Saturday, December 18, 2010

A week away!

It's Saturday...I didn't forget. Time for another blog update. :)

My commissioning service was wonderful and meaningful. I had a few moments to share about what I'll be doing, followed by a verbal affirmation of "going forth" and the congregation's reply of a promise to pray and support me. Sherry Coats, the wonderful missions pastor then prayed for me as various members laid hands on me. Daunting, perplexing, exciting, and everything in between. It's a big responsibility...and yet it's one that every follower of Christ has. It's not just me and my special commissioning service. We are ALL commissioned to share the joy and hope we know.

Secondly, I am now at 88.23%!!! This is so close! To be at 100% I need an additional 16 financial partners at $25 a month. Or 8 folks at $50. Pray pray pray!

I am needing to be out of the house I've lived in for the last 18 months by Dec 30. This means that with the exception of what I am taking with me on the plane and a few winter clothes, everything has to be put in storage, given away, or shipped to Manila. That's ALOT to do in just two short weeks and it's daunting. (Have I mentioned that I'm not a fan of moving?) I would love your prayers for graciousness, wisdom, and a clear mind while I make this move. I am so grateful for some incredible friends who have offered me their spare bedroom until I get all my funding in to leave for the field.

Have a wonderful week-before-Christmas! I hope you get all those last minute gifts without too much stress, can enjoy some Christmas music, but most of all, enjoy the ONLY reason for the season.

"I heard the bells on Christmas Day
Their old, familiar carols play,
And wild and sweet the words repeat
Of peace on earth, good-will to men!
~Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

Saturday, December 11, 2010


- the act of committing or giving in charge.
an authoritative order, charge, or direction.
authority granted for a particular action or function.
a group of persons authoritatively charged with particular functions
a task or matter committed to one's charge; official assignment

This weekend is my commissioning service at church, a time when I am introduced to the church body as a missionary, prayed for, dedicated, and sent forth. It's pretty exciting to think that this is actually happening, I am actually going to go back to the Philippines to work among a people I love, all for the sake of the Gospel.

Please pray for me as it happens, 5 o'clock tonight, and 4 times tomorrow morning. The actually laying of hands and praying will be at 11:30 tomorrow morning. I will try to post a video of it so those far and wide can watch. :)


Saturday, December 4, 2010


Blogging: it seems to come in waves for me. Some weeks go by with several blog postings, and then an entire month will go by with absolutely nothing (November, ehem). And so I am going to do my best to crush this blogworld roller coaster and faithfully post every Saturday. And it begins today.

Yesterday I went shopping for boxes. Through the graciousness of the owner of Forex, I am being gifted with 5 free boxes to ship to Manila!!! This is huge as normally it is $60-70 per box to ship. I was originally planning on making most of my household set-up purchases in Manila because it's just too expensive to ship it, but since I'm shipping for FREE, I'm buying the better quality stuff here. So today I needed to box shop. Do you know how hard it is to find good quality, thick moving boxes? Home Depot, Lowes and Office Depot all failed me as none of their boxes were big enough. To U-haul I went. Another issue... their "jumbo" boxes all had "lightweight" stamped on them. Excuse me, moving a female is NOT lightweight! I finally found some microwave/large appliance boxes that are triple strength and the perfect size. phew!
I hate packing. I really, really hate packing. (doesn't everyone?) And yet the packing, sorting, giving, and tossing all makes me realize how incredibly blessed I am. How have I accumulated so much stuff in the 9 years I've lived in the US? And I haven't lived a wealthy, materialistic lifestyle either. A lot of it is sentimental junk...gosh, am I really that sentimental? Do I need that poster of the musical we put on in college? truly? Or how about all those CDs from the 90s? Can I just rip them up to my computer and toss them? Coats, sweaters? How many to keep for furloughs and will they be so dreadfully out of style when I come back? How can a peacoat ever go out of style? Ahhhh, the decisions...

In happier news, my much anticipated Christmas cards came yesterday. LOVE them! I would LOVE to send you one. Who knew graphic design could be so much fun? (When it turns out well, though I was ready to chuck the whole thing down the toilet several times. Thank goodness for friends who helped a sistah out! Corey, you are wonderful!)

Happy Saturday friends! I hope you can enjoy it and rest. I'm at work (I confess, I wrote this Friday night and timed it to post today) trying to keep patients alive 'til 7:35. If you think of me on Sunday, I'll be sharing with an adult Sunday School class at WACC. Prayers would be awesome.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

So What's It Going To Take?

I've had a lot of peeps ask me what it's going to take to get me to Manila? How much more do I need before I can jump on that plane?

At 79.4% of monthly support, I still need 20.6% (duh). Here's one way to look at it:

2 monthly supporters for $100

4 monthly supporters for $50

10 monthly supporters for $25

3 monthly supporters for $10

God can do it through us. With the faith of a mustard seed, I believe He is going to provide every last peso, dollar, and pound, not just for me, but for all of us! Not just for our needs, but for His ultimate glory.

New look!

I finally figured out how to make tabs and spiffy up my blog site. So happy!

Things are progressing with support raising. I'm now at 79.4% of monthly support. Hard to believe I started this journey less than a year ago and yet God has been so faithful and I have MUCH to be thankful for.

Right now I'm procrastinating writing my final paper for one of my classes on my day off from work. Once this is out of the way, I have just one test and then I'm DONE and will have earned my second bachelor's degree. Weird.

The plan is still to leave for Manila as soon as I have 100% monthly support. That is entirely up to the Lord. I'm just praying and trusting the Lord for His timing while I enjoy this special season of the year with friends and family.

In other news, my 2010 Christmas cards (ok, my first Christmas card ever!) are printing and will be ready for mailing soon. I'd love to send you one. If I don't have your address, you can use my new nifty form here to securely send me your mailing address.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

A bit of home

I've posted lots of pictures of the abject poverty, depression, and grief in the Philippines. And while this is true, the Philippines is a land of resiliency unlike anywhere I've been. In the face of great disaster, they still smile. The reality of poverty, there is still laughter. The rubbish of neglect, beauty.

