Monday, 26 August 2013


I wanted to give you a brief update on the hydroelectric... uhh... "waterholderbacker" project.  (Apparently Earl, the hydro engineer, has gotten himself into trouble by using the more technical term in church.)

Back in May, Pamela and Brutus and I went for a walk down to the river to take a peek at the project site.  The river was roaring down the far side of the valley.  The near side was a muddy pit with some cement forms and rebar sticking out of the goo.  That is going to be a dam???  OK, Earl.  You seem to know what you are doing, so we  will take your word for it.

Tim and Karla and Staci were driving down today to check on the progress of things.  Since it had been a few months, I decided to hitch a ride.  WOW.  Let's just say there has been a LOT accomplished since the last time I visited the site.  The cement gates stand guard over the water like a great Egyptian sphinx.  Well maybe not quite that huge.  But still rather impressive for PNG.  The dam itself extends to the midpoint of the course of the river.  Now it really does look like a waterholderbacker!  Or at least half of one.

The workers have just diverted the river to the completed side so that they can finish the second half of the dam.  The water is flowing through the open gates, which won't be closed until their doors arrive early next year.  Probably about that time is when we will reap the benefits of this labor--affordable and stable power!

Here are a few pictures from today...

Just teasing ;).

"Joshua said, 'By this you shall know that the living God is among you...  Behold, the ark of the covenant of the Lord of all the earth is crossing over ahead of you into the Jordan.  Now then, take for yourselves twelve men from the tribes of Israel, one man for each tribe.  It shall come about when the soles of the feet of the priests who carry the ark of the Lord, the Lord of all the earth, rest in the waters of the Jordan, the waters of the Jordan will be cut off, and the waters which are flowing down from above will stand in one heap.'

"And the priests who carried the ark of the covenant of the Lord stood firm on dry ground in the middle of the Jordan while all Israel crossed on dry ground, until all the nation had finished crossing the Jordan.

"And Joshua said to them, 'Cross again to the ark of the Lord your God into the middle of the Jordan, and each of you take up a stone on his shoulder, according to the number of the tribes of the sons of Israel.  Let this be a sign among you, so that when your children ask later, saying, "What do these stones mean to you?"... So these stones shall become a memorial to the sons of Israel forever.'"

From Joshua 3 and 4

Saturday, 17 August 2013

Bye-o, Beck!

This week I packed up and sent my roomie off to America... for good.  She is going home to spend time with her ailing father, and then transitioning to a new job with Nazarene Compassionate Ministries.

Beck and I met way back in 2000 when we were both attending Loma Linda University.  She was doing her residency in preventative medicine and I was working on my M.P.H.  Little did we know that 9 years later we would be sharing a house in PNG!  Over these years she has been a wonderful friend, listener, and counselor.  We have had made some great memories with Bones, fuzzy mustaches, our lemon-squeezing-dish-washing roomie, the Queen's birthday, sometimes crazy pets, little sisters, and care packages (just to name a few).  Our adventures have taken us from Aniwa to Thailand to Hewa to Fiji.  I have learned much from her as we have lived and served together in some of the most remote parts of the world.

Thanks, Beck, for an awesome 4 1/2 years!  I could not have done this without you.  I miss you, my friend.  Well, everything except your incessant humming.  Hee hee.

Here is a photographic tribute to the fun times we have had together :).

Home sweet PNG home
Classic Beck 
Our first house
Pete the ax-murdering-chicken-cat
Our baby, Boo!
Sweet P being ornery as usual
Our lemon-squeezing-dish-washing roomie, Pamela.
Pamela loves Brutus!!!
Out on the town in Herbie the Love Bug
Your family
And mine

Our sister Meti
Meti's first birthday 
At Kawi church
Meti's ground

Team Aniwa
Beachfront property 
PPH water

Little sisters
Our first group
Making pizza
Susan's baptism
Decorating Christmas cookies!
Spa night

More fun times
Mostly involving costumes :).
Italian dinner party
Mad Hatter Tea Party
Care package!
The Queen's B-day
National doughnut week
Harvest party

Zip line in Thailand
Cruising Fiji! 

On our way to the big bush
I can't believe I included this one.
Hewa tribe

The orphanage

Monday, 12 August 2013

A walk to beautiful

It is estimated that at least 2 million women around the world suffer from obstetric fistulas.

These childbirth injuries are most common in parts of Africa and the Middle East.  The problem is common in these areas because women marry very young.  They become pregnant before their bodies have had a chance to fully develop.  When the time comes to deliver, the birth canal is just too small to fit the baby.  The result is obstructed labor, and the best management is c-section--if the woman lives in a place where c-sections are available.  Unfortunately many of them don't.  These woman may labor for days and days.  Eventually the baby dies; the skull collapses allowing it to deliver.

Loss of a baby is only the beginning of the tragedy.  The days of labor with the fetal head squeezing the vagina, bladder, and rectum against the bones of mom's pelvis cause a loss of blood supply to the compressed tissue.  The tissue becomes necrotic, forming a hole between the bladder or rectum and the vagina.  This hole is called a fistula.  Women with fistulas become incontinent of stool and/or urine.  Their husbands leave them and they become outcasts in their community.

There is hope for a small number of these women.  Once upon a time I read the inspiring story of Drs. Reg and Catherine Hamlin, missionary physicians who founded the Addis Ababa Fistula Hospital in Ethiopia.  The hospital cares for women who have childbirth injuries.  They also train surgeons from other parts of the world to repair fistulas.

A few years ago, PBS aired a documentary called "A Walk to Beautiful."  The film follows the lives of five Ethiopian women who suffered from OB fistulas, and their journey to healing.  You can also find it posted on YouTube.

We don't see OB fistulas very often here at Kudjip (thank goodness).  Women in PNG tend to get married in their mid to late teens, or even early twenties, so their bodies are more ready to have babies by the time they do.  Those who do have obstructed labor can usually make it to a hospital for delivery and/or c-section.

Madlina's story could have come out of Ethiopia.  She is from the Jimi, a poor and remote valley here in PNG.  She was pregnant with her second child and began to feel contractions at about nine months.  The pains came stronger and stronger, lasting for five days.  She was finally able to make her way to a rural health center.  The nurse attempted to do a vacuum delivery, but there just wasn't enough room for the baby to come out.  By the time she arrived at Kudjip, the on-duty nurse was unable to find fetal heart tones.  Madlina delivered a dead baby with a fractured skull.

When I saw Madlina and reviewed her chart the morning following her delivery, I knew that she was very high risk for developing a fistula.  I ordered a foley catheter.  She was started on broad spectrum antibiotics and the nurses washed her every shift.  Despite our diligent care, things were looking pretty bad for the first few days.

One day when I was doing an ultrasound, I noticed that there were tears in Madlina's eyes.  I asked her why she was crying and her watchmeri replied that she thought that God was punishing her.  My heart broke for Madlina again.  I explained to her how much that He loved her, that He sent His very own son to bear the punishment for our sins.  Because of Jesus's death, the Lord knows what it is to loose a child.  His heart breaks for Madlina, too.  I prayed that He would give her comfort.

Well, slowly our patient began to get better.  Her pain resolved.  The vaginal tissue turned from necrotic to pink.  Dr. Jim took over her care and was able to sew up her laceration.  About two weeks after her admission, Madlina was able to go home.  You should have seen the lovely smile on her face!  It was something like this...

There is still a chance that Madlina could develop a fistula.  If she does, we will likely refer her to a hospital in the neighboring province.  There is an OB/Gyn doc from Egypt who has some experience in repairing OB fistulas.

Please pray for this beautiful young woman, that Papa God would heal her physical wounds and those of her heart.

