Friday, March 28, 2008

Saying Goodbye to Elai.

Greetings! Tim was supposed to be blogging this week, but alas, he has been a bit busy and hasn't gotten to it....maybe tomorrow? He is doing a great job getting water filters out and I don't want to spoil all the surprises, so I won't blog on all his goings on....I will let him tell you all the awesome news!

But above is dear MJ....and baby Ynnoah! YEAH!!! She came to see me yesterday and he is healthy and strong. Very slightly jaundice and just a little cradle cap, but he is soooo sweet....eating well and growing strong after his crazy birth. And MJ, though refusing to go back to DMC for a check-up on her cervix, is free, so far, of any infection. However, she has been advised by her midwife (that's ME!) to go see an OB anyway, just to make sure she is healing properly because a torn cervix can heal in such a way that she may not be able to deliver a baby vaginally again, so it's a pretty big deal. Scar tissue is not fun. But she is happy to be a mother, happy Jesus kept her safe, and happy she and her bana are learning to be parents together. God is so good. Thank you for your prayers!

And this is Elai....Ate supervisor extraordinaire. She has been my supervisor since November. Ya know, there are few teachers in your life that make such an impact on you that it changes how you see yourself, how you see your peers, and how you see the work ahead of you....I had one of those in high school....but he wasn't the same as Ate Elai. She literally used the presence of God that resounds so strongly within her to build my confidence, strengthen my faith and teach me more about midwifery and compassion for my patients than I was aware of...until now.

You see, Ate Elai has been working as a supervising midwife at Mercy Maternity for over 9 years! She has seen a lot of patients and students come and go...and yet, she has managed to impact each one of them with her peaceful and humble spirit. She is never harsh with her students and never makes them feel stupid...she graciously corrects them and calls them to a higher level of responsibility and the Lord, in themselves, and in her.

In her 9 years, she delivered over 600 babies.....and Wednesday, we honored her with a rose from each patient attending prenatals. Shown in the pictures below, each patient was given a beautiful rose and then Ate Elai was led into the prenatal room, sat down in the middle, and one by one, each patient brought up a rose for their precious midwife who has served them tirelessly and without complaining for 9 years. It was priceless....we cried. They hugged her, said kind words, others cried....

But even before we had the opportunity to honor her and speak of her amazing legacy, she served as she always had in the passed.....leading worship songs and dance (with silly motions!) with all the buntis (pregnant ladies) following!
There were a good 70 patients there all dancing while singing about the love of Jesus. It was a powerful time of thankfulness for the gift that God brought Mercy through Elai and the gift He is giving Elai to move on to new things.

We will miss her madly....especially us students who were so blessed to have her as their me! My best times were on shift with her. My greatest times of learning were with her, as well. I can only hope that the legacy I leave wherever God takes me is as powerful and full of life as the legacy Ate Elai is leaving with us at Mercy. What a joy to know her. And there is no doubt in my mind that God will continue to use her mightily in the journey ahead!

Stay tuned! Be blessed!

Friday, March 21, 2008

Updates...our 100th post!

Greetings! And a Happy Good Friday to you all! Easter is one of my favorite holidays and in the Phils, it's quite different from home.... I'll get to that! But first.....

This week was full of seeing old patients and getting new ones! Above is my 15th handle, Nicole! Born to Lyn and Michael, this baby girl is perfect in every way! Lyn came in early on my day shift Thursday at only 2 cm dilated....but she was having her third baby, so we all knew it could go fast. We sent her home as she was feeling rather hungry and less than an hour later, she came back in very active labor. About 3 hours later, Nicole was born....struggling to breathe at first, but after a good deep suction and a little oxygen, that little sweet girl was pink and happy....nursing almost immediately.

