Bonus

Our bonus kids are being adopted TODAY!  They have been with their forever family for a while and today it becomes officially official.  They lived with us for 2 years and it was the hardest, but  awesome two years of our lives.  I hear all the time “what is it like when you get attached and have to say goodbye?”  gut-wrenching, awesomeness.  To be a part of someone finding their forever family is a feeling like no other.  To be a part of someone’s life and learn from them, to see their drive, to experience their love is worth the feeling of loss.

A friend of ours shared at our meeting his story and explained that the doctors who helped him as a baby are still making an impact on his life 32 years later.  He was encouraging the crew, that the work they are doing today will still be impacting our patients in the year 2047 and beyond.  I pray Annabell and Adriel will remember us (and be calling us) in 32 years, but even if they don’t…  I know God used us in that time in their lives and even more so, used them in OUR lives that will effect us 32 years from now.

I also have a good friend in their bio mom, their new mom and dad and all the people who helped us.  Meet the Chase’s.  This is their new family.  They showed up at the perfect, God ordained moment.  They endured me investigating them and asking hard questions.  They stuck around when things were crazy.  And they have continued to stick around for these kids, they are their mom and dad, and I am so grateful for them!  We will always share a bond that I cannot even begin to describe here.  We love you Chase’s, all 4 of you!

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I pulled some random Facebook posts, to remember the journey and thank God for where these kids are now:

NOV 24, 2012

Best gift of all was watching my new friend tirelessly say “Happy Thanksgiving” to every single person who walked through the John 316mission. You see, she is 6 years old and for some reason was taken from her parents and is living in a shelter here in Tulsa. Her brother is four and terrified. He rarely lets go of her hand, her hand is red and sore from holding her brother’s hand so much. But SHE was the best greeter, the one with the most joy at the mission…looking at each person in the eye truly wanting THEM to have a happy Thanksgiving. Oh God, give me eyes to see.

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They helped make lunches for 5 kids and Brian each day!

DEC 8, 2012

Thankful!! We found something our new guy loves!! Thank you, Jesus. What a gift after a very long week.

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MARCH 15, 2013

5 months ago a little girl became part of our family for a short time. You may remember the story of her wishing everyone at the John 316 mission “happy thanksgiving” while squeezing her little brothers hand? When we met her, 5 months ago, she couldn’t recognize her letters. Now, she is back home with her mom and dad. I got to see her tonight and she read a Barbie book to me….like sounded out the words and all! AND when I told her I was proud of her, she said “Jesus helped me read.” Not only does she have the confidence to know she CAN, but she knows Jesus is with her wherever she goes. I have a lot of hard stories, but this one makes it worth it. Thank you Jesus. And thank you, Karis Pumphrey for letting God use you in her life.

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Around that same time, she became student of the month and got to bring home the turtle. She was so proud.

JUNE 18, 2014

We said goodbye to this brave girl for the 5th time last night. She is the most determined 7 year old I’ve ever met. Had never even been in a pool, and was swimming within a couple hours. She was able to go to family camp wtih us, and here she is jumping off the high dive.

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MAY 18, 2015

I cannot stop thinking about these flower bouquets. Each bouquet represents an answer to prayer for a little girl. Two years ago, she had a blank stare and didn’t believe she would ever be celebrated. She even said “I only have birthdays, not parties.” After years of tears, on all of our parts, God granted her and her brother a forever family. Tonight I watched that family… not just a mom and dad, but grandparents, aunts, uncles and cousins surround our foster daughter as she stood on stage and shined at her very first dance recital. She was celebrated. She held many bouquetsof flowers which each represent a different person who loves her. Some of which include a bio mom, a foster mom, and a new adoptive mom. I am thankful that her new mommy is there each night to keep her safe and love her through this crazy road called life. I’m also thankful that her bio mom is there to remind her how loved and important she is. Yes I became attached through foster care…so attached that I rejoice in God’s plan for her life which is better than any plan I could have dreamed up. Don’t let your fear of getting too “attached” keep you from being a part of a little girl or boy finally get their bouquets. Thankful I could be a part of her life.

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Giving, Not Getting

Our orthopedics program, led by Dr. Frank Haydon, has been in full swing for several weeks now.  Our patients are primarily children with club feet or bowed legs.  Although our maxillofacial and obstetric fistula surgeries continue, I (Brian) have been spending almost all of my time in the orthopedic room.

You see, one of my favorite things to do in anesthesia is peripheral nerve blocks.  For those that don’t know, these blocks are used to decrease pain after surgery.  Orthopedic patients are fantastic candidates for these procedures.  One of the most rewarding things for me as an anesthesiologist is to perform a block on a patient and have them wake up from a very painful surgery with little to no discomfort.  When we decrease patients’ pain, we improve their entire experience.  Decreasing pain allows us to use less anesthetic and also less morphine in the days following surgery.  This means less drowsiness, breathing difficulties, constipation, itching, nausea, and vomiting.  Nerve blocks can actually decrease the amount of time that a patient has to spend in the hospital.

