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:

Monday, April 26, 2010

We are blessed and I stink.

Greetings! Let me begin by saying that the last post was convicting to me as I read it again this afternoon. Tim wrote it. Today, though I know I am blessed, I do not FEEL blessed. I feel like a horrible sinner swimming against the flow of a giant river of feces. Sorry for the visual, but honestly, I am feeling that way. The irony is, this river of feces is ...... my own doing.

I guess I should explain.

April has been the month from H-E-double hockey sticks. It started with the death of Tim's computer and the necessity of having to buy a new one (set to arrive the 14th of May). Then there was the stolen water meters leading to 4 days without water. Then the rolling brown-outs leading to spoiled food and the need to escape our fan-less apartment, thus increasing our "going out" budget to avoid the heat, and the non-stop inconvenience leading to Promise's sweaty naptimes that weren't so "nappy". Then came Tim throwing out his back and my hips reaching the point of OUCH...the increase of temperature putting Davao at 110 degrees F on the heat put rolling brown-outs with that and you get a very crabby baby and mommy. Then I received a power bill charging us $270. USD....the largest one we've ever had...and it was that high even with the rolling brown-outs! Then Promise got sick. Really sick...then she passed it to Tim, who then passed it to me....enter TODAY....6-hour brown-out on our street in the heat of the day leading to something I am not proud of.

I threw a tantrum. I have kept my cool this whole month....trying to stay positive and helpful as I watched Tim throw minor tantrums through the mess and stress of it all, but today, my tantrum was 100% worse than any he had thrown. Mine was so bad it threw me into a painful tizzy of shortness of breath and of uterine contractions. I'd had enough....of this country....of mosquitoes....of the weather....of the brown-outs...of loneliness....of missing family....of being uncomfortably pregnant...of being so sweaty that I can't see straight....everything seemed to be too heavy to handle...I was too physically hot to bear it and with sweat pouring from every portion of my body I cried out, "I AM DONE AND I WANT TO GO HOME!"....and Tim prayed. And I felt convicted. It's been years and years since I'd had a fit like that...or even felt like I 'needed' one.

So here I sit...30-weeks pregnant and so grateful for the life inside, so grateful for my husband that God gave me to fill in the gaps when I suck, so grateful for Promise, who despite the heat, maintains a pretty great disposition. And here I sit, so disgusted by my attitude and lack of grace for life here and so disappointed in my ungrateful actions.....and I still desperately want to go home.

I listen to stories of others around the world facing trials and the difficulties they go through daily as a result of poverty and pain and I realize just how petty my grievances are. Even during prenatal exams, I listen to the humbling stories of my patients and how much they sacrifice to simply have some assurance that their babies will be okay. Just last week, we had a patient come in for a prenatal at 36 weeks who had not felt her baby move in a few days. Heart tones were not found and the baby had turned from cephalic (head down) to breech and no fetal bones of the head were found upon palpation usually indicating the baby had died. Gosh....what kind of tizzy would THAT send me into? I cannot imagine.

I am reminded of the Scripture from Romans 8, which says,

" 18I consider that our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us. 19The creation waits in eager expectation for the sons of God to be revealed. 20For the creation was subjected to frustration, not by its own choice, but by the will of the one who subjected it, in hope 21thati]" style="font-size: 0.75em; line-height: 0.5em; ">[i] the creation itself will be liberated from its bondage to decay and brought into the glorious freedom of the children of God.

22We know that the whole creation has been groaning as in the pains of childbirth right up to the present time. 23Not only so, but we ourselves, who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for our adoption as sons, the redemption of our bodies. 24For in this hope we were saved. But hope that is seen is no hope at all. Who hopes for what he already has? 25But if we hope for what we do not yet have, we wait for it patiently.

26In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groans that words cannot express. 27And he who searches our hearts knows the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for the saints in accordance with God's will."

