My friends and I have a bit of a joke about the third "H" of Mercy Ships that you don't find out about until you come. We do see a lot of hope. We do see a lot of healing. But we also see a lot of heartache, the unspoken third "H".
I am working nights all weekend. Tonight is the first of four. I woke up around noon (actually, the captain made me wake up at 8:50 for a fire drill, so I really did not get much sleep today, which is not really appreciated seeing I am very tired and now responsible for the lives of nine patients. A rather weighty responsibility to carry. You can understand my frustration of being denied my proper rest...) Around 3 pm I was on deck 7 snuggling and slow dancing with the cutest boy you will ever meet. I'm actually pretty certain he likes me (his name is Solomon and he is nine months old). While I was up there I was informed that a former patient was in the post ops room and wanted to say hello.
It happened to be a very cute little baby, so I happily obliged and went down to the hospital.
I found a mother waiting for me. She told me she wanted to ask me a question. I have been here long enough to understand that it meant she was going to ask for something. But I wasn't ready for the request.
With complete seriousness the request came
"The baby's father wants to know if you will take him. If you will carry him to America."
The word "I" was not used. It was "The baby's father." I have a very good friendship with this mother; I know she loves her child. I know she would never want to part with him. But I also know that the father did not want the child before, because of his deformity. Perhaps, even though the baby is recovering perfectly and is an absolute joy, he still doesn't want it.
I can't imagine being that mother. I can't imagine being married to a man that wanted to make me give up my child because it was less than perfect. It's sad to see how women are mistreated here. I am reminded everyday how privileged I am to be a woman in a western country. I won't ever have to worry about developing a fistula or being forced by a husband to give a baby. I don't know what it's like to live in a country where rape is legal. I know how to read and write. I'm allowed to have my own opinion about things. I'm even able to be totally independent.
My heart broke at the request. To take the baby. An unavoidable encounter with the third H. I can only pray that the father has a change of heart and that the Lord blesses the mother with every good thing.