Thursday, August 6, 2015

Lukim Yu Bihain!

Dear Supporters,

This magnificent season of service at Kudjip Nazarene Hospital has come to a close. I have experienced a tremendous mix of feelings these past couple of weeks; a looming urgency tugging me to make every moment and word count, an orderly mind making lists for our return to the States, an excitement to see family again, and a growing sadness to leave our PNG family behind. As with most departing missionaries, Kudjip Station has a few traditions to see them off – the last few meals supplied by invitation to dine with other missionaries, a “circle time” of farewell prayer on the morning of departure, and a final lift to the Mt Hagen airport. We had all this and much, much more.

The week before leaving, our Station mentors, Susan and Jeff Meyers, hosted a goodbye party for us. We played volleyball, roasted hot dogs, and our Missions family gathered around us in prayer of thanksgiving, and for our future safety, blessing, and direction.

Our final meeting with the group of CON students we have been hosting was a blast. We set up the volleyball net near the house, played until it was too dark to continue, and set about devouring some delicious BBQ chicken Rachel has prepared. I shared a few last words of thanks and council, and the student leaders gave short speeches (very traditional here in PNG) of thanks for our hospitality and friendship. We were then laden down with at least a half-dozen beautiful bilums.

As I found myself visiting with groups of staff around the hospital, sharing our farewell feelings and a great deal of hand-holding (which took some time to get used to, but now I’ll miss), I asked them to pose with me for pictures. In addition, a few of my old patients came back to wish farewell.

D Ward (Labor and Delivery) – I will miss these ladies…just not so much the Labor calls at 3am

Outpatient Clinic Staff – “Wanpela cam!”

Emergency Room (only a few of many excellent ER staff)

X-ray Team – love and thanks to Pam for her devoted service, and true friendship

Kudjip Surgery Team“keepin it simple”

LEFT: Our newest Team - Dentist Sheena + assitant Monica
RIGHT: Dispensary – sweetest drug dealers on the planet!

Chaplain John and Rev. Andrew – Lights of Christ amid the dark night of PNG culture

My first namesake “Teddy” John, hamming it up for the camera, and his mother, Carol, brought a bilum for Rachel (who we interrupted from packing to come receive it).

Second namesake "Teddy" Diri (throwing out his first fist-bump) with mother Rhonda, who continues to fight a worsening metastatic cancer (please continue to pray for her!)

Remember little Mathlina? She was the severely protein-malnourished child admitted to A Ward. The before-and-after pictures say it all!

McKayla and her parents, who loaded me with four more bilums and a lovely card written from McKayla’s perspective, sharing her undying thanks, and hopeful prayers for my return.

The last day I worked in the hospital started with a surprise farewell party on A Ward. Organized by Dr. Susan and Sister Christina, the place was decorated with balloons (a personal thank you note on each one), cookies were handed out to all the staff/patients/parents, and they presented me with a beautiful PNG knit cap and bilum. I made a small thank you speech, and fully adorned in PNG colors, set about seeing patients. Dr. Andy, who will be taking over my position on A Ward, was on hand after rounds to receive a verbal sign-out about each patient.

One last doubles tennis match! Thanks Monte, Ben, and Caleb!

Excellent last time playing pick-up soccer with these CON students and Mark Crouch. Afterwards, I gave away my cleats to Shikaina, and my sneakers to a kid named Billy, who I thought played brilliantly.

A wonderful short term volunteer family, the Horne's, have been on Station for the last 6 weeks, and depart the same day we do…but at a different time Sunday AM. To save the Station family from two separate circle times interfering with their church plans, we arranged a joint circle time for late Saturday afternoon in conjunction with a “Hobo Dinner”. Everyone brought their leftovers in tinfoil to be heated up in the coals, folks played cornhole, kids ran around playing tag, and ended it all with a big circle embrace for popcorn prayer and a family photo. What an amazing group of people!!!

As our final days ebbed away, I’d started to describe everything in terms of “lasts” – last Call, last chop chop repair, last hike, last soccer scrimmage, last clinic day, last prayer meeting, last hang-out with our CON group, last, last, last…for this trip. Truth is, I don’t think God is done with us here in PNG, and so all these lasts, are really just a last – for now.

Many many Kudjp staff have shared sentiments of sadness for our departure, gratefulness for our time served here, and a hope we will be coming again soon. What I found myself telling everyone was, God has planted PNG in my heart, and I will be praying He brings us back again – I just know when and for how long that might be. As children of an eternal God, I encouraged everyone to change their “Goodby’s” to “Lukim Yu Bihain!”, which means “See you later!”. Whether here in PNG on our return trip, or in Heaven, we’ll be reunited with our Highland family again in God’s perfect timing.

...oh how we'll miss this!

Saturday, August 1, 2015

Teaching Future Teachers...

These last few weeks in PNG have been such a blessing!  I have had the honor and privilege of lecturing at the Melanesia Nazarene Teacher’s College (MNTC), which is located 20 minutes away from Kudjip, towards Mt. Hagen.  Those of you who know me well understand how passionate I am about Special Needs kiddos.  It was a real joy to be able to talk to the future teachers of PNG all about Inclusive Education, more specifically, Learning Disabilities.
On my first visit to MNTC, I met with Miss Alice Yenas, the Inclusive Education Instructor.  We spent some time going over her syllabus and determining which classes I could assist with.  I was able to observe Alice teaching a large class of second-year students and was impressed with her knowledge and similar passion for Inclusive Education. 
Discussing the syllabus with Alice
God works in wonderful ways… His timing was perfectly arranged in my visits to MNTC.  Alice was called away to Port Moresby for a workshop/seminar, but did not have to worry about finding coverage for her classes.  I was able to cover all of her classes during her absence and really enjoyed working with the Second Year Teacher’s College students. 
Selfie with my 2nd Year Teaching College Students - 83 Total!
With Alice & several students after class one day...
All of my lectures were based on the topic of Learning Disabilities.  I spoke with the students about: the major types of learning disabilities, possible causes of learning disabilities, academic behaviors seen in children with learning disabilities, the identification and assessment process for special needs children, and classroom interventions and modifications that can be made to accommodate children with special needs.  I really focused on this last point a lot.  Here in PNG, the school is not required to provide services in the same way that we do in America, so it will be up to the classroom teachers to notice that a student has a learning difficulty and adjust their curriculum to suit the needs of that child. 
During my last day of lecturing, I had the students break up into groups and complete an activity where they had to come up with four different ways to adapt an assignment for a student with a reading and writing learning disability.  It was slow going at first, but once they understood that they were acting as the teacher and not the student, they got it!  : )  Each group then presented their strategies to the class and shared their ideas.  My hope is that in a year from now, when they are teaching in their own classrooms, they will remember the strategies we discussed and implement them at their schools.

Working in their groups to create modifications/accommodations:

I ended each class with a quote about education…here are two of my favorites!

Future teachers of PNG!