Friday, October 25, 2019

Come On, Let's Go

Port au Prince Airport 
Chestnut, the tiny Shih Tzu dropped a dookie in the Fort Lauderdale airport.  He was walking along minding his own tiny-guy business in Ft Lauderdale International Airport and a turd just fell from him.  It wasn’t even intentional, we don’t think. 

This was a case of involuntary fart pebbles. 

Lydie saw it happen. She stopped mid-traffic to address the situation.  A woman standing nearby  was not too kind or patient. Lydia was verbally assaulted while she made her plan to clean it up.  

The size of Chestnut’s whole entire self is about the size of a size 6 women's shoe. 

His poop could best be compared to three Milk-duds stuck together, or maybe two Whoppers.  These are not large pieces of excrement. Lydie was standing over the milk-duds and protecting ALL airport travelers from stepping in it while Phoebe ran to a bathroom to get toilet paper.  

The woman that was berating Lydie kept saying she needed to pick it up barehanded right that minute. Lydie just  said, “I will wait for the toilet paper.”   Another woman, standing within hearing distance, whispered to Lydia, “Sorry, honey.”  

There are always nice people to offset the grouchy ones. 

Why did Chestnut fly to Fort Lauderdale?

Troy made him go.  Sort of. 

Truthfully, Troy and I had a really excellent counseling session. Maybe a LONG OVERDUE counseling session??? Troy FINALLY admitted that he has never liked that tiny dog or his ear-piercing bark and he wanted him gone. 

No, not really.

Really … Troy and I realized that after six weeks of diesel shortage and added stress on Troy to keep the Heartline Ministries employees working  and programs operating and keep the Livesay kids fed and fanned off in the night (need diesel for that) - he was at his stress breaking point and he felt like the kids needed to be out of Haiti for a while so he could buy less food, buy less water, buy less diesel, and just generally be out on the roads less buying all of those items.  

Besides that, most of our kids had not left home or school for 6 weeks. Each weekday they travel three blocks by car to school and return the same way after school. None of us think that is the worst thing in the world and we are really aware of our privilege to have a safe home and a school house a few blocks away — but as you might imagine, being inside of cement walls for six weeks straight can make everyone a little stir crazy.

After the counselor helped Troy and I hear each other better during that session, we made a really emotionally intense decision together. We talked about every variable and what it would mean longer term and we talked to the kids after sitting with the plan a bit to see if it felt right. 

The key question the counselor asked Troy and I was this:  “What is it that you are waiting for before you decide to move your kids?”  I won’t go into details on our realizations. Suffice it to say, that was a clarifying moment for us.

For us, peace in decision is important. We don’t often think there is just one right choice, we just know that each decision needs to bring some sort of true peace, even if it is a really REALLY hard decision.  

Truthfully, we love Haiti and the work of Heartline so much that we know at times we have put it before our kids.  We have always been aware of the pitfalls there, but sometimes the needs and desperation can cause a disordered priority list. We are guilty of that here and there, for sure.  I own the mess-ups of the last 13 and a half years in Haiti.

          *  * * *

Last night I read this piece a friend of mine and a Board Member of Heartline Ministries wrote. (worth your time!) This resonates in that I think we always ride that line of putting "ministry" or "mission" as our first priority and I have come to a place of believing God is not nearly as harsh on me as I am on me. I really don't think He is up there wishing we would all suffer more. I originally moved to Haiti thinking that was the thing you do if you want to prove yourself as a legit faith-person. (And, I could be wrong - on either or both of those thoughts and probably every other thought ever.)

To be clear, we don’t think our own decisions need to be compared to what others decide. We don’t feel that what we decide for five older kids is what some other family with passports needs to decide for theirs. I don’t want anyone to think there is only one way for expats to deal with political unrest and instability. Each individual situation warrants its own personal examination. 

The house we lived in 11 years together  - also, the longest I ever lived in one place.
Prior to moving to this home, we lived just under three years outside the city of PAP.
I said, "I WILL NEVER live in PAP."  Don't say things like that! 

There were many tears, some anger, some joy and anticipation when the decisions were shared. The packing began after the tears. 

