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Veterinary Mission 2015
Howdy and Debbie Miller

(Editor's note:  Most recent letter is first, followed by earlier letters, in reverse chronological order.)

 

April 21, 2015

Our last Julley to you all,

As we begin packing, distributing the remaining veterinary supplies (cheaper to buy more than pay the overweight fee from here to Delhi), and making our last purchases at the bazaar, I thought you might enjoy an overview of various aspects of the area.

Economy--as I have mentioned, the barter system that worked so well for centuries, especially in the villages, is giving way to a cash economy.  Even Skarma, our 48 year old translator in Sku Kaya, spoke of trading the apricots grown at lower elevation for the pashmina and other wools from the high country.  Leh is a totally tourist town; we were astounded to read in a credible magazine that the number of visitors in 2013 (last year for stats) was 180,000!  (If the article is correct, I have the right number of 0s).  The store fronts are either travel agency, pashmina/scarf shop, or 'general store'.  As I mentioned, restaurants are usually on the second or third floor.  I would like to know the number of guest houses, but that would run into the hundreds; we are watching every year as more fields are converted to housing.  The Nepali workers dig out a basement by hand, they carry the heavy bricks on their backs and pans of cement on their heads.  In the past few years very luxurious hotels (at least that is what they advertise) have been constructed, using so many resources as the guests expect New York-style accommodations.  Of course, many trekkers are budget-minded and are satisfied w/ more local type lodging, giving them the opportunity to see the real life of Leh.

Prices are quite low by our standards; Howdy's haircut cost 75 cents (more had he added the head massage, but that loosens the spinal column!); we can get a filling dinner (the menu is several pages at restaurants, but only 3-4 items are available) for $3.20 total.  

One major player in the economy is the amount of corruption.  Reuben explained that the streets are torn up (as I have described several times), but the excavator pads the accounts, redigging the same hole several times.  Government workers  are late to the office and early to leave; we have had trouble finding the Animal Husbandry staff in the office.

Dress--I had wondered how moms deal w/ babies and toddlers before they are potty-trained.  At Wanla I watched the ladies dress the two little boys in padded pants, almost quilted around the seat part, less material on the legs.  They just changed those pants every few hours and washed them out.  As do the Chinese, when they are training they take the child to a certain area of the porch, pull their pants down, and make the 'swish, swish' sound--somewhat Pavolvian.  The loose pants and tunic outfits women wear are apparently Punjabi in origin, but adopted throughout the country.  I finally gave in and had a set made; beautiful fabric!  I am sure they wear long underwear, and either vests and jackets or the Ladakhi national dress, the felted wool robe over.  Men wear any type of trousers or jeans they find at the Army surplus store, and again, North Face jackets.  One would think that, w/ the cold and the rocky paths, sturdy shoes would be necessary, but crocs of every variety are the footwear of choice!  Usually heavy socks are worn, but I see people inside their houses running barefoot.

All women wear braids, pony tails or other means of tying back the long plaits of shiny black hair.  Even though showers are rare in the villages, the women wash their hair.  One night in Wanla, I just could not stand the dusty, gritty feel of my hair, so I washed it and put it up in the velcro rollers I bring, as electricity is so unreliable.  The mother of the family, who we figure is about 63 now, was entranced, and told her son she was going to cut her hair and style it like mine!  We have only seen one woman, a former women's college administrator who attended church last Sunday, w/ a short hair do.

Food--Babies nurse for about 2 years; done in public, even in church.  I did not notice the parents sitting the kids down for a meal, as we would do together, but following them around putting food in their mouths.

More packaged food, mostly from the Nestle Corp., is available in the stores:  soup, spices, tomato sauce, Wonder bread, cookies, etc.  Something new is liter cartons of juice, either 100%, such as apple, or a drink.  It is tasty and a nice alternative after our 6th cup of tea.  Ultra-pasturized milk is also in the grocery stores, but spices, rice and beans in bulk are still popular.

We finally asked about supplies, then noticed, large warehouses near many villages and around Leh.  During the summer, when the passes are open, food and gas (LPG) are brought into the valley in great quantity, because these people are cut off from supplies about 6 months of the year.  Anyone coming up from Delhi is not welcome if his bag is not full of produce!  We do see more spinach, etc., grown in greenhouses; last Saturday we had a lovely lunch w/ a lady from church who served (what I think is) spinach, boiled briefly in garlic-infused water and sprinkled w/ sesame seeds.  Delicious!

More wheat flour is used for the pastas and breads (easier to work w/ because of gluten) and barley is grown for the animals.  However, wheat does not grow here, so must be imported, as is rice.  We have heard that the prices have increased considerably.  I used to get some produce from the Muslim market only a long block down from the bazaar, but the whole block was taken down to widen the street, and now all the stalls are nearly a mile away

Religion--our hostess last Saturday is a Christian from the eastern part of the country who married a non-practicing Buddhist.  He is content to have their four children attend the Moravian school and participate at church.  However, both his parents, and more importantly, the Ladakhi Buddhist Association (LBA)  have put much  pressure on them.  He was a government official (I think for the state) but seemingly lost the position due to his wife not being a good Buddhist.  She feels very lonely, as neighbors tattle if she has friends over who are also associated w/ the church.  We know that the LBA has run several Ladakhi Christians out of the area; apparently, one can attend church, but not be involved in any business, either secular or religious.  One man had a guide service, another a music teacher.  Very sad, as the Christians are doing what they are called to do--serving those in need.

We have also heard that the Prime Minister, Moti, is condoning the destruction of churches in other parts of India, where Hindi statues are installed on the wreckage.  

The new Moravian church here is so nice; spacious, well-built and open for community activities.  The sanctuary has a sound booth, and the room is warmed by those outdoor restaurant heaters.  Singing in the church is painfully slow, unless kids w/ guitars help establish a beat.  But, to hear our old favorites sung in another tongue reminds us of the universality of the faith.  "What a Friend We Have in Jesus", "Onward, Christian Soldiers", and "In Christ There is No East or West" are some we have recognized.

I want to thank again all those who contributed to the church building fund.  We had asked for a small contribution from any who might be interested, and were overwhelmed at the generous response.  Our bank was so helpful in transferring the money, but Rev. Gergan could not get it from the bank headquarters in Calcutta.  We all went into the local bank w/ paperwork to prove our case, first to a stodgy assistant manager who had sat on the money for 4 months since, she said, Rev. did not have a permit to receive international funds (this is for large charities what bring in thousands of rupees each month).  She reminded me of the cartoon character who pouts and says "harrumph" to requests.  Finally, Elijah had had enough.  He picked up our papers, her book which showed the money was there, and marched into the manager's office.  Fortunately, there in the room was also a retired bank officer that he knew well.  After tea and an explanation, the manager signed the paper, stamped it and smiled.  The money was transferred the next day, thus averting an international monetary incident!

