Monday, 26 November 2012

The Love Chapter

If I speak Pidgin and tok ples and "Down Under" and maybe even remember a bit of Spanish from time to time, but have not love, I am just an out-of-tune kundu drum.  If I have all the smarts to be the best doctor in the whole wide world and faith that God can heal my patients, but have not love, I am nothing.  If I give up my family and electricity and restaurants and all the good things about America to live as a missionary in the bush of PNG, but have not love, I gain nothing.

Without love, it is all for nothing.

~ 1 Corinthians 13

Monday, 15 October 2012

PNG olympian visits M.K. school

A couple of months back, I wrote about PNG in the Olympics.  Toea Wisil is a sprinter who competed in the games.  She also carried the PNG flag in the opening ceremony.  Her home town is Banz, about 10 minutes down the road from where we live.  Toea just happened to stop by Kudjip a few weeks ago.  The high school missionary kids (MKs) were able to meet our local hero.  And I am a wee bit jealous.  Here they are...

"But those who hope in the Lord
will renew their strength.
They will soar on wings like eagles;
they will run and not grow weary,
they will walk and not be faint."
~ Isaiah 40:31

Saturday, 13 October 2012

New hydro

From time to time, we Kudjip bloggers borrow stories from each other.  I was actually planning to write about the new hydro myself.  Since Erin beat me to it, she was kind enough to share!  [And I have added a few comments of my own.]  Here is a link to her original post about Rebuilding of the Hydro.

"For the past 3 years, our hospital and station has relied on the government power to give us the power we need to function.  Unfortunately, the government power is very expensive and unreliable and the diesel for our generator which provides us power [and is doing so as Steph types her blog] when the government power isn't working is also very expensive.  All of this has made us look for ways to restore our hydroelectric power.

"Last year, AusAID agreed to fund the rebuilding of our hydroelectric power.  [AusAID also funded our new hospital that we moved into in 2009.  Thank you to the people of Australia!]  Earl Hartwig (the guy on the right) and his family have relocated from Ecuador to lead the rebuilding project.  The McCoys and I took a walk down to the hydro to see their progress shortly after I got back and this is what we found.

"There has definitely been a lot of work happening in these past few months, with much of it in redigging and cementing the canal so the water can flow down to the plant that will harvest the power.  The rock baskets are being made to help in rebuilding the dam.  There is definitely a lot more to do, but all of us are looking forward to the day when we are back on hydro power again.  [AMEN!]

"Anytime we have a building project, we always try and support the communities around us by hiring guys to do some of the work.  This helps boost the economy in the villages around us and builds public relations, but also can be problemsome too.  Pray for good relations with the communities, for them to work hard, for there to be little or no fighting and arguing about the work and about their salary.  Pray also for the work to be completed quickly."

[And a few more comments from me...  When I told Earl that I would be posting a blog about the new hydro, he had several specific prayer requests.

  • First of all, pray for Earl as he leads this project.  What a huge job!  
  • Pray that things will be done in a timely manner, which doesn't always happen in a place like PNG.  Or more importantly, that things will be done in God's time.  
  • Please pray for the local workers.  Many of them are not believers.  Some of our missionaries, chaplains, and pastors are doing devotions with the workers each morning.  Pray that they will hear and respond to the Good News.  
  • And finally, we have a Work & Witness team from Australia that will be coming next week to help out with the hydro.  Pray for their safety and witness as they work along side of the guys.]

Praise the Lord.
Praise God in his sanctuary;
praise him in his mighty heavens.
Praise him for his acts of power;
praise him for his surpassing greatness.
Let everything that has breath praise the Lord.
Praise the Lord!
~ Psalm 150 (excerpts)

Saturday, 29 September 2012


Two new posts in one day???  I am on a roll...

This is my friend (and patient) Agnes.  

