Cheaper by the dozens!

By the normal, enjoyable, route God graciously gave us five children, then we adopted two more and have been blessed by a couple of dozen either living with us for a while, making our home away from home or with us developing a close relationship with them as we helped them get reasonable educations.

They are such a good looking mob that I would love to be able to show you pictures of them all, but that apparently is not a good idea. I will just number them and tell a story about a few.

  1. The first was delivered by Caesarian Section, an operation requested by us. At a prenatal check up his heart was playing up pretty grossly and we were advised that he would almost certainly be mentally abnormal and that we should just allow the pregnancy to go to term (which was soon) and see what developed. We did not accept that. Truly he had an irregular heart for a while but that soon settled. If he is mentally defective, I’m glad, for otherwise he would be so far ahead of me that I would be surpassed by an absolute genius.
  2. His mother wanted a certain name for him. A name which I didn’t like, so as I was learning by then how to occasionally win an argument , I said nothing but just put my choice in the paper, as we did in those days, with my choice listed. We had agreed on his first name. He has been director of a Bible School in the Sudan, lecturer at a Bible College and director of a mission school in Ethiopia and is now a pastor of a moderate sized church. I’m not sure but I think that he has four degrees.
  3. He was probably one of the two most difficult of our natural kids as a teenager, but has grown into a man’s man and is great. Trained in science, education and theology, and having been a maths teacher for years, he now is training to be a worker amongst disadvantaged men. He and his lovely wife have plans to extend their ministry even wider in the future.
  4. Our fourth child was born in the midst of a cholera epidemic. Heavily jaundiced we think that he developed a mild case of cholera. He is also well educated with several degrees and is a Maths teacher. Proud of him for many reasons, I am tickled pink because he turned down a promotion so that he could still keep contact with kids as he was trained to do. He was given a title as a young teacher of ‘magpie poop’. He had a patch of white on the back of his hair where he had suffered an injury and his hair regrew white.
  5. Our only daughter is the spitting image of her mother and thus very beautiful. Having trained as a preschool teacher she is now personal assistant to the head of the secondary division of a moderately large Christian School. She is a great violinist (her teacher once said that she was Symphony Orchestra material) and a beautiful singer. Which, given her parents singing ability hints at a mutated gene.
  6. A double orphan, starved, protein wise, as a child, came to us as a teenager. Given his background, he has achieved as much as any of his older siblings and is qualified in geriatric care and has the drive to be setting himself up to provide services for the disabled. Personality wise he is a delight.
  7. As a child born out of time he became ours legally when we were seventy-ish. Again a near teenager when we ‘got’ him, he has turned out a gem. I guess, like all of us, time will tell but he is a keen and competent apprentice, good at IT. While we were still in Ethiopia he made money by fixing up many others computers and phones. He is very helpful for his IT backward parents!

Older than our oldest child, the first young man we brought to Australia to study has become head of a significant and quite large government organization in Australia. Offered the post of head of a diplomatic post in Africa, he rejected it for various reasons. He has a beautiful family and his oldest son was the first to give us a child who acknowledges us as great-grandparents.

We have been able to help over 20 young people through their education. A few have disappointed us, most of them have made us very proud. CEO’s, presidents of organizations, teachers, and although not helped by us financially a number with whom I’ve been involved in their training are top-notch doctors. I get the greatest joy from them when they write or message and thank me for my work ethic and even more when they talk about our role in their developing Christian faith. Thus several of them are now professors and heads of strategic medical units.

Maybe not financially, but cheaper by the dozen, and we luv ’em all.

Dominic Cartier.

TO my Grandkids….

I don’t know where I found it, but looking through old photos I came across this. For some reason it obviously impressed me.

I can’t imagine that it was when my first grandson was born about 30 years ago. And I have ten of them at any rate. I love my six grand daughters as much so it maybe should be titled ‘GRANDCHILDREN’. and I have 2 7/9 great grandchildren so I’ll include them in my thinking.

I got to think about it line by line today in the light of my eighty plus years of life experience. I’ve alredy added to the first but let me go on.

A nice thought but honestly I don’t believe it. Surely I believe that even if suffering from some physical, emotional or mental problem then you can still achieve a huge amount. If it ever occurred can you cure yourself of a stage four cancer when it is discovered late, I doubt it, maybe modern medicine or God may do so . If someone’s IQ is about 100 do I believe that, just by wishing it, they can become a professor of astrophysics. I doubt it, even if they are some type of appropriate idiot savant. Nevertheless they will be capable of a lot if they really put their mind to it. And I seek to remind you that a thorough cleaner is as important to a successful operation as a good surgeon. And if the anaesthetist makes a big mistake maybe the patient will die. I had a friend visit me in Ethiopia who queried how many geniuses there were laying on the grass watching a few cattle. It would be hard to imagine how they would travel to the moon!

