Max’s Birth Story

Each child has his or her own unique birth story for their mother to cherish (or try to forget…). Since the story of Max’s birth here on an island in Asia Pacific includes a window – small as it may be – into life and culture here for my American readers, I wanted to share.

I went into labor bright and early on a Monday morning. A friend of mine, Marie, living in the same city as we, is an American who married into this country, and who so wonderfully serves many pregnant expatriate ladies as a doula. Her being fluent in both languages is an extra super-bonus when you’re in labor and trying to communicate to hospital staff (which is hard enough to do in your native language). Marie came over, and a couple of other friends also came along for the experience. So, with Jim at the wheel, and a car full of ladies (one being his laboring wife – he’s a good man) we started for the hospital.

The drive takes 1 hour, about half of which is on a smooth toll-way (just last year, before the toll-way was completed, it would have been a bumpy three-hour drive).

During the throws of labor, I remember seeing a demonstration in the middle of our road (I read in the paper the next day that it was about wages). Thankfully, traffic laws aren’t quite as strict here as in the US, so really, you don’t even have to think twice before detouring into the oncoming traffic’s lane (people expect it, so it’s not as dangerous as it sounds).

Once we got up to the labor and delivery department of the hospital, I was so relieved (but only for an instant – until the next contraction hit) to find that our room was air conditioned! The day after Max was born, the city we were in hit the all-time record high temperature for the country at 103° F – and, while this may not compete with records in Texas, this is a humid place where AC is not commonplace, so we feel every bit of the heat, alllll the time. And after 9 months of being pregnant in the tropics (not to mention that labor makes it feel a good 20 degrees hotter), you can imagine how welcomed it was.

Max was born about 1 hour after we arrived. Thankfully, Jim and Marie were right there to snag little Max when he came out, because it was another hour before the Obstetrician and Pediatrician arrived. There was a nurse there, but she had stepped away for the moment, not realizing his birth was quite so imminent.

I really cannot tell this story without acknowledging how much God’s hand was on little Max and myself from beginning to end. He knew all the little concerns that were close to my heart (none of which had to do with our location), and He tenderly took care of all the details, just like He does.

Rachel and Max in hospital
He always sleeps with his hands up by his face 🙂

We stayed in the hospital until the next day, and let me just say that it was much more relaxing than staying in a hospital in the US after giving birth. They don’t feel the need here to come in and check your vitals every couple of hours – they actually let you sleep! Jim had his own full-sized pull-out bed. They bring you food at meal time, come in to change the baby’s diaper from time to time, then the doctor comes in to shake your hand when it’s time to leave.

Below is one of the meals that was served. This is a traditional meal that is often served at times of thanksgiving – one of those times being after a birth. Clockwise, it’s carrots, fried tofu, tempe (which is a fried soybean dish), grilled chicken, coconut sambal (a condiment), eggs and vegetables, and in the little bag is a dried fish to sprinkle on for flavor. The spiced, milky drink is flavored with a root that’s similar to ginger, and having jellied floaties in your drink is a special treat.  Thanksgiving meal

When you leave the hospital, they send you home with the placenta in a clay pot. You actually cannot leave the hospital without it…but of course, what kind of person would even want to? The typical practice on our island is that it is taken straight home by the father, washed, and buried outside the house. A small lamp is placed above the burial spot to protect it from darkness. Many people include in the pot things like a pencil, some fuel, a needle and thread, rice, and other small things to help ensure that the child will be healthy and successful.

Pot

Around four days after the birth, a gift with a birth announcement is given to the neighbors. This gift often consists of a variety of traditional cooked dishes, cakes, or fruit. My dear friends helped us pull all this together. It was all hands on deck.

Preparations

 

Gift baskets

In the days following a birth, neighbors and friends come to visit and see the baby (Similarly, when people know your household is celebrating other joyous occasions, such as Eid-al-Fitr or Christmas day – they know which ones you’ll be celebrating based on your religion – they come to give their greetings).

