Dear Friends and Family:
We are leaving for Cameroon later this morning. It honestly seems like we have just gotten home from the last trip. We are heading to work at the Mbingo Baptist Hospital near Bamenda, Cameroon in the Northwest Province. It is only of the two English speaking areas of Cameroon – the remainder of the country is Francophonic. However, the English is often more pidgin than English and is often mixed with French and tribal languages.
It is at a high elevation (at least 4300 feet A.S.L.) and this is their winter and the rainy season. That means it can get pretty chilly. Micky looked at the weather prediction earlier this week and on several days, it won’t even get to 70o F. Still, we can tolerate cool better than the heat we had earlier this year in Togo and Ghana (and for that matter, California last week!).
We will fly into Douala, Cameroon Sunday afternoon and stay at the European Baptist Rest House there overnight before driving the several hours up to Mbingo the next day. We are heavily laden with things for the missionaries and for the hospital.
Today is the day that the PAACS annual general surgery exam is given and I can’t help but wonder how they are doing. Mbingo has a Seventh Day Adventist resident so they all took their exam yesterday. These exams are rigorous and I know that many will be very relieved to get a passing grade. We do have one resident who is on probation from last year’s performance and I am praying that he will be able to do well this year. If he does not, he will probably be released from the program. Maintaining standards is always a very hard but important thing to do.
The next two weeks will be busy. In addition to helping around the surgery wards and OR, on Tuesday, I will participate in mock oral examinations of the three residents who will graduate in 2013. It is in preparation for the formal examinations on Saturday. These mock orals will be observed by the junior residents and we will discuss what they did well with and what they did not do well with. Mid-week, Steve Sparks, the program director, will go with me to Mutengene Hospital outside of Douala where a pervious PAACS graduates, Henry Ndasi, has prepared everything for the formal exams. I am very grateful to him for all that work. Dr. Keir Thelander, Program Director at Bongolo Hospital in Gabon and two of his residents will fly up on Friday and the three residents will come down from Mbingo. Several PAACS faculty and two VIPs from the West African College of Surgery will hold the formal exams on Saturday. This is a very anxiety-provoking thing for the residents and in truth, makes me pretty nervous for them. It is very important for PAACS for them to do well in front of these two surgeons from WACS. They are both believers and friends but they are also intellectually rigorous and will not cut them any slack – exactly the way it should be.
The following weekend will be the graduation ceremony for these three from Mbingo and the residents from the internal medicine program at Mbingo. They have a VIP-studded line-up and it will be a long ceremony filled with pomp and circumstance. We will have people there from the government, from academia, from PAACS, from the mission agencies and the hospital. The three residents are not all quite finished. Two will actually complete their training in December (they began mid-year at Ngaoundéré Protestant Hospital). The one who is actually finishing is Jerry Brown from Liberia. He is somewhat special to Micky and I because we remember interviewing him for the program while serving on the Mercy Ship in Monrovia. He is very nervous with heights and we still chuckle when we recall that he wouldn’t even go on the higher decks of the ship. He will be returning to work at the ELWA hospital.
The Bongolo program will hold their graduation in three weeks but unfortunately, we will not be able to attend that one. I would have liked to have done so.
Just some bits and pieces of things:
- The written PAACS exam took several people almost 200 hours of work to prepare the two exams. Each is a best-answer multiple choice or matching exam and they will take 4 – 5 hours to complete the 200 questions. We pray that it will be fair and valuable to the residents.
- June 30 was the end of the fiscal year for PAACS and Micky has been very busy brining the year to a close and to making sure that the money for the next six months was properly calculated and then sent out. I had a fair bit of input into some of that and also began working on the Fall Prayer Guide. We won’t get the final numbers on the 2012-2013 fiscal year until mid-August but it is clear that God’s faithfulness in the face of last year’s deficit was truly awesome!
- In the last edition of The SteffeScope, I failed to include a picture of Sean. I have been duly chastised by several of you, so I would like to make amends and include a picture of both my sons. I present them with more than just a soupçon of pride (I shall repent of that pride later).
- I have been appointed to the editorial board of the newly conceived Christian Journal of Global Health. I really needed some additional responsibility…. Hopefully, it won’t be a great deal of work but I am enthusiastic about the idea.
- Loma Linda University School of Medicine has decided to publish a second version of a daily devotional “Evening Rounds”. It is due out in December of this year. My submission was selected.
- Ten days ago, I did a webinar in Boone, NC. It was part of the International Health Forum webinar program conceived by and hosted by our friend Dr. Lance Plyler. The topic was “Is Sustainability Sustainable?” I will do the second session in late August. I enjoyed the evening with Lance and Melissa and had the opportunity to meet the new head of the World Medical Mission Post-graduate program, Dr. Keenan Wilson.
- Earlier this week, I drove to Morgantown, West Virginia to lecture at the Tropical Medicine course there. You will remember than I attended that program as a student and these lectures on burns and culture shock go back to some volunteer lectures that I gave then during some lunch times. I had the opportunity to spend the evening before with Dr. Greg and Elizabeth Juckett, friends from the CMDA-CMDE and this course. We had a wonderful meal of Mediterranean cuisine and a good time of fellowship.
Praise and Prayer:
- Please pray for traveling safety and an effective three weeks in Cameroon.
- Pray that the students will do well on the written and oral examinations. Pray especially for those who are being tested by WACS and PAACS next week.
- Praise God for His faithfulness to us and to PAACS. And pat yourself on the back for the tremendous job you do as a member of the team!
- Please pray for my children – the Lord knows the concerns of my heart.
Back to Africa,
Bruce with Micky and Sean