Friday, 30 October 2009

Dominoes and hippies and astronauts... oh, my!

Some cultural traditions that we grew up with in America have no corollary in Papua New Guinea, but we like to celebrate them anyways.  So we white skins observe October 31st with an annual "harvest party."

As night began to fall, dominoes and hippies and Dorothies and robots and astronauts began to emerge from their homes and walk across the mission station toward the park on top.  We were quite a spectacle, you can be sure.  A bit embarrasing in my opinion.  But it was also a joy to make the PNGians laugh :).  My sis would be so proud of me!

My costume for the evening was "static cling."  I chose this particular costume mostly because it gave me an excuse to spike my hair.  Here I am with the girls, Erin the astronaut and Dorothy a.k.a. Becky 2.
Scott Dooley came as his wife Gail who came as her husband Scott.  Wow.  No... WOW.
I got a kick out of Andy Bennet's Master Card costume.  I appreciate his sense of humor.

There were lots of goodies including peanut butter balls (NOT buckeyes), carmel corn, and homemade candy corn.  We cooked hobo dinners on the coals of the camp fire and roasted the world's largest marshmallows.  The marshmallows were courtesy of my LINKS church in Copperas Cove, Texas.  Thanks, Cove Church of the Nazarene!
For more pics of our very fun evening, check out the photo album "What we do for fun in PNG."

Harvest party

Start:     Oct 31, '09
Campfires and costumes and hobo dinners and smores, oh my!

Prayer walk

Start:     Nov 1, '09 5:00p
Location:     new hospital
Missionaries and national staff will be walking through the new hospital for a time of prayer, thanksgiving, and dedication.

Monday, 26 October 2009

Kids in the corner

When you first enter A-ward, there are little cubbies on either side that are surrounded by half walls and a curtain door.  Each room has two patient beds inside.  These are the "isolation rooms," though technically they are not very isolated.  You might find a child with TB or measles or some other potentially spreadable infectious disease inside.  If there are no infectious cases, the beds are open to whatever patients happen to get put there.  

This week I had two precious non-isolation kiddos sleeping in the corner cubby.

This is Taitas.  She is one of the smiliest babies I have cared for on pediatrics :).  Yes, Taitas is a she.  I thought she was a very pretty boy for most of the week.  Surprise!

Taitas has been admitted for the second time in a few short weeks.  She has a chronic cough and difficulty breathing.  The original sickness was thought to be pneumonia, but a follow up x-ray showed a big heart.  Taitas probably has some sort of congenital heart disease.  

It is difficult to get a true diagnosis for CHD.  We have a machine that can do echocardiograms (ultrasound of the heart), but Dr. Susan is the only one who knows how to use it and she has just a bit of experience.  A specialist comes up to Mt. Hagen once a year, but it is hard to know when he is coming and we missed sending our patients this year.  

So at Kudjip Hospital, kid with a big heart on x-ray +/- heart murmur +/- symptoms = CHD.  These patients are treated with ace inhibitors and diuretics, maybe beta blockers and digoxin.  Some get better.  Some get to the specialist in Hagen for echocardiogram.  If their diagnosis is operable, they may be lucky enough to get to go to Port Moresby for surgery by the heart team that comes to the country once a year.  Some continue to live with their illness until they succumb to heart failure.  Time will tell for Taitas.

Junel sleeps in the bed next to Taitas.  She was born at a health center and was brought to the hospital when she was about 2 weeks old because of problems breathing and eating.  She weighed only 2 kg (about 4.5 pounds).  On exam, the admitting doc found that she had a very small chin, a condition called "micrognathia."  Because her chin is so small, her tongue falls back in her mouth, blocks her airway, and causes her to stop breathing.  The deformity also makes it difficult for her to breast feed.  We placed something called an oral airway, a little tube that goes in her mouth and keeps the breathing passage open.  She also has an NG tube for feeding.  You can't see much of her face for all of the tape keeping everything in place.  So far Junel is still alive and breathing, and she has now grown to 2.5 kg!  But these interventions are really just temporary.  If this little one is going to survive, she needs to be able to breathe and eat on her own.  This week I talked with a surgeon in Mt. Hagen who has special training in pediatrics.  I will be transferring the patient to his care on Monday.  Please pray for a miracle for Junel, and wisdom for Dr. Ben as he cares for this precious little one!

But what does it say?  "The word is near you; it is in your mouth and in your heart," that is, the word of faith we are proclaiming:  That if you confess with your mouth, "Jesus is Lord," and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.  For it is with your heart that you believe and are justified, and it is with your mouth that you confess and are saved.
~ Romans 10:8-10

Chinese pot-luck

I know of at least one Chinese restaurant in PNG.  The restaurant is located in the town of Goroka, about 3 plus hours down a very terrible part of the Highlands Highway.  Terrible in that the road is one giant pot hole.  Actually, it is hard to believe it is the major highway across PNG.  There may be other restaurants, but if so they are no where within a day's drive.  Sometimes you just get a craving for Chinese.  So this past weekend Erin and Becky and I, along with Rachel and Jordan (the high school teacher and her hubby), descended on the Dooley house for a Chinese pot-luck.  

The Dooley girls were decked out in their Asian finery.

It is amazing what Gail put together for a bit of ambiance... flickering candles, fancy chop sticks, and name cards with Chinese characters.  

Scott had brought egg roll wrappers back from a recent trip to Port Moresby, so the assembled product made for a delicious appetizer.  We dined on beef and broccoli and sweet and sour chicken with sides of fried or steamed rice.  And what is a Chinese meal without fortune cookies for dessert?

After dinner, the fun continued with two simultaneous games of Settlers of Catan.  Settlers is a tradition around here.  Watch out for Erin and Scott, who of course were declared the winners of their respective games.  