Well I must say that you can lose. You should learn from failures surely, and it is much better to do so than to wallow in your losses. But you can lose – a marriage partner may die young or a child be taken by disease or an accident. That will be a shattering loss. Or maybe you will lose a parent early. Even at my old age if/ when my wife dies, if she dies before me, it will be a shattering loss.

Obviously this is a metaphor stressing the need to aim whole heartedly at what you want. A phase with lots of positivity about it. But I don’t want you to aim at being a successful con man or bank robber or abortionist. But there is a wide range of things with which if you desire I offer you my very best wishes. And it does say aim at the skies, I certainly would encourage you to think hard about sky (eternal) issues.

The loving under all circumstances may prove hard at time, but promising to love you is sincere. True love doesn’t stop you from being upset or even speaking your mind, but love can persist through those things. I hope that I could even love you if you declare that you hate me. Certainly I hope to die before you do, but I can’t even promise you that.

Which makes me wonder how much time do I have left here on earth to love you. And to wonder may it be possible for me to love you from the ‘skies’? I have a certain HOPE that it will be a possibility.

Dominic Cartier, your grandfather.


I’m writing this because I read yesterday of the 150 children kidnapped from a school in Nigeria. This is one of many such attacks with about 1,000 children in all being taken since December last year. Some, a minority, have been released. That is mind-boggling and I’m surprised that that it doesn’t provoke international ire and offered help to the Nigerian Government for help. Such help may of course have been offered and rejected. Some of the pictures I have seen from before indicate that some taken were Muslims. The latest school attacked was the Bethel Baptist School.

In Australia as doctors we have to be very careful. It is difficult for medical students to get into watch a child being examined without parental or guardian permission. As a doctor I am not allowed into an operating room without special registration with each individual hospital, even with adults being operated on. This is a long way away from the old system where operating rooms had mezzanine floors built so that many students and other doctors could watch and learn.

It reminded me of a medical student from Australia visiting us in Ethiopia for an elective term, who told me that I dare not treat children with the affection that I did there, if I was in Australia.

This boy had been run over by a cotton picking machine and had massive injuries from his pelvis down. It took my hat on his head to get a smile out of him. It was a weak smile but took weeks to achieve!
Months later when we got him standing with help, I got a real smile! He had about 20 operations.
Sometimes it took my glasses to get any attention

You can see that this poor kid has lost an arm. We had at least one case a week of cases like this. This occurred rarely because of an accident but ususlly because with a fracture (I guess we could call that an accident!) but that had been badly managed by a local healer who bound the limb, leg or arm so tightly that it caused gangrene.

This young guy had been kept at home until his leg dropped off. You can see how flexed his hip is. He was so weak that we had train him to stand up again, initially by holding him. We did make wooden legs initially and later there were prosthetic limbs available.

This is one such limb made in Arba Minch for a teenager who was so ill when he came in with a gangrenous leg and septic shock that even after initial resuscitation he had 2 cardiac arrests on the operating table. He did well and the last I saw him was attending school supported by an Australia who visited us and met him. There is a lot more to the story than I have told here, as you can guess!

You can see the scar on this boy’s head. He was in ICU and with a very low GCS (a count of severity of head injury) and the nursing staff wanted to put him in the ward as they were sure that he would die. I resisted and although he had a few problems (he was nearly blind), he survived and he loved me and would come running to me whenever he heard my steps. Should I have held him and tickled him? His dad was so happy that he lived!

I may show a copy of some gross pictures of suffering in my medical memoirs blog but here sufficient to say that I treated a thousand or more kids and they all needed medical, emotional and often physical loving. My heart bleeds for those taken in Nigeria and their families, but this is a worldwide problem. Let’s give all the help we can!

Dominic Cartier.

Family life on the farm.

We live on a small farm. My doctor claims that I should move to a suitable place in a city or town and spend my time socializing. Neither my wife nor i like the idea much. Remaining here does depend on having help and we are very thankful that two of our sons still live with us. One, sadly divorced, is our main stay as a carer and runs the farm; one adopted, young, unmarried is a mechanic’s apprentice.

They live downstairs, having enough to be independent but we still have a close relationship as a foursome. My wife and I live upstairs with a sliding elevator for me. My wife still loves gardening (more than house work!) and does the shopping and visits other folk.

I thought that I would show you some of things which make life here interesting!

Our youngest son repairing the diesel injection fuel pump on the old larger tractor. He did a good job!

Our older son is also extremely capable. The bucket on our smaller tractor with years of use was tearing in several places. So with several pieces of steel welded in it is ‘new’ again – at a fraction of the cost of a new one. The plates with holes in them welded onto the bottom are to allow us to attach two forks and use it as a forklift! That works well and is very useful!

