Friday, December 20, 2013

And she was with woman.


December 21 here in the Phils. I am in the midst of raising the LAST set of clinic fees due February 1. Pray about being one of the 196 people I need to donate just $25 each.

 I wrote the following short story for a short module class we had a few months ago. It is based on my experience in the Philippines back in the summer of 2010--and it is the reason I am here today, doing what I am doing. Hope you enjoy looking at the faithfulness of Christ in my life! I know it was such a sweet reminder for my heart, too. (Names and some little details were changed a bit for the sake of my class assignment.)


Hot. Sweaty. Exhausted. The Philippine heat had no mercy on its prey, especially after a 5-kilometer hike in the mountains. At last, they arrived. After climbing the rickety stairs to a villager’s home, each wisely selected a place to sit, praying that the weak bamboo slates would not break beneath the weight of their comparably large Westerner bodies. The three needed some time to cool-off. Lucky for them, culture is kind to afford many resting periods throughout the day, as well as frequent visits to the small sari-sari stores for something cold. Sure enough, within ten minutes, cold orange soda and Skyflake saltine crackers were served.
Words were exchanged between the family and the group’s translator. They had come to do a Bible study. These people were new believers. The two young foreigners nodded and smiled politely, completely oblivious to the conversation. One of the foreigners, Carl, signaled to the translator that it was time to begin the lesson. As the family gathered, a little girl came running to the porch, shouting frantically. The cry was translated to the two foreigners. A woman in a nearby home was in labor and she needed help. In a split second, the whole group, including a large group of neighborhood kids, had vacated the porch, quickly slipped on their shoes, and were running a kilometer down the rocky road to the laboring woman’s home. Hot and sweaty again, the group arrived, with both foreigners bringing up the rear. Shoes were quickly slipped off again and they entered into the home, this time with a little less caution than before. As they came into the small home, which was a small open room, they saw a sheet hung from one wall to the other, behind it which laid the laboring woman. Carl was quickly shooed outside on the porch, leaving the American girl--Ruth, her translator, and the woman from their Bible study to attend to the need. They approached the curtain, and slipped behind it. Immediately they fell to their knees, as they saw the baby lying on the risen bamboo floor, with a tightly wrapped umbilical cord around its neck. There was no time to think of the bag of supplies left at the first house. The Filipina translator reached down, swooped the baby into her arms, and unraveled the cord. Without delay, the baby began to cry. The girls breathed sighs of relief. Crying was a good sign. The mother seemed to be doing all right. She was conscious and talking, curious if her baby was okay. They girls looked around, noticing that the afterbirth had already been expelled and was attached to the other end of that raveled cord. “What in the world do we do with this?” thought the young American girl. She scooted closer to her translator, hoping for some kind of instructions for what came next. “We need to cut the cord,” she said, understanding the lost look in her companion’s eyes. “Do you have scissors?”
       From the shadows stepped the father of the baby. He replied a short sentence in the local language and immediately sent the herd of children from the outside porch to a neighbor’s for some scissors. Meanwhile, the father was instructed to boil water in preparation for cleaning the scissors and for a bath for the baby.
            As the group waited for supplies to come, Ruth became squeamishly aware that her bare hands had been exposed to blood—a huge ‘no-no’ in any medical situation. Seemingly unaware of the potential hazard, the Filipina translator picked up the placenta, cupped it in both her hands, and motioned for Ruth to examine it. “See how the bloody patches just rip apart? That means the placenta isn’t so healthy.” She went on to point out small white lumps present amidst the fleshy tissue.
“How do you know all of these things?” Ruth whispered
“I took first Sem in midwifery,” she replied matter-of-factly.
“Well at least that is one semester of something useful,” Ruth pondered, as she thought of her own courses in basic university studies.
Noise from approaching children could now be heard. Scissors and hopefully some more help would be arriving. In came an older lady from a nearby house, followed by one of the baby’s older siblings, waving a pair of yellow-handled school scissors. Her father grabbed the scissors quickly and stuck them in the plastic basin full of boiling water. They remained there for a few minutes, as chatter got louder and louder with the foreign conversation of the new woman, the team’s translator, and the woman who had just given birth.
Everything was immediately so foreign. “Is this really happening?” thought Ruth. “My hands are covered in blood, I’m holding a newborn baby, and I can’t interpret any of the talking ringing in my ears.”
Now the women were motioning for Ruth to cut the cord with the clean scissors. A woman tied a boiled string tight around the cord, and Ruth cut her first umbilical cord. With this sudden boost of confidence, she followed each motioned instruction to care for the baby, giving him (Yes it was a boy!) a bath, putting his clothes on, and wrapping him in white blankets made from old flour sacks. Once she looked back, the new mom was sitting up, with a considerable amount of baby powder on her face as a measure to absorb sweat. Ruth passed the baby to his mother. The two made a wonderful pair.
The afternoon carried on as normal in that village nested high in the mountains. But for Ruth, nothing would be normal for her again. It was the beginning of something very abnormal, but very wonderful. She thought often of that day. She hadn’t had any training. She hadn’t even had a clue what she had just done. But to everyone there, she had been a great help. She had been an assistant to her Filipina companion. She had been there for the baby. She had been there ‘with-woman.’



Tuesday, December 3, 2013

to carry on to completion..


