Tuesday, June 28, 2016

ASK ISAAC - 2016

Isaac came to me and said he's in the mood to write this summer.  He handed me this and asked me to pass it along ...

Hello E'rybody!

I am happy to be back at my blog, "Ask Isaac" for a bit this summer.  Sorry for my very long absence, however I will be taking questions this summer so get those thoughts coming.  There is one other thing I want to say.  If you visit my blog archives/history you will see a lot of the questions have involved Haiti and living in Haiti.  Those types of questions are great but think outside the box, get abstract, and ask creative questions.  This summer I will be in the States for 8 whole weeks so I would love to answer any questions you have about that.  I still love vocabulary words and will do my best to use new ones when I write.


Questions can be left as a blog comment or emailed to LivesayFamily@gmail.com 

Link to his posts from summers past ...


Monday, June 27, 2016

on love and transition and patience

On the far right of both photos is an extraordinary woman and sister of ours named Winifred.

Those that have traveled to visit Heartline Haiti or maybe worked with the fields hospital the year after the earthquake know Wini.

If you worked with Wini you saw:  love, compassion, concern, tenderness, gentleness, skill, experience, wisdom, kindness and PATIENCE.

We decided at her going away party yesterday that the number one lesson she has taught us all is patience.  When the rest of us are frustrated or getting to the end of our rope with a situation or problem, Wini is ever steady and calm.  To say that our lives have been touched by her presence and example over the last six and a half years is a large understatement.

Please keep Wini and her family and the Maternity Center Staff in your thoughts and prayers as we all face this change. Winifred is headed to start a new life in Florida.

MC Staff Party: Yesterday the staff gathered to pray and celebrate Winifred (far left).

Monday, June 20, 2016

Countdown to Grahamson Time

Swimming around in the mushy grey area in my disordered brain is a list of about sixty things I hope to accomplish in the time we are in the USA this summer.  I am nothing if not stupidly unrealistic about how much can happen in five weeks time.  

I mean, it is America, things happen only easily, right?  

Besides my seven mile list of appointments, (GOALS) - I also have an appointment to be with Graham. 

He will be in MN the entire month we are there and we are so excited to see him often.  His fan club is currently mobilizing and preparing for much hullabaloo in July.  He is 20 months old now, so he knows everything there is to know and he has a mind of his own.  

Today, I was driving with Lydia and Phoebe in the ambulance out to pick up a lady from the hospital and eight year old Lydia said, "Well, I am not really looking forward to having kids but when I do I hope they are easier than Graham seems to be. He is a real piece of work, huh Mom?"  

He really is. We cannot wait to watch him in action.

Originally posted September 2014 ...

To our first grandson, some thoughts on life

36 week Grandbump
Dear little man,

It hardly seems possible that in four weeks you will be with us on the outside. Enjoy these last weeks in your mommy because being carried around in there is by far the easiest of all the options in life. Your old Mojo (that is me) sometimes wishes she could get back in the dark womb and hide in the warmth and peace for a bit.  (Don't be concerned about me, I won't actually attempt to do it.) I am not trying to scare you, I am just saying - enjoy it. That right there, inside your Momma, is the high life.

There are so many things I want to share with you.  Things about your Mom, things about this family, things about my mistakes and things I hope you can learn without pain. Learning is hard, it takes so many tries. To me it seems that most of us need to learn the hard way. We learn slowly, we fall, we stand up, repeat, repeat. 

I wish I could tell you ALL things that would help it be easier on you. More than that, I wish you could listen and truly hear me. The thing is, I know that you cannot.  I know you cannot  because I did not, and your Mommy did not. Because that is not a thing. We seem to be a gene pool that wants to get knocked around a bit as we learn.

Having said that I know I cannot save you from all pain or from making mistakes, there are just a few things I decided you might like to know before you come out into this boisterous and chaotic world. 

Love wins. Every time.

Now you might be saying to your baby self, what does that even mean, Mojo?  That is so abstract! You sound like a hippie or something. Let me tell you: As you grow up, you will find that sometimes things hurt you or make you angry.  Someone might misunderstand you, say something hurtful, or even intentionally lash out at you. When things hurt, when we hurt, we always want to curl up, withdraw, or strike back. That is just how we are, this gene pool.  

