Monday, November 26, 2012

Last days, Turkey and Golconda Fort

This week has felt extremely long, however being on the other side of it seems like it flew and I cant believe we have been here for 9 weeks and are leaving tomorrow late afternoon on a train south.  We just started packing today and hopefully it wont take too long into the night. The train ride will take us 14 hrs south for our last destination in India. We would appreciate your prayers as we pack up and take our luggage and children on this journey.  We know a little what to expect as we took this exact train when we got into India, but once again this is India and as we've learned anything could happen. :) We also are getting off about 20k from our destination and have to navigate as a team how we will get the rest of the way. Renting a bus is one of the options. So we could use some prayers for travel mercies as well. We also are unsure of our internet situation so if you we don't post in the next 2 weeks you know why. We are hoping to update at least once a week as usual, but we will have to see.

We had our last week in MGMH (Modern Gov. Maternity Hosp.) Its strange. Even though the week is over part of me mentally cant believe that we wont go back there. Its definitely bittersweet.  I am thankful for my time there and thankful for all the things Ive learned. Feeling really blessed by the fact that we get the opportunities that few get.

before I move on to this weeks photos I wanted to post a pic of Chunky Charlie. He is the baby that was delivered in the septic ward last week.

On Monday Baby Amira was born.  I had 2 beautiful baby girls born this week that were not received well by their mothers. 
Amira means princess in Arabic

Baby Sarah born on Thurs

There is a cultural evil here that boys are the prized possession.  Not that boys are truly thought so much better across the board, but with the lower cast girls are a burden.  Families are forced to pay large dowries to arrange a marriage for their girls. It is actually illegal to have this practice but it is still followed. The parents of the girl are also expected to pay for an extravagant wedding.  Most lower cast families do not have the kind of money it takes to pay for their daughter to have a decent husband. So, they become a burden to the family. The birth of a girl means a birth of a burden. That's the simple version of a very complicated dynamic. Cast and status and skin color also play a roll.  I've heard stories that break your heart and the long and short of it is in general in the lower cast women are not treated or cherished the way God intended. Something that I have seen to be problematic from this is we were all created in God's image. Both male and female and males carry certain characteristics of God and women carry others.  Together they both make up his full and complete image. God a lot of the time uses people to reveal himself. When you live in a culture that completely cuts out the value of the female they are not seeing the half of Gods image that is loving, nurturing and beauty. Unless women can be valued for the characteristics they offer than God's image will not be able to be fully revealed to them.
more babies!

one of the nursing assistants that we work with a lot.. so sweet!



one of our leaders Laura.

last day Bruce and the kids came to pick me up
We also spent time while here interviewing women and the hospital and asking questions relating to diet, wages, pregnancy education as well as other questions to help better understand how Hyderabad can be served.  In our hospital alone over 1500 babies are delivered a month.  That is just our hospital!! Anemia and pre-eclampsia are the top reasons why women die in pregnancy. It just blows my mind that in a city that has plenty of nutrition that women die from ANEMIA!! Eating a balanced diet and taking iron supplements that are supplied by the government can stop this.  Overall the greatest need is education for women.

This Friday we went out to dinner with a couple who work in the clinic where Bruce has helped and our team has done healthcare teachings.  Crazy small world. This couple are sent missionaries from a church in Oak Park, IL where we lived and they know our neighbors and old babysitter!

(Bruce) Our last field trip here. :(  But I think we saved the best for last with Golconda Fort! Before this was a city (late 1500's) the kings and queens held their residence in this castle-like fort that included 1,000 common residents. The place was huge with lots and lots of climbing and stairs and sometimes I had to carry Abigail as well as Josiah. I also hired a very good guide named Ali to tell us all about the fort. He was nice and very knowledgeable but didn't smile much. Anyway, the kids loved it and as a bonus we went nearby to the kings' tombs and explored around there. Some very impressive mausoleums but they were obviously past their prime and falling apart. Still, a good last adventure!

