We both sat quietly in the car as my prayer partner watched and prayed from the sidewalk. I reached over and held her still shaking hands. I asked her name. She smiled and said, "Maria" (changed to protect her privacy). I then asked her if she wanted to share why she had decided to go to the clinic. She told me she had been in the country for only a few months and was working as a migrant worker. She was here with no family and really did not know anyone that she could count on. She went on to explain that her mother had recently been diagnosed with bone cancer and she had no other choice but to "cross the border" into the U.S. to try and make money to send home to her.
I then asked her about the baby's father. She told me he was also a migrant worker who she had met just after arriving in the States. Shortly afterwards, they began a relationship. He walked away from her when she told him she thought she was pregnant. He denied being the baby's father and told her their relationship was over.
By then, she was pouring her heart out. Tears flowed from her eyes as we sat in the non-air conditioned car in 85 degree weather. I could tell by her demeanor that she was a quiet, sweet girl who had obviously been raised with good morals and had now found herself in a position where she felt lost without knowing which way to turn.
She explained to me how she was sharing a one bedroom efficiency with two other girls that worked in the fields with her. She said that she had been experiencing a lot of morning sickness lately and the girls were asking if she was sick. They had no idea she had been dating anyone. She told me she was ashamed, alone and scared. I remember as if it was yesterday, looking into her tear-filled eyes as she said, "I believe in God. I know what I'm doing is wrong. But, I can't have this baby. I can barely take care of myself."
I could feel the pain in her voice as she spoke those words. I knew that she saw no other solution to the giant she felt overpowering her. I lifted her head and looked into her eyes as I told her that her baby was God's creation. He knew even before the world began that this child would be formed in her womb someday. She had to trust Him with all her heart and if she did, He would get her through this. I again emphatically promised her that I would walk through the journey with her, every step of the way, but it was going to be her decision whether or not she was going to allow this baby a chance to live. Again, she nodded. I handed her some leaflets with phone numbers to local Christian doctors that would provide services pro-bono. Then I scribbled my name and number on a piece of paper and told her I would find out what we could do so that she could find a place to live on her own, since she feared being judged by her roommates and didn't want to live under those conditions. I also told her to call the baby's father once more and try to speak to him about the situation. I reassured her that I was only a phone call away in case she needed anyone to talk to, regardless of what time of day or night it was.
I looked at my watch and realized that we had been sitting in the car for over an hour. My prayer partner had left and I was starving, not to mention sweating in the Florida heat. I offered to take her to lunch. She smiled and thanked me. She told me she was only eating one meal a day because she had been saving money for the abortion. We went to lunch and she headed back home to a migrant community surrounded by fields, which was about an hour away from where I lived.
The month prior to meeting Maria, in early February, I had begun at church a "Spiritual Adoption" program in order to try and keep the Respect Life Ministry alive there. We were asking parishioners to spiritually adopt a baby that might be in danger of being aborted. If they felt the Spirit leading them, they could name this baby and pray for the Lord to allow him or her to be carried full term. Only God would know which baby they were praying for. Our entire family, including our 11 year old Amanda, participated in the program and we each named "our baby". Amanda had chosen the name "Angel" for her baby.
Back to Maria. The minute I got home from lunch that day, I called Scott and told him about what God had done that morning. I asked him to please pray for Maria that she would dedicate this baby to God and allow him a chance at life. I then immersed myself into the task of finding out who and where I could get help for Maria and her baby.
My first phone call after telling Scott, was to Martha. I excitedly told her the entire story from beginning to end. I was taken back when she said that I "shouldn't have gone into parking lot" proceeded by being told that under no circumstances should I have given her my phone number. "Yikes!" I thought. "Did I blow that one, or what?"
But, my heart insisted that I had done the right thing. Had I not gone in there, she might not be carrying that baby right now. Not because of what I did, but because of how God used me. I know that the Lord wanted me cross that line and speak to her. I also know that she was alone and scared. She had no one. I had undoubtedly promised her not once, but twice that I'd be there for her every step of the way. I wasn't going to go back on my word. Maybe I was wrong in not having followed the rules, but my heart was telling me that I was being obedient to what God wanted me to do.
Feeling a bit worn down, I waited until the next day to start making more phone calls. One of my leaflets had a phone number for an organization called The Gabriel Project. I called and left a message. The next evening I received a return call. The woman on the other end explained what they did and how they offered emotional, material and spiritual help to mothers and babies with untimely pregnancies. It sounded perfect! I didn't want to give them Maria's number until I had spoken to her, so I told the woman that Maria would be calling them.
