Saturday, August 23, 2014
Did anyone have a Baby Shower for the Mothers of our 69 babies?
Today I attended a baby shower for Kristal Flentge, one of our amazing long-term volunteers. It was a lovely gathering of women, yummy food, games and then the ceremonial opening of gifts. Each gift was cuter than the gift before and Baby Flentge will be dressed in style upon his arrival. It was a time to gather and celebrate the coming of a little baby boy who will be born in Swaziland in the weeks to come. A baby who will be loved by his immediate and extended family, he will be well fed, educated and grow up knowing his mother, father and siblings.
Kristal has no plans to dump the baby in an outhouse/pit latrine after he is born. She has not been to the Social Welfare office to see if anyone can take him off her hands when he is born because she already has two children. Her husband Chad has not run off with another woman or taken another wife since her pregnancy and he is not beating her every day because she is pregnant. In fact, he is still living with her, loving her, bringing her special treats when she has a tough day and providing for his growing family.
Kristal is not HIV positive and she does not have any level of Drug Resistant Tuberculosis so she doesn’t need to worry about the side effects on the baby of taking dozens of pills for her illness. She has filtered water that she can drink from her own tap in her house and she doesn’t have to walk to the river every day with her two small children to gather water to drink, cook or bathe.
As I left the shower I couldn’t help but reflect on how that party, steeped in tradition from my culture, didn’t happen for the mothers of the 69 babies who call Project Canaan “home” now. Did any of those mothers them get excited when they heard that they were pregnant? Did any of them call friends and family and tell them the great news like Kristal did? Did any of them have friends gather to have a “girls” party for them and bring them special food and gifts before the baby came so that the pregnant woman was loved and so was her baby? No, they didn’t.
Many of the biological mothers to our 69 children wept when they heard they were pregnant, again. They cursed the baby in their belly and the man who put him or her there. They tried all possible means to abort the child so that no one would know that they were pregnant, and when that failed, they often ran away from home so that their families didn’t know that they were pregnant, or even start suspecting that the father of the baby might be her own father/brother/uncle/neighbor/Pastor.
We received six babies in the past two weeks. They are: Luke (1-day old), Adam (3-weeks old), Michelle (2-months old), Jacob (6-months old), Malachi (18-months old) and Lori (2-years old). Each of them was created by God and made in His image. Some of their mothers are dead, some are prostitutes, some are mentally disabled and some we just don’t know, because they were never found. But these babies were not accidents, and they are seen by El Roi, the God who sees. Their mothers are also seen by him too, and loved just as much. It’s hard to reconcile a God who loves Kristal just as much as he loves his daughter who tied her newborn baby in a plastic bag and left her under a bush to die. But he does and so must we, even when it’s hard.
Krista’s baby shower was a great celebration of life and of love and I am thankful that I could attend it. It was also such a stark reminder of the two worlds that we live in here in Swaziland. Thank you Kristal and Chad for packing up your lives and moving here to serve our Lord through the people of Swaziland. MOST people would be too afraid to move here with young (or any) children. Imagine all that you would have missed if you had said “no” or “not now”?
Your family is a gift to us all.
Live from Swaziland … living in a strange world.