Looking back at 2015

I’ve started to write this on December 30th, sitting on a train in Lincolnshire at 7:30am, on my way to work. It’s still completely dark outside, and half the country is still on holiday. I feel slightly jarred, like the alarm clock went off, but no one else has had to get up.

Feeling disjointed is somewhat appropriate – it aids my reflections on the last 12 months.

2015 has been a year of experiences. We’ve lived in three continents; I’ve had an epiphany in healthy living, exercise & weight loss; my medical skills, for the first time, feel formed; and, as a family, we’ve started to have some clarity about how we want to live.


This year has shaken my understanding of home. In many ways, “home” still means “Epping” to me. My parents live there, I grew up there – the streets feel familiar, comfortable and safe.

“Home” is any place that has touched your heart.
Leaving doesn’t stop that.

But in a much more practical way, our lovely house on Woodthorpe Avenue in Boston is home. It’s the place we can best exhale. We can kick off our shoes, settle comfortably onto a high chair on the breakfast bar, and watch the chickens, dogs and children flap around in the garden.

YEditedGroupPhotoet Restore Church, full of our friends, is also home. We seek the heavenly realms together, we drink moderately bad cups of tea together and we laugh about the projector turning everything purple again. This whole year has been a mess of realising that “Home” is any place that has touched your heart. Leaving doesn’t stop that.

If you’ve read Harry Potter, there’s a concept where Voldemort tears apart his soul and stores it into objects that have emotional value to him. That’s not quite how I’m feeling – home is not a horcrux – but there’s no doubt that putting roots down involves investing a part of oneself.

Now I’m coming home
I’m coming home to you again
I hope things haven’t changed
New Found Glory

Many homes

This year, “home” has been Mseleni hospital in South Africa. It’s been Sea Point in Cape Town. Jackson in Missisippi. Alterna community and Koinonia Farm in Georgia. QC Family Tree in North Carolina. Grace & Main in Virginia. The Simple Way and Inner Change in Philadelphia. A little bit of us still lives in the homeless shelters of the Catholic Worker movement in New York City


Returning to the UK has brought us face to face with the contradiction of “home”: it means a state that is temporary and yet, somehow, extraordinarily enduring.

Our idea of home is shaped by the setting and society we live in. This year it’s meant our children sitting naked, in dusty mud, next to the road. It’s meant seeing giraffes on the drive to the shops. Getting excited about a visit to the town café that pretty much only sells chips. Friends who have never had – and will never have – the life opportunities that I take for granted. Patients who have never slept in a bed, and thus don’t know how to sleep when they are admitted to hospital. Evenings without a TV, without electricity, without water, spent cooking pizza on a wood fire, and laughing. So much laughing.

John M PerkinsAnd it’s meant eating sweet potato wedges with John M Perkins. Jugs and jugs of sweet tea. Contemplative silence in LaGrange, and board games late into the night. Cooking pizza for the entire residency of Koinonia farm. Shaving heads and eating chocolate.

In Charlotte, it meant reincarnation through recycling, through gardening, through relationship, through reimagining an unloved locality. And a little girl doing a poo in a public water fountain. It’s meant permaculture, community gardens, ultra thick milkshakes and sitting on porches in Danville. In Philadelphia it meant pizza (home == pizza), and gunshots, and an understanding that all of us need our home to be sustainable. New York meant $1 pizza slices, enjoying glorious mess surrounded by healing people, and my first ever visit to a board game cafe!

Returning to the UK has brought us face to face with the contradiction of “home”: it means a state that is temporary and yet, somehow, extraordinarily enduring. In common with many others who have crossed cultures, there will always be a discomfort in us, even in situations that have been familiar to us for years.


Alongside learning more about the mental framework we use to fit into the world, I’ve also come to terms with my physical existence here.

For the first time, I can say I genuinely love exercise. I even hate running a bit less!

Sure, 2013 was the year I decided to start losing weight. And 2014 was the year that I realised healthy eating is going to be a life long commitment. But 2015 was the year I started to understand the link between health and happiness.

