By Robyn Rexin
Following her recent return from the Philippines, where she is learning to be a midwife and missionary, Vienna Moilliet held a merienda evening on June 13 at the Vavenby Christian Church.
She started the evening by thanking everyone for coming – there was a large turnout – and then gave an agenda of what was to come. Moilliet explained what she was doing in the Philippines. It is a two and a half year program and so far she has completed nine months.
First she showed pictures that she had taken. They were put up on the wall with the church’s power point and set to music with words explaining them. She gave world-wide statistics on pregnancy deaths for moms and babies.
The statistics were very high for developing countries and the Philippines. Again using the power point she put a map of the Philippines on the wall so that she could point out where she had been and where she had visited. Rose Egan, originally from the Philippines, was present and showed the audience where her family still lived.
Lastly Moilliet put on a video made in 2006 by Georgia Macad and her husband, founders of the clinic. Georgia, originally from Abbotsford, B.C., interviewed women who had just delivered their babies, asking them why they had come to the clinic. The clinic is called Abundant Grace of God Maternity Center. Questions and answer followed the video. One question was how did the clinic know a woman in a remote village was ready to deliver so that the midwives could drive out to bring her back to the clinic. The women phoned the clinic as everybody in the Philippines has a cell phone. Medical supplies were always taken with the midwives in case the baby had to be delivered at home.
After the video the merienda part of the evening began. Moilliet explained that merienda means morning and afternoon tea and it was a tradition in the Philippines. She asked Egan for confirmation of the definition.
There was a huge array of food that had been brought by the audience. Both Moilliet and Egan had made sticky rice. Moilliet also made pansit, which is like a stir fry. Both dishes were delicious and the rice was very sticky but had a sweet taste.
Going to the Philippines was Moilliet’s second trip out of Canada and was the longest she had ever been away from her family. She knew that she was really going to miss her family, the ranch, and everybody familiar.
For her learning and work in the clinic she spent most of her time in the city of Tabuk, which is in the province of Kalinga. The students’ entire lives were spent in one building – the clinic. The top floor was the office which was used for studying. The middle floor was the live–in quarters for staff and students. There were three rooms to hold all the students. There were only two new students in Moilliet’s year but more are expected in the fall so students will need to share rooms. However there will be no more than two students per room.
Everyone eats all of their meals at the clinic. Lunch and supper are prepared by the cook who is Filipino. The students are given a budget and make their own breakfast. There is rice at every meal. Moilliet has had trouble getting used to some of the food but enjoys most of it.
On her arrival in the Philippines Moilliet spent the first few months learning the language and the culture of the people. She says that she is not fluent in speaking Ilocano but can be understood. A lot of the women can speak some English so that helps the white students of which there are only four. The rest are Filipino midwives, except for Georgia Macad.
In December the students started classes on pre–natal and intrapartum care. Then they had questions which had to be answered in-depth. Texts could be used. After these assignments tests were given.
Sometimes classes overlapped with the second year students’, such as learning about herbs. All of the curriculum came from the United States.
The primary instructor for the clinic is Macad. She has a Filipino husband and three sons. A teacher came from the South Philippines for two weeks to teach classes on herbs, resuscitation, and breach birth. The students are trained to be missionaries as they go along. It is integrated with their work with patients.
Moilliet found difficulty in getting used to being away from home. She got frustrated when learning the language. She found out that being a midwife brings out her flaws. She has discovered more challenges than she was expecting. Moilliet delivered her first baby, with the midwife’s hands over hers, on March 14.
She finds the Philippines a gorgeous country. It is mountainous but they are not as high as Canada’s, more like tall hills. She tends to miss the grass and has sometimes found the heat hard to take.
Moilliet says that the people are very friendly and family orientated. Being a white female gets her lots of calls from the men, usually nothing inappropriate to her face. The whiter you are the more comments you receive. She has found it strange being a minority.
She flew back to the Philippines on July 2. She will be there for another 19 months and graduates in February of 2017. The work has been challenging but rewarding. She really loves the women and the babies. She says that God has definitely confirmed over and over that this is what He wants her to do.