Sunday, February 22, 2009

Safe in Aibai

Thanks so much for your prayers for my trip. I arrived safely in Aibai on Tuesday afternoon. There were a few wrinkles, but nothing too major. First, on Monday morning, the couple that was supposed to walk with me (Silas and Alice) came to my house and told me that they had gotten news during the night that Alice's nephew was quite ill and perhaps had died. He was only a teenager, so her family was accusing others of working witchcraft against him and were threatening to start a fight. So they really felt that they needed to go to her village, rather than come with me to Aibai. I of course agreed. Silas found a couple other guys that were willing to walk with me, so I headed off with two James. One I knew and the other had just recently gotten saved.

We arrived in Borowal about 4pm on Monday and stayed with a national pastor, Pastor Robert. His house had been built by missionaries some time previously, so it is a cut above most national homes. (It actually had a floor rather than dirt:-) Then on Tuesday, Pastor Robert and another man from his church walked with me to the large river about a 2 hour walk from Aibai. There Matt Crain, one of the missionaries in Aibai, met me and took me (and a few other nationals who wanted a ride) the rest of the way to Aibai.

It was a rather strenuous trip. You are so high that you can see for miles, so you can see the village you are headed for several hours before you actually get there. The road goes up one mountain, down the other side to a stream or river and then up another mountain. It seemed like quite the roundabout way sometimes. We have had a lot of rain lately, so some of the rivers were rather high. Two of them were up to mid thigh with a swiftly flowing current. I was quite glad to have the guys to hang onto.

At any rate, I am safely in Aibai and enjoying reconnecting with missionary friends here. Clinic here is Monday, Tuesday, and Thursday mornings and afternoons, and a prenatal clinic on Friday mornings. I am learning lots, which is of course the object of the trip.

Please continue to pray for a profitable time here and for the safety of the folks in Kiari in my absence. They have had four suturing cases since I left -- two nationals, one of the Smith's sons, and Erick himself. Thankfully, Erick was able to patch them all up, although doing his own hand was a bit of a trick:-) Just never know what you may encounter here!

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Heading Out

Well, it's been another busy week. The Smiths, the senior missionaries here, returned on Tuesday via helicopter. They had chartered two flights that day and the second flight brought the rest of the boxes I had shipped ahead and a very large water tank, somewhere around 10,000 liters. It was too large to fit in the helicopter, so it was tied underneath. It was quite the sight when it arrived. It will be a huge blessing. As I mentioned before, all the water we use for drinking, bathing, laundry, and cooking comes from rain that we collect in water tanks. During the dry season, we depend on the water that we collected during rainy season. With 9-12 missionaries planning to be here during dry season this year, this will be a huge help.
Friday, we had another adventure. (Something about Fridays:-) A man came to our gate saying that a lady had fallen and badly cut her leg. Most of the men of the village were gone to a big rugby game in another village, so no one was able to bring her to us. Erick (the short term nurse) and I packed a backpack with stuff we thought that we might need, and followed the man to where she was. It was quite a hike up and over a mountain, than about halfway down into the valley. It took us about an hour to get there. The lady did indeed have quite an injury, and it took a couple hours to sew up the cut. By the time we finished, about 30 people had gathered to watch. So Erick took advantage of the situation, and preached the gospel to all who had gathered. What an opportunity! Of course, then we had to walk back home:-) Someone gave us a bundle of sugar cane, so a national guy came along to carry that for us and accompanied us home.
Tomorrow morning (Monday), I am leaving to go to Aibai. GFA, my mission agency, has another medical work there, and I want to spend a month there learning things on how to run a clinic and how to treat some of the diseases here. Aibai is about a 10-12 hour hike from here. Lord willing, I will go halfway tomorrow, sleep at a national pastor's home, then finish the trip on Tuesday. A national couple from our church is going with me. Silas is one of our preacher boys, and Alice is my clinic helper. I needed someone to walk with me, and thought it would be helpful for Alice to see this clinic in operation as well. Please pray for a safe trip and a profitable time there.

Sunday, February 8, 2009

A Day

This week I thought I'd give you a glimpse into one day of life here. Friday morning I was up around 6:30 to start the day. I dressed, made breakfast, had my devotions, and fed the cat. Then at 7:30 I walked over to the clinic. My clinic helper arrived the same time I did, so I unlocked the door and brought out firewood for the waiting patients to build a fire. I got a marker and numbered the hands of all the patients that had arrived so far, then I went into the clinic and made sure my medicines were ready for the day. (I precount and bag them with instructions, so I don't have to fix them for each individual patient as they come.) I continued numbering other patients as they arrived. Then around 8:15, Erick, a short term missionary, gave the clinic announcements and preached a gospel message. Then we started seeing patients. There were only ten patients that morning, a very small group, so we were done by 10am. The last two patients were two little girls from one of our church families. Their mother asked if we could use some strawberries and leaf lettuce (both rarities here). I said we would be delighted. She said that she was headed down to her garden and would bring some up later. So I offered to just come with her to her garden, so that she would not have to climb back up to our house.
We walked together to her garden, probably a 10-15 minute walk. Gardens here are huge -- about the size of a small field, and most people have three or four in different locations. I picked strawberries, and she cut leaf lettuce and peas. I loaded them all in a bilum (a string bag used to carry just about everything here) and headed back to my house.
When I reached my gate, Erick called to me. A man had come to the clinic for treatment. He had been struck on the head with a stick about 7am that morning. He is from a town several hours away, so he had left immediately and just arrived at 11am. We took him inside and cleaned up his head, shaving the area around the cut. Erick sewed it up with six stitches, while I assisted him. By the time we were finished with him, it was noon.
I came back to the house and wrote a prayer letter (which should hopefully go out sometime this week). Then about 2pm, I made lunch of pumpkin soup and grilled cheese. I think the only thing store bought was the cheese as the rest was purchased here in the bush or made from scratch. Next, it was time to head down to the church for the youth meeting. We had 20-30 teens attending. We played volleyball first (with a ball that American teens would discard as too flat and too old), then went inside for Bible quizzing and Bible study time. We are working through James, so the study and questions were from the second half of James 1. The youth meeting is being run by Erick and his wife Kara. Kara, however, had lost her voice, so I led the quizzing time.
After the youth meeting, it was time for fellowship. On Tuesday and Friday evenings, we go to a national home and hold a mini service, inviting those from the neighboring houses to come and hear the gospel. This particular night the fellowship was quite near the church. We packed nearly 50 people into the 8x12 main room of a national grass woven house. Of course, we were all sitting on the floor around a firepit with smouldering coals. It was raining by the time fellowship was over, so we had a rather wet, dark, 20 minute walk back home. It was about 8:45pm when we got home, so I made a sandwich for dinner and went to bed.
Obviously not all those things come up every day, but nothing was incredibly unusual either. It is just part of life and ministry in this village that I am thrilled to call my home.

Sunday, February 1, 2009


Well, the first week without the Smiths (the senior missionaries here) has come and gone fairly uneventfully. School continued as usual, although Karen and Tiffany (the school teachers) have been fighting various illnesses. They have seemed to alternate being sick, but have not had to cancel any school as each has just filled in for the other. They have 21 students in 3 different grades, so they keep rather busy.
We continue to average around 25 people each clinic day with maladies ranging from parasites to malaria to bronchitis to cuts and scrapes. Friday seemed to be baby day as I saw several infants who seemed quite ill. I gave out a lot of liquid antibiotics and hope they will recover soon. Although I am able to spend only a limited amount of time with each patient, it is a blessing to be able to speak a word for the Lord here and there. (All of course hear a gospel message before the start of clinic.) This past week, I saw Pauline, a lady I had met during my previous stay here. She seemed to be a faithful Christian then, but has since backslidden and no longer attends church. I talked to her briefly in clinic but hope to go to see her in her home soon. I tried to see her Saturday but she was away in her garden (some distance from her home). Please pray that I will get an opportunity to speak with her, that the Holy Spirit will be at work in her heart, and will guide me as to what I should say.
We have been a little concerned about our lack of rain lately. It is supposed to be the rainy season, but we have had no rain to speak of for many days. We had prayed for the rain to hold off during the special opening services a few weeks ago, and the Lord answered, but the rain has not returned to its normal schedule since then. This is a concern because all the water we use (for drinking, cooking, showers, toilets, and laundry) comes from rain that we collect in large water tanks. Our tanks were only about half full, not a good sign in the middle of the supposed rainy season. All that to say, last night it rained quite a bit and then it rained again today. I must admit this has completely changed my attitude toward rainy days:-)
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