On Our Way

We have left Tabuk on the looong way to Canada. We took the 12 hour bus ride last night and are now in Manila awaiting our flight to Davao. While in Davao we will attend the going-away party of our former volunteer, Abigail and visit Mercy Maternity Center where I trained in 2004. Then another flight back to Manila and we will be on our way to Canada! This picture really says it all about the long trip ahead of us. ūüôā

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Our Second Outreach in the Mountains – by Crystal Meeks

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.

Outreach in Ngibat – by Crystal Meeks

Almost to the village of Ngibat!
   The hike to the village of Ngibat while not physically exhausting was the scariest most adrenalin pumping hike of my life!
   It took us more than one hour of sliding down steep inclines to arrive there from the village of ButBut Proper.  Most places was just enough room for one foot in front of the other with the chance of falling in a rice field on one side or a hundred foot drop off on the other.  Just as we entered the village the skies opened and the rain came pouring down.  I was grateful for God’s grace knowing had that rain came ten minutes earlier making that hike even more slippery I would have surely fallen off the mountain and died.
   The next morning we started our outreach and learned that there were only two pregnant women in the whole village.  Now I know what you are thinking all that preparation, insane hiking, another meal of sardines and sleeping on a hard floor for two lousy prenatals?!?  But we were actually beeming with joy and probably even more enthusiastic with this outreach than all the others.
¬†¬† ¬†The guys that had come with us had been playing the guitar and singing worship songs all morning as we prepared the snack of pancit.¬† When the first woman came in I rushed to interview her.¬† I found out this was *Marilou’s second pregnancy. Last year in her first pregnancy she had gone for all of her regular prenatal checkups. ¬†Everything had been normal throughout her pregnancy but when it came time to deliver the midwife was not in the village.
    Marilou labored for a day before deciding to go to the hospital.  While in labor she hiked for over an hour down the mountain then took a jeep to the nearest hospital two hours away.  By the time she arrived at the hospital her blood pressure had spiked to 160/100.  She remained in labor another four days until a cesarean section was performed.  Unfortunately after only 30 minutes of birth her baby quit fighting and went to be with Jesus.  Due to her hypertension she hemorrhaged and was left to heal not only a great physical trauma but an emotional one as well.
¬†¬† ¬†Obviously Marilou was extra concerned and nervous about this pregnancy. ¬†During the last part of the checkup I attempted to find the baby‚Äôs heartbeat even though it was still quite early.¬† I prayed to find it knowing this would bring this anxious mother a lot of peace.¬† I placed my hand on her tummy and moved the Doppler around listening to the static‚Ķ the guys had started singing again and I found myself concentrating more on their words.¬† What were they singing that had intrigued me so?¬† Aaaah, ¬†‘How Great Thou Art’ in Butbut!¬† And then there it was‚Ķ LubDubb LubDubb‚Ķ We both giggled, smiled and teared up!¬† Had she been the only pregnant lady in Ngibat that insane hike that left most of us with cuts and bruises would have still been worth it!!!
Yes Lord how great, awesome and amazingly loving you are!
* – not real name

Thank you! Love, Baby Jobi

Jobi with "tita" Chel in Manila.

Jobilyn, her parents Benjie and Luk-ay and her “tita” Chel just arrived home from Manila this morning after a week of Doctor’s check-ups and tests in Manila. Because of¬†numerous donations given over a period of just 2 days, Baby Jobilyn was able to get her MRI and will now be able to start a rehabilitation/physiotherapy program.

I know that Jobi’s parents were completely overwhelmed when all of the donations started pouring in for their little girl. I cannot even put into words what kind of difference it has made in Jobilyn’s life to be able to receive the care that she got in Manila. ¬†It is the difference between life and death.

Thank you!

I will keep you updated through this blog as to how she is doing in her physio and follow-up check-ups.

A Plea for Baby Jobilyn

On the bus on the way to Manila.

Jobilyn Balagso, from the village of Hilltop Pakak, was born at Abundant Grace of God on November 29, 2009. She was born with both of her legs severely hyperflexed against her chest. When we took her to the local government hospital  they took x-rays that showed she had almost non-existent kneecaps. Then they put casts on her legs so that they could be straightened. Other than that, they not give any advice or even a diagnosis of her condition.