Isaac wants us to see his studio at the art institute, so we will walk up the hill.  Thank you again for your thoughts and prayers as we conclude this adventure in the Himalaya, hoping we were of help to the village farmers.

Love to all,

Howdy and Debbie


April 20, 2015

Julley, again,

I had planned to title this episode "Terrifying DIsaster" as that certainly describes our journey to the Nubra Valley.  However, we survived and are back to tell the tale. 

As you recall, we had wanted to be in the valley, about 75 miles NW of Leh, for two nights so we could see the area and perhaps drive on west to Turtuk, an ancient city right on the Pakistani border.  The travel agents, who put the packages of transportation and lodging together, work w/ each other to fill the taxis (often Toyota large sedans, which can hold 8 passengers) as the cost is by vehicle, so the more people inside, the lower cost per person.  The agency we had contacted assured us no one wanted to go for that long, even though I asked several times, so we finally gave up and paid for one night.  The agent did find four others so our vehicle was filled.

The weather had been just lovely for several days, but Thursday, when we were scheduled to leave, was cold and overcast.  Our fellow passengers included two men (brothers-in-law) from south of Delhi, who were 45 minutes late for the departure, and a cute young married couple celebrating their first anniversary.  The pass is only 24 miles up, up from town; by four miles out of Leh snow was falling. 

We were stopped at the control station, where we had to show our border permits--good for 7 days, costing $7.50--waiting for word from the summit as to conditions.  Finally, we and several other cars were waved on.  Conditions worsened as the wind blew the snow across the windshield.

Finally, the driver stopped to put on chains, which broke a few km later.  He had no backups, so after trying to go w/ one chain (not possible due to the differential), he finally reversed the broken chain and tied it on w/ strong rope, which thankfully held.  

The vehicle in front of us also had trouble w/ chains and driving in general.  We learned a few hours later that this was likely the driver's first time to take the route--not a good learning experience.  At long last, over 4 hours after leaving Leh, we reached the summit in white-out conditions.  Our driver was winded from running out to help this novice in front of us, certainly a generous thing to do, but that slowed us and tired him.  We and other vehicles stopped there to catch our breaths and were treated very nicely by the soldiers on duty. 

This pass, Khardlung La, is at 18,700+ feet elevation, a very strategic spot for the military as the view (when available) is in all directions, and the Siachan Glacier, one of the largest remaining, is an important supply of water.  These soldiers live up here, where the wind chill factor can bring the temp down to -70C.  Hard to imagine.  We were really cold at probably 20F.  As we sat in the car waiting for the driver, suddenly the door by Howdy opened and a tall, fully out-fitted soldier (hat, goggles, etc.) said, "Come here".  We obeyed.  He led us into a small kind of quonset hut which is a warming shelter where a small stove brought the temperature up, then offered us hot water and tea.  Suddenly the door opened and an older Indian woman, not dressed for the weather, lurched in and was led to a chair.  She looked terrible.  The soldiers put a blanket around her, took her oxygen saturation level and then brought out a small canister of oxygen for her, setting it next to the wood stove.  She was in the car driven by the panicked, inexperienced driver, which increased his worries.

Finally, after over an hour, we started off again, this time downhill over the 'waves' of snow on the road made by passing cars and trucks.  By that time, the first vehicles returning from Nubra were ascending the pass, so we had to work our way around them on this one-lane road w/ a snowbank for guard rail.  Our driver kept the other taxi in sight for several miles until the packed snow had given way to some bare pavement, then he speeded up a bit.  We reached the north control station at 4 pm, stopping for tea and Maggi, those 2-minute noodles that feed the nation.  The cost for a bowl was about 30 cents.  Finally, at 6:15, we reached Hundar, our stop for the night.  What a day.  Our driver admitted he had never seen the conditions so bad.

The valley is wider than the Indus, and at a lower elevation so the apricot trees were in bloom and poplars leafed out.  A large river, the Skyot, drains the valley after receiving water from the Nubra River to the north, and eventually feeds into the Indus.  Between the two larger villages, Diskit and Hundar about 4 miles to the west, are large sand dunes on the valley floor, which make pretty patterns as they are reshaped by the wind daily.  In all, it is a scenic glacial valley, flat w/ high, steep mountains framing it.  Our guest house, one of many, many in Hundar, was very pleasant, w/ hot water in our bathroom!  (We were in one building that had about 5 rooms, our fellow passengers were in a newer 2-room structure, but we learned later that their hot water was not hooked up.  If our better quarters was due to our age, oh well....  Most newer guest houses have actual beds, rather than mats on the floor, but only a bottom sheet and a stack of blankets or quilts.  Usually we bring our sleepsacks, but this time we had to sleep like the natives. 

A group of young people from Thailand were taking tea on the small deck when we arrived.  Howdy started chatting with one fellow who is a veterinarian in Bankok!  They had a nice visit, but he turned in early as they were headed to Turtuk (45 miles, who knows how long) and then back to Leh.  The two men from Jodhpur then invited us to their room where they pulled out a can of beer!  I must say that a small glass tasted good after our ordeal.

Guest houses in these remote areas serve both dinner and breakfast, as Hundar has no cafes.  We had a good meal about 9 pm; the usual das, dal, potatoes and chapattis, then decided to meet for breakfast at 8 am.   One of the big attractions in the valley is the camel population, remnants from the Silk Road trading route.  Riding a beast is considered a 'must do'.  I was more interested in seeing the area from foot, so we got up early Friday am, took a walk through the village, then after breakfast (khombi bread and jam) we looked around some more while the others did the tourist thing.

The monastery at Diskit also includes a huge statue of Buddha, visible for miles on the hilltop.  Of course, that was also a 'must see', which we did on our way out of town.  The weather had cleared; we could see blue sky over that pass – oh, I was so thankful!  The return trip, including putting the broken chains back on, was only 5 1/2 hours.