And so I thought I'd put together a little slideshow to give you a glimpse of the poverty, but also the incredible beauty of the island nation. Sunsets, coconuts, smiles, ocean, and even Starbucks. :) The pictures are not mine, so the quality is not always the best, but I think you'll get the picture (no pun intended!).


Wednesday, October 20, 2010

new prayer letter...almost

It's amazing how busy one can get when working full time, taking classes part time, and fundraising nearly full time. I'm not complaining, though! My life is full and my flip-flops are being blessed right off my feet!

I just finished a 12 hour shift, then submitted a homework assignment, posting a quick blog update, emptying the dishwasher, then early bed before another 12 hour shift beckons me out of blissful sleep at 5:15am. (Yes, the coffee will be pre-programmed to begin brewing at 5:11am so it's fresh and hot when I climb out of my soft bed!)

There's nothing spectacular about this post...but great things have been happening:
- Spoke at Family Heritage Church, La Quinta with lots of encouragement two Sundays ago
- Spoke with FHC's Classics (seniors), jr high/high school group, and college group last Wednesday
- Spoke at Lakewood Christian School middle school chapel yesterday morning
- Will speak at a Filipino church this Friday night

Oh yeah, and I'm writing my next newsletter which I hope to send to the printers by Friday night, but more realistically Saturday. Crazy? yes...but it's a good crazy and I'm excited for what amazing things God is going to do, not just in my life but in the lives of those around me!

So please pray!
- great speaking time on Friday
- more sharing opportunities (I have just one in Nov and one in Dec!)
- health/stamina
- self-discipline (yes, I am the queen of procrastination)
- wisdom as I write this next prayer letter and that it would bless those who read it

Thanks for your prayers so far...God is moving!

Monday, September 27, 2010

...and then I cried

To say I'm not much of a crier is an understatement. I can count on one hand the number of times I've truly cried this year...which is a good thing because crying and Pami don't mix very well. It's not a pretty sight. Unlike some people who can gently weep, I sob, snort, bare my gums, and can hardly speak.
On Sunday, I cried. It wasn't the grimacing, snorting sort of crying, but I could barely speak as I expressed my thanks to a small, but mighty body of believers who had the faith to believe that God could work in miraculous ways to multiply five loaves and two fish in their own congregation,
A couple of months ago I spoke at a small church of about 50-75 about my ministry in the Philippines. I went with the knowledge that I was asking for prayer and not financial support. Many of the folks in this church have lost their jobs as their area has been hit hard by the recession. That Sunday was incredible and it was obvious that the Spirit of God moved in my mouth and the ears and hearts of those who heard my testimony and dream for a little birthing clinic.
A few weeks later the pastor contacted me that he and the other elder of the church believed God was calling them to challenge the members to live Luke 12:29-34, specifically, "Sell your possessions and give to charity; make yourselves money belts which do not wear out, an unfailing treasure in heaven, where no thief comes near nor moth destroys" (vs 33). Members were encouraged to search their hearts and homes for items which they did not need, sell them, and give the proceeds towards the outgoing expenses needed for the ministry God has called me to. "Possession Proceeds to Propel Pami to the Philippines." I was cautioned that it may not be much, but that God would use whatever was given.
Yesterday, the offering was collected. Tears were shed. After the collection was taken, a short devotional was given, then members were asked to share their own testimonies of how God led them to give. The stories were phenomenal and incredibly humbling.
- an old clock with a silver frame thought to be valued for silver was sold. The silver was worthless but the jeweler offered $200 for the pretty clock!
- a valuable cello, that had been for sale for years was finally sold after the owners promised the Lord that the proceeds would go towards this ministry
- a couple who has not even attended the church in 6 years received an email about the offering and decided to tithe on a recent inheritance
- another individual had some stocks of an unknown value. They were sold and the proceeds given to this offering!
- A church-wide garage sale was held at the pastor's home and nearly every item was sold, unheard of!

This is just a small sample of the amazing stories. Many tears were shed as people rejoiced in God's unfailing goodness and provision.

After everything was totaled, we were all flabbergasted!! God has greatly multiplied those offerings and I am COMPLETELY, 100% funded for ALL my outgoing expenses, including a ministry vehicle!! Is God amazing, or what? I am still stunned and taking it all in.

I think the hardest part for me in this missionary process is not leaving behind my life here, for I know I'm going on a God-given's not asking for money, because though it's not always fun, I know that it's not for me, but for God's ministry and purpose. The hardest part is knowing how to say "thank you." I feel as though by saying "thank you," I am somehow accepting the credit and the money...when it's not for me. I just feel so awkward and unworthy to receive anything! Before arriving at the church, I asked the Lord to help me know how to say thank you, even if it was for $50. He gave me Philippians 4:10-14, 17-19, with a bit of paraphrasing. I read it to the church (barely) through my tears a bit like this:
"I rejoiced in the Lord greatly that now at length you have revived your concern for me. You were indeed concerned for me, but you had no opportunity. Not that I am speaking of being in need, for I have learned in whatever situation I am to be content. know how to be brought low, and I know how to abound. In any and every circumstance, I have learned the secret of facing plenty and hunger, abundance and need. I can do all things through him who strengthens me.

Yet it was kind of you to share my trouble. Not that I seek the gift, but I seek the fruit that increases to YOUR credit. I have received full payment, and more. I am well supplied, having received from [church name] the gifts you sent, a fragrant offering, a sacrifice acceptable and pleasing to God. And my God will supply every need of yours according to his riches in glory in Christ Jesus. To our God and Father [alone] be glory forever and ever. Amen."

This little blog doesn't even BEGIN to express what all is going on in my heart. I'm merely fumbling through the God-given emotions welling up in my soul, but thank you for reading and rejoicing with me! Soli Deo Gloria!

