Missionaries from Nepal

Missionaries from Nepal

. 2 min read

January 19, 2024   By Christie R. House

ATLANTA – Dr. Mark and Deirdre Zimmerman have spent most of their careers as United Methodist medical missionaries in Nepal, working in various assignments with several medical partners, including the United Mission to Nepal (UMN), a faith-based medical and health care partner founded in 1954 by organizations from 20 countries. Mark arrived in 1986 shortly after completing his medical training in internal medicine. Deirdre began work with UMN in 1997 as a nutritionist. They met at Patan Hospital in Nepal in 1998 and married a few years later. Today they have two sons in college in the U.S. who grew up in Nepal and consider it their home.

Last year, Mark and Deirdre decided to retire from missionary service and move to the U.S. to start new careers. For Mark, who grew up in Pennsylvania, this is a homecoming. For Deirdre, born and raised in Ireland, this is yet another country in which to make a new home.


In January 2023, Mark was asked to take a turn supervising senior students during their 4-month rural rotation. He traveled by jeep from Patan to Amp Pipal Hospital, 60 miles northwest of Kathmandu. He remembered a trip in the 1980s, when the only way to get there was to walk up the mountain, and he left his two porters to carry his suitcases while he pushed ahead to try reach the hospital before sunset. He writes:

After about an hour of gentle climbing past banana trees and thatch-roofed stone houses, the first drops of rain bounce off the guitar case I’m carrying. I wonder where the rest of my porous pieces of luggage are now. I come upon three Nepali nurses who say they’re also walking to the hospital.

At first, I consider going ahead of them, but as steep became steeper, I grow to appreciate their methodical pace. They know when to stop and rest, when to be refreshed by tea, and they have a flashlight while mine is with my porters.

The forest thickens. There are no lights, no electricity, and no people. Who would be out walking on such a rainy night? Lightning flashes briefly illuminate the path. As we come around a hill, I’m startled by brightness a mile or so ahead. “The hospital,” one nurse murmurs.

That first time I walked up the hill to Amp Pipal, I had no idea what lay ahead. I’d come to Nepal the previous fall planning to do a several-month volunteer stint and, despite not being a committed Christian, had stumbled into an organization called the United Mission to Nepal. During the next year on that mountain, among total strangers – several of whom would be become lifelong friends – my life took a new direction: I became a Christian and discovered a calling, which meant spending my medical career in Nepal. Whenever people express surprise at our staying in Nepal this long, we usually admit it wasn’t our plan; we’ve just felt God nudging us on from one term into the next.

The rest of the story...