Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Clinging to the cross....

Greetings. Sorry for the long delay in posts. Our family has hit a very rough spot and we are currently unable to blog. Unfortunately, it will be a very long time until our next blog, so I will try to sum up the next couple of months for us.

We leave the Philippines November 11th and head back to Vancouver. We will be staying with family until either Tim's parents' house sells and we can move into a larger home with them, or God provides us with a place of our own. The last 3 years have proved to be the hardest in our lives, but they have also been the greatest testimony of God's mercy over us.

We are currently trying to put our Filipino lives together to immerse ourselves into being Canadians again. We could really use your prayers right now.

Among the stressors are just the sheer thought of moving across an ocean, living with family in a small space until we find a place to live, having to ship our belongings home, culture shock for the kids, buying winter clothes and other necessities on a Filipino budget, and some other very difficult circumstances. Please pray for our protection as a family, as we have been hit with some serious spiritual attack. Please pray for God's gracious provision and for peace.

Thank you all for reading these last 3 years and for your prayers, financial support, and encouragement. We are so very grateful and look forward to connecting with many of you in the near future.

Be blessed.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Teething, Tantrums, and Two

Greetings! Bethany here. I have been incredibly thankful for Tim's postings. I miss reading his updates even though I share a room with him and get updated quite frequently. :)

I am currently sitting on the bed next to Toby who has just graced me with a giant snot bubble and a mound of fresh spit up while listening to Promise cry on the baby monitor because she has just woken up from her nap.... *sigh*.

Toby is now two months old and what a handsome little man he is! Though fighting a bit of a sinus infection (I have to give him saline drops twice daily and then suction all that green mucous out...eww), he smiles every time I enter the room and looks expectantly for his loud and silly older sister. He is so precious. His personality is starting to show, too. He hates being alone....even when asleep! He knows when I leave the room and will immediately show his displeasure by letting out a quick shrill cry. Thinking he has hurt himself, I race in there only to see him smiling because he got my attention. As long as I am holding him, he is content....however, with him growing well passed 14 pounds now, my hips are crying out to put him down! He is already out of his 3 month clothing and we have had to change to medium size diapers because the amount of excretion surpasses that of most grown adults. We are blessed....hourly. I love having a boy!!

Promise is growing just as fast sporting new words and sentences daily. She is a hoot and I am ever surprised at what she picks up. She discovered her daddy's real name a bit ago and has tried, "Hey, Tim!" and "Where'd Tim go, mommy?" We have to keep reminding her that his name is "daddy". :)

She is super independent and yet, has entered a "hold you" stage...that is, every couple of minutes she asks, "I hold you? I hold you?" meaning, "Will you hold me?" Usually it is in response to teething pain or anxiety, of which there has been a bit these days. Our current living situation has not been conducive to a transitioning 2 year-old. Between the dogs and constant change over of visitors and strangers in the house, Promise prefers to play in our bedroom. Living in community has been tough on her, though Tim and I have enjoyed meeting and getting to know so many new people. When we return to Canada, our home will certainly be less full.

Speaking of which, we are planning to head home November 15 and will be living in Abbotsford, BC. The Lord has gone before us and we have the privilege of living in a basement suite below Tim's parents. The set-up will be a huge blessing for us! A place of sanctuary and rest, home base for the kids and close to family....all the reasons we desire to head home. We look forward to our first Thanksgiving and Christmas at home with our families. God is faithful. We have even had friends and family collecting furniture, winter clothes, and the like for us so we can set up house! We are still in need of a car, as Tim will have a bit of a commute to work (more on that later).

We plan to be there for at least 6 months, but are certain we will head out overseas once again to develop more water projects and serve in midwifery. I will let Tim share with you what his work plans are when we return to Canada. They are pretty cool. I, too, may need to work a bit, perhaps teaching prenatal courses. We are not sure what I will have time to do other than hang with my precious ones...which I must say, is a full time job!

I have been spending most days trying to prepare for heading back to Canada...it's amazing how much paperwork and "stuff" gets picked up after 3 years overseas! I have also been trying to secure Promise in her surroundings.....we threw her a Birthday party the end of August with as many familiar faces as possible including her favorite babysitters and playmates. She LOVED having friends over and since then, every time the gate squeaks, she announces, "Friends are here!" even when they are not visitors for us, but for the other tenants in the house. ;) I am also trying to set up a daily routine with the two kids that will easily be transplanted back to Canada....I must say, having TWO small children is quite the challenge. I knew it would be tough and I am amazed at how resilient my aching, overtired body is! Our routine for both kiddos seems to be feed, bathe, change, feed, rock, change, feed, etc. until bathe, put down to sleep and try to sleep. Pretty normal, eh? :)

Tim has been an incredible support, too....we are both in love with our kiddos, but gosh, two screaming children with incessant barking dogs, yapping puppies, and a busy household can really wear on us. This too, shall pass.

In all honesty, I am still struggling to find my "place" in 'our' calling....The Lord sent me to university to get a teaching degree -- check! Then He sent me to the Philippines for a midwifery degree -- check! He has us wait 6+ years before having kids and then SURPRISE right in the middle of what we thought was the "start" of our overseas ministry....now what? Tim is sure of his calling and passion....and mine seems to change yearly. :) While I am not bitter or at all disappointed in this, I am confused as to when these degrees will be used. Guess that's something for the Lord to figure out and let me know later. I love being a mom, but I still feel that PULL to do what I have spent countless hours, tons of money, and moved halfway across the world to do....if my calling is to stay at home with my kids full time, then I really want to do it with my family nearby....if the Lord wants me to both raise a family and divide my time with midwifery or teaching, then I want to be overseas serving. I dunno...I miss working at the clinic here and I miss seeing my peers minister there, too. God gives me situations here and there to help out and advise patients and peers here in midwifery, but it is not quite the same as working along side them.

I think Tim and I are in a funny stage of life.

Please keep us in your prayers as we continue to prepare for moving...again. :) Please pray that the Lord will protect our health, too, as both Toby and Tim have been fighting colds on and off. Please pray that the Lord will go before us and prepare a home for us that will bring Him glory and us joy. :) Please pray for our finances, as it will be a very difficult adjustment living in the West. Thank you for all of your support, encouragement and prayers. We are so blessed to be partnering with so many of you.....so glad to have family reading.

We will try to update the blog more frequently now that some of the dust is settling. :)
Be blessed.

Friday, September 10, 2010

In The News

Did you know that we have produced over 4000 BioSand Water Filters since we began in February 2008? That's a lot of clean water! We couldn't have done it on our own. The Lord has provided us with some great partners who have helped us distribute these filters in over 20 provinces.

These days, I am working very hard at looking to the future, setting a course for 2011. This week, however, I had occasion to look back into our past and gain some perspective.

I mentioned that Toti and I began working together in February of 2008. While he was busy building some of his first filters, I was out on a crazy adventure with some friends. We were part of a team performing a small medical clinic in a very remote village called Newtawas, located on the Davao river, on the wrong side of a distant mountain range. The hike nearly killed me.

When we arrived in Newtawas, we learned that they had just buried two people in their village who had died from water-related diseases. In fact, they reported that several people died each year due to the unsafe water. They had no choice but to drink from the very contaminated river, the effects of which were obvious. I returned to Davao and Toti and I immediately began plans to provide them with some water filters.

Did I mention that the village was on the wrong side of a distant mountain? Have I mentioned
that our filters weigh roughly 150lbs? These desperate people found a way to bring two filters over two mountains in two days. They first strapped them to a horse (oh, how I interceded for that animal!) and when the path became narrow and steep they carried the filter by hand. These people clearly understood their need.

We were glad to get the news a few days later that the filters made it to Newtawas in one piece. Our very first partners arrived in the village a few days later to install them. We distributed a few more filters in the area that month and then our attention shifted to other provinces.

