Sunday, December 23, 2012

Christmas and China Town

The past few days have been pretty relaxing and low key. On the 21st, I babysat the Silvey kids so that Nolan and Salem could semi-celebrate their 12 year anniversary. They went out with Salem's parents, and Salem and her mom got and pedicure and later they all saw some of the Nutcracker. I ended up spending the night with them, because the next morning was their Christmas!

I was woken up around 5am, but I went back to bed in one of the back rooms for hour and a half while the kids bounced off the walls. I seriously think Isaac was going to burst by the time that we all were up and ready to open presents after breakfast. It seemed like they opened 100s of gifts, but its just because they played with every single gift before they opened the next one. I loved how thankful all of the kids were after opening each gift. From opening the gifts from their grandparents and parents to the gifts that people from Perryton sent, they were so grateful. I forgot about that innocence as a child opening a cool toy or game. I could tell that Nolan and Salem had prepared their hearts in that the meaning of Christmas was really about loving others and honoring God by doing that, but also that gifts are special and aren't what make up the holiday.

We spent the rest of the afternoon playing with marble chasers, monopoly, and ponies. Nolan taught me how to make banana bread and milo cake. Milo is the Philippine version of chocolate powder that we would use to make hot chocolate in the states. The cake was 4 layers with icing in between. Then we made a dark chocolate ganache icing for the outside. I have to say that it was DELICIOUS! We went around giving some of the missionary families loafs of banana bread or some of the milo cake. It was fun to be apart of this tradition with the Silveys, and see how they love on their community here in Davao.

I spent the night again with the Silveys, and today started out pretty normal and relaxing. I played barbies with Willow and hung out with the rest of the family. Then Nolan took Sara and me on an adventure to the Filipino China Town! It's literally the china town that you would expect. Everything is cheaper, and they have tons of stuff and crowded markets. Nolan first took us to one of the parks and showed us where the Badjao people live. I can't give you enough information about them yet, but I do know that they are considered the poorest amongst the poor in Davao. They have their own style, living accommodations, and style of living. Here is a picture of some of their houses.

Then he took us through some clothing and shoe vendors. These stores reminded me somewhat of the stores in India. The stores are tiny and packed with merchandise from the floor to the ceiling and one size fits all. Except here all of the people are tiny, so Americans are always extra large! (On a side note, one of the Filipino midwives made a joke about a woman being American size saying that she was huge. I didn't know whether to be offended or laugh, because its true! These people are just plain smaller across the boards!) Outside of one of the stores, I got to enjoy a few minutes with a group of people playing chess. You could pay 100 to 200 pesos, which is like 2 and half to 5 dollars, to play an entire game with this man. If you won, he would double your money, but if you lost then he could keep your money. They were a fun group of guys.

Nolan took us all through the crowded markets, and yes, we were malled by beggars and stared at by everyone. Nolan and I gave all of our change away to those who were persistent. I ended up buying apples to give away instead of just money. I gave one little boy an apple, and I walked back by him to see him sharing his apple with another little boy, who I assumed was his little brother. He had the best smile, so of course I asked to take a picture.

Nolan let Sara and I take a jeepney through china town. The ride costs 8 pesos no matter how far you ride on the jeepney's route. We rode through china town and got off before it took us through the town. Jeepneys come from when there was absolutely no transportation in the Philippines, and the US military left jeeps from World War II. The Filipino people took the jeeps and painted and decorated them. So you can imagine all of the jeepneys are very colorful.

When we got to the intersection that Nolan said he'd meet us at with the car, we waited for several minutes before deciding to take a tricy ride. The tricy rides are either bicycles or motorcycles attached to the side of a cart big enough to comfortably fit 3, but I've seen 8 or 9 people cram onto these. All of them have umbrellas over them to protect you from the rain and sun.

The rest of the afternoon we did a little more shopping and just went home to hang out at Nolan's house. I'm starting to love it here. There are several places that are American enough to go for comfort if being homesick is an issue. There are also some very poor parts of Davao that looks as if we were deep in a jungle or not part of a city at all. God is touching these people and place, but there is so much more love that needs spreading.

