Thursday, December 27, 2007

I'm 27...and still not grown up.

Greetings! Thank you all for all the wonderful birthday wishes! My birthday was great and I have been so blessed by the HUGE mass of encouragements and witty messages....thank you.

Like Tim stated in the last post....Christmas was amazing this year....hard at times, but God was so faithful.

But it hit me a bit differently. Although I could definitely relate to the feelings and experiences Tim was sharing about...I felt somewhat challenged by Christmas this year. I realized half way through Christmas day that I had not even heard, read or seen any "advent play", read the Christmas story....that is, the birth of Jesus....NOT Santa or the movie "A Christmas Story"....I hadn't even cracked open my Bible in almost a week. I didn't see any mangers or baby Jesus reminders....I didn't even think much or ponder the powerful birth of the Messiah.

Even though I sang every Christmas carol known to man....EVERY ONE of them at least 10 times in the last month, I didn't really ever thank God for giving me His Son....I never thanked Him for the sacrifice....for the miracle of the star....for the courageous example of Mary....or the faithful humility of the shepherds.....I didn't even give notice to the glory sung out by the angels or the sacrificial blessing of the magi....nope....didn't even go there....I enjoyed the peacefulness of God's greatest gift and His lavish provision and faithfulness without ever giving thanks for His Son on His Son's birthday. What a loser. I so enjoyed the Christmas movies and the 'nice' messages they shared, but even they didn't give thanks for the Son of God.

I was so pulverized by the love of Jesus the day after Christmas, my birthday. I had so many people wish me a happy day and received countless text messages from friends encouraging me on my "special day"....and I felt pretty convicted. I didn't even text my most special friend on His birthday.....not that I could....but you get the idea. Mmmm.

But I'll tell you what the Lord showed remember my continuity....MJ? She's the one who was thinking about becoming a Jehovah's Witness.....baptized into the church this Christmas.....well, the prayers must have worked! She came in for prenatals on my birthday and had said that her birthday is the 27th of December so we should have a party in prenatals!

I laughed and said, "Sure! I'll bake a cake!" She was so excited about that, but I think she might've thought I was joking because when she came into prenatals, I had cupcakes and a candle lit and a present...ready for action....she was STUNNED and overwhelmed! I even had my fellow midwives sing "Happy Birthday" to her....she started to cry! I laughed so hard...she really didn't think I would follow through. It was check out the pics....that's my dear MJ, due in March. I just love her.....

And I asked her if she ended up getting baptized in tot he Jehu church and she said, "no...I thought about what you said about knowing Jesus better before making any BIG decisions....I think I need to wait." I was thrilled. And blessed. Jesus answered my prayers....and then I offered to take her to church with me sometime....she LOVED that idea and we talked a but more about Jesus...His faithfulness....His goodness.

As I walked home on my birthday....feeling so guilty for wishing MJ a happy birthday with cake, presents and candles and not at all wishing my precious Savior a Happy Birthday and a thank you....I felt Him whisper, "Whatever you did to the least of these, you did unto ME." And I cried.

I felt forgiven. And He lavishly poured out His loving kindness on me again.

Thanks for all the comments again and please continue to pray for us...things are heating up with Tim trying to finish water filters, me trying to finish homework and birth room shifts....and life happening everyday! May the Lord give you all a peaceful and joyful New Year and may He lavishly cover you with His love.
Be blessed.

Tuesday, December 25, 2007

So This Is Christmas

It's 10pm on Christmas day. As you can imagine, this Christmas has been like none of the 28 Christmases that came before it. Before I expand on that thought, let me first explain that I have quite enjoyed myself. Sure, it has been different and devoid of most Christmas traditions; but it has come with a sense of peace and joy that I haven't experienced at this time of year for a long time now.

Yesterday was Christmas Eve (Happy Birthday Joshua and Grace). Bethany and I had a nice quiet day around the house, but it wasn't without adventure. By adventure, I of course mean a cockroach invasion. Pardon the hyperbole, but the nasty creatures from the place of eternal punishment did appear in numbers. They suddenly appeared out on the porch, from where we could not determine. After a great deal of stomping and spraying of toxic death we were victorious. In the end, I believe we swept up seven of the evil creatures.

Later, we were dismayed to discover that our mongo beans were infested with baby cockroaches. Admittedly we had become so excited about our first victory over these awful creatures from the place of eternal punishment that it didn't occur to us that they would mount a second attack. After a few brief moments of despondence, we rallied the troops and dealt with our enemy for a second and final time, though the mongo beans were a casualty of war. There are rumors of the roaches gathering in the bunny food, but for now they do not pose an immediate threat.

Other than the cockroach incident, nothing much happened yesterday. It was wonderful. Bethany and I slept in and then spent much of the day sitting around and enjoying one another's company. We found a Christmas radio station from London and laughed and danced to classic carols and silly British Christmas rock songs. I downloaded Mister Magoo's Christmas Carol and A Charlie Brown Christmas for us to watch. In the evening we visited our frequent haunt, Jenn and Joe's house. After the children went to bed, Bethany and Jenn stuffed the kid's stockings. Then we played cards and laughed together until much too late.

This morning I awoke to Bethany jumping on the bed shouting "Merry Christmas!!!" and announcing that it was time to open presents (some things never change). I told her that there would be no presents until I had my coffee. She obliged with coffee and french toast in bed. I love my wife. For obvious reasons, we decided to keep the gift purchases to a minimum this year. We bought a few small things for one another, mostly fun food items that don't usually find their way into our monthly grocery budget.

