Sunday, 25 December 2011

Hong Kong

OK, these upcoming blogs are loooooooong overdue.  About 3 months so.  I need to get back into the swing of things!  Tomorrow I leave for my next district tour (North Central Ohio).  I am waiting for laundry to dry before I can finish packing, so now is as good a time as any.

My journey home to America began mid-December.  I was blessed to travel with the Dooley family, who were also headed to home assignment.  We spent a couple of days in Hong Kong.  WOW... what a city.  The first 24 hours were rather traumatic for we FOBs (Fresh Out of the Bush).  Once we figured out how to take the subway, we had an awesome time!  Here are a few pics of our time there.

Now this is what I imagined HK would be like!

Our first day in the city we took a cable car up to see the world's largest sitting Budda.  They weren't kidding!  He was gigantic.

Big Budda--up close and personal.

You can't go to [China] without seeing a giant panda!

My favorite stop in Hong Kong was this tea house.  None of the staff spoke English, and we (of course) didn't speak Chinese.  Lucky for us the menu was bilingual!  The pigeon came highly recommended as best we could tell from all the gesturing that was going on.  I gave it a try, but it definitely wasn't my favorite.  Scott finished it off.

Thanks to the Dooley family for letting me tag along on this adventure!  Safe travels, and see you soon in PNG :).

Saturday, 10 December 2011

Like a baby

In preparation for home assignment, I have been doing a lot of reflecting over the last three years.  Here are a few of my thoughts...

This is stating the obvious, but little babies are pretty much helpless.  They can't talk, walk, feed or dress themselves.  When they are learning to walk, they fall down and get bumps and bruises.  Or they put their clothes on backwards.  They cry and sometimes throw temper tantrums.  Yep, helpless.  Thankfully God gave babies some mamas and papas who teach them how to talk and what to eat.  They have sisters and brothers who hold their hands when they take their first steps, and lift them up when they fall down.  They have aunties and uncles who dry their tears.  The family is always there, loving and correcting and helping them.

New missionaries are sort of like little babies.  OK, maybe a lot.  When my first term began in January 2009, I arrived in PNG all bright eyed and bushy tailed.  I was eager to jump into life as a missionary.  But I didn't know how to speak Pidgin or eat kaukau.  I had never carried anything on my head.  I wasn't any good about walking on the mountain paths.  I have had my fair share of tantrums and tears.  There have certainly been times when I have fallen down.

Like a baby, I also have a family--missionaries and nationals--who have helped on this journey.  They have taught me to speak Pidgin, though I still have more to learn.  Even today I heard a new phrase that I had to have someone interpret for me.  They have taught me to carry a bilum, and how to prepare food for a mumu.  They have held my hand as I walked along steep and slippery bush roads, although I can't say that I myself am much better at walking those road.  Mi save pundaun yet.  Even now they are there to pick me up when I fall.  Most importantly, they have prayed for me along the way.  I could not have done it without them.

Thank you, Lord, for my PNG family!  I will miss them while I am gone.

"Now then, my children, listen to me; blessed are those who keep my ways."
~ Proverbs 8:32

Thursday, 8 December 2011

"1090" by Dr. Andy

From time to time, we docs borrow each others' blog posts.  Since Dr. Andy got to writing about this patient before I did, and he did such an excellent job writing about it... I am going to share it with you!  Here is the link to his original post.


"1090" by Dr. Andy Bennet

No, that's not a date.  Well, it is, but as a date that number is not the subject of this post.  1090 mililiters.  That's over a quart, for those who need to know it in those terms.  Not a lot of liquid, really, depending on the context.  1090 ml of gasoline would take most cars only a few miles.  1090 ml of warm water would be enough to wash your face.  1090 ml of bloody serum in a man's pericardium can be the difference between life and death.