We packed up 12 bags (48 to 52 pounds each), 5 carry-ons taking full and LIBERAL advantage of the fact that nobody weighs them. We found unstained shirts and long enough jeans for five kids ages 12 to 18 and we put those on along with backpacks that would barely zip closed. We had papers from our Veterinarian friend, Kelly for our five pound pooper, Chestnut. All of that, along with the very last shred of my sanity, we boarded a flight bound for the USA. 

After the milk-dud debacle in Fort Lauderdale, we got on a second flight to Austin, TX. At the Austin airport we found THREE giant carbon footprint vehicles waiting to take us and our 748 pounds of luggage to Temple, TX — where we are now sitting in 45 degree weather. 

Walnut lost his therapy human but Stefanie Raleigh (kids’ teacher and education-wizard of our lives) and Walnut (Isaac’s dog) are coming here to TX soon.  He just could not fly out with us due to heat. You know, our dog drama with travel is now a trilogy being made into a motion picture.

Stef and Walnut headed for the airport together. Next they will road trip for several days.
Stefanie is going to continue teaching the kids until Christmas and then we know she will stay with the two Seniors and the Sophomore to help them finish the year out in May of 2020, but we don’t yet know what we will do for Phoebe and Lydie and we don’t know where quite yet either. 

We are heart-linked to Haiti and Heartline Ministries. We will continue on like this in Temple and in Port auPrince and back and forth between for the next several months.  Troy will spend the vast majority of his time in Haiti. I will mainly be with the kids but I will take turns going to Haiti and we are working out a new plan day by day. I am glad you're not here listening to it all unfold. It can be dramatic at times.

My approach to not seeing KJ and Troy every day.
My best friend and Midwifery partner is a key part of all of this. She is in Haiti at the Maternity Center now and she and I are a team and will continue to be as we develop The Starting Place and work to see the model of care expanded all over the world. We will work hand in hand with the Midwifery staff - which just grew by another member this week, we hired a new person!

The travel from Austin is very easy, there is an option to leave Austin, TX at 11am and be in Haiti at 5:30pm. This is part of the reason we chose to live in close proximity to Austin in the more affordable Temple, TX.  (I cannot travel seven miles in Haiti as fast as I can travel to the Austin airport from Temple.)

We originally set foot on the island of Haiti to meet  smiley baby Isaac in April of 2002.  He brought us to Haiti for the first time three-and-a-half years before we decided to move to Haiti full time. He is 18 years old now. He was 7 months old then. 

Long before this most recent round of political upheaval Troy and I knew we wanted to remain available to Isaac and Hope as they begin a new and intimidating chapter of their lives.  

We feel that Haiti is a cord of our DNA as a family, but we feel equally certain that our kids will need us close to them in the coming couple of years while they navigate a culture they did not grow up in and get used to new bizarre things.  Both kids have expressed how scary it would feel to do the transition to another country without us.  In the spirit of full vulnerability, I regret not being near Paige and Britt during their transitions. No rewind button available for that but it does inform my decisions for Isaac and Hope starting college.

We really wanted to get this information to donors that specifically support our family budget and salary. I tried to email everyone privately but many emails returned undeliverable.  If you’re reading this and wondering why you did not get an email from us, please know I tried and we honor your sacrifice to help us do this weird, wonderful, and heart-breaking Haiti life.  

(It is ALL those things.) 

I am not linking recent news stories here, but if that is something you would like to read, let me know and I can send you links to some news we feel is accurate. 

We are incredibly grateful for the 60+ employees of Heartline Ministries.  Their lives are far more difficult than any of us can really understand.  We want more than anything for them to have a way to feed their families and for their hard work to equal opportunities for housing, sufficient food, and education for their children. We added health insurance and tried to improve wages where budgets and finances would allow.  We have made it our goal to encourage the the men and women on staff to grow personally, professionally, and spiritually.  We have attempted to make life a teeny tiny bit less stressful for them. I wish I could say we succeeded, but Haiti is not an easy place to live. Stress and trauma are a daily thing.

Our hope going forward is to carefully and intentionally begin to turn over much more responsibility to these local leaders, the employees we have been investing in for years.

In mid 2020 we will get out of the way so to speak.  We have determined that as long as we are physically present in Haiti 100% of the time, we are a deterrent to their ability to truly have a chance to lead.  We all talk a lot about empowering Haitians and sustainable ways of doing ministry, but lip service is only that.  

