Tuesday, July 25, 2017

The Results Are...

In Singapore, where we normally do any serious medical care we may have, medical tests and results are completed on the same day. In the United States, in my experience, test and results usually do not happen on the same day. (Just to clarify, the post is about test results which were received months ago... I'm just catching up on this crazy life!)

I had a MRI completed in Jakarta in October 2015 when we first started chasing down answers to the cause of my having Horner's Syndrome. MRI machines speak the same language- LOUD. In Jakarta, I wore a hospital gown that was one-size-fits-all, and Josh was allowed to take a photo prior to the testing. He also had permission to sit in the same room with the doctors while the scans were coming to them. Nothing was given to protect my ears from the whirling sounds or the banging sounds from the machine. I was in the machine for nearly an hour. When I got out I was afraid my eardrum had ruptured, I had an incredible headache and was shaking. I'm certain that the use of an MRI machine without proper protection could be a form of torture. It was awful. The results, which were given to us after I dressed, were normal and clear. I have a healthy brain. 

Before the testing... there's no after shot, but it was rough. 

I had another MRI completed in the US in May 2017. I was given tan scrubs that were about 14 sizes too big for me, which was perfect because nothing fits properly after you've had a baby. All you want to wear are clothes that are way too big for you! I was given headphones and the option of what type of music I wanted to listen to. Easy listening helped block the language of the machine. A warm blanket, fresh out of the dryer, was draped over my legs. (I'll be right back, going to put a blanket in the dryer.) Every once in a while, the technician would speak soften into my ear informing me of what was happening next. While still long and loud, the procedure was tolerable and pain-free. The experience was worlds apart. However, the results were not given the same day. 

We were called by the end of the week with the results, still pretty quick in my opinion. The wait, the what-ifs, the wondering... all those "W" words caused us to press harder into the Lord for peace. The nurse phoned us and just simply said," The results from your MRI are back and everything looks normal and clear." We played it cool but were (and still are) overjoyed! There was no need for any follow-up appointments. We were cleared from him to return to Indonesia. While I do have Horner's Syndrome, the cause is unknown. So I'm in an even smaller group of weirdos who have it but don't know why!

The following week I had a CT scan of my sinuses. I had been having trouble breathing at night. The experience was completely different from the MRI. No gowns, no needles (the MRI had contrast), no hour long test- I was in and out in less than 15 minutes. The results were given to us by the end of the week. Sinuses were clear, no need for surgery to correct concerns. Woohoo! She referred me to an allergist. The allergist poked me with several needles containing the top allergens. Turns out, I'm allergic to dust.  She recommended a change in medication and the time of day I use it.

I've been sleeping and breathing better at night. It's hard to say if that's due to the allergist's recommendations or if it's because I'm a momma.

With joyful hearts, we can say with confidence we are cleared medically to return to our Wycliffe ministry to serve the work of Bible translation through aviation in Papua, Indonesia. Thank you for praying. Thank you for asking.

Please continue to pray for us as we prepare to return.
There are two things that must happen before we can return:

Wycliffe is a faith-based ministry. Each member is responsible to develop a team of ministry partners who will pray and give financially. Wycliffe does not send anyone overseas until they have a strong prayer team and %100 of the monthly budget Wycliffe has set for our ministry.

The second thing that must happen is the completion of our visas. This process gives us permission to live and work in Indonesia. The visas are currently in process and have passed the first stage of departments. Would you pray that we would have a full partnership team *before* our visas are released, so nothing would be preventing our return?

After 11 years with Wycliffe, the more we understand how important and huge the work of Bible translation is- it’s impossible for a few people to do it alone. We wouldn’t even want to try! Will you consider becoming a prayer and/or financial partner in our Wycliffe ministry? Click here for more information about joining our prayer or financial partnership team.

Thursday, May 11, 2017

Certainty in the Unknown

Our original plan when we returned to the States was to visit various specialists to determine the cause of my Horner's Syndrome and to get some relief with my sinuses. Months before our return emails were sent scheduling an appointment with a neuro-ophthalmologist and several documents were hand carried from Indonesia to their Seattle office. The day after we landed we discovered we were expecting a baby! This was a gigantic surprise and completely shifted our entire furlough plan. All diagnostic testing had to be delayed until after the baby's arrival.

