What’s your excuse?

5 06 2014

Yes, it is true that I have been a bad blogger lately! My excuses are all of the following events that happened in the last few months…

Okay, first off we delivered identical twin girls at our clinic in the middle of March! This was the mother’s tenth pregnancy. In a regular prenatal check-up her midwife noticed that she was measuring large for dates. She was sent for an ultrasound … she came back with a BIG smile on her face and told us that she was pregnant with twins!  About a month later she came back to the clinic in labor. No chance to decide whether or not to take her to the hospital – these girls were on their way! It was a beautiful birth attended by about a dozen excited midwives.

The twins mother is sitting next to Jackie who is holding the babies! A very excited staff and babies' family members all around.

The twins mother is sitting next to Jackie who is holding the babies! A very excited staff and babies’ family members all around.


Irish and Aiza

Aiza and Irish – 2.5kg and 2.6kg



Next, I got to “catch” my first ever white baby! One of my  missionary-midwives-in training took the whole practical learning experience to another level! Edolbina, and her husband Andrew welcomed their first child Ariel Cornelius on April 29 at 3:12 am.  It was an honour to be a part of Ari’s birth. My boys are a little smitten with this guy as are we all!

Ariel Cornelius

Ariel Cornelius with Lucas and Emmaus admiring him.

I have also been making numerous trips up to our sister clinic in Bugnay over these last few months. My wonderful staff are currently awaiting a new clinical supervisor and so I have been trying to help them out and encourage them as much as possible.

The Bugnay Clinic Staff and their daughters!

The Bugnay Clinic Staff and their daughters!

In May my friend and fellow midwife, Jen Sawchenko and her daughter Ella, along with Filipino midwife Marielyn Basak, visited from Cebu City and accompanied me to Bugnay. They taught at a seminar for the mothers and staff regarding best breastfeeding practices.

Marlene and Jen outside the clinic.

Mar and Jen outside the clinic.

Jen shares at the Bugnay clinic - Ella helps her!

Jen shares at the Bugnay clinic – Ella helps her!













Along with all these happenings we still continue to do almost 100 prenatal check-ups and postpartum visits a week and reach out into 3 villages in the community and deliver over 20 babies per month.

Me and Lukay before she heads home to her village.

Me and Lukay before she heads home to her village.

Thank you everyone for your support that makes us able to do all of this!

There are many more stories to tell, but it will have to wait for next time. I have a good one coming … Stay tuned!

“In my day, we gave birth in the rice fields!”

2 03 2014

by Crystal Meeks

The other day I met an elderly lady in her 70s from Bugnay who explained to me how times are changing.

Old lady in Bugnay with Zion.

Old lady in Bugnay with Zion.


She said in her day, the women were strong and they would give birth in the rice fields, tie the babies to their backs and keep on working. She stated that now-a-days the women are lazy.  She said that now, when the women get pregnant they stop working.  I needed her to define “work” because I have never seen any Butbut sitting idly.  They are always cooking, washing clothes and dishes, pounding rice and chasing after their children.  According to the old lady, in her day, women worked much harder.

So I asked,  “Do you think it was better in your time and the clinic here is not effective because the women should be strong enough to deliver without a midwife?”  She grabbed my arm and prepared to correct me, “Oh no Crystal! We thank God for the clinic!”  She continued to explain that before, they didn’t cut a woman’s stomach to get a baby out and that she didn’t like that many women do that now.  I agreed with her that I didn’t like that either.  She continued, “But at the clinic you let them try to deliver normal and if you think it’s better, you take them to the hospital to have their stomach’s cut and Crystal, even if they have to cut their stomachs when they come home they still have a live baby.”

The next statement I asked a few times to make sure I’d translated it properly.  My mouth gaped open when she informed me that she gave birth to 13 children but only three lived past their first year of life.  She shared she would have been willing to have her stomach cut also if it meant more of her children would have lived.  Our conversation was a reminder of our effectiveness here in Bugnay.  My favorite part of the conversation was that she didn’t thank me or the other midwives but rather expressed all her gratitude to the one that deserved all the credit…Our Heavenly Father.


Life and Death in the Mountains of Kalinga

23 02 2014

Did that title get your attention?

I hope so!

The truth is that our sister clinic in the village of Bugnay is the difference between life and death for many in the remote mountains of Tinglayan, Kalinga.

Have you heard the story about the baby that suddenly stopped breathing?



The parents noticed she was having difficulty breathing and by the time they brought her to the clinic she had stopped completely. The parents were about to turn around and take her home to bury her when midwife B-lyn grabbed the baby and started to resuscitate her. That baby is running around the village of Bugnay today.




