Teaching and Learning

elwa-12“Typical” ELWA Hospital visits;  Typhoid fever looking like appendicitis, malaria causing sore throat, tuberculosis patients with large pericardial effusions (fluid in the sack surrounding the heart), tetanus causing abdominal muscle spasm, and severe leg burns from using “bush medicine” to “treat” a spinal cord injury.

The past 4 months have been an incredible learning experience.  I have been working with a wonderful team of doctors, nurses and staff.

talking to Jerry and Debbie

At 7:30 am chapel, Pastor Moses begins with a teaching from scripture that relates to our lives and service at ELWA hospital.


After chapel the team starts the morning with sign out from the night before. The doctor who was on call shares about the patients that he or she cared for during the night and the doctors on the team have the opportunity to ask questions and give input into the care.


elwa-13During rounds we split into 3 teams. One team sees patients on the maternity ward and pediatrics, one team cares for the general medicine patients and the surgeons round on their surgical patients. Each team includes expatriates and African doctors, all of us using our own experience and knowledge to offer insight into some of the more challenging cases.


ultrasound 4We have had several teaching conferences in the past two months. I have had the opportunity to present multiple sessions on obstetrical ultrasound to doctors and nurses.  Ultrasound is one of the few imaging studies available here and, as many of you know, this skill is one of my favorite things to teach.

ultrasound 2









IMG_2422I also had the chance to teach vacuum assisted delivery. This is a procedure that has proved to be life saving on a couple of occasions in the past two months here at ELWA hospital.  We did not have an obstetrical mannequin, so my family helped me construct a model from a cardboard box, duct tape, West African cloth, and a children’s toy ball. This was quite an enjoyable and interactive session.

elwa-39I am so grateful for the chance to learn and teach in Liberia. God is using each of us on the team to encourage others, share God’s love, and provide the best care that we are able to the patients that we are privileged to serve.





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9 responses to “Teaching and Learning

  1. psancheztoday

    Loving all these details – praying for wisdom, endurance, and joy!


  2. Jean Stiles

    This is so exciting and so needed. Thanking God you are there serving these precious people.

  3. Deborah Ferguson

    John, Thank you for your latest post, what an amazing adventure with the Lord and the people of Liberia. What a blessing your whole family is to everyone in this country. May God Bless you and provide for your every need. In Jesus Name, I pray! Deborah Ferguson

  4. Trula Kinseth

    It is so exciting to hear from you right now. I’ve just returned from Haiti. I was at the Orphanage and a small (1 doctor) hospital in Piat. That is in the mountains above Montrouis. The entire time there I was thinking about you and Beth and how much good you would be there. Liberia is so blessed to have you! Take care, make sure you drink clean water, and remember, you are precious to us!

  5. Fiona Floyd

    So blessed to hear of your great work. You are daily in my prayers.

  6. Lynn Rastaetter / Ojai Presbyterian Church

    We, at Ojai Presbyterian, look forward to your posts keeping us updated on the wonderful ministry you and your family continue to provide for the people in Liberia (as we receive them, they are reprinted in our church newsletter). Please know you are in the thoughts and prayers of many people here in our congregation. God’s blessings to you and your family.

  7. Lori O'Connell

    Dear John, I’m glad that you are being used in such a satisfying way. Beth and the girls are thriving. The kids and I are have had fun celebrating their birthdays this weekend.


  8. Ruthanne Rusnak

    John, you know my heart reaches out to you, your family and the work you are doing. A part of my soul still lives in Sudan and Somalia from my 1980-81 experience. I love the cardboard box and ball mannequin for teaching vacuum delivery. It does require creativity to teach and practice in remote places. I pray for you consistently.

  9. Ruthanne Rusnak

    I had to go to BBC news yesterday to hear about it, but I’m praying for your safety and protection with the news of the Ebola outbreak reaching Liberia.

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