What a great evening!  Thanks, everyone :).

Saturday, 24 October 2009

Ode to Fall

It is a beautiful spring-like day here in PNG.  Wait a minute, every day is a beautiful spring-like day!  I live in the land of perpetual spring.  There are actually two seasons in the highlands:  dry season (taim bilong san) and rainy season (taim bilong ren).  Dry season roughly corresponds to summer back home.  It is the time of the year when it only rains once or twice a week and there is enough sun that the puddles disappear.  Funny that it is also the coldest time of the year, but I guess that comes with living in the Southern hemisphere.  Rainy season roughly corresponds to winter time.  It rains most days, but the rain isn't monsoon-like and we frequently see a glimpse of the sun.

The other day it just kind of hit me that it was the middle of October.  I always loved fall in Ohio... the smells of harvest, beautiful changing colors, jumping into leaf piles, apple cider and pumpkin donuts, bonfires, and OSU football.  This is certainly not a complaint, mind you.  After all, who can complain about living in paradise:  year round perfect weather, flowers and butterflies, and gardens that never stop producing?  But I really do miss the seasons!

Be glad, O people of Zion,
rejoice in the Lord your God,
for he has given you
the autumn rains in righteousness.
He sends you abundant showers,
both autumn and spring rains as before.
~ Joel 2:23

Friday, 9 October 2009

Orientation: part 2

We recently welcomed new missionaries to our family.  After 9 months of paper work and more paper work, the Kerrs finally received their long awaited permits for living and working in PNG.  David will serve primarily at Melanesia Nazarene Bible College and the adjoining teachers college, just down the road from Kudjip.  Rosie is a family practice doctor.  She will be full time mom, and will also work part time at the hospital.  The have two beautiful daughters:  Grace is 6 years old and Anna is 4.

In the normal way that things work around here, new missionary arrivals are almost immediately whisked away to a "bush experience" as part of orientation.  Because single women cannot just go to the bush alone, that part of my orientation was put on hold... until now.  I was able to join the Kerr family for five wonderful days at a former EBC mission station called Mondomil.  Mondomil is about an hour further into the bush than we are at Kudjip.  You take the same road that I described in my previous blog entitled "Road to Tumbang," though thankfully the road has been worked on since then and was much more drivable.

The Mondomil guest house is situated on a hill overlooking the river valley where you can hear the soothing sounds of the Wara Minj (or "Minj River") flowing below.  The wide picture window is a wonderful place to sit and drink tea and just be, or study Pidgin as in our case.  The view is breathtaking.  I never tired of sitting there.  There isn't any regular electricity, though a diesel generator somewhere on the station provides electricity from 6:30 to 9:30 PM every night.  The stove and fridge run on gas.  A fire place provides warmth from the chilly mountain air and also heats water for showers.

By the time that I arrived on Sunday, the Kerrs had been at Mondomil for a few days.  They had become friends with Mitspar, a young woman who serves as the women and children's pastor for a local church.  She was a wonderful blessing to us, as she spent several hours each day conversing and helping us to learn Pidgin.  She took us on a tour of the village and we were able to visit some traditional homes and gardens.  Mitspar taught us to cook some traditional PNGian foods such as banana cakes and kumu.  Rosie and I spent some time together in the kitchen, experimenting with banana bread and pizza dough.  I also played with my two new nieces.  Grace and Anna are such a joy!

It was really a wonderful few days.  Though I had previously covered Pidgin basics, helping David and Rosie and working with Mitspar helped me to refine some of the tricky grammar points.  I especially enjoyed getting to know the Kerrs.  It is great to have them a part of our PNG family!  And I appreciated the time to sit by that window, where I reflected on the beauty of this place and remembered why I am here.  Thank you, Lord, for this time of renewal.

Sing to the Lord a new song,
for he has done marvelous things;
his right hand and his holy arm
have worked salvation for him.

The Lord has made his salvation known
and revealed his righteousness to the nations.

He has remembered his love
and his faithfulness to the house of Israel;
all the ends of the earth have seen
the salvation of our God.

Shout for joy to the Lord, all the earth,
burst into jubilant song with music;
make music to the Lord with the harp,
with the harp and the sound of singing,
with trumpets and the blast of the ram's horn--
shout for joy before the Lord, the King.

Let the sea resound, and everything in it,
the world, and all who live in it.

Let the rivers clap their hands,
Let the mountains sing together for joy;
let them sing before the Lord,
for he comes to judge the earth.
He will judge the world in righteousness
and the peoples with equity.

~ Psalm 98

Friday, 2 October 2009

Move to new hospital

Start:     Nov 4, '09
End:     Nov 7, '09
Location:     old --> new hospital, Kudjip, PNG
About 10 months after the dedication, we are finally scheduled to move! Please keep this time of transition in your prayers.

Cookies for charity... vote for NCM!

Hello, Kudjip Nazarene Hospital fans.  I want to let you know about a way you can support Nazarene Compassionate Ministries without giving anything but a minute of your time!  NCM supports many ministries of the church, from child sponsorship to HIV/AIDS outreach.  Here at Kudjip, NCM helps to pay for chemotherapy and/or surgeries for patients who cannot afford these treatments.

The Christie Cookie Company is celebrating 25 years by giving away $25,000 to charity, with $10,000 going to the one that receives the most nominations.  This is really for real.  And NCM is currently in first place with 13 days of voting left to go!  If you would like to vote, follow this link to the Christie Cookie contest site.  Click on "Nominate Your Favorite Charity" and then scroll to "Nazarene Compassionate Ministries Lenexa, KS."  Thank you for your support!