       I love my life here in the Philippines. The overwhelming confirmation and hand of the Lord on the life He has led me to here is unmistakable. I thrive. I am living a dream come true—God is fulfilling desires left and right that my heart has had stored up for years. I love things like jumping on public transportation, going to the market, speaking the language and understanding what is being spoken back to me. I love worshiping with Filipino believers, seeing a family-based culture band together to meet everyday needs, and adapting by understanding that my own culture doesn’t do every little thing the best way. I love that a part of me—quite a huge part—will never ever be the same, and will carry so much from these beautiful people around with me for my entire life.
     I love serving women and their babies and their families. I love that laughing and smiling and being goofy and giggly is an everyday must have in the life of these people. I love it.

But..

Let me be a bit transparent with you all.

A season of change is approaching quite fast. I have been here almost a year and a half. My remaining time here is dwindling—and quickly at that. My mind tends to wander exceedingly often these days. When it does, it will wander straight to next Fall. I have begun to ponder what a new transition in life is going to look like when I go back to the life I have in the States.

I am scared. I am scared to try to switch back to a world that seems so foreign in my mind. Find a job, get a car, settle down to live somewhere. It is comforting to know that the coming season is only just a season--that the goal is not the US alone, but all nations. That of course is the desire of Christ. But still, moving back and trying to figure out life is a lot of pressure.

I am homesick. I am missing weddings and births and holidays and time. I am missing my sister driving a car on the busy Memphis interstates, my brother excelling in college classes, and best friends starting new lives with husbands or in a new town. I miss hanging out watching redbox movies with my mom, telling her everything under the sun because I know she will listen. And I miss spending the night with my aunt and cousin in Midtown and eating good Southern food with the whole family at my grandparent’s house.

I miss it. I really miss it all.

And yet, I know that the Lord has not overlooked this, as He is patient and teaches me and shows me His plan through His word.

“…And I pray that now at last by God’s will the way may be opened for me to come to you. I long to see you so that I may impart to you some spiritual gift to make you strong—that is, that you and I may be mutually encouraged by each other’s faith, I do not want you to be unaware, brothers, that I planned many times to come to you (but have been prevented from doing so until now) in order that I might have a harvest among you, just as I have had among the Gentiles.” –Romans 1:8-13

“I know that when I come to you, I will come in the full measure of the blessing of Christ.”
–Romans 15:29

These verses are such an echo of my heart, as they are bookends to the letter of Romans in the Bible. Paul longs to go to Rome but has been prevented from doing so. He tried a few times, but rests in the fact that God’s timing of his return would produce a harvest and would carry with it the full measure of the blessing of Christ. For me, this is a promise of the Lord’s sovereignty, even in the time I am missing and the seasons that will come.

Continuing to long. Continuing to trust.

All that being said, I am not finished here. And I don’t intend to check out mentally, spiritually, academically, clinically—anything. There is still work to do. There are still babies to be born. There are many, many things to be learned, many experiences to share, and many joys that the Father intends to shower as I serve.

So I ask for prayers from home.
*Pray that people would come to salvation and trust Jesus Christ as Savior. Pray that we would be bold here and make that our focus.
*Pray that God would strengthen our organization and charity birthing center here. Oh what a mighty work He continues to do, as things change and new ideas and opportunities to serve arise.
*Pray for opportunities for us to serve those affected by the typhoon that hit the central Philippines a few weeks ago. Pray for those already meeting the need there.

**Check out this wonderful video of the clinic I serve at daily by clicking HERE.

And I once again ask for you to pray for me.
*Pray for spiritual endurance and joy in each day.
*Pray for me financially. I have one more round of clinic fees due on February 1, 2014. I know if seems pretty far away from now for some, but I ask that you would consider partnering with me here. I need 200 people willing to send $25 each to fund February through August of 2014. Remember that fees go to help run the charity birthing center I volunteer with and serve the impoverished women of Davao City by providing a safe and loving place for them to give birth, as well as be exposed to the Gospel of Christ.

I know that God intends to finish what He began.

“Being confident of this, that He who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.” –Philippians 1:6

“Blessed is she who had believed that what the Lord has said to her will be accomplished!”
–Luke 1:45

Thank you for walking alongside me in this journey! What an impact your prayers and support are making! Will write again soon,

--Midwife Brittany

Saturday, November 9, 2013

haiyan.


November already.

     I have attempted to write the follow-up post(s) from my Cambodia trip several times. However, just shortly after my first post, we were asked to remember to maintain a heightened level of sensitivity towards what we publicly post, as the long-term missionaries and their ministry are under close watch. So anything other than the ‘touristy’ things I did (which encompassed all of one day there) I can’t really post here on my blog. I decided, however, to send updates on the trip through emails to those of you on my support list. If you don’t receive my emails and would like to, you can message me on facebook or my email (brilbart@ut.utm.edu) so I can add you!

     Once again, I want to thank those of you who gave so I could be apart of this initial scouting team to Cambodia. We were thrilled at the overwhelming response we received from the community and God’s obvious presence and hand in this endeavor. We sent out another team of girls just a few days ago for the second trip there. Please be praying for them as they help out on the Lake, encourage local believers, and meet the needs that God puts in front of them!

     As an update from life here—I am loving every single second of it, of course. This has in many ways become the norm—home—to me, and the thought of having to leave it behind (sooner than later) is a painful one to have. I am learning so much and am happy that midwifery is one of those things you never stop learning about. I love love love learning Visayan and am continuing language lessons with one of my best friends here. Our teacher is so wonderful, and I think I can speak for the both of us by saying that we quite look forward to our language lesson on Saturday afternoons.

     Onto the babies and mommas! Here are pictures of my continuity patient, Marian, and her newborn. Look at the eyelashes on that beautiful girl!



