Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Introducing Two of Our Casa Compasiva Wonder Women!!


I am Melvis Janith Guzman Morales and I am from Oaxaca, Mexico.   I am 23 years old.  My family and I came to know Christ nine years ago, and at 17 years old I decided to obey the call of God to serve as a missionary.  These years have been years of preparation and service together with my family.  I am currently part of the ministry of Casa Compasiva (non-profit society), and I am a student of Midwifery.
I believe that every community needs a midwife who loves women and their families, who knows how to depend upon God, and how to guide others to  knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.  She must be committed, professional, and fully trained to do her job.
My desire and commitment is to obtain all the skills and knowledge necessary to be an excellent midwife who can be a blessing in any area where God calls me to serve. And that by this service may others come to know and glorify God!
 
My name is Estela Hernandez Velasco, and I am from the beautiful Sierra Norte (Northern Mountains) of Oaxaca.  I am 36 years old, happily married to a very good man who is very easy to love.  I have two beautiful daughters, 7 and 10 years old, and I help in Casa Compasiva.  I am there because I am amazed by the love and the compassion with which they (CC) treat all the women of my land.  Although I have a very busy life with my family, I know that our God sends us to serve others.  I think Casa Compasiva is a good place and a great opportunity to share the good news of salvation-- that which everyone needs to hear so much about the love of God for all.
I am actually studying midwifery, and thanks to the support that the director Lila Quezada offers me I am able to sustain my dual roles of mama and student.  I have learned so much from the Doctora Donaji, although I know that I still have a long ways to go. I need everyone’s prayers to be able to achieve the goal that God has set for me.  I want to be a good midwife and be able to use midwifery as a very useful tool with which to serve our God and also to serve all the people who come to Casa Compasiva for help.  


Thursday, November 01, 2012

Day of the Dead


This is the week of the Day of the Dead here in our town of Mitla, the “Place of the Dead.”  If you are the typical Mitleno, you are and have been very busy all week preparing an enormous altar in your home on which to offer sacrifices to all your dead family members.  
From the market stalls lining the streets, you will buy flowers, incense, candles, mescal whisky, cigarettes, toilet paper, and anything else you think your relatives’ spirits might need in the coming year.  You will buy and give away many huge loaves of  “Dead Bread” with frosting skulls painted on them.
You will prepare special hot dishes of the best food to offer to your family members’ departed spirits as they drop in to eat on certain days.  The spirits of babies who died before being baptized will show up on one day, dead baptized children on the next, and dead adults on the following day.  The church bells will ring and fireworks will explode all over town at twelve noon, signaling the arrival of the spirits for their meals.
You will probably also spend one all-night vigil in the cemetery this week, watching over the candle-lit, flower-festooned graves of your dear, departed loved ones.  All of this ritual will cost you big bucks—maybe even hundreds of dollars—for which you may have to plunge deeply into debt.  It is costly, but you fear that failing to sacrifice will cost you even more in reprisals from the spirit world—your life or that of a family member within the next year.  How can you take the chance?
This is the cultural climate of our town and the state of Oaxaca around All-Saints’ Day.  The supposed veneration of the saints is really an attempt to appease the spirits, and behind all the festivities, it is actually dark and fearful.   Amidst all of this preoccupation with death, we are so privileged to be focused on running a birth center.
Last night I went to do a postpartum check on a three-day-old baby and her mama.   The altar to the dead was featured in a prominent location in the family home where the young couple have a room, and though she cannot change her extended family, this baby’s mama has been introduced to Jesus.  All of her prior exposure to the gospel has been reinforced through the wonderful prenatal care and birth that she experienced at Casa Compasiva Birth Center.  As I prayed with her last night, we rejoiced in the blessing of a new little life.  I am praying for that beautiful young woman to find the strength to reject the traditions of death and strongly embrace new life in Jesus.
So although we may be surrounded by spiritual darkness and death, Casa Compasiva Birth Center is all about life! It is from here that the light of God’s love is penetrating the spiritual darkness for many women and their families, dispelling the darkness of sin and death.
 If you are not yet involved, but would like to share in the thrill of birthing new believers for God’s kingdom, please let us know.  Confronting the stranglehold of death on an entire culture is not an easy thing to do or to finance.  To effectively challenge the ignorance of healthy maternal and infant care, as well as the spiritual ignorance, Casa Compasiva needs your help!
   
