Stretching, Learning, Growing….

We’ve had some great days, some long days and some challenging days here at Kudjip. It’s been a busy time of learning, stretching, growing, and relying on God, my family and my team at the hospital.  We are now doing surgeries that have never been done in the highlands of PNG.  Thanks to Samaritan’s Purse/World Medical Mission, Riverside Methodist Hospital, Storz, Dr. Mark Potter and Dr. Mike Pyle  we’ve acquired the equipment needed to allow the people of Jiwaka Province to enjoy the benefits of laparoscopic surgery. Here are just a few of the highlights in pictures.

Sr. Vero preparing for our first laparoscopic surgery at Kudjip.  We did a video assisted thoracoscopic surgery (VATS) procedure for child with a terrible lung infection.  The Operating Theatre staff worked hard for several months prior to this to learn how to clean, maintain and setup the equipment.  They have been incredible.  We started with several thoracic procedures since we initial didn’t have gas for insufflation to do abdominal surgery.
One of the most fun things about helping bringing laparoscopy to Kudjip has been getting to teach Dad a few new tricks.  Who says “old dogs” can’t learn.  For all the things he’s taught me in the OR and out I needed to at least try to bring something to the table.
I teared up and I’m pretty sure Gail and Margret were actually crying when Dad did his first laparoscopic appendectomy at Kudjip, 32 years after starting the surgical work here.  In case you wondered, I’m so proud of my Dad and the commitment to God and the people of PNG that he’s exemplified!
Learning how to elevate a depressed skull fracture.  It’s not rocket surgery, just neurosurgery 😉
This x-ray represents not just all the orthopedic surgeries I’ve had to learn but all the other subspecialty cases that aren’t always part of the general surgeon’s repertoire in the USA.  I’ve had some excellent teachers.  A big thank you to Paul Hitchens, an Orthopedic surgeon from Sydney, who’s now visited twice and helped me to get better and offer more to our patient’s here.
Dr. Andy Bennett (family practice doc emeritus) has taken care of the kids of the highlands who suffered from club foot deformities.  His skill with casting and various methods meant most of those kids never needed surgery.  I’ve been able to learn how to do several procedures now for those patients need an operation.  Thanks Andy for asking me to learn how!
Mentor and Mentee.
“It takes a village.”  Or a big team on this mission station to make the whole place run.  These are two of our faithful and gifted maintenance staff.  They keep the lights on, the autoclaves running and water in the pipes.  Philip and Kulang represent many others who work tirelessly day in and day out to allow me to minister surgically.
This couple are two of Jiwaka’s early adopters.  They both benefited from laparoscopic surgery.  She needed her appendix out and he was relieved of his infected gallbladder a few months later. They just missed out on our two for one special.
Junior here isn’t so sure about his doctor’s sense of humor with the pretend stabbing.  He is recovering well after he fell out of a tree and landed on a stick.  He showed up in the ER with his intestines hanging out and bleeding badly.  This scenario bought him a good old fashioned laparotomy.  Thankfully he lived close by and his mother brought him in quickly.
We recently reorganized our two sterile stock rooms, our pre-op and recovery area, and the surgical storage in the old hospital that is used for a warehouse.  It was a monumental undertaking but the improvement was so worth it.  It wouldn’t have happened without Sr. Roselyn and Sr. Edna, two of my scrub nurses, who kept the rest of us going and saw the project through.
Two of our organizational consultants.  From Simeon’s hat it’s apparent that we are in desperate need of disposable and Buckeye scrub caps.
The organizational project was initiated in preparation for the arrival of Dr. Sheryl Uyeda, our third surgeon. Yeah! I’m not the junior partner anymore!
Teaching on rounds. 
Since we don’t have CT scans, MRIs and many other diagnostic options, the ultrasound is a surgeon’s best friend here.  
For us young surgeons, who grew up with all the tech and toys, its a steep learning curve to master the ultrasound and learn to rely on it.  Thankfully we have a reliable guide to the sonogram 🙂
Dr. Cindy is one of PNG doctors.  She is part of a Rural residency that we participate in.  We’ve had the privilege in teaching surgery to her and her classmates.  They each come to us for three months of the year their first three years of training.  Cindy is the only doctor at the remote hospital where she works.  Teaching her and her colleagues to become confident with basic surgical and ob/gyn procedures has been incredibly rewarding.  In the near future we hope to expand our teaching and training.  Please pray that the Lord will open the doors for us at Kudjip to help train the next generation of PNG doctors and surgeons.
The Surgery Ward (C ward) Team.  We couldn’t operate if it wasn’t for the nursing staff and nursing students who care for the patients before and after their operations.
Katherine’s parents just left after being with us for six weeks.  It was a privilege to have them drop by the OR for a morning during their stay.  If you every want to impress upon your in-laws the need to pray for you, have them drop in on a thoracotomy when you have to take out most of the left lung from a terrible infection and have to control some bad bleeding.
It was a blessing to have Sheryl operating with me on the difficult lung case I mentioned above.  If it hadn’t been for her help and the Lord’s help, our patient wouldn’t have made it off the table. Our patient continues to recover on the ward and we are grateful for his ongoing improvement.
When we moved back to this beautiful place that I’ve called home for so many years I didn’t know what the work at the hospital would look like.  It’s been an amazing start to what we feel is a lifelong commitment to this place, this people and this ministry of healing. It’s now a place that we all call home. Katherine and I couldn’t think of a better place to raise a family.
We don’t know exactly where the road ahead will lead but we trust God to guide and provide for our family.  Please pray for open doors to teach young PNG doctors, for supplies and medicines for the hospital and for peace for our staff and patients during the elections here in PNG (July-August).

4 thoughts on “Stretching, Learning, Growing….

  1. Allan July 5, 2017 / 3:11 am

    In tears as I read. Mentor and mentee….Only God knows the heart of these Jiwakans and the whole of highlands province.

    God bless


    Allan Phasa Haunje….Sikang tribe


  2. Sandi July 5, 2017 / 6:14 pm

    Beautiful, you guys. Just love these stories and am so excited to see
    How God has equipped and strengthened you for this work!


  3. swentzler July 11, 2017 / 11:28 am

    What a blessing to read how the Lord continues to use you all and the gifts He has given you. Your devotion spurs me on as well.


  4. REBECCA BELT July 21, 2017 / 2:00 pm


    I’m so glad to hear from you! I just had tears & my heart moves so much for the glory of God working through you, your dad, your mom, and the others in PNG.

    My heart is still in PNG though I was never assigned as a missionary. My 2nd grade teacher was 82 years old when she went into the Peace Corps. So who knows by then maybe I’ll come live in Papa New Guinea. I will always support you in prayer, money and hope to visit again and do more work with the chaplain sometime.

    I’m just overflowing with praise to God for all of God’s blessings to you, your family, your parents, your siblings, and all who work on the Kudjip station for others and for God.

    Never give in or give up no matter the discouragement or the challenges. You are not alone not only because others are around you in your work, but around the world you have prayer warriors and above all you have God the Almighty always at your side.

    Love with prayers,


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