Sunday, July 26, 2015

Cheerful Giving

Praise GOD! ...and here's why:

Many years ago after finishing my first year of medical school, Rachel and I became friends with a very special young lady named Maggie Landgrebe - also a medical student, also serving the Lord through medical missions.

We have remained in touch with Maggie over the years, and like many of you, Dr. Maggie Landgrebe joined us this year in Papua New Guinea by helping us raise financial support to come and serve. In addition, she also purchased some medical equipment which was (literally) shipped here via Dr. Todd Winters' ministry, the Nazarene Hospital Foundation (sends shipping containers to Kudjip full of donated US medical supplies.)

Dr. Maggie has faithfully followed our Blog through the year, and as we are getting ready to return home, she has generously sent a final monetary gift, which will be distributed among the following Kudjip ministries which she has read/heard about...

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I have had the pleasure of spending most morning hours this year on "A Ward", our Pediatric Ward. I have cared for many hundreds of sick children, shared smiles and stickers with them, and given countless talks to their parents on how to best care for them at home. But my influence and ministry, though thoroughly enjoyable, has been only a fraction of what these kids and families receive on A Ward. The real heroes are our nursing staff, who spend endless time tending to the patients' needs, leading them in daily devotional times, singing songs, and providing education about preventing common diseases. I have occasionally had the pleasure of wandering onto the Ward during these devotional times, only to stand aside and bask in the heavenly sound of voices joined in worship, and feel my heart filled by scripture reading. To know our sick kids and their parents, who are suffering so much, are receiving Jesus trough our nursing staff has given me great hope throughout this year for the ministry impact of Kudjip Hospital.

Dr. Maggie's donation for A Ward will serve to supply picture flip boards (among other items) for the nurses to educate parents regarding prevention of our three most common, and often deadly illnesses - malnutrition, respiratory diseases, and infectious diarrhea. Sister Christina, A Ward Nursing Supervisor, also envisions using the funds to supply poorer families with food and clothing.

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Many of you have read former Posts about all the times I have enjoyed praying with patients, both on the Wards and in Clinic. Similar to my above A Ward impact, my usually brief evangelism into the lives of these patients goes only as deep as the Lord will water and grow the seeds I have planted. For this reason, I rejoice that I have not been alone in evangelism, as almost every patient I have prayed with has then connected with one of our Hospital Chaplains for further prayer and referral to pastors in their area. More recently, the Chaplains have taken this even further by making expeditions into the community to individually follow up with patients who made a commitment to Christ during their hospital visit. 

Chaplain John has been a close friend and supporter of mine during our year at Kudjip, and I praise God that Maggie's contribution to the Hospital Evangelism Fund will enable him to reach into the lives of even more patients. 

John and I posing with Rhonda's baby - Teddy
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Malnutrition is a very real and profoundly debilitating problem for many Papua New Guineans. Infants weaned too early from breast milk will quickly develop protein malnutrition as their diet consists entirely of garden foods and the occasional cracker pack. For surgical patients who desperately need protein to recover from their wounds, sweet potato just doesn't cut it when protein foods are too expensive for most families to afford.

The hospital has developed a program entitled "Protein for Patients" to meet the needs of our most deprived patients, and with Maggie's donation, hundreds of patients will receive free protein supplementation during their hospital admission. God IS good!

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Another debilitating condition in PNG is HIV, affecting at least 2-5% of our Kudjip population, which sadly remains a stigma within the culture. So many are affected, but so few are diagnosed and effectively treated simply because they don't WANT to know, or believe, they have it. But we do diagnose HIV every day at Kudjip, and every patient requires a substantial investment of counseling to ensure they 1) understand the disease, 2) take their HIV meds, and 3) find new hope in Christ.

Dr. Mark Crouch, a dear friend here on Station, has partnered with the White House staff in developing better modalities for caring for our HIV patients. Mark recently shared a new development within the Nazarene Church, that a young Pastor will be joining the staff to support the Spiritual needs of our known HIV patients. Praise God! One of the tools Dr. Maggie's investment will purchase is "Evangicubes", which like a Rubix Cube, unfold to educate and counsel patients with HIV. In addition, Mark expects donated funds will help purchase an infant scale for the White House, and fuel for community outreach. Please pray for Mark and this young Pastor, John, in their ongoing ministry to the HIV community. 

