“Your Daddy Is a Doctor!”

Overturned Auto in Briar Patch

When our 2 daughters were in their teen years I really wanted to be as involved in their lives as I possibly could. I well understood some of the stresses and anxieties of teen years, but had some difficulty in relating to teen-aged girls. My sister Marilyn was 3 years older. and if she had any teen related problems she surely didn’t share them with me. I was pretty much clueless to the doubts, fears, insecurities, self-image anxieties, boy friend concerns, hormone changes and just plain understanding the mind of a teen-aged girl! Cathy was great in her understanding and sympathetic leadership of Mary Kay and Ginny, but she had problems transferring that wisdom to me. It was not I was a slow learner, but I thought somehow the medical knowledge I learned in medical school regarding medical and psychological problems prepared me to be a good Dad to teenagers. It didn’t.

On one particular week-end I thought it would be fun to accompany Cathy, Mary Kay and Ginny on a shopping trip to Monroe, Louisiana. There was a great new shopping mall on Interstate 20 called Pecanland Mall which had opened in 1985, and it quickly became a favorite of ours. The road from El Dorado to Monroe was narrow and curvy, but the trip usually took an hour and a half whereas the trip to Little Rock always took 2+ hours. I don’t remember where John was that particular week-end but he didn’t make this trip with us.

We had made the trip to Monroe many times, and I was familiar with the various curves and unevenness in the road. From Farmerville, Louisiana south towards Monroe there are some steep hills which prevent viewing oncoming traffic until they are right upon you, so I always was cautious and payed extra close attention when approaching those hills. At one particular hill a passenger car with several children riding with parents was approaching me and a single passenger car pulled into my lane to pass. I told our girls I was pulling onto the shoulder hoping there was enough room to avoid a head-on collision. At exactly that time the driver saw us and jerked his car back behind the car ahead of him causing him to start fish-tailing, just as I passed over the crest of the hill. All I saw in my rear view mirror was a cloud of dirt and rocks. I knew he had crashed his vehicle and told our girls we were going back, so I made a quick U-turn. Fortunately there were no other vehicles on the road anywhere near us.

As I came back over the hill I saw the errant driver’s car had run down into a ditch, had overturned and was smoking with the wheels still turning. Our older daughter Mary Kay screamed, “We need to get a doctor, we need to get a doctor!” Cathy turned in her seat, faced Mary Kay and said, “Your Daddy IS a doctor!” Mary Kay said, “Oh yeh.” When I pulled to a stop as far off the narrow highway as possible, our other daughter Ginny screamed, “It’s gona’ blow up, it’s gona’ blow up!” I was pretty sure that was not going to happen. The car was lying in a huge briar patch, and when I got down the hill and navigated through the briar patch, I found the driver sitting propped up against the frame of the car. He was dazed but had no obvious external wounds apart from scrapes and bruises. He was a late middle-aged Black American wearing a vested suit with a tie. I noted on the interior roof of his overturned car was a pistol, and I assumed it had been on the seat of the car when it overturned.

When I asked the driver what happened he groggily said, “Somebody ran me off the road.” I told him he had better get his story straight, because his reckless driving and attempt to pass with a double yellow line in his lane caused him to run off the highway. He said he was in a hurry to attend a funeral in Ruston, Louisiana (about 40 miles away) and he was running about 30 minutes late. I told him he would be attending his own funeral the way he was driving. Within 15 minutes a local sheriff’s deputy arrived, and I was able to give him an account of the details of the accident. I had an idea there would be further investigations.

About 2 weeks later I received a telephone call from a lady identifying herself as an insurance investigator. She said her client claimed he “was forced off the highway” causing extensive damage to his vehicle. I gave her the exact statement I had given to the sheriff’s deputy, and told her I would be happy to testify under oath if needed. I heard nothing further concerning the wreck and assumed the preacher with the pistol was unharmed. I doubt he made it to the funeral in Ruston!

Since those days as teens both our daughters have trusted my experience as a doctor and have consulted me often concerning their own health issues and those of their families. I am confident they trust my medical judgement and wisdom. In reflection on this humorous event and others I am grateful to both of them and to our son they have thought of me more as a Daddy than as a doctor, and after all that is exactly what I desired.

