Update From San Juan La Laguna

This week and the last have been busy!
We have been finalizing the purchases and installations of our most needed equipment, organizing the last details, and meeting with the mayor and members of the municipality for the legality of the function of the Casa.

Google Hangout
While Google video chats are a a great way to have a meeting with people in three different places (Erica in USA, Jes in San Martín, and the rest of us in San Juan), poor internet connection and three different languages happening at once make a meeting last about three times longer than would otherwise need to last! But we are grateful. Grateful for partnerships with caring and equipped people and for this ability to communicate with people in scattered cities and countries.
Speaking of, I am greatly missing my family these days and am thankful for video chat so I can see my (rapidly growing) nieces and nephews and the rest of my family back in the US and Rwanda.

ATI… It doesn’t go away! 
This is an inside joke to my nursing friends… ATI is a board exam preparation course that was pretty much the bane of our existence in nursing school and kicked our butts all the way through. It has proven, however, to be an effective way to help one pass the nursing board exam and it is a great reference post-graduation!
I have found myself reviewing the maternal-newborn textbook often for reminders on a variety of topics. Every week, Cristina and Wendy travel to the three villages of San Juan (an hour and half to two hours away), to give classes to the pregnant women in the communities. A big part of the Casa project is education and we want to equip these women and their babies to be as healthy as possible. We also want to build relationships with them so that they build trust with us and will be able to use the Casa for their births. Last week I went with Cristina to teach about nutrition during pregnancy. I once again referenced my ATI book to refresh on teaching points such as foods which contain folic acid and iron. It is very rewarding to work with these women who are very interested in learning and who express gratitude for the opening of the Casa. In these communities the women don’t even have access to basic hygiene products that are necessary during and after their births.

“Can you draw? I can’t draw even a stick figure”
None of us working on the Casa project are artistic, so I set about to find a painter who could paint the outside of the clinic for us “Casa Materna” with our logo, as well as our birth room, postpartum rooms, and prayer room with silhouettes of mothers with their babies and the following scriptures, respectively: Tu, Señor, creaste mis entrañas; me formaste en el vientre de mi madre. Te alabo porque soy uno creación admirable! (Salmos 139:13-14), Los hijos son un regalo del Señor, los frutos del vientre son una recompensa (Salmos 127:3), Muy de mañana me levanto a pedir ayuda; en tus palabras he puseto mi esperanza (Salmos 119:147). 
(All of these scriptures are from the Psalms so the English translation can easily be found).
Kennet and I came across a painting that we loved in an art shop in the tourist part of town. I semi made friends with the owner of the shop, Filipe, so I decided to go ask him if he knows anyone who paints what we were looking for for the Casa, and sure enough he did! I am so happy about this addition that we will have in the Casa (once we have legal documents we can get started with this), and for my new friend Filipe who not only paints beautiful art here in San Juan, but has also traveled to the US, even to my city of Philadelphia and has painted a mural there!

“That man who helped us hang the clothes line? I’m very worried. He’s been to prison at least twice”
Last week there was a medical team from the US that was occupying the first floor of the clinic. There were many locals helping them with the clinic, so the whole place was buzzing with people. While we were upstairs hanging our still dampened sheets to dry on the roof of the Casa (see following section), two men came upstairs and upon seeing us struggle to hang the line, they offered to help us. They quickly and easily hung the line and I was grateful for the help as I began to hang damp sheets smelling fresh of laundry soap and bleach.
After the men went downstairs, Merlyn came over to me and proceeded to tell me that one of the men is known as a thief by the whole town. We were very puzzled by the fact that despite this he was still given the job to work with the visiting teams. Merlyn made sure to emphasize to him our new functioning security camera.

A trip to the beach… to do laundry!
Merlyn, Johana, Wendy, and myself took all of our sheets to the lake last week to be washed by hand. From 10:00 to 3:00 We washed and rinsed and hung them on the line. When we were finished, Merlyn said, “we’ve had these sheets for three years, and we are finally getting to use them.” Wow, all the washing suddenly seemed liked such a reward and an excitement to be yet another baby step closer to opening the Casa. Upon all the sheets being dry, we folded and counted them for a total of ninety-two.

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Let there be light.. and more water!
Finally we have electricity! It was installed last week (only took four years) and it makes such difference in the feeling of the Casa. If we need to test any equipment we can now easily do it without having to bring anything to the house. And in the evening hours, everything just feels so much.. brighter 🙂 
Although we’ve been getting daily and nightly rains that are turing our streets into small rivers, we are happy that we are getting yet another water source at the Casa! On the roof level we will have water access to be able to do washing of linens in meantime while we do not have a laundry area… now we just have to wait for a day without rain so it can be installed!

Lesbia’s birthday!!

img_8736Last week was Lesbia’s birthday and I’m so happy that I was here this year to celebrate her. I bought a cake from a local bakery and all of us (even Dolly!) enjoyed it for two days.
Lesbia may be the most humble and the most compassionate person that I know. Working with her has taught me many character quality traits in a new way: she is faithful (Proverbs 28:20), she never tires of doing good in helping others (Galatians 6:9) she is humble (James 4:6), she is compassionate and feels the suffering of others as if it were her own (and for one working in healthcare and midwifery in places of such low resources, this brings much suffering) (Galatians 6:2), she is determined and fights for justice even when there seems to be no progress (Isaiah 1:17, Psalm 82:3), and her unwavering faith and trust in God and belief that He is sovereign over all (Proverbs 31:30). I am forever grateful to her for teaching me such strong character and midwifery skills by her example.

In death, in life, we’re confident and covered by the power of Your great love

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In the past two weeks we have rejoiced in the birth of another healthy baby, but we also grieve the loss of one. With such limited resources here for neonatal healthcare, we were not able to give this baby what she needed to save her. This was a traumatic experience for all of us involved, and prayers for the family going through this immense loss are deeply appreciated.
After all was said and done, through tears Lesbia lamented the great sufferings for lack of basic necessity and lack of support from authorities. We reminded each other of our thankfulness to God for the caring people working with us to help these communities and for all those making an effort to eliminate easily preventable suffering. We reminded each other that we have done and will continue to do all that we can do and we must trust God’s sovereignty over all. May our sufferings motivate us to love all the more deeply and work all the more that we can.

Prayer Requests:
-Proper vehicle for the Casa
-Continued support from the municipality of San Juan
-Safety for the staff, patients, and equipment of the Casa
-Comfort and peace for those suffering
-Continued finances for the Casa
-Partnerships with other ministries that we potentially have

Therefore, my beloved brothers, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that in the LORD your labor is not in vain (1 Corinthians 15:58)

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