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Namesake

From a Pioneer in North Africa

It was painful for her, but I don't know which of us was sweating more.

Several weeks ago I walked into my neighbor's yard and helped deliver a healthy baby girl, who came quickly and early. But a few days later the mother began to hemorrhage.

After a quick call to my teammate who is a midwife for advice, I massaged the mother’s belly with my fists to help her uterus contract again. I felt like I was torturing her, and her eight children sat around us in the hut and watched. But through that painful process God saved her life.

On the baby’s eighth day, as is typical in Islamic tradition, the family held a naming ceremony. They announced that they would name her Kenza, the name people call me here.

As in any culture, it is an blessing to be have a child named after you. But unlike in my culture, here the honoree goes to great lengths in to show their gratitude. I don’t have a manual of cultural etiquette here, so I called on my neighbors and friends to guide me through the process.

The ladies told me to buy five outfits for the baby, shoes and fabric for the mother and some soap. I spent a long time in the market trying to remember how big her feet were, but my friends reassured me that she could exchange the shoes at any market store without a receipt. I also bought soap to wash the baby instead of soap for washing clothes. And the fabric I chose wasn’t appropriate. But with a lot of help, I got it sorted out.

The presentation of gifts is meant to be a ceremonial affair. We put the gifts in a plastic, teddy bear bag with a zipper—not the wrapping paper and bows that are custom for me. I also thought we would leave in the morning for the procession, but not everyone showed up until the afternoon. I am more time oriented—but they didn’t think the time was a huge factor.

We arrived with the gifts (that I carried on my head) and beverages for the party that afternoon. Their family had prepared a celebration meal. My family and the friends who coached me through the process were by my side. People greeted me, saying, "You came!" I smiled, greeted them and set the gifts down. They put them on a platter to display for everyone to see.

I felt honored, like I belonged. I held my little namesake, Kenza. She is so pretty. We all talked together, and when I was too tired to talk anymore, I listened. Hours later, when my daughter began to cry, they insisted that we go home to rest. It had been a big day.

There are still no known believers in this people group. Pray for our ministry to these people, and pray that little Kenza and her family will one day worship Jesus

 

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