Thursday, December 27, 2012

From Hot to Hotter.

Just in case I dont have time tomorrow.. We fly out to Tanzania tomorrow evening. This starts our 5 month journey in Africa.  We will be in Tanzania for 10 weeks and then on to Zambia until May 24th when we fly back to Perth.

Temps have been near 40 degrees Celsius here in Perth and we are trading that in for 30 degrees Celsius with 60-80% humidity all the time.. which makes it feel hotter. I know you are all buried in snow so I will spare you my sob story. :)
We are not sure of our internet situation as of yet so we will update you as soon as we are able. I believe we land around 3pm Saturday in Tanzania.  prayers for safe travel appreciated. :)

looking forward to being on African soil again.

Sunday, December 23, 2012

relax, regroup, wash and class

Sorry for the late update. We arrived safely in Perth about a week ago. Despite the relaxing atmosphere we have been extremely busy. I successfully graduated a second level school with YWAM the IBAS (Intro to Birth Attendant School). However with the hands on experience we all had I would hardly consider it an introduction. More like trial by fire, ha ha.
We landed here last Saturday night, met for Sunday dinner as a team and then Monday we started lectures for the third level school, the ABAS (Applied Birth Attendant School). This school will have 2 days of lectures and 3 days of practical in the government hospital in Tanzania. Then after 10 weeks we will move to Zambia for our final applied practical in a government hospital in Lusaka, the capital.  This week we actually had lectures Mon-Sat and just now today we are getting a day off.  Its been pretty full-on.

We are staying at a home of a YWAM Perth family that is away on holidays and it has been an extreme blessing. It's quiet, calm and relaxing. In the fenced in front yard the kids have a trampoline, swing set, tire swing, playhouse and it's all shaded the entire day. They play hard all day, running in and out of the house and also enjoying the large kids movie selection that the family has. It is such a blessing to give them this freedom after the difficulty of the 3 long months in India. Our kids did amazing and its nice to reward them with this time of rest.  The other added bonus is this family has a hypo-allergenic cat (Josiah has allergies), 2 bunnies, a guinea pig and fish indoors and outdoors! Abigail is in her glory!

It was also so nice to come back to the Perth base. Such an amazing group/family of people. We were welcomed with open arms and excitement and truly feel so comfortable and at home being back here. Especially this time of year when we would really love to be with our families, it was nice to still get that "homey, we belong somewhere" feeling.  The base is going all out for Christmas and we are celebrating Christmas Day as a big family and heading to the beach Boxing Day as a big family.

Our family also got an early Christmas present this year. We discovered just before we left India that we are expecting our 3rd child!! Yep that's right! Baby #3 will hopefully be joining us around August 18th, 2013.  I know this leaves questions about what this means for us with timing and all. So far we haven't completely hashed out the details. As far as long term, nothing is really set we are still moving forward and listening for the Lord's direction. As far as the school, I will graduate June 1st, so I will have completed the school in time. We had already been discussing coming back to the states for a short stint before heading off to any long term plan in missions (still not confirmed about what that is) so now this short stint will be extended to have baby :).  Abigail and Josiah are excited and talking everyday about baby. Those of you that know Abigail know she's been praying a long time for this.

Thank you for your continued prayers that have carried us through India and now continuing on to Tanzania. We're really grateful to be able to share this journey with you all and will be updating with more news in the New Year. Wishing everyone a blessed Christmas filled with the peace of Christ.
The Wilkens Family

Thursday, December 13, 2012

And we're off!

We start our travel tomorrow afternoon around 1pm. First a 4-6 hr bus ride to Chennai and then an 11pm flight to Singapore. Arriving 4 hrs later. Then a 9 hr layover and an afternoon flight to Perth arriving at 9pm. Prayers appreciated!
Farewell sweet India.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

Monday, December 10, 2012

Week 11: hospital, village and back again

So mainly our days have consisted of me going to the hospital in the morning and then the village at night to do simple health care teachings. Thankfully I had 2 nights off this week from going and Bruce went on another evening so that I could be with the kids some of the time. I haven't really been enjoying the packed schedule especially when it's packed with a lot of time where we are not busy. I tend to be an efficient get things done type of person and sitting around waiting for something to happen is not usually my favorite thing to do. We knew it would be like this because we are pioneering other outreach locations for future schools, this is also a smaller country town as opposed the the bustling big city that we just came from.
Because the hospital is less busy we can spend a little more time with the moms. On the other hand there is only so much time you can spend with someone when they don't speak your language. Charades only lasts so long before awkwardness sets in. We have also experienced a lot of practices that would make a medical professional in the western world's head spin. It's so tempting to think that these people don't care or are so un-educated. some of the times education is an issue, but with a closer look you see that these people have been doing the best they can with a huge lack of resources. It comes down to this. Is is better to stitch someone up with the same suturing material that you just used on someone else? Or is it better to leave them un-sutured? One midwife had been working in these conditions for 30 years. She then retired for 4 years and then was begged to come back because no one replaced her and she's now been back for 4 years.
We've also been free to wander the hospital looking for things to learn. This hospital is different that the one up north because it's not just maternity. This week I learned how to test for blood grouping and their way of testing Hb. I delivered a little girl on Tuesday whom I named blessing. She was the second girl of this family and several of the family members offered her to me to keep. It took everything within me not to take that baby and say "she is worth so much. I will take her so she doesn't ever feel less than that" finally when the father offered her to me I said to him, "no, she is your blessing not mine." and that's where her name came from. She ended up having to stay in the hospital a few extra days and I was able to check in with the family everyday and it was great to see them warming up to her. By the end when they got discharged they we so happy and thankful that she was well. They spoke little English but I really enjoyed building relationship with them. I even got peed on! By the baby of course.

