Sunday, November 29, 2015

Our "Iron-clad" Guarantee

I have been thinking a lot lately about what “product” we are trying to sell at Casa Compasiva.  What is the most important Casa Compasiva focus that is our raison d'être-- our reason to exist?

Is it childbirth education?  Of course that is part of it... we want our clients to be well-educated in order to be well-prepared and make informed decisions. To that end we offer a series of eight mandatory childbirth classes, as well as various and sundry other public classes and workshops.  But that is only part of it... only part of our promise.
What then?  Is it natural birth?  We want our clients to be able to have a natural birth, and whenever possible we prepare them for that event, and help them through it when it arrives.  But what about clients who have already had two or three C-sections, or are diabetic, or have a heart murmur, or have a low-lying placenta, or some other condition signaling a higher-risk birth?   Do we then shoo them out the door saying there is nothing here for them? No, we continue to offer them pre-natal and post-partum services, while also referring them to higher level care...
Well, then, is that it?  Is it pre-natal and post-partum care?  Is that our hallmark, our principal product? But what about the woman who only hears about Casa Compasiva while already in her thirty-eighth week of pregnancy and who then goes into labour and delivers with us at thirty-nine weeks?  Did she just miss out on the quintessential Casa experience because she had no time to attend classes? No.

What is it then?  What is the one “product” that we can guarantee all of our clients will receive—whether wealthy foreigners, middle-class locals, or lower-income indigenous women from the surrounding mountain villages? I figured it out: it is love-- God's love distilled into quality maternity services, flowing through the hearts and hands and words of our midwives and doulas.  It is not a fake cheery smile, or a pithy team slogan, or a one-size-fits-all approach to pregnancy and birth.

No two women experience the same pregnancy, birth, or recovery period.  No two clients will go through exactly the same track of treatment with exactly the same results.  We can't guarantee a natural birth... unexpected complications can arise requiring transport and an eventual Caesarean.  We can't assure that her baby will be healthy.  That is in God's hands, not ours. But we can guarantee that if she is a Casa Compasiva client that she will be treated with respect, that she will be as informed as time allows, and--most especially--that she will have the chance to hear and experience the gentle love of the Lord Jesus as ministered to her by our midwives.

That is our “iron-clad” guarantee.  That is our promise-- not a particular outcome, but a particular exposure. We hope and pray that it will be enough to touch the hearts of the women we serve.  We hope that the exposure will “prime the pump” motivating them to reach out for more of this same Jesus whom they see in our lives and whom they hear about in their classes and appointments.

I need to be up-front with you right now.  Our funds are depleted;  rent for this month had to come from a private source;  I have no money to pay the obligatory Christmas bonuses or even the regular salaries for next week. We have many pre-natal clients and several births scheduled for December. In a season when demands on the midwives' time and energy are at an all-time high, our funds are at an all-time low.  This ministry depends on partial funding from outside sources; we cannot do it alone.

Please remember us in your prayers and in your giving.

We invite your continued participation in the ministry of Casa Compasiva, helping us to guarantee the only “product” that can really “deliver”--- God's love through Jesus Christ!

 Lila Joy

Saturday, October 03, 2015

The Problem We've Always Wanted

  “Good management is the art of making problems so interesting and their solutions so constructive that everyone wants to get to work and deal with them.” Paul Hawken

Since Casa Compasiva opened in January of 2011, we as a staff have made frequent wistful comments about how nice it would be to have too may clients. Like: “How many chairs should we set up for class? What if we don't have enough chairs? Wouldn't that be a great problem to have?!”

Up until recently, that particular problem has never been our experience. On a couple of past occasions we have even prepared and advertised for an entire series of special pre-natal classes only to have nobody show Disheartening, to say the least! For so long we have been praying and brain-storming trying to discover “how to scratch where Oaxaca itches.” How do we find the right combination of education, pre-natal services, group interaction, etc to attract clients to our classes? In the early years we congratulated ourselves if we had three couples come to class, and four was almost unheard of.

But the times, they are a'changin ... lately our problem is one that we have always wanted: a packed-out houseful of pregnant mamas and their partners showing up for class! Sometimes we have sixteen ladies (and family members) in the Oaxaca City class, and up to eight ladies in Mitla!