For the first time, I can say I genuinely love exercise – I even hate running a bit less! I’m more aware than ever how rubbish I feel after an episode of gluttony – Ben & Jerry’s, I’m talking to you here – and I’m starting to have the self control to just not go down that path.

I’ve hammered out a few personal milestones, such as my first Triathlon, my first sub 25 minute 5k, and consistently dropping below 70kg. I’ve also managed sustained periods of exercise, accountablity and weight management – see my blog series: six kilos in six weeks.


babychris-800x817Working in South Africa was a privilege – a scary one at points. Having a baby named after me was a highlight, as was being signed off as competent to perform caesarian sections without supervision. It was also the first time I’ve ever worked with a degree of autonomy, and the only time I’ve been at a grass-roots level in the midst of the community I live. Being a doctor… at home.

When I was 17, I made a decision to apply to medical school. I’m now 29.

As I look towards the end of my training, I know that the only way I’m going to be able to sustain the enthusiasm and purpose I need is for my career to have integrity. When I was 17, I made a decision to apply to medical school. I’m now 29. It’s only at the end of this year that I will no longer be on a training scheme. I’ll actually be an adult, able to apply for a job where I get told in advance where I’ll be working, what hours I’ll do and how much I’ll be paid! I’ll be able to raise concerns and suggestions for improvement without putting my entire career at risk! Brill.

In 8 months, I’ll be able to choose my hours, select my workplace and start to explore my sense of vocational calling. Medicine needs to line up with our life goals, my heart and my sense of home. Who knows exactly what shape that will take, but its an exciting prospect.


The bible is full of phrases like this:

“And calling the crowd to him with his disciples, he said to them, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake and the gospel’s will save it.”
Mark 8:34-35

When I read a passage like that, I think: “I’m not really doing that”. I’m not saying that I believe God calls us all to martyrdom; but I do believe a luke-warm 50% lifestyle simply doesn’t cut the mustard.

SAM_0952I’ve become certain of one thing this year: we desire to live out the gospel. Really live it. Not half live it, tacking on a bit of grace and love to a plastic Western lifestyle, but LIVE it. Our hope is to explore, sacrifice, pray and practice until “The Kingdom of Heaven is near” starts to resonate with us.

“Home” this year has meant common threads: friends, community, adoption, Jesus, vegetarianism, pizza, board games, fitness, laughter… shared values in others that reflect the hope we have for this life.

One of our mentors, Colin, recently said to us “You need to find your tribe“. As we continue to explore what and where “home” is for us, I think God will make it clear to us who our tribe is. Maybe it’ll be through pulling on some of those common threads, and more importantly, following back to the heart behind them, one that says “My God; my neighbour; our life together.”

Thanks for reading this, and thank you to everyone who has been part of home for us this year. Have a great 2016!

PS. I leave you with a song that is very much on the same page as us…

The New Friars: Book Review

The New FriarsI’m not a huge fan of the established (read “out of touch”) church, but there’s always been something powerful to be about the concept of redeeming some of the really powerful aspects of the historical church.

The concept of community has excited me for years too. In the last decade, there has been a move of interest in both these fields. The result? New Monasticism. Taking the radical, biblical, REAL stuff out of the dusty old things we see caricatured in the world.

Its about asking questions; for example, what impact would a vow of poverty have on my life? What if we sold all our possessions and lived together? Can Acts 2 (below) be a practical application to our individualised, materalistic lifeview?

All the believers were together and had everything in common. They sold property and possessions to give to anyone who had need.

Acts 2: 42 & 43

Whilst on the CMF course a couple of weeks ago, I went on a little bit of a book buying binge, mostly thanks to chatting to my friend Jon… That means I have a huge pile of books to read, roughly in the area I’ve talked about above: but I’m vague about the specifics of what they are about.

I decided the easiest way to find out was just to pick one up, and the easiest way to remember what I’ve read is to write a quick book review…

The New Friars: The Emerging Movement Serving the World’s Poor.

