Box 456 Mt Hagen WHP
Papua New Guinea
Priscilla arrived at Kudjip in late November, the right side of her face hidden behind a scarf, a bulge evident to those who gave more than a cursory glance. It is common for PNG patients to conceal injuries and deformities. Often the cover attracts more attention than would the defect itself. Not so in Priscilla’s case. Despite 30 years of viewing the devastating consequences of illness and injury, I had to consciously resist the initial temptation to recoil. Her right eye, no longer recognizable as an eye, protruded two full inches from her face. Swelling extended in all directions, distorting her eyebrow and nose.
A moment later, I began to see beyond the tumor. Pain emanated from this girl. Louder still than her physical agony, Priscilla’s silence screamed of fear. Her pain and fear demanded a response every bit as much as did her cancer. What could I do for her? Her tumor was extensive and I didn’t (and don¹t) have a cure. But Priscilla wasn’t asking me to cure her. She had given up hope and held no discernable expectations of me.
I can usually meet zero-level expectations and occasionally even exceed them. This teenage girl wasn’t difficult to love. She came from a poor family in the Jimi Valley, hours from any medical care. She had
suffered with this tumor for four months, most of which she had spent in isolation and agony. She knew she was dying. I don’t know whether she voiced her complaints in the early stages of her illness, but certainly she did so no longer.
Love and laughter are powerful therapies, and Priscilla responded well to both. We have a limited arsenal of chemotherapy agents, and I unloaded what I had into Priscilla’s veins. I admitted to her I was giving her “poison”, that her hair would fall out, and that she could curse me as she vomited through the night. In reality, she tolerated her early courses of chemotherapy very well. She spent the first 5 weeks in the hospital, including a joyous Christmas.
Priscilla’s tumor is no longer visible, though I’m sure it lurks deep within her orbit. I don’t have to try to elicit laughter or words from Priscilla anymore. Both come frequently and spontaneously. The new Priscilla lives each and every day with a bounce. I look forward to seeing her tomorrow for continued therapy, and to the joy and encouragement she brings to me and to my colleagues here.
Dr. Becky Morsch
Our dear sister and missionary colleague Dr. Becky Morsch has breast cancer, discovered recently while on Home Assignment. Becky was scheduled for surgery this past Friday and we are prayerfully awaiting reports.
Dr. Becky, in her current assignment, teaches Community Based Health Care in villages across PNG. During this past term, she, along with PHS Director Mr. Gabriel Mahisu, has witnessed wonderful transformation of communities in the East Sepik and Sandaun Provinces. I was privileged to attend the CBHC graduation at Bopanten, a half-day (motor) boat trip up the Sepik River. There have been phenomenal and comprehensive changes in the villages impacted by CBHC training. Spiritual renewal has been foremost, and significant social, economic, and physical improvements have followed.
Please keep Dr. Becky in your prayers, as well as the CBHC communities of PNG.
The PNGIF Project to build the new hospital is stuck in preliminaries. I am learning some of the challenges of working with major donors. Meanwhile, I have developed a deeper appreciation for so many of you who faithfully sacrifice and support us here at Nazarene Hospital!
Although progress is slow with the PNGIF, there are two very exciting developments in our communication technology. We recently installed satellite internet access (with great support from Nazarene Missions International). Secondly, Mark Riggs of Oroville, CA has asked for and received a generous donation of a quality phone system from his employer, Sprint. Internet access and reliable phones will have a great impact on our lives and ministry here.
Heavy rains in early January washed away the bridge along the Highlands Highway at Aviamp, less than 10 minutes west of Kudjip, cutting off vehicle access to Hagen, to the airport, and to essential medical supplies and oxygen, for most of two weeks. A makeshift walking bridge was hastily constructed. We were deeply thankful for the supplies we had stockpiled from containers and donations we had received during 2006.
Palmcroft Baptist Church Gift
AIDS continues to devastate PNG at an ever-increasing rate. Nazarene Hospital is committed to prevention and treatment of this horrific disease. Palmcroft Baptist Church in Phoenix, Arizona (home church of volunteer OB/Gyn Dr. Allan Sawyer) gave Nazarene Hospital, via their Thanksgiving offering, $31,800 for the prevention of mother-to-child transmission of HIV. This tremendous gift will promote the early detection of mothers with HIV and fund effective interventions to protect their babies. Thank you, PBC!
Volunteers provide a tremendous boost to the services here. Dr. Mike and Nancy Pyle (Sept), Dr. Betty Tom (Sept through Dec), and Drs Jim and Rosemarie Gilbert (Dec/Jan) covered the final months of Dr. Jim Radcliffe’s furlough. Drs Katy Hurd and Linda Chan came to us from IMAGE (Tulsa, OK) and were a great help. Dr. Elizabeth Alok, PNG resident, was an excellent colleague throughout her 3 month rural medicine rotation. Aussie students Ben Teo and Chris Wall made strong contributions and hopefully gained valuable experience. We enjoyed hosting a team of 12 students Mt Vernon
Nazarene College in recent weeks.
Tami Jaynes and Greg White are our MK schoolteachers this year. Ray and Karen Comstock are providing valuable help in Maintenance and Office/Accounting.
Dr. Jim Honored
Congratulations to our own Dr. Jim Radcliffe. He has been recognized by the American Medical Association as the recipient of the prestigious Dr. Nathan Davis award.
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