What is the draw of this valley?  Just as visitors to southern OR want to see the Redwoods and Crater Lake, tourists here feel they must go to the Nubra.  It has lots of history, so close to Tibet; a route from that country into India.  Pastor Gergan's great grandfather, high up in the administration of the Dali Lama at that time, was falsely accused of being an accessory to his murder (apparently Dali Lamas had a short life span, as intrigue w/in the walls led to the demises of many).  The great grandfather and his brother fled over the mountains into the Nubra and there met Moravian missionaries who wanted to learn the language.  It is a fascinating story!  We were surprised that the residents are truly Ladakhi in speech, way of life, etc., even though they are far removed from the seat of culture.  We are glad we saw the area, wish we would not have had such a scary ride over and could have stayed longer.  I now want to learn more of its history.

Howdy caught a bad cough sometime last week, which for me has become a cold.  I am fighting it and hope it will go away soon.  Now we are checking off the last items to be done here, and hoping the weather will clear for a take off Thursday morning. Rain fell most of the night (unusual), and the snow level is quite low, so we wonder if the plane came in this morning.

Please keep us in your thoughts and prayers; write when you have time.

Love to all,

Howdy and Debbie   

 


April 14, 2015

Julley again to all,

We are now in Leh where the nation is commemorating the birthday of the father of the Indian Constitution (which may show up on Google); he was of 'low birth' in the caste system but somehow rose to be well educated and a statesman.  Unfortunately, even though it is officially outlawed, we see evidence of this nasty system here.  Interestingly, the British and Indians seemed to understand each other to some extent during their days of power because both countries had a class structure.

Last letter I mentioned our reliance on the Lord, as we are not able to do things on our own.  Here is another instance:  we wanted to return to the villages of Sku and Kaya, SW of Leh near the Zangskar River, but were unable to contact Tundrup, the friend of Nebi, owner of the guest house where we stay, who had arranged for our translator and home last time.  Nebi said he had lost the phone number (but, truth be known, according to his wife he had lost his phone down the toilet).  Finally, after 2 weeks of asking, he called Tundrup's office on Friday, April 3, an NGO that originally started as a part of Save the Children to combat severe malnutrition, but now is an agricultural assistance organization.  T. had been in the SK area, so knew the needs.

On Monday afternoon, April 6, we were reading on our 'veranda' when Tundrup came walking across the yard!  He was pleased that we wanted to visit the villages again, and offered to find a translator for us.  As before, the bus out there runs Wed. and Sundays, so we chose to leave April 8.  The following day a man from his organization, Skarma, walked over to introduce himself as the translator.  He had also worked in the valley and knew the families.  So, we packed up, asked for an early breakfast, got to the bus stop over an hour before the 9 am departure, but had our supply bags loaded on top, before the 80 lb. bags of seed barley, the small trees to plant, the LPG tanks, and wood moulding.  Leaving the 'station' (a big bare lot) was fairly timely, but stopping at various shops for last minute items passengers needed, and picking up more people as we went through town took 1/2 hour.  At last the bus was full and we were off.  The 14 mile ride west along the highway was fine, then the turnoff south along the Zangskar at its confluence w/ the Indus started us on a very narrow road above the water.

 After about 3 miles, a rickety bridge carried us across to the west side of the river.  There, about six passengers got off to walk to their village along the bank of the river; they had brought geraniums in pots, bags of rice, one LPG and other items that were either stashed on the bus or tossed down from above by someone who scrambled up the attached ladder.  Another few miles and the road conditions worsened as workers widened the lane.  Going around the equipment was not an option, as the canyon is very narrow, very steep, the water about 50 feet at least below the roadway, and hardly one vehicle width, we sat for at least 45 minutes.  Ladakhis are patient; no one complained, but most got out to watch as small diameter holes were drilled into the rocks, ready for blasting.

At last we reached Chilling, the old end of the line, where last time we had loaded our supplies into a metal cage and crossed the river carried by a cable.  Well, all the fun is gone--a bridge now traverses the canyon and the path we took for the 1 1/2 hour hike into the villages is now widened (a bit) and winds its way up the steep hill and down, taking nearly 1/2 hour for the approximately 5 miles.  In all, our 33-mile trip ate up 5 hours.

The two villages are located toward the mouth of a long east-west canyon, along a stream that meets the Zangskar at Chilling.  The elevation is lower, but the wind blows constantly, stirring up the glacial till that is their soil.  We were covered in dust each day, and felt it clogging our lungs.  Skarma found rooms for us w/ a family he knew and the lady fixed us a late lunch.  The bus driver, same one we had 3 years ago, also eats there, then turns the bus around for the return to Leh.

Our frustrations began even on the bus as Skarma, very friendly and talkative, tried to tell us about his work, the village, etc., but his English is very poor and accent soooo strong that, by concentrating and straining to understand, I got about every fourth word.  We had tried hard to explain our goals, not just treating animals who happened to be sick then, but providing preventive care through parasite control and vitamins.  When we first started our house to house visits, I am sure he was asking about sick animals, as most everyone shouted "Julley!" but 'man' (no) to his questions.  Again, we explained about prevention, again he nodded and nothing happened.

These are small villages, Sku a little further east up the canyon, but each can be seen in one day.  Tundrup suggested we hike up to Shingo on Friday, a really small village of 3-4 houses along a popular trekking trail, but which he said had a lot of sheep and no health care.  On the bus was a lady from there, so we suggested to Skarma that he explain our plan to come on Friday, and to ask everyone to keep the animals in.  Did he?  

Friday we were off at 8:20 for the 6 mile hike up a canyon to the north.  The path, as everything else there, had been damaged by the 2010 floods, foot bridges gone and channels widened.  The way became narrower, the stream crossings more numerous (I gave up counting, but we forded across the water on rocks at least 8-10 times) and trail very rocky.  The only excitement was when Howdy noticed a great paw print from a snow leopard, perfectly intact (he had been in the villages the night before--more later).  We climbed over 2000 feet up to Shingo (over 13,000 ft. elevation).  I admit, I was tired; Howdy, 'nge bung-bu' (my donkey, who just plods along w/out panting) was even winded.  But, we were there and ready to go, having brought our backpacks full of supplies for every eventuality.  Where were the animals?

After Tundrup and Skarma had assured us of the sheep population, Skarma said he was sorry, but none were there.  I did lose my cool at that point--why had we come??!  The lady from the bus fixed us lunch, we looked around and finally found about 3 dzohs whom we could worm.  Then, she led us down the hillside to an open field where a few more were grazing; they also got medicine before we descended.  She did say that wolves had destroyed her flock last year and they had not brought any more sheep in.  So, mostly we had bragging rights for the day.