She has a condition called "acromegaly" or "gigantism."  That is one of those things that I learned about in med school but never saw in America.  Basically her pituitary gland in her brain is malfunctioning, producing too much growth hormone.  Agnes has quite a few of the classic features and symptoms.  She has an enlarged jaw.  Her facial features are course, her forehead and nose enlarged.  Her hands and feet have also grown.  She has chronic headaches, symptoms of carpal tunnel syndrome, and amenorrhea.

 Acromegaly is usually caused by a tumor of the pituitary gland.  A CT scan would confirm the etiology.  A relatively simple surgery could potentially cure her.  Well, the only CT scan in PNG is in the capital city of Port Moresby.  And that is where the neurosurgeon also resides.  Agnes's family has been saving for a plane ticket but they haven't been able to afford the trip quite yet.

In the mean time, I am doing my best to take care of her medically.  I started her on bromocriptine and OCPs.  A TSH showed that she also has hypothyroid, so she is on levothyroxine as well.  She stopped by this past week on the way to get a follow up blood test.  And she was very excited that some of her symptoms have improved!  Hopefully someday she will be able to make it to POM and get definitive treatment.  Until then, I sure enjoy seeing my friend in clinic :).

That's all, folks!

Girls' night in

As part of the nurse-pastor vision, the College of Nursing has instituted a Big Brothers/Big Sisters kind of a program.  Groups of nursing students are paired up with missionaries and nursing staff for support, discipleship, and sometimes just a bit of fun.  Beck and I have six little sisters this year:  Lalo, Esther, and Grace are 1st year students; Susan is in her 2nd year and is new to us; 2nd year Marilyn and 3rd year Daphne were in our group last year.  The girls come over to our house about one Saturday evening a month.  I cook soup and homemade bread to give the ladies a little something different than the routine sweet potato and ramen noodles they get in the cafeteria.  Then we have a Bible study or do some other sort of activity--singing with the guitar, making cookies, pizza and movie night, etc.

This past week, we had a fabulous "girls' night in."  Since there were three monstrous heads of broccoli ready in the garden, Mom's broccoli soup was the main course for dinner.  Deeeeeeeelish.  Beck lead a Bible study on Adam and Eve, God's original design for marriage.  It was a great time of sharing together!

Our activity for the evening was just about the most fun I have had in a long time.  We gave each other facials, complete with mud masks and cucumber eyes.  (I got the idea from my friend Elaine, who gave me my first facial ever when I visited her family on my home assignment.)  In case you are wondering, chilled cucumbers are VERY nice on the eyes.  We so enjoyed pampering each other.  Our faces glowed with the joy of laughing together.  LOVE my little sisters!

"Your beauty should not come from outward adornment, such as elaborate hairstyles and the wearing of gold jewelry or fine clothes.  Rather, it should be that of your inner self, the unfading beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is of great worth in God's sight."
~ 1 Peter 3:3-4

Tuesday, 18 September 2012

Nurse pastors

Nazarene College of Nursing (NCON) at Kudjip enrolls about 75 students in a three year diploma program.  Over the past couple of years, the NCON has been partnering with our Bible college to train these student nurses as lay-pastors.  In fact, they receive a certificate of lay ministry in addition to their nursing diploma.  The hope is that our graduates will become missionaries in their own country as they take health care and the good news of the Gospel to some of the remote areas of PNG, places where foreign missionaries will never go.

As the school has increasingly focused on spiritual development, the Holy Spirit has moved and a revival is taking place among the students.  Many have made new or re-commitments to Christ.  Some have answered the call to full time ministry.

Sunday, September 16th was a very special day.  Sure it was PNG Independence Day.  But that wasn't the best part... 9 of the NCON students were baptized!  After a special church service, the musicians led a large group of witnesses down the cow banis hill, through gardens, steep and muddy slopes, and across small tributaries to a pool in the river.  (I'm not kidding about the steep and muddy slope.  I really thought I was going to fall and kill myself!)  Each young person gave his or her testimony of God's amazing grace.  They were baptized by Pastor Philip and Chaplain Moses.  And we were all baptized by the light rain that was falling, but that did nothing to dampen our spirits.  What a day of celebration!

