Wednesday, 22 April 2009


I began rounding on A-ward a couple of weeks ago.  A-ward is where all the kiddos sleep in the hospital.  I will admit that in the beginning it was NOT my favorite ward.  Every patient screamed if I even glanced in his or her direction (let alone tried to listen to heart or lungs).  One of the nursing students followed along behind me during rounds trying to make the kids smile or laugh or at least stop crying.  He was quite good at it, too.  And sometimes A-ward is not exactly intellectually stimulating.  (Although it is the intellectually stimulating ones who are a bit scary.)  Most of the patients have either diarrhea or pneumonia or both.  Right now it seems to be pneumonia season, and we have so overflowed that we have an entire 3rd row now sleeping on the floor.

I am enjoying A-ward a bit more these days.  Let me tell you about some of my favorite kiddos...

Seth has moved around the room a bit but has finally settled in bed A-26.  His mother died soon after birth of some unknown illness and he was adopted by another family.  Seth was five months old when Carolyn, his adopting mom, brought him into the hospital .  He was very sick with a type of malnutrition we docs call "marasmus."  He weighed only 5 pounds at admission, but should have been closer to 9 or 10 pounds..  During the first weeks of his stay we fed him formula through a tube that goes through his nose and down into his stomach.  Little bit by little bit he began to grow.  Today he weighs more than 8 pounds and is close to going home.  He has been special from the beginning... after a long line of screaming patients, Seth always manages a smile for me!

Cathy sleeps a few beds down in A-21.  She drove me crazy at first, 'cause she was one of those dozen screaming patients.  I suppose you can't really blame her.  She is 4 years old and was admitted a couple of weeks ago with an infection in her right leg.  The abscess had been drained in the ER, required daily dressing changes until it healed.  The infection in her right leg was obvious, but she continued to have severe pain in her left leg.  She screamed (of course) every time I even looked at that leg.  Finally a follow up x-ray revealed the diagnosis:  she has osteomyelitis, or an infection of the bone, in the femur of her left leg.  With weeks of antibiotics, the pain is starting to improve a bit.  I have been bound and determined to make Cathy laugh and have even been successful on occasion.  The other day I found her drawing on her leg, so today I brought her a crayon and paper.  This time she couldn't help but smile.

But Jesus called the children to him and said, "Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of God belongs to such as these."
~ Luke 18:16

Sunday, 12 April 2009

Jisas i kirapim bek!

He is risen!

Easter morning began bright and early with sunrise service.  The sky was a beautiful rose color for a few moments, though living in a mountain valley you don't see much in the way of an actual sunrise.  Missionaries from across Kudjip station gathered on Bill and Marsha McCoy's front porch for a time of worship.  Kathy Radcliffe lead the singing which included the must-sing Easter hymn of "Christ Arose."  Dr. Jim and Ben graced us with a trumpet duet.  Becky Wallace sang a beautiful solo.  Several shared testimonies.  And of course any Nazarene get together would be incomplete without food:  coffee cakes and muffins and breakfast breads and fruits and hot drinks.  It was a wonderful time of celebration together.

Following service at the local church, I had some time at home and was able to talk with my sis on Skype (it's great to be a missionary in this day with the relative ease of communication) and Mom, Dad, and Grandpa for a brief time on the phone.  So good to talk with family on special days and holidays!  My roomie Becky and I were invited to Mike and Diane Chapman's for lunch, along with 12 other people.  Dinner was a collaborative effort and quite delicious.  Diane's ham was amazing.  And Becky and I contributed a couple of blackberry pies.  (Mom... thanks for the most excellent recipe!)  We are bringing blackberry something to every pot luck these days thanks to our never ending supply of fresh fruits.

But the true highlight was later that day.  Some of the missionaries arranged to show the "Jesus Film" on hospital medical ward.  There was a 1st showing on surgery ward on Saturday.  A large white sheet was stapled to the wall at the end of the room, and projector and equipment were set up on one of the nursing carts.  The lights were dimmed and patients and their friends and families began to file into the ward.  Some found seats on empty beds while others made a place on the floor.  The picture shared the story of Jesus from the Gospel of Luke, from his birth and through his life and  ministry.  Some began to cry as Jesus was betrayed, beaten, and crucified.  But the story didn't end there!  At the conclusion of the film, our chaplain shared for a few moments and gave an invitation for audience members to pray to accept Christ.  Over the two showings, 15 people became Christians and several more asked for prayer.  What a blessed way to celebrate Easter!