How about the story of the woman who began hemorrhaging seconds after her baby was born?




If she had been at home without midwives attending her, like she had been for all of her other babies, she would have died. For this delivery she decided to come to the clinic and have trained midwives attend to her. They were able to stop the bleeding immediately. You can meet her in the village of Bugnay as she takes care of her five young children.


Did you hear about the girl who found herself pregnant and married before her sixteenth birthday?



She was scared and confused when in her eighth month of pregnancy she began having terrible headaches and dizziness. Her mother and aunties told her it was because she was lazy that her legs and face had swollen up; if she would only exercise more, she would feel better. This girl came for a check up at the clinic instead and was diagnosed with pre-eclampsia. She was referred to the closest hospital two hours away and delivered her baby via C-section. Both of their lives were saved.





Our midwives in the clinic in Bugnay are literally the difference between life and death for those living in the mountains of Upper Tinglayan.

Yet it is one of the most difficult parts of our ministry to keep going. We are challenged to keep the clinic appropriately staffed because it is such a remote area and it is a sacrifice for midwives to work so far from their families.

We are in the midst of such a struggle right now as we are down to one staff midwife and one volunteer. Neither of them trained to do deliveries without supervision.


These are the three things we see that need to happen:

1)  Missionary midwife Suzie Campana is willing and able to come and help at the Bugnay clinic but is still needing financial support to get here. We need her to receive all the necessary support to come immediately and help with the work in Bugnay.     (http://philippines.eaglemissions.org/suzie-campana/)

2) We need more experienced Filipina midwives who are willing to work and live in such a the remote area until more local midwives ready to take over.

3) We need funding to build appropriate staff housing for missionaries and Filipino midwives to live nearby the clinic.

Please pray with us for these things. If you feel you want to help in a more practical way please consider helping fund Suzie Campana to be a missionary here (see her information above), or help with local midwives and staff housing by sending a donation to us specifically designated for Bugnay.

(Specify Bugnay- no tax-deductible receipt available through this method)



(Specify Georgia Macad, Bugnay – tax-deductible receipts available here)

We will keep you updated on how things progress!

(All stories are true however those pictured above are not actually the individuals written about)

Rest in Peace Sweet Baby Ashley

30 08 2013


We are very sad to say good-bye to Baby Ashley Manzano who has become a big part of our lives over these past four months.  Ashley went home to be with Jesus on Wednesday August 28 after a lifelong battle with repeated lung infections that were never diagnosed.

Ashley was born at our clinic on March 18, 2012 and was transported to the hospital immediately for breathing difficulties. Ashley’s mother Julies never came back for her follow-up check-ups at the clinic and we didn’t see her again until over a year later.

This April Julies and Ashley came to attend a Well-Baby seminar at our clinic.  Ashley was more than a year old then and still only weighed 10 pounds. She also seemed to be suffering from severe pneumonia.  Julies told us that she had been back and forth to various doctors to try to get help her for her daughter but was continually told that it was her own fault that Ashley was sick because  she was malnourished.  Julies told us that she tried to go to the community health center to ask if they could help and the midwife just looked at Ashley and looked back at Julies with condemnation and said “It’s severe malnutrition!” As a last resort Julies brought Ashely to us to see if we could do anything to help.

For the last four months Ashley was a big part of my life.  I tried to get a concrete diagnosis for her condition but she kept having these terrible bouts of pneumonia that we had to deal with. Julies tried to get Ashley’s weight up by giving her high protein milk. Ashley’s dad found them a safer place to live that gave them some protection from the weather. Ashley was hospitalized four times in the last four months, each time getting weaker. When we took Ashley for her third admission to the hospital I spoke quite forcibly and told the doctor that it was NOT MALNUTRITION!  I then heard one doctor whisper to another that it was probably Cystic Fibrosis. We never did have a chance to take her to Manila for further testing – I don’t know if she would have made it back even if we had.

Last Wednesday morning Ashley was at home with her mom. Julies was getting ready to take her to the hospital again and as she was getting dressed she heard Ashley call out “Mama”.  When she turned around Ashley had stopped breathing. She rushed her to the hospital where she could not be resuscitated. My social worker Kate and I arrived a few minutes later to hold Julies and cry with her. I still cry every time I think of Julies holding her precious Ashley in her arms, calling out to her to ‘wake up’.

Sometimes I get so sad and discouraged with the lack of medical care available here in the Philippines. I don’t know if it is because of the lack of diagnostic tools available, but the blame for childhood illnesses is usually shifted to the parents; they are not doing enough or they are doing something wrong.  With this blame comes enough guilt and grieving to break your heart.

