Westmont Magazine My Tough Times Were My Best Times
Reflections from 30 Years in Medical Missions, by Beth Brunemeier ’40
Arriving by air in Bombay, India, for a second term as nurse educator in Jhansi Hospital, I learned that the ship bringing my “outfit” had burned and sunk in Karachi Harbor. Now, the Indians gave to my need. Lesson: to bond with the poor, be poor!
A big Hindu neighbor gathered a mob to push over the wall and seize hospital land. At the height of his speech, he dropped dead with a heart attack. Lesson: don’t mess with God’s property!
A youth camp near Jhansi had to close when radicals bombarded us with stones. The locals stood up for us, and several Indian young people got calls to serve Christ full time and have been deeply involved ever since. Lesson: God overrules evil for good.
On Liglig Mountain in central Nepal, 15 miles from the nearest road, the AmPipal Hospital practices frontier medicine for half a million people. We treated 25,000 out-patients each year, sterilizing supplies in our 21-quart pressure cooker. Lesson: when eight nationalities merge gifts and graces, a strong witness results.
At the United Missions Hospital in Bhaktapur, Nepal, we treated diseases common to a medieval culture: T.B., worms, sick children. In a temple above the hospital, in a rhododendron forest (with leopards), blood sacrifices to demons were offered every Tuesday. Many who left that occult way now worship in several home churches. Lesson: the blood of the cross has not lost its ancient power.
After a 12-year detour to care for my aged mother, I returned to Nepal to study Tibetan at Tribhuvan University. The language proved far harder than the related languages (Hindi, Urdu, Nepali) I had learned earlier. By His fathomless grace, at age 67, I passed the final with 87 out of 100 points—all questions and answers in Tibetan script only. Lesson: nothing is too hard for the Lord.
When the Communist Chinese opened up Lhasa, Tibet, for tourist dollars in the mid-1980s, I signed up for the 12-day overland bus trip from Nepal. At one point, landslides had destroyed the road, so we had to scramble straight up the steep side of a gorge. This old lady in a heavy, ankle-length Tibetan wool gown and boots made it with one coolie pushing and another pulling!
For 20 miles through a precipitous gorge, the driver dodged falling rocks, and waterfalls came over and under us. The elevated inner wheels made the bus lean out over the edge so we could look straight down to the white water below. We crossed mountains at the lowest passes (18,000 feet) and saw awesome glaciers glowing like green glass. Our driver raced down hill, coasting to save gas, and jumped gaps in the road by high acceleration. Lesson: since the Lord is my shepherd, what can I possibly lack? He has saved me from a thousand falls and several deaths! How great is His mercy!
Editor’s note: A class on non-Christian religions with Dr. Elbert McCreery gave Beth a burden for Tibet and led to her missionary work in Asia as a nurse educator. She has since retired to a new mission field: Las Vegas.