Thanks to the hard work of our doctor and midwives in developing an excellent childbirth educational series, both Casa Compasiva Oaxaca and Casa Compasiva Mitla are currently experiencing a boom in clients attending the pre-natal classes. Our very real challenge now is how to organize the rooms to make space for everyone, and how to still provide warm, personalized attention to each attendee. Also, the dynamic involved in presenting a winsome gospel message to thirty or thirty-five people is very different than that of presenting to six or eight people!

I am reminded of the wording in Isaiah 54:2-3, where the prophet is prophesying of Jerusalem's restoration: “Enlarge the place of your tent, and let them stretch out the curtains of your dwellings; Do not spare; Lengthen your cords, and strengthen your stakes.”

Growth, expansion, development, progress, boom—all related terms referring to the current situation that we face. Please pray for our Casa Compasiva leadership that we will manage these excellent problems well, making them and their solutions interesting and constructive—and all to the glory of God!  

Lila Quezada

Monday, June 22, 2015

Oh, For a Father's Love

On this Father's Day I would like to ask prayer for a young lady named Katrina (not her real name). Instead of love, she has experienced only hurt, neglect, and betrayal from the men in her life.

She was married, but her husband abandoned her and her little boy when her little boy was tiny. Unable to make ends meet, her mother sent Katrina to the Yucatan to work, while grandma stayed with the little boy. While away, Katrina was raped while waiting for a bus. 

When she realized that she was pregnant, she decided to try to make the man who was “sort of” her boyfriend at the time believe that he was the father and so take responsibility for the baby. But in the end her integrity won the day and she didn't go through with it. Her boyfriend broke up with her when he found out she had been raped, and she came back home to Mitla traumatized and in disgrace. Her mother is also traumatized and guilt-ridden for having sent her young daughter away to work. 

Enter Casa Compasiva. Katrina and her mother and little boy came to our “Pregnancy Fair” outreach at the municipal hall last week. Then again yesterday they came to the Mitla clinic for pre-natal class and her first appointment. Now she wants to have her baby with us at Casa Compasiva, but the thing is that she is due today!!! -- and she has had virtually no pre-natal care except for an ultrasound through the local Health Center. With no lab tests, we have no idea if she is HIV-positive, or anemic, or even what her blood type is.

Plus, she has no money and no dad herself. She and her mum are both lovely people—cheerful, kind, friendly-- but they eke out a living for themselves by sewing and embroidering. They have $600 pesos saved (about $40 U.S.), which is just enough to get her lab work done tomorrow. We are praying that she will NOT go into labour until after the blood-work results are in, so at least until Tuesday. And we are hoping that her health will be good enough for us to be able to accept her as a client without undue risk to our staff. Then she can be spared the additional trauma of harsh treatment at the government hospital. We are committed to helping Katrina--whether with a birth at Casa, or just labour-support until time to go to the hospital, and follow-up post-partum care. We ask you to please pray for healing and salvation for this precious little family. Both Katrina and her mum seem very tender and open to the gospel, and they are getting counseling from a local pastor's wife. 

The other thing is that if she can have her baby at Casa, we will need to provide her with a full birth scholarship. But this comes in the first month since Christmas that we do not even have sufficient funds to pay the rent and staff salaries. God has blessed us with a six-month rest from constant financial pressure (Thank you, Lord!!), but now the reserve funds are gone and we must again ask your prayers for coverage of these needs. I know that you may not be able to give money, but everyone can certainly pray for Katrina and for the other clients at Casa Compasiva. We had five new mamas at our class yesterday!

So that's it for now. Katrina, along with the many other pregnant mamas who do not yet know the Father's love need your prayers. Casa Compasiva needs your prayers.

Thanks so much!


Lila Quezada  

Monday, February 02, 2015

The Circle is Complete


We are excited to announce that January 8th, 2015 marked an historic event in the ministry of Casa Compasiva. That was the day that we inaugurated a new branch of Casa Compasiva in the small town of Mitla, Oaxaca. Mitla is about one hour of bus/taxi travel from the original location in Oaxaca City, so having a clinic here will be a great benefit for many women who have a hard time traveling into the city.

