Saturday, November 27, 2010

It’s all Greek to me!

I am the Alpha and the Omega, the First and the Last, the Beginning and the End. Rev 22:13

Due to the busyness of life here, Dan has decided to begin learning New Testament Greek.  As the children have completed their assigned school work for the year, we are all joining in.  It’s early days yet, with the teacher (Dan) being only one lesson ahead of the class (us).  It has been a lot of fun and the children have progressed to translating a few simple verses.

I pray also that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened in order that you may know the hope to which he has called you, the riches of his glorious inheritance in the the saints and his incomparably great power for us who believe.Eph. 1:18

As I write, Daniel and Sharon are commencing eye surgery for a man who received a head injury while cutting down a large tree this afternoon.  Please pray for them as it means a difficult anaesthetic and an unfamiliar operation. 

Thank you for your prayers regarding cholera in the Western Province.  Rumginae has not had any cases, and the cases in the two neighbouring hospitals have been few and mild.  Please continue to pray that the health messages will be effectively communicated and responded to.  Please pray for the health staff who seek to show the love of Christ in word and deed.

Love always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. 1Cor. 13:7.

May you know the love of God and the glorious grace he has freely given us in the One he loves.

In Christ

Daniel, Tammy, Tom, Rosie and Sam PriestDSCF6712

Friday, November 12, 2010

You Shall Know the Truth…

and the truth shall set you free.

Are not two sparrows sold for a penny? Yet not one of them falls to the ground apart from the will of your Father.  Mt 10:29

Tom, Rosie and Sam have been caring for a small bird for many weeks.  It was a great challenge supplying this little scrap of life with 15 or so grasshoppers about 8 times a day amidst home schooling and other chores!  It has been much like having a new born baby! The children were very self sacrificing, giving their best in all areas. 

“ This is helping me understand you more Mummy.”  Tom commented as we discussed how busy it was making us!

On one level, it seemed rather ridiculous to put so much effort into this insignificant part of creation-yet isn’t that what God does for each of us?

 When I consider your heavens, the work of your fingers, the moon and stars which you have put in place, what is man that you are mindful of him..? Ps8:3,4b

It has been greatly encouraging to see the unity of response from our staff with the arrival of cholera in the province.  Although they are already stretched with a small number of staff for the number of patients we attend to, they have been moving around to the villages each evening in their “spare time” sharing health awareness messages and God’s word.  What a wonderful example of the love of Christ in action! Many people are frightened as they do not understand the “sickness” or how preventable it can be. Please pray that fear will be relieved as people respond to health messages and that through this, they will turn to the one who is the Way, the Truth and the Life.

Deadly Disease on Doorstep is the title of an article in “The Australian”.  For us it is quite literal!  We have a supply of bleach solution at the front door.  Please feel free to drop by and experience our hospitality - foot washing included!

Australia does have a significant problem nearby with cholera now at Daru, HIV, tuberculosis – including drug resistant strains, not to mention malaria, meningitis, and the many, many other infectious diseases we see and live alongside every day here.

Daru is opposite Cape York

Cholera is a nasty diarrhoeal disease. It has so far killed nearly 600 in Haiti. Here in PNG, we have had nowhere near the same number of deaths. We are not getting any official figures but in our province we hear maybe 21 deaths on Daru (300km south), with many more infections, some very severe. There are at least 3 other places in province with suspected cholera, including some places near where we are. We have NO CHOLERA cases in Rumginae at this stage.

Please pray for us as we do as much as we can to get an urgent health message out to people. In each village there are not enough toilets for each house, people do not always use a toilet. Safe drinking water is not readily available. Soap and simple cleaning solutions are rarely used. Hand washing needs to be improved. These are messages we have been giving for years. For the last few months, I (Daniel) had been working with the CHW training school on a Rural Water Supply and Sanitation project funded by the European Union to get toilets and tanks into two villages. Now the need is upon us.  Working within such limited infrastructure, it is a seemingly insurmountable challenge.  Yet, all things are possible for God, and he asks only that we do our best.

Apart from cholera, our ward is full with some very sick patients. TB is a very big problem and many patients are sick with TB. Leprosy is a growing problem. We have others unwell with kidney disease, snake bite, delirium, pneumonia, tendon or bone injuries, tropical ulcers, pregnancy complications and more.

