Thursday, December 01, 2016

Missed #Giving Tuesday? It's Not Too Late...

Here are some great ideas!

I just received word from the mama of this beautiful baby boy in Canada. She had the brilliant idea of throwing a first birthday party for her son, but asking guests in lieu of birthday gifts to donate to a fund to help Casa Compasiva. People responded generously and she raised $700 Canadian for this ministry!

What a great concept—one that others could use to help support this worthy cause. When is your next big celebration? :)

And not only Canadians and Americans can raise funds for Casa ... look at what a grateful couple here in Oaxaca brought as an offering. They had been saving their pesos in a bottle, and brought all the coins in as a gift when she went into labour. We were hesitant to accept, knowing their financial constraints as they also run a ministry on a shoestring. But they persuaded us to accept their heartfelt gift of gratitude, and to honour their spirit of joy in giving.

Need any more inspiration for creative generosity throughout the season? We are happy to help!šŸ˜€

Lila Joy




Thursday, November 17, 2016

What in the World is an "Aguinaldo"?


Aguinaldo is the Mexican name for the grand old tradition of “Christmas bonus.”  Here in Oaxaca that tradition is extremely important—rising almost to the level of sacrosanct!  People depend so much on their aguinaldos that come December and time for the Christmas bonus they would be absolutely devastated if the aguinaldos failed to materialize.  It is so vitally important to each worker's personal economy that the Mexican government has made it a legal obligation for employers to provide. This non-optional requirement consists of a minimum of 15-30 days' pay. Aguinaldos are due by the middle of December—in other words very soon! And as you might have already guessed, we do not currently have the funds to pay all of our staff aguinaldos. 

 
The Casa Compasiva collective aguinaldo bonuses this year represent a chunk of change—approximately $1200 US.  Lest you think this is exorbitant, remember that our midwives and doulas receive 30-43 pesos per hour.  With the recent plunge in the peso following US elections, this translates to only $1.50-$2.10 US per hour. Since we were not able to increase salaries this last January, the devalued peso means that they are now actually making LESS this year than they did last year. To their credit, nobody is whining or complaining about their financial hardships—these are quality, godly women and they live out their faith daily in hard work and joyful dedication.  In fact, these verses from 2 Corinthians that describe Paul's sufferings give a pretty apt description of the life of a midwife (with slight creative license). :)

 I have labored and toiled and have often gone without sleep; I have known hunger and thirst and have often gone without food; I have been cold and (in uncomfortably cramped positions).  Besides everything else, I face daily the pressure of my concern for all the (pregnant mamas and their babies).

These  women are the best---and believe me, they REALLY deserve their aguinaldos!  Please give generously to supply this need and to affirm these excellent servants of Jesus in their sacrificial work for the mothers and babies of Oaxaca!  
 
Lila Joy


Tuesday, November 01, 2016

And Now for Something Completely DIfferent


Up until now, these blog-posts have always been about pregnant mamas, babies, midwives, maternity care, pre-natal education, etc.  But today I want to change it up a bit and talk about something completely different---alcoholism.  This ugly addiction is having a huge and growing impact on Casa Compasiva.....why?

Ever since the day we moved in to our wonderful Oaxacan facility almost six years ago, we have had a constant presence of drunken men “sleeping it off” under the shade of our trees on the sidewalk outside Casa Compasiva. To their credit, they have been (mostly) respectful, and have not intentionally bothered our clients or staff.  They sit quietly slumped against our wall, or passed out on the sidewalk by my car, but they have almost always moved when asked. 

If you have ever visited Casa Compasiva, you will probably have noticed their blankets, shoes, and other personal belongings stored in the branches of our trees.  The men live, eat, drink, sleep, and take care of their bodily functions right there outside our gate. So what is the problem? Frankly, it is little disconcerting for our pregnant mamas or nursing mums with newborns to have to run the gauntlet of these men who have taken up residence around Casa Compasiva.  While the men might try to be polite, the alcohol does not always allow them  to be....you know how it is. 