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Wait, part deux

Last night I read the all familiar verse, "but they who wait for the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings like eagles; they shall run and not be weary; they shall walk and not faint" (Is 40:31, ESV). Up until now, I've always thought of this verse applying to those who are in a race, or are exhausted to begin with. I've had a romantic image in my head of someone in a marathon ministry event needing to take a break to renew their strength, such as when I was in the Philippines last fall helping with the disaster relief clinics after Typhoon Ondoy devastated the metropolis.

However, when I read it last night it took on a whole new meaning. For some people (moi included), waiting can be exhausting. It's like putting the gas pedal to the metal while keeping your car in neutral, nothing but a revving engine. You're all revved up with nowhere to go. When someone is eager for a goal, like getting full support so I can get to Manila, the wait can be exhausting and seem endless. But that is when we are waiting on our own power. Waiting on the LORD, finding peace in His perfect timing, is energizing and renewing. Why? Because if that time is spent seeking the Lord, pouring over His Word, spending time with His body, it's impossible to NOT feel renewed and strengthened.

This is the peace I've been coming to discover. I deeply value and cherish these moments of stillness and waiting. I firmly believe it part of the process of becoming a servant. I would not want to hurry this process along, no matter how eager I am to get to Manila. There's no rushing God. He alone knows how much renewing and strengthening I need. It's up to me though, to take advantage of these moments...are you?

Sunday, September 12, 2010

What to bring?

NOTE: I have no idea why the text color is weird. :( Sorry!

I've had folks ask me how the clinic manages to run on bare bone finances. After all, ministry partners donate finances to pay the salary of 4 filipina midwives, utilities, basic medical supplies, and not much else. Since those the clinic serves usually live in slums and shanty shacks, their finances are bare bones, if not nil. Here's the way it works:

Patients are asked to donate about $5 for all their perinatal care, including pre-natal check-ups, health education, hematocrit testing, labor & delivery, and post-natal check-ups. When they go into labor they are asked to bring the following supplies:
  • 2 towels (one to lay on as they deliver and 1 to clean baby)
  • 1 baby blanket newborn outfit (onesie, booties, mittens, cap)
  • newborn diaper
  • adult diaper (cheaper than a maternity pad)
  • soap (to wash baby)
  • hot water (to wash baby)
  • change of clothes for mom
  • cotton balls & rubbing alcohol (if an episiotomy needs to be stitched and to clean injection site for Vit K shot for baby)
  • snacks (for family after baby is born)

Sometimes moms show up unprepared and the clinic seldom has extra supplies on hand. When we're out of these extras, we've used the mom's going home shirt to catch the baby with. Not the most ideal of circumstances. And sometimes moms cannot afford the $5 donation, but we still deliver the same care to them as we would to someone who paid the full amount.

We love it when people can help out with these basic supplies so that we can give them to the neediest. Do you have gently used baby clothes? Or perhaps you and your church or small group would like to put together layette sets! You can put together some baby towels, blankets, clothes, and then including $1 per set for the soap, rubbing alcohol, cotton, baby diaper, and adult diaper, which we can purchase in bulk for a very good price in the Philippines.

It's usually between $50-60 to ship a large box of these items right from your door to our door. If you are interested in helping out in this way, let me know and I'll be happy to send you the info.

Friday, September 10, 2010


The word "wait" seems to be weaving itself in and out of my life lately. Not only am I waiting on the Lord for His perfect timing in taking me to the Philippines, but friends and loved ones are also waiting on the Lord for various reason.
I will risk saying that the majority of our lives are spent waiting. Waiting for that highly anticipated vacation to Hawaii, or Christmas morning, or birth of a child. Or sometimes it's spent in dreadful waiting, such as for the results of a lymph node biopsy or court ruling. But just as we spend the majority of our lives waiting, we spend the majority of our thoughts in anticipation, failing to fully embrace the here and now. What amazing things are happening right now that I am completely glossing over in anticipation of what is to come?
The concept of waiting is not new to believers, in fact, it's a recurring theme throughout the Word. I recently read a devotional that is simply Scripture that blessed me. While the waiting I'm doing is not painful or dreadful, it can be disheartening at times. I hope you can take courage from this like I have, because chances are, you too, are in a time of waiting.

Wait for the Lord; be strong, and let your heart take courage.
Have you not known? Have you not heard? The Lord is the everlasting God, the Creator of the ends of the earth. He does not faint or grow weary...He gives power to the faint, and to him who has no might He increases strength. --Fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God; I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with my righteous right hand. --You have been a stronghold to the poor, a stronghold to the needy in his distress, a shelter from the storm and a shade from the heat; for the breath of the ruthless is like a storm against a wall.
The testing of your faith produces steadfastness. And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing. --Therefore do not throw away your confidence, which has a great reward. For you have need of endurance, so that when you have done the will of God you may receive what is promised.
(Ps 27:14. Isa 40:28, 29. Isa 41:10. Isa 25:4. Jas 1:3,4. Heb 10:35,36.)

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Time to put on my running shoes!

I wrapped up my last night shift on Thursday night, complete with a farewell potluck thrown by the other nurses for me. I was so delighted and full of the warm fuzzies, and not because of our recent heat wave. (Believe me, I'd rather NOT have those kind of warm fuzzies!) It's with mixed emotions that I leave the life of a night owl and prepare to wake up at o'dark-thirty.

God has certainly blessed me with some very rich friendships on the night shift; I'm going to miss those 2am coffee breaks, the breakfast for dinner Christmas party, dancing with Tam in the hallway while our patients slept, getting yummy dinner from fellow Pinoy coworkers, gleefully handing out the sleeping pills to patients, etc... There are quite a few Filipinos on the night shift and I'll really miss that.

But, switching to the day shift (on the same unit) is something I've wanted for a good 6 months. It's very hard to raise support and speak at churches and other meetings when I'm constantly recovering from working a night shift. I've felt like I'm always apologizing for an ill-timed yawn or the bags under my eyes. However, there's a good reason why the day shift crew is pretty young. There's so much more activity and running around on days. Doctors, physical therapists, occupational therapists, case managers, dietitians, and the unit manager all jockey for the patient's attention, leaving little time for the nurse to do her job. I've already been told to bring my running shoes! (My favorite being New Balance 442! ------->)

I'd love your prayers for me as I adjust to a new body clock, new coworkers, more activity, and a busier life in general. I also start my two classes tomorrow which throws a whole new dimension to support-raising.

