Sunday, April 20, 2008

Missing Tim, but keeping busy....

Greetings! Here's the latest delivery! This is baby Jaz Mea, her mama Len, and her papa Jeremie. This little girl was born yesterday at 1:59 pm...just before I began my shift! But because I went out with my dear friend, Ate An-An, I took a motorcycle to work so as not to be late and I ended up getting there with 32 minutes to spare before 2 pm! So Len was already feeling the urge to push and so her midwife, Jane, didn't want to stay long after her shift (she'd been there since 6 am), so she endorsed her pushing patient to me!

And I was blessed to be there....even though I had never met Len, she was gracious with me taking over during such a pivotal time in her labor and we actually had a few minutes to get passed introductions, get established with her chart, and find out how she was between contractions, she told me she had one little girl at home and she and her bana had been together for 11 years, but never had a chance to get married, yet....then she pushed...and pushed again....then rested and told me some more about between the "Ahhh...sakit!" In other words..."OUCH, PAIN!" She was great.

And her baby came without any problems. Healthy baby girl. And then she bled. Over 1600 ccs. Her hematocrit was low to begin with (severely anemic) so we all knew hemorrhage was possible. Then she got dizzy, so between oxytocin injections and IV insertion, she managed to hold her baby tightly, endure manual removal of her placenta, manual exploration of her uterus (OUCH!) and breastfeed! She did it. She's my hero.
So here she is in the postpartum bed resting from her labor...heavy labor...with her reward beside her. God is so good.

And I miss Tim. But he is doing fantastic. I get the occasional text message from him letting me know what he's up to in Dipolog and Butuan. So far he's been "told" to preach (the Filipinos love to throw that at him!) and he does....and apparently he does a great job! No doubt in my mind. God speaks with such authority through him, I am in awe of God's power within him. Then he and his papa took the area pastors to go pray for and heal the sick in Jesus' name....and they did! Then he was told to baptize! He's never done a baptism, but he loved it! Of course, he did text me just before saying, "Scared kaayo!" That's VERY SCARED, in case you didn't catch that! God sure likes to keep us humbled, eh!? Tee hee.

And then Cebu Pacific (the airline they were to ride from Dipolog to Butuan via Manila) gave them troubles and wouldn't let them ride their winged mode of transportation! And then wouldn't refund their both Tim and his papa had to ride a bus ride from Dipolog to Butuan (not a short drive) in a hot, stinky, non-air con bus. Tee hee....again, I think God enjoys humbling us...he said they tried very hard not to breathe or laugh for fear of inhaling too much foul air. :) What a ride! They arrived in Butuan around 4 am....only to get up just a few short hour(s) later to preach, pray for the sick, help in the medical clinics, and extend the precious hand of Jesus.

I think God is preparing him (and us) for more of this kinda stuff...and not to sweat the small, insignificant the change in transportation....not getting to eat....being thrown into situations where your level of trust in the Lord is put to the very edge....scary kaayo...but full of joy. Sounds like Tim is loving the journey.

As for me, I feel horribly jealous. I want to be where Tim is! :) And then our baby kicks and reminds me of my responsibility and the incredible blessing God has given me NOW. The other stuff will come later. And then another baby is born into my hands at Mercy and I am once again humbled by God's truly beautiful creation and gracious provision. And I am lost for words.

And I am seeing the Lord be my husband, my provider, and my covering in whole new ways in this time alone....rather, I should not say I am alone.....I am with the Lord and with the little swimmer inside...not alone.

Well, I will have Tim post as soon as he gets home with pictures and updates. For now, I will get these last four questions of this assignment done and I will head to another shift. Thank you for all your encouragement and prayers! Be blessed!

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Anticipating 8....

Greetings! This morning Tim left for Manila...then he's off to Butuan, then to Dipolog....he is meeting his dad somewhere in there and the Impact Nations team, as well. He will be teaching water filtration, sharing what the Lord has done here in Mindanao, maybe even preach a bit...(he's not too excited about that!) He will also be meeting with some old Filipino friends from his first trip up to Dipolog late last year! I am sure he will have plenty of pictures and I will be sure to have him write a very long post as soon as he gets home.

