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Lost Fingers

Seems like it’s been the month for people losing fingers. I don’t really keep a journal. But I did write down the story of one boys lost fingers… Be warned, there are pictures.

 

July Seventh, the year of our Lord 2017. It is of the night before last I wish to speak.

It seems like taking a shower here is always a mistake, because as soon as I do something comes up and I have to go slog through mud again. The night in question was no exception. I’d just showered and put on a movie for the kiddos. As I was washing dishes and considering what to do for dinner, my attention was grabbed by shouts from outside. It quickly became clear that I was being hailed so put dishwashing on hold and headed out onto the front porch.

Outside I was greeted by a small crowd gathered around a teenager who was cradling his hand, wrapped tightly in a t-shirt.

As the crowd yelled out fragments to me, I slowly began to piece together the story. They had been fishing and a friend had accidentally cut him with a knife.

Now… maybe I was just feeling unloving or lazy. But I’d also worked a long day and was feeling quite worn out. So I directed them toward the local nurse, knowing full well he’d do just a good a job as me.

The crowd begged me to do it personally, saying that the wound was very bad and required my personal attention. Up to this point I’d not even actually seen the wound. Judging from the way he had his hand wrapped up in a t-shirt I figured that’s where the cut was, but I had no idea of the size or severity. So after dispatching someone to get the nurse, I called him over and took a peek at the cut. To my slight surprise, he removed the make shift bandage to reveal, not a small cut, but a missing finger. The middle finger of his right hand had been completely severed, and the index finger was only a flap of skin away.

Chopped fingers

I’d never sewn up a complete amputation, and was unsure if Jeff had any experience in that realm himself. I made a quick decision and set about getting the more experienced from a village down river.

A short while later I was seated on the tractor, backing the clinic boat down into the water. A brief conference with Jeff, on his way to the clinic, confirmed me in my decision so away we sped.

Except not really. I’d forgotten that we were going into the dry season, the river was so low that we had to alternate between using the motor and paddling the boat down river. So what should have been a short trip powered by a 50 horsepower motor became a much longer trip powered by the strong arms of a couple guys with paddles and dodging trees exposed by the receding water.

By the time we picked up the nurse, Marianna, and turned around we were heading back under cover of night.

I left her and the boat at the waters edge and headed home to get the tractor safely inside the fence. Back home I took a breathe, grabbed a pack of biscuits and headed back down to the clinic.

At the clinic I made my way through the customary, gaping crowd and into the operating room where the nurses where just about to start injecting lidocaine. With both nurses there, my help was superfluous, but I decided to take the opportunity to learn and so settled in to watch. At least that was my plan but somehow I still got roped into drawing up drugs and cutting gauze  and trying to keep the patient distracted while the nurses stitched merrily away.

Since Marianna had more experience than Jeff by over 10 years, I expected her to do the actual suturing, which she did. What I didn’t expect was for her to ask Jeff’s advice on the best way to go about it. It seemed like she was taking his cue from him. I soon learned that he’d actually done an almost identical operation just about a month ago (and would do another one in a couple weeks, though I had no way of knowing that at the time).

They quickly sewed the ragged edge of the index finger shut and then moved on to the middle finger. The last segment of his finger had been cut clean off and had apparently fallen into the water never to be seen again. The two nurses carefully pulled the surrounding skin tight and sutured the gaping wound shut. After watching for a while, I realized that the procedure was much easier than I’d anticipated, that my help was completely unnecessary at this point and that I still hadn’t eaten dinner.

So I left them to put in the last couple stitches and headed wearily back towards home; reflecting on the long day. Maybe it hadn’t been necessary to do all the work I’d done, but I didn’t think it was wasted. It is after all, easier to suture with two sets of hands instead of just one.

Something's not right here...

And then this guy shows up 2 weeks later.

June Photo Update

In the interest of conserving internet and posting photos only once I’m posting these here instead of sending them out in normal update. Here’s the last three months in pictures.

Gotuwa Patrol

Clinic Patrol to Gotuwa.

Standing up walls on the new staff house.Standing up Walls

I’m just off the screen, supervising.Jesse/Hendrik Measuring Clinic Expansion

Jesse and Hendrik taking measurements on the In-Patient ward.Shower!