Scott Bessenecker, the Associate Director for Missions at InterVarsity, has written this beautifully researched book looking at the traditional phenomenon of “Friars”. He starts with a story of visiting a modern day Franciscan monastery, and being disappointed:

We asked the brother leading us on this tour of the monastery about the cable TV in every room. This was 1979 when cable was a relatively new luxury—one that our middle-class family did not enjoy. “The brothers take a vow of personal poverty,” our guide emphasized. “These things are actually owned by the monastery, not the brothers.” Apparently, as long as it was communal wealth, at this monastery a Franciscan could live in luxury.

He talks about St Francis of Assisi, St Clare, Brigid of Kildare, and then, in the same breath, talking about modern day Friars, people like Ash & Anji Barker, Viv Grigg, Chris Heuertz and hundreds more:

What new friars like Faye and Cami and old friars like Francis and Clare excel at is breaking out of the padding that separates and protects us from the harsh realities of poverty by embracing it voluntarily and stepping into relationship with the poor without the power dynamic that is normally present between the poor and nonpoor.

He attempts to lay out some of the key principles that, intentionally or accidentally, were apparent in tradional friar orders, and I feel he is saying are evident in modern day movements (such as InnerChange, Urban Neighbours of Hope and Word Made Flesh).

I could try to summarise the points, but he’s already done a great job of that, so I’m just going to wholesale quote him – although I have trimmed it a bit…

Incarnational. First and foremost, these orders were incarnational.

They sought not simply to bring the gospel to the lost or oppressed from the outside, as if by remote control, but to be the gospel by becoming part of the communities of dispossessed they sought to serve. They took their cues from God, who, rather than saving humanity by asking us to become like him, chose instead to become like us.

Devotional. Second, these orders were radically devotional.

Each order was organized around a set of spiritual commitments, or a “rule,” to govern their walk with Jesus, with one another and with the community of lost, poor or broken souls into which they had grafted themselves. They vowed themselves to principles of holiness and purity that went beyond the common practices of the faith, then held each other to these ideals quite rigidly.

Communal. Third, these orders were communal, living together and sharing many of those things that they held privately before joining the order.

I’m not speaking of personal luxury items simply renamed communal luxury items. Given their commitment to incarnation, most of these communities were quite austere. I’m talking instead about living in a way that goes beyond the principle of the single-family dwelling, where traditional Western society begins and ends its understanding of a shared property.

Missional. Fourth, the historic orders were missional—at least the ones that went to communities on the geographic fringe.

These were communities on the move, responsible for stretching the borders of the church into the dark corners of Europe. Celtic monks, for instance, were known to board a small boat, raise the sail and pray that God would direct their vessel to some barbarian tribe where the gospel had not been heard. The cloistered (or inward) and the missional (or outward) forces in these various monastic communities were often held in tension, some emphasizing one over the other.

Likewise today we find both cloistered and missional communities cropping up. The New Monasticism, as it is being called, often consists of households of Christian men and women planted in dying inner-city communities within their home country, attempting to live the Christian ideal among their neighbors, drawing the lost, poor and broken to themselves. They resemble more the cloistered order. The new friars, on the other hand, have something of the spirit of mission-driven monks and nuns in them, leaving their mother country and moving to those parts of the world where little is known about Jesus.

Marginal. Finally, these movements were marginal.

This is true in two respects: they were on the fringe of the mainstream church; and they sought to plant themselves among people who existed on the edges of society. Almost all of the movements discussed in The New Friars have been born out of a reaction to spiritual flabbiness in the broader church and a tendency to assimilate into a corrupt, power-hungry world.

In the process of pursuing a different kind of spiritual life, they often found company with those who were trapped outside the systems that kept the powerful powerful and the rich rich. They positioned themselves alongside social lepers, economic slaves and political malcontents on the world’s margins, and often found themselves on the margins of the church as a result.

It’s only in writing this review that I’ve particularly noticed the distinction he makes between the Monastic orders and Friar orders – and I don’t feel it matters tremendously, unless we want to be painfully rigid and formal… which I don’t!

Ben & Beth in StreetWhen we look at modern day UK inner city ministries like The Eden Network (see my friends Bill and Beth on the right): do they fit firmly in one box or the other? Not at all, but there is still something to learn from studying the historic differences.

