Monday, 6 March 2017

The last goodbye

So this is going to be a short post as i will be boarding my plane in about 40 minutes,  but thought I would just send out a note to we go...back to Canada.  After saying a tearful and difficult goodbye to the clinic and Kalinga.  Not to mention the great graduation and goodbye party at the beach. Ellora and I spent two weeks in Manila at two different birthing homes.  Shepherds Home and Safe Refuge.  There we heard the stories of  women who have been through..well pardon the language but hell on earth as far as our human understanding can comprehend.  Missionaries both foreign and domestic have devoted their lives to helping and rescuing these women.  It was a  hard two weeks since we were in a strange transitional period both geographically and emotionally, but we were both so glad we chose to do those visits.  The truth is, this kind of ministry is where Both Ellora and I find our hearts to be.  

After Manila we headed to Tokyo for three days where I visited my long lost friend from Japan whom I went on a three month Missions trip to Spain 3.5 years ago.  It was a great time, short and low budget but really great. we ate such incredible food, saw some beautiful sights and met some lovely people.  

It is so strange to think I will be in Canada in about ten hours from now.  I am so excited to see my family but also feel a sadness having had to say goodbye to so many people so close to my heart.  This afternoon Ellora and I said our goodbyes.  it kind felt like I was being punched in the stomach.  but both of us know it is only for a season as we are quite certain it will not be long before we see each other again.  Ellora has flown already and will be somewhere over the Pacific, soon it will be my turn! First Vancouver and then off to Kamloops which is only 45 minutes.  

Well thats all for now here is a picture of Ellora and I before our party at Pegudpud.  The dresses we are wearing are traditional Kalinga fabric.  they were a gift from the clinic, a gift i will always treasure dearly...  

Sunday, 29 January 2017

The End draws Near....

I simply cannot believe that there is less than three weeks before I leave Tabuk, it is completely surreal.  But before I go into those crazy emotions here is a description of my last few weeks.  This is perhaps one of the longest blog In the making as I  started writing it after Christmas.  

Christmas and New Years
So thus passes my third Christmas and New years in the Philippines.  Sadly Christmas day passed without my snapping one photo, part of that is due to the fact that I can only use the clinic camera since my own is having battery issues.  Hence why my photos have been few and far between.  
                                         after we put up our Christmas tree
                                                                                  Post-Christmas tree decorating hot chocolate!

As usual I missed the snow, my family and mince meat tarts.  I did however make butter tarts again this year, thanks to my friend Keri who got my over two pound of lard in Bagio city, (one cannot find lard in Tabuk).  When she brought it home several months ago I was so excited I could only just stare at it!  The quantify allowed me to make over five dozen butter tarts.  Which were very easily consumed by all personal they encountered.  The first batch was made Christmas eve when we had a baking gathering at Georgia’s and I introduced them to the Americans who had never tried them (they are a Canadian thing) while Georgia and I ate our butter tarts our senses were filled of Christmas past and the Americans were awed by Christmas present and all of us had positive thought of Christmas future.   That’s the power of butter tarts people.  
The second batch I made on boxing day and as I pulled them from the oven I nearly fell over with the sense of being in the Aveley Kitchen with my mama beside me while we baked like mad for the holidays. Okay that’s enough about butter tarts! But I am really people butter tarts does something to the soul.
                                                   Boxing day Butter tarts

Christmas day was a really great day.  I was up pretty much all night Christmas eve as I was on shift and there was a labour, so I read my novel and watched the clock hit midnight and allowed myself to get sentimental about Christmas day and thinking how neat that I was watching over a woman in labour on the day we celebrate the birth of Christ.  When my shift ended at 7 a.m. I allowed myself two hours of blessed sleep.  I then awoke and started on the stuffing for the chicken while Ellora made cinnamon roles and  Keri and her friends headed to church.  (I know, I know Vienna the PK didn’t attend church on Christmas day, granted I had the excuse).  Half way through washing the chicken I was called to help with the labour in the clinic as the time had come for her baby to be born and they needed an extra person.   So before lunch time on Christmas day a very chubby “little” (as in she was actually a 9 pounder) entered the world on that cold Christmas day which really was quite cold and windy.