But for now, I am anticipating 8 days without my dear love. I hate when he's gone. I can handle the overnighters and even the two-three days....but 8 days just seems like an eternity. Yeah, people do it all the time and I am sure that my pregnancy hormones have tons to do with it, but the truth is, it's hard running the house and going to school and working clinic on my own....but it's even harder to be without my precious best friend. I know God will use him greatly and I know the Lord will take good care of I press on....on to a busy week of homework and babies.....Yesterday I had the enormous pleasure of delivering baby Jenelyn...pictured above. Her momma, Irene, labored well and after having two boys and one girl, she was so grateful for the second girl. Only weighing in at 5 pounds, this little muffin is so precious and thriving like a champ. Irene's bana was close beside her throughout and was such a joy to work with. What a great, but tiring birth!

So after trying to complete paperwork and baby baths, exams, and clean up, I forgot to eat lunch....and I began to get a little weak in the knees....and then something REALLY exciting happened....

Naomi was on shift with me and she had just received a new patient, Wilma. Wilma was fully dilated and wanting to scurrying around, we got a birth cart set up, oxygen and prepared for Wilma's delivery. Ate Elsa was going to assist, I would chart the birth, and Ate Krys would supervise.

And then it baby came...healthy strong...but the momma's abdomen didn't get smaller....there was something or SOMEONE still inside! Immediately Krys jumped in with a doppler to find another heartbeat!! But it was so weak....we all started praying and Krys called another supervisor in to help....

Between Krys and Naomi, baby #2 was born....Identical twins! Ate Elsa was tending to the first twin, Krys to the second, Naomi to the patient and all the other midwives that popped in were racing to get supplies, oxygen for two, oxytocin for mom who was bleeding up a storm...and me... I was writing like a MADMAN trying to keep up with 5 midwives calling out information regarding Baby #1, Baby #2, and Momma. There were pulse rates, heart rates for three, injections, IVs, bloody bags and kidney basins, laundry buckets, oxygen lines and tanks, birth sets, scissors, and gloves being passes every which calling out, "NEXT CHECK, 5 MINUTE APGAR SCORE FOR BABY 1....1 MINUTE APGAR SCORE FOR BABY 2", Naomi describing the enormous placenta...."Round, complete, two three vessel cords, peripheral insertion...." and Every midwife available trying to clean the birth area and set up for postpartum.

The amazing thing is, baby number 1 was over 5 pounds and just a chunk with a BIG umbilical cord...healthy. Baby number 2 was only 3 pounds, skinny with a very, very skinny, little umbilical cord...but baby number 2 was the first to breastfeed and later, had the best baby exam! Talk about God's grace! We were praying she would survive and VIOLA, God does miracles.
So here is Wilma and her special twin girls....the talk of the town...twins are EXTREMELY rare at Mercy because we are instructed to transport them immediately during labor. But Wilma was already pushing when she arrived! So we had to keep her....and what a blessing. I was so exhausted and HUNGRY! I kept getting dizzy and baby Stewart was moving all over the place inside! I quickly grabbed a bite of tuna....then got back to work....then I had to pee...gosh, I was so weak, but the Lord sustained me despite the insane shift, baby checks, and excitement!

And then Tim bought me some McDonalds after shift. That helped enormously.

Naomi stayed well into the evening to make sure the little ones were thriving. Momma had to be transported for extreme blood loss, but we are all certain she will be okay. Please pray for her that the Lord gives her strength and energy, heals her body quickly, and protects these two precious twin girls from any infection or complication! What an emotional day! Thanks for praying.

Now I am off to attempt to finish the last bit of this gigantic assignment....I have two more days to do it....I could really use your prayers as I am really tired.....grateful and blessed, but tired. Homework doesn't come easy these days and I feel like my brain is literally being sucked out by my placenta or something....I make so many mistakes and while I am learning to have more grace for myself, it's really embarrassing to make so many silly mistakes in front of your brain feels like mush and I find it takes almost everything outta me to remember just the slightest putting oxytocin on the birth carts....or remembering to sign my name on documents....I can look at the same page for hours and not see mistakes or things that need to be done...simple things that were so easy and almost mechanical for me before being pregnant.

And then I try to remember the miracle....the precious gift God is giving Tim and myself....And that He knows my needs, knew how my body and mind would handle the stress, and formed this little one inside before the creation of the He will continue to be faithful. I know that without a doubt....but I sure could use the prayer!

Thank you for all your prayers and encouragements! Please continue to keep us updated. We love news from home. Be blessed!

Sunday, April 6, 2008

Busy times...

