Monday, October 29, 2012

on the topic of badjaos and generosity.

Life in the Philippines is going by so quickly. I already feel SO at home here and can't imagine not standing on the corner to catch a jeepney or going to the market to buy the food for the week. It is home. Praise the Lord.

I am still volunteering at the clinic each week on prenatal shifts and birthroom shifts. I love very second of it and can't even begin to tell you all I am learning. Each day I am so in awe that I am living this life, the life the Lord set out before me, learning to be a midwife, seeing new babies born several times a week, learning a language and a culture, and building relationships here.

One of my favorite parts of my schedule is going on an outreach to Isla Verde to do prenatals for the Badjao women in the community. Even though my language training in Visayan is completely useless with these people as they speak a different language, I am finding it to be so worthwhile spending my time with them. I am even working it into my free time to go volunteer there with some filipino missionaries who have been planted in the Badjao community. This is what I have learned so far about the Badjao--

They are known as sea gypsies as they make their 
 living off of the sea, selling pearls and fish. 

They are very poor and unaccepted among the filipino population here.

Most do not know how to speak 
English or Visayan, read, write, and have no concept of time. 
(Making questions like "How old are you?" or "
What years were your children born in?" hard to answer.)

They practice Islam, yet are not accepted 
or recognized as Muslim by the Islamic community here.

They wear wonderfully bright colored clothing 
and have very distinct (beautiful!) faces and voices.

 To learn more about the Badjao people, you can click here.

So when the Badjao patients get prenatals, they are done at Isla Verde, as the women rarely come to the clinic for their check-ups. When the women are in active labor, they show up at the clinic and are admitted, given care, and extended grace. Most of the time, they don't bring anything with them (baby clothes, baby hat, change of clothes for the mother, etc), because they simply don't have it. But what they do bring with them is a whole caravan of other Badjaos, who are close-knit and supportive of their kind.

On my last shift a few days ago, I was able to help with a Badjao patient who had come to the clinic to deliver her baby. It was such an eye-opening experience, one where I was able to witness first-hand the power of the Holy Spirit transcending language barriers and the power and dominion of Jesus proving faithful to help in time of need. Read what my housemate Sarah said about what happened here.

Interactions like these truly bring to light the reason I have come. Yes, I desire to learn the skills to become an able midwife. And yes, I am very much in love with the filipino culture. But so much more than those things, is the desire to see these people come to know Jesus as Savior. When I think about the Badjao, how they aren't even accepted in their surrounded community and how they are really in need on so many levels, I can't help but think that THESE are the people Christ came for. Yes, I know He came so that all may know Him as Lord, but these are the ones that have been disregarded by so many, but have not been forgotten by our God.

All that being said, this is where YOU come in. I am only here in the Philippines by the grace of God to provide for my needs through people who are willing to support stateside. If you read all my blog posts from this past summer, you can witness such a repeatedly faithful Father, as all my needs were met for me to be here this fall. Now I am looking toward the spring, completely trusting God to burden your hearts to see the need and commit to pray and financially support.

I found it quite ironic as I am here completely on donor support that God would choose to speak into my heart so much on the topic of generosity. Through 2 Corinthians 8 & 9, I have been SO challenged. I urge you to take just a few minutes to read them as well. (chapter 8 & chapter 9)

I heard in church this past Sunday a quote by Baptist missionary, William Carey, who said,

"I will go down, if you will hold the rope."

 The same words beat true in my heart. 

I am willing to go down 
down to the places others don't want to go, down to the places that are not easy and might be hard, down to the dangerous places--all for the glory and renown of the Lord Jesus Christ.  

Will you be willing to hold the rope?

Sunday, October 14, 2012

lost and found.

The lost sheep. The shepherd leaves the ninety-nine to go find the one. He searches until he finds. He rejoices, calling his neighbors and friends, as he comes home with the one that was lost.

The lost coin. A woman loses one of her ten coins. She lights a lamp, sweeps her entire house, and searches until she finds it. She calls all her neighbors and friends to rejoice as she has found the one coin.

The lost son. A son squanders his inheritance in wild living and hits rock bottom. He returns home with a sorrowful heart, willing to be a servant in the house of his father. Instead, his father runs to meet him and calls for a huge celebration in honor of his son's return, for his son was once lost, but now is found!

In Luke 15, Jesus tells a series of parables about things that are lost and the drastic measures that surround them being found. I have read these passages countless times and even use them here in the Philippines to explain salvation to the people we minister to. But once again, I found myself reading this chapter in a study I am doing on the life of Christ.

It wasn't until this past Saturday that the Lord began to teach me even more about lostness.

I was having a hangout day here at the house--some friends were over and we were working on some decorations for an upcoming wedding. We had lunch, I worked on my assignment, straightened up my desk a bit, all cooked dinner, and watched a movie. Towards the end of the night, I realized that my watch wasn't on my wrist. I looked around me, thinking I must have taken it off when we were cooking or after I had washed my hands. No watch in sight.

Now most people wouldn't freak out about misplacing their watch (not that I was completely freaking out), but I never take it off so I was wondering where it could have gone. I began to notice myself subconsciously looking at my wrist to check the time. I did it like 10 times that hour, realizing each time that it wasn't there. I thought about how I use it to check the date to write on patient's charts, to note the number of heart beats in a minute, and to check respirations of a newborn. It is a simple thing, but pretty important.

So after our movie, I really began to look everywhere for it, retracing my steps all day. I went outside, I checked in the kitchen and the bathroom, all over my desk. Everywhere. My housemates helped too, but we couldn't find it. I told my roommate when she got home from shift about losing it and she helped search, too. I was searching in my closet in my room when I was stopped abruptly as I remembered those "lost" passages in Luke 15 that I had read before. WOAH. reality check. I was just like that woman who turned her house upside down for her one lost coin.

Then it all began to come together, as God reminded me of all the lost people in this world, who don't know of his saving grace and gift of eternal life. I began to feel quite silly for searching like a crazy person for a petty watch. I was challenged. Am I bound and determined to search for those who are lost until they are found? Am I willing to disrupt my life, leave everything behind, and find them?
I was pretty determined to find my watch--will I be committed to look with that same vigor and ambition?

I have really been praying for opportunities to minister to the women here and verbally share the gospel. I know the doors are wide open, and I don't want to miss the opportunity. For now, I am still learning how to administer good care and really how to communicate effectively in the language. I know I am still in a beginning stage and haven't had the chance to have my own patients and build those relationships. But the time is coming quickly where that will change. So I am praying now that I can be prepared and ready to share--to seek out those who are lost--to give physical care, but not neglect the more important spiritual care. I covet your prayers too, and find in God's word the plea of Paul to the church in Ephesus as similar to mine:

Pray also for me, that whenever I speak, words may be given me so that 
I will fearlessly make known the mystery of the gospel, for which I am an 
ambassador in chains.  Pray that I may declare it fearlessly, as I should.
Ephesians 6:19-20  

Below are some pictures of me with baby Khent Dave. He was born on Sunday, October 14, 2012 at 3:06pm. I was able to admit his mother, walk with her through her (very short) labor, be there to assist in the birth, and take care of her and her baby all through postpartum until they were discharged. I was really blessed to learn a lot from her labor and delivery. It was the first time a patient kinda felt like 'my own.' Hope you enjoy!

Baby Kent Dave

Doing his newborn exam.

He was a sleepy baby, but so good and cooperative.
The first time the board had my initials (BB) on it!

Erasing the patient's info after I discharged the mom and her new baby to go home.
PS--I did find my watch, in the bottom of my backpack. And just like the people in the parables, there was great rejoicing at its return to my wrist! ;)