Saturday, November 4, 2017

Healing from Demons

"We had 4-5 witchdoctors come by, offering to practice traditional medicine to heal our daughter. We told every one of them no, that we choose to trust that God will heal her." We were sitting on the porch of the birthing house - turned - insane asylum as Maman Durman told us what had happened while we were gone.

Rewind about 10 days. My friend, Casey, another student missionary who is the dean of the girl's dorm, was telling us how a couple of the girls in the dorm had been acting  strange and after prayer meeting, there had been quite a scene. She wasn't sure what had happened because of her limited Palawano vocabulary, but she was thinking there was some spiritual warfare going on. We started lifting Casey up in prayer, praying that she would have wisdom to deal with the situation. These two girls are from a village that is a ten-hour hike from where we are in Kemantian that is steeped in animism. The family is newly converted, having been baptized last year; the father is the lay pastor of the church there.

Things seemed to quiet down until Friday and Sabbath. First one of the girls started having strange physical problems (which thankfully resolved in a short amount of time), then the other girl started displaying some strange behaviors that were out of character for her. The second girl ended up staying at our house Sabbath night, but continued displaying more and more bizarre behaviors that were not normal. We started realizing that this had to be more than a medical or even a mental problem - this had to be spiritual warfare.

The following day, Sunday, the girl's father showed up. He had a dream that something bad had happened in Kemantian, so he hiked 10 hours to come make sure that everything was ok. He talked with his daughter, encouraging her and praying with her, and spent the night with her. By morning, she'd only had one hour of sleep, and was continuing to get worse. Her father had to head home, so we set up a shift schedule so one of us would be with the girl at all times.

That was one of the most challenging weeks of our lives. We spent hours praying around her, singing hymns, talking with her. After Sunday, she wasn't responding to her name. As I looked at her glazed eyes, I could tell she was being controlled by a demon. Several times we tried restraints, trying to prevent her from hurting herself or others; however, they only worked for a short time - she always figured out how to get out of them.

After having her in our house for a couple days, then at Carrie and Justina's (the other nurses) house for a couple days, we ended up moving her to the birthing house. The birthing house was recently built, but hasn't been finished yet. A couple weeks before this incident, it was used as a TB ward, now it was being used as an asylum. There wasn't anything in there she could damage, so we were hoping to be able to keep her off restraints.

As the week continued, all of us nurses started to feel the strain of the situation, even though the girl was improving somewhat. I was so tired and really starting to wonder when God was going to answer our prayers. We spent one evening praying as a team and searching our hearts, making sure there was nothing between us and God to prevent Him from hearing us. I knew beyond a shadow of a doubt that God would heal this girl, but really started to wonder when He would. I knew I wouldn't be able to continue the way we had, watching her constantly, for much longer. I began to be very angry at Satan. Who was he to think he had the right to take over one of our students? Why did he think that he had the power to take over the life of this girl who seemed to have such a soft heart toward God?

On Wednesday or Thursday, we started to hear that if the girl was better, we may be able to go to the lowlands for the weekend. Mrs. George, the project leader, was heading to the States for furlough and was hoping to have one more team meeting before she left. We were excited about the possibility of going down the mountain, and started praying that God would make it possible for us to go. If anything, we just needed a break. It was discouraging to wake up again and find  her  still the same. One of the local workers for this project called the parents again and asked them if they'd be willing to come watch their daughter while we went to the lowlands to have our meeting. They willingly made the 10 hour hike to come relieve us. We were amazed at Maman Durman's wife, who hiked that trail being 7 months pregnant!

I felt very encouraged after our debriefing of the situation in the lowlands, and felt ready to come back into the mountains to face it again after the weekend. We got back Sunday just as it was getting dark, so I didn't end up having a chance to visit our girl until Monday after lunch (her parents were still staying with her). When I went to visit her, she came out of the birthing house and smiled at me! Her eyes were clear and she was talking normally! I sat there staring at her in awe, wondering why I was so surprised. After all, I knew that God would heal her! As we talked with her and her parents, Maman Durman told us what happened on Sabbath - how so many witch doctors had come wanting to practice their traditional medicine, and how they told them that they were choosing to trust that God would heal their daughter.

