Saturday, October 31, 2009


I have finally come up for air...and it's a beautiful feeling. Shortly after arriving in LA with a four hour delayed flight from Tokyo, I started my night shift back at the hospital where I work with no chance to unpack even my carry-on except for my toothbrush, deodorant, and make-up. I worked for the first three nights I was back in the US and tonight is my first night off followed by four more nights on starting tomorrow. Ahhh...the brutal life of a night shift RN.

Emotionally I am fine. I was so blessed by what I was able to be a part of in the Philippines. I have never known such joyful and resilient people. One story from the last morning of relief clinics neatly illustrates this joy and gratefulness. Each clinic was supposed to last just 3 hours for 150 patients. My goal was to have at least four doctors at each clinic, which I had found for this morning. But just hours before the clinic was due to start, I learned that two of the four doctors had become ill and could not attend. Completely understandable but it meant that it was going to be an interesting day with one clinic scheduled for 9-12 and a second clinic from 1-4. Our first location was in Lupang Arenda, an area that is still under water! As you can imagine, we saw LOTS of diarrhea, vomiting, fevers, fungus, and the like...and it was a long morning. The church had passed out tickets for 150 patients per my instructions but about 20 more showed up hoping we would finish early and they could be seen. After 5 hours of clinic (by now it was after 2pm and we were over an hour late to our next clinic where 150 more patients were waiting), we had to close up shop and scramble to our next location. As we were leaving one of the 20 surplus patients tapped me on the arm and said, "M'am, thank you so much for coming. You were not able to see my sick child, but it means a lot to all of us that you came to see us and give my people much needed care." Wow! This was a lady who had waited 5 hours in sweltering heat for her sick kid without getting seen and she was STILL grateful! How often do I wait 5 minutes and become grumpy? And most likely those five minutes are spent in air-conditioning!

I truly thank the Lord for every one of the 3000+ patients we saw at the 9 clinics we held. It was hot, sticky, smelly, exhausting, and draining, but it was also filled with joy, blessing, and continued renewal by the Holy Spirit.

However, the job is far from over. As I write this blog update, the 4th typhoon in just one month is leaving the Philippines, and this one was a direct stike on Manila. Praise God that not much rain fell, but many homes were blown down and destroyed...not to mention that every raindrop on saturated soil is bad news. There is still so much to be done! Please pray that God would raise up more people to continue the job. The team on the field is so exhausted as they have been doing non-stop recovery work in the last month, but God is able and will continue to do His work, even in our weaknesses.

Thanks for joining me in the three weeks I spent in the Philippines. It will definitely be considered a highlight of my life. I am eager to return someday soon to continue on the work there and appreciate your prayers as I raise support and seek God's wisdom in this journey. One thing's for sure, it will never be boring!

Monday, October 26, 2009

haven't forgotten

It's been a crazy three weeks and I can't believe I get back on the plane tomorrow for my long trip over the Pacific back to California. I have so much to process that I am somewhat thankful for the long flight so that I can write down my thoughts.

Friday clinics went well though it was heart-breaking in many ways. Please read the following blog for a narrative from someone else's perspective of what happened Friday morning. There are also some pictures of the clinic as well.

I will be writing more during my flight and hope to put up some new posts soon after landing to catch everyone up on what has happened.

If you could please pray for my ears on this flight. I finally caught the cold that so many of my patients had. Praise God I didn't get it until the morning after my last clinic. God kept me healthy for the extremely busy days when I needed all the energy I could get! But I have sensitive ear canals to barometric pressure changes and am leary about the flight tomorrow. Please pray that my ears would adjust to the altitude changes well.

Thanks and check back soon for a more detailed update!

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Bring your boots!

A very quick post to ask for prayer for today's two clinics. We will be traveling to an area near Laguna Lake (formerly Laguna de Bay), which is still swollen and not expected to go down for some months. I was warned to bring my boots as there is still 1-2 feet of water outside the church door, though the church is dry. I'm sure there will be pictures to come!

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Just two left...sort of

It's hard to believe we've held 7 clinics in just 7 days! If I think I am tired, I cannot imagine how tired the team is, many of whom have been doing relief work for 3 weeks straight. Take Dave and Becky Majam. Dave is an administrator for the Street Impact Team, a part of ACTION and his wife Becky is an optometrist who also work with the SITeam full-time. They have both been very involved with these clinics, even giving up a day off to keep these clinics going. Yesterday I asked Becky if their house was clean yet as it flooded severely with the typhoon and she said that they are still working to clean it, even now! Can you imagine coming home from a long day to still find mud residue in your house? These people are truly my heroes. Forget the heroes you see in movies...these folks here are the real thing!