The new clinic is a tribute to the lifetime work of the parents of our beloved Doctora Donaji. Her father was the town doctor here in Mitla for forty years before his death, and her mother was an obstetric nurse-midwife, delivering many of the Mitleño citizens of the last forty years. Their clinic was eventually converted into a home where various missionaries lived over the last few years. Now, with the help of an awesome Canadian work team and the Canadian funds they brought, we have renovated one half of the home, making it once again a functioning clinic, and coming full circle! Faithful local friends here in Mitla have also dedicated much time, energy and money to make this vision a reality. To God be the glory for His amazing plan! 

Our initial plan is to provide prenatal care, childbirth education classes, spiritual support, and post-partum care for our clients in Mitla. At this time we are not advertising that we will attend births here in the Mitla clinic, preferring instead to direct most women to our more extensive facility in Oaxaca City. But we are also being realistic about the possibility of facing surprise situations in which someone might come for a check-up in full-fledged labour with no time to transport (it happens). :) Accordingly, besides the standard equipment for maternal and infant care, we are also planning to gradually equip Casa Compasiva Mitla with the necessary emergency supplies for such an eventuality. 

The inauguration day was a delightful time of honouring Donaji's mother for her decades of work as a midwife, as well as letting the townspeople know about the philosophy, vision, and mission of Casa Compasiva. The new clinic was full to capacity with guests come to celebrate with us and with town dignitaries who helped to dedicate this new location. There is lots of enthusiasm among the new clients now coming for classes and for prenatal care, with promised support from the local municipal government for low-income clients who cannot afford to pay.

We are eager to see this new clinic become fully-equipped and functioning effectively as a center for sharing God's love through Jesus Christ with the indigenous Zapotec people of Mitla. Doctora Donaji will hold office hours on Tuesdays and Thursdays for both general clients and maternity clients. This last Saturday we had our first in the series of eight childbirth education classes, and word is spreading among the townsfolk of Mitla and the nearby villages. Please join us in prayer and with financial support for this new ministry which vastly expands the potential kingdom impact of Casa Compasiva! 

Lila Joy

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Christmas Greeting and Update from Casa Compasiva

“There was a boy called Eustace Clarence Scrubb, and he almost deserved it.” --Voyage of the Dawn Treader
“It was a dark and stormy night..” --A Wrinkle in Time
“It was the best of times; it was the worst of times...” --A Tale of Two Cities

Great novels almost always start with great first lines, and from there go on to get better and better. Casa Compasiva began almost four years ago with the beautifully simple “first-line” plan to be a low-risk birth center, and now God is launching us forward into a bigger, better, more all-encompassing, higher-impact vision!

After a solid year of investigation, interviews, discussion, and much prayer, the board of directors of Casa Compasiva has unanimously decided that it is time for us to pursue the building of a surgical unit!

Upon completion, we will be able to offer a much fuller service to the pregnant women of Oaxaca: natural births in the cozy home setting for those who are low-risk and anticipate an uncomplicated birth; supervised “trial of labour” for women with previous C-section deliveries who are attempting a natural birth this time around; Caesareans for those who cannot deliver naturally for whatever reason; as well as normal births that simply require a greater degree of medical supervision/intervention than that which is typically offered in a birth center.

This does not mean that our midwifery staff will suddenly morph into a qualified surgical team! No, it
means that we will build a fully-equipped surgical unit to which an OB/GYN can bring his or her own team consisting of surgeon, nurse, anaesthesiologist, and paediatrician. They can attend to specific needs with their expertise, while we continue to provide the warmth and love that our clients have come to expect from Casa Compasiva. It will definitely allow us to serve a much greater cross-section of the women and babies of Oaxaca!

Sounds like a win/win situation all around, does it not? Yes, but...we are under no illusions about how
difficult this will be. Having a surgery significantly ups the ante as far as the degree of government
regulations, requirements, inspections, etc. None of us are very excited about that. And frankly, the cost is immense. We are estimating approximately $75,000 U.S. is needed to carry out this project.
We have begun the preliminary steps for this exciting and overwhelming new vision; will you now prepare for what role God may have you to play in it? Are you called to faithfully support the ongoing daily ministryof Casa Compasiva? Or is it your privilege to help sponsor a birth for a needy woman, or to sponsor a midwifery student in her studies? Can you pray for our financial needs and for protection over our clients? Is it your desire to support evangelism outreach efforts or pay for discipleship materials? Or are you one of the designated underwriters of this massive new undertaking—a surgical operating room, with all that that entails? All of the above are needed; where do you fit in?

