sometimes unconsciously) assign differing values to different people.  We see it acted out all around us.  Recently, I have become more aware of it here in Nepal.  Perhaps it has just hit closer to home…

One of our doctors recently traveled out to a remote part of western Nepal to do a medical camp.  He and some other medical workers visited several villages and tried to offer the care and advice that was possible.  As they arrived in one village, they heard about a woman who had just died the previous day.  Why?  Because there was no way to transport her to a hospital or medical facility.  That night, the doctor and some friends had their rest interrupted by a group of young, wealthy Nepalis who arrived by helicopter to party and enjoy the views.  The helicopter waited for the group and took off the next day with them to travel wherever they planned to visit next.  So – it wasn’t really true that there is no transport available – it was true that there was no transport available for a poor village woman.

When I was sharing this story with a friend this morning, she talked of a time when she lived in another remote area, and had a woman come to the hospital there who was diagnosed with an ectopic pregnancy.  That hospital was about 20 minutes from the local airport, so they phoned right away to see if a plane was there and a seat available.  They were told that there was a plane, and a seat, but that the pilot was in a hurry (for his own personal reasons) so even though they begged the airport personnel to hold the plane for 20 minutes, they wouldn’t, and the plane took off.  The woman died in that village hospital – because she had no value in their eyes.

What is our value?  Is it because of our citizenship?  our wealth?  our job title?  More and more I am drawn to Jesus and the fact that we are all of equal value – because we are all created by God and made in His image.  What more value do we need?

1623NP Tansen Hospital, Nepal, WMM

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Wedding Season

It’s wedding season in Nepal! There are certain days and months of the year here which are deemed to be auspicious for starting your lives together! And – long engagements are unheard of here in Nepal. As a matter of fact, when I went to the hospital maintenance department for devotions on Monday morning (which I try to attend every week) it was announced that one of the young men had gotten married on Friday! (No advance notice had been given as far as I knew!)

So – I got to the office on Monday morning (3 days ago) and received an invitation to a wedding that was to be held on Wednesday (yesterday). This wasn’t a good start – because Wednesday already was booked with too many activities!

When Les and I met at home for lunch, we discussed the wedding invitation – and Les then showed me that we had received another 2 invites – one for that day (Monday) and one for Tuesday! We decided we couldn’t do Monday or Tuesday, but the father, mother, and sister of the bride on Wed were all good friends, so we made a plan.

The invitation stated that the wedding party would be at a local guest house/hotel from 2 pm to 8 pm. I already had a gathering planned for 3, Les had plans for his Sahalu game at 3:30, and at 5:30 there was a farewell dinner and party planned for a missionary team family who is leaving in a week. Hmmmm – how to make it across town and back during that time????

We ordered a taxi to come to the hospital at 1:45 to pick us up on Wed. That morning we phoned to the father of the bride to let him know we planned to arrive right at 2 – because there is something known here as “Nepali time”. In other words – nothing starts on time – especially weddings.

Debbie dressed in her sari, and Les put on his fancy vest, and we rode to the party location – arriving just at 2. The only person there from the family was the father of the bride. We enjoyed chatting with him for about 15 minutes – and he started apologizing for the lateness of his family… A few minutes later, the mom and sister of the bride came in. At about 2:40, they invited us to start eating – there is always a feast served at these functions. So – we filled our plates and enjoyed yummy rice with beans, curried vegetables, spicy paneer, goat meat, etc. By the time we finished eating, the groom had come in, so we were introduced to him.

Salomi & Deb

Salomi (bride’s sister) with Debbie. Salomi used to be the biomedical engineer at Tansen hospital – now she teaches in KTM. She and Debbie used to do Zumba together.

Salomi, Bishop & Dhana

Bishop and Dhana, parents of the bride, along with Salomi. Bishop is the head cashier at Tansen hospital, and Dhana is head surgical nurse at the hospital.

We finally had to leave at 3 – Debbie was already 15 minutes late for her own previously planned program! We enjoyed the party – but never got to see the bride! We saw her photos later on FB – she did look quite beautiful!

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Stories and news – mostly good!

It has been a weekend for encouraging news! First, we heard on Friday that the main border crossing between Nepal and India (Birgunj – where 60% of goods cross over) was opened again. A day or two later some of the hardline protesters returned to close the border again but were chased away by the local people (especially the shop keepers!). All the barricades which had been built up there have been torn down. We pray that the entire border will re-open and remain that way! Hopefully supplies will start to come in and even though it will take awhile to catch up again, it should make a difference.

The other good news we literally just received. Many of you know that UMN has been in a dispute over the property where our headquarters is located in KTM. The case was waiting to be heard by the Supreme Court, but kept being postponed. Well – today they heard the case – and we won! Here is what our UMN director wrote:
“Our case at the Supreme court was heard this afternoon. The judges returned a verdict strongly in our favour – so we have won the case! We will get the full written verdict in several weeks time and the Government may choose to appeal the verdict but we think this is unlikely. Thank you for your prayers. We praise God that indeed in his timing Justice has been done – to Him be the Glory!”