After hanging up, I thanked the Lord for opening doors and for allowing me to find the resources she needed for her baby and herself. I was so excited to tell her about the fact that they would assist with housing and so on! I immediately dialed her number. She answered, sounding a bit sleepy. I told her who it was and that I had great news. She stopped me mid-sentence and said, "Thank you. I really appreciate everything you've done. But, I've been thinking about this and I just don't see how I could go through with it."
I was flabbergasted! What? Lord, you had worked everything out! How could this be? Not only couldn't I believe what I was hearing, but I couldn't find the words to respond. She then continued by telling me she was feeling really sick to her stomach and that she had not eaten and that this was more than she could handle. I pleaded with her to please pray about it, to please reconsider and that I would call her back in a just little while. I didn't know what else to do.
I immediately got down on my knees and through tears begged God to give me the wisdom and the words I needed to relay to Maria. I just knew that He didn't want this baby, His baby, to die. I repeatedly asked Him to please remove her fears and to allow her to trust Him.
After praying for quite a while, I called her again. No answer. Throughout the rest of the day, I continued to pray. All I could think about was how much I would be willing to take this baby myself, if the she would just allow him or her to survive. That evening, I called twice more. Again, no answer. Other than that phone number, I had no way of reaching her.
I hardly slept that night and each time I awoke, I prayed for the baby and for Maria. Finally, the sun rose and I anxiously watched the clock tick. I had decided to call her after I dropped Amanda off at school.
Finally, the time arrived. I dialed her number and waited nervously for her to pick up. After the third ring, she answered. I then said in as cheery a voice as I could muster, "Good morning, Maria. It's Ohilda!" She said, "Good morning" I asked how she was feeling and she told me a bit better. She said she hadn't been to work in two days because she was so sick and she was worried about her job. We talked about how important it was for her to eat healthy and remain hydrated. I also told her about The Gabriel Project. I relayed to her what they did and how they could help her. She sounded a bit apprehensive and asked if I worked with them. I told her I had no ties with them whatsoever but that the lady I had spoken to informed me that they would assist her with housing, doctor appointments and whatever else she needed. I went on to tell her that she would be assigned an "Angel" when she called.
There was silence on the other end of the phone. For a moment, I thought we had been disconnected. Then, responding to my "Hello?" and reminding me a of a small child, she softly said, "But I thought you promised you were going to be with me throughout the entire time if I kept the baby." My heart sank. I thought about the words that the woman from The Gabriel Project had said, "An Angel will be assigned to assist her when she calls. Thank you for the referral. We'll take good care of her."
It was then that I thought that my job as being the "communicator" wasn't as easy as I had envisioned . How do you distance yourself from these girls without being a Jack of All Trades? How do you separate yourself from the emotions? How do you transition from being the prayer warrior at the abortion clinic to moving them onto the next person to help them? I knew without a doubt that she would be in good hands, but I had promised her and I couldn't go back on that promise. (I'm laughing now to myself as I type this. Thinking back, I must have felt a bit like Horton the elephant in Horton Hears A Who! "An elephant's faithful 100%")
I told her I would call The Gabriel Project and see what I could do, but that although I wouldn't be her "Angel", we would still stay in contact throughout the pregnancy. I then asked her if she had eaten today, since it was nearing 11 a.m., she responded by telling me she'd had some milk earlier. I told her to get dressed and I'd take her some lunch. She gave me her address. I hopped in the car, went to the grocery store and arrived at her doorstep an hour and a half with fruits, veggies, and lots of goodies to feed that growing baby. Her face lit up. Shortly afterwards, we sat in the small, overcrowded room where she lived, eating sandwiches and drinking cold glasses of milk.
That evening I called The Gabriel Project and told the same woman what had transpired. I told them that Maria was a bit insecure about calling them directly and asked if I could be a liaison until she felt more comfortable. I was told that the only way I could do that was by becoming an "Angel" myself. I would have to take the 2-day course (which God had conveniently arranged to be held two weeks later) and be commissioned.
After hanging up, I was feeling overwhelmed with everything going on. I know I had asked the Lord to keep me busy doing His work, but I was feeling like I was biting off more than I could chew. Between the church ministry, the sidewalk counseling and now being asked to be an "Angel" for an organization that only a week before I had not even heard of, I didn't know if I could handle it all. I didn't know if I wanted to.
Was this really what God wanted from me? Was Satan trying again to deter me? Was Maria now convinced she would allow her baby a chance at life? I was spending a lot of time on my knees.
I am humbled and blessed by your comments and I must admit that I am thrilled that you have not used this "mini-series post" in place of your A*mbien. I'm typing between naps (the kids, not mine...heh) and hubby & kiddy time. I want to be as accurate as possible, while typing as fast as my little finger's will go. I'm almost there! So, hang on just a little longer! There's only one, possibly two, more parts to the end of the story (and I may even throw in a picture or two)!
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