Carrie talked with our patient afterwards, who told her that she had many demons in her, and they all had different personalities. She knew when they came in as well. When Carrie told us all that, I started to feel fear for the first time since this started! I felt like it was a miracle of God that I'd sat with her for hours on end, mad at Satan, and yet he had no power to touch me. And if he did touch me, God gave me the power to refute him. I had a lot to reflect on after that.... God is so amazing - so powerful! And He sat there with us hours on end, whispering comfort into our hearts and encouragement so we would not give up on our prayers for this girl. I was also amazed at God's timing of His healing - it almost seemed as though He held back His healing in order to test and strengthen the  parent's faith, to see if they would put their trust in Him or fall back into their old ways. We also all learned the importance of persevering in prayer even through the discouragement of not seeing our prayers answered right away - even if we feel like we're praying the same thing over and over. Most importantly, we were reminded that God is in complete control over everything, and His timing is perfect. Please pray that this girl's testimony of deliverance will be a light in these mountains.

Friday, October 6, 2017

Trials and Triumph

Before I left for the Philippines a little over a month ago, I faced a series of trials that challenged me so much. It all started when I got to training... the first day of training, I was stung twice on my left hand, immobilizing it for the next week while my arm was swollen up to my elbow. Thankfully, by the  following week, it had decreased in size considerably. Just as my hand was decreasing in size, I got a poison ivy rash that made the rest of training pretty miserable. The following week, I injured my foot in a cross fit session, though at the time I didn't realize how bad the injury was. The next two weeks were filled with so much information at training, difficult decisions, and dealing with three deaths. I didn't think a whole lot about what was happening until I was trying to deal with three deaths in such a short period of time - having lost only one close person to me in my life. I didn't even have time to process or grieve with all that was going on, and I started to wonder why this was happening. I continued on, still strong in knowing that I was doing what God wanted me to do. As soon as I got home from training, I ended up going to see a doctor about my foot injury, since it had been a month since the injury and it still really hurt. I ended up in a boot - a week before I was supposed to fly out to the Philippines. I had no idea how that was going to work! The following Sunday, we left on a family vacation. The first destination was my great aunt's memorial service in Idaho. I was so grateful to be able to attend at least one memorial - it gave me a chance to process through and grieve at least one of the deaths. After the memorial, my family and I headed toward Portland, OR, where we were going to spend a few days with my brother. We stopped in Walla Walla for the night, and while we were there, my car was broken into and ransacked. A lot of valuable stuff was stolen - including my laptop, wallet, and Bible. After spending hours trying to cancel all my cards, figuring out what all was taken, and doing a police report, we were finally on our way again to Portland. That's when I really started to struggle - why now? Why me? Why all of this? Later that day, I got a call from the police saying they had recovered my Bible and Driver's license. That was such a relief! The loss of my Bible was just as huge to me as the loss of my computer. At least I was able to get that back! Even so, I was so stressed the whole vacation - we attempted an insurance claim, which ended up not being worth it, so we dropped it. My cousin's fiance started a GoFundMe page to help cover the cost of everything I had to replace before I left for the Philippines. I was overwhelmed by the response! Even through this difficult time, God's love was shining through the friends and family that donated to help out! I felt a sense of relief, but was still struggling.  On our way back from vacation, I was able to stop and pick up what the police had recovered. To my surprise - everything from my wallet was there except for the cash I had. Unfortunately, that also meant that the card I was planning to take with me overseas was void and the new one probably wouldn't come in time. That weekend was spent hectic-ly preparing for my trip. Saturday night, we left pretty late for the hotel by the airport. On the way out, we checked the mail. To my surprise, the replacement card for the one I had planned to take with me was in the mail! One small confirmation that God still had His hand in this. I got a few hours of sleep, said a very sad goodbye to my parents, and headed off for Seattle at the crack of dawn. I was so tired and not too happy about my 7 hour layover in Seattle - especially when I had to pick up my luggage, then sit for 3 hours until the ticket counter opened for my international flight. I went to check in for my international flight, only to realize I had way too much weight on my carry on. I was so frustrated. I pulled my baggage to the side and repacked my luggage, trying to fit everything in my second carry on into my checked luggage. (Since then, I've gotten a few tips from seasoned travelers). I fit most everything in, checked my luggage, then spent the next couple hours trying to figure out how to get my extra piece of luggage back to my family. I felt like I was running back and forth in the airport with my luggage, hindered by a huge boot on my foot. Some friends of the family were very willing to come to the airport and pick it up and get it back to my family. That was a huge answer to prayer! I finally got through security and sank into a seat at my gate. I was so tired, so frustrated, and very discouraged. I'd seen sides to myself that I didn't realized were there and I sat there praying that God would change those things in me and teach me to take things in stride and trust Him when it seemed like everything was going wrong. I finally made it onto the flight and was able to