International Ministries

Tegenfeldts Serve in India

May 18, 2009 Journal

Tegenfeldts Serve in India

Benjamin Chan

When I and International Ministries (IM) colleagues visited India last month, we were very happy to see former IM missionaries Dr. Edwin and Mrs. Margaret Tegenfeldt in Ukhrul, Manipur. After their retirement, they have provided volunteer service in Nepal and India. This time, they are serving with the Leishiphung Christian Hospital at the invitation of Dr. Luithuk & Mr. Khachungla Zimik, founders of the hospital. Ed and Maggie share their experience in the following newsletter. Please pray for them, and IM personnel in India Cathy Holmes, Debbie Mulneix, Betsy and David Perkins.

Tegenfeldts Newsletter

We were called to the hospital about 6:30 pm for a “surgical consult”. What we found was a patient with a stab wound in his abdomen. His intestines were extruding out of his wound, his abdomen was bulging from internal bleeding and he had no discernible blood pressure or pulse. We were grateful to have the assistance of an Indian anesthesiologist who was spending a couple of weeks at the hospital in Ukhrul, Manipur, NE India to help with surgery while we were there. The staff had gotten the patient into the operating room where Ed (with Miggie/Margaret assisting) was able to find the 3 arteries that had been cut and stop the bleeding, and then repair the lacerations of the bowel while donors were found to give blood to help replace the 3 liters or more which had been lost in the abdomen. After the surgery we found out more about the circumstances. Ashok was a laborer at the nearby army camp and had been depressed and perhaps homesick as he came from another part of India. During an argument with his wife, he had grabbed a knife and stabbed himself. We were amazed at how well he looked the next day, but know he needed mental and spiritual healing as well as physical, and keep praying for him. This was the most dramatic of the operations we did during our month volunteering in Manipur, but all of them were very much appreciated by the patients despite the pain during the days of recovery. There is no full time surgeon in that small Christian hospital or in the local government hospital for all the 30,000 people of the town or for all the smaller villages for many miles around. The closest hospital where most surgical care is available is three and a half hours away down a rough mountain road.

Other major operations included 5 thyroidectomies (iodine deficiency goiter is very common), 2 cholecystectomies, 3 hernia repairs and an emergency appendectomy. We also did a closure of a colostomy on a 27 year old woman. About 5 weeks earlier she had gone to the local government hospital for an abortion as she already had 5 children and did not think they could afford to raise one more. During the procedure the doctor perforated her uterus and her large intestine. She developed peritonitis and the government hospital referred her to a private gynecologist in the town who was able to repair the uterus and do a temporary colostomy. When he heard we had arrived, he referred her to us. When the anesthesiologist was not available we were able to do a number of minor operations as well. Ed also saw patients in the out patient department and worked with the two Naga general practitioners who are there full time taking care of medical cases. One man with severe life- threatening pneumonia had to be carried on a make shift stretcher for two days from a remote area across the border in Burma before reaching a motorable road and then came by jeep another full day to reach the hospital which is closer to his village than any other health care facility! The hospital staff were especially happy that Miggie/Margaret had accompanied Ed on this trip because two of the five staff nurses were on prolonged sick leave and as such they didn't have the staff to assist Ed in the operating room. Even though the few staff nurses, aides, lab and x-ray technicians and others had to work very hard and for extra hours, they were always cheerful and helpful and made us feel so welcome. We also were given wonderful hospitality in the home in which we stayed. We must admit we are grateful for showers once again after bucket baths for a month, but we didn't have to carry those buckets of water up steep hillsides and along narrow paths as so many people there have to do.

We enjoyed our times of worship in the churches and hearing Christian hymns over the loudspeaker of the church across the street starting at about 5:30 Sunday mornings. We were awake by then anyway as the sun rises early in Manipur which is on the far eastern edge of India's one time zone and the neighborhood roosters let us know it was time to get up. Our first Sunday was Easter and we were up even earlier for a 5:00 am sunrise service in the cemetery of the church. Families were already gathered for prayer around the graves of their relatives as we arrived. Many graves were decorated with flowers and then the hillside became covered as well with the bright colors of the traditional Naga skirts and shawls and blankets. The Nagas are well known for their fine music with beautiful harmony. And the choir from this church which had been built in 1901 was wonderful. In the midst of this beautiful singing, and surrounded with the grave stones, we were overwhelmed with the realization anew of God the Father's great love and Jesus' great sacrifice and triumph over death; and that indeed we serve an amazing and living Savior! Later in the morning there was a service of baptism in the church for 69 persons, many of them young people who had grown up in the church but also some new converts from Hinduism. We did not preach in churches this time, but Margaret spoke to a church women's group and both of us shared short messages during the daily hospital devotions.

One of the churches we visited was 15 miles away and driving there took one and a half hours each way which gives you an idea of road conditions. In one area the road was being worked on by hand! Some workers were breaking up larger stones with sledge hammers and others were using smaller hammers to crush smaller stones into gravel. Once that was in place there was a mechanized roller which compacted it all into place. One woman was holding a baby in one arm and putting rocks in place with the other hand. Life is indeed tough for people in those mountain areas – little or no electricity, and for most people not only no running water but having to walk some distance from home to carry water from a stream or spring in pots in baskets on their backs, and also in pots on their heads. We could not send emails because there was no internet access and for much of the time the phones were not working. However, we found the people to be so friendly! In spite of the language barrier, smiles and warm handshakes often proved to be effective ways to communicate.

The travel from here to Ukhrul and back was tedious – 48 hours each way including road time, air time, and airport waiting time with no chance to get horizontal. However, we were very grateful for the month we could be of service, grateful for the wonderful people we were with (including the founders of the hospital, Dr. and Mrs. Zimik), and now are also grateful to be home again. We want to specially thank all of you who were praying for us.

With love, Ed and Miggie/Margaret