Blessing with Grandma minutes after birth.

The mom, Chandrakala

The little pumpkin

Few more photos from the hospital:

Hanging with the nurses in the labor ward.

A sweet momma after delivery.

Another sweet momma we met outside.

A grandma bedside of her granddaughter and great- grandson. This woman who's grandma this is was in labor on weds. (She didn't want to be photographed but grandma was ok with it which i was so happy about because she was eat her face off cute!) I was doing normal vitals on this momma and noticed the baby was in distress with a low heart rate. I brought it to the attention of the nurse and she replied 'well, there is nothing that can be done'. I said 'well she can go for a C-section!' And the nurse replied that in these cases why go for a C? If the baby is not doing well and she has a C and the baby doesn't make it then she will always have to have C-sections. This was one of those moments where I wanted to scream "what?" What if the baby does make it??? But instead I stepped back and prayed. Asked my team members to pray and tried to slowly and calmly convince this nurse otherwise. This is a problem of world view. I don't believe this nurse was un-caring or wanted the baby to die. But in a worldview where there are simply not enough resources to go around and having a C-section comes at a large expense to the struggling family and the struggling hospital. So it's looked at as well.. This baby may die but she can always have another. Better luck next time! Thankfully after praying and calmly talking to the nurse she got the Doctor involved. The doctor took one look at the situation and said give her a C-section right now! Thank you Jesus! Momma and healthy baby boy are doing well!

Just another day monkeying around in the post op Caesarian ward! This little beast ran into the ward and then was chased out, someone whipped a banana at him and slammed and locked the door behind him. We found him happily munching the banana.
Everyday walking to the bus from the hospital we walk down the main road. There are so many cool shots and sadly I've missed some but here are a few.

This was outside our bedroom window one day.
Bruce and the kids have been busy homeschooling and making the best of their surroundings. They go on a daily hike to explore the area around them. Getting to town is not easy so they stay on the property. It rained for 2 days this week and they were stuck inside our room, but thankfully its beautiful and we only have a few more days here.

As I mentioned earlier we have been teaching children in a small nearby village simple healthcare. This week we taught them about hand washing, fever care, oral rehydration solution, general nutrition and HIV/AIDS. Bruce went one of the nights and I brought Abigail one of the nights. Here are a few shots from the village.

This is sweetie. She always says in a cute voice. My name is sweeeetie.

This is Priyanka. She is deaf and can't speak. She had a beautiful smile but we could never get her to smile in a picture. So I tickled her.

Hand so much fun making these boys laugh!

I end this post telling you that St. Nick found us in India. Abigail was so happy because she was concerned with all the moving that he wouldn't find her. He left us sweet treats in our stinky shoes.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

Monday, December 3, 2012

Week 10: Train Travel, New Government Hospital and Fresh Air

This week is seeming to never end. Monday we spent the day packing and organizing for our trip south and Tuesday was much the same except we left at 5pm to the train station. After we arrived the team had to lug all the luggage up a huge staircase and back down again to the correct train platform. We have had to do this each time including when we first took the train north. Pretty glad we never have to do that again.

Definitely makes you rethink the things you "can't live without" I packed our family in 2 hiking backpacks, a large rolling suitcase and small carry-on. Not bad considering that includes some of the kids toy and homeschooling curriculum for small kids which always means more tactile things like, glue, crafts, puzzles and paper. I still wish we had less to carry. We used everything we brought with the exception of a few articles of clothing for "just in case weather". Still I am always wondering how we can live with less. Our time in Perth will include some "pining over packing" moments. Moments I am not looking forward to. I am thankful that Africa means more "outside time playing in the dirt" and less "inside keep them occupied time".

