Tag Archives: Waltham Hospital

They’re Twins, They’re Girls, They’re Identical

We came back and we lived in Waltham [Mass.] for a year. Steve a year of internship at what was then Waltham Hospital [now Boston Children’s at Waltham]. Then he did residency at St. Elizabeth’s Medical Center in Brighton, where he had done that externship.

It was during that time that I got pregnant again, and so we were pretty sure that—we found out we were going to have twins. That was kind of unexpected. It did come from my grandmother; [she] always used to tell me that she had a miscarriage that would have been twins if she had carried them to term. My aunt always wanted to have twins and never had them, but my cousin did have twins. She had fraternal twins and our twins are identical. They say that that isn’t so much a part of your heritage as fraternal twins are. At any rate, we followed the twin tradition.

My mother thought we should have a boy in the mix, so when Steve announced—and we thought we would, just because that was most—statistically that was most common. Then we had two girls [Kimberly and Stephanie]. He called up my mother and said, “Guess what? We have two girls!” And she said, “Oh, no!”

[Dawn]: Did she?

[Heidi]: Yeah.

[Dawn]: I love it because she came outside and she said, “Your mom had two girls.” And I said, “Oh, no! I wanted a brother.” And she scolded me!

[Stephanie?]: She had done it herself.

Anyway, so then we moved. When Dawn and Heidi. . . .

[Victoria]: How many years between you [Dawn and the twins]?

[Dawn]: Six.

Dawn is six years older than the twins and Heidi is two years older than the twins. The twins were 14 months and Dawn was in second grade—is that right?—when we moved out to South Dakota?

Steve Duncan Girls, 1982

Heidi, Dawn, Kimberly, Stephanie, Christmastime, 1982

[Dawn]: Yup.

Heidi was. . . .

[Heidi]: Toddling.

Not in school yet. And we lived in South Dakota for five years [1977–1982] and then we came back to the East Coast, raised our support and went to Angola. Dawn was in seventh grade and Heidi was in third grade and the twins were in first grade when we went to Angola [1983].

Then gradually they all—I homeschooled them in Angola. Dawn left in tenth grade to go to Ben Lippen School and Heidi wanted to go sooner because she didn’t want to do all the work that Dawn was doing in school.

[Heidi]: She had to do homeschool in ninth grade and it was just like uuuggghhh.

[Stephanie]: That was back when homeschooling was in its infancy and you had no options except the University of Nebraska.

We had University of Nebraska, a high school course from the University of Nebraska.

[Stephanie]: GED, basically a GED course.

Heidi went off when she was in ninth grade to Ben Lippen. Then we came home on furlough and lived in Sumter, South Carolina, for four months in a colleague’s house when the twins entered school. They weren’t too keen on being at Ben Lippen, but we said, “Try it.”

[Kimberly?]: [can’t hear] We were like kicking and screaming.

We said, “Try it.” We were on furlough. We stayed there until Christmastime and then they came home with us for Christmas break. Then they went back and stayed.

story told by Marcia (Steve’s wife) to the family reunion gathering on January 10, 2014 with interjections from Kimberly, Dawn, Heidi, and Stephanie (Steve’s daughters) and Victoria TJ Ramey’s wife; transcribed by Dawn Duncan Harrell (Steve’s daughter)

Can you add to the story? Please do. Write in the box below. (You may need to click “Leave a Reply” above to make the box, name, and address fields appear.)

  • Which grandmother was it who had the miscarriage?
  • I’m thinking Heidi went to Ben Lippen in 1988 and Kim and Steph went in 1990. Is that right?
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The Royal We: Peru to Sandwich

[Eric]: So, wait. You were in Peru before you went to Italy?

[Steve]: Yup.

[Eric]: You went down to help my dad.

[Steve]: No, I went to help Dr. Eikenberger in the clinic as a lab technician.

[Eric]: And you went out to the tribe with Bob Tripp?

[Steve]: I went out to the tribe with Bob Tripp, whom you may meet. I don’t know if he’s still about?

[Kathy?]: His wife. . . .

[Steve]: And she was in Peru, too, but that was long before they were married.

[Kathy?]: Right.

[Steve]: Anyway, so yes, we came back from Peru, got married, went to Italy, had two childrens in that episode, the bambinos, bambinas.

