Tuesday, April 18, 2023

Your Lasting Impact

We are in our last week of service at Kudjip Nazarene Hospital, and we remain deeply grateful to many of you who have given financially toward our missions work. With surplus funding for this trip we have kept our ear to the ground for opportunities to invest into people or programs supporting the ongoing work of ministry in PNG. Today we came face to face with the perfect vessel for Kingdom investment - namely in the person of Elias Gaijamb.

The Highlands of Middle Ramu

Elias is a young man from the highlands of Middle Ramu attending seminary at the Tuman campus of MNBC (Melanesian Nazarene Bible College), which is just a few minutes drive from where we've been working at Kudjip. The Nazarene church has had a major influence in Middle Ramu, and it is now one of the strongest Districts in the Melanesian Region. There are no roads to this District, necessitating either an airplane ride or a few days hard hiking to get in or out. Elias grew up with both his parents in ministry, and has pursued Christ and a call to ministry from a young age. His District selected him and another student to attend Bible College, but then stopped providing funding for him after the first year or so. Being a responsible and diligent worker, Elias took on gardening and landscaping at the campus to help pay for his school fees, but he missed completing his degree last year because he didn't have enough funds. Now in his last year to earn a Bachelors of Ministry Degree, this information about Elias was passed along to us when we inquired about finding an opportunity to invest surplus funds. 

Tuman Bible College, est 1973

After clinic this afternoon we caught a ride with fellow missionary Aggie Muaror to Tuman where we met Elias and a few staff members at the beautiful Bible College campus. Elias shared his story, and expressed sincere gratitude for our partnering with him to complete Bible College this year. We shared contact info, snapped a few pictures and then prayed with Elias. 

When I asked Elias what his favorite Bible verse is, he quoted Luke 18:27, which says "Jesus replied, 'What is impossible with men is possible with God.'" Here in the mission field we have seen God repeatedly make impossible things possible, and to our great joy, it frequently manifests in the space of our obedience to love, serve, and invest into our PNG brothers and sisters. From your generosity in financial and prayer support we have once again enjoyed the privilege of serving in PNG, stepping into countless divine appointments, each with ripples of Kingdom impact affecting generations. We couldn't do this without you. 
Thank you!!!

Wednesday, April 12, 2023

Power in the Word

With only a couple weeks left on Station, I am eager to make the most of every moment. There are certainly practical measures I exercise every day to see good medical outcomes, like putting my Tok Pisin to the test to go past surface level history and invest extra time to find the real source of my patients' problems. And there are also disciplines in self-awareness to recognize when no amount of my language effort or medical knowledge is sufficient for a given case, so I waste no time in seeking out Dr Mark or Dr Ben for guidance. But beyond the practical steps to serve the insanely diverse medical needs here, I have increasingly enjoyed the regular application of scripture into my patient's Spiritual care. 

On a number of occasions before we left the US, I spent some quiet evenings cross-referencing my English NIV with my "Buk Baibel". This was done in part to exercise my reading comprehension of Tok Pisin, but also with the express purpose of bookmarking a number of my favorite Bible verses in the Buk Baibel for future reference. On past trips to PNG I had regularly prayed with patients, but did not have the verses in Tok Pisin to quickly reference. I wanted for this trip to have just the right verses readily available to share for a variety of scenarios.

Throughout our time on this trip, I have carried the tiny Buk Baibel in my medical shoulder bag and much to my joy it has made a frequent appearance in my day to day work. Without any preconceived plan, the Holy Spirit has led me to stop and take a moment to step out of my comfort zone (or my busy-with-medical-stuff zone), in order to apply the Light of Truth into the person in front of me. Rarely in the past have I felt the move of the Holy Spirit in the midst of serving the medical needs of a patient, but WOW do I ever feel the move now in cracking open the Word in native tongue! 

Let love and faithfulness never leave you; bind them around your neck, write them on the tablet of your heart. Then you will win favor and a good name in the sight of God and man. Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight. Do not be wise in your own eyes; fear the Lord and shun evil. This will bring health to your body and nourishment to your bones. Proverbs 3:3-8 

My early exercise of the Buk Baibel mostly occurred in the outpatient clinic, and interestingly I was most frequently drawn to invest the Word into middle aged men struggling with anxiety over their hypertension, heartburn, and muscle pains. The verses from Philippians 4:4-6, Proverbs 3:3-8, and Romans 5:1-5 all made regular appearances as I was led to admonish their worries and encourage their spirits to receive peace and hope. 

Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near. Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. Philippians 4:4-7

Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have gained access by faith into this grace in which we now stand. And we boast in the hope of the glory of God. Not only so, but we also glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. And hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us. Romans 5:1-5

In both clinic and the ER I have also had to give many diagnoses of terminal cancer (most commonly liver, breast, and uterine) for which I have invested scripture from Psalm 46:1-3, Romans 8:35-39, 2 Corinthians 4:16-18, and Act 20:24. I am so thankful to have fellow missionaries here to help me in confirming a terminal diagnosis and affirming there is nothing else that can be done. I am also thankful to have Chaplains on staff who I can hand these patients off to once I have explained their medical situation and prayed with them. The Chaplains, also being nationals, are able to connect with the patients on a deeper cultural level to ensure they understand the terminal nature of their diagnosis, and then invest further into their Spiritual health.

I consider my life worth nothing to me; my only aim is to finish the race and complete the task the Lord Jesus has given me—the task of testifying to the good news of God’s grace. Acts 20:24

Another regular appearance of my Buk Baibel has been on A Ward where I have given a devotional every Sunday morning following pediatric rounds. Initially I chose specific parables to read like "The Parable of the Sower" (Mark 4:3-9, & 14-20) and "A Tree and Its Fruit" (Luke 6:43-45), which I used to encourage the faith of the sick children's caregivers. I have always been amazed to see how clearly the PNG Highlands people, almost all subsistence farmers, understand and appreciate Jesus' farming parables. Equally relevant was the morning after we had a terrific 7+ earthquake overnight, when I shared Psalm 46:1-3 and Jeremiah 29:11 to address fear and encourage hope. 

God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble. Therefore we will not fear, though the earth give way and the mountains fall into the heart of the sea, though its waters roar and foam and the mountains quake with their surging. Psalm 46:1-3

Over this past Easter weekend, I went Saturday morning to round on the Peds ward and was greeted by the sound of a mother's heartcry for the death of her child. This baby with severe malnutrition had been admitted a couple days prior - a very similar presentation to the severely wasted baby "Setina Dominick" who I'd shared about dying in my last post. It is true here in PNG that there is an exaggeration to the mourning exhibited by the caregivers of a deceased loved one - an effort to demonstrate they had nothing to do with the death and that they are truly sorry. The culture demands a culprit for deaths wherever possible, so proper revenge and/or compensation can be made. But for me it is always heart wrenching to witness all the same. 

“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” Jeremiah 29:11

So having signed the death certificate with a heavy heart, I started rounds with another very sick toddler who had been worsening overnight. I had admitted this child a few days prior and there was discussion about whether the underlying disease was new-onset diabetes (very unlikely), versus some other metabolic derangement associated with her malnutrition (much more likely). Either way, she was knocking on death's door and here I was rushing the order of another battery of tests, hoping to find an effective treatment. Halfway through rounds, the crescendo wail of a mother's cry began and my heart sunk. I rushed to the bed to find the child without a heartbeat or respirations, staring lifelessly past us all, a clear fluid foaming out of her mouth. In the moment, I felt a little nauseous and wanted to escape the piercing cries. I mumbled the obvious diagnosis, gave my sorry, and knowing the family culturally needed space and time to cry, I went back to finishing rounds. Sitting down on the end of the next child's bed, I forced a feeble smile onto my face for another mother hoping her child might escape death. There were tears in her eyes - I wasn't the only one feeling gut punched by the death cries. 

Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal. 2 Corinthians 4:16-18

After finishing rounds, I have never been more eager in my life to escape into the Word and share in the balm of healing to be found there. With Buk Baibel in hand, I stood in middle of the ward and said something to the effect of "It is not easy for me to hear the mothers' cry. My heart breaks for their loss. I believe you too share their pain. When the hardship of life shatters our peace, I find that the Word of God is a refuge of His love and hope. I do not have a specific verse to share with you, so I will let the Spirit show me which passages to read, and we can share this refuge together." With the Easter miracle of Christ's death and resurrection in my heart, I read from John 11:25-26, Galatians 2:20, Romans 8:35-39, and Psalms 51:10-12 (can't recall in which order I read them). And then I prayed and the Holy Spirit spoke through me!! Every other time I have previously prayed in Tok Pisin there have been moments of struggle to find the right words to express my prayer - not this time. The words flowed through me, a space in time where the Spirit was ministering peace and purpose into my innermost being while bestowing a fiercely deep love upon those with ears to hear. What a blessing! 

Jesus said “I am the resurrection and the life. The one who believes in me will live, even though they die; and whoever lives by believing in me will never die. Do you believe this?” John 11:25-26

Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall trouble or hardship or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword? As it is written: "For your sake we face death all day long; we are considered as sheep to be slaughtered." No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord. Roman 8: 35-39

There is POWER in the Word of God, and I am here at Kudjip Nazarene Hospital in the Western Highlands of Papua New Guinea to be a conduit of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. His love sustains me. His Spirit leads me. His Name is worthy of our praise! AMEN

I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I now live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me. Galatians 2:20


Sunday, April 9, 2023

Easter Weekend at Kudjip 2023

A message from Rachel: 

He Is Risen!  Easter greetings from Papua New Guinea!
We pray that you all feel the LIGHT of Jesus this weekend as you reflect on His uncontainable, unconditional, and unshakeable Love for YOU!  "In Him is life, and that life is the light of all mankind.  The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not (and will not) overcome it." - John 1:4-5

We have had a busy Easter weekend here at Kudjip, and it was an honor to celebrate Christ's Resurrection alongside the Kingdom warriors (full-time missionaries) who serve here.  
Scroll down for a recap in pictures and video. 