take the boot off to rest my aching foot. I didn't sleep much that flight, but it was the least scary flight I ever had (I generally get pretty bad anxiety on flights... Thankfully that's improving). I was amazed how it stayed light the whole way!! I left Seattle at 2 PM and landed in South Korea at 5 PM, and it never got dark. In South Korea, I followed the crowd straight through the doors instead of up the stairs and ended up almost missing my connecting flight. I was hanging out by my gate talking with my parents trying to figure out when they were going to open these locked doors - and wondering why no-one was there - when an airport personnel walked by and told me I was supposed to be upstairs! I ran through the airport (really hard to do in a boot!), ended up having to go through security again, and raced to my gate, just in time to say hi to someone who had been in training with me and be one of the last people to board the flight. Too close.. I ended up with a young Filipino guy as a seat neighbor. He seemed a little too friendly, so I tried to shorten my answers then told him I was tired and proceeded to sleep the rest of the flight. I got into Manila about midnight, stood through a very long line at customs, then tried to find my team. As soon as I got through customs, I couldn't get on a Wi-Fi that would allow my to call anyone, so I was on my own. I went from person to person asking where I was supposed to go. Finally someone was able to direct me and I ended up in a taxi with two guys. I was terrified! I prayed the whole way that they were taking me where I wanted to go and no where else. Thankfully, they dropped me off at the right place, then ripped me off. Oh well... I hear that only happens once. Breathing a prayer of thanks that I was safe at the next terminal, I went from person to person again trying to find the little hotel I was supposed to find my team at. Finally, close to 2AM, I finally found them. I was happier than you can imagine! I got a nice hot shower (the last hot shower I'll have for a while), then crawled in bed to get an hour and a half of sleep before we had to be up for our next flight. Thankfully the rest of the trip passed without incident. We arrived in Brooke's Point too late to hike into Kemantian that day, so we spent the night and hiked in the next morning. Hiking in the tropics really isn't much fun. Ten minutes in, I was pouring sweat and wondering if the 1.5 liters of water I brought was enough. A couple of the high school boys had come down to hike us in, and we gawked at them as they hiked, carrying very heavy packages and ending up carrying our backpacks as well (we weren't moving very fast with them on, so the Palawano boys carried them so we could hike faster). Finally, many rests and 4 hours later, we made it to Kemantian. As soon as we arrived, we ate, showered, then started boot camp. We decided that boot camp was designed in order to get culture shock over with as quickly as possible. We lived just like the Palawanos - slept on bamboo slats, hunted for food in the jungle, cooked over an open fire, lived in the dorm with girls who spoke no English. It was a much bigger shock than any of us had imagined. Again, I saw things in my character that I had to start praying about and asking God to change. It was amazing to watch Him change those things in my heart over the course of boot camp! I hoped that since I finally made it here, things might get a little easier. That definitely didn't happen! At least, not at first. Toward the end of boot camp, I came down with a nasty cold that drained the rest of my energy. Thankfully, by then, I had grown more accustomed to the way of life here and was ok. After that, things for much easier. I've since looked back and wondered why all those things happened. I know a few happened just so I could see things in my character that needed fixing. The rest.... I really don't know. I may not know until heaven. Maybe it was a test to see if I'd push through and follow what I knew God was calling me to do even though things were difficult. Maybe it had nothing to do with me at all. I'm just thankful that it's over and pray that I'm stronger and my faith is stronger than it was before.
After boot camp, we were given our job descriptions. One of my team members and I will be heading to a little village two hours from Kemantian as soon as we're finished training into our positions. We will be reopening the clinic and school there. It will really be like boot camp was but now we are prepared :) We've faced another trial for the last month - an electronic fast. It was fine not having the electronics; what was difficult was not having communication with our families. I wrote a lot of letters and prayed a lot!!Thankfully that has come to a close.  We're spending 2-3 mornings/week now learning clinic work, and 2 mornings/week shadowing one of the teachers. Afternoons are spent language learning. Language learning is our trial right now. It's so difficult, though it is rewarding every so often when you have a conversation with someone and can pick up most of what they are saying.
A week or so ago, I got a message from my family letting me know that the police recovered most, if not all, of the items that were stolen from my car.  What a miracle! I thought my computer was lost forever!!
Another miracle is that my foot is almost healed! I spent the first week trying to wear my boot here in the mountains. It was so treacherous! The trails around here are so steep and slippery since it's rainy season that I finally gave up. I didn't do anything with it, just endured the pain for a couple weeks until one of the other student missionaries gave me a stern talking to (they say nurses and doctors make the worst patients - it's so true!!). I started taping my foot with paper tape, which worked well, but was a pain to clean all the glue off my foot every night. Finally one of the nurses suggested coban. I've been using that since and it has been working great! I noticed the other day when I forgot to wrap it that it actually didn't hurt to walk on it. What a praise! I was worried that it would never heal since I want able to rest it at all, but God is faithful! I can't wait to see what He'll continue to do through the rest of this year!

