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Ramona (Thomas) Arnold

Helping physical needs in Kenya
"So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen..."
By Rachel Elwood, Staff Writer, 2009

 “We cannot afford to miss a single opportunity to help physical bodies,” Ramona Arnold wrote in a 1957 Call to Prayer article. “It is one of the quickest ways to reach a sin-darkened heart.”

Born on November 23, 1927, in Mitchell, South Dakota, Ramona was raised by Christian parents who brought her up to have a heart for the lost. Her mother, Wilma, was involved in the South Dakota Prayer Band, and Ramona knew at a young age that she was called to serve the Lord as a missionary nurse wherever He would take her.

Ramona received her RN degree from the Samaritan Hospital School of Nursing (Idaho) in 1951 and then completed a BS degree in nursing at the University of Washington in Seattle. During this time, she practiced surgical and public nursing in Seattle. Ramona went on to work as the school nurse at Vennard College (Iowa) and then joined World Gospel Mission in 1955. She was appointed to Kenya and first arrived there in 1956.

Ramona served at dispensaries at Kaboson and other rural stations during her 25 years of service. She grew to love the Kipsigis, Maasai, and other tribes who came to her for medical care. Time after time, she was helpless as she would encounter illnesses or injuries that were beyond her capabilities. But each person and family that she saw in the clinic heard the gospel of Jesus Christ.

“The other day as I cared for an elderly woman suffering from many aches and pains caused by disease and old age, she looked into my face and said, ‘I love you, Tapletgoi (my Kipsigis name).’ It was easy to say in reply, ‘I love you, too,’ and also in those brief moments to tell her also of Jesus’ love for her,” Ramona wrote in a 1964 Call to Prayer article.

Ramona married Ellis Arnold in 1984 and subsequently resigned from WGM. She and Ellis lived in Stanwood, Washington, where she continued to practice nursing until 1995. Following in her mother’s footsteps, Ramona became involved in leading the Washington/Idaho Prayer Auxiliary.

Frank Martin, pastor to WGM missionaries, says, “My wife and I first met Ramona when visiting the Washington State Prayer Bands. We liked her immediately! With her warm and accepting spirit, you couldn’t help but like her. It was very evident she loved the Lord and anything to do with missions.”

Ellis passed away in 2003, and Ramona suffered some serious health setbacks, including cancer that required the amputation of her arm and shoulder. But she continued to praise the Lord for His many blessings, and she supported missions through prayer and financial giving before passing away on March 28, 2009, at the age of 81.

“So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen. For what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.” (2 Corinthians 4:18 NIV). Ramona truly fixed her eyes on the eternal, and we rejoice that she is in the presence of her Savior today. World Gospel Mission joins with Ramona’s friends and family in celebrating her life and service to our Lord.

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