Dr. John

PS: We continued on our shopping trip to Monroe and as best I remember, had a good lunch at the Red Lobster after purchasing dresses and accessories for both girls. Most of our conversation the rest of that day revolved around the dangerous, speeding, pistol packing preacher!

 

 

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The Do-Right Rule

Coach Lou Holtz and Razorbacks

I never heard of Lou Holtz before he was hired as the head football coach of the Arkansas Razorbacks in 1976. He replaced the legendary coach Frank Broyles who had decided to retire after successfully coaching the Hogs for 19 years. Loyal Hog fans did not believe there was a coach who could even begin to match the coaching genius of Coach Broyles, much less exceed the records he had set.

Coach Holtz inherited a team of excellent players whom Broyles had recruited, and they proceeded to win 11 games in his first year. Their only loss was to the #1 ranked Texas Longhorns who had All-American halfback Earl Campbell, and the score was only 13-9. For the first time the Razorbacks were invited to play in the Orange Bowl on New Year’s Day against the Oklahoma Sooners who were ranked #2 in the nation. Although Arkansas was ranked #6, it was a foregone conclusion they were greatly over-matched by a team which included several All-Americans including running back Billy Sims who won a Heisman Trophy the following year. The excitement among Hog fans was palpable until the weekend before the team was to leave for Miami when the unthinkable happened.

Two of the Hog’s best players, running back Ben Cowins and receiver Donny Bobo along with an additional player Michael Forrest were involved in a dormitory incident involving a girl. Coach Holtz made a thorough investigation and decided to suspend all three players, not allowing them to travel with the team to Miami. His explanation to the players and the public for the suspensions were they had broken the “Do-Right Rule.” When asked to further explain the rule Coach Holtz simply stated, “If you want to stay out of trouble, you must obey the “Do Right Rule” which states, “Always do the right thing.” Initially many believed he had given too harsh a punishment to these players. What little chance we might have had against the mighty Sooners was seemingly erased by this verdict against our 2 best players. Many appeals were made to the coach to change his mind, but he was unmoved in his resolve and in his final decision.

Cathy and I had decided to spend the latter part of our Christmas holidays with her family in Fort Lauderdale, and this would give our son John Aaron and me the opportunity to attend the Orange Bowl game along with Cathy’s brother George. During the week before Christmas, we made reservations to fly out of Monroe, Louisiana to Fort Lauderdale on Delta. During the second half of our flight itinerary from Atlanta to Fort Lauderdale I had an encounter with Rabbi Norman Goldburg which I described in the account, Sharing Jesus With Rabbi Norman; Aug. 2014.

I remember the thrill John and I had travelling to the game with George. He knew his way to the Orange Bowl Stadium, so John and I could simply enjoy the journey and speculate on the final outcome of the game and all the statistics. All three of us had worn red and white outfits not remembering those were also the colors of the Sooners. We didn’t have any Razorback insignia, but quickly realized upon arrival at the stadium, we were in the minority. Several fans asked what part of Oklahoma we were from, and when we told them we were from Arkansas they were astonished saying, “Why would you even come such a  distance for this slaughter?” John and I just meekly said, “We’re going to try our best.” George had brought an air horn which he normally used as a safety device on his boat, and he gave it to John for his use at the game as needed! 🙂

From the opening series of the game in which the Sooners fumbled and we quickly scored, it became obvious in this game on this night we were the superior team. Our running back Roland Sales gained 205 yards rushing, and this remained an Orange Bowl record for about 20 years. Our defense played extremely well and held the Sooners to 6 points while we scored 31 points.

John Aaron had a “blast” with the air horn and seemingly blew it every time we made a first down. The couple sitting in front of us were obvious Sooner fans, and were so disgusted with the game and the constant air horn they left right after half time.

Prior to the game many of us Razorback fans were put off by Coach Holtz’s “Do Right Rule”, but deep down were pleased with his stress on personal discipline. Those of us who initially opposed the suspension of his star players were made to understand his wisdom in maintaining strict standards. The other players understood they must take up the slack by playing harder and with greater resolve. The results were obvious and stunning, especially for those Sooner fans who were incredulous in thinking people from Arkansas were crazy to travel so far to “witness a slaughter.” As for John and me, we would have travelled  twice that distance to blow the air horn for our beloved Razorbacks!

