Archive for Friday, April 12, 2013

Lawrence nurse to become full-time missionary

Lawrence resident Karin Feltman has decided to become a permanent, full-time missionary and plans to leave for Nepal after the first of the year. She is pictured on Wednesday at her church, St. Margaret's Episcopal, 5700 W. Sixth St.

Lawrence resident Karin Feltman has decided to become a permanent, full-time missionary and plans to leave for Nepal after the first of the year. She is pictured on Wednesday at her church, St. Margaret's Episcopal, 5700 W. Sixth St.

April 12, 2013


Early next year, Karin Feltman plans to say goodbye to Lawrence, her job and hot showers — for good.

The 44-year-old is heading to Nepal, where she will become a long-term missionary, focusing on improving community health and eradicating human trafficking.

"Since I am able, I feel I have an obligation and responsibility to do this, not only to humanity, but also to God," she said.

Trained as a nurse, Feltman has gone on several short-term international missions in the past, helping people in need. But this time it's an indefinite commitment.

Feltman's mission to Nepal is being organized by TEAM, a religious group that puts long-term missionaries through an extensive application and training process to ensure it's something they're truly meant for — to, in other words, to make sure they're someone like Feltman.

To live and volunteer in Nepal full-time, however, Feltman will need sponsors to cover the $3,600-a-month cost of living and working there. To that end, she is holding a fundraiser from 7-11 p.m. Saturday at the parish center at St. Margaret's Episcopal Church, 5700 W. Sixth St.

Her calling

On a recent day among the pews at St. Margaret's, Feltman, wearing a Destination Nepal T-shirt, explained her decision to upend her life. She seemed to have all her wits about her, and got excited just talking about mission work, like she was ready to leave for Nepal at that very moment.

This all started in August 2005, when Hurricane Katrina devastated New Orleans and the surrounding area. Feltman felt she had to be there: to help, to heal, to rebuild. She lived out of a tent, using her medical training any way she could.

That first mission seemed to spark something deep inside her. She felt she belonged among the volunteers, helping people who couldn't help themselves.

Almost immediately after returning to Lawrence, Feltman started itching for her next mission. She went on one, then another, until she racked up 15 over the course of seven-plus years in places like Honduras and Kenya. It still wasn't enough.

"I found that as soon as I came back from these trips I was trying to figure out how to go on my next one," she said.

She had no husband or kids, nothing really tying her down. After her mom and sister died within about a year of each other, she decided it was time to pursue her dream.

Feltman wasn't always this way, so selfless and giving. In fact, she was quite the opposite, she says: selfish and inward-looking, more interested in pleasing herself than others. Until, at the age of 30, she found God.

After that, she says, "I started seeing other people and other people's needs as more important than my own."

'The remotest of the remote'

Feltman originally thought she would do long-term mission work in Africa — until she visited Nepal, in South Asia. It was so poor, so underdeveloped — hospitals use hairdryers to warm newborn babies because they don't have heat, she said — that she felt like she was needed there more than anywhere else. In Nepal, she witnessed "a level of oppression and injustice we just don't see here," she says. Even so, she describes the Nepalese she met as "sweet-tempered" and "gracious."

She'll be living in a rural, mountainous village called Dadeldhura that "even the people in Nepal consider primitive," Feltman said. "It's the remotest of the remote."

Her mission will consist of working at a local medical center (Feltman has been a nurse at Lawrence Memorial Hospital for more than two decades); implementing community health programs in surrounding villages; and trying to eliminate human trafficking.

Education will be a big part of her mission. For instance, many Nepalese are unaware of the impact of human trafficking; they often sell their children, thinking they've given them a better life (a job, school) when, in fact, the kids are being forced into slavery. Similarly, she wants to be a patient advocate at the village's hospital, which has 28 beds but no doors or curtains. She also intends to focus on wellness and prevention in a place where tuberculosis and leprosy still are major problems.

A natural missionary

Feltman's boyfriend of the past few months, Shaun Trenholm, isn't upset that he stands to lose her in the near future; he knew her plans going into the relationship

"She really believes that's where God is directing her to go. She buys in completely," said Trenholm, a 54-year-old business owner from Lawrence and treasurer of St. Margaret's Church.

