The last two months have been chaotic and we have been neglectful in keeping you up to date on all the events. You will forgive us for making this letter a bit longer than usual.
We went from the excitement of Ryan’s and Chrissy’s wedding to the annual Global Missions Health Conference in Louisville, Kentucky, November 5 – 7. On Thursday, Bruce attended a pre-conference on medical education in missions while Micky and Terry McLamb (Bruce’s assistant in the Pan-African Academy of Christian Surgeons) set up the booth. We then entered a 48 hour whirlwind of interaction with the >3,000 attendees, two sessions during which Bruce spoke and the Friday night Friend of PAACS reception where more than 100 heard presentations by Bruce and two missionaries. As always, it is a busy but productive time for PAACS and we were encouraged to talk to the medical students and surgical residents who are interested future service with PAACS.
The following weekend was the semi-annual PAACS Commission meeting held once again at a hotel near O’Hare Field in Chicago. This meeting was significant for the major reorganization that PAACS voted to begin. With the progression of specialty training, we needed to develop new “Councils” that would take care of the specific issues relative to the training in each specialty area and the Commission was overhauled to assume the more “federal” issues at a 30,000 feet perspective. I predict that it will be chaotic for a while but in the long run, this reorganization will be a good move. We have just now begun interviewing the candidates to take my position and I hope that we can select one before too much longer.
I enjoyed the time with the PAACS-Malawi program there. Ryan and Sharlene Hayton were kind enough to host me in their guesthouse and their three active boys kept things hopping. It was good to see PAACS graduate Arega Fakadu and his wife, Bikiltu, and to get to know the first and second year residents a bit better. The program is developing about as expected. I was able to scrub with them, make teaching rounds and even help Ryan find the problem with the wiring for the PAACS server. I also met the new OB-Gyn there, Dr. Casey Graybill. As has been true more often than not the last several years, I missed Thanksgiving at home with my family again but we had a wonderful missionary community-wide get-together on Thanksgiving – for which I was duly thankful! In particular, I was thankful that this community of vegetarians had some meat for me! I am an unreconstructed carnivore!
On Saturday, November 28, I switched location to the Hotel Victoria where the COSECSA meeting would be held the following week. Several of the PAACS program directors were already there to observe or give the exam and the PAACS residents were there to take the exam, so it was a good time to see so many of the team. We had an examiners’ educational session Sunday afternoon and early evening and then the exams began in earnest on Monday. The Membership exam was held Monday and the more advanced Fellowship exam was held on Tuesday. As is true each year, we had a few PAACS residents who did not pass the MCS exam but the passing percentage for PAACS was identical to the larger group. We had only one FCS candidate who did not pass and that exceeded the passage rate for the group as a whole. Not having any subspecialty candidates this year, we were eligible for only three top prizes this year and PAACS again took 2 of the 3 based on the performance of Philip Blasto Ooko at Tenwek. This is the fifth year in a row that we have captured them! During the week, many of the previous skeptics of PAACS made a point of coming up and congratulating me (us) on the residents’ performances.
On Tuesday night, I hosted a dinner for all the PAACS personal and we had 39 people there. Although some of the residents were obviously disappointed in their showing, it was still a blessing to get together and celebrate what the Lord is doing. They can sit the oral exam next year in Kenya and I have confidence that they will pass then.
The rest of the week contained the COSECSA scientific meeting itself (the graduation ceremony was Wednesday). It went from Wednesday through Friday and there was also some overlap with the African launch of the G4 Alliance Meeting (Wednesday) and the G4 Executive Meetings itself (Friday and Saturday). As a Permanent Council member of the G4, I attended those meetings and it was a great time of friendship and networking. A goodly percentage of the council members of the G4 Alliance are known to be believers and that was encouraging.
As I was leaving for Malawi over five weeks ago, I had a mild upper respiratory inspection which then developed into a bronchitis with an asthma-like component. I have had this before. It was annoying and the dry tickle and cough nearly got me thrown off the plane on the way back to the US. I am sure they thought I was tubercular although I knew I wasn’t infectious. Unfortunately, after returning home, it got worse and kept me from doing any meaningful work for almost two weeks. Micky would confirm that I am NOT a good (and patient) patient. It got so bad I actually gave in and saw a doctor (!) who said I had bronchitis with an asthma-like component. With the help of some inhaled steroids and the finishing of a course of antibiotics that I may not have needed, I am slowly recovering and hope to be back in fine form before we leave in January for Egypt, Cameroon and Niger.
We had our own scare this weekend when we received a call from my daughter Michelle. She was on the way to the hospital with our little grandson, Auggie, who had fallen and cracked his head on a table corner. Sure enough, he had a depressed skull fracture by CT scan but we praise God that he was mentally sharp and able to be discharged within 24 hours. The skull is felt likely to remodel in healing.
Sean has finished his semester exams in 9th grade and did very well (A’s). He is looking forward to being homeschooled after the first of the year with a new internet-based curriculum that his school has begun to use
We hope to visit Michigan over the holidays, leaving for there the day after Christmas. We will not be seeing Bruce’s mother in Tennessee this year but praise God that she is stable and enjoying life there.
As part of our usual annual high-pressure fund-raising techniques, we will remind you that gifts may be given to S3 Ministries, PO Box 300, Linden, NC 28356 or you can donated on the web at the bottom of the page at http://www.s3ministries.com/. We promise that they will be very effectively used.
Praise and Prayer:
- Pray that God’s choice for the PAACS Chief Medical Officer will be clearly evident.
- Praise God for Auggie’s good outcome after the skull fracture.
- Please pray for continued healing for Bruce’s lungs.
- Praise God for the safe trip to Malawi. Please pray for traveling safety over the holidays