By Saturday, Skarma had figured out our goals!!  Finally, most houses wanted help, so we treated many animals that day, stopping to say hello at the home where we had stayed before, and to the house where our former translator lives.  Of course, tea is offered at every stop; we had to decline, "man, julley" about every other invitation.  One man crafts the brass pitchers used for serving chung; we watched him pound a sheet of metal about 12x14 inches into a circle, then hammer a design.  The base had not been assembled, but he had several finished for us to admire.  He said he gets orders from around the area, which I can believe, as they were very attractive.

These villages are also on a major trekking route; the path goes east to Marka and over a pass of 17,200 feet in the Stok range and into the Indus valley near Hemis, a very famous monastery east of Leh. (The pass from Shingo to the valley traverses a 16,200 foot pass), which is why we took the bus around to the river canyon!  However, the popularity of the area and the construction of the road has brought a whole new economy to these formerly isolated places.  Now, both homestays--the chance to spend a couple days in a real Ladakhi house, often accessed by bus or taxi--or to be dropped off for the trekking adventure at the village, then stay at homes along the way, is bringing money to families.  We saw house after house that either had a new addition, or another structure had been built for tourists.  Hundreds of 'adventure agencies' hang their shingle in Leh and arrange for these tours.  When the economy is good, the villagers see extra income, but those of us in a tourist-based area know how fragile that can be.  We also saw evidence of so much trash and clutter, water bottles slung into fields, the need for barbed wire fencing to keep the ponies out of the barley fields.

We have heard stories of the snow leopard kills, and certainly treated wounds that were made by the creature.  Thursday am we opened the door of our room, from where we had heard a donkey braying much of the night, and saw the steer, who had been tethered just below us, flat on the ground w/ magpies pecking away at the entrails.  Then, Sunday morning we learned that 2 sheep and a goat from the farm next door were dead, as the leopard found an opening in the top of the pen.  Often these predators do not eat their victim, but drink the blood or, the theory goes, plan to return for the feast.  The villagers usually do skin the carcass, hang up the pelt for use in the winter, and eat the meat.  We had a taste of the mutton for lunch--no spring lamb, but a gristled, tough old guy.  All the same, it is very disconcerting for the family who loses its livelihood that way.     

Skarma also pointed out to us, in all the villages, the work of his organization in helping to build winter rooms--even old houses were usually constructed so the kitchen faced south for sun, but the new rooms have thicker walls, double-paned windows, and definitely a south exposure.  They are small, but provide more shelter for the family all winter.  Most we saw were so proud of their new abode, and were just moving back into their regular home (I would have stayed on...).

Sunday morning was quiet as we admired the beauty of the valley--the caramel-colored sandstone mountains across the way, the light brown branches of the poplars ready to leaf out, all framed by the white snowy peaks and deep blue sky.  Because the Nepali laborers do not work on Sunday, the bus ride back was only 3 hours.  Oh, did the shower feel good!

We are now hoping to be tourists and spend a couple days in the northerly Nubra Valley, near the Tibetan border.  Thanks for your notes; we will write again at the end of the week.  Happy spring!

Debbie and Howdy

 


April 13, 2015

Julley again to you all!

One week w/out the internet--how does one survive!   Last Monday, soon after sending my note about Wanla, the computers went down, out all Tuesday, and then we left early Wednesday (4/8) for Sku and Kaya, where the only communication is one satellite phone per village.  We returned yesterday late afternoon w/ a story to tell, but today I will focus on Skindiang, Howdy's favorite, as that is where he first did the herd health assessment in 2006.

"In all thy ways acknowledge [God] and He will direct thy paths", the verse I learned long ago certainly applies to our work here.  We are really dependent on God, as we have few resources of our own.  When we left Palm Sunday afternoon for Wanla, we had both housing and translation set up, but neither for Skindiang, the village about 6 miles north of Khalse.  Since K is a township w/ some commercial operations (small stores, a bank and post office) we can usually find someone who knows English.

Monday afternoon Namgil greeted some visitors, two men from the high school in Khalse where he now works who had come out to order the beautiful carved tables made there.  He introduced Howdy and they asked about our work.  When he mentioned our need of translation, the principal suggested we come into town w/ Namgil and he would try to arrange something.  Although our preference is to spend at least two days in all but the smallest villages, since some animals are out (especially if we have not been able to announce our arrival beforehand, so the sheep and goats stay around) and others are just missed, Howdy explained that we could be there just one day if necessary.

Thursday am we packed our kits and headed to school.  The government high school sits up a hill on the east side of the town, buildings that accommodate about 210 students from grades 9-12, of which about 190 live in the hostels provided.  Even some kids from Khalse like living w/ their friends, the others have too long a commute.  More about the school later--we need to get on our way.  After tea and meeting several teachers, the principal announced he would drive us up and translate, but could only be gone a couple hours.  Groan--the drive is about 1/2 hour, and we could never get to the houses in that time.  We are not sure he had ever been to the village, but knew some of the parents, so felt he would do well, and I think was interested in an adventure.

On arrival (now the road goes clear into town, a far cry from walking the last 2 km as we did the first visits), several men recognized Howdy and were eager to greet him!  He felt at home right away.  Of course, everyone wanted us for tea, but we did start at the edge of the village and asked about animals.  Some of the sheep and goats were already up to higher pastures for the day--nothing to eat but scenery, really--so we saw fewer animals, but did, in closer to 4 hours, get to every house.  How fun to see familiar faces!!  The old grandma where we have stayed several times is still alive, but told the principal she was too old to remember her age.  All the sons and grandkids were away that day, but we gave her our greetings, and saw the other hostess from a few years back.  This is the village built along two streams that carved two ravines, one steeper than the other.  Houses cling to all the hillsides, so we walked up one, both sides, and then over to the other.  While stopping at the houses along the wider gorge, we found a group, including this hostess, who were sitting in a circle on a small field, eating lunch and resting from their morning labor hauling manure to a plot before plowing began.  Of course we were asked to join them, thankfully not for food, which looked like a gruel, but to have a cup of really tasty chung, local beer.  What a pleasure to see them all again.  Then, on to look at cows, do preg checks and give worming.  We got to the end of the SE side of the ravine, crossed the creek and up the other side.  One man ran to find the photo of his sons we had taken a few years before (and appeared on the cover of the CVM magazine), and we finished w/ a frustrating story we had first heard in Matho, then Wanla, and now here.

