If I told you that this season was nothing but good, it would be possibly the biggest lie ever. This season (meaning 23 June - 7 December) has been hard, awful, unbearable, incredible, stretching, amazing and invaluable. It has been a time of constant conflict. Loving the school, loving the clinic, but hating that I was so far away from the man God gave me. Loving the friendships and also struggling to have patience and love for those around me. Hearing God, crying on my knees while at the same time celebrating Him and His work. Being so excited for my future wedding and future life while missing him so much it affected my physical body. Constant conflict.
During these few months I have studied harder than I have before, I’ve had to stand up for what was right (even when it was hard), I’ve had to run to Jesus when I have nothing left. I’ve fought the feelings of homesick and had to pull myself together when all I wanted to do was jump on a plane to Rwanda. I’ve mourned the loss of my grandfather - that alone was a interesting, difficult and stretching experience. The feeling that comes when you hear your grandfather is on his death bed and you will never see him again, that was tough. It made me to think back to the last time I saw him. Did I tell him that I love him? Did I tell him how much I value him in my life? Did I make the most of that visit, even though I didn’t know it would be my last? Trying to do my best to be loving and comforting to my family from miles away, while processing and mourning on my own - it’s an incredibly strange and difficult thing. With that on top of missing Eric way too much - it literally took the hand of God to keep me from changing my flight and just going home. Also, I got malaria. That meant about a week in bed, feeling to awful to do anything but watch movies, cry, sleep and vomit. Fun times.
I wish I could say things got easier when I went on outreach to Togo, but it didn’t. I loved, absolutely loved, working in the clinic. The YWAM Noepe family is absolutely amazing. But I missed home, I was just ready to go home. The internet connection was awful. In that nine week period, I think Eric and I had a quality connection once. Through this I learned that leaving your fiancé after being engaged for two weeks is hard - duh.
The biggest challenge came literally two days before my team and I left Togo. On Tuesday morning, Ami came in for a pre-natal consultation. She was full term and ready to deliver any moment. Baby had a strong heart beat and was in a good position. As we finished up, I prayed for her and let her know to come back whenever she was in labour. Later that day, she came back - in labour. It wasn’t my turn on labour and delivery. But, when I couldn’t find any of my team or other midwives, I stopped by the delivery room to see if I could help in anyways. I walked in and saw three others from my team and two midwives. Ami was on her hands in knees, in agony. They room stank of sweat, poop and various other things. Everyone was sweating profusely. As I looked closer, I saw the problem - the baby was mostly out but the head was stuck. Somehow, baby had moved from his good position in the womb and became breach (when legs come out first, instead of the head). Because he came out almost diagonally, his chin was now stuck in moms pelvis. I quickly jumped in as three of us held her up and prayed with all we had in us. By this time, baby had been like this for nearly an hour and mom was exhausted. She was in absolute agony and becoming delirious.
We prayed, and prayed and prayed. We did our best to make her comfortable, we didn’t complain when she hit us, we did everything we could possibly do. Just when mom’s strength was gone, she gave one more good push and the head came out. Through all our tears and sweat we took a moment and looked that the baby - a handsome boy. He had probably been dead for sometime, but we felt for a heart beat, for breaths - for any sign of life. We found nothing. Members of my team began cleaning him up and wrapping him in fabric while the midwife began to clean up the mom, the bed and the surrounding area. Soon, everyone left with the baby, leaving just me and the midwife in the room. Ami grabbed my hand and pulled me next to her on the bed and just began to weep. As I sat there with her, her sweaty head on my lap, the tears came rolling down my face. I prayed over her while asking God why. I thanked Him for her life while incredibly confused as to why He didn’t save this baby.
This experience was probably one of the most traumatic things I have ever experienced. It affected me in a way I never expected. My heart broke, physically hurt, for this woman. This was her third child to die, in addition to two miscarriages. It hurt to think of what might be happening in her. She was physically and emotionally exhausted. She was broken, disappointed and I’m sure angry and confused. As was I. I told myself the cliche (but true) statements of “God has a plan”, “God is still good”. But I couldn’t understand why. I didn’t want to deal with it, because I knew it would bring a time of crying out to God that would be less than fun and easy. Finally, about a week later, I hashed it out with God. It took a lot of tears and a lot of yelling. But finally I gained peace and a concussion: God is good. God is God. I don’t need to understand why He does what He does. He loves that baby, He loves that mamma - passionately, furiously. He is good. Bottom line. I don’t need to know more.
This season has taught me so much. I have seen God in new ways. I have heard Him speak life changing things. I have seen Him equip me to do things I never imagined (like getting A’s on every exam and delivering babies). I saw and experienced His love in such an unbelievable way. I’ve seen His character is permanent - He won’t fail. I’ve realized how He is such a good Father who gives incredible gifts. While this season has been so hard, awful at times and seemed pointless - it’s been a season for me and Jesus. A season where He’s shown up big time and set me straight. He’s shown me His heart in such a beautiful way. I can honestly say that at the end of this season: I love Eric more. I love my life more. I love Africa more. I love the Lord even more. And, I’ve never been more excited for the life that’s ahead of me.
If you would like to continue to keep up with what’s happening in mine and Eric’s lives, follow my new blog:joanna-hammar.tumblr.com.I began The Path To Africa when I was praying and dreaming up my life in Africa. Seeing as I have been living in Rwanda for almost three years, I felt it was now time to start a new blog: one that just talks about my life as a missionary, Jesus follower and soon, a wife.