It came as no surprise that, for Mother’s Day, I was gifted with some creepy crawlies. Insects are prized possessions in the world of my kids so, of course, they would be great gifts to others. They caught three caterpillars at their friend’s house and were quite excited to present these creepy crawlies to me. As far as bugs go, I was happy to receive caterpillars instead of mole crickets or preying mantis or giant snails!
Nathan also made these candle holders with electric candles. I saw similar candle holders, made from wood, in the States just before we left for PNG. While I really liked them, luggage space was an issue, so we left the craft fair without them. I was quite surprised when Nathan presented me the bamboo versions. I enjoy their beauty as they flicker in the evenings. A matching bamboo vase came with them. I will fill it with the felt flowers I love to craft.
It can be hard to find balance in what we share on here. Truthfully, practicing medicine in a developing country is hard. Little kids die because of dehydration due to diarrhea and vomiting. If they make it to the hospital soon enough, we can give them fluids and save their lives. Others times, it’s too late and despite all our attempts, the child still passes away.
Just a couple weeks ago Nathan did all he could far a man in the ER, but the man still suffocated as Nathan worked on him. Nathan did some research to see what he missed. Was there something more he could have done? The answer was that with the resources available here, there was nothing more to be done. We are one of the best, if not the best, supplied hospitals around, but there are still many limits in resources.
So while, we want to share with you the challenges, so that you can be praying, we also want to share with you the miracles. The patients who seem to have little hope of surviving, but then we see the Great Physician step in and bring about healing.
Last week, Nathan was working in the outpatient department and saw a man standing with his family waiting to see Dr. Susan. He looked so familiar, but Nathan could not place where he knew the man from. After helping another patient and stepping back into the hall for another patient, this man smiled a broad grin that made him instantly recognizable. Mr J!
A while back we mentioned him on the blog. He had paralysis that was slowly creeping up his body. His arms and legs were no longer moving and the concern was the paralysis would reach his chest and cause his lungs not to work. We did not have the equipment that could breathe for him, so it would mean certain death if that happened.
Despite these challenges, Mr. J always had a bright smile when Nathan walked onto the ward. And then one day the paralysis stopped spreading. Dr. Bill explained to Mr. J that it was as if God drew a line on his body and said “Stop here.” Just before Nathan began working on a different ward, Mr. J was able to move his pinky, which seemed a miracle in itself. To see that God had healed him to the point of being able to walk into the hospital with his family was an incredible site.
You may remember the other Mr. J that we asked prayer for last week. Nathan came home and said it was worst way to die he’s seen yet. Mr. J had accidentally drank pesticide and while he was not yet dead, the effects of the pesticide would cause a slow and painful death. A few days later, Nathan went back to see the second Mr. J and could not find him on the ward. Perhaps he had gone home, but the more likely scenario was that he had passed away. On his run Friday morning with Dr. Bill, he found out that Mr. J had recovered enough to go home! It was such a unexpected outcome when we were almost certain he had died. Thankfully, Mr. J had quickly recognized his mistake and spit much of the pesticide out. While it did burn his mouth and throat, it did not cause severe damage to his internal organs.
We are so grateful to be working with the Great Physician. God can do what we can not and while we do not know why he chooses to heal some and not others, we trust that in both life and facing death, he brings comfort to the weak. We are grateful he is giving us the opportunity to walk with people here in their joys and their sorrows. And we so appreciate your prayers through it all.
If you would like to be able to help provide the equipment and medicines needed for the hopstial, please visit the Nazarene Hospital Foundation’s page. The government supplies available to us often run out and it because of organizations like NHF that we are able to continue treating patients with the medicines and equipment that they need.
Banana spiders are found hanging around in all sorts of places. This particular one was in a garden and I was by myself. If the kids would have been with me, I would have gotten a picture with their hand near the silly thing. Instead, I had to be the brave one and use my own hand. I was probably a lot farther away from it than they would have been, but for all their interest in bugs, they are not fans of getting close to spiders either.
Apparently, these things can be fried and eaten. I’ll just trust those who’ve done it (Emma!) to believe that it’s possible and at this point my kids aren’t excited about the idea of tasting one either. They’d rather play with the other live creepy crawlies that do not resemble spiders. These are pretty fascinating to look at as long as we don’t accidentally walked into their web.
