Saturday, October 29, 2011

Hello From Davao! Hannah this time

You recently heard Ruth's side of life in the Philippines, and Hannah already sent this to some of you; so if you already got this just delete ---did I need to say that? smile. When you hear from midwives they talk about deliveries - that is what we do. It is such an open door to witnessing. I'll save my news for another time.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

October letter

I always start letters by being amazed at how fast the time has gone - this is what happens when so much is packed into a little bit of time. I have wanted to run to the computer and write many times, and then the next thing hits and I think, "It is a good thing I did not write yet."

The best thing is the people getting saved and the growth in the churches. One man to whom we have been witnessing and praying for finally "got it." Dan and he were out in a village where there is no electricity or running water, working on a future church site. The man noticed the huge electric towers overhead and commented, "It is a shame that the cable goes right over this town, and yet they are still in darkness." Dan said, "That is just like you. You have been coming to church and hearing the Gospel, and yet you are still on the road to hell." He came and prayed with Dan the next day. Hallelujah! Not only is there rejoicing in heaven over one sinner who repents - I get excited too. Now we have more who are ready to get baptized. That is always encouraging.

I wrote of deliveries that have come my way - another one came. This time the lady was in early labor, and it was 8:30 p.m. I knew it was going to be a long night, but no one was there with her, so I didn't feel like I could just leave. (Meanwhile, the girls called, saying the cat was having her kittens and what should they do? Watch - smile. Call me if you need anything.) The hours stretched on as I sat in a dark room lit by a kerosene lamp and swatting mosquitoes ---there was to be no relaxing. I asked at one point, "Do you have a dog over there in the corner?" Half the room was taken up by wood, buckets, cement bags, dishes, etc. "No," she said, "that is just the rats." Okay, so now I watched as the mice went back and forth - I had a flashlight. I noticed that they kept their blankets and clothes in a metal drum to keep out the rats. I did use the time to pray for you ALL. I prayed for all our churches, friends, concerns, and anything that came to my mind. So, maybe God was just telling me, "Come over here and talk with Me for a while." Finally a sister-in-law came at 3:30 a.m., so I felt I could leave. I figured the baby was coming the next afternoon. I got to bed by 4:30 and was extra appreciative of my nice, clean house and bed.

It was the woman's second baby, but the first child is 16 years old, so just the same as a first delivery. She had a healthy baby boy that afternoon at 4 p.m. at the hospital. Her house was not suitable for a delivery --lots of traffic during the day; and my house surely has lots of traffic during the day; so I was happy she had a safe delivery and a healthy baby - without me, smile. It was Stephen's birthday, and I already had the day fully filled. God held me up, and I was not even that tired.

On Sunday we were all singing away when some kids in the middle aisle at church noticed a snake above their heads on the crossbeam. We all filed out to let the men kill it - a long green snake. Dan says it was not poisonous - better dead anyway. Then we came back in and finished the service. Dan had just been teaching Sunday school about the devil and his attacks, Eph. 6. Satan is planning an evil day for you. He is smart and is trying to plan your downfall. Anyway, the snake was a good illustration and also woke everyone up for the morning message.

Twice, a pastor from Canada has sent money for some Liberian refugees who are here, and Dan has been willing to receive the money, buy the food, divide it up, and distribute it. That was a huge job, but greatly appreciated. Imagine doing that for 168 families. It was a joy to be of help to such needy people and to be able to encourage them in the Lord in English. Seth has had some of them come to his services recently. There is so much that could be done!! TIME. A ten-year-old girl there at the refugee camp (They are living in tents made of palm branches; you can't even stand up in them.) just drowned last week when she was at the river drawing water. I could send pictures, but it would be too gruesome. They have killed so many snakes, seven in one day last week. A man was also bitten but is doing quite well, and a pregnant woman rolled over on one, but it didn't bite her. We need so much prayer and strength as we live life here.

The next Sunday Andy and Becky's water heater shot out flames while David was trying to light the pilot light. The pilot light was out, but the gas was still on; so when David tried to light it, flames engulfed him. He got 1st and 2nd degree burns on his hands, arms, legs, and feet. His face and hair also were singed. Becky, who was back in the doorway, was even burned on her face, one arm, hand, and foot. They were able to get into cool water right away, and between us we had "good stuff" for burns; a product called "Ice," and the main good thing was egg whites. (Yes, I've told a few people about that, though I never thought we'd have to use it like we did.) The egg whites work really well - coat the skin, seal, and sooth. I pray for discernment and wisdom every day. God has to give wisdom for each step of the way. It has now been a week, and they are healing fairly well. There are quite a few raw patches, swelling, and discoloration, but we are praying that all this will heal quickly and with no complications. (If you want to see pictures, go to Andy Messer's facebook.) Praise the Lord for His mercy ---it could have been a lot worse if their clothes had caught fire. A burn will for sure remind you that you don't want any of your friends to go to hell.

Dan has been able to buy two properties in different villages to start churches. In one of the villages, we already had a group going - preaching done by Pastor Paul, the one who was here at this church while we were in America. Now Paul is back there preaching full time. The other village is a brand new work. Pray that many people will get saved. That is the goal - reach people for Christ and help them grow. We live in exciting times. The more we pray and see Satan kick, the more we know God is blessing. Pray much.

Thanksgiving is almost upon us. Many happy wishes and prayers to you! Giving thanks will surely start the day out right. All of us are well. Here are pictures of Gideon, Esther and Joseph who change the most. We thank God for each of these precious ones He has entrusted to us. We thank God for you, too, and for your prayers, which make it possible for us to be here!

