Jackie – Before Hydro Power

It’s Sunday evening and we are sitting in the dark-again. We’ve been here almost a month now and there has been only one day without a power outage and many days with multiple outages. Going with- out electricity by itself isn’t so bad. We still usually have internet access and we have a gas stove and candles if it’s night. The problem is that when the power goes so does the water because there’s a pump to get it from the cistern by our house to the plumbing inside. So when the electricity goes out, there’s no washing dishes, no laundry washed, no taking a shower, no washing fruit of veggies and no water to put through the filter for drinking. I now TRY to keep 2 pitchers of tap water and 2 pitchers of filtered water on the counter all the time just in case it’s off a while. The utility seems to like to have extended outages especially on Sunday. Today it went off around noon and back on around 5:30 and then it went off again about a half hour later. This go around has been about 1 1/2 hrs so far.

People here have been losing appliances, computers and accessories, surge protectors, and the hospital has lost medical equipment during the extreme peaks and valleys that occur with the electricity. Having experienced firsthand these electricity issues, we know how badly this place needs a stable power source. Yes, this hydro plant IS badly needed here.

Jackie – After Hydro Power

I have to say first of all is that life here since the hydro plant began working is easier for me- and I believe I speak for many others. No longer do I have to be on call for that window of having electricity (and therefore water) in order to cook a meal and do laundry. As you recall we had power outages so often, we had to take advantage of power when we had it and try to be as ready as possible for when we might get it. We also don’t have to babysit electronics that are being charged to help prevent damage from a power surge. The quality of life has definitely improved in our homes and at the hospital as re- ported by the surgeon here (I hope you read that letter he sent de- scribing the difference now).

Wouldn’t you know…JUST as I write this we got a knock on the door. It’s raining pretty hard and coinci- dentally the houses just below us have had a black out. Well, it turns out a small hole in the box on the pole allowed water to get in and result in a short to those houses. Bill and Jordan just worked on it so it won’t get worse tonight and tomorrow, when it’s drier, they’ll do a fix they hope is long term.

I had a cultural experience yesterday with a PNG traditional meal called a MooMoo. It’s a meal they pre- pare for special occasions- weddings, special community gatherings, etc. a college Work and Witness group visiting here requested it. A PNG lady and her husband who live across the road from us prepared it and invited me as well. It is a meal prepared in the ground. There is a large pit about 5′ diameter and about 3′ deep. They heat large hot stones in a nearby fire for a while and place them on the bottom of the pit and then there are several layers of different foods

separated by layers of banana leaves. The layers were 1)a mixture of greens finely cut, chicken, local sausages, ginger, grated coconut, 2) whole chickens 3) cooking bananas 4) larger greens and some edible ferns, 5) cau cau (pronounced cow cow and a type of sweet potato. (Often I understand that a pig is cooked as well which takes much longer, of course). Hot rocks were abundant in each layer and finally all the lay- ers were covered with banana leaves and a tarp. After 2 hours or so, they began removing the layers and it was obvi- ous the food was steaming hot. The food was served on piec- es of banana leaves and eaten with the fingers. They also had sides of pineapple (yummy!) and cucumbers (both locally grown).

I know you’re interested in what I’ve been doing here. Cathy, a friend of mine here and my walking partner, asked if I would be interested in helping her with “asset registry” for the hospital. It’s a fancy way of saying inventory so the hospital has a list of what equipment, machines and accessories they have, how long things last and when they need repair or replacement. It includes things like the various trolleys with meds, wound care items, charts, scales, automatic blood pressure cuffs, suction machines, oxygen regulators, flow meters, incubators, transformers, etc. Each item is engraved with it’s assigned number when it goes on the list. Organization is a strength for Cathy and she has put a lot of time in the wards and at home on her computer trying to get it all straight and complete. I’ve joined her for the final stage of identifying manufacturers, model and serial numbers, and any other identifying info. It’s a lot of details so I’m glad she’s in charge of this.

This has taken us to the wards and we work around the patients and the machines and equipment they may be using. Every ward we visit makes me very aware of how sick these patients are. Many have waited a long time before coming in and many have waited too long. So there are patients who are struggling to breathe, bad burns, injuries from knives to muscles, tendons and other soft tissue, all kinds of presentations from TB, malaria, and one young girl had tetanus. The Lord uses the doctors and nurses to help many get better and that brings much joy but the reality is that there is also sadness here for staff and families when a patient is lost often due to waiting so long to come. In each case, there are chaplains here ready to minister to the spiritual needs of the patients and their families. So as I help Cathy on the wards, I greet the patients and their families (about all I know in Pigeon is basic greeting) as the Lord Gives opportunity and I smile- the universal language.