Saturday, January 29, 2011

First Week

She arrived in a wicker basket carried on the back of a young man. Barely able to stand, she was nearly collapsed in the few feet between the basket and the waiting bench outside the clinic. I took a blood pressure and temp while the other nurse (who speaks fluent Pelawan) interviewed her husband since it was difficult for her to talk. Her temp was 39 °C (around 103 °F). As we discovered, she had Malaria, left untreated for over a week.
She looked terrible: matted hair, filthy clothing, and skin caked with dirt; but she sounded worse: a rattling cough and rapid respirations (over 40). We ‘admitted’ her to one of the two inpatient rooms and they asked me if I wanted to start an IV on her. Feeling a bit nervous (one of the nurses was an ICU nurse), I got ready and found a likely-looking vein. It was hard to see the veins in her leather-like skin and her extreme dehydration didn’t help matters. Finding a vein that looked good, I grasped the needle: one poke and it was in! Praise the Lord!
At 5:00am the next morning, I awoke to my alarm and walked to the clinic in the dark, my headlamp making a small pool of light on the trail in front of me. In addition to the elderly lady, we had two other inpatients: an elderly man (her husband), and a baby with respiratory issues. After taking vitals on all of them, I handed out the medications that were due: Malaria meds to the husband, malaria meds plus antibiotics for the wife (she could also have pneumonia), and two different syrups for the baby. The mother, for some strange reason, is really resistant to taking her medications. The IV meds she doesn’t really have a choice with and those went in with no problem. Her PO meds, however, proved more difficult.
Using my limited medical vocabulary (acquired this past week at the clinic), I tried to coax her to take the three pills in the cup I held out. She wouldn’t take them. I finally took her hand and dumped them into it. She sat there, eyes closed with her hand out stretched, the three pills sitting motionless in her palm.
“Minan (Aunty),” I pleaded, “Ubat (medication).” For literally 20 minutes, I stood by her bed holding the cup of water trying to get her to take the medicine. How I wished I had a broader vocabulary! After what seemed like an eternity, she opened her eyes a slit and fished out the smallest of the three pills and took it; a few minutes later, another one, and finally the third. I gave a sigh of relief and went to give the baby her syrups. She cried, but took them much easier than ‘Minan’ had.
This and many other stories have made for a memorable week.
The people of Palawan are wonderful. Friendly, yet shy, they’ve welcomed Shama and I into their circle without hesitation. While my mind is a whirl of names and faces, I know that I have already found many friends. There is the family who gave us green mangoes when we visited their house, the family that gave us boiled cumbaheng (a starchy root), and the girls that tried to teach us to weave baskets.
We’ve had many funny experiences trying to learn the language. There was the instance that I told someone I had one child, instead of one sister, when trying to explain my family to them. There was also the time when I tried to explain how I fell on the trail and ran out of words half-way through. They looked at me expectantly, and I fished frantically for the words I needed. “Istaku! (I don’t know!)”, I finally gasped in desperation and we all laughed.
From heart-wrenching scenes in the clinic to hilarity while visiting in the villages during language learning: I’ve already been blessed with a wide variety of experiences.
Please continue to pray for Shama and I as we learn how to communicate and reach out to the people of Palawan!
Until next month!