Choosing joy!

Your words were found, and I ate them, and your words became to me a joy and the delight of my heart, for I am called by your name, O Lord, God of hosts. - Jer. 15:16, ESV

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Sweet Gift!

Remember this post? I mentioned some ways that people could give of their time, treasure, and talent without having to put a check in the mail. I had mentioned that I would love to bring a digital camera back to the birthing clinic so that we could take good photos of the new families.

Well, someone read that blog and God moved! I have been given a beautiful, brand-new point-and-shoot camera for ministry use. What makes it even sweeter is that the givers are a group of youth from a supporting church who have visited the Philippines on a short term trip. It was instigated by a young man who saw the clinic and wished to give something that the moms would treasure.

Right now the clinic has a 35mm camera and photos are taken of each new family before they go home after the birth of the baby. (For most of the kiddos, it’s the only baby picture they’ll ever have!) Because it’s an older model, there’s no way to preview the pictures and make sure that the photo is clear and the lighting is adequate. With a digital camera, we can only develop the great photos by previewing them first! I’m so excited about putting this camera to use! I also hope to post pictures frequently to this blog so that you all can visually follow along with the ministry. I just have to get there first. J

Since this “wish list” was so successful, I’m going to put together a permanent list of items that can be donated to the clinic. Because there are so many Filipinos here in the USA, it’s easy to ship boxes to the Philippines. It’s usually only $60-65 to send an 18x18x25” box with no weight restrictions that arrives in 6-8 weeks. ACTION has done this for years and found it to be the cheapest, most reliable way to get things into the country. I plan to send several boxes over of my personal stuff (read “junk”) when I move instead of paying exorbitant checked luggage fees.

Enjoy your weekend, my faithful friends. I plan to add some “rest” to my to-do list and hope you can get a little R&R as well!

Friday, July 30, 2010

Happy News!

I'm going to join the land of the living again! I have been tentatively offered a position on the day shift within the same unit at the hospital where I work. This has been my desire for over a year now as I would love to be awake when normal people are awake and sleep while it's truly dark outside. The night shift has been pretty hard on my body and I sincerely respect all those grave-yard shift workers. There is a good reason why they get a shift differential pay!

One of the reasons why this will make my life so much easier is because I will be more available to do deputation stuff, like visit churches and small groups. I look forward to meeting folks and getting the word out there about this little birthing clinic in Manila. I've loved who God has brought into my life thus far and am excited about who is still to cross my path.

Time to hit the books again! --->
Another reason why I am excited about this move to days is that this fall I will be taking the last two classes I need to complete my second bachelors, this time in nursing. This is a huge blessing as the classes were full and wait-listed. However, God saw fit to allow me into the classes and I am truly grateful. Not sure how I will feel when I am waist-deep into a research paper, but I will try to remember my gratefulness. :)

This weekend is a bittersweet one for me. One of my dearest friends and roommate is leaving early Monday morning to teach at a missionary kid school in Rwanda for a year. I am super excited for her as this will be an awesome experience, but I'm going to miss her like crazy! We've had so much fun through our college days until now, nearly 10 years. However, I'm thankful for technology and gchat, something I'm no stranger to as I've lived across the ocean from family and friends most of my life. If you would like to follow this sweet woman of God, her blog is:

Thanks again for your prayers. I feel somewhat like a broken record thanking you again and again for your prayers, but I am humbly aware that without them, I would be never be considering a move across the ocean to serve the poor and vulnerable young families in Manila. I never take your prayers for granted!

Friday, July 9, 2010

Discouragement and Trust

I'm not gonna lie. There are times when I get very discouraged during this whole fundraising process. It seems like it's all about the money. If I just had 100% support, then I could board a plane in a matter of weeks and be where I want to be right now. I have about 25% of my monthly budget raised, but that means I still have 75% to go.

Right now, all signs seem to point to a December departure: a vehicle is likely available for 1/2 the cost of what I was expecting to pay but only if I get there in December, my lease is up where I'm living now in December, and my airline frequent flyer status expires (which allows an additional 40lbs of luggage). But a December departure means I have to 100% of my monthly support in November. That's less than 5 little months to raise about $2000 of monthly support!

However, I know that this time of deputation is about more than just money; it's about trusting and believing God. Period. If I can't trust Him now, when all my needs are being met, how in the world is it going to work when I'm on the field and thousands of miles away from those who are partnering with this ministry?

My prayer for this season of life is to become like Paul as he wrote to the Philippian church: "I am not saying this because I am in need, for I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances. I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. I can do everything through him who gives me strength" (Phil 4:11-13, NKJV).

If you think of it, please pray for trust in my heart that God will bring the necessary growth and funds to get me to the field in His timing, not my own.

Friday, June 4, 2010

First fruits and quilts

In my quest to read through the Bible this year, I've been reintroduced to the beauty of the Old Testament historical books. One thing that has convicted me time and again is that God unequivocally commanded His people to give of their first fruits, their very best, in offering to the Lord (Ex 34:19-20, 35:5-9 are just two examples). My parents taught me to always set aside the tithe of my finances to the Lord first, and then divide the rest up in my budget, something I try (but don't always succeed) to do. However, what about other forms of tithes and offerings? I'm so guilty of handing God my leftovers, my scraps when it comes to my talents and time. For example, I only sign up for service projects if I have time leftover in my week from work, spending time with friends, watching my favorite TV shows, and sleeping. Or when was the last time I heard of a need for clothes for a friend or acquaintance and rather than dig through my overflowing closet for my rejects went to the department store and bought a new outfit to give?
Last August, I made a survey trip to Manila to scope out what my ministry was to be. Before I went, I talked to the missions pastor of my church about taking donated clothes for the new babies at the birthing clinic. She suggested I take baby quilts, lovingly made by a wonderful group of ladies in the church. When I saw the quilts, my heart melted. They were beautiful! I knew that these moms who lived in squalid conditions would never have the opportunity to own something as precious as this but for the generosity of some ladies in Southern California. These quilts were definitely "first fruits."
It got me to thinking, how can I make this new ministry more accessible for people to give of their time and talent and not just their treasure (money)? Flying over to the Philippines is not always an option for most people...but what about other forms of "tithe?" Some ideas I have had are:
- a new digital camera and small photo printer in order to give new families a family picture to treasure
- small photo frames for these pictures...this is something an Awana or Sunday School group can make
- more quilts!
- crocheted or knitted booties, mittens, and caps