Why am I telling you this outdated story? Well, last week we were reminded of our first great adventure. One of the national television networks, GMA, did a story on the evening news about these crazy BioSand Water Filters in this little place called Newtawas. GMA has a foundation that does community service projects, and they happened to be doing a medical clinic in Newtawas when they saw the filter in use.

A reporter decided to learn more about the filter and did a story on the evening news. The villagers reported that their health had improved immediately after the filter's arrival and they hadn't had any problems since! They marveled at its ability to proved safe drinking water day after day, year after year. They called on local politicians to bring in more of the filters for the entire region so that everyone could benefit from this powerful technology.

GMA's foundation has inquired about partnering with Impact Nations to help bring more filters to Newtawas and the surrounding area. We'll let you know as that develops in the coming months. We are also trying to track down a copy of the news story and will post the video here if we can find it.

I am left to reflect on the grace of God and the power of partnership. Together with a number of participants, we rescued lives. We partnered with donors in North America who provided the funds to build the filters. We partnered with another local missionary couple who provided the land on which to build the filters. We delivered the filters to the drop point using a truck that was donated by a church in Connecticut. The filters were carried over two mountains by people who were determined to be a part of the solution, and installed by compassionate people who saw the need and purposed in their heart to meet it.

The really cool thing is that these sort of stories are happening all the time, and we won't even hear about most of them. As I said, we now have over 4000 filters spread throughout more than 20 provinces. We can't keep track of each circumstance, and sometimes we get so caught up in the big picture that we forget what it is all about. We are rescuing lives. And when you stop to think about it, we have been blessed with an incredible privilege and an awesome responsibility.


Tuesday, August 17, 2010

90 Days To Go

Hi, my name is Tim. You may remember me. I'm the dude with the red beard who used to hang around these parts. I'm related by marriage to the lovely lady that you are accustomed to hearing from. I have cute kids. I'm sorry I've not written on the blog much in the last few months. I could give you excuses, but I haven't got the time (you see what I did there?).

I realized today that we have exactly 90 days left in this country. We are scheduled to leave the Philippines on November 15th. It got me thinking a little bit about all that we have experienced since we arrived in Davao City more than three years ago, but mostly I was left fretting about all that needs to be done before we leave. With your permission, I'd like to get you caught up on what I've been up to and how I plan to spend my last 90 days.

We had dinner with some old friends tonight, and I was asked how often I get to go to the mountains to distribute the BioSand Water Filter. I explained the gradual shift from being the wild guy with the Grizzly Adams beard (don't click this link) who would wander around the countryside looking for dirty water, to the super focused business/sales guy that I am today. That's a pretty big shift in two and a half years, especially when you consider the fact that I still have essentially the same goals, with the exact same product.

My feelings about the BioSand Water Filter haven't changed. I still believe it to be an incredibly powerful tool for bringing safe drinking water to families in need. It also opens all sorts of doors for sharing the gospel, not to mention that fact that it can serve as a powerful demonstration of the gospel all by itself (Matt 25:35).

My approach to the BioSand Water Filter, however, has changed dramatically over the years. I have learned the hard way, time after time, how not to distribute the filter. I have felt pride at my accomplishments one day, only to come crashing down to earth the next as I learned of colossal failure. Without boring you with specifics, I will tell you that our greatest mistake was failing to maintain control over our distribution system. We had some great organizations and individuals who were helping us to install filters all over Mindanao. We became so focused on manufacturing quality filters and getting people excited about them, but I wasn't following up with our partners to be sure that we had a sustainable plan in place. We were all having fun blessing people with safe water, but it was total chaos.

It's funny how a deadline will sharpen your mind. As a student I used to leave my large assignments until the last minute. When the night before the due date arrived, I suddenly found myself able to focus. I have since matured and the Lord has helped me in my battle against procrastination, but the principle still applies. When it became clear that Bethany and I would be leaving the Philippines at the end of this year, I had the deadline I needed. In the time since that decision was made, Toti and I have been working like crazy to put systems in place to bring order to the chaos that I had created.

In recent weeks I have been working with Grayson Bain, the chairman of the Impact Nations International Ministries' board, and his right-hand man, Daniel Anggara, to put together a short-term and long-term plan for Impact Nations Philippines. The two of them have done a masterful job of helping me get our books in order so that we can better plan on where to go next. Now that we have a pretty good grasp of our financial situation, we can focus on the other factors. I have my regular weekly meeting with them in a few hours, so I'll need to get to bed soon.

I should mention that Impact Nations Philippines, Inc. has been financially self-sustained for some time now. We sell filters to government agencies and NGOs, and then reinvest our profits in order to increase our infrastructure and influence. We now have two manufacturing facilities on opposite sides of the country and two large flatbed trucks delivering as many as 70 filters at a time.

In addition to my work with Grayson and Daniel, I have been working hard on creating a consistent marketing message and strategy that can be employed by our team of distributors. We have individuals and organizations serving as authorized distributors of the BioSand Water Filter. They now have the marketing tools and the training needed to go out into their communities and promote this technology. Creating these tools was a great deal of hard work, but I believe it will lead to considerable success. We hope to create employment (distributors can earn a handsome wage and hire an installation team) and increase our market while maintaining quality control throughout each step in the distribution process. We will also have a much better ability to assess which strategies are working and which ones are in need of alteration.

If you would like to get a feel for what all this looks like, I encourage you to check out our new website. It should give you a bit of an understanding of our approach and our commitment to quality control, ensuring that each recipient of the BioSand Water Filter understands its import, use, and maintenance.

So, those are some of the things that I've been working on lately. My hours have been long and I don't get to the mountains anymore, but I am chasing a dream. I want so badly to see a network of distributors bringing a lifetime supply of safe drinking water to families all over this country. I so desperately desire to see my dear friend Toti take up the torch and carry this organization to bigger and better things. The Lord has been so gracious with us as we have stumbled in the dark. Toti and I believe that He has great things in store for us in the coming years.


Saturday, July 24, 2010

Update and Birth story....

Greetings! Sorry for the delay in posting...we have been spending the last few days catching our breaths. :) What a whirlwind it has been! However, things are going very well and God has shown Himself to be merciful, faithful and good.
Just a quick update before telling the "birth story" (midwives love that stuff)....
Toby had 7 days of antibiotics - 3 days intravenously and 4 days intramuscularly receiving 3 injections in his thigh per day (not an adventure I want to ever repeat).

By day 5 of the antibiotics, Toby's jaundice was beginning to subside with morning sunlight treatment and his activity level and awake, alert times were increasing. :) He gained a bit of weight taking him back up to his birth weight and managed to breastfeed 2 times per day without trouble (I had to pump the rest of the day and feed him by bottle).

Today, now two weeks old, Toby has passed his birth weight (PRAISE THE LORD!), is looking more and more like a little man, is having normal bowel movements (AND FREQUENT, TOO! No "fairy farts" and "angel burps" for THIS kid! He is ALL BOY!), is becoming a bit playful, smiling, cooing and seems like a completely different baby! The doc said that he believes Toby is out of the danger zone, though we were advised to be monitor him carefully over the next few months to make sure there are no side effects to his infection.

He sleeps well and only cries when he is overtired, falling quickly asleep at the breast....and not necessarily eating. Grr. He quietly wakes every 3 hours to feed...but doesn't cry...just grunts and squeaks....how nice of him.

Promise is still adjusting, but has stopped trying to steal his clothing and toys. She is still very clingy and high maintenance, fearing Toby has taken our affection, but she now pokes him and will kiss him on the cheek when prompted. She even pokes his nose saying, "Cute Baby Tobes".

