Dear Friends and Family:
It has been a very hectic ten weeks since we last wrote. Sean went back to school a week after we returned home. He loves seventh grade and has finally hit his stride, doing very well academically. Bruce started his own on-line courses in mid-August and was very relieved to finish them this week. For the first time, he took two courses (the equivalent of a 12 hour full-time load) and on top of everything else he was juggling, it nearly killed him. Only one more course to go in January and February of next year and he will be done with his academic career (unless he gets some wild idea of yet another degree).
In mid-August, he drove a van to the University of Maryland in mid-August to pick up several cadavers for the anatomy lab. He complained that he had to keep up both sides of the conversation on the way back to the anatomy lab. Shortly after that trip, he also started teaching his 16th class of PA students (actually he lectured to one class before that). A switch to an entirely different physiology text has kept him scrambling to stay ahead of the students.
In August, Bruce also visited Samaritan’s Purse in Boone, NC with Terry McLamb, his PAACS administrative assistant. They met with the placement team (they are vital in helping recruit and place the short-term faculty that is so vital for PAACS) and Bruce did his first webinar there. In August, he also taught part of a two-day course for Advanced Trauma Life Support at Eastern Carolina University and also taught one afternoon of Advanced Cardiac Life Support at the local hospital, Cape Fear Valley Hospital. In early September, he attended the Alliance for Surgery and Anesthesia Presence (ASAP) conference in Durham one weekend.
Last weekend, he drove to Washington DC to lecture and participate in Humanitarian Surgery workshop put on by the American College of Surgery. He was very honored to be included, but his schedule didn’t permit him to stay longer for the next week of meetings.
Ardith, Bruce’s mother, has had a tough few months. She was diagnosed at Vanderbilt University with myelofibrosis (due to a JAK-2 mutant gene), a low-grade bone marrow malignancy. For the time being, she doesn’t need any chemotherapy and they will watch her with monthly blood counts unless she becomes symptomatic. We are praying that it will be a very long time before that happens. She and Bruce’s father, Carl have made it a tradition since 2002 to come and watch Sean so we can attend the Prescription for Renewal at the Billy Graham Training Center in Asheville. At 81, she drove from the Nashville area and will be here for a few weeks.
Sally, Bruce’s sister, has moved in September to Wake Forest just north of Raleigh. Tim, her husband, took a new position there. He is an engineer with GE and handles diagnostic radiology installations. It is about an hour and a half drive from Linden, but is the closest that we have had a family member live. They moved here in mid-September and Ardith is visiting them, too.
Bruce’s daughter, Michelle, and her husband, Joey, will be arriving this week from California for a few days’ visit. They are on a six week car trip across the country. We are going to have a small reception for them next Saturday in the Botanical Gardens. They were wed in California in June and this will give them a chance to be with friends from this area. It will be good to have them here for a visit.
PAACS continues to have growing pains and to suffer the crisis of the month. One friend, who is a new missionary in Ethiopia, had to return unexpectedly with his entire family to the US for treatment of a psychological crisis. He hopes to go back in six weeks but I suspect it may be much longer before he is ready. That left the other very burned-out missionary in a much worsened situation. It was necessary to scramble to get some support for him and that program. PAACS is really an educational accreditation agency. We can’t run the hospitals and fix all the manpower issues, but in a world where the infrastructure is poor and the number of volunteers is small, it is very tempting to try. However, to do so is very stress-inducing and we often fall short of people’s expectations. PAACS is on track to open two new programs in January – one in Egypt and one in Tanzania. We had hoped to open one in Malawi in January but we were pushing too hard – we made the wise decision to delay it a few months until July of 2014.
In two weeks, Bruce flies to Connecticut to meet with the MedSend board (www.medsend.org). They have begun to support residents within PAACS in addition to all the American missionaries they help. The PAACS business meeting will be the following weekend in Chicago and the Global Health Missions Conference the week after that in Louisville. Bruce will be in the States until the weekend after Thanksgiving when he flies to Zimbabwe to participate in the oral examination process for the College of Surgery of East Central and Southern Africa. Most of our residents did pretty well on the COSECSA written exam and will be tested again (oral exams) that week. Bruce will have to recuse himself for the PAACS residents but he will examine the non-PAACS residents from other countries.
We are starting to plan next year’s schedule and much of it is still up in the air. PAACS is really getting too big for Bruce to handle by himself and he is seriously reconsidering the degree of his participation in the future. This is the 8th year that he has been working full-time on this program.
To switch gears…. This letter isn’t too exciting or too “spiritual.” We are always concerned about boring people when we relate all the necessary routine. We often run across missionaries who have trouble seeing any progress in their God-given work and find it hard to write news letters that are as “exciting” as they think they should be. Here is a wonderful quote to keep in mind for the missionaries you and your church support:
“Humdrum we have called the work, and humdrum it is. There is nothing romantic about potters except in poetry, nor is there much of romance about missions except on platforms and in books. Yet “thought its’ dull at whiles,” there is joy in the doing of it, there I joy in just obeying. He said, “Go, tell,” and we have come and are telling, and we meet Him as we “go and tell.”
“But, dear friends, do not, we entreat you, expect to hear of us doing great things, as an everyday matter of course. Our aim is great – it is India for Christ! And before the gods in possession here, we sing songs unto Him. But what we say to you is this: Do not expect every true story to dovetail into some other true story and end with some marvelous coincidence or miraculous conversion. Most days in real life end exactly as they began, so far as visible results are concerned. We do not find, as a rule, when we go to the houses – the literal little mud houses, I mean, of literal heathendom- that anyone inside has been praying we might come. I read a missionary story “founded on fact” the other day, and the things that happened in that story on these lines were most remarkable. They do not happen here. Practical missionary life is an unexciting thing. It is not sparkling all over with incident. It is very prosaic at times.”
Amy Carmichael, Things as They Are: Mission Work in Southern India, from chapter 3
Praise and Prayer:
- Pray for PAACS and multiple spiritual attacks upon it. Pray especially for the program in Ethiopia.
- Please pray for Ardith’s health issues.
- Pray for God’s guidance for the future involvement in ministry.
Thank you for partnering with us to serve Africa – even when it is not too exciting!
Bruce, Micky and Sean