We spent the rest of the day with Jenn and Joe and the kids. We made a trip to the mall and put together some small gift packages for the hobble-hobble (motorbike) drivers that work on the corner. I had a wonderfully simple day. I felt like I was ten years old again. I read a Hardy Boys book (one of my Christmas gifts), and played a silly computer game with the kids. After a dinner of delicious hamburgers (turkey is hard to come by here), we put on a movie for the kids. I had downloaded A Christmas Story for us to watch, but all of us adults had forgotten how much foul language is woven like a tapestry throughout that otherwise delightful film so we turned it off and watched the rest after the children had gone to bed.

And then the Dylan Thomas? And then the Dylan Thomas. After our card game had concluded, we retired to Jenn and Joe's living room and turned out the lights. Many of you know this, but I will inform those who are unaware. Stewart family tradition dictates that each Christmas conclude with a recital of A Child's Christmas In Wales, by none other than Dylan Thomas himself. Mr. Thomas is alas no long whinnying with us, but a recording of his narration is easy enough to come by.

This may have been a rather unorthodox Christmas, but capping it off with Dylan Thomas still seemed fitting. As Bethany and I walked home and I reflected on my feelings while trying to ignore the pervasive smell of raw sewage, I realized that this was the most peaceful Christmas I've had in a while. I know why too. Christmas usually stresses me out. All the rushing around to find Christmas presents is stressful. As a worship leader, there are usually extra church services to be worried about, and carols are either too difficult to play, with a different chord for each syllable, or too simple to play, leaving me bored and frustrated. This year, we didn't do any Christmas shopping, and I wasn't responsible to lead a single carol.

I miss my family though. I miss sitting with my brothers and my Dad, playing games and discussing hockey and Canadian politics. I miss my Mom and her wonderful Christmas dinners. I miss being scolded for eating too many appetizers. I miss my sisters in law and their beautiful children. I miss my McClellan family too. I miss watching old Christmas movies on the Hallmark channel and playing games around the dining room table. I miss teasing people for their strange "day after Christmas" shopping habits.

I don't feel alone though. Bethany is my best friend and Jenn and Joe have become very dear to us. It helped to get a phone call from my family too. Today was different than it ever has been, and certainly different than what I'd always thought it should be. But it was peaceful, and maybe that's all that matters.

It's 1:30am and I'm sitting in the close and holy darkness, enjoying a special Christmas beverage, because it's only once a year. I just finished watching It's a Wonderful Life. It made me cry, which felt nice. It also left me wanting to make a bigger impact in my universe, like George Bailey. In a few days I will be delivering a water filter to a young man who hopes to start a small business providing filters to the families in his community. Each family in his area spends approximately 1200 pesos each month on clean water. If we could get them a filter, we would save them that expense, essentially providing them with an additional 1200 pesos a month. Maybe that's George Bailey like. I don't know.

I'm going to sleep. It's Bethany's birthday tomorrow but she's working, so I'll be getting up early. Then it's off to Joe's backyard to get back to work on water filters.

Merry Christmas to all and to all a good night.

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Kapui Kaayo!

Yes, that means: "Very tired." And THAT I am. Thanks for all the comments, everyone! Tim and I are blessed 'kaayo' with the encouragement and prayers!

Tim is feverishly working on water of late, the make-shift roof in the Germain backyard is finished and shielding him from rain, wind, sun and snow....okay, maybe not snow. But it IS Christmas and you never know if there'll be a Christmas miracle....maybe even snow. NOT.

The very first picture posted above is me with....guess who....??? Remember Precious, my dear first catch?? Well, 7 weeks later and she is FAT KAAYO! This is good. It's hard to believe that this little 8 lb 14 oz. goober now weighs over 12 lbs! Even the Filipina midwives asked her if she was "supplementing her breastmilk" with something like salisbury steak and potatoes maybe!?

It was a blessing and a joy to see Precious again. She is very special to me.

Then the last pic posted is of Mary Joy and her new little lady, Mia Alyssa. I was blessed with the opportunity to deliver her Monday night at 2:19 am after many hours of pushing, poking and prodding. Poor Mary Joy labored all day and all night for her girl. Mia is her first pregnancy, first child and she was not well-prepared for the shock her body was to endure in labor.

Ate Elai was my supervisor on shift and she was an incredible blessing. Ate Elai is a peaceful supervisor....but has a great sense of humor and while a skillful midwife, is by far the best teacher I have ever had. Really. I am so blessed to have her as a teacher. She challenges her students to try everything, but gently instructs as she goes. She never assumes, but always encourages. I leave the birth room shifts smiling and feeling more confident than before because I have learned so much!

But this birth was one that left me soooo tired, but full of new knowledge. It required Ate Elai and I to don sterile gloves and apply so much pressure to the top of Mary Joy's birth canal and to the bottom....WE were opening her up for the baby to pass! I kid you was arms were shaking from the force and after what seemed like forever, the baby's head began to crown.....and then.....Ssstttrrreeeeetttcchhhhhh......a GIGANTIC tear tore through Mary Joy and Ate Elai got to spend a while suturing at 3 am! But the baby was healthy and Mary Joy did an amazing job persevering through the intense pain.

In addition to the crazy births of late.....I just got another A on my last assignment and head into the exam pray for me! :) Then I start the next assignment to hopefully finish before January 10th so Tim and I can head to Canada without having to fear the mass quantities of homework! ARGH!

Thank you for all your prayers and encouragements....We pray your Christmas is merry and full of the peace of God!
PS. We are trying to get our Christmas Newsletter finished and sent to invade your e-mail inboxes....if you do not wish to acquire one, let us know!

