Enlarging Borders

Thursday, October 2, 2014

Remember several years back when The Prayer of Jabez was all the range amongst Christians?  Everyone was doing the christianese thing: buying the book, jumping in, and maybe a little hesitantly praying the prayer.  

“Oh Lord that you would bless me and enlarge my borders…”  

Praying that prayer felt a little bit like singing 'Oceans' for the first time…”Spirit lead me where my trust is without borders. Let me walk upon the water, wherever you may call me.  Take me deeper than my feet could ever wonder…”

Let’s be honest. Those are just downright scary things to say.  Most of the time I think enlarging my borders sounds overwhelming, demanding, and stretching.  If I’m honest, I don’t like change and enlarging borders is usually a whole lot of change.  If enlarging borders means adding new people and new relationships, I tend to think more emotional energy and time will be required of me.  If enlarging my borders looks like adding a task or an event, I usually give a deep inner sigh and dread it for a while before embracing it and moving on.  I know having my borders enlarged isn’t all bad, all scary, or all overwhelming...it just takes me time to accept, adjust, and embrace the change the comes with border expansion.  Often after adjusting and embracing the new border, I realize how ridiculous it was to be so hesitant and full of sighs in the first place.

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We’ve been enlarging our borders a little at the Maternity Center lately.  With the help of another missionary in PAP (Port au Prince), we’ve been able to establish a relationship with a government maternity hospital.  They’ve graciously allowed us to come in on Wednesday mornings to teach the women in their postpartum ward about breastfeeding. I’ll just say this…I do not have very many positive experiences with any third world medical system. Being somewhat on the ‘inside’ of that system scares the crap out of me.  It’s usually a system where I’m hated and a system I usually find very unjust, among many other things. 

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 Breastfeeding is, unfortunately, not the norm here.  There are a lot of cultural beliefs that hinder successful breastfeeding.  In a country where milk is expensive and potable water sources are lacking, exclusive breastfeeding can often be the difference between life and death for babies. At Heartline Maternity Center, we are passionate about teaching our women to breastfeed exclusively and successfully. We are intentional about educating, encouraging and helping them in this. Women who give birth in hospitals are often told little bits of information here and there, but the medical system here isn’t one of education and support. 
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We’ve only been at this lactation support thing at this government hospital for three weeks now.  The first week felt scary, intimidating and overwhelming.  It’s kind of a big deal to, tactfully of course, give someone a lot of information that is exactly opposite of what their culture believes is true, followed by asking them if you can grab their boob and their baby to help them get this show on the road. The second week was slightly more familiar, but the teaching still felt awkward and useless.  Being culturally appropriate requires greeting and making conversation with each woman in the room. A power point and a lot of information didn’t seem like it was making any headway.  One of our Tete Club members, April, is a great guitar player and suggested we write a song with all the teaching facts we wanted the ladies to know.

So, yesterday afternoon we sat down to write a song about breastmilk and colostrum and what transpired was totally fun!  All the main points we wanted to teach were incorporated into a fun tune with some amazing vocals! 

Today, we had breakthrough! We tried our song out this morning and it was a hit! Most of the hospital was singing along while the postpartum ward was filled with dancing nurses, doctors, and midwifery students. It’s a catchy enough tune that the lyrics get stuck in your head!  I’m sitting in Miami airport and I keep catching myself singing, “Kite bebe souse l.” (Keep the baby sucking.) Whoever thought songs of boobs and milk would be so catchy?!?

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We asked one of our sweet Momma's, Mica, from the Maternity Center to join us too. Mica went through our program this past year and found her way to the Maternity Center when she found out she was pregnant as a result of rape.  This momma was forced to step down from her position as worship leader at her church after becoming pregnant. She struggled during her pregnancy and questioned her ability to truly love her baby based on her circumstances. Her sweet boy was born sometime last April and she has become an amazing mother who truly loves her little man. She has also been leading worship for child development on Tuesdays at the Maternity Center and it has been such a sweet picture of redemption and healing. Mica will graduate from the program in October and we’ve been doing some early grieving over her departure.

Seeing how this 'border enlargement' has unfolded has me now rolling my eyes at the initial hesitation I had.  I’m thankful to have team members who say things like, “This is uncomfortable, intimidating and scary, but let’s just do it. We’ll do different things and figure out what works.”  They are right. Having my borders enlarged isn’t usually a place of great comfort, but it is a place where God can do some awesome things. I’m glad He still moves and works in spite of my hesitation and resistance. We love that we are able to involve this momma from our program as well. Her story is one of redemption, and through redemption, her borders are being expanded to love and care for other new moms. 

I’m sure I’ll have endless opportunities to work on my response to border enlargement in the future. Praying the prayer of Jabez and singing ‘Oceans’ isn’t going to become any less weighted and I’ll still struggle with border enlargement from time to time, but for Wednesday’s lactation support group (or whatever it is we are called), I’m embracing it. 

Song writing 

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