Monday, March 03, 2014

The new nurse in town

Our co-workers left this morning for a month long break.  Before she left, Shannon brought me two boxes this morning: one containing various boxes of painkillers like ibuprofen, paracetamol and the like.  The other box contains bandages and wound care items.

I shuddered as I took them; I am no nurse.

She also let me watch her clean up a machete foot wound.  I nobly suppressed the gag reflex and promised to keep my eye on it for a week or so.

Like I said, I don't even pretend to be a nurse.  I can barely keep it together when my child has a wound.

We didn't tell anyone in the village that I even had the boxes of medicine, but she gave them to me "just in case".  I also tried to spread the word this morning that accidental injuries are strictly forbidden for the next month.

Our co-workers had not been gone for five minutes when my first little patient arrived.  Throwing up and diarrhea in an 18 month old toddler, without a fever.  Using my very poor Tagalog, I suggested that the mother increase the times she nurses the baby and wait to see if it passes.

A few hours later I was scrambling some eggs for supper when I saw a group of women that I didn't recognize coming down the path.  I thought to myself, "I bet they are coming here..."  Sure enough, there was a knock on my door.  One of the ladies was suffering from a headache and had walked, along with her five friends, from the village 30 minutes away for a check-up.  WHAT?  I asked the lady about her other symptoms and when I was satisfied it was only a headache I sold the lady some ibuprofen.

A guy with them asked if we could give him anything for an allergic reaction he was having on his arm.   We said no to that one, not wanting to dive into diagnosis and prescribing on our first day on the job.  Hopefully he's ok.

After selling a few vitamins and a package of paracetamol to another neighbor, I guess the word is out that the new nurse is in.

Pray for me!!

Friday, February 21, 2014

Presenting... the last 7 months in a nutshell.

Since my last post...

This new little guy (let's call him the Bear) was born on October 31, 2013...


...and has grown into a chubby, smiley 4 month old boy!


We enjoyed this crowded, city view for 4 months...


...and have now exchanged it for a more rustic one.


In January we finally moved in to our little house in the village, tucked away in a remote corner of the world.



We're excited to look back and see how God has led us to this point, and look ahead confidently as we know He goes before us too!  We hope to share some of our adventures in our new home and community with you soon.

Saturday, July 13, 2013

When the power goes out- an impromtu lesson in trust

Late last night two scared little girls gathered around me in the dark.  Our power went out around 10:30 pm and it was immediately stuffy and hot.  When the power is out we can't run the pump to have water to flush, wash our hands or bathe.  The girls wandered out of their room, scared because of the dark, the heat and the quiet.

After a day of no power the first week they were here, and after an afternoon of no electricity on Thursday due to a large truck failing to get around a tight corner and taking out a power pole, our girls know what a power outage means-

Rule #1: Don't put your TP in the toilet.
Rule #2: Don't flush.
Rule #3: Don't wash your hands.
Rule #4: Don't open the fridge.

And the Fact the remains in the forefront of everyone's mind: IT IS GOING TO BE HOT.

As they clamored for attention I felt myself getting snippy with them- I was sweating and harried, and I didn't really relish the idea of enduring a hot night myself, especially if it was going to be fraught with interruptions.

Realizing that my own attitude was going to escalate the problem, we sat down to pray.  First, I explained to the girls what a privilege having electricity is, and how many, many, many people go through their lives without it.  I explained how it has only been in the last century and a half that people have gotten used to it, and how for years and years little girls just like them have been sleeping in the Philippines without air conditioning or even fans.

I could tell they were calming down.  I heard Button's little voice that had been so worried and cross before say cheerfully, "Yes!  People have lived like this for a long time!  It's ok."

I reminded the girls of a devotion that we read recently that encouraged us to find something good that God might be doing even when things look bad.

We took turns praying.  Squeaky started off by asking for God's help to trust Him even when bad things happen.  Button continued, offering up her little voice in petition to God that He would perhaps allow the electricity to come back on but help her trust Him in the meantime.  They both thanked God for all the times we've had electricity and didn't appreciate it enough.

