Return to the US:
Hard to believe it has already been four weeks since our last newsletter and our subsequent return to the US. It seems like the time on the ship belongs to another decade and the interim has been hectic.
Everything was fine at home when we returned and it only took us a few days to get over the inevitable jet-lag. Sean’s friends swarmed to the door the next day after our arrival and kept him busy until he began his school the Monday after we returned. He is in the 5th grade at the Northwood Temple Academy and loves his new teacher.
A week after arriving home, Bruce flew to California to speak at the West Coast Healthcare Missions conference held on the grounds of the Fuller Theological Seminary in Pasadena. The Christian Medical & Dental Associations and its three commissions, PAACS, Medical Education International and Global Health Outreach, all shared a booth there. He spoke in seminars twice, learned a great deal, met some interesting folks and, most of all, enjoyed some family time with his eldest child, Michelle. He had the opportunity to see her perform with her improvisational theater group one evening and enjoyed it immensely.
After a red-eye flight back to Fayetteville, Bruce’s immersion back into campus life began that very Monday with the delivery of 15 cadavers to the new anatomy lab at the Methodist University Physician’s Assistant Program. Since this is the first class taught in the new building, it has taken an amazing amount of time and effort to get supplies ordered and organized, to prepare the dissection kits, to get the remainder of the materials installed and to attempt to master the new fancy instructional technology. This past week was the first week for the new group of students. There are 40 bright-eyed overachievers who haven’t got a clue about what they are facing – but Bruce will do his best to teach them more than they really want to know. He will put in the effort, afraid that someday he will wake up with one of them over him! Each week, he will lecture four hours in physiology, six hours in anatomy, spend nine hours in the lab and then at least four hours pre-dissecting. Lecture preparation, preparing and grading of examinations, meetings and student counseling will take up the rest of the time – then, on top of that, there will be many hours spent to fulfill the volunteer duties of CEO of the Pan-African Academy of Christian Surgeons (PAACS).
A week ago, we received the wonderful news that Mbingo Baptist Hospital (Cameroon), Bongolo Hospital (Gabon) and Myungsung Christian Medical Center (Ethiopia) were all approved for the full three years of FCS (Fellowship of the College of Surgery) training by the College of Surgery of East, Central and Southern Africa (COSECSA). Soddo Christian Hospital (Ethiopia) was approved for 1 year at the FCS level. Those were all for general surgery. Soddo and Myungsung also received one year of FCS accreditation for orthopedics. All had been approved at the MCS level. The two Kenyan programs have already received accreditation for all five years.
The COSECSA training is divided into two parts – the Membership level (MCS – the first two years) and the Fellowship level (FCS – the last three years). There is an exam and oral exam at the completion of each of the two parts. The MCS level must be passed in order to sit for the FCS level.
For PAACS to receive this level of international recognition is truly the work of the Lord and it is a real answer to prayer. Thank you for your part in offering up those prayers. In two years or so,.Soddo will re-apply for the additional years of accreditation. We now need to focus on recognition from the West African College of Surgery.
PAACS has also hired a new administrative assistant, Terry McLamb (who happens to attend our church as well). She has been working this week with Bruce and Ervin Barham, the administrator, to get up to speed. Ervin will go to half-time and limit his activities to financial and informational technology. Terry will do a great job in organizing things that have been too long neglected.
Bruce was able to finally finish the preparation of the 2011 Prayer Guide and it has been uploaded to the printer. It is a 44 page booklet that has one or two pages each day dedicated to some part of the ministry, the people or a training site. It allows you to put a face with the name. Praying through it each month allows you to prayer for each part specifically twelve times. If you would like to have a copy, please let us know at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Four of the five new residents have arrived at their training sites and the fifth is expected momentarily. Please pray for them as they begin this rigorous five-year program.
Last weekend, we had the pleasure to participate once again in the mission conference held by Northpoint Baptist Church in Weaverville, NC. It is one of only two churches that regularly support our ministry and it was a pleasure to see our friends Johnny & Jennifer Byrd once again (they used to live in our lake house). Bruce spoke at the men’s breakfast; Micky spoke at the women’s brunch and we presented to one of the adult Sunday School classes. We enjoyed the banquet and and the church service on Sunday. There were also three work projects and a youth concert that we missed. The picture to the left is Sean at our display table.
In past editions of The SteffeScope, we introduced to you the idea of “Hospital Radio”, the use of radio programming to evangelize the many patients and visitors at the mission hospitals through intercom and ultra-low wattage transmitters. It has taken a long time to get the initial project off the ground but we are pleased that the first installation will be finished in the next couple of months at the Bongolo Hospital in Lebamba, Gabon. Since we have gotten home, the Hospital Radio project is gaining some steam elsewhere. The Compassion Evangelical Hospital in Guinea and the SIM Galmi Hospital in Niger have recently expressed interest and are in the project design stage. We hope that our tax-deductible foundation, S3 Ministries, will be able to fund much of these projects. For more information, please go to www.s3ministries.com/hospitalradio/. Donations to this project would always be appreciated.
Praise and Prayer Requests:
- Please continue to keep Bruce’s daughter Bethany in your prayers.
- Please pray for healing for Paul Gray. Paul is the Program Director at Soddo Christian Hospital in Ethiopia and has been hospitalized with high fevers. The work-up has been negative but his fevers persist despite anti-malarial and good antibiotic coverage. He is now being transferred to S. Africa to a more advanced medical center. Please pray for wisdom for his doctors and for a cure. Pray for Jon Pollock, the new career missionary surgeon at Soddo, who is getting a baptism by fire.
- Please pray for healing for Rich Davis. Rich is the Program Director at Kijabe Hospital in Kenya. He too was ill and had to return to the US for a workup and surgery. He seems to be on the mend but in the meantime, his father-in-law was diagnosed with advanced pancreatic carcinoma. They are all back in the US. Please for Rich’s healing, for the spiritual healing of his father-in-law, for the entire family and for the program in his absence.
- Pray for the resumption of the Fellowship of Christian PA’s at the Methodist University PA program.
- Please pray for Bruce as many difficult decisions need to be made for PAACS and for our own future.
Yours, for the peoples of Africa,
Bruce, Micky and Sean