     Most of you probably heard about the typhoon that hit the Philippines just a few days ago. Thank you for praying and showing concern for me here. We only experienced a little rain from the storm, but areas further north were hit very badly. I have been scavenging the internet for ways to find out what exactly happened and how bad the damage was, but reports are inconclusive, as communication to the affected areas is limited. Friends I know in the areas posted that they were seeking shelter before the storm hit, but I have yet to hear from them since. Vonn has been able to contact some of the people there that he did mission work with earlier this year, who report flooding and mass looting. To see a few pictures of the devastation of Typhoon Haiyan (or Typhoon Yolanda as it is known locally), check out the links below. The second link mentions a death toll of over 1,000. Please continue to be praying for the people here in the Philippines. This country is repeatedly hit with super storms like this one and the destruction is always quite devastating. May the Lord use this time to continue to draw people to Himself.



Will write again soon,
Midwife Brittany

Thursday, October 10, 2013

cambodia. intro.

    It is about time I sat down to write about my two weeks in Siem Reap, Cambodia. It was an amazing opportunity to travel to another part of Asia and see God at work. You know, He REALLY is at work in this world, even amongst the turmoil and the immorality and the hopelessness, He is doing a mighty thing in the hearts of all peoples in all nations. Don't forget that He promises to call ALL nations to be apart of that great worship around His throne. (Revelation 7:9-10) He has promised it will happen. If we believe Him and take Him at His word, let's commit to be apart of that redemption!!


After this I looked, and there before me was a great multitude that no one could count, 
from every nation, tribe, people and language, standing before the throne 
and before the Lamb. They were wearing white robes and 
were holding palm branches in their hands.  And they cried out in a loud voice:
“Salvation belongs to our God,
who sits on the throne,
and to the Lamb.”

     I have decided that too much happened while I was gone and that I will post a few updates, instead of one long post. So here's to an introduction to my two weeks away.
    The organization that I partner with here in the Philippines has been praying for years that the Lord would open up doors for connections with other missionaries on the field, especially in the area of maternal healthcare. As years have gone by, little has been done--that is until now. 
     Missionaries living in Cambodia, doing ministry on the Tonle Sap Lake, have seen the need for maternal healthcare providers for years and have been praying for God to send them help. That's where we come in. Our organization sent three of us in to Cambodia on an initial trip to survey the land (much like Moses send out the spies into Canaan). Our goal was to come under the already-established ministry of the missionaries there to spend time with the people and learn about their culture, traditions, and community views on pregnancy, birth, newborns, birth attendants, etc. Our team of three made a pact at the beginning to go in with open minds and hearts that could be led by the Holy Spirit and to be very much opposite to the spies sent into Canaan--that is to refuse to carry a spirit of fear and see unbeatable giants in the foreign lands. 
     I will tell you that we saw that Spirit of fear and we saw huge giants. But we also saw a growing spirit of freedom and walls of fear being torn down as a small group of believers have begun to grown in faith and love, following their Creator God. Look for an upcoming blog on the spiritual growth in the community we were in!
       The two other studying midwives and I traveled to Siem Reap, Cambodia on a Tuesday, arriving late at night, and spent the subsequent few days there in the city. We went around with one of the missionaries there, gathering supplies from local pharmacies to be prepared for anything from prenatals to births out on the lake. We learned more about the existing ministry out in the floating village and went through an orientation on the present ministry, their work, and their strategies to set the captives free from their animistic bondage. We also took a few hours of one of those first days to see Angkor Wat, an collection of massive temples built in the 12th century that bring in thousands upon thousands of tourists each year to Siem Reap. It was a perfect way to have our eyes open to the country's history and gave us a look into the spiritual lostness we would be facing. Below are are pictures of the city, the temple, and of our team. Click here for more info on Angkor Wat. 

In the tuk-tuk with our iced coffee on the way to the temple

Sarah and Echo across from me.

 









Until next time,
Midwife Brittany


Saturday, September 7, 2013

Birth Stories. and Cambodia.

It has been quite the month here in the Philippines! So much transition as the batch above us left, the new first-year batch came in, and we have had busy, BUSY shifts. In the past month, I had two very special continutiy patients deliver their babies. See their pictures and their stories below.

Grace.

      I absolutely loved being Grace's midwife. She was more of a friend and having prenatals with her was always a joy. Grace was pregnant with her second baby, a baby girl. A good friend of mine delivered her first baby, and I was more than excited to deliver her second. When she texted me that she was in labor, I came to the clinic to find a very active, 8 cm dilated momma. She gave me just enough time to get everything ready and then delivered her baby! She was a great pusher, listened wonderfully to me, and baby girl was perfect. Her husband, Eugene, cut the cord and soon after brought a very sleepy new big brother, Josh, into the room to meet his new sister. 
Everything was going alright with Grace in the time after birth, except within the hour, she started bleeding pretty heavily. We administered some uterotonic drugs to help encourage contracting of the womb and had to insert an IV. She kept bleeding and eventually fainted from the high volume of blood loss. Even though I have seen this a dozen times before (our women here are at such a high risk for hemorrhaging), it really scared me. I just did what I knew to do, and with the help of a few other wonderful midwives, we were able to get Grace stable. I just sat beside her, talking to her, praying. Yes, all of these women and babies are SO precious to me, but when my very own patient, one I have been walking with for 9 months, experieces a complication, it effects me in such a different way.  
    Praise God for His sweet faithfulness to me and to Grace. She and her baby girl, Cheska, are now wonderful and healthy, three weeks later.
 Continue to pray for Grace, though, as she is a little bit anemic and tired. She has a very supportive bana (husband) to take care of her and her baby. So so thankful to get the chance to love on this patient and her family. Here they are are, just a few hours after birth.

