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.


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