The Weather in Our Neck of the Woods

Thursday, September 20, 2007

She's Here and Beautiful!

Greetings family!

Our time here is quickly wrapping up, and there is so much I have yet to share. The internet is with us, in this moment, and I am grateful. We have heard from many of you, and it fills us with a desire to see you all. I believe that God is offering this gift of missing you all so that I can bear to leave when the time comes. Not that we don’t always miss you, but feel very close to our family here, and that the ‘harvest is plenty and the workers few’.

The biggest news that I need to share is that Kathy has a beautiful baby girl. Her name is Anna Valery, and she was born Sunday, September 16th at 6:20 in the evening. She weighs a whopping 5 pounds 14 oz. While it was quite an experience (for me, and I am sure for Kathy) everything has turned out perfectly. She looks like her mom, and seems quite healthy.

Journal Entry:

I had just finished cooking breakfast, and we were discussing the logistics of getting 10 people to David for church when Carmen came to the gate. Carmen is Kathy’s mom. She said at first that Kathy was not feeling well, and would not be going to church with us. The doctor on the last visit told us to expect the baby by this coming Wednesday, so I was not surprised that she did not feel like the long hot trip to David. Carmen seemed hesitant to say more, but finally said that her mother thought Kathy should go to the hospital. I asked why, growing concerned. I asked if it was time, and she said, “Well, she does not feel good.” I asked if she was in pain, she said not too much, I asked why she did not feel good, and she said, “Well, she says that she is passing a lot of water and blood”. That got my attention! I said, “Ok, I will be there in just a few minutes.” We changed our arrangements with the kids going to David. Lynn and Ez would get them all on the bus, feed them lunch, and get them back here in the afternoon. I would stay with Kathy, and keep the car.

I got everyone to the bus and returned to check on Kathy. She was in the bed crying, and doubled over with pain. I checked her tummy, and sure enough, she was contracted. I asked how long she had been hurting. She said since 6:30 this morning! She was breathing quick light breaths, and I was sure she would hyperventilate, so I told her the baby needed deep breaths, and that every thing was going to be fine. She had been very concerned, even scared every since she had been told that the baby was ready to come. (She is, after all, sixteen years old). I asked when her water broke, “At 6:30 this morning.” I looked at her grandmother, and she nodded, as if to say she needed to go to the hospital. I asked how far apart the pains were, and she said she did not know. I gave her a watch, told her how to time the contractions and said I would be right back, but I needed to go get my driver’s license before we left. She said, “No hurry, Mom is not ready to go.” I looked puzzled, I am sure, and she explained that her mom needed to iron some pants before we could go. I wanted to scream, but just said, “Ok, I will be right back. Time your contractions while I am gone.” I sensed that she calmed down a lot, just because I gave her a job.

I hurried to the house, trying, once again to understand the cultural differences, and trying to decide what was cultural and what was…personally different. I could not understand why Carmen was not more anxious to get her to medical help. Ironing her pants, for goodness sake! The grandmother was quite eager for her to go. Ah well! I grabbed my (yes, prepacked) bag, and headed right back to the house (2 doors down). Kathy had timed the contractions and they were THREE MINUTES APART! Carmen was still ironing her pants, and then went to clean the kitchen, and prepare something for her husband to eat while she was gone. Grandmother said she would take care of that, and that she should go. I agreed, and Carmen said, “Oh, ok”. Kathy sensed my slight panic, and began to cry more, so I said, “Don’t worry about this; I have medical training, if we need it. I can deliver my namesake whenever she is ready”. To which she laughed, and we waddled to the car. All the while I am praying, “Lord, please don’t make me deliver this baby”.

I have not driven the road to David at this speed, ever. I do not plan to ever drive it at this speed again. Our brakes are bad. They work, but they jerk to high heaven when you use them very much. They were jerking like never before. We drop over 3000 feet from Volcan to David. As we travelled I was constantly reminding Kathy to breath. She was hurting and scared and kept trying to push, or hold her breath. I again asked her to tell me each time a contraction began, as much for my information as for her to be busy. They sped up to 2 ½ minutes apart. I sped up even more on the road. We were making pretty good time until we got to the Pan Am, and there was an accident that had the road blocked. A bicyclist had been hit, and apparently killed on the highway. I offered a quick prayer for his eternal life, for his family, and then prayed “God, get them out of my way!!!) I had my emergency flashers on the whole trip, but they do not mean the same thing here as they do in the States. They simply mean ‘ I am being careful, for some reason, maybe a cow in the road, maybe a heavy rain, maybe a police car behind me. So, they were not helping me much. My horn, however, was a great help! Of course, I did not honk at the accident site, but before and after, I blew like crazy.

