A Just Walk (run, hike, etc…)

"…to the Rock that is higher…"


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Firecracker July 09

Nancy and Gloira discuss a patientThe LIGHT Resident Clinic is undergoing some positive transition lately. In order to have a good Family Medicine training program, the residents need to have their own clinic to establish continuity in patient care. There are essentially no national/local models for family medicine, pediatrics, or any other primary care clinics that not only treat patients with a variety of health problems, but also focus on wellness and preventive care. This is not only a problem to establish vision in our residents, but also in the general public whom we want to reach. We need patients!

We have recently been gifted with a computer and internet access for our clinic. There are other items that we could use to round out our equipment needs and improve our clinical capabilities. If you are interested in knowing more about how you can help with this, please get in touch with me.

Jericho Project continues to meet every other week. There are a couple of outstanding local women who are committed to this outreach. We are still in the “laying a foundation” stage, which includes a lot of thinking vertically as well as horizontally. We are also gathering quite a bit of information – reconnaissance, if you will, about the situation here in Shenyang. I’m also doing some training about the situation and who and what we might find. Progress is being made and I’m looking forward to doing some walking around some of these neighborhoods soon. When you think about Jericho, please remember that we need more local women with some time to go out with us. We also need some direction about where to start. I’m asking for a “Rahab” on the inside (or who has recently been on the inside) to help us in our outreach. Most of all, we need to hear from and walk in step with our God who knows all about the situation and the people involved.

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Firecracker! May 09

A New Work?!

A couple of weeks ago, a team from LIGHT traveled to out of town to visit a home with about 25 or so children living there. A local couple (followers) has “adopted” each of these kids and are the main parents, with the help of several nannies. Some of the children were abandoned as orphans as children, while others come from difficult home situations.Their ages range from toddlers to mid-adolescence, with most of the children about 8-15 years old.

having a bit of fun at workOur team went primarily as a medical outreach to give these children a regular checkup, address current problems, and identify any serious or chronic  issues. The afternoon went great as the residents saw the kids and took turns “checking out” with me or the other attending physician. I had a lot of fun teaching – some of the new residents are learning how to examine an infant for the first time.

Medically, the kids are basically stable (except for the one with extrapulmonary TB) and we have established a schedule for routine health supervision. However, it became clear to us is that extra attention needs to be paid to their mental and emotional development as they transition to adolescence, and from adolescence to adulthood. The family structure just doesn’t provide enough support for these teens and pre-teens. Fortunately, we have just the man for the job! A local colleague in LIGHT has a heart for reaching out to adolescents and is excited to take on this project. It is great to be able to plug people with their giftings and interests to meet specific needs.

This will be a new kind of project both for our group and I’m very keen to see how it will unfold. Fortunately, there are more and more solid materials being developed in Chinese for this purpose. Please be upthinking with us in these initial preparation stages.

Global Health Promise

Global Health Promise is still very much on on the job as we continue to pursue projects! We are still writing grants and seeking funding for a shelter  project in Nepal and a maternal child health study in Yunnan, China. The economy has really hit the non-profit world. Unfortunately, food security (rather, lack of it) is also a problem for vulnerable women and children in these hard times causing them to seek alternative sources of revenue.

Since landing in Shenyang I’ve been upthinking, networking, and seeking out who is doing work either with these women, or working with other similarly marginalized groups. As far as I know, no one else has such an outreach. I’m seeking a team of people to join me in this work – peope who feel truly called to enter this kind of darkness. I have some interest, but no committed team members YET.

This city has a different atmosphere regarding the area of prostitution – it is more hidden and more controlled – I’m told the network is quite tight. But I know that it is not unbreakable. Every day, I know that there are women and girls (and possibly boys), crying out for someone who cares. There is, of course our Father and his Son who care, but we are the ones to be the physical carers. Please join me on your knees to help start the movement against this terror in this city. I need team members, I need to know where in this city to start, and then I need to have a breakthrough to reach the women and children.


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Firecracker! March 09

I’m back and blogging!

In February, I went to Thailand to attend the CMDA-CME conference. It is designed to give physicians and nurses (particularly from N. Am.) help in meeting continuing medical education needs for maintenance of licensure and it occurs every year, alternating between Asia and Africa. Although the content is world class, it is SO MUCH MORE than a medical meeting. It is more like a family reunion that happens every two years with like-minded health professionals doing similar work all over Asia. All of my China legal documents came in time for me to attend this conference and I’m so grateful!

DeJi Hospital entranceMany of you are asking about my day-to-day schedule, and it is starting to take shape. Each Monday, Wednesday, and Friday morning I have clinic at the Global Doctor International clinic, where I see anyone who is interested in seeing a western-trained physician. Most of the patients are foreigners, but there are also quite a few Chinese patients as well. I also cover some afternoon clinics if the other attendings are out at one of the other clinical outreaches. The afternoon half days are spent on various charitable outreaches. On Monday (but sometimes Tuesday) we visit one of four orphanages. Other afternoons include visits to nursing homes, countryside clinics, and a Shenyang city charitable clinic. I usually go to the orphanage, but the other places are split between the other attendings depending on our schedules and needs. Friday afternoon is our didactic teaching time where attendings lead (mostly in English) lectures and workshops on medicine to the residents. I staff the clinic when not giving lectures. Tuesday mornings I reserve for work with Global Health Promise and related activities. I will also resume studying with a Chinese tutor several hours a week to continue a focused, intentional time of study to get this language down.