Your old Mojo wants to tell you that love never returns void.  I know you don't know the word void yet.  Let me try again.  When you are hurt, if you can try super hard to love yourself and love others around you, even the person that was mean to you, that will never be something you live to regret. A regret is something you later wish you could change.  The things I wish I could change in my life are all things that I did when I was very hurt or angry. We read that a soft answer turns away wrath, but a grievous word stirs up anger. That just means, when someone hurts you, you return their insult with a loving response. This sounds simple, but it is so crazy hard. It might take you fifty or sixty years to get it right.  I  know people that died very old that never quite got how important kind words and love are. Your Mommy and Daddy are going to teach you about love, watch them closely. I think they both know a lot about love.

Forgiveness is so hard, but it is a part of love.  

This one is gonna be rough, there is just no way around it. I am sorry to hit you with so much before you even get here.  I just want it to be easy for you later, that's all. There is a man named MLK Jr. that I hope you will learn about that said, “Forgiveness is not an occasional act, it is a constant attitude.” That is a way of saying, forgiveness has to be worked at non-stop. People will hurt you, if you are able you will respond with love, but you will still have the work of forgiving ahead of you. If you try to continue to love someone you have not forgiven, you will get a big old smack of reality right between your blue eyes, it is basically impossible. Forgiveness just means that you don't allow that hurt to continue to cause you pain. You turn it over and cross it off, and it no longer acts as a weight you must carry.

One of my very favorite Dutch guys, his name is Henri, said it his way, “Forgiveness is the name of love practiced among people who love poorly. The hard truth is that all people love poorly. We need to forgive and be forgiven every day, every hour increasingly. That is the great work of love among the fellowship of the weak that is the human family.”  

To simplify for you, Henri was trying to say this: Forgiveness is really just love, and you already know how important love is.

Nothing is ever as bad as it seems.

This is just something you figure out when you reach 40 or so.  I am telling you early, to save you the trouble.  Sometimes it feels like the pain won't go away, or the embarrassment or shame is just insanely HUGE and earth-shattering.  It does feel that way in the moment, your Mojo knows it so well. This might sound silly to you, but just give it a few weeks.  After a few weeks things seem smaller. You are just gonna have to trust me on this one until you get a chance to see for yourself.

~           ~            ~

Now that I have shared those things, I feel like I should say one more thing to you.  Someday, when you are quite a bit older, you will learn about my reaction to the news of you.  You might hear that I cried and felt overwhelmed for your Mommy and Daddy.  You might learn that for a few weeks we had a bit of hard time. Then, like number three says, we woke up a few weeks later and realized that things were going to be okay. We figured out that it was not so big or impossible. Not only did we realize that things were going to be okay, we got quite excited about the prospect (do you know that word? it means the coming possibility) of meeting you, holding you, smelling you, and getting to know you. 

More than 30 weeks have passed since I learned about your little beating heart inside your mommy. In those weeks I have prayed for you, loved you more each day, and watched your Mommy's tummy grow and begin moving like crazy. (She sends me videos. What is it you are doing in there, exactly? Nobody expects you to produce work until you are a bit older, take a load off and get some rest while you can, because it is not nearly so calm and dark out here.) When I meet you in just a few short weeks I know I will be in awe of you. I hope you will show me some of those fancy moves once there is more space to perform. 

I need you to know, the time it took for me to get totally excited, was really just fear.  I was afraid for your Mom and Dad and for you, too. It was unnecessary fear, I know that now.  I guess you get your first chance at forgiving (which we already know is love), right away. Forgive me for being fearful about you, please.  

I am so excited to meet you. I think we are going to like each other a lot. 

all my heart,


Friday, June 17, 2016

Why We Need to End the Era of Orphanages | Tara Winkler

I started feeling uncomfortable and in turn writing about the troubling trend of orphanages as a growing industry back in 2010. (Vulnerable children do not have to be institutionalized. There are other ways to address this.) 

In the last six years, dozens and dozens (hundreds) of new orphanages have opened in Haiti. Currently young women and churches are raising money to start their new program and build their new buildings.  These well-intentioned folks come in and build their buildings and take in children that have living families in a country where extended family often raises children.  

What usually happens from there is pretty much the most devastating thing I have observed in our decade in Haiti.

Talking about this can cause defensiveness and a shut-down in conversation.  Shutting down conversation is not the goal of sharing what we've seen and learned. 

We need - we MUST - ask ourselves really hard questions and examine the things we do.  It requires a lot of humility, it requires being willing to change course.