I don't often get into medical detail here, but you need to know that the pericardium is the membranous sac that surrounds each of our hearts.  It is normally a pearly color, smooth, with just a bit of moisture inside to allow the heart to slide smoothly under it as it beats.  But Joseph's pericardium has turned against him.  Swollen, red from the tuberculosis that spread there from the surrounding lung.  Over the last few weeks, he had become increasingly short of breath, and weaker.  As the inflammation of the pericardium increased, serum began to ooze from it's inner surface, and blood began to leak from its now-engorged capillaries.  As the fluid built up, it began putting pressure on the heart.  More and more, the heart could not fill adequately between contractions, so the amount of blood it could pump diminished.  Joseph's blood pressure decreased.  Any movement became an exhausting exertion.

Joseph went to the nearby clinic in his village.  A few days of amoxicillin did nothing to reverse the relentless progress of the TB.  Finally, Joseph's relatives realized that he was dying.  They found someone who would drive them to a nearby government hospital.  There they were told that there were no doctors to see him.  In PNG, it is the privilege of all senior doctors to take "Festive Season Holiday"; basically 2 months off.  The junior doctors who are supposed to keep things going want to be like the senior doctors, so they take some time off, too.  Joseph's family headed toward Kudjip.

When they brought Joseph into the ER, I was working on another man.  I saw that the nurses were checking him.  One asked to use my pulse oximeter.  This showed that Joseph's blood was carrying adequate oxygen.  I did not fully appreciate just how sick he was.  I listened to his lungs and heard good air movement, so I left him for the nurses to "screen".  He was making a lot of noise, and I thought maybe he was just being dramatic.  A little while later, the nurse told me that Joseph was ready to be seen.  I examined him more carefully this time, but didn't find anything specific, except that his heart beat was rapid and soft.  I ordered a chest x-ray.

Some time later, I was informed that his x-ray was ready.  Here it is:

For those of you who don't know what you're looking at, suffice it to say that it's not OK.  I went and got the ultrasound machine.  It showed me that most of the volume of what appears to be the heart on the chest x-ray was fluid.  The heart was barely contracting under the pressure that surrounded it.  There was also a fair amount of fluid in the right pleural space, the space between the lung and the chest wall.  There are many things that can cause this, but here, most of the time, it's TB.

By this time all of the patients in the Outpatient Department had been seen, and doctors were starting to home.  I felt that we needed to drain some of that fluid out of the pericardium, but I'd never done it before.  I knew that Dr. Erin Meier had done several, but she had left.  I found Dr. Steph Doenges, who is on call this evening.  She had helped on a pericardiocentesis once.  She agreed with my idea of involving Erin.  After sever failed attempts, I reached Erin, who came right in.  The three of us began to assemble supplies.  It was decided that since I had never done or even helped with one before, that I should be the one to do this.  This may seem like backward logic to some of you, but it makes complete sense to us.

Erin held the probe for the ultrasound that would guide my needle into the pericardial space.  I use an intracath, usually used as in intraveneous catheter.  This is a plastic tube around a steele needle.  We found a nice long one.  I washed his chest with an iodine solution.  Ering guided the ultrasound as I guided the needle into his chest.  The needle appeared in the image.  I slipped the steel needle out of the plastic sheath, and connected a syringe.  As I pulled the plunger, dark, bloody fluid filled the syringe.  20 ml.  They say that many times you only need to remove a few ml from the pericardium in order to make the patient much better.  The patient didn't look any better.  I tried connecting some IV tubing so we could just let it run, but the blood was too thick, so I went back to the syringe.  Syringeful after syringeful came out, and was emptied into a nearby basin.  When the fluid wouldn't come any more, we'd reposition the catheter.  We worried that a random movement by me or by the patient would dislodge it, so Steph put on sterile gloves to hold it.  The patient's relative counted syringefuls, and totaled the volume.

"Wow, we're past 100 ml!" one of us commented.

A few minutes later, "hey, that's almost 500!."

Then Joseph began to quiet.  With her free hand, Steph felt his pulse.  "Stronger", she said.  We could see the movement of the heart on the ultrasound screen returning to normal.

Joseph began to talk to us.  Erin and Steph asked him about his wife and children.  A boy and a girl, ages 5 and 3.  The brother and I were counting and adding.  The tally was nearing 1000 ml.  A liter!  Now we began to have to manipulate the catheter more often, but still the flow came.

