Today I Changed the World.

The office was totally abuzz today. There were at least six different events happening, requiring everyone to be dressed to the tee and doing lots of different jobs.

I love that kind of a buzz. I love the adrenaline rush of remembering millions of details and trouble-shooting last minute anomalies. I love the feeling of being so exhausted you start to lose your voice, but knowing that it really is okay because in a few days you’ll get that sleep-in and in the mean time, there’s some world changing to be doing and when you hear about the results, it. feels. awesome.

I felt the buzz today, but I felt it around me instead of in me. And I loved it and it was contagious and it inspired me to a place of hope and rallying, but at the same time I knew I couldn’t take it all on. It wasn’t my turn.

My two babies don’t know what its like to run a major event. They just know what its like to build towers and drink milk and giggle.

I’ve found motherhood to be an ongoing transition. I’m guessing it will never ever stop being that. I’ve been told this is true.

Today was another transition.

Oh sure, I double-checked run sheets, and edited thank you notes, and trouble-shot printer troubles, but I did it with a baby on my chest, sitting on the ground, putting together a wooden train track.

I battled in my mind as I watched friends and coworkers I loved and admired doing a great job, but really feeling the load. Was I doing enough? Surely, surely I could take it on for them… help a little bit more.  But it wasn’t my day to carry that load.

So instead, today, I told a little boy that he was fun. Not because he needs to be affirmed but because in the bottom of my heart I think he is the most fun kid I’ve every been around and I love that he makes me laugh and I feel so special when I hear glorious giggles erupting from the bottom of his belly.

And I told him he was smart because seriously, the things he says these days absolutely blow me away and he does it with this cheeky grin because he knows he’s never said that word or sentence or even concept before and that I’m going to think he’s the bees knees when I hear it (and I do.)

And I told a little girl she was sweet because the girl will stare and stare and stare at you from across the room until you notice her and look at her and its like she was just waiting to melt you with this smile that is so deep and incredible that you think she must be more wise than any 9 week old that ever lived or maybe she just still remembers what it was like being knit together by the hands of God Himself because it feels like He’s just smiling right through her to the deep places in your soul.

And as I talked of funness and smartness and sweetness, I realised, I’m changing the world too. These little people… this is the foundation for them to become the world changers they are destined to be.

And I smiled. Because even though I adore the buzz, playing with trains and blocks is a pretty cool job to have too.

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Some Are Better Than None

I hate this picture.

I hate it because do you see this boil on this little girls leg? It looks like a teenager’s first pimple compared to how it looked in real life.

I hate it because of the memories that come flooding back when I look at it.

I hate it because of the way my eyes sting with hot tears just like they did the night I met this little girl.

I was just getting out of the shower when I heard a heap of commotion. Would Dr Cassie please come up to the clinic? A man was bringing his granddaughter. They had been in their dingy for a few hours making their way here. It was dark. Was there anyway we could see her?

I followed Cassie into the clinic and my heart broke. The little girl was in her daddy’s arms, with her grandfather beside them. They were keen for me to watch, to hear her story, to tell it to others… because maybe others would be stirred to help.

“She’s three years old,” Cassie told me as she handed me her registration form. My eyes widened as I saw that she was also 10 kilos.

She was three years old and weighed less than my one year old who was contentedly sleeping in his air conditioned cabin two decks below us. 

She was also in pain. I could see it in her eyes, even beyond the fat crocodile eyes that sat on the edge of her lids.

I listened as Cassie explained in pidgin, “The sore is too big for any anesthetic. This will be “bikpela pain”, but we need to get it clean.”

She then said to me in English, “In Port Moresby, we would put this little girl under. This is going to be very painful, but its the only option.

And so as Cassie began to prepare the wound, the hot tears in my eyes matched my little sweethearts. I was barely containing my emotions – half way telling myself to toughen up and half way knowing that sometimes we need to allow ourselves to feel the emotion so that we remember the importance.

And then she looked at me.

She looked at me with those big eyes as if to say, “How could you let this happen to me!?”

And that’s when I knew that even though I needed to feel the emotion, I also needed to be her courage. I swallowed my tears and the lump in my throat and smiled at her the biggest smile I could. “You’re very brave,” I told her. “This hurts so much, but its helping you to be healthy.” “I’m so sorry that you’re sick. I know its not fair. But you’re going to be better.”

And I held her eyes as she screamed in absolute pain.

When it was over, I looked at her laying there. Her tiny shorts were covered in blood. And yet I knew that there was no clean set of clothes waiting for this little girl. What she was in was all she had.

Except for the suitcase full of kids clothes that was sneaked onto the ship, despite the fact that we don’t have cargo space for it. And in that little suitcase we found the perfect princess nightgown for a ride home on the dingy in daddy’s arms.

They left with antibiotics, wound care tools, instructions to care for the infection, and where we’d be anchored if it got worse.

Later that night, in the quiet of the cabin, I asked Cassie, “What would’ve happened if we weren’t here?”

