Thanksgiving from John Lester

Last week Baby John Lester along with his whole family blessed the Abundant staff with a Thanksgiving meal. It was their way to thank us and God for the successful glaucoma operation.

Arce Family – Lots of boys!! The last two were born at Abundant.

As you can see in the pictures, the road to healing will be a long one with many follow-up check-ups in Manila and possibly another procedure. As compared to the last picture I posted of John Lester his eye looks much bigger – but that was because from the time that was taken until he could actually have the procedure his eye grew so much that he couldn’t even close his eyelid around it anymore.

Ana Pullis who has been accompanying Anita and John Lester to all of their trips to Manila! She is a Godsend!

The operation improved his quality of life so much that he actually smiles and laughs now!! Before he would only sleep and cry because of the pain. The operation also saved his other eye which would have lost it’s sight as well if the operation hadn’t been done. I keep praying for a complete healing for John Lester but for now he is doing really well and enjoying life.

The Trials of Baby John Lester

Baby John Lester and his mother Anita before their first trip to Manila.

John Lester is the third child and third boy born into the Arce Family. He was delivered at our clinic in the middle of February 2012 and when he was born we noticed that his left eye was quite swollen. We referred him to a pediatrician and they diagnosed him with an infection and gave some medicine. We didn’t see him again until a few months later when his mother attended one of our “Well-Baby” seminars. I couldn’t believe it when I saw him! His eyeball was so enlarged and the socket was so swollen.  His mother said that he only cries and sleeps and seems to be in so much pain. We asked the mother if she had been to a doctor again and she told us that she had, but they were referred to Manila to see a specialist and they couldn’t afford to go. My heart just about broke to see this sweet little boy in so much pain.

John Lester getting some relief while sleeping.


We contacted one of our sponsors, Samaritan’s Purse Canada to see if there was some way they could assist us in getting baby John Lester medical help. They said yes! In July, with the help of SP Canada we took John Lester and his mother to Manila for an initial check-up and diagnosis. It took a whole week but God divinely intervened and set up a meeting with one of the top ophthalmologists in the country. When the doctor saw John Lester and learned of his family’s financial condition, his heart was also moved. He diagnosed him with congenital glaucoma and said that he needed immediate surgery in order to save his eye. He agreed to waive his professional fee and set up a sponsorship with his own foundation (Opthalmological Foundation of the Philippines) for John Lester to receive a reduced rate for all procedures.

Since August we have been trying to get John Lester healthy enough to undergo surgery – he was suffering from pneumonia. Finally this last week, baby John Lester had his glaucoma surgery and everything went well. He and his mother are still in Manila with one of our team undergoing follow-ups until the doctor clears him to come home to Tabuk.

John Lester’s family is so thankful for the help given by SP Canada. Without their sponsorship John Lester would still be in excruciating pain and would have eventually lost use of both eyes.

Please pray with us that John Lester will continue to heal and that his other eye won’t be affected by the glaucoma.

(I will put up pictures of John Lester post operation when they arrive home from Manila next week)

Adventures from Bugnay – You won’t believe these girls!!

By Crystal Meeks and Evelyn Pullis (Head Midwives at our Bugnay Clinic)

Our remote sister clinic in the village of Bugnay.


Brenda and I had planned this trip to Tabuk for eight days.  We had received cell phone signal during hikes to Locoong and Proper.  During that time we had learned that Samaritan’s Purse Canada was going to help sponsor the surgery for a baby in Bugnay born with a congenital heart defect and we needed to go to Tabuk ASAP to get the papers for them to have a followup check and confirm exactly how much the surgery would be.  The change of plans caused me to leave exactly ten days from when we had originally planned.  We still felt well prepared, not so rushed, no big deal.  We had planned to drive the Pajero and get lots of supplies from Tuguegorao.  Even though it was cloudy I packed and ate breakfast feeling confident that we would make this trip easily.  I threw our stuff in the car, cranked it, yelled we were leaving and walked out the door.  Hmm what was that feeling?  Where did it come from?  It was drizzling rain should I not drive?   I walked back in the house down the stairs where Blyn and her husband Ramon were eating breakfast.  I remember her exclaiming, “Wow, nice shoes!”  I was wearing the sparkly Bridesmaid sandals from Elizabeth’s wedding.  I made eye contact with her.  “We are going.”  Yeah you said that already she laughed.  “We are taking the Pajero.”  Yeah I know she rolled her eyes at me.  Why was I being weird?  Blyn seemed fine so off we went.  Halfway to Tabuk sliding through the mud after the drizzle turned to a torrential downpour, the road was washed out up ahead.  Too far to turn back we did what we always do… keep driving and find out if it’s our time to die or not? I confess my prayers during those times have more to with words my granny taught me than the expected, “Jesus keep us safe.”  I was sure the unexpected road conditions were what caused me to second guess driving to Tabuk.  However later that night we got a letter from Bugnay… I gasped!  I wasn’t supposed to stay because the roads were dangerous I was supposed to stay because my name had already been repetitively spoken that morning in Bugnay by the village midwife.  Thankfully I left behind a highly skilled, faith filled midwife that knew exactly what to do.  I’ll let her finish this story…