Overall, I found it an inspiring, and thoroughly thoughtful book. There was tons of stuff looking at the spiritual, economic and self-perpetuating elements of poverty, and all of it kept my interest. I would recommend it to anyone on a similar journey to me and Katherine.

Even the appendices are useful, thought provoking and compellingly challenging. I will leave you with a final story, of Heather on an outreach trip to visit some friends in a brothel in Bolivia:

With tears in my own eyes, I had asked her to come with us. Begged her to leave. She stayed.

We had continued on, singing those same carols a dozen times more, receiving skeptical looks from bouncers and applause from drunken men.

The girls were quieter recipients, but in the weeks that followed we would hear gracias a hundred times or more.

Thank you. Thank you for remembering us.

And he does. He remembers her. He comes for her, to her, into the darkest of nights, into her darkest of rooms. He stands with her there and holds her hand. See, your Savior comes.

“It gets darker and darker, and then Jesus is born.”
Wendell Berry 


Snakebites and sad goodbyes

dhThese notes are about the CMF Developing Health Course 2014.

The focus of today is Dermatology. I made notes on the whole course in 2012 – you can read about this day here.

Each day I’m just going to write about things that impacted me, and things I need to read later…

A final morning chapel followed our joyful late night escapades last night, with a combination of Amazing Grace and We Are Marching to get a bit of the African clapping vibe working. The photo below is from earlier in the week, but since its the last day today, it seems appropriate to share it…



Clare Fuller showed us lots of very interesting graphs. Dermatology complaints are known to under present, be poorly treated and lead to people avoiding healthcare for other important issues.

In some studies, more than 60% of Dermatological prescriptions were inappropriate in a Developing world setting.

Also, distance effects health seeking behaviour in Dermatology more than other conditions: if there is a clinic within 1km, people attend with their fever, their pain, their rashes. If the clinic is 10km away, they will only go with their fever or pain, according to one study.

Apparently 10-20% of children with scabies will still have haematuria 10 years later! That’s terrifying, and only something that’s recently coming to light.

Skin lightening products

Using topical steroids for skin lightening leads to low birth weight and vaginal bleeding in pregnancy.

Generally dangerous

Cutaneous bacterial infections

Very common in the tropics, can be difficult to identify which one in particular.

Treating cutaneous bacterial infections

  1. Wash skin – clean water, disinfectants
  2. Remove crusts, debris, necrotic tissue
  3. Topical anti-inflammatory/anti-biotics, honey, etc.
  4. Oral antibiotics


Acqeous cream should not be left on the skin – can inhibit barrier function.

Otherwise the greasier the better.


Approach will vary depending what snakes you have in your area.

I saw a snake on my balcony, and was concerned, so asked a colleague what to do.

Their response, “Have you tried the exposure test?

“What is that?“, she replied.

Let it bite you, and see what happens

Fond goodbyes

I was feeling desperately sad by the end of the day, but it was time to say goodbye to everyone. I got bullied into starting a Developing Health 2014 facebook group, so feel free to join if you came along – it’d be great to stay in touch.

Thanks to everyone who came along, everyone who donated their time to teach, and the course organisers: I’ll be processing everything I’ve learnt for months…

Ladies, feet washing and goodbye curry

dhThese notes are about the CMF Developing Health Course 2014.

The focus of today is More Women’s Health. I made notes on the whole course in 2012 – you can read about this day here.

Each day I’m just going to write about things that impacted me, and things I need to read later…

Cross Cultural Care

Mary Hopper delivered a talk that usually marks part of a 30 hour course over 6 weeks. In 55 minutes.

Your race is a constant.
Your culture constantly changes.

She recommended reading a book called “Desert Flower”, by Waris Dirie.

She mentioned that simple things like Dermatology books rarely have pigmented skin, making medicine itself culturally inaccessible, but then Marli emailed me an African Skin Guide, which is not added to my ridiculous pile of things I need to read…

Labour and Obstetrics

A maternity dashboard sounds like an excellent way of keeping track of statistics and aiming to improve them across a whole hospital.