Thursday, December 20, 2012

3rd World ER

On Wednesday, I did several things including shopping, getting a massage, hanging out with Nolan and then some of the midwives, and finally spending some time with Salem in the clinic. I was against getting a massage, because I felt like that was too “vacationey.” But after Nolan talked me into it, I was glad! It was definitely an authentic Thai massage. I could go into detail of my entire day, but I feel a heavy heart to describe my night with Salem.
We were all hanging out at the Silvey house when I asked Nolan to text Salem to see if there were any active labors that Sara (Salem’s mom) and I could come watch. Salem said one woman was 7cm and to get there fast! We rushed to the clinic with just enough time to see a beautiful Philippina baby girl born. Salem caught the baby, and of course made the whole experience look like breeze.
I was able to bathe one of the newborns that was waiting in postpartum. This little girl was absolutely precious. She didn’t like to be bathed on her back, but as soon as I turned her over to wash her back she stopped crying. There is something special about giving a baby his or her first bath. The midwife who was with me gladly let me do the entire bath. She said her back always hurts from bending over, the baby cries almost the entire time, and she always gets hot and sweaty. All of those things were true, my did hurt, I was sweating profusely, and the baby cried for 85% of the bath, but it is one of the only ways that I can serve these people, which makes it worth it to me.
As soon as I came back into the birthing room, I heard Salem yell from the restroom, “head visible!” All of the midwives ran for the CR (it stands for comfort room and it is the bathroom where the women could use the toilet and wash themselves before and after giving birth). They were able to get the woman back into one of the birthing beds, and about 6 minutes later, another girl was born.
I believe it was approximately 45minutes later, when yet another midwife announced that this woman was ready to push. Everyone rushed between the curtains and I stood as a wallflower in the background. Salem was documenting the birth, the midwife catching the baby and the supervisor were scrambling when the baby came out, and the extra midwife was trying to get an IV into the woman. Salem was then getting oxygen to the baby, and the supervisor was yelling for another midwife to come and give an injection. In that moment I felt helpless even though they needed so much help. I gave them towels, gloves, tape, and stethoscopes when they needed it, but my expertise stopped there. Apparently the baby’s chest was retracting and they needed to transport him to the hospital. Salem looked at me and said “Elise you ready? We are going to the ER.” Salem rushed into the back of the van while I followed her with the oxygen tank. The guards let us past the registration desk straight into the “NICU” room of the ER. They weighed Salem and the baby, then just Salem to check for the baby’s weight. They had her set the baby in the plastic cold bassinet. Salem and I both agreed that this baby needed warmth and human contact in the first hours of his birthday. Salem went to help the baby’s father with registration and paper work.
I cradled this baby boy holding an oxygen mask over his tiny nose and mouth. His tiny wrinkly fingers and hands were dusky and almost white, but he clutched onto my finger the entire time. A man tapped my shoulder and asked to get the mop that was stored right next to the bassinet. I looked down to realize that there was also an open trash can and a few blood stains that still needed to be cleaned up. That’s when I really took notice of what was going on around me. On the other side of the bassinet was a bed where two children shared the bed. The walls were dirty and covered in bits of left over tape. The room we were in was simply a 3-walled room that was still exposed to the rest of the ER. We were 10 feet away from what looked like telephone booths that were big enough for people to sit in and hold their IV’s above them. There was a row of around 40 “booths” that were back to back with another 40 booths. On the far side of those, there were beds that were more like rusted gurneys. These were raised, and more than 1 patient shared many of the “beds”. Several people held handkerchiefs over there mouths to prevent from getting any disease exposure. There really was no method to the patient placement. It was just a huge room filled with kids and adults with all types of sickness or issues. I saw several people with open wounds that were yet to be treated. I then realized that everyone was staring at me. Salem and I were the only white people in the facility. I realized that many of the people staring back at me were malnourished and exhausted. These were both the patients and the family members of the patients.
I turned to just face the wall and just pray over the people in there. I prayed for healing and restoration. I prayed that they receive Christ’s love this Christmas. My heart was continually breaking. These people needed help, but to receive attention they have to go to a place that is just as dirty, if not worse, than the streets. Although the windows were open, I still had a steady stream of sweat trickling down my face. The baby I was holding was considered a “dirty baby,” because he was born at Mercy Maternity Center (MMC). Therefore, he wouldn’t be able to be admitted into the OB ward with the other newborns. He would be admitted into the ER ward with the other sick babies. By this time my tears accompanied the sweat streaming down my face. Its hard to explain the brokenness in that hospital, but I knew that God was still there and He was still taking care of everyone despite the condition. I just sang for the next 30 minutes until Salem came back to get me. I gave the baby over to his Dad and reminded him to hold his baby close.
I don’t have any pictures of this, but the scene it etched in my memory. The dirty white walls, the teal and rusty gurneys, and all of the curious stares from the Philippino people. Salem told me that all of this breaks her heart as well, but she does what she can and delivers babies at the MMC. It was heart wrenching for me, because there was nothing that I could offer or do proactively. I’m wresting with the thought of how I could even be a SLP in a facility similar to this hospital. I doubt they had any of the technology I would need, and I’m sure that they don’t have any speech pathologist working in that hospital. I wonder how God is going to use my education and me to love on people when Josh and I are missionaries.
Please take a minute and pray for the people in the hospital right now. We just don’t realize how amazing our technology and sanitation is in the US. I am still processing all that I saw last night and allowing God to prep me for what is in store tonight as I join Salem for her night shift.

