JULY 29, 2010

The girls relax at Malay-Balay.


The girls enjoy swimming in the pool at Malay-Balay, some for the first time.

Monique Judkins gave the girls their own tooth necklace in which to keep their extracted teeth.

A View From Me to You: Part III

By Monique Judkins

   This article is part three of Monique’s personal account of a missions trip to Nehemiah House in the Philippines.

   Only one of the girls forgot to wear her nametag that we had made yesterday, so I handed out a prize to most of them; a sugar free lollipop. (Of course I had to make it sugar free!) The Bible study was on gossip. We decided that everyone had a hard time not gossiping so at the end of our study time we decided to find someone who can help us be accountable. If we heard someone gossiping, we would tell them that we didn’t want to talk about that anymore since it was gossip. All the girls agreed to help each other.

   Breakfast was sausage, rice, bananas, and pineapple. As with the previous morning, Don and Gwen continued their painting, Luke decided to help us in the dental station and Kathy started the next craft, bracelets. We worked through the morning. I found out that the heat really takes away my appetite. Even though it was time to eat, I was not hungry.

   In the afternoon, I began taking out some of the worst teeth. Genevieve had six bad ones; all of them were baby teeth. She reluctantly let me take one out. She had never had anesthetic before so I took it real slow and we got it out.

   Unfortunately, Felia was next in line to have a tooth out and she was scared! I made it a rule not to let any of the kids watch as the other kids are having dental work done to respect the privacy of the children but in this instance I had Genevieve sitting by while the area where we took the tooth out bled. As such, she was witness to Felia’a crying. All of a sudden she began to question if she should be afraid. We let Felia go without doing anything and tried to bring Genevieve back to get another tooth out since she was numb on that area but now she would have nothing to do with it; she began crying herself.

   Unfortunately, I knew this would now set a precedent for her. I had my work cut out for me now. I had brought along necklaces in the shape of a large tooth that opened. It functioned to hold the extracted tooth. The kids loved it. Genevieve was no exception; she really treasured her tooth necklace and enjoyed showing it off to the other kids. After an extraction, I also gave each child a really nice necklace kit I had brought along just for this occasion, to reward their bravery.

   Genevieve picked out her favorite and quickly ran upstairs to put it in her box. In the girls’ bedrooms they each had a cubicle that had a large plastic box. In the box they kept papers, toys and anything else they wanted to keep safe. She showed me where she put it and was very proud of her bed and her belongings. There were three rooms painted different colors with six to eight bunks each.

   By Sunday we had been able to sleep in until 4 a.m. I was starting to appreciate how I had been able to sleep in until 5:30 a.m. back home. By now I had finished all of the initial exams and had taken out five to six teeth, and had started some of the cleanings. I began with the girls who had the worst gum disease because I needed to work on one quadrant at a time with local anesthetic.

   Each day I did as much as I could and it wasn’t long before I realized I was running out of time, I needed to take advantage of any window to time I had available. I worked around their schedules for chores and tried not to do any dental work after dinner since that was “play time.”

   After breakfast we attended “Light of the World” church with Michael and his family, all the girls and all the staff. It was a nice church and I was so relieved to see it was all in English! They sang some really nice songs. We were asked to help with Sunday school for the kids so Luke and I went in with the older ones and Gwen and Kathy went in with the younger ones.

   Luke and I had all the older girls (age 12+) so we did a study on how to stay on the path of righteousness, what to do when we find ourselves straying, or among friends who stray and want us to join them, and the concept of reaping and sowing.

   Monday morning I felt the jetlag had finally wore off; I slept in and almost missed GST time! The roosters started crowing early and served to wake us up. I was able to get quite a bit more done dentally on the girls. We were informed that early in the morning we were setting off for one of the other Nehemiah houses; the one in Malay-Balay.

   In the afternoon, the seven girls from the third Nehemiah house in the town of Gingoog arrived. They would join us in the morning and all drive up together. Since I only had one section of time to do their dental work, I concentrated on their needs for that afternoon. Their oral health was similar to the others, a few needed extractions, all needed cleanings, fluoride treatments and sealants.

   3:30 a.m. Tuesday morning came too early. All the girls had brought down their mattresses which were tied on top of the pickup. Everyone had a daypack for the two days we would be there.

   The drive was long and the road was full of turns. Finally we arrived at Nehemiah House in Malay-Balay. There were 14 girls living there with six staff. It was different from the house in the city. The house here was in the mountains and surrounded by pineapple fields. They told us how they had trouble with cobra snakes and warned us to be careful walking around.

   Some of the girls had never been to a swimming pool before so this was a big treat. The Philippine people are very modest so most people wore cut off shorts and a t-shirt to swim, few were seen with a real bathing suit. We followed suit and wore shorts over our bathing suits too. It was a day of fun and relaxation.

   The next day I had to make up a lot of time; many of the girls living at Malay-Balay still needed dental work done as well as all the staff and the missionaries. As soon as the girls finished eating breakfast, I began the first lesson; how to properly use their toothbrush and floss. I gave them each a toothbrush and had them practice what I was telling them. Each girl also received toothpaste and some floss picks.

   In addition, I left each of the house mothers a sack with more toothbrushes and $20 to buy more supplies for the girls. I worked hard over the day to complete what I needed to do. Finally at 4 p.m. I was done and we could return down the mountain. All the others had left except me, Don, Patti, (the nurse), her daughter and Michael who was our driver.

   I can’t remember ever being car sick but Michael cured me of that with his erratic driving back down the hill with all the curves. We had to take it slower due to traffic so we didn’t arrive home until 7 p.m. I felt good though, I had accomplished much. We arrived home to find our neighborhood in brown-out; I didn’t look forward to trying to sleep again without my fan. That night while trying to find my way to the bathroom I was introduced to our house companions: large cockroaches! Great, one more reason not to sleep. “I can do all things,” I reminded myself.

   Over the next couple of days we were able to go to the market for a few souvenirs and even experience their “Mall.” We were approached by some locals who wanted to tell us they liked our noses (we all have long noses compared to theirs) and they desire to have light skin.

   While we were looking around in the mall we noticed many products like lotion and suntan lotion promoting the ability to lighten the skin. I found it very interesting, and told them so, that in the U.S. we try to darken our skin, while here they don’t like it. Apparently, if someone has lighter skin it is an indicator that they don’t’ have to work outdoors in the fields; their status is of a higher class.

   By this time, some home sickness is setting in with some of the team. The heat is definitely hard to deal with and we are not able to communicate with loved ones back home. We have been gone eight days now, and only have three more days with the girls. We all have mixed emotions at this stage in our mission trip.