Friday, December 30, 2016

Upcoming Posts

Today I have been able to post a bunch of thoughts I've been meaning to jot down. My work at the Dental office is going to be basically the same for the rest of my mission. So I thought I'd interview other missionaries at their jobs and post something about what they have discovered and felt.  I'll be inviting some other authors to post too. I have already spoken to at least two other missionaries and one man has already sent his ideas. The problem is I can't access his pictures from here so I'll have to wait until I get back to the office. Ironic - as that is where I have the least amount of time to play.
Just watch for some interesting posts from other missionaries from this fascinating place.
Motorcycles - family transportation
Pet or work employee?
Selling turnips

You can buy just about everything
So far I've been a little intimidated to actually shop in the markets here. I end up paying much higher prices at Robinsons which is a lot like Albertsons or Safeway. If you pick up fruit or vegetables you need to have the grocer at the same location weigh and tag it with a price as they do not do that at the register. Otherwise it is a lot like home - except I have no idea what all the greens and fruit are.

Country side Beauty

We took another trip out into the country side going up towards Olongapo. This really has a paradise feel to it. I noted that the homes and cities in this region seem to have more wealth. Yes there was poverty there also but not in the extremes you can see in the Manila area. The whole day was really beautiful.
We left at 4:30 in the morning to escape traffic nightmares
What a beautiful start to our day
I loved the idyllic country setting
Nice farms and nice homes

Or Else what?
Note that these building have windows with glass though it may be shutters instead of window panes
How much can you carry on your van?
The beach at Pundaquit was so gorgeous
The sand was almost small pebbles
Lots of people lined up for the boat rides

This boat did not have passengers though we watched quite a few boats carry passengers around the side of the cliff and come back empty and pick up more passengers. I assume they all come home later

This neighbourhood seem to spring up out of nowhere
I don't believe it was built by the Filipino people
Maybe some company from another land built it for their workers
Sure enough on the edge of town we see the more traditional homes we recognise
Coming back I also noted that the 'plow' they use in these fields were not being drawn by cattle or men
It was like a cross between a lawn mower and a ATV, with the square rack being drug behind
All good adventures come to an end and then we are back to the city.

Who we serve

So much going on……the last patient of the day yesterday caught my heart. He has a spark around him. He gives light when he smiles. I could tell Elder Stewart was tired, I wanted to do something to keep his mind engaged. So I prayed for the angels to guide and help Elder Stewart and I prayed for the missionary that his mission would be a success. Elder Stewart was concentrating and didn’t speak much so I talked a little with the Elder and found he was the only member of his family. When I asked how he got to know the church I think he said his captain, though it could have been a classmate. He said he was invited to come when the missionaries were giving an open house about something. I didn’t have my hearing aides in and that can change a story radically. Anyway he has been a member for two years and now is going on a mission for two years. That’s when I prayed that these procedures would benefit and bless his life. 
The rest of the day was chaos with miracles happening everywhere. 
Elders helping out in our "Light the World" December campaign

The MTC sends over so many great missionaries whom we serve. I asked one Elder if he had siblings. He told me yes he did. He was the first to join the church and then was able to baptize all his siblings before he came on his mission. I asked him how he found out about the church and he replied through a classmate.
One Sister missionary is over 30 years old and I was curious why she would go on a mission with so many younger sister missionaries. As we walked back up to the MTC I asked her what made her decide to serve a mission. The Mission President in her area asked her to come serve with him.
As I filed the procedures we did on the medical report, I noticed that the Elder had delayed going on his mission so he could get better from giving his mother his kidney.
One Sister named Liahona told me that her grandparents had joined the church about 26 years ago. Their children joined the church also, so this Sister’s parents were members of the church. Her brother Nephi went on a mission last month, she is leaving this month, and her brother Jonah is getting ready to leave next year and she has a little sister they call Era as her name is New Era. Liahona was actually raised by her grandparents.
Another Sister is a little older - about 27 and said she is the only member of her family and live alone now. I can only imagine the sacrifice it took to come on this mission.
I get to love one set of missionaries and then three weeks later I watch them all leave and a new batch of apprehensive Elders and Sisters are waiting at the front walk with their relatives as they wait to check in. The sacrifice, dedication and love that makes them serve is very humbling to me.

