I have been reading the book Monique and the Mango Rains by Kris Holloway, and although I am only a few chapters into it, I am already moved by the harsh realities of this culture so removed from my own.
It is the story of a Peace Corp volunteer who lived in a village in Mali for 2 years, working alongside her host who was a young midwife.
I came across the book as I recently began to read more about midwifery in order to become more informed on the subject before my formal schooling begins. This year I am taking the first steps toward reaching this goal by completing prerequisites, but it will be several years, no doubt, before I actually become licensed, and at least a few years before I can begin my actual midwifery training.
Part of my passion for maternity care is out of the extremely positive experience of the two births of my own children. I have come to believe that the act of giving birth and our birth stories are a vital part of who we are as mothers.
The thing about the US, is that even though it is true that our maternal morbidity and mortality rates are some of the highest in the developing world (despite how much we spend on maternity care in our country) we at least have access to so much life saving modern medicine and treatments which are not available in many other parts of the world.
Even though I do hope that our rising maternity mortality rates will drop and actions will be made to reverse this trend, we are still blessed beyond measure when compared to places like the village of Namposella in Mali, where 2 out of every 5 children die before their fifth birthday, and maternal mortality rates are some of the highest in the world.
I have been excited about the possibility of taking my training somewhere like this in order to help these people have access to something that is such a basic human need. I don’t know when or where or how this will happen, but there is such a deep stir in my heart as I have begun to seriously pursue this calling.
As I was considering this, a simple thought came to mind: as long as I live in America, I will always be blessing the blessed.
No matter if you are richer or poorer than me, all of us still have more than so many people in the world.
I’m not saying that we should not be giving generously and lovingly to the people around us where we live. No. We are called to be a real part of the community we have been given and the place in which God has us. And I am not discrediting those who are considered to be living in poverty in our country. Suffering resides everywhere in our world. These people have real needs which we can meet in order to give hope and administer grace and peace.
Following the example of Jesus, he extended the love of God to people by meeting their practical needs and showing them how much they mattered in his sight. From what is recorded of his ministry in the new testament, it seems to be more focused on meeting the needs of the sick and poor.
We give not because we place a high value on the actual material things or experiencing a certain lifestyle or even obtaining a level of prosperity in life.
We give in order to meet people in a tangible way that demonstrates the values we have been taught by Jesus: loving others as ourselves and blessing and praying for our enemies, putting others before ourselves and treasuring the things that have eternal value.
It is easy to give to those who we like and have similar interests in and want to have like us back. It is much harder to give to those who do not understand us or have their own opinions about our motives and lifestyle.
I am writing this to myself more than to anyone else.
I want to be someone who reaches beyond the social lines we draw, even if it is uncomfortable and hard and I am unable to defend myself in any way, and give from the deep grace that has been offered to me.
I am tired of simply blessing those who bless me and who already have so very much.
It is good and I love these people and am so thankful for their friendship and none of us can truly give without having these people around us to help encourage and energize us and share our struggles and joys with. I am not saying to cut off these relationships or stop giving to each other in a way that edifies and strengthens and hopefully, challenges one another.
But I do hope that more of us can look at our lives and realize how much we have and how much those around us have, and consider more deeply the time and energy we are putting into being a blessing to those around us.
I wonder what the world would look like if we all took a much closer look at what it means to truly and practically and really bless those who are poor?
For who is poor and what is making them poor and how can we give to them what will actually make their lives rich?
Heavy thoughts with few answers are on my heart as I sit here drinking my coffee in my warm home with clean clothes on my back and two healthy children.
How do I teach them how very much they have and how temporal the many things we seek to accumulate are and how our life is so very short and there is so much to enjoy and take in and give and be, if only we can get past ourselves and the lifestyle we have been sold on belonging to us since we were young?
notes and further reading:
UNICEF statistics for Mali
Huffington Post: Fact Of The Day #26: Maternal Mortality Rate Rising Despite Expensive Care (INFOGRAPHIC)