It was such a peaceful birth and it went so well that I even forgot to put on two gloves....I was just wearing one! I ended up delivering the baby with one glove and a bloody hand that somewhere got only half a glove on! But it was a relatively clean birth and I got to do all the newborn exams noticing special things like her two on her hand, the other on her leg. So cute. What a blessing to have a healthy birth after so many difficult ones! Both patients are still doing well.
And do you recognize this little....umm, wait...HUGE one above? That's Precious! My first handle! Already almost 5 months old now, she is a TANK! Her mom brought her by so that I could do a well-woman exam on her and visit a was a great time of getting to know Precious and Maribel again. What a blessing to see them! Then...pictured below....My dear Christine, a patient I transferred 4 months ago for cesarean, came by to show me her little lady! The last time I saw this peanut was when she was one day old! Healthy and strong, both are doing well! Praise God!
And today, Good Friday, I walked to work on completely DEAD streets....You see, yesterday was "Holy Thursday" "Black Friday" #2...ending with #3. Black Friday shuts the city down....literally. The only place open, we discovered on day shift today, is McDonalds! And thank the Lord for that...we were food in the clinic anywhere! Everything was closed, all patients were gone, no helpers, no groceries, no stores open, no transportation except the occasional tri-c-cab...that's it! It was a ghost town! Apparently it's an old Catholic tradition that if you die on Black Friday, you go to hell because Jesus doesn't rise until Sunday....and if you get hurt, then your wounds won't heal for a whole year!

Needless to say...the birth room was soooo empty. One labor the whole day and even she was apprehensive to give birth on Black Friday...Mmm. Aren't ya glad He only died once and arose once and for all! We celebrated the special day with a McDonald's McFlurry and a lesson in IV insertion. :) A quiet shift.

Tim celebrated the day delivering water filters to needy families....a Good Friday indeed. He will post about that next...

I also got a text from is doing better and finally breastfeeding. They have to stay in the hospital 1 or 2 more days and then they're HOME FREE! Thank you for all your prayers! She has been so grateful for, too. I tell her all about the Americans and Canadians that are praying for's pretty awesome.

Have an amazing Easter remembering God's precious gift to us....the death and resurrection of His most treasured....Jesus.

Be blessed.

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

My dear MJ

Greetings! Thank you all for your prayers regarding my continuity, MJ! She had her baby boy Tuesday night at 8 pm. Unfortunately, I did not get to deliver her first baby named Ynnoah (pronounced E-NOAH). And this is the story:

So Saturday night was the looooong text message session regarding the marital issues. She was already in very early labor and deeply wounded by a fight she and her bana had. Things were looking grim to say the least. They had only been married since October and Saturday night showed signs of a marriage ending....BUT GOD. After texting until 2 am, I heard nothing more from her.

All day Sunday I worried about her....texted her....didn't hear from her....decided to visit her Monday if I didn't hear from her....until she finally texted at 10:30 pm. She was concerned that her "tubig came out her puerta"....that is...her bag of waters ruptured. I asked her to put on a maxi pad and tell me the amount of leakage, what color it was, how it smelled....asked her to time her contractions....received another contractions....little water.....I assured her that this was probably her mucous plug given the following details she shared and told her to get some rest....12 am, I fell asleep. She did, too, because the next text I got was at 2:30 am....she had some bloody show....Mmmmm. Contractions coming about 20 minutes apart....Mmmmm. Suspicious, but highly improbable....she was worried, so I met her at Mercy at 3 am Monday morning.

The birth room was a ZOO....babies, births, and labors everywhere....before doing an internal exam on MJ, the supervisor advised me to monitor the discharge coming to see whether it was her BOW (bag of waters) or just mucous. I was convinced it was just mucous. And her contractions seemed to stop completely. By 6 am, I was ready to do an IE on her...and she was, too. Only 1 cm, very posterior cervix, BOW intact, baby's head was high, but sutures were felt, -1 station...that baby wasn't gonna come out for a LONG while. So I sent her home with the advice of resting, eating and drinking, pelvic rocks, nipple stimulation...the works.

I fell into bed. I fell asleep...until I had to get some work done and make something of the passing might've been 10 am when I finally came to!

Monday night...7 pm....text from MJ....water broke...."POURING OUT!", she said nervously as if sensing the impending doom of active labor. We raced to Mercy...sure enough...water's heart tones were I did another internal exam....2 cm. Baby's head was high....posterior cervix....0 station. This baby had A LONG way to go....and she had very few contractions. NOT a good sign. So, it's Mercy's policy that once the bag of waters has ruptured, the patient has 12 hours to deliver her baby or we have to transport to avoid fetal distress and possible infection. Only 12 hours to go another 8 cm!? We needed a miracle.

I stayed the night checking on her and her bana every 1/2 hour and the fetal heart tones every hour as well as her BP and temperature. She did nipple stimulation, pelvic rocking, sleeping....We were both exhausted. Her contractions were coming faster, but they were still only mild to moderate. She was feeling more pain, but it was only a little. She fell asleep for a while only to be awakened by me poking at her to do more checks....

