Our last post from Philippines

image1Finally, on our last morning in Marilao, with all the clinical sessions out of the way, we had a chance to sleep in. We all woke up late after a well earned rest and a late night celebration. With a sense of elation from our fruitful mission, the BL staff organised a farewell party for the Kiwi, Aussie and Filipino staff with a cultural theme. Everyone had fun and enjoyed each other’s fellowship.
We shared breakfast with the local Marilao BL staff and volunteers before our debriefing session with Pastor Fred. We reflected back on what we had done for the last 2 weeks. We are so blessed that He answered all our prayers and more, even though we had some trepidation and uncertainty about a few different issues before we left Australia and while we were here. Our mission here has taught me to have complete faith and trust in God, and believe in the power of prayers. We shared our wonderful and very humbling experience with Pastor Fred. We also expressed our gratefulness and sincere thanks to the BL team who has worked so tirelessly to make our whole stay and clinical sessions at Marilao run without a hitch. Pastor Fred thanked us from the bottom of his heart on behalf of all his team. He also invited us to come back again.
With a heavy heart we had to finally say good bye, even though we have only spent a few days with the staff and volunteers of BL, we have worked very well and very closely  with each other, it felt like we have known them all our life. We have forged a close friendship with our brothers and sisters in Christ here in Philippines. God willing, we hope to be able to meet up again to partner with them to further God’s work. The experience here has not only been very memorable but also very uplifting for me spiritually and will remain with me for a very long time. I thank God  for the wonderful opportunity to serve him and stand firm in one Spirit, striving together as one faith of the gospel for God’s glory.
image1(1)At last, after 2 weeks, we are finally coming to the end of our mission. We are all looking forward to going home and be with our families. Good bye Philippines and hope to back again.

Our last day of mission

Proverbs 16:9 In their hearts humans plan their course, but the LORD establishes their steps.

We all started the day with a lot of enthusiasm for what was to be are last day of clinics in Marilao. The medical and dental teams worked extremely hard under very trying conditions with the humidity extremely high and our patient list growing hour by hour some of which we had to turn away.  We saw a total of 183 medical and 137 dental patients, extracted 313 and filled 52 teeth.  Respiratory tract infection was very common (65%).  What was surprising was that hypertension was increasing with 11% patients diagnosed and most of them required treatment.

The medical team was not expected to see any emergencies.  One young 20 year old, 9 months pregnant woman came in.  She complained of blur vision for 4 days and could not even count fingers.  Her BP was very high and very vague with severe swelling in her legs.  She was suffering from pre-eclampsia, a condition that will kill the mother and the unborn child if untreated.  The treatment is urgent management of her hypertension and delivery of the baby.  What follows was nothing short of drama.  The young lady lives with her mother.  They had no money and was planning for a home birth.  Bukang Liwayway organised for a leader to accompany her and her mother to the local district hospital.  The hospital doctor recognised she was too sick for them.  So she had to go to the tertiary hospital.  However, there was no ambulance!  So Bukang Liwayway sent another 2 leaders to go to Marilao ambulance station to ask for an ambulance.  Finally an ambulance picked her up to the tertiary hospital via the express highway where she was whisked into the operating theatre for a Caesarean Section.  She gave birth to a girl and mother and child were well!  We were so fortunate to be there at the time to provide care for this young lady and her daughter.  It was God, who planned for us to be available on the last day of our mission to care for this lady.  She would certainly have died if she stayed at home to give birth.

We were very fortunate to have the help of the young New Zealand team for the last two days.  They provided help in all areas which really assisted with patient flow.  They even made Lamington for us as we were too busy to prepare food for our cultural party.

When the last patient was finished everybody cheered and clapped relieved that we had seen so many patients, 708 medical and dental patients across the two sites.  We were all filled with a sense of joy that the mission has come to a fruition and we had helped so many people.  God has blessed us by putting this team together, we had never worked together before but we all respected each other’s positions and supported each other through both the good and tough times.

