Wednesday, November 7, 2012

From Monday

It's Monday now, and tomorrow morning I leave for Sri Lanka. Today I was able to do the last of the health education and teach them how to use the medications and supplies we brought. I pray they will bring some relief. 

Nick taught a classes all day at the bible college on the Holy Spirit. They spent time praying together to close.

I leave thankful for the full time we've had here, and praising God for at how much we were able to accomplish in such a short amount of time. >
*Betsy has safely arrived in Sri Lanka! Continue to pray for endurance, health, and safe travels.

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

From Sunday

As I write in my journal we are sitting in front, behind the pulpit at David's church. I'm hoping it looks like I'm taking notes.  Nick just started preaching, wearing his "longyi" (skirt). I don't think they quite know what to do with his sense of humor.

We've already had almost 2 hours of worship, special music by the students and children, and 15-20 minutes of simultaneous prayer. 

 Pastor Doug from Wisconsin just leaned over and said to me "the children can't stop staring at you, they've never seen a woman so tall!"  It's true, Burmese people definitely are not tall.  It's hard to tell if children and adults alike stop and stare (even take pictures of us) because we are white or because of my height. At least they're entertained!

 The city is busy and crowded, yet there's a certain innocence about Yangon - it seems less scathed by western influence and the depravity of modern society than many other capital cities in Southeast Asia.  

But that is quickly changing. It's only been in the last 6 months to a year that the country has opened to change and with it tourism, increasing presence of embassy's and products from outside the country - like new, tiny cars.  

We visited the Schwedagon Pagoda (Buddhist temple) last night. It's the biggest in the world, and is also home to some of the largest bugs I've ever seen! 

Walking around barefoot was a little gross with cockroaches and who knows what other kinds of bugs a scittering around on the ground. Nick, Kate and I had a contest to see who had the most dead bugs on the bottom of their feet when we left.

It's bizarre to see how people come from all over the world to this place for enlightenment, and all they find is smiling cloned statues covered in gold leaf, neon lights, and disgusting bugs. 

The highlight of the weekend was, for me, spending some time at the children's home. They are precious. We were admiring their new triple tier bunk beds, and some of the little girls came up and started fanning me. Kate translated for me that they were talking to each other about how much sweat was on my face! 

Friday, November 2, 2012

Update & Graduation

Yesterday I was able to complete assessments of all 70 children from the children's home! This is a huge answer to prayer, as our time here is so limited. 

Some of the problems we've been able to help with by giving them some health and hygiene teaching, using the donated  medical supplies we brought, and today venturing into the Burmese pharmaceutical world to get some medications for some of the conditions that are fairly easily diagnosed. 

While there are several students and children with more serious problems, the most prevalent problems that I've seen are dental and vision conditions.  These are areas we would like to focus on for future trips and training here in Myanmar, and are beginning to have conversations about how best to help in these areas, in both short term and long term capacities.

Today we had rehearsal for the bible college graduation, which will be tomorrow morning.  "Reverend Nick" is going to be commissioning the 18 graduates. 

I think the awesomeness of these photos speak for themselves: 

The days are flying by!  3 more full days and then I'm off to Sri Lanka! 

Please pray for wisdom as we continue conversations here about what we can do now, and strategize for future trips and relief work here.

Thursday, November 1, 2012

Faces of Myanmar

Below are a few of the 45 bible college students we assessed on the first day. They are wonderfully joyful, love music, and are being taught to make bunk beds by an American named Nevin who is has been here for about 3 weeks.  The bunk beds are going to the children at the children's home, and there is potential that they may be able to start somewhat of a business selling beds and over furniture.

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Ming Alaba!

Feeling nice and sticky as we head to have dinner at a missionary coffee shop here in Yangoon.

I just finished a FULL day of assessments - 32 bible college students! It's great to have a better idea what the needs are, and I'm hopeful that we will be able to treat some with medical supplies we brought and medications we buy here.

Please pray for wisdom as we are making decisions about what to address now, and what to focus on for future trips.

Tomorrow I start assessing the 70 children from the children's home. It's definitely a tiring way to spend 8 hours, but we are being blessed and well hosted by our Burmese friends here.

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Made It!

We are in Myanmar! We are 13.5 hours ahead of you, and it's about 4pm here. We are dropping off stuff and heading to the school and children's home!

More soon!!

Love, Betsy

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Around the World in Twenty-Two Days

In just one week I leave for what has become the trip of a lifetime.

What began as an eight-day mission trip to Myanmar has become an around the world adventure. 

I am unbelievably excited, and, yes, maybe just a little nervous. 

Let me explain. 

A few months ago I was brought into a email correspondence with a pastor in Myanmar (formerly known as Burma) named David, in an effort to help them to best use some medical supplies that had been donated to them. As the conversation continued between Pastor David, one of my elders, and a businessman from my church (who chairs a foundation called Kingdom of Love), it became clear that more help was needed than we could give from afar. 

