Love and War – August 2011 Newsletter Issue 24

Love is… spending all day going to a bush fowl nest in search for the delicacy it may hold! The nest’s as big as a room and made of leaves. It has to be dug by hand deep down to the ground over such a big area.

Two old ladies, one that I call “mum”, came back exhausted from a day in the bush. I was a bit puzzled that they came home with empty-looking string bags, instead of the usual mountain of greens and bananas, but I didn’t say anything. Jennifer and I had dinner cooked for them and they ate hungrily, dabbing their aching muscles with “itchy leaf” to help with the pain. Jennifer and I had just spent the day doing things around the house, like washing clothes and harvesting peanuts. But it was after dinner that they each presented me a package wrapped in leaves. Two bush fowl eggs. For me.

I’ve had some lovely times visiting my village this year. It’s so relaxing to get away from sick people and demands of the station life. It’s also funny to look back on how hard it was in the village for me a couple of years ago. Now its such a refreshing time of fun in the bush and encouragement with my family. And a big thanks to Dr Dan for his willingness to cover the hospital…

Back at the hospital, the newly-formed TB team is also making some progress. It’s well established that Melanesian people work best when they understand how their work fits into the big picture and when decisions are by consensus. I’ve had some painful experiences of “telling people off” on the job in an effort to raise standards of care. Shoddy care is disheartening, but shaming people just makes things worse! So we’ve formed a team of people who’ve had some extra training in TB and are involved in different parts of the process. Then in meetings it’s a slow process of learning to evaluate and plan together for change. A big change is allowing patients to be discharged from the hospital for the last 4 months of their treatment, which involves training a relative to be a treatment supporter. I’ve enjoyed seeing the TB team’s growing interest in improving and also learning to let the Bible inform us on how to act. If you oppress poor people, you insult the God who made them; but kindness shown to the poor is an act of worship. Prov 14:31.

This next story is not exactly about war, but I thought the title sounded interesting. My NZ friends have been alarmed about the highly publicised shooting of a kiwi man in PNG. “Have you heard about it?” some friends asked. Ah, yes. The first I heard was a radio call from Suabi, one of our aid posts about a 35min flight from Rumginae. A man was severely injured with arrow wounds in his chest and abdomen, and his partner assaulted. Our health worker gave the initial treatment of iv fluids and antibiotics. Dan and I both accompanied the MAF plane to go and pick them up. I introduced myself to the couple, “I’m Sharon, a kiwi doctor,” I said. “Fish and Chips” the guy replied, with just the right accent – and it was clear he had a chance to pull through. After a quick assessment and more treatment we headed off to hospital before weather or fading light held us up. On the way it was a privilege to pray and talk with the woman in her great distress. I continued to help the team at Kiunga Hospital.

It was good to see our health system working well. The health worker was trained by us. He was on the job, with the medicines he needed and a working radio supported by CRMF to get more help. Remarkably, for around two weeks before that, we had no MAF pilot, so no ability to do medevacs (medical evacuations). The relief pilot came just the day before, and did one urgent and lifesaving medevac a day for the first three days. And usually the government district hospital can’t do operations, but that week there was a visiting anaesthetic officer as well as a surgeon. The events were orchestrated and I wonder what God is doing in them.

Suabi station remains in a difficult situation. The offender has shamed the community and his life is in danger from payback. The police have still not managed to get the money to travel out to apprehend him. Last I heard, he was being sheltered by our health worker in an effort to offer him protection and hand him over to police when they come. The airstrip has been closed by MAF because of the security risk, meaning that medicines have to be carried in from another strip a days’ walk away. My friend Rosie talked with their godly pastor at a recent pastor’s training workshop. He asks for continued prayer for the community as they respond to this incident. Also pray for his translation team as they continue to work on getting the scripture in their Kubo language. As usual, the real answer to the war against evil is God’s love.


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