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Last, but far from least, funds will be directed to CBHC - the Nazarene Health Ministry's "Community Based Health Care" program. Matthew Galman is a good friend and tremendous example of God's Love for the underserved. Through servants like Matthew, CBHC builds individual community health programs in the deep bush within the context of Jesus Christ. Click the above link to learn more.

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Rachel and I recently served to purchase and deliver food and financial donations to a local Orphanage for children affected by HIV. (Read More HERE - bottom of Post). YOU, our supporters, who have sent us here, and more than provided for all our needs this past year - will be supporting this Orphanage one more time. The Westpac bank account from which we have drawn finances for groceries/etc, will be emptied this week, and hundreds of "leftover" dollars will go directly to support the needs of those Orphanage kids. (FYI - Thousands of your donated USD yet remain in our Samaritan's Purse account for future missions trips!) Thank you!!!

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When Maggie first connected with me to ask how she could support the ministry here at Kudjip, she reiterated a Biblical Truth which Rachel and I have held to for many years:

Our money is not our own.

The Kingdom of God is near, and for His children, all we have, all we are and all we can become, are HIS, for His purposes. If while reading this Post, you have thought "What a great ministry!", I would like to ask you to prayerfully consider giving financially towards the ministries of Kudjip Hospital. Dr. Scott Dooley, hospital administrator, oversees an online donation account (CLICK HERE), and will be sure your offering is multiplied for the Kingdom.

"Remember this
Whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, 
and whoever sows generously will also reap generously. 
Each man should give what he has decided in his heart to give, not reluctantly or under compulsion, 
for God loves a cheerful giver."
(2nd Corinthians 9:6-7)

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

One last hiking adventure...

We have had the pleasure of going on some adventurous and visually stunning hikes while living here in Papua New Guinea.
Teddy and I were glad to have one last hike with our friends the Zimmerman's and the Daff's before we leave the country... we also brought along a visiting PA Student, Kait, and the newest missionary to Kudjip, Sheena.    
This last adventure did not disappoint!  We all piled into the cruiser and drove about 30 minutes into the bush, where we parked the car at a school and set off on our hike.  The hike began out on a hillside and in the sunshine, but then descended down to a creek bed that we walked along/in.  Our final destination was a magnificent waterfall!  We scrambled to the top to swim in a natural pool, and had a lovely picnic lunch.  
As always, it was a wonderful time with friends and a great opportunity to marvel at God's beautiful creation.  

Setting off on our adventure

Beautiful views!

Anastasia enjoys getting a ride

Into the Creek!

Zimmerman's - Best hike hosts ever!!

Solomon getting his feet wet
Lots of rock-hopping!

Feels like a river we know in VA!

Bush Knife graffiti!

The Waterfall!!

Sheena - the new dentist at Kudjip!

Teddy coaching Solomon on a jump

Solomon jumping all on his own!

Selfie with Annie at the pool half-way up the falls
Waterfall play

Sebastian jumping in!

The locals being entertained by our shenanigans! 

Locals playing cards on the side of the waterfall!

Tabitha being a usual!

Rebecca & Sheena

Brandon introducing Tabitha to the waterfall..she LOVED it!

Warming up by a fire

The lovely Daff Family

Gonna miss this!

The whole hiking crew!

Monday, July 13, 2015

Savoring Every Moment

Well hi there Blogaholics. Rachel and I have safely returned from a few days of vacation in Madang, on the Northern coast of PNG. A big thank you to our mothers (Anne and Florence) for sponsoring this little 10-year anniversary getaway. We went with our Kudjip besties, Mark and Esther Crouch, and their three adorable kiddos, Anna, Levi, and Lucy. The weather and snorkeling were excellent, and we enjoyed canoeing to a little island off the coast for beach recreation and adventure. What a blessing!



Returning to work today brought me back to the reality of third world medical missions, a surprisingly emotional reality heightened in the knowledge that we only have a few weeks left here at Kudjip. I didn’t think about it much during our week of vaca, but I really missed seeing and serving the variety of physical and spiritual needs at the hospital. I know God has plans for our time Stateside, and we’re praying for Him to reveal just the right job for me…but with the taste of Kudjip-withdrawal in my heart, I’ll be savoring every moment we have left. What follows are snapshots of a few of my patients today – so you too can savor our remaining time here!

