If I were to ask you to imagine an average day in the field with an international aid worker, you might describe someone running around with action-packed days saving the world one child at a time. Though my experience as the Maternal and Child Health intern is always an adventure, the reality is that a typical day is spent counting medications, creating training material, or trying to learn Creole.
However, there are unique days when I join the four national maternal and child health staff members on the field, and I never know what to expect. Our team had been conducting surveys in the community of Trouin to gain information about the status of maternal and child health in this region.
On the final day of surveying, I joined Dr. Jacob at his location. It was a day seemingly like any other field day. After devotions, our team gathered surveys, lunch money, and a jug of water to hit the road … not just figuratively. On the way to Trouin, with every jolt and bump you encounter, you feel as if you have literally “hit the road.”
After a bumpy hour, Dr. Jacob and I reached the small village where we were going to be working for the day. We met with local church volunteers to discuss what needed to be accomplished. Once all the information was understood and surveys distributed, the volunteers paired off and began to make their way into the community.
In addition to helping with the surveys, Dr. Jacob and I planned on interviewing beneficiaries to get a better picture of what daily life here is like.
Midway through the first interview, we were interrupted by a man who was concerned about his pregnant wife who was experiencing pain. Thinking this visit would simply be a routine checkup or maybe a quick trip to the clinic, we asked the man to wait as we completed our interview. When we were finished, we piled into the truck and were off.
As we approached the house, my ears were filled with the cries of three small children sitting on the porch calling out for their mother. Those cries were soon replaced by those of their mother as we were led inside by the oldest of the children.
When we stepped inside, it immediately became apparent that the situation was much more urgent than we had initially anticipated. Upon examining the mother, it was clear she needed to get to the clinic immediately. The baby was coming!
The husband and Dr. Jacob carried the woman to the truck and made her as comfortable as possible in preparation for the 25-minute drive to the clinic. As soon as I shut the back door, I heard Dr. Jacob yell, “The water just broke!” Before I could even get to the other side of the truck, the baby was in his hands.
I frantically searched our medical bag for anything that could be used to tie and cut the umbilical cord. To my dismay, there were no gloves, string, scissors, or matches to sterilize the equipment. By now, people had gathered around to see what was going on, and we sent them to find as many of the needed items as possible.
Minutes later they returned with a razor blade, matches, and string. I set to work sterilizing the razor blade, which became a group activity due to the wind. At the same time, Dr. Jacob worked to tie off the umbilical cord with the string. Once the blade was sterilized and Dr. Jacob had finished caring for the mother and child, I was designated as the official baby holder—an opportunity of a lifetime!
I sat in the front seat of the truck holding a beautiful baby girl wrapped in a towel, and we were finally on our way to the clinic. As I watched her during the journey, her tiny hand grabbed my finger. I couldn’t help but sit in awe of the miracle the Lord had just allowed me to participate in.
Of all of the survey sites I could have chosen to go to that day, He led me there. Of all the sites Dr. Jacob could have overseen, the Lord knew his skills were going to be most needed in that village on that exact day!
As we drove once more over those bumpy roads, my mind was focused this time not on the painful jolts but rather on the words written by David in Psalm 139:13: “For You formed my inward parts; You covered me in my mother’s womb” (NKJV).
As I stared at her beautiful face with her curious wandering eyes, it was as if the words the Lord spoke to Jeremiah recorded in Jeremiah 1:5 came to life. “Before I formed you in the womb I knew you; Before you were born I sanctified you … ” (NKJV). Before this little girl came into the world in the backseat of a Samaritan’s Purse truck, she was intimately known, she was deeply loved, and she was formed with a specific God-given purpose.
While many days as an intern are spent counting medications or entering data, there are other times that my day is action packed and I’m helping to save the world one child at a time.
A month later, I had the blessing to return to the same village in Trouin and visit this beautiful family and their daughter. In their gratitude, the family had decided that Dr. Jacob should be the one to name the baby girl. As the newly designated godfather, Dr. Jacob decided to have the baby named after me—what an honor!
During my visit I was able to present the family with the name for their baby: Elizabeth Cadet. It was an afternoon of smiles and joy as we celebrated the life of little Elizabeth. I truly believe the Lord has incredible things in store for her life.