Saturday, September 30, 2017

Update - for those who missed my email update :)

Just thought I'd give you a quick update! I've been in the Philippines for a little over a month now and have settled into daily life here. Culture shock hit harder and sooner than I expected, but it didn't last long thankfully.

I'm living in a bamboo house that has running water and electricity (most of the time). Having come here not expecting that, it feels like a luxury to have it! We have a gas stove that works most of the time too. We quickly learned which burner not to use - one of them has a tendency to blow up. I'll only have these luxuries for a short time, though, as a friend and I will be moving to another, more primitive village as soon as we've been trained in. The other village, Emrang, is a 2 hour hike from where we are currently. My friend and I will be reopening the clinic and school there.

The diet here consists of roots, bananas, and whatever is in season. Currently, some fruits, rice, and a few greens are in season. There isn't a whole lot of variety here in the mountains. We are able to order staples from the lowlands that make it up here whenever the PAMAS (Philippine Adventist Medical Aviation Services) helicopter is working and has reason to come.

We actually do get sketchy cell phone service in a few places up here. It's not terribly far to hike, though, to get really good service.

A few days ago, one of the other nurses and I went on a house call. We got word that someone was sick in another village. The other nurse, Carrie, knew how to get so far to the village, and knew someone who could possibly give us directions the rest of the way. We started off hiking on the main trail that leads down to the lowlands. About halfway to the lowlands, we veered off through a rice field and followed the very muddy trail up and down the side of the mountain. Finally we came upon a church member's place. The church member accompanied us as we followed a hardly distinguishable trail asking at each house where we could find the sick lady. They kept pointing further down the mountain. As we were hiking, we had a beautiful view of the lowlands (Brooke's Point) and the ocean. We finally reached the sick lady about 2 hours after we started hiking (that gave us two hours to assess her and hike back before dark). Carrie assessed her, encouraged her to go to the hospital in the lowlands (which was probably another 15 min hike down the mountain), then we took off for home. Thankfully we made it back just as it was starting to get too dark to see. As Carrie said, jungle house calls takes home health nursing to a whole new level!

The people here are super friendly. They've had enough foreign student missionaries come through that they know how to patiently teach us the language. It's so helpful to have them sound out words as I slaughter them trying to immitate what they say! Every Sabbath they hold a wonderful worship service in which I understand maybe 5 words. It's so beautiful to hear them sing, though. A lot of familiar hymns have been translated, which helps with trying to learn the language.

My roommate and I are busy training for Emrang - we spend about 3 mornings a week working in the clinic, 2 mornings a week watching the Kindergarten/1st grade teacher, and all afternoons language learning. Teaching is definitely not our favorite, but I think we'll end up enjoying it if we can find creative ways to teach (and when we can actually communicate and know what's going on). Language learning is very difficult. Or, I should say, finding motivation to language learn is very difficult. It's a relatively easy language (compared to our friends going to Thailand or Laos), but it takes grit to go out every day and try to learn a little bit more. It's really frustrating and difficult to make friends when you can't communicate, so that helps some with motivation. Our favorite place, obviously, is in the clinic. Carrie let us practice stitching an immaginary wound on her hand. We thoroughly enjoyed that, at her expense. Now, we're learning how to diagnose different tropical diseases that are seen up here. I'm really enjoying that! It's quite a challenging process to look at all the different symptoms and find a similar thread in all of them to finally make a diagnosis.

We have started seeing some major spiritual battles here. I just ask that you keep us in prayer. We're definitely on the front lines of the battle between good and evil.

I'm excited to see what God continues to have in store for us here! Already, my faith has been challenged and tried, but God always proves faithful! It's been amazing to see tangable evidences of His work in both my character and my health.

