Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Prenatals in Bugnay...

Early the morning after we arrived, we started doing prenatals at our house. The women arrived at our stairs, knowing we were in town for just that. When we unpacked all our stuff, we realized we forgot a very important part- the measuring tape. But it was an easy fix, we just asked all the builders in town if we could borrow the construction one. Every time we brought it out to use that day, we laughed. Instead of a soft cloth material, it was metal... the women didn't seem to mind. And we had a good time trying to use it .... bulky and stiff as it was. :-)

We also did house visits for prenatals and baby checks. This mother had delivered the night before we arrived. So this little guy is two days old. He was such a cutie! As you can see, he had a something little special on his hand- and extra thumb. This is regarded as good luck and is not removed in their culture. All in all, we did well over a dozen prenatals and a half dozen baby checks. It was wonderful going to their homes and meeting their children.
 The women seemed so much more relaxed having us as guests in their homes. I even met one young lady who has my EXACT birthday (day, month, year!). Her name is Angela. I took pictures of us together but they didn't work out. :- ( She is due in the next few weeks, and tells me that if she delivers a girl, she'll name her Stephanie.

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Our first night in Bugnay...

This is the entrance into Bugnay. We stopped to say hello to friends on our way to Belen's family's house. We have to step over fences made to keep the pigs in and the trails are made of rocks, cement and mud. The women carry all their packages on their heads. And this little girl is no exception. The homes are made of mahogany and concrete as the men learn from an early age how to be master carpenters.

When we arrived, our first visit was to Belen's home where we met her parents and sister who is visiting from Manila. In this picture, you see Belen's back, her niece Sonia and her father. The woman with all the tattoos, is her great aunt. She incidentally, has no idea how old she is. :- ) This is outside their home. We unloaded our bags and settled in for some native coffee. The coffee grows rather well here and it is served extra sweet! - much like the rest of the food in this country! The Filipinos i know have insatiable sweet tooths!

Again, this is Belen's great-aunt. She is so used to squatting and bending over that she is no longer comfortable standing up straight. Although she tried to do just that for this picture. She is smoking native tobacco, rolled in a cigar. Most of the older generation smokes it. Around her neck, hang very old beads that have been around for generations. Many women wear them. They seem to indicate status (as the older the beads, the more expensive they are). She also has the local tattoos on her arms. This is done for beauty. Tattooing is seen as very beautiful and indicates which tribe they are from. It is rarely done anymore, as the younger generation find it difficult to find work in the city when they have tribal tattoos.

That first night, we attended a viewing of a film made to share the gospel with the native peoples. It is called 'The prodigal Son' and has been made into several different dialects. The church was packed and sat riveted by the depiction. I too, understanding nothing, was riveted. We had a few people explain certain events, but as a whole it was very clear. And best of all, it was well received. They showed two versions that night. We didn't stay for the second viewing, as we were too exhausted from our trip.


Friday morning we packed our bags and climbed atop a Jeepney for an adventurous ride through the Filipino mountains. Our destination? ... BUGNAY! We planned to stay the weekend, check up on all the pregnant women in town and worship with the But-but tribe on Sunday morning. This picture is of me on top of the Jeepney at the beginning of the journey. At one point, there were 23 of us holding on to the rails and bouncing along the bumpy, muddy road. The views were spectacular! This was the main reason we wanted to be on top of the Jeep instead of inside. For more than 6 hours we feasted on the lush scenery and gawked at the rugged tropical beauty.

What a breath of fresh air from the fumed-filled city streets of Davao City. One mountain in particular stands out. It is called 'Sleeping Beauty'. Perhaps you can see her lying there, sleeping in the distance. Rice is the main crop of the Philippines, i would say. This is a rice paddy up close. It will be ready for harvest in July, I'm told. This is a picture of Belen (our lovely local guide and translator!) and me standing on the bridge leading to Bugnay. The bridge is made of metal and sits several hundred feet above one of the largest rivers in the north. That day, it was raging with brown muddy swells from the recent rain storms. In the distance, you can see some of the houses of the village. I am told there are about 1000 inhabitants in Bugnay. And Bugnay is just one of 5 towns, where the But-but live. I'm told the But-but tribe is one of the largest ethnic groups here in the north.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Breath of life...

These are pictures of my second catch here at Abundant Grace of God... We got a text late one night and took our 'ambulance' to go get her. She lived 30 + minutes away in another village and had no means of getting to the clinic. She said she was not active, but when we picked her up she was having strong contractions every 3 minutes. She got to the clinic shortly before 10 pm and had her baby an hour and 13 minutes later! It went quite fast. Her baby needed resuscitation but he perked up quickly. I'm glad she didn't have him at home, as he needed a lot of extra help getting started on this whole breathing thing! This is a picture of our ambulance we picked her up in. This is her sister-in-law, the grandmother and a Filipino midwife on staff... and of course little baby Errin.
This is a picture of my patient and me in front of the clinic. She, like many of the women we serve, is very petite. She isn't angry... at least that is what I'm told. Her tribe is not a smiling bunch.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Transporting to the local hospital...