Friday was a school holiday here, so we had lots of friends to play with. 

Ted was on-call Friday, but managed to do lots of fun things with the kiddos in-between trips to the ER:
1 - Homemade weaponry .... because we're Hendersons! 😆

2 - Early morning acrobatics 

3 - A visit to the gym with some giggly free-weights

4 - Solomon double-checking Dokta Ted's orders 

The kids made a fort inside the overgrown brush in our yard

Good Friday evening service at the tent!


- A quick walk to the rot bung (street market) to get some produce (no pics because it was SUPER busy & crowded)
- I spent a good chunk of the day rehearsing with the worship team and preparing a meal for a new missionary family that just arrived at Kudjip
- Ted, Pennie and Solomon had a wonderful walkabout and riverside adventure! (See pics below) 


- Sunrise service starting at 6AM
- Easter Basket Scavenger Hunt organized by Ted 
- Some special Easter time with our dear friends the Crouches 

Pre-Service Prayer Huddle

Loved worshipping with these folks!

My little music class did a GREAT job with their special song

Click HERE to see a short video of part of their performance!

Mission Trip Easter Baskets = whatever baskets we could find in the house, some candy treats we packed from the states, jelly beans wrapped in tinfoil packets (in place of plastic eggs) & bags of Twisties (PNG crunchy cheese doodles) 

Solomon enjoying a Peep (Thank you Dollar Tree for putting out Easter supplies in February!) 

Pennie unwrapping her tinfoil egg

LOVE these Crouch kiddos! 

This family is so precious to us! 
Love getting quality time with them.  

Salvation was bought not by Jesus’ fist, but by His nail-pierced hands; not by muscle but by love; not by vengeance but by forgiveness; not by force but by sacrifice. Jesus Christ our Lord surrendered in order that He might win; He destroyed His enemies by dying for them and conquered death by allowing death to conquer Him.” ― A.W. Tozer   

Tuesday, April 4, 2023

A Silent Emergency

Dear reader, greetings to you from Papua New Guinea on this Holy Week before Easter. We are half way through our time here at Kudjip Station and the Lord continues to fill our cup to overflowing every day with enriching experiences and relational opportunities. Among many challenges we face every day, there are those in which we find success (praise God!), those in which we fail to see fruit born but know the Lord is yet at work, and others lingering between the two extremes in which we desire to see impact for the Kingdom but do not yet know how to play a part. For my time working on the Pediatric Ward, the frequent admissions for severe malnutrition and consequential disease and death continues to spur my desire to help find a solution. 

Baby Setina Dominick admitted last week with marasmus (severe malnutrition)
being measured on the length board I made in 2015 when we lived at Kudjip for one year.
She died on the Pediatric Ward early this morning.

Malnutrition and growth stunting is so common here in PNG that it is almost normalized, and therefore marginalized, hence the reason it is a "silent emergency". The reality is that PNG is one of the most verdant and resource-rich countries in the world, but the vast majority of the population are subsistence farmers with limited opportunity for community development due to governmental corruption and their own dysfunctional tribal systems. This leaves a handful of very well connected nationals wealthy and healthy, while the rest of the population struggles to carve out their survival from the land. Furthermore, any interruptions in cash crop sales (coffee, cocoa, coconut, etc) from drought or tribal fights reduces access to protein food purchases (eggs, peanuts, canned tuna, etc).

Stuck in this extreme poverty, most PNG families have many children. The upside of more children is a stronger labor force for the family's subsistence farming, but it also means more mouths to feed. With an abundance of garden crops, older children have plenty to eat, but when children are born too close together, the older infant weaned from breastmilk is left to survive on starches and greens devoid of protein, and they become severely malnourished and susceptible to every disease. This same lack of breastmilk protein affects many young infants abandoned to relatives due to the mother re-marrying or dying of diseases like HIV. Most adoptive caregivers can’t afford expensive formula and instead use fake milk products widely sold in local stores (Milo, Indomilk, etc), none of which supply the protein nutrition needed to grow and survive. The first 1000 days of life for a child makes or breaks their health and growth for a lifetime.

Baby Andy Boi, admitted a month ago with kwashiorkor (another form of severe malnutrition), developed a very bad infection and DIC (causing the bruising you see on his abdomen). With just the right meds, supplemental nutrition, and prayer, he is well on his way to being healthy again and was discharged from the Peds ward this morning. 

