Wednesday, November 30, 2011

A Tale of Three Cities.

I woke up in Paris, stiff from the sleepless night train but excited to gaze once again on the city I love. Paris is different than the rest of France; it has a rhythm all its own.

Its splendor is found as much in the smoke-filled cafés with whirring espresso machines and buttery croissants as in the primped poodles leashed and parading down the promenade. Walking through Paris is akin to walking into a Renoir or Pissarro painting.

Paris is living art. Paris is art in life. Paris is the art of living.

But my goal in coming was not to see L’Arc de Triomphe or Le Tour d’Effel but to reconnect with my friend and his family.

I first met Steven at my first job in the States when I was still a zit-popping, overly opinionated, punk teenager. Since he had grown up in France as a missionary kid and I had just come back from France... we had lots to talk about. Admittedly, I did most of the talking.

Steven with his children.
He was one of the first Christians I’d ever met that I didn’t hate on the spot. His quiet and gentle witness had a powerful impact on me, and even though I would not confess Christ for several more years, I have never forgotten the ways God used him at that time in my life. Seeing him again after all this time has been a real treat.

Since I arrived on a weekday, he took the day off to show me around. But instead we spent the day eating and catching up. But just as before I did most of the talking. He is a gifted counselor, dropping jewels of wisdom into my chaos and pain. Plus, he worked two years in Africa and could truly understand the intricacies of life there. What a blessing to have such a friend!

Steven and Karine, his wife.
Later that day I got to meet his children and catch up with his wife, Karine. I’m thrilled to see how God has blessed him and to know that he is doing so well.

But the next morning I was on a train again. I slept my way through Belgium, markedly achy from my ever constant journey. Fortunately by the time I landed in Germany I was renewed. A dear friend I met in the Philippines greeted me with such warmth the blistery winter’s day seemed like summer. 

Kirsten and I laughed the night away, catching up on the details of life. Although we intended to go out and get to know her home town a bit, we ended up too engrossed in conversation to bother. Instead we talked until our eyelids drooped. What a joy to see her again!

Kirsten and me in Essen.
Early the next morning I was once again on a train --but this time heading to Berlin. Although it’s the first time I’ve visited this historic city, I wasn’t coming as a tourist. I came to meet a friend for the first time.

A while back a sweet German midwifery student named Ann-Jule contacted me on my blog. Her sweet encouragements have always been timely and Spirit filled; I needed to meet her.

When I told her I’d be coming her way, we arranged to meet in person. And although we are relative strangers, it didn’t feel that way. As we talked over a breakfast of ham, cheese, and creamy meat-salads, I was surprised to learn how similar our lives have been.

Ann-Jule and me in Berlin.
And later that evening she invited another midwifery student in her class for a classic German meal called Rollade and dumplings! We again spent the night chatting about all things birth and missions. What a blessing to make these new friends!

Now I’m on another train. This one takes me North to the city of Hamburg where I will meet up with Stefanie, a sweet friend I’ve known since my life in Spain.

Reconnecting with all these friends has been so... healing and restorative. I thank God for them.

Thank you for praying for me as I travel. My journeys are sometimes long but always worth it. I still have another three cities to visit this week. Please keep praying as God might lead. Thank you.

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Night Train.

Because I am a bit of a last-minute-lucy when it comes to catching trains, I had to eat my dinner in the dining car as we chugged along from Pamplona to Paris. My toasted sandwich of Camembert and Jamón Serrano was the perfect end to a perfect stay in Spain. 

The dining car attracted other hungry, road-weary travelers; but once fed, easy laughter filled the room. A retired couple from Ireland regaled us with happy tales of their traveling woes. A young environmentalist with a lip ring joined in; her slight Spanish lisp was the only hint of her origin as we discussed the intricacies of her doctorate studies. Further down the bar, a long-haired Londoner and a timid Dutchman added their voices to the cacophony of laughter until I almost forgot to sleep.

When I returned to the cabin hours later the other ladies were already tucked in.

