Sunday, December 04, 2011

Occupy Till I Come

What does that really mean?  I suspect it does not mean what the Occupy Wall Street participants are doing… throwing a mass temper tantrum in their demand for “rights” and undeserved privileges for all.  It probably also bears little resemblance to our frequent Oaxacan version of protesters occupying the city square or blocking major arteries in an attempt to garner attention for their particular complaint. So if an infuriating protest movement is not what Jesus had in mind in this parable, then what does “occupy” mean? My Bible version states it as: “Engage in business till I come”.  Given the imminent return of Christ, how should we at Casa Compasiva be “engaged in business” till He comes?  Let me answer that by recapping some of this past month’s activities:
 Sherry Bushnell, our long-distance midwife mentor and teacher, came for a visit and worked with our doulas in hands-on sessions attending patients, as well as informal teaching sessions.  As always when Sherry visits, everyone learned a lot, taking their knowledge of birth and midwifery up several notches. We are grateful for Sherry’s investment in Casa Compasiva!
Three of our doulas were promoted to “monitrice” status, having shown great initiative and responsibility in their work, and having mastered sufficient medical skills to be competent birth assistants to any doctor or midwife. We are very proud of these ladies!
These same three women began their preparations for the midwifery course which is to start in January, Lord-willing.  Two of them will be studying in a distance-ed format in English through the U.S-based National College of Midwifery, while doing their clinical work through Casa Compasiva. Upon completion of their work (in approximately two years), they will receive Associate’s Degrees in Midwifery.
The other monitrice will study in Spanish, following our own Casa Compasiva track to certification as a fully-qualified midwife.  Our Casa course will, of necessity, be slightly less intensive than the English course, although no less excellent. (We face a lack of midwifery textbooks in Spanish and are having to develop many of our own materials. Please let us know if you encounter good-quality birth texts in Spanish!)
Greg and Jenny Norris made huge strides forward in their cross-cultural adjustment to Oaxaca by attending Spanish school, visiting friends in a remote village, and supporting other missionaries by providing childcare at a spiritual retreat. Jenny was also called upon frequently to do lactation consultation for our postpartum mamas. They are proving to be invaluable members of our team here!
We had our usual line-up of prenatal and postpartum clients, along with the normal births on the docket.  However, in November we sent an unusual number of high-risk patients to the hospital for C-sections. (Three!) The most dramatic case was a mama with a breech baby whose water broke four-to-five weeks early, and whose entire cord was wrapped tightly four times around his neck.  We praise the Lord for sparing his life and for giving us good relationships with the operating gynaecologist and hospital so that one of our doulas could accompany her in the operation. 

Those parents are so very grateful for Casa Compasiva’s ministry to them throughout their pregnancy and now postpartum, even though they did not end up with a cozy Casa Compasiva birth. We are encouraged to see their spiritual growth as the mama gave her life to Jesus with us several months ago. It is a good reminder to us that the goal is not to ensure a natural birth for each client at all costs, but to support the family in whatever situation God ordains as best for their baby.
We continued to provide prenatal classes each week this past month, including snacks, crafts, and a devotional/gospel presentation.  Every Wednesday we also sent two of our doulas to do volounteer service as labour attendants at the local government hospital.
All in all, November was a busy month as each member of the Casa Compasiva team explored more fully what it means to “occupy till He comes.” Study. Service. Sacrifice. Smiles. Engaging in kingdom business by cheerfully serving the women and families of Oaxaca with the love of Christ. 

Would you like to join us?  You can support the ministry of Casa Compasiva through your prayers and your financial gifts sent to the Missionary Ventures address below.  Thank you! 

Contribute to Casa Compasiva:


Missionary Ventures
P.O. Box 593550                     
Orlando, FL 32859

Missionary Ventures Canada
336-H Speedvale Avenue West
Guelph, Ontario N1H-7M7

Tax-deductible donations can be sent to Missionary Ventures with a note preferencing it for Birth Center / Oaxaca

For Online Giving:

From the U.S.A. click here and go to Donation Areas, scroll down to Special Projects, and specify Birth Center - Oaxaca

Thursday, November 17, 2011

A typical week at Casa Compasiva...

(Is there such a thing?)