Saturday, December 15, 2007

Timmybomb: Super Saint!

Thanks for all your comments! I know you don't always have anything specific to say in response to our blog, but it's nice to get a sample of who's reading from time to time.

A couple days ago I mentioned that we were able to give away our old fridge. I learned yesterday that it had a bigger impact than we imagined. We gave the fridge to Jenn and Joe's helper, Elsa. Elsa lives in a poor community near the beach. I could tell you some super spiritual version of this story, and talk about how the Lord suddenly spoke to me and told me to give her the fridge. I could tell you that, but it would be a lie.

It went down like this: I was trying to figure out how to get rid of this stupid appliance that I no longer wanted. I asked Joe if he could ask his helper where I might be able to sell it for a few pesos. When he talked to her about it, she expressed an interest in buying it. I went to Joe's house for lunch that day and she asked me about buying it, and how much I would charge her for it. If you can believe it, I actually spent a minute thinking about that! What a schmuck...I considered taking money from this poor woman.

Anyway, after being an idiot for a moment, I suddenly came to my senses. I told her "Merry Christmas, we will give you the fridge." I'm such a saint...sometimes I even amaze myself. Joe and I threw the fridge in the back of the truck (I love my truck) and delivered it to her house that afternoon. She seemed very very happy to receive it, and her husband seemed to be pretty pleased too, though with his limited English all he could say was "Merry Christmas". I was just as happy to be rid of the thing as they were to receive it.

And now for the rest of the story. Elsa's husband (I think his name is Dodong) was one of Mordegai's patients. Many years ago he got a terrible infection in his toe that spread up his leg. Eventually Mordegai had to amputate Dodong's leg. Since then, he has sunken into depression and turned to drinking. It is my understanding that he is very difficult to live with. When Joe and I dropped off the fridge on Thursday, Joe commented that he had never seen Dodong in such a good mood.

When Elsa came to work on Friday, she kept telling Joe how blessed she was by the fridge. Joe says she was almost crying about it. Joe couldn't figure out what the big deal was, but Elsa soon explained her elation. Dodong has decided he is going to make ice in the freezer and sell it. He is very excited about the possibility of having his own small business.

As Joe related this to me later, I again demonstrated my incredible ability to miss the point. I immediately began crunching the numbers. Could you really make enough income with ice sales in a poor community to offset the cost of the electricity and your time? I'm such a putz. It's got nothing to do with how viable such a business idea is. The point is this: Dodong has a new-found purpose. He has an idea he's excited about. He's going to spend his days making and selling ice.

The Lord used our old refrigerator with broken shelves to bring hope to a family. It's rather humbling when I think about it. Bethany and I are so blessed to be used in God's big plan. Even if we don't realize our role at the time.

I don't have a photo of the fridge delivery, so I'll include a pic of Bethany's most recent delivery, her eighth. This is Kyla. Weighing in at 8lb 4oz, she's a chunk. She was sucking her thumb so much in the womb that she got blisters on her thumb. She was sucking her thumb again as soon as she got the chance after the delivery. Despite the momma having a serious urinary tract infection and a host of other issues, she delivered her healthy baby at Mercy under Bethany's care. She's enjoying putting into practice everything she is learning and just finished her last assignment for 2007! She is excited to have a slight break in the paperwork....the exam is on Thursday, so you can be praying for her.

Many blessings to you all this Christmas season!


Thursday, December 13, 2007

Just Stuff...

We haven't written much lately. That probably bugs you. It makes me feel a bit uncomfortable...or is that indigestion? No matter. To be truthful, I don't feel as though we have much to tell you. It's not that nothing is happening, but there hasn't been much out of the ordinary. Perhaps we're actually beginning to get into a routine.

Uncle Bob and Aunt Sylvia left the country on Monday. We had a great visit with them. Because we have a car now we were able to do a couple of tourist things that we hadn't tried yet. I mentioned last week that we went to Samal island to see the waterfalls and the fishing village. We also visited the eagle sanctuary that is a bit over an hour north of Davao City. The eagles were cool, but I especially liked the crocodile and the monkeys.

It was such a blessing to be with Uncle Bob and Aunt Sylvia for such a long visit. Having them around made me feel a bit closer to home. The poured into us lots and they were a great encouragement. I spent a couple of days with them in Manila before they left. We checked on the water project and I got my final lesson on filter installation.

While Uncle Bob was here, we built a filter in Joe's backyard. Chad and Joe and I are hoping to build three more this month. Joe and I were out buying supplies today for planned improvements to our backyard assembly plant. Tomorrow, Chad and Joe and I will be building a small roof above our work space so that we can have some protection from the hot sun and the rain, both of which can effect the quality of the concrete filter. We hope to build two filters next week.

Christmas came a bit early for Bethany and I. The shelves in our little old fridge broke. The fridge is very small and has a habit of filling with frost (the fridge part, not the freezer!). So with a bit of Christmas help from our dear Auntie Syl, we purchased a new fridge. An-An, our Filipina friend who buys our produce for us on Saturdays is very happy for the extra space. We got another appliance for an early Christmas present too. Mum and Dad got us a microwave! This is very good news for the silly man who is without his wife a few times a week and has to find something to eat. Most Stewart men are more comfortable with the word "reheat" rather than the word "cook".

The addition of two new appliances and a truck have left us wondering if we're getting too comfortable. I don't think so, but it's an interesting discussion. I think it's important that we use these comforts to bless the people around us. For instance, today Joe and I delivered the old fridge to a very poor home. They were very blessed by the early Christmas present.