Before boarding the train, I had decided to indulge in a couchette (or bed) for the 13 hour trek. My previous night train experience in a reclining seat had left me exhausted.

Would a couchette provide the elusive sleep, I wondered. Well, it couldn’t hurt it.

When I first boarded the train, I met the three other ladies in my cabin --two doe-eyed American girls fresh out of University on a summer trip around Europe and a small entrepreneurial African woman from the Ivory Coast with more suitcases than space to put them.

The Americans were curiously timid; but the African was anything but! She oozed the familiar African warmth to the room, filling it to overflowing with laughter and noise. The Americans looked on her steady stream of accented French in amused confusion. They knew they were suppose to laugh but they couldn’t figure out why. What was the punch line?

I had to translate.

She repeated over and over again the outrageous misadventures of other night trains she’d endured. To her it was scandalous that the Italians allowed men and women to share cabins. It wasn’t so much the fact they were men... but when they took off their shoes you had to evacuate the room!

She attacked all topics with similar zest and humor making the small cabin large as a Broadway stage. Mixing blood-curdling tails of civic unrest in her beloved land with an uproarious re-enactment of a sleepless night due to a corpulent snorer she didn’t have the guts to kill in her sleep... although the thought crossed her mind after 8 hours of pitiless suffering.

Did any of us snore she asked?

We laughed politely and exchanged glances. Unsure if she was capable of killing us in our sleep if we dared to admit to such a crime, we quickly assured her that we were in a no-snore-zone. 

She wasn’t the only one to sigh of relief at the happy news.

So later that night when I climbed into bed, I was rocked to sleep with only the sound of wheels grinding steel rails.

Admittedly, I did not find the sleep I hoped for... but at least it wasn’t due to any snorers.

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Retiro Retreat.

In the middle of Madrid sits a well manicured park called Retiro (which in Spanish means ‘retreat’). It’s several blocks long with a duck-filled lake in the center. On any given day dozens of love birds can be seen paddling out on this lake in rented boats, drinking up the beauty.

Each season of the year the park is beautiful, but the Fall brings a vibrant softness to it that is absolutely breathtaking.

As I strolled through its trimmed hedges, crunching orange leaves under my steps, my heart beat a little slower; my breathing slowed as well. The park lives up to its name. It’s a true retreat!

Among the sporadic joggers and baby strollers, sat gray-haired men in wrinkled suits reading the newspaper.

Crisp November light filtered through the autumn trees. Dogs ran and barked. Pigeons cooed and whirred. 

On this particular day, one side of the lake was being used to film a movie. Actors dressed in vintage clothing stood by idly while a beauty in a green hat rehearsed her lines. What film was it? I didn’t ask. Who were these stars? I didn’t recognize them. But it was fun nevertheless to watch the cameras roll and the paparazzi clicked off picture after picture.

As I moved on through the park I found a smaller pond with black swans swimming to the jazzy tunes of off-key trumpet players. Beside them sat a Mexican artist selling jewelry. His stuff was lovely but not to my taste; it was all too bulky.

Nevertheless, I wanted to buy something to remember this day and I hesitated over a ring. As we chatted, I complained my fingers were too big and he offered to make me a ring to order. I loved this idea and promptly drew out a design I had in my head. Five minutes later, this creative man made it into a reality.

The Mexican artist who made my ring.
I waved goodbye and headed off happily to eat on the monument steps. My sandwich was great but my cake attracted wildlife. A dozen sparrows and one shy pigeon approached cautiously to see if I would share.

They were so familiar with humans I was able to feed them by hand. Watching them perch on my fingertips to get more cake was delightful. But once it was gone, they were not nearly as interested in my apple.

In the end I didn’t stay long; the afternoon shadows were growing long.

So, I gathered my coat and bags and headed for the metro only to meet up with a handful of squirrels. Some were as friendly as the sparrows and sauntered right up to my toes in search of goodies.