The bold area describes the groan I feel, hear...almost taste these pours out of me like the sweat the number of natural disasters seem to increase and the wars and rumors of wars continue to plague headlines, and as some of our patients lose their children for no known heart aches to see His coming and ALL CREATION yearns to be relieved....

"His grace is sufficient." Oh God, forgive my ungrateful heart and my petty, earthly grievances.

Please pray for me.

I leave you with three pics of the Bird.

That's Tim and Promise riding the Gaisano Mall "train" to escape the heat of the was super busy....guess everyone had the same idea to escape the heat!

And this is our friend, Sherry, who has blessed us immensely with her gracious company, wisdom and support. Promise just loves her and she has a granddaughter about Promise's age! Her hubby, Rick, is the fantastic guy bringing Tim a new computer. :)

Friday, April 16, 2010

We sure are blessed.

I'm writing this on my phone—I can't figure out a way to transfer the text from my phone, so I'll type it up later—because it is the only computing device available to me at the moment. Promise has a slight fever, so all she wants to do this morning is cuddle on the bed with Mom and Dad while watching "Backpack" (Dora).

The three of us have been sharing Bethany's old MacBook since my computer went to be with Jesus a couple weeks ago. It's been a challenge, but Bethany has been so gracious to let me use it for work for several hours each day. I'm grateful for the computer that we have, but I'd be lying if I told you that it is meeting my needs.

The reality is that most of my documents won't even open on Bethany's computer because it does not have the necessary software or the processing power needed to run such applications smoothly. I tried swapping her hard drive out for the big one that once resided in my computer (changing a hard drive while balancing a toddler on your lap should be a televised sport), but the crashes became more frequent.

I am making this work as best I can, but I have certainly been less productive and my stress level is pretty high as I struggle to find a workable file management system. I've got a bunch of video editing to do this week for our website, but I've got more video footage than Bethany has available storage. All that to say that we cannot continue like this for very long.

My parents have graciously offered to loan us some money so that I can get the tool I need to do my job. The tricky thing is that the most up-to-date computer hardware can only be found in North America. It would cost a fortune to ship a computer from Canada to the Philippines, where it would then be held for ransom by the always popular, ever scrupulous Customs Bureau.

Thankfully, there is a solution, albeit a convoluted one.

Our new friend Sherry is currently serving as an intern at the clinic right now. Sherry is from California and is missing her husband, Rick, terribly. Rick will be coming to visit his wife in May and has most graciously offered to help. So, I could simply purchase the computer online and have it shipped to Rick's house, ya? Of course not, that would be too easy. Apple won't accept a Canadian credit card on their website. Besides, were I to send the purchase to a California address, I'd be paying hundreds of dollars in sales tax.

We spoke to Bethany's parents and they have graciously agreed to purchase the computer in tax-free Oregon using money that my parents will send them from Canada—thank you God that in your infinite wisdom you have preserved a strong Canadian economy, resulting in a CAD that is equal to the USD! The really cool part of this crazy plan is that Jim has a business trip to California in early May and might be able to bring the computer with him, thus saving the cost of shipping the stuff from Oregon to California. I love it when a plan comes together.

Why am I telling you all this stuff? I don't mean to sound like a whiner, nor do I wish to bore you with the details. Nevertheless, I want to make a point. Bethany and I have been here in the Phils for almost three years now. There is absolutely no way that we could have survived without a support network that includes my parents, her parents, people like Sherry and Rick, indeed all of our dear friends in Canada and the United States. Sure, their prayers are invaluable, and their financial assistance is an incredible blessing, but today I speak of the practical things that they do to make our lives easier.

It's the care packages in the mail with little tastes of home. It's the running around to government buildings to get needed immigration documents. It's cashing cheques or mailing documents for Bethany's certification. I could go on and on about all the little details that get taken care of. Our support team in North America continues to stand in the gap for us.

