And so it was that I was humbled again today! (Given the amount of times I am humbled in this place one would think I should be the most humble person on earth, but it seems that pride is still a pretty fierce and persistent opponent of my humbleness - perhaps the reason why God keeps working on humbling me, hey??!!) I was humbled when sitting in the International Hospital. You see, when I usually sit there I am still always seeing so many things which do not match up to Western Standards. I see the time the nurse didn't wash her hands with soap, or the way the pathologist doesn't wear gloves when he takes my child's blood. I see this through my Western eyes and I swallow and shudder a little too sometimes.
Today, however, as I sat there with Agnes (and her husband, Andrew) I was suddenly putting myself in their shoes (as much as I could fit into them), and seeing things through their eyes. There they were. Instead of waiting for hours and hours in a local clinic or the government hospital (Angau) just to be seen, we were all done in a few hours. Instead of standing up (for lack of chairs and over crowding), feeling sick and weak, in a hot and stuffy room (or in the heat outside) at a clinic or Angau, we were sitting on comfortable chairs in air conditioning. Instead of seeing a nurse or doctor who may perhaps offer a quick finger prick to test for malaria (on a good day - on a bad day, malaria is just presumed to be the origin of every fever and headache in this country) and then give you quinine which has been laying around in the open air, touched by who-knows-who, and there for who-knows-how-long, and sending you home....instead of this we were seen by a good doctor who took the time to listen to her symptoms and who decided to do a full blood test.
Agnes was diagnosed with Typhoid. The malaria had gone completely for which we are thankful, but when your body is weak then you are also more vulnerable to other illnesses. Typhoid is still very prevalent in PNG, and is caused by contaminated food and or water. Thankfully Agnes is now on medication and we pray that she may soon recover from this awful illness too. She has 6 children to care for (another is married - and is at the Bible College in Port Moresby), as well as a grand-child under her care. It is a big burden for a family like that to have much illness to deal with!
It seems that contaminated food and water still causes many problems for people in PNG. Dysentery is a big problem, Cholera is still a big issue, and is still present in Lae and surrounds and is now also affecting Port Moresby. Both are killers. Then there are diseases like malaria which still kills many people each year. Then there is Tuberculosis (which is highly contagious) which is also still a big killer. Just today we received word that the father of one of our members died from Tuberculosis. I had recently spoken to him briefly in the local hospital (Angau) when I went with some ladies from our church on a hospital visit. He was an elderly man by PNG standards (PNG has a very low life expectancy), so he had little "hope" in a fight against a killer disease like TB. Thankfully just now Ian and Andrew could return from visiting with the wider family and sharing the Gospel with them.
Just dealing with all these things in a day forces you to re-evaluate your own situation and blessings. And it is humbling to sometimes look through the "eyes" of others and to see things from a different perspective!
Update 1: The situation in Bulolo continues to cause much grief. Sepik people continue to try and flee to Lae for safety. The town of Bulolo is still in shut-down mode. Just today the paper had a story of some young teenage boys who fled through heavy bush and rough terrain and walked all the way to Lae, all the while scouting for the enemy, fearing for their lives.
Update 2: It seems that the family of the beheaded woman and terrorized girl has received their wish so far in that no major retaliation seems to be happening (as far as we know). This may also be helped by the fact that some of the perpetrators of these crimes have thankfully been caught by the police.
And lastly....Funny story: Ashlyn came out with a statement the other day which we thought pretty well encapsulated the state of the roads in Lae. As we drove to some friend's house on Saturday afternoon we had to drive on