So the three of us, along with another pastor who has a close relationship with Pastor David, will be headed to Myanmar on October 28th. We will be doing community assessment, with the long term goal of starting a clinic in the area. The men will be looking for viable business opportunities to train Burmese women and men in to eventually support the clinic. I will be performing physical assessments on all of the children in the orphanage that Pastor David oversees. 

It's a lot to do in eight days. 

As I started planning the trip, I realized how short it was going to be, and how expensive it is to fly all the way to southeast asia. 

So I started looking for opportunities to extend my trip and make use of all the money being spent on airfare. 

Enter Sri Lanka. 

I have a wonderful friend from Biola, Thilini, who is from Sri Lanka. She recently graduated and moved back to Sri Lanka, and is graciously hosting me for 6 days after I leave Myanmar. 

Her dad is a pastor and they have all sorts of ministries in Sri Lanka - an orphanage, girls home, widow's home, and a recently opened clinic, to name a few.  I'm looking forward to seeing the ministry they do there and experiencing such a beautiful country!

An unexpected change.

Until two weeks ago, my plan was to come home after Sri Lanka. 

However, my good friends Shawn and Melissa Gorham got a great deal on tickets and booked a spur of the moment trip to South Africa for the first few weeks of November. 

She text me and told me they had booked, and immediately I realized that I had yet to book my return flight from Sri Lanka, and the dates would be perfect for me to fly down and join them in South Africa for a few days. 

South Africa. 

It's been the #1 destination on my travel list for at least six years - even before I started going to Southlands Church, where South Africans are more common than palm trees in Huntington Beach. 

I'll spare you the play-by-play, but let's just say, God is so gracious, and I managed to add on a week in Durban, South Africa, for only $350!  

To say I am excited is a huge understatement. 

To go to South Africa is incredible, and to go with such great friends (who are graciously letting me crash their vacation) makes it ten times more exciting. 

Hopefully I come back with all my limbs. 

I've watched enough shark week to know there's a lot of great whites over there, and Shawn expects me to jump off a pier and stand up paddleboard (we'll see about that). 

Just the facts:

8 Days in Myanmar

6 Day in Sri Lanka

7 Days in South Africa

67 hours on airplanes

86 hours total travel time

3 layovers in Beijing, Bangkok and Abu Dhabi

1 trip all the way around the world

If you pray

I'd love for you to pray for:

wisdom and discernment in medical assessment and treatment

an individual for me to give basic medical training to

a viable business opportunity to pursue in Myanmar

lasting relationships to be built

safety and favor in travel


Check back for updates on my trip! 

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Patient Story Series #4: the girl with leukemia

When I was in nursing school, we were required to go down to Mexico every semester for clinical hours.
We partnered with a church near Biola who had a relationship with a church in Tecate, and would send a team down about once a month.
The Biola nursing department provided a few faculty and a prolific amount of under-qualified, over-eager nursing students.

To be honest, I dreaded that Saturday once a semester when we had to get up at 5 am, meet at the church, assign jobs and cars, and start the three-hour drive south.
Some days we only spent 2 hours seeing patients, and we wouldn’t get home until 9pm, hungry and exhausted.

This was especially true after they started making us charter a bus down, and having us walk over the border and be shuttled to the church on the other side.
All because one of the professors went to buy some prescription drugs while we were down there, got in an accident and was held overnight in a Mexican prison because he bought the wrong insurance.
Good one, Professor Johnson.

At the clinic a first and second year nursing student were paired together, and would see patients.
In true Mexico fashion, you don’t see one patient at a time, you see one FAMILY at a time.
We’d see up to 7 people from a family at a time, going through each of their problems one by one.
And honestly, we couldn’t do much for them.
We had a large stash of over the counter drugs we’d hand out, and we’d “refer” them to a doctor if their problem was more serious. 
But we all knew they wouldn’t go.
That’s why they were there, seeing us.
They didn’t have money to see a doctor.

One of the last times I went to Mexico, I was working with a first year student.
We were seeing a family – a grandmother and her four grandchildren she was caring for.
It was the end of the day, other students had finished with their last patients and had started cleaning and loading up our supplies.
We finally got to the last child in the family – a 12-year-old girl.
Through our translator, her grandmother told us she’d been complaining of her gums bleeding frequently, and small red spots had begun to form under her skin.
She was tired, and had very little appetite.
We checked her lymph nodes, which were noticeably swollen.

I called over our faculty who specialized in pediatrics.
She assessed her, and took me aside to talk.
She said to me, “We can’t know for sure without blood tests, but she most likely has leukemia.“
She told me to give them a referral to a doctor.

Being careful not to scare them too badly, I had my translator explain to them that the symptoms she described could be something serious, and she needed to take the girl to see a doctor.

I pray she did, but I confess I’m doubtful.
And even if she did, what then?
Could this woman struggling to raise four small children in a third world country afford chemo or radiation for this precious young girl?