Monday: 9:00 am – 3:00 pm
Doctora Donaji
Prenatal/postpartum appointments

Our wonderful doctor Donaji is available for appointments all day, and we usually have eight to ten clients scheduled.
 A doula welcomes each one and checks blood pressure, weight, urine, pulse, etc.  Depending on need, the pregnant mama will be sent upstairs for nutritional counseling with either Obdulia or Lety, our “nutritional police” doulas.

Esther and Melvis
Sometimes those sessions or the regular pre-natal check-ups turn into counseling sessions with, tears, hugs, and prayers. 
If the mama needs an ultrasound check, she is then directed to our ultrasound room, where our doula Melvis reigns as current ultrasound queen.  Both Melvis and Dr. Donaji are excellent ultrasound techs, with Lety hard on their heels.  The rest of us pretty much just stand back and watch in awe.

If no ultrasound is called for in this appointment, the mama will then see Dr. Donaji or Jenny (our resident midwife).  Jenny is also very much in demand for lactation counseling for those postpartum clients struggling to get breast-feeding established.
A normal prenatal check-up will include palpating the mama’s tummy to get a feel for baby’s size and position, measuring mama’s tummy for uterine height, checking for swelling, listening to fetal heart tones, assessing any physical problems with the pregnancy, and listening to any concerns the mama has, whether physical, emotional, or spiritual in nature.
Jenny and new friend
After the doctor or midwife has finished attending her, our doulas are trained to share a short devotional with each client, including scriptures pertaining to the stage of pregnancy that she is in, and prayer for the mama’s needs.

Mondays are usually a whirlwind of activity as we see many clients and their families.  The trick in all the rush is to remember that our purpose is not just to give excellent prenatal and postpartum care but also to represent Christ in a worthy manner to each person seen. 

Clinic hours from 9:00 to 3:00

Usually a quieter day, with fewer patients scheduled because the doctor is not there on Tuesdays.  Yesterday surprised me, though, as the two scheduled appointments we had turned into several appointments with new “drop-in” clients.  We were kept running all day, not eating lunch till 2:30.

Clinic hours from 9:00 to 3:00

Two doulas are on duty at Casa Compasiva while two doulas take a moto-taxi and then a bus to the local government hospital.  With their Casa Compasiva pass, they are admitted to the maternity ward where they spend the next five hours doing volunteer service as labour attendants.  The resident doctors and nurses look on in amazement and incredulity as our Casa doulas treat the laboring mamas with respect and compassion.   

Our doulas give back-rubs, share relaxation techniques, coach breathing, hold hands as mamas push their babies out, and quietly share the love of Christ through their presence and their prayers.  Sometimes our doulas return to Casa energized by the positive impact they were able to make in a dark environment, and sometimes they return demoralized by the distressing conditions and the lack of compassion that the majority of the hospital staff show their patients. 

Clinic hours from 9:00 to 3:00
Same as Tuesday, with home visits to postpartum clients possibly happening as well.

Staff Bible study from 9:00 to 10:30
Staff meeting from 10:30 to 11:30
Clinic hours from 11:00 to 3:00

Always a busy day, but good, as Casa Compasiva staff worship together in song, open the Word of God together in a discipleship training course, pray for our clients and one another, and debrief births from the week before or share needs and concerns.

Alternate Friday evenings
4:30- 6:30
Prenatal class with teaching, devotional, craft (usually) and healthy snack

Alternate Saturday mornings
9:00 -11:00
Prenatal class---all of the above


Day of rest, unless a birth is happening!

Monday, September 19, 2011

Please Note....

 ....Our new and improved budget and timeline - revised to more accurately reflect reality!



Saturday, September 17, 2011

Photo Essay of Baby Hector's Birth

Mama and husband attended a prenatal class during early labour, giving a dose of reality to the other students!

Other mamas attending the class
The miracle of a gentle Casa Compasiva birth
A nice welcome healthy cry
Daddy cutting the umbilical cord
Mama and baby, moments after birth

Weighing the new baby
Daddy's tears of joy, holding his newborn son, Hector

Daddy and Hector with two proud grandmas
And two proud grandpas
Tired, but so happy!  Glory to God!!

Congratulations to this gratified, pampered mum for a job well done!