Dr. John

 

 

 

Obstetrical Care at First Baptist Church Dallas

Labor Pains

After becoming a believer in the late 1970’s, Cathy and I heard many stories of great faith from The First Baptist Church of Dallas, Texas under the leadership of Dr. W.A. Criswell. We occasionally visited Dallas for various reasons, but were never in a position to attend a worship service there together. The opportunity to attend worship there opened to me in a very unusual way.

In the mid 1980’s our son John Aaron and I had the opportunity to travel to Dallas with my friend, Gary Hegi and 2 sons to attend a Dallas Maverick basketball game. They were playing the Milwaukee Bucks, and our favorite former Razorback player Sidney Moncrief was the star of the Bucks. Our friend Gary Braswell who lived in Dallas obtained the tickets for us to all go together, and he brought his son with him to the game. One of the things I remember about the game was our seats were so high in the upper deck I couldn’t even make out the numbers on the player’s shirts. I had to pick out which one was Sidney by the way he was playing and the fact he was the star and scoring leader of the team. I do remember the Bucks won the game, but don’t remember anything else about the game statistics. It was just fun to all be together for this father-son outing in Dallas. our hotel reservations were at the Wyndham Hotel, and that was also a special treat because it is such a beautiful hotel with outstanding amenities.

The game was over late Saturday night, and we all stayed up late into the early morning hours of Sunday. Our plan was to have a late lunch and then travel back to El Dorado in mid-afternoon. As was my usual routine I awakened by 5 AM and prepared myself some coffee in the room John Aaron and I shared. During my quiet time meditation I thought it would be fun if all of us would attend worship at First Baptist Dallas, but this had not been a part of our initial plans for our Dallas trip. I discovered there was a 10 AM worship service which would be perfect for us so we could have lunch at the usual time and still leave Dallas at our appointed time. At approximately 8 AM I began making my suggestions known to everyone, but they fell on very sleepy ears. No one wanted to go to church on this day and especially at such an early hour for them. I considered also staying at the hotel with everyone, but the more I thought about it, this would be an excellent opportunity for me to hear Dr. Criswell preach. I started getting ready, and decided it would be easier to get a taxi and be taken directly to the church without having to worry about directions, traffic and parking. I left the hotel at approximately 8:45 in order to have plenty of time to look around the church and perhaps get the chance to meet Dr. Criswell. When I arrived there was a worship service in progress so I had enough wait time to walk around the church campus in a brief and informal tour. The church was extremely impressive in its’ size and obvious place in Southern Baptist church history.

I decided to sit near the back and close to an exit door so I wouldn’t get caught in a traffic jam at service end time, and then be able to quickly catch a cab back to the hotel. Dr. Criswell announced his sermon had 12 points, and he had only been able to get to 8 of them during the earlier service. He was determined during this hour to “get to all 12 points!” There were lots of “Amens” when he said that and not too many groans, so I settled in for a long but exciting sermon.

About midway through his sermon I noted some unusual activity by several people in a pew to my left and about 4 rows ahead. Two people were standing and seemingly ministering to another individual. This activity continued for at least a minute when I saw the person to whom they were ministering. It was a woman who was approximately 30 years old and obviously pregnant, appearing near term. The people assisted her in standing up and with great effort helped her walk to the exit door which was right behind me. As she passed I could tell she was in distress and close to fainting, but Dr. Criswell, who I knew saw what was happening kept on preaching his 12 point sermon. As they exited the door I decided to offer my assistance, because the people with her had a confused and distraught look. As I exited the door a man who was a deacon came through the door toward me and with a wide-eyed look asked, “Are you a doctor?” When I said I was he said, “She’s about to have a baby!” They had her sitting in a chair in the foyer of that side entrance to the church and were holding her up so she wouldn’t slide out onto the floor. He was grateful to turn her care over to me since obstetrical care had not been part of his deacon orientation. I have to admit my excitement at this point thinking I am going to deliver a baby right here in the hall of First Baptist Church, even before Dr. Criswell finished the 12 points of his sermon!

After I asked her a few questions and did a brief abdominal exam I determined she was in the early stages of labor in her 2nd pregnancy. She acknowledged she believed it would be at least another hour or so before she delivered, giving us enough time to get an ambulance to the church. The ambulance was called and I remained with her to calm her until they arrived about 10 minutes later. I was relieved in one respect for the lady’s safety but disappointed to have not been part of the first delivery at First Baptist Dallas, not the sinful kind but the obstetrical. I couldn’t wait to get back to the hotel to tell the guys what they missed while they slept.

Dr. John

 

A Mother’s Sacrificial Love

Mimi
Circa 1938

I was born in El Dorado, Arkansas on October 12, 1939 the third child of Berry Lee and Lydia Mae Moore. My brother Berry Lee, Jr. (Bubba) was 11 years old and sister Marilyn was 3 years old on my birth date. As far as I know the delivery was uneventful, and my first few months of life were marked by joy for my parents and siblings. All of that was to change quickly because our mother Lydia (Mimi) was diagnosed with breast cancer. I don’t know the time frame of my date of birth and the diagnosis because our Dad (Pop) never told me. I never asked because the discussion was just too painful for him.

During my first year of life with the cancer diagnosis well established Pop took Mimi to New Orleans to begin her treatment under the supervision of Dr. James Nix, a well-known surgeon and personal friend of Pop and Mimi. Because the cancer had spread beyond the breast and was present in her lungs and bone, the decision was made to give high doses of irradiation to her breast and affected areas. This is the extent of my knowledge concerning her treatment. Her condition continued to deteriorate until she finally died in April, 1941.

Although I have no remembrance of any details, our family suffered devastating consequences of Mimi’s death. Pop had to continue his extremely busy medical practice in a town already depleted of doctors because of World War II. Bubba, Marilyn and I were raised initially by Grandmother Schmuck (Mimi’s mother from Little Rock) who moved into our home in 1941 and stayed for over a year. She had to move back to her home partly because of a strained relationship with Pop. Pop remarried in June of 1943 to Athelene West (Mom and later Gram Moore). They were married for 25 years until Pop died of a heart attack in 1966. Mom raised and nurtured us, never having children of her own, until her death at age 95 in 2005.

Out of his love and respect for Athelene (Mom) Pop never spoke about Mimi in her presence. When I became a young man in my late teens and early 20’s I spent countless hours with Pop late at night at our breakfast room table listening to his many stories concerning his life and medical practice. I asked him a few questions about Mimi, but he would become so emotional recounting their life together and her sickness and death, I seldom asked about her. He would say something like, “She was the most beautiful person I ever knew, and she was the love of my life.” He would usually end the discussion by saying, “I love your Mommy also, and she has taken good care of your brother, your sister and you for which I am very thankful.”

While in medical school I learned more completely the depth of Mimi’s love for me. When a woman is diagnosed with breast cancer during a pregnancy, more often than not she is advised to have a therapeutic abortion in order to save her life. The effects of the tremendous estrogen increase with pregnancy cause the cancer cells to be rapidly and widely spread. I have no way of knowing whether Mimi was offered that option, but am confident had she been given the choice she would have refused. What she did in effect was to sacrifice her life for me.

After Cathy and I moved our family to El Dorado in the early 1970’s we got to spend some wonderful times with Uncle Dick and Aunt Mae (Smith). Aunt Mae was the younger sister of Pop, and because she and Uncle Dick were never able to have children, they treated us very much like their own children. Aunt Mae was so quiet, sweet and very petite. Like Pop she was a good story-teller, but it required some urging to get her to open up. She was about the same age as Mimi, and some of the stories and images I have of my birth mother I received from Aunt Mae.

One day near the end of her own life I asked Aunt Mae to tell me one of her best memories of Mimi. She said, “Your Mimi was such a beautiful person and so full of love for Berry and for you children. I remember one afternoon shortly after you were born when she was descending the stairs of their home while holding you. She was very weak from the effects of her cancer and the radiation treatment, and I was surprised to see her on the staircase. She looked down into your face and said with the sweetest voice, “Oh John Henry I just wish you could know how very much I love you!” I said to Aunt Mae I didn’t think I could handle another story of Mimi right then, while I collected my emotions and wiped my tears.

One of the last times I saw Bubba was at their home about a month before he departed, and he said the following to me just as we were leaving. “Lil’ brother, one day pretty soon I’ll be leaving here to go home, and you’ll probably be fairly close behind. I believe after the Lord Jesus greets you, right behind Him will be our Mimi. I’m sure she will tell you how proud she is of the man you became, and the sacrifice she made for you was well worth it. And I will be right behind her to welcome you home!”

I am fully aware of the sacrifice my mother Mimi made to give her life so I might live. No greater love could a mother have for a child, and I will see her again very soon. After being on my face in reverence and thanksgiving to the Lord Jesus, I will rise, hug my Mimi and tell her I do know how much she loves me!

Dr. John

“Turn It Up To 300 and Hit It 3 Times!”

Defibrillator
Circa 1965

I met and worked with some outstanding doctors and surgical residents during the 4 years I took my surgical training at Charity Hospital in New Orleans between 1965 and 1969. One of the surgical trainees with whom I did a large number of operations was Dr. John Piker who was from Clinton, Louisiana.

John and I rotated together from “Big Charity” in New Orleans to “Little Charity” in Lake Charles, Louisiana during my 3rd year of training and spent 3 months operating together at that facility. We were responsible for all the general surgical procedures done at the hospital under the supervision and assistance of a staff surgeon. John and I seldom asked the staff surgeon to scrub with us as we had become very confident in our operating abilities and self-sufficient in our management of surgical patients.

John Piker was a few years older than most of us and had lots of other experiences outside of his medical training. He was an excellent story-teller and could spin some of the funniest tales I had ever heard from a Cajun. One of his funniest involved an episode when he was a medical student at the LSU School of Medicine. I will tell the account in the first person just as he told me:

“I was in my senior year of medical school and had a 2 weeks-long clinical rotation on anesthesia. My job was to assist an anesthesiologist in the operating room for that 2 week period, and it included taking night call for emergencies when he was on call. The anesthesia resident whom I will call Dr. Smith (not his real name) had the reputation of being especially hard on medical students. Perhaps he had been treated this way as a student and wanted to continue making life as miserable as possible for hapless and gullible students. He had a way of calling me “Piker” with a few added unmentionable adjectives which constantly irritated me, but I had to keep my mouth shut and my attitude hidden as much as possible. It was by far the worst 2 weeks rotation I had in medical school.

We had an on-call room with comfortable chairs and a TV to watch to help pass the time when we were not being called out for an emergency. I tried to use the spare time to read and study, but Dr. Smith had the TV on so loud it was difficult to concentrate. On this particular night we were between emergency surgical cases when we got a Code Blue call from 5th floor which was the medical floor. The patients there had various medical problems including MI (heart attacks), CVA (stroke), and diabetic emergencies. There were no surgical problems on the 5th floor.”

Dr. Smith said, “Piker, get your lazy butt off the couch and bring the crash cart with you. We’re going to 5th floor. Be quick about it!!” The crash cart had all the supplies necessary for a cardiac arrest, including a very large and antiquated defibrillator. The modern ones were compact, but this one was about 10 years old, stood tall on the stand and required 2 people to operate it. One person had to set the dials on the console while the other one held the paddles to the patient. The one on the console was responsible for firing the electrical charge by means of  a firing button located on the console.

When we finally got to the 5th floor and the patient’s bed, we found a typical scene for a person who had a cardiac arrest. It was a large open ward with approximately 12 beds, and this person was in a bed in the middle of the ward. The beds were all metal with wire springs. They were not like the modern beds which have electric controls to raise and lower the  bed and the head of the bed. A few beds had a manual crank for raising the head of the bed, but most did not even have that feature. The mattresses lay on springs which precluded any effective chest compressions should they be needed. This patient was a large woman in her late 60’s in age, and had probably had an MI (heart attack) which caused her heart to start fibrillating. There had been several failed attempts to start an IV, and there were small puddles of saline on the floor beside the bed. In order to apply the paddles effectively to the patient, she had to be rolled slightly on her side to apply one to the front and the other to the back. Because of her size Dr. Smith was stretched out almost to his limits and his knees were touching the side of the bed. He didn’t notice he was standing in a small puddle of saline.

When he was in position he said, “Piker, turn the power to 50 volts and hit it once.” I did what he said and nothing happened. “Turn it to 75 and hit it again”, which I did with the same result. “Come on Piker give me some power quick! Turn it to 300 (maximum for this machine) and hit it 3 times.” When I pushed the firing button after setting the machine to deliver 300 volts, the electricity made an arc with Dr Smith touching the side of the bed and standing in saline, and it was Dr. Smith instead of the patient who got the full charge. The electric shock lifted him up on his toes, caused his facial muscles to grimace and his arm muscles to straighten in spasm. You could hear air being sucked into his lungs with the spasm. I saw what had happened, but had my head turned slightly away from him toward the console and pretended I didn’t see him being shocked. I hit the button the second time with the same results, and then for a third and final time!

When he finally came back down to neutral, the air rushed out of his lungs as he said with a grunt, “Don’t hit that button again!” He thought I didn’t see him being shocked and knew I was doing what he had told me, so he didn’t blame me or punish me for shocking him. He did have a whole new respect for me though, and not once after that did he ever criticize or belittle me. I guess he was afraid I might think of something worse to do in retaliation. Maybe the shocks just made him sweeter.  🙂

Dr. John

 

 

 

” Do You Have A Coil In?”

The following is one of many unusual and often hilarious stories told me by Dr. Bill Scurlock, my surgical associate for 25 years at The Surgical Clinic of South Arkansas In El Dorado.  Dr. Scurlock has the wonderful skill of story-telling, and although some of his medical stories seemed incredulous, I assumed all were truthful. I will relate this one in the first person just as I remember him telling me:

“I was on surgical call for this particular weekend and responsible for all surgical emergencies which might come to the emergency rooms of the 2 local hospitals. I was also responsible for any phone calls or surgical problems of my partners at The Surgical Clinic. The weekend was busy as usual, but by Sunday afternoon I was taking advantage of some free time and taking a much-needed nap. After about 30 minutes of calm, my rest was interrupted by the ringing of the telephone. (This was prior to cellular phones.) I answered without identifying myself, and the woman who was Black American recognized my voice and identified herself as Lillian — from Warren (not her name nor home town). I recognized her as one of my patients. I said, “Lillian, what in the world is wrong with you?” She said, “Dr. Scurlock, I’ve been bleeding.” I knew she wasn’t talking about gastrointestinal bleeding, but was concerned about gynecological bleeding which was outside my area of practice. Thinking of ways I could refer her to someone else for her problem I asked,”Good grief Lillian, do you have a coil in?” I knew women with birth control coils in place frequently have problems with abnormal bleeding, and the coils have to be removed, usually by the doctor who inserted it.

She said, “Y’as sir I have a coil in”, she quickly responded. “Who put it in?”, I asked. She said, “My husband did.” I said, “What? He can’t do that Lillian. Your husband is not a doctor, and he’s not authorized to do it. It’s against the law for your husband to put in a coil.” Seemingly astounded she replied, “I didn’t know it was against the law for him to put a coil in. I thought we could coil you direct without going through a doctor!”

When I recognized we were talking about 2 completely different things I started laughing while thinking what I might say next to straighten out this dilemma. “Lillian I wasn’t talking about coiling me on the telephone. I was talking about a coil a doctor has to put in your womb to keep you from having babies.”Oh,” she said. “I don’t know nothin’ about no coil in my womb. We was just coiling you to tell you I’m bleeding.”

The hallmark for excellent medical care is the physician understanding just exactly the nature of his patient’s complaints and being alert and sensitive to what they are really saying when they express those complaints. In this particular instance it took Dr. Scurlock a little longer than usual to understand the problem with her coil!

Dr. John

 

More About Luampa Mission Hospital in Zambia

Luampa Hospital
Zambia – circa 1982

It should be no great surprise the countless ways God interweaves our lives with the lives of others and in particular with fellow believers. What we consider as coincidences or chance encounters God had planned all along to encourage us and make us know how highly He values our investment in others.When Cathy and I became acquainted with Gordon and Jeanette Jones in the 1980’s, we did not envision how our friendship and association with them would connect us with so many and stretch out to involve a friendship even 35 years in the future.

In previous posts (A Divine Appointment in South Africa, Jan. 2014; Dr. Jones and the Spitting Cobra, Jan 2014; and An African Elephant Opens a Door, June 2017) I describe a few ways God has opened doors to Cathy and me. Until we met the Jones’s when they were on furlough in El Dorado I could not have told anyone where Zambia was located. I wasn’t particularly interested in the country because we knew no one there nor anyone going there. Gordon and Jeanette changed all that. They had been medical missionaries with Africa Evangelical Fellowship (AEF) in Zambia for about 20 years when we met them, and we developed an instant connection. In addition to the relationships already noted, there was yet another connection to be made to Zambia, Luampa Mission Hospital and the Jones’s right here in Branson, Missouri.

About 5 years ago the Van Haitsma family joined First Baptist Branson, and began attending Sunday and Wednesday night services regularly. Their oldest daughter April who had been a student at the College of the Ozarks had begun a dating relationship and finally married Corey Huddleston, the older son of my best friend Tim and his wife Teresa Huddleston. At the time we met the Van Haitsma’s, Corey and April had celebrated the birth of their first child, Palmer, and Cathy and I wanted to take a gift and be introduced to Palmer. They were in the process of building their home  on property immediately adjacent to April’s parents and during the interim were living with them.We took the gift one afternoon to Scott and Melinda’s home. Scott, who is a building contractor was not at home, nor was Corey who was teaching at his school that afternoon. Melinda, April and Palmer were there and welcomed us.

Their beautiful country home is in Reeds Spring which is a 15 minute automobile drive from Branson. Upon arrival we were warmly greeted and invited for a short visit in their spacious living room. Following brief introductions Cathy asked Melinda where she and Scott were raised, thinking they might be native SW Missourians. She said they both were missionary kids and were raised literally “all over the world.” She said Scott was raised in Zambia. That caught our attention because of our connection to the Jones’s, so I asked her more questions concerning Scott. I told her the only missionaries we knew in Zambia lived and served for over 25 years in a small mission hospital in Luampa. “That’s where Scott grew up!”, she exclaimed. It was several weeks later when I had a conversation with Scott I got a few more details of his connections with the Jones’s and his life in Zambia.

Scott’s parents were also missionaries with AEF (Africa Evangelical Fellowship}) which was the sponsoring entity of the Luampa Mission Hospital in Zambia. His Dad Roger was in charge of all maintenance at the hospital and served there for 5 years from 1975 until 1980 when they transition to another location. When I initially asked Gordon Jones the location of his hospital he said, “Luampa is 300 miles out in the bush and 350 miles from the supermarket in Lusaka!” (capital city of Zambia). During most of the years I knew Gordon and Jeanette they were with AEF, but in 1998 that organization merged with a larger organization called SIM (Serving In Mission)  in order to broaden its’ scope and outreach.

Scott spent his early formative years from age 9 to 14 years old in Luampa deepening his love for ministry to people who need to know Christ as Savior and Lord. He related he enjoyed scrubbing in and assisting “Uncle Gordy” and “Aunt Evie” (Evelyn Hattan) in the operating room on many occasions and frequently went on hunting trips with Uncle Gordy to get fresh meat for the hospital patients and staff.

Evelyn Hattan was a Registered Nurse at the hospital for over 20 years, and is the person who provided the photo above of the hospital staff taken in the mid-1970’s. She is located on the back row of the photo facing toward her left. Dr. Jones is on the back row next to the end on the right side of the photo. At the time of my last correspondence with Evelyn over 4 years ago she had retired to Spokane, Washington to be near family. It is my understanding she has now departed this life.

I am no longer amazed nor surprised when connections of acquaintances and friends are made in our Christian lives. God interweaves us with others in order to encourage and challenge us in our ministries. Cathy and I are so grateful for our friendship with and co-labor involvement with Gordon and Jeanette Jones during those years in the 1980’s and 1990’s. Our life in Branson, Missouri since 2005 has been wonderful and full of ministry. We fully anticipate God showing us many more connections with His saints He knew about all along.

Dr. John