After the birth excitement I stuffed the chicken had a cinnamon roll which was Delicious, Ellora and I had lunch in the now quite living quarter.  We weren’t complaining; I am only 24 years old but I can appreciate the stillness of a place and relish it.  
I allowed myself to rest for a wee bit and then I was on shift again, but due to the fact that everything is in one building it was easy to go from upstairs to downstairs as needed.    All the volunteers got together and cooked a Christmas dinner complete with a ham, chicken and stuffing, sweet potatoes casserole, mashed potatoes, green beans and Christmas punch.  It’s the one time of year here where I allow myself to splurge and buy Welches grape juice.  There is also one place in Tabuk where you can buy Canada dry Ginger ale (actually I should say there WAS a place to buy it as I bought the last two)  we added those two things together and ta-da my childhood Christmas punch, when I drank it I had vivid images of my daddy.
We ate like Kings, it was so good, we then sat and watched the first half of the Fellowship of the Ring.  We ended the evening with communion.   
The next morning after I had the privilege of getting a full nights sleep I managed to track down a place with decent internet and was able to skype my family.  It was so wonderful to see and hear their faces.   Its hard to believe I will see them shortly.   
So I guess that brings us to New Years.  This year I was invited by Anie one of the Filipina midwives here and my friend, to come home with her and visit her family.   We took a van to Tuguagaro where we went grocery shopping, in order to make yummy things for the holiday, and then got another van to take us  to her home town.  The trip was longer than usual cause it took us an hour and twenty minutes just to get out of Tugaugaro, (which usually only takes about 5 minutes, but the Holiday traffic was horrendous!!!! you’d think we were in Manila!!!

Anyway we arrived in the evening, in time to attend part of the program they hand in her Barangay that night, we didn’t stay too long just long enough for us to get in on some traditional dancing with gongs and all, which is always fun.  And of course I had to introduce myself and they wanted me to sing so I did the go-to and sang Amazing Grace (introducing and singing is a normal thing to do for visiting foreigners)
The next day was spent with visitors, cooking and eating.  We were so tired by 9 pm that I went and rested and wasn’t sure I was going to make it to midnight, it was the first time since I was about 8 years old that I thought I wasn’t going to have enough energy to make it till the new year.  But a little before midnight Anie and I peered out the door to watch what fireworks we were able to spot.  As the clock struck midnight, noise erupted throughout the village and I was struck with this immense awe of how people all around us were celebrating the hopes of a new year.  Anie gave me a hug with the words “Happy New Year Vienna, I love you.”  And I really did feel loved.  

The next day I went to church, the service was great and the worship lively. Again, I sang a song, this time it was “the more I seek you” which went pretty well considering I get pretty nervous singing solo to a group of stranger and I often get off key.   We spent a good portion of the afternoon visiting people and eating traditional Filipino Christmas food.   When we returned to the house I rested for a bit then started work on the pizzas which we were planning to try and cook over an open fire. I also ate some delicious Graham cake, which just take my word for it, is one of the best desserts ever! Before the pizzas were cooked some friends of Anie came and we all went out for a drive where we visited more people and ended up eating some more, (by this time we were eating to be polite) then we returned to Anie’s place but on our way up the hill we were invited to eat at a neighbor’s house who were having a massive gathering for the birthday of their one year old son.  So we went and ate MORE! By the time we got back to the house, there was no way I could eat pizza I hadn’t felt that full in a long time and I had to make a cup of ginger tea and sit in the doorway to get some fresh air.  But it was all fun and I am so glad I got to go with Anie to visit her family and have massive amounts of food and all!

