Friday, January 12, 2018

First Time


       Since coming to PNG, I have learned many procedures that I never performed previously: plating broken bones, repairing severed tendons, removing a uterus and ovaries, etc. But for each of those “first times” I had a seasoned surgeon walking me through the procedure. For the past 3 weeks, I‘ve been the solo surgeon here at Kudjip, following Dr. Jim’s departure home and awaiting Dr. Ben’s return. Enter a new "first time". Dr. Erin asked me to see a little boy, about 4 years old, from Sangapi, the rural village we both visited when I was doing my language and culture orientation. In fact, the watchman who accompanied this boy and his father on their 2 day walk across the mountains to Kudjip was one of the very men who we spent time with in Sangapi. The boy complained of recurrent urinary infections and an X-ray quickly diagnosed the problem: a bladder stone. 
        From my reading, I knew bladder stones are a fairly routine complaint at many missionary hospitals, but this was my first time seeing one. The surgery was very straightforward (with the help of textbooks and some prior experiences working on the bladder in residency). Our patient is doing well post-operatively and now has a new treasure to take home with him. Praise God for enabling us to take on new challenges!


Saturday, December 23, 2017

Celebrations


With Christmas right around the corner, there have been numerous parties and gatherings lately. We have had comedic renditions of the nativity story by the MK students, a fantastic Missionary Family Christmas Dinner, and a fun-filled Christmas Eve Eve Eve party.  

I was an honorary member of the Goossens
Family for Christmas Dinner
MK Nativity drama
"A White Christmas" Missionary
Family Christmas Dinner




Santa Bill handing out gifts. 


Nazarene Health Ministries (NHM)
Farewell program
But this year there were several more gatherings as we celebrated the 33 years of service that Dr. Jim and Kathy Radcliffe have given to the people of Papua New Guinea. Jim was Kudjip’s first surgeon and until a few years ago, the only long-term surgeon. He has been a tremendous instrument of healing in God’s hands, addressing not only the physical, but the spiritual needs as well. Kathy, a devoted mother and wife, raised 6 children here in Papua New Guinea. She has been one of the cornerstones of the women’s ministry as well as the missionary family here. They will both be missed beyond words. The past several months have been a sweet time of remembering their time here and praising God for all that He has accomplished through them. 

Missionary Farewell prayer for
Jim and Kathy Radcliffe
Knox Church Farewell Service












Many of the Rural Registrars (PNG
doctors that Jim has trained over
the years) came to say goodbye.



Prayer Circle (largest I've ever seen here) before Jim and
Kathy left for the airport. 










In all his farewell speeches, Dr. Jim always comforted the nationals with the assurance, that though he is leaving, he is giving part of himself, his son Dr. Ben, to continue the work here at Kudjip. What a tangible example of what we celebrate at Christmas: God giving his son to reach all of humanity with hope and peace.

May you experience the hope and peace of Jesus this Christmas.

Sunday, December 3, 2017

An Extraordinary Week



           
          Every once in awhile, we get the opportunity to lay aside the daily routine and do something fun, different and adventurous. Last week was one such time as I headed to New Zealand for a little vacation to visit my college friend, Colleen. Even though New Zealand is relatively close to PNG, it still took one and half days of travel before arriving in Christchurch on the southern island. Then Colleen, her husband Jesse, friend Blair, and I embarked on an epic 6-hour road trip to Queenstown in the south. 

Mt. Cook

Highland Sheep










We drove past beautiful lakes, glimpsed views of the majestic snow-capped Mt. Cook, and passed innumerable pastures of cattle, deer, and the ubiquitous sheep. 



 Lake Wanaka
1860's gold-mining settlement
in Arrowtown












We enjoyed a very relaxing weekend touring Queenstown and the surrounding areas, climbing to gorgeous vistas, soaking up the summer sunshine at a lakeside beach, exploring a quaint gold-mining town, wandering through shops, and eating delicious food. 


Lake Wakatipu

Colleen and her co-workers
Mountain Lupin












We also cheered on Colleen as she ran a half-marathon and achieved a personal best. In the evenings, we played games and at least one night I stayed up to see the stars, including the Southern Cross. My brain had trouble adjusting to the late sunset and twilight lasting past 10pm.



tī kōuka (cabbage tree) used for
food and fibre
Christchurch Botanical Gardens















Once back in Christchurch, I enjoyed exploring the botanical gardens, learning about native New Zealand plants and their many uses, and immersing myself in the Canterbury Museum’s exhibits on Maori history and culture, Antarctic exploration expeditions, and the fabulous birds of New Zealand. Afterwards, I enjoyed a shopping spree at the mall! 


Christchurch Arts Centre
Maori carvings














All in all, it was an extraordinary week of fun, visiting, relaxation and refreshment.



Friday, November 24, 2017

Giving Thanks

Photo credit: tmp-m.org/thanksgiving-prayer
Looking back on the past 9 months that I have been in Papua New Guinea, I have so much to be thankful for:

1. God’s calling. I am so thankful for God’s calling on my life to become a medical missionary here in Papua New Guinea. Looking back, I can see how God was preparing me each step of the way, even before I knew his plans. I am very blessed to be able to serve him and the precious people of PNG.


