In 2013 when our family moved to Catel, I got to know Binta. She was one of the women that attended the weekly women's Bible study. She stood out to me, but not in the usual way. She seemed sad, barely smiling. There was something about her I wanted to know. I wrote a previous blog detailing her transformation from darkness to light that you can read here. Reading her story will help you to understand the depth to what God has done and is doing in Binta and what He did while we visited Catel this past week.
Living in Catel, Guinea Bissau is a hard life. Every day is spent just surviving. As missionaries, we had work we wanted to do, but I was often left trying to keep up with the demands of housework, teaching my children and kid patrol in our yard. Michael and Djibi (the pastor Michael discipled) knew I needed even more help than I already had received. Michael, Djibi and I started praying about someone cleaning our house. We wanted it to be someone the Lord wanted. After praying about it, we all knew we should ask Binta. God clearly laid Binta on all of our hearts and I am so glad we made that decision to listen to God so many years ago.
We could go even farther to say I am so glad we and many others made decisions to obey God, going wherever he called us. Binta's story doesn't just start with our family. Her story starts with other missionaries that have walked beside her through miscarriages and still births. Here is a recount from former missionary Pam:
"We arrived and settled in on a Saturday in October of 2012. The next day we went to church and were called out of church because a woman, Binta, was having trouble in labor. Beryl (the long term missionary), Steve (my husband), Megan (a short term missionary serving with us), Katja (our daughter) and I all rushed over to the compound. Binta was in hard labor in the outside sheltered garden. She wasn’t sure she wanted us to see her, but her family begged her. We took her vital signs, Steve asked many questions about her pregnancy and labor and we observed her. She had been in hard labor for a very long time, I forget now how long. We urged her to go to the hospital, as we couldn’t help anymore than that. After we prayed for her, Beryl took her and we found out later that the baby was still born, and this had happened to her before."
In May of 2016, our family returned to the states. With our leaving Guinea Bissau, Binta insistently asked for me to continue praying for her to have a baby girl. Each time we called and talked with her, she would ask me to continue praying for her. Binta was a steady part of my prayer life. When we visited in 2017, we prayed together and still were waiting for her to become pregnant. Later in 2017, I received word that Binta indeed had gotten pregnant and to pray she could keep the baby.
Our famiy was preparing a return visit to Guinea Bissau in March 2018 and we had agreed to take a few people with us. The few turned into 10 making our team 17. I was apprehensive, to say the least, about having such a big team, but God is so good. God chose each one of those who came along for an exact purpose. On the team was Gwen Marie, a labor and delivery nurse, and Steve, a physicians assistant and Pam's husband. I had told Gwen about Binta and that I wanted her to give her a check-up to make sure she was doing okay in the pregnancy. We arrived in Catel on Wednesday late afternoon, Thursday morning Gwen measured Binta and she measured at 30-32 weeks. I asked Binta when she thought she got pregnant in which she said during Ramadan. We had no internet, so based on the measurement, I guessed July, putting Binta with 6 weeks or so to go. Around 7:30 AM on Friday we received a call that Binta was in labor. Gwen, Steve and I headed straight to her house to find that she was indeed in labor. I quick prayed internet would work and looked up when Ramadan 2017 was, and low and behold, it happened nine months prior, making Binta full term. We prepared to take her to the clinic in a village about 15 minutes down the road (keep in mind flagging down a vehicle), but she progressed rapidly with this being her 5th birth. By the time we were all ready to go to the clinic the baby was no longer waiting. We took Binta back into her house and by 9:22 AM we were praising God for bringing into this world a living and breathing baby girl! Binta's house erupted with hallelujahs and praises to God. God answers prayers! We cried out to him for a baby girl and God heard his people and answered. Binta didn't just have a baby girl, God had her get pregnant at the perfect time to be able to give birth when we were there. God is so good!
|Gwen and I with Teresa (a local midwife) and Binta shortly after baby's birth.|
|Baby after being admitted in hospital for sepsis|
Typically, the baby's naming ceremony would have been one week after the birth making hers to be on Friday. Since our team was leaving Friday, the family decided to have the celebration on Thursday. We were so blessed to be present for such a celebration and for the naming ceremony/baby dedication. The name they gave the baby was Maria in honor of Gwen as well as Ciga's brother's mom, who had passed away years ago. During the celebration and dancing, Binta placed baby Maria in my arms. Shortly after, a song came on that said "Come and see what God has done." All the women came over to me and I held up baby Maria. It was true, come and see what God has done!
|Djibi is holding Maria after announcing her name and committing her to God|