Here we are 6 weeks after Allison's healthy arrival, and we have started to wade our way though various doctor visits. More appointments were set months ago to get this ball rolling again. This week I have had an MRI, 4 small cavities filled (with a laser beam... that's no joke!), chiropractic care (because maybe this could help with they symptoms of Horner's), and my 6 weeks postpartum appointment. Next week I have a CT scan, more chiropractic care, an appointment with an allergist, and probably some follow ups with the various diagnostic tests. 

I've been asked if I'm nervous about all the appointments. I'm not nervous or anxious unless a needle is involved. The MRI was done with contrast, so I had an IV in during the hour I was in "the tube". The warm blanket and easy listening music, which blocked the sound of the machine made that experience as enjoyable as that procedure can be. 

Honestly, I am certain in the midst of the unknown. I have no idea what MRI or CT scan results will show. I have no idea what next steps look like- surgery? physical therapy? or nothing? Maybe there's nothing that can be done. There are too many uncertainties, so I choose to focus on what is known and certain. 

Here is what I'm certain of:
-God will provide. He has in the past, so I will not doubt current or future provision. 

-I have peace... unless there are needles, then I get wiggly.  

-We have insurance. Medical care is expensive. I'm thankful we have insurance, which lightens some of the financial burden of all the expenses. 

-We (are hopeful we) will know more of my current health condition than we did prior to these tests. We are hoping for clear next steps.

-God is with me. None of this is uncertain to Him. 

Friday, April 28, 2017

Allison's Story

Baby Allie, here is the story of your arrival into this world ( Big Sister's Story can be read here

**Pregnancy and Labor stories can get pretty graphic... just saying) 

I had gestational diabetes during my pregnancy with you. We had to monitor you more closely because of a variety of things that were out of our control. Each week we listened to your heartbeat and got to see you on the ultrasound screen. We saw your lips, watched you try to suck on your toe, and talked about how beautiful you were when the screen was switched to 3D. We could not wait to meet you face to face! Usually, patients with gestational diabetes were induced at 39 weeks. I decided I wanted to wait, convinced you would come when you were ready. 

Your due date was Monday, March 27. We had bets and theories of when you would arrive. Many people made specific requests that you would be born on their birthdays. I thought you would arrive on your daddy's birthday (March 24), but it was possible you would arrive on your papa's birthday (March 28). Daddy thought you might come on April 1, and I hoped he was wrong! 

About 3 AM, I woke up with an urge to go number 2 (I'm already regretting sharing this info, but it's important for later). This was not uncommon with pregnancy. I stumbled to the bathroom, sat down and nothing happened. The pressure was so intense. I went back to bed, only to feel the urge again. I returned to the bathroom- again, nothing. My stomach was starting to cramp a little, and at one point it felt like I wet the bed. I woke up your dad and mentioned I thought I was having contractions, and your daddy was a flutter of excitement! He flipped on the lights and said "We're going to the hospital!", left the room and made a cup of coffee and loaded the car. 

By 4:30 AM we were on our way to the hospital, a 45 minute drive. I pushed my suitcase past security, who didn't even need to ask why I was there, and went up to whatever floor I was supposed to go to. When I checked in, I mentioned this urge to have to go Number 2, which I would continue to warn everyone about. The rest of everything is a blur and time flew by. 

I was begging for an epidural. I would "joke" that my birth plan just said "DRUGS, ASAP"... but really, it was no joke. That's the way I wanted it. I had labor pains all the way to the 3rd floor. I was dilated to 4 when we arrived. The nurse said, "So, you wanted an epidural like yesterday, right?" They called in my request and we waited... well they waited, I huffed and puffed through contractions. The next time they checked my cervix, I was dilated to a 6. 

I was moved to the room you would be born in. Still no epidural. I must have asked (screamed) about 50 times about it in about 20 minutes. The nurse was so kind and would call to check each time... I'm sure around the 30th time she just pretended to call on her phone to please me. She checked my cervix again... 9 (it was a 6 about 20 minutes ago!). 

I began to weep. 

Fearful tears fell as thoughts of more intense contractions lasting until who knows when began to creep into my mind's eye. The midwife, a couple of nurses, and the anesthesiologist were all in my room. The anesthesiologist was taking her "sweet time" *not* giving me what I wanted. I think I actually asked her to stop talking and just give me the epidural, which got her to stop talking long enough to explain that she had to explain everything to me... your daddy later apologized on my behalf saying I usually am much nicer. 