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

First Born

Tuesday, December 16
Tuesday was incredible! I was pretty excited to join Salem in her day rounds at Mercy Maternity Clinic, but I was dreading leaving the dorms at 5:40am. However, I basically bounced out of bed at 5am, made some coffee, and walked out of the door as soon as Salem's honked for me to come out. It wasn't even an hour that we had been there when I heard the first new born's cry. Apparently Salem yelled my name several times for me to witness that birth, but I never heard her over the traffic, fans, and the talkative women waiting in the hallway for the prenatal checkups. I was kind of bummed, but I did see the tail end of the birthing routine after the baby was born. The father of that baby proudly cut the umbilical cord and the midwife did a great job of taking care of the mother.
The rest of the morning is almost a blur because of the packed series of events. Kelly took me up to join the ladies for some worship and devotional before the health teaching and prenatal check ups. It was amazing how the woman who led the devo walked everyone through the Christmas story and weaved it into the importance of salvation. The entire message was in mixed Visayan and Tagalog, but I felt as if I understood everything. It was truly moving. I went with Kelly to start the prenatals, but Salem sent someone up to get me because a woman came in with active labor.
Not even an hour later I witnessed my first birth! Salem assisted the birth, and had me stand where I had a front line view. To be honest, the birth was amazing and easy to handle. I have never had a weak stomach or a history of fainting, but as soon as the placenta was being pulled out I almost lost it. I felt my finger tips go numb, then my arms, and then my face. I didn't realize it until a little later, but I was sweating profusely albeit the lack of air conditioning, 90 degree weather, and small packed room. My vision started to fog over, and I knew that if I didn't sit down I was going to end up fainting and falling into the….. well… we’ll call it the pool of rose petals. Rose petals sound so much nicer than the actual multitude of things that come out after a baby is born. To take a side note… what if Eve was completely obedient in the Garden of Eden and didn’t eat the forbidden fruit? My imagination creates an experience of childbirth being like pushing out a baby as soft and bendable as peonies followed by a trickle of rose petals. What a nice aroma that just created! Although childbirth is nothing of said description, it is still a breath-taking and wonderful experience. Back to the birth.. After recognizing that I was a weakling, I sat down gathered myself before returning to the woman’s bedside.
This was the first baby I saw born! So precious.
Salem sent me back upstairs to watch Kelly do more prenatal check ups. I absolutely love Kelly. She has a personality about her that shows her boldness and charismatic nature, but gives off a soft vulnerable side as well. She explained the entire check up to me while still being personable with each woman. She taught me how to feel for the head of the baby and find which side the belly the baby’s back was facing. Just as soon as Kelly was going to let me find the baby’s heartbeat, Salem sent for me again. Salem’s patient had already come to the clinic early in the morning and was sent home to wait until she was further along in labor. This baby was ready for momma to push him out. Salem did a beautiful job. I was able to literally sit by her side as she caught this tiny baby.
Salem has always amazed me back in the states as a stay-at-home wife and mom, but to see her in an element where God has called her to be is invigorating. She is able to love her patients with her peaceful presence and confident skill set. The best way for me to describe Salem while catching a baby is graceful and quick on her feet. She stays calm while listening to her supervisors and making the best decision for her patient. She’s amazing.
That night I was also taught to wash a newborn baby by the absolute cutest 9 year old. She is one of the supervisor’s daughters. I loved that a child could teach me instead of one of the midwives. What a humbling moment it was to follow directions by a little girl and give a newborn her first bath.
The rest of the day I went shopping with Nolan and Salem’s parents and we all just relaxed at the Silvey house for the rest of the day. It was definitely a day to mark in the books. I’m sorry for the longevity of this blog, but it was one I wanted to document.