Golconda Fort

tomb of the kings

Josiah declaring "I am a king!!"
On Thursday, Thanksgiving, we were invited to attend a thanksgiving meal of a American pastor and his wife. We have attended their church a couple of weekends here and they were so kind to have invited us. We didn't really know what to expect because after all.. This is India.. Where everything is "no problem".  One of my favorite "Only in India" stories was this week when we were at the general store. A classmate of mine wanted to send home this Indian snack as a joke to her friends. She thought it would be funny if she sent them something didn't tell them it was spicy and then they ate it.  So she asked the store clerk, "sir is this snack spicy?" After taking a look at her he said, "No Madam, not so spicy." My classmate said, "Oh well, I was looking for something very spicy!". The store clerk responded, "Oh in that case Madam it is very very spicy!" I was laughing so hard. It is very much like that. Everything here is always "Ok. Ok.". A chicken can be a duck if you want it to be here. If it makes you happy. So when we were told we were having Turkey, something that we have NEVER  seen in a store or on an menu here, we were somewhat skeptical. However, there was not only imported turkey at this party but imported ham and every kind of cheese you can imagine! What a feast. We shamelessly hung around the food tables a little too long. 
Thanksgiving feast we were blessed to attend

Abigail's favorite part of Thanksgiving.. American kids!!
We were introduced to an American missionary couple that lives here with their 4 children. We were invited to spend the night at their house and we did. It was so much fun! It was a refreshing time of hanging out, eating amazing food and way too much Appy Fizz. The kids all had such a blast playing with each other and Abbs was in heaven being able to have a sleep over and share a bed with her new friend. Both girls sobbed when we had to leave. It was such a blessing and we only wished we had met them weeks sooner!! (Bruce and Brad (the hubby) actually went to a men's retreat at the western church on Saturday while the girls hung out.)

kids hanging out (minus one of them)
Jen ... so much fun!

the group that slept over minus Brad and Bruce

Their oldest daughter.. Abigail's new buddy

kids showing off their socks that Grandma and Grandpa Wilkens sent in a care package

My classmates have been obsessed with the Indian mustaches. They even started an album of the best of the best ones they have seen here. It has rubbed off on the kids. Abbs asked me to draw a crab one day and Josiah promptly drew a mustache on it. He then looked at me and said "Ew Mom. That's a yucky mustache". I couldn't agree more. It made it into the album.
the crab with the yucky mustache

an awesome time out chair.. we want one!

yes our taxi driver is pushing another driver with his foot because he stalled. he pushed him while taking us to the hospital one day
a couple of fun photos from a few weeks ago at film city.

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Week 8: clinic, home visit and snakes

This week was busy and on top of it the kids were a little under the weather. We have been blessed so far that although some members of our team including us have had some sickness, our kids have remained healthy. Despite the manageable fevers this week and a little weather change virus that the kids picked up we are so blessed! Both kids have had minimal sniffles and slight coughs from drainage upon waking. We are so thankful for those who have remained faithful in praying for us! We definitely feel it! We also have definitely felt the love with care packages! It's so nice to get a little love from home, the kids have been devouring the dried fruit, fruit snacks, goldfish and Cheerios and the chocolate doesn't hang around long after it arrives!  Also special thank you to Darril and Marie for sending us more bug spray! (it doesn't exist in India!) We look forward to receiving it!

Tomorrow starts our final week in this city and although at times it seems to feel like forever it has gone relatively fast. I can't believe we only have one week left in the hospital. Although at the hospital we are surrounded by craziness most days I found myself looking around thinking, "despite all the craziness, I will miss this place. I will miss the moms who are so grateful for someone taking the time to rub their back and the post grad who calls me 'Feather' and giggles. I will miss the cat that wanders the labor room and even the craziness of trying to figure out what's going on even through a language barrier."

This week we were really blessed to be able to take the day and ride out of the city limits to visit a mom that I made a connection with during her labor. I spent most of my day in the labor room with her one of the first weeks here. She spoke English pretty well and shared her story with me. She was feeling very scared and I came to find out she was an orphan because her mom died when she was 2 months old and her dad left the picture. At times like these you really want your mom around. She had a brother but he didn't talk to her because she had decided to have a 'love' marriage instead of letting her brother arrange one for her. Because of this love marriage this young couple was also isolated from her husbands family. By Indian standards, where family is what you have, this meant that they were totally alone.
She ended up having a c- section and was very scared about it. I was able to share with her about my birth experience with Abigail that also ended in a c-section. The whole day I was able to talk to her, tell her about Jesus and pray for her. She told me at one point that she new God loved her because He sent me to stay with her. On the home visit I was joking with her and said, " I bet you miss MGMH?" and she said "Yes I do! Or maybe I just miss you. You visited me everyday after I had the baby." I was just really struck with the fact that sometimes I view MGMH as a horrible place to have a baby, to be packed in a room with 30 other moms after delivery and a very unclean environment. I forget what an impact we can have on others and how it can totally change their view of the situation. God is so good! We had a good time with her and her husband and had lots of baby cuddles. We were sad to leave and had a great time with them.  Abigail couldn't get enough of the baby, she rocked him in a cradle, cuddled and just stared at him. She didn't even want to eat because then she would have to wash her hands and that would take too much time away from holding him.
bath.. Indian style

sweet Lavanya and baby Cherry (his nickname)

