A BABY IS BORN
A call at four in the morning… An urgent voice asking you to drive the Base pick-up truck to the neighboring village of Porta Callao to bring an expectant mother to the Clinic. Not that hundreds, even thousands of precious Indian babies have not been born in the humblest of abodes, but when they are so close to the Base there is an extra comfort of a trained doctor on hand. We dress quickly and meet at the garage. Joyce Nies, calm, organized linguist to the Piro people is accompanied by Ruben, the excited father who has brought us the news. I voice a concern about the condition of the dirt road in that we have just had five inches of rain. Joyce assures me that if we hug the left side where the water covers the road, we will miss the hole she and another had sunk in in a Jeep the previous day.
How quiet the Base is in that early morning hour. Even the scrawny dogs lying on the road only lazily move aside instead of chasing and barking. The truck in creeper gear slowly oozes through the mud of that gully. The wheels slip and spin. We’re safely on the other side. The tall jungle grasses overhang the road. Darkness secrets the way we have just traveled. The truck lights pierce the wisps of mist on the narrow, rutted road, dispelling shadows for a moment, then giving way again to the black of a starless night. Hope…Anticipation…Excitement illuminate the truck interior for each of us is given, in silence, to our own thoughts—dreams of life and love and cuddling little things.
The main road is ahead. The moon has emerged from behind heavy night clouds. We bump over a short detour, up the last hill and park in front of a bamboo-walled, thatch-roofed store. A proud uncle steps forward from the shadows and in their melodic Piro dialect announces the arrival of a big bouncing baby girl. The cord has been tied and cut. Mother and daughter are fine. Disappointment at not having been with her cannot suppress the excitement of now rushing to her. Ruben leads us past the store along a muddy trail barely distinguishable as the moon intermittently casts a blue gray light through the banana and mango leaves. We pass several silent, sleeping homes—each dreaming their own hopes and fears of the morrow. Joyce calls out to one (the house of a relative) the announcement of life—a baby girl.
We approach the hut. Ruben had gone on ahead. Joyce and I press through the open bamboo pole gate. Hair is rising on our necks as we try to give our first words of comfort to the wary dog, growling his protective growl, a mongrel who has already had too much excitement and noise disrupting his night. Ruben comes back to the doorway and with a quick word to “Fido”, we are invited in.
The bamboo floor gives slightly to the weight of each step. The single candle gives only a little more light than that of the moon on the trail. But its reflection shimmers on the brown faces of happy brothers, sisters, uncles, aunts and Grandma as they too await seeing the infant. Mother, little brother and new born sister are alone under the white mosquito net hung low over the floor. Baby has been wrapped in a piece of white sheeting snuggled in a mound of blanket. More words, still unknown to my foreign ear, yet strangely warm, are being spoken in anxious anticipation.
The candle is slid from its place on the floor to the head of the netting. The cat, shoved away, meows an annoying cry for having to leave the warmth of that flame. The net is lifted. The candle is brought even closer. The blanket holding this precious bundle is pushed forth. The netting is put back down.
ISIDORA has made her debut on life! One half hour old—a beautiful creation of God—made in His likeness. She squints her eyes at the brightness of the light held so close. She struggles against the swaddling sheet blanket. She sneezes. A breeze has chilled her. How hostile this new environment must seem to one held so warm and secure for so many months. The cat, still desiring the candle flame paws her way to the scene. She looks. Disinterested, she arches her back in a cat stretch and steals away. The light chatter around me must be saying what I am thinking: What a cute pug nose. Look at all that black hair. She sure has her dad’s eyes. The more serious tones are saying: Thank God for life. May His plan for her life be to health and happiness and a life of service.
Just as quickly again the net is raised and the bundle is pulled back into the warmth and security of Mother. Enough exposure to the world for the first time. A few words of farewell and Joyce and I take leave of Isidora and her brothers and sisters and aunts and uncles and Grandma and Mom and Dad. There is a lightness in our step in the early morning as we pick our way back to the road. Sounds of chattering birds and proud roosters are announcing a new day—a happy day. A child has been born.
The truck more easily follows the ruts now. Though only 4:45, a few men are walking the road to work. We bounce along, our thoughts already turning to the pressing activities of our day. We approach that gully again. Now I want to hug the right side. I should have down-shifted and approached more slowly. Can’t stop now. We did, though! Too far to the right there was another unseen mud hole.
Against my fading hope, I try rocking…forward and reverse. Joyce volunteers to push (in that she doesn’t know how to drive). I step out of my shoes and socks, survey the situation and rule out any attempt at rescue now. Our steps are lively now as we walk the remaining mile to the Base. Then, why not? For…
“God saw me before I was born and scheduled each day of my life before I began to breathe. Every day was recorded in His Book!” (Psalm 139:16)