Pesticides are commonly used around here. Sometimes they are taken out of their original bottle and put into an unmarked bottle.
Yesterday Nathan admitted a patient that is a member of one of the local Nazarene churches. Mr. J had been out working, was thirsty and grabbed what he thought was water. Instead it was pesticide. I won’t detail what this does to a body, but it is quite painful and often times fatal. It can take nearly a week before the person passes away. We don’t know what the outcome will be for Mr. J. Please pray for him and his family as the doctors are doing their best to help him. Pray for wisdom for the doctors.
Watering a garden from city water in Oregon can get spendy. As Nathan planned out our garden while in the States, he always did so with the goal of getting the most out of every drop. He had hoped to one day make a rain collection barrel to catch the water flowing off the roof. That way he’d always have a good supply of water at an affordable price.
Our house here in PNG has not one but two water collection tanks. The clouds do a good job of watering the garden, though, so all of this water is for household use. The water collected is used to wash dishes and clothes, flush toilets, clean hands, take showers and cook. We use it for drinking, too, put filter it first.
In the picture you can see the giant green tank to the left and there’s a matching one on the other side of the house. Throughout the rainy season there is plenty of water to use, but a couple of years ago, during a drought, people had to be careful to watch the water level in their tanks.
On top of the house is the hot water heater with a solar panel attached. On sunny days there is piping hot water readily available and for cloudy days a button inside the bathroom turns on an electric heater to provide hot water.
“Quick! Get a jar! I found a mole cricket!” I heard my bug girl call from outside the kitchen. Surely, this was a name she came up with on her own. Bug boy was quick to respond to the call and the critter was soon tucked away inside the first available bug jar. (I think they must practice their response time).
After inquiring about this new name, I was assured that in fact there really was a bug called a mole cricket. They read it in a book. A quick Google search showed this was indeed true and the one they had caught looked just like the pictures.
The bug jar was soon filled with dirt and then the real fun of a mole cricket began.
“Mom! Quick, come look at this!” I’d walk over to see the dirt moving from one side to the other as it tunneled underground. Occasionally it would tunnel along the side of the container so they could watch it go deeper.
A few days later it could no longer be found and the kids assumed it had died. They went outside to dump out the dirt, but there it was, alive and well, buried far from the surface and away from curious little hands.
It was a sunny Saturday afternoon as I strolled in the front door of our ER. At a glance I was able to survey the large white brick room with its 7 beds. About half the beds were full at the time which is fairly common.
I had come at the request of the nursing officer to evaluate several patients. Bed six had an 8 year old little girl. I grabbed her chart and headed over. Her big brown eyes showed fear as I approached. She looked very ill, dehydrated, and uncomfortable lying on the exam table. I began talking to her parents trying to determine what had brought them to the emergency room. She had a fever, diarrhea, and vomiting for several days. It was an easy call to admit her to the pediatric ward for antibiotics and IV fluids to treat her Typhoid.
While fever, diarrhea and vomiting are not fun to suffer through in the United States, in the developing world death from dehydration secondary to diarrhea and vomiting is a very real concern. With recognition and treatment lives can be saved.
I finished my call early Sunday morning. Then, around 10:30AM, my family and I made our way back to the hospital for church. We were joining other missionaries to do an outreach Sunday service on several of the wards. I walked onto A ward with my baby girl strapped on my back and holding the hand of my little guy.
As my eyes scanned the room, there was the little girl I admitted. She was sitting up in bed with a huge smile across her face, her eyes popping with joy and cheerfully waving when she recognized me. A very different little girl than the night before. Because she was able to receive medical care here at Nazarene Hospital, she will make a full recovery.
Just a few days after arriving here the Goossen family was well aware of our love of bugs. They found this creature at their house, put him in a box and brought him over. While trying to look at him and get a picture, he started fluttering around our house, finally landing on the wall. Bug boy careful laid his hand next to it, to help give idea of its size. After the photo op the kids let him go outside where he decided to rest on the screen outside the kitchen window for awhile before going on his way.