One little fellow was particularly bold and after sizing me up decided to climb my leg. He clung to my jeans with determination while fixing his hazel-brown eyes squarely on mine. When he saw no nuts, he ran away as fast as he’d come.

The day in the park was wonderfully restful. What an excellent retreat!

And tonight I take the night train to Paris. Pray I have no snorers on my wagon! Thanks.

Viva Espagña!

Over the years many people have asked me of all the countries I’ve lived in which did I prefer. And always --without even the slightest hesitation-- I throw my arms in the air and shout “ESPAGNE!” This surprises most and they tend to ask why.

Estban and me enjoying tapas.
Why Spain?

Could it be the oaky wines and cured Manchego cheese?    
           -- Maybe.
Could it be the ready smiles and loud greetings in the streets, the metros, the shops?      -- It very well could be.
Could it be the warmth with which the Spanish embrace life and family?  
           -- Yes. That’s it.

But it’s more than that. Much more.

It’s the gray-headed men in slippers reading El Pais on a Tuesday mid-morning park bench. It’s the mothers strolling their newborns down the promenade at 2 in the morning for a little outing. It’s the passion with which futbol is discussed over café con leche and pan dulce.


Flashbacks of sagebrush swept deserts and white sandy beaches flood my mind. The shrill laughter of children running in sleepy village streets still echo in my ears. Smokey pubs filled with suits and scarves screaming over bad 90’s music for their friends to order another round of tapas and vino.

This is Spain. And I love it.

Twice this week I’ve enjoyed the fun of friends in tapas bars. What a treat! Here are a few tapas we ordered. Yum!

Mojama de Atun
Chorizo de no se que... 
There were other kinds of tapas... but I ate them up before I remembered to take a picture! Ha!

Thanksgiving Impromptu.

This holiday week I find myself in Spain --lovely Spain.

Before coming I daydreamed about making a fancy Thanksgiving meal for my Madrileno friends. But as can be expected, I had no way of planning such an event while in transit.

So I resigned myself to a non-thanksgiving day. However, Tuesday morning I woke at my friend’s house to find myself with more than enough time to cook. I just needed to make sure they were willing to eat!     --It wasn’t a hard sell.

And a few hours later the three of us sat down to a turkey meal and laughed the night away.

I am so thankful for my friends all over the world. I’m so thankful for my family both far and wide. I’m so thankful for a day to stop and remember all of God’s blessings to us!

So to all those States-side (or elsewhere in the world) cooking pies and whipping up mashed potatoes today... here’s a quick shout out from Spain.   

Fun little fact:
The word for ‘Thankful’ in Hebrew is yadah (pronounced: yä dä) which comes from the root word meaning to throw, cast, or shoot.

Enter His gates with thanksgiving and into his courts with praise:
be thankful unto Him, and bless His name.
                                            --Psalm 100:4

As I read this verse I imagine believers throwing praises to God, casting love His way, and shooting darts of thankfulness to Him. Shout, O’ Nations! Shout out your thanks to Him alone. For He blesses and blesses and blesses again!

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

What Accent?

My time in France was short but wonderful. But then again, it’s always wonderful to be in a country that values cheese so much.

Tome de chèvre! Gruyère! Roquefort!
        -- Delicious.

But more than anything it’s a country and a people that are dear to my heart. I love their wild hair and ‘go-get-stuffed’ attitude. I admire their passion for food, friends, and foreign policy --typically in that order. I chuckle as I hear them ‘râlent’ (pronounced rah-LE) at the smallest inconvenience; it’s the soundtrack of France.

France understands me... never mind the accent!

And despite my foreign passport a few years back, dear friends made me a little bit more French by naming me “maraine” (aka: godmother) of their brown-eyed babe.

My dear friends, Luc & Estelle with my godson, Manoh!
He’s also dear to my heart and I had to go see him... and them, of course! This took me on a quick stop to the French Riviera.

Le Côte D’Azur (as the French call it) is miles of stoney beaches lined in pink plastered hotels selling beach chairs and overpriced lobsters. Year round beautiful people come to walk the promenade and gaze upon other beautiful people.