Gramma Con (my mom) is coming to Davao this Tuesday (!!!) and Promise and I are sooo very thankful for the company, Tim is thankful for the help (he needs to work!) and Toby is thankful that his mommy will enjoy peaceful conversation over coffee with her mom. :)

Sooo...now for the "birth story" for those of you who like that kind of stuff. For those of you who can't handle reading about blood and private parts, stop reading now. :)

So...as many of you knew, we had tried to naturally induce labor as a result of my excruciating hip pain. After trying evening primrose oil, stripping the membranes, exercise, "contact" (sex), blue and black cohosh, and red raspberry, my midwife and friend, Bea and I decided that enough was enough....nothing was working and we were both very tired. At 39 weeks, I was exhausted, Tim was fried, and Promise was getting more and more annoyed with my decreasing ability to play with her. Then we got the flu.

The flu sent all three of us into a tailspin, giving me very painful contractions and hip pain without any cervical dilation...I THOUGHT I was in labor, but then the contractions just stopped. Grr.

A few days passed and my other midwife, Erin, came over to take me on a fast walk....I had mentioned to her that when I was active, the contractions would come every 2 minutes, but as soon as I would enter air con or sit, they would just stop. Erin and I walked briskly with Promise, Tim, and Erin's sister, Colleen, in tow with my contractions coming every 2 minutes...strong...when we got back to the house..yeah, you guessed it...they stopped. Erin and I discussed my need to just get this little man out or get a good night sleep. After talking to Bea, we decided that I needed to drink a beer and get some sleep. We would try inducing with stripping the membranes and walking again tomorrow.

Beer was had and I fell right to sleep....until 2 am when I woke up with strong contractions every 4 minutes putting intense pressure on my hips and cervix. YEAH!!! I definitely felt like I had reached true, early labor. Thankfully, I was able to stay lying down and rest through the contractions. Upon waking and showering, the contractions slowed a bit, but I felt as though perhaps they had done some good. Bea came over at 10 am to check things out while Tim took Promise to church...I had told her about my night, but I that I didn't think anything had progressed....she did an internal exam....4 cm dilated!!! WAHOO! We both cried....we had started labor.

She stripped the membranes for a long time and when I got up, my contractions nearly knocked me over! YEAH!!! We were both excited....we knew today was the day...Toby was coming and we were ready. We decided to make pancakes with chocolate chips and walnuts and visit....except my water broke as soon as I sat down to eat...it was a high break causing just a little fluid to come out....Bea and I prayed, checked Toby's heart tones and the color of the fluid and headed to the air con bed room to eat, labor and wait for Tim to come home. We also texted Erin and An-An so that they would be ready when Bea and I decided baby was coming. Erin was to assist Bea while An-An was to assist Promise. :)

Labor pains increased significantly after my water broke, which is totally normal, except my hips started to seize making the pain very different than the labor pain I remembered with Promise. The pain was so intense that I thought I was dilating much faster than I truly was. Bea was busy squeezing my hips together and reminding me to eat my pancakes here and there between contractions. We totally enjoyed our time together....we talked with our dear friend Sherry Gregory (remember her from previous posts?), Heidi and Kate, and my parents breathing through contractions and trying to shoot the breeze in between. Fluid came out periodically, but no bloody show or anything else. Early labor.

Then things got more intense....Tim came home and Erin came shortly thereafter to find me not coping as well as I once was. Tim put Promise down for a much-needed nap and Erin and Bea began checking heart tones again. An-An came just in case Promise woke up from her nap wondering what all the grunting and heavy breathing was coming from. :)

Promise slept from 1 pm to 4 pm (a record for her for sure!) and during her sleeping hours, I progressed from 4 cm to 6 cm...we knew this because I was in excruciating pain desperately desiring to push or bear down....Bea did an internal exam and broke the bad news, "Bethany, you can't push, you need to only breathe." I think at this point, I said a naughty word and eagerly rose to my feet to try and cope with the next contraction...this was where Tim, Erin and Bea were needed to help me cope. The pain came like a HUGE, angry 10-wheeler barreling down on my hips....I screamed bearing down a bit and needing to bite something. Yup, it's true. I wanted to displace the pain, so I bit myself in the arm! Ha ha ha...Erin, Tim and Bea bursted into laughter....

Then there were the contractions that made me cry out "TCHOO-TCHOO!" and "I REALLY can't do this anymore!" and "BEA, JUST GET THE BABY OUT!" and "TOBY! COME OUT IN JESUS' NAME!!!" Followed by a series of giggles. I nearly bit Tim twice, nearly broke Bea's hand off and chewed out Erin for telling me to breathe one million much-needed times. Contractions came faster leaving no time for adequate breathing and Tim's strength became the only thing I could physically feel holding me up. It was at this point that I literally felt abandoned by God.

Now, I know He was there the entire time, but I distinctly recall Him being tangibly, emotionally and graciously present when I labored with Promise. So much so, that I sang hymns and thanked God for the contractions....this labor was totally different. I felt no peace, no grace, no mercy, and though I know in my heart He was there, I honestly felt abandoned....on my own...though we prayed, I felt no emotional relief, no spiritual encouragement, no strength or power outside of myself to continue. It was the most difficult place I have ever been in...I felt so strange ....I felt like Tim was it...His strength was all I felt.

An-An hung out with Promise outside the bedroom and managed to keep her totally content. :) I love An-An.

Around 4 ish, after copious position changes and coping attempts, Erin suggested I head into the bathroom for a warm shower. Erin, Bea and Tim followed me in the tub, an enclosed space about 4 feet by 6 feet...and me thrashing about in the hot shower spray. I was still wearing my "duster" (dress) squatting with each contraction held up by Tim and Erin on the edge of the tub while Bea coached me to breathe.....

Then it came...the BURN....then, the BLOOD...then I said, "TOBY IS COMING!!!!!" Bea maneuvered the tight space to get a good look at my pwerta..."HEAD VISIBLE!"
We managed to turn me around so that I was in supported squat held by Tim, Bea was at Toby's head, and Erin donned gloves checking heart tones and getting towels prepared. We laughed and cried as we knew this labor nightmare was almost over.

I pushed through only 2 or 3 contractions moving Toby to 4-5 cm head visible...more BURN! I could feel my body gently pushing without me...stretching further and further...

Bea coached me to breathe Toby out little by little....we met eyes and I touched Toby's head...Erin was encouraging me that it was almost there while Tim leaned over my shoulder to see Toby's squished skull between my legs. Poor kid!

Erin was unable to find heart tones during the 20 minutes it took to get Toby's head out....he was just so deep in my pelvis. As his head came out, I felt some relief, but another contractions barreled down on my lower abdomen making pushing so hard seizing my hips, too. I could hear Bea call out, "Body wrap"...the umbilical cord was around Toby's body, though not around is neck...his purple body came out with a gush of fluid and blood....he was purple. No cry. Limp. Instinctively, Bea and Erin placed him on my naked abdomen and chest stimulating him to breathe....nothing. He had passed terminal meconium, so we were covered in the thick, sticky, black goo. Good thing we were in the tub!

It was then that Erin jumped out of the tub grabbing the stethoscope and locking eyes with Bea and myself. We all knew the severity of the situation. Toby was in trouble. His first Apgar score was 2 and his second, at 5 minutes after birth was 3. I started to call out to Toby - "Toby...it's your momma...you gotta breathe, love....open your eyes and breathe, Toby!!...Jesus, make Him breathe, please!" I heard Tim begin to pray in tongues...

