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Hope for a murderer

His face long, his eyes spoke clearly of the hardships he had faced. There were lines in his brow that only suffering can bring. His skin was dark, stained by hours of labor in the sun. He looked so very tired. He sat quietly and handed two papers to me. Read more

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Update on little J.R. – Day 19

He laughs and giggles at “peek-a-boo”.  He colors with his healed hand. He eats crackers non-stop. He points and makes all kinds of cute little noises. And finally, yes, he smiles.

We have a long way since the first critical day when J.R. was burned in a fire. He arrived at our house at 5 am, the hospital he was initially brought to, having done nothing for him. His skin hung in burnt ribbons, his head already beginning to swell from the trauma. I truly had no idea how serious this burn was or I may never have thought I could handle it… Read more

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Day 15 After the Fire in Escopa

We are watching God do a miracle before our eyes. No, our patients are not totally well, but I am watching new skin grow. I am watching infection die little by little. I am literally seeing new pink skin form under the black, layers of charcoaled skin.

Picture 32

One evening, I came in for my night shift, and Kuya Martin was laying in the dark crying in his pillow. Oh, dear Kuya. How many times have I told you that God is bigger than any plan of the devil. God will take this and turn it for good if you trust Him. God has a plan for your life, for your family. Read more

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Update on Little JR, Day 9 after the fire

His bandages are changed twice a day, sometimes three times. Both legs, his head, both hands and his entire right arm. That comes to 50% of his body when you add it up. The places where infection has set in must be “debrided”, or cleaned. As the days  passed, his little hand and arm began to swell. It seemed the skin would burst but for the thick layer of infection that seemed to hold it all in… Knowing this was the most painful part of his burn, we cleaned gently. His cries tugged at all of our hearts… he would whimper for hours even after his pain medication… Read more

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Fire Update in Escopa

It is Day 5 after the fire in Escopa. We have been so busy here at Gentle Hands after the Christmas Day fire under the bridge.

My morning shift over, its 2am. I gently woke Mandy who had grabbed 5 hours of sleep between shifts. Each hour of sleep is precious. Tonight, little JR won’t sleep… he whimpers and cries.

Picture 22 Read more

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Little JR

I was sleeping soundly. It had been a long day, but wonderful. There had been food and presents this Christmas Day. I was so very tired. Outside, my dad was in a drunken stupor screaming at my mom. How many times in the last week had he been drunk? Last week, when my mom took me to get medicine from Ate Cher, he was drunk then too… I remember cuz she really yelled at him. Read more

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FIRE!

It was 2am and someone pounding at my door, calling me in a panic. “Fire, Ate Cher. Fire in Escopa!”

I grabbed my phone and threw on my blue jeans, flashbacks of 3 months ago running through my mind when we had a fire and lost 45 houses in Escopa. I grabbed my phone and keys and ran…

Sirens screamed… this should have been a peaceful Christmas night… it was a nightmare.

The streets were lined with families… even in the dark, I could see the horror on their faces. Some were carrying sacks of clothes. There, a kettle, a pot. There a TV. One person had a wash basin… Everything they could save before the fire reached their house.

Mothers were crying. One woman passed by me 3 times… pacing the street, not sure where to turn, where to go… she mumbled and rubbed her eyes… hoping maybe, it was a nightmare…

I stood as close as I dared, watching the fire devour the houses where only 48 hours ago, we delivered food baskets and Christmas presents. The house we were building for a family from the last fire, was next, still standing. Lord, protect that house. All our hard work… the money we spent… please…Why were the fire trucks not coming?

The air was electric as crowds stood and watched the fire lap up the wooden shanties… suddenly, the power was out. The glow from the fire cast eerie shadows and people screamed and ran every which way… it was chaos.

Another person grabbed me… “We’ve lost everything… we have nothing left…” What could I do but hug them and coo… “I know, I know…”

A little girl, no more than 10 years old… holding her little brother… sobbing… she couldn’t find her mom. I sent one of our boys into the crowds to look…

So many faces… tears streaming down blackened cheeks… children naked and frightened, their parents too distraught to comfort them…

Finally, much too late, the fire trucks moved and after 5 hours, the fire was out… the entire community under the bridge, completely gone. Not a house standing.

A little boy, only 1, was brought to the hospital, his face and head badly burned. I sent one of our boys to get him… we have lost so many at that hospital. We had him discharged and we bandaged his wounds… After being in the emergency room for 3 hours, they had done nothing. He was so brave. He just wimpered…

Thankfully, only one mother and her baby died. There were only two burn victims. We don’t understand why things happen. We do know this community is despised because they are squatters. We do know the help from the government will be minimal and for sure, not enough. There are hundreds of people sleeping on the cold dirty cement basketball court. We are running a hostel on the first floor of our building and will set up a soup kitchen in our garage. In by 7 PM out by 6 AM. We expect to feed 50 to 100  people one meal a day. We are collecting clothes and other donations.

Please pray for the little boy, J.R., who was burned so badly. Pray for our families… they have lost absolutely everything… even their hope. Pray we will raise funds and donations. This is our community where we have been sowing seeds for five years… Pray that God will use this time… for His glory.

