Monday, September 26, 2011

Not Your Third Wife

I look forward to sharing pics and stories from Mahafaly land with you soon, but thought I'd share this pic (sans the story) with you now. To give you a hint of their mindset, when we were talking about God's plan for marriage using the story of Adam and Eve, one of our volunteers mentioned that a wife is a blessing from the Lord. A Mahafaly man piped up and said, "Then I am very blessed - I have three!"

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

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Doctor, Doctor

I’m always excited to get to do hands-on nursing. I know our medical teaching is incredibly helpful, prevents problems, and is much more reproducible than just me giving out some band-aids, but I sure miss the hands-on aspect of nursing at times! This is one reason why this last week has been so neat for me.

We were able to bring two visiting doctors from America to the village of Ankazotsara. They taught about disease transmission, gave out de-worming pills, shared the Gospel with 100 people, and had a clinic in the little schoolhouse! I was concerned at first that people might not come due to trust and shyness issues, but they came in droves, praise the Lord! The doctors were very patient with everyone, and, along with “normal” illnesses, got to see some tropical diseases like elephantiasis (pictured above).

During clinic time, a 4-year-old boy named Etsiky was brought in. He had fallen two days prior, and looked like he had a broken arm. He had had no pain medication the whole time. His parents didn’t know how to care for it, so his arm was just hanging limp and swollen by his side. :( The family had no money with which to take him to the hospital (hospitals here don’t treat without money given up front), so they were just going to leave it like that. I talked with his parents, assuring them we would help out financially, and they agreed to let me take them to the hospital the next morning. Sure enough, Etisky had a broken arm. The bad news was that the bone had started to heal improperly. Etisky needed an orthopedist to re-break the bone, set it properly, and put on a cast. The initial doctor exam, x-rays, and medicine were not very expensive. The total came to $7.50. But a trip to another hospital to see an orthopedist and get the procedure done (since they don’t have the right capabilities at the hospital that is close) was going to be more expensive. Praise the Lord, there is a group of believers in the Czech Republic who sent us money specifically to meet medical needs, so we were able to use that to get Etsiky to the specialist! We were also able to pray with him and his family, and share how God can heal through miracles or by the wisdom and skill He has given to doctors. I have seen many children and adults in the villages with mangled or useless limbs from never healing right after a break, so to be able to prevent this in this little boy was such a blessing to my heart and to everyone involved.
The smiling photo of Etsiky is from before his accident. The pitiful picture of Etisky crying was the day we took him to the hospital. We were trying to makeshift a sling and teach his mom ways to decrease the swelling. We ended up demonstrating how to properly use a sling on his good arm, and, once the pain medications kicked in, his mother was able to put the sling on his hurt arm. She said it helped bring the swelling down, praise the Lord!

I always struggle at the end of my letters to you because there are SO MANY amazing, wonderful, corrective, exhortive, inspiring verses I want to send you! If I sent them all, however, each update would be hundreds of pages long, so let me just encourage you with this and I will wrap it up. :-) The words of Jesus from Matthew 11:28-30:

Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and My burden is light.”

May God bless you, my friends and prayer warriors!
Cara :)

P.S. The medical care in this country might be super sub-par, but the views are beautiful! This one's from my veranda (yes, I live in a paradise):