Wednesday, January 23, 2008

A different kind of home.....

Greetings! I apologize for the delay....we are currently in Vancouver and it has been pretty busy!

As Tim shared in previous posts, we were given an opportunity to come back to Vancouver for Tim's best friend's wedding, to visit family, and to spend some time updating and planning with Impact Nations for the water filtration ministry.....

But we also got to announce something VERY special....Tim and I are expecting! Yup, it's true...after many years of praying, trusting and believing God for a miracle, He has provided just that! We are floored by His faithfulness and awed by His grace. Our little one is due sometime in September, we think.....not sure how far along I am....we are thinking anywhere from 7-10 weeks, but we'll let you know when we find out! For now I am just rolling with the everyday changes in my body.....and not fitting into my pants! ARGH!

We told both sets of parents....all reacted with tears and shouts of joy....made it more real for us. And then we had a wonderful opportunity to share it with our church family here during worship. Most of the church knows the difficulty we have had in this area, so the shouts and cries of joy were so encouraging. We also had an opportunity to share pictures, testimonies, and stories about the Philippines and how faithful God has been to us there as well as to the people we have encountered. Tim preached on stepping out of his comfort zone and into the special covering of Jesus....He makes us do strange things sometimes, but uses those strange things to teach, encourage, and bless us while glorifying Himself! He's so cool!

As Tim begins to teach people how to make water filters in the Philippines, access to clean water for all of Mindanao is becoming more and more likely rather than just a hope. He is anxious to get as many people started on building the filters as possible. They are so simple, cheap and effective and the connections he is making are fantastic! People are getting excited and are wanting to get started! This is encouraging as he will be quite busy when the baby comes in September. :)

We also had a wonderful encouragement from our directors at Mercy! They understand our history and the amazing miracle of this pregnancy, so they have been extremely accommodating and helpful in altering my schedule to help with time off before and after the baby arrives. We are planning to have the baby in the Philippines so that we can continue serving the people we have so grown to love. God has been faithful thus far, so we are earnestly seeking Him for daily direction as we enter this new season! It is amazing how the very fact that I am pregnant opens the door to minister to the women that come into the clinic in a whole new way! Many of the women cannot fathom being "infertile" and then God miraculously healing opens the door to ask them what miracle they are praying for or needing....God delivers and shows Himself. Cool.

As for now, everyday is full of meetings, visits and coffee dates....decaf for me. And we are eagerly looking forward to time in Oregon with my family and a time of rest before we get back to work in the Phils in February.

Thank you again for all your prayers and encouragements! No doubt they have been working! We feel like the Lord is taking good care of us and revealing more of Himself to us daily. Some days are crazy hard, but there is always grace. I will have Tim post next time....Be blessed!

Saturday, January 12, 2008

Filter Frenzy

Before I begin, let me first clear something up. I'm sorry to report that there will be no stop over in Winterpeg. As tempting as your beer offers are, I just couldn't convince the airline to take a detour between Seattle and Vancouver. Now, if you were to include a beer for the pilot, we might be able to arrange something. Alternately, we could hitchhike to Alberta or Saskatchewan if you'd be willing to meet us halfway.

I spent this week working on filter installation. On Monday, Chad and I traveled to a city called Panobo to deliver a filter to a man named Edwin that Matt introduced us to. Panobo is a small city that's about an hour outside of Davao. In Edwin's community there are about 1000 families, none of whom have access to clean water. At this point, everybody pays to have their drinking water delivered to them. A quick survey of the area tells me that many of these families cannot easily afford such a luxury, but are left with no choice. We hope to work with Edwin to help him set up a small business in Panobo so that he can supply these families with a water filter. Imagine the financial burden that could be lifted if a family could buy one water filter and never have to worry about paying for water again.

Monday's installation went okay, but it took longer than I had hoped. Without getting too technical, the flow rate was much too slow, which meant the sand was too dirty. I know that sounds weird, but after spending some time on the site cleaning the sand, we were able to get a better flow rate. End of the day, I think the filter will work out just fine for them. I told them they could start to drink the water at the beginning of February. At that point I realized that I put a lot of faith in these filters. It could really mess with their health if it doesn't work the way it's supposed to. At the end of the day, I just have to trust the people who designed the filter, and the fact that this technology is in use all over the world. I also have to trust that the Lord enabled us to build it properly and install it correctly.

On Thursday we were able to deliver our second filter, this time in New Carmen. This installation went a lot smoother than the first. The flow rate was perfect right away. We delivered it to a man named Manolo and his family. Manolo is one of the community leaders at New Carmen, so he was a natural choice for the first filter. My hope is that every home in New Carmen will have a filter by the end of the year. The water they have been drinking is borderline acceptable; many children complain of diarrhea. Sometimes that water source runs dry, forcing them to drink water that is significantly worse. We can fix that!

