We recently met Busang, a skinny man with four brothers, three of whom are monks. The fourth brother had recently left home, leaving his son and wife behind. Busang is looking after them and their four yaks while he is away. He is able to speak broken Mandarin, which he uses for simple communication, and he was very interested to learn more about me when we met. He asked me if I would be his Chinese teacher in exchange for him teaching me Tibetan, and he even invited my family to visit and stay with him for summer. We exchanged phone numbers, and for two weeks he practiced Chinese with me through voice messages like “Good evening. Where are you? What are you doing?”
One day, Busang sent me a message saying he was in a town hospital with his wife, who had liver hydatid disease. This is a common disease in pastoral areas such as where he lives. The parasite goes in the human body through animal’s dung. It usually became parastic hepatic cvst later, and can eventually lead to liver cancer if not quickly treated. I did a lot of research for him, and it seemed as though surgery was the best option they had. He didn’t even need to worry about the cost, because the surgery is free in the pastoral areas. If his wife did the surgery soon, she would have enough time to recover before the new season of moving to different pasture to plant.
Even though the time and cost of the procedure was not a problem for them, they still decided to travel further away to see a Tibetan doctor and eat Tibetan medicine first. They wanted to wait and see if this remedy would be effective before going forward with the surgery. I tried to talk them out of this approach, but it didn’t work. Later, I learned why they chose to do this. Culturally, Tibetans tend to have more trust in traditional treatments over surgery. More importantly, though, was the need to visit the Living Buddha for advice.
This preference for tradition over Western ways of doing things extends to all areas of their lives, not just medicine. When it comes to making important decisions, they always go back to tradition, which is strongly integrated with the Tibetan Buddhism Religion. Tibetan believers also struggle with this, even after accepting the Gospel.”
Please pray for
- Busang and his wife’s health.
- The Tibetan’s hearts be open to better solutions over tradition.
- That they would know what parts of tradition to embrace, and what parts to give up.