Woes of a midwife
Okay so maybe this next section is going to look like complaining and may even be TMI, however as a whole I think its kind of interesting since things like this seem to becoming somewhat of habit for me and I actually find it rather humerous despite the mass amount of discomfort.  So here it goes, the woes of a midwife…..
Back in December, I broke my baby toes…Yes that is right, it wasn’t even a great story, I was in the clinic with a patient during her prenatal visit.  I got up from my seat walked around the desk and slammed by toe into the outside door frame (which was swung open) I figured I just stubbed it, but then I was praying with the patient and I could barely get through the prayer because my baby toe started hurting like crazy and I was think “what is going on?!” so after I got through the prayer and the pregnant woman went on her way I looked down at my two and sure enough it looked a little off, you know kind of crooked and it hurt like crazy, so we are all pretty sure it broke.   I didn’t bother going to the Dr. because, you know, it’s a two, and they can’t really do anything anyway.  So Georgia suggested I take Ketorilac to get me through the shift….oh my goodness I guess I am hypersensitive to certain drugs cause it pretty much knocked me out, and I was in this daze for the rest of shift.  It was so bad that Georgia said I should probably just lay down after lunch.   

Later that day Ellora acted as my nurse and splinted the thing for me.   
But my tow ended up being the least of my worries.  Around the same time my boils decided to return.  Have any of you experienced boils? Okay maybe you are thinking this is TMI but people need to know about this, you know when they talk in the Bible about boils, and you’re like “okay boils I guess that would suck,” No people, they are terrible!! one big boil pretty much put my entire right arm out of service,  and there is no pain killer that stops it, cause it hits the nerve and there is little that one can do.  I did find that tylanol with codene dulled the pain.

So here I am laying on my bed with boils in my under arm (actually it was only one big boil) and a broken toe and I wanted to laugh because it was really kind of funny.   For the first time since being here I actually had to ask to take a shift because I was completely useless.  It was all very sad.  anyway my toe healed nicely (it is even nice and straight thanks to Ellora’s splinting) and the boils finally healed after everyone prayed for me and I gave up trying to get rid of them naturally and opted for the antibiotics.  It all healed just in time too because the morning that I was feeling better and could actually move my upper arm I was able to attend a birth of one the patients I have been with since her first prenatal check up.  So I was very thankful for that.  Anyway maybe that grossed ya’ll out but it was so interesting and humnerouse….you know in painful funny kind of thing. That I thought I’d just go ahead and share it.

Here’s to January!
So this brings us to January.  Ellora and I spent four days in Bugnay a few weeks ago, it was so nice to just go the peaceful village and forget about all the stressful items that needed attention.  We visited the falls that are above the village and wow is it beautiful, you can pretty much walk right up to them.  We spent many hours just reading novels.  We visited our friends that reside in the village and one day went to the city of Bontoc to visit the museum which we only saw part of last time we were there.  As always the trip ended too soon and we headed back.   
We went to  the church anniversary celebration in the village of Pakak a week ago.  They had the traditional dancing where the men play the gongs and the women dance alongside them. Its so much fun, and we actually danced enough that my arms were getting sore (there is a lot of arm movement).   I just found it so amazing to see and partake in dancing rituals that the people here having been doing for hundreds and hundreds of years, and now they are doing to celebrate Jesus and the church.  Its such a great thing to be a part of.  

January is our last full month in Tabuk.   I have less than 3 weeks left with these midwives and friends…. at least for now.  The emotions are not easy to decipher.   How does one say goodbye to the people you have been living, working and playing with for the last two and half years? How does one say goodbye to a culture that has been familiar and get ready to re-enter an old one? I think there are very few answers to these questions perhaps the best being, God will guide, but I am not expecting any of it to be easy in fact it isn’t easy, there have been so many “lasts” lately The other day I bought a large tube of toothpaste. That night when I went to brush my teeth, I just stared at it and realized that it would probably be the last tube of tooth paste that I would buy in the Philippines.  There are moments when I feel like my heart is been pierced at the thought of saying goodbye and where tears are near the surface.  The other day we when were in Bugnay for the last time my heart felt as if it might break.  There are other moments  however where I am eager to see my family and be among the sheep again.  I look forward to eating mutton, having hot baths and playing with my nieces and nephew.