Yet these men have deserve respect and dignity, and we treat them with the courtesy and compassion worthy of people created in the image of God.  We do not give them food or money (which only enables their addictions), but we do give them cups of water, or medicine, or bandages when they fall down or get into fights. While we all recognize that they need help, we also realize that addiction counseling for alcoholic men is far beyond the scope of our birth center ministry and midwifery practice—especially given the fact that we have an all-women staff!

The problem has been escalating lately with the men becoming noisier and increasingly more belligerent (with each other—not with us).  They yell obscenities and threats at each other, scaring our clients, and disturbing the tranquility of Casa Compasiva.  Recently we have also noticed some dangerous drug-dealers doing business among our “borrachitos” (our little drunks). It has also become apparent that some bestiality is taking place, as well as the expected prostitution. Security is becoming more and more of an issue for us—particularly with births at night.

All of our pleas to the police have fallen on deaf ears...including a petition that a neighbour took up which we all signed.  The police seem to view the permanent posting of the drunks outside our gate as an ideal location for the borrachitos to stay out of trouble and get over their hang-overs.  There are at least a couple of AA chapters within a few blocks of us, but no one seems to be interested.  We can't  persuade them either to get help or to leave us alone.  They are men (and women) in desperate need of the Saviour, and we are overwhelmed by our inability to effectively address their issues.  

Laundry room "borrachito" style - drying clothes on the rocks


Rustic bathroom facilities- notice the mirror and comb on the post

So we would ask you to pray for them to come under conviction and to decide to get the help that they need.... And pray that perhaps some Christian men in Oaxaca would get a vision for ministering to them....And pray that the illegal booze supplier across the street from us would be shut down....  And pray that they would be respectful (and preferably out of sight) when we have clients coming in and out... And pray especially that they would find peace and new life in Jesus rather than vainly searching for it in a bottle. Casa Compasiva's ministry to the women and babies of Oaxaca requires an effective solution to this very real problem!   

Lila Joy

Thursday, October 20, 2016

Grateful...

Grateful for this week's harvest!
Lots of changes,
lots of oxytocin,
very busy staff,
and many happy hearts!

"Every good and perfect gift comes from above."

Tuesday, September 13, 2016

Huge Thanks!


I would like to acknowledge all of you who responded to our Casa Compasiva plea for funds over the last two weeks. In the providence of God, your generous gifts arrived on time to cover the deficit in our bank accounts, pay our weekly bills and salaries, and set aside enough for this next month's rent. To God be all the glory, and to all of you a huge thanks! 

Please continue to pray for regular monthly supporters who can help to subsidize this most worthy ministry. In researching for a recent report I had to write, I discovered that we at Casa Compasiva are slowly but successfully inching along the path towards sustainability. In fact, in 2015 we arrived at 25% sustainability, with more progress already made in that direction in 2016. In other words, “The ox is slow, but the earth is patient.” We are encouraged that though we still have a long ways to go, at least we are on our way! Thanks for bravely sharing this journey with us.

For the women and babies of Oaxaca,

Lila Quezada

Tuesday, August 30, 2016

Zilcho Dinero!


I just arrived back in Oaxaca after spending the summer up north in a new therapy program for my Parkinson's Disease.

The good news is that while I was away, our wonderfully competent Casa Compasiva staff attended seven birthing mamas at Casa, and taught pre-natal classes each week to between ten and fifteen pregnant families!  They did a great job holding the team together in my absence...keeping "the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace."

One young doula got the courage to share the devotional in the pre-natal class for the first time. Another of our young midwives gained the confidence to attend clients on her own without the constant presence of the doctor or a senior midwife.  They also weathered many storms, including: the sudden death of one midwife's father at age 49, the wedding and departure to her husband's village of another midwife, the first-trimester pregnancy nausea of two of our married doulas, and the extended absence of our senior midwife who is away visiting family in Texas.  All this was  played out against the backdrop of constant civil chaos as the Oaxacan teachers' union  blockaded  and crippled transportation and local business all around the city and state. Our Casa Compasiva staff endured the dangers and inconveniences of the summer,  accomplishing all with the grace and strength of our Lord.  I am very proud of our staff! 