Some common questions people ask when they see Max are, “Why do you not wrap his legs together (to correct the newborn bow-leggedness)?” “Why do you not wrap his tummy (to pull in his pot-belly)?” And the hotter it is, the thicker the blankets you tend to see people using to wrap their babies and protect them from the sun (and the heavier the coats that children and adults wear). People also wonder at the fact that we keep a fan blowing in the room where he sleeps. Almost everyone here will tell you that wind hitting and entering the body is a – if not the – major source of illness, not to mention he could get cold.

For now, Max sleeps in bed with us, and most people here would highly disapprove if he didn’t. People are shocked at the fact that our older boys sleep in their own beds, as most families sleep all together. They simply can’t believe that our kids are willing and able to sleep in beds by themselves.

It’s fun getting to chat and chuckle with some of my local friends about the differences in thinking from one culture to the next. Just as a saying here so aptly explains, “different field, different grasshopper.”

Noah Lawrence

Noah was born on March 8, and we are all in love. Hudson expressed it well when he sweetly said, “Noah, you’re da best widdle brudder I ever wanted.”

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We’re fortunate to have Jim’s family close by, and Rachel’s Mom stayed with us (read: “spoiled us”) for about a week. Below, Hudson is bringing some different animals that he thinks Noah might want to play with.photo 2

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  “It’s okay, Noah, calm down.” photo 1


Big brother has even been serenading his new little buddy.

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Hudson on a Mission

I am excited to announce my new book, Hudson on a Mission, available for pre-order today through CMM Press. This has been an exciting project for me, because its a natural outflow of our ministry as parents, missionaries, and mobilizers. My desire from the beginning has been to produce a book that will be a useful tool for helping our son (and other missionary kids) prepare for the sort of major cross cultural shift that is a part of international missions, as well as provide families with a fun tool for teaching their own kids about what God is doing among unreached people groups throughout the world.

We have partnered with Weave, a ministry of the Center for Mission Mobilization, and CMM Press to offer a first run paper back version for pre-order shipping December 2nd. Check it out today!

Reflections on Moving On (again)

For the past four years the majority of my free time has been spent in the company of Jared Weichert and Noe Martinez. Half a year ago – upon the completion of our NTM missionary training – Jared and his family packed up and left for the green pastures of California to begin the next phase of their lives. With the NTM Linguistics training nearly in the rear-view mirror, today was Noe’s turn to overload an SUV and move his family one step closer to church planting among an unreached people group a world away.

I’m not nearly as outgoing as I appear at times (or maybe as I imagine I appear). My friendships tend to be few and deep, with most other relationships relegated to the friendly, shallow depths of casual acquaintance. I dealt with Jared’s move by attaching all the more deeply to my friendship with Noe. With Noe gone, I’m not sure what I’m going to do.

It occurred to me this afternoon that having to say goodbye to best friends may be a part of life for most people, but for missionaries it’s a regular consequence of obedience. I find myself wondering if Paul might have added to his list in 1 Corinthians 9, “Do I not have the right to the proximity of close friends?” Any other career would allow for this. But already I have left friends and family behind, only to make new friends and leave them behind as well. The future promises more of the same as my family descends further from home into one of the most remote regions in the world.

Of course, I owe a debt of gratitude to the Apostle Paul for reminding me that there is a bigger story being told. I have been set free. Because Jesus Christ died for me, I am free to live for him even when it is not convenient. I am free to say goodbye to dear brothers because I am loved by the One who gave me a nature that is relational at its core.

It may never get easy to say goodbye, but brothers, it is worth it. I’ll see you on the other side…

 

 

Winding Down

Niagara Falls view from Canada

Well, the end of our senior semester here at NTBI is quickly approaching! Classes are busy and will continue to be right up until they end in mid-May. Jim and I are working on getting our applications completed for the next phase of training, the Missionary Training Center (MTC) in Missouri. We plan to get started at the MTC this coming August after spending the Summer in Texas.

Last week was our Spring Break, so we drove with the Riepma, Martinez, and Weichert families out to Niagara Falls and had a great time together.

While we were there, Hudson had his first birthday! We got back about the same time that Hudson’s Grandad and Keeb arrived from Texas, and we had a wonderful weekend with them. Since they left yesterday morning, Hudson has been missing his playmates!