This is Leoni. Leoni is nineteen and lives in Haiti. She is a soon-to-be teen mom and I'm her "Prayer Doula."
There is a ministry in Haiti called Heartline that myself and some of my online friends have fallen in love with over the past few months. Heartline is a kind of "crisis pregnancy center" in Port-au-Prince. However, it is very different than the American version of a CPC, because in Haiti nearly all pregnancies are considered high-risk and a crisis situation on some level or another. Options that an American woman visiting a CPC would be offered (such as adoption or government assistance) are simply not possibilities for the majority of the women whom Heartline serves. Even so, Heartline does an incredible job helping and caring for these women and their babies (read about their work here.)
A few weeks ago, my cousin Marla came up with the beautiful idea of gathering a bunch of her online friends together to pray for some of the Heartline ladies throughout their entire pregnancy. We each chose a specific woman and we use Marla's devotional book, Expecting: Praying for Your Child's Development - Body and Soul, to follow along with, and pray for, the development of that woman's baby each week.
This week, Leoni is twenty-five-weeks pregnant and her baby's taste buds are developing. It is a beautiful thing to read about how her baby is changing and growing each week and how God's perfect design process is at work. But this week, I had a very hard time praying for Leoni.
Marla's book is wonderful. It truly is - I would recommend it to any women thinking about starting a family, or in any stage of her pregnancy. However, as I read through this week's devotional, it hit me how many of our American views of pregnancy don't apply to a poverty-stricken nation like Haiti. And it's heartbreaking. Here's what made me pause with a heavy heart this week:
"God, would you help me to expose my child to a wide variety of healthy foods? Would you bless him with taste buds that embrace foods of all kinds, from all cultures? I want him to be well rounded, to be willing to try anything once, and to be comfortable eating the food in any part of the world." - Expecting
That is a lovely prayer, but living in Haiti, Leoni's baby will not have such opportunities. Leoni and her baby will be blessed just to have enough food to keep themselves alive and healthy, let along have any option of experiencing "culturally diverse" foods like we do here in America. I feel lucky and selfish and blessed and unfair and full of sorrow all at the same time.
I really enjoy praying for Leoni and I think this project is amazing. This week it was just hard to find the words to pray for her in light of the reality of her circumstances. She needs prayer for so much more than we ( I ) generally consider praying for during a pregnancy. Things like having enough clean water to drink and getting enough protein (any protein, really) in her diet. Things I take for granted every day.