Tuesday morning now....2 am. Time for next internal exam to check progress. I held my did MJ...and her bana. After 6-7 hours, her cervix was still 2 cm! Baby was still high and cervix was still posterior. I tried to stretch it to 3 cm and pull the cervix forward and it snapped back like a rubber band. I knew in my gut that we needed to transport to DMC. It would have to be a Divine act of God to get her cervix to dilate 8 more cm before 7 am when her 12 hours were up.

So I talked to my supervisor and told her my plan of taking her to DMC now at 3 am before it is too busy and she is too exhausted. She agreed and we loaded the ambulance with MJ, her bana, all their things, and me...

At DMC, she begged me to stay, but understood that the doctors do not allow midwives to stay with their patients....she cried, but was so brave...we prayed, prayed again...then prayed some more. As I was filling out her transport papers, I had to ask her what she wanted me to put as her "religion"....she thought for a moment, looked at me....and said, "Christian"...I thought that was pretty cool....Mmmm...Things are changing.

I got home at 4 am and once again, fell into bed...but couldn't sleep.
I tried to sleep on and off throughout the day...totally exhausted and concerned for MJ, but knew God was doing something....I received a text at 12 pm Tuesday....3 cm induced. From 2 cm at 3 am to 3cm at 12 pm!? Slooooow!

Next text...6 pm, 8 cm and pushing!! ACCCKKK! Not fully dilated! I was mildly concerned, but I was texting with the bana, so I had no idea what was really happening....8 pm, little Ynnoah was born. MJ's bana and I texted for a while after and I promised to go see her in the morning when she was transferred to the postpartum area.

12 pm Wednesday, just after prenatals, Tim and I drove to DMC, eager to meet Ynnoah and see MJ....Couldn't find her....paged her bantay (watcher/helper)....a little older lady ran down the hall saying "Ma'am Bethany, Ma'am Bethany! You are here! MJ has been waiting for you!" I was stunned, blessed and mildly overwhelmed....

Her mother-in-law, the baby's "lola" or grandma took me through the crowded OB ward filled wit baby's, bantays, and mommas to MJ who was fast asleep...without a baby.

Lola shoved her and poked her saying, "MJ, your best friend is here!" I was honored! MJ looked up, eyes wide and begin to tell Tim and me her horrible tale of her LOOONNNGGGG labor, painful contractions, pushing at 8 cm giving her a cervical tear (NOT GOOD) that needed suturing, plus a tear on her perineum which also needed suturing and they took the baby to the ICU before she was able to see him. Apparently they were monitoring the baby and doing blood tests, but she still had not seen her new son. She explained how disappointed she was, but how grateful she was that her baby was alive and that she would heal. She asked dozens of questions about going to the bathroom, how to wash now, how to breastfeed....we talked a while and Tim was right there the whole time somewhat pondering the fact that DMC is terribly disorganized, messy, dirty, and mixed up....

We gave MJ her baby present, an egg and a mango, prayed and set up some baby checks at Mercy for when she is discharged. I left her feeling grateful for her life and her baby...disappointed at her dismal situation, but thankful it was not worse. She said, too, that she was thankful to Jesus for keeping her alive and her baby, too. Mmmm. God is moving.

Thank you again for all your prayers and concerns for MJ. I am praying that the whole experience will draw her into a knowledge of Jesus that passes all worldly understandings and that the Lord will draw her into Himself. I sure love her and I know the Lord loves her far more than I ever could. He is a good God...even when things do not go quite as planned! So I leave you with MJ's pics....PRE-labor....I will get pics of her and the baby soon!

Be blessed!

Sunday, March 16, 2008

3km Sunday

Today started very early. Somehow I was talked into the local "fun run" that started at 6am. Apparently Bethany's teachers were handing out extra credit if people participated. I don't think my attendance garnered any further grade inflation for Bethany, but I'm a very supportive husband. I know, I even amaze myself.

We had fun walking for about 45 minutes. The walk was easy and it was a good way for me to continue to shape up for my mountain treks. The warm up aerobics were not easy. Some lady who was way too happy for that time in the morning led about 400 people in some crazy fast paced calisthenics. Not only was my body annoyed with the rigorous "warm-up", but my brain was having a difficult time making sense of the complicated steps. I even got stepped on while trying to take a picture of the crowd (that's why one of the photos is so blurry, I was being stepped on at the time).