The farmer brought a 2-year old sheep from an enclosure for Howdy to check its eyes.  As w/ the others, this poor thing is totally blind due to retinal damage.  The consistent message was that government vets (?) came out last spring and wormed the sheep and goats.  Several died, many became seriously ill, and some who survived were blinded.  He could do nothing but express our sorrow at this terrible situation, yet assure the farmers that, because sheep are a flocking animal, if the group is together they seem to do okay.  By this time, we were determined to track down the medicine and then alert the head of Animal Husbandry, as we had seen at least 20, probably more whose owners did not bring them up.  I felt very good that we were trusted to do the right thing after such an experience for the villagers last year.  Namgil did find an empty container of the wormer, a type unknown to Howdy.  Although we have not been to AH yet, we think, from further conversations, that inexperienced workers did the dispensing, and likely highly overdosed.  We hope to find the reason for such a disaster.

About 3:30, 4 1/2 hours after arriving, we said our goodbyes and drove back down the hill.  Since the principal could not stay overnight and devote another day to helping us, we had to leave w/out seeing everyone, but felt satisfied that at least we got there and stopped at every house.  I think the principal had a good time, and entered in to the action, helping to hold and even catch the critters.  I got a nice photo of Howdy w/ the men he enjoyed most, so we will have good memories of the day.

Back in Khalse, the principal treated us to a very late lunch, unfortunately at a Punjabi cafe, where the main ingredient must be chili peppers.  It was painfully hot; we ate the rice and as much of the toppings as we could swallow.  Back to school where Namgil had finished and was ready to leave for home.  The east and west parts of town are divided by a very deep ravine, a continuation of the Skindiang channels.  The present bridge is accessed by driving down the steep slope and across this one-lane span that quivers and rattles, then a climb up the other side. A new one has been in the works for at least 6 years, but still not completed!  I wonder if it will be done in our lifetime.

As we were trying to make arrangements, checking the bus schedule to return to Leh on Friday rather than the planned Saturday, as the work was done, Namgil said he was headed to Leh that morning so we could hitch a ride.  We awoke to another snowfall that continued all the way into the city, about 80 miles.  The road goes over one rather high pass, but fortunately the snow was not sticking to the pavement. However, these cars have no defroster, so he was shifting, wiping and steering all at the same time.  That was a bitterly cold ride. Those parishioners attending the Good Friday service were chilly, too. 

The entire weekend was quite cold, more snow (gropple) on Easter Sunday, but that did not lessen the joy of the day as over 200 believers gathered in the decorated church for worship and then a dinner served afterward, usually on the patio, but the falling snow forced us into the fellowship hall. I don't know what you serve for Easter dinner, but the traditional meal here starts, of course, w/ tea, then a nice muffin, followed by rice w/ veggies that had cooked in huge pots over an open fire all morning, and chicken drumsticks ordered from the Punjab.  Afterward, kawa, the delicious spiced tea, finishes the meal.  We are so heartened to see the sanctuary filled w/ kids, who happily take part in the service, reading their Bibles and heartily singing.  I will have more about the new church and our last villages in other letters.

The upside of not having internet for several days was to find several letters waiting for us!  What a delight to hear from you; many thanks for taking the time to write. If all goes as planned, we will spend a couple days later this week in the Nubra Valley, a major tourist destination for visitors here, reached by driving over the highest motorable pass in the world. We have heard it is worth the effort and certainly has a lot of history, so close to Tibet and not far from Pakistan.  How we wish peace would come to those places.

Enjoy each day of spring, and write when you have time.

Love to all,

Howdy and Debbie

 


Monday, April 6

Julley to all,

Easter around the world must have been cold and snowy from what we have heard and also experienced here.  Nevertheless, it was a beautiful celebration of God's love, which we were privileged to share w/ Christians here in Leh. 

Today I want to finish the highlights of life in Wanla.  Tuesday morning, as I mentioned, we began the day in the stall of the downed cow who at least had her head up.  Howdy  gave more fluids, meds, and moved her so we could treat the sores that quickly develop on the legs due to pressure.  Then back to the main village where we continued the usual worming,vitamin B, and several palpations to see if a calf would be coming soon.  Each house is on a different level up the hillside, and the pens may be another climb above the residence.  We certainly don't run, but are managing the elevation; walking downhill is my biggest concern, as I do not want to slide and fall.  Soon we were at the top of the hill, just under the monastery, at the last house.  We have seen more yaks than before (they are used mostly for breeding to produce the work animal, the hybrid dzoh).

When we returned for breakfast we found that 'Ferrari' was not so quick today, feverish and quiet.  So, Namgil and his wife decided to take the little guy to the clinic at Khaltse, where the older sister's husband is a pharmacist.  They were gone about 4 hours, during which we read or wrote postcards.  After they returned, their no-no (little boy) still ill but w/ a diagnosis and meds was left w/ his mom and we started up the easterly canyon.  Their  family pens are at the peak of the hill w/ a breathtaking view up the canyon. ( I know I have spent many words on the scenery, but it is so dramatic).   They own several sheep and  a few cows, most of whom Howdy found to be pregnant-yeah!  Then, up the hillside to each house where we did the usual treatments.  At one residence we came upon a group of Nepali children, probably belonging to the road work crews.  That work is just brutal, w/ no thought to safety or welfare.  We don't know if a family was paid to shelter the kids, or why they were there.  Although I never learned if they were enrolled in school, at least they were off the shoulder of the road.

At last we found ourselves at the highest-most house, where lives a wood carver of the beautiful, intricate tables and lintels that decorate above the doors and windows.  Sadly, although Namgil said he is very intelligent, he can neither hear nor speak, and of course no sign language programs are available.  My gaze went down the hill to notice the monastery, always the highest building on the hill, but we, on the next ravine over, were above it.  No wonder I was a little out of breath.  We had found a few animals that needed treatments for which the supplies were back at the house, so promised those farmers we would return in the morning.  Just then N's phone rang w/ news that the cadre of monks were ready to leave and needed to be paid.  Not only are they housed and fed during the three days of chanting, but expect a hefty payment at the end.  He ran back down the hill while we took a leisurely pace.  As we all bid them goodbye, I think the family sighed w/ a little relief.

Wednesday morning found us back up the hill to dehorn a ewe whose horns were curved around and pressing into her skull.  I cut one, then gave the wire saw  (giggly wire) to Namgil, who did well sawing off the second one..  Another ewe had had a very difficult birthing the day before, she was bruised and dirty.  We are always able to ask for and get 'chu skol'--hot water, so were able to clip the soiled wool, clean and then medicate.  Her baby looked good except for some diarrhea, so we cleaned him and treated the naval.  She had not come into milk yet so we discussed feeding strategies, which the owners had already begun.