Greetings! Above is Mary Liza, Baby Rozan and her daddy, Ronie! Yesterday on swing shift, we had discharged two patients and sent another was quiet....peaceful. I was first up...ready for the next patient....

And then, suddenly, a multi-cab pulled up to Mercy with people screaming of the Filipina midwives yelled, "Taxi birth!!"....we all jumped to our feet to run outside into the rain only to see this little lady writhing in pain, holding her groin, held up by two of her children, her bana and a friend! 

Needless to say, we were telling her to "GINHAWA, DILI UTONG!" In other words...BREATHE, DON'T PUSH! We really didn't want her baby to come spilling out in the street in the rain!

We raced her to the bed, found out her name, someone grabbed her chart and I tried to do a vaginal exam to see where the baby was....but it was too late....the head was visible just behind the bag of waters....

She was still panicky and writhing, so I instructed her to breathe, relax, reminding her that she was safe now and her baby was almost out. She couldn't stop moving! So again, I yelled her nickname and told her to look into my eyes! She tilted her head up and our eyes met and then she got it...she was safe, she was ready, and her baby was coming. She breathed and suddenly relaxed. It was pretty incredible!

Then her relaxing made her bag of waters burst and the head nearly popped out! But I instructed her to breathe again, slowly and the baby's little head came out without a tear or abrasion. Perfect. Followed by the body, Rozan Kay was brought into the world in a mad rush!

It's a good thing she came when she did, too! She was only 36 weeks and one day, so technically, if she had come in during labor, we would have transported her for prematurity! But this little baby girl of 5 pounds 9 ounces didn't want to be born at DMC. She wanted Mercy. And her mother was grateful, too. 

Her mother and I had a great time getting to know each other AFTER the birth...found out she and her bana have been married for 13 years and her last baby was 12 years ago! They are Jehovah's Witness and were very interested in what I thought about their choice of religion, why I was in the Philippines, how many months I was pregnant, where my bana was, and where we lived now. Then I asked her dozens of questions and we had a GAS telling stories, giggling about my poor Visayan and how grateful to God we were that their baby was healthy and strong. Small, but fierce. It was a great shift and an unforgettable patient.

 Meet baby Matt. No, not Matthew, but Matt. I almost made a huge blunder on his birth certificate thinking his name was Matthew....I couldn't pronounce his middle name. But his momma, Lorna, pictured above at her 1 week check yesterday, was insistent on his name being just Matt.

Born very differently than what I described above, Matt was born after a looooong time....his momma desperately trying to push him out. And it's no wonder! The kid was 8 pounds 1 ounce and his momma is so little! He was pretty jaundiced the first few days, but now....he's a ham....healthy and strong. Yes, things are busy in the birth room these days....and finally, last picture.....

Our last evening with Ate Elai was last week and consisted of prayers and songs, plays and poems all to honor our dear teacher and friend. Now she's gone and has left quite the void at the clinic. The days are full, but everyone misses Ate Elai. 

In other news....

As Tim shared in last post, I had the opportunity to accompany him on a water filter delivery to a little village not far off the highway. We were able to bless the community with the installation of a filter at their church site and Tim and Toti took orders for more! The people were so excited and I totally understood why Tim loves his job. What a joy! 

I'm sure he will share more in the coming days with pictures and all as he has been tremendously busy. 
As for me, I have one particular assignment that has been fighting me to get done....too many pages, too many questions....extremely interesting info...helpful, too....just long and my preggo body aches from sitting too long! BUT! As we approach our 17th week of pregnancy, I felt our baby move for the first a little jelly donut in a water balloon floating in my belly. Mmmm....God is so faithful. 

Tim is on the water with our friend Glen Knight delivering water filters to an island off the coast of Mindanao...I will have him share about his journey later. I think he comes home this evening! 

And finally, we are looking forward to our dear friends, Heidi and Kate, who are arriving here on Friday night for a visit before heading up north to do a Journey of Compassion with Impact Nations on Sunday. A short, but exciting visit for us!

Keep commenting and let us know how you all are....we miss hearing news and really could use your prayers, too. Lots happening and we know we have an enemy who desires to squash us...thank you for praying!
Be blessed!

Tuesday, April 1, 2008

Water Filter Update

I haven't blogged in a long time. I've got lots to tell you, but I'll try to stay focused. Our water project is going really well and I'm having a fantastic time. I love my job. It is such a privilege to give people clean water. Today I thought an elderly lady was going to kiss me she was so happy about it. I spent much of today wishing that Bethany was with me because I know that she would absolutely love it. She can't come with me to the mountains because the hike is too much for a pregnant lady (we're having a baby!!!), but I think she might join me for some deliveries to another city tomorrow.