After some discussion with Frank, we decided to do blocks on nearly all the orthopedic patients.  I’m excited about this because we have not traditionally done many blocks on the ship, but now I have an opportunity to improve patient care with something I love to do.  The results have been fantastic.  Both Frank and the ward nurses say the patients have been very happy and that the wards are the quietest they have ever seen.  Well, there’s still the occasional screaming child, but most of the time it’s one of our own!

It has been extremely gratifying to see God use the skills that He has given me to make a positive impact on others’ lives.

We all have been equipped with different gifts and skill sets.  Mine are extremely limited.   I don’t know how to fix a car or a toilet or a computer (I know, disgraceful given my Asian roots).  I am an idiot when it comes to learning new languages.  The only thing I know how to cook is Ramen noodles.  I could go on for days about all the things I don’t know how to do.  But I do know a little anesthesia.

I just saw a talk given by comedian Michael Jr.  He’s hilarious by the way.  Look him up on YouTube, if you get a chance.  Anyway, he said his focus used to be to try to get laughs from people.  One day, it dawned on him that he was given the gift of comedy to bless others.  His mindset changed from getting laughs from people to giving people the opportunity to laugh.  A subtle, but big difference.  Too often, I find myself thinking about what I can get, instead of what I can give.

Is God asking you to use your gifts and talents in a certain way?  Are you using them to get or give?  You don’t have to be on a floating hospital in Africa to start using your specific gift set to bless others.  Start today!

Thank you all for your continued prayers and support that allow us to use our gifts to help others.  You are a blessing to us and those we serve!

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Vanya, one of the orthopedic patients from last year.

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Victorian, one of the patients I had the privilege of taking care of a few weeks ago. This is obviously a “before” picture.  What an awesome boy with an awesome smile! Got to give him a hug today at the worship service at our Hope Center.  He looks great!

Victorien and his mother risked a lot in the hope Mercy Ships could help them. They spent two days travelling from their…

Posted by Mercy Ships NZ on Thursday, November 5, 2015

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Helping Dr. Erik, an anesthesiologist from Australia, with an awake fiberoptic intubation.  Really mostly just observing.  He did a great job!

Life is different, kinda

Our life is so different now, but feels so normal. Some ways that it is different are: Oct 31 came and I didn’t even realize it was Halloween until way later in the day. That day was the rugby world cup final between Australia and New Zealand. A BIG deal on the ship. We have lots of Australian and New Zealand friends. It was fun to witness a new tradition.

 

Rugby World Cup Final: New Zealand vs Australia!

 
Another way is that yesterday I (jamie) was walking into work and saw Brian in the lab. He was giving blood. Our patients get blood from our crew. So, Brian gave blood, drank a coke, and then went into a surgery that was using HIS own blood for the patient. Is that crazy? But so normal around here.

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Brian’s blood going into patient

The girls started gymnastics yesterday on the deck of ship with a funny, Australian teacher named Tam. Tim Tam is a delicious cookie I was introduced to in South Africa, and her nickname is Tim Tam, which makes us love her even more! She is an amazing nurse that takes care of our fistula patients on board (Brian posted a video before about what that is). But she happens to also be a gymnast. If you know Maya, you know she does cartwheels to get just about anywhere instead of walking. We prayed for her to be able to get some gymnastics in while we were here. After mentioning her love of gymnastics to our principal… two days later Tam asked the school if any students would like to do gymnastics. She had no idea about that conversation or that prayer, just wanted to use another one of her gifts to bless others. Just one way God provides some normal for us.

Hannah’s gymnastics class!

they have mangos here, another normal for us!

I posted before while we were in South Africa about some of our challenges. It was winter where we were with no heat, and the kids would get so cold after showering, that their exhaustion would turn into huge fits. Huge. fits. Which would translate into a huge fit inside my mind and heart. We recovered and that is just a memory now (although fits still happen just not all the time). Fast forward to last week.
I could hear screaming in the hallway of our hospital, outside the radiology office. A little 4 year old girl needed an x-ray on her leg to see if we could do surgery. Her leg was bent, like many of our patients getting orthopedic surgery. Her mom was pregnant, so she could not go in the xray with her. Just so happens while she was still in her village, her grandfather had told her that because of her leg, the foreigners were going to take her away. So, now she was on a ship, with foreigners surrounding her, taking her out of her mom’s arms into a room with a big white machine. Her worst nightmares coming true, the foreigners were taking her away. They could not get her calm enough for the xray. I spent some time with mom and later that day saw them on the dock and got to spend some time with them again. I was off the next day, so I just hung out with them all morning when they came back to try again (this time medicated). The little girl couldn’t eat before the xray, so not only was she scared, but she was hungry. I’ve been there. I’ve had a scared, cold, hungry girl screaming and unable to console herself. I had no answers for the girl, I wasn’t able to make her calm down right away and get her xray. But I understood. I understood when the mom got so tired and frustrated that she began to yell and walk away from her daughter. So I just stayed by her, and thanked God that through my daughter’s struggles, I understood just a little bit better what this mom was going through. And… they were able to get the xray.  I will do a post soon about our ortho patients, they are so fun!

snuggles with dad keeps everything normal!

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Maya started recorder class.

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