Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Update on Mary

Great news!  I finally got word today that Mary and her baby boy are doing well.  He weighed more than they expected (5.5pounds).  Mom and baby continue to recover at a missionary's home. Thank you so much to the people who gave toward her hospital stay.  You truly blessed this woman this Christmas. 

Saturday, December 15, 2012

Prayers for Mary

Last week I sent out an email to all of the missionary women that attended our "Night of Encouragement" dinners in September.  I wanted to check back with them to see how they've used their mama kits for ministry and see who needed more of them.  I received several wonderful emails back expressing gratitude.  The women say they are great tools for ministry and are really making a difference in the lives of the pregnant women they know.   Several of the missionaries are starting new health clinics or health education programs next year.  We are very excited to get to partner with them in their work. The need for good, quality care and pre-natal education is staggering.

But I received back one email that sort of stopped me in my tracks.  Here is part of that email:

"Thank you so much for the Mama kits that you gave us. We are working in the village of N-- doing teacher training, community development, and agriculture. We recently started a woman’s group. We had a ladies' tea and 20 women came and they expressed an interested in forming a ladies group to do skills training, Bible Study and English learning. We started a beading group, teaching the women to make bracelets and necklaces that we are going to take home and sell to raise money for our project. Mary is 8 months pregnant and is a part of our group. The Lord spoke to my heart that we were to give her a Mama kit. After bead group we asked if we could follow her home and told her we had a gift for her. "
The missionaries walked home with Mary and learned that she is 21 years old and this is her 3rd pregnancy.  She was tricked into becoming the 2nd wife of an abusive man who practices witchcraft.   She has a three year old son.  She lost her younger baby from a complicated delivery.    She had to have c-sections previously, which were done vertically and she has a lot of scar tissue.   She has suffered much in her young life.
At 8 months pregnant Mary had not received any prenatal care.  The family has no money.  When the missionary visited they only had pumpkin flowers to eat for dinner.  The missionary got permission from Mary's family to take her back to town and to a doctor. 
The doctor diagnosed her with preeclampsia, excess aminotic fluid, and the baby is not growing properly.  She is now in the care of the missionaries.  They are doing all they can to keep her and this unborn baby boy well. They both are at great risk. 
As somone who has had two c-sections with complications, including excess scar tissue, this breaks my heart.  I cannot imagine what it is like to go through these things with no money, no prenatal care, and suffering from malnutrition and abuse.
The missionary ended her note with this:
"ALL of this to say that, if we had not gone over there to give her a Mama Kit I am sure they both would have died at home in the village. There was no way for us to know all this without the “help” of a Mama Kit. Thank you for being a part of this story! We are praying that God has great plans for Mary and her little boy."
While it is so nice to hear her gratitude that is not why we do what we do. This missionary did not write asking for my continued help, she asked me to pray.  I would like you to join me in praying for Mary.

Mary is a young mother. She is not well-known. She is from a family of very little means. She is someone overlooked by most of the world.  She reminds me of another Mary we talk a lot about this time of year. No, she does not carry the Christ child, but she is a precious child of God. She deserves a chance at life. 
I ask you... as mamas, as fathers, as those who've endured c-sections or preeclampsia, as those who cannot fathom the life Mary lives... to pray.

God led these missionary women to this woman, so she could get care and so we could continue to help.  A regular mama kit is not going to be enough for this woman.  I hope we can help cover the costs of Mary's care.  I will let you know more about that as I get the information.  But for now I ask you to sincerely pray for her and those caring for her. 

 Update Tuesday, Dec. 18th.  Mary will check in to the hospital tomorrow and have her c-section on Thursday.  Her blood pressure is still high, but remaining steady  Pray for her safety and that of her baby. 

Monday, December 10, 2012

Sweet Success

This sweet woman, Priska (pictured with her mother), safely gave birth to a baby girl this week.  She said she appreciated the mama kit and wanted all of you to know how grateful she is for your gift to her. 