Grown-ups Night Out

Lawrence nurse Karin Feltman is hosting a fundraiser for her long-term mission trip to Nepal this Saturday from 7-11 p.m. at the parish center at St. Margaret's Episcopal Church, 5700 W. Sixth St. The event, Grown-ups Night Out, will feature an international food tasting, wine, massage therapy and music from Feltman's band, The Color 5. Child care is available from the church's youth group for a donation (split 50-50 between the youth group and mission trip). Tickets are $20 each or $150 for a table of eight. All proceeds go toward Feltman's mission to Nepal. For more information, email her at

Feltman's roommate, Yvonne Routte, has gone on several missions herself and has met people who couldn't handle them. She says Feltman is not one of those people.

"She's very outgoing, very dynamic, very active, and she has a heart of gold," said Routte, a 52-year-old hospital worker. "She's focused, and I can't see her failing. In my mind it's not even possible."

Someone who's not too happy about Feltman leaving is her niece, Morgan Banning. Feltman is a mother figure to Banning, particularly after the 20-year-old student lost her mother — Feltman's sister — last year.

"She's an important person in my life and I'm going to miss having her around," Banning said.

Even so, Banning is surprised Feltman didn't become a full-time missionary sooner. She probably would have, but stayed in Lawrence to care for her sister, Kim Banning-Bohmann, who died after a struggle with a rare skin condition.

"She's a really good mix of a friend and a mom and an aunt all in one," Banning said of Feltman. "I think she's going to take those kind and caring personality traits to people who need it."

Some serious training

Feltman already has started her training, even taking a desensitization class to get over her fear of spiders; it required that she hold a tarantula. It will probably come in handy: Routte said she's encountered spiders overseas so large it takes a baseball bat to kill them.

Feltman has to undertake a year of language and cultural training before she can even go to Dadeldhura. TEAM also required the endorsement of her church.

Those interested in sponsoring her are asked to call St. Margaret's at (785) 865-5777. Feltman will be holding two more fundraisers this year: a kids' Bingo night on April 27 at the church and a performance by her band, The Color 5, on June 15 at BlueJacket Crossing Vineyard & Winery in Eudora.

Another one of her goals is to inspire others to take on missions or, at the very least, follow their own dreams. It seems to have worked for her.

"Do what you love," she said in the cavernous worship hall, wearing stylish glasses and her hair dirty blond, her confidence and energy infectious. "We're all wired a certain way on purpose. Find your passion and be true to that, and you can't go wrong."


Bob Forer 5 years, 1 month ago

I am confused. This woman is volunteering her time as a professional nurse yet it costs $3,600 per month for the privilege of volunteering and living in Nepal.

Nepal is a very poor country. The cost of living for a single person can't be more than it is here, and certainly $3,600 per month.

jhawkinsf 5 years, 1 month ago

60 Minutes did a story a while back about a missionary hospital ship that provided medical services in various African ports. All the volunteers had to pay to be a member of the crew, that money coming from donations. Perhaps this a similar model, where volunteers pay for the privilege of being a volunteer.

jhawkinsf 5 years, 1 month ago

Well, the story on 60 Minutes showed they providing some much needed medical services. And missionary work. That's what this story sounds like, doing much needed work while also doing missionary work. Not exactly riding your bike across America. Even with my cynical nature, your suggestion sounds a bit over the top.

questionquestion 5 years, 1 month ago

The average cost of living in Nepal is about $10/month in cities.

Daniel Speicher 5 years, 1 month ago

As with most missions organizations (especially in poor nations), the operating costs of the organization (in this case, the hospital) is left up to the volunteers who give their time. In order to go, she likely has to pay for the month-to-month operation of the hospital as part of her ministry overseas. My assumption would be that is where the high price tag is coming from.