Getting to New Carmen is lots of fun. We get to throw the truck into four wheel drive and do a bit of off-roading. Joe was kind enough to supply us with some straps to keep the filter in place on the bumpy road.

Chad has been a great help with the installations and such. He and I are really looking forward to a very productive 2008. We have more contacts than we can handle right now, and each week we meet more people who practically beg us for filters in their area. Last night I sat with Joe and studied a map of Mindanao. It's a big island, but I think with some careful planning and a lot of hard work we could make a difference in a lot of lives.

Joe has been a big help too. He and I spent time together this week reorganizing all of our tools and such. We have turned his backyard into a pretty nice little workshop. We now have all the tools sitting on a shelf or hanging on the wall. The canopy we build last month is a big blessing too, making it much easier to work in the hot sun and making it possible to work while it's raining. I bought a dolly this week too, which makes moving the filters a much easier chore. It also serves as a fun toy for children to play with while we install a filter in their home.

Gotta go now. Chad and I are delivering another filter this afternoon. I leave you with a few pictures of Chad and I doing the installation at New Carmen. I've also included a couple of photos of our backyard workshop.


Wednesday, January 9, 2008

Midwifery 101.....and we're almost ready for take off!

Greetings! Sorry for the long we said in last post, things have been somewhat hairy. :) In a good way. Thanks for all the encouragement and reminders to breathe! As I was delivering a baby boy last night (named Gabriel) the Lord, once again, reminded me that He is in charge, the Almighty giver of life....who puts our very breathe inside. Mmmm.

So here's what this week has entailed:

I FINISHED MY ASSIGNMENT! And I am about to turn it in right now! No more assignments (except for book reports) for one whole month!!!

Two more babies were born in my care. This last little one (Gabriel) was pretty heartwrenching. The mother said that she could not afford to be a single mother with two children so her mother told her she had to give the baby to her cousin. I was pretty heart broken and asked her how she was feeling about the whole situation. She said she had no feelings either I asked her if money wasn't the problem, would she keep her son even though the father is not around....and she said, "YES!" Very exuberantly. So I asked her if she would be willing to pray and see what Jesus desired for her since money is no issue to Him...she agreed to pray with me and 10 minutes later, we were both in tears. She said that she would continue to pray for God's wisdom....I will keep you posted.

And Tim delivered TWO FINISHED water filters to very happy villages! YEAH! He will post a whole bunch of pics and a post in a bit.

Mmmm, let's see.....Joe and Tim played "manly men" this week and not only repaired Joe's leaky roof, but managed to make a whole shelving unit for all the water filter supplies and tools! Tim came home dirty every day this week.....he says that he's feeling pretty manly these days! I must say that he is looking pretty manly, too! :)

He's craving some beer and looking forward to having his brothers buy him some upon our arrival in Canada....I am looking forward to giving them all a really big hug and then taking a REALLY warm shower. :)

Needless to say, God has been so faithful these last few months and we are so looking forward to some rest with family and friends. Only 5 more days! Please continue to pray for us...we are so grateful for your encouragement and prayers. Be blessed

PS. I have hardly any pics right now as my camera ran out of batteries twice in the birth room, so I will just post some drawings I had to make for my assignments....Some might not be very pleasant to see, but hey, you know what I am doing here.... :)

Friday, January 4, 2008

Keeping Busy...Looking forward to rest.

Greetings! Pictured above is "Lovely Janice"....yes, her name is Lovely. She was born Friday night at 5:50 pm...I got to be her midwife. While she is only 4 1/2 pounds, she gave her momma, Lyla, quite the painful time! Lyla's mother, Anabelle was present for the birth, too and I soon found out that she had given birth to a beautiful daughter the previous year at Mercy! Generations changing hands just like that! Lyla did great and her bana made it on time to see his daughter's head pop out!

My supervisors even praised me for a job well-done. While I am far from being an expert in this field, I can honestly say that I am understanding more and more....this is quite encouraging!

This is Rizabelle. I watched her labor ALL night long last week and was rather sad for her when she did not progress, but was having INSANELY painful contractions. We discovered that her contractions were hypertonic and she needed to be transported for possible C-section. Sure enough, C-section later and here she is .....all smiles holding her baby boy. It was so good to see her and know that she was doing well.

And also giving birth this last week was my dear Miraluna. She had a very difficult birth....on the antipolo, pushing and pushing with thick mec staining.....and I had the privilege of delivering her baby....with the much-needed help of my supervisor, Elai. Mira did amazing, but was so tired and her baby boy, Eduard Jr., struggled to breathe in his first few hours, so we prayed and took him to the hospital while Mira got sutured.

Seven days later, Eduard Jr. is doing well and gaining a bit of weight. I get to see him tomorrow, so I will be sure to take a few pictures for you all.