Also, one of the reasons that we need a larger fridge is that we're regularly hosting guests here at our apartment. Tomorrow Lois' parents arrive for about a week. Next month, while we are in North America, there will be a large team of Oregonians using our house as a home base for a couple of weeks. In our absence, they will be using the truck for some medical outreaches. I'm sad that I won't be in town to join them, but Bethany and I were very excited that there was some way for us to help.

I've just thought of something else I can write about, so I'll post something in a couple of days. But we need you to comment. Otherwise we don't know if you're reading. And if nobody is reading this, why am I writing this? Perhaps it's just a good grammar exercise.

I leave you with a couple of photos from our trip to the Philippine Eagle Center. The eagles were neat to look at, but because they're behind a chain link cage, they don't make for great photos. The monkey's were fun though. I'm using a new program for editing my photos and it still needs some tweaking. Upon uploading, the colours have come out all weird and the pics are a bit dark. Sorry about that.


Sunday, December 9, 2007

Looks can be deceiving!

Greetings! Tim is still in Manila, but should return today, so I will have him write a gargantuan post this evening. :)

Pictured above is Jine and baby Karl Sheina. She was endorsed to me by Heather, another midwife at Mercy, when I came for day shift on Friday morning. I was warned that she may be a transport as she is only 18, it's her first baby, and she had been there ALL night laboring.

So Jine spent the day with me.....laboring quietly. Then around 9 am, she looked significantly different....she was visibly in pain, writhing, and getting a little annoyed with all my checks. I called her bana (husband) in and was shocked to see a 48 year-old man with a giant smile. Yup, this 18 year-old had a 48 year-old husband...except he wasn't really her husband....he was her boyfriend, but they wanna get married in the new year....

Needless to say, I was mildly concerned about the situation as I didn't know the status of their's pretty rare to have such an age gap and sometimes it indicates possible abuse....but then he walked into her cubicle.....

Her eyes lit up and he rushed to her side. He was AMAZING....he coached her through her long labor and when she said she couldn't do it anymore, he was the one who reassured her how strong she is and what a beautiful baby they will have. And when she was at her very last wit....he was there to stroke her face and squeeze her hand. I was blessed.

And then as the baby started to crown, I was certain this primipara was going to tear, but she followed all our directions and once again, her boyfriend joined in the coaching and she pushed out the littlest, most beautiful baby girl...without tearing. :) The two of them burst into tears and thanked the Lord (they're Catholic) for their baby. I was so humbled by them.

Despite losing a lot of blood, Jine is doing great and enjoying motherhood. So young, but well-supported. Her bana has even offered to stay home with her until she feels confident enough for him to go back to work. That seldom happens! I was so humbled and convicted that my first look at this couple made me so suspicious and to see this well-supported couple was a pleasant surprise.

Here is Jine, one day after having her precious daughter. And pictured below is Karl Shaina's very first baby picture. :)

God is faithful. The crazy part about this shift is that between four midwives, we had 7-9 patients, three transports, 4 births, and plenty of newborn checks.....whoa. It was so totally crazy. I was sweating buckets and we ended up having to call one more midwife in to help.....and yet, everything got done....crash course in midwifery, though!

Be blessed.

Thursday, December 6, 2007

"The most wonderful time of the year?"

Greetings! This is Jelly....she just got married....she is due in February and she is my dear continuity. Unfortunately, I may not be able to attend her birth as Tim and I have the amazing opportunity to take our furlough 7 months early! Instead of trying to go back to Canada in August, the Lord has provided a means to come in mid-January until mid-February! Tim will be in his best friend's wedding and I will get to see my Dad, who is currently recovering from back surgery. God's timing is so gracious. :)

Please pray for Jelly. And please pray for my Dad.

My other continuity (whose pic I will post later...) is named MJ (Mary Jean). She is HILARIOUS! This is her first pregnancy and she is so excited to finally be pregnant. She's only 23, but most of her friends have babies already, so this pregnancy is very special. She works as a high school math teacher and her husband, I mentioned in a previous post, works for Jack and Jill snack company....the company that makes me my Milky Knots...the most wonderful Filipino delicacy in the world! Tee hee.....or least in the Philippines.....anyways....
These are Milky Knots....white chocolate, milk chocolate and strawberry....Mom, Dad, I am bringing you some! :)

Moving on, MJ (my continuity) brought me 6 bags of the stuff yesterday in prenatals....I was SO blessed....I had to share them with Bob and Sylvia and all the Filipinos. Good times.
But as MJ and I talked (she knows a fair bit of English) I discovered that she is at a turning point in her life. She is debating whether to be baptized into the Jehovah's Witness church. She said that she had tried Mormonism and Catholicism, but figured that Jehus were the next step. I listened. She paused and then asked..."What do you think, Ma'am Bethany?"

What an opportunity, I thought! Way cool! But then the Lord began to speak. I just told her that the biggest difference between all those religions she has tried was their thoughts on Jesus and who HE is. She agreed. I told her that I believed that Jesus was the Son of God, but also God Himself. She giggled and shook her head a bit. She said, "That's where they differ." Exactly.

So I asked her if she believed in the Holy Spirit. She exuberantly said yes, so I asked her if she would be willing to pray and ask the Holy Spirit to reveal who Jesus REALLY is, so that she would know the truth...whatever that is. :) She agreed and we prayed. I asked her if she was really wanting to seek the truth and know Christ....she passionately said I prayed again that the Holy Spirit would show her Christ in a very special way this week and that she would know Him in His complete character. THEN (because it's Christmastime...duh!) I asked her what she was doing for Christmas....and she said, "nothing, because the JW church doesn't celebrate."