Please pray for Julies, her husband and her three other children. Please pray that they will find peace in knowing that Ashley’s suffering is over and she is waiting to see them again. Please pray that they will find freedom from guilt and condemnation in the arms of Jesus.

What We Have Been Up To Lately

11 06 2013

It has been a while since my last post so I thought I would give a quick catch up on what has been happening at the clinic.

Baby John Lester

We are continuing our support and follow-up for baby John Lester as his last operation was not a success and he has to undergo another operation. Please pray for things to go well this time and that he would have lots of improvements this year. Although it is quite shocking to see his enlarged eye, he is quite a smiley and interactive baby now as opposed to before the first surgery when he was continually crying.

Baby John Lester before his second surgery.

Baby John Lester before his second surgery.

I love Austrian Midwives!

We have had the opportunity to work with three wonderful ladies from an Austrian midwifery school this past month. They have been so much fun to teach and also to learn from! Marlene, Manuela and Johanna contacted me earlier this year about the possibility of coming to intern with us. Although we had never had Austrian midwives before it sounded like a great adventure to me. It is so interesting to hear how different midwifery is in Austria; they are very hi-tech there! They seemed to really enjoy our low-tech methods here at the clinic though – and we enjoyed them!

Manuela on prenatal day

Manuela on prenatal day

Baby Ashley

We delivered baby Ashley at our clinic a year ago. Soon after birth she was experiencing breathing difficulties so we referred her to the hospital for further care. Ashley’s family lives far away and after they were discharged from the hospital we didn’t see them again – until this May. On May 4, Ashley and her mom Julies came for a Well-Baby Seminar which we hold monthly at the clinic as a way of following up on babies and moms after their six weeks of postpartum check-ups. We were really worried about Ashley as she was so thin and seemed to be having a lot of trouble breathing. Her mother said that she had been sick on and off since birth and that they often didn’t have the money to buy the prescribed medications for her so they stopped going for check-ups. She also said that Ashley had to sleep sitting up or she couldn’t breath!  We offered to help them and the next day we accompanied Ashley and her mom for a check-up at the local pediatrician. She was diagnosed with massive pneumonia and had to be hospitalized. Julies and her family are with a government program which enrols them with the national health insurance. She knew that they were enrolled in the program but didn’t know how to use the benefits. Our social worker Kate was able to help them figure out all the paperwork and red tape and Ashley was admitted the following day for treatment. She recovered from her pneumonia after two weeks of treatment and we are continuing to follow up with Ashley to make sure she continues to gain weight and stay healthy.

Baby Ashley with her mom Julies

Baby Ashley with her mom Julies

Well-Baby Seminar Attendees

Well-Baby Seminar Attendees


A trip to Bugnay

On a personal note, we finally took Zion up to Bugnay to meet all his relatives! We had a great time and they boys loved all the attention that they got. Zion had his “soob” which is a tribal birthday party for all Butbut boys. The whole village came out to celebrate (well it sounded like the whole village at 3am when I was trying to sleep 😉 ). We have such a special family up in Bugnay and I am so thankful for the incredible culture that my kids get to be a part of.



Miracle Baby in My Family

27 04 2012

I have to tell some very exciting news.

My sister-in-law Channic had a healthy baby boy at our clinic last week.

Channic, Emmaus and CJ.

This was a miracle.

This is Channic’s fifth baby boy. Only one of them has been born alive and was delivered by C-section in 2010. The reason he was born by C-section was that I couldn’t stand the thought of her losing another baby for some unknown cause and so Achao and I paid for her to have the operation at a private hospital two weeks before she was due to deliver.

When I found out Channic was pregnant again last year I asked her what she was going to do. Would she get another Cesarean? She said that she didn’t know. Channic didn’t go for any prenatal check-ups in her village and then came to my house last week saying that her labor was starting.

I was so worried! I knew that is was Sunday and that the possibility of getting adequate care at the hospital was very slim. I called one of the doctors to see if we could have an emergency ultrasound to see if everything looked ok with the baby, but because it was Sunday there was no key to the ultrasound room.

B-lyn and I talked about what to do. We knew that if we took her to the hospital she wouldn’t be monitored until she was thought to be fully dilated and even then the baby’s heart beat still may not be monitored. We decided to keep her at the clinic and closely monitor her and the baby.

