Births since last post: 10
Tagalog word for today: makulimlim: (mah-koo-LIHM-lihm), meaning “when it gets dark before it usually gets dark because a storm is coming”. Such a fun word to SAY, and I just love how specific it is! The PERFECT word for rainy season.
I was going to back-date this blog, but I’ve decided to just be honest. It’s been over a month since I last posted, and that’s just how it is. I haven’t been exceptionally busy, I haven’t had anything extra hard happen this month… I’ve just been dragging my feet to write this post. June was a “party month” for me here; June 5 was Ate H-‘s birthday (one of the Shiphrah midwives), June 8-9 was a mini-vacation for every Shiphrah staff member (10 Filipinas and myself went to the beach without kids or husbands, just us girls. And what a highs-and-lows trip that was!! #askmeaboutitlater), June 11 was my 26th birthday, and June 13 marked 9-months in country for me. And with me being here for 18 months, that means I’M HALFWAY Y’ALL!!!
My birthday was great; if you know me well at all, you know how much I love to celebrate things. Birthdays in foreign countries are always my favorite, but I was honestly a little bummed that my birthday might pass as just a normal day here. I hoped to catch a baby girl on June 11, but we didn’t have any births that day. Instead, I opened a package full of candy from my Mom (a wonderful surprise!), and video-chatted with my sister to open her package later that afternoon (quite the interesting dance when one family member is 16 hrs behind and the other is 12 hrs behind. #timezonesmakethingstricky). Lauren’s gift took the cake (she literally mailed me cake mix!) She knows my two main love languages are words of encouragement and quality time; when the majority of my life takes place not in English (and I therefore only catch bits and pieces), and I’m working amongst people who have strong, existing relationships built over decades, I usually feel like I’m desperate for a good sit-down and heart-sharing conversation. My INCREDIBLE sister managed to give me that for my birthday by setting aside time for a video call first thing in (her) morning and mailing me 11 cards filled with hand-written encouragement from my Family in Ohio. I cried as I read each letter; thank you, TBC, for loving me so well! I finished the night with Pho and Bingsu (THE BEST form of the snow-cone/shave-ice you’ll ever find. Korea has perfected this art #justtrytofightmeonthis) with my best friend J- and the two interns currently here. My 26th birthday ended up with the joy and celebration I had hoped for!
I shared earlier that I hoped to have 100 primaries by June 13, but I was laid real low with a nasty strep throat infection for 12 days in May. Combine those with my 8 days off while in Mindanao, and I ended up with 87 primaries at the half-way mark. (I’m not worried, though. We’ve had a number of months where primary opportunities had to be split 3 ways, and we’re entering our busiest birth season these next 4-5 months, so I’m hopeful I’ll still get 200 before I leave late-March/early-April 2020).
I’ve done a lot a soul-searching this month, hoping for some grand revelation as I pass through my half-way mark. But I don’t really have anything monumental. I just finished reading through all my previous blog posts, beginning with the most recent and finishing way back in last July (!), and I can see patterns and progress. I have consistently had highs and lows these past 9 months (and I don’t think that’s going to change), but I really am starting to feel more settled. Language and culture are still so far from mastery, but I’ve got a bit of a grip on it now. I can sit at a table and listen to a first-appointment-interview between a midwife and a new patient completely in Tagalog and come away with a sense of what was discussed. Pretty great for 9 months of learning only on my own. #ifidosaysomyself
I’ve been meditating on a statement from sermon from my Alaskan-home-church, preached from 1 Samuel 16, where David is anointed as King. The Pastor noted that this anointing took place 25 years before David got his crown and actually begin ruling as King; God anointed David with His Spirit long before “the real work” began. One basic sentence from that sermon has been echoing in my mind:
God gives His Holy Spirit so that we can endure great conflict.
