Tuesday, November 08, 2011

Week 8 - The Last Class

the final class came. i was dreading it on one hand and looking forward to it on the other. dreading it because we were going to talk about sex (yikes!) and because no more seeing these girls weekly. looking forward to it because, lets be honest, its always a good feeling when something comes to completion.

i combined the two classes and had our pregnant girls join the others. which proved to be a good decision. when talking about sex, its always good to have people that have been in their shoes. sometimes kids don't want to hear about sex from adults who are old! (i used that term very gently because i am NOT old...haha!) my 13-year old that is pregnant was able to speak more honestly about being a teenager and being pregnant than i could having been pregnant in my 20's. and it was good. she let them know it wasn't easy. she couldn't get comfortable. she couldn't sleep well. she didn't know if she'd know how to care for a baby when her's was born. i was thinking in my head, "i felt all those things and i wasn't even a teenager."

we talked about the more serious side of sex as well; as a number of girls i've spoken to on this island (not just in The Hole) have been sexually abused as children. it's never easy to talk about it but i felt it incredibly necessary because of the girls i've spoken to who have been abused they: 1) never told anyone 2) acted as if it was just a part of life, and 3) were threatened by their abuser that if they did tell, they would kill them. i feel that, unfortunately, sexual abuse is more the norm here than just an exception. we could probably have a year long class on just how to heal from those types of deep wounds.

we also spoke on protection, STDs, being smart and abstinence. obviously, as a christian, i think that abstinence is the best route. even though i didn't choose that in my youth, as an adult i see the truth behind this biblical principal. but...i also have to be realistic. these girls are part of a culture where sometimes even in christian circles, living with someone before being "officially" married is acceptable. and just like the youth in America, most people will not wait for their future spouse. for me, the best thing besides abstinence is helping them to be informed.

when i started these groups i told them that first and foremost, i am a christian woman. transformed by my relationship with God and redeemed of my past by the blood of his son, Jesus. but secondly, i want them to know they can trust me. that i will not judge them and that i was there to teach them from my own experiences. that i care about them and their futures. and when it comes to the "sex talk" none of that changes. yes, i want nothing more for them to wait for the husband God has prepared for them. but if they don't choose that themselves, i want them to be healthy and smart. now, i did bring a five-page sheet on all the main STDs that can be contracted with photos showing sores and bugs and oozing stuff. hopefully that helps them to make better decisions :)

and with our sex talk concluded, we ate, drank and enjoyed time together. and it was my favorite part.




God put something in my heart that i could have never put there myself. he gave me a responsibility to care for these girls that is bigger than i am able to accomplish alone. i have shed more than enough tears over the burdens i bare knowing the stories of these brave girls. and i wouldn't change a single moment of it. i have never depended on God more than in these last 8 weeks. i have never lost more sleep praying for anyone in the darkness of night. i have never felt more joy (apart from my wedding day and birth of my children) than watching God do a work in them. even if i never see the final outcome of what God is doing in their lives. even if it is as small as a mustard seed. because we all know what our Father says about mustard seeds.
"...Truly I tell you, if you have faith as small as a mustard seed, you can say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it will move. Nothing will be impossible for you." -Matthew 17:20

Saturday, November 05, 2011

A Mother's Story

In 2008, I was asked to run over to a nearby hospital and take pictures of a little boy who had just had surgery. G.O. came to his aid when they learned of his condition from his pastor, Felix Abreu. I remember I had a lot to do that day and tons of stuff on my mind and, quite frankly, I wanted a pity party for myself because I had to stop everything I was doing to take a couple pictures anyone could take. But it was my job. I needed to go.

I arrived at the hospital, hiked it up 4 flights of stairs and entered a room. I caught his eyes. They were hurting. He cried almost at the sight of me and was more uncomfortable than he already was, just at my presence. He didn't know me. His Grandmother and his Pastor were the only other people in the room and I could tell he would rather leave it that way.

I took my pictures and was about to leave when Felix said, "We don't know if this one is going to work." He explained that his stomach gases were already out of control and I could see little tiny bubbles leaving his lips as if someone had put too much soap in a dishwasher and it was bubbling out. Little Wilson couldn't control it. He couldn't stop it. His eyebrows dented inward with worry and pain. I walked over and touched his arm and told him I would be praying for him. I had to get out of there before Niagara Falls spilled over.

Closing the door, the tears fell. In an instant, a poor, suffering little boy changed me. I hated myself for whining about one more photograph to take when I should have been overwhelmed with gratitude that this is what I get to do everyday.

Fast forward to present day...Wilson still struggles. The surgery didn't take. He was left in his debilitating condition. But hope arrived in the form of a doctor and a hospital who were touched by him the same way I was three years ago.

Please watch this video to see his story. Please pray for him as the process has started for him to get an emergency medical visa to be taken to the U.S. and have life-saving, life-changing surgery.

Tuesday, November 01, 2011

Week 7 - Labor and Delivery

Oh, the daunting task of talking about the most difficult hours of a woman's life. Add to that daunting task the fact that the mother's are teenagers (minus Carolina). I kept it positive, reminding them that at the end of some of the most difficult hours of their lives, they will be holding the most beautiful thing they have ever seen.

We discussed pros and cons for both natural birth and C-section. Culturally, almost all women choose to have a C-section, somewhere close to 90%. I explained the importance of a vaginal birth, if they are able, considering how young they are and some of the difficulties associated with C-sections in the country they live in. But told them that they need to listen to their doctors and do what they say is best.

Although I had an emergency C-section with Landon and a planned one with Emi, I had all the comforts of amazing post-op care and really good pain meds. It's not that way in the Dominican. A friend of mine who recently gave birth via C-section only stayed in the public hospital for a little over 24 hours. She was sent home with Tylenol and a little bit of cream for her incision. Because of the high rate of drug trafficking here, it is pretty difficult to come by any type of narcotics. Good in one sense; keeping it off the market. Bad for Mom's recovering from a C-section. It was awful, seeing how much pain she had. I remember having pain even while taking Codeine, I couldn't imagine it with just a little Tylenol.

We talked about relaxation techniques, about who would be at the hospital with them and any other questions they had. I planned on showing them a 3-D delivery video but right as I was getting ready to download it and bring it to class, our electricity went out. No video.

But it was ok, we ended the class with a really good salad that Yudy and Carolina made and a couple of the girls from our girls group trickled in to join in our feast. It was such a good time sharing my experiences with these girls about labor and birth just as many women had shared their experiences with me.