We would like to offer the best and the brightest at Heartline Ministries the chance to lead the day to day work.  It is their country and they stand to gain or lose the most.  We think they are ready. We are ready to test that next year and hold the hand of those that are rising up. 

We will continue on as Executive Directors of Heartline Ministries, but we will be changing our home base to the US in June of 2020.  

At that time we will both (Troy and Tara) travel to Haiti quarterly, and be in contact with the key staff, but we want to see them have an opportunity to grow and take on more, we feel that we have to remove ourselves to offer them true power to make decisions. 

We hope this frees up time to do more development of key partnerships. (This is the non-offensive way you say - We hope we will now be able to meet with people with money and love for Haiti.

Several weeks ago I was at home when the Midwife on duty called.  She shared the details of the client that had arrived in very early latent labor.  She asked me, “Should I admit her or send her home?”  I said, “Yes, should you admit her or send her home. That is the question.”  She asked again, frustrated with me.  I said, “You are a Midwife. You can make decisions. I support you. There is not a wrong answer here and you can decide.”  The next day, the Mom returned in active labor and had her baby and I asked the midwife how she felt about her decision to send the Mom home to do her early labor at home.  The Midwife said, “I think it was a good choice. I thank you for telling me I could decide and for being confident in me.”

That is what we have learned.  When we are here, people will always defer to us.  It is not necessary or healthy.  We believe they have the answers and the ability.  The cultural realities mean they just need a little encouragement and accountability.  

Our hope is that for the next two to three years, we will be able to support this transition by traveling in and out of Haiti and encouraging and offering accountability.  We know there will be set backs and mistakes and maybe even some heartache as these changes are made.  We also know that if we don’t try it we will never know what each employee is  truly capable of if we were out of the way. Heartline’s board of directors has been involved in developing this plan and Troy and I remain grateful for their leadership, wisdom, dedication, and love.

We are hoping that those of you that have supported so much of this Haiti journey might consider sticking with us and sticking with Heartline. 

We have created a FAQ page of questions asked by the first few people we told, we hope they clear a lot up but we welcome any other questions you may have. If you would like a copy of the FAQ please email us and we will send it on to you. ( 

With our love and thanks and unrelenting hope.
Troy & Tara Livesay
(18) Isaac, (18) Hope, (15) Noah, (13) Phoebe and (12) Lydia 
Heartline Ministries & The Starting Place 

Heartline Ministries USA Mailing address: 
910 Franklin Avenue
Suite 3
Sunnyside, WA 98944 

"Felt cute, thought I'd move to TX." 

First photo of new home in new location - same kids. 

Our cute 1908 house. 
The emoji house was modeled after this house.

Lastly today, the part that is important for me to say- on a more personal note. 

The Heartline Maternity Center is a place I feel and experience a lot of hope. I love that place and I love the women it attempts to walk with in pregnancy and postpartum. It is a bit painful to be far away from the women I have worked with daily for more than a decade and to know we will be making this a new norm.  

At the same exact time, I know that a lot of us make our work or our "mission/ministry" the whole of our identity. That is not what I want and I am trying to be a whole person apart from my work. I love the work and believe it is holy, but - it DOES NOT need me.  

Because I knew that no work should be dependent on the leader, we have spent the last two years turning the vast majority of deliveries and more of the risk-management decisions over to the national staff. They are learning a ton and stepping out of their comfort zone. 

I share this to say, I want to be clear that the Maternity Center can and SHOULD function without my (or Troy/KJ's) presence constantly.  

Mission or humanitarian work should not be about the (expat) people that came to do it. It should be forward thinking and while "sustainable" tends to be an exaggeration that many non-profits use too freely ... it ought to be the long long range goal and hope.  

Please rally with us to support the work and the workers. The care provided is something that is desperately needed. We cannot do it without a team. 

You are the team. 

There is no o or u in team - but there is no i either. 

There is an e and the e is for WE - WE are the tEam. 

Come on, let's go.