They asked your daddy to stand by the door, so he wouldn't pass out from seeing the epidural needle. While sitting on the edge of the bed, the urge to go number 2 came again and my body just began to push. I yelled out "I'm going to poop!!" to which the nurse and midwife shouted "That's not poop, that's the baby! Lay down!!" 

I tried to lay my contracting, pregnant self down while they tried to push me on to my back. My left shoulder touched the bed, and Baby Allie, you were already out! It happened so fast that you bounced on the bed before the midwife caught you! Your daddy was standing by the door in amazement because of how quickly you came! 

You were born at 6:44 AM- 3 1/2 hours after my first trip to the bathroom. You weighed 7 pounds 2 ounces and were 19 inches long. You are Harrington through and through- extremely punctual. You arrived on your due date of March 27, 2017. There was no time for epidural and no time for pictures. 

My body was in shock. For the next several hours I kept asking if that *really* happened. I said things like "that was so crazy!" or "I can't believe that just happened". You were born quickly, but had no complications. You passed all your screenings and had no fluid stuck in places it shouldn't be. 

Allison, we thank God for your precious arrival. You, dear one, have already made such a sweet impact on those around you. We pray that you would know Christ early in life. We pray that you would be a peace-bringer and you would speak Truth in love. You are dearly loved by Momma, Daddy, Kate and all of our family, but we could never ever love you more than the One who knit you together in a loving way. This is only the beginning of your story, dearest, and we are looking forward to sharing your adventures together. 


Wednesday, April 26, 2017

Toddler Speak and Funny Things

Kate's use of the English language has really taken off during our extended stay in America. She speaks *all the time*. If she's telling a story, it could take a while before one realizes there is really no point to her story. A few things are certain- there will be much enthusiasm and usually a monster is involved. 

Here are some examples of Kate's "Toddler Speak" that I don't want to forget. 
- Not much is on daytime television when you're nine months pregnant, so I got really into the NCAA men's basketball tournaments. Yes, there were two, and I watched both of them. We would ask Kate which team she wanted to win the game. We would ask if she would want the white uniforms or the blue uniforms to win. Her response was "ummmmmm, the blue unicorns". 

- Have you tried to explain an umbilical cord to a three year old? I haven't, but I know a few of you have. We did our best to explain that was how Baby Allie (Kate is very certain that Baby is Allie's first name, just like it's her first name) got her food when she was inside Momma's tummy. Now that she is on the outside, she doesn't need the umbilical cord anymore. A few days later after the cord fell off, Kate was shocked and said," Momma! Where's Baby Allie's *belly cord*??" 

 - Kate enjoys being outside with Grandma Lu digging in her garden. Grandma Lu has fishing wire strung around her garden to prevent the deer from munching on her greens. One sunny day, Kate was brought inside to timeout. Kate had gotten a pair of scissors and snipped each section of the fishing line. Josh asked her if she understood why she was in time out. She said yes. He asked her to explain what she did. She explained that she cut the wire, because she wanted the deer to eat grandma's garden. 
*At this point all adults exit the room attempting to maintain a straight face.* 
**At this point we realized that we have a future activist on our hands, chaining to trees might be in her future. Her current campaign is to "Feed the Deer".** 

We love Kate and love this stage of life she's in. We can communicate with one another, which is great but can be greatly frustrating too. One step at a time, because tomorrow will be different. 

Saturday, February 11, 2017

Where are we? What's happening with us?

It's been a while since we've posted, so here's a quick update on where we've been and where we are. 
Josh attended a week long leadership training course at JAARS in Waxhaw, North Carolina. During that week, Kate and I experienced many "firsts". It was her first time to ever be away from Josh overnight. The first night was very hard for her and there were many tears (from both of us) throughout the week. Every day she would ask about where daddy was, even if she knew the answer. Eventually the cries for daddy only came when she was getting in trouble for something she had done, which is usually when the tears came from this momma too! Another first was a trip to the urgent care for Kate due to an ear infection, which also explained some of the tears. She had her first round of antibiotics, which thankfully she enjoyed the taste of and gladly took her medicine over the course of ten days. That sickness passed through everyone in our house. I was the last one on the home front to get sick- sore throat, cough, congestion. We were hoping Josh would be able to avoid it. 