I know that several of our readers are already making plans to move overseas, some of you to the Philippines. I cannot stress this point enough. You will need a huge amount of support once you have left. Finding financial contributors is just the beginning. The key is to have people back home who are ready to take your call and go to bat for you when you need it.

So to all of our support team, I say from the bottom of my heart, Thank You. You continue to amaze us and bless us beyond our wildest dreams. We would have crashed and burned a long time ago if it weren't for you.


PS. Since I haven't computer time for Facebook these days, let me just get these few things off my chest:

Henrik Sedin for the Hart!
Alex Edler, you da man!
Go Canucks Go!
Helena Guergis, good riddance.
This is the coolest thing Impact Nations has ever been a part of.
Bethany is getting huge and our boy needs a name...

Ok, I'm done. I've got no way of processing images from my camera, so for now we'll give you a few of Bethany's recent snapshots.

Promise is just beginning to "potty train" with very little success....but she CAN sit on the potty....It's a good thing Promise is too young to be embarrassed by this pic:

And one of her favorite things to do is help Daddy plan a worship set for Sunday mornings. She sings along, dances and claps, but most importantly, she "plays" the guitar.

Saturday, April 3, 2010


Happy Easter!

I hope to pump out this blog before Tim needs my computer again....his has bit the dust and as many of you know. So much of what he does requires him to use his much fancier computer. Alas, the poor computer is tuckered out and Tim, as a result, is very stressed. I go...

We were strangely awakened on Good Friday at 4:30 am. In the Philippines, it is tradition to create a funeral procession for Jesus on Good Friday and everything is shut down for the day. No one works and no one goes outside after the procession. They believe that because Jesus dies every year on this day, if something were to happen, such as a death in the family, this poor family member would go directly to hell because Jesus has not risen, yet. You don't want to commit a sin on Good Friday, either, because it will not be forgiven until Sunday....however, there seems to be less "procession" and celebration on Easter Sunday than on Good Friday.....Mmmm. So Good Friday, at 4:30 am, a funeral procession came down our street blaring sad, remorseful music with a very heavy, dark voice speaking Visayan over the top, proclaiming that "He was marred for our transgressions." Thought-provoking, indeed, but I think they missed the point.

It has certainly been a while since we have blogged. Everyday seems riddled with change and I barely remembered it was Easter until Holy Week came upon us. Yes, I had heard others saying they had given up "this" or "that" for Lent and facebook was full of people saying "goodbye" for Lent. But somehow, Lent seemed to pass so quickly and my best intentions of starting an Easter tradition failed.

Maybe it was the lack of bunnies, plastic eggs, and pastel colored Easter candy in the supermarket like I am familiar with at home. There are no "Cadbury" eggs or speckled malt eggs here....nothing to tell you Easter is coming, funny how those things are "Eastery" ha ha ha.... and there were no crosses or pictures of Jesus around, either. The days have seemed to run together like a watercolor painting gone wrong.

And yet, God is clearly speaking.

Three weeks ago, I met a very special person. Her name is Sherry. She's come to the Philippines from California to acquire more birth experience. As a nurse in her 50s, she came to a place of desiring to practice the Gospel in a very tangible way through serving the poor. And in the last 3 weeks, she has ministered to me immensely. She is only here until the end of May, but I know her impact on my life will last much longer.

In the last year, I have grown very tired. Worn. Lonely. Hungry for deep spiritual connections...relationships....longing to be filled up, as I have felt that the last 3 years have emptied me totally. I think about all that has happened in 3 short years and I am thoroughly amazed at the faithfulness and power of a nutshell, Tim and I moved to the Philippines, I became a certified professional midwife, had our first baby, Tim discovered his passion and calling, and we got preggo with our second baby....we've missed many weddings, births of family members, funerals of precious loved ones....all while living in an unfamiliar country, culture, and living daily by God's gracious provision alone. I'd say that's quite a bit for 3 years. Probably more action than some and certainly not near as much as others.

