I know some of you hear from Hannah and Ruth directly. If you already got this - just delete. Don't you get a little measure of joy in deleting something? smile. They are doing so well - keep praying for them. They just got a baby genet cat ---small, fits in Ruth's hand. Good for Ruth who loves pets.
Yep, I'm finally getting around to writing another letter. I know we may seem like we've dropped off the face of the earth... but we're still here.
Much has happened in the 4 months we've been here. Ruth and I have both caught several babies. My first was so exciting. It reminded me of why I want to be a midwife.
My most recent excursion... I went on outreach up to the mountains with 3 of the other students and a midwife named Mary Gene who used to be here, but is now working to serve her own people up in the mountains.
We set off early Monday morning. After a jeepney ride, a bus ride, another jeepney ride and a tricy ride, we ended up at the mayor's office. We went in and chatted with him for a bit and ate Marienda -- "snack". Philippinos take a break from whatever they are doing and eat marienda around 10:30 A.M. and again around 3:30ish in the afternoon. I find it quite amusing. After our chat with the mayor, we took a quick potty break and met up with our motor drivers. We had about a 30 to 40 minute motor ride and then we met up with a team from the Department of Health that was going up into the mountains to pass out mosquito nets. They had a big pick up truck full of mosquito nets. We loaded our backpacks in the truck and some of us rode with them. That way the motors only had 1passenger each and would have an easier time getting up the mountains.The view from up there was absolutely gorgeous. Wow! No picture could ever capture it; but I tried.We went to a total of five villages. The drill was basically the same at each village depending on what time we got there: Get there, take a nap, eat marienda, take pictures of the mosquito guys doing their distribution, eat, shower outside in the well (in our bathing suits. I finally know why they are called bathing suits rather than swimming suits:) ), go to bed. Then in the morning we did prenatals, baby check-ups, and baby immunizations. We mostly did the prenatals and Ate Mary Gene and Geneveve did the baby stuff. No matter what we were doing, we always had to have our marienda. Sometimes we even had to stop mid-prenatal and then come back and finish later. It was very laid back. No one seemed to be in a hurry for anything except marienda. It was quite funny.
Each village was quite different. At each one I could see myself living there long term. I didn't want to leave.
One thing I loved about the first village was the community bath time. I was thinking, "We need one of those at our house". They had this pool thing that looked like a baptismal; the water was pumped up from the well so it flowed continually. It was right outside the "health center" and the whole community used it. Here's a picture. Oh, they even washed puppies and pigs there. Everyone brings his own dipper and soap and scrubs down.I definitely practiced a lot of Visayan in the last week. It surprises me how much I can understand and speak it now. Still not nearly as much as I would like to, but definitely more than I realized I was capable of.
One thing that made me frustrated was when someone came to us with a problem, and I had no idea what to tell them. People of all sizes and ages came to us for check-ups. Old men with breathing problems... children with who-knows-what. It definitely wasn't limited to women and babies. All we could tell them was to go see a doctor, which we knew they were not going to do as it would cost them a fortune just in transportation to get off the mountain. A doctor would be super useful up there. Maybe someday, when I'm finished with my midwifery training, I'll become a doctor too. Then I could do so much more.
Anyway, we had a great trip. No mishaps other than an occasional clothes-lining, toothbrush falling into slew water or flashlight dropping out the window. Moral: if you are trying to spit out the window and want to avoid spitting on a roof, get someone else to hold the flashlight for you. Don't hold it under your chin while trying to spit.
I learned how to cut open a coconut without spilling out all the juice. I'm surprised it took me until now to learn that. We saw two cute little monkeys. That made me happy. I didn't know they had monkey's here.
Oh, and we had rice at every meal. I thought it was yummy, but the after effects weren't so lovely on the other girls. Their systems are not so used to rice for breakfast, lunch, and supper. I was even beginning to get tired of it by the end of the trip. Oh, and we had chicken at almost every meal. At least twice a day. The food was delicious. The cook even taught us how to cook rice in a plastic bag. He said that usually when we goes to the mountains, he doesn't travel with pots, just plastic bags. He can cook all kinds of food in them. It is pretty cool.
On the last day, we went swimming in the river. That was lots of fun.
Then we took almost every mode of transportation again and got home in time for class. We have classes every day of the week because we are trying to get this next assignment done before Christmas. We jumped right back in to life here. It seems like such a different world. It was sad to leave, but at the same time, it's nice to be "home". Yep, I'm beginning to think of this place as home.
For this Christmas that we won't be too homesick as it is the first we have been away from home.
For wisdom in making good decisions
That our understanding of the language will grow.
That we will seek every opportunity to share the gospel and that people would be receptive. (the major religion here is Catholicism)
We are very thankful that God has kept us healthy.
Thank you so much for standing behind us. We wouldn't be here without you. Have a Merry Christmas!
Hannah and Ruth