To return to America would be worse... it would be heart-breaking, to be honest.

Pray for my friend in Papua Indonesia


HEALTH PROBLEMS:

I have an enlarged spleen from malaria.  It got so bad I could barely walk or stand, and so we went to Bali and rented a hotel nearby the SOS Clinic and the Siloam Hospital, two of the best facilities around.  There I found out my liver was also swollen. 

So both my spleen and my liver are abnormally enlarged. The medical terms for this would be splenomegaly and hepatomegaly. I have had malaria 23 times since 2004, even while taking precautions. We live in a lowland area where more than half the population dies before adulthood. It takes a toll.

The doctor warns me against going to any malarial endemic area for at least 6 months. All of Papua is malarial (except the highest mountain peaks, I suppose).  

So we have booked a hotel very near the hospital until November 5th to give me time to recover.  

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But I truthfully don't think I will be healed by then, because I am in near-constant pain that sometimes gets agonizing. 

I was having 5-6 bad dry-heaving spells per day and I am down to 1-2 now.  I also feel better when I force myself to go walk in nature (albeit very slowly...a slow limp sometimes). If I can slowly do this for an hour without stress or strain I seem to improve, or at least sleep. 

I am going into my 3rd week of constant pain. My prayers go out and I have a new sympathy for anyone who has ever struggled with any chronic illness or pain issue. May the Lord bless you. It is a difficult thing. 

Because I cannot sleep unless I am totally exhausted or until I take medication, and then I still wake up 3 hours later when I roll over on my left side, I even have dreams of being stabbed while asleep due to pain. So this inability to escape constant pain can wear on a person. 

So please pray as we recover.  Teresa has been very tired as well and a medical test showed slightly low platelets of 135,000 (normal range begins at 150,000). We are hoping some better rest quickly reverse this before it dips any lower.

WHY DON'T WE JUST COME "HOME" TO AMERICA?

Several have asked why we don't just come "home" to the US. We just talked about this two nights ago and concluded that (aside from our "home" being here now): 

--(1). We could stay here in Bali - a place often considered a vacation spot, and which has the high-quality SOS Clinic and the Siloam Hospital for 6 months for what we'd be spending the first 3 weeks just to get established in the US.

We could stay 2 months in a decent hotel near the hospital just for the cost of the plane tickets home. So it is actually cheaper for us to stay in Bali than to come "home."

--Plus, (2) the international flights sounds like a horror to me at this point unless I have very good medication to control the pain and occasional bouts of dry-heaving.  

--Also, (3) I have had some progress over the past 3 weeks, but not consistently. While in the village 3 weeks ago, I had trouble standing up straight and walking just to the airport was a major ordeal. Some days I could barely walk. This morning I slowly hiked an hour through rice paddies to help me relax and felt better afterwards (mentally at least), 

--(4) I have several in Bali who want to meet and once I can function without pain I plan to speak at a few churches if able to finish raising money for new school buildings in Burukmahkot plus fund the teachers in Fuau. But this is a plan for next month, not now. It will help me to stay useful while I recover.

--(5) I think I might be able to rest better here. Once back in the US there are family and friends who will want to see us. To be honest, I don't want anyone I know to see me in pain. I remember a deacon visiting me once during a malarial bout in the US in 2005 and while I am glad for his kind-heartedness, he looked a bit shocked at my malarial convulsions. I can be more anonymous here and just ask for prayer from afar. Online interaction is easier when you feel like rubbish. I have began dry-heaving in 2 restaurants this past week uncontrollably and it is terribly shaming. I think even moreso in the American culture than here, which might be more forgiving (or at least refrain from disapproving looks) 

--(6) Last week, I got an ultrasound for 42 bucks and extensive blood tests for a few hundred dollars and walked right in without hours of waiting. It seems I mainly need rest and sleep and time for my spleen and liver to reduce in size. The US medical system might eat up my time and money in no time without any better result. I'd rather use top-tier medical services for less money in the Third World than normal US medical services for 10 times the price in America. 

--(7) There are folks who want me out of the country. I have enemies because I have opposed illegal mining in Papua. I have slanderous articles accusing me of being an American spy, traced to Indonesian military personnel. It is easier to stay in the country by staying in the country than being flagged upon re-entry and trying to fight back from outside the country. 

--(8). I simply don't want to say I have left the country because I was sick. There are several goals to reach before I transition somewhere else. There is more work to do. The progress has just begun after many hard and fruitless years.  

Plus, Papuan evangelists do not have these options to just pack up and leave whenever they get sick, and I don't want to just leave just because I am sick. 

--(9) It is easier to fly back (3.5 hours) to Papua from here than from America (like 27 hours). We want to keep the goal close by and within easy range. I don't want to be any further from my place of duty, it grieves us even to be here. 

To return to America would be worse... it would be heart-breaking, to be honest.

So please pray for us as I seek to rest and recover.  A swollen liver and spleen are clear signs that I must stop and rest and so we yield to the will of God, but do not want to abandon the field. It is closer here, cheaper, and possibly more restful. And only 3.5 hours away from Papua by flight.  

Please pray for me as well due to depression caused by constant pain and lack of sleep. In the quiet hours of the morning when you are trying to be quiet but are in pain and cannot sleep, very negative thinking can intrude upon one's thoughts and a black cloud roll in. Since being sick we've received reports of sick people and attempts at child marriage, and the week after I left (and despite government promises) illegal gold miners began again to arrive into Danowage after we succeeded in hundreds being evicted just 2-3 weeks ago. And of course, there are slanders and even news articles with my face on them reporting that I am an American spy and that I want the gold myself (all conveniently published just after I reported Indonesian army personnel being involved in the mining...traced to an IP address from a Javanese army base). I also just heard of members of the Papuan denomination that I work with, GIDI, who are also involved in the illegal gold mining. Why, O Lord, do you stand far away? Why do you hide yourself in times of trouble? In arrogance the wicked hotly pursue the poor. Let them be caught in the schemes that they have devised (Psalm 10). Being sent to search for souls, several have become content to search for earthly Mammon. I am disillusioned and feel lonely and now I am compelled to make enemies within the church here as I oppose several of them, too. I have very low trust or confidence in mankind and my heart burns hot against things I see here in Papua constantly, especially the sins and failures of those within the church.

 Thank God that the reality is different than our perceptions of God being distant and silent. Thank God that our faith is in God and not in mankind. We are all a dreadfully disappointing lot. The continued love and kindness of God to sinful men shocks me, and the tenderness of Jesus even to those who opposed him regularly continues to awe me. Thank you, Lord. 

"The Lord is near to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit." (Psalm 34).