We had nine lambs from twelve ewes and as you can see here they are getting almost ready for the butcher. I must confess I am a carnivore but hate killing most things. My hate doesn’t extend to mosquitoes, cockroaches or mice but to kill a lamb is beyond me. Sadly one of our lambs developed paralysis of its back legs, so we now only have eight. We will add the females to the flock (which with recently added numbers from some collected in Aramac is now 27 ewes; the wethers will be butchered and go into the fridge. We should get enough meat for some months at less than half the price if we had to buy it in a supermarket or butcher.

I had a phone call from America last night. This book is already published as an e-book. They want to bring it out as a printed edition. That will mean a lot more work converting it from an e-book production to a word document. They will then edit it and spread the news. Much of the work this end will fall on our son who besides everything else is extremely good with IT. I guess the cover gives away my pseudonym but if you want to buy the e-book look up have scalpel will travel or Barry Hicks AM FRACS on your service engine and it will tell you how to get it! Another medical diagnostic book and some other blogs are also mentioned under my name.

So life goes on, not with for me the pace of yesteryear, but still fascinating. I thank God for the measure of health He has given us.

Dominic Cartier

My 101st Heated Stew attempt.

Our small church has two congregations. At 9AM we have a service for mainly older white people, you might label us a ‘dying’ church. But we do have an outreach into India, South Africa and Ethiopia where people from an overseas church which was disrupted have scattered to other places. The outreach is by the internet. Then we have a much younger Indian congregation which meets at about 10.30 for a service and then an all age Sunday School. Once a month we have commenced a combined service with communion. Today was the first such combined service.

You might wonder what a dog staring at a Television set has to do with church services. I’ve written about my dogs before. Sadly they are both dead, euthanized, because they got into my sheep and started killing them. Here is Liesel staring very intently up at a very colourful, very active packed scene. What is she thinking? How is she reacting? I talk to animals, I may be even more stupid as I sometimes talk to myself. They recognize expressions, they respond to moods but I don’t know what they are thinking. I guess when I talk to myself I can tell myself what I’m thinking!

So what has that got to do with church this morning? The Indian adults, although from a different background have been in Australia for long enough to understand our ways of thinking. But I wondered what the kids thought. Their church services are in their own tongue, Malayalam, and this morning was the first time some children have been in an adult English speaking service. The kids’ English is good, but there are real differences in styles of worship.

In the morning tea afterwards I called one of the little kids to talk to me. He was a bit shy and his older brother came to guard him. He’s in grade 1. So I asked him if he could add up. ‘Yes’, he said. I asked him to add up 1+1, then 2+2, then 6+3 and he got them all correct. I saw him counting on his fingers. I knew that kids in grade one don’t deal in thousands so I asked him to add up 6 thousand and 3 thousand. He looked at me with his head on an angle to the side, thought for a moment and said nine thousand. So I asked him if he knew subtraction. The bigger brother said that his little brother hadn’t learnt that yet. So I told him, the older brother, to let his brother try to answer. So I asked 2-1, then 4-2, then 9-6 and he got them all correct. I then asked what if he took 4,000 from 10,000. And sharp as a tack he told me 6,000. For you and me very easy, but I thought for a grade one boy, that was excellent.

I wonder what people think and how much they understand when a church service is going on. The Indian children sat perfectly well behaved – not a noise out of place. But how much did they or any of us hear of the prayers, the songs, the preaching, the communion? I guess it will be told in the way we live our lives this week.

Please note the small skateboard under the table, in the dog picture above. It hasn’t been used for many years. The small boy seen below playing below with two of my grandchildren was run over by a train and lost both legs and an arm. We were allowed to bring him to Australia for medical help but not permitted to adopt him. He used the skateboard and the little ‘do-dad’ in front of him in the picture below to get around. He is now a University student in the USA. We still correspond but I’d love to see him face to face before I die!

He used to love sitting in front of the TV, conducting Andre Rieu as he watched a DVD.

The day I first met him he was about to be discharged to be a beggar on the streets of Ethiopia. I brought him home that evening and it was the beginning of a long friendship. He knew no English, but we had Amharic as a common language. I asked him if he had to get up to pee at night. He said ‘no’. I asked because I knew it would either mean a wet bed or me getting up to carry him to the loo. Then I asked him if he ever woke up screaming at night after the accident. I was surprised and delighted when he replied ‘There is a God in Heaven and I have left it in His hands.’ He was somewhere between 8-10. It was drizzling rain and, on a dirty road, I kept having to use the windscreen wiper and following behind other vehicles when the rain stopped I had to use the water spray jets to clean the window. I tested him when he asked where the water came from. He had never been in a car. I told him that there were two little boys under the hood and I would give them a little electric shock and they would pee for me. I kept a straight face. He looked worried for a moment and then burst out laughing. ‘Now, tell me the truth!’ I knew we would get on well, and we still do.

People can think! It’s what they do with what they’ve learned that counts!

Dominic Cartier.