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Day 1 and 2 in Davao

Sunday|December 16
My first day in Davao looked pretty much the same as it would back in the states. Nolan, Salem, and Caleb picked me up from the airport at 8:45am, and we went to a coffee shop. I'm not sure if that was for my sanity, to keep me awake, or just somewhere that Nolan wanted to go, but of course I loved it. For lunch we went with they entire Silvey gang and met up with one of the mid wives that Salem works with and her husband and 2 girls. I'm pretty sure my meal was the Philippino version of Mexican food, but it was delicious! In the afternoon Nolan and I joined the Sunday volleyball crew and played competitive volleyball for 3 straight hours. I think I played 11 games total, and I won all but one. I was amazed at the level of athleticism among the missionaries and high school students. That night was a deep sleep to say the least. Salem dropped me off at the dorm, and I was asleep within ten minutes! Within 72 hours, I traveled to 5 different airports in 3 different countries with less than 10 hours of sleep, but I can say that I was not a victim of jet lag due to a little caffeine and an exponential amount of tiring volleyball
Monday|December 17
Nolan picked me up around 9am to go with the family and Salem’s parents to Eden Mountain Resort. It took us about an hour by car to get up the mountain. I wasn’t sure what to expect, but it definitely exceeded my expectations. How could it not surpass them when it is spring weather all year round with constant luscious foliage? There couldn’t have been a better name than Eden for this place. There were dozens of flowers in full bloom and thousands of different trees with and without fruit. When we got there we started off at the zip lines while Salem took a nap in the car. She wasn’t feeling well from her head cold and the increased altitude. She said she felt better after 2 hours.
The zip line was amazing! Willow, strapped to the front of me, sang as loud as she could “I believe I can fly.” There is nothing cuter than a blonde-haired blue-eyed 3 year old with a fearless personality. As we soared over the trees, I could see all the way down the mountain to the edge of the island where the beach met the ocean. I think the slight drizzle that covered all of us heightened the moment. Such a sight to see and a cool thing to experience!
Later we explored the aviary or “bird park,” garden, and buttery nursery. My favorite was the butterfly nursery. We were able to hold them, but I was TERRIBLE at it. I remember being fearless as a child, but for some reason I was freaked out by some of these butterflies. The butterfly tender held out a butterfly for Benjamin to hold with this weird thing hanging down from the body, and he said that it was “just the sex organ.” It was funny, but still… I didn’t want that on me and neither did Benjamin! I tried for half an hour to catch a butterfly, but the larger butterflies got the best of me and I chickened out most of the time. Salem chased me around trying to get a picture, but we ended up getting one that was on a flower. The picture below is a butterfly that was crawling up my shirt and Isaac saved me! This was not posed at all, but Salem got it right in time.
After lunch and a tour through the resort, we went back to Davao. Salem and I went to the clinic to help out one of her fellow midwives for what she called a “ pap smear party.” Juniper is a character. She is from Alaska, and has multiple skills from being a masseuse, fire dancer, and barista. She brought doughnut holes and coca cola for the 6 women who showed up for the “party.” Salem showed me how to take the women’s pulse rate, respiration rate, and BP while Juni did the pap smears. Those are simple skills, but I had never been taught prior to the party.
I tried to summarize the day, but there was so much to it! I knew this trip was going to be an adventure.

