Archive for April, 2010

View From a Gurney- The Finale

Before you read the final “Pregnancy and Birth Overseas” story, I wanted to introduce you to a wonderful woman of God who has a caring heart for women like each of you who are faithfully serving the Lord and your families. She has kindly offered to share her wisdom and encouragement here as a contributor in order to bless you! Please give Debby a warm welcome!

Debby Thompson has been on the staff of Campus Crusade for Christ for 36 years, 33 years living overseas. In 1977, she and her husband Larry went with their infant daughter to live covertly behind the Iron Curtain. Together with their 3 children, they have lived and served in Poland, Germany and Hungary. The past 18 years she has served as women’s ambassador alongside her husband, Director of Affairs, for the 18 countries of Eastern Europe & Russia. Recently, they have transferred their leadership to a national couple from Poland. And yes, she is a grandmother to 4 beautiful little girls!

Here is Debby’s story,

View From A Gurney

The hospital in Poland where this story takes place

“To jest chlopak!” (It is a boy!) With that declaration our son, David Lawrence Thompson, Jr. entered the world, April 6, 1979, a hearty 9 pounds, 141/2 ounces. Lying on the cold, hard gurney, I took in my surroundings. I was in a birthing ward in a communist hospital behind the Iron Curtain in Warsaw, Poland. The long windows revealed that it was an early cold spring morning outside. Around me women were in various stages of the birthing process, some behind curtains, some not. It all looked and felt like something out of a black & white World War II movie. Only the birth experience itself and the nearness my husband seemed familiar. The language, the equipment, the smells, the sounds, even the dress of the attending medical staff was different. And the procedures were definitely different. I was thankful to have arranged for a colleague to transport dissolvable stitches from the International Pharmacy in Vienna, having been told that none would be available.

Larry needed to leave; he would return with food & toilet paper, since the hospital could not provide supplies for its patients. A sister (Polish for nurse) came by and asked if I would like of cup of tea! Definitely. I was keenly aware of how terribly much I missed my mother. The tea would be soothing. By myself on the gurney, having just given birth in a land so far from my own, my thoughts floated back over the previous few weeks. Larry and I had searched arduously for a doctor that would allow a husband to be present in the delivery room. Since this was Baby #2, we felt already trained in the method of natural childbirth. However, this was an outlandish request in the communist medical system and we needed a Polish doctor to grant permission. Finally, and I say finally, 6 weeks before my due date, we found a professor doctor that gave the needed approval. Though he was not even present and a midwife was just as involved as the attending physician, the professor doctor would later take full credit for the successful delivery.

Why would any woman want to add childbirth to her repertoire of cross-cultural experiences? A very good question. My bedrock answer then & now: the will of God. Years earlier as a student at Mississippi State University I became involved with the organization of Campus Crusade for Christ. There I met a group of students who had a smile on their face, a spring in their step and a song in their heart. They were marching to the beat of a different drum and I wanted join their ranks. Though I knew the Lord, it was in that season that I yielded to God complete control of my life and my future. I determined that Proverbs 3:5-6 (“Trust in the Lord with all your heart. Lean not on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge Him, and He will direct your paths.”) would chart my life’s course, no matter what circumstances I was in or what insurmountable challenges I faced. Larry’s marriage proposal had been, “Will you go with me in helping to reach the world for Christ?” My answer was “yes”-to the Lord, to him, and to a future of pioneer missionary living.

The ramifications of those decisions found me on that gurney in a communist hospital. I was not trying to be a heroine; I was not seeking to be a martyr. I just wanted to be in the center of God’s will. I was fully convinced that was the safest place to be, and I knew that His will was good, acceptable and perfect. (Romans: 12:2).

A host of factors had led to our prayer-saturated choice. We had a little 3-year-old daughter to consider and we had a home of our own. Any missionary will agree that no matter where home is, it is home, even when the address is communist Poland. I did not want to have a baby while living transient out of a suitcase. Desperately I longed to bring our baby home to our home and the modest nursery we had prepared for him. And that is what we did.

Fast forward to 2007. “What in the world were you thinking?” My son had just become a father & the story of his own birth was being re-visited. This is the son that was the first baby boy to be born to evangelical missionaries behind the Iron Curtain. He will never be able to be President of the United States; our constitution prohibits anyone being born outside its borders from holding that office. But he will always have typed in his passport “place of birth” Warsaw, Poland. That to me is a very precious treasure. The Polish people are a remarkable people and our family is supernaturally bonded to their nation.

