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A Divine Appointment

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A funny thing happened on the way through customs at LAX.

I was directed into one line. There were two. Then, as I was standing there — and shuffling forward slowly with about a thousand other people (literally) — an elderly couple sort of scooted into line next to me. They were, ahem, “cutting.” But I am not sure this was deliberate. More like providential.

The woman said to me, “Amerikani,” and showed me the passports she had in her hands: American passports. But she said she did not speak English. I began to wonder who these two were.

Despite the language barrier, I spoke with them and learned that they are from Lebanon. I could tell the woman, whose name was Modulalah, was a little bit afraid of where she was and what was happening. But even though she said she did not speak English, she knew three phrases: “thank you,” “good,” and “I love you.” I cannot tell you how much this touched my heart! I told her, in English, tho’ I don’t know if she understood at all, “Don’t be afraid; God is with you.”

As we approached the officers at the end of the line, I beckoned to this man and woman to come with me. When I reached the customs officer, I simply said, “Officer, my name is Jane Beal. I just met this couple. They are American passport holders from Lebanon. They speak Arabic. They may need a translator.”

“Thank you,” the officer said, and I noticed that he had an Arabic last name! I knew God had brought us to him, and he would be able to help this couple. He said to me, “Thank you for what you have done. We are proud of you.”

He helped me process through and then he helped this couple from Lebanon.

As I moved through, as I was directed, toward baggage claim, I had this overpoweringly clear sense of how much God loved this couple and was watching out for them. I don’t know their story, but I can tell that they are precious in God’s sight. Although the woman was dressed very modestly, she was not wearing a Muslim head-covering, and it occurred to me to wonder if she and her husband were Christians taking refuge in America.

May God bless them in this country, now and always.

Coming Home

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Although I have only spent a short time in the Philippines, I am deeply thankful for the families I have served, midwives I have met, and lessons I have learned. Thank you, Lord! I pray that I will have the opportunity to return and serve here once again someday.

Preeclampsia Redux

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Recently, I wrote about preeclampsia and my desire to study it in order to prevent and treat its life-threatening effects on childbearing women. I was reminded, again, of my commitment in a recent taxi cab ride in Davao. Odd as that may seem.

I caught a cab from Aldevinco, a shopping bazaar in Davao City, and when I did, the taxi cab driver asked me about myself. I said I was a midwife. This prompted him to reveal something unexpected, to me, about himself: he is a widower of eight years, and his wife died five days after the birth of his second son, of complications — doctors told him — of preeclampsia. As she died, blood was coming from her eyes, ears, nose, and mouth. He witnessed this. This kind of bleeding is, in fact, a complication of eclampsia and HELLP syndrome.

I promised this man that I would research preclampsia, so that care providers for childbearing women — especially midwives — can learn as much as possible about what it is and the options for preventing and treating it. With God’s help, I will do this. May God comfort all those who have lost their wives and mothers due to preeclampsia, eclampsia and HELLP syndrome.

Fire in Isla Verde

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A few weeks before I arrived in Mindinao, there was a fire in Isla Verde, an impoverished part of Davao City where a Catholic Filipinos, Muslim Filipinos and a large population of the Badjao live. The Badjao are considered somewhat like gypsies are: as beggars, sometimes viewed with suspicion and prejudice, not incorporated into the full life of the rest of the surrounding community. The fire destroyed a great swath of homes and businesses, and each of the three different populations — Catholic, Muslim and Badjao — were housed separately in temporary locations afterward.

The story went out that Davao City fire fighters came in to fight the fire. A Badjao family asked one fire fighter to defend their home from flames. He said he had to fight the fire elsewhere — so they killed him. The fire fighters then withdrew, waiting for the police to come, and the fire raged out of control.

I do not know if this story is true. In fact, it reminds me of the story told about the Great Fire of 1871 in Chicago, where an Irish family was blamed for allowing their cow to kick over lantern in their barn. Is that what actually happened or was that story partly based on prejudice against the Irish?

Difficult to say, years later.

In any case, because of my knowledge of this fire, I felt it was a particular honor to be able to serve a Badjao family at our birth center recently. The birth center sends out a team to do prenatal appointments in Isla Verde, on a weekly basis, and so mothers from there come to the center when they are ready to give birth. Thank you, God, for Analise and family! Please bless them and settle them happily in a new home.

Analise

Praying

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A few days ago, a baby was born at the birth center whose intestines were not inside of his body. We transported immediately and remained in prayer for the baby, even though the prognosis was not good. The baby underwent a first surgery successfully, but died after the second surgery. Please pray for the baby’s family and for the midwives who assisted in this baby’s care.

I know this baby is with the Lord, living in his presence, and one day, we will see this little one again.

“Though he slay me, yet will I hope in him” Job 13:15