Baby Milk Update, January 2017

BABY MILK UPDATE as of January 2017

We thank the Lord for His provision each year for baby milk for our clinic ministry. 2016 was the first year that income exceeded expenses…amen! The dedicated staff of Kunai Health Centre continues to provide service to infants and small children in need of nutritional supplements.

In some cases, the mother has died in childbirth, or shortly thereafter. In other cases, the parents have given the child away as they are unable to feed another mouth…and yet others of our “baby milk babies” have mothers who are unable to produce sufficient milk to feed them.

The program began in 2009, and it has served over 250 children since then. Some of these children are school age now, and seem to be doing quite well.

Thank you to everyone who joins with us in prayer and financial support of this vital program. Our children thank you too!

2016
Income:      $5,715.00
Expenses:  $5,638.34
Total cans purchased: 400
Cost per 2 lb. can: $14.10 (price decrease due to exchange rate)
Babies served: 50

2015
Income:      $6,875.00
Expenses:  $8,280.37
Total cans purchased: 558
Cost per 2 lb. can: $14.83 (price decrease due to exchange rate)
Babies served: 29

2014
Income:      $1,320.00
Expenses:  $6,468.40
Total cans purchased: 400
Cost per 2 lb. can: $16.17
Babies served: 44

2013
Income:       $6,414.16
Expenses:   $8,396.37
Total cans purchased: 471
Cost per 2 lb. can: $17.82
Babies served: 58

2012
Income:       $627.51
Expenses:   $10,446.22
Total cans purchased: 547
Cost per 2 lb. can: $19.10
Babies served: 58

2011
Income:       $1,415
Expenses:   $5,325
Total cans purchased: 300
Cost per 2 lb. can: $17.75
Babies served: 42

 

The Gospel is Real

It all started around 11 PM on Monday night. We were sleeping soundly when Sarah Glover shined a light on our window calling to us that Lena had a patient. We dressed quickly and went to the clinic, finding a large crowd carrying a patient in a sling. The injured boy was the son of our church’s song leader. As Sarah went to get Rachel Schellenberger, Lena began to assess the child’s head wound. It seems he was sitting in a family garden when a rotten tree fell and struck him on top of the head. The two nurses agreed: He was not going to make it.

We had the men place his body on the floor (as is custom) so the family could gather around him. The missionaries were crying, the family was crying. I asked Pastor James to pray. In a few minutes, this young boy passed from death to life. Then the “haus krai” (house cry, the PNG style of mourning) began. The family and friends, most of them church members, soon gathered up their son’s body and went across the trail to their home. And the crying increased.

In the dark of the midnight, the missionaries all sat on the clinic veranda. We cried, we contemplated, and we all wondered what God would do. Andrew Schellenberger prayed. We sat together a while longer, and went home.

At dawn, the haus krai resumed. Early on we went to sit with the family. These young converts are facing new beliefs in a loving God as they struggle with the old ways of their ancestors. Some family members were looking for the reason the boy had died; in PNG traditional beliefs, no one dies without a cause. Even accidents are brought on by sorcery or unsettled disputes. The boy’s father was dismissing such talk, as were many of the believers. He maintained that God was in control.

When I went to bed the night before, I never thought that I’d help build a coffin box the next day. I never thought I’d be at a haus krai at the start of my day. And I never thought something more could happen. But it did.

While we were building the boy’s coffin, one of our preacher’s wives came to tell us that a new convert at our church plant in Ipaiyu had also died overnight. This young father had trusted Christ a few months ago, along with his wife. About three months later he contracted a mysterious illness that left him nearly paralyzed and brain damaged. Though it looked like he might get better, he suddenly died.

This was a new believer in a new church. The people of the community already give our believers a hard time for believing God’s word. Any little bad thing that happens is blamed on these believers. What new accusation will arise now?

Some things I just don’t know. I know this: We had two haus krais the same day, both for young men. The Gospel was preached, in word and in deed. And in the days that followed, the effect of the Gospel on the lives of new believers showed the might of the Resurrection. A young widow stood faithful. A young father and mother not only stayed faithful, they grew in the Lord. Grief is very real to each of them, but God’s word has been more real.  The Gospel is real.