Last night we celebrated Jenn's 30th birthday. We went to dinner with Jenn and Joe and had a great time with them. After dinner we drove to the orange house to have a little surprise birthday cake with all the girls. A good time was had by all.

Late last night, Bethany received some disheartening texts from her continuity, MJ. Apparently MJ and her husband were having some domestic troubles and she was turning to Bethany for advice and comfort. Bethany did a great job of bringing peace to MJ (as much as one can do that via text messaging). We're a little concerned today because we haven't heard back from MJ and we're not sure how things were left with her husband. Please be praying for her. She is in the early stages of labour and she could really use her husband's support at this time. I'm so glad the Lord has put Bethany in MJ's life to be a source of strength and peace.

I'm back to work tomorrow. I'm really excited because I found a better source of sand this weekend. I know that sounds really lame, but it's pretty exciting for me. Better sand means better concrete. Better concrete means better filters. Tomorrow is a city-wide holiday. My employees wanted to know if they would be getting the day off. I told them no. I'm such a slave driver. There are too many holidays in this country. Thursday and Friday of this week are national holidays because it is holy week (more on that later this week). If I gave them tomorrow off too, we'd only have two days of work this week.

Thanks for your prayers regarding Bethany's difficult birth shift. The following night she was feeling much better and was able to assist in two healthy births. Keep praying for her though. She's been struggling with a tummy ache all day.

I leave you with a few quick snap shots of our weekend.

Peace out.

Thursday, March 13, 2008

Pain. (not for the faint of heart, read with caution)

Greetings. Thank you for all the comments on last post. Especially the encouragements. We are walking into a busy season filled with visitors for water stuff, journeys for Tim, and continued pregnancy growth for me. Praise God! So thank you for keeping us in your prayers.

And then there's the birth room.

Yesterday was a very painful day. Labor is always painful, but this was painful on every account.

I woke up in the morning with a mild turned migraine material by 2 pm. Just in time for my swing shift. I had to leave swing shift for a little over 2 hours for class, but managed to check on my dear patient, J, who was laboring in the birth room since 11 am that morning.

She was doing great. Laboring well with hardly a sound. Her vital signs were great, she was somewhat active, but not pushy yet. And that's where I began to hear her painful story.

Her sister came to be her Bantay (watcher) but had to leave....then her boss came in. Her boss spoke excellent English and seemed to be a very helpful woman....very engaging and was even going to pay J's medical bill! But then she began to tell me J's story.....and J continued to labor.

Her boss told me that J had liked this older man and upon a visit home to see her mother, had been raped by him. She proceeded to tell me what a horrible man he was and how "dumb" she was for ever wanting to be with this baby was a punishment to her for her "sins" and that she would "pay" the rest of her life.

Totally appalled and heartbroken, I stopped her boss and looked at J and said, "Your baby is not a is a blessing and a gift and God will keep you strong for your baby". To which her boss said, "She has to be strong....she's doing it alone!" I once again stopped her and said, "She is NOT alone!" Between the Lord, the four midwives, and her sister, she was gonna be fine. Needless to say, this boss had ticked me off enough. After defending J again and again from the lies that satan would want her to believe about her baby for another hour, I finally asked this boss to step out and allow her sister to come back. I used some medical reasons, so I wouldn't get in trouble....she left....

From there, J's contractions became more severe, more painful and I began to realize just how much pain she was going through for a baby she didn't want....didn't want to fight for....and yet, was so willing to go through it all for this baby.

Now "normal labor" is painful on its own, but her labor took a drastic turn and her pain became an incredible sacrifice for an innocent life...a blessing and not a punishment.

At 6 pm, my supervisor, Ate Elai, gave me permission to do another internal exam to check her progress. Her baby had dropped significantly and so did the baby's heart tones. Her cervix was not dilating all the way around, so we had her on her hands and knees doing pelvic rocks. Less than an hour later, she was ready to push....and I mean READY!

Ate Elai did one more internal exam to make sure it was time, but the baby's heart tones were continuing to drop....80, 70, 90. Ate stimulated the head....100. They have to stay above 120. J was exhausted. We put her on oxygen and gave her an IV. Baby's heart tones increased to 116. We needed to get the baby out now.

