'It was hard having a medical background and not being able to do anything'

Annette’s story | Trusting God without all the answers

“I’m part of a ‘missionary’ family, and God has provided for us remarkably. But I’ve always been aware that death can happen.

My parents went to India in 1949, taking me with them as a ten-week-old baby. They served in Belgaum, and after five years, they moved south to Bangalore.

After two years there, it was decided that I would go to boarding school. The weekend before leaving, my father preached on the book of Joshua, about the choice to follow God’s way, and I decided then to follow Jesus at age seven. Having Jesus as my friend became very important to me through boarding school.

At boarding school, I also remember reading a lot of missionary stories, including Elisabeth Elliot’s book about her husband, Jim Elliot, who was speared to death in Ecuador along with four others. I read all of her books.

At the same time, my parents moved to Kerala, and there was a missionary graveyard in a corner of the orphanage site. We would go there occasionally, and read the headstones. A lot of missionaries had died, including children; it deepened my awareness that death can happen.

At 15, I decided I wanted to be a doctor, so I went to Australia and stayed with my grandmother. God provided for us in every way. I was able to get a scholarship, go to university and train to be a doctor. I also met my husband at university, and we were married after my internship year.

“We have so many stories to tell, all of them reminding us of God’s provision and presence.” – Annette

Both of us were interested in Nepal, and after some years, we were accepted by a medical mission. We left in 1978, taking our first child, a two-week-old baby.

Some months later, we were working as doctors in a mission hospital in Tansen. It was an incredibly worthwhile time. We have so many stories to tell, all of them reminding us of God’s provision and presence with us.

Of course, there were difficult times as well. One year, I got sick with amoebic liver disease, and we had to go to Delhi for treatment. While travelling, one of our sons got meningitis; it was a terrible experience. It was very hard to have a medical background and not be able to do anything.

He recovered, but another time, years later, our daughter became very sick with encephalitis. Again, it was traumatic. She had all sorts of issues for six weeks, but she recovered.

“On two separate occasions, we had missionary colleagues die.”

Earlier one of our missionary colleagues had a child with encephalitis who became permanently disabled. It’s the question we can’t answer: Why does God bring healing in some situations and not in others? On two separate occasions during our years in Nepal, we had missionary colleagues die. They were both young men with small children. We can never justify it or understand it in human terms.

In 1987, my father was visiting us in Kathmandu. He’d always wanted to see Everest, so we took him on a trip to a nearby village. The next night, he suffered a heart attack at our house. We didn’t have a phone. My husband was at the hospital, and I couldn’t call him. I couldn’t leave our three small children to get help. I sat with my father, and he died in our home.

It was a very traumatic time. Afterwards, I prayed in the kitchen with our children, and my husband came home. We had to organise everything. My husband did the embalming in order to send his body back to Australia in a casket – having learnt about it in a textbook. But again, the support we had from other missionaries, and from people praying for us in Australia, was tremendous.

The verse I go back to is Jeremiah 29:11, “‘For I know the plans I have for you,’ declares the Lord, ‘plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.’”

“The ‘hope and a future’ is true when terrible things happen and also when very good things happen.”

I’ve hung on to that verse for many years now, even in tragedy. Of course, the verse was written to the Jews while they were in exile, experiencing tragedy. The ‘hope and a future’ is true when terrible things happen and also when very good things happen. It’s as true today as it was on the day my father died.

Nowadays, our daughter and her husband are in Nepal, teaching at a Missions school. She rings me when her children are unwell, and I worry. It’s harder now. I feel more out of control! But I hang on to the same truth. God has a plan and a purpose; we can trust him, even when we don’t understand.”

Annette’s story is part of Eternity’s Faith Stories series, compiled by Naomi Reed. Click to read more Faith Stories.

Related Reading

Related stories from around the web

Eternity News is not responsible for the content on other websites