Somehow Smiling

Inexplicable radiance. That is how I would describe Moanna in two words. Moanna initially came to Kudjip severely septic from a deeply seeded infection in her femur. (The medical term is osteomyelitis.) Over the course of several tenuous days, we were able to stabilize her. Her life is no longer in grave danger, but the osteomyelitis in her femur is so widespread that it will be very difficult to fully eradicate the infection. Moanna has been at Kudjip for five weeks and will likely stay for several more months. She will probably never walk again.

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Moanna’s left femur showing severe osteomyelitis

Moanna is 12-years-old and the 4th of 6 children in her family. Her grandmother cares for her siblings while Moanna’s mother stays at the hospital to care for her. Moanna is only in 2nd grade, despite her age. It is common for PNG children to start school late and miss large portions of school for various reasons, such as the family’s inability to pay for the school fee. Moanna has not been able to attend school since she got sick.

Due to my assigned workload in other wards, I have not had the privilege to take care of Moanna until recently. When I reviewed her chart and saw how far she has come, I observed another doctor’s brief notation — “Somehow smiling.” Moanna’s condition would make most 12-year-olds miserable, but every day she has a huge radiant smile on her face. Moanna and her mom point to their faith in Jesus as the source of their joy. I asked Moanna, “Bilong wanem yu lap olgeta taim?” (Why are you always smiling?) She said, “Bikpela i strongim mi.” (God strengthens me). The contrast between two apparent opposites—her serious illness and her radiant joy—shows the beauty of how God can impact one’s life, even in the bleakest of circumstances.

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Those who look to the Lord are radiant; their faces are never covered with shame. … Taste and see that the Lord is good; blessed is the one who takes refuge in Him.

– Psalm 34:5,8


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