An aerial view of the little village of Santa Rosita, in the Petén region of Guatemala
This week I have enjoyed the special treat of having a good friend, Ashley Beck, here visiting. We met in Guatemala in 2006, while students at the same Spanish school in Antigua. She has been working as a nurse in two different clinics since that time, and we have kept up here and there. This past April I had the opportunity to visit her in Guatemala, and now she is here in Kansas with me! That’s something we never thought would happen….her family is from PA, and there isn’t much to draw her to KS, but her brother found a good reason to come to this state-he’s getting married this Saturday to a girl who lives in the western part of the state. I’m grateful, as it’s been lots of fun to introduce Ashley to my family and life here.
When we met that winter of ’06, my brother and I had plans to study Spanish for almost two months, and then spend several weeks visiting various missionaries that we knew involved in work throughout Central America. While attending a two-week class on Medical Missions in NC, we met a sweet couple, Jeff and Crystal Yoder, who were planning to return to their work in Guatemala. They invited us to come and visit them while we were in the country, which was an invitation we eagerly accepted. Imagine our surprise, then, when we met Ashley the first week we were in language school, and found out she was returning to her post in the Petén area of the country, and was going to be working with Jeff and Crystal! That increased my anticipation of the visit, and after 5 weeks of language school, we headed up to Santa Rosita to see these dear people….
Santa Rosita is a very tiny village, located on a large river. It is just south of the Mexico border, and is close to a larger town called El Naranjo. I believe there are about 30 houses, and the mission clinic is a real asset, as the closest hospital is about 4 hours away.
Well, all this introduction to set the stage for the following story. With Ashley here, we were reminiscing about this particular birth, and I thought some of you readers may enjoy hearing the story. I’m going to copy the story as told by Jeff Yoder, in one of his updates. This takes place in February, 2006. Enjoy!
“Another major event of this month was the arrival of a new little baby. One Sunday afternoon, a lady came and asked Ashley (our nurse) if she’d go upriver and check out a lady who thought she was going into labor. We prayed about it, debating whether we should get involved. Ashley has really wanted to start doing midwifery, has observed a number of births, and helped sometimes, but wasn’t sure if this was the time to start as a midwife. We decided to go, and piled into our boat and headed up. It wasn’t very far up at all, just below the rapids. Kelsey has helped with a number of births, so she went along as Ashley’s support. It turned out that she wasn’t really in labor yet, so Ashley left it that they would call another midwife in when she went into labor, and also would call Ashley, so she could observe.
“That evening, right after supper, a fellow showed up outside our door. Here it was Arturo, the husband of the expectant mother! He said his wife was in labor, and they decided to stay in Santa Rosita and use the elderly midwife here. So Ashley and Kelsey went to the midwife’s house to watch.
“Around 10:30, the girls came back to our place for a few minutes before returning. The labor was proceeding only slowly, so the birth didn’t seem imminent. The mother was in a tin-roofed board hut with a dirt floor. The walls were papered with old newspaper and the cockroaches ran up and down, on top of and behind the newspapers. In the corner the hen and chicks peeped to each other.
“As the night passed on, the girls ended up piling onto a bed with the others waiting for the birth and sleeping for a while. Around 2:30, they woke up again, and things were moving along faster. Just about the time they started to see the top of the baby‘s head, a commotion broke out in an adjoining room. The hen started cackling and flapping around, chicks peeping. “Oh, that rat!” said the midwife. She scurried off into the other room, grabbed the machete, and started running around whacking at the rat. Pans clattered, hitting the floor, and the rest of the people called out encouragement, “He’s over there!” Ashley and Kelsey decided that they might have to deliver the baby themselves. But the midwife returned, a bit sheepish, and delivered the baby around 3:20. He’s a healthy little boy, and probably weighed around 7 lbs at birth, though they didn’t weigh him until a day later. (On the story of the rat, the chicks will be the midwifes source of meat, so the rat was going to affect her livelihood.) Needless to say, the girls were elated after their night.
“The family was so appreciative that they made Ashley take Q50 (about $7 US) and gave her a half-grown rooster. (Ashley shared the rooster with us the other evening in a caldo (soup) of some sort — quite tasty.)”
It was one of the most memorable births I have attended….actually, one of the least complicated, just the most interesting environment!
myself and Ashley with the baby, the day after his birth