The beautiful grounds of the Brackenhurst International Centre are bathed in warm sunshine, cool breezes and quiet. Most everyone has left. While it is a real relief to have my duties done, there is a sense of sadness that we will be separated for a long time. We are most likely to have this particular group all together next in 2014 at the CMDA-CMDE conference. The next time I see these guys all together, the residents will be the senior residents at their program. However, a few remain. There are three other of the faculty to leave for the airport this evening and my group leaves in the very early morning. Carl Haisch is a good friend from Greenville, NC; a transplant surgeon and one of the PAACS Commission members. He and I will join Jim and Carolyn Brown (presently missionaries in Ngaoundéré, Cameroon) and Mike and Rosemarie Matlak (a pediatric surgeon at BethanyKids in Kijabe, Kenya) early tomorrow morning (6:00 AM) to drive five hours to Arusha, Tanzania where we will inspect the Lutheran missionary hospital there. We hope that that it will be a suitable location for a PAACS program.
This conference has been outstanding at so many levels. Many residents join PAACs without really knowing what it is about and they were awed to see what God is doing. Most testified to the fact that they were amazed at real examples of spirituality in medicine and were thrilled with the quality of the teaching. They now have new friends from countries across the continent and have glimpsed the vision that is PAACS’. Equally important, there was a whole new spirit of cooperation, problem-solving and support as the Program Directors and faculty worked together to help raise the quality of training to a new level.
This conference was not just about medicine. Pastor Stan Key, senior pastor of the Loudonville Community Church located just outside of Albany, NY was our spiritual life speaker. An ex-missionary, he can identify with the problems our missionaries face and he is a gifted speaker with a true pastor’s heart. We actually got up 15 minutes earlier so we could have more time to listen to him. He was a true blessing and has already made tentative plans to come back in March, 2013 when we next do this conference.
Each of the attendees received an 8 gigabyte flash drive imprinted with the PAACS logo and all of the lectures were included on it. Additionally, there was a huge file of pooled pictures taken by all those who attended. Each drive had Bible study software, several books and other resources that will make a real difference if they use them.
Before Dave Thompson took his first resident at Bongolo in 1997, there was actually a little heralded program already running at Galmi Hospital in Niger. Harold Adolph was training two surgeons: Dr. Joshua Bogunjoko and the other was Yakoubou Sanoussi. Neither got credit for their role because Harold had to return in December 1996 to have some eye problems treated. Yakoubou was with us this week and was amazed to see the change in PAACS. He will become the assistant program director at Galmi when it opens as a training center in 2012. I truly enjoyed getting to know this humble African brother.
- Praise God for the wonderfully fruitful time together in Brackenhurst. Pray for traveling safety for all returning home.
- Pray for Dr. Carol Spears – her hands are still numb although improving. The diagnosis of bilateral carpal tunnel seems more obvious now. We pray that she will heal without surgery.
- Pray for Dr. Steve Sparks as he and his family finally return to Mbingo. The adjustment back into the swing of things is always difficult. Pray for God’s guidance in additional help at that program.
- Pray for Dr. Annelise Olson who is still (after one year) waiting for her visa to work in Angola with Dr. Stephen Foster in the Evangelical Medical Center.
- Pray for our trip to Arusha tomorrow and my trip to Ethiopia on Tuesday morning (and the six hour car trip after that). Road travel is always risky. Pray also for God’s clear direction for both PAACS and the Browns. Pray for wisdom, discretion and that we are wise as serpents and harmless as doves.
- Pray for all the missionaries who will be attending the CMDA-CMDE conference in Thailand. Pray that the Spirit will prepare their hearts and the hearts and minds of those coming to lecture.
- Keep Micky and Sean in your prayers – they are driving home from Florida tomorrow.
- Pray for stamina for me, please.
Rev. Key talked last Sunday about the need for us to keep the two crosses in focus: the one upon which He died and the one which He promises will be ours in this life. Without a clear vision of both, we will leave the mountaintop and not accomplish anything in the valley.
Heading down from the mountaintop,
Bruce for Micky and Sean