But his question took me back to my view from the gurney where the cultural differences dominated, where the physical & emotional challenges were as real as my next breath. There on that gurney, a holy awareness took place. I sensed the Presence of God. He was there with me; I was not alone. In an ocean of the unfamiliar, He was The Familiar. “If I settle on the far side of the sea, even there Your Hand will guide me.” He did. (Psalm 139:9-10) “My Presence will go with you and I will give you rest.” He did. (Exodus 32) “In Thy presence is fullness of joy.” (Psalm 16:11) Even on a gurney.

Debby, thank you again for your heart to bless and serve women in ministry, and thank you for sharing this amazing story with us! Does anyone have any questions for Debby?

(And lastly, THANK YOU so much again to everyone who shared your stories here this past month, and for each of your comments as well! I had so much fun reading about all of your experiences and hope you enjoyed this series too!)


Tuesday Topic: Praying for One Another

We haven’t done a “Praying for One Another” post recently, and as prayer is one of the most powerful ways that we can bless one another here in our little community, I wanted to make another opportunity for that. Tuesday is often the day that we have the most visitors here, and today also happens to be the “Worldwide Day of Prayer” for my missions organization (perhaps others too?) so I thought it might be good time for us to focus on lifting one another up before our Almighty God!

Would you please take a minute to share one praise and one prayer request that you have? These can be personal or related to your ministry, etc. Please revisit this post in the next couple of days to pray for each of these requests!

Also,  I wanted to ask you all to please pray for a special need. My friend and co-worker’s 4-year-old niece, Chrissie who was adopted from Serbia last Fall, has been battling for her life after undergoing a major heart operation.  God is at work, but this sweet little girl is in desperate need of prayer and miraculous healing. Here is her blog address if you would like to read more:

(If you would like to pose a “Tuesday Topic” question, please email it to . Provide your blog address if you would like to be linked to, and specify also if you would like to remain anonymous. Thanks!)

Pregnancy and Birth Overseas- Beth in Indonesia

Our third baby was due while we lived in Kota Baru, Indonesia. My water broke at home early in labor, so my husband and I spent time getting our two toddler girls to bed first and called our friend to come stay. We arrived at hospital at 8 pm and were so glad to see the delivering doctor was already there, though she looked a bit tired! It was great she was there because she only comes to the hospital “on call”and lives a ways away.

I was wheeled into the hospital and my husband, Courtney, followed. We came to the delivery floor and upon entering the doors the nurse removes her shoes and instructs Courtney to do the same. (It is customary for Indonesians to remove shoes before entering homes, they feel it is cleaner.  But this was our first experience to see that at a public place.) The nurse says “This is a sterile environment.” I chuckled and said, “Yeah, Courtney, are your bare feet sterile?” I hardly think so. But if the Indonesian hospital thinks so, we’ll comply.

The nurse set us up in a room. I was dilated to 3 cm and I asked the doctor for the epidural. She agreeably said, “Oh, yeah, ok”  and soon left the room. The doctor and I talked about an epidural with each check up and she assured me that she would call the anesthesiologist to come as soon as I arrived to the hospital and that he was very skilled at epidurals, though she also said it isn’t normal for Indonesian women to receive one.  I found with talking to my neighbor ladies they didn’t even know there was such a thing and were amazed and liked the idea of it, wishing they could have experienced it with their babies!

I got  ready to take on as much labor pains as I had to.  I was still in early labor. We called our parents because it was their Sunday morning and we knew they’d be awake. We also began to share the news that baby would be arriving soon to our friends here in Indonesia through text messages on the cell phone. I laughed and told Courtney what a funny sight this is – here Courtney was rubbing my back during a contraction with his left hand and texting on the phone with his right!

Things were going normally in labor. I was waiting for my epidural and wondered what the delay was. The doctor checked on me again and I asked for the epidural. With a look of surprise, she said, “Oh yes! I will call the anesthesiologist.” She forgot! It would now be another 30 minute to an hour wait. Courtney and I continued on in labor, talking together. Then, following one contraction, I suddenly felt a strong pain in my belly. It was so strange and unfamiliar. I told Courtney and he encouraged me to be strong and reasoned that with it being the third baby, the labor must be coming on fast and hard.  After a few minutes of this pain increasing and worsening with contractions, and no relief between contractions, I knew something was really wrong. This wasn’t normal.  I knew already that we faced some risks in this delivery – that the uterus could rupture since I’ve had a c-section with my first baby.

