Monday, May 1, 2017

You Are A Good Mom

Last year in Madagascar we had a very special orthopedic patient named Fifaliana. Her and her mother won the hearts of so many people on the ship from nurses, to physical therapists, pharmacists, doctors and basically anybody that met them for even a short time. She had a smile that was absolutely contagious and a spirit of joy, courage and boldness that spread to every person that she met. I only took care of her for a short time but had one very special interaction with her and her mother that will probably stay with me for a very long time.

I was visiting some patients at the Hope Center one day and saw Fifaliana sitting by a window looking outside. She waved and flashed that smile that melted hearts and I knew that I had to go see her. I asked a translator to come with me and we visited with Fifaliana and her mom for a short time. I asked Fifaliana how she was, and commented on all the fun drawings on her casts. Fifaliana's recovery was quiet long and required mom to be very hands on and involved in her care. They had been away from their home and other family for a long time and I think it was all really taking a toll on mom. I asked how mom was doing and she gave me a short quick answer that she was good. I could tell she was tired, and maybe a little unsettled. I took her hand, looked her in the eyes and said to the translator "please tell her that she is doing a good job. She is strong. She is courageous and she is a good mom." I watched the mom as the translator began to tell her all of this and the tears started flowing from her eyes and she gave me a big hug. I didn't really say anything else. I just kept hugging her and before I knew it both the translator and I had tears in our eyes. I kept hugging her as the translator continued to talk to her and encourage her. We gave Fifaliana and her mom one last hug and left. I wasn't directly involved in her care much after that but just like everybody else always said hello and greeted the dynamic duo anytime I saw them.

I can't imagine what these moms go through everyday on this ship. Putting their child's life in the hands of complete strangers that don't speak their language. They travel hours away from their home, leave their families, other children and jobs to allow their child to have a surgery that just might change the whole families life forever. Any mom's reading that can relate to this type of situation?

I take care of the obstetric fistula patients and listen to their stories of being in labor for hours and hours and their baby still dying. I read their charts and see that they have been pregnant several times but have no living children. I have never given birth and I don't have children but as a women I can not imagine going through these traumatic events. Any other women or moms that can relate to this type of heartache?

There are even moms on this ship who have answered the call and choose to raise their families in this crazy, full of love and challenges of a community. If the children are of school age some of the mom's have other jobs on the ship but their primary job is mom. I love watching the families and particularly the moms on this ship. Can you imagine trying to occupy your 1 year old in a small cabin space or never knowing if your child will be happy or throw a temper tantrum in the dining room or during a community meeting? How about nap time on a always noisy and buzzing ship? How about the dynamics of play dates with children and parents from all over the world, navigating cultural differences, and different parenting styles. All I know is that surgeons, nurses and other volunteers might get all the fan fair but the moms on the Africa Mercy are the real MVP's. Any missionary mom's out there that can relate? or mom's at home that face similar challenges?

Then there are the countless moms in my own life. Grandmothers, aunts, and sister-in-laws who have loved me well and have been tremendous examples to me of godly women. I have watched them care for their families with so much love, sometimes even tough love, prayer, joy and grace that at the end of the day you know that they would do anything for their children and families.

And my own mom. Forever my biggest fan, always cheering me on, praying for me, giving me advice when I need it and even when I don't ask for it but deep down I know that I need it. She know's me the best even when sometimes I don't like to admit that. Hopefully one day when I have my own kids I can see and really understand how she sees me but for now I'll reflect on all the moments she has picked me up when I was down, listened to my complaining, anxieties and fears, celebrated my successes and encouraged me to pursue God's plan for my life even when it takes me thousands of miles away from home.

There maybe lots of cultural differences and distance between moms at home and the ones I have observed in Madagascar and Benin but something tells me that women and mom's everywhere can relate to these stories. On this Mother's Day I hope children, grandchildren and families shower you fabulous moms with all of the love, and care that you so deserve today and everyday. And in the midst of all the chaos, uncertainty, risks and vulnerability that comes with being a mom may you never forget that you are doing a good job. You are strong. You are courageous. You are a good mom.

If you want to know more about Fifalina's story check out these following links:

Although I am currently serving with Mercy Ships, everything communicated here strictly reflects my personal opinions and is neither reviewed nor endorsed by Mercy Ships. Opinions, conclusions and other information expressed here do not necessarily reflect the views of Mercy Ships