Susan is one of the students who was baptized.  She is "little sister" to Becky and me.  We are so excited about what God is doing in her life!

"We were therefore buried with him through baptism into death in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, we too may live a new life."
~ Romans 6:4

Sunday, 16 September 2012

Wonderful Women of WONCA

Earlier this month, I had the opportunity to attend a meeting of the WONCA Working Party for Women in Family Medicine (WWPWFM).  

First of all, let me tell you about WONCA.  No, it has nothing to do with Willie or candy factories or umpa lumpas.  It is the World Organization of National Colleges, Academies and Academic Associations of General Practitioners/Family Physicians.  The short long name is World Organization of Family Doctors just in case the long long name is too confusing.  (I'm definitely confused.  Are you?)  For any of my fellow family docs out there, you are indirectly a member of WONCA if you belong to your national organization i.e. AAFP.

WONCA has several working parties and special interests groups that focus on specific issues within the organization and family medicine--such as rural health, cancer and palliative care, ethics, quality and safety, and young physicians.  The WWPWFM, also known as the Wonderful Women of WONCA, is one of those groups.  This working party focuses on gender equity, support for women family doctors, and women's health in family medicine/general practice.  

The WWPWFM gets together about every three years, one year before the big WONCA conference.  I was awarded a bursary to attend this year's meeting at the Australian National University in Canberra, Australia.  Our activities for the week included building an action plan for the working party, finalizing gender equity standards for the organization, medical writing workshop, and a full day conference on domestic violence.

There were 25 ladies from all over the world--Canada, Nigeria, Columbia, the U.K., Burma, Sri Lanka, the Philippines, and Spain just to name a few.  Many of these women were leaders in family medicine in their countries, and most of them were involved in academics.  Being a missionary from the bush, I was definitely the odd gal out.  Despite our different experiences and beliefs and focuses, we all shared the same passion:  women.

As I take care of patients with cervical cancer, complicated OB, victims of rape and domestic violence, sometimes I feel like what I do is such a very small drop in a bucket with a hole in it.  I was encouraged and inspired and challenged by the Wonderful Women of WONCA, who are fighting similar fights across the globe.  It was so good to have my passion for taking care of the women of PNG re-feuled.  God sure chose to do that in a rather unexpected way!  I pray that He will continue to strengthen me in His work.

The week in Canberra was mostly work, but we did have a little time for play.  We had lunches at the National Gallery and Botanical Gardens.  One afternoon we drove to see kangaroos that were hopping around in the wild.  Another evening we had dinner in the Great Hall of the university.  The main course was kangaroo sausage.  No, it did not taste like chicken.  I did a little shopping, mostly at Target and the grocery store.  You would probably have a good laugh if you saw the random things that came home in my suitcase :).

My favorite extracurricular activity was an overnight in Sydney on the way back to PNG.  I had never stayed in Sydney before, and I couldn't do so without seeing the famous landmark.  I checked into my hotel, found the train and figured out how to buy a ticket, and headed to the city center.  (Very impressive for a FOB.)  I spent about two hours running all around the Opera House and over the Harbor Bridge.  It was magnificent!

"Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up."
~ Galations 6:9

Saturday, 15 September 2012

All the days

Last year I wrote about some very special kiddos... our "heart kids," or children with congenital heart disease.  Susan is our pediatrician and she usually follows these patients.  She also helps to make arrangements for some of them to be seen and have surgery by a special team of doctors (Operation Open Heart).  When she was on home assignment last year, I took on that responsibility.

Baby of Sandra was one of my heart babies.  Isaac, as he was named, was born at our hospital.  He had trouble breathing from the very beginning of life.  In fact, every time I took him off oxygen he turned blue.  My working diagnosis was a ventricular septal defect, or a big ole hole in his heart.  Even though he missed the screening clinic in our nearby town of Mt. Hagen, I was able to transfer him to the hospital in Lae.  He was seen by the cardiology team.  They confirmed my diagnosis.  Unfortunately his defect was just too serious to be repaired in PNG.  