Things always take a lot longer in the Philippines, but it feels like our little project is very rapidly progressing. To date, we have only delivered 11 filters, but we are steadily building a foundation upon which we will be able to develop a very strong project.

I'll give you a very brief overview of our progress so far. I am training Toti to eventually take over for me as the project manager. He is now an expert at building water filters and he has trained two other men who are also very skilled at manufacturing the filters. It only takes two people to build the filters (we build two a day). Most of the time, Toti works with a young man named Gang Gang to build the filters. Sometimes, however, I need Toti working with me on other things. On those days, Gang Gang works with another man name Jun. This means that even when Toti and I are busy delivering filters or visiting new communities, filters are still being made.

I have decided that Davao will serve as a manufacturing center for this area of Mindanao. We will focus our efforts on building quality filters that can withstand the rigors of some crazy delivery routes. I am working on developing various "distribution centers" in the areas around Davao that are in need of clean water. My hope is that each distribution center will have volunteers that will become skilled at filter installations. It will be up to me and Toti (and Chad, who has been very helpful also) to develop as many distribution centers as we can.

We have spent the last couple of weeks focusing on our first distribution center. A month ago I told you of my eventful journey through the mountains to help out at a medical clinic. During that trip, I met a man named Tatai who was very eager to help bring clean water to the communities in the mountains. Ten days ago Chad and I drove for a couple of hours up the highway to deliver four filters to Tatai for delivery to the villages several kilometers from the highway.

Tatai was alarmed, to say the least, when he realized that the filters are indeed incredibly heavy. He had planned to carry the filters with his horse, but he was becoming afraid that the horse would not be able to withstand the weight. But hey, you won't know unless you try! Each filter weighs an estimated 160 lbs. A horse must remain balanced, which means that it has to carry two filters, one on each side. For those of you scoring at home, that's 320 lbs. Tatai's horse is little more than a pack mule.

As I watched these men struggle to tie the filters to the feeble little horse, I became increasingly afraid for the horse's safety. I was actually beginning to silently budget for a new horse, just in case my filters brought this animal's life to an untimely end. The horse simply stood there and quivered while they tied the final knots. I had never interceded for an animal, but this seemed like a good time to try. I prayed for that poor horse as Chad and I drove home. I later learned that it began to rain shortly after we left and the horse nearly fell down a very steep embankment. But it didn't fall, and somehow the filters found their way to Upian, the first village along the path (approximately 3km from the highway).

Today we traveled to Upian to install the filters. The installation process is the most difficult and important part of our operation. It is incredibly important that the installation is done correctly if the filter is to produce safe drinking water. Today I brought Chad and Toti with me to train a number of people who will serve as our installation experts for our Upian distribution center. I was pleased to see that there were six people that had gathered to receive training. Yesterday, Toti and I worked together to write installation instructions in Cebuano, the local language. Toti did most of the training today so that we didn't waste time with translating my English.

I will write more about Toti sometime. For now I will simply say that he is becoming a good friend and he is an excellent employee. Tomorrow we will be going to deliver a couple of filters to a city that is about 45 minutes south of Davao. I am hoping that this area will eventually develop into another distribution center. Chad is leaving for a few days to work with some of his contacts in another city in hopes that we will have yet another distribution option.

Sorry for the long and rather dry post, but I figured it would probably be good to give you some of the details of what I've been working on. I'm working too much these days and it's not leaving me much time for blogging, never mind all the paperwork I need to do. I'm trying to make sure that I have time to meet all of Bethany's needs, but admittedly I need to do better in that department. Please pray that the Lord gives me wisdom and patience to move at a good pace and to keep my priorities in check. More than anything I want to make sure that I am honoring the Lord and blessing my wife with everything I do, but sometimes I can get distracted playing in the sand.

I've added a whole bunch of photos that should give you a better idea of what my job looks like.

Unloading the filters from the truck.
That poor horse.
Chad and Toti arrive in Upian after a 50 min hike.Upian's water source: a spring that feeds into a small resevoir.Sieving sand from a nearby river bank.Washing the sand.Toti gives an installation lesson.The rookies work their magic.The Upian Filter Class of '08Clean water for life!