Then I asked if she ever celebrates HER birthday....and she said, "no, but I celebrate my birth anniversary...." I laughed soooooo hard...she did, too, as we pondered the irony. She asked when my birthday was and I happened to look on the calendar and realized that my birthday would be the next time I would see her for prenatal exams! Then she told me HER birthday was the day AFTER mine! So, on December 26th, MJ and I are having cake at prenatal exams....she wanted chocolate AND vanilla that's my contribution....she's bringing the Milky Knots!

I just love her joy and enthusiasm for life...and for learning and searching for God. Powerful.

Please pray for MJ and for me...that I would reflect who Christ really is. Whew.

In other news, Uncle Bob and Tim have been working with Chad and Joe building the first of many water filters! The first one broke and they are trying round two. People are getting excited about the idea of clean water for every home throughout Mindanao and Tim is learning so much from Uncle Bob.

Unfortunately, my schedule has not slowed down in order to hang with Auntie Syl, but I am setting as much time apart as possible to be with my dear friend....and she has been SUCH a blessing to me! She made me a Christmas scrub top with material from Christina (thanks, mum!) and is now making some scrub pants! She's helped ease the busyness of the days by keeping house and serving wherever possible....what a blessing and a joy she is!

Please pray for Tim and Uncle Bob, Syl, too.

I will have Tim post pics of the filter soon. He is pretty busy these days and will head to Manila again this weekend to finish up the work begun there. Then it's exams, homework, birth shifts, baby checks, classes, and prenatals for me.

Thank you for all your prayers.....and encouragements...please continue to comment, too!
The truck is working out WONDERFULLY for transporting water filtration supplies and Tim plans on getting into the mountains again next week to visit Ate Beth and Ate Merlyn with Joe. Many blessings to you all and enjoy this crazy and wonderful Christmas-time. :)

Friday, November 30, 2007

Catch Up!!!

Okay, I realize it's been a long time since we posted regularly. As Bethany explained, our internet connection has been a source of frustration lately. We've got internet right now, so I'm going to give you a very very brief synopsis of the last week. Be sure to read Bethany's update on her clinic duties. Her post appears below this one.

On Saturday we drove to the mountains with Mordegai.

On the way, Uncle Bob "enjoyed" some durian.

We hiked down a mountain...
...and through the jungle...
...where we saw a goat...
...and a man plowing a field with his carabao.
On Thursday we went to Samal Island...
...where we saw some small waterfalls...
...and some big waterfalls.
We also went to a fishing village.
Uncle Bob and I had fun taking photos on the beach.

That's about it. Mordegai left for Cambodia on Tuesday. It was sad to see him go. The welder finished the steel mold yesterday. He did a really good job. We delivered it to Joe's backyard, where we will build our first water filter on Monday. We're having a great time with the famous Uncle Robert and Aunt Sylvia. Having the truck has been a great blessing.



Greetings! Things have been busy and hairy here as of late...but we are trying to get new posts up! :) Internet has been down frequently and we have been oober busy. As you can see, I have been VERY busy in the clinic....sometimes I tell the ladies that are still assisting to not be too eager to handle and catch because that's when all the work begins!!! Between birth shifts that are BUSY, and classes, homework, clinic, and student group, I have baby checks up the whazooo now! And they are all a blessing, but very time-consuming. And I am tired!

So pictured above is 6 week-old Ryu of my very first patients.....I assisted in her birth and her momma brought her in for one last check-up.....she is a beauty....ears pierced and all. :) What a blessing to see her!

And here is Jenevieve's baby Tiffany that I wrote about in last post......doing well at one week :)

And then I delivered two more babies this week! Above is Carmen and her new baby, Jayramene! Born November 26th, Carmen lost a LOT of blood and needed to be sutured, but she is doing okay now.....please pray for her as she has had a fever the last few days and a lot of pain. We have been praying for her. She was the very first birth that I did a manual rupture of membranes (whent he midwife breaks the water) and my first nuchal hand (when the baby's hand presents before or with the head). It was a tough birth, but God was there!

And here is Divina and her eldest daughter and newborn son, Christian John. He was born November 22! She was pushing so hard that her cervix swelled and my supervisor needed to push up on her cervix while I delivered the baby! It was crazy, but once again, God was faithful to birth another healthy baby!

So, Uncle Bob and Sylvia have been with us.....Tim has pictures from our journeys with them, so stay tuned! We have been thoroughly enjoying our time with them and wish they could spend Christmas with us!

In other news, we have been using our new truck to get out into the mountains and on to Samal Island to make connections with other ministries to set up clean water sites and medical's been an eventful week! God has also opened up the opportunity to get a good welder here in Davao that is currently building a water filtration system mould to get these water filters moving! YEAH!

I feel like I am in a much going on....and I am just on the outside looking in at everything's a blur. And humbling.

Be blessed.

Sunday, November 18, 2007


Greetings! Yesterday (Saturday), Tim and I went to our first Filipino birthday party! My dear friend, An-An, from Mercy invited me to her daughter, Zoe's, 4th birthday! An-An works in the prenatal room and I have just soooo enjoyed getting to know her and her family. Zoe is the little chic in red. She is a cutie and a lot of fun. All the neighbor kids and some from House of Jubilee came for the event and we had a great time.
Dear An-An is the one in the dusty rose shirt....
And there is 4-year-old Zoe and her AMAZING cake!