So that pretty much beings us up to date.  In three weeks time Ellora and I plan to depart from Tabuk and travel to Manila, There we plan to spend a week each at two ministries that serve women in need.  We  heard about these ministries a while back and are hoping to be able to experience some of what they do.  On March 3rd we fly to Tokyo where we visit a friend  of mine and that is where Ellora and I will part ways…for now.  We each will take a separate plane to our countries and  begin the next chapter of our lives.   If all goes as planned I will be back in Vavenby by my 25th birthday
I am hoping to get one more blog post complete before we leave the country however considering how long it took me to get this one written I better not make any promises :)
Please pray for both Ellora and I as we prepare to depart in a few short weeks, prayers for our emotional state and the ability to complete all things that need to be completed
As always please pray for the clinic and all who come through the doors
You can also be praying for our internships and although I am not worried I know my parents are a little nervous about their baby girl being in Manila as a volunteer for a two weeks so you might as well pray for our safety and my parents peace of mind
Love you all!!!
                         teaching at the labour and delivery seminar about the first stage of labour.

Friday, 2 December 2016

life's ups and downs

Hello Friends and family.  This time I have broken my record for the longest ever space with no blog post via the sheepishmidwife.  I admit I tend to lose faith in how many eyes see my blog, no judgment here, I am pretty sure I am the worlds worst blogger blog reader.  Truly, I think I might be…. anyway moving on.  

                                               New chapters

Life in the Philippines has continued with its normal ups and downs as life tends to do, but recently life has shifted somewhat.  What I mean by that is simply that the same pattern of assignment, clinic work assignments has adjusted slightly in that our assignment load has lessened, in fact I only have to hand in my final assignment.  This is exciting as it allows for flexible hours in the clinic and preparing ourselves to begin studying for our NARM exam.  But I don’t feel like talking about academics, except that I am enjoying not being weighted down with deadlines.

                                            The interesting October

I shall talk about October, because October was crazy.  Without going into too much details, there were 25 babies born at the clinic and I got to witness 6 of them kicking and screaming into the world (they actually do kind of do that).  Sleep was was hit and miss, but since we had no pressing assignments it made it easier for the other senior volunteer and I.  Most of the babies decided to come within 2 weeks of each other, twice we had all 7 beds filled with mothers and babies. My theory as to why they all came at the same time: Typhoon Lawin.  
You may have heard about it on the news.  Typhoon Lawin was the biggest typhoon that Tabuk has ever seen: signal 5.  I think the babies all decided they better come before the storm.  That way they could still get to the midwives and not risk being born in the middle of the wind and rain. Other babies made the wise decision to be born after the typhoon had cleared.  One of the patient’s that delivered about two weeks after the typhoon described her conversation with her baby concerning this matter.  During the typhoon she told her baby to not be born yet.  After the typhoon when she was busy cleaning up from the wind and rain; she told her unborn baby to wait still a little longer until they got things cleaned up.  So about two weeks later mama was ready and so baby was born nice and healthy at the clinic.   
My personal experience with the typhoon was as follows.  We were all trying to prepare ourselves for the warned storm ahead, but what I wouldn’t give to go back and to a better job of taking care to put my books and suitcase under more cover.  They ended up taking on some considerable water damage. When the storm started I told myself to suck it up and sleep by my lonsome in my room, cause I was sure it was going to be fine.  We also were storing the clinic dog Madra in my room and out of harms way, so I figured I should stay with him and keep him somewhat calm.  However he was much calmer than I.  After listening to the howlnig wind and rain with tremendous pressure against my windows I gave up the brave fight and joined Keri and the two other visiting volunteers who were attempting to sleeping on the floor in the living/dining area in the center of the building.  As the storm worsened the other midwives joined us, we all felt a natural instinct to put distance between us and the glass windows which every once in awhile would violently swing open.  The water started pouring in from any and all cracks and crevices, no matter how many towels were applied or how tight the doors and windows were closed.  we took it in turns to sweep the increasing water away from our foamies on the floor (yes, I said sweep).  I’m not going to lie people, I was mildly freaking out and tensing up every time a wave of intense wind hit the building.  I did, after all, grow up in a deep valley where violent winds were something you saw on the News and the Wizerd of Oz.  
As the storm died down the staff midwives returned to their rooms but us volunteers fell asleep and woke to find the foamies drenched in rain water.  We all returned to our rooms of which were flooded, Madra was marooned on my bed.  We all slept for a few hours and then awoke to the morning.  
The winds had died down to what we might call a very windy day in the North Thompson valley, and the cleanup began, we had no power and no running water….well no running water from the tap...we had plenty of water running on all three floors of the clinic.   our clinic building had actually fared well compared to others.  There were only a few broken windows and some damage to the roof.  However it still won't be cheap to repair and thankfully Shepherds purse has volunteerd to pay for the damages.  People in smaller dwellings were the ones whom were really affected.  
I talked to one lady from our church whose part her her and her family’s roof blew off while they were still inside.  Thank the Lord they weren't hurt.  We heard that out of everyone affected by the typhoon 14 people died, which is less than we imagined, but of course one life is too many.  
As far as injuries at the AGGMC family, I apparently volunteered to be the scape goat for everyone. It was actually to the point of humorous.  the night of the typhoon my wrist got strained (no sprained, just strained, from trying to open the bathroom door and the wind forcing the door against my efforts. I know, it sounds really pathetic). Then the next morning I was walking down the sleek stairs to the water pump where the breakfast dishes were to be washed.  In this process my foot slipped, I lost my footing, feet wen flying, dishes went crashing (including my favorite coffee cup :( ), and my back hit the cement staircase and I slid down about four or five steps.  Four midwives rushed to my aid (advantages of living in a clinic) it was quite the bruise and they sent me to bed with some ice.  About an hour later I got up and someone looked at me and said "your elbow!" I looked down at said elbow and was shocked to discover a massive swelling the size of a chicken egg.  It was so big and looked so bizarr that we all started laughing. I hadn’t even felt the pain at first but turns out my elbow was what broke my fall.  
Still there are places that are affected by the typhoon, people who have lost their homes, rice crops that have been destroyed; leaving a shortage of food for some.  An area called Pasil lost access to their bridge and have a shortage of medical supplies.  There are still locations that are out of power.  If you want to donate to the cause, you can do so through the Georgia Macad, who is the director of the clinic, go to her blog, gthemidwife and you can donate to her with a note for Typhoon Lawin.  
So that was October, please continue to pray for the people of Kalinga and surrounding areas for recovery from the typhoon. and to be with the families of those 14 people who lost their lives. 
                          post typhoon cleaning
                                            my freaky looking elbow after my trip down the stairs