Hi, I’m Blyn and I work at the clinic with Crystal.  It’s Sunday Morning, after I ate breakfast with my husband I went to take a shower and get ready for church.  I was about to change my clothes after finishing my shower when I heard a voice in the birth room.  I thought we had a patient in labor but when I opened the window, I saw the village midwife, Sabel.  She was saying, “I suctioned it.”  Confused I asked if we had a labor and Sabel said, “Come here, Blyn and check this baby.  He got choked!”  I did not bother to change my clothes and entered the room to check the baby.  I looked at the baby he seemed blue.  I checked the heart rate and breathing rate.  They were normal but it seemed the baby was having a hard time breathing.  Our oxygen tank was leaking somehow and we couldn’t get it to work properly so I couldn’t administer free flow to the baby to see if that would help.  I suggested that they take the baby to Bontoc Hospital for a checkup.  While they were waiting for the mom of the baby to come over from the village my husband and I continued trying to repair the oxygen tank.  I got the ambu bag to give to Sabel just in case they needed it during the trip to the hospital.  I was in the living room when I saw out the window that the baby’s mother had arrived from Bugnay.  Good everything was fine and a jeepney was here to take them.  Then suddenly Karen (one of my companion midwives at the clinic) and Sabel entered the living room and said that they weren’t going to take the baby to the hospital anymore.  I asked why?  They both said at the same time that the baby was DEAD!  Of course my first reaction was Really? Oh no!  But when Sabel said they were starting to carry him back to Bugnay I said no bring him to me maybe I can try resuscitation.  We started full resuscitation with chest compressions and using the ambubag there in the living room on our desk. So many people were in the room watching me.  Some were yelling at me to “STOP! Alangan ijoy ken oon ju aat ja mataku!” which means you better stop you can’t bring the baby back to life.  I ignored their demands and continued resuscitation.  After many minutes, I’m not sure how long but it seemed a long time the baby’s heartbeat and breathing came back.  Once the heartbeat was stable we went to transport and I finally changed my clothes so I could go to the hospital with them in case it needed resuscitation again.  Luckily the baby was staying stable.  Halfway to the hospital the baby started looking around and even smiling at us.  I was thinking back to how hard we had prayed during the resuscitation for the baby to survive because the parents’ first baby had died.  Then once we were about thirty minutes from Bontoc I noticed the baby was beginning to turn blue again all of a sudden.  We ended up having to give resuscitation again.  At this point the mother and grandmother seemed relaxed and I was really frustrated that I felt like they didn’t care about the baby.  So I yelled at the mother that she should pray!  Once we reached the hospital I threw up a lot and felt so dizzy.  I thought I was finally getting over my morning sickness but it seemed this emergency had given it back again. Sabel and Crystal had done prenatals on this patient during her first pregnancy.  They had urged her to go to Bontoc repetitively because she had extremely high blood pressure.  She never heeded their advice.  Once in labor, Sabel made her go to the hospital.  The baby’s head was born in the jeepney just a ways down the road past where on clinic is now.  It wasn’t until later the baby’s body was born dead.  We suspect shoulder dystocia and the village midwife just hadn’t been trained in that type of emergency.  When her blood pressure spiked with this pregnancy it seemed one of us was at her house almost everyday watching her blood pressure rise and trying new tactics to persuade her to go to the hospital.  Miraculously she ended up delivering this baby at the hospital.  Then five days after being born it was brought to us having apparently “choked on vitamins.”  We later discovered that the baby was actually hypoglycemic (low sugar) because the mother had not been feeding him enough.

The baby is still very small most likely because the high blood pressure was depriving him from essential nutrients he needed but he’s alive and for that we thank God.

A precious baby boy who almost didn’t make it!

