Thursday, February 19, 2009

Our Honduran Birth Day, Part One

Dr. Fleisch speaks Spanish, German, Polish, Russian, and Chinese. He grew up in communist East Germany, where English was verboten. He traded communism and borscht for palm trees and tin-pot dictators sometime in the early seventies. He has been delivering babies here in La Ceiba, Honduras ever since. He is a springy old man who answers the telephone in his office with a crisp German salutation: “Hier Fleisch!” He owns the hospital, so he can answer the phone in whatever language suits him.

We will be forever indebted to the venerable Dr. Fleisch for the safe delivery of our son Ezekiel Lawrence. I’m going to describe the events of that day as I remember them. I’ll try to write as close to the facts as I can, because the plain simple truth is miraculous left alone. Forgive me if I accidentally, or on purpose, get fancy and mess the whole story up. It was emotional.

I left school early that Monday morning to meet Karine at Dr. Fleisch’s hospital, which is located next to the old customs building on the beach. It’s within spitting distance of the La Ceiba dock, where they used to load the banana boats bound for New Orleans. I left for the hospital thinking about our baby. My thoughts as I walked were buzzing, like usual, around the idea that EVERYTHING was about to change.

The guard who unlocked the gate that separates our beautiful campus from the rest of Honduras is someone I know fairly well. His name is Luis. I told him I was going to the doctor’s and that I was going to meet Karine there. He told me that the doctor was only an instrument of the Lord, and that the Lord would bring our little boy safely into the world.

It was about eight in the morning. I walked from school along the abandoned Standard Fruit Railroad tracks. My parents and grandparents probably ate bananas that were carried to cargo ships along these same tracks. I was just like one of those bananas now, except instead of going to the United States to be eaten, I was going to the hospital to see my wife.

It was a beautiful morning in La Ceiba. Garbage everywhere. Shop keepers were sweeping it into the streets. Stray dogs with various skin diseases nosed through the trash, looking for disgusting pieces of anything with nutritional value. This is commonplace. I didn’t dwell on my surroundings. I was too busy thinking about Dr. Fleisch, instrument of the Lord