At some point someone (yes, it was me--the mood was much lighter as we watched Joseph improve from moment to moment) began to speculate as to whether the Guiness Book of World Records had a category for the largest volume of fluid removed in a pericardiocentesis.  Probably not.

We help people all day long.  And once in a while, with God's help, we do we have the opportunity, despite our limited equipment, supplies, and experience, to save a life.  Sometimes in a critical situation there isn't anything we can do, and that is miserable.  But often it goes well, and a life is saved.  That's really a lot of fun!


We all stopped by medical ward the following day to check on our patient and get a picture with him.  He was a hundred million times better than when he came in the day before.  Doesn't he look great?


Tuesday, 6 December 2011

Christmas cookies

This past weekend I invited some of my little sisters from the College of Nursing to come over and bake Christmas cookies with me.  Baking is not a common hobby in PNG.  Most cooking is done over an open fire; ovens are few and far between.  So we all put on our aprons and I guided them through the process of measuring and mixing and baking and decorating.  Brigetta and Rachel were naturals, despite their lack of cookie-making experience!  I think licking the beater was their favorite thing.  Well, maybe that was mine.  And most importantly, we had a really "sweet" time together.  Love my little sisters :).

Random things

I have the world's bestest sister.  Her name is Ami, or "Aim" for short.  She has been my best friend for most of my life and pretty much all of hers.  And she has been a great support for me through the years, especially now that I am a missionary in PNG.

My family sends me a box of goodies every couple of months or so.  Aim always finds the most random things to put in the box.  Once upon a time she sent a pink stuffed [plush] animal tail, which made for a perfect Cheshire Cat costume for our Mad Hatter Tea Party.  The fuzzy Italian mustaches (and/or eyebrows) were a hit across the station.  I have no idea why she sends the things she does, but they are always a lot of fun to share.

Last week Tuesday, I was post call and pretty much delirious.  Mr. Joe, the outpatient supervisor, forgot to tell me until that day that I was the speaker for the following morning's devotion.  Geesh.  Post call and delirious is not the time to hope for inspiration.  But nevertheless, I was inspired.  

I started thinking and praying about how I could encourage our staff during this time when so many are leaving for other jobs.  Hebrews 12:1-3 came to mind--the verses about running the race and fixing our eyes on Jesus.  I shared with the OPD staff about the "great cloud of witnesses," all the people around the world who are praying for Kudjip Hospital.  And I shared about others who are "running the race" as well--the college guys who biked across the US and the school kids that collected medical supplies for the hospital.  Keep running the race, and keep looking to Jesus!  I passed out a winner medal to each of the staff, just one of those random things that Aim sent me in a box.  But the gold of the medal doesn't represent money or jobs or the things of this world, it represents the true prize:  eternity with our Lord.  They really were encouraged!

Thanks, Aim, for the random things you send!

P.S.  I also have the world's bestest bro.  I will write about him another time.

"Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles.  And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith.  For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.  Consider him who endured such opposition so that you will not grow weary and lose heart."
~ Hebrews 12:1-3

Monday, 28 November 2011

Cool kids

My little friends at Livingston Christian Schools in Pinckney, Michigan have been busy bees...

The students at LCS have sewn more than 300 bandages and collected more than 100 pounds of medical supplies.  WOW.  You guys ROCK!!!  

The things you are sending will help us to care for many, many patients.  Thank you for supporting Kudjip Hospital!

See you in March.
:) dr. steph

"Give, and it will be given to you.  A good measure, pressed down, shaken together and running over, will be poured into your lap.  For with the measure you use, it will be measured to you."
~ Luke 6:38

Saturday, 26 November 2011

Countdown to Home Assignment

Well friends, time is ticking away!  Three weeks from today, I will be landing in Ohio... reuniting with my family and meeting my niece Emmi for the first time.  YIPEE!!!