It was decided to end the day with a multicultural meal and exchange of our different cultures. The main meal was cooked by the wonderful Filipino volunteers, with the dessert being Ambrosia from New Zealand and Lamingtons from Australia. We all had a lot of laughs exchanging different slangs, games and songs.  The Aussies sang Waltzing Matilda to a resounding applause. The night ended with a challenge and the losing team eating BALUT the chicken embryo egg.  Fortunately the Aussie team won so we were spared from having the trauma of eating the BALUT.  But Van did it anyway, just for fun!


Back to work

Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord,
not for men, since you know that you will receive an inheritance from the
Lord as a reward. It is the Lord Christ you are serving. (Colossians

image3We are now working , eating and sleeping at the Marilao Dawn for the Poor
building. This means we have no travelling time and are working indoors, so
we do not have to set up daily although it is just as hot and humid if not
slightly more.

Betty and Leo both saw some challenging cases that would have been
investigated and operated in Australia but could not do so due timage1o financial
constraint and lack of good post-op care. It reminds us how fortunate we
are in Australia, have the opportunity to be treated with best medical and
dental care.

Please pray for perseverance for our last day at Marilao that we will be
able to provide the best possible care and compassion for our patients and
that the gospel is preached.

Back to it

IMG_3843This morning the team left OMF headquarters in Manila to travel by van to Marilao, where we begin the second half of our medical/dental mission work. Praise the Lord that the expressway construction from Manila to Marilao meant that the trip only took 45 mins instead of the usual 90 mins!

Marilao is another poor part of Philippines where living conditions are very basic (see photo). The team spent a few hours setting up with the Bukang Liwayway team members before being treated to a very healthy lunch.

Our first clinic started with a health talk on managing simple ear problems by Leo, and between 2-5 pm the team saw 38 medical patients and 27 dental patients. We also treated the staff members as well (Van did his best to calm his patient down … See photo!).

IMG_3850One of the issues we encountered was regarding the ongoing care of patients with chronic medical conditions such as diabetes or hypertension. We provided medications for 2 weeks, but thereafter the patients generally cannot afford to buy and supply medications for themselves in the long term. Therefore we are working with the Bukang Liwayway team here to set up a program to provide ongoing medications for those in need, with ongoing follow up programs to ensure compliance and monitor their health. At the same time these patients will be invited to attend a monthly bible study to help them in their spiritual lives. Please pray that this program will come to fruition!

IMG_3854Kim saw an unfortunate dental patient in his 20s, who was involved in a car accident a few weeks ago. He came to see the dentists because of his ongoing toothache, but as Kim examined him it was very obvious that he had a significant fracture of his mandible, which left a large segment of his mandible unstable. In Australia he would require extensive mandibular surgery and reconstruction. We advised him to go to the local general hospital, and we pray that God will provide the care he needs.

Dinner was followed by the young staff and volunteers showing us their choreography and dance moves for their local Christian songs. We will probably keep those photos to ourselves!

A well deserved day off

Everyone has appreciated a ” day off “.
We headed off to the ‘Word of Hope’ church, Melanie’s old church when she worked in Manila.
Unlike the ‘Union Church’ last Sunday this was a local Filopino church. It conducts services in both Tagalog and English, with 2 auditoriums , which were packed to the rafters for our English service.
Service started with a very enthusiastic music ministry, complete with lights, musicians, dancers, a song leader and choir!
photoA child dedication followed with the entire congregation praying for the child, the parents, and the sponsors.
The sermon titled ‘Help From Above’ was based on Psalm 121 vs 1-5. Split into 3 topics – source, strength n scope, we were reminded that we need divine help, from birth,  through life to death.
The strength of our Lord is such that ” He who watches over us will not slumber”. And His mercy n grace will never stop = scope.
A quick lunch n shopping trip to stock up for Marilao included the “Big Squid”!
Cheryl’s dinner wish came true, as the heavens opened n Pizza Hut delivered , which was washed down with a French Chardonnay! ??
We leave for Marilao early tomorrow morning, ready to jump back into action. Please pray for a quick trip.  See u all there!!