As I’ve thought more and more about this statement, I’ve realized that so often I think it’s my circumstances or my own immaturity that’s the root of the difficulty in my life, even in relationships. I’m beginning to see that in difficult relationships I have been connecting “forgiveness” with a transformed outcome; this keeps me thinking things hadn’t changed (the relationship is still difficult) so I obviously haven’t forgiven. That’s actually not true, none of it is. I can forgive, and things can still be hard. I can learn more language, and things can still be hard. I can get better at handling life situations in a culturally sensitive and appropriate way, and things can still be hard. God has already poured out His Spirit upon me, and there is still difficulty in my life. God keeps bringing this passage from Deuteronomy into my mind and my speech these past few weeks:
“Then I said to you, ‘Do not be in dread or afraid of them. The LORD your God who goes before you will himself fight for you, just as he did for you in Egypt before your eyes, and in the wilderness, where you have seen how the LORD your God carried you, as a man carries his son, all the way that you went until you came to this place…”Deut 1. 29-31
We need to remind ourselves of the truth, all the time. God goes before us, He will fight for us; remember how you’ve seen Him fight for you/provide for you before (Egypt)? Remember how He didn’t abandon you when you got yourself into the worse mess, and when things were dark, and hard, and confusing (wilderness)? The image of God carrying me (us), “as a man carries his son”, through my current difficulty just as He has the whole way up to this point, that’s strength that goes down to my bones.
In the words of a favorite song of mine (a song sung at my Bible school graduation, and again at a friend’s wedding): “God has been faithful, He will be again”. It is easy to see the hard I’ve been through, and the hard I’m in now, and be intimidated about how most of that likely won’t change. But I fight to choose to see “God has been faithful, He will be again”. Not that “faithfulness” = the difficulty resolved and gone, but that His Faithfulness = the same power that has brought me through Egypt, and the wilderness, and up till now WILL sustain me for the next 8 months (and all the new and hard waiting for me after that when I’m in South Asia for 6 weeks living with a dear friend, and then back in the States working through re-entry and reverse culture shock!). #reversecultureshockisnojoke You guys might get tired of this narrative: “it’s hard, it’s been hard, and it will be hard, but God has got me through up till now”. But that’s all I got. Arguably, that’s all any believer has. “Strength for today and bright hope for tomorrow”. Can’t ever sing those words without bursting into tears.
Sometimes He takes the hard away (hooray for victories!!), but sometimes He “carries us as a Father carries a child all the way to this place”. God has been faithful, He will be again, even in the midst of great, enduring conflict.
Praise Reports for my 9th month!
-Because I have all the support I asked for to pay for tuition, I have been able to start supporting the newest midwife at Shiphrah. I give monthly “preceptor payments” to each midwife as part of my monthly expenses here, but this newest midwife has not been receiving payments because she isn’t technically a preceptor yet. She IS, however, a dear friend, a single mom, and really hurting for any extra income. This month’s gift came right as she was struggling to find money to replace her badly leaking roof before rainy season hit full-force. She had tears in her eyes to receive the surprising payment. (I share this only to say: thank YOU for giving me the ability to help meet this need.)
-I had a wonderful birthday!!
-School starts next Friday! I am praising God that I will have had more time just as an apprentice when I’m purely counting months than I will while doing apprenticing + school (10 months done so far, 8 to go).
-A new intern came this month who will be here until December. She’s from the States and is working directly under J-, TLC’s social worker, so I don’t see her a lot, but it’s going to be really nice to have an English-as-a-first-language familiar face that will stick around for longer than 4 weeks!
Pray for me:
–School starts in 6 days. Indie Birth has a set up of three 10-week trimesters per year (for 2 years), and we do 5 classes each trimester. I have no idea to what extent throwing online school into my life here will change things, I just know I’m gonna be busy. Pray for discipline and creativity while I figure out what school looks like. Being on-call 24/6 (I take 1 day off each week as a Sabbath) + not having internet where I live will likely require a lot of flexibility and determination.
-More and more, I’m feeling at home at Point of Grace, my church here. I’m helping to lead worship about twice a month, and beginning to connect with the other members. I still have such high ideals, and I find myself wanting to have the same level of intimate, life-on-life connection I’ve had in my previous home churches, but I keep reminding myself that those relationships developed over years. I find myself wondering more and more if I’m ever bound to have this elusive “home” I have been looking for (even before I began my life here in the Philippines). Between being a Third-Culture-Kid and a Citizen of Heaven, I think the truest parts of me are never going to feel fully settled until I’m in Glory. Pray that I’ll persevere in putting in the time and effort to develop the relationships God has placed around me within Point of Grace, trusting His timing and His provision to give me (and them) what we need as we keep trying to “stir one another up to love and good deeds” and “outdo one another showing love and honor”.