Today we were in an area called Tumana within Marikina. All week I've been hearing Tumana mentioned in conversations. I did not realize this was the exact area we had driven through on our survey trip two weeks ago. The pictures you see in this slide show are actually SO much cleaner than two weeks ago when the garbage was still piled so high on the streets that it was level with the roof of our truck and gave us only an inch of clearance on either side.

I saw so much filth and stench, even today, and yet the people were wonderful and so very grateful. No one was demanding or upset, just genuinely thankful for every bit of help they received. ACTION held a medical clinic this morning and then a clothing distribution this afternoon. And they could have used so much more.

One last thing: The sign above the church includes a verse from 2 Corinthians 6 which says, "I will live with these people and walk among them..." This was so very evident today in their spirit, joyfulness, and thankfulness. Even in our worst conditions, God is always with us, walking through the garbage and mud of life with me and with you.

May you be blessed.

Monday, October 19, 2009

First of 7

Today was the kick off for a very busy week of clinics with two in Marikina. We saw probably around 325 patients today spread over 2 doctors and one nurse (me). We had several more nurses helping with triage at the first location which ran like clock-work. I was blessed beyond belief by this church. The mud was still over a yard deep everywhere. The sanctuary had been flooded nearly to the roof, but they had worked hard to clean it out for us and it was shiny clean today! Each and every patient was prayed with twice and had the wordless book shared with them by trained counselors. They also had a chance to be counseled for grief and loss from the flood. Next they were seen by the nurse volunteers, then by the doctors, then on to the pharmacy. It was a long and very productive morning.

Our afternoon was a sharp contrast in the mud. We were on the street again under a tarp and we saw lots of fungus, 3 cases of leptospirosis, a man with a fly-covered dog bit on his leg, and so much more! We also ran out of some medications here...and we have 5 clinics left!

Thank goodness we only have an afternoon clinic tomorrow, so my mother and I will be getting up early to drive across the metropolis to our medication supplier in order to pick up the necessary medications for the next 5 clinics.

I appreciate your prayers for our stamina, safety, emotional health, and spirit of gratitude. God is able and we will learn to trust and lean on Him in a whole new way this week.

And now I will go hug my pillow and sleep. :)

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Tomorrow's Sunday...

...and I will rest.

It's been a very busy week to say the least. This morning we had a wonderful clinic at a church assisted by Steve Read, another ACTION missionary and fellow missionary kid. I think it quite poetic that both Steve and I, two of the missionary coordinator's of today's clinic are MKs. What a testimony of God's continued grace through the generations! Steve, his wife Rita, and two kids (Stephen and Shannon) were there to help, along with four medical residents from a good, local hospital. My mom and many volunteers also helped to ensure the clinic ran smoothly and efficiently.

But tomorrow is Sunday and I will rest my weary body. I am thankful for this day of rest so that I can be ready for 7 clinics Monday through Friday of next week. However, it is hard not to feel at least some twinges of guilt knowing that for many in the city, there is no rest. One lady at one of our Thursday clinics said she is too afraid to go home because it is filled with snakes. Many people are complaining of snakes in their home as these types of critters are also on the hunt for dry ground.

So though the twinges of guilt will threaten to ruin my day of rest, I can also acknowledge that Jesus Himself took time to be quiet, even though there were many hurting people through His land.

I do have one major praise, though - The World Health Organization (WHO) has recently published findings on the use of zinc for the treatment and prevention of diarrhea and prevention of pneumonia. And it's relatively cheap! But, it is not available at all in the Philippines. A faithful prayer partner of ACTION contacted me early in the week asking if there was anything he could do and praise God he and his family have been able to purchase 2,500 tablets of zinc to be Fed Exed here this weekend! To use the words of his wife: God is sooooo good!

Friday, October 16, 2009

quick thought

Tomorrow morning is going to come very early and I'm still counting inventory so I know how much we used yesterday. Today was spent in a very encouraging ACTION team meeting. These monthly meetings usually involve business, announcements, and fellowship. Today was different. Because of all the trauma and exhaustion going on within the team (some members are still cleaning out their houses!), after a brief message from the Word by the field director, the mic was opened for people to share how God had provided for them and any continuing needs they had. It was incredible to hear from these dear people all they had been through. One worker had his entire home submerged in the water. He had to swim through his living room to escape the flood waters, and his wife who cannot swim nearly didn't make it. When was the last time you went swimming in your living room? It's a concept I cannot even begin to wrap my brain around!

