By Mommy Emily
She’d died alone on a cold stone floor giving birth to twins. The same day the birthing clinic opened.
I wasn’t there, but I imagine a cotton tree might have drooped its head outside her home, a house built of the same clay earth it sat on. A white-throated bee-eater might have bent his long neck, the scent of the air perhaps salty, like tears.
Meanwhile, miles away in the village of Massarlie, news hadn’t reached yet of this mother’s passing, and instead, there was dancing. After three long years, the birthing clinic had finally opened!
Important chiefs from neighboring villages gathered in a temporary shelter erected from palm branches and slender trunks of trees. They were accompanied by their wives dressed in bright colors and scarves. These were joined by imams and their wives, government officials and their wives, and many villagers, including a blind man who had woken up in the middle of the night to cross Lil’ Scary River to be there for the celebration.
Some slumbered now on benches formed by branches wound with grass, while others swayed to loud singing through the open-air speakers. Faces glowed with both joy and sweat from the heat and the closeness of the crowd. At everyone’s feet, a plastic water bottle – a luxury purchased by Pastor Sonnel Kamara and his wife Mommy Christiana for the occasion. Later, water from the borehole will be poured over dark hands which will then dig into buckets of white rice and chicken and sauce, for plates are a luxury here too.
Meanwhile the twins, wet and naked, pushed from the warmth of their mother’s womb into a house that now held her cold body. They were found by relatives and whisked away to medical care, and when I receive Pastor Sonnel’s thick accented audio message, I just swallow. It takes days for me to cry, like I’m turning numb. It’s hard to get past the shock of it all, being a mother.
This woman, no different from me, except for everything.
She’d labored for three days, alone, in a clay hut, dying to bring forth life.
Pastor Sonnel, laboring for three years, giving birth to hope for 14 surrounding villages.
And now, the world holds her twins, even as it holds a clinic.
It’s a clinic bearing the name of a Canadian nurse who traveled with me, years ago, to lead a medical clinic on the front porch of Sonnel’s home in Massarlie, who died later in the kitchen of her Alberta home from heart failure.
All this dying and bringing forth life, like the seeds of grain in the parables, falling into the ground and bursting forth food for the nations.
And we know in spite of all our efforts, death comes for everyone. But for some, it won’t come so soon. Many children will have mothers because of this birthing clinic. We praise God and give Him all the glory, not only for providing funds for the clinic, but also for an apartment for the nurses, a waiting area for the patients, and a borehole. And we praise Him for the cooperation of the Sierra Leone government, which is now staffing the clinic and stocking it with medicines.
And we thank you, dear Lulu family, for rejoicing with us and walking with us and listening to the Father’s voice – a God who labors in love for us, who died for us, was entombed and then after three days, arose, that we might have life and life more abundant. Hallelujah.