The bad news is that the time since our return from Greece (and for much of May) has been doing administrative things and that is unlikely to change in the near future. The most enjoyable thing recently was teaching the Advanced Trauma and Life Support course at Eastern Carolina University on May 9 and 10 – always good to spend time as well with the Carl and Lu Haisch there in Greenville.
The semi-annual PAACS Commission meeting will be held next weekend, May 20 and 21, in a hotel near the O’Hare airport in Chicago. I am going a day early to meet with Keir Thelander, the surgeon who will replace me as CMO. He leaves Gabon today, leaving his career as a missionary in the classic sense. That has got to be hard to shut one door and open another. In Chicago this week, he and I will spend an extra day orienting him and discussing some issues. He will officially start on July 1, but I will be in Cameroon at that time.
This upcoming commission meeting in Chicago will be interesting. We have re-structured the PAACS commission and there has been some expected resultant uncertainty and confusion that will take some time to sort out. It will be interesting to see how the new structure and relationships play out during this meeting. I remain convinced that it is the right thing to do – at least my vision of it is the right one! ;)
Micky and I have both been very busy in preparation for this upcoming PAACS meeting and for the CMDA Continuing Medical and Dental Education board meeting which will also be held in Chicago in June. Both require year-to-date financial reports and new budgets. Micky has been scrambling to get the financial summary together for the recent conference in Greece and last week, finished the tax forms for the S3 Ministries. The PAACS budget continues to challenge our faith as it grows each year. Our proposed budget for the 2016-2017 academic year totals almost $1.8 million. It is a far cry from $50 thousand a little more than a decade ago. Fortunately, we serve the God that provides (Jehovah-Jireh).
A lot of time has been spent finishing up all three 200 multiple-choice question exams for the PAACS residents. I will send them out to the various programs during the last week of May. I have also been putting more new questions into the database (editing, categorizing and the like). It is critical activity but mind-numbingly boring if you do it for too long!
I am also working on arranging the logistics for three inspection tours (August, September and January) for the Loma Linda University team. All the details have to be worked out including the reservation of small missionary planes, etc. They are shoe-horned into a tight two week schedule for each trip. I am also worked on the details for the inspection tour for the West African College of Surgery June 26 – July 3. I will be going on all of them and Keir will be going on two of them. I have just received my fifth new passport since I have started PAACS and am now scrambling to get the requisite visas. Boy, does that get expensive! We have finally completed the application for the Global Entry program and are awaiting the call to be interviewed and fingerprinted. Unfortunately, it is only available in Charlotte for NC and that is a 3+ hour drive each way.
I must confess that I am ready to quit doing all this administration detail stuff and get back to taking care of patients, supporting missionaries and working overseas. Just because I can do the paper-shuffling well does not mean I enjoy it. In that regard, December can’t come too soon.
Tomorrow, May 15, I will be preaching at the start-up church in Raleigh where Ryan and Chrissy, my son and his wife, attend. I will challenge them to consider God’s claim on their lives and the role of missions for them corporately and personally. I will tell them a bit about PAACS, too, I am certain. My sister and her husband (Sally and Tim) will join us for the service and an early lunch after the service.
Sean is under more than a little stress right now. He (and we) thought that he was making reasonable progress with his new online school program and he reported fairly decent test results to us. He never told us how frustrated and confused he was and how little he understood the limited feedback. We finally got the official progress report yesterday (only two weeks before the semester ends) and found out that he is way behind, scoring much lower than expected and that the deadline is indeed less than two weeks away! We were laboring under a different assumption – that it would be later. It is also obvious that he (and we) didn’t learn the software system very well (and they didn’t teach us very well either), so we were missing the necessary feedback from either the program or the school. Additionally, the web-based system is clunky in its function. That has caused some problems when, for an example, the internet would go out, the system would close his exam and it would count that as one of his tries on the exam, etc. or when the homework wouldn’t let you type in an answer. We are getting an appointment with the school officials as soon as possible next week and Sean has his nose to the grindstone in the meantime. There is plenty of blame to be shared here. Unfortunately, freshman grades start to count for college entry. We are pushing him hard and trying to get several units finished every day – that means we have to sit and do some intense tutoring. Even that would not be so bad if it were not that we actually have to learn it ourselves as we go along. I have gotten stuck with teaching the statistics.
The good news for him is that he had finally been told that he can take driver’s training lessons at his school this summer and he was eagerly awaiting it. Unfortunately, this academic issue may preclude his participation – we will need to see. We need wisdom and a lot of work to try to help him salvage this.
We as a family were given a gift of a week at a timeshare in New Bern and that is scheduled to start on the 22nd. We could use the rest – but we may spend the entire week helping Sean between our other responsibilities, so it won’t be much of a vacation.