As we finished praying we sat quietly chatting in the dark.  Their voices were more cheerful now and even though the sweat was dripping down my face I felt a tiny breeze float in through the window and as I thanked the Lord for it my spirit was lifted.

Just as I was settling the girls on the living room floor where they'd catch a bit of a breeze the power came back on.  Oh, that moment when the power comes back on.  It brings a huge feeling of tentative relief- tentative because often it will roar to life only to go off again moments later and plunge everything in darkness again.  We collectively held our breath for a moment or two, then sighed with relief as it stayed on.  The girls were cheering and praising God for His answer to prayer.

They bounced off to bed, delighted.  I returned to my room, relishing the cool air drifting down from the noisy air conditioner.  As I climbed into bed I prayed and thanked the Lord for God's loving hand that allowed the electricity to come back on just as two little girls and one mommy prayed for more faith to trust Him.

I thought of this verse, especially the part that says, "When he calls to me, I will answer him:"

Because he holds fast to me in love, I will deliver him;
I will protect him, because he knows my name.
When he calls to me, I will answer him;
I will be with him in trouble;
I will rescue him and honor him.  Psalm 91:14-15

This time His answer was, "Yes, right away."

Friday, July 05, 2013

The fine art of losing a sale

Yesterday I went to visit my friend who is a vendor on the street outside where we used to live.  She sells banana-Q, a yummy banana fried in oil and brown sugar and served on a stick.  We were happily catching up on the latest happenings in life since I hadn’t seen her since our return from Canada.

A rather well-dressed man with slicked down hair appeared out of nowhere and flashed a toothy smile at us.  Judging by the stack of glossy pamphlets in his hand I had a feeling we were in for a sales pitch.  I was right.

“Good morning, Ma’am, I am speaking to you on behalf of so-and-so Fancy Spa Company,” Slick Street Sales Guy began in flawless, yet somehow slightly awkward, English.  He pulled out one of the pamphlets and laid it on my friend’s vendor cart.

I exchanged a look with my friend who raised her eyebrows at me slightly.  I could tell she wasn’t going to help me out.  “I’m not interested, sir.  But thank you,” I declined politely.

He pushed it.  “Oh Ma’am, we have five main and easily accessible locations as you can see listed here in our brochure.  Please may I tell you about a special deal we have for you, today only, ma’am.”  He paused briefly then plunged bravely on. 

“We have a special deal, ma’am, and free services worth thousands of pesos, all for the low, low price of 460 pesos if you would just fill out your name and number here in the space provided.  Let me tell you about the services you may avail of, ma’am.”

I glanced at my friend again.  She wasn’t even listening anymore and was quietly having a conversation with another friend nearby.  Sighing, I turned my attention back to Slick.

“First, ma’am, your free offer that I may draw your attention to is a free diamond peel service worth 1600 pesos.  This ma’am is yours for free, no questions asked.”  He looked at my face.  I tried to look pleasant but was failing to find value in what clearly sounded like a painful procedure.

“Next, ma’am, may I direct your attention here to the second free offer at our spa.”  I could tell he felt was on a roll.  “A free session of skin whitening, ma’am!”  He triumphantly pointed to the offer on the pamphlet. 

At this point I’m wondering if he is thinking about his potential client (me) at all.  I looked at him with round eyes and protested in shock, “Skin whitening?  Like a ghost?”  I was hoping that he would crack a smile.  Ok, I was actually hoping he’d stop the sales pitch.  But after one humorless chuckle he quickly recovered, “Perhaps you may give that part to a friend.”

Moving quickly on he said, “Perhaps you would like to avail yourself of other services at the spa then, ma’am.”  His eyes quickly scanned me up and down.  I knew where this was heading.
“Here, ma’am!”  He pointed to a list printed on the brochure.  “Did you know that we provide many services for your beautification, like for example, if you want to become sexy?”