Death adder

From Nov 30 to Dec 2 I will be in Moresby for a snake bite conference, giving the bush medicine perspective. Please pray for safe travel and for Tammy and the children while I’m away. Also pray for Dr Sharon while I am away those 3 days

Apart from the clinical and the medical administration, there is also the maintenance. We are having a lot of problems with our power supply. The mini-grid system is still not on line and there have been numerous needs for cable repairs. We have only ONE functioning generator, and our fuel supply will run out mid December, with no funds for more until 2011! There are many, many housing maintenance needs, and organisational needs such as building 5 new staff houses soon, and liaising to get materials to Mougulu for the new health centre building.

There are also bigger issues around in which I am involved such as investigating an enormous lease given for logging of a massive area of the North Fly with the lease basically extinguishing mission and other leases that exist and taking people’s rights to the use of their land away.

We are still trying to get the tractor out to Mougulu. Please pray.

Recently we had an extremely useful visit from a computer expert who has got the hospital and CHW school computers working well.

We are thankful for Sharmini who is again willing to generously give her time and come over Dec/Jan which will allow us to take leave during the school holidays as well as sort out some health issues. The joy of the Lord is our strength.

Love the Lord your God with all your hear and with all your soul and with all your strength.  These commandments I am giving you today are to upon your hearts.  Impress them upon your children. Dt 6:4-5

Please pray that the love of God would be deeply impressed in our hearts.

Thank you for your prayers.

Daniel, Tammy, Tom, Rosie and Sam

Saturday, October 9, 2010

Half way

Work permit approved… now for the visa. It looks like all will be approved by the end of October.


Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Cultural experiences

Aekyom dances during 75 yr celebrations PNG peacefully gained Independence from Australia 16th September 1975 and this event is celebrated with traditional dress and dances every year. Another September celebration was to mark 75years of health care in PNG provided by the Evangelical Church of PNG. Missionaries were probably providing health care prior to 1935, however this is the earliest record the church has. Of interest, the first nurse to work with the mission was in 1947, the first mission doctor in 1957. 1957 is the year that medical ‘skeds’ began, and we continue to use the HF radio to speak with villages and health workers all over the province and even the country on a regular schedule. The first Balimo and Rumginae doctors arrived in 1966. Formal Health worker training started in 1968 (Aid post orderlies-later Community Health Workers), with the Balimo school of nursing opening in 1973 (now closed).

 Unam (on right) is our lab manRosie


Daniel on radioWhile on history: CRMF have provided a continuous listening service on the HF radio since 1959 and continue to be instrumental in providing communication to remote places, especially during times of emergency. That’s 12 hours a day, 365(6) days a year for 51 years of faithful service to the people of remote PNG!

For school, we have really enjoyed learning lots about India. The finale was a chance to dress up and enjoy a real Indian meal.

Addy and SamDressed in sarisSam and Tom

Butter chicken and Samosas!

We have had plenty of visitors: a visiting doctor and his family, another friend, a snake bite expert and much more including a US based volunteer willing to help with many of our projects. Please pray for Gene who has decided to serve God in this way. Pray that we would be able to liaise well and move forward with some of our plans to improve the health service. The projects we are looking into include finding funds for medivacs, re-building some or all of the hospital, new staff houses and a training program for national doctors to work in rural areas.

Addy and Sharon were able to travel to Wewak for the medical symposium which they enjoyed. They made friends with some national doctors working in difficult rural settings and we hope to be able to provide some support to these doctors.

Gippy A few weeks ago now, our main hospital driver suddenly died during the sports events of Independence Day. Gippy was a godly, christian man who served the health service first as hospital chaplain, then as driver for many years. Please pray for Gippy’s family. Please also pray for his village as there is a lot of talking about who to blame for his death and calling on spirits to give them the answer. In Romans 8:2 we read ‘The Holy Spirit will give you life that comes from Christ Jesus and will set you free from sin and death.’ and verse 10 ‘But Christ lives in you. So you are alive because God has accepted you, even though your bodies must die because of your sins.’ Pray that his village would find their answer in Jesus and his word to us.