I will try to save you the gory details, but I believe it is important to understand the severity of the situation and the amount of strength and sacrifice J went through to meet her baby. The one her family referred to as her punishment.

From there, J pushed....with the help of me and her sister, she braced her legs on us and pushed some more....then her sister fainted. One less bantay. We now needed more midwives in there to care for the bantay, monitor the IV, brace the patient pushing, monitor the heart tones and tend to her oxygen....then suddenly the birth room was full...and all but one patient was pushing.

J continued to push....puffy-eyed, in and out of consciousness....she pushed in many different's heart tones were steady at 90. Ate Elai needed to give the baby more room and quickly cut an episiotomy (which we seldom do). By 8:40 pm, J was so exhausted, we were praying, yelling at her encouragements, her bantay in and out of fainting....the birth room full, and the need for other midwives was very clear. We called for reinforcements.

But then, J pushed her hardest push and baby's head began to and with a caput, the baby's head popped out sporting a triple cord coil....yes, the umbilical cord was wrapped around the baby's neck tightly 3 TIMES. No wonder the baby was having trouble breathing! I delivered the baby at 8:49 pm with Ate Elai unwinding the cord. We put the baby on her momma and fought to get her baby crying...breathing....something.

J immediately began to lose a lot of blood and turned white nearly passing out....her episiotomy bleeding began to breathe....sister was a beautiful girl. But it wasn't over, yet. J continued to bleed despite efforts to stop it. We passed the baby to another midwife...the midwives from upstairs came to join in the chaos and we tried to keep J awake....exhausted and pale, she turned a scary shade of white. We quickly prepared her for transport to the hospital for a possible blood transfusion. Oxygen and IV on her the whole time, we made it safely to DMC and raced her in..... with Ate Elai, Ate Susan, Rose, and me, we all had a job...between carrying the cloth stretcher, oxygen tank, IV and chart, we were a force to be reckoned with....DMC gave us pretty fast service and we had to say goodbye to J....her baby still at Mercy.

Still with the migraine...mild contractions, pain in every muscle from various contortions during the pushing stage, I was ready to collapse. So was Ate Elai. But the baby was healthy. Strong...and her momma would be okay. I cried. When we got back to Mercy, the place was buzzing....more labors had come in....more babies had been born, two women were transported, then one more was ready to go, some premature, some breech. Many of the students from the Orange House came over to hold the orphaned baby without a name or just help clean up the intense amount of bodily fluids.

And J's baby girl was given a chance at life...another postpartum patient who delivered a boy nursed J's baby for the evening to keep her healthy. The pics above are of the little girl....looking for food...and there's me...looking like I'd been beat with a stick....not too far from the truth, though....but happy to be holding the precious little lady. She's beautiful and I am so grateful for her life and her momma's perseverance to give her life. And I was overwhelmed with the reminder of how much Christ suffered to give us a chance....He fought for me...even moreso than J did for her little one. Whew. I was a mess. Nobody would have blamed her if she had just done away with the pregnancy or gave the baby up....but she fought for her daughter's life.

How precious is this child to God!!! And after witnessing all that occurred last night, I was even more convinced of the preciousness of this baby.

To update a little on my nephew, Levi, Andy and Ruth's baby set to be born in August....please continue to pray. The doctor is no longer concerned about Trisonomy 18, but wants to recheck in 6 weeks to make sure. The cysts on Levi's brain are still there, so please keep them in your prayers.

Thank you again for all your encouragement and faithfulness in praying for us, our families, our patients and friends. We are so grateful.
Be blessed.

Monday, March 10, 2008

Snapshots and lazy writing...Oh brother

Sorry we haven't written for a while. Nothing much going on I suppose. We've been busy, but nothing exciting has happened. Just more of the same. On Sunday, Bethany and I went for a nice Sunday afternoon drive. She hadn't seen the towns that are north of Davao, so I took her in that direction so we could explore a little bit. It was a nice drive. We stopped for a "treat" at the Chow King in Tagum City. I just had a Coke, but Bethany enjoyed a nice Halo-Halo special. Yuk. There are weird stringy things in the ice cream that make me think the employees are in need of hair nets.