We had lots of very useful workshops, which included resolving a shoulder dystocia, and delivering a breach. I also had some great one-on-one tuition from Julie-Rachel, a midwife working in Zambia, who invited all of us to stay out there – she has ridden on an elephant! I definitely want to ride on an elephant, so now I just need to persuade Katherine that the experience is worth 20 hours or so of travelling…

Final evening

jesus-washing-disciples-feet-by-taklaIt being the last evening before the end of the course, there was a goodbye service in the chapel, where Ian spoke about Ephesians 1 again, and talked about the big transformation present in so many biblical lessons: imagining a U shape, starting high, dropping low, coming high. Jesus is Lord, coming down to mankind, dying an ignoble death, then rising up again.

He ended with John 13:

Jesus knew that the Father had put all things under his power, and that he had come from God and was returning to God; so he got up from the meal, took off his outer clothing, and wrapped a towel around his waist. After that, he poured water into a basin and began to wash his disciples’ feet, drying them with the towel that was wrapped around him.

He came to Simon Peter, who said to him, “Lord, are you going to wash my feet?”

Jesus replied, “You do not realize now what I am doing, but later you will understand.

No,” said Peter, “you shall never wash my feet.

Jesus answered, “Unless I wash you, you have no part with me.

Then, Lord,” Simon Peter replied, “not just my feet but my hands and my head as well!

Jesus answered, “Those who have had a bath need only to wash their feet; their whole body is clean. And you are clean, though not every one of you.” For he knew who was going to betray him, and that was why he said not every one was clean.

When he had finished washing their feet, he put on his clothes and returned to his place. “Do you understand what I have done for you?” he asked them. “You call me ‘Teacher’ and ‘Lord,’ and rightly so, for that is what I am. Now that I, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also should wash one another’s feet. I have set you an example that you should do as I have done for you. Very truly I tell you, no servant is greater than his master, nor is a messenger greater than the one who sent him. Now that you know these things, you will be blessed if you do them.”

John 13:3-17

Last time I was on the course, I felt a calling to wash everyone’s feet. This time we did it again, myself, Marli and Jayde. As always, it was an intimate, humbling experience – an honour for all of us.


Several of us had wanted to go out for an evening meal, but Vicky was sad about people leaving on the very last night: we compromised with an Indian takeaway. In the largest order I’ve ever made, we ordered £120 of curries, rice, poppadums and naan breads. We pulled together 3 tables, and sat round them, laughing, sharing, and trying not to think about saying goodbye.

After the food was finished, we spent some good old fashioned time singing Irish songs, National Anthems of every country round the table (we didn’t do all 11 verses of the Norwegian one), reading out poetry and spoken word, and telling jokes.

Worship in the dark

By around 10, a small group of us – Me, Jayde, Marli, Jakob, Ingvlid, Richard (until his wife summoned him away) – headed to the chapel, where we started playing worship songs. We turned off the lights, with just a small torch lighting up the music on the piano, and stayed together for hours.

It was a peaceful end to the course, and an honour to share with friends who were strangers to me 2 weeks ago. Around 1am, we prayed for each other, and headed for bed.

I stupidly also chose this time to pack, but because I’m a disorganised man, it only took me about 5 minutes to shove everything randomly into bags

The Ladies are Dying

dhThese notes are about the CMF Developing Health Course 2014.

The focus of today is Women’s Health. I made notes on the whole course in 2012 – you can read about this day here.

Each day I’m just going to write about things that impacted me, and things I need to read later…

why are  women dying?Maternal death

Afghanistan – “One of the worst places in the world in which to be pregnant”

Has a Maternal Mortality Rate of 6,500 per 100,000. Which is the highest ever recorded, anywhere in the world.

Reducing those MMR stats is simple: we know the answers…

  1. Improve access
  2. Ensure skilled staff at deliveries
  3. Increase Utilization
  4. Education and Family Planning

Female Genital Mutilation

Studies have shown that it is not really a religious tradition but a cultural one. It is barbaric – and the pictures and case studies just confirmed that. I’m pretty proud of our country that they have made it illegal for UK nationals or residents to perform FGM anywhere in the world. Maximum sentence 14 years!