The other day, we had a patient who chose to go to the hospital and deliver. She got discouraged because she developed severe leg cramps. This picture is Janelle transporting her in our 'ambulance'. Her husband was our 'stretcher' carrying her from the deliver room, to the ambulance and then into the hospital. I think this is my new favorite way of transporting women now. It was fast and very effective... but then again, she weighed very little. Eventually,she was placed on a stainless steel stretcher. It didn't look very comfortable, but it was definitely clean. We all went in to make sure she got the best care possible. We attracted quite a lot of attention so we didn't stay too long. We stopped over at the pharmacy to get some supplies. It is on the side of the hospital.

Prenatal questions...

Yesterday, a very sweet young mother asked me, "Ma'am, I am work on computer. Will hurt my baby?" At first, I wasn't sure what she was asking, so I repeated her question back and she said that I had understood. She wanted to know if her computer would cause any fetal abnormalities or problems during her pregnancy. I assured her that sitting in front of a computer screen would not hurt her baby but that I couldn't say the same for her eyes.... or tush! :-) She left much happier and not just a little relieved. I was happy to share the good news. :-)

A sneak peek at the Birthing Center...

This is a quick peek at God's Abundant Grace Maternity Center where I am currently working. It is clinic within a house. The bottom floor has a kitchen, bathroom and three rooms for the clinic. There is a delivery room, prenatal room and postpartum room. It's tight but very efficient. The main entry is the reception room... And this picture is of the director and one of the staff proof reading birth certificates.

In this picture, one of the staff is washing linens. The patients family are required to do their own laundry by hand. It's a simple process and works well.

This is a picture of my first patient here at Abundant Grace. I enjoyed getting to know her over the two days she was here. It was a beautiful birth.

Friday, April 17, 2009

Outreach and prenatals in Laclong!

Today we went to Laclong, a neighboring village to do a teaching on Labor and Delivery and prenatals. It rained the whole time... but it was warm and fun, none the less!
Look at the size of our umbrella!
She was doing the laundry in the rain!
 We also gathered the women and their babies for check-ups.

Laclong- second take...

Getting ready for teaching... already we were attracting a crowd.
 Janelle taking blood pressure
 Inside look at the prenatal room... we fit three women at a time inside the house.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Manila and beyond! - Day one and a half of the adventure

So much... oh so much to share.... but I'll start with this, the ADVENTURE HAS BEGUN! Yesterday morning I was shuttled off to the airport where I caught the early flight to Manila. My partner in crime and trusty side-kick is a travel savvy MK from Africa,named Janelle. Together we had it all figured out. We'd drop our bags at the bus depot and then explore the city on foot. We were excited. Once we landed, we powerhoused our hiking bags on and off carts, around the masses and made it to the concierge desk for information.

We figured it couldn't hurt to ask for directions for the bus depot. When in doubt, ask! Right? We made it to the concierge desk and were thrilled to learn we could get to the station using public transportation. So off we went, with a skip in our step to the bus depot. We boarded a transit bus and rolled on and on... and on. We were told where to get off by the conductor and then asked a few people who helped us find the place. We were so proud that we made it there by bus... all on our ingenious own! (plus the help of about 25 locals- of course). But soon after arriving, we discovered there was just one problem... it was the WRONG TERMINAL!

We then had to brave the taxi system (not a good reputation in manila) and cross town to the northern terminal!.... Amid the honking and exhaust fumes... we had to laugh. We had tried to avoid the taxi and here we were begging one to get us to our next stop. Three hours after landing in Manila... we made it there at last. We purchased our tickets and stored our bags. We were exhausted... hot... hungry and a bit defeated. The noise and the dirt, the heat and the hassle, had conspired to zap the adventurous spirit out of our steps. We had grand plans to see Rizal Park (a 58 hectare oasis in down town Manila) and then roam around museums to while-away the time. But instead we opted for the nearest mall and settled in for a 7 hour lay-over.

We ate, played and laughed our way around the mall. We got lost in the book stores and even more lost looking for the loo! (Apparently only the locals now where they are... and restroom signs cannot be trusted!) We didn't want to stay any longer than we had to at the bus station so we tried to time our connection to the last possible moment. We had to be there at 7pm so, optimistic us, we gave ourselves 15 minutes. We were naive to think that a 7 minute ride could take us longer than 15 minutes or that traffic might play a part in our downfall. But most of all, we assumed that like in everything else in the Philippines, that time didn't matter and they'd hold the bus for us! Oh... we were WRONG! Oh so very WRONG! Not only was our bus gone at 7:05 when we arrived but it had left exactly at 7pm!!! Timeliness is a concept that is largely unknown... or possibly unappreciated by this culture- EXCEPT AT THE BUS STATION!

Happily, my story does not end with my trusty-side-kick and I standing sullen and dejected, holding our bags amid the masses of travelers. We were able to catch the next bus (which thankfully left only 45 minutes later) and bunker down for the 12 hour commute to Tabuk. Yes, you heard that right... 12hrs! Now, I've taken international flights across the Atlantic that didn't take that long! But we were happy... because the Victory Liner bus was taking us further and further away from the BIG-BAD-CITY with every minute. And we were both craving a little country-side time. The ride was uneventful... if you don't count the cheesy-B-class horror movie they subjected us to, or the lack of sleep and leg room. This morning, we arrived safe and sound to our destination... a lovely birthing clinic surrounded by rice fields on three sides and a main street on the last. As I sit on the balcony and type out this message, I get excited about what the next few weeks will entail. I'm sure it will have something to do with catching babies... but i'm hoping for much, much more. But as each adventure leads me to new places... I'll make sure and bring you along. Until then, thank you for lifting us up in prayer!