Biscayne 5 years, 1 month ago

Karin, I'm very proud of you, this world needs more people like you that make a positive difference, God Bless.

openmind 5 years, 1 month ago

Seriously, someone says they need $3600 A MONTH to live in Nepal and the "reporter" doesn't ask why? For what?

anomicbomb 5 years, 1 month ago

The LJW comments section does not disappoint....someone dedicating their lives to helping others? Lets gripe about religion, politics and money!

costello 5 years, 1 month ago

Yes, I think if I ever do anything interesting enough for the paper to do a feature article on me, I'll just say 'no thanks'!

Anydaynow 5 years, 1 month ago

And this $3,600 per month is tax free?

eramazon 5 years, 1 month ago

Great questions! As for tax free, there is no income tax on the money but 15% goes to Medicare and Social Security. The rest is not income and is not all "cost of living". That is total needs and includes cost of living, travel to and from Nepal, travel while in-country, supplies needed for any work while there (programs while in the hospital, community health education programs, etc...), health insurance, medical expenses until deductible is met ($2000), charitable donations for my current church home and/or a church community in Nepal, small amount of discretionary spending money, home office fees to TEAM for managing my logistics, continuing medical license fees and education, and some retirement savings... there is more, but those give you an idea. Most of that amount is not "income". The amount is set by TEAM and is the same for each worker, regardless of profession- physicians, teachers, nurses, etc...all have the same budget.

One last note- the fund at St Margaret's has been set up so that the treasurer is not able to access or write checks on it, just so no one can speculate that there is any wrong-doing. He is one of the most honest people you'll ever encounter.

Hope this helps!

Bob Forer 5 years, 1 month ago

So do you have to raise all this money by yourself before you can go?

DeckDoctors 5 years, 1 month ago

God bless you Karin for being willing to go and be a light and lend a hand in a very dark part of the world! You can do all things through Christ who strengthens you!

gatekeeper 5 years, 1 month ago

I'm all for people going to other areas to help those in need. What I can't stand is Christians going to other nations and pushing their religion on these cultures. It's great if people have faith and believe, but when you feel it's your need to convert everyone else, that is stepping over the line. I hope she is truely going just to do good and help and not to try to convert the Nepalese. I have family members who have gone to China on missionary work and 90% of their time was spent educating about God and trying to convert the heathens, not doing charity work.

$3600 month???? For what? That's more than most of us take home in a month and we can live pretty nice lives on less. Something seems very fishy.

Haiku_Cuckoo 5 years, 1 month ago

Well, maybe her efforts will be balanced out by all the atheist organizations that provide medical care, charity relief and soup kitchens...

Oh, wait.

costello 5 years, 1 month ago

I have to respond to this. My father was an atheist, and he personified the Good Samaritan. He never passed a person broken down on the road without stopping to help. One time the guy he stopped for tried to club him over the head. Luckily he wasn't far out of the car; he just fell back into the driver's seat, slammed the door, and drove home. When my mom asked if this meant he'd stop helping stranded motorist, he said, "No, I'll still stop for anyone needing help."

He didn't belong to any 'atheist organizations' (and, I'll add, he would never have posted anti-religious comments on a forum like this - he was a live-and-let-live kind of person), but he was a helper nonetheless.

Leslie Swearingen 5 years, 1 month ago

He sounds like as though he lived as a good man. Men such as your father deserve respect both for what they do and who they are and the respect they give others. Wish we had more like him.

jonas_opines 5 years, 1 month ago

Well, we've seen some reaction to when atheists show even a sign of organizing at all, very recently.

Damned if you do, damned if you don't, eh?

gatekeeper 5 years, 1 month ago

There are MANY groups that provide aid that have no religious ties and aren't trying to convert anyone. One of my friends is actually in India right now, on her own dime, teaching street children to read. She is not religious at all and the organization she is working with is not affiliated with any church's or religious groups.

You may find it hard to believe, but most that aren't religious still have kind hearts and good morals and do good deeds and help others.

If these "good" Christians that spend their time trying to convert everyone else to their way of thinking would actually step back and learn to appreciate others beliefs and cultures instead of trying to make them believe in their faith, they might actually learn something and be enlightened.

KSGIRL80 5 years, 1 month ago

So would it be so bad if she shared the love and grace of Jesus Christ (which is HER belief) to people who feel hopeless and doing evil things such as trafficing? Seriously??????