Steve and Marcia's Four Girls, maybe 1980

Steve and Marcia’s Four Girls, maybe 1980

[Marcia]: Let me just say that Uncle Wally said, when we got married, “We have a lot of boys in the family, so why don’t you have some girls. So we did our best to live up to his request.”

[Steve]: And that’s all we have [4 girls] and grandchild, too.

[Heidi]: Grand-girl.

[Steve]: Grand-girl. Grand-girl.

So when we came back to the States, I had taken the ECFMG [Educational Commission for Foreign Medical Graduates], which is an exam for internationals who want to get into medicine or do medical practice here in the United States. While I was doing an externship, I found out that I was accepted in that. Oh, that was part of the exam that I took during the years that I came back when Dawn was born [1970]. Yes.

But anyway, came back. We did an internship at the Waltham Hospital. And then we went into residency for surgery at St. Elizabeth’s Hospital in Brighton, or part of Boston, Massachusetts. From there, we went to work with the American Indians, the Sioux Indians out in South Dakota.

[Virginia?]: That’s right. You guys gave us a quilt when we got married that was made there or in that area.

Sisseton Wahpeton Sioux 8 Point Star Quilt

Sisseton Wahpeton Sioux 8 Point Star Quilt

[Steve]: Yes. They’re very proud of that work that they do in the quilting. That particular quilt comes from specifically that area, the Sisseton-Wahpeton Sioux Indians. So we spent five years there.

At the same time, the same evening, we felt the Lord was speaking to both of us, but separately, that it was time that we do what we had originally thought we were going to be doing, that is getting up and going to a third world situation. The good probability was going to be Angola.

So we applied to a mission. We were refused because somehow they thought we were very charismatic. We had attended an Assembly of God church—never became members—but that was very evangelical and we really learned to love the Lord even more there. Because the mission was so connected to fundamental theology or at least thoughts, they refused us. Later, it was overturned because they realized that we weren’t going to be setting up a Holy Spirit program.

When we applied, we went out to Angola to do the medicine that we felt God had called us to do and use that as a vehicle for sharing the gospel. So we were out there. We were 17 years in Angola. The national language, or the trade language, was Portuguese. It was one of the colonies of Portugal. All the time that we were there, except for one year, we were in the middle of war. A lot of my surgery had to do with wartime injuries, earlier especially.

Pardon?

[T. J.]: I remember mom talking.

[Steve]: Yeah.

[T. J.]: She was always worried about that, about you guys.

[Steve]: Well, uh, in retrospect, we had a place out in an area called Menongue, which was guarded by Cuban troops and I had four girls out there. I wasn’t worried enough. In retrospect, I should have been.

Anyway, we stayed there for 17 years in Angola and then came home and set up shop on Cape Cod in a house that we had arranged for ten years earlier. Nine years earlier? Nine years earlier [1989] on Cape Cod. It was a buyers’ market because there were so many houses on the market to be sold. We were able to get a good deal on this house that is in a place called Sandwich.

We’ve been working there. I’ve been working as a first assistant, they call it, in surgery. In other words, I am not the surgeon in charge, but I am the second pair of hands on many different kinds of surgery.

[Virginia?]: Are you liking that variety?

[Steve]: Yes. Yup. I’m keeping my hands in it long after many other surgeons just close up shop and go home.

[T. J.]: You’re doing that now?

[Steve]: Now. Yes.

The joy, as I put in that record to Brett, the joy that I’ve seen in most recent times, is the joy of discipling, of introducing the love of Christ to one person or more. We have a Bible study at the hospital. But to be spending time with a person to see them either first accept the Lord as their savior or to grow in the Lord—grow at the beginning or grow during the time. And I liken it to one of the deliveries that we do. I’m often involved in a caesarian section and it’s a joy to see a baby born, whether it’s the usual way or the unusual way of caesarian, but to see a baby born, this is to see in a life to be growing. It’s sort of exciting. There’s a great joy in discipling people, to see them grow.

So that sort of fills out where we’ve been, where I’ve been. Perhaps it’s time for Marcia to fill in the real story, the other side of the story, and tell the honest truth.

story told by Steve to the family reunion gathering on January 10, 2014 with questions from Eric Kindberg (Lee’s son), Kathy Courtright (Lee’s daughter), Virginia Gorman (Lee’s daughter), and T. J. Ramey (Kathryn’s son); recorded and transcribed by Dawn Duncan Harrell (Steve’s daughter)

Can you add to the story? Please do. Write in the box below. (You may need to click “Leave a Reply” above to make the box, name, and address fields appear.)

