It all started in the summer of 1937 when a 16-year-old farm boy away at summer camp heard a report from missionary Hulda Lubbers about the land of Nepal not having any Christians.
The seed was planted in Maynard Seaman’s mind to go to Nepal someday and give people there an opportunity to receive Christ. Maynard thought that serving the medical needs of the people there would be a good way to share his faith, so he attended Wheaton college for pre-med course and then attended University of South Dakota and Baylor University.
Dorothy Woerz was raised in the home of a pastor in Oklahoma, and she came to the Lord as a child. At age 10 Dorothy sensed God’s calling on her life to become a missionary, something that was reaffirmed in her teens. With a tentative goal of serving as a nurse in Africa, Dorothy entered Dallas Bible Institute to begin her training and later completed her nurses’ training.
When Maynard and Dorothy met, Maynard shared his vision for Nepal. Even though she had never considered serving there, after thinking, praying, and talking with others, they both sensed God’s leading them to this land of great need.
Foreign missionaries were not allowed in Nepal in 1960, so instead they sailed for India and began language study in the foothills of the Himalayan Mountains. Maynard and Dorothy both fit well into the medical ministry there and served in several hospitals and clinics.
The Seamans finally moved to Nepal just before Christmas 1968 when they began working at a clinic started by Dr. Katherine Young. Her remote medical clinic was accessible only by way of high treacherous mountain trails in Western Nepal, and living conditions were harsh. When Dr. Young realized that she could no longer continue the arduous work, she began to search and pray for someone to take her place, and the opportunity came to Maynard.
Maynard and Dorothy were joined by fellow missionaries Peter and Pauline Hanks at the clinic which drew anywhere from 150 to 400 patients a day. The medical staff chronicled many stories of people who had fallen from mountain paths, burning victims from cooking fires, and cuts inflicted by chopping knives and scythes used to harvest grain and grass. Post-operative care was minimal, so Maynard did his best and often sent patients away with little knowledge of whether they would even survive.
Peter Hanks construction and maintenance skills kept everything working the way it should. Pauline and Dorothy were both nurses, and their care and organizational skills kept the clinic running smoothly. There were small children that needed care, entertainment, and education. And following Dr. Young’s example, the Seamans and the Hanks continued the practice of having informal devotions on Sunday afternoon.
In the mid 1970s, the team drew up plans for a hospital with accommodation for post-surgical care and ongoing treatment. It took years to get the various permits, secure funding, and actually build and finish the facility, but it finally opened in 1988. The Dadeldhura hospital and its growing ministry to the people of Nepal exists today because of the work of the Seamans and other dedicated missionaries.
After the hospital opened, Murray and Dorothy took a short home assignment, but they were denied visas when they tried to return to Nepal. Naturally, this was difficult for the Seamans, but at the same time an opportunity opened for them to serve in a small hospital in Sri Lanka. Even though they moved there and tried to navigate the complexities of governmental rules, the work never took off. For the last few years of their missionary careers, the Seamans continued to make short-term trips to Nepal, but they never were able to return there long term.
In August of 1995, Maynard and Dorothy announced their retirement from TEAM but continue to active in ministry. They served as medical educators in China with Tibetans and on Operation Mobilization, the ship that goes from port to port sharing the Gospel. After each trip, Maynard and Dorothy return to rural South Dakota where Maynard grew up.
Toward the end of 2008, after 13 years of retirement, Maynard and Dorothy received an invitation from the Kailali Chamber of Commerce in Nepal to join them in their annual trade and tourism fair. The purpose of the invitation was to honor them for their part in the development of an area in Western Nepal. While the award was gratefully received, it was followed by joyous reunions with Nepali believers and a tour of facilities that are much different from what Maynard and Dorothy encountered when they first arrived. Their trip celebrated much more than economic development and tourism…it celebrated that call to a rural South Dakota farm kid who obeyed God.
-Written by Bob Wright
-Photos provided by the family
[Originally published in TEAMHorizons, March 2011]