Saturday, December 26, 2009
This morning we took things kind of slowly. After coffee, I went to the hospital for brief rounds, then returned for a breakfast of fruit, eggs and pastry. Really. That's what it was. After dinner last evening, none of us felt like eating the light fruit/egg/pastry treat that Judy and Alanna had prepared, so we saved it for breakfast this morning.
After breakfast, we opened our gifts together. There's new music on the stereo, and new toys to be played with! There are beautiful hand-made items to beautify our home and our hearts. We relaxed, enjoyed our gifts and each others' company. And drank coffee. Lots of good coffee. Well, Alanna drank tea. We didn't adopt her early enough in life to teach her to drink coffee properly! He parents failed in this.
In the afternoon we went to the McCoys for another dinner, this time Mexican; enchiladas and tacos. Marsha makes the best salsa, with garden-fresh cilantro. Dessert was brownies with the choice of vanilla or candy-cane ice cream (I had both) and home-made hot fudge. (For those of you on Facebook, see Steph Doenges' recent posts about the candy-cane ice cream.) This was followed by a lively game of charades, which our team dominated, despite the dirty tricks of the other guys.
1. About to head to the hospital for Christmas morning rounds
2. Back home eating fruit, eggs and pastry for breakfast
3. Bill and Marsha, good friends and gracious hosts. Marsha is a marvelous cook, and Bill is a master gardener. Between what Bill grows and the way Marsha cooks it, there's always great food at their house. They are both great story tellers, which keeps things lively.
Friday, December 25, 2009
In the evening, we had our main family Christmas dinner. Guests were Olivia, Germaine Toh (also a medical student), Dr. Becky Wallace, and of course, Alanna Watton, who is staying with us. Yes, it was me and five beautiful women. We had a great time together, sharing a great meal and great fellowship. After dinner we were joined by Dr. Erin Meier for a showing of It's a Wonderful Life.
When you put a lot of photos on a blog without very much text, it gets kind of jumbled. Please forgive the lack of artistic layout!
1. Singing on the ward
2. Dr. Becky with a little friend
3. Judy shaking hands and giving out presents
4. Trumpets one last time for this season
5. Becky, Olivia, Germaine, Alanna, Judy
6. You figure it out!
7. Watching the movie
Thursday, December 24, 2009
An "old" tradition here at Kudjip (well, maybe going back 6 or 7 years) is a party on the eve of Christmas Eve, December 23. It's the idea of the Myers, who host it each year. This event features more treats than you can imagine, silly games, warm fellowship. Good fun.
1. Aden and Scot Riggins, Jim Radcliffe, Wayne and Pat Cummings (Susan Myers' parents).
2. Steph Donges, Grace, Anna and Rosie Kerr.
3. Olivia Huang and Olivia Toh, both from Singapore, and both medical students in Australia.
4. Wiley and Aden Riggins, Anna and Grace Kerr.
Monday, December 21, 2009
Wednesday, December 16, 2009
We are also involved in a training program for Papua New Guinean doctors that is very similar to a Family Practice residency in the US, but uniquely adapted to the needs of PNG. It's called a Master of Medicine (Rural Health). This program caters to people who have already displayed a willingness to practice in the under-served parts of PNG. Most of the training is occurs at the Christian hospitals. At the moment these people (called registrars) come here for surgical rotations. So far (we've had 3 of the registrars) they are excellent in skill, knowledge, attitude and commitment.
When doctors in PNG first graduate from their basic medical training, they serve for 2 years in what here is called residency. It is most similar to a rotating internship in the US, but lasts for 2 years. As part of their second year, they are required to do a 3-month rural "attachment" (we'd call it a rotation in the US). We have hosted several of these residents. Currently Dr. Penge Oko is with us, now about a month into his attachment. This is the last attachment of his residency, so when he is done here he will be registered to practice, and can apply for jobs at any of the rural hospitals in PNG. Doctors are required to work for two years in a rural area before they can apply to any of the Master of Medicine programs (specialty training).
One nice thing about Penge is that he's from the local area, so his first language is the first language of most of our patients. He doesn't need a translator even with the old folks who don't speak Pidgin. He's doing very well. He shows an openness about learning, and a willing to ask questions and ask for help that is making it fun to teach him.