Wednesday, August 07, 2019

A Tale of Two Generations

It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity, it was the season of Light, it was the season of Darkness, it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair, we had everything before us, we had nothing before us, we were all going direct to Heaven, we were all going direct the other way--in short, the period was so far like the present period, that some of its noisiest authorities insisted on its being received, for good or for evil, in the superlative degree of comparison only.” -Charles Dickens

It was the best of times, it was the worst of times.  It was the age of Tara being foolish, it was the age of Paige being foolish. It was the epoch of flying dogs through the air, it was the season of idiocy, it was the season of shame, it was the spring of another generation of dim women, we had everything before us, especially an ass-load of stress, the period was so much like the period that proceeded it that some of its noisiest authorities insisted history was repeating itself, for good, or for stupidity, there was much to be compared.  -Tara Livesay

The Bible speaks of the sins of the fathers being visited upon the sons.  

Today we lament the poor decisions of the mother becoming the poor decisions of the daughter. In an effort to preserve history for the next generation, I bring you this story wherein my daughter Paige is doing EXACTLY the incommodious thing that I did back in Aught-Seven.  And there is nothing I can do to stop her. 

In 2007 Brittany, Paige's big sister, was 17 years old and leaving for college at Baylor University. She was to have a three month period in the USA before she began her University classes. During those three months we would welcome Lydia to the world and reside mainly in Minnesota.  Brittany played on all my Mom guilt and sorrows over the ending of her childhood and she insisted her 130 pound Mastiff be in the USA with her for three months.  

I wrote about it here.  

That decision became one of the greatest debacles and sources of shame of my life, but I learned, by God, I learned.  (Being by yourself, at the mercy of an airline employee, without a car, a home, or cash, at 5am with a three month old baby and a giant sedated dog and far too much luggage will teach you something, by-golly.) 

Sadly, my learning is not transferrable to Paige.

Paige announced to me that her dog was going to go to South Korea with them. It was over the internet and just a voice message. 

I physically cringed.  I forced my lips together and said nothing. I continued like this for a commendable time period.  (I was commended by KJ.) 

I only lamented and complained to Troy and KJ. “WHY would she do that?", I asked repeatedly.

And so, like sand through the hour glass, so are the days of our lives. History has a way of repeating itself.  She will do it because she wants her kids to have their dog.  The same reason I did it.  Mother guilt.  The strongest force in the universe.  Two generations of loving, guilt-ridden, mothers.

Paige’s dog, Cooper, is going to South Korea.  

A poorly behaved dog from the humane society in Waco, TX is moving abroad, seeing the world as it were.  

And what dog shouldn’t see the world?  What are you doing for your pet, exactly?  If your pet has not left the country in which it was born, please explain yourself.

Cooper the humane society dog cannot fly out of Texas because of course he can’t. (You may recall the Mastiff debacle of Aught-Seven included driving from MN to TX because MN was TOO COLD for the dog to fly out and return to Haiti with us.) 

Texas is too hot in the summer.  August is no joke. Just try to find a Texas tarmac that is not hotter than the center of the sun.   

Originally we were to drive all the way to Seattle.  My girlfriends heckled me and said, "My Lord, Tara, why would you do that? Haha, I guess you are a supportive Mom, but, I mean, where is your sense of pride?" 

Anna, a Heartline donor, stepped in. She couldn't allow a four year old, a two year old and a poorly behaved dog road trip of 34 hours.  She researched temperatures and weather patterns. She all but laid down her life for the cause. She booked us tickets from a slightly cooler city in the midwest. 

Later in August, we (Paige and I) will drive Cooper and his favorite boys to Kansas City, where, if God loves us, it will be under 85 degrees on the morning we fly out of that airport at 6am. We then fly direct to Seattle for a couple days before Paige, her boys, and her Humane Society dog fly away to South Korea. 

Obviously, before arriving in Korea, Cooper the poorly behaved dog has requested a chance to see the Space Needle and Pike Place Market and Puget Sound. (Der.)

The newest PETA (People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals) initiative is being headed up by Cooper. He is calling it DETA - (Dogs Enjoying Traveling Abroad).

It was the best of times, it was the worst of times.  It was the age of Tara being foolish, it was the age of Paige being foolish. It was the epoch of flying dogs through the air, it was the season of idiocy, it was the season of shame, it was the spring of another generation of dim women, we had everything before us, especially an ass-load of stress, the period was so much like the period that proceeded it that some of its noisiest authorities insisted history was repeating itself, for good, or for stupidity, there was much to be compared.