My beautiful shower. I’m a little in love with it. Also nice to have my very own toilet to help with all those tropical diseases.Meldon

Little Meldon with his typical smile.Dike

Dike: Elementary teacher and my grade 10 student.Mandex

Mandepe our oldest, hardest working employee. Also Meldon’s grandpa.Nurse/Housing

The newest staff house as it stands today.

 

And those are the ways of Samban. Should have taken pictures of the pig we butchered… after all the work I put into her, gotta say the bacon’s pretty good.

What we do

I wanted to write a post about how many of the diverse community building aspects of our work here came together in one day this Easter but… there is a time to speak (or write) and there is a time to be silent.

I will only say that I finally got my first suturing experience on a real live human being and remembered to take a picture… as soon as I’d finished bandaging. I was slightly tempted to pull off the tape and get a picture anyway but… Instead I’ll just leave you with these. Really, they’re much more pleasant than a machete wound on someone’s butt anyway.

"A wild bush man appears"

On the way to the garden with the tractor

Yes, they were jumping from up there

Tree-Jumping in Angoram

Bananas, firewood and children. A good days harvest.

On the way back from the garden

Does this make us less redneck?

Moving the old jalopnik out of the yard

I told them I'd take a picture to prove how hard of workers they are

Guys resting under my house

 

March photo update

Living in the jungle and all, internet connectivity can be a bit of an adventure at times. So I apologize for any late updates, missed replies or general lack of communication. I am trying.

On that note, here’s some pictures. I’m trying to get an update out but until thenRaun long Painiten Kids and stuff. Doo doo doo looking out my front door. Putting siding on the house

Updates/Struggles and News

 

I’m leaving.

I’m moving to PNG.

On January 25th 2017.

47 days.

And as the countdown begins I can’t help but feel a little trepidation. I know that once I’m gone I’ll have some element of peace. It’s like standing, perched, on the edge of the abyss, feeling the fear caress your heart and knowing that when you leap it will be replaced with living the moment. There’s no time to be scared when you’re falling. But the contemplation can be terrifying. And I think FAR too much.

 

So. Still trying to get my ducks in a neat little row. My tools are packed and I’m working on getting them shipped over there. (Hopefully they’ll get there within the next couple years so I can actually use them.)

Trying to get rid of everything that’s not going with me. Who knew it would be so hard?  I’m excited to be able to pursue poverty a little bit more freely in the coming months.

All the paperwork’s sent in; so now it’s just a waiting, praying and (hopefully not) stressing game until I get my passport back. God willing it will be stamped with a two year visa.

I received my acceptance letter from Outreach International today. which is kinda nice since they’ll be able to accept donations and funnel funds to me.

Still talking with my church about support.

And… I think that brings everything up to date.

 

I struggle knowing what to share. I can’t help but feel I’m doubting God when I ask Him for something and then make the same need known to someone else. I can recognize that they’re His hand but it still seems feels faithless sometimes. I want to make myself vulnerable to the Church.

I got an opportunity to share lunch with a missionary here in the states and we talked about the benefit of openness in sharing about ministry. I’m probably too critical of others not being open about their struggles, sins and failures. Those things actually seem easier for me to share. On the other hand I greatly struggle to make my needs known. I was taught to be self-sufficient. Not to cry out for help but to climb out of the pits I fall into with my own two hands.

There is some benefit in this. But it leads me to denying others the place to participate in my life and ministry. My cousin talks about how God considers our fruits as belonging also to those who partner with us in ministry. And I don’t want to be guilty of denying others that blessing.

I know for sure that I want others to let me know when I can lend them a helping hand (or five bucks, or a football…) But it’s a struggle for me to not be hypocritical in this area.

 

And so, here are some needs and prayer requests:

I’d love to bring simple toys with me like Frisbees or Soccerballs, but they’re not in my budget right now.

I need to trust God as he calls me away from friends and family.

I need His peace.

I need… money. I’m currently about 10% funded and that doesn’t include any emergency funds or means of returning to the states.

I need to get rid of a lot of stuff. (cello, cold weather gear, canoe, etc.)

I need to be intentional about pursuing Church and Community in the time I have left in Colorado.

I need to be doing whatever God wants, specifically with preparing to leave. Whether that means learning more, seeking closure in relationships or supporting those who remain behind or whatever.

 

To those that read this. Please pray for me. And as always, stay in touch.