A year ago I was trekking through rainy jungle paths with a broken arm trying to start a vaccination program in a village that didn’t even know what vaccines were. I was also trying to start construction on goat sheds in the middle of intense monsoon rains, furnish an empty apartment while battling mildew and mold, and trying to establish a national team. Now a year later, my arm is healed, my small team of animal health workers have successfully vaccinated over 500 animals from contagious diseases, my farm is up and running with 25 goats and 70 chickens, and I have a wonderful small team of committed nationals to partner with. How much can change in a year! I finally feel like I am settling down here and feeling like it is home. The only thing is that at the moment I feel like I have four homes. I have my small apartment in the town of kalimpong next door to a couple other missionary families with whom I do house church with. Then I have the village I am working in, which is three hours away. Then I have my farm that I have started which is a thirty-minute drive from my current house. Finally, I have my permanent home in Oregon. My heart is in all of these places and it can be hard sometimes transitioning from one place to the other.
This past month I was feeling especially torn between all the places that I call home. I spent a lot of time in the village and attended two funerals of individuals who I had come to know well. The first was the church elder’s 21-year-old daughter. I happened to be in the village when we got the news that she had passed away after battling undiagnosed symptoms for a few weeks. The whole village rallied together immediately to make funeral arrangements and support the family. Over 300 people came from surrounding villages and we all stood together on the side of the mountain holding hands and singing Nepali hymns together as they laid her in the ground. It was very sobering but also beautiful to see the whole village come together to support the family. Then just a month later, I attended another funeral of the wife of Yohan, one of the village animal health workers that I had trained. His wife went to the hospital for a routine c-section and during the surgery became unresponsive. The doctor wasn’t able to save her and the baby was in critical condition for a few days. We drove the three hours in the pouring rain the next day to attend the funeral. When we arrived, Yohan immediately came into the room where I was sitting with my teammate Nalam and the other two animal health workers I had trained. We all took a moment to hold hands and pray for him. It was something I will never forget. We have spent so much time together doing vaccinations these past few months and getting to know each other closely that I almost felt like it was someone from my own family that had passed away. Every time I visit the village they welcome me with open arms as “Dr Melisha” and tell me how I am now part of their community. It is hard having to go back and forth all the time when my heart is with so many of the people there.
It has also been hard living 30 minutes away from the land where my farm is. My teammate Nalam and his wife moved out there in January and have started building good relationships with the people in the surrounding community and local church. I am eager to move out there in the fall and invest in the community as well. I recently went house to house surveying some of the families living in the area surrounding my farm. I was sobered to find out that they have very little to no income sources, are struggling with all kinds of health problems, and have many needs. I definitely think there is a reason that God allowed us to find this particular piece of land to start this project on. He is starting to give me a heart for the people in the surrounding area, and every time I visit the area, I find myself building deeper relationships with the people there. Right now it’s just back and forth on a motorcycle every day, but I hope to eventually put down some roots there and really invest on a deeper level with the people as well as develop the farm into a profitable business.
And lastly, there is my home in Oregon. No matter how long I live overseas, I will always feel like Oregon is my home because of my family and all you wonderful people who live there and have supported me through the years. I will be in Oregon July 20-September 2 applying for a business visa. It will be wonderful being home a couple months to connect with family and friends, but at the same time, I will be leaving pieces of my heart behind here in India (not to mention a whole lot of animals)! Here are some prayer points as I head into the summer:
- Please pray for Yohan as he struggles with the loss of his wife and tries to raise a newborn and his 3-year-old son on his own. He has very little income sources, so is struggling financially.
- Please pray for my teammate Nalam and his wife as he manages the animals, farm, and construction of a house on our farmland while I am in the States.
- Please pray for favor as I apply for a business visa. I am applying for a 5-year visa but may only get a 1-year visa or nothing at all. It is in God’s hands!
- Please pray I will be able to balance my time at home between spending time with family, taking some time to rest, and speaking at churches and conferences. I am definitely looking forward to a little time away from the daily stresses of life in India!
Pray for Yohan as he struggles with the loss of his wife and raising a newborn by himself
Pray for my teammate Nalam who will be managing my farm while I am in the States!