July 2014

Opportunities in Papua New Guinea

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Interested in the Pacific? What about Papua New Guinea? Gulf Christian Services invites applications from Medical Officers for positions at Kikori Rural Hospital in the Gulf Province of Papua New Guinea (6 months or longer).  Gulf Christian Services (GCS) is a mission hospital with a mission statement ‘to provide Christ-centred services to the people of Gulf.’ They are looking for Doctors with a heart to use their professional expertise to advance God’s Kingdom.

GCS are also searching for applicants for Finance Personnel and General Maintenance positions.

If you are interested in knowing more please contact Lesley@NZCMS.org.nz

For more information about the hospital you can visit www.kapuna.org

Not just another day at the office

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Sometimes, a day at work here astonishes me. On one fateful day last week the wonderful people that called on the Lacor outpatient stretched my head and emotions in so many directions, by the end of the day I was wondering if it was some form of daydream. Out of the 30 patients seen that day, here’s a little bit about 10 of them.

1)      Skin diseases are the bane of most doctors, especially inexperienced ones. If something’s wrong with the heart or lungs, I can manage. The skin on the other hand… What are these spots that were all over her body?

2)      As soon as this 7 year old girl walked in, I had my heart in my mouth. I’d only ever seen Sydenham’s Chorea before on videos. Two weeks of strange, involuntary faux break dancing movements was enough to drive her mother spare. Luckily, her heart was OK and the involuntary movements will most likely gradually get better!

3)      The next woman has “Foamy macrophages” in her spleen (apparently). Having no idea what this means, I picture a huge pink foamy sponge in the bath. Not helpful for the patient!

4)      The lovely old woman smiled at me as she handed me her bone marrow sample result. Like many samples it definitely showed cancer, but couldn’t say whether it was Lymphoma or Leukemia. It was fair enough that she didn’t understand why the clever doctors couldn’t figure it out after sticking a massive needle into her bone. We’re going to send the sample to Italy where hopefully they can shed more light.

5)      “Benign hepatoma” was the ultrasound result from a small hospital. It seemed a bit fishy so we took a sample from his liver – He came back today with the heartsinking result – “Hepatocellular Carinoma”, universally fatal here. Discussing terminal illness is hard enough in your mother tongue…

6)      The next healthy looking girl came in dragging her right leg. Two days ago ago she suddenly developed a splitting headache and then gradually started losing movement in her right side. Amazingly she could find the 200,000 needed for a brain scan in the capital, so I shipped her out quicksmart. Some things even Lacor can’t handle!

7)      Next was a lovely old man who had forgotten his insulin for a week. He was looking very well but his blood sugar was unrecordably high. After having a talk with him about the importance of not missing a week, we kept him in overnight to be safe.

8)      Often tragedy is unexpected. One 25 year old guy had a few episodes of swelling in his face and legs over the last year or so. After testing his kidneys over a one month period, we now have to communicate that he is dying of kidney failure, Dialysis is impossible, transplant costs an unfathomable amount. He asks me how long he has got left. How do I answer that?

9)      The next woman who came in had a heart trying far too hard hard – I could see it pumping from a mile away. I made the mistake of making her lie down at which point she went blue and nearly passed out.

10)   The last patient of the day was a near case of Doctor error. There was nothing much wrong with the guy, seriously – he just had a dry cough for 3 weeks! I asked him to try and cough something up with us, and my awesome diagnosis of “likely benign cough” (facepalm), made way for Tuberculosis! Sometimes it does pay to be cautious – not my strongest suit it must be said.

For more from Nick and Tessa visit UgandaPanda.com

New home for physically disabled children

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Allen, who is 16 years old, is our first child in the new home for physically disabled children. He has a very pleasing personality and  is enjoying every experience. For years he has stayed all day on a little wood slat bed in a shack with a  dirt floor that isn’t even flat, and his parents have needed to work all day. He lives in a wheelchair and needs 24 hour  care. We managed to find him  a very good “buddy”, and he is going to school for the first time in his life – and really enjoying it, even if it’s Grade One with a bunch of 6 year olds! He can draw, he’s enjoyed watching a basketball game here, and he even joined us for a prayer meeting last night. He’s learning to joke and have some fun. From a life of being stuck staying at home on a crooked slat … he is on a roll!