And then this morning, I had day shift! What a crazy shift it was, too! I was just about to deliver a baby boy for a dear 17 year-old patient of mine named Grace, when my dear continuity named Jenevieve walked in fully dilated and ready to push!

So I handed off my Grace to my friend and midwife, Laura....head was already visible, too!

But less than 15 minutes later, at 9:11 am, Jenevieve delivered a beautiful, healthy baby girl. My supervisor was so gracious to let her stay as she would've certainly been a transport! She had a 29 hematocrit, which mean she was anemic and could've hemorrhaged! But God protected her and she did great!

So here is little Tiffany Villagonza with her midwife.....

And Jenevieve resting after a quick delivery! God is so good. And with every delivery, I am learning tons more and today, I did all my paperwork completely by myself! It's pages and pages of signatures, exams and check-ups....but this was the first time that I didn't have to ask TONS of questions with each step. Little by little...getting stronger everyday.

AND, I found a mouse in our house last night! I thought it was a RAT, but regardless of its size, Tim assured me it was "just a mouse". Needless to is NOT a welcomed visitor and though we have not been able to find it again, it is somewhere in my house! My bunnies are poor watch dogs....they don't eat rats or mice. I had trouble getting to sleep last night as a result!

Thank you for all your prayers and encouragements this week!! We feel very cared for and that keeps us focused and confident, our ears perked up ready for the next instruction from the Lord!

Be blessed!

Tim will write the next one with more updates!

Friday, November 16, 2007


I returned from Manila a couple of nights ago, but this is the first chance I've had to sit and write to you about it. I'm not gonna write one of my long tales today, because I don't feel like it. (The fact that I used the word 'gonna' was the first indicator that I'm not feeling particularly literary. The fact that I'm writing entire sentences in brackets is an indicator that I'm always feeling at least a little bit literary. But I digress.)

Manila is a very big city. The traffic is very bad, and the smog is worse. I was very glad to be with our dear friends Uncle Bob and Aunt Sylvia. They are the water gurus for Impact Nations. I was in Manila to join them for the first week of their two week water project. I'll be receiving more training in February, but since they were so close it made sense to get a head start.

We were working with a man named Pastor Lito and his wife Leah. They have a few churches around Metro Manila. They also have a ministry that works in Payatas, which is a community that is built in and around the dump. Pastor Lito intends to install many water filters in the homes of Payatas. We spent most of our time in a neighboring community called Kasiglahan (stress on the last syllable). I think this is where they will set up their shop to manufacture the filters long term. This week we were making the filters in the small school house that Leah manages. The school is made out of two shipping containers.

One of Pastor Lito's men is a guy named George. He seemed very eager to learn how to build the water filters. He has a background in construction, so he's already used to working with concrete. We really enjoyed working with George. I think he will be able to run a small business installing these water filters around Manila. He's already got some great ideas. Uncle Bob told George to stop calling him "pastor". George had a hard time with that, but soon he was calling him "Uncle Bob" which seemed to make him happy.

Things went pretty slowly. When working in the third world, one always anticipates that things will go different than planned, but I must admit that I was not prepared for all of the delays and miscommunication that we experienced during my stay. The welder worked hard, but he was confused on several points and we had to have him redo a few things. The training seminar was a couple days late because the welding took longer than anticipated. Regardless, we did make some progress and I was able to learn a great deal from Uncle Bob. I now feel that I have a pretty good grasp on the process and that I too will be a water guru soon.

More than anything, however, I think the Lord was teaching me patience and grace. I really felt stretched this week as we experienced all manner of delay. I had to continually go back to the Lord and ask for forgiveness as I would give into the temptation to become angry and complain. Thankfully, His mercies are new every morning; because I'm grumpy every morning.

I had a wonderful time with my friends. Bethany and I are eagerly anticipating their arrival in Davao next Thursday. We're gonna have a great time visiting with them, and I think we might even get started on doing some water filters here in Davao. There are a few families that we know of who live outside of the city who don't have access to clean water. Perhaps we could fix that right away! I'm trying to track down a welder and some materials so that I can have a steel mold built by next week.

I think that's all I have to say. Perhaps I will tell you more in the coming days. Thank you all for your prayers. I'm trying something new with the photos today. I've put them all together in a slide show for you. If you click on the photo below, you should see the slide show start on a new page. It will probably take a few minutes to load, depending on the speed of your connection. The quality of the photos suffers a bit with this presentation, but I thought I'd try it to see how it comes out. I'm afraid I don't have any pics of Aunt Sylvia because I didn't have my camera with me on the day that she was doing her hygiene teaching. She spent much of her time with Leah, making connections around Kasiglahan.


Thursday, November 15, 2007

Kim Warren Cabillo

Greetings! My Tim is coming home from Manila this evening! YEHAAAAWWW! I will have him write the next post complete with updates on his trip and pictures, too. But first....

I got to welcome little Kim Warren Cabillo into the world this morning. His momma, Rowena (pictured above with her new son) came into Mercy at 6:05 am FULLY dilated and ready to POP... I had JUST begun my shift and could barely keep my eyes open....until Ate Elsa, who was on night shift, endorsed her new labor with...."Bethany, she is pushing...."

I jumped up not even knowing her name or who she was talking about and donned gloves and a pink pad.....

And went and met my new patient....she was certainly pushing, but nothing seemed to be happening...not even any opening. So my supervisor suggested she change positions to the birth stool....she pushed and pushed.....and baby's heart rate went down significantly.....we were somewhat concerned, but it was too late to transport and this baby just needed to come out....