There were some interesting discussions about this though: if you deliver a baby, and the mother gets a tear, relating to her FGM, you breach the law if you repair it to how it was previously, rather than trying to reverse the FGM – regardless of the patient’s choice!

Women, depression and domestic violence

There is a big correlation between depression and suicide in women in the developing world – in the UK, men are about 3 times more likely to be successful in suicide. In Bangladesh, there is no statistic distinction between the two.

Being poor, worrying about family, about health, about money, about social insecurity, domestic violence: all these things are stressful.

In some studies, 20-36% of women in Asia suffer from post-natal depression.

Group work

We had a range of group workshops, where we talked through loads of case studies. Very informative, very useful. Just like yesterday, where I ended up teaching a group how to perform a spinal anaesthetic, today I realised that I actually have something to contribute, based on my professional experience. Last time, I knew very little about gynaecology, but this year I had 4 months on experience, and was able to participate actively in the discussion.

The Cutting Edge…

dhThese notes are about the CMF Developing Health Course 2014.

The focus of today is Surgery. I made notes on the whole course in 2012 – you can read about this day here.

Each day I’m just going to write about things that impacted me, and things I need to read later…

I started my morning devotion with starting to read through John 1. I was completely unsurprised to find that the word enlightened came up immediately, just like Ian’s talk from the first night, and bringing me back to that Ephesians 1 passage again:

The true light, which enlightens everyone, was coming into the world.
John 1:9


Following that, Hilary Edgcombe taught us about many cool intelligent things in the world of Anaesthetics.

“Is Ketamine a wonderful drug with terrible side effects, or a terrible drug with some useful side effects?”

She talked about Ketamine: It is not a fail-safe airway option… Give it over 5 minutes to reduce chances of impacting airway.

We touched on the terrible under-resourcing of many Majority world settings, from an anaesthetics perspective. The video below shows a bit of that – I shared it last time as well, but its still interesting.

On the Developing Health USB stick, there is an amazing link to a free online Developing Anaesthetia textbook for use in resource poor settings. It’s pretty brilliant…

A quality history and decent examination are important before anaesthetics. Just like Ian has been saying all week, a probing history, a thorough examination, appropriate investigations and careful synthesis is the fundamental base of clinical medicine.

She also recommended http://update.anaesthesiologists.org – which is a good resource for information about coping in resource poor areas.


surgical questionsColin Binks and Mike Puttick took us through the next session on Surgery for the Non-Surgeon.

Two big questions: Can I do it? Should I do it?

Seeing red

If you see haemorrhage, pack it, pack it, pack it, pray, pack it, etc.

If the liver won’t stop bleeding, give the portal vein a squeeze.

Seeing green

Likely small bowel or gallbladder perforation. Wash and go approach.

  1. Clean it out.
  2. Close it up.
Necrotic Bowel – its black, so you excise it

Seeing black

This means there is necrosis.

  1. Excise the dead stuff.

The Acute Abdomen

An interesting talk, with lots of stuff that was way over my head: I think I am not competent to start popping in bowel anastamosis yet. The message was repeated from yesterday that:

“The solution to pollution is dilution.”

Lots of irrigation with saline in your friend in surgery.

With both talks, it was really useful looking at case studies, saying “What can you do, what should you do?”. It was recommended again that we buy the Primary Surgery book, which helps with knowing how to do things, if we decide doing them is the right option.

Anaesthetics tutor

We had some group work in the afternoon: in one of the sessions, the anaesthetist was teaching how to do a spinal anaesthetic. Given that I had more experience in this area than anyone else, I ran one of the stations. Whilst I may not have been particularly good, it was quite uplifting for me – namely that work I’ve done in previous years to learn clinical skills has led to me having skills that my 2012 self did not.