Sandra brought Isaac to clinic when they traveled back to the highlands.  I started him on some medicines to help his heart work a little better a little longer.  But I really didn't expect that he would live for very long.

Much to my surprise, I saw a familiar in clinic just a couple of weeks ago.  Sandra has gone back to school, so her mother is now looking after Isaac--who is still alive after a year and a couple of months.  He was looking rather blue and a bit underweight, but still alive.  Unbelievable!

I don't know how much time this little guy has left.  Papa does, for each one of his days was written before it came to be.  And each one is a miracle!

I don't have a picture of Melendi.  Since I was writing about heart kids, I wanted to ask you to pray for her.  She is about 14 months old and has PDA, or patent ductus arteriosis.  The surgery to correct this heart defect is pretty simple.  But when Melendi arrived in Port Moresby, she was diagnosed with pneumonia and was admitted to the hospital.  The docs are waiting for her to get better before they will do her procedure.  Please pray that she will recover quickly and be able to have surgery to fix her heart!

"For you created my inmost being;
you knit me together in my mother's womb.
I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made;
your works are wonderful,
I know that full well.
My frame was not hidden from you
when I was made in the secret place.
When I was woven together in the depths of the earth,
your eyes saw my unformed body.
All the days ordained for me
were written in your book
before one of them came to be."
~ Psalm 139:13-16

Tuesday, 4 September 2012

Pamela comes home

Start:     Nov 30, '12
Location:     Kudjip Hospital
Our bestie Pamela will be returning to PNG the end of November. She is a radiographer (x-ray tech) and will be volunteering (again) for 6 months. We are so excited that she is coming home!

Beck's 60th birthday bash!

Start:     Oct 20, '12
End:     Oct 27, '12
Location:     Nadi, Fiji
My roomie Becky and I are traveling to Fiji for a much needed holiday. And what do you know, her 60th birthday just happens to fall during the trip. 6 days + 5 nights on the beach... what a way to celebrate!

Friday, 31 August 2012

The Olympics

Yes, I do realize that the Olympics are long gone and this post is a little behind the times.  But hey... it takes about 4-6 weeks for a box containing DVD recordings of the games to get to PNG.  So I am actually ahead of schedule!

I followed the progress of our PNG team via their page on Facebook.  We had competitors in weight lifting, Taekwando, swimming, running, and who knows what else.  While I don't think they won any medals, PNG was certainly proud of the athletes and their incredible effots.

Toea Wisil was the PNG flag bearer in the opening ceremonies.  She is a runner who competed in the 100m sprint.  At 11.6 seconds, she won her first race and was the fastest qualifier from the qualifying rounds.  Her second run was a personal best at 11.27 seconds (and I think a regional record for the Pacific).  She came in 4th and missed advancing to the semi-final by a fraction of second.

Toea's home place is just down the road from us in Banz!  Here are a few pictures of our local hero...

"Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one gets the prize?  Run in such a way as to get the prize.  Everyone who competes in the games goes into strict training.  They do it to get a crown that will not last; but we do it to get a crown that will last forever."
~ 1 Corinthians 9:24-25

Sunday, 26 August 2012

WONCA Women's Working Party meeting

Start:     Sep 2, '12
End:     Sep 8, '12
Location:     Canberra, Australia
I'm going to Australia for a medical meeting!!!

Friday, 10 August 2012

OSU vs. Texas

Ohio State and University of Texas aren't what I would consider traditional rivals.  For Ohio State it is the University of Michigan.  And Texas does battle with both Texas A&M and Oklahoma.  Both football teams do have quite a reputation and have made it to the national championship on more than one occasion.

As a Buckeye living in Longhorn territory, I was subject to just a bit of harassment for my loyalties.  All in good fun, of course.  Most of the teasing came from my friend Jake, who is a die-hard UT fan.  Bordering on insanity, in fact.  The Carters, my adopted family in Fort Worth, also liked to give me a hard time.  Once upon a Ohio State game they kidnapped Brutus the Buckeye-head and threatened to sell him on e-bay to a fan of the opposing team.  Poor, poor Brutus the Buckeye-head.  But the effects of the trauma were only temporary.  He became friends with mini-Bevo and they now share a spot on my bed in PNG.