Sara was one of our favourite clients. She came faithfully to all of her appointments and pre-natal classes, always laughing and cheerfully encouraging the other pregnant mamas. If ever we wanted to see a woman be able to deliver her baby naturally, it was Sara! But it was not to be. Her labour began normally and she laboured valiantly at Casa Compasiva, making good progress up to a certain point. Eventually, however, after 14 hours with no advancement, we sadly conceded that according to Mexican norms we had to transport. She went to a private hospital where the gynecologist decided that there was no other option than to do a Caesarean. But everyone was stunned when, besides the baby, he also removed a huge ovarian cyst that had been impeding the descent of the baby during labour. In spite of the excellent care we had provided throughout the pregnancy, and high resolution ultrasounds that we had referred her to with another OG-GYN, the cyst had hidden itself and would not allow that baby to be born naturally no matter what! A Caesarean was not an option for Sara; it was a critical necessity.

When Sara brought her baby in to CC for her post-partum care, she and her mother could not stop expressing their appreciation for the love and support that they had receivedall through Sara's pregnancy, labour, and even during and after the C-section as our staff accompanied her into the
operating room and recovery. Some babies just need to be born in a surgical unit, and we are excited to be able to offer future Saras and their babies the same compassionate quality care that is the hallmark of Casa Compasiva—whether in a natural birth or a very necessary Caesarean!

Noemi (name changed) is a lovely girl who came to us very hesitatingly, not believing that she would be able to afford a birth here in Casa Compasiva. Having been sexually abused throughout her childhood, she carried many emotional and psychological wounds that began to heal when she found salvation in Christ. She and her husband live with his family in a very humble shack under a bridge down by the river. In spite of their best attempts, by the end of her pregnancy she still did not have even the minimum amount of money needed to pay for her baby's birth. So we took up an offering for her in church, dipped into our “birth scholarship” funds raised at our last garage sale, and gave her a heavily discounted birth for her baby girl—almost free! I have never been so tightly hugged by a client as she sobbed in my arms with gratitude for both the spiritual and physical support that she received from Casa Compasiva. Now her sister is coming to us for care as she expects her first baby.

We are privileged to serve these ladies in Jesus' name, whether in beautiful natural births here at Casa Compasiva, or holding their hands and praying with them as they undergo birth by Caesarean section in a hospital. And now we look forward to the day when, with your help, we will be able to provide the more complete “in-house" service of surgical birth for those precious women for whom a natural
birth is simply not an option. Our great “first-line" plan to use quality maternity care as a tool to reach Oaxacan women with the love of Jesus remains intact—only expanding now into an even better, more action-packed adventure story! Please join us with your prayers, your financial support, and perhaps your volunteer construction service as we begin this next exciting chapter!

On Friday night we hosted a Christmas party for former and current clients, re-establishing contact with some whom we haven't seen for a couple of years. Each guest heard a beautiful gospel message, was given a listing of evangelical churches in their area, and received a CD of the dramatized New Testament with music and effects. (And some chocolate, of course!) The best part of the evening was cuddling with all the babies! We served--or are currently serving--these mamas in their pregnancies, and we helped to deliver many of their babies at Casa Compasiva. Other babies were born via Caesarean in Oaxacan hospitals—but each mama became our friend and was touched by the love of Jesus during her pregnancy and post-partum care. It was a wonderful evening! Please help us to
continue to minister to these women and others like them as we offer quality maternity care and birth services in whichever setting is needed—natural birth in the birth center, or C-section in the surgical unit. Thank you for your commitment to loving them in Jesus' name!

Merry Christmas and a blessed New Year to you and yours!

Lila Quezada

For all of Casa Compasiva Staff

To give your U.S . financial gift now you can go to this site: Fill
in gift amount then scroll down to Donation Area, then where it says Field Coordinator Ministry
say “Preferenced for Quezada--Casa Compasiva.”