Bea grabbed the Ambu-bag to start PPV (resuscitation) while Erin checked Toby's heartbeat (it was steady at 130 bpm). His heart was strong, but he just could not take a breath. His eyes closed, I yelled for An-An and Promise to come in...An-An began to pray aloud and I heard Promise say, "Toby came out!" :) It was then that above Bea's "Breathe, two, three, Breathe, two, three" I heard Tim, Erin, An-An and myself storm the gates of Heaven for mercy. Praying in whatever language we could speak under the circumstances, we claimed life for our precious boy. Erin and Bea cut his umbilical cord and moved him to a flat surface to continue resuscitating. We continued to storm Heaven claiming Toby's name..."God is ALWAYS good...Tobias Robert James Stewart....GOD is ALWAYS GOOD! You are a TESTIMONY of God's goodness so you cannot die....you will LIVE in Jesus' Name to PROCLAIM the GOODNESS OF GOD! You are POWERFUL in the KINGDOM and the breath of LIFE and the HOLY SPIRIT are on you!"
The peace in the bathroom as we prayed and prayed was thick...the Presence of God had returned. We all knew it, too. Though Toby was still not breathing, we were feeling God's grace in the room.

An-An called 911 for an ambulance to be transported to the hospital and while we waited, Erin had the idea to literally turn Toby upside down, hanging him by his feet to get blood to his head...his eyes flew open and he grimaced! The first sign of improvement. Bea brought him to my chest again and gave him oxygen...he was a bit more pink, but still could not breathe...his chest was pink, but his hands, feet, and head were purple like death....we continued to pray...LOUDLY. Erin and Bea scurried around the bathroom preparing a transport bag and wrapping Toby up tight.
The ambulance came and the EMTs came in looking like deer in headlights as they saw a half-naked white lady in an empty tub with three large white people running around, a new baby purple and not breathing and An-An and Promise directing them. It was quite the sight for them...I am sure it was their first homebirth experience!

Toby, Tim and Erin raced to Brokenshire hospital while An-An stayed with Promise here at the house and Bea assisted in delivering my placenta, checking for tears, and stabilizing me. She was amazing. I immediately showered off with Bea's help and went pee. She checked me for a tear...a slight 1st degree that, though she suggested we suture, I argued that I would try the natural healing way if it closed straight...Bea looked a little skeptical, but she knew I was just wanting to get to the hospital ASAP. She relented and helped me dress, got me food, checked me for excessive bleeding (total estimated blood loss was 200 ccs), assisted me with the horrible afterpains, and helped pack an overnight bag for the hospital. Meanwhile, Promise and I skyped my parents, my brother, called Tim and sent out a facebook plea for prayer.

We were getting periodical updates from Tim and Erin...the last one just before leaving for the hospital was a noise I will never forget...Toby's cry...a shrill, but strong cry. Made me cry.

An-An offered to stay at the house while Bea, Promise and I raced to the hospital by taxi to meet up with Toby. Tim would then take Promise back home, tuck her into bed, An-An would be relieved by one of the girls from Mercy (thank you to Beth and Sarah for that!) and Tim would head back to the hospital overnight with me and Toby. Bea would be back in the morning to assess the situation and stay with me at the hospital while Tim headed home to check on Promise. It was quite the scheduling party!

At the hospital, Erin and Tim shared how the emergency room nurses and docs seemed so taken by the "white, peaceful baby" that they really stunk at helping him to breathe. Tim and Erin had to fight to get care for Toby and argue for his needs to be met as the nurses were thinking the baby was just quiet. Erin and Tim both shared how they emphatically, nearly yelled, "HE CAN'T BREATHE!!!"to the nurses. However, the pediatrician was being reached by phone and was ordering a bunch of tests. When I arrived, he was already hooked up to a oxygen-checking machine checking his O2 saturation and had been poked several times. I tried breastfeeding and he immediately latched on though he was still struggling to breathe and came off often in order to catch his breath.

Nurses came and went...we were all quite shaken up. And then Toby developed jaundice....the bad kind that develops within the first 24 hours of life. He rapidly turned from yellow to orange, making him irritable and difficult to feed. The next 24 hours were extremely difficult, though we were happy Toby was crying, he did not stop. He cried for 36 hours straight, arching his back and flexing all his muscles as if he was in great pain. He could not relax. His breathing was rough and his grunts sore. His voice was so hoarse. Tim and I were fried. Bea and Erin stayed super late to make sure we were okay for the evening. We were brought food and supplies while waiting for the next nurse to check Toby's vitals. None of them would give him anything for his distress. In the morning, after a sleepless night, Bea came and pleaded with the nurses to help Toby with his discomfort. We waited for the doctor to come while feeding Toby breastmilk by syringe.

The doctor, Dr. Estuart (the husband of the amazing OB doc I had at Brokenshire the previous month) was super friendly and helpful. He shared that the blood tests showed that Toby had a serious infection, though we had no idea what the bacteria causing it was. Bea and I thought it might be Group B strep as they do not test for that here, but it is quite common. Dr. Estuart ordered more tests and by Monday evening, Toby was on his first dose of intravenous antibiotics. Between the heel stick glucose testing, the multiple attempts at intravenous lines, and the blood tests, Toby had been poked 20 times....I cried a lot. So did Bea. Erin came Monday, too, and together we tried to figure out what we had just been through and what possible bacteria could be causing Toby such horrible chest pain and retractions.

Tim stayed at home with Promise Monday night while Bea stayed with me...it was another rough night. Bea helped me take a sponge bath and held screaming Toby while I slept. My hips were in excruciating pain as a result of afterpains and labor trauma. It was awful. Bea brought me beer to help with the milk production and pain, milk tea, and malunggay pills. Her house brought us a TON of groceries and snacks...we were in tears we were so grateful.

Bea and I had it out with the resident doctor as she was not doing her job and met with Dr. Estuart the next day to discuss the possibility of continuing Toby's treatment at home given the fact that the bacteria had still not been identified. There was the possibility of Listeria...though the onset of symptoms did not match....everyone seemed baffled. With Bea's help, we argued a good case to continue Toby's care at home. The Doc agreed as long as Bea gave the antibiotics intravenously until his catheter could no longer be used and then switch to intramuscular injections. We told him that we would keep in contact and he wrote our discharge papers.

The next few days were extremely rough. I was happy for a hot shower, but between the aftermath of labor, my tear, no sleep, and the stress of poking Toby 3x a day made healing very difficult. Promise was sensing the overall stress of the house, too. Tim was eager to get back to work, but with Promise struggling with the new addition, he spent a long time manning her while I focused on Toby. Toby began taking a bottle again of pumped breastmilk. We woke up by alarm every 2 hours to feed him as the jaundice had caused him severe lethargy that he wouldn't wake up even when hungry. My milk came in and between the early morning sunbathing and the new milk, Toby's jaundice started to subside. It was awful giving him injections in his thighs 3x per day, but he started to improve. Meanwhile, we were in close contact with Dr. Estuart regarding his care. Bea came over everyday either to bring food or arrange for food to come and to help give Toby his meds or check on me.

After a week, we met with the doc again....Toby was given an "out of danger" sign and we were told to monitor him closely for any residual side effects. 12 days after birth, I went to Bea because of severe pain in the pwerta...I was not healing...the stress and pressure had caused my tear to stay open and we opted to suture. A little late and painful, but needed.

So, though I am leaving a whole bunch of details out...you can see how God truly walked with us the whole way.
Today, I said goodbye to the dearest friend. Bea left Davao this morning for good. She is returning home after two years of midwifery training and I have to tell you...she is the best midwife I have ever seen...the most caring and qualified of nurses I have ever met and the dearest friend I have ever made here in Davao. Her service and grace, compassion and mercy over me and my family has truly impacted me...for life. She has been incredible....a source of encouragement....a source of help....His hands and feet when I could not "feel" Him....the Spirit of God in flesh. My life will never be the same because of her. She enriched and challenged me more than anyone I have met in our travels. I will miss her.

Not only Bea, but the whole 2010 Newlife International School of Midwifery class left this morning...the dearest friends I have ever had. We went to the airport together today to say our tearful goodbyes. They left a HUGE hole here. Tim and I have been so impacted by them. Amazing group of women. I am so thankful for the two years I had with them. They were there when Promise was born and they stayed to see the birth of Toby. Wow. Two years and so much has happened. I am grateful.

