This is a continuation of how God directed me (and a few good friends) to step out in faith to help, love and serve the physically, emotionally and spiritually broken of our world. If you haven’t read the first part “Bearing the Burden”, I ask you to take a minute to catch up. I promise it is short:)
The veil is lifted…
After nearly 20 minutes of sobbing and finding myself in a snotty, puffy mess, I decided to forgo my workout and instead find another quiet corner of the gym to gather myself.
I began to ask God “What do you want me to do?”
It was then that the thought “midwifery” popped in my head, and I began to envision helping women, children, and families in developing countries by training local Birth Attendants (or Midwives) safe birthing skills. It suddenly dawned on me… if we want to help prevent orphans, why don’t we start from the beginning and try to keep the mother alive and healthy!
I really didn’t know much about midwifery, nor did I even know a midwife! So what was I to do with this sudden desire?
I then recalled hearing that just a few months prior my friend Tonisha had finished a midwifery program. I decided to email her, since I didn’t really have anyone else to chat with about this thing called “midwifery.”
In my email to Tonisha, I secretly shared my recent “vision” to somehow train the lay midwives (or Birth Attendants) in third world countries, starting off with Ethiopia.
You must keep in mind, I really had little information on midwifery, yet I was suddenly envisioning myself traveling to foreign lands to help save the lives of mothers and children through safe birthing practices. How conveniently naïve!
Tonisha excitedly shared that not only does she have the same desire, which led her to Midwife School in the first place, but that the school she went through, Mercy In Action, has the same exact mission. MIA is based in the Philippines, where the founders and their adult children and families live most of the year, running a free birthing center for the poor (where over 12,000 babies have been delivered), and also training and educating local Midwives. I was so excited!
I was energized when I found out that MIA has an online “Distance Program” which is self-paced and reasonably priced. But I soon felt a bit of concern when I was told that I would have to find a local midwife to train under for 2 years. You see, Tonisha is not yet a Licensed Midwife (she still needs to complete her 2 year internship), and I do not know a single midwife to work under.
At this realization, I prayed that if this was God’s plan, that He would open doors and provide me with a mentor. It was then that another name popped in my head… Carrie Blake.
I had heard about Carrie Blake a few weeks prior. She is a local midwife who is donating her services to help raise money for a mutual friend’s adoption. I figured I would email Carrie and see if she would be willing to take me on as a student, despite not knowing me at all!?
How thrilled I was when I went to Carrie’s website and clicked on her blog . She has the same vision and passion! As I browsed Carries’ blog, she shared that she has been praying for the Lord to bring her “sisters” to work alongside with. Was this possibly an answered prayer for her too?
Carrie promptly and enthusiastically replied to my email. She even asked if I would like to do some of my interning during several trips to “Ethiopia”??? Heck yes! Not only does she have the same passion, but she also has the experience, methods, and training materials to do this. I soon realized that I really had no idea what I was getting myself into, but thankfully, God did.
It was then that it began to sink in that God may really be on the move and orchestrating amazing connections and opening doors. I felt my spirit lifting. I felt inspired and excited.
Later that afternoon I decided to call my good friend and fellow adoptive Mama, Sara. Sara is a very merciful, compassionate woman, and her heart, like mine, breaks deeply for the suffering and needy.
After sharing my story, Sara began to share that after their first adoption from Ethiopia, she, an RN, had seriously considered returning to school to become a Midwife with hopes of working overseas, primarily in Ethiopia, to train and educate local Birth Attendants and maybe even help deliver some babies
But, as she researched schools, she only found expensive, time consuming and demanding Masters Programs that were not feasible for a mom of 4. Thus, she put the idea of Midwifery off and they decided to adopt again. However, just over the past few months she has, out of the blue, met several midwives and has made some interesting connections within the Midwife field. As I told her about the MIA program and my new mentor Midwife, Carrie, and her Non-Profit, she became excited. By the end of the night, after praying and talking it over with her husband, she too was on board. We were going to do this together!
The following day I called another good friend and adoptive Mama, Shelly, and told her about what Sara and I were going to do. Shelly is so full of compassion. In fact, she, her husband, and their 6 children are all moving to Ethiopia this August to teach and see where God leads them in service. As I was telling Shelly about everything, she just kept saying that she had “chills.” Ends up that Shelly has often thought to herself that if she could do life all over, she would have become a Midwife! After praying and talking with her husband, Shelly decided to join us!
As the weeks went on, I began to read more about Midwifery in developing countries. I was shocked at this incredible need that I was totally unaware of. In an article written by Vicki, the founder of MIA, titled “A Hidden Tragedy”, my eyes were further opened to the depth and need of this new calling of ours.
I have included a few short portions of this article. I encourage you to read more of her articles on the MIA website (right column under “Vicki’s Published Articles” )
This would just be another sad statistic, except for the fact that 99% of the deaths of pregnant or newly delivered mothers occur in the under-developed nations, with Sub-Saharan Africa and Southern Asia accounting for 86% of them. That means only 1% of the world’s maternal deaths occur in Canada, the United States, Europe and Australia combined. This distribution of maternal death is injustice by any measure.
In Africa, women who are starting labor say goodbye to loved ones, just in case they don’t survive the process. In the Philippines, there is a native saying that a pregnant woman has one foot in the grave. It is common for women in developing countries to say some variation of this phrase to their older children: “Mommy is going on a journey to fetch you a new brother or sister, but the journey is long and dangerous, and I may not return.”
Part of the problem is that there is a worldwide shortage of midwives. The world needs at least 300,000 more midwives immediately to begin to address the problem of maternal and newborn survival. All midwives should be teaching and apprenticing other women who desire to be midwives. That is something we can all do which will make a big difference. World Health Organization says that skilled health workers at delivery are key to improving outcomes, and further states “Investing in human capital such as midwives for childbirth is the wisest investment that we make, to ensure sustainability, ownership, fulfillment, and consistently high results”
As I read personal stories and more statistics about the risk and reality of childbirth in developing countries, I became more in awe of the bigness of God. I quickly realized that while we were still yet naive to this enormous, yet personal need, God was perfectly preparing each of our hearts and orchestrating connections and relationships to enable His plan. He had been working on this for years, and we were just now seeing it all come together. During all those anxious, heart felt prayers, when I cried and begged God to give me something to do to help these people, little did I know that He was at work the whole time, slowly, patiently preparing His plan.
The Lord has continued to surprise and bless me. Not only is Jason totally excited and supportive, but as I shared this concept with a select few friends, I began to see the Lord bringing me more support and encouragement.
This past week the Lord brought yet another friend and adoptive Mama, Shabree, to join us on this journey. She even lives in my area and will be attending MIA’s Distance program AND interning under Carrie with me! How amazing is that!
And the story doesn’t end here. It just keeps getting bigger, better, and more amazing.
Really, there are just too many details and miracles to share via a few blog posts. But trust me, God is in this thing and He is opening doors and making connections that we could never possibly orchestrate on our own.
We are each feeling so blessed to be on this journey and excited to see what God has in store for us as this New Year begins!
Thanks for reading!