Thursday, October 2, 2008


September 2008

One Year in Wamena! Wow! We left the U.S. for Wamena on September 11, 2007 and it has already been a year. THAT WAS FAST! We want to thank you all for your support, prayers and encouragement. You helped make it possible for us to serve here. THANK YOU! How do I summarize all that has happened, all that we have learned about, smiled and laughed about and wept over? The following highlights summarize the experiences that are still lingering in my mind and heart as I write to you. As you may know, it was our vision to establish a program to train village healthcare workers. The plan was to work side-by-side with the clinic started by Dr. Dugger (Rumah Sakit Kalvari - RSK) providing man power for the clinic while giving the future healthcare workers an opportunity to use their training. It was not long after our arrival here that we learned that the Dugger family needed to take an early and extended home ministry assignment. I stepped forward and offered to help in the clinic for the six months he would be gone. This was going to give me an opportunity to improve my language skills, learn the patient demographics of the Jaya Wijaya Region, hone my physical assessment skills and practice training the national staff. Not all has gone to plan. It has been nine months and the Duggers are just now returning to the field. There were many days operations trumped training, but I would not trade these experiences.

The Lord Heals:

The slogan here at RSK is, "We treat. The Lord heals!" It has been encouraging to see this ideal permeate the care provided. Patients are not only evaluated and treated, but are provided prayer and counseling. The process through the clinic ends with all patients seeing the chaplain. Often we have prayed with the patient multiple times before he or she leaves. The testimony of this care and its impact is being talked about throughout the community. It has been thrilling to work beside our staff and watch them praise God for His provisions as we see patients improve physically, emotionally or both!

For example: There was one man who was carried into our clinic by two friends. He had been to many clinics and hospitals throughout the island, but was not improving. His liver was enlarged, abdomen was distended with fluid and he was extremely jaundiced. We told him that we probably could not help him, we would try, but it would have to rest on the Lord. We evaluated, counseled and prayed with him. Eventually we treated him for syphilis and ameba and told him that he would have to follow-up weekly over the next month. (The staff are still talking about this case.) He walked into the clinic on his own the following week praising God, looking much healthier. Two months later he moved on, but not before visiting us to thank us for the services we provided. He prayed with our chaplain and we have not seen him since.

It has been a challenge to diagnose and treat difficult cases with the help of the staff (many who have only had a high school education) and visiting physicians or consulting over the internet, but worth it to see patients healed and brought before the throne.

We have had opportunities to help New Tribes Missionaries in remote, new posts care for critically ill patients. This is exciting as it helps open the doors for these missionaries as they plant the church and translate the Word. We have held special clinics to serve the local street children. Believe me, that there is not enough space to list all the praise worthy experiences other than to say - Praise God! How God?

As always takes place in the life of a child of God, we are not without our daily cry, "How can I do this God?" God, how do I tell the parents of a thirteen year old rape victim that the rapist gave her HIV? How do I comfort one of my nurses who just learned that her father was unfaithful to her mother and now has HIV? How do I tell a patient he has been misdiagnosed for the last year by several doctors and that, "No, you are not healed and what you really have is a progressive cancer that will take your life very shortly."? How do I explain to yet another set of parents that their child was improperly treated for his cerebral malaria or meningitis and now has permanent brain damage? Oh Lord, how do I examine the body of a dear friend, whose children are friends of my children; a godly pilot whose desire was to serve the people of Papua with a full heart? God, how can I hear another teenager explain how she sold or gave her body away? Now I have to tell her that she gave away her life. How do I share Your love for her in such a way that she will willingly receive it? Of course there are many more trying experiences than space to list, but I can say with certainty God has provided continually! He provided brothers and sisters in Christ who have continued to pray and encourage us. He has provided opportunities to give everything to Him and watch Him work. It has been encouraging to know that the trials are just a sign that we are in fact having a positive impact on the lives of Papuans here.

We now have 87 HIV positive patients. More than the local hospital and local government clinic! Why do they come? They say it is because we pray with them. The staff hear them out, allow them to cry and don’t pass judgment on them. They share with people in the community that they know we serve Christ!

I ask that you pray that we will keep asking God daily how to handle the task before us. We need to be continually reminded that it is through Him and for Him that we serve.
Brief Highlights: Because of your support, I have been able to serve beside nationals and train them how to interview and examine patients. We have seen and treated hundreds of patients. We have witnessed many patients physically healed and countenances changed with a new hope in the Lord and parents touched that we show love and compassion to their HIV infected child. I have had the opportunity to assist Helimission on several medical evacuations and have provided a two day and a nine day clinical in two remote villages. We have had plenty of opportunities to encourage staff, patients and their family members in the Word and to pray with them. Recently I attended a government funded HIV case manager course and was asked to close in prayer. What an awesome experience to pray in Indonesian before Muslims and Christians, but praise God for the opportunity. What a privilege it is to be His servant. Thank you for making it possible to serve Him here!

Prayer Requests:

1.) Pray that my transition from the clinic responsibilities to a national training program will go smoothly and happen fairly soon.
2.) Pray that all of us involved in the medical ministry here (RSK Staff, Duggers and Bogles) will not become overwhelmed with the medical needs and lose the heart of shining forth Christ in the lives of those dying.
3.) Pray especially for our local staff. It is really hitting them hard seeing their generation dying from AIDS and watching many of the churches pointing fingers rather than jumping in and helping. The attitude within the church is starting to change. Pray it will open its arms to the street children and reach out to the prostitutes.
4.) Pray for someone to fill the chaplain role in our clinic. Satan knows where we will be the most effective and he has been trying to damage
this area of our ministry. We had to let our chaplain go for causing dissention, leaking out private and harmful information within the community and deliberately trying to damage the testimony of our director.
5.) Pray that my family and I
can have a closer walk with God. This area of our life is improving, but Jennifer and I are seeing a greater need for improvement as the teenage years of our children are upon us.

A Great Need:

From my experience these last several months I have learned that I need charts, pictures, illustrations, models and computer animations to teach human anatomy and physiology, basic chemistry and pathophysiology. I have staff who were trained through the government nursing program and even a graduate from the Papuan university who cannot describe how blood flows through the body, how oxygen enters the body and carbon dioxide exits or even where specific organs are located within the body. Many of them were trained with poor quality, illegal copies of textbooks and teachers who stood in front of them regurgitating the day’s lesson. They were not allowed to ask questions! Attend, sit down and listen is the mantra of the education system here. Thirty minutes with them and a large poster or a physical model and they get it! The problem is; good models, animations and illustrations are not available here in Papua. I am looking for prepared slides of normal human tissues, basic chemical models, any models of the human body, computer animations depicting normal human physiology and disease processes, models allowing students to practice skills (i.e. an IV arm, catheter placement models, etc.). Maybe someone, a small bible study group or a church congregation wants to help purchase one of these items for the training program? This may seem insignificant, but it will vastly improve the quality of care our trainees and staff will provide.

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