  • Can you fill in the details about Eikenberger? Have I spelled his name correctly? What is his first name? What sort of lab work did you do, Dad/Steve?
  • What was Bob Tripp’s wife’s name?
  • Can you tell in more detail the story of the dual call to Angola on the same night?
  • And what were you doing in 1989, while Marcia and Steve were buying a house on Cape Cod?

A Practical Vision for World Missions

AngolaDr. Ockenga’s vision for missions was sparked by the People’s Church in Canada and it lit up this church’s vision. His/their method of fund-raising for missions got to be famous and inspiring in always attempting from the pulpit to encourage a growth each year in the budget and the number of missionaries that it supported. I picked up the vision for missions there and also via my sisters [Lee and Betty], who were reinforced by the teaching and worldview of the church.

One of the missionaries, Dr. Robert Foster, a good speaker and lively advocate of medical missions in Africa became one of my ideals for foreign service. He was first a missionary sharing the Gospel and then a very interesting and resourceful physician and surgeon in third world service. He later became sort of a mentor by mail of my progress through medical school.

With pleasure and excitement we accepted the call for foreign missions in Angola after a stint doing medical work in South Dakota among the Sioux Indians. Park Street Church became a willing and supportive backing for our service of 17 years.

Park Street’s purpose was to be intimately involved in the lives and work of its foreign representatives. Through the 100% support policy, the whole congregation got to know us individually and in our own priorities there in Africa. A Barnabas Group, with eight to twelve members, closely followed and upheld us in their prayers and with material and emotional backing.

We were blessed greatly and more profoundly than by any of the other 15 churches that financially supported us during our time out in Africa. Only the Newton Presbyterian Church did as great a financial support though perhaps a lesser emotional and spiritual support. The Park Street vision is to be applauded and emulated by any church.

written by Steve for Colin Duncan (Bob’s son), March 18, 2011

My sister Lee had been involved with a camp specifically set up for African American children. This existed while we were in Philadelphia and I was probably five years old. It impressed me that she was doing it cross-cultural work, and not for the purpose of being cross-cultural but in service to God. Most of the time that I was growing up, Lee was out of a house in university nursing school and preparing for work, probably in the third world. So I had the vision planted in my mind that this was a way to go when I was an adult.

While I was in high school and early college, Betty and Harley when off to France in mission work. Because they too were highly favored in my estimations, they impressed me that I needed to go somewhere “out there” for the purpose of sharing the Gospel.

But perhaps the foremost in my leadings toward mission work was Park Street Church, which my father (Taylor) insisted we attend when we returned to the Boston area after the Second World War and our return from Philadelphia. Figuring in this influence were annual missions conferences,  where missionaries were paraded in front of us and challenged us to be involved in taking the Gospel to somewhere other than our own home. Among those that were a challenge and an encouragement were Dr. Robert Foster and his wife Belva. They had been working in Zambia. Later they started work in Angola, a Portuguese speaking country. I corresponded with them during my college and medical school career. It was Park Street’s minister Dr. Ockenga that started and kept the motion going toward missions as the only alternative for our future.

Both of my sisters Lee and Betty were being supported in their mission work by Park Street Church. It was only natural that after my time in the U. S. Army and in graduate school that I took six months off and went to Peru. I worked in the medical laboratory there because I had already been trained in that work. After asking Marcia to marry me, I left for Peru and its jungles. After the short term work in the laboratory, I returned in the middle of 1966 and we got married (Dec 1966). Even before Marcia and I tried tied the knot, we spoke extensively of serving in the third world. When we returned from medical school in Italy, I entered the internship at the Waltham Hospital, surgical residency at the Saint Elizabeth’s Hospital in Brighton, Massachusetts, and then five years with the Sioux Indians in Sisseton, South Dakota. We listened to an appeal for help in Angola to start a new hospital. So in 1983, we left for Portugal to get two months of training and the Portuguese language, and then flew to Luanda, Angola and eventually to Lubango in the Huila Province. Serving in a cross-cultural situation was being fulfilled.

added by Steve on November 26, 2012

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