 Amy.

     My second continuty patient to deliver in August was Amy. Once again, I was completely honored and blessed to be her midwife. Amy is a dear friend and the sister of Charlyn, who runs the outreach to Badjao (sea gypsies) that I do volunteer prenatals with a few times a month. Amy and I formed a fast friendship as I began doing prenatals for her early on in her pregnancy.
     Labor was a bit different for Amy, as time slipped quickly past her due date (40 weeks). At our clinic here, we only can have women deliver from 37 weeks to 42 weeks pregnant. Under our clinic's protocol, if a woman passes 42 weeks, we refer her to the hospital to give birth instead. Well, when Amy got to 41 weeks and a few days, we attempted to naturally induce her labor. (No people, we didn't do a pitocin drip). Instead, we had her doing exercises like a mad woman, trying to get that baby moving. Next, I tried ripening her cervix with evening primrose oil. After a day's time, that didn't seem to work. She came in on a Sunday morning for castor oil. She downed a 60ml bottle and was directed to continue exercising. Finally, she texted me late that night that labor had started, and I headed to the clinic. She was only 4cm when I checked her around 10pm. So she labored all night, walking outside with her bana. She got active around 3am and came inside to deliver her baby. She too was an awesome laborer. I know it is a tad bit 'midwifey' of me, but when a mom pushes out the baby's head slowly, with such great breathing and control, it is the coolest thing. Amy was absolutely wonderful at this. Her baby boy Nel Jedidiah was born with a cord around his neck, so it took him a good minute or two to breathe. We were all prepared for resuscitation, but with a strong heart beat, we only gave some oxygen and he cried shortly after. This too was such a cool, amazing birth. Love Amy and her sweet baby boy!




     So the last part of this post is a glimpse into the near future. For those of you who receive my monthly support emails, you already know about this, but in just a little over a week, I head out for a trip to Cambodia. The organization that I volunteer with here in the Philippines (Mercy Maternity Center) has been presented with an awesome opportunity to send some of us midwives to Cambodia to partner with a local IMB missionary on the ground there. His ministry is located on the north end of Tonle Sap lake in Cambodia. . Our team of midwives would be working with people who live in house boat villages on the Tonle Sap. The population is comprised of Vietnamese refugees and native Cambodian people who live far from any medical care.


     The organization that I served with in 2010 & 2011, Nehemiah Teams through the IMB, sent a team to this area for this first time this past summer. To read about their ministry, check out this link (http://nehemiahteams.blogspot.com/search/label/2013%20Houseboat%20Homestay)
      Our director made a recent trip to the area and reported back to us that there is a dire need for midwives there. So, we have been asked to bring a team of midwives in to assess the maternal health care situation and to formulate a plan to help provide quality care. We have the open door to pave a way for the missions translators to share the Gospel, as midwifery care would be provided in the home, on the family boat, thus opening the door for the translators (and us too!) to share the Gospel. We would also have opportunity to teach these local Christian translators the basic skills needed to deliver a baby and to recognize complications, training the people to reach their own people.
     This trip provides the opportunity to do the ground work, the "plowing of the field." I am a part of the initial 3-midwife team that heads out to survey and assess needs. Our organization intends for teams to be constantly sent out for quick ground work to be laid and care to begin!
      This is an amazing opportunity and a great privilege. The organization I serve with has been praying for years now for opportunities to partner all over the globe to arise, and I am so excited that God is opening doors for the season that I am here!
     I sent an email to those of you who support a few weeks ago, asking for prayer as our leaders decided who to send and when. Just within a few hours of sending, several of you asked to help financially with this opportunity. I was astounded and took that as immediate confirmation that I was to go! As I am completely funded to go, I still ask for a few things more..I need you to pray!!

*Pray for those of us going on this initial trip, that we would be open to the Lord's leading, and to have the wisdom to help as we can. We have no idea what to expect, so be praying that we would be sensitive to the Holy Spirit.
*Pray for us as we fight a spiritual battle. Many of the rituals and beliefs surrounding birth there are heavily based on works of a witchdoctor. Let's ask God to show Himself superior to the powers of darkness!
*Pray for opportunities around the world like this one to blossom. I knew even before I came here that being a midwife is such a unique tool that can be used ANYWHERE in the world to meet urgent needs and break down any walls or barriers to the Gospel. God has continued to show me this as I have been here this past year, and I am confident that He has prepared other places like Cambodia for us to serve. Let's pray expectantly!
*Pray for the leadership here at Mercy. This trip is a great opportunity, but a serious one. God has been working in many hearts for a long time, and this is just a step towards branching out with missionary midwives. Please pray that wisdom would be granted and that the Lord will clearly show His will and leading in this new ministry opportunity.


Thank you for reading and encouraging and PRAYING and loving. Continually, every day, I am blown away at the blessing of Christ in YOU.
-Brittany

Thursday, July 25, 2013

babies & mommas & pictures.

Here's the financial scoop as of today:
       I am at needing 71 more donations of $20 to continue learning and serving here in the Philippines. It is exactly one week until the clinic fees are due on August 1st. Would you pray about partnering with me? Thank you for those who faithfully read, support, pray, and encourage me!

Continutity patient update:
     I have two more 'conts' who are term right now--Amy and Grace. Continue to lift them up in prayer. They are both pregnant with their second baby and could deliver any moment now. I will be sure to post their birth stories soon after!
     My patient, Jessica, who I wrote about just a few days ago came in for a baby check-up yesterday. See the pictures below!