Tomorrow is a clinic in a very ravaged area of Marikina. Although it's beginning to seem like everywhere is ravaged, that's not true. A casual stroll down busy city streets would not show much evidence of a flood. The main thoroughfares and the wealthy areas have been mostly cleaned. It is in the low lying areas inhabited by the poor that the stench and filth remain. It is to these areas that we are going. Here is an idea of where we will be tomorrow for those of you familiar with the city:

View Larger Map

I appreciate your prayers. For now I'm going to get some rest for I know that His mercies will be new in the morning!

Thursday, October 15, 2009

First real clinics in floodway areas

My eyes are heavy, my back aches, my feet are nearly numb, but my heart is light and my spirit filled with joy. Today was the first of several clinic filled days to come. How we got to the locations we served today is a miracle. I had planned to hold two clinics but was dismayed to find out at 2pm yesterday that due to miscommunication, there was no location! However, God was not surprised and already had other plans for us.

This morning faithful workers Dave & Becky Majam, Frank Egalla, Jeff Anderson (Field Director), and I were joined by five volunteer doctors and one nurse. Our first clinic was in the middle of a small road that leads to an area still under water. In fact, many of these people are paying P100 or just over $2 to pay for someone to row them to their house! The church of the pastor who coordinated the morning clinic is still under water. All his Bibles, books, musical instruments are surely destroyed. And yet he jumped at the chance to host a clinic, even if it was held under a tarp right next to the river that invades his home. We served about 180-200 people in the morning and saw plenty of skin diseases, coughs, diarrhea, and bronchitis. At one point the crowd got overwhelming, pushing and getting angry with each other out of desperation to be seen. I got help from some of the other team members and said a quick prayer for control and the crowd soon quieted down. No surprise of course!

After a quick lunch we headed to the next clinic location in another part of the floodway. This clinic was in an evacuation center on a covered basketball court. Praise God for lots of room to manuver and line people up! The other nurse and I triaged the patients and sent them to the appropriate doctors. They were then sent up to the "pharmacy" for their medications and instructions. Each patient received a Gospel tract and saw the compassion of Christ in those who served them. At this clinic we served about 160 patients, including a young man with leptospirosis, a rat-urine disease that abounds in flooded conditions. It is a very deadly disease and many are dying here from it. We were able to start this young man on antibiotics early and will be praying for his healing. He cannot afford hospitalization, even if he needs it!

Thank you for your prayers, the whole team felt those prayers and definitely saw the need for them. Tomorrow we are taking the day "off" for team meetings and regrouping after today's "trial run." I now have an idea of what will run the clinics more smoothly and efficiently - the beauty of hindsight. We have 7 clinics planned over the next week with the possibility of two more.

There is still need for funds to purchase more medications. I was not able to buy antihistamines, decongestants, or more potent antibiotics. I am always trusting God for the necessary finances to
provide more clinics and a better assortment of medications for these dear people.

And as always: Soli Deo Gloria!

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

More planning

ACTION's founder and former international director, Doug Nichols traveled to the Philippines as soon as he could after he heard about the devastating flooding. One thing he saw over and over again was that in spite of the loss and joy, the pastors and local church members were genuinely considering it pure joy with the trials they were facing (Jas. 1). They were and continue to be greatful and sacrificial, exhibiting the mind of Christ. So today Doug arranged for a praise service for these pastors. It included a time of worship, a message of encouragement by Doug, a time for testimony, and future planning. Praise God for a time that truly made His name glorious!

I also attended this meeting in order to connect with the pastors, pass out medications for them (multivitamins and anti-diarrheal), and continue to coordinate the clinics. Praise God! I now have 10 clinics planned and set-up! The need is great, and we can surely do more, but our funds are limited to 10 as of now. Please pray that more funds will come in so that we can fill up next Thursday and Friday with clinics as well. Praise God for amazing doctors volunteering their time to help with these clinics as well. I am truly blessed!

One thing that I have noticed is that God gives us only enough grace, strength, and stamina to make our next step: no more, no less. To give us more would give us a false sense of security and make us lose our dependence on Him. When I am tired, He gives me strength. When I am overwhelmed, He gives me peace. When I am frustrated, He gives me grace and patience. BUT - I first have to ask Him for it.

Again, I thank you for your prayers. I am certain I would not be here without them. And be encouraged!

