Saturday, May 30, 2020

A Few More!

Hey folks! We have landed in LA, and everyone is holding together pretty well. Three planes down, two to go! 

Wanted to share a few more pictures from our little farewell party that Esther Crouch shared with us, and a few pics taken on our way home.

Thanks for all your terrific prayer support!!!

https://drive.google.com/uc?export=view&id=1izYnXmdgz__4-7cPaCLPxg6TmMtRjvZs

https://drive.google.com/uc?export=view&id=1BRNAILtb-ER4w5u03CrYzt1GrJg1jQkK

https://drive.google.com/uc?export=view&id=1FV6RtTiHT8eREYF7U6vBbbOmjiNCWPyK

https://drive.google.com/uc?export=view&id=1cegAGateY2Z0_lKzh4XQx4tsu58ya_AR

https://drive.google.com/uc?export=view&id=19NzdiGcZG_iVEpP0D_207dwyXVerCHvL

https://drive.google.com/uc?export=view&id=1X-82SbTcYfLJwYWM8R0pI421VxAT94_y

https://drive.google.com/uc?export=view&id=1HSjLY0dL1LrwVdPSyypRGfUUxVT5h_AC

https://drive.google.com/uc?export=view&id=1FZ87yqImXW0LJQRxqvfKaSlRjBTriKgn

https://drive.google.com/uc?export=view&id=17zw05RqI3vwYTjy7wTDCSUo5qjTO6bjB

https://drive.google.com/uc?export=view&id=1kYv5SglEseginAImlKPfl9YsZCK_tia4

https://drive.google.com/uc?export=view&id=1t5kQb5K351tBTBRCI-_muAV_zMH_0rpV

https://drive.google.com/uc?export=view&id=1ubUHnXQwyc0OoCVUwVUoHfb6lJPSY_DZ

https://drive.google.com/uc?export=view&id=1yeZJ7SbUTCkTLP6SoqCTBZQc_l_28gKp

https://drive.google.com/uc?export=view&id=18lxKKzdcLJ5stzof5TUMhm23T1wpjEN9

Thursday, May 28, 2020

Last Day & 15th Year

We have just enjoyed the most remarkably special last day at Kudjip, filled with so many sweet farewells. The fact that this day has also marked 15 years of marital bliss only compounded the joy and emotions.

I started the day attending my usual F3 workout, this time led by Flex, who Rocky and I breathlessly followed into fitness glory. I have taught him well! We culminated the morning with a ceremonial handing off of the F3-PNG shovel flag, and a prayer of blessing for my flights home, and for these fine men to carry on the good work that has been started. 


I picked a handful of pretty flowers on my run home, and presented them to my bride of 15 years with all the romance of our early teenage courtship. She accepted them kindly while cunningly evading my sweaty embrace. 


After a quick shower and a few hungry drags of delicious PNG Highlands coffee, I joined Rachel to wake up the kids. Rachel usually claims a cuddly Pennie while I free a hungry Solomon from the confines of his crib. For the past month or two he has grinned ear to ear and repeatedly said “NANA!!!” after being woken up, as he has discovered a voracious love for bananas. Well, his Papa enjoys giving him the things he loves, so the boy frequently inhales an entire banana while we get through the diaper & clothes changing process. 


After breakfast, I made my farewells to head out the door for work, and both children claimed their usual “Biiiiiiig Hug!” and “Smooch”, and I gave them the daily reminder to “Be kind to each other, and be a good listener for Mama.” With nostalgic feelings about the early morning sounds and smells of the PNG Highlands, I took some mental snapshots on my 1/4 mile walk to the hospital. It’ll be nice to reminisce on these treasures when dealing with commuter traffic Stateside.


For the 81st day in a row, I entered A ward and my “Morning All” salutation was warmly greeted by a chorus of “Morning!” from all the sick kids’ parents/guardians. With a fair number of new admissions, my side of the Ward was fairly full, and I spent the next 90 minutes greeting each patient and family, carefully reviewing their chart’s vitals/meds/labs/notes/etc, examining each child, and coming up with fresh plans for the next 24 hours. Along with lots of loving smiles and greetings, I have enjoyed entertaining the patients, parents, and staff with a regular charade of silly antics - breaking out a little dance or song, skillfully picking up and using my Dr Ted magic maneuvers to sooth a crying babe, and occasionally coming up with MacGyver schemes to improve something (like the fly traps pictured below, that sadly didn’t work very well).