He Had Four Wives

He had four wives.

The youngest wife came to our prenatal clinic twice.  It was a long and hard hike to get here; and if it rained hard, the river would be too swollen and she could not cross.  And it had rained a lot that week.

She had her first child alone in the bush. The next day she contracted diarrhea.  Pouring her life into her infant daughter, she gave it all she had.  Her sickness worsened.  Their aid post was closed, and no one cared enough to get medicine for her—until Pastor Malasi, one of our Bible school graduates, hiked eight hours from her village to our clinic to get the medicines for her.

One of the man’s other wives, Annika, came today and told us the story. Yapinmai received the medicines from Pastor Malasi, but never took them.  We do not know why.  In just a few days, they laid her body in the grave.

Annika was nursing Yapinmai’s infant daughter today. Her own child cried because his milk was being given to his half-sister.  Those weren’t the only tears shed today. We cried too.

The man has only three wives now.  And we have a new milk baby.

Another New Card

I wrote a new card today for our Milk Baby program.  It is a 3×5 lined index card with the mother’s name and her village, except this card does not have the mother’s name at the top.  Right after having this baby girl, she continued to bleed until she died.  So, I wrote the adoptive parent’s name at the top.  This all happened just 4 days ago.  Hard to imagine that somewhere near here a lady gave birth in the jungle, and then died within hours.

Through our prenatal clinic, we offer to deliver babies here at our place.  Some of the mothers do come, and we are able to help.  Yet most of our mothers still do things “the old way;”  they go out into the bush and deliver their own babies.

Another example was a baby who also came to clinic today. She was only 3 days old, and had a huge scratch across her face and nose from where she went head first into some brush and landed on the ground while being born. Change is such a difficult thing for anyone.  We too often prefer “the old way,” the way we were raised.  Even when presented with a better way, we are often suspicious.

Often I pray for our Kamea ladies, asking God to help them because their lives are so hard.  I ask Him to help me speak to them in their own language, to touch their hearts.  I pray they will learn to trust me so that I might help them in their suffering.  Mostly, I pray that God would let them trust me so I can lead them to the One Who loves them perfectly and even gave His Son for their souls.  I wish the mother of this new little girl had not died. I wish she had come to know Him, Who is life eternal.  IMG_2060

Thank you for helping with our Baby Milk Program!

At the end of 2013 we received a great financial gift in the amount of $5,000 toward our Baby Milk Program. It was totally unexpected and totally, gratefully accepted! We have had many give differing amounts during the last three years, and we are grateful for each gift.

In 2011, and again in 2013, we were able to ship some baby milk in our containers from the US. These were donated or purchased for us, and those numbers are not reflected in the amounts below. Those were added blessings!

As you see the list below, the 2 pound cans we use (900 grams) will last a baby from 1-2 weeks, depending upon the size of the child. Each child’s progress is monitored, and most are on the formula program for one year.Baby milk can

Below is an accounting of our designated Baby Milk income and expenses for the Baby Milk Program from 2011 through 2013. The fluctuation in costs per can has been mostly due to exchange rates between the US dollar and PNG Kina. The only expenses we show are the purchase price and freight charges to get it out here to our clinic. God has always supplied the need in response to prayer. For those who pray or who give, we thank you–and so do our mothers and babies.

2011
Income:       $1,415
Expenses:   $5,325
Total cans purchased: 300
Cost per 2 lb. can: $17.75
Babies served: 42

2012
Income:       $627.51
Expenses:   $10,446.22
Total cans purchased: 547
Cost per 2 lb. can: $19.10
Babies served: 58

2013
Income:       $6,414.16
Expenses:   $8,396.37
Total cans purchased: 471
Cost per 2 lb. can: $17.82
Babies served: 58

 

Twice the Blessing

The clinic was open and it was an extremely busy day. But our most frustrating case was a patient two mountains away who had just delivered twins.  “Please send medicine that will stop the bleeding!”  Postpartum bleeding is a main cause of mothers dying, and this lady has TWO babies to care for.  Unable to hike to her, we told them that they needed to put her in a litter and carry her to the clinic.  Their minimal response made it clear that they were not going to do it.  There are cultural limits when it comes to a man touching or carrying a woman that has just delivered and is bleeding.  So, we sent some pills; they were all we had, and they were expired.  We also taught him how to rub her abdomen, hoping he would teach one of the ladies to do it.  But that was all we could do.