This week we have brought in 19 outstation Community Health Worker (CHW’s) to Kiunga for an in-service covering many health topics. Pray for these staff as they spend time with each other and us. Pray for us to teach well. Addy and Sharon are both in Kiunga all week. Pray for the hospital to be quiet while Dan is here on his own.

We have had many sick patients. Pray for Wo*** who is only 5 but has terminal leukaemia. His condition cannot be treated in PNG. Pray for Be***a who was unconscious for over a week from what was probably a viral encephalitis. She is slowly recovering. Praise God that Es** is much, much better having started new TB drugs. His TB was resistant to the usual 4 or 5 drugs we use. Praise God we were able to fly down to Balimo to bring in a mother with severe pregnancy related bleeding. We really thought she was going to die overnight but when she got to us mother and baby (still inside) were ok.

Mougulu Tractor and trailer (photo taken at Brisbane) Please pray that some way would be found to get a new tractor and trailer out to Mougulu. It was bought with donor funding, transported from Brisbane by the Ok Tedi mine and is now at Kiunga airstrip. It only has to go another 150km or so, but there are no roads. There are a number of helicopters in the area as many companies search for oil and gas. Pray that we would find someone willing to transport it for us. It will be used as an ambulance! (as well as to carry building materials, mow the airstrip and many more jobs).

Family photoWe have started school early (this week) to get a little bit ahead. Last week was a nice break, though. Our work permits / visas expire October 31, so there is a chance we may need to return to Australia to wait if the visas are not renewed in time.


RosieCheeky Sam

Canoeing on the Wai Maeri. Tom is standing up.

Our latest purchase – a new canoe!! This has kept Tom and his friends very busy and very happy.

Thank you for your prayers and support

Daniel, Tammy, Tom, Rosie and Sam

Thursday, September 23, 2010

A routine manual removal

I just put this together for one of the MAF pilots about a medivac we did yesterday. It didn’t initially stand out to me as anything out of the ordinary… but it really shows how things can go well. There was a trained, caring health worker in a remote village with adequate knowledge and supplies. The village had a functioning HF radio (with solar panels and battery) and were able to call CRMF in Goroka for help. CRMF were able to call a doctor at Rumginae and we could then liaise directly. Wawoi falls has an airstrip which the community are looking after, so it was possible to ask MAF to fly in and bring her back to Rumginae. The cost of medivacs is a burden for the hospital, but it can save a life. In this case, I think MAF were able to access some recently donated funds. It would be nice to not have to worry so much about money when dealing with peoples lives!

The story doesn’t stop there! Years of work have gone into building up a functional hospital at Rumginae, and then there is the dedication of MAF pilots, CRMF and presence of doctors. The final link in the chain is very exciting to me. PNG nursing staff and a lab technician were able to go ahead with resuscitating this patient, arranging for blood for transfusion and remove this retained placenta without a doctor! It is very satisfying to see people becoming more capable and independent. It is good to think that it won’t just be a few healed patients left behind, but some capable staff as well… who can themselves then go on to train others.


I remember Wawoi Falls as being the place where we successfully did a medivac from Rumginae with Dr Mike (Emergency Specialist) and our Midwife James a couple of years ago. This was to a lady with a retained placenta. They were able to remove the placenta at WWF and did not need to bring her in to Rumginae.

Move forward a couple of years and we find the same lady (!) Yu** having another baby. The health worker there is competent. She had diagnosed twins. The family and community did not have money to send this lady to hospital for a safe delivery.

This week Tuesday the health worker spoke with a Dr because this lady was in labour with twins, a previous retained placenta, it was her 5th time to give birth (3 single babies, 1 previous twins (with a retained placenta, one of those twins died)) AND with this pregnancy the first twin was coming as a breech (buttock first instead of the normal, safer, head first). They were given advice over the radio and told to call if there was any problem. Late that day, the health worker called me and told me the first baby came out ok (breech) and was doing well but it was now 5 hours and the second baby was not coming. I gave some further advice and told them to call at 7am for a medivac if that was needed. As it was getting dark, a medivac that day was not going to be possible.

The next morning, the loud alarm on the HF radio told us that there was still some problem. The second twin had come out alive and well at 730pm... but the placenta was stuck. There was really no choice now, she needed to come in to a hospital.