Before I start I wanted to share a testimony about something that happened in MGMH (the hospital) before we left.  As I shared earlier there were a lot of things happening at the hospital that were not supposed to be happening. We shared about the extortion that was happening when the cleaning ladies and transport people were demanding payment for handing over babies or for doing jobs that they were already being paid to do.  I had said that we felt we weren’t supposed to just march into to the higher ups and tell on them. That it was a deeper problem that needed to be unearthed by prayer. Our team spent time praying into this situation and interceding.
Before we left the hospital this week one of our leaders Bekah went up to the head deputy superintendent of the hospital to give a thank you card for letting us work there.  She spoke very highly of our team and said that we worked really enthusiastically. This information was passed on to her by the post grad residents and nurses, because she herself wasn’t there, which is such a testimony of our time there.  Before Bekah left she was followed out of the office by another higher up who directly asked her if we had seen any payments being demanded or given to the 4th class workers!!! She asked for the specific details of what we had observed and learned that was going on and she shook her head with sadness, as it was worse than she had thought. She told Bekah that they would be doing all they could including putting up security cameras to try to stop it. She also asked Bekah what changes could be made!  She wouldn’t let Bekah go until she shared her thoughts of how they could improve. Bekah was able to share about the women in the septic ward needing more care, more cleanliness overall and how the women need more education. What an amazing opening! We try to go in with humility to learn from them and we pray and ask God how we can help and God opened the door for us to share His heart for the women in this hospital! Yay God!

We arrived here weds and were taken the extra 30km by 3 vehicles that our hosts arranged for us. I am really glad it all worked out so smoothly because there was a lot of wondering how it was all going to take place. Thanks for your prayers if you prayed for our travel. The kids also did great in the train. And besides a few moments of uneasiness on the part of Josiah because we are Ina new location the kids are handling the change like champs. In our old place the kids were mainly stuck inside for hours on end only going out for short periods at a time because the city was so overwhelming.

We are staying with a large Christian family on their compound. Our host is a pastor and it is his family. They are about 12 who live on the compound and about 10 others who are extended family that come and go on a daily basis. It is has been a blessing although at times it’s crowded and chaotic. It is really great though after our time in a big city to actually live with an Indian family and really get to know them and see how they live. The food is less spicy and more edible, delicious actually. Where we live its like glorified camping. We are outside most of the time. Josiah can be found digging in the dirt most of the time. Abigail is having a blast as well.  

the kids were so excited to find a pumpkin laying around. they wanted to carve it. Dec. 1st. Better late than never.

International AIDS awareness day parade

definitely not in the big city anymore

kids found a banana stalk on the ground.

part of the kitchen

common sight. Josiah in the dirt

Last night we celebrated the pastor’s birthday India style including but not limited to; spicy food, loud music, charades, dancing, being hand fed cake and a bonfire. It was a lot of fun. The Australians also attempted to make “damper” which is basic campfire bread. We thought it tasted good, kind of like Bisquick biscuits but the Aussies said it wasn’t quite right.

Charades.. Bruce is a cow waiting to be milked but Elisee is laughing too hard.

no party is complete without the old men sitting in a corner talking. apparently 70 degrees is freezing as well.

So far this smaller town pace of life has been such a nice change from the chaos of the big city. There are lots of chances of exploring here with rock climbing right in our backyard. Heather and I have even started running again after a 2 month hiatus.
hiking up the hill behind the house

view from the top of the hill

There is all this marble, granite and quartz in the dirt here

brother and sister (cousin relatives of the family we are with)

cool tree

rocks in the distance

Bruce on the rocks in the distance. lol

Saturday I was able to go in to observe surgeries at the hospital and my experience in the operating theatre (O.R.) here was intense to say the least. There is a main operating area with 3 cases able to go at the same time.
This Saturday there was a tonsillectomy and a prolapsed uterus repair. Whatever surgical experience I had in the States I pretty much had to leave at the door. “Scrubbing in” is a loose term here which means putting on scrubs and sterile gloves. The tonsillectomy was only using local anesthetic (I’m not kidding) and was, in a word, horrific. The hospital doesn’t have enough money to use general anesthetic on patients that are over 18 years old.

main operating Theatre
One really positive thing about this hospital is that it is so much cleaner and more orderly than the previous hospital Heather was working at. Part of this has to do with a smaller population but we came to learn that another reason is the superintendent of the hospital who is dedicated to developing this government hospital into the best it can be.  
This superintendent doctor is a Christian man who has suffered a lot for his faith. He shares the Gospel openly and was transferred a few times in his career because of it. Finally through certain circumstances he became the super of this particular hospital. Soon afterward a fundamentalist Hindu group showed up at the hospital to kill him. However, at that time his mother had become suddenly ill and he had made arrangements to travel the night before to visit her. So he wasn’t at the hospital that day and things cooled down a while after that. He came to preach last week at the compound where we are staying at an nighttime prayer meeting and it was great to here all of his stories and testimonies.
The team has had the tour of the new hospital and have a packed schedule of hospital during the mornings till 1pm and then ministry in the evenings at local villages teaching simple healthcare. 

We ask for your continued prayers for health and for our work in the hospital. We also pray for added safety for our kids as being mostly outdoors in a new environment can pose threat some unforeseen hazards. God has been so faithful so far and we are continually amazed at His provision and protection so far and we know its because of the prayer covering we have. We are so blessed. Thank you! On Dec. 14th we travel to Chennai to take our flight back to Perth.

In the meantime we intend to take life one day at a time and soak in the beauty that is India before we leave her.