Channic labored quickly with seemingly no problems. After about an hour she told me that she felt like pushing. I checked the heartbeat again and it started dropping! I quickly checked her and she was only 7cm and the head was still high. The heartbeat kept dropping… I tried to call the hospital but there was no one picking up. We told Channic to push as hard as she could and I dilated her cervix while she pushed. The baby came out within 5 minutes of the initial drop in heartrate. He needed just a little resuscitation and was crying like a champ! So was I! I was crying and thanking God for this little miracle. If Channic would have stayed at home for delivery, or even delivered at the hospital without constant monitoring, little baby CJ wouldn’t be here today.

I am not sure why Channic has lost so many babies; maybe it is placental-insufficeincy that causes the babies to crash as the labor gets stronger.

What I do know is that I am thankful to God for CJ being here with us!

Baby 1000!!!

18 04 2012

Yes, that’s right! Abundant Grace of God had its 1000th baby last week!

Baby 1000!

This was Lilibeth’s ninth pregnancy, having delivered all of her other babies , except for one, at home without a trained assistant. We were so excited that she decided to deliver with us for this her final (so she says 😉 ) baby.

Five years ago I could have never imagined how God would cause this ministry to grow. In fact I may have even backed out had I known how much it would grow and how many lives would be touched; it would have seemed too overwhelming! However I followed the advice of my Dad and just took things one day at a time and dealt with each obstacle as it presented itself.

Now it’s 2012 and we have a brand new clinic facility, a sister clinic ready to open in Bugnay, a mobile Well-Baby ministry that reaches over 140 families in the community, trained over a dozen Filipino midwives and now delivered 1000 babies!

Thank you God for making it all possible!

Thank you supporters for helping to make it all happen!

A Very Sad Week

19 10 2011

Dessa pictured on the right at a party in 2006.

This past week has been one filled with sorrow. Last Friday we got word that Dessa, a good friend of ours from Bugnay, passed away suddenly from what looked like Typhoid fever. She left behind her husband and three small children; her first born here in 2007 and the youngest only nine months old. We miss her greatly and our hearts ache for her family. Then yesterday morning we got news that one of our patients from the village of Lacnog died suddenly from eclampsia. Caryang was only 17 years old and pregnant with twins. Because of her age and the fact that she was pregnant with twins she was at high risk for eclampsia, but up until she was rushed to the hospital she had had no symptoms. Sometimes it can get overwhelming how quickly loved ones can be taken away, especially living in a country where healthcare is so lacking. On the other hand, I know that God has used the clinic to bring more than 800 babies safely into the world – so for that I am thankful. If you think of it, please keep Dessa and Caryang’s family in your prayers.

What’s Up with Baby Jobi?

27 08 2011

This past week I went to visit Baby Jobelyn in Pakak to see how she was doing. Her parents have been faithful to take her to the rehabilitation center in Tabuk as often as they can. She has been improving slowly. She isn’t yet able to hold up her head but she can reach for things and grasp them with her hands. Chel brought some brightly colored toys to give Jobi so that she can practice reaching, even when she is at home. Jobi was very excited about her new toys and gave us a big toothy smile.

Baby Jobi and her new pink flamingo!

Please continue to pray for Jobelyn and her family. It is a big sacrifice for her parents to travel to the rehab center every week, especially now that it is planting season. Pray for some encouraging improvements in Jobi’s development and for a good rice crop for the family this next season.

Thank you.

Our Second Outreach in the Mountains – by Crystal Meeks

21 05 2011

Anie, Rosela, Crystal and B-lyn hiking through the mountains.

Our second outreach in upper Tinglayan was carried out with more smoothness and excellence than we could have dreamed.  We spent five days hiking through five different Butbut villages that we had never visited before and we held outreaches in three of those villages.  We were more excited than five year olds on Christmas morning as we set off on our adventure hiking through the mountains.  That excitement turned into overwhelming joy with ecstatic smiles that grew bigger with every new village we entered.  We were warmly welcomed in each village and were repeatedly thanked for coming to visit.  Each outreach started with a game to get everyone laughing, worship and devotion, a health teaching, a yummy snack, and a prenatal to make sure all the mothers and babies were healthy.  The midwife in the village of Loccong expressed gratitude for us coming to educate the women on the importance of vaccinations and taking vitamins; topics that she had struggled with teaching.

We learned that even though each village has a midwife, oftentimes, the midwife is only trained in accessing risk factors such as checking a woman’s blood pressure but is not skilled in dealing with emergency situations such as resuscitation or stopping a hemorrhage.  These skills are the difference between life and death for these women where a transport would involve an hour or more hike down the mountain, finding transportation that often does not exist at night, and driving for two more hours to the nearest hospital.  In every village the women requested us to start another clinic closer to them.

We are looking forward to continuing outreaches in the mountains.

Richel checking blood pressures in the village of Butbut Proper.