Saturday, December 25, 2010

Merry Christmas!

One of our favourite customs at Kudjip is caroling on the hospital wards which we do each Christmas eve.  We sing on each ward and this year we had a trumpet quintet that played!  We even had a live nativity.  We recruited "Mary" and her baby from the maternity ward.  

The MKs helped me make up  presents for each of almost 100 patients.

Andy and Judy in their silly caps
Emma, Allison, Lydia and Jessica helping fill the gift bags.
Ethan and Josiah having fun

Andy trying to get the bags of gifts to stay on the carts
Tim, Andy, Josiah, Bill and Jim playing their horns

Living nativity came with us to each ward.  It's a real newborn with it's momma.

Some patients didn't seem to pay much attention...
...but most were pretty excited.
Thanks to all our supporters whose donations help us make Christmas special for these dear patients every year!

Merry Christmas to each of you!

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Cheap Blog Post

Here's the link to Dr. Steph Doenges' blog.   You should read it.

Yeah, this is kinda cheap, just posting a link to someone else's blog instead of writing something original.  But I was just looking at Steph Doenges' blog, and one post particularly touched me.  Steph has a special relationship with some of the tiniest people in PNG, and their moms.  She loves these babies, and the moms know it, and return the love on their babies' behalf.

Steph is a special lady, a hard worker, a great doctor, a valued colleague.

Once you read this, look at some of her other posts as well.

This photo doesn't show her face very well, but it shows her hard at work.

Sunday, December 5, 2010

The Rat Patrol

 Okay, fellas, wake up and grow!  You've got work to do!

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Do not worry!

"...See how the lilies of the field grow.  They do not labor or spin.  Yet I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these!" Matthew 6:28, 29

This past week we received a 40 foot container from Samaritan's Purse.  It was packed full with a new generator for our station, an x-ray machine, an autoclave and parts to the hydro we hope to build and box upon box full of medical supplies!


Monday, November 8, 2010

The Newest MK in PNG

That's me on the left, Piper Faulkner front and center.

Friday afternoon I had the privelege of ushering Piper Fern Faukner into the open air of the world.  Her parents (Mark and Belinda) are missionaries with To Every Nation Ministries, working in the Goroka area.  They, along with Piper's 2 big sisters (Bradley and Erin) have been here for about a week to be ready for the big event.  It's been nice to have them around.

Piper and me after the surgery Friday

And here's one from Saturday, because, well... because it shows me better.
Bradley and Erin stayed with Judy on Friday, so that Mark could be free to be with Belinda during her c-section, and stayed with Becky Wallace that night so that Mark could be at the hospital with Belinda and the baby.  We got to have the group, including little Piper for supper Saturday evening.

The Faulkner family (minus Belinda) at our house for supper.

Bradley with her newest little sister.

Erin and Piper

I didn't have my camera at the missionary potluck this afternoon, where Piper was the hit of the show, eagerly competed for by all the wannabe grandmas and grandpas (her mom didn't attend!)  They said it was OK for me to post some photos here.

Belinda is doing well, and will probably be able to move back to the guest house tomorrow.

Sunday, October 31, 2010

All the Blue Shirts

Every three to four months, Nazarene Hospital receives a shipment of medical supplies from Nazarene  Hospital Foundation, a non-profit organization formed by Dr. Todd Winter of Medford, Oregon.  These 20 foot containers are filled with valuable and often desperately needed equipment and supplies.  Many times, God has provided what we have needed that very day the container was opened.  There are stories of items going directly from the unloading area into the operating room to be used immediately!

Todd is often able to send other cool things.  Like a shipment of extra t-shirts from a research study.  It was great fun to hand them out to every patient.  On the pediatric ward, it was the parents who received the shirts!  This day it was Stan and Gabby who helped us pass them out.  We had a little fun with the XXXXL shirt!

For more information about Nazarene Hospital Foundation and how you can help, check out the website.

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Worship at Bilu

This Sunday I was invited to preach at one of the "bush" churches, at a place called "Bilu".  Judy was not able to go with me, and there were no missionaries or volunteers who could go.  I asked some of the college of nursing students if they'd like to go.  Five of them decided to go along.  I had never been there before, so the pastor offered to meet me in Banz.  The only problem was that we forgot to specify a time!  I guessed the time, but the pastor had wanted to start early this week, as it was a special service.  He waited patiently for me, however.

Lina, Lydia Kolum, Elvis and Nixon, NCON students went with me. 

The Bilu Church of the Nazarene's sanctuary and prayer house.  A foundation has been poured for a new sanctuary in the future.

We drove to the village and then walked a short distance to the church building.  The people were waiting patiently for us.

It turns out that this was a special service for this church.  They had participated in a community evangelistic crusade in which 179 people had made commitments to Christ.  Twenty-seven of these had chosen to unite with the Nazarenens.  After greeting us, the people invited us to wait with them for the group of new Christians to arrive and then participate in greeting them. 

 A lot of kids were trying to get into every picture I took, so I took a group photo to placate them.  Some "big kids" sneaked into this one.

While we waited the pastor got his hammer and tore the woven matting that is used as wallboard in the thatched buildings from a section of wall at the back of the little sanctuary.  When we talk about a church "splitting at the seams" we don't usually mean it this literally!

 There!  Instant overflow seating!

 The new believers process in

The group of new Christians arrived, led by three members of the organizing committee for the recent crusade.  They passed through a double row of people singing a welcome song, and went into the church building.

 The worship team led in lively worship

 The NCON students shared a testimony and a song

 This is the "preacher's eye" view of the congregation.  The people raising their hands are the new believers.

Well, of course they would have a lunch for the guests.  It's a good thing that I took the NCON students along, or it would have been a very lonely lunch for me.  This was a very nice meal, including several grand (and expensive) touches.  There were 2 kinds of rice (and rice is pricey for most people), chicken (and chicken prices are up as well, do to high feed prices), and of course a variety of fruit and vegetables.  Garden produce is also getting hard to come by due to the drought.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

And The Children Waited

Life can sometimes be full of disappointments especially for children in a third world country.
We have a great work and witness team here from Australia.  They are helping to build some desperately needed employee housing for the hospital.  Some of the team wanted to do bible school activities with children from the surrounding villages and I arranged the times and places and drove the cruiser.

We were scheduled to go to Lena's church on Friday.  Lena is our friend who is working at the volunteer house, cleaning and helping in food preparation for the team.  On Thursday, she asked that we reschedule to Tuesday.  She was worried that there might not be many kids attending on Friday because it was the end of a holiday week.  Well . . . through a series of miscommunication, the children expected us on Friday.  They all went to the river to wash and then dressed in their sunday best and waited.  We didn't come.  Lena got home that night from her work and reassured them that the missionaries would come on MONDAY.  (No, it was Tuesday!)  The excitement mounted again!  By 10 a.m. on Monday morning, everyone was again clean and waiting.  They waited.  And waited.  They sent runners up the dirt road to watch for the mission landcruiser.  They waited until 4 p.m.  We knew nothing of this!  Lena came home from work and explained that tomorrow was the day for the Pikinini Klub.

With great faith and probably lots of hope, the children again washed, dressed and waited.  Would the missionaries come this time?  Thankfully we did!  They were ecstatic!  We had a great time.  People from throughout the village were drawn to the church by the happy laughter of the children.  Thank you, Australian team members,  for caring about these children!


Friday, October 1, 2010

The Challenge of Continuing Education

Many of you probably understand that all doctors in the United States are required to acquire continuing medical education in order to maintain licensure.  So . . .  why should that matter to a missionary doctor you might ask?  Well, for several reasons, not the least of which is my desire to try to stay up-to-date with current medical knowledge.  But more pressingly, in order to remain licensed in PNG I must remain licensed in the U.S.  Therefore, even when I'm here in PNG I need to keep up on the requirements.

While there are many ways to earn continuing education credits, one of the best ways continues to be live, in person medical conferences.  There are none of these offered in Papua New Guinea.  I can try to attend some during my furlough time while in the U.S. but many of the conferences offered there are not particularly relevant to my work here.  Most missionary physicians have a similar problem.

For a number of years now, the Christian Medical and Dental Society has offered a solution.  Dedicated volunteer faculty from all over the U.S. go out every year to teach CME courses to missionary doctors.  Many of them have either served in the past on the mission field or have volunteered at missionary hospitals.  They understand the conditions under which we practice.  The meetings are designed to also be a time of spiritual refreshment for the missionary families.

The doctors here at Kudjip take turns attending the conference which is held in Thailand.  This coming February its my turn!  The hospital here helps as much as they are able.  There are still many expenses involved that are not covered by other funds.  It will cost about $5000 for Judy and me to go.

Would you prayerfully consider helping us to attend?  If you want to chip in, please send your donation (which is tax deductible) to: Nazarene Financial Services, 17001 Prairie Star Parkway, Lenexa, KS 66220.  Mark the check "Work of A & J Bennett."

If you prefer to give online, go to this web site.

Sunday, September 26, 2010

The Independence Day Accident

PNG's Independence Day is September 16; it fell on Thursday this year.  Since a lot of our staff like to have a long weekend, the hospital administration decided to stay open on the 16th and close on the 17th.  So it was pretty much business as usual for us on the morning of the 16th.

For me, Thursday morning is Talipes Clinic.  I've written several blogs (also here) previously about my work with kids affected by talipes (clubfoot). 

 Taking a cast off one of my talipes babies.  Another is waiting her turn.