To give your CANADIAN financial gift go to: , click on Donate, and use your PayPal account. Or click on this link: Where it says “Your Donation Will Support...” choose the General Fund category, fill in Donation Amount and then go to the Message/Instructions box and say it's for Casa Compasiva—Mexico.

Or send your financial gift, preferenced for Casa Compasiva in the memo line, by mail to:

Missionary Ventures International

Orlando, Florida 32859
phone (407) 859-7322

Missionary Ventures Canada
H-336 Speedvale Avenue West
Guelph, Ontario N1H 7M7
phone (519) 824-9380

(Photos to come)

Thursday, August 28, 2014

"If you were looking for the opportune moment, that was it."

This quote by the esteemed Captain Jack Sparrow from the movie Pirates of the Caribbean has been running through my brain all week. I keep thinking how maybe somebody has been wanting to donate funds to Casa Compasiva, but has delayed, thinking that maybe we don't have any critical needs right now. How wrong they would be! And what an opportune moment this is to contribute to a worthy cause!

In the last two weeks our clients have birthed five babies— three in Casa Compasiva, one a planned hospital birth with our staff, and one a Caesarean after a previous Caesarean. We are so proud of each one of these amazing ladies, ranging in age from sixteen to forty-two, who summoned up the strength and courage to bring new life into the world. And we are so privileged to be able to participate in their pregnancies-- providing quality prenatal care, praying and supporting them in their spiritual journeys, and being at their sides as their babies are born. Every one of our staff members is loving the challenge!

However, it is not without its cost. Although our staff considers what they do to be ministry at its finest, and they serve as a labour of love (pun intended...get it?), they still need to receive something for their time. Salaries, though very modest, must still be paid, and the obligatory government fees and taxes must be allotted. As it says in the King James Version, “The labourer is worthy of his hire.”

We cannot ask our doctor and midwives to make their way to Casa Compasiva in the middle of the night to meet a mama in labour. And then expect them to stay up all night with her, attend her baby's birth in the wee small hours of the morning, and then take care of mama and babe post-partum—dealing with the placenta, eye drops, Vitamin K injections, weighing, bathing, helping get nursing off to a good start, filling out charts and birth certificates, and serving breakfast to the happy family. Then after that to have a quick shower, report for their shift attending all the day-clients that arrive for their scheduled prenatal visits, teach a prenatal class, sterilize the instruments used the night before, disinfect and clean the birth room making it ready for the next mama who may arrive at any time, and then go home and make supper and care for their for their family's needs, while preparing for the possibility of a repeat performance the next night. All of that is too much for us to ask of them, yet that kind of heroic dedication is exactly what each one of our staff members displays on a regular basis--- for an average of $3.00 US per hour! Would you do the same? Could you? 

Even though our doctor and midwives serve so sacrificially, at the tiniest fraction of what they are worth, it still adds up. The payment that we receive for birth and prenatal services does not begin to cover the actual cost of providing and maintaining those excellent services. I was reminded of that yesterday as I went on a post-partum visit to sixteen-year-old Diana's house. Our midwives had spent the night with her in labour, and then she had her beautiful baby girl on Friday. Her nineteen year old husband is just beginning to get his feet under him in terms of dealing with responsibility, and he and Diana live in one room of her parents' house with all her younger brothers and sisters there, too. They literally have nothing—except a lot of love and gratitude for the loving care they received at Casa Compasiva. They realize that if they had gone to any government hospital it would have been an automatic Caesarean because of her age. And three months ago we realized that they had no ability to pay our regular birth fee, so we had awarded them the “Mother's Day” free birth “scholarship.” Some of you have contributed to that “birth scholarship” fund---thank you so much! Your investment paid huge dividends in a very precious and contented little family. Now we look forward to providing all their postpartum care, continuing in relationship with them, and building on the message of God's love for them through Jesus Christ!

Quality care costs money—it just does. And our funds are now completely depleted. I do not say that in despair, but in faith that God has gone ahead of us to provide the funds needed to pay this week's salaries and other expenses. God has been faithful in the past, is faithful today, and will be faithful tomorrow—we know that. And perhaps He wants to use you to show His faithfulness. So, to paraphrase Captain Jack Sparrow, “If you were looking for the opportune moment to give to Casa Compasiva ...this is it!”