I found this to be a very excellent talk and I hope everyone that cares about children will watch this.

More Thoughts and Observations Here:

A Boat that Needs Rocking


First, do no harm

Tuesday, June 14, 2016

Repeating History - Time for an eat down

I *try* not to write about the same boring thing too often. Trying is the best I can do. Writers usually write what they are thinking about.  I think about the same things over and over. This can cause some problems when I want to write about new and fascinating topics. 

In 2010 I explained a problem in my  household.  Perhaps in the period of six years, you all SOLVE the problems in your household.  

Congratulations to you!  That is not how we roll. 

To review the problem we have, I will give you the shortest possible version:  Troy stockpiles food and likes there to be a lot on hand. When he goes to the grocery store his average bill is $350. I prefer not to "over do it" and just get some sort of sick and smug and Mother Superior satisfaction over having less on hand. When I go to the store I typically spend about $150.  

We just have different ways of being. 

He looks at me like I am crazy and says, "Tara, that is not that much chicken I bought. You don't understand how fast we will eat that." I look at him and think, "Why are you ready for Armageddon? You're not going to have enough propane to cook all that chicken when the bombs start dropping, so why buy it in the first place?"

This disagreement has to do with the culture(s) of the homes we were raised in and we both feel our way is better.  One of us is right.  The one that is right has a four letter name starting with T. 

We are taking our clowns on the road in July. The plan is to fly to Florida and then saddle up the rental mini-van and begin the long trek North, to God's country.  

We love traveling to the USA with these Third-Culture-Kids because they make everything joyful. The main conversation of our household as the trip is drawing closer has to do with how amazing mini-vans are and how clean the public restrooms are. 

They are not trying to be hilarious. They are dead serious. It doesn't take that much to impress them and that makes traveling with them a total blast. We plan to rate every bathroom we use and marvel at the flushing toilets and well stocked paper towel and toilet paper at each rest-stop. Isaac describes the mini-van as "luxurious"  - I can't even make this stuff up. It is pure gold. 

As we prepare to leave Port au Prince, we are imposing a 2016 "Eat Down".  This means no going to the store to buy more groceries.  It means you look at the food you have in your house and you make a meal with it.  

Eat Downs bring me into the fullness of superiority and glory - there are simply not enough SELF congratulations to offer when a can of french-cut green beans is my breakfast.  

June 2016 Eat Down kicks off today. Wish us the best.

Below is the archived information of the Waco, TX 2010 Eat Down before we headed back home to Haiti that year...    

This weekend we put off going to the grocery store no less than five times. This forced us to the point of serving a different meal for every person on Sunday.  I knew it was bad when Isaac came into our room Saturday morning and said, "Can you put syrup on those sandwich buns?" Then on Sunday he returned asking, "If I have that leftover taco meat for breakfast would that okay?"  Taco meat for breakfast?  Sure. Why not?  I get really weird when there is no food in the house; like I get some twisted enjoyment out of proving that it is possible to make a meal out of a can of refried beans, some mayo, one sleeve of saltines and three nearly rotten apples. 

It is called an "eat-down" and it is a thing, a real thing.  It means that you take inventory of your gluttonous ways and truly look at the food you still have in your pantry.  Who says a can of corn is not a meal? Throw a pickle and a black olive on top and it is a colorful culinary vegan masterpiece.

The real trouble occurs when Troy starts to feel he is not properly providing for his family because the cupboards and refrigerator are bare.  He feels safest when there is a two month supply of the staple items.  Oddly enough it caused issues when we first got married because I prefer to scrounge for food and feel superior over not needing to have a big stash and he prefers to have a freezer full and feels smart, safe, and ready for anything. (Earthquakes!)  He used to grocery shop occasionally in those early years and I would be annoyed at his massive stock-piling.  I did not even know why I was mad. Meanwhile, he thought I was an idiot for going to the store and only getting enough for five or six days. We finally figured it out about five years in, so now we enjoy mocking each other like all loving married people do. 

Lessons of the "eat down"

After the post I wrote Sunday, Troy declared that he was officially on board and not only was he on board but we would be legalistic and even barbaric in our eat-down rules moving forward.

Apparently if I want to mock his preferred methods, I had better be prepared to prove I am loyal to mine.

