This is our last day of clinic in Marilao. We have had our fair share of nervous patients today- criers, screamers and the close to fainters! There were patients with TB, patients with Hep B and the wanna B’s (that is, being a dentist- Cheryl extracted 19 teeth today!)
From the flood last night one of the BL staff’s brother had a bad injury, and Dr Betty had to stitch him up. Another BL volunteer told us that he managed to save the family’s prized possession- 3 pigs from being drowned (their means of living). We were all so happy for him.
Here are some interesting statistics to share: The doctors saw a total of 508 patients and the dentists saw 346 patients resulting in 882 extractions and 106 fillings!
For the past week in Marilao, we have been separated from the BL staff and volunteers during meal time due to lack of floor space. We had used their dining area as the medical clinic and they set up a dining area for our team upstairs. Tonight, being our last dinner here, and as we have packed all our equipment, they managed to put 3 tables side by side and it was very special for all us to share a meal together again. Afterwards, we celebrated with ice cream and this included a flavour we have not tried before- avocado macchiato. The highlight was everyone around the table giving their most memorable moments of the week. The youth enjoyed being treated by us and despite having to miss school, they really enjoyed each other’s fellowship. The staff said they learnt a lot being around us, watching how we treat patients and therefore learning how to take care of themselves better. We thanked them for working so hard to make us comfortable and their eagerness to share the gospel with others. It was a privilege to work together for God’s glory no matter what role we played.
Today consisted of the usual continuous workload of seeing patients in Marilao. On the dental side, there were a lot more children seen, and hence treatment involved many more restorations(mostly done by Leander) than previous days, with the hope of preserving their teeth for as long as possible. There were some curly extractions today as well (literally). One was so appreciative, a patient came back with a cake in gratitude…(after Kim removed 15 teeth for her!)
Dr Betty had a female patient who had a huge swelling in her right thigh and her entire leg is clearly swollen. She was quite distressed as she has not passed urine in the last 5 days. Betty suspects she has renal failure as her condition has been untreated for so long, so we paid for ultrasound and she will be sent to a hospital in Manila for further investigations. This patient had previously visited the hospital back in August but they just sent her away untreated as they wanted her condition diagnosed outside first!
Dr Leo encountered a 4 year old boy who regularly suffers from chronic siezures. This is because the family cannot afford to give him medication daily as they can only provide enough to give it to him every 2nd or 3rd day. Our team has agreed to support them financially to cover his medical needs.
Today we experienced a bout of heavy rain which lasted about an hour. We discovered that this was enough to cause flooding nearby, and many people had to evacuate from their homes. The front of the BL headquarters was swiftly turned into a refuge, as it was soon filled with families that were affected. The cook ended up cooking an extra dinner for those people tonight. Please pray that in face of tragedy that these people seek comfort from God , and God answers prayers to help them get through this.
The highlight of the day for Helga who was assisting Leo, was in convincing a 6yr old who had cotton buds stuck in both ears to calm down for treatment. The child was petrified, but Leo first explained each step that he was doing before delivering each time on his promise for a fast, pain free examination and treatment. As each step was completed as promised, her confidence and trust in him increased to the point where he was even able to administer antibiotic drops into the infected ear, after the removal of the putrid cotton buds. Praise God for answered prayers (again)!
Van seemed to have most of the difficult extractions for today. I watched him struggle with one for a good 15mins where he even got down on his knees to gain better leverage. Praise God that his improvisation of using a luxator as a chisel, worked and the troublesome tooth finally gave way.
It took all of Kim’s experience and divine intervention to help Van find and remove a root that broke off during another difficult extraction. Without the aid of X-rays but with the power of prayer, he was able to finally complete the fourth extraction an hour an a half after Van started treatment.
Betty had a young patient with myasthenia gravis who had run out of medication whilst awaiting an operation in October. Her father had sold the family home in order to afford the operation but is now unable to work himself due to a recent accident.
We can only thank our God for his mercy, grace, love and guidance today as it was a very tough dental day;(there were 170 extractions). Leander did the bulk of the fillings today (around 22) and required some treatment herself after dinner for a stiff neck, shoulders and back due to the stooped posture she had to adopt whilst treating the patients.