Monday, October 12, 2009

Monday Monday

Just a quick update on today. I spent most of the day developing tendonitis...just kidding, but it sure felt like I would get it with all the texting and e-mailing different suppliers, doctors, volunteers, and such in order to set up the clinics starting on Thursday. My goal is to hold 10 clinics in the next two weeks that I am here. That is one-two clinics per day as 150 patients per clinic.

Tomorrow I will be attending a meeting with pastors from all over the city who have been affected by the flooding. I hope to make more contacts there and really begin to make a dent with the medical problems. Praise God I have three doctors lined up for Thursday and one for Friday. Please pray that more will volunteer their time and that all the necessary finances will come in for the supplies. Please also pray that a medical team from the US can be arranged to arrive next week so that we can continue to hold clinics. I am buying all the supplies in faith that we will have the personnel needed to run the clinics.

Thanks again for your partnership!

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Ober da Bakod

Today I tagged along with the Street Impact Team to a children's outreach along the banks of the San Juan river. A Canadian illusionist provided entertainment and a Gospel message to the kids, many of whom lost everything...a common theme among most of the poor in the city. The kids also received school supplies, which they held close to them and counted as riches.

Later we all traveled to the area where these kids live, in filth and poverty. There are no words to describe the scene we walked upon. The river was full of bubbles from decomposing matter in its depths, the houses were ravaged, the kids were malnourished, and the adults begged for assistance.

I did not get an opportunity to pull out my medical supplies, but I did take a few pictures, which can be seen here.

Tomorrow I will be accompanying my parents to a church that has been feeding 300 malnourished children for several weeks. My mom has been asked to speak and I will take the opportunity to treat any medical needs as I am able. Many of these families were also affected by the massive flooding.

I also made a short, rushed video tonight that gives a small idea of what ACTION has been doing. Enjoy!

Friday, October 9, 2009

video of Marikina floodway

Sorry the quality is so poor - here's the floodway area

Day 2

Today was the survey trip to Marikina and boy, do we have our work cut out for us. It's overwhelming and yet we can start by picking up a shovel or cleaning a cut.

Our first stop was in the worst hit areas, and it was BAD. At one point, there was trash piled up so high in the road that there was barely an inch of clearance on either side of our vehicle. It was filled with everything imaginable, from a destroyed karaoke machine to a child's rocking horse. It reaked like a pigsty. Free standing water was everywhere. Unfortunately, the pastor we were supposed to visit was gone to try and find relief for his church members. Next we went to another church that was buried in mud. The swings in the play yard had mud up to the seat of the swing. The house of the caretaker was toppled over and worthless. After nearly getting stuck in the mud myself, we then went to an area along the river banks. Here too, the mud was everywhere. My internet is slow, otherwise I'd try to upload a video I took. I'll try later. Anyways, I carried my pack with me everywhere that had basic first aid supplies. Pretty soon, one of the Filipinas called me over to a little girl and her mother. Roseann had been submerged in the flood waters before she was rescued. Her head had been sliced and she was bleeding. The family cut off all her hair to figure out what happened. It has now been two weeks and she has fungus COVERING her head and ears. It's everywhere. The Filipina aid worker and I did the best we could to clean and treat it, but I know that unless she gets further help, the fungus will spread unchecked. I gave the mom what little hydrogen peroxide and iodine I had with instructions for its use.

I could go on and on with stories, but the truth is we need a medical team here soon. We have access to medications, but we need people to visit the areas hardest hit and treat the problems. Please pray that we can organize a team from the US to come next week so that we can start dealing with this enormous problem. Yes, the problem is God-sized, but He is more than able to meet it. Praise God!

Thanks for continuing to pray with me. See my previous post for a link to pictures of yesterday and today.

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Outreach #1

Yesterday I tagged along with the SITeam (Streat Impact Team) to visit a church that was hosting disaster relief for a sister church that had been completely submerged in the flood. About 25 families received basic supplies including pots and pans, vitamins, a mat to sleep on, plates and utensils, etc... Along with another medically trained Filipina, I shared about how to stay healthy in these conditions and what to do in case of a cough, fever, or diarrhea (drink water), including how to purify their water. We had some donated antibiotics and I had brought some first aid supplies so after the goods had been passed out, people came to me for meds, get questions answered, and wounds cleaned. A lot of people were complaining of a cough, so we had a mucolytic to hand out and a few antibiotics. Thankfully only one lady needed the antibiotics. Another lady wanted me to look at her foot where a RAT had bitten it in the middle of the night! Yikes! That's where and how these people are sleeping!