On another note, have you heard of Chikungunya? Most people around here hadn’t. Neither had I. But it’s a nasty little virus that I’ve picked up, spread by a mosquito that bites in the daytime.  (It has nothing to do with chickens, even if it has “chik” in the name!) High fever, headache rashes and joint swellings. My voice has come back and all I have now are swollen ankles and rashes on my lower legs. Please pray for full recovery and patience!


Rain Dances in Uganda

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Sad, wilted, short, tiny-eared maize. I see them everywhere- when I walk to Church, ride my bike to a meeting, when I go for a run out in the villages. Every where you go, you hear the farmers complaining, ‘a whole month without rain! The sun has destroyed everything!’

Its true there is often a dry patch around this time of year, but usually nothing like this. The clouds of dust on the road churned up by the trucks on their way to Sudan is extreme. If we go to town on the back of a motorbike, we arrive with a new fake tan and freshly dyed orange hair.

But yesterday, it rained. The rain hammered our tin-roofed church so hard we had to pause our meeting because no one could hear a thing. I poked my head out the church door and see..

Seven naked little bodies sprinting and jumping amongst the huts and along the road. At the first drop of rain, the kids stripped and ran outside. Convenient way to wash and not waste water? Triumphant joy nude rain dance? Next I saw them dive and belly slide along their neighbors now-muddy veranda. Definitely a triumphant rain dance. I restrained myself from joining them….just! Obviously taking a photo would have been a tad inappropriate, but this picture I stole from google captures the vibe nicely.

In a couple of weeks, our new farmers group will be planting our new maize. Pray the rain stays, and the dancing continues!

Katie’s in Christchurch

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I have now finished my studies at St Andrews Hall (SAH) and said goodbye to my Spanish church. It was a sad time at SAH and many tissues were used as I said farewell to people that I had spent so much time with. We were encouraged from 1 Thessalonians to keep speaking and living by the truth of the gospel as we prepare to go to Asia, The Pacific, The Middle East and Europe to serve the Lord.

For we know, brothers and sisters loved by God, that he has chosen you, because our gospel came to you not simply with words but also with power, with the Holy Spirit and deep conviction.

I have had the last two weeks in Sydney spending time with my super charming God-son and also with friends. It was also really encouraging to visit my old church in Sydney – Marrickville Road Church – and share with them about my journey to Spain. I am delighted that the church has agreed to partner with me in prayer and that I can have this continued relationship with them. The next 2 months I am back in New Zealand on what is called Deputation. In this time I am looking forward to visiting churches and other friends that are partnering with me and to serve and share in these Christian communities

On Tuesday I arrived back in Christchurch and on the way to stay with my parents I had a car crash. Praise God no one was hurt and I had insurance to cover the other cars involved. It was amazing to feel calm and peace through the whole ordeal. Unfortunately my insurance does not cover the cost of my car and so I am waiting to know if it is worth repairing or not. We are still looking for cars for Katie until early September. If you can help out please email jon@nzcms.org.nz.

Rachel’s story, Isaac’s story and ethics

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Ethics has always come up in health care, but in the past it has not seemed as complicated to me as it has become of late.

I would like to tell you the stories of Rachel and Isaac.

Rachel arrived at an hour old, I calculated her gestation to be 35-36weeks with a weight of 1.52KG. She was born in a hospital but they have no neonatal facilities. Born pale, floppy and not-crying, she was resuscitated and then transferred to us. When I was called to come and see her she was in her mothers arms, pale and cold, not breathing, heart rate low. With the help of our visiting student doctor I resuscitated her with bagging and cardiac massage and put her on oxygen in an incubator. Her temperature rose well, her heart rate was good and strong, blood sugar was fine, but her breathing was still laboured, she continued to grunt.