“I don’t know for sure,” she said, “It may have popped and healed on its own. But with an infection that big, positioned in a high bacteria area on the body as it was, and as undernourished as she is, it is very likely she would not have survived.”

So I guess in some ways I love this photo.

I love it because of the hope that it represents.

I love it because it reminds me of a precious life that was saved.

I love it because even though not every problem in the world finds solution, some do.

And some are better than none.

Dr Cassie and the little princess

Having a Ball

We did indeed have a ball in PNG… And so did many of our new friends.

As suspected, the balls were a BIG hit. And while it was a delight to see so many precious faces light up with big white smiles and sparkling eyes, there were a few stories that just felt… Like destiny.

Like Mida… We were chatting on board the ship as she waited for her turn in the dental clinic. Max played at our feet as we chatted about her two children in the village and how she was the eldest in her family and the only one to go to school, hence her good English.

And as the conversation turned, she shyly asked me whether I had a netball. I kicked myself because I was so close to getting a netball and then asked her if a soccer ball would do. She was thrilled and I went to my cabin to pick it up.

Days later I learned that this village saved for months to buy the men a rugby ball in Port Moresby. Now the women, with no way to make an income, were saving for a ball for themselves.

What started as a fun idea actually turned out to be an answer to prayer for around 50 women.

And then there was Joyce.

Isn’t she beautiful?

Her eyes are absolutely radiant. Like, can’t-help-but-smile-because-they-sparkle-so-bright sort of radiant. She’s smart and quick and witty and kind.

She is also mute.

She’s never said a word in her life. No one knows why. And the bright intelligence that embodies this little girl is absolutely astounding in a place where the fit are the ones who survive and thrive.

She is strong, lovely and tenacious and I’ve fallen in love with her.

There was also Jeffrey. His oldest son was given to him when he was a single man by his sister. Its the thing to do here. If family doesn’t have a baby, you give them one. Now he’s married with another little girl. He’s been in this village as a school teacher for 10 years.

10 years in a place where they are only just now getting a clean source of water. 10 years in a place where he couldn’t even access his pay check unless he took a $300 trip to the city… via dingy… on the water for two days… if the weather permits.

The man is so committed. We gave him balls with globes on them for the kids in the classroom. He was SO excited.

Those are only a few of our friends, only a few who adored those balls, each for different reasons. There are many more shining faces and bouncing balls round these villages.

Thanks for helping us make their faces light up and giving us another reason to connect!!

And then there were three…

“I come that they would have life to the max”
(Paraphrase of John 10:10)

We have been overwhelmed with God’s grace to us during the arrival of our firstborn that we wanted to share the story. Just a forewarning, mixed in with the precious details of his arrival are some gory details of a fascinated first time mom. I’ll try to keep them to a minimum!!

Early labor started at 7:30 on Saturday, February 6 when our little man was officially one week overdue. After lots of exercise in the pool, contractions started and were consistently 10-15 minutes apart. I got a bit of sleep but not much as the contractions were strong enough to wake me from sleep. Around 3 am they really started getting closer together and by 8am they were around 4 minutes apart but short and manageable. I excitedly reported the progress to Jared when he woke up and we decided to text our midwife to let her know we might be in later in the day.

Within the hour, they abruptly stopped and slowed back to 10-15 minutes. We spent the day wondering what would happen, taking walks, and trying to rest knowing we’d need our energy if he arrived that night. Sometime in the evening, around 8pm Ken and Robyn (who had been chilling with me through the contractions for a big chunk of the afternoon) popped over and Ken prayed for this little life. It was shortly after that the contractions started to pick up and they progressed very quickly. By 10pm they were 1-2 minutes apart and lasting at least that long. I was in PAIN! I was determined to labor as long as possible at home but it got to the point where they were so strong that I wasn’t sure I could handle the ride to the birth centre. We called the midwife, she heard me and said, “YES! Come now!”

When we arrived I was 6.5-7cm dilated. My goal had been 5 so I was stoked. We labored in the tub for a while and then the shower. It has hard but it was good. Things continued to progress and within a short time I was 8cm. I moved back into the pool and could feel things really picking up. There was a breakthrough moment for me when my waters broke. I felt this huge pop and for the first time, I just KNEW that I was going to make it. Before then I was doubting myself the entire time and wondering why in the world I wasn’t going to the hospital to have an epidural.

Just as quickly as I began to feel empowered, Vanessa, our (amazing) midwife said, “Rebekah, there’s meconium (baby poo) in the water and we need to transfer you upstairs right now.” I was SO disappointed. The water was feeling so good and I had just mustered up the confidence to get the baby out. Things were not going according to plan.

I hopped on a gurney and they began to wheel me to the birth ward. I was in SO much pain and I have to admit my lungs during labour were SO loud. I had no idea I could scream that loud! I was hurting even my own ears and Vanessa thought I might deliver the baby on the way. In the elevator I had a doozy of a contraction and yelled so loud she covered my mouth and told me I had to be quiet or I would scare people!

