Thursday, 30 June 2011

Double blessing

Doris had been married 22 years and had never had a baby.  She bore the shame of infertility, as many women do in the Highlands of PNG.  The Lord heard her prayers.  About 9 months ago she got pregnant.  This week she delivered not one, but two beautiful baby boys!!!  How is that for the cool story of the week?

"Instead of your shame
you will receive a double portion,
and instead of disgrace
you will rejoice in your inheritance.
And so you will inherit a double portion in your land,
and everlasting joy will be yours."
~ Isaiah 61:7

Certainly Doris has traded her disgrace for a double portion!

Tuesday, 28 June 2011

Broken hearts

A few posts ago, I wrote about a couple of our "heart kids," or children with congenital heart disease.  I would like to tell you about two more recent arrivals...

Baby of Sandra was born about six weeks ago.  The baby had difficulty breathing shortly after birth.  Pneumonia was the most likely diagnosis.  He was taken to the nursery where oxygen and antibiotics were started.  As time went on, the little guy just didn't improve.  A heart murmur became obvious and x-ray showed an enlarged heart.  This wasn't pneumonia--it was some sort of congenital heart disease.  I have very little experience with pediatric echos, but I decided to give it a try anyways.  My best guess is that the baby has a ventricular septal defect (VSD) or a "hole in his heart."  I started him on a couple of heart medicines.  He seems to be improving just a bit, but is still requiring oxygen.

Dr. Becky has been caring for baby of Kos on pediatrics ward.  Baby of Kos was brought to the hospital at about one week of life.  The baby was hypoxic and in respiratory distress, showing signs of heart failure.  Echo was not very helpful so we are really not sure what is going on.  As with baby of Sandra, the assumption is some sort of congenital heart disease.

We are wondering what in the world to do with these precious babies.  They missed the local cardiology screening by about a month.  We are awaiting approval by the specialist to send the babies to Lae for evaluation by the cardiologist.  Is it possible that they would be candidates for life saving surgery?  Even if we are given the OK to refer them, they are not stable enough to travel without oxygen.  The logistics of arranging transportation are overwhelming, and expensive.  If we are unable to send them for evaluation or if they don't qualify for surgery, what then?  How long can these babies live in the hospital?  They certainly won't live long at home.  Perhaps these are two kiddos that we won't be able to help.  

Hard questions.  I am not sure what the right answers are.  But I just can't give up yet.  Praying, praying, praying that the Lord will give us wisdom.  Will you pray for babies of Sandra and Kos, too?

"My sacrifice, O God, is a broken spirit;
a broken and contrite heart
you, God, will not despise."
~ Psalm 51:17

Sunday, 26 June 2011

New Year's promise

Some of the churches in PNG have a sweet New Year's tradition.  The congregation gathers together for a service, a time of worship on New Year's Eve.  At the conclusion of the service, each person has the opportunity to pick up a small card printed with a Bible verse.  This verse is to be his or her promise for the year.

Anna had cervical cancer.  I made the diagnosis late last year.  Anna's Bible verse for 2011 was Psalm 91:3... "Surely he will safe you from the fowler's snare and from the deadly pestilence."  She believed that this was the Lord's special promise that he would heal her from cancer.

In March, Anna traveled to Lae for radiotherapy.  She came back to see me just this last week and is doing very well!  As she shared her testimony, her face was radiant.  God had touched her heart as well as her body.  Praise the Lord for his faithfulness!