Surprise Home-birth – by Cathee Mapes

This is a first-hand account of a home-birth that Cathee Mapes (our Well-Baby Co-ordinator) experienced this month. Cathee and her husband Chris and their family have recently moved to the village of Pakak and this is one of their crazy experiences!


“I heard a loud knock at our door and my name being called at 4:38 AM.  I opened the door and there she was on the stairs softly moaning and grunting.  “I just came to ask if you can check me and see if it’s time for me to push….”

Her name is Kadchi, one of the regular attendees to our  Well-Baby Initiative every first Wednesday of the month in the village of Hilltop.  This is her seventh pregnancy. 

The staff of Abundant Grace of God clinic were here the day before to do  prenatals, and they checked Kadchi.  Her blood pressure was a little high so they gave a pill to help lower it, and since she was already in early labor, she was advised to call or text the clinic any time her labor starts to pick up.  But then she was shy to ask somebody to text the clinic that night, and she just hoped she won’t give birth until later the next day.

I scrambled to find gloves to use and asked Kadchi to come up the house so I can check her.  She laid down on some cardboard boxes right there on our kitchen floor.  My husband Chris calls Georgia to tell her what’s happening.  Kadchi started to push involuntarily…I check her and the baby’s head was right there.  I ask her daughter to call one of the ladies in the village who has a blood pressure cuff and who also volunteered for some time at Abundant Grace of God clinic.  Two big pushes, panting, and 1 small push later, a baby girl came out and cried right away!  I lift up a thanksgiving praise to God!  Anita, with the bp cuff came to check her blood pressure, it was 140/90, much lower than the day before. My husband found a pair of sterile scissors, we tie the baby’s cord with a dental floss, cut it, and then let her feed some more.  Kadchi’s other kids came and were very happy to see their new sister.  They named her Miriam Faith…”

We don’t have a picture of Kadchi and Cathee but we were called to come pick up a laboring woman in Pakak two days later and we just missed the birth! Well, it could be because she didn’t call us until the baby was almost born! Here is a picture of Chel attending to mom and baby after the birth.

Chel attending to a baby born at home 2 days later in the village of Pakak – we were 5 minutes too late!

Emmaus First Day of School

Emmaus had his first day of school on Wednesday. He had been asking to wear his uniform every day for two weeks previously. He did very well at his first day. I realize now though that the two of us need to learn the words to the Filipino national anthem as they sing it every morning!
Enjoy the cute pics.


Looking very handsome in his uniform.
Hands on heart for the National Anthem.

First Birth in Bugnay

First Bugnay Update!

Although I haven’t yet had a chance to visit the new clinic, Crystal and I have been sending letters back and forth by jeep. That is right – there is no cellphone reception in Bugnay.

A little over a week ago the clinic in Bugnay had it’s very first birth! She was the sister of one of the midwives and it was her fourth baby. Apparently it was a beautiful birth with no complications. 🙂

Since that time they have three more births and over 50 prenatal check-ups! They may get even busier than us here in Tabuk City!

This weekend Achao, Emmaus and Lucas all went to Bugnay for Karen’s (one of the midwives) wedding. I wanted to go as well and see the girls and the new clinic but someone had to stay back and take care of our clinic here in Tabuk (all of the midwives from our clinic are a part of the wedding). Hopefully Achao will remember to take some pictures of the clinic and the wedding – Emmaus is the “Bible bearer” and has his own little outfit!

Here is a picture of B-lyn doing the very first prenatal (first of many apparently!). This girl has already delivered at the new clinic!

Evelyn doing the first prenatal at the Bugnay clinic.

Bugnay Birth Center Begins!!

Well, four of my most favourite people left me yesterday – but I am so excited!Image

Crystal Meeks, Evelyn Pullis, Karen Ligab and Brenda Alinao left yesterday morning in a jeep packed full to the brim with household and clinic supplies. They are heading to Bugnay to start a sister clinic that will be serving the tribal women in the remote areas of the mountains of Tinglayan.Image

Achao and Emmaus went with them to help them get settled in and finish off the renovations.Image

I am so excited about the adventures that lay ahead for us this year in Bugnay!

When will the first delivery be? How many women will come to deliver at the new clinic? What types of complications will we see? How will we be received by those in the far off villages?

These are all questions that we are going to find out soon! Please keep checking here for the latest updates on the Bugnay BIrth Center and all of our adventures here in Tabuk.

Miracle Baby in My Family

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!!!

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!