Here in Jacmel, there are so many ways we experience the power of the Risen Jesus in our midst. There are times when we feel just like the apostles after the crucifixion, a feeling of lost hope and sadness because of situations that we see here among the poor. Yet, as the power of the resurrection has shown us many times on this journey, God transforms the impossible and makes things possible. Or, when we have worked and tried to walk with someone that chooses the other direction where there is loss, no life and death, we ask ourselves where did we go wrong in our mission, our witness, our accompaniment? The Lord once again gave us this experience, and we were asked once again to believe there is new life in Christ.
Her name is Joanna. When we met her, she was about 14 years old. How much she wanted to go to school! But she had such a hard time with the way our accompaniment challenged her. If we would sponsor her schooling, she would need to “pay it forward” with some kind of work with us. For years, we would challenge her with this idea. If she did not work, we would not pay the installments. If we did not see her progress and were not in relationship, we would not continue. She would try to change each time, and another chance would be given.
Joanna is now 18 years old. She was being sponsored this year and was working here in the mission with our kids, assisting and tutoring with homework. As the months went by, Joanna was looking sadder and sadder. She would would be on her phone a lot, and we would once again challenge her to be in relationship with her students. She was part of the Youth Choir for our Dedication in October. Then, when we prepared for Christmas, she was not around. She wanted to be in the play, but she never showed up for rehearsal nor for Christmas Day.
Then, as the new year began and all were returning to school, we heard Joanna was not returning to school because she was pregnant. She never told us, but we saw her brothers and her mother. She is indeed pregnant. Finally, during Lent when we returned to Jacmel, we contacted her. She came over and told us she was 6 months pregnant. She was very big, and we thought it must be more than 6 months. We had prenatal vitamins for her and welcomed her. We offered her our presence and, most of all, hope. The father of the child was at the time visiting her, but he is in school.
Joanna suffers from anemia. Over the Easter Triduum, she called us saying she was in the hospital and in need of blood. Here in Haiti, if a family member does not offer to give their blood, you find someone and pay them for it. We knew we could not do it after our surgeries and circumstances. On Easter Monday, we went to see Joanna in the hospital (see Monday, April 20 blog) and saw for ourselves that her ankles were swollen and she looked depressed. She was in need of a sonogram and other medications for an IV drip, but she did not have the money. So as is done here in Haiti, we had to go to the pharmacy and buy the IV and medication, then come back to Joanna and have the nurse give it to her. We also paid for the sonogram which was $50 USD. Joanna looked so very sad. We knew she was sick, but she was sad for another reason–the father of the child had not come to see her and was showing signs he wanted nothing to do with the situation. He has school. This seems to be the problem in many circumstances when a teen girl gets pregnant. Thank God, Joanna has her mother who is trying to assist her!
After a few days, Joanna had the sonogram. We got a call that it was not enough, and we wondered why. Well, Joanna is having twin girls. Another $50 USD was needed, and she then had the second sonogram. The last message we heard from her is that they want to do a caesarean due to her high blood pressure, water retention, rapid heart beat. This was supposed to be done last Saturday, but the doctor never came to do it. So, we do not know what will be happening next. We wait in hope and seek peace for Joanna as we seek to share the Risen Lord and his mercy. Isn’t this what the resurrection of Jesus is all about? He enters our lives to bring us hope and peace, not judgment and condemnation. Joanna’s life is being changed every day. We remember her in our prayers and try our best to accompany her on this journey, which is so very scary for her in such a poor country where medical care is at its minimum.
We try to walk with these young mothers who literally have nothing to live on and nothing for their newborn babies. But where there is life, there is hope; and we seek to share this hope in this mission among God’s people. Here is Galilee; here is Jerusalem…go there and you will see me says the Lord!