The day we left Oregon my sweet friend and neighbor drove us to the airport. As we stood in our home church waiting to load up, she unclasped the necklace around her neck and placed it around mine.
“I know you have a heart for women’s ministry and I wanted you to have something you could give to a woman you connect with on your trip.” I wrapped my hand around the heart with a cross through it.
I wondered if I’d be able to give it to anyone. We’d been told that we were not allowed to give anything to anyone. It can incite riots and it leaves the natives with expectations of gifts from other missions teams.
All week I prayed God would provide the right woman to receive this precious gift. I might have to leave it with our hostess. Surely as a missionary on the field, she would know who to give it to.
And then the c-sections happened. Two women who would each be touched by the gesture. I knew who God wanted me to bless.
The day after the births, we headed back to the hospital to see the twins and get some pictures of them. I posed the question to our nurse friend as we walked.
“Is it possible to meet with the mom who lost her baby yesterday and pray with her?”
“Yes, actually I spoke with her earlier today and she would really like that.”
“I was given this necklace,” I opened my palm to reveal the silver necklace. “Would it be appropriate to give this to her?”
“Absolutely. Just do it discreetly because if anyone else sees you give her something, they will want something too.”
“Okay.” I wiped my sweaty palms across my skirt. Nervousness tip-toed across my stomach. What do I say to a woman who just lost her baby? Would this necklace be a hard reminder of all she lost each time she looked at it? Deep down, I knew who the necklace belonged with. I prayed it was a reminder that someone thought of her, prayed for her, and above all, God loved her.
We visited with the mother of the twins. We prayed over her and her family. She lay on her side, fetal position, tears trickled down her soft cheeks. She gave us permission to hold her new babies. God bless this mama of 11.
Heading down the hall to the next mama I took deep breaths to stay calm. Please Lord, don’t let me burst into tears and make things worse for her in her grief. We rounded a corner and arrived at her bed. This precious woman lay on her side, grief and pain etched across her face.
I took her hand in both of mine, rubbing her smooth skin. Tears trickled down her cheeks. Two mamas hearts connected in that one touch. I prayed over her as our nurse translated. When I finished, I placed the necklace in the palm of her hand and closed her lovely fingers around it. I squeezed her hand, rubbed her arm, and told her she was beautiful in Creole. Oh Lord, please be with her as she moves through the grief of losing her second child.
Heading down the hall toward the babies I wiped my eyes and nose with my handkerchief. Now wasn’t the time to fall apart. More grieving for the mama was sure to come but it would have to wait.
The nurse’s station is where they keep newborns that need extra care. Today, there were now two sets of twins tucked into their clear plastic bassinets. There is no neonatal unit. The only extra care offered to preemies and small newborns are oxygen and a feeding tube.
We held the babies and took our pictures. Before we left, we were waved over by the young mother of the other set of twins. She asked us to hold her babies and take photos.
Her twins were born at 7 months. They were now 4 weeks old and doing really well. Amazing that without all of the NICU bells and whistles, these little babies were thriving.
Here is this new mom. She’s 23 years old and has been sleeping in the hospital for a month, caring for her little ones. In this hospital they only provide medical care. Family is responsible for bringing meals and doing the laundry for the patient.
What a precious gift she gave us. Those babies will forever be in my prayers because I truly believe we remember and love those whom we touch with our hands and hearts. This mama and her little ones will be prayed over, in another country, by a woman she doesn’t know.
As you mull over the stories I’ve shared the last three days, I hope you too will put all three of these mothers and their children on your prayer list. I left my heart in Haiti and I can’t wait to return. While I can’t be there physically, I can pray. God is there.
I know you have questions. Ask them in the comments. I’d love to hear them and answer the best I can. Why do we go on short term missions? Does it really make a difference? Feel free to ask, I only request that you are respectful.
Here are a few more pictures: