Tuesday, September 28, 2010


Healthwise, I continue to improve daily. I feel almost completely back to normal and have been able to gradually decrease the dose of the medication that I have been taking. I return to the doctor on Thursday and we will discuss the lab work that she did last week as well as any changes I need to make for the future. There is a possibility that she may be able to put me on a new medication that has been shown to decrease the incidence and severity of flareups, so that would be a real help. Thank you so much for your prayers through all this.

But now I have a new request for you. When I went through Immigration to leave Papua New Guinea, a problem arose with my entry permit. The permit in my passport states that it is for multiple entries, but when they scanned my passport they said that it was only for single entry. That means that at present I do not have a permit to reenter Papua New Guinea. As you know, PNG bureaucracy is rather slow and inefficient so this is a real problem. Michael Berbin, the senior GFA missionary in PNG, has been communicating with the Immigration folks since I left, but we're still working to find a resolution. The last thing he was told is that they can't even find a record that I have any sort of entry permit. I am faxing some things to them today and would appreciate your prayers for a speedy solution.

As far as things back in Kiari, they are in desperate need of rain. We generally have about a 3 month dry season, but this one has stretched into 4. The missionaries there are down to about 2 inches of rain in their water tanks and the nationals (not having rain tanks and dependent on the streams) are in even greater straits. Food was getting short when I left a few weeks ago, so I'm sure things are even tighter now.

On the other hand, it appears that the ambulance situation is resolving itself. Apparently my absence (and thus our clinic being closed) put pressure on the culprits to return the ambulance so that the Kiari folks could make use of the medical facilities in Nomane (where the ambulance was from). The last I heard was that some men from Kiari had left to drive the ambulance back to where it belongs. There will likely be repercussions for some time yet, but at least it's a step in the right direction.

Thank you once again for your prayers and support during this time.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Doctor's Appointment

This morning, I was able to see a rheumatologist (a specialist that deals with lupus and similar diseases). I had been working for over a week just to get a referral, fully expecting that it would be a few more weeks before I would be able to get an appointment. But, in the Lord's providence, a new rheumatologist has recently moved to Greenville and had an immediate opening.

She did a bunch of lab work and other tests and wants to see me back in a week. She is not a believer but had a lot of interest in what I am doing in Papua New Guinea and why I am doing it. Please continue to pray not only for wisdom for this doctor but also for further opportunities to witness to her.

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Hanging in There

I just wanted to post a quick update and let everyone know how things are going. I am feeling some better -- getting lots of rest and spending most of the time just laying around the house. It's kind of odd being back in the U.S. with all the amenities available but not really having the energy to go out and make use of them:-) I have had a lot of difficulty getting onto a normal sleep schedule again (probably courtesy of both jet lag and the medication I am taking), but I actually slept until 5:30am this morning -- the best yet!

I have not yet been able to see a rheumatologist (the specialist that deals with lupus). In fact, the doctor's office has not even called me back with a referral yet. (And I got impatient with inefficiency in PNG:-) Seriously though, I will be continuing to pursue that next week.

Thank you so much for your prayers and outpouring of support. I will continue to keep you posted as things develop.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Made It

I am happy to announce that I am officially back in the U.S. Thanks so much for your prayers for the trip. The Lord's care was so evident all along the way. I'll try to enumerate a few things, but He did so much that I'm sure I'll leave out something.

First, we were scheduled to leave on our first flight on Saturday afternoon, then spend the night in the capital city of PNG before flying on to Australia on Sunday. Well, the flight was cancelled (due to mechanical issues, I think). But that seeming setback saved us the cost of a hotel in the capital. Also, by the time the flight was cancelled, all the stores were closed, but we had just enough food left in the guest house to cover our supper and breakfast needs.

Then the next morning, the airline scheduled an additional later flight to take care of the passengers on the cancelled flight. That flight would have been too late for us to make our Australia connection though, but our incredibly diligent PNG travel agent made sure that we were booked on the first flight of the day, even coming to the airport to see us off. Then when we arrived in the capital, we got held up going through immigration, but again because of our travel agent's work, they held the plane until we got on, closing the door only after we arrived.

When we landed in Australia, I had a lot of energy and was able to deal with customs and immigration there without any problems. The Lord provided a hotel and a good night's sleep. I was pretty exhausted in the airport the next morning, but we had plenty of time so we were able to sit down and rest as I needed. Again, a very helpful airline representative made sure we were seated together and even straightened out an issue with Jennifer's return ticket.