The photo above represents the last of the food in the pantry as of this morning.  There are also 12 stale instant oatmeal packets remaining.  The freezer has one half bag of frozen veggies and two hamburger patties.  The refrigerator has condiments, two eggs, four sticks of butter, and 1/4 gallon of milk.

Last Wednesday the people living in this home began to whine and complain. They even declared there was "NO food in the house" - yes, a full week ago.  Yet, we've eaten at home every night since then and no one has been forced to go hungry. Have we had some weird meals?  Sure. But we ate.

The Livesay family is blessed beyond measure. We are in the portion of the worlds population that live with the privilege of declaring there is "no food"  -  when in fact we have six to seven more days of food in our house. We learned a valuable lesson.  We don't know what NO food is like.  We only know that we get whiny when we're out of fruit and our favorite snacks.  

The point is not to feel guilty about what we have access to and resources for, not at all. I'm not teaching my children anything of the sort. The point is to consider that what is "no food" to us and what is "no food" to most of the world cannot even be compared. The problem of hunger and poverty in just one tiny country alone is mind boggling; we know that many face a daily struggle to feed their families.  This is the grievous reality that I pray I live to see changed.

The food that remains in our pantry, the amount we refer to as having "no food",  may exceed the amount of food most families around the world will consume this week. 

Thursday, June 9, 2016

Moving Up (stairs to a new classroom!)

Late October of 2015 @momastery and her amazing readers were kind and generous and showed up in a beautiful and tangible way for pregnant women and new mommas in Port au Prince, Haiti.

They (Glennon and her readers and the non-profit Together Rising) held a 24 hour "love flash mob" and raised money to build a brand new second floor onto our current Maternity Center. This large second floor classroom will allow us the needed space to serve more women at one time. 

We are waiting on electricity and fans and a few other comforts that will soon be installed upstairs but we were (are) too excited to wait any longer so we are holding our first ever Thursday Prenatal Class upstairs today! 

The next phase of the project is to make the prior (downstairs) classroom into the new Post Partum Recovery area. It will be far brighter, cooler, and more comfortable. We are excited to move out of the very small post-partum room we had.  That room will now become a consultation room for Prenatal care, etc. 

We are so thrilled to be making the most of our beautiful little house.


Beautiful, clean, spaces help us communicate how.incredibly.worthy every woman is. We want to provide for them, a kind, loving, excellent experience where they will feel respected while they receive high quality care in a peaceful environment!  

#lovewins HURRAH! 

Tuesday, June 7, 2016

What is Midwifery?

If you have three minutes, I want to tell you about this photo.

Lots of people think that Midwifery is a little bit odd, Amiright? 

(Maybe it is odd. Maybe the way it is odd is a really good kind of odd.)

I've learned that some people think Midwives aren't trained and maybe don't practice caring for people with integrity or medical excellence. I've given enough tours of the Maternity Center to pick up on some of the bummer perceptions and presumptions.

Midwifery is many things. If you'll allow me, I would like to explain.

First and foremost it is this, ^ the photo you see above. 

A young woman that has already lost two babies in her life, is anticipating the arrival of her little one. She asks Beth McHoul to hold her and comfort her during her 24 + hour labor - and Beth wraps her up in the love and tenderness and reassurance she needs in that moment.

Later, Beth used medical skills and knowledge and a lot of training and experience to help this Momma do the brave work she needed to do in order to push a new life into the world.

Beth knew how to handle the delivery and the bleeding and she knew how to help get the baby crying and breathing well. She knew about best practices and that in the developing world certain ways of managing the 3rd stage (placenta) make a lot of sense and help improve our outcomes. Beth knew to get the baby breastfeeding early and place the mother and child skin to skin. She put all that knowledge to work in the moments following delivery and continued to offer her support for several days after the birth.

All of this is wonderful and valuable! However, Beth's intimate knowledge of the Mom's life and medical history, the relationship she had built during prenatal care, and her understanding of the fears that the young Mom carried into the birth room the day of her labor were key to this lovely moment of trust and vulnerability.

Midwifery and the model we employ at The Heartline Maternity Center means BEING WITH WOMEN - whatever that looks like.

If you would like to help us be with women, we are currently in need of monthly sponsors that can support with a $25 per month donation. 

This support allows us to pay our amazing staff (jobs in Haiti are a wonderful thing too!) and keep offering these services. 

Monday, May 30, 2016

Poop Stories - Volume Umpteen

Over the span of 11 years, I have written things here. Depending on the season, the posts have been published at varying intervals...Both frequently and infrequently, topics serious and mundane. 

