Friday, November 7, 2008

there's no use crying over over-boiled eggs

Greetings. No exclamation point after that 'greeting'. Sorry. In the midst of feeding Promise, trying to do homework, transferring money to Tim on his way north of Davao, and trying to maintain sanity, I boiled the eggs for my prenatal patients for over an hour. Perfectly good eggs gone to waste...so sad. Kinda feel like a retard, but what's worse is the unpleasant smell. :) However, I made egg salad out of them and while they may give me uncomfortable unforgettable gas, they don't taste too bad. I wouldn't feed it to a friend, though.

Perhaps my saddened mood is because I am missing my family. As Promise begins her first holiday season, I am homesick, lonely, and too busy to be so. More than this, I am rather discouraged. I am fighting another battle with culture fatigue. Tim fights it more often than I do, but this particular culture point has got me itching to go home....

Remember Cherry? My continuity still hasn't delivered and I am supposed to see her tomorrow (hence what the eggs were for). I gave her money for a urine analysis, which she has not performed, yet, and though I questioned whether to give her money for the taxi fare and UA, I felt as though her safety and the care of the baby were more important than trying to keep my distance from her. You see, here in the Phils, if you're white and you give money for ANY reason, you become an automatic target saying, "PLEASE, take advantage of me!"

I have come into contact with this before with patients (even to those I hadn't given anything!) and those who said they were my "friend", but I was hoping that Cherry would remove my growing cynicism....I had hoped that by providing exactly what she needed for a safe delivery, that it would encourage her to follow my instructions and take better care of herself and her baby. Alas, all it seemed to do, once again, was to create a relationship where I am the giver and she is the taker. And so she is entitled to any wealth I have because I am a white missionary and I have all the money in the world....for this white midwife, money grows on trees, right?

Can you feel my sarcasm? Yes, I have more than she does...by the grace of God's provision...not by my ability to generate or steal wealth. Yes, this time Cherry needed money and promised to pay me back in one year when her sister returns from Hong Kong. Gosh. Sometimes the plea for money is laced with flowery language saying how much I am needed. Other times it is full of manipulating sob stories that may or may not be true (often they are not). Tim usually plays my compass and keeps me from draining the bank account and giving it over to them. However, what confuses me is why not go to a family member or friend..? Why go to the white midwife volunteering in a clinic that you've known for only a month?

Please don't misunderstand me. I am not a Scrooge and though Tim and I are frugal, we are very generous with our finances. We love to give and wish we had MORE money to give.... We are just very choosy on how and to whom we give. After all, it really isn't our money we're using...it's YOURS!

This situation comes after two weeks of apparent stealing at the clinic. Yes, despite our charitable presence in the community, our white midwives of the orange house next to the clinic were the victims of a break-and-enter theft....again. It is assumed that because we are white, if something is stolen from us, we have unlimited money to repurchase the item so that it can be stolen again and again....however, most of the ladies I know are on very tight budgets.

Giving my time, energy, advice, possessions, what little money we have and the better parts of my mind doesn't seem to be good enough....they need more or ALL my money....it's never good enough...it makes it really hard to feel as though I am making a difference or being a blessing. I guess that's where I have to relinquish my desires and expectations to the Lord...again. I guess that's why it's so important to stay listening to the Holy Spirit to make sure I am being a good steward of the resources He has given me.

But I have to say...it really sucks to be taken advantage of...to feel like the only reason someone wants to be around you or texts you is because they want money...that flattery and a good sob story will generate all the income they want. And that if you don't provide, you're just a selfish, rich white lady who buys expensive perfume and spends all day in a salon....or so it appears....it just so happens that my last haircut cost me $3. And it looks like it, too.

Unfortunately, these events have created a cynicism that has built a wall up in me so that I don't allow any Filipina too close...I hesitate to invite them to my house for fear they will see how God has blessed me and assume I have unlimited wealth (the truth is, all that we have has been given to us!).