I can't wait to get over there and give of my time, talent, and treasure for these dear people. But in the meantime, I can't forget to give of my first fruits right where I'm at.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

"Your real, new self will not come as long as you are looking for it. It will come as you are looking for Him."
- CS Lewis

Monday, May 17, 2010

A lousy cup of coffee

This morning I woke up knowing that I had no coffee creamer in the house for my daily cup of joe. I decided to pilfer some of my roommate's coffee creamer and buy her a new bottle when I hit the store later today. When I finally crawled out of bed to make my pot of coffee, I discovered she had used the last of her creamer too. What to do? I cannot abide black coffee and did not want to make a pajama run to the store. I remembered that our landlords had left a commercial size container of the powdered stuff and attempted to doctor up my coffee with that. Ugh, no amount of peppermint syrup or sugar could make that coffee as delicious and rewarding as my liquid creamer. But did I dump it? no, I was more than willing to down not one, but TWO huge mugs of the second-rate coffee to get my daily fix.
This reminded me of my morning devotions (which were accompanied by said mediocre coffee). For many years I have struggled with consistency, and working the night shift has made the situation worse as I don't have the same daily wake-up time. I would much rather read a novel or even a book about the Bible than read the Bible itself. However, I promised myself that I would read through the whole Bible, in order, this year. And I have loved the thirst I am developing for this rich Word of God. It seemed that the Word was like a mediocre cup of coffee with powdered creamer and other books were the more expensive cup but in recent months, that has reversed! I'm so excited to finally have that genuine thirst for God's Word that I have longed after for years. This isn't to say this cultivated taste won't last forever as I'm sure if I suddenly gave up coffee and then tried to drink it again in 5 years it would be second-rate again. However, now that I've seen the light, I hope I never give it up.
Maybe there is hope for the powdered creamer? (There needs to be as the liquid stuff is more spendy and hard to come by in Manila. *sigh*)

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Exciting progress!

As you may or may not know, the current facility for the birthing clinic where I hope to work is a small house that is also home to the British midwife/founder/administrator. This tiny living room and back bedroom serve as labor/delivery/recovery/pre-natal check-up/post-natal check-up/teaching/finance/ and just about any other purpose you can think of. However, it is CRAMPED! This picture shows the main room.
There is a lady in the curtain giving birth, the gal on the floor is recovering (with her baby there), and the lady on the right is having a prenatal checkup. Right behind the midwife is a scale that every now and then would be used to weigh a baby! Behind the camera was another woman in labor...yeah, it is a bit crowded (and very warm!).

Praise God that a new clinic is being built on adjacent property to house a two story clinic that will feature a labor & delivery room, recovery room, classroom, offices, guest rooms, dorm for midwives and nursing students, laundry room, ambulance bay, etc... They are now to the second level of the building frame, but funds have slowed to a trickle. More money is desperately needed to finish the construction so the clinic can move to the new building! If you would like to learn more about the clinic, please click here to view the webpage of the missionary family overseeing the construction. It is so exciting to see this dream become a reality!

A nun or 1940s Pin-up?

My life isn't all about getting ready for missionary work. In fact, much of my time is devoted to working full-time as an acute care nurse in a local hospital. Life as a nurse is never dull - every patient is different and we must learn to cater our care to the needs of the patient.

One night a couple of months ago, I had an elderly gentleman who was admitted needing blood transfusions. Normally this is pretty straightforward, but this guy was deep into Alzheimers Disease and his mind lived in his days as a WW2 soldier. He kept making comments like, "well, when are you going to start?" or "You sure are pretty!" I just thought he was confused and joked with him that he needed to get his glasses checked. He started to get more adamant about me starting the show. It took me a while to figure out who he thought I was, but the light bulb flashed on when he said, "You can just get up on that table there so I can see you and start your dancing and singing for me." Oops! This poor guy thought I was a pin-up model from the moving pictures!

Then several nights ago I had a different patient who was very much alert and "with it." He had a difficult night feeling like all his rights were being impinged on. His nurse insisted on leaving his door open and set his bed to alarm whenever he tried to get out of bed because he had fallen on the floor of the bathroom the night before. This is standard protocol for "fall-risk" patients. He had none of this and tried to leave "Against Medical Advice" at midnight but his wife wasn't willing to drive 200 miles from his home to come pick him up. Oops. He eventually came to me on a different unit. I was my normal friendly self with him and explained that we couldn't force him to do anything. I changed his now unruly dressing, helped him into his pajama bottoms, gave him a midnight snack, and helped him into bed. As I was leaving he said, "Are you a nun?" Startled I said, "No, do I look like one?" To which he replied, "No, but you're just so nice."

Haha! A pin-up girl and a nun...all in a day's work for a nurse. :)

Wednesday, May 5, 2010


Has it really been nearly TWO MONTHS since I last blogged. At this point I should just tuck my imaginary tail in between my legs and slink off, much like Hansel, our favorite family dog. But, I have so much awesomeness to share, that I will persist.

