Yesterday I spent the morning working at the clinic, orienting our 2 new student missionaries on their first day after being released from quarantine. We took our mandatory “first day at the clinic” selfie and jumped in to the tasks of the day. Little did I know that in a few hours my life was about to drastically change in a most beautiful way.
The pasta for lunch was still boiling on the stove when I got a phone call from an unfamiliar number. The kind voice on the other end was the medical officer for the Chikankata district. “Madam, we have a crisis right now, and we are asking that you please help.” She described a situation where a mother had given birth to twins in a rural clinic a few hours away. She died after delivery due to a postpartum hemorrhage, leaving behind 8 children who were being cared for by the grandma, and had no one to take care of the newborns. The twins were 36 weeks gestation and each weighed approximately 2 kg at birth. The officer on the phone said the family was already struggling, hungry, and worried that the babies would not survive if they stayed there.
Didn’t I recently pray about this like 2 weeks ago? For real! I had truly considered the idea of opening our home if God should lead our family. I hadn’t mentioned it to Craig, though. But I asked God that if we were called to that mission, then He would open the doors. End of discussion. One prayer, and then I went on with my life.
“Ummm…. well, let me talk to my husband! I’ll call you right back.”
The next conversation needed no introduction. By this time Craig’s attention had already been drawn to my side of the phone call, and he had this look plastered on his face like he already knew our world was about to change. I hardly had to ask, though, before the whole family heartily agreed to bring these newborns into our home.
Within an hour, I met the officer and the social service team to discuss the case. It was a 3-4 hour drive from the bush, and I was informed that they would bring the twins to us the following day.
I made a mad dash to Lusaka to buy the most basic supplies; meanwhile taking mental inventory of ALL the baby supplies and Winston’s equipment I had just given away. You know… since I would NEVER need them again. But I had never been SO excited to buy diapers and wipes in my life.
First stop–went to our local secondhand store and sorted through a large bin of miscellaneous premie-sized clothes.
Next stop–spent way too long at the grocery store trying to decide what kind of infant formula to buy.
Half a dozen stops later– check off baby bottles, baby bath bucket, and most importantly, pretty pink and white bows for the baby girl. Because we all know that those are the true essentials.
The night we awaited their arrival, my heart already worried about them. They should be on a blood sugar protocol. Are they warm enough? How are they eating? How safe are they? Will they be smothered in the night sleeping in the same bed with 6 other children? But aren’t these God’s children, too? Isn’t He also concerned and orchestrating their care? Tomorrow could not come soon enough.
I wish I was able to articulate well enough to describe the level of emotion when those babies were carried into our house. The attentiveness of the children. The sacredness of the group prayer that surrounded the babies for their future. The feelings that were ignited as the two tiny babies started crying as my friend, Catherine, and I, scrambled around pulling brand new bottles out of their packaging and opening a sealed can of formula to prepare their first bottles.
Nicole Donesky, our already beloved student missionary RN, helped me undress their urine saturated clothes and bathe them in clean water with good ol’ Johnson & Johnson No Tears baby shampoo (I know, I should get paid for that shout-out). We weighed them, took their temperatures (I haven’t forgotten the routine, my Erlanger East mobile nursery nurses!) and dressed them in their clean clothes. The other student missionaries joined us that evening for supper and the twins were held, fed, and loved on so much already by their welcoming crew. Before the night ended, the “naming committee” came up with lists of names and un-unanimously agreed on what to call our newest family members – saving one opposed – a very young, but opinionated member of the committee.
It is unclear at this time how long a time God has in store for us to provide a home for these babies. Our commitment is 2-3 months before adoption can be even be legally pursued. But if the family asks us to be their forever home at that time, we are prepared to be. The process and legalities on the US side of things seem daunting already, but as Craig assured me, if it’s God’s will, than we can trust Him with the process.