Jean1183 5 years, 1 month ago

Karin...great of you to answer the questions some had but there will always be those who have a negative attitude.

God Bless you for being willing to go and serve!

jonas_opines 5 years, 1 month ago

Anyone who has an article written about them in a paper that allows commenting would be wise to just stop scrolling after the end of the article, before the comments.

I don't think any of us really have a basis on which to evaluate the $3,600 a month figure, either, other than the information provided in the post above. Certainly it sounds high for living expenses alone, but if she's living AND working then its not so suspicious. Could include medical supplies and other things related to the work that she'd be doing.

Nor do we have enough information to suggest that this is more for proselytizing than actually attempting to help people, as questioned.

Sometimes, perhaps, its simply healthier to not be blindingly cynical about everything, ya'know. This coming from a pretty cynical bastard. But I've been on a couple medical missions organized by my old church, and we Did spend our time helping, and not proselytizing. Of course, given my current philosophy, I'd make a very poor religiously-oriented missionary. But I am fond of helping people as I'm able.

jonas_opines 5 years, 1 month ago

She's also been, according to the article, in 15 prior to this, and this is the first we've heard of it.

Seems like the purpose of this particular article, aside from human interest, is to draw attention to the upcoming fund raiser more than anything.

MarcoPogo 5 years, 1 month ago

Oh man, I just stepped into a big pile of irony. Now I need to change my shoes.

Bob Forer 5 years, 1 month ago

Some people are quick to donate to a religious "charity" because they think it might help them get into "heaven."

I find it odd that a professional nurse who is willing to do charity work has to pay for her own expenses while doing the work. Sure, I understand that the volunteer may have to pay their own way back and forth, but once there, I would think any reputable religious organization which has a presence in a third world country would provide basic modest housing and meals for the volunteer. What professional volunteer would expect to pay for their own medical supplies, and their room and board.

eramazon 5 years, 1 month ago

It is standard for a volunteer to raise funds for their support. The mission/sending agencies don't produce or sell anything, nor generate income other than charitable donations. In order to have the funds to support the worker, funds have to be raised. I am not raising funds for myself, technically. I am deputized to raise funds for TEAM and they then pay the expenses you mentioned and others out of the funds raised on their behalf. All funds raised are kept in accounts and dispersed for approved expenses such as rent, work projects or programs, travel, etc... it isn't "given" to the worker, except the discretionary spending stipend which will be used like the income you make when you work- to buy things you want or need.

Bob Forer 5 years, 1 month ago

Thanks for the response. If i were a professional who was virtually giving away my work to others, I would be very hesitant to engage in a project where I also have to raise funds to support my volunteer work. After all, there are a lot of charities who help the impoverished in third world countries who are well funded and well established, and would love to have someone, especially an experienced nurse, who would devote a year of their time simply in exchange for modest room and board. I would be insulted by a program who would only accept me if I had to raise my own funds in addition to giving away my skilled labor for next to nothing.

verity 5 years, 1 month ago

The arrangement described is very common. Even if you're a volunteer, it still costs the organization to support you and to provide supplies, etc. It's not free by any means. Somebody has to raise the funds.

akt2 5 years, 1 month ago

Nurses aren't in it for the attention or the money. If you have ever known one or observed one at work you know this. What she will be doing and the conditions she will be doing it under has nothing to do with anything other than compassion. How could you go from a practicing nurse in modern medicine to nursing in primitive places like this for any other reason? You can take the nurse out of the hospital, but you can't take the nurse out of the girl. Some of them anyways. The ones that are genuine nurses.

HoneyBadger1 5 years, 1 month ago

Sheez. There is some mean spirited people in this community.

Bob Forer 5 years, 1 month ago

What is so mean spirited about my comments? I am curious.

5 years, 1 month ago

Karin didn't seek out publicity for this cause. I happened to be interviewing her for another article (about another charity she donates her time for, in fact) when she mentioned that she was planning on going on an indefinite mission trip to Nepal. I thought it would make for an interesting article. That's it.

