The latest news update from our BMS link missionaries Alan and Megan Barker out in Nepal
That wasn’t in the plan!
Well, having just had our lovely summer break we were not expecting to leave Nepal again quite so quickly, but sadly Megan's dad passed away on 22nd October and so we headed back to the UK. Alan stayed two weeks and Megan three. We said our goodbyes in a short service at the crematorium and then close family had a lovely time of reminiscence together back at his bungalow. Also, much time was spent going through and sorting things and getting ready for Dad's bungalow to be sold. Although a sad task, in many ways it was also a good time to remember and for everyone to have opportunity to select a memento or two for ongoing remembering.
Straight after the funeral, Alan headed back to Nepal and was straight into an international conference that his team had been planning for about a year. It was the first time INF have ever run such a conference, with around thirty representatives from 25+ national and international partners taking part. The idea was to bring supporters of INF's work from around the world to sit together and learn from each other's experiences. We were able to get to know people that we had previously only ever 'met' by email or Skype and hopefully it will lead to better relationships and more support in the future. At the end there were lots of positive comments and so we were pleased that all the hard work paid off. Alan is really proud at the way the team is coming together- working with creativity, integrity and great spirit.
If you would like to see another part of work here in Nepal check out the video link below which shows how people have been given long-term help after the 2015 earthquakes. Some of Alan's team were also involved in making this video, so you can see what creative people we have.
Megan was straight back into a 'surgical week'. It has become an annual event now that a specialist hand surgeon comes over from the UK. He brings with him theatre nurses and hand therapists who, as well as doing amazing surgery and the necessary pre and post care, teach the INF Green Pastures' staff at all levels how best to manage these cases. Also, staff came in from our Nepalgunj and Surkhet programmes to benefit from the opportunity to learn as well as bringing patients from their areas to benefit from the surgery. Dorothy (who we have written about in previous newsletters) is making a splint having first observed the specialists, then made one with them and finally is shown being able to make it herself. The specialists were so confident in her ability they left her to it. They did check it later and were very pleased with Dorothy's technique and impressed with her quick learning ability. She continues to be a real asset; a great addition to the team in so many ways.
The majority of the people who are operated on during these surgery weeks are affected by leprosy. Leprosy remains a stubborn problem in Nepal and INF has been one of the organisations leading the fight against the disease for many years. If not detected and treated early enough (within 6 months of the bacteria becoming active), leprosy begins to affect a person's nerves and muscles in a way that is mostly irreversible. Hands and feet can become severely deformed but for some people truly amazing surgery can correct the deformities in the hands and get them functioning again. We are privileged to have surgeons both here in Nepal and from around the world who can perform this surgery and with the correct after care from the occupational therapists and other staff, the sufferers are able to use their hands again.
One of the other problems these people face is an inability to fully close their eyes and their blink reflex. And so they get many eye problems. INF surgeons at Green Pastures hospital are now able to offer surgery to correct this. So, some people will get both hand and eye surgery whilst they are with us. It is so amazing that we are able to offer such skilled procedures.
On another note, as we write this letter it's election day in Pokhara. Sadly, a local politician was killed in a helicopter crash a few months ago and today is the election to select his replacement.
Elections here in Nepal are often accompanied with violence, as some groups try to disrupt the process. One of the efforts to counteract potential trouble is that all motorised transport is banned for the day. This obviously restricts people's movement, and everyone has to walk or cycle to their polling station. Chatting to some people at church this morning, there were apparently some small bombs set off at a few polling stations, but no one has been hurt and the election continues.
For those of you who pray please give thanks for:
• Safe journeys to and from the UK for Megan's dad's funeral
• Good times with family while we were in the UK
• A well-run and positive Partnership Conference
• The people affected by leprosy who have been helped by the surgical week
• The privilege of us being able to work and serve here
Please pray for:
• Alan's visa, which still hasn't come yet
• People affected by leprosy that they would get the correct treatment and in good time
• That INF would be able to continue to help leprosy-affected people
• As always, we thank you for your support and prayers.
And we would also like to take this opportunity to wish you all a very Happy Christmas and a year that is full of joy and peace and many good memory creating moments.
Alan and Megan