Last day at Trece Martirez

image1(3)Therefore if you have any encouragement from being united with Christ, if any comfort from his love, if any common sharing in the Spirit, if any tenderness and compassion, then make my joy complete by being like-minded, having the same love, being one in spirit and of one mind. (Phil 2:1-2)

It felt like yesterday that we arrived at the Basketball court and transformed it into a medical and dental clinic. It was difficult to believe that we saw 215 medical and 173 dental patients, extracted 388 and filled 33 teeth. From the medical side, there were the usual viral infection, skin problems, allergies, hypertension and diabetes but we also saw interesting cases of thyrotoxicosis, nasal foreign body and tuberculosis. It was a joy to see that the children are now receiving free vaccines from the local health clinic and the compliance was almost 100%. Most children have been dewormed because they sent out health workers to each household to deworm the children. In general the children are healthier and not as malnourished. What a contrast compared with last year, when I saw lots of underweight children, hardly any of them were immunised and had lots of severe ear infections. It is amazing that a simple free, locally available vaccination program could make such a drastic improvement to the health of the local population.

image1(1)The mission was overwhelmingly well received by the local people. This was not only because we saw a few hundred patients, but that the entire Bukang Liwayway team was able to work together, young (9 years old) and old (55 years old) were united to serve shoulder to shoulder, making this mission possible. There were order, not chaos with all the young volunteers working as translators and praying for patients’ physical and spiritual transformation. A nine year old boy gave testimony of how he became a Christian in front of a large crowd of adults. The young people testified with a dance. They can also sing beautifully to the rhythm of a box drum. They love Jollibee, the Philippino version of KFC and would not miss it for anything, even after teeth extraction. This was our last treat for the Trece Bukang Liwayway team! Their infectious smiles and enthusiasm have a lasting impression on us. They have so little, yet they are joyful.

image1(2)As we looked back, we were amazed how God has put this team together. Our gifts and talents were complementary. We cross consult, help each other out. Kim is our extraction king, Van our innovative designer, Leander our filling queen, Cheryl the sterilising commander, Carrie the pharmacy expert, Leo the rhino specialist and Betty the time-keeper. We could not have made it a better team ourselves. God has planned well ahead to form this team and bring us together to serve the people of Trece Martirez. We have an amazing God!

image1Our next destination will be Marilao, another relocation site, also the headquarter of Bukang Liwayway. But first we get refilled with some local delicacy, halo halo (Tagalog: mixed together) and a day of rest in Manila at the OMF guesthouse. Jehovah, Jirah, our provider, his grace is sufficient for us.

Update from the mission

image1(1)image1(4)We thank The Lord for his blessing. After a good night rest  we were all enthusiastic and ready to tackle another busy day. Our third day at Trece Martires started off pretty much the same way as yesterday. After breakfast our bus driver picked us up at 7.30am for our 30 min bus ride to Southville and again we were  greeted by a long line of people queuing up to register for treatment. Words about our mission must have reach every corner of the village, we were inundated with more patients than we can physically treat, with all of us working to our absolute capacity. This morning, we were informed that people started queuing  up at 5am, after missing out on treatment the day before.


image1(3)As usual our day started with a group prayer.


The weather today was hot and humid which added an extra challenge to our day. We were very appreciative of the regular cold refreshment provided by the volunteers to keep us hydrated.   A total of 70 medical and 60 dental patients were treated with 163 teeth extracted today and 132 yesterday.  Again a good outcome was achieved. Everyone coped really well under some trying conditions.


photoHighlight  for the day:

1.Leo retrieved a large foreign body from the nostril of a 12 year old boy, surrounded by infection and pus, that has been lodged inside the nose for the last 6 years. Patient was really happy he could breathe his nose again.


  1. The kids here are so brave. Not only do they turn up for treatment without their parents, there was an 8 year old boy whose tooth was so infected that we were unable to achieve anaesthesia even after 4 lots of local anaesthetic. With silent tears rolling down his face and hanging onto Cheryl’s hand tightly he let me take 3 teeth, one of which were badly infected with no complaints! He was really happy afterwards as the pain had stopped.


image1After dinner tonight the kids and volunteers from Bukang Liwayway gave us an impromptu vocal concert, singing with joy and a number of kids and adults gave messages of thanks from the bottom of their hearts. As a treat, we arranged for ice cream as dessert, the joyous look on their faces said it all.


