We had been married for more than five years and still had no children when we started consulting doctors. But living in rural Burkina Faso did not give us much contact with doctors and none with infertility specialists. The doctor we saw when we were home in the US was not hopeful.
But in 1981 we were reassigned to Abidjan, Côte d’Ivoire. Being a big city, it had many more health care options. Dayle started seeing a French woman doctor certified in infertility who held out some hope for us. After tests, she put us on a regimen which we followed for over a year.
At that point, we were asked to move to Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso and lead an expansion of Bible translation into that country. Our doctor in Abidjan informed us that we could not continue the regimen from a distance. It needed closer monitoring than that. So if we accepted the assignment, we would have to stop.
We prayed and talked. In the end, we decided that the move was strategic and we accept the assignment. It was a very difficult choice, pitting what was best for the bibleless peoples of Burkina Faso against our personal interests. We did not suspect it then, but we would often be in similar positions and so would our colleagues. What happened gave us the faith to make many more decisions that seemed antithetical to our personal interests.
We abandoned the fertility treatments, putting on hold our plans for a family, and moved to Ouagadougou in October 1983.
The semi-arid regions of Africa experience periodic meningitis epidemics. They occur in the dry and cool season. Fortunately, there is a vaccine for the type of meningitis that causes epidemics. So we always kept that vaccine up to date. Ours was expiring and the dry and cool season was coming, so we went to get booster shots. The nurse asked Dayle if she was pregnant or might get pregnant. Without going into all the details, Dayle told that there really was no chance that she was expecting. But the nurse did not want to give the shot without confirmation because the vaccine would have an adverse effect on the baby. So she had to get a pregnancy test.
We thought that it was an unnecessary bother and we were right about the bother. At the time, finding a pregnancy test in Ouagadougou was no small matter. We searched several pharmacies before finding one. It was an old-fashioned gizmo that had to be set up in a place where it would not be moved or jostled for at least an hour. The instructions indicated that the slightest movement would cause it to fail. So we set it up in a corner of the house and Dayle went off to a meeting, leaving me at home. When she came back, we would go get her vaccination.
She was gone a couple of hours. I looked at the test after an hour and the result was clear. When Dayle came home I was given the treat of a most unusual and delicious reversal of roles telling her,
“Honey, you’re pregnant!”
In the same month two years later we discovered that Dayle was pregnant again. So we have two miracle boys.
Jesus said “But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.” (Matthew 6:33). We have found this to be so true, but also difficult to carry out. We have seen missionaries who were doing great work make decisions that limited – and in a few cases even destroyed – the impact of their ministries because of personal considerations.
After God, in his grace, took us through this experience with infertility, we were left with the firm conviction that we can always make decisions in favor of his kingdom and count on him to give us the things we need and want.
I like the way Eugene Peterson puts it in The Message:
“If God gives such attention to the appearance of wildflowers—most of which are never even seen—don’t you think he’ll attend to you, take pride in you, do his best for you? What I’m trying to do here is to get you to relax, to not be so preoccupied with getting, so you can respond to God’s giving. People who don’t know God and the way he works fuss over these things, but you know both God and how he works. Steep your life in God-reality, God-initiative, God-provisions. Don’t worry about missing out. You’ll find all your everyday human concerns will be met.” (Matthew 6:30—33)