Sunday, October 20, 2013

Full Circle


It’s funny how God often brings us full circle. 

I’m sitting in an airport on my way back to Davao. Never thought I’d write that sentence.

I’ll start at the beginning.

Many of you know that I was interning at a clinic in Fort Mill. I really loved my time there. The women I was working with are wonderful, loving women who I am so honored to have been able to learn from and whom I hope to continue to learn from in the future.

Anyways, I’d thought I’d finished all my clinical work. I’d thought I was done and on the homestretch. And then the bomb dropped. My school rejected almost 5 months worth of work from me because the paperwork wasn’t done correctly. I was devastated. It looked like this was going to push out my graduation another year at least and emotionally, I couldn’t handle that. In order to redo that clinical work it would take at least 3 months, if not longer and by the time I would be able to submit it, I wouldn’t be able to take my exams until next November. I frantically emailed every clinic, midwife, and out of country birth site I could find, trying to find somewhere that had an opening as well as a high enough volume of patients to allow me to get everything before November. Almost everywhere turned me down. 

So I decided to give up. I couldn’t go through another year of emotional turmoil trying to drag myself through this. I was just going to work at Smoothie King for a year and do absolutely nothing worthwhile. I made this decision on a Sunday. I discussed it with my parents, I was ready to sent the email to my school. My finger was poised over the self-destruct button on my education and no action hero swooping in would dissuade me from pushing it and putting an end to the source of my misery. Or so I thought. 

Cue Monday. I woke up Monday morning to an email from a clinic in Manila that said, “We can get you everything you need by November. How soon can you get here.” More or less. To me, this was nothing short of a miracle. Two months and I could be done. I bought my ticket later that week. 

In coming to Manila, I had a very, get in, get done, get out, mentality about it. I don’t love the Philippines. It’s not where my heart is. For all the wonderful people that are here, for all the food and culture and love, I can’t see myself ever being here long term. I was not thrilled to be coming back to the Phils and I though, other than clinical numbers, I probably wouldn’t be getting much out of these two months other than a case of homesickness. 

I stepped off the plane and the smell of the Philippines hit me. My first thought was, “What the hell am I doing back here?” I’m sure God laughed. 

These last two months have been incredibly healing for me. I’m actually tearing up just thinking about it.

When I left Davao I was told, “We feel like you’re just not a good fit here.” I know they meant simply at that school in that particular environment, but the tired, despondent, depressed me took that as meaning, “You’re not cut out for the mission field.” I went home broken, with no confidence in myself. I think I’ve blogged a little about that before. I was a hot mess for about 9 months. 

Going to Dust, to the church I’m a part of right now, helped a lot with the healing process, but my faith in myself as a missionary was totally gone. I had no desire to ever leave the western world again. I was convinced that I couldn’t hack it. I didn’t want to be a missionary. I wanted to live in a house with a white picket fence that I could paint bright green to annoy all my neighbors. I wanted to deliver babies and paint and not go anywhere. I was done. 

Two months in Manila and I’m not exhausted. I haven’t dropped into a downward spiral of feeling like I can’t do it. If anything, being here has sparked my desire to do missions again. I want to go back to Moz more than ever. Being here, in an environment that is so loving has given me that confidence back. 

And that’s not to say that I haven’t had bad days. My birthday this year could be comparable to the day I fell in a sewage ditch in Davao. I’ve had terrible days here. And I’ve come out of it feeling stronger and more confidant in myself than ever. 

I’m not writing a lot about birth. I had several good ones. I delivered a baby named Shekinah, Glory of God. I had a few hemorrhages. I processed births and thought through what I would have done differently or what I felt like I would take away from it. But it wasn’t anything too terribly different from what I’m used to. It’s not the births that were life changing. 

It was the midwives who were pulling for me and laughed with me and loved on me for two months. It was Jeri who sat down with me and told me it wasn’t all my fault for not being able to make it in Davao. It was Jeri’s family, Deborah and Darren and their kids, Sarah, and Paul, who fed me (and the other interns) dinner every Tuesday and accepted me into their family even though I was here for such a short time. It was being in a place that is hard to be, but having the support I needed to make it through. These are the things that were life changing. These are the things that gave me hope again. 

And now it’s come full circle. I’m headed back to Davao to visit some friends. Here, at the end of this journey, I’m headed back to where it began. Here, at the end of the healing process, I’m headed back to where the wounds started. 

To all of you in Davao, I’m not blaming you for any of what happened to me. I know myself well enough to know that I did it to myself. I beat myself down. I allowed myself to be hurt and to be wounded when I didn’t have to. I know you all were trying to help me the best you could so don’t feel like I’m blaming you at all. I’m the one who dug the hole. I’m the one who had to climb out of it. 

I’m headed back home in a week and I’m so excited to see what God has in store for me next. Chances are, I won’t know until I’m there. That’s how these things always seem to work for me. To quote David Bowie (who is the only famous person I want to meet) “I don’t know where I’m going, but I promise it won’t be boring.”

Till next time,

Sunday, February 17, 2013


One day I'll start blogging consistently again... Just like I'll start journaling consistently again and cleaning my room on a daily basis. Hah. Well... I can dream right?

Anyways... Let me see. So. Life. Yeah.

I've been home for almost a year! Yep! I got home early last March. Crazy. Time flies and all that.

I finished up the last of my academic work last week! I took my last test and am just waiting on a grade on my final paper. Once that's done all's that's left is to finish up my clinical numbers and skills. Hopefully I'll have that finished by May or June! Then it's on to the NARM! I'm so ready to be done. It's nice to be so close and to be able to see the finish line. For a long time after getting home I couldn't see an end and became really discouraged.

So now it's just a matter of keeping busy until I can get a real job. Hehe. I can't really get one until after I finish my clinical numbers since I'll be on call in case of a birth. Most jobs frown on leaving suddenly to deliver babies. But in the mean time I've been doing some house, dog, and baby sitting so that's given me a decent cash flow to work with.

I've also gotten pretty involved with the church I'd mentioned in my last post. They have a young adults church called Dust that meets on Tuesdays and I go to a home group on Thursdays so most weeks I'm at church (Or church related things) 3-4 times a week. I've made some awesome friends and really have been learning the value of community and of having a really amazing support group. It's not really something I've had in the past...

"But Ashton!" You say. "Didn't you live with like... 20 other girls for almost two years? Isn't that community?"

My answer is... no. Not really. There's a big difference between living with people and living in community with people. What I'm learning is that community is about being open and honest with people. It's about helping each other, praying for each other, and coming along side of each other in hard times, not living in the same house or wallowing in mutual misery. It's about dragging each other out of the holes we've dug for ourselves. It's about seeking each other out and taking time for each other. And it's been amazing.

I've only been at Dust since October and most everyone knows my story already. Most of them have already seen me cry my eyes out. And I'm incredibly thankful to have the Dust community in my life. I'd still be a mess if I didn't.

Anyways, there's a lot more I could tell you but I don't want to give you a whole book to read here. I'll try to write a little more often. Here's a picture of my cat.

As always thank you for your prayers!