I had not seen Jobilyn very often since her birth so this last December when I saw her and her mom at church I was taken aback by the worsening of her condition. She was over a year old but was still not even able to hold her head up let alone sit up.  I suggested going to a local rehabilitation centre called Lin-Awa which is run by the Catholic church to see if anything could be done to help.

The physiotherapists at Lin-Awa had never seen anything like Jobilyn’s condition before and referred us to a specialist in Tuguegarao City (2 hours away). The Specialist in Tuguegarao didn’t know what to do with Jobilyn either and referred us to a Genetic Pediatrician in Manila.

Jobilyn’s family are sustenance-based rice farmers with no extra money for even a bus trip to Manila let alone specialist check-ups.

This past week we were finally able to spare the funds to send Jobilyn to Manila for specialist check-ups at Philippine General Hospital. Our friend Richel Halili accompanied Jobilyn and her mom Luk-ay and dad Benjie to Manila by bus. Our friend Naomi Hamilton has generously let them stay at her ministry house (Safe Refuge) while they undergo their check-ups.

After check-ups with over half a dozen doctors (Neurologists, Orthopedics, Genetic Pediatricians, Surgeons) numerous blood tests, x-rays and even a CT scan her condition is still not clear. The doctors are requesting that Jobilyn undergo an MRI in order for a conclusive diagnosis to be made and a physical therapy routine established.

The problem is that we are now out of money. We have come so far and had so many doctors attending to Jobilyn that it seems such a shame not to be able to finish her treatment.

Baby Jobilyn and her mom at PGH.

If any of you reading this note feel moved to help Jobilyn finish her check-ups in Manila please go the donate section of this blog. You can give through paypal with a note designating the money for Jobilyn. We will get all of the money to them immediately.

Ground Breaking News

We started construction on the new Abundant Grace of God Maternity Center! I am in amazement at God. When we opened five years ago I never would have dreamed that we’d be able to build our very own clinic. We are so thankful for GDH (Samaritan’s Purse Germany) partnering with us to make this happen. We are still raising money to finish the purchase of the adjacent lot (where we dream of putting a seminar hall). We hope to have the new clinic up and running by Christmas. Keep checking back here for details on how it is all going.

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SUPPLIES!!

Just want to say a HUGE thank you to all of you who sent us midwifery supplies with the McCauley Family!

Wow, new pens!

My good friend Melissa and her family (Ben and Samuel) came to spend three weeks with us here at Abundant Grace of God. They showed up with two bags full of desperately needed supplies for our clinic: underpads, pens, measuring tapes, blood pressure cuffs, thermometers … and two brand new dopplers! It was like Christmas morning here at the clinic.

The old doppler....
Brand New Doppler!

There have already been lives saved because of the brand new, accurate blood pressure cuffs!

Many of the donations were made anonymously so I hope that this ‘thank you’ will reach those of you who gave.

Thank you also for the coffee and chocolate that was sent for this deprived Canadian midwife – hee hee.

Outreach to the Mountains

Emmaus and I as we climb the 500 steps to Bugnay
Health Teaching in the village of Buscalan

We just arrived home from five days in the mountains. A team of 10 of us travelled to the villages of Bugnay and Buscalan to do health teachings and prenatal care. We had a wonderful reception in both villages. I was particularly happy that we had so many women attend our seminar in Buscalan as this was our first trip to this village for outreach. I was also so proud of Emmaus who hiked almost the whole way there! We also had the McCauley family join us. Melissa, Ben and little Samuel were a great asset to our team! We will hike into the other three Butbut villages in May. These villages are more remote so we wont be bringing the kids with us!

The team on the way back from Buscalan. L to R (Gracia, Belen, Ben, Rosela, Melissa and Samuel, Marivic, Salome, Crystal, Georgia and Lucas, Ella- missing from picture is Achao because he was taking the pic and Emmaus because he was asleep after a long day of hiking!)
Crossing the bridge into Bugnay.

Miracle Baby

“Miracle Baby” Abira Turns One

Last month the Pullis family had a First birthday celebration and thanksgiving for their youngest child Abira.

Do you remember her? Last March 2010, Abira was delivered 3 months premature because her mother had severe pre-eclampsia. We didn’t think that Abira would survive being born so early in a hospital that has no incubators or care for premature¬†infants – but she did!
Then in February, Abira was in the hospital again for a intestinal blockage that looked like it might need surgery. We all prayed for her life and again God proved himself faithful. He healed Abira without surgery and she went home within the week.
And so once again, we celebrate Abira’s life.