Wednesday, July 24, 2019

Philosophy of Culturally Competent Care


What better place to start to address systemic and structural issues than with Moms and their soon to be born babies?

We are preparing for the upcoming three Starting Place classes being offered at the Heartline Maternity Center.   

These classes (sharing the model of care) will be offered this coming October, February and May.

Today we are focusing on the portion of our model that addresses cultural competency and how that relates to short term volunteers.

In 2016 we made a decision to invest in local midwives and medical professionals by increasing the size of our staff and pouring into them by offering continuing education and support.  Finding jobs in Haiti is VERY difficult, we are happy to provide 12 jobs at the Maternity Center, 7 of those 12 jobs are medical professionals.

We made a decision that every woman that is pregnant deserves to meet with someone during her consultation that speaks her language, understands her culture, her life, and her challenges.  When I was pregnant, I always had care providers that spoke to me in my own language, and that is what we think Haitian moms deserve too.

We believe that the best way to build trust with clients is to begin by building relationships.  We decided that relationships can't be built in a week or two or three.  

We made a decision that the Midwifery Model of Care cannot take place in a clinic or birth center where people rotate in and out and there is not a consistent and predictable face providing the clients with consultations. 

We decided that Haitian care providers are best prepared to understand Haitian clients. We decided to train only Haitian care providers because they are the ones that will likely live here for the next forty years.  

Please hear this. We did not decide we dislike North American medical professionals.  We did not decide we don't want Americans to train as midwives. We simply decided that if Haiti is ever to see any true and lasting change in the care that is provided, it is going to depend on Haitian medical professionals being excellent and ready to respond to the needs of patients, therefore we prioritize investment in local midwives.   

Cultural competence refers to the process by which individuals and systems respond respectfully and effectively to people of all cultures, languages, classes, races, ethnic backgrounds, religions, and other diversity factors in a manner that recognizes, affirms, and values the worth of each individual. 

Cultural awareness is the deliberate, cognitive process in which health care providers become appreciative and sensitive to the values, beliefs, practices, and problem solving strategies of their clients' culture.

The number one way we practice cultural awareness and competence is by remaining committed to providing Haitians with jobs and giving them a lovely work environment wherein they can serve their neighbors, the women in their own country.

Heartline Maternity Center is not closed to visitors.  We are always happy to schedule and provide tours of The Maternity Center and would love to talk more with you when you're in Haiti.  We just don't have work for you to do because the people doing the work really love it and they need their jobs. 

Friday, July 19, 2019

Love, Loss, and Ismael

In every culture, the loss of a pregnancy or newborn child or the inability to have a desired pregnancy can be indescribably painful.

If you’ve followed stories in Haiti for long, you know that far too many Haitian families have experienced great loss. Loss is more common in cultures that lack resources and medical infrastructure. 

Your continued compassion toward the women we care for and walk with at the Heartline Maternity Center has meant so much to us over the last twelve years.

Compassion is one of the greatest gifts we can offer.

In mid 2016, Celia came to the Heartline Maternity Center for care. She was early in her second pregnancy. In her initial interview, Celia shared that her first baby was born at home and had struggled to breastfeed. That precious baby girl died in the first week of her life.  

Understanding how painful loss is, we wanted Celia to have the very best chance at a healthy pregnancy.  She began attending our prenatal program and class every week.  

In December of 2016, she went into preterm labor at just 29 weeks. Sadly, just before Christmas, Celia’s baby boy died at the hospital and she and her husband, Robert, again experienced the loss of a beloved child.

To read the entire post, please visit the Heartline Blog HERE.

