Mission report: Casey’s First Trauma Care Experience
by Casey Lao
There had been no water in my village for almost three days and I was desperate for a proper shower. Thankfully, there was still water in Carrie and Justina’s village. Both Carrie and Justina (the other nurses) had been gone for two weeks for medical missionary training in Greece. They had offered their teteyen (bathroom) to me so that I could have a proper shower.
It was nearing twilight when I got my shower. As I washed, I heard people running frantically on the trail, then suddenly stop and call my name. I didn’t know who it was, but I could tell from their voice that it was urgent. They told me they came from Leplep, a village about an hour away, and there was somebody in difficult labor there. They were on their way to Niyug (a village about 30 minutes from ours) to get help. They had heard that Carrie and Justina were gone, and weren’t sure if they could get help from the clinic. “Coincidentally,” or rather, by God’s divine providence, I just so happened to be in Carrie’s bathroom that was by the trail, and they heard me showering. They told me they would go get help from Niyug, then stop by on the way back to Leplep.
I quickly finished up my shower, whispered a prayer, and ran to Ate Lalay, a local missionary teacher, to inform her of what was happening. It was nearing 7 p.m. when they returned and the sun was well set. An emergency flight from PAMAS helicopter was no longer an option because it doesn’t fly at night. I gave the small group a stretcher and instructed them to bring the woman to our clinic to deliver.
I tried to find the woman’s chart to see if she had been in our clinic before for a prenatal check-up. I couldn’t find her chart, so I figured I would just ask for more information when she arrived. I began to prepare my supplies on the back porch. She would have to deliver there since our birthing house wasn’t ready to be used yet. Ate Lalay and I figured the group would return with the woman in approximately three hours. Ate Lalay returned home to finish her work, and I went back to the dorm to check on the girls, wash my dishes, etc.
At 9:30 p.m., I went back to the clinic to finish reviewing and preparing my supplies. I was a little skeptical of whether or not they would come back. In the past, Carrie and Justina have had trouble getting the Palawano women to deliver in the clinic. The Palawanos have their own midwives and they prefer to deliver in the comforts of their own home. However, the midwives aren’t all trained and don’t always practice good hygiene. Filipino law now mandates that women deliver in a hospital to reduce infant mortality rates. While we’ve encouraged the women to get prenatal check-ups and deliver at our clinic, the majority still deliver at home.
At 10 p.m., I reasoned that since the group hadn’t arrived, the woman must have already delivered. I returned home to get some rest. At midnight, I heard Ate Lalay calling my name, “Casey, they came!” I quickly woke up, grabbed my keys, and ran to the clinic. When I arrived, no one was there, but I opened the clinic and began to prepare anyway. Finally, a few girls appeared and explained that the men carrying the laboring patient were probably in a village about 30 minutes away. Apparently, the woman had been in labor since 2 p.m. Soon after her water broke at 5 p.m., she began experiencing excruciating pain and profuse bleeding.
Red flags were raised in my mind as I realized that this lady, who had been actively bleeding for the past seven hours, might not be in the best condition when she arrived. I quickly grabbed I.V. needles, starter kits, fluids, and got ready to push fluids when she arrived. I was right. When Piti, our hemorrhaging woman arrived, she was clearly in shock. She was pale, sweating, cold, and barely responsive. I quickly started an I.V. Her breathing was markedly fast and her pulse beat in the 120s-130s. I tried to take her blood pressure, but her pulse was so faint I could barely hear or feel it. When I tightened the pressure cuff, I got a reading of 80/40–a sign of evident shock.
There were no fetal heart tones. I realized that we might have lost the baby, but I was determined to save the mom. As I worked on Piti, our missionary team rallied together to help. Kuya Naphtalie, another local missionary, was already on the phone working out transportation to pick her up at the base of the mountain. Ate Lalay was helping me translate Piti’s story. After she was stabilized, I told the team that we needed to get to a hospital ASAP. The Palawano men who had brought her quickly grabbed the stretcher and we set out.