Thursday, 9 April 2009

Good Friday reflections

I am on call today.  The morning began with pediatric rounds where every other kid screamed when I examined him or her.  I do love to try and make them smile.  Evelyn was the last one in my row.  She is 10 years old.  She was assaulted yesterday while her mom worked picking tea at the local plantation.  She was brought into the ER and admitted overnight for observation.  I gave her a check up, we talked for a few minutes about the meaning of today and then prayed together.

Following rounds I was called to the ER for an emergency.  Two emergencies, actually.  Two women had been beaten a relative.  One had a deep cut from a bush knife across the back of her forearm, something we call "chop chop."  The second had been hit in the back of the head with a rock and was semi-conscious.  While I was admitting these patients, another young woman came in to the ER.  She had been hit by her husband and had a broken arm.  The rates of domestic violence for Western Highlands in PNG are some of the highest in the world.

Today is Good Friday.  On the very day that Jesus died, I am confronted by the darkness of the world.  I can imagine Jesus walking the road to Calvary.  Perhaps he looked ahead over the centuries and saw the suffering, the pain, the death.  He could have taken the easy way out, but He chose to take sin upon himself.  He bore the suffering, the pain, and the death in our place... that we might have eternal life!  Thank you, Jesus, for the gift of your life.

"Surely he took up our infirmities
and carried our sorrows,
yet we considered him stricken by God,
smitten by him, and afflicted.
But he was pierced for our transgressions,
he was crushed for our iniquities;
that punishment that brought us peace was upon him,
and by his wounds we are healed."
~ Isaiah 53

Tuesday, 7 April 2009

Good news from a distant land

Like cold water to a weary soul is good news from a distant land. ~ Proverbs 25:25 

One of my favorite things about being a missionary is receiving good news from a distant land. Frequently this comes in the form of emails, posts on Facebook or my blog. Thanks to all of you who who have written to me! Keep them coming. 

In this day and age of modern technology where emails are both free and instantaneous, sending a letter that will take 2-6 weeks to go around the world (if it ever arrives at all) seems rather ridiculous. The effort behind sending snail mail makes it all the more precious. A special thank you for the cards and letters! They are such a blessing to me.

I have also enjoyed several care packages from both my family and Bay City Church of the Nazarene in Texas. Boxes have been filled with items that are either unavailable or very expensive in PNG such as skirt hangers, drawer or shelf liner, guitar picks, and Post-it notes. There are also plenty of goodies like choco bake (to make Mom's hot fudge :), corn nuts, Jelly Bellies, and hot chocolate. Mom and Aim... you ROCK!

So the writer of Proverbs definitely got this one right. Good news from a distant land is really good. He was one pretty smart guy, after all.

Monday, 6 April 2009

Repeat c-section on a repeat patient

There were a couple of patients scheduled for c-sections this past Thursday, and the other docs appointed me to be the surgeon of the morning.  The first c-section was for twins.  The next case was a scheduled repeat c-section.  I walked up to the patient to introduce myself.  "Moning!  Nem bilong me Dr. Stephanie.  Mi dokta bilong katim na rausim pikinini." or "Good morning!  My name is Dr. Stephanie.  I am the doctor who will be doing your c-section."  The patient responded (in Pidgin), "There was a doctor Stephanie who did my last c-section."  Really?  What are the chances...  When was your last c-section?  In 2005.  February 2005?  Yes, indeed I had taken care of this very patient when I was here in PNG for one month as a resident.

And the more I thought back to that month, I actually remember Temar.  She was admitted to B-ward with preterm labor and I took care of her there for a week or two.  The labor eventually progressed and her bag of water broke, necessitating delivery of the baby.  The baby was lying sideways (transverse) and could not be delivered vaginally.  I did her c-section with one of the other volunteer docs and welcomed her little girl into the world.

So four years later, I meet Temar again and deliver her second baby (which was much easier than the first if I remember correctly).  #2 was a boy :).