We finally got to the hospital, got her into emergency, and …..Waited for FORTY MINUTES. I could not believe it. She sat in that waiting room in labor, 2 minutes apart, and no one bothered to hurry on her behalf. I was beside myself. The whole waiting room was watching her, expecting to see the baby drop at any moment. I couldn’t stand it, so I went to the desk, and said, “How much longer? This baby will be in the floor soon”. I am guessing because of my blonde hair and white face, they actually sent someone to look at her, and took her back. That was at 10:15.

At noon another lady, waiting on her own grandchild to be born, came out from the back and said the ‘little girl’ that came with us was sitting in the hallway crying. Carmen went around to the side to sneak in to see what was happening. She came back a few minutes later and motioned for me to come with her. Sure enough, Kathy was sitting in a wheelchair in the hallway, in great pain and crying. She said that she was not dilated enough, so they told her to go back to the waiting room, but she could not walk well enough to get all the way back by herself. As we sat with her, trying to decide what to do, a nurse came and said that she was not dilated enough for delivery, and that she should wait with us in the lobby, or maybe go get some soup. Other ladies nearby said she should drink cinnamon tea to help her dilate more. We half carried her to the cafeteria, where she continued having severe pains every 2 minutes or so. She drank a tea, and could not stand sitting there any longer so we headed back to the waiting room. The cafeteria is outside, so we had to walk out in the heat for a few minutes. We stopped every two minutes for her contractions to come and go. At one point a security guard came up and asked what was going on. I tried to say she was not quite ready to have a baby. He started screaming to get her inside, that it was dangerous for her to be here, etc. Carmen just started rushing Kathy to stand straight and get moving. I just tred to help her, not understanding the problem. The problem: If he wears a uniform, his word is gospel, or even if it isn’t you do not show resistance, you just do what he says. The ‘gringo’ in me was furious. More with Carmen than the officer.

The guard walked away, and came back 2 minutes later screaming more about how stupid we were to have Kathy outside. I wished for better language skills, but probably would have gotten us in trouble if I had had them! Finally as we continued our slow progress toward the entrance he ran ahead and got a wheelchair for her, and then whisked her away. The nurses paid attention when he brought her in, so it was all for the good as far as I was concerned. Carmen and I went back to the waiting room and ….waited and waited. AT 2:45 Carmen again snuck back and could not find her. Finally, at 3:00 the little clipboard in the waiting room said that she was in the labor room. I had counted earlier and there were 36 women having babies at the same time as Kathy, in the same hospital. This emergency room was in fact, only for pregnant women. The only word the staff willingly shared was written on the clipboard. Names did not show up until they had entered the ‘labor room’, which was a dorm-style room with 10 – 12 delivery beds. Family was not allowed to view the moms to be until 2 hours after delivery, and that for less than one minute.

