Thursday, January 29, 2009

Ups and Downs

Most of us are old enough that we are, for the most part, beyond the years of riding roller coasters. But think back, if you will, to the last time you were on such a ride. Do you remember that bizarre paradox of glee and nausea? As you stumbled from the car, head swimming, you wondered why a reasonable person would line up for an hour for the briefest of thrills. Last week was one big roller coaster ride.

Many of you are aware of Saturday's events, but you may not have heard about the days that preceded it. On Tuesday afternoon, I received a text message from Matt, the director of the midwifery school. He had been in a meeting with the board members of an American foundation that had expressed an interest in helping to fund Mercy Maternity Clinic. As Matt was telling them about the school community, he mentioned our clean water project. They told him they would like to know more about our project, so he gave them my phone number. Shortly after Matt told me of their interest, I received a message from the foundation, requesting a meeting.

Although the meeting was completely unexpected, Wednesday morning was not a great challenge to me, as I am accustomed to making presentations about our project on a weekly basis to various NGOs. Usually I am looking for a partnership to help us reach a new community, but the content of this presentation was generally the same. Long story short, the presentation went fine, but I suspected that my philosophy was a little too post-modern for them (we can talk about that another time). Regardless, I left my sustainability plan with them, in the off chance that I hadn't completely offended them with my straightforward, abrupt style.

Late Thursday afternoon, I was practicing with the worship team when I received a phone call, requesting my presence at the hotel to meet with the board members one last time. I met them shortly after eight and quickly learned that they had read my business proposal and wanted to provide me with the requested funds, including the cost of a large flatbed truck! Needless to say, I was very pleased.

But wait! There's more!

As our discussion progressed, they told me about another presentation they had heard earlier in the day. Another organization was requesting funds for a community wide water distribution system. The board had interrupted the presentation and informed the group that the bio-sand water filter would better fit the community's needs. Instead of building a water tower, the board has decided to purchase 260 filters from Impact Nations!

So that was my week...almost.

Remember the old wooden roller coasters? After the thrill of the big drop, there is the obligatory sharp turn, during which your seatmate slams against your hips and shoulders, forcing your ribcage into the side of the car. You barely had time to enjoy the reduced gravity of the decline before you were left to wonder if you had punctured a lung. That was my Saturday.

Our friend Lisa is visiting for a week from Vancouver. We had planned to take Lisa and a number of Bethany's classmates to Hagimit Falls on Samal Island. Despite questionable weather, we followed through with our plans and found ourselves swimming in the river by early afternoon. Shortly after our arrival, however, the weather took a turn, and we were soon scrambling to protect our belongings in the midst of a considerable rain storm. Thankfully, another family had strung up a tarp in the trees, and invited Bethany to seek shelter with Promise.

I stored my camera in the diaper bag under the tarp with Bethany, but our backpack was tucked beneath an embankment with the rest of the group's bags. Many of us then went for a hike in the rain to explore some waterfalls and a cave a few minutes down the river. As we departed, somebody wondered aloud if our bags would be safe in our absence. Some big Canadian dork replied, "I'm sure they'll be fine". Dork.

Of course, you know the rest of the story. We explored the river for over an hour, had a great time, and upon our return began to retrieve the bags from the hiding place. I waited for mine to appear, but to no avail. Only one bag was missing, and it belonged to Bethany and I. Someone had absconded with our wallets, our cell phones, Bethany's breast pump, and my keys. Super.

It was nearly dark when we finally drove away from the park. We had to send for a mechanic, who showed us how to start the car without any keys. The barangay captain had been notified of the theft, and the police came to file a report. I was feeling annoyed with the whole reporting process because I knew that it couldn't possibly lead to the retrieval of our belongings. Dork.

Saturday night was a difficult one. All I could think about was that my entire business was on my phone. All of my contacts; my entire network. Toti and I had a scheduled meeting for Sunday afternoon with one of our sales associates, and I had no way of contacting him to arrange a meeting place. I was feeling embarrassed and foolish.

But wait, there's more!

Joe spent a couple of hours with me Saturday evening, encouraging me and helping me change the lock on our front door—any thief with half a brain would recognize that white dude's house keys + white dude's wallet w/address = sweet opportunity to steal computers and cameras and stuff.

After my time with Joe, I went upstairs feeling a bit better. As I went to my computer to check my email one last time before bed, I was unknowingly approaching the tunnel on this ridiculous roller coaster. Unfortunately, I forgot to check the height restrictions for this stupid ride...Dork.