Wednesday, August 2, 2017

Building Teamwork


Our training group was split into three groups and given an assignment - complete this particular task together. We struggled and struggled as frustration started to mount with each other. Forty-five minutes later, we completed the task - barely, but not perfectly. This was our physical test in teamwork - we had learned in class earlier in our first week of training that teamwork was essential to overseas missions, and now we were given a chance to practice it. Our teacher gathered us around and discussed how difficult it was for us to work together as a team without getting frustrated with each other. He reiterated to us how being in a community reveals relational brokenness, but how that brokenness provides an opportunity for us to experience salvation and relational healing. We discussed how the experience affected us, had a few “learning conversations” (conversations focused on what we contributed to the situation), and continued with other tasks designed to strengthen us as a team. Two days later, we were given the same assignment, completing it in less than 5 minutes. I was amazed as I thought about the transition in our group. We had gone through several days of difficulties together, and, as a result, had formed into a team that could accomplish seemingly impossible tasks. My prayer is that we are able to form that kind of team with our career missionaries when we arrive overseas. 

Thursday, July 27, 2017

Lost Yet Found

“Please pray for a friend. Her heart stopped and the doctors are having a hard time re-starting it.” I was in the middle of the second week of training at AFM when I read those words on Facebook. My heart went out to the friends and family of this person who was struggling to live. As I kept scrolling through my Facebook feed, I saw one friend after another posting the same thing, then saw that someone mentioned the girl’s name. My heart froze as my mind put the pieces together, realizing that my friend was the one who's heart had stopped. I started praying for my friend and for the doctors who were working on her. A little while later, I enlisted my friends that I’m in training with to pray with me on behalf of my friend. A few hours later, I received word that she had passed away. My heart broke as I thought through the many times she shared an encouraging word with me, how many times she would just turn and flash me a beautiful smile filled with the love of Jesus, how many times she would excitedly share what Jesus had showed her in her devotion time that morning. From what other people shared on Facebook, she did the same with everyone she met. Tears rolled down my face as my mind struggled with the question, “Why, Lord? Why her?” I realized though, that the beauty of her death is that she died knowing, loving, and serving Jesus - whereas many people around the world are dying every day without knowing or ever hearing about Jesus. Sharing the love of Jesus is why God has called me to serve overseas. My prayer is that Jesus with exude through me to the people I’ll be working with like my friend exuded Jesus to me. 

Wednesday, October 19, 2016

The Call

How do I begin? First off, I’m not a writer… much less a blogger, so please bear with me as I stumble through this process. I wanted to share some of my story before the time came for me to share this post, but I have not had the time to do that. Hopefully I’ll find some time to share how I’ve gotten to this point in my life.

Right now, though, I get to share the exciting news that I have gotten an assignment to go overseas to serve in a jungle clinic for a year! 

Right now, I work in an outpatient mental health clinic. It’s been a challenging position to have, and one where I’ve spent lots of time on my knees begging God if there’s somewhere else He wants me to go. It’s been difficult for me to be in a position where I’m unable to tell people about the Jesus who can heal them and who can take their burdens and who never leaves them or forsakes them. 

Last August, I had met the recruiter for Adventist Frontier Missions (AFM) at ASI who told me about some mission opportunities that were available (after I had signed up that I was interested in going as a missionary). For some reason, the timing just wasn’t right at that moment. I knew I needed to get some sort of nursing experience (having just graduated), and I also wanted to pursue a bachelor’s degree. 

But after working at my current position for a while, I knew there had to be somewhere else God could use me in a much broader way. One morning, as I was praying once again to God, where He would have me, He brought the idea of going with AFM to my mind. When I considered all the possibilities, it seemed perfect - perfect timing at least! After praying about it more and talking with different people, I decided the best thing to do would be to move forward and ask God to open and close doors as He saw fit in order to lead me to exactly where He wanted me. I started the application process back in May of this year. There have been hurdles to overcome even to get this far into the process, but I now have been approved and will be sent to the mountains in the islands of the Philippines in the fall of 2017. 

I’ve been dreaming about what this day would be like. I imagined being so excited. What I didn’t realize was how soon reality would set in - reading through the description of the place and realizing I wouldn’t have easy access to internet so I could call home if I needed. The reality of going to a foreign country - a totally different culture and language - without the support of family or friends close by hit me hard. But what also hit me was the reality that God has called me to this, and He will be by my side every step of the way. I pray that this blog will be filled with blessings and answers to prayer on this journey into the unknown. 


It will be exciting to recount how God will continue to lead!