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Update on Gil – #3

It is Friday, the end of the third week of this awful ordeal with the little boy who was so badly burned.

Ate E (our Scottish midwife) and I get the basin of water and put on our gloves trying to prepare ourselves for this task. We’ve done it every day this week and it isn’t any easier today. Gil looks over at me from the TV show he is watching and starts to cry. Not a silent cry but more like shrieking… I haven’t even touched him yet. I would very much like to turn around and leave the room… God, give me strength. Give Gil strength.

Nico is here, the older brother but he looks weary already. Slowly we drip water on the bandages. Gil shrieks. Not so much. Do it slowly. Ow. Don’t touch me! Slowly, please. Please! I need my mommy. I don’t like you. Please. No more. No, I don’t want this. Please…

Ate E gently strokes his brow and holds his hands. I natter non-stop to him… the same old lines. We have to do this. We have to get the infection off the wound. Do you want to go back to the hospital? Come on, you’re a big boy. Jesus will help you. You ask him to help you…You can do this, Gil.

The gauze is so stuck… it is more like cheese cloth and adheres to the bloody wounds like sticky tape. How are we ever going to get this off?

I have called my friends in Canada to send a special kind of non-stick gauze… O, why isn’t it here yet? How much more of this can I take? How much more can Gil take?

His screams bounce off the walls and my head pounds. There… one more piece off. Oh that one is stuck right there at the back of the thigh. Oh, dear. That one will have to be pulled.

No… don’t… please…

Come on, Gil. Help me out. Work with me. I will be gentle. I am going very slow. Stop freaking out. I give a gentle tug… its been an hour already and I’m not even half done… it comes off.

We all breathe a sigh of relief and rest for a moment. Ate E is still calmly talking into his ear and praying all the while. The sound of her voice is somehow very encouraging though I look at her and her eyes are red and brimmed with tears. She looks exhausted.

I start again with the water but it is too late. Gil has had enough. Now he roars. I decide to pull the last piece of gauze off his inner thigh without his permission. I have been so careful to not cause any pain or surprise him. I’ve been so gentle…  But it is so terribly infected. He screams because he is angry. The wounds start to bleed. Gil sees the blood and starts to kick and scream… I can’t hold him down… he’s like an animal… but the leg is really bleeding because of his screaming… I have to settle him…

That is enough. I hear my voice above his. You will stop right now. Your wounds are bleeding because you are screaming. Stop it right now. I roar at Nico to hold his upper body still and not let him see the blood. I think he is panicking. I pad on gauze to stop the blood. The white sheets are soaked… this is enough to give anyone a fright. I continue to speak in a restrained yet very strong voice and suddenly all is very quiet. Just me barking orders…

We move him onto clean sheets and I remove the bloody gauze and I hold his leg still watching to see that the bleeding has stopped. It is just raw meat. Is this ever going to end? Will it ever heal?

I simply cannot do this… I will not put that stupid cheese cloth stuff. O, that the other gauze will arrive tomorrow. The room is silent. I decide to leave the wounds open, to give the air a chance to do something. Anything is better than that gauze. We move him into Noah’s room with the air conditioning. How horrific for Gil to have to see his leg like this but I don’t know what else to do.

Pray, Ate E. Pray.

He settles down on the bed with his Spiderman movie and his plate of supper. He takes his medicine and refuses to look at me or respond to my questions but he looks fine. He even laughed at the cartoon… Ate E and I are exhausted. We go to the kitchen to make hot tea and debrief…

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The next day, we took Gil to the doctor at the burn ward.  The infection was so concerning to me. He cleaned the wound and said nothing. “Keep
doing what you are doing,” he said. I stare in unbelief. “He doesn’t qualify to be admitted. It’s not bad enough.” He wraps up the wounds in more cheesecloth
gauze and we go home.

That afternoon the gauze arrived from Canada. We have used it for 3 bandage changes now… it falls off by itself with just a little water. Thank you, Lord. The dressing of the wounds now only takes 30 minutes at the most.

Please continue to pray for healing. There is great improvement on the side and buttocks… the thigh wound is so deep and so infected. Pray for us to have wisdom as we are left to care for this child with little help or advice from the medical community…

By God’s provision, we have had enough money come in to pay for all the expenses so far. Thank you for helping us. Thank you, Estevan, for the gauze. We believe God has a plan for this little boy, that his little life will be an example of God’s miraculous provision and healing.

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Update on Gil – #2

This afternoon, the hospital discharged the little boy that was burned on more than 20% of his 5-year-old body. The hospital needed the beds and after only one debridement and very strong intravenous antibiotics, in just 10 days he had recovered incredibly fast. Read more

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Update on Gil – #1

Gil was admitted to PGH (Philippine General Hospital) where the burn unit was closed. Last week there was an outbreak of a drug-resistant bacteria and the ward was closed and fumigated. The burn victims were placed in other areas of the hospital. The doctors were not going to admit him but we fought and begged… they relented and after 15 hours in a wheelchair in the ER, we were given an actual bed in the Trauma unit among stab victims and other very serious injuries… Read more