A Baby Shower in the Jungle by Karen
- who will prepare the food?
- how many games and which ones?
- should there be a theme?
- when is the best time to open gifts?
Anna agreed to bring a homemade cake and some sandwich fixings. The other girls that we picked up on the way had some decorations. Given the limited nature of their preparations, I assumed others must be involved, but that wasn't the case. When I asked what time it was supposed to start, I learned that it was a surprise baby shower, so it would start whenever the guests showed up. "Do they know if it's going to be a boy or a girl?" I asked excitedly. "It's a boy. He was born two months ago." I decided it was best for me to stop asking questions. As I continued driving in silence I prayed for the grace that I would need to be whatever Jesus was asking me to be for these people, at this time.
The second game was a race to see who could feed another person a jar of baby food the fastest. Anna and I were partners, so I had to lay across her lap and be spoon-fed, which was ridiculously silly!
The third game was a balloon race, which they played countless times because everyone was having so much fun.
I was startled by the fact that the baby's parents sat off to the side the whole time looking like deer in the headlights. As much as I wish it were different, I imagine there's probably a part of me that still expects people to pretend like they're happy even when they're not. These two youngsters were disappointed by the arrival of their firstborn, angry that their youth has come to a screeching halt, exhausted from two months of sleepless nights followed by busy days of manual labor and high school coursework, and scared about what the future might entail... so why was I expecting them to act happy?
As the others were playing games I made my way to where they were sitting to affirm them for choosing life, despite the obvious challenges that lie ahead. I encouraged them to make intentional decisions that could help strengthen their relationship and build a strong foundation for their family. I spoke about the importance of keeping Jesus at the center of their lives, especially as the hardships come. They listened respectfully but didn't seem to know how to respond. I ended by praying a blessing over the three of them and encouraged them to let me know if there's anything we can do in the future to help. They nodded and stared at the ground.
As we made our way home along the bumpy dirt roads I found myself lost in thought. Initially, my heart was heavy because it didn't seem like the parents even enjoyed the party that was thrown for them. As I continued reflecting, I realized how grateful I was to spend the afternoon with people who don't feel the need to fake anything. The fact that this young woman had gotten pregnant when she did was certainly unexpected and would make life more challenging for all of them, but that didn't change the undisputable fact that they love her beyond measure and will do everything they can to help her in this next chapter of life. This baby shower wasn't about the presents and it didn't matter that the parents didn't have fun. This baby shower was an authentic celebration of life - a life that they've all received as a gift from God to share.... WOW!
In the weeks following the baby shower, we had the occasion to throw a couple parties of our own. As we've done since entering missions back in 2015, we kept them simple and focused on the reason for the gatherings and not the gatherings themselves.
Afterward, we intended to serve cake and ice cream but didn't know what to do when we realized that the forks and plates had been misplaced. Michael's friends told us to just put the cake and ice cream in the cups and they'd eat them together with their fingers. At first, I thought they were joking, but they were totally serious and thought nothing of it.
When it came time to celebrate Anna's birthday we decorated our front porch and invited folks over for some simple games and dessert.
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