Dear friends and family,


Thanks so much to everyone who has prayed for us since our last message in September about our temporary expulsion from Nepal.  I’m sorry that we’ve neglected our prayer email list since then, during some pretty major events:

  • From September through December, we were based in the UK while Joel worked remotely to hand over leadership of UMN
  • Around Christmas, we all caught COVID, which further delayed our return to Nepal by a few weeks (and, by supercharging one of her migraines, temporarily put Fiona in hospital) but has done no lasting harm
  • We returned at the end of January and spent three busy, fruitful months visiting UMN sites and wrapping up our relationship with UMN
  • After saying our goodbyes in Nepal at the end of April, we made some final visits in Scotland to spend time with the congregations that have supported us since 2015 
  • We have now moved to Canterbury, where we expect to spend the next year — before returning to Nepal, hopefully in 2023, with Fiona as visa holder

If things had been going badly, you’d have seen a mass prayer request from me some time ago!  As it is, it has been a very busy but a very blessed time — the kind of season where I (Joel) have to admit that I often neglect to pray or ask for prayer. But we would be grateful now if you would join us in praying:

  1. For UMN’s agreements and government relations going forward
  2. For every blessing to Dhana Lama, Joel’s successor as director of UMN
  3. For Fiona as she embarks on the research into medicinal plants that will bring us back to Nepal
  4. For our sons to find good friends this year in the UK

Throughout March and April, first Joel and then the whole family were on the road, visiting all of UMN’s working areas—two hospitals and the six “Cluster offices” where our village-level anti-poverty work is coordinated.  It was wonderful to be able to visit the frontline work in person, after the pandemic and our visa interruption in 2021 had kept us away from the Clusters for a long time.


We were as ever delighted and impressed by the UMN work we visited.  It was a special joy that Caleb and Isaac had a chance to see more of it — to really understand this side of what we’ve been doing in Nepal.  They joined us in hiking out to remote villages where UMN is helping people with disability, boosting Dalit livelihoods, or transforming local schools.


Then we returned to Kathmandu and a wonderful official farewell at UMN, where we celebrated the last few years and looked forward to the achievements to come under Dhana Lama, UMN’s first Nepali executive director.  We feel we’ve had a fantastic ending to our time at UMN.


We do not expect that will be the end of our time in Nepal, however.  From September, Fiona will be starting an Ethnobotany MSc and PhD research focusing on medicinal plants at the University of Kent.  Her primary focus will be on Artemisia annua, a plant that has long been used around  the world against falciparum malaria and is now in clinical trials as a COVID-19 treatment.  It is indigenous to Nepal but little-studied there, and Fiona has had enthusiastic support for her proposed research not only from Kent but from the Royal Botanical Gardens in Edinburgh and Nepal’s own National Herbarium.


We hope that from spring or summer 2023 we will be able to return to Nepal on Fiona’s research visa.  Fiona thanks everyone for the prayer for her migraines; while still very much a part of life, they’re at a level where taking on this level of study does actually seem doable!  After the many ups and downs of the last few years, Joel is looking forward to a quieter season as house-dad, primary child-carer, and writer.


We would be grateful for prayer for this year in the UK as a family—especially for Caleb and Isaac, who we hope find good friends at school and church in Canterbury.  Over this past week here, we have found both a home and a school for the boys much more quickly and smoothly than we had expected.  We take that both as an answer to prayer and as an encouragement that God will be guiding our time here.


Meanwhile we hope you will continue to pray for the United Mission to Nepal and its faithful service to Nepal.  Please consider signing up for their weekly prayer updates here

We would also be grateful for anyone who wants to keep receiving our family’s periodic prayer updates.  Although we will no longer formally be mission partners of any church, we’ll be continuing to serve the people of Nepal, as well as mentoring and encouraging people from the Nepali Christian community, and we will be in need of prayer support!


Let us know if you’d like to come off this prayer list — we don’t want it to be spam for anyone, and we know that everyone has to set priorities and boundaries on the email they receive and the prayer they commit to give.  Thank you all, regardless, for all your support and prayer during our years with UMN.  This has been an amazing season of life, and we look forward with joy to the coming one!


Joel and Fiona

Caleb and Isaac