Dear Friends and Family:
Back and fit for duty! On July 22, our vacation was finished and my sabbatical was officially over. Not really sure whether I accomplished all the goals I had for the sabbatical, but I had to get back to work – both for my mental health and because we had run through all our budgeted money! I was very appreciative of the PAACS personnel and the members of the Executive Council who stepped in and put out the fires in my absence.
One goal that was very successfully realized was our desire to have wonderful family time. We put almost 9,000 miles on our car and experienced America from 1607 to the present as we visited national parks, battlefields, monuments, museums and historical sites. We learned a lot about the Revolutionary War, the birth of our country and the Civil War. We managed to get in some fun – amusement parks, a water park, two major league baseball games, the Ford River Rouge plant, Greenfield village, swimming, bowling, fishing, aquariums and whale-watching. It was good to spend time with our folks in Lapeer, Michigan as well.
“Hi, my name is Bruce and I am a workaholic.” Lest you think that I actually somehow magically learned to relax, I must report that I still managed to finish the next to last course for my master’s degree; to have some meetings about the computer program for PAACS; to polish, oversee and score the PAACS annual exam; to speak at the University of W. Virginia tropical medicine course; to speak at the Medical Missions Interface at ABWE in Harrisburg, PA; and to monitor the business of PAACS by e-mail.
Sean is bemoaning the start of school on Monday. He starts 6th grade which is part of the middle school so all the mysteries of lockers, gym class, homeroom and changing classes are his to discover. Micky is just enjoying being home and getting settled. I have returned to PAACS and have been busy this past week with budget matters, fund-raising and other projects. We were about $50,000 in the red last year and our budget has jumped almost $200,000 for this coming year. It is really stretching my faith right about now. It is easy to spend money; much harder to cut expenses when one is already very close to the bone. I have also returned part-time to Methodist University and am in the process of writing a new syllabus for both courses, writing new lectures and working to integrate new learning technologies. This fall, I have to write my national recertification exam for general surgery and have gotten my application in to them. However, I have some SERIOUS studying to do. I opened the most recent self-assessment program in general surgery and was stunned – they were talking about stuff that I knew next-to-nothing about. It has been almost 15 years since I have practiced in the US – and I am very rusty on lots of it and ignorant about many of the new things. It will be fun to learn – but hard to remember. The memory just isn’t what it used to be. I make mental notes on things – and forget where I put them!
Very recently, one of our finishing residents from Ethiopia was asked by the government to take their exam. They are significantly different from ours and this was very anxiety producing. Praise God that he passed, but there was one thing that I truly enjoyed hearing about. One part of the multi-stage examination required him to do a complete history and physical on the patient. He would then be grilled by the professors. He finished early on the exam – and while waiting for the professors, spent the rest of the time witnessing to the patient and her family! These guys are amazing – you just can’t stop them. That is just one part of why we have invested our lives in training surgeons in Africa.
This is the time of year that we try to figure out our schedule. This fall, I will be teaching 4 days each week and either working with PAACS or traveling on Fridays. I also take my last graduate level course for my master’s degree. Here is our schedule for the next year (the Lord willing and the creek doesn’t rise):
- August 6 – Sean starts school
- August 17-18 – PAACS Weekend Retreat, Bryson City, NC
- August 24-25 – Mission Conference, Weaverville, NC
- August 27-28 – Teach Advanced Trauma Life Support course Greenville NC
- August 30-Dec 15 – Teaching Methodist University PA Program
- September 7 – Speak CMDA Medical Missions Summit, Chicago
- September 28-29 – PAACS Program Directors Retreat, Chicago
- October 4-7 – Osler Review course for Recertification, Chicago
- October 11-14 – Speak, Prescription for Renewal, Asheville, NC
- November 2-3 – PAACS Semiannual Business Meeting, Chicago
- November 8-10 – Speak GHMC Conference, Friend of PAACS Dinner on Saturday, Louisville, KY
- December 1-7 – COSECSA Meeting, Addis Ababa, Ethiopia
- Late November or early December – ABS recertification exam
- Part of Holiday season – Visit folks in Michigan
Schedule for 2013 (asterisks mean Micky and Sean are traveling with me)
- January 19 – February 1 – Trip to Malawi, Niger and Ethiopia
- February 14-28* – CMDA-CMDE Conference in Thailand
- March 1–8* – Holiday in Australia
- March 9–30* – Togo (WACS meeting and work at Hôpital Baptiste Biblique in Tsiko)
- April 5–6 – CMDA-PAACS Meeting in Chicago
- April 12-13 – CMDA-CMDE Meeting in Chicago
- May 2-5* – CMDA Annual Conference, NC
- May 9 – June 1* – Kenya – PAACS Basic Science Conference, Kijabe, Tenwek
- Jun 7–9* – ABWE MMI symposium
- Early July – WVA tropical medicine
- Either June 14-30* or July 7-28* Mbingo, Cameroon
Praise and Prayer:
- Praise God for the 40 residents that we have. Pray for them, that they will learn both medicine and the sweetness of Christ.
- Praise God for traveling safety and the wonderful family time.
- Please pray for the wisdom to handle the upcoming financial crisis in PAACS. Please pray for God to provide the desperately needed funds and to give us the faith to trust and believe in Jehovah-Jireh (the God who provides).
- Pray for Sean as he enters middle school and faces the challenges.
- Pray for our folks as they age and we are far away.
- Pray for me as I approach this new class of PA students. Pray that I can be the excellent teacher and a caring Christian who points others toward Him.
Yours and His, for the peoples of Africa,
Bruce, Micky and Sean