"Whoever dwells in the shelter of the Most High
will rest in the shadow of the Almighty.
I will say of the Lord, 'He is my refuge and my fortress,
my God in whom I trust.'
Surely he will save you
from the fowler's snare
and from the deadly pestilence.
He will cover you with his feathers,
and under his wings you will find refuge;
his faithfulness with be your shield and rampart.
You will not fear the terror of night,
nor the arrow that flies by day,
nor the pestilence that stalks in the darkness,
nor the plague that destroys at midday.
A thousand my fall at your side,
ten thousand at your right hand,
but it will not come near you.
You will only observe with your eyes
and see the punishment of the wicked.
If you say, 'The Lord is my refuge,'
and you make the Most High your dwelling,
no harm will overtake you,
no disaster will come near your tent.
For he will command his angels concerning you
to guard you in all your ways;
they will lift you up in their hands,
so that you will not strike your foot against a stone.
You will tread on the lion and the cobra;
you will trample the great lion and the serpent.
'Because he loves me,' says the Lord, 'I will rescue him;
I will protect him, for he acknowledges my name.
He will call on me, and I will answer him;
I will be with him in trouble,
I will deliver him and honor him.
With long life I will satisfy him
and show him my salvation.'"
~ Psalms 91

Stephoscope: June 2011 Newsletter

Dear friends,

Here is the June 2011 version of Stephoscope.  Please pray for our "heart kids" as they travel next month for consultations and possible surgery!

One person's junk really can be another person's treasure.  Do you have any unwanted Christian music CDs just collecting dust?  These could be such a blessing to pastors and worship leaders in PNG.  See newsletter for more details.

And finally, I am looking for a reliable car to borrow or rent during my home assignment (late January through April, 2012).  Please let me know if you have any leads.

Hugs from PNG,
~ steph

P.S.  Drop me a note if you would like to receive Stephoscope by email.

Saturday, 18 June 2011

Heart kids

I would like to introduce you to some very special kiddos...

This is Kenneth, pictured here with his mom and dad.  He is about 7 months old.  He has Down's syndrome and two "holes in his heart"--an ASD and a VSD for you medical folks out there.  Kenneth was recently seen by a specialist visiting at Mt. Hagen Hospital.  The doctor is not a cardiologist, but he has been trained by cardiologists to do echocardiograms.  He travels around the country evaluating kids with congenital heart disease.  Kenneth passed the preliminary screen!  In July, he will go to Lae for a second screen by a cardiologist.  If he qualifies, he will be sent on to Port Moresby for surgery.  Will Kenneth be a candidate for Operation Open Heart?  Here's hoping for the little guy!

Klara is the cute little gal sitting with her mother.  She has a congenital heart defect called Tetralogy of Fallot.  For non-medical readers, her pump is pretty messed up.  If Klara lived in America, her condition would have been diagnosed as a newborn or maybe even before birth.  She would have had surgery in the first year of life, and would have lived a relatively normal life.  It doesn't work that way in PNG.  Baby Klara was probably treated for recurrent pneumonias because nurses and doctors were unaware of her condition.  When she was 4 years old, someone heard a heart murmur and made the diagnosis of congenital heart disease.  She was first referred for surgery in 2006.  She had some sort of preliminary procedure that year, but still needs her major surgery.  She went back to Port Moresby in 2009, but the heart team ran out of time.  She will be going to Lae next month to see the cardiologist.  I pray that she hasn't run out of time, and hoping that she will be able to have her surgery as well.

There is no children's hospital in PNG.  There are no pediatric cardiac surgeons.  And even if there were, the families we care for would probably not be able to afford the expensive medical care.  Operation Open Heart is a life saver.  Once a year, volunteer doctors and nurses and other support staff travel to Port Moresby to do surgery on PNG kids with congenital heart defects.  Thanks to all of the volunteers and donors of Operation Open Heart for the gift of life!

Even with free medical care, travel can be an insurmountable barrier for many of our families.  The cost of a plane ticket is just too much.  For the last couple of years, Kudjip Hospital has partnered with Airlines PNG to provide transportation for our kids from Lae to Port Moresby.  They are doing it again this year!  Thank you so very much APNG, to Paul and Linda and Cybele!

As Operation Open Heart approaches (July 28-August 7), please pray.  Pray for the Kudjip "heart kids":  Kenneth, Klara, Romania, Konde, Neola, Maryanne, and others.  Pray for Dr. Becky and I as we work with APNG to arrange transportation, that we will have enough tickets for those who need to go.  Pray for the doctors and nurses who will be traveling to PNG, and for the surgeries that they will perform.  Thank you for remembering Operation Open Heart!

