Dear Friends and Family:
We enjoyed our few days of break in Australia, spending the first two days around Sydney (a beautiful and vibrant cosmopolitan city) and three days in Adelaide in the south of the country. We liked that city as well. We spent the first day in Sydney just exploring the city and the extensive harbor. The second day, we visited the Taronga Zoo across the harbor. The weather was beautiful and the colors were stunningly rich. All of us enjoyed the experience of traveling by train, ferry and foot everywhere. We were stunned at how expensive everything was, however. A Coke was $4, a gallon of gasoline $7 and a fast food lunch was often $35 for the three of us.
The next day was more leisurely and after a brief swim on the beautiful ocean beach near our friends bed and breakfast, we had a leisurely day at the homes of the family of our friends. Our time in Australia was up the next morning. We left Adelaide early on Friday morning, flew from Sydney to London (a 24 hours flight with a two hour fueling stop in Singapore – the longest I have ever taken) and then flew on to Ghana. In London, we met up with Dr. John Yee and his 13 year old son who were also traveling to Togo. John Yee is a cardiothoracic surgeon from Vancouver, BC (who trained at Michigan – go Blue!) and is a regular visitor at the mission hospital in Togo. I have heard of him for years from our mutual friend Bob Cropsey. We didn’t get much time to talk there, but would make up for it later. We were more than ready to get off that plane after 45 hours of travel and get to the Southern Baptist Guesthouse in Accra.
The next morning, we met another group of friends at the airport to travel from Accra to the Karolyn Kempton Memorial Hospital (Hôpital Baptiste Biblique) in Kpele-Tsiko, Togo. The group consisted of Gus Barkett (from Muskegon, Michigan), his wife, one of his Ob-gyn residents and Ohioan radiologist Kerry Sullivan. They are old friends from previous times at Togo. Early on Monday, Micky and Sean stayed at the hospital and Bruce, visiting short-term surgeon David Kuehler from the Albany, NY area, and the new missionary surgeon Eric Miller drove down to attend the annual general meeting of the West African College of Surgeons. It was being held in Lomé, the capitol city of Togo. Jim Brown from the PAACS program at Mbingo Baptist Hospital in Cameroon and Wayne Koch, a PAACS Commissioner, Professor and Director of the division of Head and Neck Cancer Center at Johns Hopkins Hospital in Baltimore, MD, were already there. Later in the week, Bob Cropsey and John Yee also attended.
The main goal of the conference for me was networking. I was able to introduce Eric Miller to some folks he needed to meet. We all “saw and were seen”. I met some old friends from previous WACS meetings and occasions and overall, God seemed to go before us in many ways and in many interactions. However, I am still not sure I can say we definitely accomplished anything. Nonetheless, God may still work some things out still.
On Thursday afternoon, we all came back to the hospital in Kpele-Tsiko. It was good to be back with Micky and Sean. Friday, we toured the hospital together. It was certainly odd for there to be seven surgeons, two family practitioners, two gynecologists, a radiologist and a pediatrician on the campus. I hoped it foretold the reality that would exist when PAACS would be here in the future. Dr. Kochconsulted on an advanced facial cancer which required a five hour complicated surgery to remove the tumor that had eaten all the way through his cheek. Always amazes me how when an expert shows up, there is always a need for his services. In the evening, I presented PAACS to the rest of the local missionaries who wanted to know more and answered questions.
On Saturday, Bob Cropsey, the Yees and our family will be heading 10 hours north to visit the new ABWE hospital in Mango. We will cross the border on Monday morning and go to the Baptist Medical Centre in Nalerigu, Ghana where we will work surgically for the next two weeks. I confess to being a little anxious about being back in the saddle again and doing so in an entirely new environment. I hope I still have something to offer.
Please keep us in prayer. We are getting tired and are really tired of traveling. May God’s will be done.
Yours and His, for the peoples of Africa
Bruce with Micky and Sean
PS: Errata: The proper dates for the 2014 CMDA-CMDE conference in Greece are April 28 – May 8 (not May 28 as we had erroneously written in the last newsletter)