Probably around 1000 mothers die from childbirth related complications in PNG every year (600-700/100000 deliveries) - bleeding, especially from a retained placenta is one of the big 5 causes of death. (Others in the worldwide top 5 are: Infection, Eclampsia (fitting etc), Unsafe abortion and Obstructed labour)

When Yu** reached Rumginae she was unwell with a pulse of 140. She had obviously lost a lot of blood. She was resuscitated very skillfully by national nursing staff who were also able to successfully remove her placenta. A lot of time is spent helping our staff become proficient in as many skills as possible and it was exciting to see them capable to deal with this situation.

She is now doing well, her babies are well... and you'll be pleased to know she plans to stop after 7 children (6 still living). We have her booked for a family planning operation on Tuesday. She should be ready to return to Wawoi Falls the following week.

I don't know how much the flight cost... but the K3000 charter or K400 fare or whatever has saved this lady's life, and kept her around to care for her 6 children.


Thursday, August 26, 2010


Greetings from lovely India I mean PNG! Tom and Rosie have been doing a ‘Countries and Cultures’ unit on India. We have learnt many fascinating facts. There have also been times for dressing the part and eating real Indian food (many thanks to Addy) as we celebrated Indian Independence Day.

Tom dresses up Indian StyleTom and Addy

Thank you to everyone who helped in so many different ways in our transition from Australia to PNG. Packing boxes and then sheds, mowing lawns, cleaning, preparing meals, caring for children, assisting in preparations for home-schooling and so much more. Though it is just one example, I shall not soon forget the sight of our minister’s wife down on her knees carefully cleaning the tracks for the sliding door of our downstairs room. It was a quiet and humble act of servant leadership

Wai Maeri is upHere at Rumginae, many dear friends have done much. We were astonished to arrive and find our bathroom had been beautifully refitted, tiled and painted. Thank you to Phil who had done this during his day off each week and to Glenda for releasing him.  Also to Melanie for the lovely repainting. Some dear friends, Waeya and Martina had organised repairs to our haus-win, which many children have enjoyed.  

“Rejoice with me, I have found my lost coin”

Sam unpacking his toysOn the night we arrived, while Dan and I were in one part of the house aiming to create some order, Sam was in another, creating a delightfully boyish disorder as he rediscovered his packed away treasures!

The children are all very excited to be back at Rumginae.  They’re in a great hurry to revisit all their favourite places and activities with all their friends all at once.

Judy, who previously helped us so much in the house has now married and we wish her well in her new life. We are thankful to have the assistance of some friends from Menumsore who are coming on different mornings.

evaporator fan in freezer... I had no idea how important this fan was until it didn't work!We have many opportunities to learn about new things and to depend on God’s providence. Our refrigerator “running a temperature “ of 17 –25 degrees was one such example. Thanks to a visiting pilot with knowledge of electronics and other friends in Kiunga and Port Moresby who were willing to chase parts on our behalf, iced water is now back on the menu. 

At the end of August we say Keith and family on their recent visit to Rumginae in the twin ottergoodbye to friends Keith and Suellyn with their three lovely daughters. Keith was a pilot here at Rumginae and elsewhere in PNG for many years. Most recently Keith and family have lived up at Telefomin with Keith flying the twin otter. We have been blessed to serve alongside them and pray for them as they move to Gove in Arnhem Land to continue service with MAF Australia.

I, Daniel, initially found the work hard to adjust to. Particularly hard was the death of a mother with a ruptured uterus in the first week that we were back. Access to health care in this remote province is often very difficult.  Finding transport options for further care is difficult, finding money for flights to hospital is extremely difficult. Then once we have managed to get a sick patient to hospital, it is not easy providing specialised medical care. I am not an anaesthetist, or an obstetrician, or a surgeon, or a paediatrician, or a psychiatrist, or an orthopaedic surgeon…. but we are often called to fulfil many of these roles… often at the same time! Please do pray for (Drs) Daniel, Addy and Sharon as we seek give our best to God and the patients he brings. Pray that we would work together well and bring glory to God.

It was encouraging last week to visit Debepari health centre – 25 mins flight east of here. Jamie and Danwaf are doing a great job. Pray that we could get to visit all of our 15 outstations more often.

