This blog post does not contain any new updates on the pregnancy, just some thoughts and reflection. I’ve been thinking a lot lately about past experiences in my life and how they have prepared me to deal with this pregnancy. I will share a snippet of my testimony first and then some stories of our recent trip to Haiti.
I started following Christ around the age of 14. I don’t know exactly when I was saved, I just remember going to hear Franklin Graham speak in Greenville, saying THE prayer and then delving into a relationship with Christ. When I was 16, I found out my mom, after a time of extreme migraines and a CT scan, had a Grade 2 Astrocytoma which is a type of incurable brain tumor. My mom originally had brain surgery at Pitt Memorial Hospital in Greenville. We decided to transfer care to Duke Cancer Center after her brain surgeon at PCMH told her she had 1-2 years of life left. She was accepted into a chemo clinical trial and radiation treatment at Duke. This treatment allowed her to live 6 more years, before the cancer accelerated to a grade 4 Glioblastoma and took her life in 2005. I was 22, my brother 15 and my sister was 12. My mom was my best friend. There was nothing I kept from her and she trusted me fully. This was at the time the worst possible thing that could ever happen. I thank God everyday He prepared me to accept Him before she got sick. I would not be the same person today and it would not have been the same experience without my faith.
It was during this time in my life that I truly grasped the power of prayer and depended upon God for my daily needs. For the last year of her life, I was in such a haze that I could not function through daily life without prayer. When she died, God granted me a peace that I never knew was possible in this situation. I wasn’t angry or bitter about her leaving me. That isn’t to say that I haven’t had moments with these feelings, but overall I knew this was part of a greater purpose. God showed me the fruits of His plan after she died. My mom tried to get my granddad, her father, to go to church her entire life. He, being a college biology professor, thought Christianity was a cult. He never went to church until she got sick. He attempted to make a deal with God to heal her and he’d start going to church. Since then, he’s been baptized and dedicated his life to the Lord. God didn’t have to show me His purpose, but He did. I lost my mom, but I already knew she had a relationship with Christ. The one person she wanted to reach while she was alive will meet her in Heaven.
This is the perspective I’m trying to apply to my pregnancy. I’m trying to minimize the anger/bitterness I know could occupy my mind because of this pregnancy. I don’t have the answer to the question: “why is God letting this happen?”. I don’t need to ask. I trust God enough to know He has my best interest in mind and He may be using my baby’s story to reach someone else. I would never question if God loves us or this baby, ever. I read the words He breathed into the Bible and I look to the cross. Jesus was sent to save you and I and He was sent to save the unborn as well. I persevere because of His love and His promises. I am in no way saying this is easy, as I struggle mightily every day. I grieve for this baby, for the struggles ahead for a potentially physically or mentally handicapped child and the potential of losing a loved child. I grieve for my family who wished for a grandchild, niece/nephew and great grandchild and instead of congratulating me on my pregnancy, are praying for a miracle. Instead of waiting to be surprised by the gender at its birth, I want to know the gender soon so I can name the baby just in case I lose him/her. Through all these internal struggles, I have hope. Hope that could only come from God.
Romans 5:3-5 Not only so, but we also glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character, and character, hope. And hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us.
I think my mom’s death was, in part, a preparation of what was to come. I feel like if I can go through that and survive, I can survive almost anything life throws at me. When I find false security in myself, when I feel in control of my life and that I can do things on my own, God uses something like this to hit me hard and bring me back to the reality that I can do nothing with Him. I made having a baby/family an idol this past year. It was something I wanted more than anything in this world. I thought that having a baby is beneficial to us and shouldn’t be considered an idol, but I learned that whatever you put ahead of God is an idol; whether it be money, school, love, family, education, etc. God showed me that this was something I was trying to plan myself without Him. I have no control over my life and I should give my attempted control to His purpose. I’ve always been independent in life, relying on no one so that I am not disappointed. God has shown me I can count on His promises. He has never let me down. In the words of John Piper from this weekend: “God doesn’t need a Plan B, because Plan A always works out”.
Perspective also comes from life experiences, events and people you meet. In November of last year, Josh, me, and 7 other people went on a short-term mission trip to Haiti for the week of Thanksgiving. I had never been on a mission trip period, much less outside of the US. I ended up leading this group, because we had a hodgepodge of people from different states. This was probably among the most stressful events of my life. We raised the last of our support money in the nick of time and boarded a plane super early one morning to head to Haiti. A lot of the people with us had never been outside of the country at all. For several, this was their first mission trip as well. We went to Mission of Hope in Haiti, a Christian organization, whose mission is to help the country of Haiti by employing natives and educating Haitian children. They have an orphanage, school, church, mission house, clinic and soon-to-be hospital on their main campus in Titanyen. My absolute favorite memories come from interacting with the Haitian people, including our translators.