Wednesday, June 12, 2019

By Isaac Livesay

Hello folks! This is Isaac writing to spill the tea on what my family and I are going to be up to this summer! You ready? It is exciting for us.
To start things off everyone, including KJ but excluding my Dad, will head to Florida. From there we fly to Tennessee and spend a week at friend’s cabin in the Great Smoky Mountains. I am so happy about being in Tennessee, not only because of the people I will get to see but also because of the environment. I love a change of scenery, and Tennessee’s change of scenery is definitely a good one. I also enjoy photography so I’m hoping to take a lot of pictures on that visit.
After our trip to East Tennessee comes to an end Hope, Noah and I will break away from the group and head our own ways. Hope will be heading to Minneapolis, Minnesota to hang out with our oldest sister Brittany. Not only will she be there to hang with Britt, but she will also help with caring for Gideon and Eleanora (Brittany’s young children) while their mom is away at work.
Noah will be traveling to Colorado to stay with his godfather and godmother for a week. They are friends we made in Haiti and Noah told them he wanted them to be his Godparents and that was that. While there in the Denver area he will see and do many things including ice skating for the first time in his life.
Lastly I will be venturing to Michigan for two weeks. I will be staying with Lee Ann, my amazing and brilliant veterinary medicine professor, and her husband at their little farm house. While I am there I will helping them around their farm with whatever they need. I will also be going on a few adventures with Lee Ann. I’m not exactly sure where yet, but I know that it will be awesome. Here’s the big catch about going to Michigan; other then getting to spend time at the farm with Lee Ann, I will also be shadowing her at her work. What this means is while she is doing her thing at the clinic I get be by her side and watch and maybe assist her. It sounds so exhilarating and I cannot wait.
When my time at Lee Ann’s is done I will fly to El Paso, where by second oldest sister Paige lives, and meet up with Hope, Noah and the rest of the fam just in time for the Fourth of July. We watch fireworks at Fort Bliss, it is very fun. After all that action and excitement my Mom will leave with the two little girls to go back to Haiti and its pretty much just going to be hanging out with Paige and her two boys for the rest of the summer. To me that’s a summer well spent.

Monday, June 03, 2019

Story Time: The Joy&Frustration of Cross-Cultural Communication

Lydia - 3 years old
Mastiff Marley,
quite old at that time
Living cross-culturally means that we are entertained half the time - and enraged the other half of the time and the good folks we live among and work with feel the exact same way about us. 

It's good times, I tell you. GOOD TIMES.

I am keenly aware of my bent toward ethnocentric thinking. I call that out here and now and I say to you this:  I know there is more than one way to skin a cat.  (That's a weird expression.)

I know that because I VERY MUCH think driving in an orderly fashion with rules and systems is FAR better.  However, that does not mean it is the only way.  Obviously.  People are doing the opposite thing here every damn day.  Generally, they get where they are going.  (They are much much angrier than if there had been just SOME rule, but I digress.) 
So, I know ... There are two or more ways to do most things.  

Okay.  That is established.

Friday afternoon the security guard that works at our house 6 of 7 nights per week had a big emergency.  We know him, he has been with us a year.  He was responsible and awesome and he called the security company we contract with, that he works for. Then he called us, he called Geronne too. He made sure we all knew he could not make it to cover the night at our house.  

Troy called the contact we have right away too.  They said they would bring out another guard.  That was around 4pm.  The shift begins at 6pm.  This is a service we pay for and want. We love that we know our two guards and it gives us a sense of security to know the man walking around our yard all night. If it is false security, we don't want to know that.   Shhhh. 

Back in the days of TWO Mastiffs, Peanut has gone on to a better place.
Hazelnut on the left.

Around 9:30pm a bunch of noise was happening at the gate.  Troy went to answer.  It was a group of guys saying that they were dropping off the agent to cover the night. The dog was mad and barking. (She has never bit anyone except a goat but she sounds mean.) 

The temporary security agent was too afraid of our large Mastiff, Hazelnut to enter our yard.  Troy said to the men, (In Creole)  "You know what, it really does not do me any good if you are afraid of the dog and won't move around the yard.  Why don't we just forget tonight. Also, it is 9:30 now and it is dark and I don't know you and it doesn't really help anyone here feel safer for you to come in at this time. You're late! Thanks but no thanks, as the customer we will decline your services this evening."   

To our American way of thinking, this is perfectly reasonable.  The dude fears our dog. We don't know him from Adam (that's an expression too) and he has annoyed us by coming 3.5 hours late.  

We set off a bit of a storm with this decision. Phones were ringing all over town and the guys would not leave our area and everyone was arguing about whether or not Troy could just decide that - Boom, just like that. 

To our host culture Troy was being unreasonable and inflexible and they wanted a compromise.  They wanted Troy to accept that they were late and let that go and then to agree to lock our dog up for the night inside the house.

This went on for a good hour or two. Troy dug in, they dug in.