The bad news is that while I was away all summer going through my therapy,  I was very low on energy and dealing with med-induced nausea much of the time.  Therefore, unfortunately I was in no shape to do fund-raising for Casa Compasiva while in WA and B.C.  Arriving back in Oaxaca on Friday night, I realized that our coffers are indeed empty.  Nada. Zilcho.  Well, actually negative zilcho in both the US and Canadian accounts. 

It is time to go to prayer again for God's hand of favour on CC finances.  We need money this week.... our hard-working staff deserve to be paid! Will you please join me in prayer? 

 Lila Joy Quezada

Thursday, May 05, 2016

Cinco de Mayo or International Day Of the Midwife?

Today is Cinco de Mayo—touted as an important holiday by Hispanics in the U.S., but largely ignored in Mexico—except in the state of Puebla.  More importantly for us here in Oaxaca, today we are celebrating the International Day of the Midwife....and what a thing to celebrate!

We celebrate natural birth!  God has designed women's bodies to have the ability to give birth with strength, dignity, and intuition—unimpeded by unnecessary medical interventions. Our Casa Compasiva midwives work hard to facilitate these natural births by supporting women with quality attention, excellent care, and unwavering compassion.

We celebrate women attending women in the vulnerable, yet empowering seasons of pregnancy, childbirth, and lactation. Our Casa Compasiva midwives and doulas understand and appreciate the unique needs of women clients in each of these phases. 

We celebrate education! Much of the intrinsic fear surrounding the mysteries of labour and birth can be dispelled by knowledge of the process.  What is happening to me? How will I be able to cope with the pain?  Is this normal?  At Casa Compasiva, we teach an ongoing series of eight classes designed to educate and prepare prospective parents for all phases of pregnancy, labour, birth, and post-partum. Ignorance creates fear; the truth sets one free!

We celebrate God's sovereignty and human choice—both/and-- not either/or! Casa Compasiva's pre-natal care and childbirth education reflect an understanding of God's sovereignty over human affairs, and human volition both. We prepare, we educate, we facilitate-- we do everything possible to allow for natural births.  When  complications arise and our best-laid plans go awry, we bow to God's sovereignty.  When clients choose to have an elective C-section or to go elsewhere, we respect their right to make informed decisions.

We celebrate community!  Pregnant women are not just clients to the Casa Compasiva midwives and doulas.  They become friends—important members of our ever-widening circle of loved ones.  In this last year our midwives and doulas attended six women who have come back for their second or third baby with us because they know that we love them!

We celebrate the love of God through Jesus Christ and the power of prayer!  Our pre-natal appointments and classes include short devotionals and gospel messages making clear the hope we have in Jesus.  Our midwives and doulas pray for each clients' needs—physical, spiritual, and emotional.  We take our stand on the authority of scripture and we seek to honour God in our lives and our service to the people of Oaxaca.

So why do we ignore Cinco de Mayo and instead make a big deal of International Day of the Midwife? Because in Oaxaca, midwifery care with Casa Compasiva midwives is reason indeed for celebration!  