Haiti is such a beautiful island, but in a state of turmoil after the devastating 2010 earthquake. Houses were still in shambles, people lived in tents and there is rampant disease, even 2 1/2 years later. Over 200,000 people lost their lives, even more lost their livelihoods and safety. The Salvation Army put most of these people into temporary tents, which still exist. Their government is corrupt and unstable and there are no big industries to help unemployment. Unemployment in Haiti is about 80 % and because of this, many people walk around during the day trying to sell knick-knacks and food they’ve grown. Education is also a huge issue because there is no public education system. Children have to pay to go to school and most families can’t even afford to eat. Therefore, many children don’t attend school even when they desperately desire to go.
What amazed me the most about Haiti is that through all of the turmoil, everything these people have been through and are going through, they praise God. I was constantly sobbing throughout the trip (and if you know me well, you know I don’t express emotions that freely). I wanted to share with you some examples of the powerful God-loving people they are. During one of the village days we met Martial’s (an interpreter at MOH) family. His wife and three girls stayed home while Martial worked at MOH. Casandra, his wife, told us a little about the earthquake and her experience. She told us the horrific things she witnessed and said the ground “literally opened up and people fell into it”. Casandra and Martial lived on the street with their 3 girls, not knowing how they were going to feed them. Casandra said she prayed to God for provision and the next day, Martial got a job as an interpreter. During all of her hardships and overcoming insurmountable odds, she praised God.
This is part of Martial and Casandra’s story: http://mohhaiti.org/blog/81#.UUKJsdaLjYQ
After we met and talked (through our interpreter, Achemetre) with a few people from the villages, we would pray with them. We met a woman who invited us into her house (if you’ve been to Haiti, this is a big deal) to pray over her two children. Inside there was a 16 day old infant and another child around 6 years of age, who likely had cerebral palsy. She has never walked, stood and was mute. People in the village did not take kindly to her as Haitian superstitions lead people think that children with mental and physical deformities are part of a lower class. Possibly even affected by voodoo. Her mother had taken her to a local hospital to have the doctors for a diagnosis. They said they couldn’t help her because this was a product of a curse from a voodoo priest. The mother said she would never have taken her children to a voodoo priest because she didn’t believe in it. We took turns praying for healing for the children as well as protection in their future. The mother was very distraught and I could tell she depends on God’s promises everyday to keep her children safe. Seeing children in this condition was very humbling. This was probably the most emotional I got while in Haiti.
Achemetre, our interpreter, was also an inspiration to me and a friendship I’ll never forget. He was incredibly shy at first but we joked around with him and by the end of the week we were very sad to leave him behind. Achemetre had attended the MOH school and then became an interpreter. He taught himself Spanish, French, English and was learning Portuguese. When we walked with him through the villages, he seemed to know everyone we crossed paths with. We walked down the street and had a conversation about sharing our faith to others. He said he’ll walk down the street every day and stop someone, ask him for 5 minutes and share Jesus with him. He asked me if I did the same and embarrassed, I told him America works a little differently. Achemetre just couldn’t understand this as sharing your faith is the most important thing to Jesus. After we left Haiti, I friended him on Facebook and every single post, everything he says is about God’s goodness/faithfulness and asking people to come to Christ. I am so honored to have him as a brother in Christ. Our saying when we left: See you in Heaven or Haiti, Achemetre, whichever comes first.
There was also a church on the campus at the mission that we had the pleasure of attending while we were there. It was one of the most emotional, moving and energetic services I have experienced. Experiencing singing Hosanna, my favorite worship song, while alternating between Creole and English, was my earthly experience of Heaven. One of the sermons was even on praising God. Most of the sermon was in Creole, so we could only catch bits and pieces. The pastor taught from Psalm 100:
A psalm. For giving grateful praise.Shout for joy to the Lord, all the earth.Worship the Lord with gladness;come before him with joyful songs.Know that the Lord is God.It is he who made us, and we are his;we are his people, the sheep of his pasture.Enter his gates with thanksgivingand his courts with praise;give thanks to him and praise his name.For the Lord is good and his love endures forever;his faithfulness continues through all generations.
That’s my perspective. After coming back from Haiti, even after losing my mom. Nothing in this life matters but how we represent and love our God. The Haitians have been closer to Hell and back and are still praising His goodness and faithfulness. They are living without basic needs, such as water, food, shelter, and education. We are so blessed to live in America. I know I take for granted the convenience of these needs instead of remembering everything I have comes from God. I want God to strip me of everything so I can praise and depend on Him. This life is but a whisper of eternity that you can spend with God if you so choose. We may be going through a tough time right now, but Josh and I have faith that only He can pull us through it. We cannot rely on each other or ourselves alone to deal with the outcome of this pregnancy. Many people have told Josh and I that we are very strong people and they cannot imagine how we get through the day. Let me tell you the honest truth, I am so weak. I need God to remind me of His promises everyday through His word. I need the encouragement of believers to get through each day. I cannot imagine how people get through these situations WITHOUT God or faith. I am weak but He is strong. Or as they say in Haiti:
“Jesi se tous pou mwen”
Jesus is everything to me
Josh and Rebecca
P.S.-These are some pictures from our trip