After lunch, we headed for my sentimental favorite village, the tiny Sheela, about a mile up the western canyon  When we were first here in 2008, Wanla had just received electricity 4 days before we arrived, and the poles were sitting along the dirt roadway for power to Sheela.  Now both  villages enjoy lights from 7-11 most nights.  We again found  sheep who needed dehorning and willing owners to allow it.  One woman wanted us to worm her donkeys and two cow outs in a large field; the donkeys were compliant, but the cows should have been used in a rodeo.  Namgil did go down, my glasses flew off, and she threw her weight around and around.  Eventually, Howdy prevailed.  It was an oral medication, so did not even hurt!

At the end of the village a nice bridge crosses that stream; the road due to continue to hot springs further west.  Namgil had suggested driving up to the bridge, but I enjoy the walk.  Turns out, dumptruck loads of boulders (these trucks are called 'tippers') had blocked the road only a few hundred yards from the start, so we would have walked anyway.  More houses are located along the northern side of the stream, including the one where, several years ago, an older man told Howdy to give his large dzoh the "same medicine as last year, because he did so well".  We are not sure if the man is still around, but that old dzoh, rasty as ever, is still alive!  His nose ring, used to control his movements, had been lost, but about 6 villagers pushed him into a corner so Howdy could give some wormer and B.  The cute toddler, whose picture holding a lamb is one of our favorites, is now a boy of probably 10 and has two younger brothers.  One of the more interesting owners had a very soothing but quite deep voice, lovely to hear; he was the 'dzoh whisperer' of the village.  When he held an animal and talked to it, the beast seemed to relax.

With only two houses, both a ways downstream, left to visit, Namgil thought we could do those Thursday morning so we headed home.  That adventure was just beginning.  The 2010 floods had created more channels in the wide streambed, and those recent rains had melted some snow, so water was running in places no bridge (using that term loosely as the way to cross if often just two small logs) had been placed.  A lady at the last house had given him directions, so we did not have to walk nearly a mile back to the road bridge, but these instructions were hard to follow.  We were along narrow banks, through brush, on rocky hillsides, etc., to find a way across some waterways (we jumped a few, if narrow enough) and finally make our way to one of the log bridges.  I asked N. if he knew the term 'wild goose chase' because we felt we had been on one!  But, we managed to get back to the road, which we had to do because the only bridge at the confluence of the Wanla and Sheela rivers is on the south side.

Early Thursday morning we got to the last two houses, using the log bridges and rocks to jump, saw more sheep, cows, and cute twin girls all ready for school.  Back for breakfast and on to  Howdy's favorite place, Skindiang.  That is my next story.

We hope you have a pleasant week, savoring that Easter candy.  Write when you have a chance.

Love to all,

Howdy and Debbie

 


 

April 4, 2015

Julley to all and Happy Easter!

We will be thinking of you all tomorrow as we celebrate the resurrection of our Lord.   Our hope of sharing this message of the good news that through Christ we can have a personal connection to God brings us to Ladakh.  We can show our love for the people here, and hopefully through us they can have some understanding of God's love for them.

This has been such a good week working in the western villages!  I have so much to tell you, but will try to do 2-3 shorter notes as to not bore you or strain your eyes.  This chapter will be about the start of our trip, then the next notes finish the villages and on to church, food, clothing, and other general news.

 Rev. Gergan generously allowed us to be driven to Khaltse, the township about 67 miles west of here, after church and lunch last Sunday (Palm Sunday) using a school vehicle.  The drive on NH 1, (not to be confused w/ I-5) used to be dirt, rocks and big potholes, but in the 8 years we have been here the Nepali laborers have constructed an almost-two lane road paralleling the Indus River from east of Leh to about 15 miles west of Khaltse.  The trip now takes only 2 hours instead of 3 1/2.    Our translator/host in Wanla, Namgil, w/ whom we have stayed several times, had  planned to pick us up there for the 13 mile drive southwest to his home, but apologized and asked if we could take a taxi.  With the school driver's help, we found a 'contract carriage' whose owner is also a school bus driver for the Moravian school there.  Of course, one must bargain, so we settled for about $7.00.

The weather had turned that morning from brisk but sunny to cold and overcast; we drove some in rain and then light snow.  The drive to Wanla is quite dramatic; about 3-4 miles from Khaltse the road leaves the Indus and turns south through a really steep, narrow canyon cut by the Wanla River that is flowing north-east to meet the Indus.  A geologist would be quivering w/ excitement to see the strata of sedimentary rock at a nearly 90 degree angle:, puddingstone, shale and other types.  How I wish I had completed that geology class I once began!  After about 9 miles the canyon opens out to sort of a Y, where the river turns from its origin far south in the Zansghar mountains,( just as the Z. RIver flows north to meet the Indus about 20 miles west of Leh).  Another small river is running east, where it meets the Wanla at the stem of the Y.  The little village of Sheela is about a mile or so up that west canyon, the village of Wanla hugs the mountain side on the east side of the river, as do most villages to catch the sun.  A second set of homes is over the hill, east of the main part, which can be reached either by walking around the hill on the road or hiking over, down to the creek that cuts that ravine, and up to Namgil's home, the lowest of about 15 houses.

We learned when we arrived why Namgil could not come to fetch us: This is the time of year that a Buddhist household,  if financially able and willing, hires several monks from the monasteries to come for 3 days and chant blessings for a good, peaceful, healthy year for the family. This is a major undertaking, which we also saw a few years ago in Skindiang at our host's home.  All those prayers must take lots of energy, as both Namgil's sisters had taken a leave from their teaching jobs to be there and help cook the 3 large meals per day, plus plenty of tea and chung.  The monks stayed in a large room upstairs that I think is used for trekkers during the summer.  We could hear some of the chanting, and they enjoyed practicing their English when they did venture out and we were there.

Both Namgil and his older sister (who, by the way, is so pretty and could be the image for a Plains or eastern Native American) have girls about 9 years old who board w/ relatives in Leh to attend school here.  Both also have toddler-age sons; hers a chubby 20-month old who looks quite Chinese, but reminded us of the Pillsbury dough boy.  His is a darling petite 15-month old who was wearing a vest w/ Ferrari label.  Because he was so active and fast, we used that as a nickname.  The sister's husband, N's mom and wife and  a few friends were all in the little 'living room' off the kitchen when we arrived about 4:30.  We were surprised they had not heard the cricket finals on the battery-powered radio, but since India lost in the semi-finals, that game was not such a big deal.