Today I have been working on my talk, compiling the stories and pictures that I will be sharing as I travel around and speak.  My theme is going to be "Miracles on Mercy Street."  Wow, God has done some incredible things over the last three years.  And I am so excited to share with you!

After a few weeks of holiday, I will continue to base in Mt. Vernon for the month of January.  I am teaching a class at MVNU--"Intercultural Communication."  Zoiks.  Me, a college professor?  I think it is going to be a blast!  The weekends will be busy with church services around Ohio.  Pray for good weather!

At the end of January, I will set out on the biggest road trip of my life.  My travels will take me to Texas, Oklahoma and Kansas, Illinois, Michigan, back to Ohio, and on to Kentucky.  There may be a few other stops along the way.  

I'm attaching a calendar of all the officially scheduled services and events in case you would like to check it out.

See ya'll soon!

Wednesday, 23 November 2011

A happy Thanksgiving

Thanksgiving is pretty much a normal day in PNG.  We docs start rounds at 8AMish, see the patients on the ward, move on to the outpatient department and ER where we see the long line of patients who have come to see us.  Maybe take a break about noon, and then back to the OPD to finish up the line.

Although it is not an official holiday here, we missionaries don't miss out on this special tradition.  Our holiday just begins after work.  We gather together at various houses across the station for a Thanksgiving feast.  This year, the bottom half of the station ate at the Bennetts' house:  the Bennetts, the Dooleys, the Thompsons, the Myers, and me.  Turkeys are hard to come by, but one made an appearance and subsequent disappearance at our dinner.  As always, there were plenty of other traditional foods--from mashed potatoes to green bean casserole, to made-from-scratch pumpkin pie.

Well, what I thought was going to be a pretty normal Thanksgiving day, didn't turn out to be so normal.  When I woke up in the morning, I thought to myself, "Hey, it's Thanksgiving!"  Took Brutus on a walk, came home, ate breakfast and got ready for work.  Went to rounds and clinic.  You know, pretty normal normal day kinda stuff.  A little after noon, I took my lunch break and walked home.  I put a cheese and tomato sandwich on the grill and sat down to check my email.

The phone rang.  "Dr. Steph, we have an emergency on D-ward."  Emergency?  OK, sure.  What's up?  "We have a patient with a cord prolapse."  Oh, shucks.  That really is an emergency!  I rushed out the door and jumped into Herbie.  I sped up the road toward the hospital just as fast as my 25 year old little car could take me.  I found Anna in the first OB bay, the nurses and students hovered around her.  The story was that her water had broken at 6AM this morning.  I did an exam and felt the umbilical cord looping down below the baby's head.  No way it is still alive.  I quickly grabbed the ultrasound.  Sure enough, there was the tiny heart beating away.  And not only was there one live baby, but two!  I began barking orders to the nursing officer and students...  "You--put your hand in there, push up on the baby's head, and DON'T take your hand out until I tell you.  Give salbutamol.  Start an IV and put in the foley.  Notify anesthesia that we have an emergency c-section!"  

(At some point I realized that I had left my sandwich toasting on the grill.  I made a call to the closest missionary house.  Dr. Jim rode his bike down to turn off the grill, saving not only my sandwich but also my house from burning down!)

A few minutes later, we rolled Anna over to the OT.  The minutes seemed like eternity as anesthesia prepared to intubate the patient.  As we waited to begin the surgery, I prayed that the little one would survive.  Anesthesia gave the OK, and I began to cut through mama's abdomen to the uterus as fast as I could safely go.  I reached in to deliver the first baby, my fingers brushing those of the nurse who was pushing up the baby's head.  It was a girl.  She was floppy, but alive!  The baby catcher took the baby to the side and began resuscitation.  It wasn't long until she began to breathe on her own.  I returned to the incision and delivered baby #2, a little boy with a strong cry.  The babies were taken to the nursery and we finished the c-section.  Anna was taken to D-ward to recover.

I finally made it home to eat my lunch about 3PM.  As I sat down to eat the perfectly toasted tomato and cheese sandwich, I reflected on the events of the last two hours.  Definitely not a normal Thanksgiving Day.  But boy did I have a reason to give thanks... two new precious, healthy babies in the nursery.  Yes, this was a very happy Thanksgiving indeed.