Bimesh (the hubby) with a bunch of neighborhood kids that came to welcome us


making Chippatti

the pro making Chippatti

the dead snake that our taxi driver turned around so we could see. yes it was about 1 1/2 yards long.. ummm yuck.
This week in the labor ward I was also with a patient where the post grads ended up assisting the delivery with forceps.  I'm not a fan and sometimes it's hard to come in under people who do things that you are unsure if it is necessary or beneficial. However, we have to walk with humility as we are coming in under them to learn and gain experience and realizing they have been doing this day in and day out a lot longer than me.  I have to say it was a good learning experience as one post grad was training another post grad to do the delivery and I basically got to learn it as well. I guess its a good thing to know how to do if I am ever anywhere were there are no other options. It could save a life.
little Jacob with his forceps bruises. Mom was ever so grateful to have him out.

On Friday I had a busy day giving TT injections (Tetanus, Typhoid), doing blood draws in the "lab" and delivered a little boy in the septic ward. The septic ward is across the hall from the Admissions room and it is where the moms who are HIV, TB or Hep B+. There are special precautions for the room and there is usually only one mom in there at a time. This time there was a Hep B+ mom in labor.  We usually check this room to see if we can help out because generally they stick the woman in there and then the doctor may or may not make it back in there to deliver the baby. Often the mom ends up delivering alone and no woman should ever have to deliver alone. There is such a stigma about Hep B and HIV (doctors don't want to go near the patients, even though with their medical knowledge they should know better) but with the proper protection the risk is minimal.
So we went in with our proper protection on (mentioning this for those concerned :) love you MOM!) and this sweet mama was quickly ready to deliver. She gave birth to a chunky healthy and I named him Chunky Charley.  I sadly do not have a picture to post today since its on someone else's camera. Maybe next week.

this is Sweet Abigail whom I delivered on Monday. I named her Abigail because she was not received well by her mom because she was wanting a boy. I prayed against rejection in her life and prayed she would be her father's joy which is what Abigail means. 

Weds this week I was able to stay home with the kids and give Bruce a break. He was able to treat patients at Nireekshena (a local HIV clinic run by Christian doctors). Saturday I had to attend a teaching on HIV and pregnancy while Bruce had to hold down the fort one more day. I also had a vocab test and a team meeting so I'm glad we have today off. Whew!
Hey, it's Bruce. Just wanted to give a shout out and say thank all of you for your support and prayers. Please pray for our last week here and transition South. God bless India!

we leave you with a short video of riding down the street in a rickshaw auto. 

