Posts Tagged With: health

You know you’re back in PNG when…

I wrote this just after our arrival back to Papua New Guinea. It encapsulates just a few of the cultural and physical adjustments we had to re-make.

  1. The flight attendant announces that there is to be no chewing of beetlenut on board the aircraft.
  2. You sweat through your shirt by 7:30am.
  3. You look down at 10:30am to discover that your shirt is now crusted with salt from your own sweat.
  4. Showering is not just a morning wake-up habit, it’s a daily life essential. You have to wash off one layer of sweat and dust before adding a new one.
  5. You can smell your clothes before you put them on. (Because of the high humidity, all your clothes smell moldy, even if you just washed them)
  6. You put on bug spray to go to church.
  7. Rain outside can make conversation inside impossible.
  8. You look out your kitchen window to a landscape of jungle as far as the eye can see.
  9. You have to pound the salt shaker to get anything out of it.
  10. You re-acquire the skill of racing outside and yanking clothes off the line when you hear it start to rain.
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it’s a jungle out here: bush living through the eyes of a city girl

While we’re out here in bush orientation, I thought I’d take a chance to write down some of the things that have taken me a little time to get used to about living out here in “the bush”.

· There are pigs everywhere. This may not be the case in every village, but it is the case here. These pigs dig up the grass all over the place, but especially near the water tank next to the house we’re living in. They can turn a beautiful patch of grass into a dug-up mud pit in less than 10 minutes.

· The roosters here have no concept of time. They crow at all hours, don’t respect anyone’s naptime, and because they wander freely around the village, there’s always one crowing nearby.

· You can see the stars here. I mean, you can REALLY see the stars here. On clear nights, the whole sky is full of stars, and they actually do twinkle. I just thought that was a myth in a song, but nope, they actually do twinkle!

· I’ve had to learn to live in the dark. We use solar panels and batteries for getting electricity out here in the bush, but since the batteries in this house are old, we have limited power supply after the sun goes down. So after dark, we live in the dark, navigating around the house with a flashlight. This has taken me a while to get used to, but I’m finally to the point where I’m not running into everything when the lights are out.

· Staying healthy is a constant battle. The climate and environment here in the jungle make it easy to get sick. The humidity saps our strength and dehydrates us quickly. It’s also a veritable greenhouse for making little cuts or scratches become infected sores in no time at all. Many of the mosquitos around us carry malaria, the flies spread germs, and the centipedes have deadly stings. The sweat, dirt, and grime from everyday living can easily stick to our skin and, if we’re not careful to scrub well, before we know it, we have a boil.

· Wherever I am, there are always critters nearby. Whether it’s a gecko eating bugs inside the house, or a frog jumping onto my foot when I’m walking outside in the dark, or a spider in yesterday’s dirty laundry, or a rat scampering in the bathroom at night.

· Life out here in the bush really is impacted by the weather. If it’s sunny, we get good electricity from the solar panels, so it’s a good day to get some work done on the computer. If it’s raining, there won’t be much electricity today, so maybe let’s wash clothes or do something to use the extra water that’s overflowing from the water tank. It’s very different than living somewhere where you basically have unlimited water and power, unless there’s a drought or big power outage. It just takes some getting used to, and definitely has grown me in flexibility!

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“how big is your God?”

Josiah and I were chatting the other night, and I was discouraged about all the medical bills we had to pay, plus we needed new tires on the car, and still had our normal bills (insurance, phone, etc) to pay. I just couldn’t see how we were going to make it financially. We’d been living off savings, but now it’s time for us to raise the support we need to live in Papua New Guinea, and we can’t work a job while traveling around raising support.

“So even if God somehow provides for the surgery, we still need to raise support, and I just don’t think anyone is interested in being a part of our support team,” I told Josiah.

“Well how much support do you think God wants to provide this summer? How much do you think God want us to trust Him for?”

“Maybe 10%, but that’s $680! I really doubt that we could raise that much.”

“Rach, how big is your faith?”

“It’s not that I don’t have faith, it’s just that I’m trying to be reasonable.”

“How big is your God?”

Um….that question stopped me short. “Well it’s not that I have a small view of God, it’s just that I’m trying to be reasonable.” (which means, “I’m doubting God”) So we prayed, asking God to provide for the surgery bills, and maybe even the money for getting tires for the car…but I still had my doubts.

The next morning, I was going through the routine of checking email, and the first email I saw stopped me in my tracks. There was an email from some friends of ours saying that they were sending us money to help pay for my surgery…and the amount they were sending was the exact amount that we needed to finish paying all those medical bills. What’s more, they wanted to support us financially each month — and the amount they want to support us for equals about 4.4% of our support! Here I was, doubting that God might be able to provide 10% in a summer, and overnight, God provided 4.4%!! In an instant, I felt overwhelmed with gratitude and praise to God, and yet humbled and awed by how God provided for us even in the midst of my doubt. How big is my God? My view of Him just got bigger.
Is God stretching your view of Him? If not, ask Him to!

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T minus 20 hours

Just a quick update to let you know I’ll be going in for surgery tomorrow (Thursday 5/29) morning at 7am. Woohoo! Yes, I am excited to have this abdominal intruder removed. 🙂 If all goes well (and the doctor is able to remove it laparoscopically), I should be able to go home the next day! I am supposed to take at least 2 weeks to rest and recover from surgery, and you can probably guess how hard it’s going to be for me to actually rest and allow my body to recover. 🙂 Please pray that I would slow down and rest like I should and that God would give both Josiah and I strength through these next few weeks. Thank you so much for praying for us!

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the monster within

“Okay, God, you have our attention now.”

That thought ran through our heads as we hung up the phone with the nurse. She’d called to let us know the results of a diagnostic ultrasound done on Rachel. The results? A tumor called a teratoma (from the Greek word for “monster”) is apparently residing in Rachel’s abdomen. “It’s not cancerous,” the nurse assured us, “it’s just big and needs to come out.” It really caught us by surprise to find out about the tumor, and made us stop and wonder, “okay, God, what are You wanting to teach us through this?” Dealing with this situation on top of the stress of our major final linguistics project has driven us to lean on God even more than before, and we have found Him to be more than sufficient for every need.

After an appointment to run more tests (and having to get stuck with a needle 5 times for 6 tubes of blood) and plenty of phone calls with doctors, emails about insurance, and days of waiting, we traveled to Columbia, Missouri today to meet with the doctor who will do Rachel’s surgery. Initially, the doctor said the soonest he could operate to remove the teratoma (which Rachel affectionately dubbed “Terry the Monster”) would be the end of June. But while the doctor stepped out of the room, we prayed that God could somehow make it so Rachel could get surgery next week; and when the doctor came back, he said he could rearrange the schedule so that he can operate on Rachel either next Thursday (5/29) or Friday (5/30)!

The doctor is also going to try to remove the tumor laparoscopically (with 5 small incisions) using a surgical robot instead of doing a larger abdominal incision (which would require a longer recovery time, be more painful, etc). Since the tumor is 12cm in diameter, there is still a chance that he’d have to make a large incision in order to remove the tumor, so please pray that he’d be able to remove the whole thing using only laparoscopic surgery. Thank you so much for lifting us up before the throne of grace!

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