Photos of the dental work and 2nd day in Trece Martires

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Our 2nd day in Trece Martires started with a dampner with Leander waking up feeling unwell after a bad night’s sleep. At breakfast we prayed for a smooth flowing day and a speedy recovery for Leander.

We arrived at Southville after a 30min bus ride from our hotel.

We were greeted by lots of people waiting for treatment. The wonderful support staff from Bukang Liwayway had started setting up our “surgeries” for us and we joined in to complete our clinical set up.

Each clinical session started with an evangelistic talk from the Bukang Liwayway staff followed by a couple of testimonies by the scholars. Today we had Cheryl giving an Oral Health Education talk to educate the locals on toothbrushing technique and a tooth-friendly diet. Before we started our clinical day we also gathered together with all the support staff and volunteers to pray for a fruitful day.


We saw a total of 72 medical patients and 60 dental patients for the day. We encountered a surprising number of untreated hypertensive patients in both the medical and dental clinics. Unfortunately most of them can’t afford the long term medicinal cost that is required for treatment.

Leo saw a young female patient with a growth around the thyroid that has been getting bigger the last few months. He suspected it is a form of tumour but due to lack of diagnostic means, he was unable to provide a definitive diagnosis. Due to poverty she was unable to afford further diagnostic testing, leaving both patient and Leo feeling helpless.


Our dental team was exposed to some fairly challenging situations today. Most of the extractions were routine and manageable but we were also presented with some badly broken down teeth and some big decayed wisdom teeth. Some we manage to remove with some difficulty but in a few cases we had to finish up with a less than ideal result due to the lack of appropriate instruments and equipment setup.


Highlight of the day:

We saw an 8 year old girl with a double row of lower front teeth,

something none of us has ever seen in our 29 years of dentistry.


Overall, we felt that we have accomplished a great deal today. We thank the Lord that Leander felt a lot better by lunchtime and in spite of her feeling unwell, she soldiered on to complete the day. Not only did we provide some much needed medical and dental treatment for the locals we also provided some spiritual support by praying for every patient after treatment.


More adventures

image2We all started the day early for the 72 km trip to Trece Martires  with our drivers arriving at OMF headquarters at 7am. After praying together for a safe trip we departed all excited to begin our medical and dental clinics. The traffic did not disappoint us as we managed to travel 9 km in 2 hours eventually arriving in Trece 3.5 hours later. The weather was also one of our concerns with heaving rain falling for the last 20 minutes of our journey only to stop miraculously just as we arrived.

Having already spoken to Apple and Melanie about how we would like things set up for the clinic we were delighted to find everything had been taken care of so all that was left for us to do was to set up the instruments and sterilisation equipment.  With that all done we enjoyed a lovely lunch prepared and cooked for us by the volunteers of Bukang Liwayway We were now ready to start our first clinic.

Arriving back at the basketball court we were amazed to see so many people needing our help. We had all 3 dentists seeing patients in make shift dental chairs,they even had headrests thanks to Van’s creativity and each had an interpreter to help explain their treatment. The sterilisation of instruments was my responsibility but I was extremely lucky to have the help of Melanie who was a godsend,she was able to do a large part of the sterilisation which left me to run between the dentists and assist them when theimage1y needed it. We even managed to do a surgery with our  limited equipment which is truly amazing. On the medical side Leo and Betty had the help of their interpreters to assist them in their treatment plans which went smoothly assisted by Carrie who dispensed any medication they required. We saw 39 medical patients, 26 dental patients who had 53 teeth extracted and 6 fillings done.  Kim held the record of removing 11 teeth from one single patient.  We truly were blessed that the clinics ran so efficiently.

The afternoon ended with another cooked meal,a devotion  and a few moving testimonies that was shared between the teams,volunteers and members of Bukang Liwayway.