Basically it’s a mini-California... but with really great cheese!

Honestly Le Côte hasn’t changed much over the years. There is still a delicate taste of salt in the air and unseasonably warm breezes that envelop you in whiffs of bougainvillea and rosemary.

I remember this smell well as I lived on the coast almost 10 years ago while working with a church called Calvary Chapel Nice. Although I stayed just 9 months, they are months of powerful memories and experiences.

Pastors of CCNice, Pierre and Nancy Petrignani
And this weekend I was able to go back and reconnect with many of them. What a blessing to see all that God has been doing in and through them. It was startling to see how much had changed... but also what has not.

What a blessing to have been able to catch up with such great friends... and reminisce!

If you want the translation, look up Revelation 8:4

Next stop... Spain.

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Milanese Charm


My wonderful French parents!
As many of you may have guessed by now, I’m on break. I’ve decided to take this break in Europe again to catch up with old (and new) friends.

I started my journey in Italy where my French parents and I traipsed through the cobblestone streets of Milan looking for the Scala theater and the Duomo cathedral.

The Scala is one of Europe’s oldest opera theaters. Its crimson cushioned seats stack in a neat half-circle facing the stage. Its halls have heard the world’s finest voices; the echo of their memory hangs in the air.

The Scala theater.
Although we were unable to get tickets to see a show, we were able to enjoy its museum where Lizt’s piano sits next to a bust of Rossini and a portrait of Callas hangs beside encased props from operas gone by.
The Duomo cathedral.
The Duomo is a neo-gothic cathedral that took several hundred years to build. They started it in the 1300s but never really declared it finished. With reportedly over 3400 statutes and roughly 200 spires, this cathedral stands out as a modern beauty. Remarkably it has all of its original stain-glass work and its rose-tinted marble facade has recently been scrubbed.

We were able to climb the 250 stairs to the marbled rooftop and gaze out over the city. Its rosy glow at sunset took my breath away.

Italy --this enchanting land of miniscule espressos and parmesan-drenched pasta!-- this mystic city of bustling fog-coated fashionistas!-- this modern beauty rooted firmly in the past!

How to describe her elegance and charm?

Milan --though once famous for her music and art-- is now mostly known for her fashion. Large windows with sharply dressed mannequins line the streets. Clothed in intricately-knit wool dresses too fine to wear, these muted ladies stare on.

Oddly enough in Italy as winter fast approaches, fashionistas have painted themselves in dreariness. Everywhere I looked, blacks and browns in over-sized sunglasses stomped through the streets. A quick turn of the head and a sea of charcoal grays undulated past.

Before living in the wild yellows and florescent greens of Africa, I never realized the bleak palate  of Europe’s most chic. What of color and life? What of vibrant patterns and geometric designs?


Instead a sorrowful array of muted tones parade through neo-gothic marbled streets while well-worn gargoyles watch on.

These overcast colors need a bit of Sudanese inspiration... or maybe just I do.

Next on the agenda... France!

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Maloney Outreach

Last Friday I was invited on outreach to Maloney --a small cattle camp community lost in the bush.

It’s a 30 minute drive winding past sun-baked fields of brick clay hidden under a fuzzy layer of yellowing grass.

Since the rainy season is over and summer is inching the thermostat skyward, the roads are more than passable; they are concrete hard.

Miles of yellow stretched out before us as we inched along in the ambulance. Deep ruts carved by a smattering of traffic during the wet season still marred the route, making the ride more reminiscent of a roller coaster than a road.

Children waved in enthusiastic surprise as we bounced past. Some leaned against sturdy walking sticks while cattle lowed behind them.

Long-horns sauntered lazily beside us, callously ignoring the beep of our horn. Vultures circled above.

Off in the distance the smoke of burning cow dung hung in the air; its earthy odor wafted passed in the stifling mid-morning heat.

By the time we arrived at the Rual tree which doubles as medical clinic, there were already a dozen patients waiting to be seen.