Jessica (19 years old), baby boy Jessriel, and me!

He looks so silly, but so so cute!!

Sleeping in my lap...

        Sometimes I forget just how precious mommas and babies are. Below are a few more recent pictures of a patient I took care of in postpartum yesterday. I was not the handling midwife in her birth, but took care of her and her baby until they went home. The momma's name is Laida. She is Badjao patient from the outreach I volunteer with at Isla Verde. (Look back at my previous blog post called On the topic of badjaos and generosity (<--click there) to learn more about the Badjao people.) I remember months and months ago doing Laida's intial prenatal, so I was overjoyed to receive her in postpartum yesterday. I always love interacting with the Badjao people, even when our languages and cultures are so so so different (They don't speak Visayan, the language I am learning here.)

Laida and her baby boy..

They named him Daniel.

so cute!
Hope you enjoy the pictures as much as I do--Aren't these babies and moms so beautiful? Once again, I am so thankful for the plan God has set out before me. I would never be experiencing this all with having first known Him. Tis sweet to know and trust in Jesus!
      Oh and a special thanks to Sandra Norvell and her Sunday School class at Bartlett Baptist Church for knitting the hats and sewing the blankets both babies have in the pictures! It is always such a joy to give those to the moms!

--Midwife Brittany

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

jessica.

I'm a happy happy happy and very grateful midwife. Let me tell you why.

I have this patient named Jessica. She is my very own patient--a continuity patient. Every time she steps foot inside the clinic, I am responsible for her care and the care of her baby. I initially took her as a 'cont' as a referral from another girl I volunteer with, Eileen. She had seen Jessica at her first prenatal visit and knew that from her small frame and undernourished body that she would need a midwife to closely monitor her pregnancy. Also, 19-year-old Jessica was very reserved and closed-off emotionally. I agreed to take her as my patient and scheduled her next prenatal.

When I met her at our first visit together, I had trouble finding her. I came in to the clinic, got her chart from the clerks, and called out her name to the women waiting--no Jessica. I went to the prenatal waiting area and called her name once again--no answer. I decided to head back over talk to the clerks and ask them to help me find my patient. As I walked over, I saw a patient sitting to the side, on the stair-steps away from all the other waiting patients. I looked at the young, very small girl and asked if she was Jessica. Indeed she was.

So thus began our prenatal check-ups almost every two weeks. I told her that I would be her midwife, I gave her my number, wrote my name on her chart, and told her that I would be taking care of her from now on. She was evidently closed-off and disengaged. Nevertheless, we continued on. Throughout the weeks, I monitored her nutrition, urging her to maintain a good diet and to healthily gain weight. Week after week, she would come in, with a slightly larger tummy and a gain of a pound or two. I was still unsure if she was following the advice I gave her, as the progress didn't seem like much. Emotionally, too, she was making progress, little by little, as I tried to get to know her, be there for her, teach her about herself and her baby, and let her know I was availabe if she needed anything. She soon began to catch-on that I was her midwife. Towards the end of her prenatal check-ups she began to recognize me and even get up to follow me before I even called her name. Praise God for small steps in progress.

Time came when she reached full-term. She had grown a bit and even reached 40kg (88 lbs) by 40 weeks of being pregnant. Yeah, that seems small, but for her, it was tremendous progress. I monitored her closely, asked her to begin preparing everything she would need for her birth and reminded her to communicate with me by phone when her labor started so I could be sure to be at the clinic. There were a few blips during these few weeks, like her baby changing position, me going out of the city and being worried I would miss her birth, her not responding to my frequent attempts to communicate with her, and other little things. I continued to pray for her--that she would deliver at our clinic with no complications, that she would feel at ease knowing I was her personal midwife and would take care, that the relationship we built would open the doors to share. I also asked all of you who read to pray for her and her baby.

Tuesday night, I got in bed, turned my cell phone ringer on high as per usual and prayed for my continuity patients before sleeping. At 4:30am I got a text from Jessica that she was in labor and on her way to the clinic. She had remembered to text me like we talked about over and over again! I jumped in the shower, grabbed my things, and got a ride to clinic. Jessica was there, very active. I checked her cervix--7cm, bag of waters still in tact. Just 3cm more to go. I brought her mom into the room, we all prayed, and then I advised her to try to walk around a bit. She was very compliant. After 3-4 contractions of walking around, she said her baby was coming! She returned back to the bed, her water broke, and in a matter of 10 minutes, her baby boy was born. It was a very controlled and focused birth and she listened so well to me as her midwife. She barely had any bleeding, had no tear, and baby was big and so healthy looking. This had been the most easy and controlled and compication-free birth I have seen! Praise God! I was expecting a lot of bleeding and other complications because of her compromised nutritional status--but nope! Oh and it just so happens that Eileen who referred Jessica to me was on shift and got to be there for the birth--such a special time!

So I finished up paperwork and got Jessica and her baby boy, Jessriel, settled in our postpartum area. I explained the importance of coming back for check-ups and about how to care for herself and her baby at home.

In the midst of such a wonderful birthing experience, I became overwhelmed with how good God was and is to provide for Jessica and how even though I am so so unworthy, that He let me be a part of something special.

The words "You are good. You are good, when there's nothing good in me" of the song 'Forever Reign' came to mind. Thank you God for including us in on your plans, for choosing to use sinful men for your purposes. You are good, oh so good, even though there is nothing good in me!