Have you guessed it? Yes! A complete and total collapse of my operating system! At first, my computer wouldn't stay running for more than a couple minutes at a time before crashing. But soon it wouldn't restart at all. I was suddenly in possession of a very expensive paper weight. I was already completely exhausted when this revolting development presented itself, and I did not have the mental or emotional capacity to deal with it.

There was no point in panicking, but crawling into bed without a scheduled return to civilization had a certain appeal. Now aware that calamity awaited me at each passing minute, I was quick to hit the sack. Indeed, I slept in my clothes that night, fearing the dire consequences of another waking moment.

Sunday morning passed without incident. I had to leave early because my friends from Impact Nations were due to arrive on the 11:55am flight. Except that the flight was actually scheduled to arrive at 12:55. Except that I had the date completely wrong, and Steve and Doug weren't coming to town until the following day. Awesome.

But wait, there's more!

While waiting at the airport with Toti, slowly succumbing to the fact that I am indeed a dork, I received a phone call from Bethany. Apparently the barangay captain from Hagimit Falls had called to say that our bag had been found. Toti and I—now certain that our friends were not going to emerge from the airport—hopped in the truck and headed for the ferry.

An hour and a half later, I sat outside the barangay captain's house and inspected our bag while at least 30 of the locals watched with intense interest. I was relieved to find that my keys, my wallet (minus the cash), and my phone were still inside. Bethany's wallet remained, though her phone seems to have departed for the great hereafter. We were told that a group of five boys had found our backpack discarded in a bush while playing near the river. Aware that they very well could have been the ones who stole it, I nevertheless presented each of them with a P100 reward.

That night I dealt with my computer, which, it may surprise you to know, did not involve a sledge hammer or a dropkick. (For those of you who are currently searching for the precise words you will use to craft a subtle, but sarcastic and mean-spirited dig at this Macintosh user, let me just say this: because of the geniuses at Apple who designed Time Machine, within a few short hours, and with only a few clicks of the mouse, I was able to completely restore my computer to the state it was in before it crashed.)

On Monday morning I wandered away from the roller coaster, checking to make sure my body was still in tact, with a vague sense of wooziness and wonderment. The Lord is good, all the time. But next time, I'm leaving my wallet at home.

Here are a few quick snapshots from Saturday. Not many pics that day because I was keeping my camera dry.
Promise happily waited for the ferry.

Bethany managed the hike to the falls with Promise in tow.

We all waited while the nice man got our car started without the key.

Monday, January 26, 2009

Can you say, "GOD IS WAAAY COOL!?"

Greetings! Sorry for the delay in postings....we have some crazy stories to share with you....about getting caught in a storm in the middle of nowhere, thievery, the ultimate and overwhelming power and grace of God....but I'll let Tim write about that in a bit....but first...

So my friend, Lisa came all the way from White Rock, BC to check out what Tim and I have been up to since last I saw her about 4 years ago! And this morning, she came with me to day shift.

Shift started out quiet...just cutting gauze and sterilizing. I was up to catch a baby first, so when Neneng came in, Lisa and I jumped up to serve.

Neneng was reluctant to go to the CR to pee and wash...she looked active....she wanted to get to the bed as fast as possible. So just like that, she was brought to a birth cubicle and 6 minutes later, Leah Mae was born weighing 6 pounds 8 ounces and sporting a sweet skin tag on her ear and several little Mongolian spots. A perfect, uncomplicated birth for Lisa to experience. Peaceful.

During Neneng's postpartum period, Jenn, Jordan and I were faced with countless baby checks, newborn screening exams, and the like. Ate Susan, our supervisor was filling in upstairs in prenatals. In and out patients came and Lisa got to observe a bit of the chaos of the birthroom.

But it gets even cooler! Do you remember Bel? See the pics above? It's from October of 2007! She was my very first patient...her baby girl was the first baby I ever caught! And do you remember? I got to name her! I had the privilege of naming Bel's 4th baby girl, Precious Grace. :) Sound kinda similar to a certain baby I know!?

Well, Bel came in 7 months pregnant with baby number 5 this morning and I got to do her prenatal and be her midwife! I was almost in tears when Ate An-An shared with me that Bel was here and was looking for me! What an incredible joy to be able and chosen to deliver another baby for her! She is due March 25.

In other patient news, Cherry Mei's baby is doing well. Anna is due right now :) and my other continuity, Ruby, is due just after her in February. Please pray for Ruby, as her baby has been consistently breech. She's almost 36 weeks, so the baby must turn very soon in order for her to deliver at MMC. 