Two days later, Renda came walking out of the bush where she had delivered, holding both those babies, and dragging a little two-year-old girl along.  She was alone, except for her children.  Later Renda told me, “My husband only comes to give me these babies.  Then I have to take care of them myself.”  Her husband lives in town, a couple of days away.

Over the next weeks, we treated Renda with iron tablets and helped her regain some strength.  I could not imagine the situational anxiety that went along with this.  She was frustrated over having two babies and was exhausted.  Family usually helps out when there is a single birth, and Renda’s family helped sometimes.  Her sister would take one of the children for a week or two, but it was apparent that Renda was going to keep both babies. This is something our Kamea people rarely do!  Normally, right after birth, a mother will give one of the twins to another person, so she can focus on raising the other.  Most of our ladies are malnourished, and nursing two babies might mean neither of the twins would make it.  Unfortunately, the baby that is given away usually has a difficult time finding nourishing food.  Pineapple juice or sweet potato water (what they usually get when mother’s milk is not available) does not help babies to grow up healthy.  Sometimes the baby that was given away dies.

But not so with Renda.  She kept both of the babies!  We were able to help with that because of our Baby Milk Program.  At one point, she was feeding one by bottle with baby formula, and the other she was nursing.  We watched curiously to see how that would work.  The bottle-fed baby gained so quickly!  When the one was about 5 pounds heavier, we told her it would be best to supplement the other with the baby milk and start the bigger one nursing as well.  So now she has two very nice looking, healthy twins that are so hard to tell apart.

Renda & the twins: One in front, one in back

Renda & the twins: One in front, one in back

The Baby Milk Program has been an instrument that God uses to show that He cares even for the smallest ones.  Like the clinic ministry itself, it “opens hearts to the Gospel.” Renda is now faithful to attend Koditanga Baptist Church each Sunday.  She had never come before having the babies.  She is almost always on time, and always stays and visits afterwards.  It is like she now has a new family.  Even though she does not yet responded to the Gospel, she listens each week, and one day we pray the planted Seed will sprout.

On the way to church this morning, my granddaughter, Hannah, said to me as we were walking across the property, “Look, that lady has a baby on the back and a baby on the front.”  I told her, yes, that is Renda, and the twins are almost two years old now.  Hannah responded that Kamea ladies do not keep both twins.  I was so pleased to tell her that while it is true, now they can, and now they do.  We have helped with several sets of twins since Renda’s babies.  Isn’t it awesome to be a part of keeping a family together?

It’s Not Always That Easy

Medical missions.

For me it used to conjure up visions of a lonely doctor out in the middle of the Serengeti, with his wife/nurse at his side. They are the only health care for many days’ hike in any direction. They treat their patients, pray, and then they pray some more. They see many patients, but in my visions they really only see a handful at a time. And by God’s marvelous grace, people are restored to health. In their thankful, healed state they listen patiently to the Words of Life, and they receive Christ. And the tired doctor and nurse team go home, weary but thanking God for the privilege to serve.

So much for my visions. When you actually get into the daily reality of medical missions on a frontier like this, you realize that this thing isn’t always that easy. I can’t speak to the perspective of those dear medical missionaries who serve in countries on the African continent, those who deal with malnutrition and HIV/AIDS and seemingly endless lines of patients. I can’t speak to the perspective of those who serve in urban centers in the majority world, where the diseases and illnesses are myriad, and where compassion is not a cultural norm.

I can speak as one who watches daily as my wife and her co-workers serve our tribal people in this remote region of the Highlands of Gulf Province, Papua New Guinea. These ladies are on the front lines of health care for thousands of people. Our Kunai Health Centre treats disease and illness and malnutrition and offers eye check-ups and dental care. Every day brings a new set of circumstances. Some days it is nothing but triage, treat, and discharge. Some days–like this past week–are triage, treat, treat again, and continue to treat through the day and the night.