The trails in these mountains aren’t easy. They’re narrow, steep, and sometimes nonexistent. I felt like I was going to pass out as we ran up the steep hill before going down to the lowlands—and I wasn’t even carrying much! I was very impressed with the way the Palawanos supported each other. With every village they passed, more men came to help carry the stretcher. They switched out every so often when someone was tired. Though the trail was narrow and slippery, they passed the stretcher from one shoulder to another with such ease that the patient was unbothered.
The whole way down the mountain, I prayed, “Lord, please help her make it.” Whenever we stopped to rest, I checked her vitals to ensure she was still doing okay. After what seemed like forever, we made it safely down to the lowlands at 3:30 a.m. Daniel Luí and Dr. Bernard from PAMAS were waiting at the base of the trail to take us to the hospital.
We brought Piti to the government hospital. However, she was soon transferred because the hospital wasn’t well equipped for her case. We arrived at a private hospital at 4:30 a.m., and discovered her hemoglobin to be 4 g/dl. She was in dire need of a transfusion. There was no blood in stock at the hospital, so Daniel and Dr. Bernard set out to find some at other hospitals. They quickly found some and brought it back to us. We waited, and waited for someone to hang the blood. Though I kept asking the nurses station where the blood was or where the doctor was, they just kept telling me, “It’s coming,” or “She’s coming.”
Finally, at 9 a.m., with a little more urgency and frustration in my voice, I reminded the nurses that this is a patient who has been actively bleeding for more than 10 hours. Her hemoglobin is incredibly low, and she needs blood NOW! Evidently aggravated and grumbling under their breath, the nurses began moving. They grabbed the blood, and prepared the transfusion. Within an hour, Piti was receiving the blood she needed. A little while later, she was whisked away to the ultrasound room, where our suspicions were confirmed—she was placenta previa. No fetal heartbeat was heard.
She was sent to surgery, and by 2 p.m., she was back in the ward. They brought the stillborn baby out to us. I asked if she could have some time in a private room to be alone with her baby. There was no private room, but she was allowed to use the chapel for a short time. Piti asked me and her sister-in-law to stay with her.
In the chapel, seeing Piti hold her baby, the adrenaline finally wore off and sheer exhaustion overcame me. I had no more strength to hold in my tears. I wept along with Piti and her sister-in-law. When all our tears were shed, I noticed Piti looking at the picture of Jesus on the wall right above her. I asked her, “Piti, do you know who that is?” She nodded yes. I took the opportunity to appeal to her heart, “Piti, that is the Son of the one and only true God. He sent His Son for you and me so that we can have eternal life with Him in heaven. There will be no more death and sadness there. Piti, do you believe that? Do you want to have faith in Jesus?” Solemnly, Piti nodded, and closed her eyes.
My friends, God is truly so good. He gave Piti a close encounter with death so He could show her that He wants to give her eternal life. He spared her life now so she could have another chance to choose Him. There are still more people like Piti among these mountains who have yet to believe. Won’t you please pray for more laborers to be sent out to reach them?
Update: God is so good! Piti was discharged and has been recovering. The color is back in her face, and she is smiling and beaming with life. All glory to God!!! Because of the nature of her operation, she won’t be back in the mountains right away. She will be staying at our farm in the lowlands surrounded by a loving, Christian family who will support and nurture her. Please continue to pray for her healing and her relationship with the Lord!
Agape Love in the Senate
by Jonathan McCormick, Jr
Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,
Last month, I had the opportunity to share the love of Christ in an unusual place: the Oklahoma State Capitol. Having an interest in public service, I was invited by my state senator to serve as a senate page. Even though there were complicating factors regarding logistics, God made a way for me to serve as a page for a few days. During that time, Ecclesiastes 9:10 came to mind: “Whatever your hand finds to do, do it with your might; for there is no work or device or knowledge or wisdom in the grave where you are going” (NKJV). God was reminding me to serve with excellence. Whatever my hands found to do, I did it with all my might. Soon, the senators and my fellow pages took notice. While we were awaiting our assignments, we pages started talking about religion, and I was asked about my faith. I answered in a way which I knew to be to the credit of my Savior who died for me.