She changed positions again to the bed and after many "Maayo Kaayo, Wen-wen!" (Very Good, Rowena!) and "Ginhawa!" (BREATHE!) And "Abre, Wen-wen!" (open up, Rowena!) and finally "Ha, ha HA!" (breathe while baby's head is crowning...DON'T PUSH!)....."VOILA!" (WOW!) I pulled baby out and it was followed by oodles and puddles of meconium. But Rowena did awesome and despite the difficulty in pushing, at 6:47 am, Kim Warren was born weighing in at 7 pounds 3 ounces. And he is CUTE!

The sad part was that her husband could not be at the birth as he was delivery buns to a business, but came in time for the baby's bath and newborn exam.....all went well....he was VERY happy that he FINALLY had a boy after two girls! Praise God for healthy births! We prayed a blessing over Kim Warren together and I was able to discharge them before the end of my shift! Awesome.

And then, do you remember April!? She was my continuity from last month, but was transferred in a frenzy to DMC as a result of going into labor at 34 weeks....but then when she had her baby there, they found it to be FULL TERM! That's what happens when you are inaccurate with the timing of your last menstrual cycle! But she came into prenatal exams yesterday to visit me! And here she is with her son, Harl Christian.

She was excited to show him off and had many questions to ask about breastfeeding and his "yoohoo" as she referred to it... I will let you guess what THAT is. :) But everything is perfect with him...yoohoo and all.

AND, I finished my 3rd exam yesterday, as well.....not sure how I did, but I will continue to pray!

AND I took another continuity named, MJ! She is due in March and I am very excited to be able to take her as my patient. She is a high school teacher here in Davao and has high hopes of traveling abroad with her husband. It is her first baby and she is so nervous, but FULL of joy and excitement....she was more hyper and bubbly than me! I loved it! We had so much fun during her prenatal exam that I nearly forgot to give her a tetanus shot and remind her of her impending urine analysis! I am excited to get to know her and her family...her bana works for "Jack and Jill", a chocolate and cookie company unique to the Philippines....they make my FAVORITE yummy cookies called Milky Knots....Mmmmm...AND she is bringing me some goodies next prenatal! "I like cookies" (not candy, mom....COOKIES!...inside joke)

Anyways, today I actually felt like a midwife...I did! I felt a bit (though not totally) more confident and made VERY few mistakes today. I was so blessed. God is so faithful and good to me. And the most amazing part was that as tired as I was, I was totally enjoying myself and my birth shift team.

What a joy and a blessing. After quite a few days of transports and continuities delivering at DMC, today was a gift. I am truly thankful....AND MY BANA COMES HOME TONIGHT!!!!!!!

Be blessed.

Sunday, November 11, 2007

God's perfect and everlasting faithfulness.....

Greetings! Do you remember this little guy pictured above!? Well, this is Glenn Robert, the son of our dear friend Rezel who goes to our church. She had him at Mercy and I got to help at the birth! What a handsome boy! To watch him mature, grow and develop is such an enormous blessing and privilege for me. He is a very sweet boy.

And another blessing is this miracle baby! Remember Ludina (pictured below with our friend, Nene who is presently holding the baby) from our church? We had been praying for her during her pregnancy as she had placenta previa meaning her placenta was low-lying in her uterus and she was experiencing heavy bleeding during her pregnancy...NOT GOOD. She could not have her baby at Mercy because of the condition and so we asked God for a miracle....

And here they are! Ludina's placenta moved in the last few weeks of her pregnancy by God's mighty hand and her baby was born naturally without any intervention in complete and total health! A BEAUTIFUL BABY GIRL named Keisha. What a mighty God we serve! I am always happy to see them on Sunday and look forward to witnessing their growth and continued joy in God's faithfulness.

And pictured below is just a bit of what Tim has been up to with Uncle Bob and Sylvia in Manila this week.......

Pictured above is a few of the kids playing in the crazy rain in Payatas near the dump site they are building water filters for.

This pic is actually from a shack in the dump site....Tim says Manila is noisy, crowded and dirty....he feels very blessed to live in Davao now!
The Three Muskateers (Uncle Bob, Sylvia, and Tim) have been having some ups and downs with the planning and the implementation of their plans as the process has been slow and somewhat frustrating.....but they are plugging away and hope to have 5 water filters built and installed before the end of their stay. Exciting!

This morning Tim preached at a church outside of Manila and from what I hear, it went fantastic....please continue to pray for their safety and for the work to be completed before returning to Davao.

In other news......we have some BIG news.....

Ya know the truck we have been praying for to use for mountain water and medical ministry??? Well, a youth group in the U.S. decided to make it their mission to purchase the vehicle for Impact Nations so that we can get to the mountains to do medical clinics and water filtration!!!! This will cut our travel time by like...well....100%! Now we can haul meds, filters, supplies and lots of people all over Mindanao! Talk about the Lord enlarging our territory!

We are so excited to see how God is bringing together people from all over Davao for a common goal! My favorite part is that we white people are getting taught by the Filipinos! They are educating us on primary health care, how to relate to villages and the tribal people, how to bridge the gap between Western society and thinking to Filipino values and cultures....and yet we are all serving and working towards the same show Christ and His love and power to the poorest of the is so humbling a such a blessing. Wow. God is so good. I wish I could really put into words how special and amazing the people we have met here...and how pure their hearts just gotta come and visit!

So please continue to pray for God's guidance and direction as we begin looking towards the future.....please also pray for me as I am coming up on my third exam and I am back in the birth room for Monday's night shift and I am fighting a persistent cold/flu bug....

Thank you all for your encouragement, support, prayers and comments! I am sure Tim will give me more updates soon and I will be sure to pass them along!
Be blessed!