Below are some pictures of the Jessica, Jessriel, and I. Thank you so much for praying for Jessica and her baby. I am convinced that your interceding produced wonderful blessing in her pregnancy and delivery! :) Until next time,

Midwife Brittany




Saturday, July 13, 2013

July--week 2. Financial Update.

     The second week of July is over. This week was full and productive, as I managed to complete a lot of my current assignment, along with having shifts at the clinic. I also have gotten the time to hang out with some friends visiting the city and am expecting the Nehemiah Teams I helped with in June to visit Davao for a few days this week!

     As the second week is over, so is half the month of July. Two more weeks are left until my clinic fees are due. As an update to those of you who read, support, and pray--I am now at needing 140 more donations of $20 by August 1. Several of you gave and encouraged me throughout this last week! Thank you!

     An update from the clinic: My continuity patients that are term now have yet to deliver. Continue to keep all my patients in your prayers, but especially Jessica and Amy as they each are expecting a new baby anytime now. Pray that they would be able to deliver normally at our clinic and that I am able to be there, helping them and encouraging them through their labor and delivery. "And 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." --Ephesians 6:19
     Also, below are pictures of baby boy Raven and momma Rachel. Raven was born on July 7th and was a special gift to his mom, as it was her birthday on the 7th as well. It was so fun getting to be Rachel's midwife. I look forward to seeing her and her baby at all their check-ups.





     I know God always keeps me on my toes, stretching my faith and teaching me to patiently and earnestly trust Him for each and every one of my needs. I am thankful I get to trust Him. It is much cooler and such a privilege and blessing to watch the Lord provide instead of me trying to aimlessly work to do it on my own. I am learning a lot in this season--much more than just how to care for women and their babies, but also how to trust in the Lord. I am excited for how He plans to use all the things I am learning in the future!

     Thanks again for reading and supporting and encouraging me! Remember if you want to help me financially to continue my second and final year here in the Philippines helping mommas and babies while I learn, you can do so by donating via the "Donate" Paypal link to the top left of my blog.

To God be the glory for what He has already provided and for what I know He intends to do in the next two weeks.

--Brittany


Sunday, July 7, 2013

July--week 1. Financial Update

     Getting back into the swing of things at the clinic has been so wonderful. I'm thankful that God gives me a happy heart to be serving where I am. I was happy happy happy in the bukid (mountains--rural areas), but I am equally as happy happy happy to be here in the city, loving on mommas and babies.

     I have worked prenatals and 2 birthroom shifts since being back, saw 6 of my continuity patients in prenatals (a few to give birth this month!) and caught a baby boy just earlier this morning! I'm glad that even after my month of being in the bukid, the birthing skills I have learned just came right back when I needed them! Oh and even some new skills are getting put to the test (like the 3 IVs I have started!) So yeah, loving that I am learning, loving that I get to help in a different way by praying for the teams still serving in Butuan, and happy in my heart because it is a blessing to be in the season I am in.

     As the first week of July has wrapped up, I wanted to give a financial update. For the "$20--200 people challenge," I am at needing 160 more donations of $20 to continue to the second of my two years here serving in the Philippines. There are three weeks left until the deadline for my clinic fees (by August 1).

     As a reminder, those of you who are interested in supporting can look at the top-left side of this page and click DONATE to give through Paypal.  Please also feel free to look around my blog, especially for newer readers. There are various posts describing the ministry I am involved in and the experiences I have had this past year.

     During my Bible reading this week, I was encouraged by the story of Christ raising Lazarus from the dead. Jesus knew that he was sick, yet for whatever reason, waited a few days until He went to him. By the time Jesus arrives, Lazarus has died, and people were mourning his death. Jesus weeps, is moved emotionally because He loves His people so much. Then, Jesus raises Lazarus from the dead. Many people put their faith in Christ because of this miracle. --John 11 What is equally as neat is that even in the next chapter, John 12, the crowd that witnessed the miracle was spreading news about Christ and more and more were following Christ.

     Even though God, through Jesus, decided to wait to heal Lazarus, by raising him from the dead, he was very much in control and used His timing (though beyond what was understood in human terms) to draw people to Himself!

May God use His own timing in our lives to draw people to Himself!

 -Midwife Brittany

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

What is a people group?


     Each year during Nehemiah Teams, we read a selection of world christian/mission articles as we are serving our two months. While I was with the healthcare team in June, we read the article below. It is too good not to share! Hope it challenges you to be actively involved with the redemption of all nations!

What is a People Group?
by Claude Hickman 
(http://www.thetravelingteam.org/?q=node/187)

     When someone gives you a job, it is important to get a good handle on the task, including the definition of the task. When God gives you a task, it is infinitely important that you know the definition of the task. God has promised to reach all the nations of the earth and commissioned us as His ambassadors in that work. In order to be good stewards of this mission we must have a firm grip on the extent of the task, which, in the work of world missions, brings us to look closely at the terms that the Bible uses for the task. Namely, what does it mean to reach the nations?
     