They sat sprawled out on a green plastic tarp --their books in hand-- and greeted us with welcoming smiles.

We saw roughly 120 patients (one of which was the newborn with tetanus), but only a handful were actually sick.

I enjoyed getting out and seeing the country. It was a beautiful break full of beautiful people.

Funny side note:
One man chatted me up after staring at me all day. He complemented me on my toe nail polish then asked if I wanted to marry him.

My suitor was the one in orange.
Straight and simple. Gotta love that in a proposal.

He didn’t take it too hard when I declined the offer though. Instead he suggested that I must be one of the Catholic-nun-types as he walked away with his buddies.

Oh Sudan!

Monday, November 7, 2011

2.1 equals 1.1

Yesterday a young girl came for help. Reported to be early in her third trimester, she complained of malaria symptoms. Fever. Chills. Pain.

Margaret saw her and called Dr. Tom to help evaluate. I’m told she was severely pale so they asked our new lab technician, Caroline, to check her hemoglobin.

She had a hb reading of 2.1 g/dl.
    --Yes. You read that right. A hemoglobin of 2.1

(For those who don’t know, that reading is crazy low! Normal hb in pregnancy is 11-12 g/dl if you are moderately healthy.)

She needed a blood transfusion.

Remarkably, her baby was still alive. I was told Margaret and Tom were preparing to refer her to Wau for a transfusion while starting aggressive treatment of the cause --malaria.

Since church was starting soon, I decided to visit her after church. But once service ended, Margaret approached me saying she’d delivered.

What? I thought she wasn’t having contractions. When did she deliver?

Apparently in an effort to save her life, her body expelled the child spontaneously. He was born alive but severely preterm weighing just 1.1 kg (or 2.4 lbs).

Once I heard the news I went to check on him. He was breathing well but starting to show signs of distress. His mother looked sad and exhausted.

She explained that all her family was far away or in prison. There was no one left to help her get to Wau for the blood she needs.


With time Dennis was able to start an IV on this precious munchkin and we gave formula through an NG tube. He looked like he wanted to live.

After doing a Ballard’s score (a rating to help determine the gestational age of a newborn), we guess him to be around 31-32 weeks gestation. This explains his ability to breath well but not his size. I believe him to be small for gestational age (SGA) as well. Long term anemia will do that in a pregnancy.

Please pray for them. Her name is Ayen. She is family-less, severely anemic, with a tiny preterm baby. Please pray for God to keep them both healthy and alive. Thanks.

Update: Tetanus

Last night the little boy with tetanus died. When I heard the news this morning, a muddled wave of grief and relief rolled over me.

All I wanted to do was cry.

I couldn't tell if the tears I kept blinking back were more of thanks (that his suffering had stopped) or remorse (that we were not able to do more for him).

I'm just glad his pain is over.

Although we couldn't save his life, I'm glad he didn't suffer any pain in the end. Please pray for his family --especially his young mom. Thanks. 

Saturday, November 5, 2011

Baby Teeth.

Recently our resident doctor has morphed into a dentist. Yep. Dentist.

Saturdays are usually reserved for tooth extractions. And come Saturday morning I can often find Tom --chisel and pliers in hand-- pulling and prodding, coaxing and coercing a tooth free. He’s good at it and his willingness to provide this service has been a huge blessing to the community.

Weekly people come to see if they can be next.

This week however a new dental patient was brought in. She was 5 months old.

Her young mother bounced the effervescent toddler in her arms while pointing to her gums.
--“My baby needs her teeth removed,” she started to explain while rubbing her finger over the toothless gums.
--“I’m sorry I don’t understand,” I hesitated. “You want your baby’s teeth pulled?”
--“She is crying a lot because of her teeth. I want you to remove two on the top and two on the bottom,” she announced.
As I looked in her baby’s mouth, I could see bright pink gums but no tooth sprouts.
--“I’m sorry. But we don’t remove baby teeth at our clinic,” I explained patiently through my translator.