Meanwhile, Promise is accompanying me to microbiology class today, as Tim, our new visitors Doug and Steve, and Lisa are at the water project site. Busy...crazy...learning how to juggle. Stay tuned for the long insane story from our nutso weekend!

Be blessed! And keep those comments coming....we're sorry we've been too busy to write consistently! We'll try and pick things up again!

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Good News

Hey all. I've been super busy this week, so I've neglected the blog. I'm actually on my way out the door to work right now, but I wanted to quick share something with you. Between meetings yesterday I quickly wrote a report for the Impact Nations site and I thought you might like to read it too. I had a great day yesterday, and I hope to find time to tell you about it this weekend. Here's yesterday's report:

I just got back from the shop and I'm feeling very excited. I watched as the men loaded 50 filters onto a borrowed truck that will travel five hours to the province of Maguindanao. In the coming days, these filters will make their way to 5 different villages, occupied by the families of MILF fighters. The MILF (Moro Islamic Liberation Front) is the militant Muslim group that is currently in a violent conflict with the federal government. 50 of their families will be receiving a free bio-sand water filter that will provide them with a lifetime of safe drinking water.

As our Filipino team delivers the filter to them, they will tell each family about how much God loves them and desires for them to be healthy. These impoverished people will begin to realize that the God of the universe knows all about them and cares so much about them that he sent a water filter. Our team will do several follow up visits over the next few months, during which they will slowly reveal the gospel of Jesus Christ. Soon these precious people will come to know that safe water is just the beginning, and God has an even bigger gift for them!

Please pray for our team's safety, as they are working in the conflict zone. Pray that there is a supernatural outpouring of the Father's love as they install the filters in each home.

If you would like to buy a family a lifetime supply of clean water, click here.

In His Service,

Tim Stewart
Impact Nations - Philippines

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Weeeeeeeeeee! (an exuberant cry with slight sarcasm)

Greetings! Sorry for the long delay in posting....after reading Papa Mc's comment on the last post, I decided a new post with new Lady Bird pictures was long overdue!

We've had Tim's parents here for the last week and it's been sooo wonderful to spend time with them. They came bearing gifts from home such as chocolate, Starbucks, and more baby things from family members, friends and the like. We were soooo blessed. Christina has been watching Promise as I head to work and has been significantly lightening my load! What a blessing! Once again, God has provided for us beyond our wildest imaginations and we are so grateful! Promise is a blessed and well-loved baby. I am humbled by His gracious mercy over us.

With Tim's brother, Jeff, here, as well, the house is full and always buzzing with water talk, giggles, hearty laughter, laundry, dishes, and the ever-present cooing and gurgling of the Lady Bird. Although she's been sick with a mucousy cough these last two weeks, she is almost always smiling and is now talking non-stop.....not sure what language she has adopted yet. :)

In addition to the busyness of visitors and mommy time, I've delivered two new babies into the world since we last talked. Remember my continuity, Cherry Mei? She went into labor late Friday night. We texted from 2 am to 4 am and at 4:45 am I received a phone call from the clinic, "Uhh, your continuity is here with head visible, come right away!"....I think I might've sworn and jumped outta bed....I was gonna miss her birth! She hadn't text me to say she was coming to Mercy and I had advised her to rest for awhile as her labor was just beginning, but apparently, her labor was speedy and only lasted 5 hours total! Insane for a first baby! So Tim drove me as fast as he could to the clinic while the Lady Bird slept...I got there with no shoes on, my scrub top backwards and without gloves....slipped on some gloves and as soon as she saw me, she pushed her baby out so fast I thought her new baby boy was going to take flight....alas, I caught him. She didn't even tear! And baby Charles entered into a new world. Cherry did great and there were no complications, Praise God!

However, upon the latest baby checks, Charles has developed a rash around his eyes...we're not sure what it is and it has caused a fever, so please be praying for complete recovery for Charles. Thanks!

My other delivery was a fun one, too! Reginnlie came in complaining of just a little blood showing up in her undies. She told me that her labor started at 5 am (it was now 7 am) just after she had rubbed an oil on her tummy. Now, normally these oils are pretty harmful and induce contractions so we always advise patients not to use them. They are not regulated well here and they can cause a significantly difficult labor and delivery if the mother's body is not naturally ready to deliver. So I asked her to wash off the lotion from her belly and then I would do an internal exam to find out her dilation and how her baby was doing. She was in very little pain and I thought that because this was her third baby, she would communicate to me any abnormalities as she progressed.

