I am a huge fan of safety nets in life. I don’t know how much of it is dictated by my culture and how much of it is my need to have numerous back-up plans, but I have always been a firm believer in having safety nets. It’s why I have health and homeowner’s insurance; it’s why I have a savings account; it’s why I have external hard drives for my computer; it’s why I have surge protectors for my outlets.
It is also why I strongly advocated for Blaise and I being placed in a temporary assignment in South Sudan where we would have access to Western medical care during pregnancy. I was fine coming to South Sudan while pregnant--that was the plan in the beginning--but I was not okay with being somewhere in which I wouldn’t be able to have regular prenatal check-ups and sound medical advice should something go wrong. For many reasons, including that one (our partner on the ground runs a Primary Health Care Center), Tonj was a perfect fit for us when returning to Nasir was not an option.
Then something we didn't expect happened. Due to challenges in restocking the clinic because of border clearances, the Primary Health Care Center here in Tonj transitioned to a Health Care Unit temporarily. With this transition, the expat staff left for a month-long break, and we were still here without prenatal medical care. Without that safety net I had counted on when I came here. While I fully understand why this happened, it didn’t do anything to reduce the incredible fear that snaked its way through my body and clenched around my heart. Both midwives...gone. The American MD...gone.
My knee-jerk reaction was that we, too, should leave immediately. I mean, how could we stay here alone? What if something happened? What if I went into pre-term labor or developed a complication? What if...? What if...? What if...?
We had conversations with Every Village in which we felt fully supported in either direction--staying or going. But we prayed about it, and despite the fear gripping me, we both felt like God wasn’t quite done with us here in Tonj. There was more radio work to be completed, and there was more He wanted to do in our own hearts. We felt like He just kept pressing on us that same question that had been weighing on us for months: Do you trust Me? Only this time, it was:
Do you trust Me alone when all of your safety nets have been taken away?
Oiy! That’s a really easy question to answer (“Of course I trust you, Lord!”) but a much more difficult answer to live out. There are days when I wake up and wonder what on earth I am doing here in the middle of South Sudan, nearly eight months pregnant, with no medical care. There are days when I cry out to God, “Why on earth did you bring us here just to abandon us?” But then I remember His promise to never leave us or forsake us, and I know that we are not here alone; He hasn’t abandoned us. It doesn’t mean that I don’t still have fear, and some days I want so badly to give in to those fears and leave, but the answer in my heart is,
“Yes, Lord, I do trust you. You are the only safety net I need.”