The latest news update from our BMS link missionaries Alan and Megan Barker out in Nepal
Happy New Year from Nepal, though new year here isn't until April 14th when the year 2076 begins!
We trust you have all had a great Christmas and feel refreshed and ready to move into the new year. We had a very special time with Rhys, Tete and Wesley in Vietnam. So good to see them in their new surroundings, meet some of their new friends and colleagues and to have a quick tour of the school where Rhys is teaching, and Wesley is a pupil! Most unusual for us to have a Christmas day walk on the beach and swim in the warm sea as the sun was setting.
As we travelled through Kathmandu on our way out to Vietnam, we had a quick meeting about our visas. Just to remind you, Alan is secure with his visa and work permit taking him through to June 30th, 2019. Megan's visa had still not come through as the whole system for processing visas had hit a wall! However, as we were writing this newsletter news came through that INF visas were again being processed, so thank you for your prayers in this. So we held off with our letter as further meetings and discussions continued and heard yesterday (Jan 17th) that not only are they being processed, but they will not be back dated. This means that at least when Megan finally gets her visa it will have a whole year to run not the 3 months remaining we were expecting. All good news, but the signatures are still needed! We are hopeful this should be all complete by end of February but of course, as always here, not guaranteed. So please continue to remember us in your prayers for this. Without a full visa, Megan can only remain in country until 17th May, on a tourist visa with all the limitations that go with it. As we shared with some of you last summer, all of this uncertainty is very tiring. In February we will already be needing to apply for visas 2019-2020! And with the added complication that we could now be on different time lines: Alan July to June and Megan February to January!
Just before we left, a major part of the post that Alan currently holds was advertised for a Nepali to take on, the Partnership Manager that we mentioned in our last letter. Alan was able to preview all the applications and help towards short listing for the interviews that have taken place this week - 3 days after returning from our holiday! A young man has been selected for the post and the plan is that Alan will mentor and coach this person into position. A positive and encouraging step forward. Megan does have opportunity in a consultancy capacity (which is allowed on the current visa) to visit and support the workers in Surkhet on a regular basis as well as looking to create Occupational Therapy (OT) posts both in Pokhara and in Surkhet once funding has been confirmed. This is Megan's dream of course as she can support and mentor 2 young ladies into OT posts in this country and see OT departments become stronger and so the hope of being able to train Nepalese OTs in Nepal comes a little closer. Before we can even consider an OT school in Nepal, there needs to be a number of places of sufficient quality and variety of practice for students to do all the clinical exposure and practice sessions. The two young ladies mentioned above are just completing their training in India, having gone out from INF almost 5 years ago. On a day to day basis, Megan continues to spend most of her time supporting developments and work in Green Pastures Hospital in Pokhara but without any fixed routine because of the limitations of being on a tourist visa. The plan is that she will go to Surkhet once every 8-10 weeks.
For those of you that pray: Please join us as we give thanks for a wonderful time with Rhys and family and please continue to pray for visa provision and in our ongoing role developments. We once again thank you for all your love and support over the years and wish you a fulfilling year ahead.
Alan and Megan