I feel the need to interrupt here because I’m treading on some ground I haven’t yet covered on my blog:  Filipinos and their use of the word ‘sexy.’  I was shocked when I first came to the Philippines and heard this word used so often.  Like Inigo Montoya’s quote in the movie, “The Princess Bride,” I often feel the urge to say, “You keep using that word.  I do not think it means what you think it means.” 

I’m actually not completely sure what the word means to them, but my first clue that it wasn’t defined the way I thought was when my four year old daughter was called sexy.  Umm, ok…?  Somehow the word is linked to beauty in a way that is well, nonsexual.  (Really hoping I haven’t lost any sensitive readers at this point- it’s the culture here, folks, I’m just telling it like it is.)

It is also perfectly acceptable in this culture to discuss another’s weight and body image.  Imagine my shock when a stranger at the market declared that her vegetables from her stall would further me on my journey to “being sexy” (oh, that really endears me to you, thank you very much).  After attempting to discretely inquire among friends about the subject and beauty perceptions here I was told repeatedly that discussion of weight, even with a total stranger, is totally acceptable and doesn’t carry with it the connotations of judgment that we in our culture so quickly associate with the subject.  Indeed, it seems to be true- the topic is not taboo and thus we all must develop a very thick skin in order to survive here.

So having that clarification hopefully you have been able to pick your jaw up off the floor and we can continue the story with some understanding.

“Did you know,” he said, “that we provide many services for your beautification, like for example, if you want to become sexy?”  I knew where this was headed and steeled myself for some typical (or should I say ‘blunt’ by my culture’s standards) remarks on the subject.

“Hmmm,” I murmured, trying to warn him with a half-smile and a raised eyebrow that he was treading on dangerous ground.

“You know, ma’am, let’s say for example that you wanted to become smaller in your, um…” he eyed my torso, “your…” his hands skimmed the air in a curve, “you know, ma’am, in your abdomen.  To become slimmer.”  He paused.  “We have services for that, ma’am.”  His finger rested on the list of services.

I looked Slick straight in the eyes.  “Sir, buntis ako," I stated flatly.  He ignored me and continued to mutter things about slimming and services.  “Sir!,” I interrupted more clearly, “Buntis ako!  I’m pregnant!”

After staring at me for a few moments he vainly attempted to continue but all I heard was unintelligible gurgles.  Recovery from that faux pas was apparently insurmountable even for Slick.  He finally gave a nod and a quick, “Ok ma’am; if you’re sure, ma’am,” conceding defeat.  He ambled away, presumably to find a more fitting candidate for his spa. 

Perhaps he needed a better training course on knowing his target demographic.  Rule number one: don’t offer slimming services to a pregnant woman.

Thursday, June 27, 2013

Date Night

The evening began at a restaurant where Dennis and I enjoyed an American-style burger and fries, or in Dennis' case, onion rings.  After that we wandered to the hardware store, where we admired the shiny shelving units that were priced triple the amount that they were at the last store in which we had shopped- in Canada.

After watching a rousing movie during which the baby jumped at every bass noise, we made our way down to the taxi line.  Not wishing to stand behind 40 other people who were already there waiting for the slowly trickling-in taxis, we walked out to the busy street to try to catch something there instead.

We happily joined the crowd on the sidewalk and walked toward the corner to cross the busy street- affectionately referred to by us as "Killer Corner."  Suddenly our sidewalk was illuminated by bright lights; a cube truck was also inhabiting the path and was slowly moving toward us!  We stepped to one side to allow him to pass but the driver, surely a gentleman of the first degree, motioned for us to shimmy our way past him before he moved.

There were wooden crates stacked along the sidewalk as well, and finding that we only had a small amount of clearance we had to turn sideways to get through the crack between the back of the cube truck and the crates.  Unfortunately, my shirt managed to get caught on a strategically stacked broken crate and a hole ripped open right on the front of me.