Pslams 100:  For giving grateful praise.

Shout for joy to the Lord, all the earth.
Worship the Lord with gladness;
come before him with joyful songs.
Know that the Lord is God.
It is he who made us, and we are his;
we are his people, the sheep of his pasture.
Enter his gates with thanksgiving
and his courts with praise;
give thanks to him and praise his name.
For the Lord is good and his love endures forever
His faithfulness continues through all generations.


It was Tuesday morning and I was post call.  Well, not quite.  Call finishes up about 8AM when all the docs arrive at the hospital.  At 7:45, the phone rang.  Sigh.  It was the nurse on duty in the ER.  A young man was spitting up blood.  He had had surgery two weeks ago to remove a tongue cancer.  He began bleeding from his mouth the night before, and had lost about two liters of blood.  It was still coming.

I stopped by the ER on the way to D-ward rounds.  Sure enough, the patient was loosing a LOT of blood.  I did my best to take a look, but it was difficult to see what exactly was going on.  I recruited a watchman to hold pressure at the base of his tongue.  The nurse started an IV and drew blood for a hemoglobin.  The lab result later confirmed that he had lost almost half of his blood volume.

Normally in this situation, I would call Dr. Jim who would take the patient straight to surgery.  Unfortunately, Dr. Jim was on holiday.  The next option was to refer the patient to the provincial hospital in Mt. Hagen.  I attempted to call the ENT doc from Hagen to inform him about the transfer.  He was on a bus from Goroka and wouldn't arrive for several hours.   It was an option, but definitely not a good one.  Hmmm, what to do now...

A thought popped into my mind.  After discussing with Dr. Bill and Margaret, the head OT nurse, it was decided that we would go ahead and take the patient to surgery.  We would do our best to stop the bleeding.  If it didn't work, we would transfer him to Hagen and hope for the best.

The anesthesia boys intubated the patient, Margaret draped him up, Dr. Bill and I put on our virtual ENT doctor hats and scrubbed in.  Before we started, we said a word of prayer and asked Papa God for wisdom.  Margaret handed us some instruments I had never seen before, and coached us on how to use them.  Dr. Bill retracted the tongue.  After removing a bit of clot, I was able to see the source of the problem.  I stitched and cauterized the bleeding areas, and the surgical site was soon dry.  Thank you, Lord, for hearing our prayers.

The next morning after rounds, I stopped by to visit with Steven.  Twenty-four hours post-op, he was doing great.  He was able to talk well enough to share his story with me.  He said that I could share it with you, too.

Steven was born at Kudjip Nazarene Hospital.  He attended Nazarene primary and secondary schools, and was active in the church as a young man.  He was sponsored by a former missionary to attend university, where he studied to become a teacher.  He was just about as Nazarene as you can be.  But sometime in his mid-twenties, Steven decided he didn't want to be a Christian any more.  He stopped attending church.  He started smoking and chewing betel nut.

Earlier this year, Steven received a wake-up call.  He noticed a growth on his tongue and came to outpatient clinic.  The diagnosis he received was a potential death sentence--tongue cancer.  As he thought seriously about his life, the Holy Spirit began to work in his heart.  It wasn't long until Steven had given his life back to Christ.

Steven had his first surgery to remove the cancer in May.  It began growing again after several months, so Dr. Jim did a second procedure a couple of weeks ago.  I don't know what Steven's prognosis is.  Can he be cured?  I pray so.  Will the cancer grow again?  Oh, Lord, please strengthen his faith.  Whatever the outcome in this life, I know where he will be spending forever.  And that is why we do what we do.

"If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you."
~ James 1:5

Wednesday, 9 November 2011

Nursing shortage

Over this past year, the work of Nazarene Hospital has been seriously impacted by the loss of many staff--nursing officers and community health workers (CHWs)--to government and other NGO positions.  There are a number of reasons:  better pay, less work, even better pay.  Even many of our new hires have only lasted a few months.  Last year we had to close to longwe patients and then closed the medical ward to compensate for the shortage of workers.  Somehow, by the grace of God, we have continued to provide care for the hundreds of patients who come to our hospital every week.

The nursing shortage escalated to crisis level just a few weeks ago.  There has always been somewhat of a difference in salary funds provided for government vs. church health services.  Government positions just pay better.  But that difference recently became much greater when nurses and CHWs at government hospitals and health centers received a 45% pay raise.  The allocation for church health services only allowed for a 1% raise.  Well, we just can't compete with that kind of a discrepancy.  So another exodus began.

Hospital administration is doing their best to keep things together.  Adjustments have been made in the budget and the schedule.  College of Nursing tutors are volunteering to take some shifts while they are on school break.  The hospital continues to advertise the open positions, hoping for workers who feel a call to serve.

And most importantly... we are calling our family, friends, co-workers, supporters, and the church around the world to prayer.  Will you join us?  Missionaries and national staff gathered together last week for a special meeting.  Here are some of the prayer points from that time:
  • Let us be thankful for all that God has done, praise Him for His greatness, and trust that He knows our needs and hears our prayers.
  • We must confess our sins and humbly pray for God's forgiveness and presence in our lives--our personal lives, family lives, church and ministry.  Pray for the healing of Papua New Guinea.
  • We want to fast and pray to draw close to God--not just that we might be blessed, but that God would use us to minister to the oppressed and poor of PNG and that God would bring about justice in health care and politics in our country.  Whether in times of blessing or trial, we want to free the oppressed as agents of God's love and representatives of His kingdom.
  • Pray for dedicated Christian workers to join us in this ministry--not just for doing health care and relieving our work load, but that people would come to know Christ--an eternal harvest.
  • Pray that our work would continue to be a powerful tool of the church to spread the good news of salvation in Jesus Christ.  Pray that we would let our light shine not only through health care, but in our families and in our community.  Pray for our graduate nursing students, Community Based Health Care, Primary Health, and Rural Health workers who are taking this work to areas throughout PNG.
  • Pray for our leaders in government, both national and provincial, Church Health Services, and administration.  Pray that God would move on our bhalf for the good of all Christian Health Services across the country.  Pray against corruption and for godly leaders to be raised up in the next election (2012).
  • Pray that we would be faithful in our trials, that God would use it as a time to teach us, develop our Christian character, seek Him for direction, and believe in what He is doing among us and in  us.  Pray for faith to follow Him in all circumstances, both for yourself and your fellow co-workers.

"Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance.  Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.  If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you."
~ James 1:2-5

This is a link to Dr. Scott's blog about the crisis.

Friday, 4 November 2011

The real Manila

MLC conference ended on Sunday last week.  I had an interview/meeting on Monday, so I stayed a few extra days in Manila waiting for the next flight back to PNG.  I transferred from the hotel to guest quarters at Asia Pacific Nazarene Theological Seminary (APNTS).  So here are a few pictures of the real Manila...

Let's start with a brief tour of the seminary.

I'm guessing these kiddos are children of some of the seminary students.  The little guy with the bow and arrow is from PNG :).

Elis (middle in blue shirt), and James and Della are PNG students studying at APNTS.  After finishing her studies, Elis will be returning to PNG to teach at our Bible college.  James and Della are hoping to become missionaries.  They were all excited to visit with their wantoks!

One afternoon I ventured off campus to look for something to cook for dinner.  These are some of the sites from the local road bung.

Who knew there were so many kinds of rice?

These colorful "jeepney" trucks are the public transportation of Manila.

On the way to the airport on Thursday afternoon, we experienced the infamous bumper-to-bumper traffic of Manila.  We also drove through some regular neighborhoods.  The images were incredible, and the poverty--wow.  It was so interesting to hear the comments of the Papua New Guineans in the group.  One of the biggest questions was, "Where do the Filipinos grow their sweet potatoes?"  Unfortunately I wasn't able to capture the sites on my camera.