That’s a professional development reflection for my e-portfolio right there…

One cool tip the tutor gave us for finding the spine, especially if someone is laying on their side:

A patient can always find the middle of their back, so if you are struggling to find it, let them point to it for you.

Late night fellowship

Fellowship has been a great component of our time together on the course. Late this evening, me, Marli, Mike, Jakob, Justus and Linda all sat in my room, and shared Coke, alcohol free beer, prayer, bible verses, songs (inconsiderate after midnight?) and stories of how each of us came to know Jesus.

It was very uplifting, if a little tiring (we went to sleep after 1am). We ended by reading Philippians together:

Brothers, join in imitating me, and keep your eyes on those who walk according to the example you have in us.

For many, of whom I have often told you and now tell you even with tears, walk as enemies of the cross of Christ. Their end is destruction, their god is their belly, and they glory in their shame, with minds set on earthly things.

But our citizenship is in heaven, and from it we await a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ, who will transform our lowly body to be like his glorious body, by the power that enables him even to subject all things to himself.

Therefore, my brothers, whom I love and long for, my joy and crown, stand firm thus in the Lord, my beloved.

Philippians 3:17-4:1

Joining bones (and mission partnerships)

dhThese notes are about the CMF Developing Health Course 2014.

The focus of today is Orthopaedics. I made notes on the whole course in 2012 – you can read about this day here.

Each day I’m just going to write about things that impacted me, and things I need to read later…

New Relational Partnership…?

We started this morning with a meeting with the missions agency that phoned me last week. Katherine, Joen and Neriah all came out to Oak Hill college with me, ready for the meeting. We met with a lovely chap with an accent that can best be described as “miscellaneous”, since he has lived in about 5 countries for significant periods of his life. His wife was also there.

Just that little fact made me feel more comfortable: if you meet with a corporate CEO, or similar, there would never be such an immediate focus on relationship, on meeting our family as we meet theirs.

UBurn Contracture Healednderstanding the concept that he is not alone in working – as a married couple, all our work, to some extent, is done in partnership.

Anyway, it was a thought provoking meeting, that may lead to a long term partnership: more on that as it develops…


Due to our meeting, and my general tiredness, I missed most of the morning, by the earnest, funny and heartfelt Chris Lavy (I sat with him at lunch, he was awesome). I did catch two recommended websites for finding recommended physio techniques and general reference material: Summit Medical Adult Health and WheelessOnline.com.

However, I managed to attend most of the afternoon sessions with tutorials and workshops on fitting people for casts, putting legs in traction, and how to splint burns.

I think the biggest take home message for me was that burns need appropriate splinting, for at least 6 months to prevent developing significantly disabling contractures (see right).

Ideally you want a burn to heal within 2 weeks, as that makes risk of contractures much less likely.Burn Contracture Healed

The Hidden Introvert

The Mission Agency asked us to identify our Myers-Briggs types: Broadly, Katherine is an INFJ, and I am ENTP. Which is nice, as the conventional wisdom is that having 1 field the same (possibly) makes for stronger relationships. It’s interesting to read through – not a massively evidenced based approach, but an interesting window to use to inspect your own mentality.

Unsurprisingly, I am classified as an Extrovert. But, I have a hidden Introverted side that I never knew existed…

This week has been socially intense, making instant, deep, wonderful friendships with people from all over the world, but with fairly similar visions and life views to me. I’ve had a fantastic time, but it has been hard work. For the first time… ever… I had to go and spend an hour in my room on my own this afternoon!

I was excited about this: Vicky Lavy pointed out that the fact that after an hour I was back out, talking to everyone, means that I’m unlikely to be at risk of reverting to total extroversion…

Africa and Zulu

The evening talk was a chat with Peter Saunders. His story was slightly haunting for me: around 20 years ago, he felt called to work in Africa for a year, went to work in Kenya for a year with his wife, a 1 year old and a 3 year old. They felt convinced they would end up in Africa long term: but never lived there again…

My last activity before bed was my first Zulu lesson with my SA friend Linda. I discovered my first concepts of Zulu prefixes, and learnt to say Kubu Hlungu Ikhanda (My head hurts).

I am not fluent yet.