He returned home on a Saturday, and his sister arrived on the following Tuesday. Wednesday they started their road trip back to Washington state. A week later Kate and I would fly to Seattle. During the week Josh and Jenn were on the road, Josh got sick with a sinus infection that turned into pink eye somewhere in Oregon. Thankfully, his sister was with him, they still had a good time, and so far Jenn has been healthy. 

This was the first time for me to fly alone with Kate. I'm pregnant, traveling with a 3 year old, a car seat, stroller, and 2 backpacks. I'm sure it was a sight to see. Kate was amazing! She sat in her stroller and enjoyed the ride. She loves planes. She watched about 10 minutes of 30 different movies, had some snacks, and took a nap. I even got to read- yes, you read that correctly! 

We left Texas and its 80 degree weather and arrived on a sunny day in Seattle. 

Two days later it snowed! 

We had a wonderful time in Texas. It was so encouraging to reconnect with so many of you. We had the opportunity to share about our Wycliffe ministry and felt refreshed. We're looking forward to a time of "nesting" before our little one arrives late March.

One part of settling in has been meeting with midwives for my pre-natal care. Our last few weeks in Texas I took my glucose tolerance test. I failed both the initial test and the re-test. Now I have to closely monitor my diet (no Dr. Pepper and no flour tortillas) and check my blood 4-5 times daily until the baby is born and maybe even a little after. I *thought* that would be it, just monitoring diet. However, my doctor put me on a low dose of diabetes medicine to help get my fasting numbers lower. I *thought* that would be it. Then my Washington midwife referred me to the "Maternal Fetal Medicine" clinic where I will go 2-3 times a week for 2 different types of test (a non-stress test and a fluid test) plus my regular pre-natal appointments, as well as one appointment with a diabetes counselor. The clinic is about 45 minutes away from where we live. Those who know me know I always try to find the "bright side" of situations. 

So here are a couple: 
-This is temporary. The baby's due date is around 6 weeks from now. 
-The fluid test is actually an ultrasound, so we get to see our baby once a week until her arrival. 
-God is reminding me daily of the sacrifices parents make for their children's well-being and how He sacrificed everything for His children's eternal well-being. 

Will you pray for us? 
-Will you pray that I will find joy in forfeiting self for the well-being of the baby? 
-Pray that we will have peace and confidence that the Lord will meet all of our needs, both physically and financially. 
-Pray for that the remainder of the pregnancy will be healthy and the delivery will be healthy with no complications. 
-Ultimately pray that the Lord would receive the maximum amount of glory from our lives. 

Tuesday, January 10, 2017

Thoughts of 2016

I am always amazed at how many different emotions with great extremes and depths an individual can experience at one time. It's possible that pregnant women can relate more to the toddlers in their lives than at any other time in history because both are experiencing big emotions.

As I reflect on the past year while looking through photos I am reminded first of God's complete faithfulness to my family during some really great highs and some really low lows. The year began with a pregnancy and it ended with a pregnancy. It feels strange looking back and thinking I've been pregnant twice in one year. I'm grateful, but I can't help but grieve with those who long for pregnancies but for various reasons that longing has not yet been fulfilled. My story is different. I know what the devastation of one loss feels like. I only understand in part and can never fully understand the depth of loss of those who have experienced multiple losses, those who try and try and are still waiting, or those families who have precious memories of holding their little ones. I whisper thanks for each kick or movement. I'm treasuring up in my heart the moments Kate kisses her sister in my tummy. We are a family of 5, although you may only see 4 of us in front of you. 

This past year we traveled across the globe experiencing new places and adventures together as a family. We spent a few days in an interior village in Papua, explored Melbourne, Australia, and traversed through Washington state along the Pacific coast, through the Redwoods to the Grand Canyon and Petrified Forest all the way to the great state of Texas. We've seen oceans, trees, mountains, plains, deserts, and people that reflect the hand of a unique Creator. Humans try to recreate nature, but the Creator *speaks* them into existence. 

So while 2016 was a roller-coaster of a year, my heart echoes thanksgiving heading into 2017. 
Here's why: 

Saturday, December 17, 2016

Reverse Culture Shock

“Reverse culture shock is experienced when returning to a place that one expects to be home but actually is no longer, is far more subtle, and therefore, more difficult to manage than outbound shock precisely because it is unexpected and unanticipated,” says Dean Foster, founder and president of DFA Intercultural Global Solutions, a firm that specialises in intercultural training and coaching worldwide. 

Oh, America, you're wonderful. 
Oh, America, you can be overwhelming. 