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TRACY is a beautiful 10 year old girl who has been with us on the Peds Ward for the last few weeks. When she was 3 years old, her brother accidentally shot her with a pistol, which he thought was a toy. The bullet severed her spinal cord, and she has been paralyzed ever since. She can’t sit up straight, or move her legs, and she doesn’t have control over her bladder/bowels. At home, she was allowed to sit for too long, likely on soaked bedding, which caused a number of severe bed sores to develop. She is here at Kudjip for wound care, prevention of infection, and family education. Please pray for TRACY’s recovery, and that she would come to know Jesus as her Lord, Savior, and Healer.

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MATHLINA was admitted to the Peds Ward today by Dr Bill for Kwashiorkor, a severe protein-deficient malnutrition, which causes anasarca (generalized edema/swelling) and skin sloughing. Protein malnutrition is the leading cause of death worldwide in children less than 5, and we see every form here at Kudjip. MATHLINA will be with us for at least a couple of weeks, having protein reintroduced to his diet and giving the family education regarding proper nutrition. Please pray for his recovery, both physical and spiritual.

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WAPI is 5 years old, and has been sick for the last 2-3 weeks with fever, cough, joint aches, and dehydration. After her chest X-ray revealed an enlarged heart, she was admitted with a possible diagnosis of Rheumatic Heart Disease. WAPI hasn’t gotten any better on antibiotics and steroids, and her repeat chest film today showed worsening fluid in her lungs and still a large heart. Ultrasound of her heart revealed a large pericardial effusion with fibrin stranding, which here in PNG almost always means Tuberculosis. Please pray the TB medications work to cure WAPI’s illness.

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After returning WAPI to A Ward, I was flagged down by a young man carrying a cardboard box, offering to sell me its contents. Intrigued, I had a closer look through a small hole, only to nearly have my eye pecked out by the iconic Greater Bird of Paradise. After a little convincing (he wanted money just to open the box), the kind gentleman agreed to take the bird out for a picture. Lovely!

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JOHN came to me in clinic today with a very familiar story – reduced appetite with weight loss, abdominal distension, and a history of Hepatitis B. I didn’t feel a large lumpy liver on exam, but his ultrasound showed mild ascites (free abdo fluid) and evident Hepatocellular Carcinoma in the middle lobe of his liver. HCC is a common finding here in PNG (I’ve seen at least 15 cases in the past year), and without effective surgical/chemo options, we call it terminal and just provide supportive/palliative care. As usual following my diagnosis explanation, I inquired after JOHN’s Spiritual Health, encouraging him to turn his terminal diagnosis into a testimony for other’s to also turn to Christ. We prayed and I hung a small wooden cross around his neck – a symbol of Faith and Hope, where he can turn at any moment to exchange a heavy heart for the Peace of Christ which transcends beyond our understanding. (Philippians 4:4-7)

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KUMUL is 10 years old, but looks no more than 5, and like he just came from a concentration camp. His wasted frame caught my attention as they sat in the hallway waiting to be seen. Apparently he suffered from TB meningitis when he was 5 years old, and hasn't been the same since. He doesn't talk, can't bear his own weight, and drools all the time. His mother gave up trying to force feed him, and has wasted away ever since. Please pray KUMUL's family is able to rally in supplying him the nutrition he needs.

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BETTY, a mother of 4, told me today that she has experienced excessive vaginal bleeding for the last 6 weeks, and I found a melon-sized mass where her uterus should be. On ultrasound, I found her uterus filled with the classic “snowstorm” appearance of a Molar pregnancy. I admitted BETTY for bloodwork in preparation for a D&C tomorrow (minor procedure for cleaning out of the uterus) – please pray for no complications (these are known for heavy bleeding with a D&C), and that BETTY grows closer to our Lord through this experience.

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Last, but not least, MCKAYLA reviewed with me for follow up (her story HERE - what a difference!), and I’m very pleased to report that her NG tube feeds are working quite well…she is now a “tripela pikinini”, which means she is nice and fat! :-) Her parents are ever-eager to trial oral feeding, but I’m not convinced her swallowing coordination is up to the task. Please pray for her parents to have patience and use caution with trialing some thickened formula feeds, and pray for MCKAYLA’s continued strengthening – body, mind, and Spirit.