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August 21, 2015

My 11 year old son, Liam, knows that his two little 8 and 7 yr old sisters won’t really listen to him, so he told them to go see Riley, our oldest son, who is 16, because they were arguing with each other.  Riley is often left in charge, and what does he do to resolve the situation?  He whispers in Angel’s ear and then whispers in Neely’s.  Then he says, “Okay Angel, what do you tell Neely?”  She proceeds to say, “You have pickle breath.”  Then he says, “Okay Neely, what do you say?”  Neely says, “You have pink poop with purple polka dots.”  And now that they are laughing, he says, “Okay what do y’all really say?”  And they tell each other they are sorry, give hugs and go play again….  Now that is wisdom… 😉

How can such joy and esteem in them be the source of my sorrow?  My love for my children stretches farther than any imaginable expanse.  My love for them helps me to get a glimpse of the love the Lord has for his children… It’s what helps me to grasp how far the east is from the west.

I try not to get lost in dream worlds and unrealistic happily ever afters.  But any small hope I carried of this is slowly fading away.  In the beginning, I saw all six of us, with our unexpected blessing, making us a family of seven, one day going back to America… and just living.  And now, my oldest is almost 17 and will soon be gone…  By the time we get back we won’t be whole anymore…  I know children get older, get their own lives, their own families… I just thought we would all have more time with Angel in America.

But this is only one aspect.  Another is when they get sick.  I pretty much get the lowest of lows during these times.  Since I have written last, they have battled with fevers, toothaches, earaches, infected pus-leaking blisters, rashes, lice, worms… Yes, worms!  Again!!  I despise these horrid creatures who think they can make their homes in the precious tender bodies of my babies.

One afternoon, Angel timidly revealed that she had one in her stool.  She showed us, and there it was, a long, live worm with the same thickness as a pencil.  My heart fell to my toes.

How could this be??  I had given them deworming medicine just before we moved into our home.  I had taken them to get their stools tested.  I had collected it in a ridiculously tiny bottle that was given me, along with a single plastic glove.  I distinctly remember reaching into the dirty hospital toilet and leaving the glove on the floor behind the toilet because there was no trashcan in sight.  It was tested…. There were no parasites!  So how could a worm this long be living inside of her??  I mean how fast do these things grow?

I had two bottles of deworming medicine left because I had given a few away for other children.  I made Angel and Neely drink them.  A couple of days later Angel had more come out in her stool but she hated having to go, terrified of the live creatures coming out.  I convinced her not to hold it in, or they might try to come out the other way… That same night, Neely kept gagging and saying she felt the same feeling she had before, like one was coming up her throat.  I stayed with her for hours giving her water, trying to get her to hack it up, looking down her throat with a flashlight… I had her sleep with me, so I could pull it out if need be.  The next few days, she, too, had worms come out in her stools.  The rest of us got and took medicine but none of us had any.  I gave them another lesson on hygiene and always, always, washing their hands before eating, using their spoons, and basically not eating or drinking away from home.  I will give them some more medicine again soon, just to make sure.  I am drained, especially that night with Neely.  I plead with God and feel so inept.  I declare that I am going home, to where my children are safe.

And then there are days like these…  Angelo came and got me, shirtless, with his extra large shorts barely hanging on to his extra tiny six year old body.  “Sister! Mamang there!”  He yelled with his best English accent.  I proceeded down the trail, careful not to slip on the mud.  As I came out of the trees, I saw the tricycle waiting for me just a few yards down.  It wasn’t an ordinary tricycle, with a mini carriage, which includes a seat for crouching down into.  No, this was a side car that I often see pigs in.  I even saw a poor cramped cow in one before.  I climbed in and sat on the metal side bar.  It was either there, or on the dirty, wet metal bottom. There were bars to hold onto just above my head.  The road was wet and bumpy.  I could not escape the muddy puddles we splashed through, nor did my head refrain from banging against the bars.  I looked in front of me, at the tiny framed mother holding her bony toddler.  He was bundled in an old worn out sweater,  She was trying to hang on, simultaneous to covering his ears from the slight chill in the air from a coming typhoon.  Her love was evident.  I know a little about her.  I have prayed with her before, and for her children.  I have seen her husband push her to the ground.  And I feel a sense of needing to stay.

