Friday, November 24, 2017

Giving Thanks

Photo credit:
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. 

Monday, November 6, 2017

Harvest Party

      Despite the distance, we still celebrate many “American” traditions as a missionary community here.  This year the theme for the harvest party was Superheroes (for those who didn’t already have a family costume theme).

Catwoman searching for Robin. 
Batman and Catwoman

Batman and Catwoman were in attendance as well as several supermen/women, Wonderwoman, Flash, and several Avengers. 

We all had fun bobbing for lemons (PNG substitute for apples), trying to eat flour balls off of strings (PNG version of a donut...tastes nothing like a donut), and eating ice cream sundaes. 

     A visiting speaker then gave a very good talk about heroes of the faith and the ordinary everyday heroes around and among us. He mentioned that most people who we consider to be heroes don’t even realize it or consider themselves to be heroes: the fireman who runs into a burning building to save someone, the co-workers who selflessly give of themselves to help the team succeed, the teachers and mentors who have led us to where we are today. Many times, those people aren’t trying to be heroes; they are just passionate about their work and passionate about following Jesus example to love others.  May God show us how to love more deeply and live more passionately for Him; then we truly will be superheroes.