And last week, when the nurses thought they were really tired, more critically sick patients came. Not just a lot of patients, but some with high acuity, needing more than a few pills and some instructions. Tube feeding for babies who were dying of dysentery. Constant injections for small children who could not hold down the meds. And none of the cases was related to the other; all from different villages, with different symptoms, and different treatments. But all of them acute. Every three to four hours’ treatment kind of acute. And we don’t have an overnight facility or staff. So these same, weary nurses were pouring out even more. You see, they don’t just treat. They love.

And then it happened.

Let me preface this with what we experience. By God’s grace and mercy, many of our patients recover quickly. Some recover so quickly that we are praising God for the miracle of how He raised them up. Some hopeless cases recover strength and actually walk home. And when it happens so often, the medical team doesn’t get the “big head;” they give the glory and praise to our wonderful prayer-hearing God. Sometimes, healing becomes routine, even expected. Give these treatments, pray, and watch God heal. But then comes the shocker.

In the midst of all these babies and small children being treated, two of them made fantastic, God-glorifying recoveries. And the next one did not. She died.

Same treatments. Same love. Same diligent, strength-draining care on the part of the caregivers. But this little one didn’t make it.

It’s not always that easy. Medical missions is a lot about successes. Medical missions is a lot about being able to love on people who normally wouldn’t listen to the Gospel. Medical missions is a lot about being able to give of yourself and see results. But like any situation where you deal with people’s lives, there is the capacity to be hurt.

Tomorrow will be another day for our medical staff. It will be triage, treat, and discharge. But when the triage turns to ER, and the ER turns to ICU…we’re still in a small tin-roofed building in the jungle. All those medicines and machines of traditional Western hospitals are not here. All the colleagues and consultants are not available.

All we have is a dedicated medical staff of nurses who are always learning, ever loving, and willing to give to the last drop to help someone live long enough to hear the story of a greater Love. These servants of the Lord need your prayers.

It’s not always that easy.

They Came From “Last Place”

At church today I saw Janet. She was sitting on the back pew with her little man, paying close attention to the message. Janet and most of her family are believers. She is from a village called “Las Ples” because it is the “last place” where our Kamea people had moved to the south.  Since the name was given, though, the Kamea have moved even farther south…but the name stuck anyway.

Janet needed counseling, so I spoke with her after church. Then I offered to get the little man more baby milk. “How many cans do you need?”  “None,” she said with a smile.  “He is already a big boy, he eats a lot of food.”  He is probably close to a year old, but there was no whining, no tears, nothing.  And then I remembered, he IS her umpteenth child.  When I asked how many children she has, she used all her fingers and toes and then said there are more, but they are grown.

Janet and her healthy baby boy

Janet and her healthy baby boy

Then Janet pointed to another lady with a baby who had come to church with her.  I had never seen this lady before. “This lady needs milk for her baby.”  Sure enough, the baby was frail and tiny.  They think she was born 3 months ago, but since there is no way to count days, the date is only a guess.  The baby weiged less than six pounds.  The mom told us that the baby is healthy, but she just does not have enough milk to feed her.

That was when she showed me the terrible scars that she has from mastitis (breast infections).  I had noticed her nursing during and after church. “Poor child, poor mom,” I thought as she explained that she nurses the baby all the time, but just cannot get enough milk to feed her.

So, the three of us (along with their babies) sat on the floor of the clinic as I explained how to boil the water, mix the formula, clean the bottles, and not to save any of the mix for the next feeding time.  I taught her to feed the baby from the breast first, and then to supplement with the formula.  She followed through, and then did it all herself.  Tomorrow she will return and we will teach it all again, plus Margaret (our clinic worker) will do it in her tribal tongue.  Mom will surely have questions, and Margaret will be better able to answer them in Kamea.

Three months old, under six pounds--a new milk baby

Three months old, under six pounds–a new milk baby gets her first bottle

The best part of this story is that Janet and her family know the Savior. I do not know about this new family; but since they are ALL staying with one of our Bible school families, they will hear the Gospel in Kamea from them. And tomorrow at clinic, they will hear it again in Kamea, from Margaret.

Just as this baby needs milk to grow, believers need the milk of the word to grow and the Holy Spirit to teach us.  Without it, we’re like this new milk baby: weak, frail, and tiny.

