Volume 6

~ News From "Your Birthing Family" ~

Issue 9





Our Charis Family

Sheena VandePanne


The first time I ever considered becoming a midwife is when I was around 8 years old.  My brother was planning his future of being a doctor and working in far off distant places that our former-missionary-dad was always telling us about.  My brother was concerned that I hadn’t planned the rest of my life yet, so he informed me I would come along with him and be a nurse. I refused his offer but agreed to be a midwife instead.  I wasn’t quite sure what a midwife was, the only experience I had with them was when my little sister was born and they didn’t make it in time so my dad delivered the baby, but I felt it was different enough from a nurse that my brother wasn’t actually telling me to do it.

I kind of forgot about becoming a midwife for quite a few years.  I went to college to pursue a teaching degree.  I moved to Guatemala for a while.  When I returned to the States, I met and married a wonderful and godly man, Ryan.  (This week is our 4th anniversary).  He joined the military and we talked about one day becoming missionaries and we discussed how useful it would be for me to become a midwife.  Of course that would be later, after we had a few children and Ryan was out of the military.  However, after a couple years of marriage, we realized that something wasn’t quite right.  I visited a few doctors and was eventually told not to plan on ever having children.

At that point, becoming a midwife was the last thing I cared to even think about.  For an entire year I felt as if I was in mourning, but eventually God got a hold of my heart, He was calling me to be a midwife no matter if it did hurt or seemed weird.  I had to submit to His will.  Right after I made this decision to look past my own self-pity and obey no matter what, Ryan and I went on a weeklong mission trip to Haiti with a group of friends.  During this trip we visited a hospital and, among other things, learned about the conditions of childbirth.  There is usually no prenatal care and when it comes time to give birth, the mothers who have money can go to the hospital, but most of them give birth at home with a woman from their family who has had no training at all.  Infant mortality rate in Haiti is the highest of any country in the Western Hemisphere.

Learning all of this made my own circumstances grow smaller and smaller in my eyes and in my own heart.  God has given me a burden for these women, a burden to help them have safe births, free prenatal care and the chance to have a healthy child that will live.

Ryan and I are living in Haiti now and we are very excited about what is in store for us here. Midwifery will help reach people on a deeper and meaningful level.  It is really exciting that Charis will be able to work with me even as I am living in Haiti in the middle of nowhere.

Thanks so much for reading a little bit about me!
Sheena VandePanne

Sheena and Ryan VandePanne


Charis Cuisine

Nuti-liscious Carrot and Kale Salad

A delectable recipe I've made over the years. It's been enjoyed and changed every time!  Sometimes I used sunflower seeds, other times pine nuts and occasionally lime juice added to the lemon juice.  Enjoy and experiment! 
~Susan Oshel

Kale is an incredibly nutritious vegetable.  It is very high in beta–carotene, vitamin C, vitamin A, vitamin K, lutein and sulforaphane, a chemical believed to have anti–cancer properties.  And it is completely delicious, too! 


1 bunch curly purple kale (thoroughly washed, dried and de–ribbed – (the large center stem removed.)
1/3 large red onion, thinly sliced into crescents
2 medium carrots, peeled and julienne cut
2 tbsp raw sunflower seeds
2 tbsp raw pumpkin seeds
2 tbsp raw sesame seeds
1 1/2 lemons, juiced
1/4 cup tamari or Bragg Liquid Aminos
1/4 cup stone pressed olive oil
1 avocado, cubed
Cracked black pepper to taste

Salad Preparation:

In a small bowl, mix lemon juice with tamari or Bragg Liquid Aminos.  Slowly whisk in olive oil until combined.

Finely chop the Kale and place in a large bowl.  Add the onions and carrots.

Gradually dress the salad with lemon juice mix and squish together with your hands until massaged through.  Keep adding the lemon mix until all leaves are nicely coated but not soggy.

Serve immediately with cubed avocado, sprinkle with nuts and/or seeds and top with a bit of cracked black pepper. YUM!

I just wanted to write a quick note to say thanks for the article "Why African Babies Don't Cry" posted in the August 2011 Charis Newsletter.  I loved it, have lived it, and can totally validate it!  Having lived for years in Kenya and different parts of Africa, I can confirm that it truly is a rare occasion to hear an African baby cry.  And having practiced the traditional African culture of "nyonyo" on demand with my own babies, I can say a big "Amen" to the reason why!


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 'Behold, I will bring them from the north country, And gather them from the ends of the earth,
 Among  them the blind and the lame, The woman with child and The one who labors with child,  together,
 A great throng shall return there...And My people shall be satisfied with My goodness, says the LORD.'
 Jeremiah 31:8, 14
©2011 Charis Childbirth Services, All Rights Reserved
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September 2011