Tuesday, my mom arrives and not a moment too soon...or too late. The emptiness I feel as a result of losing such friendships here, no doubt will be alleviated by the sweet friendship, conversation, and companionship of my mom. I can't wait to hug her....and cry. A lot.

Tim is getting back into a routine and Promise is adjusting. Toby is growing and is now breastfeeding well. He is awesome....and burps and farts like a boy. :)

I better quit now. I am tired....crying now, too, as I reminisce on the past two weeks. Whew.
God is ALWAYS good.
Be blessed and thanks for reading.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Tobias Robert James Stewart....we are so thankful for YOU!

Greetings! I have to make this short and eventually I will share Toby's more detailed birth story. It's a long one and very very different than Promise's birth story.
For those of you who have been commenting on facebook and via e-mail, your encouragements have been priceless and we are so grateful for your prayers. :)
Now here's the quick version:

I finally went into labor Saturday night late and 15 hours later, at 4:42 pm, Sunday, July 11th, our son, Tobias Robert James Stewart was born in our empty bathtub weighing in a 9 lbs .4 oz., 51 cm long. :) (Told you it was a short version....but it REALLY is a LONG story)

He came out not breathing and could not be stimulated to breathe adequately despite resuscitation efforts at home. We were literally storming the gates of Heaven in tongues of prayer while trying to resuscitate him, but he just refused to cry or breathe. After 35 minutes of stimulation through PPV and oxygen, though his heart was beating strong, we transported to Brokenshire hospital here in Davao. Tim and my assistant midwife, Erin, took him while my primary midwife, Bea, and friend, An-An stayed to make sure I was stable. Three hours after birth, I headed to the hospital to feed Toby and find out his status. Promise was great the whole time and stayed with An-An while I went to the hospital. Toby was given oxygen and finally began to take breaths on his own. He was taken for blood work and a series of quite invasive testing.

After him not sleeping for 36 hours and screaming in pain, we found that he had a fairly serious infection and required immediate treatment. He then turned jaundice and within 2 days of birth, could no longer breastfeed. I immediately started pumping and fed him through a syringe and bottle. With the help of our midwife and nurse, Bea, the doctor allowed us to take him home to further his antibiotic treatment. (I have to tell you how amazing she is when I post the birth story). We came home Tuesday, hopeful that he would improve keeping a very watchful eye on him. Since tuesday, he has made remarkable progress...and he is beautiful.

Despite the extremely rough few days we've had, Toby is recovering well. He is not out of the woods, yet, but he has made drastic improvements in the last 12 hours. We are now giving him antibiotic IM injections 3x/day until the 19th as opposed to the IV catheter injections we were giving the last 4 days. I am not too thrilled with having to cause him such pain daily, but I know it will be a short season making the rest of his life a healthy one. :) Bea has been so encouraging and is teaching me how to care for him during this process of healing.

Tim, Promise and I are coping. I don't know how else to say it. She is struggling. She misses being an only child and having our complete attention...she is currently wearing Toby's bib, tried to put on his clothes, and stole his pacifier walking around the house with it in her mouth refusing to let it out of her sights. She bit me today, too. We have such grace for this, though, because Tim and I are both feeling the same way. :)

We sure love our Tobias Robert James and his sweet disposition constantly melts our hearts.
We are making daily visits to the morning sunlight to help with the jaundice.
My nerve pain in my hips has not subsided since birth, but I am sure God will cover that, too, in His time. We have been well cared for and looked after by the Mercy midwives and friends here. They have sent us prayers, meals and have looked after Promise while Tim and I were in the hospital with Toby. We are very blessed.

We will post more pics soon, most of them are already on facebook, so if you are curious, you can check them out there. But here is one taken just a few hours after birth. :)
Be blessed and thank you for your continued prayers.


Friday, June 25, 2010

It's been a mighty long time!

Sorry. Tim was supposed to blog. He says he just doesn't have the inspiration to do it, yet.
Perhaps it is because we have no baby boy, yet.
Or perhaps it is because Tim has been so busy with the water project and feels that the monotony of it all is uninteresting.
Or maybe it's because we are just getting really lazy with blogging.
So, without further ado, I will simply share what Promise and I have been up to while Daddy is working hard and we wait for labor to begin so we can meet our new Stewart. It's boring to most, but it is our daily grind.

Promise, myself, Tim or our new friend, Jin, try to visit the park a couple times a week...it's the first park we have found in 3 years of living here that has a slide and grass! Promise also gets to hang out with Eliana and Justine (pictured). They are kiddos of our friends, Manny and Heather, who work at Mercy. The park is in the complex we have been staying in, so it's just a short walk! YEAH!

And then there's all the Filipina visitors we have since living with others....

Promise does love the attention...

And then there's iPad time with Dr. Seuss while Daddy works (Thanks, Uncle Jeff! You have saved our bacon). Dora always sits beside her.
And snacks in bed with mommy....which always ends up with some form of tickling. We do other things, too....these are just the times we slow down to actually take a picture!
And of course the morning distraction of dancing with Daddy before showering.
And the non-stop chatter just before bed after our Bible story.

So...Promise and I are two peas in a pod...soon to be three. We spend a lot of time reading together....waiting for this baby boy to come out!
Be blessed.

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

"I will Hold On"...

Greetings! Have you ever heard that Vineyard song, “Hold On”? Tim used to sing it quite a bit and it appeared in my head this morning. Here are the lyrics....

My times are in Your hands
I know I'll never understand
But I'll trust in You
Sometimes my heart grows cold
I m sorry when I take control
How I'm needing You

Even when I fall
You help me stand
Even when I'm lost
You take my hand

I will hold on
I will hold on
I will hold on
Yes, I will trust in You

My life is in Your hands
You hold the key to who I am
And I'll trust in You
Sometimes my heart is stone
I m sorry when I walk alone
How I'm needing You

These last few days have been tiring and hard. I realized about two days ago that my body had not actually withdrew from the effects of the opiates I had been on in the hospital and was prescribed for home use. Stopping them completely left my body in total chaos. Between the LBM, heart palpitations, sweating, nausea and restlessness, I felt like I was either going into labor or needed to be and FAST! I couldn’t sleep and my hip would seize in pain from the muscle tension putting pressure on the nerve, thus I would feel the need to pop another tramadol or dolcet to ease the pain and discomfort.

Although I was down to a quarter of the dose originally prescribed and was nearly totally off the meds, I would hit a wall around 3 or 4 pm with severe withdrawal symptoms not knowing that my body was trying to detox.

Well, after yesterday’s prenatal exam, I had enough. The prenatal with Bea went awesome and the baby is doing fantastic...no side effects for him! :) Praise God. But Bea and I began to talk about how high my pulse was and at one point she said to me, “You okay? You look white!” And I began to feel like I wanting to purge and vomit breaking out into a cold sweat. I finally said, “Bea, I think I am addicted to the opiates!” While that actually isn’t true, I can definitely understand why one would become addicted quite quickly. Detoxing is awful and the only “cure” for the signs and symptoms of withdrawal seemed to be taking an optiate!

Bea and I quickly made some ginger tea for the nausea, I took homeopathic chamomile for the restlessness and irritability, and drank a beer to help sleep and bring down my pulse. Honestly, friends, I am not proud of all this and I wish I had been a part of the decision-making in the hospital when they put me on the myriad of opiates intravenously, but they just didn’t tell us what they were giving me and finally when I left the hospital with a prescription did I find out that what I would be taking is highly addictive and I would need to wean off the meds slowly, as my body was FULL of them upon leaving the hospital. Well, within 3 days outta the hospital, I was trying to get off them completely and here I am...a week later...managing withdrawal symptoms with whatever we can find in the Philippines!