Janet from Las Ples has the word of God on a solar-powered audio Bible we distributed last year. For now, she can hear the New Testament in the PNG trade language; but how much better when she will be able to hear it in her own “heart” language of Kamea?

Nothing, Better and Best…having no milk, no access to God’s Word; something better is having God’s Word in a language you partly understand; but the best, the absolute best, is having it in your own language.  We English-speakers are so blessed to have it in our own language.

Would you please pray for us?

  • Pray as John works on learning the tribal language of Kamea.
  • Pray that our people would realize a hunger for the word of God as he and our teammates work with our men to translate it.
  • Pray as we put out the word of God, in print and in audio form; that as God promises, His word will not return void.
  • And pray for our medical ministry, that by our hands and His love, more Kamea people will see His hands (that created the world and that bled for them) and will love Him with all their hearts.

This is from my heart–Lena Allen

 

Medical Supplies Needed!

We go through lots of supplies! Student nurses learn how to suture under supervision of veteran missionary nurse Rachel Muldoon.

We go through lots of supplies! Student nurses learn how to suture under supervision of veteran missionary nurse Rachel Schellenberger.

Updated July 4, 2013–We will be shipping the container this Fall, and need the supplies sent to the address below by the end of September. THANK YOU to all who have already given!

March 20, 2013–Kunai Health Centre is in need of more supplies! Last year we sent a container with medical supplies, and just over a year later, the supplies are used up. We’ve been contacted by several churches and individuals who desire to help us with this need. A missions support group from our home church has generously offered to help coordinate and ship for us, so we are extending this plea for supplies.

We do request that you limit what you might send to only those items on the following list. These are the items we need, and other items would not only be wasted, but would cost us extra in shipping and air freight.

Also–and we don’t want to be picky, but we must be honest–please do not send liquids. We can re-hydrate things here at our location in the bush. The liquids add to our air freight costs, as EVERYTHING has to be flown in. We don’t have access to a road at all.

Please contact us at    lenaallen@yahoo.com   if you have any questions. Please ship all supplies to:

Bob and Stacy Norcross
907 W. Palmyra Lake
Palmyra, IN 47164

Thank you for being a blessing!

Multivitamins with iron
Children’s chewable vitamins with iron
Powdered milk
Baby formula powder (not liquid)
Naproxen (Aleve)
Ibuprofen (Advil)
Diphenhydramine (Benedryl–not liquid)
Vicks Vaporub
Baby bottles, nipples, and rings
Baby bottle brushes
Washcloths
Women’s elastic waist skirts (ladies’ size 10 and under)
Baby shirts or onesies (for one-year-olds and under)
Baby caps and booties
*We only need clothes for children under one year.
2″, 3″, and 4″ ACE wrap bandages
Muscle rub (like Ben Gay or Theragesic)
Anti-fungal cream (like tolfanate; we have plenty of hydrocortisone)
Ointment for sores (like Neosporin or Triple Antibiotic)
Toothbrushes
Toothpaste
Band-aids (standard size)
4×4 6-8 ply gauze
2×2 6-8 ply gauze
Kerlex bandages
Sutures (only 2-0, 3-0, 4-0, & 5-0 sizes)
Fiberglass casting material
Disposable bed covering pads (Chux)
Hand gloves (small, medium, large)
Zip-lock bags (all sizes)

Margaret sorting TB medicine for some of our many TB patients.

Margaret sorting TB medicine for some of our many TB patients.

Second Chances

One of the local teenagers made her own way and did her own thing.  We helped her in labor and during the delivery of her first child, a little girl.  Though this young mom has had plenty of opportunities to follow the Lord, she continually made bad decisions.  Many girls here leave their unwanted babies to die in the bush.  Thankfully, this teen girl’s sister from a distant village was visiting when she delivered.  The sister already has an adopted teenage daughter of her own, but has never had any natural born children.  She fell in love with this little one, and has since taken her back to her own village a couple of days hike away.  She will continue on baby milk for another 8-9 months.

Two lives rescued

Follow up story (January 2013): This young teen, through the witness and faithful love of the believers here, has become a believer and is growing strong in the Lord. Pray for her as she learns to walk in her new life in Jesus Christ.