July 28-31 was our extended training for Welfare/Humanitarian Services. It was great in that it answered a lot of questions about what we are actually supposed to do on our mission. Turns out, we are really not supposed to go to the Gilbert Islands to help people--we are supposed to go and partner with existing NGOs, government agencies, programs and resources that are already there doing some kind of humanitarian work. We can perhaps support financially, organizationally, or logistically those groups already on the ground doing work for the people in the area. We haven't found out what our "area" is but I'm guessing we'll be more or less confined to Tarawa unless there is something of note happening on another atoll and we can justify/manage travel there to assist.
We have heard rumblings about a major initiative surrounding the issue of diabetes. Seems the Pacific Islands are getting some influence from the western culture (the bad stuff, naturally) such as high fructose corn syrup, mono-sodium-glutamates, and all the stuff that makes you fat. The obesity, because of poor medical support, education, and cultural impediments; is turning to diabetes and is an emerging problem in the Pacific area. Perhaps we will find government/non-government health agencies with whom we may partner to provide consulting, management, or financial support to stem the tide.
On another note, for the last two months I've been struggling with a pain in my hip that has radiated down my leg and substantially restricted my activity. Sometimes I could hardly walk. Thinking it an injury (pulled muscle or a tendon), I have waited for it to get better on its own--to no avail. Finally I resorted to a doctor who took some x-rays and said there was nothing wrong with my hip. We then went to and orthopedist who took some more x-rays (I suppose because the others weren't good enough) and agreed it was not a hip problem per se. He suggested it might be a spinal problem. Oh no, we're flying out of here in less than a month. We went the next day to a PT and a Chiropractor who worked their magic--frankly, I felt better after the chiropracter's adjustment, but still the problem persisted. While at the MTC I got an appointment with a radiologist who did an MRI and sent it to all concerned and, yep, bulgy discs and pinched nerves. They referred me to a spinal surgeon who sent me to a clinic where they administered an epidural of cortisone in two vertebrae. This was done on the last day at the MTC in Provo. Interestingly, the best therapy I've enjoyed is sitting with correct posture (even exaggerated) for several hours a day at the MTC. Hopefully I am ready to fly out of here on Sunday. Much prayer and the ministrations of many Elders and doctors should do it.