-Lila Joy

Wednesday, July 09, 2014

Married ... wth Children

In the town where I live, it is not considered unusual, unexpected, or tragic in any way for a girl to be married and pregnant at the age of fifteen or sixteen. The other day I visited with three young women in their homes, and it wasn't until after the last visit that it even occurred to me that their lives would not be considered “normal” in my Canadian culture of origin.

One of the girls is sixteen years old, pregnant, and expecting her first child. Her husband is seventeen or eighteen, and they are both very happy to be expecting a baby. She has always been punctual, responsible, and enthusiastic in her pre-natal classes and appointments. Because they are very poor, living with her mother and siblings, Casa Compasiva chose her as the winner of the “free birth prize” that we were promoting for our clients during the month of May. Please pray for Ana (name changed for privacy) and for her baby's upcoming birth in August.

Another of the girls, who is also sixteen, was a stranger to me until the night she went into hard labour. Her family was scared and unsure of how to help her, so her sister-in-law went out in the night to get help. They had never heard of Casa Compasiva, but knew from a friend that I lived nearby and was (sort of) a midwife. When I arrived at her mud-brick, one-room, cement-floor house, I showed her how to breathe and relax with the contractions. After teaching her twenty-year-old husband how to rub her back and support her in labour, I drove home up the dirt road just before a thundering rain-storm hit us hard.

Back home I called our doc and Casa Compasiva midwives to see if we could possibly take her as a CC client, but the decision was a negative because we had no lab work on her, and no pre-natal records. Two hours later, just before midnight, her family called asking me to come back. When I arrived the second time, she was in heavy labour, and it was obvious that it was time to go. So she, her husband, her mother, and her mother-in-law all loaded into my Ford Explorer and we set out for the hospital in a nearby town.

Unfortunately their hospital of choice provided the classic example of how the indigenous people are often dis-respected and mistreated by the medical establishment. The nurse who received them was indifferent and cold; the doctor was rude and verbally abusive--so much so that I couldn't even look at him. After I left them in his hands, to do with what he would, I cried in frustration on my way home. I knew that he would not give her the chance of a normal birth, but would automatically perform a Caesarean on her.

Sure enough, the next morning I got word that the young mama had delivered a baby girl via C-section because she was “too young” to have a normal birth. The hospital would not discharge her and the baby until they paid the bill, so the young husband was forced to go around begging to borrow money from all their friends, family, and neighbours. Now in debt up to their eyeballs, the young couple is nevertheless happy with their new baby, and mama is recuperating and nursing the baby well. When I went to visit, I was able to pray with her, give a small financial gift, and present her with a gift and New Testament from Casa Compasiva. Although they are very grateful for my help, how I wish that we had been able to do more!

The third young mama that I visited that day was also married and pregnant by age sixteen. She is now nineteen, and facing the realities of life with her three-year-old boy, her new baby girl, and her husband away much of the time. 

These girls and many others like them in Oaxaca are so young, so vulnerable, and, having little education, are so susceptible to misinformation. Economically marginalized, they are more or less content with their lives and the choices they have made, never expecting anything better. We at Casa Compasiva recognize the challenges that life will bring their way, and we long to be in a position to minister health and abundant life through Jesus to them and their families. The three girls I visited that day provided a sampling of the young women of Oaxaca: some of them we are able to reach, others just a little, some not at all. 

Financial constraints prevent us from being able to fully advertise our services; thus, many are still unaware of Casa Compasiva. Like the young girl in labour during the rainstorm, many women don't realize that a better pregnancy and birth-care alternative like Casa Compasiva even exists—until it is too late. We need better advertising! We need an excellent, professionally-designed website; we need a promotional strategy that will get the word out more effectively! 

Then for those who do hear, but who are unable to pay, we need to be able to offer “birth-scholarships” or really skookum discounts so that they can afford it. We make our prices as low as possible to achieve accessibility for the majority of clients, but the reality is that for many women any price is too high. Somehow we need to be able to serve them freely while still covering our expenses. Will you help us to do more? Will you help us to help these young girls of Oaxaca?