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