In the photo Dr. Penge is treating a patient along with Dr. Susan Myers.
One problem was that the new CSRS didn't yet have a name. So Aden and Wiley came over and visited with him for a while. Aden asked about his name, and Judy explained that he didn't have one yet, and perhaps he could suggest a suitable one. He immediately suggested "Bob." So Bob it is. Bob, CSRS.
Bob is now fairly comfortable in the storeroom. He has learned to use the facilities properly, and is quite happy sleeping among dusty boxes. And the word is starting to spread in the rodent community that their days of unlimited free run of the storeroom are limited. It may be a few weeks until he's ready to take out the biggest ones, though.
After the visit we walked Aden and Wiley home, visited with their parents and brother Noah a little bit, and sang the Kudjip Station Birthday Medley to their mom, Jill.
In the photo Jill is with Erin Meier. You can read more about Aden, Wiley and their brother Noah here.
Monday, December 14, 2009
Sunday, December 13, 2009
I just got this from my sister, Cammi:
Actually, this came from her hand written cookbook and was the first recipe under "Cookies"... The covers of the book are wooden and it's tied together with a shoe lace... touching it and reading it makes me feel like I'm in her little kitchen with the wood stove and the old table with the oilcloth covering it. We'd bake the cookies with her. She was the baker and we were the helpers with aprons on, of course... I don't remember just what our jobs were, but I do remember cutting the cookies out with a tin can, cut out at both ends. She may have had a real cookie cutter, too. Round, of course. She didn't frost hers. Just sprinkled them generously with lots of sugar... there was always a dusting of flour left on the bottoms... just enough.
Saturday, December 12, 2009
Vena Duvall Bennett was physically a tiny lady, less than 5 feet tall, and I'd guess 90 pounds. She was raised by a somewhat unstable, stern, bipolar atheist. It would seem (from her own accounts of her childhood) that she had ADHD. She had a hard time in school because she couldn't sit still or keep quiet. One abusive school teacher beat her so regularly that at one point her older sister stepped in and physically defended her. This (the ADHD) explains a great deal about the family!
She was courted by a tall, lanky, funny, young man named Grover Bennett. He had an artistic bent, and became skilled at oil painting and photography. He had been raised, along with 4 brothers, in a single-parent home after his father died in a farming accident when he was a small child. They were nominally Christian, but not committed or active in church. After marriage, Grover and Vena moved to the state of Washington and staked a claim to the first of two homesteads near Colville, neither of which they were ever able to "prove up." Grover usually had to work elsewhere; the orchards of the Yakima valley, or the logging camps in the Cascades. She stayed back to care for the children that were starting to accumulate. My dad was number 4, born in one of those homestead cabins.
It was in one of the homesteads where she was surprised by a visit home by Grover. He walked in the door, and his first words were, "Ma, I got religion, and you should get it, too." She only hesitated a moment to make her decision, and replied, "alright." They knelt together on the dirt floor as she prayed a simple prayer giving her heart and life to Jesus. Her theology gained a little sophistication through the years, but her faith remained simple.
From the failed homesteads, she and Grover moved to a farm in Iowa, where more babies came along, 8 in total. Farming was tough, even with the free labor provided by a large family. At the height of the Great Depression they had to give up the farm. They joined the Dust Bowl exodus from the midwest, and moved to Yakima, Washington, where an able-bodied worker could earn the princely sum of $1 a day in the fruit orchards. Through the subsequent years, Vena followed Grover to a long series of jobs and businesses. None of these businesses were "successful" by the usual standards of success, but those of us who knew Vena and Grover, and who have known their children think they were very successful.
Neither Vena nor Grover had much formal schooling. I think Grover may have completed 6th grade; Vena completed 8th. But don't think that she was uneducated. She was a true life-long learner, reading, paying attention to sermons at church or on the radio, and usually taking careful notes. She kept binders that she filled with her notes, or with clippings from newspapers or magazines on a wide range of topics. Some of these were dedicated to humor. She'd save cartoons or jokes to later share with her grandchildren. Some were dedicated to recipes. Somewhere along the way, she wrote down her favorite sugar cookie recipe, the one she used when her grandchildren would come to her house. A testimony to her vocabulary and intelligence is that her last act in this life was to beat two of her daughters at Scrabble. She won the game, then laid back on her bed and died.