I recognize most of you reading this have not witnessed the harsh realities of the developing world, so to bring this all into perspective here are the sobering statistics:

Papua New Guinea:

  • 1 of 13 children under age 5 die of malnutrition complications (~33% of all hospital deaths)
  • 50% of children stunted (4th highest in the World)
  • 24% underweight
  • 14% Moderate-Severe Wasting (SAM)
  • Generational cycle of poor growth/learning and low income potential

Worldwide (mostly from South Asia & sub-Saharan Africa):

  • 47 million children under age 5 with Moderate-Severe Wasting
  • 149 million children under 5 with Stunting
  • Malnutrition accounts for 45% of Deaths under age 5 (1/3 of the total 6.3 million annual deaths for children under 5 years old)
  • 1 in 3 children worldwide affected by malnutrition

On Sunday, I helped give a medical Tok Save to the community after we attended a local "bush church". We discussed the recent case of Measles in PNG, healthy nutrition for the children, preventing the spread of germs, and how spacing pregnancies can prevent malnutrition.

With most of the factors contributing to pediatric malnutrition well out of our control here in PNG, I have started having conversations with hospital leaders about what changes we can make now to make a difference. Some of these include:

  • Reducing exposure of admitted malnourished children to other sick children on the ward by moving them all to one end of the ward and creating a barrier to separate them (in future perhaps building a separate malnutrition ward)
  • Improving caregiver education while they are admitted on the ward - scheduled "Tok Save" sessions with maybe some new picture charts for easy understanding of healthy milk/foods, what junk foods/milks to avoid, and simple measures like boiling water to reduce disease
  • Augmenting the hand-off of discharged children to the primary health clinic, to ensure optimal follow-up and ongoing supply of "RUTF" (Ready-to-Use Therapeutic Food, complete nutrition peanut butter packets)

In addition to these, I plan to facilitate in the next couple weeks an in-service for hospital staff to review our protocol for the admission and care of malnourished children, while also taking the opportunity to rally their interest in making a difference in our communities by spreading the word on methods for preventing malnutrition. 

Meeting with leaders of the Pediatric Ward and outpatient Primary Care to discuss ideas for improving outcomes for our malnourished children. 

Please join us in praying for these endeavors - for the Lord to open doors to impact change in our care of malnourished kids, for the Kudjip hospital staff to become united in mission to educate the community, and for the leadership of Papua New Guinea - the governmental officials and policies which might some day meet the needs of their people.

+ + + + + + + + 


Therefore keep watch, because you do not know on what day your Lord will come. But understand this: If the owner of the house had known at what time of night the thief was coming, he would have kept watch and would not have let his house be broken into. So you also must be ready, because the Son of Man will come at an hour when you do not expect him.

Matthew 24:42-44

With the ER staff, sending love to our church family back home at WEAG. Thank you all for your encouragement, prayer warrior power, and financial support!

Thursday, March 30, 2023

Being Present and Being Helpful

A message from Rachel: 

In case you've been wondering, below is what the kids and I have been up to during our first few weeks at Kudjip.  While Ted is serving at the hospital each day, a good chunk of my time is spent doing homeschool and daily domestic necessities.  Outside of that, I strive to be an encouragement to the full-time heroes here by being present and willing to help however I can... that's my calling as a missionary mom!

Here are some of the things we are doing:

- Jumped back into our morning homeschool routine 

- Meet Ted every Sunday morning on the Pediatric Ward where he leads a short devotional for the patients and their families, then we all attend the local church together

-  Play outside A LOT with missionary and Papua New Guinean friends

- Love on some of the full-time missionary families by hosting them for meals

- Teach Music at the Elementary School - we are working on learning a song to sing as a special at the Easter Lotu (Church Service) ... we also do some dancing

- Teach Art at the Elementary School - I am not a "crafty" person at all, so this is a bit of a stretch for me - our first project was a paper palm craft for Palm Sunday

- Provide childcare a couple days a week for two rockstar missionary mommas who are filling in as full-time teachers at the school

Thank you for your prayers for ALL of us as we serve here in PNG!  

Pennie doing schoolwork

On a walkabout with our friend John

Teaching the kids how to play "War" on a rainy evening

The MK's showing off their Paper Palms

Solomon doing school work

Walking half of my music class to school across station 

Popsicles on the porch!

Crosses made from Palm Leaves in Sunday School

Solomon's favorite snack... suga prut 

Ted leading a devotional on the Pediatric Ward


Solomon & Pennie on the bridge Ted built the last time we were here

Shelling garden peanuts Ted received as a gift

On the playground

In the backyard

Rain rolling in over the mountains

Solomon WAY up in a tree