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ss triple helix - summer 2016,  A yak in the fridge

A yak in the fridge

Life and work in Nepal
John Dickinson and family

Xulon Press, 2016, £13.15 Pb 228pp, ISBN 9781498461221

Reviewed by John Martin, CMF Head of Communications

The title alludes to the author's research into altitude sickness, involving storing yak hearts in the kitchen refrigerator. It's one episode in a compelling account of a medical career devoted to Nepal. The author and his family went there in 1969 with BMMF (now Interserve) to work with the United Mission to Nepal (UMN).

It's a lively, often humorous, account of expatriate life among the poor, spiced with comments. Lots of quirky incidents as West meets East: stresses and lifestyle plusses. The story continues after UMN with work as an army doctor and consultancy.

Dickinson insists it's not a 'missionary' book; no accounts of church life, missiology or crosscultural issues. Nevertheless there's a profound underlying mission narrative. In 1969 there were just 500 Nepali Christians, with conversion and evangelism punishable by imprisonment. Today Nepali Christians number 800,000. As in China, a persecuted minority learned to share the faith and grow the church with little outside help. UMN did no visible missionary work; its contribution will only be known in the annals of eternity.

A case study for the western health professional considering service long-term in a resourcepoor context: learn the language, be flexible, do research and get it published, acquire networking skills and, most importantly, love the country and its people.

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