Now I know there are Filipinos out there that are different... Just a few posts ago, we talked about our trustworthy companion, Toti....he's great! But unfortunately, people like him are hard to find. I feel like such a turd for having these feelings and needing to protect myself....thanks for reading my struggle and rant....I know this season will pass

"Oh, Lord, give me grace and forgive me....show me what You see...."

Be blessed.
PS. Here are the latest Lady Bird pics and me with my trusty sling...I never do anything without it! (Thanks Laura!)

9 comments:

Anonymous said...

Dear Bethany, I can't even begin to imagine what it must be like to be hounded for money like that! I suppose God is strengthening you and building such grace within you so you can continue to find a way to care for these ladies as I know you want to. No matter what craziness they hit you with! By the way, you look so beatiful, I love the sling, too. I still wear mine every day, enjoy it while Promise is still a light lump!
Love Nicole

Anonymous said...

One More thing! I will be praying for safety for you guys, that no break-ins will occur and that His angels will take charge over thee three!
Love Nicole

Emilie said...

Hi Bethany,

I found your blog several months ago while I was Googling your school - I'm hoping to be a student one of these days. I'm a faithful follower of your blog, and I wanted to thank you for being so open and honest about everything and anything concerning your ministry. You're both an inspiration to me!

Keep your chin up, I'm praying for you!

Emilie

heather said...

Oh dear friend, I love you. I'm sorry you're having such a frustrating time. Thanks for sharing - I will be praying for you.

I can't help but think that Satan is using these people who take advantage of you and steel from you to try and fight against the amazing fruit of generosity that comes out of your life as a result of your intimacy with Christ. I'll be praying for the cynacism in your heart and that as God continues to provide for you, he would also continue to show you how and where to use what you have.

I love you much!
Heather

Christina said...

Bethany thanks for being real. I feel your pain and at times certainly struggle with the same frustrations of working in the developing world. As we head off to Peru, yet another new country, I pray for grace and the love of God to flow through you both, as well as our team. I pray you will hear the Father's voice so that you know that everything you do is unto Him. His Holy Spirit will continue to give you wisdom. Blessings and love, Mum

emilie said...

Hi Bethany,

I didn't know where else to reply to the comment you left me, hope this is okay! We live in New Brunswick. Are we moving to Davao...hmmm...tough one! A year ago, I would have said yes. We got to a point where we needed to know for sure if we'd go or stay, so a missionary friend suggested we ask 10 people to pray for us to make a decision. We did, and the answer seems to be, "Wait. Get better prepared. Hang in there!!". I guess I was hoping for a different answer, I'll admit. I do think that it's in our future, but as for when, I'm not sure. Maybe in a year or two? I hope so! Keep in touch - er_patterson@yahoo.ca

Emilie

Anonymous said...

Bethany, your transparency is such a blessing, helping us recognize our own cynicism and issues with other cultures. Relative prosperity can be as much of a burden as poverty. Although, with provision, comes the God-given responsibility of using it well, the enemy lays on the weight of false guilt. I will pray for discernment when you are approached.

What I saw of you and Tim in Davao assures me that you are using what the Lord has entrusted to you well. You are indeed generous. I pray you won't let the fear of being taken advantage of change that God quality. Who knows when you might be ministering to the Lord?

Love you,
Sylvia

Rachel said...

Bethany,

Reading your post reminded me of a song that I really like right now. It is by Brandon Heath and it is called "Give Me Your Eyes". If you haven't heard it, you should google it and listen to it. I hope that it gives you some encouragement.

Bethany said...

Thank you guys for all the comments....they have really encouraged me. And on that note, Cherry DID get her urine analysis finally and she is healthy and strong! YEAH GOD! But she hasn't delivered, yet, and has until Sunday to do so before I have to transport her to the hospital for induction. Please pray! Many blessings to you guys and thanks again...really. It has been a blessing.