Not as discouraged by this turn of events as I was, Dennis convinced me to sling my purse over my other arm to conceal the hole and accompany him to the nearby Chow King for some halo-halo.  As we  crossed Killer Corner I managed to scurry ahead of the gaggle of motorcycles but poor Dennis, who thought I was on his left, was stranded in the middle of the intersection frantically looking around for his wife as the taxis and motorcycles honked their displeasure.

We sat down in the murky air of Chow King to enjoy our ice-cream-less halo-halo (out of stock, ma'am).  I was happily recounting the now hilarious incongruity of ripping my shirt on our date night when suddenly I witnessed a man smacking himself directly into the glass wall of the restaurant near the door, knocking his glasses to the ground and leaving a wet grease-smudge on the window.  He quickly found his glasses and scurried away, deciding that saving face was more honorable at that moment than actually entering the real door of the restaurant and ordering his nightly snack of noodles.

We ended our nice evening out with Dennis trying to board the same taxi twice, only to discover after each failed attempt that there were not one, but two ladies lurking in the shadows inside.



Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Sweet Reunions

One little perk of living in two or even three locations is that when we move around we usually leave a little box of toys behind.  Now, the leaving behind part is not the perk (just ask my kids), but the finding of the box upon return is wonderful!

This week our girls were reacquainted with a few special things they said goodbye to about 10 months ago.

Miss Muffet was super excited to see her talking photo album from her Easton relatives.

Winnie really wanted to see her "little blue drawers" again and her mouse family.

Button received Elizabeth the cat as a gift from the her doctor when she was hospitalized for dengue.


Squeaky was reunited with her beloved Baby Bear (who is quickly becoming a favorite with Miss Muffet)!

Saturday, June 22, 2013

Surprises

So, the last time we sent out a ministry related email update (if you don’t get it and want to, email us at dennis_easton@ntm.org) we tried to outline what the next few months or so were going to look like as we prepared to move into the Ga’dang village.  

Originally we had thought we’d be in Manila for only a month and then would make our way to the village via helicopter.  Dennis would be taking several trips in June to prepare our little borrowed two bedroom house and arrange to get some of our belongings to be brought in while the road to the village is still passable (aka, not muddy).

We’ve been learning the importance of holding our plans with open hands.  Proverbs 16:9 reminds us, “The heart of man plans his way, but the Lord establishes his steps.”  About two weeks after we arrived in Manila we were told that our mission pilot found a major engine repair that needs to be done on the helicopter that we were planning to use to fly in and out of the village.  The helicopter will be down for approximately 2-3 months for these repairs. 

The only way to get into the village right now is to fly 1 hour from Manila to a city up north.  From there it is another hour to a small town and yet another hour down a very windy, mountainous, partially paved road to “The Waiting Shed,” a little shelter built in the corner of a cornfield that marks the trailhead going into the village where we are going.  From there it is a 10 km hike up and down several large hills to reach the village.  The trail is often washed out and muddy- impassable by vehicles for most of the year.

What does this mean for us?  Dennis has still been able to go in and out of the village twice this past month using this method.  He and our co-worker, Chuck, were also able to get quite a few supplies and some of our larger household goods most of the way in on a truck before the rains came.  They were able to get started on some of the house repairs and other projects that needed to happen before our families move back in, and plan to make more trips in the future.

Although we hiked in to the village as a family back in 2010, we’ve decided that we will not be doing so again in the next few months.  We are expecting a baby to join our family in October and will be waiting mainly in Manila for his or her arrival.  (Can you imagine the shock waves in our home if this baby is a boy!?)

Dennis and his princesses.  Will there be a prince in the future?


All of this has thrown us back on trusting the Lord’s timing and direction.  It is interesting to note that the helicopter situation was not known until after we got here, further verifying to us that for some reason the Lord is giving us several months to slow down and wait.  Please be praying with us that this time would be useful and that the Lord would use it to grow us up in Him as we prepare for what He has in store for us.