Have you ever really looked at the floor of a stable, barn or round pen that is seeing heavy use? Remember, all the rooms at all of the inns were full. People were traveling for the census. That meant walking or riding which meant that the stables too were crowded.
The greatest gift of all was born as a baby and he wasn’t even born at home. He was born in a stable.
How many babies today are born into horrible circumstances such as extreme poverty and malnutrition? I don’t know the answer, but I do know that many babies born in dire circumstances have low birth weight. In fact, 20 million babies a year have low birth weight. Of this 20 million, 450 of them die every hour.
Four hundred and fifty every hour. Four hundred and fifty babies who might grow up to solve the problems in their communities or even the world. Four hundred and fifty people whose gifts will never grace those of us fortunate enough to survive.
My family learned about this incredible mortality rate when we watched the 20/20 episode, “.” I turned it on as my son got ready for bed. Soon both my husband and son were in the room watching with me.
What we learned is that one of the biggest problems for underweight infants is staying warm. They don’t have the fat reserves that babies rely on. Their bodies, struggling to stay warm, burn up all of their fat reserves and organs don’t have the energy to develop properly. What is needed is a low tech solution that can be used in areas with inconsistent access to electricity and possibly even by the infant’s parents who may be uneducated.
Fortunately, a group of Stanford students received just such a homework assignment – design an inexpensive low-tech incubator. The looks like a tiny sleeping bag. It is warmed by an insert that holds paraffin and water. The insert can be heated on either an electric warmer or with hot water. When a smiley face appears, the insert is good to go. Slip it into the incubator and it will keep the baby warm for four hours. That’s long enough for a baby to be transported to a hospital in a larger town.
The Embrace Infant Warmer will be used first in India and then later in other parts of the world. These students have graduated but instead of pursuing lucrative careers are working to get their product out where it can save the lives of these babies.
Because, after all, the greatest gifts come in the tiniest packages. Who knows what talents they will bring to us all? Like the Standford students, they too will have so much to offer if only we can give them to discover where their gifts lay.
Others praise You
with voices raised in song.
Still others paint awe-inspiring
canvases or raise buildings into the sky.
Let me praise You with the talents
You have given me.
I can reach out a hand
to steady my elderly neighbor,
or raise my heart in prayer
for a sorrowing friend.
I can stir a pot bubbling on the stove
as I wait for my hungry spouse.
I can speak comfort to a discouraged teen or
smile at the mother of an energetic child.
In all these ways,
I praise You,
who made me as I am.