Wednesday, November 7, 2007

Tim's gone....

Greetings! And Merry Christmas! While it has been the Christmas season since October 1st for us "Davao-dwellers", we know that most of our family and friends have to wait until American Thanksgiving is over to pull out the Christmas cheer! I only have to wait until Tim is gone!
And so, Tim left yesterday for Manila to join up with Uncle Bob and Syl to work on water filtration and serve the poor. He will give you updates later, I am sure....he arrived there safely and is enjoying seeing our dearest friends!

As for me....I finally finished my assignment from the place of eternal was a loooooong one! But praise God it is done! Test next Wednesday so please pray! And so that freed me up to find all the Christmas decor left here by the missionaries before us plus some things Tim and I had brought and go Christmas-nuts!! Listening to Christmas Harry Connick Jr. and trying to feel cold and festive, I decorated our place.

It's really hard to FEEL Christmas when it's 90 degrees outside, fans blowing every direction and mosquitoes biting any uncovered flesh....

But you know, I had a wonderful time with the was so I cut paper snowflakes and hung them from the ceiling, I felt a joy bubbling from my intestines.....I know it was them because they ached earlier, but they started to feel great!

Then I got a text from the Orange House where all the other students live saying that two of them wanted to come over and study....I was glad to have the company....and even having them over with the Christmas lights felt festive....we had a great time....

Christmas will certainly be different this year, but I am looking forward to learning how to celebrate Filipino style.

Pictured below is dear Christine and her new baby girl. The crazy night swing shift I worked last week resulted in transferring this young, dear patient of mine. She was not a happy camper when we had to transfer her. But her amniotic fluid had been leaking for 15 hours already and we were concerned, so we sent her to be monitored by the hospital.

I went looking for her at DMC the next day to see if she had delivered and see how she was doing, but no one knew anything.....not even the OB ward! I was a little concerned.

So I finally paged her bana and he came running to me to give me the update that she was just now being prepped for a C-section! That's almost 48 hours with a leaking bag of waters! BAD news. I was really concerned by that point, but promised him that I would return the next day to see her and her baby. I prayed for him and gave him some food and he went scurrying off to the surgery waiting room.

Well, yesterday, I found her! I walked through the lined-up beds at DMC looking at every face checking for Christine....because I had been there just a day prior, everyone knew who I was looking for and where I was from...they pointed me in the right direction....and they giggled. White chicks are funny here, I guess.

But I found my dear friend, Christine, sleeping with her new baby girl....she's feeling a bit of pain, but doing great and LOVING her new baby. Praise God. He is so faithful.

Sometimes I feel like I have nothing left to give tired and worn....wanting to just sleep....feeling like what I have to give is broken and ratty....but the Lord keeps reminding me of Luke 21 and He tells me that all He desires is what I have....even if it is the "widow's mite" because He can turn it into the "widow's MIGHT". In my time of greatest weakness....He is the greatest strength.

Be blessed.

Sunday, November 4, 2007


Greetings! Pictured above is my team from shift this morning....Jenny, Jonna, Jordan, and Rochelle! By lunch time we were STARVING, so Jenny ordered INDIAN FOOD!!!! It came over an hour later, but it was warm and tasted like heaven!!! We were so grateful to enjoy such a feast for our busy birth shift!
After working swing shift from 2-10pm on Saturday, I was so tired. We had a pretty busy birth room and had to transfer one patient of mine and then two others during night shift. Then I worked this morning, I worked again from 6am to 2pm....not seeing Tim for 24 hours was tough since he had been struggling with a fever and chills....he is feeling much better....thank you for your prayers.

After my shift today, I went to DMC to check on the patients we had transferred last night and only found one. :( But she was doing great with her brand new baby boy. The other two were C-sections and were waiting for the busy operating room. But Susana (above) had her 7th baby without any problems! Praise the Lord! God is so good!

And then this morning at 7:35 am, I got to deliver my second baby at Mercy!

Below is Paula Samson...precious 6 pound 15 ounce baby girl. It was a great delivery and her mama (below), Cherry, did an amazing job!

Tired Bethany....cranky Paula!
Midwife B, Juamito (daddy) and Cherry (mama)
Yeah, that's little Paula! I was so grateful for my classmates' help today, too! They were awesome.....Jenny charted, Jordan assisted and Jonna supervised the whole thing and even had to do some manual extraction of a few pieces of her placenta and membranes because they were causing her to bleed! It was an interesting adventure! But all are healthy and doing great. I was humbled to be Paula's very first voice into the world....

And though Tim and I have no children....we do have our "little ones".....and they do what just what babies do, too!......Ummm.....poop, eat, and sleep! :) Yes, our bunnies (one boy and one girl) are growing big and it sounds like we're gonna have baby bunnies by Christmas to give away! AHHHHH! At least they have a midwife on call! :)

Thank you all for your prayers and comments on our posts...they have been an encouragement. We are really learning and struggling through what it means to be a "missionary" and how to bless people without trying to "change" them or expecting them to change. We are also learning how to be truthful, speak the words of Christ without being timid and how to face our fears knowing that Christ died for those, too. God has been so faithful.

It has been rough to be learning so much in the physical, experiential and in the spiritual! Whew....exhausting. But we know we are being obedient and as hard as it is, He has given us such peace and like Tim was sharing about Willy, God is giving us people to encourage us and speak the truth of who we really are. It's hard to see what God sees when all you feel is inadequacy.... and yet, God's strength is stronger than my greatest weakness.

Be blessed.