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We were really happy to hear both of these bits of news as most days bring only discouraging reports of lack of things, or higher prices, or other problems. We are still struggling with water problems – things are really dry, and rain is very needed.   We watched some of the Super Bowl commercials over here – and were really impressed with the one by Colgate…  If you didn’t see it, take a minute to watch it.  It’s a great reminder to be thankful for and to conserve water!

http://www.justjared.com/2016/02/07/colgate-super-bowl-commercial-2016-every-drop-counts/

Thanks for your prayers.  The trees at the sides of the road are literally brown with dust….

road dust comp

We had an interesting day in the bazaar recently. We had purchased a flannel shirt for a Nepali friend – and had been assured that we could return it for an exchange if it didn’t fit. Well – it was too small, so our friend tried to take it back to get another shirt. The store owner said that it couldn’t be returned because it had been opened! So, Les and I took the shirt and decided to try for ourselves.

The shop keeper told us that he had said it could be returned – but because it had been opened and the pins taken out, that it couldn’t be exchanged. We asked how our friend was supposed to know if it fit without opening it to try on? He said you have to look at the label in the shirt (which said L) and determine the fit. We just laughed at the utter ridiculousness of the statement. He finally agreed to exchange the shirt for a less expensive one – but we just decided to keep the original one to give to someone else later – and we went to a different store to purchase another gift for our friend!

I attended the Open day at one of the local schools on Friday. St Capitanio’s school has been located in Tansen bazaar for 15 years – it is run by some Catholic sisters from India. The school has a good reputation, and isn’t cheap to attend. There were lots of fun dances to watch – but I was just as interested in watching the crowd – and noticing the number of devices being used to record the children’s performance!

St Cap open day.1St cap open day.2st cap open day.4st cap open day.3
Finally, we were so pleased to welcome a new baby into our church family here recently. A young couple who had previously lost 2 babies at full term had a healthy baby boy. We were so thankful for this new gift. Please pray for them as they seek to raise this child in the church in Tansen.

Prakash and Mina's baby

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2016 Friends of Tansen

Here is the 2016 issue of Friends of Tansen. Hope you enjoy reading about the hospital activities over this past year. Thanks for your prayers!

http://tansenhospital.org.np/news/magazine.php

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25 years ago….

25 years ago this month, we started living and working in Tansen. It’s hard to believe it’s been that many years since we first arrived – very young and green and eager to do work for God here in Nepal. Rachel was 3, and Luke was 1½. We moved into a Nepali style mud brick home where we lived for the rest of the 12 years we were here as a family.

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In 2002, we left Tansen and returned to the U.S. to put our children through higher education. It was hard to leave Tansen, but we were thankful for the years we had here as a family, and were able to visit in 2004. Les also worked here for a month in 2008.

In 2012, Les and I returned here – and again moved into a Nepali style mud brick house – but this one was further up the hill, with a better view and bigger rooms.

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Just 2 months ago, we moved a bit further up the hill – onto the hospital compound. We are in the house up at the top – and we are really enjoying our new location – and we are neighbors to our long time friends and co-workers, Ganesh and Laxmi and their girls.

20151102_171225Ganesh and family

I was thinking today as we walked back from church about life in Tansen – how some things have changed in 25 years, but others have stayed much the same!

When we arrived here, Nepal had recently ended a long border closure with India – so we learned that everything needed “back up” – we had both gas and electric cookers and ovens, and always kept extra stores of food and water as some things were often unavailable. Now, 25 years later, the border is once again blocked between Nepal and India, and the problems getting gas, diesel, cooking gas, etc, are once again as they were back then. The difference now is that there are many more people who are cooking on gas, and many more vehicles dependent on gas and diesel. Once again Nepal is at risk for deforestation as people resort to cooking on firewood, and the pollution levels across the country (and especially in Kathmandu Valley) are once again on the rise.

Tansen Hospital has grown from 121 beds to 169 over that past 25 years – there have been at least 5 major buildings added during those years, along with water tanks and other smaller projects. We are much more involved in training doctors and other staff these days than previously, and are thankful for more senior Nepali doctors who are working faithfully here in Tansen.

The paths around Tansen are wider than they used to be – most have been made into “roads” (use the term loosely) rather than just walking paths – and one is less likely to step in poop – either from animals or humans. That’s a good thing! But the number of houses has grown so very much that we mourn the loss of the fields and trees and open spaces that used to exist between the hospital and the bazaar area of Tansen. There are many more jeeps and vehicles on the roads – motorcycles are everywhere now! Even with the fuel shortage, people seem to be able to find something to use to run their vehicles. (Most of it purchased now on the black market.)
The view from our current house is still mostly the same – when the Himalayas are showing their majestic faces, we can enjoy them from both our sitting room and our bedroom!

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We still struggle with water troubles here (as in lack of water) – and that has become even worse with the additional building around the town.

The churches have grown – from one small church in the late 1980’s to seven churches now in Tansen. And two of them usually each have over 100 people attending services each week. We are thankful for the Christian witness which has continued to grow and expand over the years here.

Church play

Well – a bit a reminiscing as we start the new year of 2016! We are thankful for your prayers – and ask that you continue to remember the people of Nepal. Still recovering from the two earthquakes in April and May, and now suffering the effects of the blockade with India, Nepal does need prayers!

May God Bless you and keep you as you walk through the coming days.

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