One of my favorite movies is the Lord of the Rings. I was recently reminded of a line between Sam and Frodo, when things seemed hopeless for them and Middle Earth, towards the end of the Two Towers. You can watch the clip here - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=k6C8SX0mWP0.
F - "I can't do this Sam.” S - I know, it is all wrong, by rights we shouldn't even be here. But we are. It’s like in the great stories, Mr. Frodo, the ones that really mattered, full of darkness and danger they were, sometimes you didn't want to know the end, because how could the end be happy? How could the world go back to the way it was when so much bad had happened? But in the end, it is only a passing thing, this shadow, even darkness must pass, a new day will come and when the sun shines, it will shine out the clearer. Those are the stories that stay with you, and meant something, even if you were too small to understand why. But I think Mr. Frodo, I do understand, I know now folk in those stories had lots of chances of turning back, only they didn't, they kept going, because they were holding onto something. F - What are we holding onto Sam? S - That there is some good in this world Mr. Frodo and it is worth fighting for. "
I don't know what your world looks like these days, but from the news it would be easy to think darkness is upon us with so much bad happening around us - from lockdowns to killings to riots and famine, etc. It would be easy to want to give up, to turn back, to think there is nothing that can be done to help the sun shine. But, as Sam says a NEW DAY WILL COME. We don't know when or what it will look like, but this darkness, this season won't last forever. And until it does - we keep fighting, because as Sam says - there is some good in this world, and it is worth fighting for. I would like to share a little of what that good can look like and what we are fighting for in PNG today.
A few months ago, I wrote about a boy named Daniel - a 9 yo little guy who lives about an hour's walk from the hospital who presented to the hospital with an abdominal mass. Just yesterday he returned to the hospital, a hat now covering his sparse hair, but his abdomen free from any tumors that I can find on Ultrasound. He has completed 4 courses of chemotherapy and should make a complete recovery.
Peter is a 35 yo man who suffered a stroke many years ago, but had made a full recovery, and then started feeling weak 3 weeks ago, to the point that he was passing out. His stroke history clouded his history and presentation to various health facilities in the past 3 weeks, but upon examination was found to have a very irregular heart beat, causing a very low blood pressure, resulting in his weakness. After a few days in the hospital, he is feeling so much better and his heart, while likely not returning to it's original state, is working well enough to perfuse his body, thus eliminating his weakness and helping him to feel like himself again.
Carolyn is a women with HIV who presented with abdominal swelling. Tuberculosis would often be the source of the problem for most of our patients here, but in her case, she had liver cancer. As I shared this diagnosis with her and her husband, there were some tears, but also peace. They had started going back to church a few weeks ago, and were trusting the Lord, one who is bigger and better than all of us with her life.
Susan was a women of about 50 who came about a month ago and was told she had cancer in her bladder. When first hearing a diagnosis of cancer and hearing there isn't much that can be doing medically, our patients often don't fully understand the situation. So when she returned, I asked her what she remembered about what we told her last time. She very clearly articulated that she had cancer and we couldn't cure her medically. We talked some and then I asked if I could pray with her before she left - she started crying as we held hands and thanked the Lord for the life we have today and as we ask Him for the strength for each day He gives.
Lucy was a young pregnant lady from the Jimi Valley - a remote area of PNG. She was trying to deliver her baby at a health center in the Jimi, and she started having problems. Her blood pressure went very high, she started to become confused and she quit making progress in her labor course. At 0800 she was referred to us, at 1500 she arrived - having a seizure, confused, the baby's heart beat was dangerously low, the baby's head was showing signs of being too big for the opening that it needed to travel through. Knowing a vacuum delivery would be our quickest mode of delivery - I attempted to pull the baby out of a small opening, and her illness and thrashing on the bed made those attempts futile. We rushed her to the Operating Room, and with some difficulty, delivered a baby girl that barely was alive. There was a very weak heart beat, but no respiratory efforts. As I worked to repair the uterus that gave way in ways I wish it wouldn't have as I was trying to get the wedged head out, our midwives and Anesthesia folks worked to help that baby breathe. When the cry finally came, we all breathed a sigh of relief, that this mom, had made the long and difficult journey from the Jimi Valley with Eclampsia to Kudjip Nazarene Hospital and we were able to save both her and the baby's life in the process.
There is some good in this world and it is worth fighting for.
Things haven't been easy for us here in the midst of our Global Pandemic. Like you, we have had to adjust and readjust our plans for our lives as well as the running of the hospital - more than once. We are still triaging the patients who come with coughs, having screened over 1300 patients now, thankfully we still have only had 8 cases in the country for Coronavirus that we know of - but that doesn't mean we are back to normal.
Some of our lives are back to normal as far as the Hospital goes - babies are born, kids get diarrhea and suffer from malnutrition, tuberculosis is diagnosed and treatment started each day, people get appendicitis, car accidents happen, kids fall and break their arms, abscesses fester making their way to the muscle and bones, hypertensive patients need their meds and kids need their vaccines, and so much more.
Some of our lives are not back to normal as far as the Hospital goes. We are currently working with a staff of 1 General Surgeon, 1 Surgical Trainee, 1 Pediatrician and 3 Family Practice doctors. Our normal staffing of about 10 doctors is down to 6. Quarantines, limited flights, travel restrictions, medical illnesses, waiting on paperwork and more have been hurdles that have exacerbated our shortage of doctors. This has altered our ability to care for all we would normally care for. As the only hospital for a Province of around 400,000 people, when we have to limit services, lives are affected.
When I called our government Medical Supply company this week asking what they had as our stock on the shelves was getting lower and lower, I was told - Disposable Gloves - nil stock, syringes - nil stock, Pain medicine for surgery - nil stock, certain antibiotics to treat infections - nil stock. I stopped asking any more. When I asked if they knew when they would be getting anything in - they said we don't. We live in a country that relies on other countries to supply us with the medicines and supplies we need to keep running - limited air travel is making the country's and thus our some of our supplies reach a level of critical shortage.
And yet despite these trials and hardships - there is some good in this world and it is worth fighting for. Kids with diarrhea and dehydration go home. Moms with difficult deliveries walk home with their newborn babies. Those diagnosed with TB are better in a few weeks and after 6 months of daily meds are cured. Patients with appendicitis or ruptured ectopics or bowel obstructions can have surgery and be cured. Patients with diseases while without a cure in our medical setting, can hear of the hope and love of Christ, and go home with peace.
Can we do it better - absolutely. Can we stretch our resources even further, to help more people until we get more - absolutely. Can we love those who come and who we serve with better - absolutely. Can we trust in the One who gave His life for us and has called us to love and serve the people of PNG - absolutely. Can we keep fighting to stay open and keep serving - absolutely, that is what we were called here for.
"For God, who said, "Let light shine out of darkness," has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ. But we have this treasure in jars of clay, to show that the surpassing power belongs to God not to us. We are afflicted in every way, but not crushed; perplexed, but not driven to despair; persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed; always carrying in the body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be manifested in our bodies. For we who live are always being given over to death for Jesus' sake, so that the life of Jesus also may be manifested in our mortal flesh. So death is at work in us, but life in you." - 2 Cor 4:6-12
There is some darkness in this world today, but a New Day will come, and the sun will shine again, and when it does it will shine out all the clearer. There is hope in this world, there is good in this world. While always looking to improve, we are praying that we are part of that goodness and hope and love that the world needs right now. We pray we can keep fighting to stay open and keep serving and sharing that goodness and love with those who come. Please pray for us as we continue to seek for that SON to shine out all the clearer.