At times I have been a 'mommy-blogger'. I have been a 'missionary/expatriate-blogger'; I have been an 'adoption-blogger' too.

Recently though?

This is the place where poop stories come to be told. I only talk about bowel problems. I am now just a poop blogger. 

The foremost poop blogging expert.

In defense of myself, lest you find this all too disgusting, I deal in bodily fluids - I have an expertise and vast knowledge of poop after 26 years of raising seven kids and 5+ years in the field of midwifery.  

You talk about your work, right?  
I suppose this is me, talking about mine.

It is not your detail to keep track of, but there has been an illness in our family since mid-April.  I've written about it already. We thought we had it beat, then we didn't think we did, then we did, and then we were unsure of everything.

Recently I had to go to Dallas for 3 days to be with someone I love that was hurting.  The point of the 60 hour trip was not at all about me, or about all the unsolved Livesay Family poop problems.

Somehow, on the first day in Dallas, due to things I still cannot totally make sense of, I found myself on the phone calling laboratories and asking "Do you need a Doctor's order to do stool testing? Or can I just order tests pou kont mwen?"  (by myself) 

Apparently that is a whack thing to ask. It turns out that, YES, you do need a doctor's order.  A regular American citizen does not have the right to test their own poop just for fun, sans permission. 

I want you to know, if I were in the lab business, I'd never turn away anyone that wanted to pay me to test things for them.  But I digress.

I found my friend, Dr. Chris, in Tennessee because he is an adult Doc and he also happens to be infinitely patient and my other doc friend specializes in kid care and was very busy that day.  Dr.Chris said he would talk to his pal, a GI Doc, and get a bunch of stuff ordered. He said he would put together the order, fax it, make a call or two and be sure the lab was all in on the plan. He told me to go into the lab and get the collection tubes, supplies, etc. etc.

When I arrived to pick up the supplies a man with amazing eyes and unusual good looks got to hear about my peculiar  situation with a Doctor in TN ordering lab tests in Dallas, TX for a person that lives in neither of those two places.  

I have never wanted away from an attractive man so badly.  If you must discuss poop and potential parasites, it is generally more enjoyable to discuss it with someone that is mildly to massively unattractive.

As I left the office, amazing-eyes-guy told me to take the copy of the faxed lab order along with me, that way I could drop my "samples" to any location and did not need to return to his location.  I never ever wanted to see this man again in my life, so I rather liked his suggestion.

The next morning I worked on 'creating a sample'. It wasn't difficult in that my stomach (and those in my family can attest to this and could have produced with excellence too) had pretty much been hurting for 6 weeks and producing a sample is something we can do by accident at this point.

Amazing-eyes-guy had given me four containers to collect my samples. One was to be frozen, not important to the story, but weird, right? Hang tight loved ones, I need to freeze some fecal-matter in your freezer. I'll set it here, next to the ice cubes.

Meticulously, I followed the directions and mixed the goods into the vials like a brilliant scientist or maybe just like Beaker from the Muppets.  

If you've ever done this "collection of samples" for yourself or a child you are responsible for, you know.  Boy, do you know. This is a shitty job. Pretty much all of us can agree we never imagined a day where we would need to spoon our own feces into plastic containers to then drive across town and hand it off to someone with eyes and ears and the ability to look at us in such a stupid predicament.

I was on a very tight schedule. I needed to be somewhere really important (like the whole reason I was even in Dallas) by 11am.  I left the house with the sample(s) at 9am, anticipating a 20 minute drive, a quick drop off, and an easy return long before it was even 10am.  

Once to the lab, of course I found a room the size of a walk-in closet filled with people.  What fun! Discussing dung samples in front of 13 strangers.

Things started out rocky.  The lady at the lab desk said that she needed more than what the fax-order said. She wanted account numbers and phone numbers that matched with account numbers and all sorts of official things far beyond my brilliant plan to hand her poop and a credit card and the fax Chris sent.

She wouldn't budge and told me to go get that information. I had a seat to try to find my friend and ask him what his account number was for the lab.  I texted him, called him, voxed him, and I sat watching the minutes tick buy, my poop and my dignity sitting in a brown paper bag at my feet.