We had a fairly relaxing day playing tourists yesterday. After breakfast, we all decided to go back to the International Baptist Church Makati for Sunday worship this morning . We were keen to listen to the continuation of the ” Great Commission Realities ” (GCR ,Part 2) sermon, and what God has further installed for us.
As the service began we were reminded not to ignore God’s voice speaking to us when worshipping. If we don’t respond to God then our worship is incomplete.
The bible reading was from Act 15:36-16:40. The message this week was also quite appropriate and applicable to us as we prepare to start the second week of our mission in Marilao.
The story of Lydia teaches us the principle of Spiritual Conviction GCR#3. I find the story of Lydia encouraging, where God could use one ordinary person to grow his ministry in Philippi. We should not ignore or shut out the Holy Spirit talking to us. Faith is given to us by the Holy Spirit. We are not saved by our work but by Grace through Faith. It is so comforting to know that the Holy Spirit is always with us, at work before, during and after our ministry. We cannot accomplish the work here in the Philippines without the Holy Spirit, we need the power of the Holy Spirit.
The story of the fortune teller from today’s bible reading teaches us about the principle of Cultural Disturbances and Suffering , GCR #4 and #5. It reminds us of the need to respect different cultures. Not all cultures are evil and no one culture is more important than other culture. We need to communicate the Gospel in a culturally sensitive and appropriate way and it can sometimes confront cultural evils and wickedness. We should never compromise or change the Gospel message in order to win favour in the culture. Fidelity of the gospel message through respect and love is important.
Our obedience to Jesus Christ sometimes puts us in harms way, and we should not be surprised. Jesus Christ promised His disciples will endure suffering and in that suffering, Christ will be present with us. Comforting to know we are not alone as we go through trials and tribulations in our mission here.
Pastor David finished his sermon by posing a few questions:
1. Are we serving in our own intelligence, skills and power or are we asking for daily filling of the Holy Spirit? We are fooling ourselves if we think that we can do it alone on our own.
2. Are we sensitive to the cultures around us, but still courageous to present the Gospel in spite of cultural objections?
3. Are we willing to endure suffering for the sake of the Gospel?
All the questions posed were relevant and a good reminder to all of us before we embark on our 2nd week of our mission.
Please continue to pray for us as we begin the second week of our mission in Marilao.
“But be sure to fear the Lord and serve him faithfully with all your heart; consider what great things he has done for you.”
1 Samuel 12:24
As we enjoy a delicious hotel breakfast, we reflected on what each person would consider as the highlight of the mission trip at Trece Martires.
Carrie was working with her translator Chardaina at the pharmacy table and managed all 477 patients beautifully. More importantly, Kim and Carrie have been sponsoring Chardaina since the medical mission last year and it was heart-warming to see how she has grown and turned into a mature, reliable and responsible youth at the age of 16. She wrote a very touching letter thanking and sharing with Carrie what she was doing in the last year. It is really inspiring for Carrie to receive such great appreciation and that Chardaina’s faith in Christ has been growing. It is a privilege for Kim and Carrie to be able to help Chardaina to fulfil her dream of having a good education and overcoming poverty.
Cheryl was assisting Kim with a 12-year-old girl who has two teeth that grew in very awkward places and made her look like a vampire. She has been teased at school and she desperately wish for them to be removed. Kim helped to achieve her wish and the patient and her mother were extremely grateful.
Van has tried to preserve a number of teeth by doing filling. However, patients have to understand that there is an element of risk involved as the tooth can become infected and then it will have to be extracted. Van explained this to each patient for whom he does filling. As predicted, one such patient developed infection and was fortunate to be able to return for extraction. However, it would be a different story if his tooth becomes infected after we leave….
Leander treated a young man with good oral hygiene but still managed to have a number of decay teeth that would eventually destroy these teeth. Leander decided to fill all the decay and there were 6 of them, which she took an hour to do but the effect was well worth the effort. Patient and his mother were absolutely appreciative of Leander’s effort.
Leo saw a number of patients with hearing loss. He found the underlying cause was having blocked ears from too much wax. He was able to remove the wax and the relief was instantaneous as the patients could hear again.
Kim has a patient from the chronic disease group and she has an infected molar tooth that was very difficult to remove. It took him sometime to remove it but the result was instant release from severe pain.
