IAS missionary, Holly Findley, experiencing the joy of new life.
In June of 2013, Holly Findley arrived as an IAS missionary midwife at the IAS clinic in Nyinbuli, South Sudan. It’s best if I let Holly describe for you her life this past year in a place many would describe as “the end of the world.”
“This place will make you relearn everything you thought you knew.” That’s what I was told when I first arrived in my little village in South Sudan almost twelve months ago. It is probably the most accurate statement I’ve ever heard. This last year has changed my view of how I care for the mommas and babies I see at the clinic, how I approach relationships, how I see myself, and I even how I look at God. It has made me question who I am, what I’m doing, if I’m capable of really making any difference at all, and it has tested my limits.
When I wake up in the morning, I’m really never sure what the day will bring. As a midwife, almost anything could happen. I may have the delight of seeing a beautiful birth filled with joy, love and celebration, or it could bring the loss of a dream when a woman comes with a still, silent abdomen where there was once life and hope. Often it is just hours of taking blood pressures, palpating baby-filled bellies, and charting women’s obstetric histories. And it can change in an instant.
One of my favorite things is watching a woman in labor. The simultaneous strength and vulnerability that women display as they work to bring their babies into the world is beautiful. Often, a woman will reach a point where she feels she can’t go on.
“Before I formed you in the womb I knew you,
before you were born I set you apart….”
Jeremiah 1:5 NIV
Holly Findley examines a soon-to-be mother.
If it’s a young girl in labor (many times girls get married at fourteen or fifteen in my village), I often find myself with a tired, sweaty soon-to-be mom hanging on my neck crying and begging for it all to be over. In my broken Dinka, I whisper in her ear, “Nyalich adit. Nyalich aratin.” God is big. God is here. Because when she’s at that point, when she doesn’t think she can go on, she needs to know that God is big. He is strong. And He is right there in that little round hut with her and has promised never to leave her alone. Yes, it’s hard. And it is painful. But never once is she alone.
Pregnancy and birth is a period of transition. For many it is the transition from girlhood to motherhood. One of my roles as a midwife is to watch over and protect that transition. Every now and then, instead of guarding the normal transition from woman to mother, I find myself watching over the process of losing a dream. The woman transitions from hopeful expectation to the terrible realization that she will be walking home with empty arms. My heart breaks every time I tell a woman her unborn baby no longer has a heartbeat, or when I deliver a baby who never takes a breath. And when the little hut is filled with wails or silent tears, then I whisper, “God is big…God is here.” Because what else can I say? The only thing that makes any difference in that moment is to know that you’re not alone, and that the God of hope is with us.
On behalf of Holly and those in South Sudan being introduced to the God of hope for the first time through Holly’s work, thank you.
President, IAS America
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