The snow turned to rain, apparently one of the first heavy storms for awhile.  Poor guy, besides all his other duties, Namgil was up on the roof trying to lay tarps on areas where the mud had cracked, letting water into the 2nd floor rooms, including ours.  I think we had 5 buckets that dripped, dripped all night, but only one drip was near our sleeping bags, and Howdy was able to dodge that.

Monday morning at 7:45, after a cup of tea, we were off in the car south along the village-river road to see a downed cow about 5 miles away.  Due to the rains, 'shooting stones' from the mountainside clogged the pavement in several places; once, Howdy and Namgil got out to move some larger impediments to travel.  The cow was in dire straits, a large, beautiful caramel colored Jersey lying on her side, a very bad position for a ruminent, as she could not bring up a cud nor pass the gases that would soon cause bloat.  She was unresponsive, but alive.  Although Howdy never determined the initial cause of her problem, just the metabolic changes that came from not eating, the weight she bore while increasingly weak all caused this situation.  He and the men got her up on her sternum, put a blanket on her and gave her B complex, antibiotic and steroid, then gave the owner lots of advice.  That afternoon we returned w/ some electrolyte solution he found, and the next day she was still alive and a little more responsive. They moved her around so she would not develop sores, then gave more meds. Unfortunately, we did not get back up the hill to learn if she had lived.

As we drove back to the village that morning, we stopped at several homes to give the usual worming and B complex injections.  You might wonder why we spend so much time dealing w/ parasites instead of more exotic and interesting conditions.  As I have mentioned, most of the animals are herded together in a room under the house for the worst of winter, where usually no manger is available so they are eating off the floor.  By spring, when food supply is low and the internal parasites have had ample opportunity to thrive due to decreased resistence, the beasts are thin and less able to absorb nutrients.  Cleaning out the gut and giving some stimulation, the B complex, helps them become stronger faster.

At one house, after the usual wormings, the lady showed us a big cow w/ a huge abscess on its neck below the jaw.  She said it would open, then return every year, which made sense because the opening was not large enough to allow full drainage.  Howdy asked if he could sedate the cow and clean it out that afternoon.  The owner was not there, but we did track him down later and he gave his permission.  People here are reluctant to have animal anesthetized, but it's the only way to do invasive treatments.

Back to the house where everyone was cooking breakfast for the monks.  Namgil was busy for several hours, so we could read or write.  Their house sits about 10 steps up from the path, a long rectangular shaped building w/ a 'deck' along the front, west side.  A plastic tarp has been pulled over pipes to create a greenhouse where they have many flowers, mostly geraniums, but greens germinating in a bed.  This is really comfortable and well-lit for sitting, especially if household members close the door to the outside.  That just is not an issue here; the inside temp can be just right, and then a few blasts of cold air send the degrees dropping--no one pays attention except me.

That afternoon Howdy collected all his surgery instruments and we returned over the hill to the abscessed cow.  The first injection of Rompum, a mild sedative, did not calm her, so he gave her more and she went down in a place we had found that was partly clean.  When he cut into the jaw a mild explosion of gas, pus, and blood came pouring out.  The poor thing must have been miserable w/ all that pressure on her neck and throat.  He opened the area, flushed and cleaned, then stitched the sides so they would not close soon, allowing more drainage.  She should do well.

After several more house calls, we found ourselves toward the lower end of the village where two older farmers, who we think might be brothers, wanted meds for their cows and donkeys.  Everyone wants B--we have been through 250 cc so far, at 1/2 to 2 cc per dose!  These men had a little English, so when Howdy finished he asked them and Namgil if two more B injections were needed--about 15 seconds passed before they started laughing at the joke. 

The last house, as usual, wanted us to have tea, but Namgil needed to help sisters start dinner for the monks, so we stayed and chatted w/ a teenage boy who wants to study art and architecture.  (The government school has now added 7-10 grades and a hostel, so students can live there; those who want to continue to 12th class go to Khaltse or Leh.  The number of children who don't live at home seems overwhelming to us, whose kids can sometimes be around until their 20s!)  This young man is taking classes from a university in Jammu, the state capital, by correspondence.  We hope he will meet Isaac Gergan, who is starting art classes in schools around the area.

We felt confident that we could take the paths back to the house, and we did.  Everyone was busy, but some things wait for the power to come on at 7.  This evening it flickered and then died, but the family has a generator so we had lights.  The younger sister, a primary grade teacher, is enthralled w/ Bollywood soap operas, so sat in front of the TV while trying to do the prep cooking and hushing the two toddlers.  Waiting for the evening meal at 9:30 is brutal, but we hate to ask them to make two dinners.  This evening they gave us soup (everyone uses the Knorr packages) to tide us over.

This the house where the 'bathroom' is at the end of the deck, a two-hole arrangement w/ the first opening only 2 steps in, so one must be cautious when bolting the door.  Added to the interest, this year the soil, used to 'flush' after use, was piled high, making a slippery slope on either side of the hole, so planting one's feet securely was a challenge.  That is especially a problem in the middle of the night when holding the torch is essential.  But, this year a new indoor facility had been built!  However, it comes w/ its own set of stresses:  the stairway leading to the upper floor is the usual 7-8 steps, all varied in height.  Then, at the landing two additional sets of steps have been built across from each other, one to the room we use, and the other to a hall where these large rooms are situated to the west and another 7 steps at the end up to the bathroom.  The steps leading to the hall and our room are on a curve--the end of the curve, where the step meets the wall, is open to the first steps up from the ground level.  One miss and that cement would provide a hard landing.  We were so careful not to walk too close.  Then, the bathroom itself, all tiled, had no running water so Namgil had to haul buckets up for flushing, and no TP around (we have learned to bring our own), Yet, that was the preferred location for middle of the night needs.  The problem was that we had to be fully awake, so getting back to sleep took a long time.  The sleep sacks, our down bags and an extra quilt give us plenty of warmth for the night.

Even though this is only a recap of the first day, I shall end and send more later.  Hearing from you is such a joy--the first thing we do when opening the computer is check for mail.  We love news from home and the world; the evening news, in Hindi, is a wrap-up of stories, mostly of the Indian Parliament, where each segment is about 5 lines, then on to the next.  So, we don't know much of what has happened.

Take care, keep us in your prayers as we do you.

Love to all, Debbie  

 


March 24, 2015

Julley to all,

What a joy to open e-mail (when internet is working--yea!!) and find notes from home.  We thank all of you who have written; I will try to send short personal replies, when I have computer time, but know we love hearing from you.