For me, it was a 3-year-old girl who presented with daily ‘fainting’ episodes. She was involved in a tricycle versus taxi accident at 6 months of age during which time she was thrown out of the tricycle. She has a depressed skull fracture and it was likely that she has developed seizures. A CT brain confirmed that she has structural abnormality and we were able to start her on medication in an attempt to control these attacks. The family would not be able to afford the investigation nor the medication and it was great to be able to help out this young girl and her family.
Though each team member has different memories regarding the mission, we have fulfilled our task as an united team and complimented one another with our gifts.
We spent the day visiting San Agustin Church and Fort Santiago, learnt about Augustine and the history of the Philippines. It was really great to see how Augustine preached the gospel to the European and North African continents and helped to form over 500 community of priests and provided biblical teachings.
In our devotion, we learnt about the importance of controlling our tongue from the book of James and how it can cause significant damage to our relationship with family and friends and work colleagues.
At the end of the evening, we enjoy a meal with the best ever Halo Halo.
Out of the same mouth come praise and cursing. My brothers and sisters, this should not be. (James 3:10)
We woke this morning to a day of rest and reflected on what had been achieved at Trece Martires. After completing our 6 clinics the medical team had treated 291 patients and the dental team 186 patients with 430 extractions and 54 fillings in total. Once again god has provided us with his love and wisdom to treat these people who repeatedly expressed their gratitude to all the members of our team.
Our day of rest,well it depends on your definition of the word “rest” saw us exploring one of Manila’s largest shopping malls,Greenbelt which had 5 connecting complexes with a huge selection of shops and eateries. Lunch was the first stop, we chose a restaurant serving local filipino dishes.
It was lovely to walk outside amongst the tropical gardens where we found an outside chapel,organic garden and playground. I think we all really appreciated a day that didn’t revolve around a time schedule. The day finished with us studying James 2:14-26 about Faith and Deeds. As a believer,God has prepared good deeds for us to do and it is up to us to respond to His call.
Today was our last clinical day at Trece Martires. The medical and dental team would spend the morning seeing patients before returning back to Manila for the weekend.
Others prepare a testimony and a Christian talk in small groups with the patients whilst they are being registered. Some are assigned to be interpreters for the dentists and Carrie. There is a lovely German missionary (Helga) who is Leo’s interpreter. An electrician sets up power supply for our dental motor and Leo’s suction machine. 3 ladies work tirelessly inside a tiny kitchen to prepare lunch and dinner for us and many volunteers (youths from their church) help load and unload our many boxes of equipment daily from storage.
We are all so thankful that God has placed us together again and feel humbled to witness their cheerful and energetic servant attitude to glorify God through helping the needy (they really don’t have much themselves!)
Every night after dinner, we gather for a bible study under Betty’s leadership. This time we are reading James and tonight we read James 2:1-13 and discussed treating everyone fairly and lovingly without favouritism, as we express God’s mercy for us towards others. We also discussed why there are those who are rich and yet others who are so poor in this world, and does this imply that God is unfair? One BL member spoke out emotionally and honestly and exclaimed that it does feel unfair! At that moment we all felt for her, but as we went further into the discussion, we realise that material wealth is only a measure of importance set by man, not God, and that wealth does not guarantee happiness or even reduce our problems in life. But the poor by virtue of their greater dependence on God for their daily needs, enables them to be more spiritually rich, and we indeed see this in their group. What an encouraging fellowship to end the day!
We woke up in a glorious morning after a good night’s rest.Thanks
to God for his beautiful creation. Our team was looking forward to mission field work seeing patients. After a simple breakfast,we headed back off to Trece Martires.
The clinic started with a group of scholars singing hymns to the patients waiting to be registered. A local man gave a testimony in their Tagalog language, followed by a health talk on what a good diet should consist of. Then we set off to treat patients.
Betty’s patient who had a large abscess in the abdomen returned today after spending time in a hospital for more treatment yesterday. Unfortunately, the treatment he received (in a private hospital!) fell way short according to our standards and Betty can only do her best with the limited equipment available. Please pray for this patient as we depend on God for healing his wound which can be fatal.
Kim had a patient who heard about our mission and he was willing to make the effort to travel 8 hours to see us as he cannot afford dental treatment! This shows how needy these people are who cannot afford dental care…Kim had to extract 10 teeth for him! We are humbled and encouraged that the news of this mission spread far and wide.
We are thankful that Leo arrived safely today and let’s just say he had a most warm reception from the people here!