Just five minutes later, Reginnlie came running out of the bathroom with her bag of waters leaking and her saying in Visayan..."I think the baby's head is here!". Without panicking, we got her situated into a bed and sure enough, her baby's head was slightly visible! Time to be born! That was the fastest labor and delivery ever! Well, besides my continuity above! ha ha. BUT, baby and mother did great, are healthy and everything seems to be normal with them. I would post pictures of the happy couples, but alas, my camera is broken so I have been using a disposable camera....maybe in a month I will get it developed!

In other patient news, I have 5 other continuities due over the next few months with Ana due first on January 28th. She is an amazing woman with an overwhelming sense of joy...we tend to excite each other until we're both speaking animatedly with arms flailing and little giggles. She is 35 and having her third baby. She really wants a girl, but according to the ultrasound, it will be another boy. But she is gracious and happy nonetheless. I was so blessed by her this week....I did her prenatal last Friday and she brought me a very precious gift. She had made a coffee mug with our picture on it! She told me that whenever I have my morning coffee, I can think of her and pray for her baby....what a precious gift! I was soooo blessed. I am currently having my morning instant coffee in it. :)

So in addition to the births, visitors and baby-craze, I have been having class 5 days a week, as well! This month, Monday, Wednesday and Friday is college algebra (IT'S HARD!!) and Tuesday and Thursday are Herb days. I thought I was done with Math and thinking that because I have a BA in education, I could just scoot by that class without having to take it, but my D+ in my university math class did not persuade the National College of Midwifery that I was well-versed in math. Ouch. Therefore, I am frantically trying to make up for all the concepts I didn't understand over 6 years ago. BAH! But my teacher is fantastic and very patient with us non-math-doing girls.

Herb class is awesome and our teacher is so knowledgeable on what herbs can be used to promote health and healing to the expecting mother. This is an extremely important class as many of the countries we will be serving do not have access to pharmaceutical drugs, but they may have local herbs that can save a woman's life! I am loving this class! I just wish I was a better gardener so that I could have a traveling garden of herbs! Herbs from Peppermint to Cohosh to Black Haw can make an expecting woman have more peace, have a shorter labor, have more energy or even stop her from hemorrhaging! God really did think of everything when He created the earth! I am even learning how to make tinctures, oils, liniments, and capsules of the essentials. Despite the crazy schedule, I am thoroughly enjoying what I am learning.

Meanwhile, Tim is hanging out with his fam, working with his dad on the water project and fighting off the cold he got from his Lady Bird. He definitely has a lot of work on his plate, but things are going smoothly and I will have him share more next post.

The fam is scheduled to head out on Sunday, Steve and Christina off to India and Jeff to Manila. We then get a few more visitors. Lisa, a friend from White Rock, will be joining us for a bit to learn more about the water project and volunteer in the clinic. She is arriving on the 22nd.

Please continue to keep us in your prayers as this has been a difficult season and time commitments are intense. Please pray for protection over our health and our minds as they are being stretched and please pray for our finances as we need to pay for our last semester tuition in a month and we are trying to raise enough to go home for furlough in June. God has been so faithful to us and has continued to sustain us even when we feel as though we're sinking. He has been so gracious to provide a life-boat or raft in the midst of the open sea.

Be blessed.

Sunday, January 4, 2009


Sorry we haven't blogged in a while. I suppose it's always a little harder to find time for it when we are entertaining a guest. Our visit with Jeff has been great, and soon my parents arrive! We're picking them up on Wednesday afternoon.

I don't really have much to tell you. Things continue to role along here (that was for you, Paso). I'm doing my best to keep my work load to a minimum for while Mum and Dad are here, but there is just so much to do. I'm hoping that some of the work that Toti and I did in December will bear fruit in January. Specifically, we're hoping to sell lots of filters.

Throughout 2008, there were events and happenings that I never got around to blogging about. There were photographs that I wanted to share with you that somehow never reached these pages. I've put together a collection of 50 of these photos for your viewing. Some of them are simply documenting some of my adventures that I never told you about or showed you. Others are photos that I'm proud of and wanted to share with you. Some are simply there to give you a better idea of what this country looks like.

Once you click the link below, you will be brought to a web gallery of these photos. I recommend you view them as a slideshow, but be sure to pause the show and manually advance the photos at your own pace. There is a caption that goes with each photo that will help you to understand what you're looking at.

Each photo is presented in chronological order, representing each month of 2008. Feel free to comment on the individual photos, or come back here and give me your thoughts. Putting together this collection was a fun activity, as I was able to sit back and remember 2008 as a busy year of adventure. I hope you enjoy viewing it as much as I enjoyed putting it together...

Click here.