     When we think of nations we usually think of the 268 nations of the world. In the New Testament, the Greek word for "nations" is the word "ethne." We get our word ethnicity from it. It means something like an ethnic group. The idea is that it is much more specific than the political nation-states we think of such as Indonesia, Turkey, or Nigeria. An anthropologist would call this "ethne" a "People Group." A people group is the largest group within which the gospel can spread without encountering barriers of understanding or acceptance due to culture, language, geography, etc.
Take the country of India for example. In India there are hundreds of different ethnic races of people, but even among those ethnic groups there are divisions made according to the thousands of languages they speak. It gets more complicated. Among one language and ethnic group there are religious divisions that keep people from interacting with one another, and will, at times, even result in violence between neighboring groups. Now, even among those same ethnic, language, and religion groups there will be more divisions; social divisions. In India it is called the Caste System. Basically, what this all results in is over 2,348 people groups in India that see themselves as a unique people from those around them. And because of their differences, most are isolated from the gospel. Even though it may be nearby, the message of Christ may be in a language they don't understand or in a culture that is unaccepted. In other words they have no interaction with those people groups around them who may have the gospel. Someone must cross these cultural boundaries to get it there. This is the work of missions: to take the gospel into each people group. When the Bible speaks of nations, tribes, tongues, peoples, it is referring to the same mission; the reaching of all people groups.
     
     The promise of God is that "all nations (people groups) will be blessed through you" (Gen 12:1-3). This means that God is infinitely concerned with the reaching of each and every people group that exists. In fact, He is so concerned with reaching all of them that He is keeping a meticulous record of the fulfillment of His promise. In Psalms 87:4-6, the Lord says, "I shall mention Rahab and Babylon among those who know Me… The Lord will count when He registers the peoples, 'This one was born there.'" We see that God is recording in the Register of the Peoples all those that He is bringing to heaven. They will one day make up the multicultural worship service seen in Rev. 7:9.

     So, if God has promised to reach them all and we are commanded to go to them all, we must be familiar with the task remaining and rally the church to the targeting of them all. There are currently 11,260 people groups on planet earth and there are about 6,534 that are considered unreached. The Great Commission is finishable. It is measurable and something that can be completed. The question now is; what is an unreached people group (UPG)?

     Ed Dayton says, "It is a people group among which there is no indigenous community of believing Christians with adequate numbers and resources to evangelize their own people. In other words, unreached people groups lack a church that has the numbers and strength to reach their own people. Obviously, if there are no Christians within this group, there will be none who can share the gospel with them. And this is the situation in which we find over 3 billion people of the world. They are the people groups in which there is no church that is able to tell them the good news of Jesus Christ."
Trent Rowland clarifies what is not an unreached people group by saying, "Since 'unreached group' refers to a group of people with no viable and relevant church, a non-Christian neighbor of most Americans would not be termed 'unreached.' They are unsaved and need the gospel of Jesus Christ. Yet they probably have a church available in their own language and culture. They could go to church if they chose. In other words, they may be termed 'unsaved' or 'unevangelized persons,' but not 'unreached' because they are part of a 'reached' group."
       
     God is not just concerned with reaching more and more people as He seems to be with reaching every People Group. I would like to borrow an illustration from John Piper in which he compares the situation to two sinking ocean liners. If the promise of the Navy General was that no matter what ship in his fleet went down there would be some rescued from that ship, and if he enlisted his crew for that one purpose, what would they do if there were two ocean liners sinking at the same time? After reaching the first sinking ship you might see that there is great need and that you could justify staying to save as many as you could from the first ship, rather than going to the second. You could even argue that in the effort and time it required to get to the second ship, you could be a better steward by staying at the first. Perhaps the people at the other ship are unwilling, and this seems to be a fruitful ground for desperate swimmers. There is plenty of need here. However, this was not the General's command. He specifically ordered his crew to save some men from both ships, not just one. This is why it is necessary for men to take the rescue boat to each ship. There must be representatives and survivors at the General's banquet from every ship. God has promised to reach some from every tribe, tongue and nation and people. He has enlisted us to rescue them and one day there will be a banquet, where all nations and people groups are represented before the throne.

     The task is finishable. "God blesses us that the ends of the earth may fear Him" – Psalm 67:7. God has indeed blessed us with all the resources that we need to finish His Great Commission. Let's look at how the statistics break down in view of what it would take to reach each individual Unreached People Group (UPG's). Basically, for each of the 6,534 Unreached People Groups there are 552 churches in the world. That means if your church teamed up with 551 other churches to send out a team of ten people and financially support them, it doesn't sound impossible to pull off. In fact there are 103,500 Evangelical Christians per UPG, plenty for putting together teams of ten. How much money would it take to send out these teams? A generous guess would be $3.26 Billion annual support. Sound like a lot of money? Christians earn $16.3 Trillion each year as a whole. Evangelicals probably earn about $5.4 Trillion. If only the Evangelical Christians (a much smaller group, 1/5th the size of all Christendom) gave five dollars each year, this would supply above and beyond the needed finances. The task of world missions is not being held up by a lack of finances, or churches, or people
Now, with a solid grip on the definition of the task, a confidence in the resources available, and an unyielding obedience to the mission of the General, let us throw off everything that hinders and run with perseverance the race He has set before us.

Saturday, June 29, 2013

let me tell ya about june

I'm back now at home (in Davao), gearing up to start my second year at our maternity clinic. Here's what I have been up to the past month..

I helped supervise the Mindanao rural healthcare teams through IMB Nehemiah Teams during my month break in June. I had the BEST time as I watched 15 American college students quickly adapt and jump right in and share the love of Christ to the lost and poor in the rural areas surrounding Butuan.