After rounds, I helped with a couple patients in the ER en route to Outpatient. Seems I saw mostly older patients in the OPD today - many hypertensive and diabetic patients who have been off their meds while travel restrictions have been in place (restrictions were lifted a couple weeks ago, despite probable community spread - unproven since testing hasn’t been done very much, or very well). Being my last day in clinic for a while, the Holy Spirit provided an extra measure of compassion and desire to impact lives which generated lots of preventive education and wholesome prayers.

Perhaps the most powerfully emotional farewell took place on A ward over my lunch break. I had been asked by the staff to join them for a little going away “bung” (gathering), and Rachel met me there with the kids. To my complete surprise we discovered balloons hanging from every surface and a massive cake awaiting us, while all the staff stood about with glowing faces in anticipation of my appreciation (or maybe in anticipation of delicious cake!). Along with the many patients and their parents/guardians, at least 75 people in all respectfully listened as A Ward senior nurse, our dear friend Christina, provided a heartfelt tribute to my service. I was then given the floor (a chair to stand on), and raised my voice to give thanks - only to completely choke up. I had so much to say, a heart bursting with gratitude and bittersweet farewells...and for a looooong minute, I couldn’t. MAN, the Holy Spirit can move! Well, I finally got my voice back and was able to fully express my heart, which I am leaving in part with these people and this place.




While home for lunch I presented a little anniversary present to Rachel, a porch swing for the house we have been staying in. It’s too bad I didn’t think of making the swing sooner as it would have been nice to enjoy it during our stay, but as with all my projects, the swing will serve the purpose of helping a future missionary feel more at home.



Throughout the afternoon I made sure to stop in and bid farewell to all my dear friends in the various departments - pharmacy, radiology, emergency, outpatient, and others. Many shared their appreciation and hope for our safe travels and speedy return to Kudjip. I assured them the Spring of 2020 would not come soon enough.

The afternoon was fairly light in OPD, so I was able to head home a little early and juggle a little packing while preparing to host our farewell party. As mentioned in my former post, our dear friend John Gari has worked tirelessly to renovate and beautify the area behind our mission house. This area was many years ago made into a campfire hangout by other missionaries but had fallen into disrepair with many seasons and brutal rain and sun taking their toll. Before bidding John farewell today, I paid him for his work, and gifted him a few articles of clothing, including my favorite old North Face which has traveled around the world with me a few times over the last decade. The jacket’s tough build will serve him well here. On a final note, we have decided to continue John’s part time employment here on Station, financially supporting whatever landscaping and beautifying needs our missionary friends have around their own houses. It’s incredibly exciting and gratifying to support such a hard working man of God in need of work, while in a way also serving our missionary friends.


So with the “FireBung” project complete, we invited all our missionary friends to join us for a “Hobo Dinner” farewell party (which conveniently overlapped as a 15 year anniversary celebration). We enjoyed these Hobo Dinner gatherings a number of times on our last trip to PNG, with everyone bringing their leftovers in tinfoil to heat up over the fire, all the kids running around and adults happily chatting. It was no less enjoyable this time, and culminated with a time of prayer over us, and a surprise “Hook”-style colored pudding food fight! (Thanks Karla!) What a wonderful missionary family they are!


Sunday, May 24, 2020

The Time Has COME...

Dearest Friends,

It is with mixed emotions that I share the NEWS - - - We are flying home at the end of this week!

We prayed for God to bring us back to Kudjip, to fulfill our hearts’ desire to serve here again, and He not only answered but multiplied the blessing!

Every day here has been a missionary’s braid of challenge, blessing, and spiritual growth; one moment I am struck to the core to see a life lost so easily, frustration and grief ripping a dark chasm into the day, only then to be chased away by the warm glow of a prayer offered in Faith, and my spirit pulled out of the mire to see where Christ is glorified even in our most broken moments.