Wednesday, September 07, 2011

Situation is excellent

General Foch’s report to General Joffre – First World War

My right flank is broken; my left is shattered; my centre is in retreat.  Situation is excellent: I shall attack!

I love the fighting spirit of this general!  The prospects were obviously impossible, yet instead of giving in to discouragement or even despair, General Foch was inspired to attack.  Anyone else might have given up  in defeat, but not him!  To General Foch, an impossible situation was like teasing a dog with a bone…just too good to resist. 

In a way, that’s how we feel at Casa Compasiva.  We know that this whole endeavour is way over our head; we know that humanly speaking it is impossible.  Although God has miraculously opened doors for us, and provided financially for each need over the last eight months of operations, we now face even bigger battles. 

Yesterday we had a meeting with other Oaxacan midwives, and frankly, they are discouraged.  No one so far has been able to successfully challenge the government beurocratic obstacles to opening a birth center.  Some midwives get around this by only doing home births; others “fly under the radar” and operate a birth center without a license; and a couple of Mexican birth institutions have caved into government demands and essentially surrendered their midwifery philosophy in favour of a bio-technical  approach to birth.

The trouble is that the Secretary of Health has only one category of health care facility that can handle births: a hospital.  What that means is that if Casa Compasiva is licensed as a birth facility, then Casa must be a fully equipped hospital with operating room, surgical equipment, hospital staff—and all to government specifications. Instead of a warm, cosy, homey atmosphere where women can feel support and trust from skilled and loving birth attendants, Casa would morph into the exact equivalent of a puke- green government hospital.  That’s right—even the colour scheme has to conform to Secretary of Health specifications!

So where does this leave us? What’s a birth center to do?  Answer: We don’t know yet.  We met with the governor’s wife’s personal assistant last week to explain to her our predicament and enlist the support of the governor’s wife.  We are also looking into another government program for rural birth centers to see if it can be applied to urban centers as well.  We are investigating other options to try to find a loophole in the requirements, but so far no clear direction has presented itself. In the meantime, we are operating legally (because our Mexican doctor is attending all the births) and not in any danger, but at some point in the next year or so we must make a move to become licensed—or not.
Obviously God has a plan—even though we don’t yet know what it is.  Obviously He is sovereign and knows how we should proceed.  Obviously He has not brought Casa Compasiva into existence only to abandon it now.  Obviously He is faithful.

…Which brings us back to General Foch …"Situation is excellent:  I shall attack!”  Prayer is our weapon of choice; prayer is how we overcome overcome-able obstacles; prayer is how we will bring this impossible situation to a successful conclusion!  It is just too good a set-up to resist!   

Let’s go to prayer and ask God how He can best get the glory in this particular battle! 

Friday, September 02, 2011

New Birth Times Three

This has been such a great week at Casa Compasiva! 
On Friday evening the rain apparently discouraged attendance at our prenatal class because only one faithful couple showed up.  It must have been in God’s plan, however, because it created the perfect opportunity for the Son to break through!  As our Casa doulas shared scriptures and answered questions, everything became clear, and this sweet couple came to faith in Jesus. 

And not only that…

Just five days later, their beautiful baby girl was born, making this a week to celebrate three new birthdays in their family!

Doesn’t get much better than this, folks…  This is what Casa Compasiva is all about!

John 3:5-7 New International Version (NIV)

  Jesus answered, “Very truly I tell you, no one can enter the kingdom of God unless they are born of water and the Spirit.  Flesh gives birth to flesh, but the Spirit gives birth to spirit.  You should not be surprised at my saying, ‘You must be born again.’

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Casa wouldn't be the same without the dads


 Our Casa Compasiva clients love it that their husbands can also be involved in every aspect of their pre-natal care, including the childbirth classes...
 ...and dads being allowed to attend Casa Compasiva births is a very welcome privilege unheard of in many of the local hospitals.
This lovely couple ended up having to transport to hospital for a C-section after failure to progress in labour. But God's hand of protection was on us all as it was later discovered that it would have been impossible for her to birth naturally.  They are so happy for Casa support postpartum and could not be prouder parents! 

Thanks for your prayers for each of our expectant mamas. We still need many more prayer sponsors--please don't hesitate to commit to pray!