She and Grover inspired their children with a love of learning. The children went much further than their parents in terms of formal schooling. Most of their kids had at least some college. I think 4 finished. At least 3 had some graduate school, with 2 completing advanced degrees, one multiple degrees in multiple disciplines, including a doctorate. Most of the grandchildren went to college, and many went on to advanced degrees.
There wasn't a huge inheritance for her children, in terms of material things. Most of the children were surprised to learn that she still had a little savings which was divided among them. My parents used this money for the down payment on a little house that would later become their retirement home. Grandma had thought about every one of her children and grand children, and marked some keepsake for each one. For me it was one of Grandpa's paintings. For my sister it was a binder of recipes.
In the late 1970s my brother Gaymon commented to my sister Cammi that it was a shame that no one knew how to make the soft sugar cookies that they remembered Grandma making. She agreed that it was sad. Some time later, Cammi was thumbing through that old, worn binder with it's clippings and hand-written entries, when a scrap of paper fell out. When she looked at it she recognized Grandma's handwriting. At the top of the paper was the heading: "Sugar Cookies". With excitement and anticipation, she quickly went to the kitchen, and followed the instructions. What emerged from the oven a few minutes later evoked a flood memories; memories of standing on a stool at the counter next to Grandma, memories of joy and laughter, memories of knowing that she was loved.
At the family Christmas gift exchange that year, Gaymon opened his package from Cammi. On top was a decoupaged plaque of a recipe. Underneath were a couple dozen of the sweet, tender cookies that he remembered from childhood, round, sprinkled with sugar. Now every year in our homes, and in the homes of many of our cousins, we partake of the cookies, and of memories of our wonderful little Grandma B. Now you can, too.
1 c. sugar
1/2 c. butter
1/2 t. salt
1 t. vanilla
1/2 c. milk
3 c. flour
4 t. baking powder
Mix the egg, sugar and butter, then add the remaining ingredients. Roll out on a flowered board, and for truly authentic cookies, cut with the top of a drinking glass. Leave these cookies a little thicker than you would for more traditional cookies. Sprinkle the top of each cookie with a little sugar, and bake at 375 degrees for 10-12 minutes, or until just golden at the edges. They should be soft, not crisp. You can, of course, cut them into any shape you like, and top with colored sugars, sprinkles, icing or any combination that strikes your creative fancy. Eat them and think of a little lady who loved Jesus, loved her family and loved learning.
1. Grandma in the early '50s either about the time I was born, or when I was very small.
2. Grandpa with what I'm quite sure must have been his favorite grandchild.
Alanna Watton is an "old friend". I think she was 13 when we first knew her. Her family has served in Nigeria and Ghana as missionaries. We were in pre-field training with her parents way back in '02. She's been back in Canada for a couple of years now. She's been planning a big adventure trip for some time. She has already been in New Zealand for 2 months, she'll be with us for 3 months, and then in Australia for a couple more months. While here she is volunteering in a number of capacities.
The first photo shows Olivia, Germaine and Alanna, in order.
The second shows Olivia in peds ward with a patient named Sabbath, and one of our nursing students.
Friday, December 11, 2009
A couple of them visited Kudjip this past Sunday, and Judy and I met them. Judy found out that they were all musicians, hoping to find opportunities to minister through music. She realized what a great thing it would be for our patients if they would come and sing on the wards. So this morning she drove into Mount Hagen and picked them up, along with a young man from Ontaria, Canada who has been volunteering at MAF. They had lunch at out house, then went to the hospital and sang on each ward and in the waiting porch of OPD.
Late in the afternoon, but before they left we got word that there was some trouble along the road back to Hagen that made it unwise for them to go back today. So we got to have them again for supper. Then they came with us to missionary prayer meeting, and led us in some singing of worship choruses. Then it was back to our house for fellowship over cups of tea and coffee before they bedded down in one of the vacant houses. We had a great time with Les, Nathan, Sam, Jonathan and Aaron. They were a great blessing to the patients and families at the hospital, to Judy and me, and all the missionaries who were at prayer meeting.