Tickled my funny bone

Chaos rules again, while little miracles pile up to make order again. The autoclave has been acting up for weeks and Sister Stewart has babied it along shutting if off and on to keep the instruments sanitized. Did you know that the pouches that hold the instruments have little indicators that tell when the instruments are sterile?
So hilarious (to me) story on Thursday. It was a very hectic day with lots of situations that seem to not be possible but always work out. I was assisting Dr. Stewart and the men from the autoclave store arrived. Sister Stewart went to talk with them and they came back and put the autoclave on a little cart and started to haul it out of the back room. Dr. Stewart – the mild, gentle man uncharacteristically called out, “Sister Stewart? Don’t let them take the autoclave.” She comes back and he tells her that they need to leave a loaner autoclave here if they take this one away. The men are still heading for the front door. Sister Stewart tells them the dentist doesn’t want them to take it from the office. They are talking maybe gesturing to her about fixing it. Dr. Stewart LEAVES HIS PATIENT and tells people he cannot let them take the autoclave. He comes back and quietly starts working again and Sister Stewart explains how they can’t take the autoclave away. Lots of commotion and talking going on of course in a language I can’t understand. Pretty soon there is someone from the Area office and an interpreter comes. The men bring the autoclave to the back room. As I finish up and take the patient chart to the front, I see three more men who look official from the Area office all talking in some language together. It is decided that a man from the autoclave (store) or office will come out to the MTC Dental office and fix it on Saturday.
Such a simple little machine to cause so much havoc

I was inwardly laughing to see the quiet mild mannered man tell everyone firmly not to take his autoclave out of the office. I think you had to be there to see how funny it really was. 
Actually there is no way to take care of anyone without sterile instruments. Anyway word gets around and even the maintenance man who cleans and takes care of things that goes wrong knows about the incident. Probably lots of people because Dr. Stewart has a quite soft-spoken way about him in the face of patients who are terrified, difficult medical complications, twisted roots, rotted tooth stumps that are stuck, people who feel the office should be shut down, and people assisting him with no idea what they are doing. 
The miracle at the end of the day was all the tools got sterilized and all the missionaries were taken care of – despite malfunctions and language barriers.

Faith That Things Will Work Out

Sometimes a perfect storm of bad luck starts the day.  The bite on the x-ray was missing and probably accidently thrown away the night before. We searched and even went through the garbage and the garbage bin at 5:30 in the morning. Fourteen people were scheduled to get a screening x-ray at 6 am to see if they had any abscesses or serious problems that couldn’t be ignored. The missionaries were organized and then one by one told how hold their mouth just right to get a good picture of their teeth. One patient was asked to bite on a piece of paper because his teeth overlapped so much. The patient in the chair with Elder Stewart came up with three root canals that needed at least 2 perio x-rays (little one tooth x-rays) for each tooth – that of course needed the only shield apron we had. The volunteers didn’t arrive so there only two assistances running around shepherding missionaries into x-ray, manning the phone, assisting Elder Stewart, opening the front door and cleaning up the instruments. Having the autoclave be temperamental on top of that was excessive. 

Love Hate relationship with this machine
Of course the Lord seems to take care of little things as we go along and we found solutions on hand while stumbling forward. Just having the faith that things will work out makes us innovative and I really believe angels are helping us out with thoughts, ideas, and sometimes-practical help. It’s hard to quantify because I can’t see them but looking back on the day or time frame I can feel it.
Sister Stewart started singing a song about a million miracles. I hadn’t heard it before or recognized it so later she had me listen to the youtube version and I had to agree it is our theme song.
Here are the chorus lyrics:
A hundred million miracles
A hundred million miracles
Are happ'ning ev'ry day
And those who say
They don't agree
Are those
Who do not hear or see
A hundred million miracles
A hundred million miracles
Are happ'ning ev'ry day

Nothing is just normal in a clinic that is built on donated items, non-profit funds, and only one professional in the office. All the assistants are learning what the instruments are for, what to clean, how to set up the dental trays, how to record the procedures, how to report to the missionary site, what information is needed for questions that are raised by official leaders, and how to assist and help Elder Stewart take care of the missionaries. We are being trained by each other (Sister Stewart has five months more experience) and Elder Stewart tells us quietly what is needed for the patients, then we figure out the answers. It’s fascinating, fun, and a little intimidating at times.
Every day works out with grace from God.