Not My Typical Day – A New Baby & A Potential New Slum to work in.
Today was an amazing, bit out of the ordinary kind of day. It started by visiting an area of the city where we are dreaming of establishing another Day Care center on the other side of the dump. Families living under tarps. 120 moms who have already come to us seeking our help. It was amazing to finally walk that area and have God expand our hearts for the families living there. It was great getting to share that time with Alayu as well as Joel, Kara and Adam who are all visiting from the US.
But, then the day took a turn.
Adam and I were walking home in a down pour trying to find some dry patches of solid ground on a super saturated muddy mess of a road, when I started to hear someone yelling from behind to get our attention. We kept walking, getting more soaked by the moment, thinking it was kids who were yelling “Ferenj!” or “You!”
But then this mom caught up to us. She is one of the moms from the project and she was talking super fast in animated Amharic about her friend and pointing to her stomach. It became obvious that she was talking about a mom who was giving birth. She wanted us to come fast.
So I quickly dropped my bag off at my house and Adam and I took off into an unknown situation while I jokingly asked Adam how his baby delivery skills were. My prayer life increased greatly in those few moments. “Oh God, please don’t make me deliver a baby!”
Let me pause by saying that it is uncommon for me to go into these settings. As a foreigner, my presence usually complicates things greatly. When I visit a home, the rents increase (because landlords see that a mom is connected to a foreigner with means) and I cause a mom grief because people now think that she has a rich person backing her. It ain’t pretty. But this was a neighbor in need, and I am digressing.
This mom led us down a street with mud 4 inches deep in most places and into a scene of what you may envision when you think of slum living. Concrete 2 story institutional like houses with small one room stalls about the size of a very small bathroom. We walked down a corridor of mud (we think) and there in the last room we saw a woman lying on the floor. There was no light in this room except for that which shone through the rusty tin roof. A roof that was also allowing tons of rain water to enter the room. The room was small enough that I could touch both walls. Mud on one side, concrete on the other. No bed, simply a thin mat on the floor of a damp and musty room.
It was a moment of confusion and tons of questions in my choppy Amharic until we finally got our bearings. This mom is a mom from the project and she had just given birth here, in this room. I tried quickly to remember any questions that might be remotely important about bleeding and shock. And then I finally spoke a question that I feared the answer to, “Where’s the baby?” There on the bed beside her was this tiny little pale looking bundle and I thought to myself, “Is she okay?” I asked to hold her so that I could see for myself…and into my arms was placed the tiniest little baby girl I have ever seen. Maybe 5 lbs soak and wet? tiny. Born just 45 minutes before. Oh, but so precious. She was warm and breathing and trying to nuzzle. I think she’s doing fine.
We asked what was needed, and truly it wasn’t much. A couple of blankets. Something to replace a blood soaked mattress. Some breastfeeding counsel (yes, now we even do that). Some clothing for the baby. Some rags for the bleeding. I was concerned about the mom.
The beauty was that while we gathered these items, others in this totally impoverished setting were gathering, too. We arrived with blankets and rags. The neighbor, who is every bit as poor as this mom, brought injera and shiro. Mom was sitting up and doing much better…starting to eat. And 2 Moms from the project were at the door – stopping in to check on her and see if she needed anything. Community is developing – I love it!
And then, in the middle of this Muslim mom’s home I asked the question that makes it all worth it. “Can I pray for you?” And so, together we prayed to Jesus and asked for His blessing over this family, this mom and this precious little baby who is so new to the world. I started to think, “You know we’ve invested 1 ½ years in this community for such a time as this – a time when a need arose and we were invited in as neighbors, coming not only as bearers of a blanket, but as followers of Jesus seeking Him and His Kingdom in this tiny, muddy, room that is barely suitable for human habitation, yet is home to a now family of 5. He is present here – awesome. incredible. amazing. Present in the mud and the mess and the blood.
Christy and I walked home down the mud filled road, talking about what a privilege it is to serve in this community and serve this God who puts us in this situations that we never could have enough guts to face except that He throws us into them.
And, truthfully, I was praising God that I didn’t have to deliver my first baby.