Please consider becoming a monthly financial sponsor or sending a one-time gift.  If you are already supporting this ministry, know that your faithfulness and generosity are helping to transform a place of death into a bustling spiritual maternity ward!
  
On behalf of all the newborns and those who have been re-born, we thank you!
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

Photo from Wikipedia.com

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

What is God Thinking?


I am constantly amazed by the dedication, innovation, and energy of our Casa Compasiva staff. Under the loving and patient guidance of our beloved Doctor Donaji, our midwife, monitrices, and doulas devote such energy to caring for mamas and babies. I am awed and humbled to observe their skillful enthusiasm. These wonderful servants of God love Jesus with all their hearts—and they love the women and babies of Oaxaca! 

With compassionate, quality maternity care, these Casa Compasiva staff members are changing birth outcomes in Oaxaca for the better. Through their love and dedication, they are pointing people to Jesus. Now, instead of being traumatized by indifferent or negligent hospital staff, Casa Compasiva clients are experiencing the affirmation of personalized attention and concern for every aspect of their health—physical, emotional, and spiritual. Marvelous things are happening here in Oaxaca!

Which leads me to wonder: what is God thinking? 

With all of these advances and all of this success, why have we this week come to the very end of our financial resources? Why have we drained our bank account and still come up short for this week's bills? Living close to the edge is nothing new for us at Casa—we know that God gets glory by granting miraculous answers to prayer for financial provision. And when we started on this adventure of launching Casa Compasiva, we were given reassurance that God would always supply all of our needs—but it would never be early. :) God seems to like eleventh-hour answers. And we're okay with that. However, given the fact that today Casa Compasiva is completely out of funds, I have to wonder what God is thinking.

In a moment of financial discouragement back in August, my new friend Temi shared with me these words: “Anything and everything God calls us to do, He has already gone ahead and made provision for.” So my question is: where is the provision for next week? Did God go ahead and make provision for Casa Compasiva for October of 2012, yet someone whom He designated to provide for this month's needs neglected to comply?

But if --during the summer or at any other time-- if God spoke to your heart convincing you of the value of this ministry, then maybe now would be a good time to respond. Maybe you're up on deck for next week's or next month's provision! Maybe that's what God is thinking! :)

 We look forward to finding out. 





Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Of Brigades and Babies



So last week we had our first (annual?) medical and dental “brigade,” and I think that by all accounts it was a success… almost 300 served!  (Sounds like McDonalds:)) 

Many un-churched people heard the message of God’s love to them, received a good gospel tract, watched the Jesus Film or other evangelistic videos, and were personally prayed for and ministered to. 

Many asked for follow-up home visits from a pastor or Christian worker.  (That’s what we’re working on trying to organize this week). 
Nurse taking vital signs in our "pharmacy"

Many Christians from nearby churches were helped physically also, including kids from several missionary families. It reminded me of that verse in Galatians chapter six:  


Therefore, as we have opportunity, let us do good to all, especially to those who are of the household of faith.   

PTL!  With three full-time dentists, two dental assistants, and three other dentists who generously shared as many hours as they could spare, it amounted to lots of dental cleanings, fillings, extractions, and check-ups!  

We were also able to provide lots of general medical appointments, some pediatric, some endocrinologist, and a few gynecological appointments. 


After being seen by our wonderful docs and nurses, people needing prescriptions filled could go to our mini-pharmacy where they were dispensed free medicine supplied for the purpose by a church in Puebla. 
 

The visiting dental and medical team from Puebla (a neighbouring state) did a fantastic job and was so well-organized that they made up for all our inexperience. All in all, many needy people were helped physically and spiritually. Thanks to everyone for all your prayers... to God be the glory!  
Then on Saturday afternoon, the last day of the brigade, a young mama arrived in labour, so our staff did a bit of scrambling to convert one of our rooms that had been used as a double medical consultation room back to a labour and delivery room.  
Welcome, Baby Anderson!

In spite of being exhausted after all their work putting on the brigade, our team mustered up strength from God. In the wee hours of the next morning they helped a beautiful baby boy named Anderson(!) make his way into the world.  
  
Kudos to Jenny Norris for her excellent management of that birth, and also to our friend, Dr. Candido, who arrived as a support and official medical signer at just the right moment!   


 Praise God from whom all blessings flow—including the blessing of physical strength in weariness! 

Monday, September 03, 2012

Looking for Prayer Sponsors...(again)!