We have had a couple of quiet days here in Leh after returning from Matho last Saturday afternoon.  This gave me a chance to fight the cold I had picked up--visiting the chemist [pharmacy] is another experience, but he gave me some remedy to replace to Contac I had used up.  It is working--I will do anything to ward off the virus that laid us so low last year.  We also finally have made the arrangements for most of our time here; that takes some coordination between the translator, transportation and ordering any meds from Animal Husbandry (which take a week or more or never to arrive).  We will return to Matho for another 2 1/2 days this week, then leave Sunday after church for the 3-hour drive to Khaltse and the three villages to the west.  We are most eager to return to those places, where we have been every year.

As I mentioned, we drove around some of Matho in Deldin's car on either paved or dirt roads.  This is the 'nose of the camel', the basis for a monumental change in Leh.  A few years ago an Indian entrepreneur decided that every house should have a car, and set out to build small vehicles for the country.  While I am not sure of the wisdom of his enterprise, I can say he has wildly succeeded here.  When we first came in 2008, a few 'contract carriages' (taxis that are small vans) were parked along one street, and the Moravian school had a couple of small Tata trucks.  Buses carried people and goods out to distant towns, most villages were walk-ins. Last year we were just amazed at the number of private cars and the traffic!  Now, the city is being remodeled to accommodate cars.  

Think of a rectangle with long sides of 2 blocks, short sides of one.  The north long side is the bazaar, the main shopping street of town, with the 2 end streets and one in the middle feeding into it from other roads.  The road department decided to widen the lower long side road and the west short block, so all the buildings are gone to make way for another lane of traffic.  The bazaar will eventually be a walking street, but is now all torn up and all the trees cut down; Leh is an old, old city--the history of western TIbet dates back at least to 200 B.C.  All photos of the bazaar, from the first cameras in, show the same scene.  Now it is gone,

Then, the public health department decided this was a good time to install a sewer system (we could not agree more!) so12-foot deep trenches--below the freeze line--have been dug in those roadways and several others. The ditch by the post office was close enough to the edge of the street that only a 12-inch pedestrian path remains; people were going both ways along it (and I was hugging the wall).  No funding or mandates for a barrier or protective rail; walk at your own risk is the way here. 

Soil and rocks are piled everywhere, cars are backed up trying to maneuver between the ditches and mounds.  Every day another backhoe has torn up another small street.  These were originally paths for yaks, so not a lot of width between the rock walls; I think many will be left as one-lane streets.  Walking is a bone-jarring adventure, with potholes, small dips, and rocks making each step a different elevation.  It is especially interesting at night when we walk back from the Gergans or our evening meal; both of us have our flashlights [torches] lighting the way.

As cars become available, village residents increasingly find they can work in Leh. That leaves less time to care for animals and their crops, so they are becoming a more consumer society rather than self-sufficient.  At the same time, communication has jumped the decades from shouting across the canyon, stopping to visit along the road to get the latest news, to cell phones for everyone. I really think more people have phones to their ears here than in the USA.  Often when Howdy was about to give a cow an injection, depending on 3 people to hold on to her, a phone would ring and the guy would turn away!

Because we know the losses to society these changes bring, we wish discussions and consensus could be a part of the plan here, so that all these centuries of heritage won't be completely lost.

I guess that is enough pessimism for one letter; after Easter I will write about our adventures in the west.  We wish you a most blessed Easter season, knowing we can face the future because Christ has overcome death.

Our love to all,

Howdy and Debbie   

 

 


 

March 22, 2015

Julley!

                  We are delighted to be back in cold but sunny Ladakh!  After our disappointing weeks here last year, we were both hesitant to return but really eager to see the villagers again.  By January, we felt the plan to come was right.

                  Our flights were probably the smoothest and on time we have experienced – the Airbus 380, so big (nearly 2 full stories) but much quieter and less bumpy than a 747.  We arrived in Leh Tuesday morning, March 17 after the 28-hour flight, were welcomed by Rev. Gergan and then on to the same guest house where we have now stayed about five times.  On Wednesday Howdy visited the Animal Husbandry department to say hello and thank them for the medicines they had for us, mostly the liquid wormer, Albendazole.  We purchased food to share, made arrangements to travel with the headmistress of the Moravian school in Matho (mat o) and were off on Thursday morning.

                  Matho is a sprawling village about 40 minutes east of here on the south side of the Indus River, built on a sloping moraine below the Zangskar Mountains. We were again able to stay at the home of our translator, a teacher at the Buddhist monastery school, and his parents.  Dedlin introduced us to his wife of one year, the result of an arranged marriage.  This seems to still be common, strange as it sounds.  His mother was concerned that he had not found a wife for himself, so consulted the local matchmaker who found a young woman from a village near Leh.  They share one room in the parent's home; she works at the Animal Husbandry office, then comes home to fix dinner for everyone, as well as breakfast in the morning.  She is most cheerful and seems to get along with the in-laws, not treated as a servant as we read about wives in China.

                  Out to the animals!  Our first stop was a house with 60 sheep and 40 goats, all needing a good deworming.  Any that seemed weak also got an injection of vitamin B.  Then, up to the 500-year old monastery for a spectacular view of the valley and a tour of the buildings.  In previous years we would have walked up there and to all the farms, sometimes taking 30 minutes to reach three houses.  In the interval, much of the road in and through the village has been paved, most of the residents have cars (more on that later) and we drove all over – decadent!

                  Our time was spent mostly deworming and administering the vitamin B, also dusting for skin parasites.  However, the highlight was a surgery to remove a strange growth on the lower eyelid of a cow, actually misplaced horn material.  It was hanging down on her face, pulling the eyelid away from the socket.  Howdy was able to anesthetize her, clip with battery-powered clippers, and clean with boiled water and betadyne.  It was cut off cleanly, the tissue sutured, and when done, she got up.  The owners were delighted, and Dedlin was excited to assist.  In all, we probably gave meds to about 300 sheep and goats.

                  The weather is still cold – how cold?  We awoke to frost on the window, but found the ice was on the inside.  Then, the disinfectant in my pack sitting in the center of the room was partially frozen.  But, the days are sunny.  For the first few days we were miserably cold, but now we are just cold but a little more assimilated to the weather.  That is not to say we don't wear several layers and keep the hot water bottles by our feet at night.

                  Reuben Gergan has suggested we take a ride around the town, so I will sign off, planning to tell you about the many changes we have seen in Leh in a later letter.  Meanwhile, we love opening the mail, when the internet is up, and finding notes from home.  We ask for your prayers and good thoughts as we continue working in the villages.

Love to all,

Debbie

 


 

 

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