Wrapped up in a fetal position, the pain was severe and I hollered and trembled.  After the doctor asked several questions, I moaned, “I think it’s a possible uterine rupture!” In her thick accent she said, “Yes, Beth, I’m afraid that is it.  Will you allow us to do a c-section?” Courtney and I agreed to it fully knowing the risks of continuing labor, as we’d faced the matter before with the second baby. Before leaving the room to prepare for the emergency, the doctor patted my shoulder and said, “Beth, you should pray.” Now, maybe she meant that to be encouraging as she knew we are Christians, but when your doctor says that, it makes you wonder! So, of course we prayed and Courtney immediately sent out messages to our friends and organization members to pray for us.

Soon I was wheeled into the operation room and Courtney wasn’t allowed to follow. After a long and painful 30 minutes, the anesthesiologist arrived in the operating room and following him was my husband all dressed down in dark green hospital scrubs! Courtney was able to be with me after a friend  reasoned with the doctor that I would be more at ease if my husband were with me. Looking him over I noticed he had his shoes on now. I joked, “Shouldn’t this be a sterile environment too?” Courtney laughed, “Yeah, it’s supposed to be. I’m sure I should have washed my hands too. But there was no place to do that and the doctor that came in with me didn’t either.”  How reassuring. At least they used gloves. Within the next few minutes the c-section preparation moved along and I was finally relieved from the pain. Courtney and I definitely felt the prayers of so many people and we walked through this experience with peace-not panic, assurance-not worry, and gratefulness to the Lord for a healthy baby boy!

Thank you so much, Beth, for sharing this amazing story with us! Praise God for His providence and protective hand over you! Does anyone have any questions for Beth?

Revisiting our Vision

I just wanted to check in with those of you who decided to spend this past week or part of a week praying about your vision for your walk with the Lord, marriage, parenting, and ministry. I hope that it was a good time of prayer, time in the word, and of re-evaluation!

I had a good week and feel like God showed me through comparing scripture to the current reality of my life some things that He desires to be true for me and that I trust He will lead me in. For one thing, I kept coming back to Galatians 5 as God reminded me that His plan for me is freedom in Him through life with Him. He also showed me that so many of the specific things that He desires to be true of me and to grow me in depend heavily a day-by-day and moment-by-moment filling of and leading by the Holy Spirit. He reminded me of this first as I evaluated my desire to grow in patience with my kids, and it expanded out to so many other areas.  He showed me some great things about His will and His grace for me vs. my own desire plan and control and do according to what I think might be best. I also felt like he showed me some good but not burdensome tangible steps to take. It was a good week, and for once was a time where I feel like I was able to look at vision and future goal without burdening myself with tasks and a sense of being in charge of my own growth (though of course I do have a significant responsibility here) but to ask the Lord to lead me continually in this. How tempting it can be for me to just make more to-do’s for myself!

For those of you who spent some time this week praying over these things, how did the time go for you? Would anyone else like to share about any other recent times of evaluating vision? Are you excited about any specific things with regards to your future vision in these areas?

Pregnancy and Birth Overseas- Vanessa in the Dominican Republic

Our lives as missionaries is rather new. This time last year we both (meaning my husband and I) had 9-5 jobs in Northern California, not really thinking of moving anytime soon. It was around that time where we both decided that we were ready to take the next step and start trying for a baby. Months went by and no baby. I was discouraged but knew God’s timing is perfect. May of last year we got our call to the mission field which God clearly confirmed for us. We sold all that we owned, raised support, and moved down to the Dominican Republic.

We live in a poor section of Santo Domingo (the capital), where we teach English at a small Christian  school.
It has been anything but easy. We teach 1st grade through 12th. The students are very difficult to teach (lack of discipline) and the school has no real organization but we have been blessed. God has given us the ability to travel around the country, help deliver food to Haiti after the quake and have my parents visit for a week. After a tearful goodbye with the folks I starting noticing different “changes” in my body.

