Saturday, August 11, 2012

Babies Without Milk

If you happen to pass by my gate on a Friday afternoon you should stop in.  On Fridays the Missionary women who live in Conakry and others who are in from the villages stop by for coffee on that day.  It's come to be known as the Morningstarbucks.  We rotate between bible study and prayer each week...but we have coffee every time.  I order special coffees and creams from the States and for a couple of hours, those beautiful hard-working women, sit in the air conditioning, sip coffee and enjoy JESUS.  For that brief time we all feel kind of normal like we're just doing what girlfriends in the States are doing. When I first arrived, I avoided missionaries.  I didn't want to get caught up in a mini American community here. I was in Africa, for crying out loud.  I didn't come here to make more white friends.
Now, though, as I think of their faces, I can't imagine not wanting to be part of them.  GOD had different plans.  HE wanted them spoiled rotten.  Really!  There are a lot of reasons we are in Guinea--some I can see, and some I can't.  This one, though, I am absolutely certain of.  HE wants to spoil these girls rotten and HE's tasked us with the job.  How fun is that?
Yesterday was Friday. I stood in my kitchen visiting with a few ladies before we began prayer time when a woman entered, a missionary I knew by reputation before I ever met her. She'd never been to the Morningstarbucks before and now here she was...in my kitchen! I was honored and excited and it showed because I immediately put my foot in my mouth. Isn't that customary when one is star struck?  Prepare to get a little star struck yourselves.
She and her husband have been on the missionfield for a long time. In fact, her grown son now lives in another village with his wife and kids serving JESUS. I don't know how long she was here before she simply couldn't handle seeing so many babies die.  You see, many new mothers die and when they do, their infant babies would have to die too because everyone breastfeeds.  No mother, no breastmilk.  So, Ella and her local friend, Adama, began to get formula and train the grandmothers to feed the babies with bottles.  Now, when a new mother dies there is a knock on Adama's door.  She isn't well educated, and she can't write very well but she knows babies and she speaks 10 languages. So, anyone who comes for help will be able to communicate in their tribal language.  
The intimate, kindred setting of the group allows me to see these missionaries in the raw. They share the real needs of their hearts. It's incredibly humbling. I want to tell you the request Ella shared with her friends this week. Right now she is providing milk for 196-197 babies...at least that's how many whose names she knows and there are more whose names she doesn't know.  She doesn't have enough milk to feed them all.  She wants GOD's wisdom how to apportion out the formula she has.  She can't turn people away because that is literally a death sentence for the newborn.  Since they weigh all the babies every two weeks, they will work out a way to cut back a ltitle formula from some of the healthier babies so that no one has to starve.  With babies over six months they're mashing peanuts to make a milk that will go further.  
That's desperate isn't it? It is almost unfathomable that in a world where I can buy DVDs, expensive coffees and enough ibuprofen that my children never have to have a fever that babies people love and want will die because they have no milk. I asked Ella how many people she has who are committed supporters of her Babies Without Milk ministry.  Are you ready?  
Zero.
But she was quick to say that her PRIMARY DONOR always makes sure she's taken care of.  Here and there a check will come from a little prayer group somewhere and help with the $2000 a month it takes to buy the formula and milk for all the babies.

Curlygirl sat beside me during prayer and later that night while we washed dishes she told me she wasn't very good at praying.  "Of course you are", I told her, "Prayer is just talking to the FATHER.  You know how to talk, it's just like you're doing with me right now." 
"No," she argued, "those women pray different."  She is right. 
I guess that when you really get WHO you are talking to, and how desperately you need HIM, praying gets serious. Ok, so maybe our Friday Morningstarbucks isn't exactly the same as what girlfriends in the States are doing...

2 comments:

  1. How do they get their formulas? Do they have a store they purchase from there, or do they order from the states? What can I send? Coffee, creamer, formula, money, deer sausage for the guys...lol? I be praying about for your coffee group woman and you, Carrie. I'm very proud of you for having such a servant's heart.

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