I would never dare to suggest that I am like that young woman, who faced the threat of being stoned to death, if caught pregnant and unmarried. But, I feel like I have some biblical parallels to our situation that have helped me in this ‘being pregnant and a rookie missionary’.
Mary and Joseph had to make an incredible journey from Nazareth to Bethlehem. Having lived in Israel, we know the route by car, which avoids the hills and valleys where they would have most likely crossed. It is a long and dangerous journey, for which they would have had to pack supplies of food and things for the baby. We too are on a journey here, sometimes in taxis, relatively bumpy, and others in buses.
Those are the ‘funniest’. Getting on and off with all of us accounted for is quite a miracle, when the bus is packed so full people are hanging from the back. Food, well, all my dearest mothers who are reading this know what it is to be pregnant and hungry – we, I should say I, just incase this does not apply to you, become like bears after winter hibernation… but when you are new to a place, it is challenging trusting in the Lord’s provision always. And yet He faithfully comes through every time! Provision for baby… well just like Joseph’s donkey, there wouldn’t be much he could load up on it, we too have not got our baby list shopping done – where would we put it? (And at the time of writing this, we do not have a donkey). I am sure that Mary would have preferred to give birth in Nazareth, close to her family, maybe with a local midwife she would have grown up knowing. And yet she had to give birth in a stable, with the animals! That is so out of my comfort zone, and yet I feel like the Lord is also testing me in this area. Look at any baby magazine and we are presented with perfectly prepared little nursery rooms, with the nappies all loaded and ready to go. I would love to have a nest/home to do this in, and feel ready for my baby. I have cried at the thought of not being ready, and had a couple of panic attacks as I have felt contractions trying to kick in. “Hold on Little One, not yet!” I prayed.
The Lord is teaching me trust at my most vulnerable time, so that I know that in everything, He is always faithful. We have been trying to find where we will live to have our forth homebirth, first find the house then the midwife… We looked at a hospital here in Asuncion that although would be safe, was far from what my heart desires – I won’t scare you with details. “Peter, can you quickly learn midwifery?” I have jokingly said… It has seemed like there is “no room at the inn”, and we have had to look for our ‘stable’.
We have been invited to have our baby at a Mennonite guest house, close to their Clinic. It is way out in the deep Paraguayan country, some of the journey is along a dirt and very bouncy road. (If I don’t go into labour just getting there, it will be the Lord holding off contractions). We will go well before Baby is due, and stay there till after I have got my strength back. During our stay, Peter and Daniel will do volunteer labour and learn how the Mennonites so efficiently work the land and feed themselves from it, as well as doing some carpentry, and construction. The girls and I will prepare for Baby, and perhaps someone there might teach them Spanish. We will all see how these amazing Mennonite families have gained the trust of the local Paraguayan people, due to their service to the community with the church and clinic. Peter and I have a precious peace about this adventure, despite the various unknowns.
God always does things the way He knows is best for us, and there is always long lasting reasons why He does them that way that we occasionally get to understand after having gone through the trial. Jesus is the Savior of the world, who comes to those who humbly receive Him, hence His birth not being in a palace as a King of the rich only, but in a stable, as the King of all who are meek and lowly. I wonder if Mary understood that at the time… I believe she was fully graced either way. I am not quite at the point of fully knowing the reason for this baby journey, but I am learning so much about just simply trusting. Our birth will be very special, and we can’t wait to share the miracle of the ‘manger’ with you!
Please pray that we can be a blessing to the Mennonite community that have invited us, and for us as we bring our next little one into the world... Thank you!
Peter & Evi Ratcliffe