At one point, my son-in-law called me.  I was so frazzled by the time I was losing and the full room of people and my inability to find Dr. Chris and his dumb account number that when my phone rang this is what was said:

"Hello?" - Me

"Hi, I am checking on you. You okay?" - Son in Law

"Who is this?" - Me

"Uh. It is Chris." -Son in Law who also bears the name Chris

"No. This is NOT Chris!" -Me, thinking only of Dr. Chris and not son-in-law Chris

"Yes, yes, this IS Chris." -Son in Law, Chris

long confused pause 

"OOOOhhhh.  THAT Chris.  Oh. Yeah. Yep, you are him. I am trying to get out of here. Sorry, I was thinking about Dr. Chris because I have been trying to find him.  I hope to see you soon. Sorry that was really weird to say you are not you." -Me

(My son-in-law actually did not even really seem to think that my behavior was odd.  Maybe people accuse him of not being him all the time or something?)

At that point. I wanted to give up, leave the lab, and call it a good effort. I wanted to practice extravagant grace with myself.  Troy told me in a text message that I had "TO SEE  IT THROUGH" for the sake of "the entire family".  He said, "Please, just get it done."  I loathed him for that text message. 

Finally I decided to make some stuff up because I could not get a response from TN and if he was not available or if he was in surgery or something I knew I might never get his answer.  I googled the practice I knew he used to own and got their phone number and claimed that was the phone number that would coincide with his lab account number.  The lady went for it.  We were back on our way to finishing the transaction.  

She was confused by the whole dumb story but I begged her to stick with me.  She put in a Minnesota mailing address that we use, my daughter's cell phone number, my Doctor-friend in TN information, and just kept rolling with every unusual answer I gave her.  Just as she was about to finish everything she needed to enter into her computer - another lab tech came walking up. He was in a mood.  A foul foul mood.

He said, "What is that order!?"

She said, "Her Doctor is in TN and he faxed this and spoke to another office about it yesterday."

He said, "That doesn't even look like a real order.  Look at it.  That was faxed from a UPS store."

I tried with all my might to kill him with my eyes.

He said, "I don't think you should take that."

I said, "Oh,  can you honestly conceive of a scenario wherein I would arrive here with stool samples and sinister motives and want to pay you an exorbitant amount of money to test it and I would go to so much trouble that I would ask a fake Doctor to send a fake order?  Do Doctors never get a day off and perhaps need to send a fax from an alternate location?"  

Leave your little tiny box, come with me into a big world of CRAZY possibilities!  

(I did not say the last tiny box part.  I only thought that part.)

He said again, in a flat and unimpressed tone,  "It is sent from a UPS store."  

He looked at his co-worker and said, "I would check with Al."  

She cancelled out the entire order to free up the computer to go see if Al thought I was doing something illegal, evil, or dangerous with my poop.

It turns out Al is the guy with the winning personality that runs that particular lab office. It is a good thing they keep him behind the scenes.  Trust me.

After meeting together, calling their attorneys and doing some risk assessment, Al and the lady determined it was really unusual, but he said she could put the order in, just throw all caution to the wind, go for it and take this woman's poop - YOLO and stuff.

We started over with the computer order. For the third time I repeated all the information, MN address, TN doctor info, daughter's cell-phone, and handed over my credit card.

She placed $424 on the card and FINALLY asked me to hand over my samples.

It was like mile 25.5 of the marathon, I could see the dang finish line just down the hill and I was about to leave that horrible little lab without my poop and never look back.  My heart began to soar on wings of eagles.

"Oh. Oh dear." she said.


"You need six containers, you only brought four."

"The guy with the eyes at the other lab only gave me four. Can you just make four work? I am supposed to be somewhere and I am late."

"No, no, I am afraid I have to cancel the whole order if I cannot send six tubes out."

Troy's text playing in my mind, "I !can! do this."  I said, only to me.

"Okay, let me use your bathroom please."

"Oh, Ma'am, I cannot let you use ours. That is against our policy."

I took a deep cleansing breath in and held it long enough to control my white-hot-rage.

"Oooookkkaaaay. Where is there a restroom nearby?"

"You can go over to the hospital across the way, I suppose."

Carrying my samples, the new empty containers and needed supplies, along with my broken and crushed spirit, I sprinted like Jackie Joyner Kersee across the parking lots and into the ER entrance of the hospital.

On a Tuesday in May, I lost the last shred of my dignity in the Irving Baylor Hospital first floor lobby public bathroom.

