This is a very sad time at Musa Masala. We have lost one of our members, our friend and an inspiration to us all. Dr. Jennifer Kurmaski Konopka was a powerhouse, a true energy source. Dr. Jen leaves behind a loving husband, brothers and sisters and her patients, who loved her. Jen was a pediatrician who had a thriving practice.

You don’t start an organization designed to help people and imagine these things happening. The greatest gift of Musa Masala has been meeting incredible individuals doing meaningful and wonderful things around the world. It is a people-affirming privilege to enjoy the company of caring, enthusiastic doctors, nurses, paramedics, EMT’s and mountain and trekking guides. I think Jen would say the same thing. She set such an example for me in every interaction we had, I will continue to think of her and let her actions lead me to be a better person.

Here are some thoughts from our members:

“Super Phula” Sherpa:

I am so sad about the death of Jen mum. I did twice trekking with Jen and Rich and they are like my parents. They don’t have a child and I don’t don’t have parents, so they feel I am their son and I feel they are my dad and mum and I used to call them “Papa” and “Mum.” When I heard that Jen was suffering from cancer, I was so sad and asking God every day for her recovery. When I heard from Lakpa that she had passed away, I felt as if I lost my mum the second time from this world. Still my eyes flow tears every day. We, team Musa, lost one of our family members. Deepest sympathy for the family and papa Rich.

Lakpa Sherpa:

“May all who enter as guests leave as friends.” — Wongchhu Peak Promotion

We would like to dedicate our company’s mission statement to our Jen Mom.

Papa Rich, Jen Mom, Uncle Gary and I were once strangers. We were together for a trek to Mt. Everest Base Camp. I miss those days. I remember a moment while having lunch at Tengboche and Jen Mom said she felt like a family. She had no child and she asked me and Super Phula to call her “Mom.” It was an honor to be called son and daughter by her. She inspired us to fulfill my father’s dream, the Wongchhu Sherpa Memorial Hospital. On top of that, she taught us to move forward to continue our parents’ legacy.

Papa Rich, we are with you.

We miss you, Jen Mom. May your departed soul Rest In Peace.

Ang Diku Sherpa:

I met Jen and Rich in 2016 during a Pikey Peak fundraising trek for the Wongchhu Sherpa Memorial Hospital. Again we met in 2018 for the Everest Base Camp Trek. They were both so friendly, caring, supportive, encouraging and loving. They are so dedicated towards the hospital project and our company, Wongchhu Peak Promotion.

Jen always had a smiling face. I still remember her smile and our gossips!

I miss her so much. The moments we had will forever last in my heart.

May your departed soul Rest In Peace Jennifer.

Suzanne Cheree Ellis:

When I met both of them, I was incredibly humbled by the way they would embrace people in their lives. They were so welcoming…for anyone to get involved. It didn’t matter who you were, what you were qualified to do, they just loved you. Jen was a pediatric physician who made certain to look fully at me, as a paramedic, and say how much I must understand in a way that she couldn’t. She valued me….and it mattered so much. That was the way it seemed they looked at anyone and offered themselves to anyone.

Tatiana Havryliuk:

Jen’s passing is such a tremendous loss for all of us. Being in her presence always made me feel a little lighter; I wanted to join her in her laughter or partake in her kind and cheerful banter. She was a truly beautiful person. Her openness, sincerity and joy for life will be remembered and continue to inspire all of us.

We will always have you in our hearts.

Sarah Frances McClure:

Jen brought such sunshine to every space and person she encountered. Her energy was enormous. She will be greatly missed.

Thanks for the positive energy and dedication you made to Musa, Jen. You will forever remain in our hearts. May you rest in peace and continue to shower each of our projects with love and joy.

Hannah Dennison:

Jen will be dearly missed. It was so lovely to hear how loving, caring and inspiring she was to so many! Thank God she was here to bring such positive vibes to the world. The world needed Jen! Forever in the hearts of many.

Linda Andrus:

Jen was truly one of those people I aspire to be like. The minute I met her and Rich in Nepal, they treated me like instant family. Listening to Jen and Rich giggle in their tent was one of my highlights in Nepal. I was so impressed by their love for each other. Her laughter and smile were contagious. I am truly saddened that another great soul has left us so early. I was so blessed to have known her and will strive to carry her spirit onward.

My tears are starting now. I tried to avoid it, but I’m so sad thinking of the adventures we had talked about doing.

Love to the Musa Family

We created the following video of Jen and her work with Musa. Thanks to Gabe Harder for editing it together. I think this says what I can’t.

At Jen’s memorial service, buttons were given to each attendee by Jen’s husband, Rich. It had a quote from Ernest Shackleton: “Optimism is true moral courage.” This was Jen’s favorite quote, and she spent up to her last day living it. We take this with us as we remember our friend and continue to move forward with Rich and all who knew Jen. We love you and miss you.

Jam Jam,
Mike Ji