 This map shows in red Agusan Del Norte, where Butuan City is. The map below enlarges the province to show some of the areas surrounding the city. The healthcare teams are scattered among four remote areas in between Butuan City and Las Nieves, offering services like blood pressure checks and free circumcision to young boys, all while being intentional to share the good news of Christ with those who are deeply rooted in animism. To continue to follow the teams as the serve their second month in the areas, go to http://nehemiahteams.blogspot.com/search/label/2013%20Healthcare%20Teams. The site is full of pictures, updates, and ways for you to pray for them as they serve!
     As many of you know, this specific missions opportunity is near and dear to my heart. It is this same team that I was able to join in the summers of 2010 and 2011. It was during these summers that God changed my heart to be aware of the lostness around the world and showed me how I could join Him at this work using midwifery as a relational tool to share.

While there, I had the blessing of visiting the believers in the village I served in my two summers. They are now meeting in a small building (The land and structure was funded by some of my past teammates.) and have a pastor. Although they are few, their roots of faith are deep. And I was blessed beyond I can say to worship with them this past month.


 Here is a picture of the members that were there the first Sunday I visited. The two women beside me are Ate Adday and her daughter Mary Ann, the two people I was closest with my first summer there. Praise God they are continuing to follow Him!

The pictures below are of the three baptisms we were able to witness while being there. The first two pictures are of a husband and wife, and the third is of a youth member. :)


I could write a million and one things about how much I learned or was reminded of this month. There were funny times, new memories and old, hikes in the mud, habal2x rides, cooking successes and catastrophes, a wedding, bucket bathing, and so so much more. Most important of all is that there are workers amongst a ready harvest field, fighting a spiritual battle, that people may come to know Jesus. I'm thankful to have met them and helped a bit!

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And now, back in Davao, I am looking towards quite a busy month. I have 4 continuity patients due this month, which means I am basically on-call all of July. I switch from 3 to now 4 shifts a week. The other half of my class goes on their break in July, so the clinic is full of interning volunteers. I have quite the heavy assignment as I learn about 'Well Woman.' My dorm just moved locations, and as each of us arrives back, much re-organizing and moving in is to be done. And I am nearing another deadline for clinic fees.

So far 33 people have donated $20. Only 167 more to go by August 1st. Please continue to join me as I look forward to serving my second and final year here in the Philippines, helping moms and babies and sharing the Gospel!

I miss you all across the world! Thank you for being apart of the eternally important work of making Christ known!

--Midwife Brittany

Friday, June 7, 2013

1 year down, now a break.

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I can’t even begin to tell you of the joy I feel as I write this post.
      It is 4:18 pm on June 6, 2013. I am back at the BOOST (Baptist Outside of School Training Center) in the outskirts of Butuan City, Philippines. This is where I called home during the summers of 2010 & 2011, as I served through Nehemiah Teams on a medical team.
     This place has a certain air about it. Maybe it’s the change of scenery from big city Davao to simple bukid (rural mountains). Maybe it’s the people here—ones I have grown with and learned from and loved starting from years ago. Maybe it is simply the presence of God here. Whatever it is, I am happy and blessed to be back serving. Even though my role has changed from team member to a trainer, the air of familiarity remains—of simple living and simple sharing of a simple love that changes lives. This pulls at my heart in ways that hardly anything else in my life does. 

View from the BOOST--second home for me. :)
     
      I am on my one-month break that splits my 2 years volunteering at Mercy Maternity Center in Davao. Instead of going back home to the US, I am helping with set-up and training for an incoming mission team from the states. The team of US college students arrives on Saturday, June 8th here in the Philippines to join with Filipino believers to share the gospel through medicine to people in surrounding rural villages.  Please remember them in your prayers throughout the summer months of June and July.
     Looking back at this past completed year in the Phils, I can tell you a few things for certain. Never more have I learned, never more have I loved, never more have I been put in situations to trust what God has laid in front of me. And never more have I felt a confirmation that THIS is where I am supposed to be for this season.
     Even though I miss my home in the US and all my friends and family and just the normality of life as I knew it growing up, I can’t help but marvel at how true God is to His word. When He says that  

“no one who has left home or brothers or sisters or mother or father or children or fields for me and the gospel will fail to receive a hundred times as much in this present age: homes, brothers, sisters, mothers, children and fields—along with persecutions—and in the age to come eternal life."..(Mark 10: 29-30)

 He really wasn’t joking. He is faithful. He fulfills His word. He is true. I’m certain I’ve written about this very thing before, but allow me again to be thankful that our Lord doesn’t change. He doesn’t leave us. He doesn’t forsake us. He is God.
     As I prepare for second and final year serving and learning at Mercy Maternity, I must be very transparent with those of you who read. I am in great need. I am once again in need of financial support for clinic fees for this coming fall. If I can be honest and show a little bit of my discouraged heart, it is no fun asking and asking and asking for money. BUT let me tell you that from what I have witnessed of the work of the Lord, He always provides. And He uses His people to provide. Just like He uses his people to reach those who are lost.
     So once again, boldly I ask for your help in allowing me to continue serving in the Philippines this year. Each and every amount is something huge. Every effort to repost my blog, to share with your family and friends, to challenge your small group, to be apart of the Lord’s work in expanding His kingdom—it all counts! I challenge each of you who read to be moved to donate a small amount. A simple $20 from 200 of you would meet the goal. It was done back in January. I am excited to watch it happen again!
     Of course more than anything else, I ask for your prayers. The harvest in plentiful, but the workers are few; therefore pray that God would send our workers among the harvest field! That is the goal. That is what we live for as believers. Let’s together match our actions with this in mind! 
     I will update as much as I can in June about my experiences here in the bukid, as well as progress in raising the needed funds by August 1 for me to continue serving here in the Philippines. Thank you for encouragement and support and prayers! Oh that God may be glorified for the way He is using His church!

Brittany :)