We landed in LA with less than two hours to collect our baggage, clear customs, get rechecked, and get boarding passes for the next flight. Thankfully, my earlier exhaustion was gone and I was able to practically run through the airport and again we were some of the last few people on the plane.

What a blessing to land in Atlanta and find my dad and brother waiting for me. I am pretty exhausted today and still way behind on sleep, but the hard part is over. I went to an Urgent Care center today to get a referral to a rheumatologist (the kind of doctor that treats lupus). I was told that there are only 2 in Greenville and that it will likely be a few weeks before I can get an appointment. But the Lord is in control of that too!

Thanks once again for all your prayers and support. They mean so much!

Friday, September 10, 2010


The decision has been made. I'm headed home. I'm not critically ill
and it's not an emergency or anything like that, but I'm just not
getting better. I can't stay on the high doses of medication that I'm
presently taking for an extended period of time, and the medicine has
already pretty much put my immune system out of commission, so a third
world country with all its diseases is not the safest place right now.

If all goes as planned, I will be leaving on my first flight Saturday
afternoon my time, spend two nights in hotels along the way and arrive
in Atlanta on Monday evening U.S. time. Then, I'll try to get in to
see a doctor and see where things are at. Please pray for strength for
the trip, wisdom for Jennifer Pearson (a nurse practitioner with GFA
her in PNG who is escorting me), and smooth travel.

Thanks so much for the many who have prayed and expressed their
support. It means a lot!

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Health Update

Just wanted to keep you up to date as to what is going on with my
health. I really have not had any significant improvement. On Tuesday
morning, I thought I was doing better, but went for a short walk
outside the guest house where we are staying and soon after was quite
exhausted and in a good amount of pain. The doctor is saying that
there is not really anything more that they can do for me here. If
things don't start to improve by Friday, it looks like I may be headed
back to the U.S. for a time to allow things to stabilize. I would
appreciate your prayers for wisdom and direction for the doctors and
other involved in the decision making process.

Monday, September 6, 2010

Interesting Developments

As usual, life is never boring in PNG. As some of you know, I have a
chronic disease called lupus. It is an autoimmune disease where I can
have difficulties with fatigue, joint pain, and such things. Normally,
it is managed well with medication, but I occasionally have flare-ups
where I have to add some Prednisone for a short time. Well, I started
having a flare-up at the end of last week, and the Prednisone wasn't
really helping, despite taking higher doses than I have ever taken
before. Since some of the Kiari missionaries were already headed to
town to take Tiffany Parks to the airport, I made the decision to go
as well and try to see a doctor. I was able to get into a mission
clinic yesterday (Monday), and they ran lab work and added some pain
medication. I am doing a bit better today but still not back to
normal. I am supposed to email the doctor a status update tomorrow and
let him know how I'm doing and then we'll make the decision about when
I will return to the bush.

To top things off, we had a break-in during the night at the guest
house where we are staying in town. Tiffany and I were sleeping
upstairs and thought the noise was the Smiths in the downstairs. They
also heard some noise but thought it was us. The Smith's computer was
stolen, some meat from the refrigerator and a CD/radio belonging to
the guest house. Pretty crazy, but we are all fine.

Thank you so much for your prayers and support. What a blessing to
know that the Lord is always in control.

Saturday, September 4, 2010

Departures and Arrivals

Tomorrow (Monday), Tiffany Parks will be leaving Kiari. She has been
here for a little over two years as a short term teacher. She
initially came to assist another short term teacher, but when that
teacher had to leave unexpectedly, she took over the primary
responsibility for the school. This year, with my part-time
assistance, she taught 13 students in three grades. She has been a
real help and blessing to the ministry here and will be missed. Prior
to coming to PNG, she had spent two-and-a-half years in the
Philippines and she hopes to return there on a more permanent basis.
So she will be returning to America and beginning the application
process and deputation.

To continue the saga of the hijacked ambulance, the folks in Nomane
(where the ambulance belongs) gave a lot of trouble to the Smiths when
they came back to the bush last week (after a two week vacation). They
said that no cars, including ours, will be allowed to leave Kiari
until the ambulance is returned. So we are back to using helicopter
transportation only -- a more expensive method but at least a viable

When the helicopter comes to pick up Tiffany, it will bring in a very
short term visitor, Tim Owens, the brother of one of the other
missionaries here. Jeff has been here for about a year but has been
focusing on working on the airstrip and has not been able to start
building his own house yet. His brother is coming for a few weeks to
help him with that project.

Please pray for all the comings and goings and for a speedy resolution
to the ambulance situation.