Three tests later and ultrasound my hopes were confirmed. We are having a baby! I am not far along right now but the baby, which we gave the nickname “appleseed”, is healthy and growing fast. This will be a brand-new experience for me and my husband, Sean. The hospitals are a lot different here than in the states. But our doctor is a christian and she even knows English. She prayed with us before the exam, setting my mind at ease. I look forward to visiting her throughout this babies growth. I am nervous but mostly just filled with joy. God is certainly good, no one can deny that. Even the Haitians we met that lost everything in the quake were still praising God. Amazing. Thier faith builds up my faith. God gives us only what we can handle, and I am convinced that He knows we can handle a lot. The best is yet to come….

*This is Ashley chiming in to say that since Vanessa sent me this story a couple of months ago, much has changed in their lives! God has continued to bless Vanessa’s pregnancy and her little one is growing right along! The big news is that God has recently led them in a new and unexpected direction in their ministry! They will soon be moving to the Midwest to accept a position as youth directors for a church there. Though this was unexpected for Vanessa and her husband Sean, they are excited to see what God has in store for them. Their involvement in ministry in Dominican Republic will continue in different capacities as they will be bringing 4 Dominican youth to the US with them in July to be involved in their youth program for 2 weeks, and also as they head back to Dominican Republic in July to work on a building project for the school as well as plan on taking trips back every February. As all of us know, our steps are often unknown to us, but God is so very faithful to lead us according to His will as we follow Him! Please pray for Vanessa and Sean as the make these upcoming transitions and as they wait on their new little one!

Vanessa, thank you so much for sharing your story with us, and CONGRATULATIONS! How exciting! Does anyone have any questions for Vanessa?

Ribbon Weave Tutorial- Use Ribbon to Dress Up Your Table

I am always on the lookout for decorating ideas for special occasions. My two requirements are: Does it use items which are commonly available to me living abroad? And is it affordable? I find many of the fabulous ideas out there don’t make the cut because they are either hard to implement without access to fully stocked craft store or are cost prohibitive.

That’s why I absolutely love this idea. You can find ribbon almost anywhere in the world and usually it is reasonably affordable.


The hardest part of this project is figuring out how much ribbon you will need in each color. After that, it’s a breeze!

1. Choose your color scheme.

2. Put your tablecloth on the table. Then decide how far you want the ribbon to fall from the edge of the table.

3. Measure the length of your desired look. Multiply this number by the amount of times you plan to use the ribbon length wise.

For instance, in the picture above, the green ribbon is used twice down the middle of the table. Imagine the table is six feet long and you want a six inch drop on each side. That’s seven feet.

7 ft. x 2 times = 14 ft.

4. Measure the width of your desired look. Multiply this number by the amount of times you plan to use the ribbon width wise.

Going back to Martha’s picture, the green ribbon is draped four times across the width of the table. Let’s imagine the table is three feet across and you want a six inch drop on each side. That’s four feet.

4 ft. x 4 times = 16 ft.

5. Add the total length and the total width of the ribbon.

14 ft length + 16 ft width = 30 feet of green ribbon

6. Determine how many times you will use each of the additional colors. Complete steps three through five to determine the total yardage you will need for each color. This will go quickly since you already know your width and length!

7. Buy, weave, make your guests feel valued and loved.

Buy: If you are able, buying ribbon in differing widths adds more interest to the look. If you can’t, who cares! It still looks great!

Weave: For the actual weaving process, I laid all the lengths first, then weaved in all the widths. You may want to have some push pins handy to some of the ribbon if you have curious little hands around or if you expect a breeze.

With Mother’s Day just around the corner, I imagine many of you are finalizing the details, including décor, for special ministry events surrounding that day. Whether you use this idea or just tuck it away for the future, I hope it will encourage you to see that no matter where you live, no matter your budget, there is ALWAYS a way to make your family and friends feel loved by adding a touch of beauty!

(Post by: Shilo)

Tuesday Topic- Begging

A question that likely all of us face, stateside and overseas alike!

From Shilo: How do you personally deal with the issue of begging? What guidelines do you use in determining how much and how often you will give, and to whom?

(If you would like to pose a “Tuesday Topic” question, please email it to . Provide your blog address if you would like to be linked to, and specify also if you would like to remain anonymous. Thanks!)

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