                                                     We all love Bugnay

Since my last blog post we have taken several trips to Bugnay, some were for a few days and allowed us to do some hiking to other villages, others were just an over night event.  One such occasion was when some of us attended the celebration of the translated new testament into the local language.  sadly I missed the actual program part, but made it in time for the traditional dancing, which we got to take part in, despite the fact that I look like the awkward Canadian among all the expert dancers.  

Following is an excerpt of a trip we took to Bugnay in the month of August. 

Women wash their dishes together at one of the communal water pumps, a girl scrubs her clothes clean at the outside running faucet.  Babies rest in slings tied to their mother's or sister’s back.  We enter a little house where we eat the best white beans I've tasted.  They are grown in a nearby field, we also partake of the native rice that is the "bread of life" to the Bute-bute people. Both Man and woman partake in its production.  I am completely exhausted after our church service from earlier (from being sick the night before) so our hosts offer for me to take a Sunday nap on their bed.  After being slightly more rested Belen (my Filipina friend and acting guide for the day) leads us over water ways and steps, weaving through dwelling places with tin and bamboo roofs, dodging chickens, pigs and children.  We sit with the clinic directer’s mother-in-law whom is poddng beans with her daughter. She offers us coffee.  It is the traditional Kalinga coffee made in a kettle with lots of sugar.  We drink it with immense satisfaction, listen to the deep melodious sounds of the local language while gazing through the valleys of rice covered mountains.  This is Bugnay of Tinglayan, I have yet to meet a person who has not been charmed by her people and awed by its beauty

                                                      Life and other things 

Church life continues to be great, I have been volunteering with the kids on a slightly more regular bases depending on on my life at the clinic, I think some of the kids don't know what to think of me with my strange Canadian accent but we manage, since a lot of them understand some English.