Yesterday it was back to work. Toti has been doing a great job of building water filters. He hired a man named Gang Gang (sounds like gong-gong) to help him build them. They are getting so good at it that they finish too early. But the filters are turning out well. Our second steel mold arrived this morning, but I'm concerned that there are too many flaws in the fabrication. I suppose we'll find out tomorrow when we extract our first filter from it. Pastor Glen (my Texan friend with the boat ministry) is back in town for a couple months. He will be welding us a third mold, so we will soon be building 3 filters a day, 15 per week. I'll be making arrangements with Glen to distribute some of the filters to remote islands on his boats.

I found out yesterday that our printer is broken beyond repair. Jenn and Joe have graciously offered to let us come over to their house to do our printing whenever we want. That will work for now, but eventually we'll need to get our own. I'm really cheesed because we had a really nice printer and I just bought a whole bunch of ink cartridges for it at Costco when we were in Vancouver last month. What a waste.

Bethany and I had a nice time playing speed Scrabble on our deck last night. We enjoyed listening to some tunes on my computer and watching the sky change colors. It was difficult to concentrate with the bunnies jumping on our feet and wanting to play. Bethany is now hard at work on her next assignment. She's feeling a little ill today and suspects that the baby is having a growth spurt. Nine months is a long time. I want that baby to come out now.

Well, that's all I have to say about that. I've included a couple of snapshots of our activities.

Peace out.

Wednesday, March 5, 2008

Growing each day...sorry not as interesting as Tim's!

Greetings! As Tim shared last post, things are cooking up crazy in the water filtration world! Toti is having a gas and Tim had the opportunity to train more Filipinos this week. He also got to help out with an outreach with our church right here in Agdao…our neighborhood. He got to play the pharmacist again and thoroughly enjoyed it. He is learning so much! ALWAYS bring sunscreen wherever you go! (He’s rather a lobster right now!) But again, I am so proud of him.

As for me….Monday, I finished that gargantuan assignment on breastfeeding that I had missed during furlough. Four 9 ½ hour days of just me and 10 textbooks, handbooks, and guides….it is finished! And I got 99% on it! Whooooppeee! (Don't worry, I won't post my medical drawings for you this time! Although, they were VERY good, if I do say so....) Then I went to my birth room shift and had an incredible time of learning and growing in a painful way.

Dear Elsie came in towards the end of my shift and I was up to meet her….except she came in fully dilated and ready to get her baby out….while normally we LOVE that scenario, her baby was breech. When I examined her, the baby’s head was WAY up in her ribs and his feet were hanging low….I ran (LITERALLY) to my supervisor saying, “It’s breech, she’s pushing…TRANSPORT??” And Ate Elai grabbed a pair of gloves, ran into Elsie’s cubicle, and proceeded with an internal exam to see what was the presenting part….there was nothing….then something, but we couldn’t make out if it was a foot, a knee, or a hip….ACCKKK!

So explaining to Elsie what was happening, we prepared a stretcher and the transport papers to rush her to DMC to deliver her baby….in these cases, cesarean is usually indicated, but we were praying for a miracle. We instructed her, "Dili utong! Ginhawa!!" In other words..."DON'T PUSH, JUST BREATHE!" Yeah...tell THAT to the baby who was ready to come feet first!

So we prayed….and in the ambulance, we prayed, and when wheeling her on the stretcher to the OB counter at DMC, we prayed. And then they rushed her off to the operating room. It all happened so fast….her bana was running after her as they wheeled her through the tight, people, animal, and nurse-filled hallways of DMC….I really didn't get a chance to get to know her or even get her story.... I was saying goodbye to a stranger, but I felt soooo sad and concerned for I had known her all my was really the pain you get in the pit of your tummy...ya know?

Tuesday morning, I took the exams….breastfeeding and the semester exam….passed both. Whew. And then headed to DMC to check on Elsie…hoping she had delivered vaginally, safely and without too much fear….

Walking into DMC with my dear friend Serena, we carried bananas, toys, and oranges to Elsie’s bedside and beside her was her precious baby boy….delivered vaginally without complications and without a name. ☺ Yes, she had wanted a girl…but this boy was very special. And as I told her what a miracle he was and how much we had prayed for the two of them, her eyes lit up and she seemed more content with this baby boy, who certainly looked like a boy and NOT a girl. That's us above...

Then Serena and I headed to class, then to home group….busy day.

Wednesday was a prenatal day…..7 am to 12 pm….buntis fun! My awesome continuity, MJ (remember her?) texted me that morning saying she was in labor….and in so much pain, so I said, “Well, come in and see me!”