There's an old saying, "Our disappointments are often God's appointments". Isn't it interesting that so often when our plans don't work out, that God has something else prepared for us? We're sure glad that God let them to Kudjip today.
1. Aaron, MAF volunteer from Ontario, Canada, Nathan, Sam, Alanna Watton (who is staying with us, and whom I'll tell you a lot more about soon), Jonathan, and Becky Wallace, in whose home the prayer meeting was held.
2. Les, the fourth member of the team from Adelaide.
Monday, December 7, 2009
Well, our maintenance guys just finished building a new sidewalk that links the sidewalks of the new hospital with those at the old. Now you can at least have a reasonably smooth gurney ride to get your pictures taken.
Sunday, December 6, 2009
Thursday, December 3, 2009
Riley: you'll be missed! Sorry about the confusion in Port Moresby. Hope it is all working out!
Tuesday, December 1, 2009
His interests are not primarily medical, but he did want to observe at the hospital one day before he left, so today he went with me to peds ward and to Outpatient.
He leaves tomorrow to go to New Zealand to continue his adventures. May God bless Riley as he finds new friends in new places, and as he continues to explore life.
Thursday, November 26, 2009
Many countries have Thanksgiving. In Canada it is the second Monday in October. In Papua New Guinea it is the last Sunday of June. But most of the missionaries here at Kudjip are Americans, who are used to celebrating the last Thursday of October. That would be today.
Some years we have a big station-wide dinner, with decorations, and an elaborate menu. The year the Hospitality Team had enough to do getting ready for Christmas, so they decided not to plan a big one. So it was up to each family to plan their own celebration. Jeff and Susan invited us along with Riley Klassen, a young man from Canada who is staying with us, to join them. Also invited were Harmon, Cindy and Quentin Schmelzenbach and Steph Doenges.
Today was a blessedly slow day in the Outpatient Department. We actually finished up by about 2:30, which allowed a leisurely afternoon, and preparation for the evening. I got to have a nice long workout, then get home to do Facebook, shower and get ready for dinner.
We had a great time around the table together. The "Turkey" may have had small drumbsticks, but there were a lot of them, and there was plenty to go around, along with stuffing, mashed potatoes, gravy, several vegetables, salads, fruit and dinner rolls. Dessert was a choice of pumpkin or pecan pie.
1. Riley Klassen, Jessica Myers, Ethan Myers, Quentin Schmelzenbach
2. Cindy Schmelzenbach, Harmon Schmelzenbach, Steph Doenges
3. Jeff Myers, Susan Myers, Judy Bennett, Andy Bennett
4. These guys are really serious about their dessert, aren't they?
Wednesday, November 25, 2009
An old reliable technique is the cute baby method. Everyone loves a cute baby, so it's a sure winner for a quick blog post. This is Noah. He likes me. He's also quite interested in my pulse oximeter (a cute little machine that tells me about oxygen in a patient's blood).
Saturday, November 21, 2009
Yesterday I got on the net to look for some educational material to use with the parents of my clubfoot patients. As some of you know, I have a special interest in treating children with this birth deformity. The method of treatment that I attempt to use, and which has become the "gold standard" of treatment for this was pioneered by Dr. Ignatio Ponseti. When I logged onto the web site of the Ponseti International Association, I saw the notice of his death about a month ago. There is a nice tribute there, as well as links to dozens of obituaries and tributes.
I have known of him for several years, and this past summer I was privileged to spend three days in the clinic that bears his name. I was worried that I wouldn't be able to meet "Papa Ponseti" (as he was known to the small group of his patients who were old enough to call him anything), as I had heard that he was no longer working. He had sustained a hip fracture a few months earlier, and at age 95, it was reasonable to assume that he would be staying close to home.
My first morning there, after about a half-hour of seeing patients with one of his younger colleagues, I came out into the hall, and there he was, a commanding presence, despite his slight build and the bit of stoop brought on by his 95 years, and a recent hip fracture. He was still coming to the clinic every day, although he no longer was directly treating patients. He watched the younger doctors, making occasional comments. Mostly he focused on the patients. The toddlers gravitated to him, standing at his knee, and exchanging stories and observations. They had no trouble understanding his weak voice and heavy Spanish accent.