 Lila Joy




Monday, January 25, 2016

Belated Christmas Message

Christmas 2015
Our first grandchild
One month ago, in a far-away land called Germany, my daughter gave birth to her first baby—a son. She laboured quietly alone for several hours, not calling her husband at work or even realizing that she was really in labour until the midwife came by for a routine check. By that time she was so far along that the midwife popped her in the car and drove her immediately to the nearest hospital instead of to the family-friendly hospital an hour away. Baby Micah was born quickly and safely, but not in the peaceful environment or with the quality midwifery care that our daughter and son-in-law had planned. Our first grandchild is strong and healthy, but our daughter is still recuperating from the second-rate experience of her second-choice hospital care.
Which all begs these questions: Was their Plan B back-up-hospital choice actually God's Plan A experience for them? Or did their midwife jump the gun in rushing her to the nearby hospital instead of opting for the longer trip to the better facility in Hanover? Was God's sovereignty somehow trumped by exigency? Or were the circumstances of baby Micah's birth exactly what God had decreed they should be?
I will leave those questions of God's sovereignty and man's responsibility to the theologians of both Calvinist and Arminian persuasions. While it bothers me that my daughter suffered more than she “should have,” I don't have time or energy to wrestle with the theological implications. And in all honesty, I have to admit that her experience was not unlike what sometimes happens at Casa Compasiva.
“Juana” was a recent client of ours anticipating a lovely cozy birth at Casa Compasiva. She laboured well until 5 cm, when suddenly her labour slowed down and she failed to progress—at all. Hours and hours later, after trying all the tricks of the trade that we know—and all to no avail-- our midwives reluctantly made the call to transport her to a local hospital. Both Juana and her baby's safety were at stake, not to mention our integrity as a medically responsible birth-facility.
Plan B back-up- hospital experience was less than ideal.
Eventually Juana gave birth to a healthy baby girl—in a cold, sterile, unfriendly atmosphere isolated from her husband and from everyone she knew. She and baby were safe, but she was traumatized by being alone at such a time. Instead of the loving and supportive Casa Compasiva staff, Juana was surrounded by unfamiliar strangers critical of her intentions to birth naturally. Her birth experience fell far, far short of her expectations. Just like for our daughter in Germany, Juana's Plan B back-up- hospital experience was less than ideal.

And yet, I have to ask myself... was her Plan B actually God's Plan A? For whatever unfathomable reason, did God have a purpose in allowing the circumstances of Juana's baby's birth to be exactly as they were? Did He have reasons far beyond that which we can see or understand in allowing Juana's isolation in a Mexican government hospital... and in allowing my daughter to suffer “needlessly”... and in allowing Mary to be forced to give birth to Jesus in a dirty stable far away from mother and midwife because “there was no room in the inn.” The answer, I suspect, is “yes”. Just as “The heart has its reasons which reason knows nothing of...” (Blaise Pascal), so also God has His own reasons which His creatures cannot begin to comprehend. He allowed our Saviour's birth to be in terribly unhygienic conditions---definitely not Mary's Plan A choice! He sometimes allows medical complications for which we at Casa Compasiva have no solutions. In a fallen world, stuff happens...
As the old hymn goes: “Ask Him not then, 'When?' Or 'How?' Only bow....only bow.”
We bow, then. Casa Compasiva will bow to God's inscrutable ways, continuing to serve the Oaxacan mothers and babies to the best of our ability. Being human, we will feel frustrated when things don't work out as planned-- when a mother's Plan B must be applied and it yields unsatisfactory results. But we will continue to trust that ultimately God is working out His Plan A purposes in each mother's pre-natal care, birth, and post-partum recovery period.
It is a privilege to do what we can. It is a privilege to provide Oaxacan women with quality maternity care, ministering God's love through Jesus Christ in both word and deed. It is a privilege to comfort them even when their Plan A's go awry, and we are hindered in our ability to provide all their care. Then we encourage them to look to Jesus in their disappointment. We grieve with them when their birth plans fail to materialize as hoped, resulting in inexplicable suffering. And when we can offer absolutely no explanations as to the “why's and wherefores” of that suffering, we pray for the strength and the grace for all of us to bow.
Our first three midwives graduated from the Casa Compasiva midwifery course at the end of October. ... just in time to serve through this very busy Christmas season. These three excellent midwives will attend some of our Oaxacan clients in relaxed and joyful births at Casa Compasiva. They will all celebrate the successful conclusions to the natural birth classes that we offer.

However, in spite of everyone's best efforts, it is likely that some of the labours will end in the necessity of higher-level medical intervention. Our midwives may be forced to make the agonizing decision to transport to nearby hospitals. There will be tears shed all around. Some of the women whom we transfer will suffer difficult births under deplorable conditions. Those babies will be born during an imperfect Christmas season into an imperfect world.
But in God's economy, even the sorrows of their mamas' labours can be redeemed into something of eternal value in imperfect lives, and we stand ready to minister His love into their hearts. Please support the imperfect ministry of Casa Compasiva as we attempt to bring good tidings of great joy in both Plan A and perceived Plan B circumstances. We cannot do it alone. We ask you to remember the mamas and babies of Oaxaca this Christmas and in the coming year, and we thank you for your gifts and your prayers.
Feliz Navidad!
Lila Joy Quezada