And then there is me… My wisdom tooth kept trying to surface on the bottom left side.  But it was sideways and only partially exposed.  The part that was exposed got a big hole in it and started causing me pain… So I reluctantly agreed with my husband that I needed to get it taken out.  We went to the nearest relatively large city, an hour and a half away.  I had spoken with a dentist here before about my wisdom teeth and having an oral surgeon.  But she explained to me that there are none here… that if I wanted to sleep while I had it removed I would have to be admitted to the hospital, and be put to sleep like they do for patients that are having surgery and stay there for a few days.  Umm… I don’t think so…  So I knew going into this, that it would have to be pulled with numbing injections.  I have never experienced so much pain since giving birth.  I thought he was breaking my jaw in two.  I kept saying “No, no…”  because I just knew he was disconnecting my jaw.  I even pushed him off once.  After he finally got it out in three pieces, I started crying when I saw the kids. And then I couldn’t talk without crying.  I didn’t know what was wrong with me.  I guess the trauma of it all just hit me.  They kept asking me if I was okay but it made me cry more, no matter how much I fought it.  For a week my face was swollen, and I could not open my mouth wide enough to fit my pinky in.  John had to blend my food… and blended food just does not fill a body up.  I lost weight.  Some bruising showed up on the side of my lower cheek down into my neck.  I am finally able to open my mouth more and more, but still not all the way.  And I don’t feel like I have all the feeling back yet.  This was just over two weeks ago.  But the worst part is, once the swelling went down enough, I could feel something inside the hole.  It sure felt like a tooth.  John looked inside with a flashlight and revealed that sure enough, there is still tooth.  My poor husband.  I can see the pain behind his eyes in watching me suffer.  He blames himself, apologizes over and over again.  He is worried that I need to get the rest of it out.  I told him that I will never ever ever go to the dentist here again.  He wants to see if we can find an oral surgeon in Manila, 6 to 7 hours away.  He says that if there is not one there then I am going home to get this taken care of.  I don’t really know what to do.  I just keep trying not to think about it.  But it is hard not to when I still feel like I am carrying a rock around in my cheek.

During this time, we had a Pastor friend from Texas staying with us, someone who comes to visit us every year.  This time it was harder than ever to see him go.  And despite my tooth, I had a really good two weeks.  I could see how much my kids enjoyed him being here.  I could hear my husband gain back his Texas accent.  It’s just so nice to have somebody, who thinks like we do, here with us, encouraging us, allowing us to unload on him.  We weren’t ready for him to leave… It was much too soon.  I know the people here will miss him too and look forward to his return.  It just feels like home is so far away again.

As school begins again in the U.S.,  I see Moms all across America posting first day of school pics.  I get an inkling of sadness, but then I start to laugh at the thought of posting our first day of school pics… shoeless, shirtless, uncombed hair… I think I will…

I quit writing for a while… I quit letting everyone in…  I hate that sometimes I feel like giving up.  I hate that I can’t give up.  I mean a man just died here on Monday.  His 13 year old son came to church for the first time on Sunday, the very day before.  This man was not married and he cared for many children.  He gave them allowances to be able to go to school.  He fed and looked after them.  His home was almost like an orphanage…  He was also a devout Catholic.  How can I give up?  How can I throw in the towel on broken hearts and distraught faces?  A 13 year old clings to my side the day he died. She is currently staying with her grandmother as her mom finds work in another country, and she comes to our Bible studies regularly.  As she leans on me she says, “Sister, you’re like my mom. I miss my mom.”  Then she continually sings “Still,” one of her favorite songs in church.  And I sing along with her…

“Hide me now under your wing.  Cover me within your mighty hand. When the oceans rise and thunders roar, I will soar with You above the storm.  Father You are king over the flood.  I will be still, know You are God. Find rest my soul in Christ alone.  Know His power in quietness and trust. When the oceans rise and thunders roar, I will soar with You above the storm.  Father You are king over the flood.  I will be still know You are God.”

Photo on 7-30-15 at 4.37 PM IMG_20150705_093552 IMG_20150705_092327

One Comment leave one →
  1. August 22, 2015 10:03 pm

    I saw the post on FB, and followed the trail. I remember the day y’all accepted the mission. We moved from Huntsville but I still try to follow FBC Dodge. It’s still my home, though I have only managed to return once in something like four years or so. I do think of you guys often, and will be more so now… I stand in awe of what you are going through to pass the Word to the people. While I know it’s tough, you all are proving the resilience to persevere in the face of hardships. God does prevail, and provides the needs. You are in our prayers.

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