Leslie Swearingen 5 years, 1 month ago

I don't think anyone is being cynical or mean. It is difficult to understand why an organization is not paying for the medical supplies she will need to treat the villagers. If it is so remote it must be difficult to get the supplies to the village. Is she going to eat the same food as the villagers?

Does anyone in Nepal find it insulting that it is assumed that they cannot help themselves or improve their own lives, but must have someone came in from the US to do it? Maybe the people in this remote village does not realize they are in such bad shape. Maybe they are just living their lives the way they always have.

This is $43,200 a year. It seems to me that you could cure everyone in the village and set them up in pretty nice homes for that. Just saying.

verity 5 years, 1 month ago

I don't know the particulars of this mission, but I am familiar with this kind of work. When people have to travel for days to get any kind of medical care, yes, they are extremely pleased to get it. When your child is dying from disease or malnutrition, you are not insulted by someone saving your child, sometimes at great cost to themselves.

You are assuming that, given the money, people living in unsustainable conditions could just spend the money and create a viable community. Too often they don't have the tools to do so. Many are living in refuge camps, a country whose infrastructure has been destroyed by war or drought, etc.---in other words, they can't fix the situation by themselves. The best of these kinds of missions try to work themselves out of a job, helping the people to become self-sustaining.

$43,200 a year does not go far for medical equipment and supplies. People like Ms Feltman often live and work under the most primitive and trying conditions. While I personally don't agree with proselytizing, I commend her for her dedication. I doubt she will be living in any kind of luxury.

I do make very sure how my money will be spent before I donate---that goes for any organization.

ck2008 5 years, 1 month ago

These comments are difficult to read because, as a society, we are ignorant about the process of "volunteering" for this type of mission work. @Sycho, for example, Karin IS going to help one of those "well established agencies who would love to have a nurse volunteer for modest room and board"........and THIS IS WHAT THEY REQUIRE. its costly. Its remote. Its constantly under fire and attack. The modest room and board includes BIG HAIRY SPIDERS ON EVERY SURFACE OF HER ROOM. I suggest anyone "concerned" about her initiative of this undertaking to MEET with Karin and let her explain the process to you. And her extensive and not easy for all of us faint of heart...and the tremendous NEED found in this pocket of the world. Karin has REAL ideas that can make a permanent difference. So....please be aware most of us commenting sound so very IGNORANT.

ck2008 5 years, 1 month ago

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ck2008 5 years, 1 month ago

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ck2008 5 years, 1 month ago

@verity and are both absolutely correct and I appreciate your comments, even though they are not being listened to.

greenworld 5 years, 1 month ago

God Bless Karin, If any of you goofballs knew her you would know that she has love in her heart and wants to go out and heal people and follow the mission of the lord. She is heaven sent and knows what she wants in life. There are lives she has saved and people she has prayed with before they have died to give them the love they need before they die. Dont judge her for one moment as she is ligit and until you walk in her shoes you guys dont know much about her. Pick on somebody else that isnt trying to good in the world and that is a bad person because she is definately not that.

KSGIRL80 5 years, 1 month ago

Jeeze people- doubters, suspicions, etc. I find comments like "I find it odd" and "something seems fishy" insulting! If you have questions about the financial end of it then call the organization yourself and ask your questions! Dont you think Karin - a professional, well educated and experienced woman- has looked into every aspect of this? When is the last time YOU have done anything so selfless, and sacrificed every modern comfort and convenience to bring light into a very dark part of the world? Accusing Karin or other organizations of "pushing their religion" on others is just ludicrous. Afterall, is she pushing satan and evil on them? NO! So how could you be so critical and judgemental of someone willing to basically GIVE UP HER LIFE, to help others? As for raising the money, Ive gone on similar missions, and many people actually WANT to donate b/c they cant physically be there and do the work themselves! We should all be GRATEFUL that people like Karin walk among us, instead of judging and questioning her motives! Now, I challenge YOU to put down your arrows and donate just ONE WEEK OF YOUR EARNINGS to make a difference in the lives of the very unfortuante people in this region. Go ahead, I dare ya!

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