Last weekend was huge on my journey to become a missionary. I spoke at two events: a ladies' brunch in Desert Hot Springs and a Senior Sunday School group. Going into the weekend I felt very intimidated and unworthy. Here I was, a very young, unexperienced, green woman, trying to give a devotional to people much beyond my wisdom and knowledge (basically, a polite way of saying I was younger, they were older). What in the world could I share that they couldn't share better than me? I prayed, I waited, I asked around for ideas and got the same suggestions - just share my story. Since I've never really had a problem talking about myself, this seemed pretty reasonable.

I was utterly amazed at what came out of my mouth. It surely wasn't me speaking. I was humbled, encouraged, honored, and reminded that this journey is not my journey. Ultimately it's God's journey and I'm merely along for the ride. Who knew that my own struggles between clarity and trust would resound with so many people? And yet, why am I surprised?

Now my job is to write another newsletter in the next week or so. Praise God that I don't have to do this alone either because writing prayer letters can be pretty daunting. Now I know why it always stressed out my dad so much and was often procrastinated. :)

If you think of me this Friday, I'd love your prayers. I'm speaking to a Filipino youth group in downtown LA. Talk about going from one extreme to the other! Thanks for your prayers and for following my sporadic blog. :)

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Missions Conference

Every year, about this time, my alma mater, Biola University's student missionary union (the largest student-led missions organization in the country!) hosts a ginormous missions conference which all students are *highly encouraged* to attend. I only got to attend one because our choir tours used to take place during this time. However, I loved that one time. What better excuse to hob-nob with the different mission organizations, swap stories with missionaries (and everyone knows those infamous missionary stories which can take on a life of their own!), see familiar faces, and dream about all the places I'd like to go. It was more exciting for me than any job or career fair.
Little did I know that in 5 years, I would be representing one of the many missions organizations, trying to share my enthusiasm with a couple of divine appointments. Our goal is not just to recruit students for ACTION, but to perhaps be a tool to open some hearts to the possibility of serving in missions someday, whether as a "goer" or a "sender."
If you're in the area and would like to see what ACTION is doing around the world, or see ACTION celebrities, Marvin & Sara Graves, or just get caught up with the exciting happenings in missions around the world, stop on by! Our booth is the first of over 75 (it's alphabetical), and I would LOVE to see you!

Thursday, March 11, 2010

A Reminder

Part of the point of this blog is to be transparent. I know lots of people who are frustrated with Christians because they seem so fake. They have it all together, never have problems, know all the answers, never doubt, etc... The only time they are real is when they have been caught in a huge scandal and have fallen WAY short of the glory of God, at which point the world is either stunned and/or disgusted. I think that this is why so many pastor's kids and missionary kids rebel; they are so sick of having to put up this facade so they make a 180 a turn and make a hard run for the opposite direction. Sad, but so common.

I want nothing more to be real, honest, and utterly transparent. This means that there are times when I will share my doubts, my fears, my failures, as well as my successes, joys, and triumphs...and I'll begin now.

As with any calling or "purchase" of an idea, object, etc...doubt is often involved. How many times have you made a big purchase and later doubted it - called "buyer's remorse." And while I've never been married, I hear about lots of cold feet leading up to the big day. It's NORMAL to doubt...and I am no exception.

After making my decision to become a missionary, I've had moments of doubt such as: Is this really a calling or just a human desire for the familiar? Why am I going to the Philippines when I have a great job with great salary, security, amazing friends, family near-by, etc... Am I nuts?!?! Sometime I feel like a fraud, thinking who am I to want to go overseas and teach moms how to take care of their kids? Who am I? I have no kids, I'm not married, not to mention that I'm a relatively new nurse without too much experience.

And then God comes along and shatters those doubts. Last week I spoke for the first time about my new ministry at a small church in Indio, CA. It was a great ice-breaker for me to get some church-speaking experience because my parents spoke frequently at this church when we would come back to the US on furloughs. I am very familiar with the church and its people.

While I was there, I was approached by the leader of the missions committee, a dear lady who has prayed for me since my birth day. With tears in her eyes she told me that her small group of faithful ladies have been praying that I would someday go back to the Philippines as a full-time missionary for nearly my entire life! I had NO idea! My parents had NO idea! No one else in the church knew...this was their secret, something God had laid on their hearts to pray for over 25 years ago. When I chose to study music they became nervous that I would be tempted by the entertainment industry and decide to stay here, but they all rejoiced when I began to study nursing, knowing that this was something that the Philippines desperately needed. They became giddy every time I returned "home" to the Philippines for a visit, knowing that God was working in my heart, even if I didn't know it.

Marie has been praying for me to go back to the Philippines since I was this big!!

How can I doubt my heart's urging to return to the Philippines as a missionary when I'm told something like this?? It just confirms that God has been working all along to prepare me for "such a time as this." (Esther 4:14) Wow.

This doesn't mean that there won't be more seasons of doubting, discouragement, and even failure, but I know that God will faithfully continue to remind me of His goodness and ultimate plan for His glory in my small, insignificant life.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Copied Post

I try to be original in my writings, but there are times when someone else says is so succinctly that there's just no point for me to try to rewrite it. The following is a (long) blog by Tara Livesay, a missionary in Haiti, who has opened her heart in her writings for the whole world to see, literally, as her blog has been used by CNN and other media agencies to tell the story of the tragedy in Haiti. She and her husband are missionaries in Haiti who jumped in with everything that they had after the earthquake. Her blog is definitely worth following:

Her latest entry (below) says so well what I've been struggling with. Unfortunately, missionaries have gotten a bad reputation in so many minds around the world, so much so that I often cringe when I tell people that I'm planning to become one. I often want to come up with excuses or explanations, when I should be eager to share. Tara's blog tells about the struggles of missionaries in a way I never could, and yet it's SO true. When I was doing the flood relief in Manila last October, many of her thoughts were mine...though I didn't see the same extent of tragedy that she has. Please read it...the blog's amazing!

I grew up listening to and watching missionaries. Each summer we would go to a missionary conference where they would come from around the world to speak and share. That label, "missionary", has a different meaning for each of us. I don't know what it means to you, but based on your own experiences, it means something.