Saturday, December 15, 2012

Kentucky to Philippines

I've made it from Lexington, KY to Chicago, IL to Hong Kong, China, and now to Manila, Philippines. I just have to wait for my flight at 6am to make it to Davao, Philippines. So far I loved the people on the Hong Kong flight. I got really sick at one point and I think that 4 different flight attendants checked on me multiple times to see if I was okay. So sweet! Then I met several nice people from the Philippines. Salem was right, all of the Philippino people are so nice! Of the 3 that I've talked with, all were genuinely caring and nice.
On another note, I CANNOT wait for some coffee. I have an aeropress (it's a coffee maker for those who don't know coffee lingo) and some freshly ground coffee in my bag, but I can't use it because I don't have a way to heat up some water! Unfortunately at 1am, there are no coffee shops open right now or I'd grab a cup. I thought I'd write a small blurb to keep everyone up to date.
As for the shooting in Connecticut, I have just been praying like crazy. I cannot even fathom the disparity that these families and friends are experiencing. I really don't believe that it was God's will for this to happen, but I DO believe that He is here with those directly affected and for the distant onlookers like you and me. He is with us to endure times such as this.
Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves receive from God. For just as we share abundantly in the sufferings of Christ, so also our comfort abounds through Christ. If we are distressed, it is for your comfort and salvation; if we are comforted, it is for your comfort, which produces in you patient endurance of the same sufferings we suffer. And our hope for you is firm, because we know that just as you share in our sufferings, so also you share in our comfort. 2 Corinthians 1:3-7

Sunday, April 1, 2012

Haiti: March 11 & 12

March 11th

After almost 10 hours of deep sleep, I was wide awake at 6:30am! I got up with Meredith and Kathryn, and I had a quiet time before breakfast. It literally only took 8 minutes for me to eat breakfast before I went downstairs to take a nap before church.

Church was incredible. It was inside a military white tent. There were windows and a breeze with palm trees in the background. We sung at least 5 songs a cappella in beautiful Creole. God spoke to me throughout the worship although I only understood the word "Jezi," Jesus. Taylor Noone preached about being the body of Christ as a whole church, community, and nation. It was beautifully preached, and there was incredible communication with his non-verbal language.

That afternoon, I was still feel exhausted from the days before. I took a 4 hour nap to recuperate from the physical sickness. Later, I played some cards with Meredith, but I mainly took the entire day to prepare for the following week. Jody explained that Sundays were the sabbath, and we were just to rest the entire day any way.

March 12th

After coming to Haiti last year, Josh and I (Elise) decided to raise money through our wedding to build a cistern for a fisherman’s village. Instead of giving us a wedding gift, we asked for our friends and family to support the ones in Haiti that we met the previous year. I was heart-broken when the people of the fisherman’s village told me the lack of water that each family received each week. Each family shared a half-gallon of water for every 3 days. I know that I waste water brushing my teeth, warming up my shower, and cooking on a daily basis in the U.S. The fact that the entire population of the fisherman’s village barely had enough water to survive on created in me a desire to raise support and build a cistern.

My group left at 5am for Ka Pa Fu, a small fisherman’s village, from the Mole. We loaded into a motor boat that fit our group perfectly. I filled the group in about all of the statistics and information that I found out last year visiting Preskul. I even pointed in the direction where Preskul was. About 30 minutes into the boat ride, I realized that we were veering left, which was not in the direction of Preskul. I asked Jose, and he told me that we were Ka Pa Fu, another fisherman's village. I felt immediate devastation, honestly. I started crying for the people of Preskul at the thought of these people. I was upset at the miscommunication or that I didn't realize that we were revisiting the same village from last year. I couldn't calm myself at the thought of praying for this village for an entire year and not getting to build them a cistern. I found out later that Pleasant Valley Baptist Church in Kansas City, MO came in July of 2011 and again in January of 2012 to build Preskul a cistern. As much as I thought only Josh, I, and the Wesley Foundation at Texas Tech could build Preskul a cistern, God reminded me that he is doing His work whether of not we are being utilized by Him in other countries.

When we arrived in the village, all of the school-age children had already left by the time we arrived at KaPaFu. (It takes them 2 hours to walk to school each morning.) We started our visit by gathering large rocks and buckets of sand from around the village. I learned how to carry a bucket of sand balanced on my head for 50 yards and carve a fish with poisonous bones. After the foreman of the village started using string to measure the size of the cistern, we started digging dirt out of, what was soon to be, the outer border of the cistern. Each border had to be 2 feet deep, and each corner had to be 3 feet deep for iron support rods. All the borders and corners were 1 foot wide.