Thankfully, Tim and Bea....and even Promise, have been patient with me as I stumble through this journey. It’s been lonely and each day feels like a battle. However, I have been receiving frequent encouraging e-mails from dear friends and mentors back home that have been reminding me of the strength of Christ in me, the fearlessness of His character in me, and the calling on this precious baby boy’s life. I am struck with awe as I am reminded of His unfailing love for me and the power He has to overcome all things in and outside of me.

I feel vulnerable and my physical body feels more weak than ever and yet, my spirit is very alive and is striving to rise above every circumstance, hurt, disappointment, feeling of rejection, and loss. I long to have those closest to me to share in the journey we are facing now. I long for meaninful “God-talks” with people dearest to me. I long for them to be a part of our baby’s birth, as I feel as though it is such a triumph in our adventure with the Lord. But we are alone.

With a humble and somewhat heavy heart, I look forward to laboring for this baby knowing that God will sustain me and the precious life inside. While we have not announced his name to many, yet, I will say that we picked his name based on its meaning. His name means “God is always good” and he is and will continue to be a constant reminder of that no matter what country the Lord takes us to, how lonely we feel, and when circumstances don’t make sense, God is ALWAYS good.

I apologize for hogging the blog these days. Tim is busy working hard so that he can take some time off when the baby is born, but still be able to feel confident leaving the Philippines in December. He has been slowed a bit by my status and though I feel horrible for this, I am so thankful I have such an amazing husband who desires to serve me in whatever state I am in. I am sure he will post something about water soon.

I wish I could post something about the awesome ministries we are involved in, the people we are tending to, the lives of the poor that are being transformed as a result of our service here, but all I can say is that in the holding place we are in right now, God doesn’t need us. While Tim may be able to tell you stories of how the water filters are blessing the poor and transforming lives and you can find them on www.impactnations.com, I honestly can’t think of a life that I have impacted besides Promise’s in a very long time. Perhaps that is the season of life I am in. I am looking forward to “doing” for the Lord soon....right now I feel like He is holding me in a “being” state....so for now, I will just “Hold on” and watch Him move.

Please be praying for us. We are hoping this baby will arrive sometime next week. Please pray he will come, that the pain will not be overwhelming (neither labor pains or nerve pain), and that he will be born competely healthy without complications. “God is ALWAYS good”.

Be blessed.

Friday, May 28, 2010

Update...thanks for praying!

First of all, I just wanted to thank everyone for their encouragement and prayers. It has been a tiring week, but we are seeing some improvement and are grateful for God's gracious provision through our friends here. One of my friends, Beth, arranged for us to have dinners delivered to our house every night so I wouldn't have to cook! Thank you to all who volunteered to feed us!

And Bea has been over everyday this week to check up on me, help me with some household chores and ensure that I am not doing anything I am not supposed to....like bending over, carrying Promise or overworking myself. Despite her busy work schedule at the clinic, she has selflessly given her time and friendship....she is one of the most amazing women I have ever met.

Saturday night is now a blur thankfully, though there are times I can still taste the bile in my mouth from throwing up 11 times as a result of the pain...makes me a little nauseous. I do, however, remember how amazing Bea and my doctor, Dr. Estuart were in taking care of me. They spent many hours assessing my condition and discussing the possibility of still having a natural homebirth despite the obvious concern of my femoral nerve compression.

So the neurologist's diagnosis was that my left femoral nerve was severely compressed causing the excruciating pain and immobility. He said that the pain would not be relieved until this little baby boy came out. He also said that permanent nerve damage was likely and that postpartum therapy would be required. He suggested that we not have more children. Sorry, buddy, I think I will just rebuke everything you said and trust that God will take care of it, thanks. :) But I was grateful he was willing to give me the straight goods.

The anesthesiologist gave me some heavy-duty opiates - tramadol and dolcet - that totally worked, but backed up the bowels for 5 days...but Bea packed me with psyllium husks, flax seeds and papaya, so we are on a slow road to recovery leaving behind the mother of all hemorrhoids. The pain has subsided some, though nights are rough, as baby boy is most active then bashing into the nerve causing the pain though I am thankful he is moving despite the strong meds. :)

The other concern as of late is the massive and painful edema in my feet and legs. We noticed it after about 12 hours in the hospital. Though I have been elevating them several times a day and increasing my water intake, my legs resemble an elephant's and if I spend more than 20 minutes on my feet, they throb and ache. Mmm.

Caring for Promise and doing simple household chores have become extremely difficult and Tim has had to carry a much larger burden than ever before. He is doing great, though.

So we'll just wait and see what happens over the next couple weeks as the onset of labor gets closer and Tim and I try to juggle work, Bird time, and adjusting to a new living space. The other tenants of the house have been so gracious and understanding of our circumstances. They, too, are praying for complete recovery.

Bea and I have agreed to do a trial of labor here in the house and if things get dangerous, we will pay Dr. Estuart at Brokenshire Hospital a visit. The alternative there is an epidural and a possible operative delivery. We're praying that it will not be necessary. Only 2 more weeks and this boy will be full term and able to make an entrance into the world. We are hoping that labor will begin in about 3 weeks. If not, we may look into alternatives or natural induction.

At this point, I am trying to wean myself off of the dolcet (the stronger of the meds) and have successfully gone a full 24 hours without it. :) It has not come without an increase in pain, but the pain is now tolerable. We will see if I can wean off of the tramadol before entering into labor. :)

Thank you again for all your prayers. We wish we were close to our families during this time, but have been amazed at God's gift of surrogate family members. Rick and Sherry came over last night and prayed intensely over us, our new home, and our family. They leave tomorrow and I can honestly say, their presence will be deeply missed. They have ministered to us in this difficult time more than we could possibly express and saying goodbye to them will be quite painful. They will be forever friends, but as a result of the life God has placed us in, we say "goodbye" more often than "hello".

So we press on. I guess that's about it. Thank you again for your incredible and faithful prayers and support, everyone. We are so thankful and know that God is doing something bigger than our earthly minds can comprehend. Be blessed.

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Bethany Update

I'm gonna head to bed in a minute, but I wanted to give you a quick update on Bethany's health. For those who were unaware, Bethany was taken to the hospital at around 4am this morning. She had been suffering an intense pain that spread from her back, around her left hip, and down to her groin. She woke me at 1am when the pain was becoming more intense, and a couple hours later I called Béa, our midwife, and asked her to come have a look.

Béa brought Beth K with her to assist in what we thought might have been pre-term labor. An internal exam revealed that her cervix was still closed, but this certainly looked as though it may be the beginning stages of labor. Bethany is only 34 weeks, so a home birth was out of the question (you need to be 37 weeks for a safe home birth) and a trip to the hospital was the obvious choice.

I called our friend Sherry and asked her to come help. She and her husband Rick were here in a flash, and while I went to start the truck, the gang helped Bethany down the driveway. Oh, did I mention that we just moved yesterday. So trying to pack a bag for her was a bit of a gong show. I didn't know where anything was. Truth be told, I was having trouble finding light switches, so I was groping in the dark. We had literally only been living in the house twelve hours.

Anyways, Beth offered to stay at the house while Promise continued to sleep unaware. Meanwhile, Sherry and Béa and I went to the hospital. Béa had already made arrangements with the doctor at this hospital a few months ago, just in case a home birth became a problem. The doctor that Béa had chosen was amazing. Amazing. She was so attentive. She was there very quickly, despite the 4:30am wakeup call. She stayed with Bethany for so long and made sure she was getting the best of care. She let the three of us go into the birth ward even though it was against hospital policy.

All of the staff in that ward are fantastic. Each of the doctors was very communicative, telling us exactly what was going on. They did a great job of listening to Bethany and meeting her needs. Her need was simple: Pain Relief. She was screaming bloody murder. The pain was unbearable. Job number one was to relieve the pain, job number two was to find the cause.