He was having a blast watching the exchange. He likes to laugh at my funny world view. But this time he was laughing at the mom. He thought it was silly of her to want to remove teeth that hadn’t even come in. Unfortunately, this mom did not appreciate his teasing and I asked him to stop.

“Tell her that she can have her baby’s teeth removed if she wants to... but not here. We won’t do that here. God gave her baby teeth for a good reason. Her baby needs them...”

After he translated, the mother smiled politely then answered: “I know your culture is different than ours but here we remove teeth. I did it for my first baby. I’ll do it for her too.”

I nodded that I understood and said, “I know I see things differently than you. You are a good mother and I’m sure you think this is best. But I can safely say our dentist will not agree to take out your girl’s baby teeth. Sorry.”

She nodded and walked off carrying her slobbering, teething toddler in her arms.

I wonder where she’ll get the procedure done. Is that something witch-doctors do? Or is there a local dentist who can cut out unsprouted teeth in toddlers so they won’t fuss?


This does explain why there are so many adults with gapped-toothed smiles around here though.

But hey... maybe they are on to something.

Teething can be troublesome for parents and painful for babies. Why not just pry them out early and get it over with? They’ll get a new set later on anyway, right?

Friday, November 4, 2011


Twenty-eight days ago his teenage mother gave birth to him in a mud tukel. Although small, he seemed healthy; but there was a problem. He wouldn’t breastfeed.

So the family walked to town and bought a plastic bottle and baby formula. They poured it down his throat to keep him alive because he wouldn’t suck.

“He cries a lot,” she complained, “and he isn’t passing stool.”

Dennis was the first to see her. After hearing her complaints, he asked me to review the child and see if there was some kind of bowel obstruction. “The babies abdomen seems rigid,” he said.

So I gathered the mother, her parents and a medley of relatives (who needed to watch) into the tan metal container used as a consultation room. We were on outreach caring for the small community of Maloney which is a 30 minute drive from Tonj.

The teenaged mother nervously set her baby down on the table for me to check, but she wouldn’t meet my eyes. She knew something was seriously wrong.

Drawing back the thin sheet which covered his skeletal frame, my eyes widened in surprise.
    -- It couldn’t be... No, Lord... Not this.

His umbilical cord was infected. Swollen and cracked, it bulged out menacingly from his taut abdomen. Someone had recently painted it purple with Gentian Violet (a messy but effective disinfectant).

His face --a wrinkled mask of pain-- contorted rigidly. His arm flexed to his chest clenching tight little fists that I couldn’t extend. And his legs stretched ram-rod straight locked in attention but crossed at the ankles.

His boney frame was frozen in a pirouette of pain. I couldn’t touch him without inspiring tiny whimpers. Their feebleness made me want to whimper too.


Oh, Lord. This child of yours is suffering. Papa, what do we do?

I called for Dennis and he agreed. The boy had tetanus. He asked me to prepare the family to come back to Tonj with us. They would have to go sell a cow so he could get the anti-tetanus serum in Wau... assuming it could be found.

Looking from Dennis to the boy then back to Dennis, my heart sank. His words did not make sense.
--“You mean we are going to take the boy back with us in Tonj?” I asked skeptically.
--“Yes,” he stated softly.
--“But we don’t have any anti-tetanus serum. What can we do for him there?” All hope had left my voice by then.
--“We can ease his pain while the family gathers the money for Wau,” he explained.
--“Oh. But... honestly... do you think there is any hope for this child?” I asked flatly. I didn’t see any hope in his eyes. I didn’t feel any hope in my heart.

He hesitated only momentarily then said, “I have seen babies like this recover...”
--“Yes... but after 28 days?” I worried out loud.
--“Stephanie... the boy is in pain. We must do something for him.”

Only then did my brain and heart connect. Yes. We had the ability to help his pain. Was I really suggesting that we send him home to die? What kind of soulless monster had I become?