Lying on the bed in my room at the Payuyo Pension, I listen to the sounds outside my window of a tropical deluge. Motor bikes growl passed, dodging this way and that on the cracked pavement avoiding puddles and each other. A dog somewhere below the window yips and howls pitifully, sounding like it’s about to die. Every so often, a rooster gives a tentative crow and then lapses into silence. I open my eyes wider and look around the room. Shama is lying on the bed on the other side under the window, reading Great Controversy with a tiny flashlight. Our luggage is spread all around the ends of our beds, and a fan blows warm air at us, stirring the curtains into gentle flapping motions.
Sitting up, I try to remember last night’s drive to the Pension. It is a bit hazy, because I was so exhausted, but I have a memory of dodging through dark streets, lights flashing by, and looking into lighted store fronts and tiny restaurants. A man by the name of Naphtali met us at the airport and escorted us to the Pension (like a hostel). I am so grateful that he came to meet us! While journeying by trike alone at night would have made our adventure complete, I am very thankful that we didn’t have to add that to our bucket list J.
Having slept for about eleven hours (we went to bed as soon as we got to the Pension at around 7:30, Palawan time), I was ready to face a new adventure. I sat up and we turned on the light and surveyed out scatter bags – more work to be done on that later, but not now. After a refreshingly cold shower, with chicken noise background accompaniment, we straightened things around the room and then went and knocked on Naphtali’s door. He’d told us the night before that he would take us to breakfast and since we hadn’t eaten supper due to exhaustion, we were very ready.
Sadly, breakfast was not the first order of the day. We woke Naphtali up (and felt very bad for this!), and he informed us that we would eat after we picked up Kiana (another SM) from the airport at 9:20. OK, we thought, we can do this. Going back to our room, we decided there was no way we could wait until nearly ten to eat, so we supplemented with the few leftover foods that we had with us: an apple (which Shama kindly shared with me), some oranges, and a few wheat sticks. It was a good thing that we ate a bit, because as it turned out we didn’t eat until almost noon!
 Feeling a little better we realized we had over an hour until Naphtali would be ready to go, so we wandered down to the lobby.  There, we just started talking to a lady who was sitting there and found out that she was an Adventist - not only that, she was a colporteur! She invited us to go across the street and look at the new Adventist Mission. Deciding it was fairly safe J, we walked across and into the Mission. As we toured around, we just happened to run into the Philippine Division president and treasurer secretary! After being introduced, we talked to them for quite  a while about what we were doing, ASI, and the Mission. The President said he had been to ASI in Albuquerque, but he pronounced it ‘All-boo-ker-kay’, which I found somehow amusing.
Deciding we should get back before Naphtali woke up, we headed back across the street to the Pension. Tip-toing passed Naphtali’s door, we saw that the light was on,  so we went back to our room and sat patiently on our beds for a few minutes until he came and knocked. On the street again, we hailed another trike and headed back to the airport. While we waited for Kiana to come, we learned a few more Palawan phrases. He also shared some cashew nuts with us since we were all famished.
About 45 minutes later, our foursome was headed back to Payuyo to drop of Kiana’s luggage. She took a shower and freshened up and then we headed off to lunch! We went to a place called Vegetarian House that had a menu about an inch thick. I initially though it might be because they had so many different dishes, but after we opened it up I realized it is because they had a full page color picture of each dish. Interesting…
Lunch consisted of pancit for me and tempura for Shama. We decided to split things to make it more interesting and so tried some of each other’s dishes. It was good, though I gave Shama the majority of the mushrooms adorning the plate!  After lunch and a stop at the bank to change money, we decided the next thing on the agenda was shopping. The plan is to shop for enough food for the two of us for the next six weeks. We went to a place called the NCCC: a huge Costco-like structure that carries everything from furniture to food to office supplies. It also sells cell phones. I got a very small Nokia for around $25 that will help me keep in contact with the world for the next ten months.
We spent a dizzying few hours wandering round and round the NCCC. It is incredibly difficult for me to think up planning meals about six weeks out! We ended up getting a variety of pasta, flour, oats, oil, spices, beans, and some canned goods. Vegetables and some fruits are available locally, but the above mentioned foods are difficult to come by so it is better to stock up now.  Finally, we had two shopping carts pretty much full and had probably walked around the store fifty times. Checking out took about as long as the shopping. They have a peculiar habit here of hiring about four people for each job that I am used to seeing one person do back home. For instance: for the check-out one person unloads your cart, another rings it up, another puts it in bags or boxes, and yet another may be standing around apparently overseeing the whole process. It is quite amazing. By the time we were done shopping, there were 22 boxes piled at the end of the cash register. I think we must have had six or seven shopping carts between the four of us.
That job done, we ran various errands like going to immigration and getting and extended visa, buying phone cards, and eating again at the Adventist hospital cafeteria (very good…it helped that we were all starving). By this time we were all quite exhausted, but none of us more than Kiana who had had about four hours sleep the night before! Clambering into a last trike, we motored back to Payuyo and wearily climbed the steps to our room. The first whole day in Palawan has been fully as wonderful as I anticipated!
I lay back on my bed and listened to the sounds of motorcycles drone passed. The dog still yowls on and off, and the fan lets out a monotonous drone. Thinking about the day, it seems like it could have been three days’ worth of activities. Tomorrow, we bus up to Brookes Point and will be drawn one step closer to our new home!

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Until then

The final morning....doing last minute things
I thought I'd post my mailing address here in case
anyone wants to send me a letter :)

It is as follows:

c/o Kent George
Allie Westermeyer
5303 Brookes Point
Palawan, Philippines

Next time you hear from me, I'll be there!

Until then!

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

___________Are you ready?____________

"My child, are you ready?"

"Well I am pretty much packed, I've made a list of things to do before I leave, I've..."