Ok, folks, if you will remember, an integral aspect of the ministry of Casa Compasiva is PRAYER!! We believe in the power of prayer, depend on it, and trust in the God who hears it.   

Without prayer, our ministry is ineffective, our relationships are subject to being sabotaged, and our pregnant mamas are vulnerable.   Without prayer, we may as well pack up and go home!  It’s that important!

Some of you already consider yourself part of the Casa Compasiva prayer team. You are lifting up our needs to God’s throne on a regular—daily or weekly—basis.  Thank you for your faithfulness!

Others of you are serving as warriors on the emergency prayer team.  You’re the ones who get the calls in the middle of the night on behalf of a woman struggling in labour, or a baby not doing well.  Thanks for being willing to go to war at all hours!

And still others of you have been prayer-sponsoring a particular mama throughout her pregnancy, birth, and for six weeks postpartum.  We so appreciate your dedication to our individual mamas…thank you!

However, we have a confession to make:  our organization of the sponsor-a-pregnant-mama-prayer-program has not always been what it should.  Not anybody’s fault—just the reality of so much to do in so little time.   Unfortunately, as a result, some of you have been disappointed in your experience of sponsoring a mama, since you maybe did not receive timely informational updates, etc.  We are so sorry…please forgive us! 

And having forgiven us, would you be willing to try again?  Or, if you are new to the idea, would you begin to sponsor a pregnant mama in prayer for the first time?  Because we still really believe in the value of this program and the power of strategic prayer!  And we currently have nineteen (19!!) pregnant ladies (and their babies) who are not yet being covered by name in prayer.

If you would be willing to serve with us in this way, please write to us ASAP.  These mamas and their little ones cannot wait!  If you indicated your interest at one of the meetings that I spoke at during the summer, please verify that by signing up again.  Simply click here to send us an email.   

 Please continue to be patient with us as we struggle to put a workable system of timely communication in place for this program.  

To those of you praying on one of the other teams, thank you again! And keep up the good work!

Monday, July 09, 2012


On the Road Again…
This summer is a real test of Casa Compasiva’s faith, organizational structure, and personnel.  Why a test?  Because I have, in effect, abandoned ship for two months in order to travel with my family and share about Casa Compasiva with interested parties in the U.S. and Canada.  

While it unsettles ME a bit to leave the fledgling ministry in Oaxaca for so long, by all accounts everyone is doing a fabulous job in my absence! This is thrilling to me, as I realize that our staff is so competent, so responsible, and so strong in faith and integrity that they can carry on just fine without me!  What a blessing! 

God has truly blessed us with a wonderful staff of both paid and volunteer doctors, midwives, midwifery students, doulas, maintenance personnel, housekeepers, Bible-study leaders, bookkeepers, prayer warriors, and general “keep- Lila-in-line”-type people (you know who you are!) J

So this summer I leave them all in God’s capable hands to continue offering excellent midwifery care to the women and babies of Oaxaca, knowing that they are also faithfully sharing God’s love through Jesus Christ with each woman they serve.

Meanwhile I will continue to spread the word about Casa throughout B.C. and Oregon/WA this summer.  If your group is in lower mainland of B.C. or the Hood River/Portland area of OR. , and you would like to hear more about the miracle of Casa Compasiva, then please contact me at casacompasiva@gmail.com.  I still have several dates available for speaking engagements.

And by the way, God again faithfully provided for all of our monthly expenses in June!  Praise the Lord! (And refer to the previous blog post).
 Now we are trusting Him for all of July. 

Thanks for your on-going prayers and financial gifts.  If you have not yet signed up to be a prayer-partner or a financial donor, please contact us soon to get on board! 

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Renovation Underway at Casa Compasiva


We have finally received the plans and specifications to build the required rooms needed in order to be recognized by the government as a birth center. 

We recently had a family team from B.C. that came to Oaxaca to dedicate their time and skills to this construction project.  They installed new lighting and overhead fans upstairs, a railing around our mezzanine, and a new washer and dryer.  

They also roughed in two new rooms—one a sterilization room and the other a “sala de expulsion”—or expulsion (birth) room.  It is amazing to us what they—together with Greg and Ellie and Miguel-- were able to accomplish in just five days!  To God be the glory!  Now we are well on our way in this project, and hoping to bring it to completion within the next few weeks.  