I was struck with the disparity of our worlds.
In my world, anything would have been done to save that girls life.
Facebook pages, fundraisers and benefits would’ve been planned to help pay for whatever treatment she needed.

In their world, those options don't exist. 
There are no children's hospitals, no oncology centers, no facebook pages - not for them. 

I wish I could say I spent the next days, weeks and months praying for that girl. 
Begging the Lord to heal her, to reveal Himself to her. 

I honestly don't remember what I did. 

I have no idea why God chooses to place one person in a position of financial comfort and resources and another in poverty.
But if I've learned one thing, it's that God is bigger than any financial constraints or comfort.
He is bigger than our situations, however dire they may seem - like this shy, awkward adolescent girl's. 

I pray God gives us the strength, zeal and endurance to continue to lift up to Him the needs of those in seemly "dire" situation.
He is greater, so much greater. 

Thursday, February 16, 2012

A Prayer for Keeping Our Amazement

“Hearing this, Jesus was amazed and said to those following him, ‘I assure you: I have not found anyone in Israel with so great a faith!’”
Matthew 8:10

Gracious Father, this verse stopped me in my tracks.  I find it unbelievable that Jesus was amazed.  And amazed by what?  By a man's faith. How can the God of the universe, the creator of all things, be amazed by his own creature? If I were Jesus I’d think, "Finally, someone gets it!  It's about time!"

But Your word says that Jesus was amazed.  Abba, its so easy for me to become calloused. In my job, in my interactions with people, without realizing it I become numb and lose the capacity to be amazed.  In an often subconscious effort to be unaffected and unimpressed, I often find myself thinking "I've seen worse" or "that could have been done better." I confess that my heart you created to feel deep emotions often times barely skims the surface of those plummeting depths.  Theodore Roosevelt said, “comparison is the thief of joy.”  Similarly, it's comparison that is often the thief of our amazement and every other God-given emotion we are meant to experience and express.

The Jesus who wept over his friend Lazarus' death, and who moments later raised him from the dead (John 11:29-44), was amazed at this Centurion's faith. This is the Jesus we're called to emulate. Oh Lord, that we would fight to feel emotion like Jesus did. 

Father, in the morning, at midday and in the evening may we first and foremost direct our amazement toward you.  May we be amazed by your unfailing love, your abundant mercy, your matchless righteousness and selfless sacrifice.  As we move through our days, give us the eyes to see what amazes you - in people, in creation, and in whatever situations we may face. May the gospel-breathed life in our hearts allow us to plunge the expanse of emotion you've created us to live with. May our gospel-driven expressions of your heart point others to you, whether it be in weeping with a grieving friend or rejoicing in a small but significant accomplishment of a co-worker. So very amen I pray, in your matchless and magnificent name. 

Saturday, February 11, 2012

Insta Friday: How is it February already?

I've been reading friends Insta Friday posts for months.
And every time, I think "man, those iphone camera's are LEGIT!"

I'm waiting for the iPhone 5. 
I know, it's going to be awhile. 
But I figure, why wait till the to share my insta photos, blurry-ness and all?
So bear with my Droid Incredible and I, here we go.

My friend Chelsea celebrated a birthday. 
She has X Box Kinect, which, honestly, I'd never heard of. 
But it's incredible. 
My life will never be the same.

 I start of my nights at work with pockets bulging with saline flushes, alcohol wipes, sissors, carpojex, pens, sharpies and who knows what else.

Long Beach Airport to SFO. 
Jet Blue.

Watching Obama's State of the Union from 30,000 feet?  
Sure, since there's nothing else to do.

I brought home movies for my mom and I to watch while she was in hospital.
Don't worry, I ditched the cases, that would've taken up half my 42.6 lb suitcase.

Speciaty's may be one of the best cafe's on the planet. 
Getting to have lunch there with friend Kim while I was home was such a treat. 
So were the pepproncini's on my sandwich.

Toms has ballet flats? What?

On my way back to my LA home.
At the gate, I opened the gift my mom had given me (I may have jumped the gun - she told me to open it on the plane).

Christian and Reinna's wedding was last Saturday. 
After they ran down the aisle, the whole bridal ran back to the front and did a choreographed dance!
So cute and so unexpected!

They had an incredible dessert set up...

 s'mores to top off the evening...

And CHURROS for their favor!

I do love that the LA smogs gives us such beautiful sunsets

These are our lockers at work. 
Mine is way down at the bottom in the back corner.

73 degrees in february = perfect bike weather

In between night shifts you can find my door looking like this, just a friendly reminder to my housemates  to keep the volume down

Graham crackers and peanut butter - why have i never tried it before?
It's my new favorite work snack.

does insta friday include videos? 
if it doesn't, it should. 
i'm leaving you with a  little nugget from my talented roomies.
i love coming home to this.
sorry it's sideways... but it's really the audio that's important :).

linking up here for the first time:

life rearranged