Meeting Sherry this past month gave me the IV infusion of perspective from the Holy Spirit that I desperately needed. While I feel as though our time in the Philippines is starting to wind down, I feel as though another journey of equal difficulty and equal grace is on the not-too-distant horizon. If it's okay, I would like to share what plans we feel the Lord has laid for us in this season of change....

Let me start by saying that our passion, as a family, is to tangibly act out the Gospel of Christ through practical service to the poor and broken. Narrowing it down, Tim's demonstration of this passion is bringing clean, safe drinking water to the poor for life. My demonstration is through tending to the physical and emotional needs of women and children living in poverty through midwifery and health education. Meanwhile, a new passion that the Lord has unveiled is that of raising our children to desire Christ in every part of their lives...this includes a life of service. However, we feel strongly that hands-on parenting of our children does not include putting service to the poor above their discipling. Yes, I know it's not really a word, but I say "discipling" over discipline because parenting is truly discipleship. Serving the poor overseas is certainly a part of this new passion of discipleship. Okay...with that thought in mind....we feel as though we will be vagabonds for most of our lives (Lord-willing and guiding), but we also feel as though so much has happened in the last 3 years, that we need a time of "refilling" and rest as a family...surrounded by family....

We are coming home....but not permanently. :)

In the meantime, God has opened the door for us to house-sit for a missionary family who will be going on a 6-month furlough to the US starting at the end of May. This is an incredible blessing to us as we will not have to pay for rent, but rather just utilities allowing us to (hopefully) save some money for flights home. At the same time this opportunity came, another couple received acceptance into the Newlife International School of Midwifery program here. This allows us to pass on our apartment and all our belongings to the couple serving the poor in Mercy Maternity Center in July! (Yes, this does mean that baby Stewart #2 will be born in the Philippines; hopefully at our new place of house-sitting!) I cannot begin to tell you how the pieces have fallen into place regarding the timing of everything.

You see, Tim and I have had a deep desire to go back to Canada to spend Christmas with our families. It may seem trivial, but having spent the last 3 Christmases here and now having two children...well, it has been a desire to experience Christmas with our kiddos with their extended the missionary family that we are house-sitting for will be returning to Davao the end of November leaving us without a place to live. This is a good thing. This sealed the deal for us that God was setting up the opportunity to come home for Christmas. So our current plan is to arrive in Vancouver the end of November and hope to stay for as little as 6 months while we prepare for the next move. Tim will continue to oversee the water project in the Philippines while creating international partnerships with and for Impact Nations through the provision of safe, clean drinking water......

This creates a whole new set of transition....we have no place to live, no winter clothes for the kiddos, no furniture, no get the idea. But just as God prepared for us a place (a beautiful and peaceful place) for us here in the Philippines after selling everything we had, we have no doubt that He will continue to pave the way for us, though we are treading carefully and submitting every detail to Him....

Toti, Tim's right arm man, will continue the water project here with Tim communicating with him frequently. There is so much happening with the water project now and Tim is confident that helping manage it from afar will not be a problem come November. I will be supporting him while beginning to plan for the next place of residence....whatever country that will be in...while learning to parent two toddlers.

I know without a doubt that I am leaving out a whole bunch of details and thoughts. I am aware that I have followed a few too many rabbit trails in this post. Just blame it on me being 27 weeks pregnant. :)

Back to Sherry. She challenged me this month with the story of a gal who "left it all behind" for the passion of Christ. If you get a chance, read the blog postings from and perhaps listen to the podcasts she recommends from I guarantee it will challenge and maybe encourage you....I would love to hear some of your thoughts or comments on the subjects shared....honestly, I am shaken by their challenges and I am encouraged that our calling as a family has not changed.....and will not change, though I look forward to His rest and refilling in November.

Be blessed. I leave you with the Bird sitting on our front step awaiting another adventure.....
PS. Please keep us in your prayers as there is a LOT to plan and think about. THANKS!!!