We waited with many others for news. Kathy’s case seemed to be a hot topic for all. Partly because she was so young, and partly because she had a gringo waiting anxiously for news. Believing that I had no Spanish skills, several groups were discussing whether I was the grandmother, or an adoptive parent. I just listened and laughed silently. At 4:00 pm the receptionist came out and said that Kathy would not deliver for 6 more hours. Poor Kathy! Her mom had prepared her for none of this. I had tried, but only with the physical aspects of the delivery. I had no idea of the customs, and the fact that she would have to be all alone for so much time. I prayed for her to remain calm (not exactly her strongest suit at this point. She had shown tendencies to hyperventilate all day, and the previous week she had vomited after hearing that the baby would be here soon.) At any rate, it was after this revelation that Carmen said, “Ok, let’s go shopping”. I laughed. I thought she was joking. She wasn’t. She informed me that Kathy need toilet paper, brush, toothbrush and tooth paste, soap, a towel, diapers, baby soap, and kotex. The hospital provides nothing. A bed and a sheet. That’s it. This was news to me, but not to Carmen. She said it was normal. I could not believe that she knew she would need these things but had not already purchased them and brought them with us. Silly of me, really. We went shopping. When we came back, we waited some more. At 6:30 we went to the cafeteria to eat, and it was closed. We drove a half a block to the other hospital’s cafeteria and ate quickly then returned. When I checked the clipboard, Kathy’s name was no longer on it. Carmen was not concerned. “They probably just forgot about her” she said. Well I wouldn’t put that past them by this point, but I wanted to know. I asked the receptionist. She went back to check, and returned to tell me that she was still in labor. Less than 3 minutes later a nurse came out asking for the family of Kathy. We went forward and heard that the baby was born, and they were both ok. If we chose to wait for 2 more hours we could see her for one minute before she was taken to her ward. We made calls, and ….waited so more. This might seem like whining to you, but maybe I should describe the waiting room a little before you judge me too harshly. 1 room, maybe 20’ x 20’, 46 metal chairs, as many as 72 people, 1 television showing….trash, in Spanish. 40 cell phones being used constantly, at least 20 children playing loudly, running circles around the chairs, NO AIR CONDITIONING, but it is only 96 degrees today, and I have been here for 10 hours. Ah well, I told Kathy a few days ago that yes, she would hurt some, but in the end, it would be all joy. Too true!

At 8:15, as Kathy’s mother in law, I was able to see both Kathy and beautiful Anna Valery. Kathy had to strain so hard during labor that hundreds of capillaries had burst in her face, but she was smiling from ear to ear. All is well!

We left them after taking two photos, and headed joyfully to the car, headed for Volcan and our beds! We were on the road less than 20 minutes when the car died in the middle of the Pan Am. It would not restart. With cars passing at 70 mph, we got out and pushed the car off the road. A family stopped to help, thank the good Lord, or we would have been there for the night. The man tried to fix the car, but could not. He took us to Concepcion for oil, but that did not help. I finally called Javier, a brother from the church at David, and he came out, moved the car further off the road, and took us to Concepcion a second time. He wanted to take us all the way home, but I would not hear of it. He drives a school bus, and begins his day at 4:00 am. It was now after 10 pm. We found a taxi to take us on to Volcan. (The buses stop running at 7:00 pm.) Can you believe I left out lots of this story, but figure there are only one or two hanging on this far!

Ok, that may not be the biggest news, but you may have noticed that I am a little pumped about it. I am also pumped that we will begin meeting here at the house in two short weeks. The entire David congregation will be up over the weekend, inviting the community again. We will have singing, a short class, the Lord’s Supper will be offered, we will have ‘dinner on the ground’ afterward, and it will all be right here at Riverside!!!! Please begin praying for this now. We have been planting seeds, through the school, through visits, through many of you coming down showing Jesus to these good folks. Now is the time to switch modes, and allow God to bring in his people. We are so excited! We are cleaning out all the beds from the bunkroom, so that we can use this space for the meetings. We thought it would be best for now.

We are regularly taking about 6 teenagers with us to David every Sunday. It has gotten pretty expensive, with taking the bus, and then needing to feed them before heading back in the afternoons. This however, will change in two weeks! I think it has been really good for them to see how things are done at David, kind of preparing them for our meetings here. Those same teens come here twice a week to study with Ez. They are good kids, and eager to be a part of the church here.

This Saturday we are headed for a youth activity in conjunction with the David congregation. We are going to the waterfall (those who have been here may remember the huge waterfall on the way from David to Panama) It is several hundred feet high, and we are going to the top of it! There will be about 25 of us total. We will picnic and have a devotional time there. We have several joint activities planned with the church at David. They are wonderful support for us as we work together to bring people to Christ.

Ez says ”Saludos, Como estan? Bien. Estamos trabajando muy duro, gracias a Dios, y gracias por todos”. (Greetings, how are you all? We are working very hard, thanks to God and thank you for everything.)

We still have worms. We are set that we will need to buy drinking water from now through the foreseeable future. We are trying to find a dispenser for the church.

Closing the book for now. We love you all, and are eager to see you again!

All because of Jesus!!!



Gozz said...

very exciting! take pictures of the waterfall.

Tim said...

Oh My Goodness! Thank you for sharing all the great news! What a story about the new baby... and we are all so pumped about Riverside church in Panama! We are praying daily.... and cannot wait to see you both in person...