With lots of love,

Dan and Joan

Ruth and Hannah (in the Philippines), Seth, Lydia, Susanna, Isaiah, Stephen, Rebekah, Josiah, Joseph, Esther, and Gideon

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Ruth's letter with pictures

Dear Friends,

I guess that this letter isn’t late because it is coming just as frequently as any other letters that we sent. I am very sorry for the lack of correspondence. As you know we are very busy here. It is sort of hard to write letters to you all because of the nature of what we do here. We study textbooks and learn about midwifery – that is not interesting and you don’t want to hear about that; and we work in the clinic and catch/deliver babies – how can I tell about birth? Can’t describe it!

I will just try to describe to you a little chunk of my life that was particularly CRAZY (leaving out any details that would not be appropriate).

It started with night shift. When I arrived at 10 pm I got a patient. She was in strong labor and I stayed up all night with her. I had seen her previously in prenatals and we really had a connection. She did not deliver till 6:54 am. Shift ends at 6 am, but I stayed with my patient because if I didn't she probably would have gotten transported to the hospital because she was exhausted and the midwives coming on shift did not know her story, etc. (and also I liked her). As soon as the new supervisor arrived on shift (she is also one of my favorites) she want to transport. Heather (the supervisor from night shift. An American) stayed over just to be there for my patient. It was special. She helped coach my patient to push. You should have seen her. She was SO exhausted and had NO energy. Her husband was taller than I, and super sweet and supportive of his wife. He did not want to have to go to the hospital. The patient was sobbing because she was so happy after the baby came out. Heather was also teary eyed. The birth affected all of us. It did not seem like the baby would ever come out and when it did we were all soo… It is hard to describe the feelings after a baby is born!

So.... I got home at 10:30 am from staying awake all night. I went straight to bed and got up at 3 pm because I had a postpartum check-up for another one of my patients. After I did two postpartum checks, my continuity (a patient that is my patient from prenatals all the way through) came to the clinic -- that was at 4 pm. I then stayed for all of swing shift and stayed awake all night again. My continuity delivered at 3:19am, plus another of my continuities came in and delivered at 2:12 am. I delivered two babies only 1 hour and 7 minutes apart!! And I delivered 3 babies in 24 hours. I came home and slept from 10am to 7 pm. I was SO tired but very happy that both of the women were able to deliver at our clinic and that I was able to partake in their birth.

The one continuity really has a sad story. She is only 17 years old and was raised by her grandmother. She is not grown up. She really is a baby herself. Labor was very painful for her and, on top of that, it was really long. She would say, "Ruth, help me. Ruth, help me." Then she would have a contraction. She was pleading with me, but there really was nothing I could do. She had to be the one to deliver her baby. Afterwards she said, "I am never having another baby." She had a baby boy that was 8 lb. 4 oz.!!

Yesterday I printed my assignment and cooked dinner for our house. I made chili, cornbread, salad and rice. It was delicious. We have a cook that cooks on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday. It is SO great even though it is not exactly what we would like (she uses things like pig fat and corn starch and MSG, but she does not use them all the time). It takes off a large burden to have her come and she is so sweet and really wants to help us. We are still in the adjustment phase, but we would much rather have her than have to do without her. Imagine having a full time job with over time, being in full time school, having to shop and cook for 20 some people, and trying to have relationships and get along with people while maintaining a relationship with God. It is not easy.

We appreciate your prayers for us tremendously. There are times when I can feel like someone must be praying for me. I feel so blessed to be able to serve here and learn to be a midwife and be supported by you.

I know without a doubt that I am so blessed to be able to learn midwifery in a Christian setting on the mission field in a foreign country and have so much clinical experience!! I have done over 300 prenatal check-ups and have caught 45 babies – not to mention the number of births that I have been able to be involved in and observe. I am learning so much!

Midwifery is really one of the best tools to be able to get into a woman’s life (and therefore the life of her family) and transcend any and all barriers to the gospel. When you are a woman’s midwife there are no barriers. For a woman to trust you and allow you to deliver her baby, she really can’t have any barriers, and what kind of gratitude will she feel toward you after you have assisted her in bringing a new life safely into the world and supporting her in her time of need. I have seen it happen, women are so open and accepting to a woman who has gone through something like birth with her.

I am planning (in God’s will) to use my midwifery and whatever training I get, on the mission field. There are so many open doors and so many needs that have presented themselves. There are many missionaries who have specifically asked for a Christian midwife to come and work in their area. As of now, I don’t have a certain place that I feel “called” to, but I really would like to work in the Ivory Coast alongside of my family. Our dreams of what we could do are so many that it would be impossible to do them alone. We have thought of starting a maternity clinic and a girl’s home/center.

Things that it would be wonderful if you would pray with us about:

v God’s leading and direction in what He would have for the future.

v For our health (Of course, this is a constant. Without good health, it is hard to function).

v For relationships with people. God would lead us to give Biblical advice when the situation arises.

v Our schooling/learning. We would be able to keep up with the academics.

There are more things that I could think of, but that is enough for now.

Thank you so much,

Ruth Cuthbertson

“Not that I speak in regard to need for I have learned in whatsoever state I am to be content. I know how to be abased and I know how to abound, everywhere and in all things, I have learned both to be full and to be hungry, both to abound and to suffer need.”

~ Philippians 4:11-12