Two of our midwives have given birth!  Both are beautiful baby boys, whom everyone at the clinic has instantly fallen in love with.  Lucky for us both of them live on the clinic compound so we get to see both babies frequently.
 I got to witness a great birth last August of one of our previous staff midwives, it was a very special birth and I felt so honored to be there.

I have definitely come to the conclusion that although midwifery is a difficult and challenging profession, it also never ceases to amaze me, and I do love it, even after several nights with little sleep.

We introduced our Filipina friends to s'mores the other day when we celebrated Ellora's birthday, we got a nice little campfire fire going and roasted hot dogs and then showed everyone how to make and eat s'mores, it was a big hit! and we all probably ate way to much.

It is so hard to believe it has been well over two years since our arrival here.  In some ways it seems just like yesterday but in others especially when i think of the bewildered, fresh off the bloat wide eyed 22 year old Canadian who never spent more than 4 months at a time away from her beloved Aveley Ranch and no more than 3 months completely away from family, it seems like a life time ago.  I am excited to see my family again, but at the same time I feel a punch in the stomach when I think of leaving the people here.  I remember years ago my mother reading a book to use children about a man from China who was raised in America, in his adult life he would go back and forth between the two countries.  There was a line in the book about how when he was in one place he found he was missing the other, and vise versa.  I remember thinking how awful that must be, to feel split in two.  I realize that the life I am leading means that these will be familiar emotions. But like night shifts and mints-meat pies I don’t think it is as awful as I once thought, it simply means that my heart belongs to more than one place.
I am growing excited for the next stage of my life as God is beginning to form new dreams into my heart, but these dreams are in the early stages so I shall tell no details yet :) 

I saw my first breech birth the other day! (that wasn't on a video) it was a surprise breech and once we discovered that the wee babe was indeed intending on entering the world bottom first, there was no time to transport to the hospital so the baby was born at the clinic, Our midwife director is no stranger to delivering surprise breech babies so she knew what to do.  It was a prefect birth, the baby boy was as healthy and strong as any and his mama did so well! it was pretty amazing to witness. 

It may come as so surprise that blog posts take me several days to write, I wanted to write this paragraph before I post.  I have been going back and forth as to whether or not to share it, because it is easier to share the joys than it is the struggles.  But I think it is important to share struggles, because it proves that no one is perfect and oh how we need God to guide us. So here it.  '
Today was a hard day. It was a day I wish I could rewind and do a better job of. I won’t go into details cause of privacy and all that but there was a moment where I felt I failed people around me and when my heart was overwhelmed.  No worries I am okay and everyone around me is okay.  I am blessed to have good friends that I can talk to and they can help me get back on the horse when I fall down.  Where I am going with this?  In the world of missions and midwifery, there are hard days, days where you feel discouraged and, yes like a failure, days that you wish you could do over. This is why your prayers all mean so much to me and why I encourage you to remember other missionaries and people who work with women and birth, remember to pray for them, that they will get through the hard days and remember that God is in control and to let Him guide us.  

Well I think I hit the highlights of the highlights.  We are beginning to make preparations for Christmas complete with putting up our wooden bamboo Christmas tree, I will strive to give you an update after Christmas and post pictures of the third year Christmas spent in the Philippines.  which sounds totally crazy to my own ears.  
Ellora and I set up the Christmas tree on November 25, you can buy fake Christmas trees here, but the husband of one of the volunteers made this Christmas tree out of bamboo for their first Christmas in the Philippines and handed it down to us when they left, I have become quite fond of it....
                                            After we set up our tree we made hot chocolate from scratch, complete with the left over marshmellows from the hotdog roast

I shall leave you with some prayer requests
-That I would have a calm and peaceful heart in the last few months of my stay in the Philippines
-For a free vehicle when I return to Canada 
-To continue to grow and learn 
-To be able to complete all the little things that need to be done before the end of my program
-Fiances as needed

things to be thankful for
-I am so thankful to everyone who has donated, my financial situation has been stable and that is all because of people willing to donate and give, I am so thankful to God for this
-For the people that are around me, I have come to love each and every one of them
-For God's faithfulness in every step of this journey