You Can Only Do What You Can Do

The skin on my hands and feet has been peeling over the last 3 weeks as a result of the terrible prickly heat I suffered in the humid conditions of PNG. When the peeling stops there will be no more physical reminders of my time there. My gut seems to be a lot better; no more gripes. My skin is a lot better. In a funny sort of way I feel sad about that.  My time in remote Yamen is drifting further away, like a lilo floating out to sea with the current. All my experiences are loaded on that lilo and seem to be drifting away…

On Friday I drove to Pingelly and back (about 2hrs either way from Perth). I went to give a talk to the Mothers of Preschoolers (MOPS) group there. My friend Gael came along for the ride and we chatted nonstop for the 4hr round trip! I really had a good debrief about my trip. It was good to be able to share openly about my experiences and feelings. The night before I had had another call from Vivien. This time the call didn’t drop out and we maintained the conversation until she ended it. It’s difficult talking over the phone without the facial expressions and use of other nonverbal cues that help when speaking with someone who has English as a second language. Once she realised it was me on the phone, there was a real wistfulness in her voice that made me tear up. I felt like I had abandoned all the women along the Keram River! I knew I needed to encourage her, so I said that I missed all the woman, but was praying for them. I asked her if she was doing any teaching and she said that next week she’s going to run a session for the women in her village. I was so impressed. I told her to pray and ask God to help her to remember all that I had taught her and that He would be her helper. She was happy to hear that reassurance. Again I promised that I wouldn’t forget to post the midwifery book to her via Yabru. And I mentioned that Pastor Mike was planning a return trip for July 2013. She was very pleased to hear that. I hope it gives her something to look forward to.

Last night my mobile rang four times in a row. The screen said “Private Number” which is what it usually says when Vivien rings. I couldn’t face talking to her last night. I felt I couldn’t go back to Yamen last night.


This morning I woke up thinking, “What if she was trying to ring me about a woman in labour who was having difficulties!” Talk about guilt trip! I think I’m going through a bit of grief at the moment. When I first returned from PNG I was in a dream, a world of disbelief that I’d actually been there. I think I’m now going through grief, feeling sorrow and pain for the women, feeling the weight of responsibility to do something for them, feeling torn between my responsibilities to my family and then to the women back in Yamen and surrounds. For now I’ll just let those feelings wash over me. These emotions need to come out.

On a really positive note I received a reply to an email I had sent a while ago to a midwifery academic who is working for the World Health Organisation in PNG. I really was delighted to hear from her. She has sent through some great documents to assist with preparing teaching material for the Village Birth Attendants and she really encouraged me in whatever I did for these women. I felt reassured too because the areas that she highlighted to be the focus were what we covered in our sessions in Yamen! We were on the right track. Wow.

Well, if we were on the right track, then that’s a great start and I just have to keep moving forward, however slowly, as long as it’s forward! I remember what Mike said when the men of the villages came to our haus and asked me, “So Sara, what are your plans for the women? What is your vision?” To say I felt under a bit of pressure is an understatement! Later Mike said to me, “You can only do what you can do”. Wise words.


Beautiful Baby


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