So she arrived looking very unhappy and carrying a BIG bag of special Milky Knots and crackers for me! I was blessed.

We talked for over an hour about what to expect from her labor, what are the signs that say she is progressing well and what she can expect from Mercy and me over the next while. I encouraged her to eat well, drink lots of water, ihi (pee) as much as possible, rest, go for walks….and to help progress her labor by having “contact” with her bana….use your imagination and figure out that one! She was MORTIFIED! I assured her that the baby would not get a hole in his head and that everything would be just fine….she needed convincing….and then after convincing her, she asked me to convince her bana…Mmmm. Didn’t work.

And then she thanked me for the items we had brought her from Canada…beef jerky, nail polish, some jewelry, books, CDs (thanks, Dad!) and some chocolate….the only trouble was that she and her bana had never seen beef jerky before….

MJ proceeded to tell me how confused they were that I would give them meat….first they boiled it....and after realizing that it wasn’t changing colors like most meat does, they tasted the broth…”Mmmm..Teriyaki!”….but they were still concerned about the meat, so they chopped the jerky up in small pieces, fried it with noodles and had dinner! I just about wet myself I was laughing so hard!!! She still didn’t understand why I was laughing….then I finally couldn’t help it and I explained that beef jerky was already cooked and ready to eat….no preparation required! She giggled and squirmed forgetting all about her contractions which were slowing down…..we had a wonderful giggle-fest and I told her I would bring her another bag of this mysterious meat product for her to try the REAL way. We also had a great prayer time of just asking Jesus to come and be a part of her labor and be her strength throughout. I am seeing more and more of Jesus in her every time I meet with her….Praise the Lord….He is doing good things!

Then I had class….I missed Tim sooo much…but we did get a meal together at Jenn and Joe’s and that was such a blessing…Busy days…everyday, but God has been so good.

We just passed the 3 month mark of pregnancy, too! Almost 13 weeks now…Praise the Lord. I am finding my energy is picking back up and while I cannot sleep as well at night, I am truly getting used to this whole pregnancy thing.

Speaking of which, we found out yesterday that my brother and sister-in-law who are expecting their third baby went in for an ultrasound and the doc found clusters of cysts on the baby’s brain. A sign of a chromosomal anomaly, it can lead to death quickly. We are asking all our family and friends to pray with us for Andy, RuthAnn and their baby boy, Levi. Please join us in prayer for this precious life as we know we serve a God of miracles….a God who loves to reveal His miraculous Hand…to Him be the glory. Amen.

Thank you!
Be blessed.

Saturday, March 1, 2008

Was blind, but now I see

I'm trying something new. As per usual, I've posted some of the photos below. If you would like to see any additional photos, you can click on the links throughout the story. I'm kinda rusty, so I didn't have many good pics this time, but they'll give you an idea of what I'm talking about. As the saying goes, a picture says a thousand words. But then again, so do I.

I've been trying to write this story for a few days now, but my muse continues to escape me. I've given up on flowery prose for now, and so I will endeavor to turn a very long story into a very short one. As Joe Friday used to say, "Just the facts, Ma'am."

This week, Joe and Steve and I went to a remote mountain village. Steve and his wife and six children are from Alaska and have been staying with Jenn and Joe for the last couple of months. We went to the mountains to spend time with our friend Beth, who was working with the barangay health official, doing a medical outreach. We were also there to scope out possible targets for the water project.

We stayed in Upian, a village that is only a 50 minute hike from the highway. After spending the night on a bamboo floor (there are no beds in mountain homes), we woke up at 4:30 and hiked for about 4 hours to get to the village where Beth was doing the clinic. The hike itself was eventful. We came across a family in need of some medical attention (children with possible pneumonia, and a woman with a mass in her stomach), and were able to pray for them. We also pooled some money together to get the woman to the hospital. During our hike, I broke my flip-flops (we call them slippers here) in the mud. A wonderful man who was hiking with us gave up his shoes so that I wouldn't have to go barefoot. At first I refused and tried to withstand the pain of walking over some very sharp rocks, but after about a kilometer people insisted that I take the shoes. They were probably getting frustrated with my slow pace.