But those who hope in the Lord
Will renew their strength.
They will soar on wings like eagles;
They will run and not grow weary,
They will walk and not be faint.
Isaiah 40:31 

So while this time has been emotionally and physically exhausting, we have miraculously “soared on wings as eagles”, just as God called and intended for us to do here.

We will miss our beloved Kudjip missionary and national friends - their warm smiles and daily encouragement have in many ways solidified our loyalty to this place. And it promises our future return to be all the more sweet.

You can imagine there is also a bursting excitement to be released homeward; to our loving family and friends in Virginia, to our membership among a wonderful Body of believers, to the many families in my practice who have faithfully awaited my return to care for their children, to the peace and security of our first world home, to the tranquility of sleeping in our own bed, and even to the excited wet kisses of our dog Cooper.

BUT... we still have a week yet to serve here, with MUCH to do, and then we’ll need to somehow wrangle our two wild and wonderful toddlers back across the World on FIVE different airplanes... your prayers would be most welcome!

AND NOW... A FEW UPDATES:

I discharged Friel last week after his condition turned for the worse - his head size had enlarged enough to ultrasound through his fontanelle and see there was more fluid than brain in view. Obstructive hydrocephalus, due to a mass (maybe tuberculoma, maybe cancer) is a terminal diagnosis here. I had the opportunity to pray with his mother Rosa on a few occasions and ensure she understood everything. On the day of their discharge she very sweetly gifted to me a small “bilum” (shoulder bag) made of seashells.


One of my favorite PNG men is named John Gari, and I have employed him during our time here to improve the landscaping behind the house we have stayed in. The garden and flower beds were overgrown and the old campfire area and thatched umbrellas were in shambles. I wish I had taken more “before” pictures to really show how much he has beautifully restored everything, but we have loved having his regular company around the house and have been blessed to support him. I constructed another footbridge to the new “pipiya pit” (for compost) that John dug for us, and I have planted peas, squash, kaukau (sweet potato), coriander, mint, tomatoes, and carrots into the new garden spaces. I've also built flower boxes for the front and back steps, and am trying to finish a porch swing for the back porch. Hopefully whoever stays in this house next will enjoy the fruits of our labor.









I have also continued to enjoy regular F3 workouts in the early PNG gloom every Tuesday Thursday and Saturday mornings from 6-6:45am. My most faithful partner has been “Flex” (Brian Bosip) but we have also enjoyed the company of some other fine men. I will have completed 35 workouts before leaving later this week. Watch out F3RVA - I’ve got high altitude fitness coming your way!



And finally, last weekend we escaped Station with our friends the Crouches to enjoy a lunch at the Jiwaka Mission Resort. We have LOVED spending so much quality time with these dear ones!






This big cockatoo would sweetly say “HELLO COCKY”, only then to follow up with the most ear piercing cry while head banging his yellow mohawk. Solomon was both enthralled and a little freaked out. 

Tuesday, May 19, 2020

Pennie's 1st Post!

This past Friday, Pennie spent the day directing me what to document and take pictures of for her first ever blog post.  All of the photo captions and descriptions are in her words. 

A day with Pennie Mae - enjoy!  
 
"This is how I sleep."  

"I smile every day!"

"This cockroach was in my room when I woke up!"

"I play with all of my friends at playgroup."  
"I like to play with Solomon and Charley."


"I hug Solomon every day." 

"I love watching motorcycles out the window!"

"I love crane trucks!"

"I love "horse poop" cookies!"

"We are playing horsey on Papa's back."  

"This flower is one of my favorite colors. "

"I love the color yellow!"

"I love to visit and pet Brutus." 

"This is where we play sometimes."

"These are the clouds."

"I am saying hi to the bunny."  

"I am watching the concrete mixer."  

"I think this flower looks like a jellyfish!  I love jellyfish!"

"We think the bamboo sounds like the BEACH!" 

"I am scooping up sugar fruit.  Yummy!"

"We helped Papa pick out the weeds."

"This is Papa, Pennie, John and Solomon.  John is our friend who works in our yard."  


"Friday is Pizza Movie Night!"  

"We watched Mr. Rogers!  He showed us going to the dentist."

"We eat popcorn in the dark."