I had a couple of brief conversations with him, and had my picture taken with him. Then on the second day, he left me a note, asking me to come by his office after his siesta in the afternoon. I hovered near his office, checking frequently to see if the "do not disturb sign" was still there. As soon as it was gone, I knocked. I spent the next hour and 15 minutes listening to his stories and answering his questions about myself, about PNG and about my work here. He gave me a treasure of gifts; teaching materials, practice models, and an autographed copy of his book.
Our conversation touched only briefly on spiritual things. He had felt deeply betrayed when the Catholic Church supported Franco in the Spanish Revolution. He served as a surgeon in the Loyalist Army, eventually evacuating 40 wounded soldiers by mule over the Pyrenees to France, where he continued to work for a time. His path led to Mexico, where he served as a country doctor for 2 years before seeking orthopedic training at the University of Iowa, where he stayed on as a member of the teaching faculty.
Through most of Dr. Ponseti's life, the medical world believed that the only treatment for clubfoot (also known as congenital talipes equinovarus, or just "talipes") was surgery. Dr. P noticed that most patients who had surgery for this problem ended up with stiff, painful, poorly-functioning feet. Through careful study of the biomechanics of the foot, he came to realize that gentle manipulation could correct the problem in nearly 100% of cases. Patients treated this way usually have pain-free, functional feet for the rest of their lives.
In 1948, when he was 34 years old, Dr. Ponseti had the insight that led to the development of his method of treatment. In 1963, when he was 49 years old, he published the definitive paper on the non-surgical treatment of talipes. He retired in 1984 at the age of 70, with very few people recognizing the value of his work. Only the orthopedic surgeons at the University of Iowa, and the ones that they had trained used his method. In 1986 he came out of retirement to work part-time, mostly treating clubfoot.
Then in the early 1990s when he was about 80, two key events changed his life. First, two younger colleagues published a long-term follow-up study of his patients, documenting conclusively the superiority of his method over surgery. Second, the internet happened, and parents seeking alternatives to surgery for their children started learning about The Ponseti Method, and started flocking to Iowa city, where their babies were lovingly and gently treated by this genius. Soon doctors started flocking after them to learn the method. Dr. P's younger colleagues have traveled the world, teaching it to thousands of doctors in dozens of countries.
From about 1994 until he sustained his hip fracture in January of 2009, Dr. Ponseti worked 3 mornings per week, treating children from all over the world in the clinic that is now called "The Ponseti Clubfood Clinic". He treated more patients in most weeks than he had treated per year early in his career.
My interest in the Ponseti Method grew out of necessity, seeing patients here in PNG who had talipes. I learned from books, and from the internet. A couple of years ago I contacted Dr. P by email to ask a couple of questions. I received a very quick and helpful response. Later he invited me to come to Iowa City, and spend time with him in the clinic. After his hip fracture, his work load was assumed by Dr. Jose Morcuende (also a Spaniard, incidentally), who graciously extended the same invitation to me.
I know that the details of Dr. Ponseti's life might not be interesting to everyone, but I just wanted to tell my friends about this great man who has had a great impact on my life and work. He epitomizes many of my cherished values; overcoming adversity, serving others. And, the fact that he did his greatest work in the last 10 years of his long life is a great encouragement to me.
The first picture is a stock photo from the University of Iowa obtained from the web, but it shows Dr. P very much as he was when I visited with him in his office, right down to the book case behind him, and the skeletal model in his hand.
The second is of me with Dr. P and Dr. Morcuende.
The third is one that I took of Dr. P and a little girl that he had treated some years earlier who was in for a recheck.
Tuesday, November 17, 2009
Elsie has a pretty painful burn, but she somehow manages to entertain little Sabath. I don't know how long Sabath will remember Elsie, but for now, her hospital stay is a lot nicer because of an unselfish girl.
Monday, November 16, 2009
I was on call yesterday. In the morning I did my first cesarean section in the new OR. My camera had dead batteries, or I'd have a couple of photos for you.
Let me tell you that the new facilities are great! Yeah, we have found a few glitches, and I'll probably share a few from time to time, but it's really, really nice. When I have occasion to go back into the old OPD, I just marvel at how run-down it was.