I just stayed in my room reading and relaxing and laughing at it all. (That is where entertained half the time comes in. Laughing at Troy.)

Living cross-culturally means that we are entertained half the time - and enraged the other half of the time and the good folks we live among and work with feel the exact same way about us. 

Sunday, June 02, 2019

The Table

With the recent tragic passing of Rachel Held Evans, my husband Troy and I have been reflecting upon a moment in the last year that moved us both to tears.  

We were at a conference that Rachel co-founded with our friend, Sarah Bessey.  At the end of the two day event communion was made available to those that wished to come to the table. 

That moment felt like an intentional whisper of love and a promise of light from God. It happened last October in what was for us a year of relative darkness.

As we stood to receive communion we chose the station nearest to our seats. We stood in line a short time. When we reached the table we looked into the faces of three beautiful reflections of the image of God.  (Genesis 1:27)

We were offered the cup and the bread by: 

Author, Nish Weiseth

Spoken word / Hiphop artist, Jason Petty (known by most as Propaganda),  

Author, Jeff Chu.  

The three of them come from entirely different backgrounds and upbringings and religious traditions.  Their lives, struggles, hurts, joys, and experiences are quite different, save one thing. They all call Jesus their Lord and follow hard after Him. The all believe that God is love.

When we were served the cup and the bread by these three, we wondered if we were experiencing our own personal peek at the Kingdom.  (On earth as it is in Heaven.) 

Perhaps you read or heard of William P. Young's book, The Shack.  If not, it is a story written about a very human God.  

The book forces the reader (well, it forced me) to look at the nature of God. 

In the book, written 12 years ago, Young dared to picture God as female. Beyond that the author intentionally developed the Trinity into the characters of 

"Papa" a large welcoming and always beaming African woman 

Jesus, a Middle Eastern man wearing a belt of tools; ready for physical labor, 


the Holy Spirit, an Asian woman in the clothing of a groundskeeper or perhaps a gardener.  

The book was controversial because it did not play by the rules and some of the thought police felt it sacrilege.  

I loved it.  

If God is Love and we are created in God's image, then we are also created to love God and one another with the same compassionate and intense love exemplified between the Trinity in The Shack.

The day I was served communion by Prop, Nish, and Jeff, I felt closer to God's heart than I had felt in a very long time.  

I won't ever forget it. 

"This is what the kingdom is like: a bunch of outcasts and oddballs gathered at a table, not because they are rich or worthy or good, but because they are hungry, because they said yes. And there's always room for more."  
-Rachel Held Evans

Thursday, May 09, 2019

Smaller than a Fart ... Life with Paige

Paige left me with her kids at an
insane kids museum-
she went and bought and ate
a rice-crispie bar so she would not have to
share with me or her little minions.
But she sent me a photo.
Mothers of young children need
rice-crispie bars alone sometimes.

The last time Paige visited us in Haiti we were all playing the game 'Catch Phrase' together.  

It was very heated competition and everyone in this family is a jerk except for Isaac so there was a lot of smack-talking and cocky behavior.  

We were several rounds in when it was Paige's turn.  She was on my team - I was highly tuned in and ready to dominate.

Paige began a new word. She said, "Not a fart, smaller than a fart".

Within a few guesses those of us on her team yelled, "Toot"

"YES YES", she excitedly said.

Then she said, "Okay, now this is harder, it's a thing you go down into in a storm."

We shouted out guesses and she kept lamenting how hard this word was and that she did not know what it meant.  The buzzer sped up and eventually went off in her hand.

She was hoping we would guess the word hatch. (Storm hatch -- which is an old-timey thing that these kids that have lived in Haiti for 13 years have no idea about - do we do storm hatches in the modern day times?Talk to me.) 

She was ticked at her bad fortune.  There was dramatic lament about why she always gets the WEIRD words. 

She said, "What the heck is a toot-hatche?"  

I was instantly rolling with a side ache laughing, "TOOTHACHE?  As in your tooth hurts?  Is that what it said?"  

We grabbed the game out of her hand to look for ourselves.

We all love when somebody is a dingbat because then we can mock them for the rest of their lives.  

Forevermore when one of has a sore tooth we will say, "Not a fart but a ???"  Toot-hatche.