"That's not what I mean. Are you ready?"


"This year is going to take more than packed bags and lists, you know. What I mean is, are you ready like those who have served me before:

Jim Elliot: "He is no fool who give what he cannot keep to gain what he cannot lose"

David Livingston: "I am a missionary, heart and soul. God Himself had an only Son,
and He was a missionary and a physician. A poor, poor imitation I am, or wish to be,
but in this service I hope to live. In it I wish to die. I still prefer poverty and mission
service to riches and ease. This is my choice." 

Bob Pierce: "Let my heart be broken by the things that break the heart of God"

Oswald J. Smith: "I want Thy plan, Oh God, for my life. May I be happy and contented 
whether in the homeland or on the foreign field: whether married or alone, in happiness or sorrow,
health or sickness, prosperity or adversity - I want Thy plan, O God, 
for my life. I want it; oh, I want it!"

C.T. Studd: "If Jesus Christ be God and died for me, then no sacrifice is too great for me 
to give for Him"

"So, are you ready?"

"I am not like them, Lord! They've all done great things and I've just graduated from school! 
They know much more..."

"No, they didn't to great things, Allie. I did. They just let me use them. You can to! I can do so 
much through you. Are you ready now? All you have to do is say 'yes'. I'll do the rest!"

"Yes, Lord" (whisper)

Monday, January 3, 2011

The Song

I lay in bed unable to fall asleep. My mind a whirl of thoughts, ideas, frustration, plans, hope, and a little worry. There were so many things to think about I wasn't making much sense of any of them.

In the midst of this melee of thoughts a song kept repeating itself in the back of my mind. I couldn't make it out at first. It was quiet, but definitely something I recognized.

"....held without restless longing....or strain.....or stress....or fret....or chafings at Thy dealings....." Then I remembered! It was hymn 316, Live out Thy Life Within Me.

I lay back and thought of the rest of the words, adding them to the melody now soaring through my mind and silencing the thoughts one by one with its hopeful promise:

"Live out Thy life within me, O Jesus, King of kings!
Be Thou Thyself the answer to all my questionings;
Live out Thy life within me, in all things have Thy way!
I, the transparent medium, Thy glory to display.

The temple has been yielded, and purified of sin,
Let Thy Shekinah glory now shine forth from with within,
And all the earth keep silence, the body henceforth be
Thy silent, gentle servant, moved only as by Thee.

Its members every moment held subject to Thy call,
Ready to have Thee use them, or not be used at all,
Held without restless longing, or strain, or stress, or fret,
Or chafings at Thy dealings, or thoughts of vain regret.

But restful, calm and pliant, from bend and bias free,
Awaiting Thy decision, when Thou hast need of me.
Live out Thy life within me, O Jesus, King of kings!
Be Thou the glorious answer to all my questionings."

Unspoken prayer answered, I fell asleep and awoke again the next morning to the same promise. 
Thank you, Father!

Saturday, January 1, 2011


 I was sitting in the convention center, listening to Elder Ted Wilson speak to an 
expectant group of GYC attendees. 

While I resonated with what he was saying, something suddenly jumped out at me
 and struck a louder answering chord than the rest. First, it was just a
 word: "ideal". Then, it was the following statement (and I paraphrase): "God is 
waiting for you to become for His ideal."  I've heard and used 
the word "ideal" in many different ways: ideal situation, ideal job, ideal location,
 ideal weight, ideal spouse, ideal church, ideal etc. 

Looking up the word 'ideal', I found 12 different definitions. Most of them 
denoting perfection in some sphere, but the one I think best fit in with Elder Wilson's
 sermon said, "...a person or thing conceived as embodying such a conception or
 conforming to such a standard, and taken as a model for imitation." 

We think of finding ideals, but have we thought of becoming one? 
Becoming God's Ideal?  In an era where situations are fast spiraling out of control, 
are we striving for the perfection that God has offered us through His Son? 

You look at the world around you: famine, earth quake, disaster, disease. Look at 
your country: governmental strife, economic deterioration. Just walk down a 
city street: empty people filled with care who don't know Who holds their future.  

But then there is God, calling you and me to become His ideal! He is calling us 
to be that person who empties themselves and allows Christ to be embodied in 
their lives, He is calling us to conform to the standard of Christ and 
imitate Him

He is waiting.

How long will He wait? 

How long with He call before we respond to follow in the footsteps of Jesus,
 carry His message, and let the whole world know?

Jesus is waiting for His ideal - she is dressed like a bride waiting for her groom -
 she is His church.