Dia de la Mama


Here in  Mexico, Mother’s  Day is on May 10th
This year marks Casa Compasiva’s second annual time of appreciation for our pregnant mamas.  We had a wonderful evening of fun, fellowship, pedicures, manicures, foot massages, facials, and –oh yes!—banana splits!  

It was fun to see so many of our mamas all together.  Some have already had their babies, so we got to hold the little ones while their mamas were being pampered.  

Diana Loyo, a Mexican missionary serving here in Oaxaca, gave a captivating gospel message, and then the indulgence began!  There was a long line for massage ... for the grandmothers!  

Our "pedicure person" said it was awesome to wash so many feet in the name of Jesus.









Wednesday, April 04, 2012

Growing Pains



My eleven-year-old daughter is a beautiful girl, but she is already surpassing me in both height and shoe size! The result of her rapid growth is that she is sometimes afflicted with the all-too-familiar “growing pains.”  She wakes up with a sore back and aching bones—something I remember well from my own rapid-growth years.  I remember that it would hurt the most during rainy weather, for some reason.

Well, guess what?  Here at Casa Compasiva we are experiencing our own version of growing pains.  Things are going so well on so many levels (God has done a beautiful work!), but at the same time we are being forced to grow and stretch in so many areas at the same time.  It is good growth, but it is so rapid that it is sometimes exhausting, and we don't even have the option of stopping.

 For example, in order to achieve compliance with such-and-such government regulation, we must develop such-and-such a system first, which requires the implementation of such-and-such a program, which is dependent on such-and-such a project already being in place.  You get the picture? 

We don't have the luxury of growing slowly; we must advance on many fronts all at the same time!

The result? Casa Compasiva staff members currently have “aching bones” as we all try to make sense out of our shifting roles and struggle to catch up with new requirements and systems.  It hurts the most “when it's raining”-- when misunderstandings and relational strains occur from lack of time to communicate and process all the changes. 

So all of this is to say: we need your prayers!  Please hold us before the throne and ask for God's peace and comfort as we go through these growing pains.

Thank you! 

Thursday, March 15, 2012

So What Have We Been Up to Lately?


Our first baby born in Casa Compasiva. Little Lila just turned one year old last week!
I know...I know...it has been awhile since I've posted! Where to begin?



In February, besides celebrating our anniversary, Casa Compasiva sent a delegation to San Miguel de Allende in Guanajuato state to visit the only nationally accredited midwifery training school in Mexico. We had a good visit, gathered lots of invaluable information (and got sick),and came home to Oaxaca convinced that we are on the right track in the direction that we are going as an organization. While our outfit is not now, and never will be, as vast and all-encompassing as that of San Miguel, nevertheless we know who we are and what we are about. We have a very specific God-given focus and reason for being-- using the tool of midwifery to reach families with the love of Christ. Our trip served to confirm and clarify that vision.



We have also been hard at work developing our Traditional Birth Attendant training program for our Casa Compasiva staff who are now advancing to the status of midwifery apprentices. It is an exciting time for everyone—but not without the occasional growing pains and the confusion of transition. God is giving us all daily grace to deal with the shifting roles and responsibilities!



We have been gifted with the recent arrival of a young midwife from Idaho who is here as a guest helper for at least three months while seeking direction for the next step in her future. Lizzie is a Certified Professional Midwife who brings lots of passion and enthusiasm along with her. She also brings a wealth of experience, having served two years at a very high-volume birth center in the Philippines.



Yesterday we hosted a wonderful brunch meeting (fabulous food cooked by our very own Chef-extraordinaire, Greg Norris!) with other midwives here in Oaxaca—both foreign and traditional indigenous. Together with them we are exploring ways to create more credibility as Mexican midwives, along with official government recognition and support. We hope to be a blessing to the fledgling Mexican midwifery association that they have invited us to join.



Finding our way through the maze of government Secretary of Health expectations continues to be an adventure. Last week we were convinced that Plan ABC is definitely the way to go, but then this week we were presented with new information from another government official that perhaps Plan XYZ would be a better approach. So we continue to investigate and research our options, while enjoying our expanding network of government contacts and well-wishers.



This month is the time for our first annual Casa Compasiva staff retreat! Preparations are now under way for a two-day retreat to take place next week. Unfortunately, due to financial constraints, we are not able to have it at a pretty little local hotel which was our first choice. Nothing daunted, however, we are making to plans to enjoy a very economical, home-grown retreat here in our own town at a local mission center.