It took a while to find a strong enough drug to stop the screaming. Eventually they called in an anesthesiologist who got a tramadol IV drip going, with the occasional shot of morphine to battle the sudden onset of even greater pain. Meanwhile they were doing regular checks on the baby to make sure that he was not getting stressed. Each check confirmed that he was largely oblivious to his mother's agony.

The first suspected culprit was kidney stones. An ultrasound ruled that out. The next thing on the list was a possible blockage in her intestines. This hospital doesn't have an MRI machine, so we took an ambulance to the nearby hospital where they scanned Bethany for over 45 minutes. Of course, she was asked to remain as still as possible so they could get a clear picture. She did amazing. I sat with her in the room while Béa sat with the tech and saw some very cool pictures of my baby boy. After the scan we were told that it had not revealed any trouble.

This left us with only one other possibility, and that is where we are now. Bethany has been referred to a neurologist who will check for some sort of pinched nerve. She was signing the papers for that referral when I left this evening, so we expect to get some word later tonight.

I sat with Bethany while she slept for a couple hours this afternoon while Béa went home for a quick nap and a shower. She returned at 6pm to send me home so I could tuck Promise into bed. I can't tell you how excited I was to see Promise. Bethany and I really missed her today. What was she up to during our adventure? She was having fun with her friends!

Beth, who had arrived in the middle of the night, stayed for the entire day with the Bird. Kendra and Bethany W. were here as well. They had a great day with Promise, and I can't tell you how much they blessed me. I came home to a super happy kid who had already eaten dinner and was already bathed. After a big hug, we waved to the girls as they left and then we went to my bed to play.

What a privilege to play with my kid. We spent about 45 minutes together doing our regular evening activities of "horsey" and "woah". "Horsey" is the one where I lay on my back and Promise sits on my belly facing me while I jiggle up and down. "Woah" is a similar setup with her facing the other direction while I hold her arms and pull her in every direction before finally flopping her on the bed beside me.

We then read our nightly bible story and went to her room to read "Tiger Can't Sleep" and sing our songs. She went to bed perfectly happy. That, my friends, is the grace of God. Imagine, she awoke on her first day in a new house, to find that her parents were missing. She spent the day with the girls, got an hour with me, and then went to bed with a smile on her face, never having seen her mom. And she's not even two years old. God is good. He really is good to us.

I know I've said this dozens of times on these pages, but we have some incredible friends here. They helped us pack up and move house over the course of two days, and then on day three went the extra mile and took care of us in yet another crisis. Beth, Bethany and Kendra—thank you for being such awesome babysitters. Sherry, thanks for being there and loving on Bethany when I felt like I had nothing left to give. I don't know who was working to cover Béa's shift today, but thanks to all who arranged that. Rick, thanks for doing what needed to be done and taking care of those who were taking care of Bethany. And Béa, thanks for all that you do. I don't know how you can so graciously take such good care of Bethany and I when our world seems to be crumbling around us. Thanks for the wisdom and peace that you bring with you everywhere you go.

I'm gonna sleep at home tonight and Béa will stay the night at the hospital. She has a shift in the morning, so the girls have offered to watch Promise at the orange house while I go see Bethany first thing. I hope to bring the Bird with me for another visit later in the morning. I'll try to update this blog late tomorrow when I have more news for you.

In the meantime, if you'd like to pass on a little message for Bethany, leave a comment on this blog. I'll be brining a computer to the hospital tomorrow so she has some tv shows to watch or something. I'll be sure to open up the comments window before I leave with the computer so she can read your get well wishes. I know that would really bless her.

It feels awful to hear her in such agony. I feel so helpless. Please continue to pray that the doctors will find the cause of her pain and find a solution. Thanks for all your prayers.


PS. I was texting Darrell about the silly little shoes that I had to wear in the hospital room today, and he suggested I take a photo. I had my phone, so I leaned over and took a snap shot.

Thursday, May 20, 2010


Greetings! Sorry for the long delay in posting. Our lives have been a little chaotic.
To just quickly update ya'll before Tim's following LONG post, here's what's been happening:

Rick (Sherry's hubby) arrived last Saturday bearing Tim's COMPUTER!!! This computer I am currently working on is now simply Promise's "Dora the Explorer" addiction....or so she thinks. :) Tim is ecstatic, as he is now able to get lots of work done and follow up on the items he was unable to get to because of a lack of computer. I haven't seen him so very happy in a long time!

We've been sucking every morsel of time out of Rick and Sherry, as they head back to California this on the 29th. It will be very hard to say goodbye to them. Their presence here has been an incredible encouragement and blessing to us and we have no doubt in our minds that God will cross our paths again and again over time. :) They reek of Jesus and it's awesome.

We had a great evening of celebration with the graduating class of Newlife International School of Midwifery. This class of 11 girls have been a source of great fellowship and fun and we are so excited for them as they step out in faith for what God has in store for them as international midwife ambassadors.

Filipino elections have ended, though there is still some unrest with some of the results...in fact, we are still waiting on receiving word who are the winners in some areas of the country! Ha ha ha...however, the blackouts have diminished significantly and for that, I am grateful!

Promise has completely recovered from the accident last month, though we spent the majority of the last two weeks awake at night with her as she got a horrible flu we later discovered was an amoeba. After 6 days of diarrhea and recurring fever, I took her in to see a pediatrician. He listened as I rattled off all of Promise's symptoms and said exactly what I thought he'd say...."Get a stool sample and we'll put her on metronidazole". Sure enough, stool sample showed a nasty amoeba infiltrating her intestines (usually caused by bad water or poorly cooked food). She started the meds a couple days ago and though very pale and tired, seems to gaining her appetite, is not dehydrated, and is in better spirits. I hate seeing my baby girl sick. :(

The package my parents sent came at a wonderful time! It had Easter candy for Tim and me and stickers for Promise. :) It also contained my certified professional midwife certificate. :) It was full of encouragement and we are so grateful for the pieces of home.

Speaking of which, this morning, some of my dear friends from Mercy are coming over to help us move out of our apartment and into the house we will be watching for 6 months for our pastor friends. We're just about completely packed and though there is actually very little to be moved, we have been amazed at how much "stuff" we have acquired over the past 3 years! Though mostly paper and books, determining what stays and what goes has been an arduous task. Tomorrow, we will complete the move and prepare this apartment for the couple arriving in August to serve with Newlife and Mercy. God's grace has been super sufficient in this time of preparing.

Sorry this post is a little disheveled...I am writing it at 5 am as I have not been able to sleep the last few nights. With only 4 weeks left until this little baby inside is full term, sleep is becoming quite the luxury and with the added stress of moving and Promise being sick, sleep is just not really happening. This, too, shall pass, I am told. :) My midwife and very dear friend, Bea, has been totally amazing coming weekly to hang out, help pack things, watch Promise, remind me to take it easy, and just be a blessing. I am so so thankful for her.

Tim is having a GAS being back to work and there are exciting things happening with the water project, so stay tuned for his post in a couple of days. He has lots to share regarding God's amazing provision of clean water to the poor of Mindanao...and beyond!
Be blessed!
I leave you with just a few pics of the month....
The Newlife International School of Midwifery Class of 2010 (minus me and Promise, of course). They have served the poor women of Davao City at Mercy Maternity Center tirelessly. :)

Promise's new Easter bunny from Gramma Con and Papa Jim (notice the stickers on her arms...those came in the package, too!)

Sherry doing nutrition teaching at Mercy on our prenatal day.