Regardless of whether I agreed with the senators and my fellow pages on policy issues or not, the instruction of 1 Peter 2:17 came to mind, “Honor all people. Love the brotherhood. Fear God. Honor the king” (NKJV). In a citation, Senator Daniels wrote, “[Jonathan McCormick] has conducted himself in a manner to prove the worthiness of his selection, has served his duties with distinction, bringing honor not only upon the Senate, but also his family, school and hometown.” Also during this time, one of my fellow pages commented that I was “the sweetest person” they have ever met. I must tell you that it was not me, but the agape love of Christ working in my life as I served the people of my state. I am blessed to have been a part of the spreading of God’s love, because He is coming soon!
by Bruce Wilkerson, Monique Wilkerson
Growing up in the church, I’ve always viewed the “Parable of the Talents” from the point of view of the servant. The servant hid his talent in the ground, and lost it at the end of the story. Thus, I’ve been conscious of the talents God has given me; I’ve tried to use them for His glory and not waste them or hide them. However, for the past three years, as a project manager with Adventist World Aviation (AWA) in Guyana, South America, I’ve learned another lesson.
I always thought my talents were linear, or, according to the theory of left-brain or right-brain dominance, "left-brained," which is more logical, analytical, and objective. I like structure, organization, lists, schedules, and order. I thrive on completing tasks on time. When Bruce and I answered the call to Guyana to be project managers, I was excited to tackle the administrative and financial aspects of mission work. My thought—I would be using the talents God gave me. What I didn’t expect is how He was going to multiply or reward those talents.
One Sabbath, while leading children’s Sabbath School, I noticed a brother and sister. They were 11 and 9 years old and unable to read simple words. When I spoke to their grandmother, she asked me to teach them how to read. The request was surprising because although I had taught children’s Sabbath School from Cradle Roll to Earliteens, I had never taught another child besides my daughter, Tammie, how to read. Plus, I taught Tammie when she was young, not 9 or 11 years old. However, I agreed to teach the siblings, not expecting much progress. To my amazement, and only through God’s blessings, both are slowly progressing in their reading. Through my unbelieving efforts, God brought results. Four months later, God grew this talent even more as I began teaching a 70-year old woman how to read and write. How humbling to be the recipient of God’s rewards despite my unbelief!
The parable of the talents now has new meaning to me. God doesn’t just multiply the talents you have; when one is a good steward, He rewards our efforts by giving us more talents! In this way, He continually shows His love, mercy, and grace.
– Monique Wilkerson
As a young boy growing up with a multi-talented and exceptionally bright father, I steered away from things he excelled in because I felt lacking and unable to keep up with him. He was talented, an experienced pilot, a CFII and MEII, a seasoned sea captain, an excellent carpenter, a jack-of-all trades, and a true “Mr. Fixit.” When I became an adult, I regretted not learning as much as I could from him as a youngster, but was still unable to spend time learning from him because of my busy life. Later, when I had the time, my father became sick, and was no longer able to teach me. Two years ago, he passed away.
When Monique and I answered the call to Guyana to do mission work with AWA, I was excited to use the operational skills I had. I was caught unawares by the rewards God had in store for me for using my talents in service for Him.
Living in the interior of Guyana, I had to rely on Him more. Through trial and error and God’s leading, I learned the ins and outs of boating and carpentry. My longing to acquire those skills came to fruition. In addition, my love for flying intensified and through God’s grace and partnerships with family and friends, I acquired my private pilot’s license and am in the process of acquiring my instrument rating, and, God willing, my commercial rating as well. Even with my father gone, my Father in heaven still provided a way for me to earn my “wings.”
Friends, we have a wonderful and amazing God. When we use the talents He has given us for His glory, He is faithful to multiply them and give us the desires of our hearts. Are we ready to see His work, His magnificence, and the blessings He has in store for us?
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