Ben, Jim, and I
2. Mentors. I am thankful for all the doctors here at Kudjip who have mentored me in the past 9 months. Dr. Jim and Dr. Ben, my surgery partners have been amazing teachers: humble, patient, always available to back me up. I couldn’t have asked for better surgeons to learn from and work with on a daily basis. The other medical doctors have also taught me a wealth of knowledge regarding tropical medicine in a resource-limited environment. More than that, they have taught me life skills on the missions field. 


Thanksgiving dinner
3. Kudjip Family. The missionary families here at Kudjip have embraced me as part of their extended family, and I am so blessed to be able to live and work along-side them all. I am thankful for everyone who has shared meals and fun times; provided rides, a listening ear or good advice; and made me feel loved and valued in the community here. 




4. PNG friends. I praise God for great PNG friends who have taught me the language, invited me to their family gatherings, taught me about the culture, and are always there to share a story or a laugh. 

4. All my friends and family back home. Thank you to everyone who has sent encouraging thoughts and words, prayers, emotional support, financial support, and so much more. Staying connected to people back home helps me stay balanced in the midst of hospital work here.

5. God’s abundant provision. Being in PNG has made me very thankful for the simple things: fairly consistent electricity, hot running water, internet, a bountiful garden, and my furry friend. 

6. Vacations. Last week, I visited a college friend who now lives in Christchurch, New Zealand. More details to come in another post, but it was lovely to visit with her, her husband, friends and family; see the amazing landscapes of the southern island; and enjoy some of the conveniences of Western life.

This year, I am truly thankful for everything and everyone that God has blessed me with.

Happy Thanksgiving. 

Sunday, November 12, 2017

A Day in the life








Many people ask me what daily life is like at Kudjip, so here is a summary from the past week:



Morning tea with Kira



Sunrise – Recently I’ve been waking up in the pre-dawn twilight. Once my mind starts going, sleep is an impossibility, so I read my devotional, check email, news, etc until my alarm goes off.

Breakfast – Currently I’m in a strawberry-banana smoothie and banana bread phase. I get a handful of strawberries from my garden each week and there are ample supplies of ripe bananas. 


Chapel on far left and Hospital
Administration building



Most days, work at the hospital starts at 8am, but on Mondays and Fridays we start early for Chapel and Doctor’s Meeting (continuing education), respectively.


Road to the Hospital




The walk to the hospital only takes about 5 minutes along a gravel road lined with staff houses.





Surgical ward rounds


Ward Rounds – Rounds on the surgical ward are usually fairly concise. We grab our rolling stools, start at bed 1 and roll our way around the large open ward all the way to bed 29. Charts and medication sheets are placed out on each bed for our review, new orders, and discharges.


Dr. Jim on surgical ward rounds



After Surgical Ward, we make quick rounds through the medical and pediatric wards to see any surgical consults.





Surgery clinic waiting room


Clinic, OT and Minor Procedures – Monday and Wednesday are surgery clinic days. Tuesday and Thursday are Operating Theatre days. Wednesday and Friday are Minor Procedure days. But, urgent or emergent surgeries can happen any day of the week.

Surgery clinic


As a team, we typically see 30-40 patients on an average clinic day—mostly referrals from the medical doctors, post-operative follow-ups or pre-operative admissions.  During the day, the medical doctors will find us if they have urgent surgical consults in the Emergency Room or a mother on Labor and Delivery who needs a C-section.




Operating Theatre staff

Operative days usually average 6-8 cases split between 2 operating rooms. Frequently, we have a Rural Registrar training in surgery who assists or performs portions of the procedure as appropriate for their skill level. We also have nursing students who learn to first assist.




 Lunch – Usually, I walk home for lunch, but the surgery schedule can be unpredictable. For some reason the lunch hour seems to be a popular time for emergent C-sections.  


Dr. Jim and Dr. Rebecca, rural
registrar, reviewing a chapter
in Primary Surgery text.
Dr. Cindy, rural registrar in
minor procedure 

Afternoons – Most afternoons, we continue the morning schedule wherever we left off – in clinic or OT. When we finish work early, we try to help with minor procedures or casting in the ER. Once or twice a week, we will review educational topics with our Rural Registrar. 





Balance beam day in gymnastics
Friday Afternoon Elementary School PE – Since September, I have been teaching PE to the MK elementary school students every Friday afternoon. At first, Ben and I thought we would switch off depending on who had Friday afternoon off, but now that Ben is on Home Assignment, I’m teaching every week. I’ve greatly enjoyed getting to know the kids. So far we have finished the jump roping unit and gymnastics unit. Now, we are starting soccer.

Evenings - Each week varies, but typically one or two nights a week I will invite someone over for dinner or be invited to dinner, which is always a nice time to visit with the other families or volunteers on station. Occasionally, we'll plan a game night or movie night. Thursday nights are prayer meeting. The rest of the evenings I enjoy time to read, catch up on correspondence, or work on craft projects.


Immanuel Church


Weekends are a mix of work, rest and play. This past Saturday was a busy day on-call with 3 surgeries, an early morning chest tube after a stabbing, and a post-op patient needing some attention. 
All dressed up for church
in our meri blouses
This week, Sunday was my day of rest which included calling my parents, going to church, and relaxing. I often work in the garden, go for a walk or enjoy a meal with friends. Even though the weeks have a nice routine, each day is new and different, and I see God working through the hospital and staff each and every day. 
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