Once situated I waited for all the other feet in the other stalls to hurry up and leave.  I valiantly tried to produce more product for the two extra containers.  

Nothing. Nothing, nothing.

Great! Now what?

This was a critical moment of decision.

A few new people came in and used stalls next to me.  I waited.  They flushed, left, went on with their normal happy poop-collection-free day.  

Once I was alone again I opened up the four samples and began the work of redistributing them into the other two new containers.  Clearly, I was going to be short on quantity but I figured handing over six containers was the only way out of my hell.

I returned to the lab, handed over the bag,  patted the lady's hand to thank her for being my only advocate, and then I made a run for the door.  (In hindsight, touching her was probably not what she wanted. I only say this because of the way she recoiled at my touch.) 

As can almost be expected and predicted, all the samples came back negative - or normal. I bought a lot of stress, trauma, and embarrassment for the low low price of $424.  

In the words of Thomas Edison, 

"I have not failed, I've just found 10,000 ways that won't work."

Sunday, May 15, 2016

Wonderful Outcome for Wilande

10 days ago several of you prayed for Wilande as she fought Pre-Eclampsia - her baby arrived Monday night - she went home Thursday afternoon with a healthy baby boy. 🙌🏾

Thank you for your prayers and financial gifts that help reduce maternal mortality in Haiti. 

** We have a operating expense shortfall and need help. We ask you to consider $25 per month recurring donation - our website has a "join the family" tab - please click it to help us with this.


#orphanprevention #strengtheningfamilies

Right now (since March) Pregnant women are finding the government maternity hospital closed - that leaves women with emergencies and normal deliveries that they must handle on their own. We pray justice and care and life for these moms and babes. We pray resolution to the hospital strike. amen.


Thursday, May 12, 2016

Orphanage Tourism

Children as products: the reality of orphanage voluntourism - By Lamorna Byford
Every marketer knows that competitions and prizes are a great way to pull in potential new customers. Playing on our desires for better clothing, better houses or better bodies, plus our love of getting something for nothing, is a clever way to promote products. Selling new and different experiences is even more profitable. Jumping out of a plane or off a bridge appeals to those with an adventurous side, while volunteering in exotic places attracts people who want to do something good while experiencing something novel. Using volunteer placements as competition prizes would arguably be a great way to draw in these potential customers.
There are several voluntourism companies who are doing just that, by running competitions in which the prizes on offer are placements in orphanages in Africa, South America and Eastern Europe. As a research fellow for the Better Volunteering, Better Care initiative, I am certainly not against volunteering. I am, however, very familiar with the arguments against volunteer tourism in orphanages and my reaction to learning about these competitions was one of dismay. When I researched the competitions further and found that most didn’t require volunteers to have any previous experience with children, or even any background checks, dismay turned to concern.
However, my discomfort didn’t seem to be shared. A quick canvas amongst my friends elicited quite a different response – “well someone needs to look after those poor kids”. After several attempts to argue that voluntourism isn’t the best way to support these children and their communities, I gave up. I won’t rehash the arguments for or against voluntourism here. What I want to explore instead, is why my intelligent, culturally aware friends are so willing to accept that allowing un-vetted individuals into institutions with vulnerable children is a good idea.
Read the rest of the article HERE 

Wednesday, May 11, 2016

Poop Stories

Whistle Belly Thumps

One after the other after the other – after.the.other … The people, both large and small, that reside in my home, clenched their buttocks with superhuman strength and ran in desperation for the latrine.
What began as one person with some loose stool for a single unremarkable day, somehow turned into a three-week multi-generational back-door trots EVENT.
It all began with my husband.
Isn’t it just like any respectable, god-fearing man to attempt to lead in every area of life, including and not limited to leading his family into several weeks of the green apple nasties.
Thanks, honey. I see you.
Because we are unnaturally and preposterously proud of being tough and “gutting it out”, we sought no help for our malaise.  I was the second to fall prey to the whistle belly thumps.  Several days after I joined my husband in extraordinary-toilet-time, our children began to fall, one by one.
Two weeks passed, toilet paper consumption increased, as grocery consumption decreased in direct correlation. Troy dropped ten pounds.
We focused on the positive. Perhaps I will write the donors and let them know we have cut our food bill in half, they will be thrilled with our frugality, I thought. (joke!)