Having arrived in Newtawas, we watched as Beth and the barangay health official did some basic health and sanitation teaching, similar to the teaching that Aunt Sylvia does for Impact Nations. We learned that this week, two of the villagers had died from diarrhea. It broke my heart to hear this, and I immediately determined that this village would be at the top of my priority list for water filter deliveries.

During the clinic, Steve and I had fun listening to lungs for signs of TB, and learning from Joe how to take blood pressure measurements. Before we left town I bought a blood pressure cuff, and Bethany gave me her spare stethoscope. Anytime we came across strange sounding lungs, we would refer the patient to Beth.

There were lots of children to play with as well. I had fun making strange noises at them and trying to convince them to let me listen to their lungs. One little girl was screaming and crying so I asked her mother if the child was in pain. The mother laughed and told me through an interpreter that the little girl was terrified because of my white skin and my beard. It would seem that white guys are a rare occurrence in those parts.

Before we left the village we learned of a baby that had bloody stool. We prayed for the child, and again we were able to provide some money to send them to the hospital. I'm no doctor, and at times I felt completely useless. However, I think our mere presence is a great encouragement to the people. Also, having seen the people and their homes gives me a much greater appreciation for their need for water filters.

The hike home was equally eventful. I had been rather impressed with myself for surviving the morning hike, in someone else's tiny shoes no less. The afternoon hike, however, was much more of a challenge. Luckily, I had brought an extra pair of shoes. They weren't available to me during the morning hike because our bags were brought in later on horseback. With new shoes on my feet and a light snack in my belly, I was feeling rather sure of myself as we set out. Within ten minutes, I was sure I was going to die.

Soon, I was huffing and puffing so hard I could barely see straight. At one point I lost my balance and stumbled, nearly falling back down the mountain I was climbing. Shortly after that, having lost all of my pride, I made a rather strong suggestion that we stop and rest for a moment. I quickly found myself on my back, staring up into the heavens and asking God if this was His great plan for my life. Then I noticed that the heavens were looking a little blurry. My pulse was slowing down, so my vision should have been improving....

Sitting up, I asked sheepishly "Has anyone seen my glasses?" I started looking around my resting place, wondering if I had been delirious enough to put down my glasses on the dirt path. They were nowhere near me. The beautiful, precious man who had given up his shoes for me earlier that day, was now volunteering to go back down the path to search for them. I was feeling ashamed, and thanked him very much for his help. We waited for what seemed like an eternity until he finally reappeared with my glasses in hand. It seems I had lost them when I stumbled, but hadn't noticed because I was busy having a heart attack.

Embarrassed, but grateful for my improved vision and the much needed rest, we resumed our 15 km hike back to our host's home. The rest of the hike was filled with many more lengthy rests and great patience from the rest of our crew. Joe supplied me with the best apple I've ever had, and Steve was very kind and gave me some of his water after I had run out. I was pleased, and mildly surprised that we reached our destination before nightfall. Thanks to our crew for their undying patience and grace.

That evening, we had an incredible time of fellowship with our host. Tatai and his wife run a horse ministry. They have a horse name Jungle and help to move people and goods around the region. Beth interpreted for me as I shared with them my desire to get water filters to the nearby villages. I told them that I would like to partner with them to help meet this very practical need, and they were very eager to help me. We agreed that in a few weeks time I will deliver several filters to a home at the side of the highway. They will use their horses to deliver the filters and the sand to a few homes in the neighbouring village at the bottom of the mountain. I will then join them in the village and train them to install the water filters. Once they have become installation experts, I will continue to deliver empty filters at the top of the mountain and they will continue to install filters at the bottom of the mountain.

The next morning we dragged ourselves out of bed and began our leisurely stroll back up the mountain to the highway. We were back in the city by 11am, and I was very glad to see my beautiful wife.

Well, so much for telling a short story. I did manage to abstain from gratuitous metaphors and pretentious adjectives. That should count for something. And the Dragnet reference was unavoidable. So, in summary: we hiked an estimated 30 km of mountainous terrain in one day; we paid for two people to go to the hospital; I broke my shoes; I lost and then found my glasses; and we found a solid strategy for distributing water filters to a very remote region. I'd say it was an eventful 48 hours. There are some photos below.

In other news:

Bethany is working her butt off trying to complete an assignment for Tuesday. She's barely looked up from her books this weekend, though we had a nice break playing cards together last night. She will be taking two exams on Tuesday, so please be praying for her.