After an hour her oxygen saturation began to drop and, despite increasing oxygen, it continued to drop, then her heart rate began to drop too. I recommenced CPR and, after 20 minutes of effort, finally brought her back to a point of stability, but I could no longer ignore the issue I faced.

Rachel’s condition of respiratory distress leading to respiratory failure was going to kill her. The only way I could possibly prevent this would be to provide respiratory support in the form of CPAP as oxygen therapy was obviously not enough. We have one CPAP machine and Maureen is on it. Maureen is a tiny premature baby who has been with us for a week, she is fragile but doing well. To remove Maureen from the CPAP would mean her death, but to not give it to Rachel would be her death.

How do you choose who dies? from an emotional perspective? from a logical perspective? When both choices seem wrong, what is the right choice?


Isaac has been with us for a week now. When he arrived he was five days old. Born at home premature, his family believed he would die so kept him at home, they fed him a tablespoon of expressed breast milk twice a day but otherwise left him to die. After 5 days he was still alive, so they brought him to us.

The fact that Isaac was alive when he arrived was a miracle in its self. He was cold and weak and had respiratory distress. On top of this he had a severe umbilical infection, abdominal hernia, distended loopy abdomen and a loud heart murmur. His facial features were abnormal indicating the presence of a chromosomal abnormality. I was certain that Isaac would die in his first day with us, but he defeated the odds,  survived and stabilised. He is now stable, his infection settled. He still required 1.5L of oxygen and is tube fed. On assessing Isaac I have found that while he has some natural reflexes, his moro (startle) reflex is weak and he has no suck reflex. His pupils also do not react as I would expect them to. I suspect he may have brain damage.

Isaac has been unable to cope without oxygen, he is feeding through a nasal gastric tube as he cannot suck feed. If we can wean him off oxygen he can go home tube feeding but without health care readily available for severe disabilities he will likely die in the months ahead. If we cannot wean him off oxygen he will be unable to survive outside of our medical centre.

In God’s eyes all life is precious, no matter the age, condition, ethnicity or context. Both Rachel and Isaac are precious in his eyes.

As much as these decisions torture me, I think God would be glad they are torturing me because it means that Rachel and Isaac are precious in my eyes too. The day these decisions become easy is the day I should walk away, because then I will no longer care.

God give me the strength to do everything that I can, the wisdom to make the decisions that I must and the comfort of your love to cope with the consequences.

Thank you (vlog)

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Our Haerenga Three want to say thank you for all your support. Please remember them in your prayers. Some of them are still in need of financial support to get them through to the end of the internship. If you feel God prompting you to help out with this please contact us.

Applications for Haerenga 2015 are now open – http://www.nzcms.org.nz/haerenga

To donate to our Haerenga Interns visit http://www.nzcms.org.nz/get-involved-3/donate-to-nzcms/. Write “Haerenga” as the reference.

Church planting in Albania

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The Shalom church is ticking along nicely, however it is currently more like a house church that meets in a building rather than a church. Each Sunday up to 11 adults and half a dozen teenagers meet for a bible study and prayer, while the children have a separate programme. On Saturdays Valbona runs the main children’s programme.

With Kent and Angie Morton now living near the church we hope for more contact with the families living around the church. Féy and I will be thinking and praying about moving into the neighbourhood at the end of the year too.

Progress with people’s faith is usually slow and hard to measure, but we have some encouraging signs with 6 people (4 adults and 2 teenagers) thinking about baptism this summer.

Pray for those thinking about Baptism. It is a big step for the adults to do such a decisive act and invite all thier families and it is easy to put it off and not bother. Pray for them also as we make as sure as possible  that they understand this Christian Faith that we are teaching and what we believe. It is going well.

“M,” the 44 year old taxi driver whose wife and two boys come to the Shalom church continues to learn about the Christian faith. If Murray doesn’ call him to meet up, he calls Murray, which is really encouraging.