Time outside of  clinics or outreaches is spent in lecture preparation, other pediatric consults, foster home visits, and whatever the day brings! Saturday may also involve some outreaches, but are spent catching up the work from the week, studying, as well as shopping at the market, cooking and cleaning. Sunday is for resting!

I still get up early to run 6 days a week. The evenings are also pretty free to do whatever, usually I take some time to review new Chinese words I learned that day, and catch up on emails and blogs. This is also my time for heart preparation and reflection.

As all of you know, the schedule presented here is a guideline for the day, but the real substance of the day lies within me and the people with whom I interact. The mundane is the real trial of character. The Chinese tend to hold a pretty stoic face in public, but I can usually get someone to smile – especially when I catch them staring at me and I smile back. I remind myself that despite the seemingly rock-faced facade and collective behavior of this culture, each individual desperately wants to be known for who he or she is created to be.

My neighbor matters to me, but so often I just want to shut down and go on automatic – as if I don’t matter to my neighbor. To be honest, it sometimes doesn’t seem like people matter, like when I almost get run over by a bus. It is infuriating every time, and my sense of justice gets all riled up, but I have learned to say, “that’s life in the big city!” The challenge is to go on and keep giving love to the bus drivers, who need it as much as I do.

Now, after this rather mundane blog post, perhaps you’ll still love me and read my next one!


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One month down…

Today it occurred to me that my one month anniversary has come and gone – probably because I don’t usually measure things in months, but also I’ve been so busy thinking about the future that I didn’t consider how far I’ve come in just a few weeks. Looking back, however, I can see that quite a lot has been accomplished in a month.

I’ve completed a move across the country (twice, actually), got an apartment that is not only functional, but starting to look like home. I’ve received my work permit, a Chinese medical license, and (hopefully) will get my residence permit tomorrow. Work has started in full swing with clinic patients, charitable outreaches, lectures, and talks of an inspirational nature. Play is equally important and I’ve successfully navigated my way around the city on my morning runs, and have been snowboarding!

Lantern Festival dinnerFriends are really what makes a place feel like home and I’m blessed to have the people I work with (residents, faculty, and other staff) also be good friends. If I’m not hanging out with my national colleagues, I’m not hanging out with anyone. This evening we celebrated the Lantern Festival as a “family” together. I invited them over to my (soon to be way cool) flat and then we went out to eat. The photo is from my mobile phone as we were leaving the restaurant. I could understand only a fraction of the stories they were telling, but I still laughed and had a fabulous time.

Everyday I’m reminded about how far there is to go. Personal and professional challenges (frustrations?) are constantly before me throughout the day. However, reflecting back either near or long ago helps keep perspective on this life, OUR lives together, and the story in which we journey – past, present and future.


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Firecracker! September 08

This month, the six-month mark of my Stateside time came and went. It is hard to believe I’ve been here half a year already!Time is flying and I am having fun. Working hard, but having fun all the same.

When I learned that the Morning Sun hospital folded, I was deflated and disappointed. What about the kids? What about the opportunities? What was God thinking? What was I going to do next? Was I even going back to China? There were even thoughts that perhaps I didn’t have a calling to go back and that I wouldn’t have to go back to China. Maybe I could go back to Thailand or another country. But I do not believe that my time in China is over, and as I’ve passed the six-month mark, I’m starting to feel the itch to get back.

Meanwhile, there is plenty of meaningful work filling my life here in the States and I’ve been busier than anticipated. This helps buffer the fact that my plans to be on my way back to China by the end of September haven’t been realized. The work addressing the health consequences of prostitution and human trafficking has expanded and it is exciting to be involved on levels from the brothel to the international scene. I’ll be discussing this work in future posts.

At the moment, I still don’t know exactly what I’ll be doing in China, but God has got that covered and I’ll know what I’m doing and be on my way in good time. Whatever I am doing, wherever I am, I’ll be serving God at the intersection of health and injustice. I’ll keep you posted as developments come up.

I’ve learned a few things over the last few months. I’ve learned to let go and play again. Three year old nephews are good for that. I’ve also learned how to adjust keeping my sanity on my insane travel schedule. Flexibility, giving up, living in the tension of not knowing my immediate (or long term) future is something that I have learned to live with and even thrive in. These are lessons for all of us to recognize and grasp as a very real part of our realities, even if most of us do not have to tangibly deal with these in our everyday lives. As a friend has taught me to say, “we hold these things lightly”.

With this travel schedule, I’ve hardly had a chance to settle down and be comfortable in the States. As for being Stateside a little longer, I’ll live. Besides, having a little more time to snuggle with my nieces and nephews will be sweet.


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Firecracker 20/4/08

Just as I think I’m getting into some sort of rhythm of life here, I’m either on the road again (expected) or something (unexpected) comes up. Not that it has to be a bad thing, it is just seems to be more a part of my normal life rather than the exception.

One of those unexpected things came up a couple days ago. The Diocese of Lansing (who got my name through a colleague) called to ask me about speaking at a conference on human trafficking sponsored by Catholic Charities. The planned speaker had to decline at the last minute. The conference, entitled is a single-day conference which will be held in Flint, MI on 24 April and in Ann Arbor on 25 April. For more information go here.

Another unexpected thing came up when my friend at whose house I was staying sold and closed within one week! Fortunately I was in town to move my stuff and that I had another friend who has an house for sale on the market.

The week of 28 April – 4 May I’ll be in the Atlanta/Birmingham area. If you are a regular reader (or not-so-regular) of my newsletters, live in that area, and would like to touch base with me in person, please let me know.