Last night this happened:
This little screaming miracle came into the world after forcing her poor mama to be in painful labor for 24 hours and deciding that she wanted to come butt first.
As I was sitting trying to do office work yesterday Larissa came in and told me her friend, Maria, was in labor with a breech baby and needed to go to the hospital. She asked if I wanted to go with her, and I said yes, of course. I have learned quickly that adventures with Larissa are always worth having. So she left on her bike and said she would call when they were wanting to go. The problem was that that we had loaned our good vehicle out to another missions agency for the weekend, and White Bull (the truck used mostly for water projects) was in the shop. Larissa called Bishop, who was in a meeting and had only left his phone on accidentally, and he quickly agreed to let us use the CHE vehicle that he had. Only one problem…the road had a lake on it. And not having much driving experience with 4WD and mud, I asked if he would drive me across the mud and then I would pay for his boda back to the compound. He agreed, though I think he thought I was overreacting. Ha!
When we reached the mud, he understood.
Two semi trucks were stuck, both facing us. He jumped out and let people know how important it was for us to get through, and they went right to work on getting one truck out of the way. Unfortunately, it was the way that was deeper and muddier than the other one. But Bishop, being determined, decided to go. And we almost made it.
Then this happened:
Yep. Mud up to the top of the wheel wells. I am in a high SUV in this picture! We were as stuck as it gets. No amount of rocking or attempts at gunning it were getting us out. And there was no way for people to push, because they could never have gotten traction in the water behind us. It was up to their mid thighs!
Finally Bishop rolled up his good pants to past his knees, took off his shoes, and waded out. You need to understand…in this culture, Bishop is a “big man.” That means he has a high status and much respect. To see him rolling up his pants and wading in the mud because he knew the life of this woman and child were at stake and he valued them was a humbling thing for me. We are very grateful to have is partnership with the ECS and he and Rina.
After finding a huge UN vehicle to pull us out, he sent a driver to do the driving for him. I sat in the car the whole time texting Shawn and Larissa, keeping them updated on where we were and the progress. The first time we started to go and then, “snap!” The rope broke. There was some debating on whether the car had been in gear (no) and if the emergency break was on (also no), and then they tried again. This time I thought we were going to make it, but “snap!” It broke again. The third time was the charm, and after getting up on dry, solid land we cheered, thanked the men, and then Bishop got in the car with his wet, muddy, bare feet and drove off.
We met Larissa on the compound of the pregnant women, and a bunch of people carried her out. After finally getting settled in the car with her sister, her oldest daughter and the daughter’s baby, her own two year old, her midwife and her husband, we left. Carefully and slowly, so as not to cause too much pain, Larissa drove. Let me just say, I think she’s a rock star. We had to stop several times to let Maria reposition herself as the baby was determined to come out. Larissa and I were very happy that the midwife was along! We held her as she moaned and cried, barely conscious at times. I just kept thinking, “Father, help!” A woman in labor for over 24 hours since her water broke and a breech baby coming more dangerous than you can imagine in a place like South Sudan.
Lui hospital is less than 20 miles away. But because of the roads, the pace we had to go, the constant stopping, and the initial mud issue, we took almost two hours to make the trip. All the way all I could think was that this mother and baby might die simply because the roads are so atrocious. The maternal mortality rate is among the highest in the world here, and now I know why. But God was faithful and brought us to the hospital, which is staffed with 6 Italian doctors right now.
Maria was admitted immediately and a surgeon was called to do a c-section. We were able to sit with her right until they took her to the next room to do the surgery. Then we waited and talked and prayed. When the baby was born and we heard the crying Larissa and I both looked at each other with tears in our eyes. Now we just had to wait to find out about the mom.
In the meantime darkness had come and it was pouring. We had not planned to stay the night, but it can be dangerous to drive after dark (not to mention there is a curfew.). And with the rain we decided not to chance it. So we called the local bishop, whom we had just had dinner with the night before. He set us up with a wonderful place to stay that was clean, bug free, and pleasant. It turns out it belongs to the Italian doctors, but only a couple were currently staying there. After we heard that Maria would be ok, we took the midwife and the three of us went to get showers and get some rest.
I woke up at 5 am to hear rain pouring still and the wind howling. I thought, how are we going to drive home? But then a peace poured over me as I thanked God for his provisions for just the last few hours. Where there was no car, he provided. No driver, he provided. When we got stuck, he brought someone along to pull us out. He kept Maria from delivering on the road or in Mundri where she surely could have died from such a trauma. He put us just 20 miles from a hospital staffed with good doctors. He got us to the hospital before darkness and rain hit. He allowed this little one and her mama to live though this experience in a place where the odds are terrible. He gave us shelter- and not just any shelter, but one with a shower, mosquito nets, and an indoor toilet. He gave good rest at night. So this rain and these muddy roads- they were no match for him. “Ok, God. Do your thing. I trust you.”
We visited the hospital to see Maria and the baby and her family, then we left. And even though there were a few precarious spots, Larissa drove with confidence and we made it back. The plan we had worked with bishop was that we would leave his vehicle at the guesthouse of the Catholic Church, which is staffed with three Indian priests. We had never met them before, and after an adventurous drive up their road we were happy to take a minute to have coffee with them and make plans to have some Christmas celebrations together. Then they walked with us across the huge mud pits so we could meet bishop, who was in our truck on the other side.
After a brief stop in town for food and a quick breakfast of rolexes ( eggs in chapatis) and a quick hello to Alice, whom I hadn’t yet seen since we got back, we got home.
Home. There’s that word again.
As we pulled in and I knew our team had been here praying and my shower was waiting for me, I was overwhelmed yet again that this is home. God has me here for things like mud walking, hospital going, coffee drinking, language learning, baby holding, market shopping, and people loving.
And like I said, adventuring with Larissa is always fun!