Speaking of airport, we arrived in plenty of time to find out that our Wednesday night flight from Manila to Port Moresby was delayed until Thursday morning :(.  Fortunately we were put up in a pretty nice hotel.  Unfortunately that meant we also missed our connecting flight to Mt. Hagen the following day, and had to stay yet another night in Port Moresby.  That is a whole other story!  Thank the Lord, our weary group of travelers made it home safely on Friday morning.

"When [Jesus] saw the crowds, he had compassion on them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd.  Then he said to his disciples, "The harvest is plentiful but the workers are few."
~ Matthew 9:36-37

Sunday, 30 October 2011

Stephoscope: November 2011 Newsletter

Hey, ya'll!

Here is the NOVEMBER 2011 version of my newsletter.  Do you know what that means???  I will be home next month.    So check out page 3 for my almost final schedule.

I am actually posting this from Manila, Philippines, where I have been attending the Missional Leaders' Conference.  I shared about the conference in the story on page 1.  The second page highlights our new effort in the fight against cervical cancer--a mobile pap smear clinic.

Enjoy!  And see you soon.
~ steph

MLC Top Ten

The MIssional Leaders' Conference finished up today with a wonderful service and message by our GS, Dr. Duarte.  What an incredible week of worshiping the Lord with my brothers and sisters from all over Asia and the Pacific.  I have been encouraged, inspired, and challenged!

Here is my Top Ten list for MLC...

10.  Sometimes I really enjoy being just a normal American.
9.  Mission vs. missions vs. missional.
8.  Angry Birds are taking over the world.
7.  You can have too much of a good thing.  In this case, food.
6.  New stamp in my passport!
5.  Nothing makes me happy quite like purple toes.
4a.  The city of Manila has three times the number of people as the entire country of PNG.  A little overwhelming for a FOB.
4b.  Manila wins the global award for customer service.
4c.  But not for air quality.
3.  It is so good to be with old friends.  Making new ones is the next best thing.
2.  You never stop being a doctor, so don't forget to pack the stethoscope.
1.  God is doing awesome things around Asia-Pacific and the world.  I am so excited that I get to be a part of His mission!

"With all this going for us, my dear, dear friends, stand your ground.  And don't hold back.  Throw yourselves into the work of the Master, confident that nothing you do for him is a waste of time or effort."
~ 1 Corinthians 15:58

Friday, 28 October 2011

Missional Leaders' Conference

Welcome to the Missional Leaders' Conference!  Missionaries and church leaders from across the Asia-Pacific region gathered for the opening session on Wednesday evening.

Our Filipino brothers and sisters welcomed us with a program of traditional music and cultural dance.  It was spectacular!  This was followed by the parade of nations; twenty-eight countries were represented.  Dave is a PNG missionary, but also very proud of his Scottish heritage.  

The PNG choir presented an item on that first night--"In the Sweet By and By" in Pidgin.  (I didn't get the memo that we were supposed to wear a PNG flag meri blaus, so I was a bit out of style with my plane Jane meri blaus.  Oh well, I've never been one who was much concerned about style.)

Our regional director gave the opening address, challenging us to be a "missional church."  What does this mean, you may wonder?  Basically, God is on a mission to redeem the world.  And He wants us to be a part--to be salt and light in our homes, communities, and countries.  Here am I, Lord!  Send me.

The first two days of the conference have been wonderful--worship, fellowship, challenge, and inspiration.  There have been some excellent plenary sessions and workshops, on topics ranging from organic church planting to rekindling spiritual passion.

I have especially enjoyed catching up with old friends and making new ones.  I've visited with friends who serve in Thailand, Australia, the Philippines, and many other countries around the region.  Rusty (and his wife Diane) did pre-field training with me.  That was almost 3 years ago.  They work with Jesus Film-Harvest Partners.  We missed you, Diane!

Thank you for praying for this week!  The Lord has certainly been with us.

"Again, truly I tell you that if two of you on earth agree about anything they ask for, it will be done for them by my Father in heaven.  For where two or three gather in my name, there am I with them."
~ Matthew 18:19-20