We also went to the areas where these people live and parts of them are still in water. Just incredible. Mud was everywhere, trash was piled high, washed clothes were laid out where they could find space. In one trash pile I saw loads of books and family photo albums - heirlooms, really. Click here and here for photos of the last two days.

Thanks for your continued prayer and support. Today I head out to Marikina, the hardest hit area and have been told to prepare myself for the worst. We are just surveying the area to see how to strategically help them and plan for medical clinics.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

yet another blessing

Yesterday I spent nearly 24 hours traveling across the Pacific Ocean to arrive in Manila late last night. I was exhausted as I had not slept in over 30 hours due to work, buying supplies, and packing. When I got on the plane from Seattle to Tokyo, I met a delightful flight attendant. We joked around and laughed as I took off my shoes, put on my cozy socks, slippers, and arranged all my travel gear on the seat. She asked what the purpose of my trip was and was excited to learn that I would be doing disaster relief. After answering a few more questions I started staking my claim on the plane, looking for two empty seats next to each other that I could swipe in order to sleep better. Just after the pilot announced the doors were shut, the flight attendant raced up to me in my new seats (2 by the window!) and urgently told me to grab my purse and shoes. Perplexed I did so and traipsed through the plane with her towards the front. Quickly looking around she then pulled aside the curtain to business class and walked me up to an empty seat while saying, "I'm so sorry about the seat mix-up. I'm glad we were able to get it straightened out. Here's your seat for you." WOW!!!! God knew I desperately needed sleep and gave me a seat that fully reclined with a fluffy pillow and blanket. I was shocked beyond belief. The flight attendant then told the other flight attendants what I was doing and everyone was grateful and encouraged.

There were other wonderful moments to my trip, but thank God for 8 hours of deep sleep to get me here rested and ready to face the disaster. Today I will be heading out to one of the relief areas and will try to take pictures to post here.

Thanks for praying!

expect the unexpected

Isn’t it funny how God brings unexpected thing into our lives? I was really looking forward to October as it was going to be my first “normal” month of work since May; a month where I wasn’t working 4-6 days in a row in order to get time off to travel to Seattle, the Philippines, or Oregon. Only one of those trips was a vacation, contrary to what my co-workers thought. Ha!

And then a major catastrophe hit the Philippine Islands and screwed up my plans. Not really…because plans are always meant to be messed with, right?

On September 26, the worst flooding in over 40 years hit the capital of the Philippines. At one point, 80% of the huge metropolis was under water…and this is in an area where overcrowding is normal and people barely eek out of living in their little shanty towns. Hundreds of thousands of people lost absolutely everything they owned. The rich will be able to rebuild, but for many of the Filipinos, their very life is threatened. As of last Friday, bodies were still lying around in some areas of the city, and some remote areas have received zero aid. This means they have no food and water, no medical help, no communication. Nothing. The director of ACTION asked if I would pray about going back to the Philippines asap and help with the medical relief efforts. Surveys done by those already there evidenced that medical help was going to be the most critical need. Of course I would be willing! I didn’t need to be asked twice! I asked my boss at work if I could take 2-3 weeks off and go assist with the relief work to which I received a resounding, “Yes!”

So here I sit in the Tokyo airport waiting for my next flight to Manila. I am sober knowing that this is not going to be a “fun” trip. The things I will see will be life-changing and I just pray that I don’t numb and desensitize myself to the blatant suffering and needs. In addition to being on the front-lines of relief, I will also be helping to coordinate US medical teams that are on stand-by waiting to come and assist. Right now the needs are so great that it’s hard to know where to start. This is where I come in. I will be meeting with local medical relief workers and leaders to set-up medical clinics in order to maximize resources. Please pray for wisdom and guidance for me during this process.

Keep checking back as I will post updates and pictures of the work.

Soli Deo Gloria!

PS - here's a good website to look at pictures of what's going on and here are some statistics of what's happening:
The statistics below from the NDCC website only reflect what has been reported to the government but we think the reality is much greater.
October 6, 2009, 4pm update from National Disaster Coordinating Council:
· Number of affected: families - 828,159; persons - 4,081,596. In Metro Manila: families - 150,733; persons - 757,201. The remaining balance are those from the other 25 provinces that were affected.
· Remaining in 527 evacuation centers: families - 69,404; persons - 339,251 (one evacuation center is down the street from our apartment)
· Casualties: 295 dead; 5 injured; 39 missing
· Damaged houses: 16,219 totally; 22,849 partially.
· Total estimated cost of damages on infrastructure and agriculture: P9.767 billion