But I haven't been taking a lot of photos around the hospital the last couple days. But here's one of Bill McCoy seeing what was technically the first patient to be seen in the new ER. He is the son of a staff member who had gastroenteritis. He was admitted (making him the first new admission to the new wards) and recovered just fine.
Saturday, November 14, 2009
It's a bit of a long story, but to make it short, a family felt led of the Lord to turn part of their land into a prayer retreat, a place where people can go for some quiet time with the Lord.
We drove through the town of Minj (for those of you who know your way around these parts) and then up to Tsigmil, turned south (I think) and drove for another 20 minutes, parked and walked for about a half-hour.
We heard someone singing in the distance. I had not expected a formal welcome. I thought that we'd just walk to the place, look around, maybe rest for a little while, then walk back. But as we came around a curve in the path along a small river, we found a group of people singing a welcome song. There were about 20-- they had formed a double line for us to walk through. We were met by the "Papa Graun" (literally the father of the land--just means the senior member of the family that owns the land) who escorted us up a beautiful path.
They had transplanted flowering plants, including several varieties of orchid, and some soft fluffy moss to decorate the path. There were signs naming the several small streams that converged here after names of rivers from the Old Testament. They had added a collection of seashells from the coast, and a couple of rocks that they thought were fossils (which I don't think are).
The path leads to the site where one of their houses once stood until it was burned by enemies during tribal fighting several years ago. At that time they felt that God was directing then not to rebuild on that site, but turn it into a place of prayer. We sat around and sang songs, then Pastor Bill, one of the sons of the family shared a brief devotional, and we had a short time of prayer.
This was honestly the best time of worship I have had in weeks. I believe that worship is something between the individual and God, that no pastor or "worship leader" can make you worship, or keep you from it, for that matter. When music is not to your liking, or when the words spoken don't stir you emotionally, or the environment is not conducive to worship, it's up to you to worship God. When the music is your favorite, when the leader says things that really minister to you, when the surroundings make it easy to turn your thoughts to God, it's still up to you to worship. But for whatever reason, this morning in a little clearing near the top of a mountain in the jungle, it was easy for me to worship.
The folks had prepared a lunch for us. We ate together, walked back down to the car, then drove back to Kudjip. The day was little more than half-gone, and I had had an adventure, a time of worship, and a good lunch. What more could I ask for in a Saturday?
Thursday, November 12, 2009
Five years ago tonight, she was hurrying to get to the hospital. She was in labor with her second child, and had waited just a little too long to leave her house here on Kudjip Station. As she reached the top of the "Hydro Hill Road" she realized that the baby was about to come. She didn't want to give birth right under the security light, so she headed for the deepest shadows she could see--in our front yard.
The baby came just fine. What was the point in going to the hospital now? Well, I can think of several points, but she couldn't, so she headed back down the hill to home.
She and her husband had already decided to name the baby in honor of Judy if it was a girl, and it was. Ordinarily names aren't given until the baby is a month or more old, but we were about to leave for our first furlough, and they wanted to tell us before we left. So the day after the birth, her husband came to our house to tell us about the baby.
Today she's five, and very proud of the birthday cake that "big Judy" made for her, complete with candles!
Tuesday, November 10, 2009
One surprise is how acoustically "live" the OPD is. We'll probably have to figure out some ways to deaden the resonance a bit.
I'm on call, so I guess that makes me the first to be on call for the officially-open ER (Dr. Bill saw a staff member's baby there a few days ago). I've now been to the ER twice, and hoping that's it for the night! The second photo is of my first ER patient and some staff.
There are a few more photos here.
Monday, November 9, 2009
Saturday morning the mumu pit in our back yard was used to cook one of the pigs for a mumu that was done in celebration of the new hospital. Ishigel and Aku are friends (sons of Simon and Esther Tausi, of whom I've written several times). I love the photo. They are sitting by the fire that was used to heat the stones for cooking the food in the pit.
Saturday, before and after the mumu, Judy and I worked on a few more details in the new Outpatient Department. This included repairing and hanging x-ray view boxes, hanging BP cuffs and other wall-mounted items. Judy dusted all the high windows.
Finally, on Sunday afternoon I was showing a new visiting doctor around the hospital, and I found out that the first baby had been born. Her she is.
Tomorrow will be the first day in the new OPD and ER. I'll report tomorrow evening.