When we got to the room and hooked us both up to the monitor, our precious baby’s heart beat had dropped from a healthy 140-150 during the entire delivery to 60. The doctors – who were already in emergency action to prepare for any complications from the meconium – took their precautions to the next degree.

I was in so much pain from the contractions and it was such a whirlwind. All I remember is the doctor looking at Jared and me and saying, “I am very concerned for the life of your child.”

Shortly after they were putting a mask on me and I asked what they were doing. I heard them say, we’re preparing you in case we need to resuscitate you. You’re loosing a lot of blood. DEFINITELY not going according to plan as we had been having a hard but very healthy labour up to this point.

I heard them telling me, “We have a few minutes to get this baby out of you.” I wasn’t quite fully dilated but they offered to let me push with the assistance of a vacuum. If he didn’t come within a few minutes, we were going immediately to c-section, an awful thought after living through almost 30 hours of early and intense labour.

I remember being scared but determined. I remember wondering whether after all of this I would actually have a baby who was alive. As I had that thought, God reminded me of the name we had been considering, Max, and the Scripture that Jared thought of when the name came to him, “I come that that they would have life.” Immediately I knew this baby was going to live.

I started pushing, and since he wasn’t quite down enough for the vacuum I had a lot of work to do. It was so confusing to be in so much pain and such an emergency and 3 different people yelling at me “PUSH! PUSH! Stop! You’re pushing wrong!” All the instructions were overwhelming and I just wanted to get this baby out before something terrible happened to him. Vanessa was amazing. She cupped my face and quietly told me exactly how to push. I got him just far enough so that they could get the vacuum on and after a few attempts we had one strong contraction and I told the doctor I was going to push and together we got him out.

At 3:08am on February 8, I heard a big cry and they put him straight on my chest. He was so blue but he was alive and breathing. Even though he was covered in poo, and I was so exhausted I was so happy he was okay.

First Hug

Unfortunately at that point, things took another turn. Pushing the baby out so quickly had torn me quite badly inside in multiple places and I was bleeding very bad. I lost around 1 1/2-2 Litres of blood in just a few minutes. As they ensured the baby was healthy, they were taking very strong precautions to make sure I would be okay.

I had three IV’s in me (wishing at least one of them was pain relief!!) and after all that labour, they had to put me on Pitocin to contract my uterus quickly to help determine whether the bleeding was only from the tearing and episiotomy or whether it was coming from the uterus. I was not thrilled to have consistent contractions even after my baby was here! I was expecting pain in recovery but not that! They were no where near as bad but I was still exhausted from so little sleep over the past 72 hours.

It was an awful recovery and testing time. We were so exhausted but I was too tired to cry. I couldn’t even open my eyes to look at my baby but I was so happy to have him with me. Sweet Vanessa helped him latch on for a feed. Jared had been so strong the entire time. A constant encouragement. I couldn’t have made it through any piece of the labour without his encouragement and faith… and backrubs! I was so scared but he was SO brave. I remember opening my eyes enough to see him slumped over in the chair asleep as they continued to run tests on me.

Not knowing where the bleeding was coming from, the doctors decided to run tests on me for several hours… from just after 3 when he was born until about 9 that morning. We were informed that since they had not determined the bleeding, I may need to go into surgery to make it stop. We called home and asked for prayer and finally were told that the bleeding had been isolated and I could move into recovery. PRAISE GOD!

First Smiles

I was very very weak from the blood loss and required three bags of blood for a transfusion but around noon they finally let me eat (I had had a half an apple and some popcorn in the past 24 hours and wanted to eat SO bad!). The blood transfusion gave me a lot more energy. I didn’t realise how sick and weak I was. I am so grateful for everyone’s care and prayer. So many stories I could describe!

As Jared & I reflected on the entire experience and began to share with people, we found out that a number of people had been prompted to pray for us not even knowing that I was in labour. So many things could’ve gone wrong… and yet both Max and I are now cuddled at home next to the most amazing husband and daddy. It truly is a miracle!

Almost Better

And, as we reflect on our little miracle, we are reminded of the women in Papua New Guinea, who live in a part of the world with one of the worst infant and maternal mortality rates. Had we been there, it is most likely that both Max and I would not be here today.

As we were choosing our little man’s name, Jared had been reminded of the Scripture “I come that they would have life to the max.” Weeks later we had felt that this was also to be our message for the Australia & PNG Ship Tour. We are amazed at God’s ways! Our little boy – not just our special story – is a constant reminder of the precious people who need life. And our prayer is as a family we can help bring that life to others.

We love our little Max and are so grateful for all of you who hoped and prayed him safely into our arms! We love you!

Going Home

Jared, Rebekah and Max

PS – This is SO long but Jared (the practical one) just informed me I left out a lot of the detail! Haha! It really was an experience and a half …