I do the talipes work in the orthopedics area, adjacent to the emergency room.  I was finishing up, just before lunch time, thinking about going to the house for some food, a cup of coffee and the chance to sit down for a few minutes, when Judy (who was there helping me with the talipes clinic) told me that a vehicle had just arrived carrying 13 victims of a motor vehicle accident. We have something called "Public Motor Vehicles" or "PMV"s.  These are privately-owned, but licensed to carry passengers for hire.  Some are small vans, some are larger buses, and some are open-bed trucks fitted with benches that can carry 20 or 30 passengers.  It was one of these that had slipped off the road on a steep slope and rolled down the hillside.  The accident occurred about 45 minutes travel time from the hospital.  We never found any evidence of alcohol use on the part of the driver.

Me, working on one of the motor vehicle accident patients

As I looked up I saw that there were already patients on most of the exam tables in the ER, and they were starting to bring a patient into Ortho.  As I was finishing with the last of the talipes babies and sending him on his way, our medical student Charlotte arrived, and the two of us started screening the patients.  An ER nurse started phoning the wards to ask any nurses or nursing students who could to come to help.  The initial screening process consisted of feeling for a pulse (if the pulse rate is normal, there isn't much blood loss), seeing if they were breathing, and asking the patient where they were injured.  If they could respond that also told us something about their mental status.

Nursing staff working with MVA patients

As extra help started arriving, I instructed that each nurse or student should attach themselves to one patient, get full vital signs and evaluate them in some detail.  A piece of paper was placed with each patient to record the vital signs, and other information as it was gathered.  Very early in the process, Dr. Susan Myers came over from Outpatient.  Also, Dr. Steph Doenges was already there, but was tied up treating a child with severe facial injuries from a different incident; she eventually was able to join us in the fray.

Family members watch at the ER window

Only one patient stood out in the first round of screening, an older lady who seemed to have injuries in several areas of her body, and a rapid pulse rate.  I ordered IV fluids and some x-rays.  The trouble was, the x-ray staff had gone to lunch, and one had the morning off.

Then staff called me to re-evaluate a young lady that hadn't seemed too bad on the initial check, whose pulse rate was only a bit up, and who was talking at first.  They called out to me that she was struggling for breath.  We quickly started ventilating her with a bag and mask, and then intubated her trachea so that we could ventilate more effectively.  Immediately, air started accumulating under her skin, indicating major injuries of her lungs and airway.  She died within moments.

Family members (or curious onlookers) outside the ER window

We all continued working our way around the patients.  Eventually the ones who needed IVs had them in.  Patients with fractures had splints on to stabilize the injured limbs.  Before long the x-ray folks got back from lunch, including the one who had had the morning off, and x-rays started coming back.  Dr. Graham Wetzig, our volunteer surgion had been in the operating room all morning.  He was able to come in and take over the supervision of the situation.  Eventually the rest of us were able to go get some lunch.

One other young man seemed to have some internal injuries, and Graham took him to the operating room later that afternoon, and cleaned out a large accumulation of blood from behind his bladder.

Later we learned that 2 men had died at the scene of the accident, and hadn't been brought to the hospital at all.

The old lady with multiple injuries died later that evening.

A number of less-seriously injured patients were brought in throughout the afternoon.  Altogether we believe that we treated over 20 survivors.  Many were treated and released, but a good number were admitted.  Most have now been discharged.  One little girl will undergo some skin grafting on her face later this week.

 A boy with minor injuries waiting to be treated

I was pleased at how well things went.  Staff worked well together.  Patients were evaluated in an orderly way and treatment started promptly for those who needed it most urgently.  Thank you for your prayers--it is God's strength that keeps us going every day.


Tuesday, September 21, 2010

She's Not Heavy, She's Sombody's Grandma

Walking past one of the grassy areas by the hospital this afternoon, I saw three nursing students helping an elderly lady out of a wheelchair so that she could sit down on the grass.  The urinary catheter trailing out from under her skirt confirmed that she was a patient.  She obviously preferred to sit on the ground over sitting in the wheelchair.

I was impressed with how tenderly the students were treating her.  They couldn't have been more gentle and kind if she had been their own grandmother.  Who knows?  She could have been a relative of one of them.  It's a small country, and it's not rare that a relative of a student or staff member is a patient here.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Kids In The Trees

The kids are pretty good about asking if they can climb our guava tree to pick an afternoon snack.  We joke about the fact that PNG children have no idea what ripe guavas are because they pick them as soon as they are big enough to eat.

I heard a cry for help and there was Emelton hanging precariously from a high branch.  As the tallest person there, I ran to help him and caught him as he fell.   One of the injuries that the doctors see often in the emergency room is broken arms from falls from guava trees!  In fact, Andy remembers one little girl a few years ago who managed to break both arms in one event!  Since both arms were in long-arm casts, she couldn't feed herself for several weeks.

The pictures here are reenactment of a real event!