Nahum 1:7 “The Lord is good, a stronghold in the day of trouble; he knows those who take refuge in him.
With three weeks left before the birth, the doctor told us to try and get on the public health care system here called Segura Popular. We were surprised that she would even mention it because we are not even citizens of Mexico. We went to the small office of the public official here in town and he told us we were not eligible because we were not citizens. He gave us another place to go where he thought we could get help. Eventually we went to three or four places included a trip to Saltillo and still no real answers. We felt lost often in the language and in the paper work.
A week before the due date we were praying at a rancho village and the people told us they loved us so much and that they would pool resources to make sure we had the money to have the child. Another group of people at the church here in town came over to tell us they would take up a collection if needed to raise the money to help us. We felt so blessed by their overwhelming generosity. Many of these people had nothing. And yet they heard the Gospel and wanted to live its call. They truly were willing to give us their coat in our need.
The week of the birth we were still without healthcare and although these poor wonderful people wanted to help us we really were praying that God would work this out. Maira (a friend and leader in the community) was coming over and actually traveling to Saltillo to try and speak with her brothers who work in various capacities in the state government. She was such a blessing. She helped us figure out the paper work and find out where we needed to go. The day before the birth she took the papers (including my birth certificate) and left our house, certain that she could get us healthcare within a few days.
Wednesday morning arrived early for Teresa and I. Gemma had been crying for a few hours starting at 3. I woke up and took her until four. At about eight Teresa woke me and said “Today is the day.” She looked a bit uncomfortable. She was having a contraction. I jumped up out of bed and we started getting our things ready. In the back of my mind I considered that we still had no healthcare, no way of paying for the huge expense of having this child in Saltillo. “Please Lord,” I said in my mind, “please not in Saltillo, please let us have it here, help us please.” It wasn’t eloquent. It was simply the prayer of a tired man. We got in the van and began to drive to hospital. Teresa asked me to slow down. The roads are bumpy and badly paved if at all.
When we arrived I entered the hospital and told the nurse what was happening. She jumped up and rushed for the wheelchair. I said a silent prayer of thanksgiving because usually we would have to do a pile of paperwork at this point. The whole hospital seemed to transform. Nurses and doctors were coming out to hug me or get a blanket for Teresa. They got her out of the van and brought her into the birthing room. I would have to stay outside they said. I tried to be polite but finally as I watched Teresa moan in pain I told them I was going in and they would not stop me. They let me in.
There were two female nurses and a female doctor. They took ten minutes to get ready from the time we entered. Suddenly Teresa said she was ready to push. I said “Mi esposa es lista para empujar” the doctor understood. Then something happened. It was like God decided to show off that morning. Instead of hiding Himself in the background He stood up and walked to the front to act the center role.
We were not going to Saltillo the doctor said. There was no time for that, the baby was here. Praise Jesus we were staying in General Cepeda! The doctor yelled for Teresa to push. In one push the baby came out. It was the quickest birth I had ever seen or even heard of. The doctor and nurses were laughing. They said it was a new record. They asked if I had given Teresa pain medicine. I said I gave her two Tylenol before we left because she had a head ache. The nurses were amazed. Before long they had moved Teresa into a new room and she was already asking to leave. What an answer to prayer! But then came the moment everyone dreads. The director of the hospital called me in to his office to discuss how Teresa and I were going to pay.
When I entered his office two nurses began describing to him the whole event he and they were so joyful. They loved the fact that we had a little Mexican “hombrecito mexicano” in our family. The director then went on to ask how old I was and why we were in General Cepeda. I told him I was 35 and we were Catholic missionaries and that we were here in General because God called us here to serve the people. He smiled and said he also was 35. He paused, then said God must be looking out for us because 5 days before we had the baby (i.e. on March 8th) a new law was passed in the state of Coahuila which states that no women whether a Mexican citizen or a foreigner has to pay to give birth to a child. It took me a minute to process what he was saying. He started laughing then said we would not have to pay a single peso for this birth because of this new law. I began to cry and said out loud “Gloria a Dios, Gloria a Jesús, nuestro Señor” (Glory to God, Glory to Jesus, our Lord). I just stood there in awe of our awesome God.
Throughout the day we told the story of God’s marvelous provision in our lives to the many visitors who came to see us. We really didn’t want to see anyone after the birth but ended up being visited by over thirty people in eleven hours. People visited who we didn’t even know just to share in the joy and show us they loved us. In answer to Teresa’s prayers, they let us go home that evening, instead of waiting the normal twenty four hour period. We were overwhelmed with both fatigue and gratitude.
We had decided to name the baby Ezekiel Daniel Francisco Kiehl. We both liked the name Ezekiel. We felt called into this deserted place to proclaim the gospel just as in Ezekiel 37 where it says:
“The hand of the LORD came upon me, and he led me out in the spirit of the LORD and set me in the center of the broad valley. It was filled with bones. 2 He made me walk among them in every direction. So many lay on the surface of the valley! How dry they were! 3 He asked me: Son of man, can these bones come back to life? “Lord GOD,” I answered, “you alone know that.” 4 Then he said to me: Prophesy over these bones, and say to them: Dry bones, hear the word of the LORD! 5 Thus says the Lord GOD to these bones: Listen! I will make breath enter you so you may come to life.”
The name Ezekiel means “God strengthens”. We really feel that God has strengthened our faith through our mission experience here in Mexico. He has proven to us numerous times that he will provide for those who are willing to put their trust in Him. I am convinced that the more willing we are to entrust ourselves to His merciful hands, the more we will see His greatness. We would never have been able to see the Lord work in this situation if we had not been willing to stay here and have the baby no matter what, instead of jumping in the car and heading back to the States.
We also decided to add the name Francisco. This is after the new Pope who took the name Frances (Francisco in Spanish). We felt blessed to be in Latin America during the beginning of the pontificate of the first Latin American Pope. What an awesome day to be born, and what an incredible new pope. He exemplifies all the virtues that we are striving to live out! Thank you Jesus for appointing this man to be your successor!
Following the birth of our beautiful new son, we were also privileged to see and be seen by many of the local citizens—all of which seemed to have “suggestions” on how we should survive the post-partum period and how we should go about raising our newest “Mexicanito.” I know we are here to be a light to the people, and our church urges all missionaries to inculturate into the new societies in which we live, but I admit, sometimes inculturation is hard. I mean who’s ever heard about having to drink burro’s milk or . . . but alas, I am getting ahead of myself. The customs of this culture are the subject of our next blog. Stay tuned!
2 Corinthians 3:4-6 “Such is the confidence that we have through Christ toward God. Not that we are sufficient of ourselves to claim anything as coming from us; our sufficiency is from God, who has qualified us to be ministers of a new covenant, not in a written code but in the Spirit; for the written code kills, but the Spirit gives life.”