We've been back in our passport country since the end of July, and we're still adjusting to different things. Some are small and some are big. Here are some quick examples of reverse culture shock that we've experienced. They are in no particular order. 

1. Washington malls and fairs

A can for garbage and a can for recycling. This personally caused me great anxiety each time I had to decide what category my trash fell into. I stood there silently debating which can my cup would go into. Finally, I admitted defeat and just threw the garbage into the closest can and ran away as quick as I could, fearful that someone may be monitoring the cans for correct placement and issuing fines for those incorrect. Even writing about this causes my heart to race a little faster... 

2. Credit Card Chip Readers 

Many stores will now have this lovely (confusing) machine. It once was just swipe your credit card, but now it may be a "chip reader". The day after we landed we went to Wal-Mart. We got a few items that we needed and some that we had missed while we were in Indonesia. The cashier rang up our things and then it was time to pay. We had been in America less than 24 hours. 

The conversation/experience went like this :

Cashier: Does your card have a chip?

Us: Yes
Cashier: Insert your card into the machine...

Us: Ummmm... okay, like this?

Cashier: Yes, like that and leave it in. 

Machine: Beep! Beep! Beep! (Not a nice beep, but a pull your card out or this will explode sound!) 

Us: (Yank the card out of the machine without reading the card reader's instruction that said "Do not remove")

Cashier: Leave your card in. 

Us: (Insert card again)

Machine: Beep! Beep! Beep! 

Us: (Pull card out)

Cashier: Leave. Your. Card. In. The. Machine. 

Us: (Puts card back in- again) 

Machine: Beep! Beep! Beep! 

Us: (stand quietly) Sorry, we literally just got back in the country yesterday and this is new to us. 

Cashier: Ok. 

Guy Behind Us: It's okay, it's still new to us too! 

3. Airplanes and Backpacks:

We've spent a fair amount of time on an airplane. Kate seems quite comfortable on them and probably enjoys the endless supply of snacks and unlimited screen time that comes with just surviving the flight. The other day we took a wrong turn in a familiar area that quickly became unfamiliar due to road construction (also causing stress!). The wrong turn routed us into Dallas-Fort Worth International Airport. Kate had been napping and happened to wake up during this wrong turn. It may have been her parents questioning one another as to which exit to take or maybe she just sensed airplanes being near. Thank the Lord for internet on your phone (also something new to us), and thank the Lord for Google maps (also new to us, last time everyone used GPS stuck to their windshields). On our way out of the airport, Kate began to cry saying she wanted to go to the airport and get on a plane. When we explained that we weren't going flying today, she was really upset. 

The previous week to our adventure through DFW airport, Kate announced that she did *not* want to go to church. I asked her why she didn't want to go to church to play with her friends. 

She replied," I want to go to church in Sentani." 

Sentani is our home in Indonesia. 
Sentani is the only home that Kate knows. 
Sentani is where all her friends, aunts and uncles are. 
Sentani doesn't have cold weather. 

I hugged that little one, who's heart is in two places at one time, and simply said," Me too." 

The next day Kate packed her backpack and announced that she was going on a trip and would be back soon. I asked her where she was going, told her I loved her, and reminded her to be careful. She informed me she was going to Sentani. Be safe! It was a very quick trip and she returned in time for dinner. 

4. Socks and Shoes:

 Wearing socks and shoes is normal for me and Josh, but not for Kate. In Sentani, we wear sandals all the time. Slip on shoes that do not lace up. Shoes that are easy to remove when you arrive at a friend's house before you enter or before you play on the play mat in the church nursery. In America, it's cold! It's not just *getting* the socks and shoes on my 3 year old, but it's encouraging her to *keep* them on. It's not unusual to go on a short ride in the van to open the door and see shoes and socks scattered on the floor in front of her seat. 

So yeah, what's the point? 

I have found myself saying this in my head more times than I can count. 

What's the point of wearing a jacket outside when you're only going from your house, to the van, to some where else? Is it worth the fight? The answer is- it's cold outside. You need a jacket *even if* you feel like it's warm and comfortable inside. 

Honestly, I'm still struggling with the point of wearing socks and shoes... 

The previous examples were small. The US State Department has some helpful documents explaining deeper reverse culture shock topics that I found that we have also faced and are currently working through, even unknowingly. These resources give helpful insites into what those who have lived overseas experience when they return to their passport countries. 

Images by Freepik