This tiny little man was suffering. Imprisoned in spastic muscles and tetanic contractions, his short life had known only pain. We had a way to help. We had a duty to help.

I confess I believe his case to be helpless. I don’t know if I should pray for him to live... or die quickly. All I know is there is a 28 day old boy in our clinic who moans incessantly. All I know is there is a scared teenage mother in our clinic who must watch it. All I know is it hurts to see them suffer... and I want to run away from this hurt.

Lord, please help this family. May your will be done. Amen.

Please pray for us to know how to proceed. Pray. Pray. Pray. Thanks.

Achol’s Journey.

She walked 5 hours over dusty roads in the heat of the day. She walked carrying a blue plastic bag which held a change of clothes, but no food. She walked in active labor.

40 kilometers.

She arrived after the noise of the day had settled to a low hum with only the bleating goats left to complain at her late arrival.

As I entered the birth room, she flashed a familiar smile my way. I recognized her square jaw and sparkling eyes immediately and we slapped hands in greetings.

It was Achol!

Achol had come for several prenatal checks over the last few months. Her gentle demeanor impressed me, but I never dreamed she’d come to deliver. She lived too far away... or so I thought.

I was happy to be wrong --for there she sat on my prenatal bed with contractions every two minutes.

But she was so calm I was having a hard time believing she was in labor. So I asked if I could do an exam. She agreed with a smile.

When I told her she was fully, her smile deepened touching the corners of her eyes.

It was time!

In fact, the only thing keeping the baby inside was her bag of waters. Did she want me to brake it?

Nodding excitedly, she consented and out gushed a warm wave of amniotic sea. Almost immediately the head dropped lower and she started pushing.

But the funny thing was... she wanted to keep walking.

So I stood aside and watched as she slowly pace the birth room floor. During each contraction she’d bare down for a few seconds then chuckle softly at the pain.

It was mesmerizing.

Pacing then pushing then pacing again, she let her baby settle even lower in her pelvis. But eventually she got tired and eased herself onto the bed with a sigh.

But that didn’t stop her from pushing.

Within minutes a fuzzy head emerged like a winter’s sunrise --calm and quiet and warming to the bone.

When I announced it was a boy, her eyes lit up the room and she asked to hold him. Long joyful minutes passed while she whispered softly in his ear and laughed. I couldn’t help but laugh with her.  
     --A son!

Her birth was different... but for the longest time I couldn’t figure out why. What had made her birth so different? Was it the joy and trust? No. Was it the intimacy and laughter? No. Those were amazing but not new.

What was it?

Then I looked around the room and it hit me; she was alone.

Not one friend had sneaked into the room during pushing. No one had asked to hold the child. No one had screamed for her to push.

Where was her cheer squad?

When I asked her, she smiled softly and explained that she had had no time to inform them when she got to town. Since she knew she was close, she didn’t want to risk delivering unassisted, therefore she didn’t stop to tell them the news.

But that meant she had no one to goo and gaw over her precious jewel. But more importantly... that mean there was no one to feed her.

Fortunately her family lived just a few minutes away, so we arranged for our health worker to go tell them for her.

He was there and back in a flash, and her family soon followed... bringing with them even more laughter and love!

Thank you Jesus for allowing me the honor of seeing such miracles on a daily basis. Birth... I’m awed at its beauty and mystified by its power. It is one miracle I hope to never fully understand.

Thursday, November 3, 2011

The craziness continues.

So as expected, October was a record breaking month in terms of births for the clinic. In all, 41 women delivered with us and three of those women had twins!

And November is gearing up to be just as busy. The other night, Margaret delivered three babies in about an hour and a half! Wow!!!

If every woman who plans on delivering with us actually shows up, Margaret will be delivering over 30 babies this month. Please pray for her to have the strength for the tasks at hand!

I’m told a volunteer clinical officer is coming to replace me and assist the rest of the staff while I’m on R&R. There is also a lab technician coming for a month. Exciting!

Margaret and the three ladies who delivered!
Please keep the clinic in prayer as God leads. Thanks.