Some moments I want to go back to the States where I can drive a car whenever I want, take Esther on a date and escape to a cafe or watch football with my brothers. I want to take Anna and Levi to the Oklahoma Aquarium and then to Chik-Fil-A before a walk through Turkey Mountain ("Urban Wilderness"). I want to give my patients the best un-expired medicines available, use the most important diagnostic tests for them and get the opinion of a specialist on their illnesses. In essence, I want to walk away. Away from an unending stream of poor, broken and needy people and the job of tending to them with my limited skills and a small variety of testing, technology and medicines.
Deborah delivered her baby at home in a remote area because she couldn't get access to an aid post, health center or hospital. In the first couple of days her baby girl couldn't breast-feed. Most likely that is because Deborah was only about seven months pregnant when she delivered her. Her baby weighed just one and a half kilos or so (3 pounds, 5 ounces).
Deborah put her baby in a bilum (bag), strapped it over her head and hiked over the mountains to catch a public motor vehicle up the Highlands Highway to Kudjip. Thankfully, a doctor named Bill McCoy decided thirty years ago that he would spend his medical career tending the poor, broken and needy people overseas. Bill promptly gave the infant intravenous fluids carefully calculated out for its small size and treated it with antibiotics for neonatal sepsis. About twelve hours later, Deborah and her baby came under my medical stewardship.
Fast-forward two weeks. Deborah's baby lost weight, down to 1.19 kg (2 pounds 10 ounces). However, she rebounded, finished her antibiotics, started eating and miraculously hasn't experienced any breathing trouble. In fact, Deborah has started breast-feeding her and she has gained nearly 10 ounces.
What will happen next? Around here is anyone's guess. But I pray every morning for Deborah, Kepis, Amanda and Moreen whose tiny babies have been under my care, some for an entire month. Their mothers echo my "Amen" as I leave the nursery and head to the wards, the ER and our outpatient department to face more of the needy peoples of Papua New Guinea.
Twelve years ago I went to Newcastle, England to begin a training program that would change my life. During my time working with MercyShips I felt that God called me to medical missions. In the last twelve years I haven't given up on that, but now that I'm here I need even more of that same perseverance.
I love that my faith follows in a rich legacy of endurance, particularly in its call to take care of those who have been forgotten. Solomon, the wisest ruler the world has ever known, recognized that God made a point of acting on their behalf.
My last night on call I treated several men who were involved in a tribal fight. I stitched a couple of them but one suffered a wound in his arm that put a small tear in the tissue surrounding his brachial artery. Another millimeter deeper and this wound would have cost this man, Jack, his arm and probably his life. Our surgeon Dr. Jim graciously came late at night to assist me in stabilizing his injury. I didn't sleep much that night and missed what might have been a family night at home.
"For He will deliver the needy when he cries, the poor also, and him who has no helper. He will spare the poor and needy, and will save the souls of the needy. He will redeem their life from oppression and violence; and precious shall be their blood in His sight."
The precious blood of the needy sounds so poetic when I sit in a comfortable chair reading about it with a cup of coffee. But when I get called to the emergency room at midnight and see the floor literally covered with the blood of our latest bush-knife victim, poetry is the last thing on my mind. In that moment, the things I need most are strength and perseverance from the One who will spare them, save their souls and redeem their lives.
I don't wanna be someone who walks away so easily
I'm here to stay and make the difference that I can make
I had to learn what I've got, and what I'm not, and who I am.