"He has made everything beautiful in its time.  He has also set eternity in the human heart, yet no one can fathom what God has done from beginning to end."
~ Ecclesiastes 3:11

Saturday, 10 August 2013

Stephoscope: August 2013 newsletter

Dear blog readers,
I send out my Stephoscope newsletter every 2-4 months or so.  Most of the stories come from my blog. There is also a section for recent praises and prayer requests.
Here is the link to my latest.  Enjoy!
~ steph

Friday, 9 August 2013

My prayer

"Make us worthy, Lord, to serve our fellow men throughout the world who live and die in poverty and hunger.  Give them, through our hands, this day their daily bread, and by our understanding love give peace and joy.

"Lord, make me a channel of thy peace, that where there is hatred I may bring love; that where there is wrong, I may bring the spirit of forgiveness; that where there is discord, I may bring harmony; that where there is error, I may bring truth; that where there is doubt, I may bring faith; that where there is despair, I may bring hope; that where there are shadows, I may bring light; that where there is sadness, I may bring joy.

"Lord, grant that I may seek rather to comfort than to be comforted; to understand than to be understood; to love than be loved; for it is by forgetting self that one finds; it is by dying that one awakens to eternal life.  Amen."

~ Something Beautiful for God by Malcolm Muggeridge

Thursday, 8 August 2013

Home assignment 2014--now scheduling!

I can hardly believe that my second term in PNG is winding down!  That means that it is time for me to open up the schedule for my home assignment--January through March 2014.  

HA is my opportunity to travel all over the crazy place visiting churches and supporters and prayer partners, telling stories of life in the bush and the work at Kudjip Hospital, and sharing all about the wonderful things that God is doing in PNG.  

So far my road trip will take me from Ohio to Indiana to Texas to Arizona.  And lots of places in between!  Please drop me an email ( if you are interested in setting up a church service, other get-together, or if you just want to grab a Coke and catch up!  I look froward to seeing you soon :).

Here is what my schedule looks like as of 9/15/13...

January--teaching Intercultural Communication class at Mount Vernon Nazarene University
January 5--Adrian COTN (MI)
January 12--Lakeholm COTN (OH)
January 19 AM--New Carlisle COTN (OH)
January 19 PM--Crestline COTN (OH)
January 26--Lower Lights COTN (OH)
February 2-9--Indianapolis District Tour
February 15-16--Fawn Grove COTN (MD)
February 23--Westridge COTN (TX)
February 26--Cove COTN (TX)
March 1-16--Arizona District Tour
March 23 AM--Brunswick COTN (OH)
March 23 PM--Tiffin COTN (OH)
March 30 AM--Calvary COTN (WV)
March 30 PM--Straight Creek COTN (KY)
April 6 AM--Pickerington COTN (OH)

Tuesday, 6 August 2013

The bestie of times

I've been hangin' with my best friend a.k.a. bestie for the last 10 days.  Amber is a lactation consultant, helping mothers to breast feed their babies.  She was speaking at a conference in Melbourne, Australia the end of July.   And since she was already going to be half way around the world, she figured she might as well come the rest of the way to visit me in PNG :).  What a privilege it has been to share this crazy awesome place with her!

Here are a few of the photo highlights from our week...

Welcome to PNG!

Flour balls and a coke at Auntie's Hideaway.

The Operation Theater
Baby of Rhonda!
Consult for the lactation consultant

Pedicures, a chick flick...
... and Jeni's ice cream!

D-ward breast feeding inservice 
Feeding evaluation of low birth weight baby

Rondon Ridge
Accidental rainforest hike :)
The result of our accidental rainforest hike

Chinese finger traps

Meri blaus shopping at the Hagen Market
Lunch at the Kofi Kave

Thank you for coming!  Your visit was such a gift :).

"I pray that your partnership [with me] in the faith may be effective in deepening your understanding of every good thing we share for the sake of Christ.  Your love has given me great joy and encouragement, because you, [sister], have refreshed the hearts of the Lord's people."
~ Philemon 1:6-7