As the days ticked by I heard from the kids that underwear had been thrown away a time or two. I heard from my husband that he hadn’t made it to the toilet on one particularly difficult day. Well  – that will off-set the grocery savings, you guys!
One morning more than two weeks into the event, I received a voice message from the co-chief in charge as I drove the winding roads of rural Haiti. He said, “You know what? I’m still really sick. I tried some Cipro and it did not work and I’m kind of afraid now. Why do we still have this terrible diarrhea?”
I listened as I drove and I thought, “Oh, so we are not gonna tough it out, huh? Dude is afraid. Alright then, Momma is going gang-busters. Time to act.”
I called immediately on my favorite physician in the great North. While her specialty is pediatric emergency, she has more than dabbled in tropical health and disease. Her instructions were clear. Do not mess around. Treat for Giardia, Typhoid, and a few other sporidium just for kicks. Nail it from every angle.
Because we are nothing if not capricious, earlier this week we deployed every single weapon known to mankind, the opposite of “tough it out.”
Ten years of sketchy hygiene practices finally caught up with us.
Don’t get me wrong, we wash our hands and try to tell our kids to do the same before eating and after touching a goat or a donkey or the local currency.  You know how it is though, kids will be kids and I guarantee you the youngest one carries a chicken around by its keister and then eats a peanut butter sandwich on the regular.
That said, most of us probably wash our hands nearly as much as the next guy, but maybe not our lettuce, our tomatoes, or our cucumbers. I have never fully bought into careful disinfection of vegetables. And now, I must repent.
Because we had never paid the price for ignoring the bleach and vinegar when it came time to wash locally grown veggies, time was simply no longer on our side. A decade of unwashed veggies finally resulted in the gargantuan Giardia outbreak of our time.
By this point, you are probably thinking, well this is TMI. Why the oversharing?
I will tell you why.
This is an essay where I need to reject my spurious nature. I NEED to confess as I tie my refusal to be proactive in my vegetable washing, to my refusal to seek medical help in a timely manner, to my frequent refusal to seek God until I am quite literally more than desperate for His help.
There is a pattern here. A pattern that needs confession and change. Read this as my public repentance of the aforementioned everything.
As I type the final sentences of this entry, everyone in my household is taking chalky, terrible tasting medicine three times a day. Everyone ate dinner last night, a welcome change from the previous nights. We believe that big change and parasite-free days are on the horizon!
Like many of us that live far away from our mothers, I did not tell my mother how sick everyone was until we had a pretty trustworthy solution in place. There is just no point in stressing out your Mom.  Am I right?Her response was predictable. “Move to Texas, please,” she texted.
Oh, Mom.  Please wash your vegetables! We had all the fun destroying her erroneous belief that Texas is a parasite-free Republic. Moms.  You probably know one. They just want their babies safe (or just not filled with parasites) and nearby. I cannot even blame her. (Although, I can -and just did- tease her.)
Perhaps, like me, your years of service abroad have led you to places of pride and ignorance.  If so, feel free to share your favorite story of bodily fluid loss along with your favorite method of getting your veggies clean.

Saturday, April 30, 2016

Honor Your Mother

Because we all treasure the gift that our mothers, sisters, and grandmothers are to us, we would like to give you an opportunity to honor them in a unique and loving way this Mother's Day, May 8, 2016.

This is the perfect honorary gift for Moms, friends, sisters, foster-moms, stepmoms,or those that are longing to be a mom.
With a donation in honor of your favorite Momma, we will send her a digital card letting her know you are thinking of her and have donated in her honor this Mother’s Day.

A donation of $15, $25, or $50 can do the following:

$15 - Provides the nourishing meals after delivery during postpartum care

$25 - Provides for a week of literacy classes for women learning to read and write

$50 - Provides for all the supplies for one labor and delivery 

This Mother’s Day you can touch the lives of two women with one gift. 

1. Click on this link http://heartlineministries.org/product/general-donation/
2. Choose a donation amount of $15, $25, or $50 per card you would like sent. 
3. When you immediately receive your donation confirmation email, please forward it to: mothersday@heartlineministries.org - Please include the name of the woman you are honoring, their email address, as well as the name of the donor/gift giver if you wish to disclose that information. 

The subject line of the email will read, “_________wanted to honor you this Mother’s Day”. 

We will send the email Mother’s Day photo-greeting on May 7th or 8th.

Your donation makes a difference in the life of  a Haitian Mom while honoring the life, love, work and sacrifice of the woman you wish to recognize.