And speaking of finances, let me just mention that while Casa Compasiva is advancing rapidly on many fronts at once, this advance will all come to a screeching halt without a fresh infusion of funds very soon!!! Because we are attempting to keep our rates affordable for our (mostly) low-income clients, the income from births and prenatal appointments does not yet begin to cover our expenses. Someday it will--when our birth volume is higher-- but that day is not yet. In the meantime, we are still looking to God to provide for our financial needs from outside sources-- could you be one of those sources? 

If you appreciate the work of Casa Compasiva and would like to see us continue to help the mothers and babies of Oaxaca, please feel free to contribute. All donations are cheerfully accepted! :)

Thursday, March 01, 2012

It Was a Very Good Year!


On February we celebrated the one-year anniversary of Casa Compasiva...and what a wonderful night it was!  Worship music sung from the heart, former clients showing up with flowers and other gifts of appreciation to Casa staff, testimonies from many happy parents, fabulous food, and most of all—the BABIES!! 

There were so many babies there who had either been born at Casa Compasiva or whose mamas had received their prenatal and postpartum care with us.  It was such a joy to see them all-- and we give all glory and praise to God for what He has done in the lives of these babies and their families over this past year! 

Now we can hardly wait to see what will be accomplished in 2012... we are holding onto our hats for another wild ride! 


Some of the 2011 Casa Compasiva Mamas and their Babies



 Watch for a slide show of the anniversary celebration to be posted soon...

Monday, January 09, 2012

One Year Ago Today...


“…Ebenezer…thus far the Lord has helped us!” (I Samuel 1:7)

What Were We Doing One Year Ago Today?


  • Frantically running around painting and equipping our new facility

  • Buying supplies

  • Rejoicing in the eleventh hour provision of $ for Casa Compasiva’s first few months of operation

  • Praying for a midwife to come on board with us

  • Praying for Mexican Christian ladies with an interest in ministry and an interest in birth to begin training as our first doulas

  • Preparing for our doula training course that began Jan. 11, 2011

  • Designing business cards, posters, etc. to advertise Casa Compasiva

  • Getting ready to officially open Casa’s doors on Jan. 17, 2011

  • Interviewing and getting to know Greg and Jenny Norris as future Casa co-workers

  • Developing relationship with Sherry Bushnell, our God-given mentor and visiting teacher-midwife

  • Working out details with Donaji, our beloved doctor who functions as Casa’s medical director and de facto midwife



What Are We Doing Today?


  • We are well-established in our beautiful facility which is currently licensed as a clinic with the Secretary of Health.

  • We are investigating and praying about the requirements for partial renovation in order to become licensed as an “unidad de tocologia”—an obstetric unit.

  • We are holding weekly pre-natal classes, and in the process of streamlining our childbirth education series.

  • We are providing volunteer labour support to very needy birthing women at a local government-run hospital.

  • We are celebrating the year-long work of four excellent doulas, three of whom are beginning their apprenticeship courses as midwives-in-training with us; one of whom is choosing to continue to serve as a doula.

  • We are developing our midwifery curricula, effective immediately!

  • We are prayerfully trying to raise funds to cover Casa Compasiva’s financial challenges of 2012.

  • We are just finishing up our thirty-seven week panoramic Bible-study/discipleship course for all Casa personnel.

  • We have spent a year providing excellent prenatal and postpartum care, attending Oaxacan women in 404 appointments, sharing the gospel and praying with each woman we see.

  • We are interviewing and praying with another midwife and her family, who already live in Mexico and are looking for the next area of service where God would have them.  Oaxaca?!?

  • We have welcomed eleven babies born at Casa Compasiva this year (one per month since our doors opened!), and have provided labour-support and encouragement for MANY other women in hospital births who for one reason or another were not able to give birth at Casa Compasiva.

  • We have developed good relationships and networks with local gynaecologists, pediatricians, and hospitals, allowing us to support ladies who are “risked out” for Casa births but who still want Casa-style labour support for their hospital births.

  • We have been privileged to introduce several ladies (and some husbands as well) to faith in Jesus over the course of this past year, and we have counseled and prayed with many others, pointing them to the God of the Bible as their hope and refuge.

  • We are rejoicing in the miracles and the favour that God has granted Casa Compasiva in 2011, and we are prayerfully anticipating another year of great struggles, greater triumphs, and great blessing!







“And I am sure of this, that He who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ!” (Philippians 1:6)