Our lovely preggo ladies at Mercy.
And this is what I woke up to on Mother's Day.... (*BIG smile*)

Monday, May 3, 2010


Greetings! WELCOME TO MAY!!!
I cannot begin to share with you my gratefulness in seeing April come to a close. April, the nightmare month, is officially over! May is SURE to be better! Just read what we get to look forward to in May:
1. Filipino elections (signaling the "possible" cessation of rolling blackouts...."possible")
2. Our friend, Sherry, gets to meet her hubby, Rick, at the airport (they have been apart for 3 months!) BONUS: He is bringing Tim's new and absolutely necessary computers!
3. My dear friends at Mercy Maternity Center graduate from Newlife International School of Midwifery.
4. We're moving at the end of this month into a temporary place until November.
5. My parents sent a package that should arrive sometime this month.
6. Tim planned a date for the two of us this week and Sherry is coming to babysit!
7. There will be MANY nights of playing cards and chewing the fat with Sherry and Rick. :)

So, as you can see, there is a lot of GOOD things to look forward to. :) Already this month is better than last month in that we haven't had a power outage since Thursday because of the May Labor Day holiday! That's FOUR DAYS with consistent power! That's a Filipino record! WAHOO!

So, I won't go on much longer, but I wanted to just give a quick update on the healing process since the no-so-fun Wednesday we had last week.
Promise's head is healing well and her cuts and scratches are beginning to itch showing she is on the mend. Her bruises are fading and we rode in a taxi this morning without incident. I don't think she even remembered that is was the same company and taxi-type we were in last Wednesday.
She will often point to her head and say, "OWIE" when I clean it...she even tried to clean MY head after seeing me gingerly put salve and betadine on her cuts. Cute. She does seem a bit more clingy, but not crabby or fussy. God has protected her. :)

Tim's back is still very very sore, but some of that was from long before the accident. He is trying to stretch it out everyday, but I think he will need some therapy when we return to Canada. His shin is healing, too, though you shouldn't ask him about it when Promise sits on it. She's like a magnet for touching the OWIES. OUCH!

I took the advice of friends and iced my left side as best I could and decided not to "rest" it too much, which could cause it to become stiff. I have regained most mobility now in that side, though it gets sore and tired very quickly. I am still experiencing some muscle weakness in my left arm, but little by little I am seeing the bruising fade and the muscles relax. My back is still very sore, but I am thrilled that the pain is less than what it was. Contractions have lessened and little baby boy seems happy, so I am happy. I am wary to ride a taxi or motorbike as of late, but I am sure my protectiveness will fade a bit over time.

Tim is working hard picking up the pieces of April. We should get the truck back this Wednesday, which will make his life significantly easier. He is excited for continued progress in the water project and will blog next about it for you.

Thank you all so very much for your support and prayers throughout these past horrible weeks. As a friend shared with me last week, "With much adversity, must come much blessing." So I am anticipating a lot of joy this month...my spirit certainly feels more joy! Thank you again and please continue to keep us in your prayers....they are working.
Be blessed.

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Crasho Basho

My car died today. And that's the beginning of the story. Bethany and Promise and I were in the truck this afternoon, headed home from a wedding, when the rattling noise emanating from the engine could no longer be ignored. My mechanic happens to be located on the road on which we were traveling, so I rolled in and asked him to take a look. He said it was definitely overheating, but that he won't have time to look at it until tomorrow.

My family and I were tired and very hot. The wedding had suffered from a poorly timed blackout (we now get them everyday), so there were no fans or air conditioners, making for a rather warm event. Add to that the fact that the wedding was held under a large, translucent, greenhouse-like dome, at high noon, and you can imagine that we were cooking. Even Promise had BO!

We were anxious to get home, crank the aircon, and take a nap. I suppose you've already guessed? Yes, Murphy's Law was in full effect. We took a taxi home from the mechanic, only to discover that our neighborhood blackout had just begun, and would leave us without power for three hours. Awesome.

But, we have the victory. God's grace was sufficient. We took a cold shower with what little water pressure we had left (no power means no pressure), and I called our friends Darrell and Shannon and invited ourselves over to their place. Darrell and Shannon have a generator at their house, so they have aircon and internet even during blackouts. We like them for other reasons too, but the generator is certainly a good bonus.

Freshly showered, yet already sweaty, we chased down a cab and headed across town—Murphy's Law still in effect. We were halfway there when it happened. Our car was t-boned in the middle of an intersection by a large SUV. The vehicle struck on Bethany's side, pushing her door in significantly and showering glass over the three of us. I'm still not sure who was at fault, but certainly one of the two vehicles did not belong in the intersection at that moment.

Our immediate concern was for the baby, as Bethany was experiencing sharp pain in her belly. The other major issue was the blood running down Promise's face, though it looked like just a small scratch from the flying glass. Sitting on the other end of the bench seat, I was fine.

I didn't panic, but I wasn't sure what to do. Once I had taken a moment to assess the situation, I determined that there was no immediate danger to Bethany, Promise, or the baby (this boy really needs a name). Rather than wait for an ambulance, the traffic cop helped us hail another taxi and we headed for the hospital that was only two blocks from our location. The emergency room nurses were great and took good care of Promise, who had a few pieces of glass lodged in her skin, including one in her scalp that led to a small bit of suturing.

In the meantime, I had been on the phone rallying the troops. I called Matt, the director of Mercy Maternity, because he always knows what to do. I called our midwife, Béa, because I wanted to have somebody looking out for Bethany and the baby. I called Darrell and Shannon because I knew we were gonna need some friends to take care of us. I called Toti because he is my dear friend and he is very good at looking out for me.

That seems like a lot of people, and perhaps it was a bit much. And yet, I was so glad to have each one of those people around. Matt arrived quickly and gave me the scoop on what to expect as far as the legal details were concerned. Béa was so good with Bethany and Promise and really helped to reassure us that the baby was okay. She fought to get us an ultrasound even though the technicians were just closing up shop for the day. The ultrasound was good, the heart tones were good, and baby seems fine (as does the placenta, for all you midwives out there).

Toti, as per usual, was fantastic. After spending a few minutes with me at the hospital, he went up the road to investigate the accident and check in with the traffic officers. What a blessing to know that he was taking care of that for me and that I could just focus on my family. When Toti returned to the hospital, he had the driver of the SUV with him. They volunteered to pay for all of our hospital bill. I have no idea how Toti got them to come, but he did. What a relief to know that all this was taken care of. The driver waited until all our business at the hospital was done and then paid our bill. Toti waited right there with them the whole time. In fact, he sent us out the door and stayed behind to take care of it all. What a blessing, and what a dear friend.

The hospital that we were in happened to be the same hospital that employ's Toti's wife, Connie, as a nurse. He must have contacted her because it wasn't long before she was in the emergency room. It is so reassuring to see a familiar face there when they are working on your kid. Connie and Béa helped Bethany hold Promise down on the table as the doctor sutured her scalp. Poor kid was so brave the whole day, but she was clearly in pain while getting stitched up. Hearing your kid scream in pain is the worst feeling in the world.

Darrell and Shannon were awesome. They were quick to get to the hospital, and Promise perked right up when she saw them. Shannon even brought one of Promise's favorite stuffed animals. They stood with me outside the hospital when I finally broke down and had a bit of a cry. Shannon gave me a big hug and they prayed for me before I went back in to check on the ladies. They gave us a ride home and then went out and grabbed dinner and brought it back to the house. It was nice to finish the day eating KFC with friends.

Promise and Bethany are okay, and it looks like everything is okay with the baby too. We would appreciate your prayers in the coming days. Needless to say, we are a little shaken up. Promise has lots of scratches and bruises, but she is still pretty cheerful. The left side of Bethany's body is quite sore, but there doesn't seem to be any major damage. Aside from a banged up shin and a sore back, I am fine.

I thank God that we are okay. It could have been much worse. I'll wait a few days before I tell you how I feel about all this. If you've been following along at home, you may have noticed that we are having one hell of an April. But more about that later. For now, I think I will sleep.


Darrell just emailed me a couple of photos he snapped secretly with his iPhone in the emergency room: