Who is GCS?
A Christian health and educational agency running two hospitals, nursing training school, primary and secondary schools and two vibrant communities in the remote part of the Gulf Province of Papua New Guinea
To lead the Gulf in becoming a top province in Health, Education and Wellbeing
Provide Christ Centred Services to the people of the Gulf Province
In 1996 the dilapidated Kikori health centre, a hundred km to the West of Kapuna became part of Gulf Christian Services (GCS). Under GCS management it is now elevated to a district hospital serving villages from the mountains to the sea.
Gulf Christian Services has been providing Christ centered services for over 70 years to communities in the Gulf Province of Papua New Guinea.
To understand GCS, we need to go back to January the 12th 1925. Lin Tombleson was born, and grew up on a high-country sheep farm in New Zealand. Her mother was a nurse in WW1 and her father was a soldier, who got wounded and spent some months in a hospital in Egypt. Lin’s mother was a nurse at the same hospital. After the war they got married and went to live on a block of land in the hill country of Gisborne in the North Island of New Zealand, a farm they called Ahititi. It was a pioneers life on a remote farm, including isolation and hard work. Lin learned to look after farm animals, milk cows, ride horses and grow gardens to survive. She did most of her schooling by distant studies. But this was just the life that prepared young Lin to be a pioneer doctor at Kapuna Hospital in the Purari Delta of Gulf Province. God was preparing her for the call on her life.
In the deep south of New Zealand, in the city of Dunedin, a young man, Peter Calvert, was studying law at Otago university. When WW2 broke out, he went to Canada to train as a navigator with the Air Force. The war changed his direction in life and on return to New Zealand he took up medicine, and in doing so met Dr. Lin, who was just completing her training. After his graduation they got married.
Both their hearts were now joined to serve, and not long after this they received a letter from the London Mission Society asking if they would serve at Kapuna in a country called PNG. The Society was clear in their letter... Kapuna is a place of mud, mosquitos and malaria. But as Peter and Lin, read the letter, they looked at each other and said, “just the right place for us”.
Fast forward, in 1954 their boat arrived at Kapuna. As they came to the step of the Doctor’s house, the young, Valerie Archer, who was two years old at the time, spoke out saying “HOME”. And so it was, and so it has been for the past 69 years.
Peter and Lin, began their lifes work. Missionaries these days usually give some years to mission, but Peter and Lin made a commitment for LIFE.
What were their priorities in this new life? Their first commitment was to train young local girls as nurses in the hospital, and men to be Aid Post Orderlies to work in the villages. Training nurses and CHW’s has continued to this day, the training school now being in its 65th year.
Services to remote peoples was the next priority. They travelled first by paddle canoe and then outboard motor in the Delta and by jet boat to the Pawaia villages of the upper Purari. The reach of the clinics was later greatly increased by the support of MAF and its float plane. Medical clinics were carried out all the way from the Vailala River to the Bamu River.
Were there difficulties? Plenty. But did they give up? Never. It was their walk with God that strengthened Drs Peter and Lin, knowing that we are to love others as Iesu Messiah loved us, love that will lay down its life for others.
When Lin, had three passions.
It is now 69 years since they stepped foot on Kapuna. Dr Peter died in 1982 and is buried here, in a mat as is the custom of Baimuru.
Dr Lin(Bubu Mei) at 98 years old was still asking to see the patients in the hospital. Dr Lin died on the 8th of August 2023. Her body, the husk that belongs to this world, was rolled in a mat and laid in a canoe, to be buried beside her husband on the land of the Kapuna.
There was a dream about Bubu Mei’s passing that speaks much about the heart of her life and work. In the dream the local staff saw Dr Lin’s passing. However to her surprise, at that very time she saw Dr Lin walking towards her, she held many crosses in her hand. Dr Lin gave these to the staff and told her, “Give these crosses to the people”. Dr Lin requested that crosses be given to the people, because the cross represents how her life was lived. The cross is the power of God in our life that joins us to the resurrection of Iesu Messiah.
Now it’s our turn to pick up her baton and serve the people, sharing God’s Word, helping those in need and making the environment beautiful as God created it to be.
To watch the story of Bubu Mei click here
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I paused to soak in the scene before me. I had come to the remote Gulf Province of Papua New Guinea to write a book about the Calvert family, who, together with the local medical team, transformed medical care in the region.
Now, bathed in sunlight streaming through a window in her home, the elderly Lin Calvert sat bent over her Bible, grasping a magnifying glass. A doctor known as ‘Grandma,’ or Bubu Mei in the local Koaki dialect, the then-89-year-old didn’t notice me as she meticulously noted what God had taught her through the years.
I remembered this image when I learned that Bubu Mei died at age 98 on August 8, after serving nearly seven decades at Kapuna Hospital in Papua New Guinea. She and her husband Peter, along with their two young children, first arrived at the mission hospital in 1954. Their work enabled Kapuna to serve more than 45,000 tribal people making their home in the remote area accessible only by boat.