As an adolescent and even into my early adulthood, to me a missionary was an older couple that liked to talk and tell stories. Some of their stories were interesting, others sounded like Charlie Brown's Mom giving a long lecture. They wore clothing of the culture they lived in (and they looked dorky wearing it). They wore large, outdated glasses/frames. The woman had longer hair and wore it in some sort of bun-type style. They looked sun-tanned and weathered and veins popped out of their hands as you shook hands to greet them.

They talked a lot about how God provided and how joyous it was to serve Him. Sometimes they even told stories of death and war and destruction while still saying flowery things about God's plans and God's will. The missionaries almost never said that things were hard or that they could not hear God. They always knew where God was and what He was saying and they even seemed to understand why God allowed hardship in the lives of the people they were serving. They were packaged, holy, perfect people. They did not seem to have many questions. As far as I could tell they never felt lost, alone, afraid, or angry.

That was how I perceived them anyway. But that is not who I am. That is not who Troy is.

We've come to realize that a "missionary" is 100 different things to 100 different people. The label means one thing to you and one thing to me. Sometimes we don't want that label and other times we do.

Some missionaries still tell you that everything is perfect and that nothing is ever confusing or hard. Some will tell you that they love God but they don't understand the suffering and hardship that parts of the world continually experience. Some have head coverings and long skirts and some have tattoos and ripped jeans. They look different, they act different, they approach their work and faith differently. Labeling with this one word just doesn't work any longer.

As I have spent three (count them - three - Sunday - Monday - Tuesday) solid days wrestling with God on everything there is to wrestle with Him about; I've been all over the place emotionally.

In a period of an hour I've wished for and thought totally opposing things. I've told Him I love him, told Him I don't know if I believe in Him, told Him I have no faith in His power, told Him I trust Him to walk me through this. Thanked Him for redeeming me - for loving me, asked Him how He can be love when such suffering is allowed? I've begged Him to show himself, to speak, to become real to me - or better yet- to become real to the hungry, desperate, and dying Haitians. My anger has scared me and my thoughts have been frightening. I've ended up in the place where I began. I've run in circles. I've found my words and questions hollow and empty and maybe even immature. The distance I feel between my God and I scares me ... I want to sense Him close and yet I know whether I feel Him or not - He has not left me.

The lyrics of this song ('Faithful' by Brooke Fraser) came to mind-

When I can't feel you, I have learned to reach out just the same
When I can't hear you, I know you still hear every word I pray
And I want you more than I want to live another day
And as I wait for you maybe I'm made more faithful

All the folly of the past, though I know it is undone
I still feel the guilty one, still trying to make it right
So I whisper soft your name, let it roll around my tongue,
knowing you're the only one who knows me
You know me

Show me how I should live this
Show me where I should walk
I count this world as loss to me
You are all I want
You are all I want

coun⋅sel ing
Today I made some phone calls and sent a few emails seeking some help for Troy and I and the kids. On some level it bothered me and even felt a little bit absurd. The whole idea of trauma counseling is so very first world. The Haitian people would laugh out loud at this notion of "talking about our feelings" --- they have no time to think about how they feel, let alone the luxury of sitting down to discuss it with someone at 100 bucks a pop. Haitians suffer emotional trauma after emotional trauma without processing, without stopping, without grieving. How can you grieve when you've got to survive? When I think about this in light of my desire to stop having nightmares or my desire to go talk to a professional about things ... Well, it's just kind of humbling and embarrassing ... isn't it?

Troy was recently asked, "As a man of faith, why do you think this happened?" He did not like that question very much. He only answered by saying something along the lines of, "That's not a fair question. (In other words - what the heck?!?!?) He wishes he'd been quick enough to answer "Plate Tectonics." When Isaac asked Hope a similar question tonight after dinner, her answer was pretty good. He said, "Why do you think was there an earthquake Hopie?" She looked at him, shrugged and said, "To shake things up?"

There is no "reason" for this earthquake - well, other than some tectonic plates moving around. That's all. It was not so a bunch of adoptive parents could get their kids home (like God loves them so much He sent an earthquake to get their kids home on Humanitarian Parole). It is not so the world would recognize and learn about Haiti (although I suppose that is good). It is not because God is punishing Haitians for something that happend 200 years ago in some Voudou ceremony (sorry Pat Robertson). The reason it happened is simple - uninteresting - laws of geology. We don't need theologians to tell us. We don't need to debate.

The things God might do as a result of it is an entirely different debate. I don't pretend to understand any of that. I am not the variety of missionary that understands everything God does or does not allow ... I am just the variety that tries really hard to trust Him while NOT understanding it. And while I don't understand, I can still pray. I am asking Him to write a new story of redemption, to bring hope to the hopeless, healing to the hurting, and beauty from the ashes.


Friday, February 5, 2010

Have You Ever Wished...

This may seem like a very odd idea, but have you ever wished that you could tattoo a visible reminder on the inside of your eyelids that you and only you can see every time you blink? If there was one thing you wanted to be reminded of at least a dozen times every waking minute, what would it be?
If I could choose a word or phrase, I think I would want "THAT moment." I was reading through Paul's letter to his disciple, Titus, this morning and chapter 2:12-13 really struck me: "training us to renounce ungodliness and wordly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright, and godly lives in the present age, waiting for our blessed hope, the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ" (ESV). How many of us consistently live for THAT moment of Christ's return? How about an eternal perspective? I know I sure don't. There are so many moments, probably most moments, that I would be very ashamed to have God walk in on me doing or thinking; moments where I KNOW I am not pleasing God, but do it anyways.
If I had "THAT moment" tattooed on the inside of my eyelids, I would hope that the constant reminder would give me perspective for all my thoughts and actions. The truth is, even though it's impossible to have something like this work, we DO have something, Someone, infinitely more powerful than a little ink on the eyelids; we have the Holy Spirit. Just like we would very quickly become desensitized to a tattoo, we can become desensitized to the Holy Spirit. We reduce Him to some sort of insignificant idea instead of Someone who is the God of this universe, a very real power in our lives if we just give Him precedence (Jn 14:26, 1 Cor 2:13). He CAN be that constant reminder, but I for one all too often forget about Him and try to live for God on my own.
Just a little something to think about...

