I feel as if I’ve been experiencing a lot of death lately, both figuratively and literally. It has amazed me how quickly green can turn to brown. The rains ceased less than a month ago and everything is not only covered in dust, but has died as well. There is a haze over the land impeding my view of the mountains as dust is heavy in the land. I feel this weight over the people as well almost as I see feet shuffling along and few signs of life. Death. Dust. How bitter these can taste. How heavy these burdens can be. This week we enter into a greater heaviness as well as the fiesta has come to town. People come in from the surrounding villages to celebrate, often drinking until they pass out on the streets. There is a lot of activity that is promiscuous and destructive during this time. Death. Death to a different life.
This death has even a greater choke than this. I have been helping with ultrasounds more frequently and have seen three ladies who lost their babies in one week. In any culture and for any person this can be a heart wrenching experience. But I have found it to have multiple emotions here ranging from confusion, to fear, to sadness and numbness. Having to confirm this truth makes your heart ache. Last Tuesday was the third, a mother of four who was seven months pregnant. Flor was doing the ultrasound and came upstairs to confirm what she had seen. As I walked towards this momma, a blue towel was draped across her abdomen, almost signaling the death that lied beneath. The woman was listless, not moving, already retreating to a mindful of questions and gripped by fear. And her face was so downcast and worried, with reason.
She was alone to care for her four children. Her husband was away working at least till Christmas, she wasn’t sure. Nor was she sure about how she could get to the hospital or what to do when she did arrive. She had four children to care for. Armondo explained to her that this wasn’t her fault and that at times God wants some children with Him even before they are born. She nodded her head to this, but the blank stare on her face was filled with fear as she realized what she was walking home to. And so she slid off the table and over to her 18 month old son. She lifted him onto her back, wrapped him in her rebolsa, and started the journey home…. Only to live out the reality that so many here encounter, giving birth to a child that
is not breathing. The air and my heart were heavy as I realized how difficult death is, each time.
Yet another woman comes to my mind. She came last week for medicine for her nerves. Six months ago she had lost her baby and had to go to the hospital to have it removed. The experience still made her anxious and she spoke with fear as she was afraid this would happen again. I have never lost a baby, but I have friends that have. I know it is one of life’s most difficult moments. And yet I find the difficulty doubles within this culture. There is little understanding to what needs to be done or what could happen if nothing is done. And there is less trust of the hospital and fear over what could happen there, then there is of dying at times.
As I prayed with this first woman and watched the tears well in her eyes, I could see the determination in her face. The determination that she would be there for her children. That this too would pass. Yet I couldn’t help but be filled with hope that one day, in the near future, there would be a place a little closer to home that would welcome her with love and be a place of refuge for her during this time.
O death, where is your sting?
O hell, where is your victory?
O church, come stand in the light
Our God is not dead, He’s alive, He’s alive
Christ is risen from the dead
Trampling over death by death
Come awake, come awake
Come and rise up from the grave
Matt Maher – Christ Has Risen Lyrics
Although death creeps all around us, we have a promise that death is not the end. That there will be life and that it will come up from the ashes. And so we continue on, to give home to these mommas and press forward for what is to come.