Happy Land Day To You!

One of my favourite parts about volunteering with  YWAM is all of the cultures we are exposed to. We have SO much to learn from one another. Tonight, while Jared is still away, Max and I had the honour of attending a Fijian Land Celebration.

Long story short, our friend and next door neighbour Amenatave Tuibua, has recently had his land restored to their tribe in Fiji. This was a long time coming and a very significant event. Mena had hoped to attend the official celebration in Fiji, but travel plans did not work out so his precious Aussie wife, Shey, planned a celebration right next door!

We sat on grass mats, many wore sulus, and there were curries galore! Of course, there is always a mix of cultures and we sang “Happy Land Day To You” (to the tune of Happy Birthday)

Even though I’m sure he won’t remember this specific event, I’m SO glad that Max gets to take part in these special events and growing up with this amazing awareness and understanding of different cultures.

Happy Land Day, Mena!

Max Getting Ready to Give Uncle Mena His Land Day Present

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Paddy Melons, Pythons, and Kookaburras – OH MY!

This week was our annual staff retreat and with the Medical Ship crew all joining us, it made for a very special occasion indeed! For most of our staff, the many trips up to this special place make this a long-anticipated event, with the sweet memories of past trips almost as precious as the new adventures we are eager to have!

Lounging

This trip was extra-special for us as the last trip I was nearly half way through my pregnancy with Max and the time before that, well, he was just deciding to make his appearance into my belly. THIS TIME, however, we got to introduce our sweet little bundle to the joys of camping and also this special place.

Welcome to the bush, Little Man!

Normally I like to think I’m a fairly relaxed mom, but this time I’ll admit that I was a bit nervous about two things:

1 – Learning how to keep a baby warm (can I just say he’s slept in a nappy and either a onesie or nothing else for almost every night of his life, so learning to do blankets and proper jammies and the rest with no climate control was a tad bit daunting!?)

2- Figuring out how to keep him quiet all night long with 150 sleeping people – most of whom are either not used to babyhood, or are new babies themselves who I didn’t want Max to wake up!!

Fortunately with a few extra cuddles, we figured both out better than I anticipated and had an absolute blast.

Toasty Cuddles!

We enjoyed the sights, the smells, the warmth of the campfire, and the thrill of chilly noses. We relished in the wildlife (we saw paddy melons, pythons, and kookaburras – all Aussie favourites!), worshiped with our friends, relaxed, and looked forward to the future.

  • Max’s highlights – playing with his friends Riikka and Levi, getting to know four kids who have just joined us on staff, eating grass, getting cuddles from all mom and dad’s friends and getting to rock to sleep in our arms or the pram for pretty much every sleep time!
  • Jared’s highlights – lots of time to read, all day long to spend with Max, and the gummy candies I packed as a treat!

  • Rebekah’s highlights – heaps of games, good chats around the campfire, and getting to just stop for a couple of days for the first time since Max arrived.

It… was… wonderful.

Jared is still camping with the DTS. There are our first nights away from him since being in the hospital for Max’s birth and our only contact has been a phone message he made with the satellite phone (love that thing.)  However, Max and I are enjoying some quality time together and the leftover smell of campfire smoke in our hair while our hearts are excited for our love to come home!

I LOVE CAMPING!

A Daggy But Oh So Special Dedication.

I’ll be honest. We’re not your typical family. We might look typical on the outside. But we tend to do things a little bit differently than everyone else.

Which is why, when you see this picture posted below, you just might think, “Man, couldn’t they dress up for their first born son’s dedication*?!” And that would be an understatement. Because we actually look as daggy as daggy can be.

A Holy Memory

But there’s a reason.

This week when we went camping, there we were under the stars, singing songs to God, and I was absolutely struck with awe in my heart at how privileged we are to do what we do. Here we are, halfway around the world, working with an organisation where we are helping to shape a nation – by helping people one person at a time. Not only that, but we get to do it with about 150 amazing people. And what really struck me is that – even with the sacrifice of spending his days away from his adoring aunties, uncles, grandmas, grandpas and cousins – our little boy is so, so loved. Other than next door to his Nani and Papa or Grandma and Grandpa, I can’t think of a better place I’d want my son to live, learn, and  be loved.

So it was, with tears glistening under those twinkling stars, camping at a place that has come to be a special home to us with so many memories, that we decided to dedicate Max  around the campfire in front of 150 of our closest friends and coworkers.

That night will become one of my most special memories, as we counted the cost of parenthood – the sacrifice it takes (and oh, is there sacrifice!) to raise our precious boy, and also the sacrifice it will be to one day release him to do whatever it is God asks him to – and committed before God and our friends to do our very best to love our sweet Max.

It was one of my most proud moments of Jared, as with tears in his eyes he so eloquently committed these things in words so sweet I can’t even begin to do them justice with my memory. I couldn’t have asked for a better teammate in this journey.

We make mistakes often. And we’ve only been parents for 4 1/2 months. But our hope and prayer is that even our shortcomings and failures would point Max to find comfort and hope and identity and truth in His Creator… and to bring life to many.

* Wondering what we mean by dedication? Its a bit of a “Christianese” term, if you will, but in reality its similar to a marriage ceremony in that we wanted to make a special statement to help seal in our memory our commitment to love and raise our little boy.

I Want To Live.

Tonight was one of those nights where I’m so proud of what we do. We bundled Max up in the pram and trekked down to the YWAM centre for the I WANT TO LIVE concert. All week long we’ve been at schools telling Aussie young people the importance of using our lives to help others. Tonight, it was all about taking that to the next level.

With an amazing lineup of some of my incredible (ahem)  friends and coworkers, it was all about telling the story of Papua New Guinea… and what we can all do to help.

So what can you do?

TELL
Join the I Want to Live Facebook and tell your friends all about it. The more people who are aware, the more people we can help!

GIVE
You can donate online to the cause, or even buy an album (see below) with proceeds going to assist

GO
That’s right. You could come and join us right here in Australia OR Papua New Guinea and make a serious difference. For that, you’ll have to contact us at jaredandrebekah (at) gmail (dot) com.

Check out some of the awesome music they have written in honour of the beautiful people of PNG…

Five Star Streets
AND you can buy this album on iTunes

Saving Sparrow

Woje

Finally.

It was April 2007. Jared & I had just been married. Our engagement was what I like to call a calculated whirlwind. It would be a long engagement or a short one. We chose a short one, knowing it would mean we’d have to spend time apart.

This was the week of many we’d spend apart. I was at a conference for YWAM iin the Pacific. And it was there that a dream was born – for Australia to have a medical ship.

Fast forward three years to February 2010. It was the very week our first little boy was born that this special ship arrived in Australia.

And another four months to June 21, 2010. My 30th birthday. And the day the ship arrived in its new home… our home… Townsville…

Max took naps on the ship, played with people he didn’t know, and ministered with his baby babbles and smiles to many who were exhausted under the pressure of this amazing undertaking.

Jared was our hero, leading a DTS and somehow popping up at just the right time to put Max to sleep or bring me a plate of lunch. The man makes a mean sandwich and though he always puts a lot more chips on the plate than I would ever give myself, they’re always gone by the time I’m finished.

And then there was me, sneaking away from meetings to feed my little man, secretly loving the fact that I got to be the mommy and the messenger all at once.

Its  been a long time coming. But she’s here.

Finally.

You'd think we could've found a better photo to mark the occassion with!

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 …