Jesse’s pre Christmas thoughts 2009

Jan 02 2010

December 7, 2009

Written by Jesse Pryor, Missionary in Papua New Guinea

It has been an exhausting week. Dealing with the logistics and technical aspects of the Optometrist

Surgeon’s visit has been a borderline nightmare. Not only is getting to Samban rough, but once here you

have the knowledge, that whatever you do not have with you means it is going to be impossible to get it in

time. So we had been planning for two or three months, but it just didn’t seem like enough time. All the

traveling was worked out, all the technical issues were discussed and planned for, so everything should

be alright, or should be manageable.

It ended up that the traveling was the easy part. Picking up the Doctor and his two nurses, traveling

over road, and then by canoe went off without a hitch. The first morning here the Doctor realized that our

facilities lacked two things that he needed. One was an operating table (the right length and width) plus

the right heighth. He also needed a table that would serve as a microscope stand. With a few pieces of

timber and some odds and ends of plywood, by 1pm he was ready for his first patient.

The generator of ours was running fine. The fan to cool the microscope was going fine. Two patients

into the day the generator started having power surges. What’s going on? Fortunately we had a UPS for

the microscope so it wasn’t damaged. I cleaned the air filter and then the fuel filter. The fuel filter had so

much water in it that it was shutting down the operation of the generator. The bad thing is that we only

had the one drum of fuel, so however bad the fuel is, it is all we have. So this meant that basically every

hour (with the generator still running) I would quickly take the fuel filter cup off, empty the water out, clean

it and get it back on before the motor shut off because of no fuel. There was a little pressure involved, but

fortunately the UPS also had battery back up so if the generator shut down I still had five minutes of

power before the microscope shut down. I forgot to mention that he had patients on the operating table

while all of this is going on.(literally under the knife.)

The Doctor operated on 16 people over the course of 3 days. Seven of these people had one eye

done the first and second day, and then the second eye on the third day. Of these 16 people, 5 or 6 of

them have basically been blind for the last 3 or 4 years or so. All of the patients, were having cataracts

removed. There’s something about the UV rays here in the tropics makes cataract problems an is-

sue. The second morning before operations started the Doctor would remove the eye patch and check

the eye he had operated on the previous day. Those that had no vision would stare in shock, and then be

in utter elation when they could “see” again.

One old man literally sang all the way home. He had been led from his house to the clinic. That day

he led the pack as he left the clinic. On the day of the operation on his second eye, he didn’t even wait

for those to escort him. He was walking as soon as first light hit, so he could be first in line for the opera-

tions. Saturday he had his patch removed and he had the use of both eyes. To paraphrase what he

said, “That’s it. I’ll never be found sitting again. My children and grandchildren are going to have a full

time job trying to find me. No more sitting in the house for me.”

I have other stories about comments and reactions of these patients. All of them are priceless. Yes

I’m exhausted, but I’m absolutely thrilled for these 16 people who have had sight restored. During all

these operations, besides fuel problems, the fan that was to cool the microscope burned up. Fortunately

we had a second fan. If the Doctor doesn’t have the microscope, he can’t operate. If the fan doesn’t cool

the microscope, it will not run. So we were glad that we had the two fans. The second fan burned up as

well, but only halfway through the operation on the last eye. For some reason the UPS caused the gen-

erator to have power spikes, that have not stopped even after we are no longer using the UPS. The gen-

erator is what we use to power the electronics (like this computer) in our house and other equipment to do

our work here in PNG. All this is fixable.

I don’t know about you, but in our family the countdown for Christmas has begun (especially for the 3

kids). For some reason I’ve always found it really easy to have the Scrooge mentality around Christ-

mas. So here I sit writing this email with no fan, so I’m sweating just typing. The washing machine won’t

pump out water on its own, so every few minutes I’m having to get up to pump out the water for it. We’ve

also got a lot to do because the plane is coming tomorrow and we are headed into town for some shop-

ping for supplies and to get some literacy material printed. It would be really easy to focus on the

bad. When things break down out here, it is a waiting period before we can either get parts, or replace

it. Sometimes replacing things has to wait until funds are available.

However, if you gave us (Karie and me) the choice between two fans, a washing machine that worked

properly, or 16 people with restored sight, I think you know what the choice would be. Those 16 people

have been dealing with poor sight for years, and it’s hard to feel sorry for yourself because you can’t turn

on a fan. We can replace fans, we can get a new washing machine, maybe not when we want to, but

those types of things are replaceable. To have the ability to change someone’s life through restored vi-

sion, that is irreplaceable.

All these things I’ve mentioned remind me of the fact that over 2000 years ago an event took place in

history that changed the course of human history. Yet so many people are blind to the fact of what a

magnificent change took place. How simple it is to restore physical sight for a Doctor who is skilled and

has the right tools. How hard it is to change the attitudes of those who don’t care to see what God did so

many years ago, and does every day. It’s easy to focus on what is not right in the world. It is easy to see

the defeats close at hand. Yet the victory that is in our future, because of what was done so many years

ago, is so much greater than what we have to deal with right now.

Our little world here in Samban can now see a little clearer because of what one Doctor did. Hope-

fully, we can see the greater vision, of what Christmas means through the gift of God’s Son.

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