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

Friday, November 9, 2012

Week 7: Banjara, snow and a Palace

This week was a lot of the same except the more we are here the more God breaks our heart for the things that break His. India is a very interesting place and the city we are in is pretty unique in that it has very little foreign influence. I mean, you have a Pizza Hut here.. but the pizza tastes Indian. The population is 2 % Christian and idol worship is practiced freely and often in the streets, in stores, even in the labor-ward where we work. When sharing about Jesus people are pretty open but often they just tack him on to their already running list of things to worship. No relationship with their God, just a struggling and scrambling to appease, celebrate, and hope that one can squeak ahead in this life. People live from festival to festival spending money to present food to a particular god and then after the offering has been made the food is just tossed aside and rots. It's heart breaking that people are suffering from malnutrition as food rots on the side of the street. There is very little hope here. Its just a cyclical life of striving and surviving. One just does the best one can hoping to edge a little further ahead for the next life. God wants so much more for the beautiful people He created! He wants them to thrive, to be loved and to live in relationship with Him. He wants them to live with purpose!
Daily life in the hospital has opened our eyes to a lot of the injustice that happens. There is definitely a lot that happens there that shouldn't happen. Things go on there that everyone is aware of but a blind eye is often turned. One of the worst acts of extortion is where the simple act of handing a woman her own baby as she leaves the hospital requires a pay-off from the patient transport women (a certain amount for a girl and more if it's a boy); a crime against the already most-poor and struggling families. We come face to face with it daily and although it's easy with our Western way of thinking to just stand up and say, "Stop doing it! Refuse to give the money! say, 'who are you to demand money?'" But the problem is much bigger and deeper and can only be unearthed by prayer. It's a problem of worldview. It's a problem of being too exhausted to fight a system when you are just trying to make it through the day and so you become a victim to that system. It demands someone from the inside stepping up and changing things. It needs prayer and God to bring revelation. We keep praying for God to reveal himself one person at a time and for a spark to ignite an unstoppable fire of revelation of Gods love and purpose for India!
I am so amazed at the opportunities we have gotten as we welcome little lives into this world and to represent God's love for His creation, both male and female (girls usually are not received well.. a topic for another day!). It's been so great to share in the mother's excitement and to show excitement for baby girls being born because we know they are created in God's image. This often breaks off the typical reaction of rejection that takes place. We break the curse of rejection over that little girl's life and speak love and acceptance over her!!
In our 7 short weeks here I have been able to welcome 8 babies into this world! I have also gained so much hands-on experience in other areas of patient care such as placing IV's (which I love.. I am my mother's daughter :) ) mixing and hanging IV meds, giving injections and just gaining important knowledge. This school has been difficult because it has been so time consuming but we are so thankful for the BAS and this opportunity to learn in a way that few get the chance to.
We have 2 weeks left in MGMH before we move South in India for 3 more weeks. We are weary but are asking God to give us a renewed strength to finish strong and to see fruit! I have been reflecting on the fact I never wanted to come to India, although I said if God called me I would go. Since being here I am indescribably thankful for the opportunities and experiences that God has given us. It has been difficult to live normally here (especially for our children) since we stick out and get far too much attention. But God has been faithful and we have seen the beauty in the Indian people. God has created us all and I am again amazed at his breathtaking creation of people and their beautiful differences.

Little Jonathan born on Tuesday

Adorable brother/sister twins that I got to watching being delivered and then care for after. They were so precious and kept trying to eat one another's faces.

This week I was also able to go to a Banjara slum and teach hand washing with some other teammates. We were also able to give some antenatal care to some women there. It is always an honor to sit in their humble homes and care for them. The Banjara people are nomadic tribal people usually from the north west of India although the largest population now is in Andra Pradesh in the south east of India. They live in slums throughout our city and still follow a lot of their traditions. 2 of the women we did Antenatal on said that they will deliver at home with older women assisting. Sadly since in the short time we have been here I have seen a good handful of Banjara women in for emergencies where their babies did not make it. It is such a blessing to go into these communities and empower them with the knowledge of simple things that can save lives. Teaching them so that they can teach others.
I leave off my portion of this blog with a picture I couldn't help but take. It makes my heart happy.:) it was on the side of a coffee stand. -Heather

The Palace
So for the field trip this week the kids and I went to Chowmahalla Palace. It's where the Nizams of Hyderabad would receive royals and dignitaries back in the day. We're talking early 18th, and 19th centuries. A Nizam was a monarch that controlled Hyderabad, even under British rule. Overall it was a nice little field trip. The kids got to run around a lot and look at some interesting stuff. What I took away from it all was that once upon a time Hyderabad was a shining gem of a city in India. There was Delhi, and then there was Hyderabad. It was this amazing metropolis filled with culture, commerce and the arts. Sadly, all the foreigners I shared this with had the same reaction: "what happened?" I think that pretty much testifies that this city has past her glory days. It's still a beautiful place though, if you know where to look.

This weekend we were able to take the kids to a place called snow world. It is essentially an indoor simulation of winter. Although nothing can replace the real thing it was fun for us to run around and toss some man made snowballs at each other. :) the kids thought it was great and it was nice to give them one hour of snow since they will not get any real snow this year. Thankfully they supply you with coats, wool socks, boots and mittens!


They had a sledding hill that was very unsafe for kids so daddy was gracious enough to pull them around on sleds :)
We went to the Marriott close by to have coffee to warm up (as one does) and our kids were having a great time being silly.

Posted using BlogPress from my iPad