Milwaukee, Wisconsin — Dr. Doug Lindberg is a family medicine doctor currently practicing outside Milwaukee, Wis. While he and his wife Ruth were medical students at Loyola University Chicago, Lindberg said the couple felt called to medical mission work. They subsequently spent four years serving at a hospital in the Himalayan foothills of Nepal. They had few resources but a wide variety of patients with an even wider variety of symptoms. While there, Doug and Ruth were briefly joined by Dr. Sr. Marlene Long, a Franciscan Missionary of Mary and plastic surgeon from Kenya.
You’re an evangelical Christian, but you went to Loyola. What was that like?
It’s not like you’re going to seminary where there’s an explicit instruction on faith topics, but the fact that it was a Jesuit and Catholic value system undergirding the education was certainly appealing. We had a group at Loyola of Christians across all sorts of faith backgrounds — from Catholic to Orthodox to Protestant — who met together each week for Bible study and fellowship, and that was really an influential time for Ruth and I in terms of kind of flushing out, in a sense, what God wanted us to do.
What was it like working with Sr. Marlene Long?
[Laughs] Marlene was just an amazing lady. She has 40 years of experience working in under-resourced settings and all sorts of prestigious qualifications that are attributed to her — and she’s just still the most kind and humble and hardworking lady that you could come across. It was just a privilege and pleasure to spend the time we were able to spend with her in Nepal and just enjoy getting to know her and serve with her. It was always interesting how God would bring uniquely equipped people to serve and, then, during the time they were there, we would get unique cases they were needed for.
Is that happened with Sr. Marlene?
There was one patient in particular who sticks out in my mind during Marlene's time with us. She was a young lady who sustained a severe electrical burn to her hand, her scalp and her leg as well. Normally we would have just amputated it — it was so severely burned and infected, but we said, okay, we've got a plastic and reconstructive surgeon on the way, which probably had never happened before where we were working. In the interim, this gal — who was a young wife, no children — her husband and mother-in-law had been coming to see her, and when they realized how serious her condition was, they abandoned her. Basically her husband divorced her.
And then over the weeks that Dr. Long was there, the girl would be reading her Bible that she was given, and her smile was just beautiful when we would do rounds. Ultimately, Dr. Long wound up sewing her hand to her leg — to her groin area — to transfer healthy tissue from the leg to her hand and to allow the wound to heal. She also did skin grafts on her leg and continued to care for the wounds that she had. By the time Dr. Long was leaving, she was much improved, her arm was saved, and she ultimately went to Kathmandu for some additional surgery that we were able to help pay for. While there, she came to faith in Christ.
We had heard later that her husband came, realized that her arm worked again and invited her to come back. She said no initially, but we don't know if she ultimately changed her mind on that. So that was one of the really neat personal stories that emerged during our time there that without Dr. Long could have never happened.
How can people be praying for Nepal?
Just that God would continue to grow the church there. That there'd be a stable government and protection from persecution for the Christians there. And for development, relief from poverty — the grinding poverty that so many people live in there. Those are a few ways. Also, prayer that more people would have a heart for Nepal and see fit to go and help and be a part of what's going on there.
[Dawn Cherie Araujo is a staff writer for Global Sisters Report.]