"Teach me your way, Lord,
that I may rely on your faithfulness;
give me an undivided heart,
that I may fear your name.
I will praise you, Lord my God, with all my heart;
I will glorify your name forever.
~ Psalm 86:11-12

Friday, 17 June 2011

Aunt fever

I have "aunt fever."  I already had a serious case, exacerbated by living many time zones away from the world's cutest nephew.  But my condition acutely worsened yesterday with the birth of my first niece:  Emmilyn Faith Workman!  Isn't she precious?

There are few known treatments for this ailment.  The very best way to ease the heart ache of aunt fever is to hug and kiss and snuggle and play with your nieces and nephews.  Since that is impossible from the other side of the world, Skype will have to do until we can all be together.  Well, that and spoiling them rotten :).

Congrats, Ami and Darren and Grayson!  And welcome to this world, Emmi.  I love you all!

Monday, 13 June 2011

High tea

Today is a holiday in PNG--the Queen's birthday (observed).  In honor of HRM's special day, Becky and Pamela and I celebrated with high tea.  We donned our silly hats, extended pinky fingers in a royal salute, sipped tea from fancy cups, and sprinkled conversation with words like "DAH-ling" and "brilliant" and "lovely."

Happy birthday, Your Majesty!

Sunday, 12 June 2011

Elijah's dream and Bill's church

The newest class of nursing students started this past February.  They began with classroom studies and have just recently moved to the hospital for practicals.  But even when they are rotating on the wards, the busyness of work limits most of our interactions to patient care.

I had the opportunity to get to know a couple of the first year students this past weekend.  Their stories were an inspiration to me, and I wanted to share them with you!

This was Pamela's last weekend in PNG.  Monica, her x-ray colleague, arranged for a Saturday morning walkabout.  None of Monica's brothers were available, so she asked Thomas to be our escort.  He is a second year student at the College of Nursing and a local boy.  Thomas recruited first year student Elijah to come along as well.  As we walked, Elijah shared a bit of his story.  He comes from a remote village on the Sepik, a large river that drains to the north coast of PNG.  Elijah had been accepted to some sort of technical college and was making preparations to attend when his mother and sister became ill.  His mother developed a severe headache.  Since there is no aid post or health center in their village, she died before she could get medical care.  His sister then began to bleed heavily during her monthly cycle.  Elijah took her by boat, 2 hours to the nearest health center.  The staff at the health center referred her further down river to the hospital.  She was admitted but never received a much needed blood transfusion.  She died two days later.  With the loss of his mother and sister weighing heavy on his heart, Elijah changed his career plans and applied to nursing school.  His dream is to someday start a health center in his village.  He has no idea how you would go about starting a health center.  But he is trusting God to make a way to bring health and hope to his people.

A few weeks ago, the Chapman's took Pamela to a bush church pastored by another first year student.  Of all the places she had visited, "Bill's church" was one of Pamela's favorites.  Diane organized a return trip on Sunday and I got to ride along.  Bill is a young man who has never been to Bible school, but this hasn't stopped him from doing the Lord's work.  He served as a lay pastor in Kambia for two years.  This is a very remote and mountainous part of PNG, a place that has no health care.  Bill's heart was broken by the suffering of the people there.  He decided to go to nursing school so that he could someday return to Kambia and provide health as well as spiritual care.  Bill is now in his first year at the College of Nursing.  He attends school full time, and continues to pastor a local church with the help of his younger sister Helen.

These are just two of many similar stories from the College of Nursing.  Will you pray for these students, as they study and prepare to become ministers of healing and of the Gospel?  Pray that their lives will impact this country as they have inspired you and me.

"Is there no balm in Gilead?
Is there no physician there?
Why then is there no healing
for the would of my people?"
~ Jeremiah 8:22