Friday, May 21, 2010

Being Used by God

It was a routine clinic visit.  A teenage boy, accompanied by his mom.  His problem is a little unusual, a bone infection in his jaw.  Oh, bone infections are NOT unusual here.  They are common in the long bones of the leg, but not in the jaw.  So that I can use some shorthand, I'll explain that the official name for bone infection is "osteomyelitis" and that doctors usually shorten this to "osteo."  It is a difficult and frustrating problem, requiring months of treatment with antibiotics and usually surgery, which must be timed properly.  If surgery is done too soon, the dead part of the bone may not be separated from the growing, living bone.  If it is delayed too long, there is increased deformity of the bone, and potentially, spread to additional areas.

So it is necessary to review the status of osteo every few weeks, checking xrays to see how the bone changes are progressing, and blood tests that help to assess the severity of the infection.  We change antibiotics every 2 to 3 weeks to try to avoid the development of resistance to the ones we have.  Patients often don't understand why they have to come back so often.  They often do not see much change during this time, and sometimes just give up, and stop coming.  Then many times the infection spreads, and things get much worse.  It is helpful when we can explain some of the whys and hows of this disease.

But honestly, we often don't explain, for many reasons.  Sometimes there are things that I just can't explain well in Pidgin.  Often we are pressed for time.  Since patients often see different doctors each time they come, and it's easy to assume that one of the previous doctors explained.

So this boy (I'll call him "Michael") has been coming faithfully every two weeks for xrays, blood tests and adjustments in his medications.  Today was the first time I've seen him, although I've know about him from conversations with the other docs.  For some reason I felt the need today to stop and explain in some detail about osteo.  I launched into my "didactic mode", drew diagrams and sketches.  Somehow the Pidgin that I needed flowed easily.  The mom is a bright lady.  I have no idea how educated she is.  I could tell, from the expressions on her face, and from her comments and questions that she was understanding what I was explaining.

But here is why I'm even telling you this story at all.  At the end of my lecture, Michael's mom said, "Yesterday I was praying.  I prayed like this: 'God, tomorrow I'm taking Michael back to the hospital.  I don't understand what's going on with him, why we have to go back so often but see so little progress.  Please, let the doctor explain this disease to me tomorrow.'"

Wow.  How humbling, but how exciting that I got to participate in an answer to this dear lady's prayer.  I realized that the Holy Spirit had prompted me to give the explanation.  It was at the end of the day, and I was tired, and anxious to get home.  It would have been easy to prescribe the new meds, and tell them to come back in 2 weeks.

Before Michael and his mom left, I prayed with them.  I prayed for wisdom, understanding and patience for them.  I prayed for healing for Michael's osteo.  I prayed for Michael's education and future.  I thanked God for all his blessings.

One of the big blessings for me is the privilege of participating in what God is doing in His world, of being a character in His play, a worker on His crew, a tool in His toolbox.  Today it was a blessing to get to be part of the answer to a dear saint's prayer.

The photo is of some happy kids playing in a beautiful river.  They don't have osteo, at least not yet.


Monday, May 10, 2010


A pig was squealing in the middle of the night in Kawi village.  An unusual occurence that awoke our friend, Meti.  She thought perhaps a thief was stealing it.  She didn't have a pig and there was nothing she could do so she went back to sleep.

This was the night before Mother's Day.  The women of the Kawi Church of the Nazarene didn't know it but the men of the church were preparing a mumu feast to honor them!  Pastor James had recruited even the non-Christian husbands of some of the women who attend the church. They had secretly bought a large pig, hiding it in someone's car so the women wouldn't know about it. All night the men worked, first killing and butchering the pig - traditionally a man's job - and then cutting and peeling a huge pile of vegetables - a woman's job. 

The next morning, the ladies of the church were greeted with a beautiful banner that said "Happy Mother's Day!  We love you Mumma. You are our heart!".  The men entered singing a welcome song and showered the women with flower petals.  Pastor James spoke using the passage from Genesis 1:27.  He talked about how we must honor our mothers and our wives.  We must never call them names or hit them.  We must share the workload with them.  We can wash clothes.  We can change the baby.  We can cook food and wash dishes.  If you've shown disrespect to your mother or wife, you must say you are sorry to them. 

Pastor James said, "Look at me.  See my head, arms and legs.  Now look at this woman.  We are the same.  God created us equal.  A mother is even better than a man because she can grow a child inside her body!". 

At the end of the service, the men insisted that the women come and look at the mumu.  I think they wanted their approval!  Then the women went back inside the church where they were served first and ate until they were full.  The men ate outside with the children.

In a culture where women are mistreated and devalued, what these men did was an amazing thing.  Many of these women have never felt this special since the day they were bought by their husbands.

As this wonderful time was ending, the women told the men "Don't worry.  Father's Day is coming!". 


Wednesday, May 5, 2010

The Last Man Before the Animals

Those of you who heard the presentation that we gave during our 2007 furlough, and a few times during the 2009 furlough might remember Old John, who lived at a place that our friend Meti referred to as "the last place before the animals".  In other words, his home was so remote, that there were no more people living beyond it.  Because of the kindness of Meti, and other members of the Kawi Church of the Nazarene, John's life was saved, and he came to know Jesus as his savior.

He eventually settled into a house in the village, and we hadn't heard much from him for a long time.  Last Sunday Judy took a group of people to Kawi for the Sunday service.  While out on the road with Meti, they met John and visited briefly.  He seems to be doing well, but there wasn't a chance to talk much.