In the next couple of weeks, 500 more mama kits will be passed out to missionaries and ministries to give to those most in need.  More mamas like Priska, will have the blessing of a mama kit and greatly improve her chances for a safe delivery.  Your donations make a difference.

Sunday, December 9, 2012

What about the men?

I'm a bit behind on blogging more about our trip.  I need to figure out a way to drive and blog at the same time.  I have so many stories swirling around in my head, but not enough time to sit and type them all out.

One part of the trip that really stuck out to me-- the men.  While listening to the stories of the women we met, my mind would go back to the men in these women's lives. The women told story after story of abuse, rape and abandonment.  The men made promises, but when life got hard or the women got pregnant they left.  These men desire to have many children, but do not want to do the work to care for them.  The women fight for survival, care for the children, care for the home, and try to earn money any way they can.  It's not an easy life. 
These women each shared their struggles with us.  heartbreaking.
I kept thinking something needed to done to help teach or encourage these men to step up and do their part.  The interesting things is that I was not alone in my thoughts.

The day we visited Mama Florence, I walked out of her birthing center and saw our driver, Deo, talking to the men of the village under a tree.  I asked one of the other ladies what he was doing.  They said, "Oh, he's preaching."  Sure enough, he had their attention and was sharing Christ with them.  Awesome.
Deo is the one standing and talking, ;)
Afterwards he came up and said, "Mama Melissa, we really need to do something for the men."  I told him I'd been thinking the same thing. Deo said that while we were inside with Mama Florence, the men, who spend most of the day sitting outside hanging out with their friends and playing cards, yelled at him and asked why we only help the women and not them.  Deo walked over to them and said, "They help the women because you don't."  He then began to share his own testimony and how he used to mistreat his wife and children.  Then he became a Christian and God changed his heart. He learned how to be a better husband, father, and employee.    He got to share with these men the transforming power of God.  He told them that God desires for them to care for their families.  Powerful stuff.

Deo is right.  We need to do something for the men.  I'm not sure what all that includes.  My goal with Mercy for Mamas has always been to focus on safe births for the women.  But I also know that life would be much better for these women with support from the men in their lives.  Pray for us as we try to figure out the best way for us to minister to the men of Uganda. 

Monday, December 3, 2012

Give a Mama Life this Christmas

I am so excited to announce a new partnership for Mercy for Mamas.  We are teaming up with The Hope Venture.  I love this organization and the heart of their leaders.  I've had the chance to meet with the director, Cynci, a couple of times in the last year, and I count their Africa Projects Coordinator, Brooke, as a dear friend and partner in ministry.  I know we are going to do some great work together.

The Hope Venture helped me out immensely back in 2011 when I unexpectedly raised  A LOT of money for an orphanage in Uganda.  They were such a help back then, and they've proven to me that they work with a lot of integrity and they take their job very seriously.

For now, all donations for mama kits will go through The Hope Venture.  Every penny that is given will go directly to the purchase and delivery of mama kits.  They raise funds for their overhead costs separately, so you can know exactly where your dollars are going.

The Hope Venture works to provide help and hope to people around the world.  Their work includes projects in India and Africa.  Through trusted partnerships, The Hope Venture engages in compassion-based projects to help improve life for those most in need.

Mama kits are featured in their 2012 Christmas Catalog, along with some of their great projects.  Please check it out and do some shopping.  What better way to give this Christmas!  Take some of your extra Christmas cash and spend it to help someone else in the world.  Or support one of their projects as a gift for that person who has everything.  Starting at just $5, you and your family can give a widow in India a new outfit, buy a child a backpack of school supplies, provide a goat for a family, or help build a well. You really need to check out all of the work they are doing.

If you'd like to buy mama kits in honor of someone this Christmas, just make a donation over on the Hope Venture website.  We'll email you a special card you can give your loved one explaining your gift.  Just make sure to put a note when you make the donation that you'd like us to email you a card.