This weekend, I am frantically trying to get homework done and Tim is getting lots of water project items accomplished. Amidst the new year craziness, all of us midwifery students are having to write out all our births, prenatals, baby checks, and postpartum records to get them signed by the appropriate supervisors....trying to track down every supervisor has been a bit of a bear and we have just three days to do it, but 200 prenatals later, I am almost finished with signatures. Whew.

Thank you for all your prayers and encouragements....Tim and I are just counting the days until we can sit without thinking of what we have to do next to meet deadlines and appointments. We are soooo looking forward to a peaceful break. Please continue to pray we get all of our work accomplished before leaving town and that the Lord will continue to guide and direct our steps....lots of changes on the horizon! Sorry I haven't been able to keep up on the blogging as of late...too many things happen in a day! Tim's much better at it! I will try to keep you all posted, though! Many blessings to you all and a very Happy New Year again!

Tuesday, January 1, 2008

New Year, New Carmen

Happy New Year and all that stuff...

A couple of Sundays ago we were delighted to find a church that feels like a really good fit for us. They are located just a few minutes from our house, and much of the church leadership lives right here in our neighbourhood. In the two Sundays that we have attended it has been clear that they really have a heart to minister to this community. They love to pray for the sick and worship in spirit and truth.

Today we joined them at another of their "missions". They have a sister church that is located at the local dump, New Carmen. I say "church", but that doesn't really do it justice. It really is a model for complete community transformation. Since 2004, when a man from Orlando named Justin discovered it while riding his bike, New Carmen has seen incredible change.

New Carmen is made up of about 40 families. Until recently they literally lived on top of a massive pile of stinky garbage. They now live on a nearby hill, where they have nice little homes in neat little rows. They once made a living by rummaging through the dump, looking for bottles and other trinkets that could be sold for a few pesos. Now they farm several different crops and raise a variety of animals. There are two school buildings, a thriving church (nearly the entire village is in love with Jesus), and several healthy cell groups.

The dump was shut down earlier this year (actually, I guess that was last year now), though it is expected to reopen in 2008. It is currently undergoing some much needed improvements. The government received funding from several western countries to make the dump more environmentally friendly. This means that they intend to build some sort of dam to keep the garbage from washing into the river. They are also working on installing a system to collect the methane gas to use for energy. When the dump reopens, people will no longer be allowed to rummage through it. However, the Barangay Captain (sort of like a neighborhood mayor) has really got a heart for New Carmen and is hoping to secure legitimate employment at the dump for many New Carmen residents.

Today we were thrilled to join some of our new friends for a medical clinic in New Carmen. A man named Dr. Glen is in town from Delaware and spent all morning seeing patients and prescribing some basic medications. Bethany got to be his pharmacist and did a great job. She also got to pray for many of the patients when she gave them their medicine. Dr. Glen is an orthopedic surgeon and was able to inject lots of cool things into people's arthritic joints. I sat next to him for a while, silently observing and trying to learn a bit of what he was doing. I also made lots of faces at his younger patients. I noticed that most children were being treated for diarrhea and their parents were instructed to boil their water. After lunch he performed a few basic surgeries, removing cysts and growths.

I missed much of the clinic because I was roaming through the jungle. Justin, who is kind of the head missionary at New Carmen, took me for a tour of the community. Specifically, he took me to see the water sources. They have a number of springs, but only one is a suitable source for drinking water. In actual fact, that water was tested and found to be only marginally appropriate for drinking. Based on the number of cases of diarrhea we heard about today, I'd say the water could use some improvements. They are very excited about the water filters, and I hope to deliver one to them in the next few days.

Justin also showed me the pig pens, the fish farm, and the duck pond. I say pond, but in actual fact, the pond was filled in with mud after a recent flood. The dump managers have since placed a wall of garbage next to the duck 'pen' to keep the area from flooding again. Soon they will construct a proper dam. The ducks are bred to make balut, a tasty Filipino treat that consists of a duck embryo that has developed for approximately 18 days, almost to the point of hatching. Yummy...feathers and beak and everything! Bethany actually likes to eat balut. I don't even like to say balut.

I'm being long winded again, so I'm going to wrap this up. Needless to say, I'm really looking forward to helping this community get clean water. Getting to New Carmen requires putting the truck into four wheel drive, so that's pretty cool too. I also want to learn as much as I can from Justin. He obviously has a great deal to teach me about transforming a community and I want to learn all about how to get small farming businesses started.

I'm feeling overwhelmed as we begin 2008. So many things to learn and so many things that I want to accomplish. The last six months have been a great time of making connections. Now it's time to put those connections to use. More than anything though, I must remind myself that the number one priority is my wife and doing everything I can to help her get through school.

I'll leave you with a couple of photos from today.

Peace out.