Sunday, January 24, 2010

"That's Not a Prostitute"

Part of the field preparation for both my church and mission agency requires reading "Cross-Cultural Servanthood" by Duane Elmer. It's taken me a while to get into this book; not because I don't think I have anything to learn but because I know I have quite a bit to learn and I'm not always eager to see the faults in myself.
It's been a quiet night on my unit and I've been able to make some really good headway into the book. One passage really struck me because I often look with disdain on people I consider "dirty." I forget that each human being, regardless of what they become, always bear the stamp of God. I've taken the time to retype the passage because I think it's that important.
"In the mid-1990s my wife and I, both teaching at a Christian college, were feeling out of touch with the needs and realities of the world. At the invitation of John Green, a graduate student, we decided to minister to people by walking the streets of Chicago one night a week for about a year. Mark Van Houten and John Green, veterans in this ministry, oriented us to street life. Walk slowly so people can approach you. Walk near the curb; alleys can be dangerous. Walk the same route each night so you become familiar with those on the streets. Read the gang symbols so you know whose turf you are on. Cross the street rather than walk around a group of people that might threaten you. We would arrive at about 8pm and slowly walk the same route each week, finally heading home about 3am.

Walking with Mark one night, I noticed a lady at the corner ahead. She was scantily clad. I turned to him and said in a voice the lady would not hear, "Is she a prostitute?" He paused; I remember thinking, Why the pause? It's obvious. Then he firmly said, "No! That's not a prostitute. That's a prostitution." His profound statement affects me to this day.

When I saw this woman, I saw a prostitute. When Mark saw her, he saw a human being.

What do you think Jesus would have seen?

What made the difference in our perceptions? I tended to categorize people--homeless, drunk, drug addict, prostitute, pimp, panhandler--then I would know how to treat them: respectable vocation brings respect; disrespectful vocation brings disrespect. I decided who to accept not by the fact that they were living. Mark, however, saw the image of God in everyone in spite of their activity. This truth made everyone first and foremost a human being loved by God, accepted by Christ, sacredly endowed with dignity and worthy of being treated with respect and honor by every other human being. He accepted this person in prostitution just as Christ would." (pgs. 63-64)

When was the last time I categorically disrespected a person simply because of how I perceived them? Sadly, I do it on a daily basis. Here I am, supposedly called by God to become a servant to people the world often rejects...and I am just as guilty as the world...if not more so, because I know better! Amazingly enough though, God extends grace and reminds me that we are all works-in-progress, and that becoming aware of the problem is the first step to correction. Whew! There's still hope for every one of us. :)

Friday, January 22, 2010

How much can I handle?

Last week I walked into a murder scene...

As a nurse, and a relatively new one at that, I often ask myself how much I can handle. Meaning, at what point will I be so grossed out, overwhelmed, stressed, terrified, or exhausted that I lose it? So far my career has been pretty plush. I work on a unit that's relatively cut and dry. All our patients have expected outcomes and they usually comply quite nicely. Sure, we have the confused, the belligerent, two-faced, or sorry-I-can't-understand-you patients, but with teamwork we get through it to tell the tale. But I've always wondered what my limit is.

So last week I walked into what looked like a murder scene. There was blood everywhere: on the floor, on the patient, on the couch, on the blinds, in the bed, and just about everywhere but the ceiling. My patient was sitting glassy-eyed on the couch. Fatima (name changed) looked so confused amidst the splatters and puddles of blood that at first I wasn't sure what had happened.

After alerting the other nurses that I needed some help, we donned our gloves and went to work cleaning things up so we could figure out what had happened. When I touched Fatima's shoulder, she jolted so violently I'm sure she had been sleep walking. But first you need a little background. Fatima had just arrived on my unit 4 hours before after major back surgery. She was in excruciating pain but very much awake, alert, and oriented. With strict instructions to stay in bed and call me for help, I medicated her for pain with some potent drugs that she could control but it hardly seemed to touch her pain. The OR nurse had warned me that she had high tolerance for pain medication so I wasn't too surprised. I finally decided to pull out our biggest guns and gave her a powerful shot. Twenty minutes later she was softly snoring to my relief. I checked on her every 15 minutes to make sure she was ok while I was monitoring her heart rate and oxygen level from the nurses' station. About 90 minutes later I heard a soft alarm go off in her room which indicated her pulse was high. That's when I walked into what looked like her murder scene.

It turns out that Fatima had climbed over the bedrails, pulled out her IV and surgical drains, and was sitting pretty as you please, though slightly confused, on the couch. So much for bedrest and no twisting or turning of her back!

Four nurses, ninety minutes, 100 disinfectant wipes, new sheets, new gown, and new IV later, the room was glisteningly clean with no evidence of her crime. wasn't more than I could the question still begs to be asked. I truly hope I never find out.

PS - I found out that this night was the calmest night of her hospital stay!!

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Important Meeting

Today included an important meeting with the missions committee of my home church - very exciting to begin on this journey. I've also been encouraged with three other local church expressing interest in having me come and present my dreams and ministry plans. Hopefully those plans start solidifying and I can begin making big strides towards building up the necessary support team for my big move.

Yesterday was spent completing a video for the birthing home I will be working with. To view the video, click here.

In other news, please be praying for Haiti. As you know, disaster relief is dear to my heart and the world's poorest nation is now crushed under buildings destroyed by the huge earthquake. One of my dearest friends lives just 10 miles from the epicenter where she lives and works at an orphanage for Haitian children. Preliminary reports are that everyone in the orphanage is ok, but please be praying for wisdom on how to help, stamina, financial support, and encouragement. Dana's blog is:

Thanks for your continued prayers and support. God is clearly moving me closer to the Philippines and you are a key part of that.