Saturday, September 17, 2011

Grandma Gives Birth

On my way to Madagascar, I asked God to let me see a birth in a village during my time here. This last week, He said yes to that request!

Chatting over breakfast in the village of Ambodivoahangy, our host mentioned that “the pregnant woman has laid down.” I looked at Mirana, wondering if that could mean what I thought it did. It did. “That means she will give birth soon.” Mirana, well aware of my adoration of newborns, went ahead and asked which hut belonged to the pregnant lady.

After (quickly) finishing breakfast, we went to the woman’s house, and she said she would not mind at all if I was present at the birth. Here are some numbers for you:

42 - Age of the pregnant lady (her daughter has a child of her own)
15 - Times she has given birth
12x16 - Width and length (in feet) of the dimly lit hut
6 - How many living children she has
6 - Sets of mothers and babies who gathered in the hut when it was time for her to give birth
1 - Rusty razor brought out to cut the cord

Her husband was running around the house, snatching down any loose items on the walls or windowsills “so the placenta doesn’t get stuck hanging.” There are lots of rules about birth, so I was happy to only commit one social taboo during the entire time! :P You see, I think every birth is a miracle. When the sweet little girl came out, she wasn’t moving or crying. After a couple slaps on the bottom, she started wailing - such a reassuring sound! I looked at her mom and said excitedly, “Congratulations on your baby!” The midwife looked over at me and said, “Wait!”

Apparently, the people in the mountains have a saying very much like our American “Don’t count your chickens before they hatch,” and that is, “Don’t say congratulations until the placenta comes out.” Oopsie. You can bet your britches I started praying hard that nothing went wrong, lest they think it was my fault for breaking their taboo! Thank the Lord, everything came out alright and they quickly forgave me and ended up chuckling at my ignorance. :-)

After the birth, it was strange because the women just sat around quietly. No “oohs” and “ahhs” over how cute the baby was. It is taboo to show a lot of happiness when a child is born. If you do, they believe the ancestors will get jealous and kill your baby. I decided to pull the foreigner (exemption) card and show my excitement anyway. 1) Because there was no stopping it, and 2) because children are a blessing from the Lord, so I figured I had a biblical basis to rejoice. ;)

(The midwife and me)

Each night this last week in the village, the people drank and partied into the wee hours of the morning, getting ready for the circumcision party on Sunday. One night, I thought the circumcision dancers were singing about me, but figured I was just being vain. Turns out they were. :P They were hoping the foreigner would come dancing with them. While I am not against a dance party, a hut full of drunken people screeching worship to the forest is not something I am going to join in on! There are twenty-six little boys that will be circumcised tomorrow (their foreskins will be eaten, according to custom, by a close relative) with the same knife. “Don’t be worried,” the people told me, “we rinse the knife off with water and moonshine.” Oh my.

Prayer Requests/Praises:
- For the people of this village (Ambodivoahangy) to understand clearly what the Truth is, realize the darkness that they are in, and turn to the Light.
- Monday morning Mirana and I drive down to Tulear to work with a medical team that is coming from the states. We will be there Sept. 19-30. Please remember us during this time!
- Etisky was able to go to the specialist and get his arm set without difficulty. He is now running around, cute as ever, with a cast on and a follow-up appointment scheduled!

“The people who sat in darkness have seen a great light, and upon those who sat in the region and shadow of death, Light has dawned.” Matthew 4:16

“But you are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, His own special people, that you may proclaim the praises of Him who called you out of darkness into His marvelous light.” I Peter 2:9

In His love,
Cara :)
John 1:1-14

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