Well it so happened that in 2005, our two teams got to go head to head in Austin.  Jake and his wife Lisa invited me to the game.  I was a tiny speck of scarlet and gray amidst a sea of burnt Orange.  Oh, what fun!  If my memory serves me correctly... the Longhorns, who were used to blowing away every team they played, got spanked.  Unfortunately they returned the favor the following year in Columbus.

I was seeing patients in clinic last week when this guy walked into my room wearing a Longhorn t-shirt that he bought at second hand.  And on a day that I was wearing my Ohio State shirt.  I couldn't help but take a picture.  This one is for you, Jake :).

O-H... I-O!!!

Monday, 30 July 2012

Cancer clinic

Dr. Erin is our usual cancer doc at Kudjip.  And when she isn't here, Dr. Bill is the go to guy.  When both of them were scheduled to be on home assignment at the same time, Dr. Susan asked if anyone would be willing to take over until their return.  Well, I was happy to do whatever needed to be done.  Thus taking care of cancer patients became my responsibility.

Every week, a handful of patients show up to my door for their check-ups and chemotherapy--or "poison medicine" as we translate it to Pidgin.  There is a one time fee of 200 kina (about $100) which covers the cost of monthly labs and medicines.  So far I have taken care of patients with CML, lymphoma, ovanian cancer, breast cancer, and of course my usual cervical cancer patients.  I wanted to share a few of their stories with you...

This is Brian and his precious daughter.  I wish I could remember her name, but it has already left me.  Brian has CML, a type of leukemia.  There is a program in PNG that provides a special medicine for our patients with CML.  Glivec has been very successful in managing this type of cancer.  Brian developed some complications, from the illness or the medicine we are not really sure.  His hemoglobin (blood count) has been quite low, and he has been admitted to the hospital on more than one occasion for blood transfusion.  Recently, his previously sky high white blood cell count also began to fall.  It dropped so low that I had to stop the medicine all together.  Now we are just praying and waiting to see what will happen.  I worry that he doesn't have much time left in this life.

Andrew is 9 years old.  The swelling in his neck began some months ago.  Dr. Jim did a lymph node biopsy, and the pathology came back as lymphoma.  This week I started him on four drug chemo.  The usually jolly little guy just couldn't conjure up a smile for the picture.  He wasn't very happy with Sister Florence for starting an IV, or with me for ordering one.  Poor little guy... I promise, it will get easier.

Kelly came in to the outpatient clinic, one of the last patients at the end of a busy day.  His chief complaint was a nasty sore that started under his tongue and grown through his cheek.  I sighed to myself when I examined him--cancer.  And it was quite advanced.  Probably not much to do about it.  When I explained the diagnosis, Kelly already knew.  He didn't come to Kudjip that day for a diagnosis or with the hope of a cure.  He came because he knew the doctors prayed with the patients.  WOW.  Kelly had been a Christian, and had even been involved in ministry.  But at some point on his journey he had left God behind.  He was ready to give his life back to Jesus.  We prayed, and he did.  That is exactly why we are here.

As a missionary doctor, I have done lots of things that I never would have dreamed of--take care of tiny premature babies, sew up chop-chops, reduce fractures, do a symphysiotomy, deliver a breech baby the natural way on purpose, put an ear back on, run a pharmacy.  Just to name a few.  But I never EVER thought I would be the [temporary] resident oncologist.  I do use that term rather loosely... as I have lots and lots of help from my colleagues both here and back in America.  I am so very thankful for the email consults that have gone back and forth around the world.  And I thank the Lord for helping me to do the many things that this job requires--things I could never figure out on my own.

"This is God's Message, the God who made earth, made it livable and lasting, known everywhere as God:  'Call to me and I will answer you.  I'll tell you marvelous and wondrous things that you could never figure out on your own.'"
~ Jeremiah 33:2-3

Crown of beauty

Belinda is one of our third year nursing students, currently on rotation in the emergency room.  She was wearing the most beautiful tiara to work this morning.  Her crown certainly bestowed a smile on my face :).

"The Spirit of the Sovereign Lord is on me,
because the Lord has anointed me
to preach good news to the poor.
He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted,
to proclaim freedom for the captives
and release from darkness for the prisoners,
to proclaim the year of the Lord's favor
and the day of vengeance of our God,
to comfort all who mourn,
and provide for those who grieve in Zion--
to bestow on them a crown of beauty
instead of ashes,
the oil of gladness
instead of mourning,
and a garment of praise
instead of a spirit of despair."
~ Isaiah 61:1-3

Thursday, 5 July 2012

Hurricane... in Ohio???

So last week Central Ohio had one seriously wicked storm.  Some are calling it an "inland hurricane"...  80 mph winds.  Trees down.  Houses and buildings damaged.  Power out to millions of people for up to a week, or even more--and in 90+ degree heat.  (Geesh, that is worse than the bush of PNG!)

My parents certainly had their fair share of the disaster.  A very large limb from a giant oak tree fell onto the one-story part of our house, what Mom and Dad call the "music room" because that is where the baby grand lives.  The limb caused pretty significant damage to the roof as well as the surrounding deck.  Rain poured in and most likely ruined the piano.  [Tear.]  Thankfully they were not home at the time and no one was injured.

They were also without electricity for about 5 days.  Great aunt Naomi shared her generator so they had enough power to run the fridge, a few lights, and the air con at night until the power came back on Tuesday.  Unfortunately Aunt Naomi lost her power the very next day and had to get herself a new generator.  Oops!

This is one of those times when PNG seems so very far away from Ohio, even farther than the end of the earth.  I am so thankful for second hand reports and Facebook posts to know what was going on.  Wish I could have been there to help and encourage and love on my family!  Although I don't think I would have been much help with the monster log through the ceiling.  Praise God for some amazing friends and a very large tree-moving crane.  Even Grayson played pick up sticks!  The mess is now pretty much cleaned up. Mom and Dad are just waiting on insurance to start making repairs.

Love my family.  And even though I can't be there to give you a hug, I am praying for you!!!

"Have mercy on me, O God, have mercy on me,
for in you my soul takes refuge
I will take refuge in the the shadow of your wings 
until the disaster has passed."
~ Psalm 57:1

Tuesday, 3 July 2012

Polling day in Jiwaka

The long awaited election finally arrived in Jiwaka!  I say finally because it was originally scheduled for sometime in May.  Then last Friday.  Then for Sunday.  And then Monday and Tuesday of this week.  Well, today was finally THE day.

Things were relatively quiet at the hospital.  Only one mother in labor.  Just a handful of patients were brave enough to come to the outpatient department.  Good thing, because all of our staff were standing in line to cast their vote!

Since there wasn't much to do, I stopped by the polling place to take a couple of pictures.  This is what an election looks like in PNG. 

By the way, there were 57 candidates running for governor of our new province.  Fifty seven.  How in the world do you choose?

Thankfully it was peaceful day.  But many of us are wondering... is this is the calm before the storm?  Last night the emergency room was already full of election-related violence--chop chops and stabbings and spear wounds.  The post-election weeks in PNG are notorious for being a volatile time, especially as ballots are counted and results announced.  Please continue to pray for peace and for God's kingdom to come in this country.

Today also happens to be July 4th.  We American missionaries celebrated our nation's birthday with a cookout--hobo dinners and footlong hot dogs, and real sparklers for dessert.  Almost as good as fireworks.  Happy Independence day, USA!!!  Oh, and I forgot to mention the best part... our party was rained out.  Yep, that's right.  After several weeks of little rain, our close to dry water tanks are filling up.  Praise God for the showers of blessings!

"Your kingdom come, your will be done on earth as it is in heaven."
~ Matthew 6:10