Debepari Health Centre CHW Jamie

Please pray for the many sick patients we have on the ward…patients with complex fractures, many patients with tuberculosis – some very unwell, one young man (21) with end stage kidney failure, 2 patients recovering from surgery for peritonitis, for Wow** with a new diagnosis of leukaemia (which we will find hard to treat effectively), for Reb***a with severe spinal cord problems and for at least 2-3 others who are unwell and we really haven’t worked out what ‘kind of sick’ they have yet. I had on my list young R**ie with very severe infection and bone marrow (immune) suppression, but I have just been told this morning that she has died. Please pray for her family at this difficult time.

 Wai Maeri GA8 Airvan P2-MFJ and new Rumginae ambulance

May the God who gives endurance and encouragement give you a spirit of unity among yourselves as you follow Christ Jesus, so that with one heart and mouth, you may glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.

Rom 15:5,6

love and prayers

Daniel, Tammy, Tom, Rosie and Sam

Monday, July 26, 2010

Did I speak too soon?

Well, having said that I hoped it would be a while before a medical story….

Having been here 2 days now we have unpacked and set up some of the house. It was lovely to be welcomed back at church on Sunday. After church, while trying to solve the solar hot water system problem at another house with Matt and Phil, Matt had to dash away. As one of the 2 MAF pilots here, he needed to fly to a place about an hour’s flight away to pick up a very sick lady. This picture shows Matt landing at Rumginae on Sunday with the hospital in the background:

GA 8 Airvan landing at Rumginae

We weren’t able to fix the hot water problem … maybe tomorrow. While the plane was away I had a go at fixing our microwave. I found a blown fuse but have little chance of getting a replacement here in PNG! If that doesn’t fix it I’m not sure what to do next. While attempting this operation the plane landed with a very unwell lady.

Dr Addy was on call ... Dr Sharon is taken a well earned weekend off. I was pleased to be able to help by being the anaesthetist. The operation to remove the bleeding ectopic pregnancy went well and now our patient is recovering on the ward.

There have been many pleasant surprises. While we were in Australia, the Rumginae house bathroom has been transformed from a mouldy grey termite-eaten area to a lovely bathroom… and the rusty lilting washing machine has been replaced with a lovely new machine. It has been absolutely amazing the number of things different people have thought of and done as examples of Christ like love in sending us and in welcoming us.  It brings me back to God's grace which is also so undeserved.

2Co 8:9  For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though he was rich, yet for your sake he became poor, so that you by his poverty might become rich.

Saturday, July 24, 2010


Dear Friends

We have arrived safely at Rumginae. It was an enormous blessing to have so many wonderful people helping us to vacate our house. Tom and Rosie were both quite sick for the week before leaving Australia but everyone is now healthy and the travel went very smoothly. The children are very excited to be back in PNG and have spent their time climbing trees and playing with friends. We still have a lot of work to do to set up the house, especially the school room. School will start on Monday. Thank you for your prayers. Hopefully I don’t get to update this with an exciting medical story too soon.

Family photo (Blue Mountains)

Friday, March 12, 2010

Home Assignment dates

Thank you so much for your prayers and support for us during our time at Rumginae, and also now that we are home for furlough / home assignment. We have settled into our house and the children are enjoying going along to the local school. The dates that have been arranged so far for speaking etc during home assignment are listed below. (We have already presented at Gosford, Nelson Bay and St Andrew’s Newcastle Presbyterian churches);
14th March: Woy Woy Presbyterian
28th March: Tuggerah Lakes Choral Society ‘pleasant Sunday afternoon’, Toukley
11th April: Bathurst Presbyterian
18th April: Doyalson Baptist
2nd May Wingham Presbyterian
9th May Mannering Park Uniting (6pm)
16th May: Finley Presbyterian
6th June: Gosford Presbyterian
June – Return to Rumginae; probably until the end of 2011.
Our home assignment time has been used to rest, get medical and dental needs attended to, put the children in school, catch up with family and friends, debrief with Pioneers, organise work permits and visas, report back to churches and supporters (more to go still), study and training, as well as some medical work to keep up to date.
Thank you so much for your support and prayers
Daniel, Tammy, Tom, Rosie and Sam
From one jungle to another!