For the past few weeks, things at the hospital have been a bit gloomy. Some of the gloom has been due to the rain, power outages, wet shoes, and darker days, but a lot of the gloom has been because the hospital received confirmation that our budget for the year was going to be 40% less than we had received from the PNG government in 2015.
A 40% reduction in our budget isn't something that can be easily made up. As we have tossed around ideas of how to make it work, every idea has a downside. We could cut our staff by 40% and then cut our services by 40% - but how do we serve the people of Jiwaka who need our help? We could raise fees enough to make up the difference - but how do we serve the poor, the hurting the ones our hospital always tries to make allowances for? We could cut our staff salaries - but how will we retain staff when they can find another job and get paid more than we can afford to pay them? We can decrease our spending - but what do we do when the government runs out of medicines or supplies, will we choose not to buy life saving medicine?
After lots of emails, discussions, meetings and prayer, we choose to do a little bit of it all. We increased fees, decreased spending, cut staff by not replacing those who leave, and cut salaries by not raising them to the government level for 2016. We made a plan and have ideas of what Steps 4-6 would be if we need to do more, as we reevaluate our budget and finances each month to make sure we were doing alright.
We held a staff meeting on Wed, to let them know what we were doing, to share our plan with them and to get any ideas they had on what else we could be doing. After we (Administration) spoke, they stood up, one by one. They starting talking about how they were here as missionaries, how they had left their home and this was their home now, how they wanted to stay here and to serve the people of Jiwaka. They wanted to help keep our doors open, and so one by one before they sat down, they said they wanted to give up part of their pay to help the hospital keep going. As I heard staff after staff stand and say this, from nurses to maintenance men, to cleaners and clerks, I just started crying.
When I left the US over 8 years ago, I didn't know anything about PNG, about Kudjip, about the staff at the hospital, I just knew God had called me here and so I came. I have learned a lot in these past 8 years about missionary medicine, about the Highlands of PNG, and about people of Papua New Guinea, but I wasn't expecting this response from our staff.
Our staff come from all over PNG. We have many staff that are from nearby villages to the hospital, but many come from outside our catchment area. Many of our staff leave their homes and families, just like I did, and travel to Kudjip to work, because they too have felt called to serve by God. Our staff aren't just here to collect a pay check and support their family, many of them are here as missionaries, and want to help make Jesus known to the people who come for medical care. Many of our staff have had their own lives or their families lives transformed while they have been at Kudjip, and share that love and passion of Christ with our patients. Our staff are here for the people of PNG and their love and heart to serve God and the people was shown beautifully in our staff meeting.
Their willingness to sacrifice, to give up their pay, to give up some of their luxuries for a period of time, to allow the hospital to keep going was an encouragement to my heart. As the tears fell, the gloominess started to fade and hope made an appearance. Hope that no matter what happens with our continued pleas to the government for more money, that our doors will remain open, our staff will stay to serve, a our patients will be able to continue to see and hear about Jesus, and that Hearts will continue to be changed, mine included, because of Kudjip Nazarene Hospital and those I am privileged to serve with.