After an hour of digging, the village people took over to finish the border. During this time, 2 different groups went into 2 different homes. The home that I visited did not have any mattresses, pillows, bathrooms, or a kitchen. All of these rooms were combined into two rooms. The huts were made out of palm leave roofs, bamboo interior, woven leafed exterior, and dirt floors. We were told that 5 to 12 people can live together in one hut as a family. The woman who showed us her home was proud to live in a house where she had a beach-front view, shelter to protect her family, and a front door to complete her home. We prayed for the baby in her womb, the 2-year-old that clung to my skirt all day, and that the cistern would be a daily reminder that Jesus is their Living Water. After sweating all morning digging holes, carrying sand and rocks, and spending time with the people of Ka Pa Fu, I know that we boarded that motor boat departing our Haitian family – not the strangers we met at 6:30 in the morning.

Later that afternoon at the youth conference, there was a time confusion. It was supposed to start at 2pm, but we ended up starting at 3:45pm. The topic was about the importance of community and accountability. During the small group time, the girls were a little timid. We mainly discussed forgiveness and gossip, but we ended our time talking about how community can shape our relationship with Jesus. Today was difficult, because we only had one interpreter and about 30 girls along with 15 Americans.

Overall, this day was incredible and extremely challenging.

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Haiti: March 8-10

March 8th

We left Lubbock in two 15 passenger vans around 4pm. Singing songs the entire way made the 65mph ride a fun one. We were caught up in a small snow storm, but we eventually made it to Dallas by 11pm. After unloading and prepping for the morning, we were all asleep by 1am.

March 9th

We left the house in Carrolton at 6:30am. Our plane left by 9:30am, and we arrived in Miami at 1:10pm, Eastern time. We flew from Miami to Port au Prince, the capital of Haiti. We originally planned to immediately load the bus and caravan through the night to the Mole, but instead we stayed the night at a hotel. We played card games and processed through a team meeting about what we were about to see in the Mole. Honestly, at this point I was prepared for the poverty level from being exposed to it last year during Spring Break. I was nervous to see the same Haitian girls that I met last year and I wouldn't know their name. I was also feeling uneasy with the pink eye in my right eye, but I knew that I wouldn't let that affect the ministry God prepared for me to do in the following week. My cabin went to bed close to 9am. We pulled two queen mattresses into the second room in our suite in order for everyone to have some air conditioning through the night. I wish that I would have taken a picture, because we fit 5 mattresses into 1 room. It was like a jigsaw puzzle!

March 10th

We woke up at 2:30am (ready to leave at 3am), but we didn't actually leave until 4:30am. The bus driver didn't feel rested enough, which I couldn't blame him. I slept for 40 more minutes before I joined the rest of the team. I was noxious before I ever stepped foot on the bus. After an hour and a half (on semi paved roads), I had to lean over Abby Graham to puke out of the window. She had to look away - poor girl. I will spare you the details of my sickness, but I did end up throwing up the entirety of the bus ride.

After 5 hours, we stopped in Port de Paix and picked up 7 children, under the age o 2-years-old, for the orphanage in the Mole. I got to hold Samita. She had the brightest smile and held on to me for the rest of the trip. Last year, the TTU Wesley team helped shovel and wheel-barrel dirt into the floors of the orphanage to build the foundation. To me, this was the least enjoyable part of the trip. We didn't get to talk to any Haitians. The location was secluded and it was just our group getting blisters on our hands. The orphanage seemed so desolate and a forever-long process to build. I didn't see a "seed" planted or a life changed last year. However, the orphanage was completely finished when we brought all of these Haitian orphans to their new home. A bathroom and shower facility was built along with a small outdoor kitchen. Bunk-beds were in the rooms ready for their sweet heads to lie on. There were hundreds of toddler toys ready to play with. And, there was an enormous sand box ready to be dug in. I was reminded that when God uses us even in a small way, it can make a difference. I saw the fruit that day of what we did last year. What a blessing that was to see....

The team decided to rinse off by going to the beach for the afternoon. We recuperated for the rest of the day, and most of us were asleep by 9pm.