Saturday, December 31, 2005

Random Haiti Photos

Facts about Haiti: http://www.cia.gov/cia/publications/factbook/geos/ha.html

Haitian Proverb:
Kreyon Bon Die pa gin gonm.
(What God promises he will give.)



Happy New Year!

We hope you all have a safe and fun New Year's Eve.

Troy's plans for Haiti have changed by a few days. He will be leaving Minneapolis on January 19th now instead. There is a large short term mission team coming on January 24th that will be doing some construction projects. Troy will have a few days to get settled in before the team arrives. The rest of us hope to join Troy by February 10th. Three weeks is the longest we think we can be without him.

Yesterday Troy took the three little kids to a park near my parents home. There were a few other children at the park. A little boy walked up to Isaac and asked him how old he was, then he asked how old Hope was.

Issac said "We are both four." The little boy said "Oh, are you twins?" Isaac said "Nooooo, we're not twins! Me and Noah are twins!" (They wore the same shirt yesterday, making them twins as far as Isaac is concerned.) :)

Friday, December 30, 2005

On Doubting

I found this interesting information in our devotion Bible on the way to Texas.

Doubters in the Bible:
  1. Abraham-when told he would be a father in old age. (Gen 17:17)
  2. Sarah-when learning she would be a mother in old age. (Gen 18)
  3. Moses-when told to return to Egypt to lead the people. (Ex.3:10-15)
  4. Gideon-when told he would be a judge & leader. (Judges 6:14-23)
  5. Thomas-when told Jesus had risen from the dead. (John 20:24-25)
  6. Israelites-whenever they faced difficulties in the wilderness.(Ex.16)

Many of the people God used to accomplish His work started out as real doubters. With all of them God showed great patience.

At the end of the lesson it said "How great a part does doubt have in your willingness to trust God?"

That left me thinking.

Much of this journey to Haiti has been small steps. Just trusting God in each small step. All of these small steps have added up to a big picture. The big picture developed over six short months that sped by.

Sometimes I still find myself thinking "this might not be what God wants for us, it might not happen."

For me, doubt is a way to cope with fear ... if I say "well, it could still fall through" it is a good way for me to keep my fears at bay. But, I think this form of doubt and this form of coping with my fear does mess with me and it messes with my ability to trust God.

I think God allows for honest doubt ... and I know He shows "great patience". He probably just likes to see us move beyond it. That is my plan. I am moving beyond it. ~Tara

Thursday, December 29, 2005

Question


Q. Are free vacations more fun than paid vacations?

A. Yes. (duh!)

Mom and Dad you rule! We are having a lot of fun, experiencing record high temps this week with lots of sun.

Hugs from all of us in Sothern Texas.

(Photo of vacation provider's along with Tina and Tara after Marathon June 2005)

Friday, December 23, 2005

Merry Christmas




We will be on a "blogging break" until we return from Texas.
Before we leave town we wanted to wish you a Christmas filled with Christ. We are so thankful that He came into the world 2,000 years ago ... but we are even more thankful that His birth was only the beginning.

He came so that we might have life & have it abundantly. (John 10:10) May the truth of why He came be real to you this season.


One more sleep till Hope's Birthday




Hope and Isaac measure everything in "sleeps" (or naps). For some reason to say that something is two days away is not a good way to measure it. They want to know how many more naps they have to take before the day arrives.

Isaac said yesterday "How many more sleeps before I move to the house called Haiti?" I said "about 45 more sleeps Isaac." He stared at me blankly. 45 is way too many to comprehend, 10 is his limit. It is the airplane ride he wants, he has no idea beyond that.

They both seem to understand that one more sleep means it will be Hope's Birthday! Isaac was with me when I shopped for her gifts so she already knows that she is getting a fancy Cinderella dress and the movie Ice Age ... thanks Isaac.

Hope was born on Christmas Eve four years ago. Her birthmother had gone to the orphanage to get help while she was in labor and the orphanage director gave her money to take a tap-tap (Haitian public transportation, see photo above) to the hospital. Hope arrived before they made it to the hospital. She was born in front of everyone on the tap-tap.

Hope came to Minnesota when she was nine months old, we were able to celebrate her first birthday with her. She had a very glazed look for the first three months she was here ... she never smiled and looked so lost and detached. God has done so much in her life! We now know such a different little girl. (Photo with Isaac is shortly after they arrived, silly photo taken by Paige a few weeks ago.) HAPPY BIRTHDAY HOPE!

Thursday, December 22, 2005

T minus 25 days and counting


Troy leaves in 25 days. This map is the best one we could find on-line. If you go up the coast line from Port au Prince you will see Arcahaie to the North. Where we will be living is about five miles from there; just a little more to the North and about three miles to the east.

We are so happy to be able to live in Big lake at Tara's mom and dad's house; but we still feel a little displaced or something. It is odd.

Today we put Noah on an airplane with his uncle Matt (who is married to Tina; Tara's little sister). Matt was kind enough to fly Noah down for Christmas in Texas so we could avoid 26 hours of car time with a very active 21 month old. Matt agreed to deal with him for three hours on an airplane so we would not have to deal with him for the car ride. That is love!!!!! Good work Matt! Too bad we miss Noah already. We are softies.

It will be so great to be together as a family (Tara's parents, Tara's sister's family and us) for 10 days before we move. We had this plan to do a few weeks together in Texas, long before we knew that we would be moving to Haiti in January. It is cool the way it all worked out. It is quite possible that our family will be happy to see us go by the time the 10 days together is over??? ;-)

We love and appreciate each of you who have offered so generously to pray for us and support us with your financial gifts. We could not do this without you. At times it feels a little scary, but like Britt pointed out yesterday; we don't want to let our ever-changing emotions dictate our day to day living. So we take small steps of faith and move forward each day, trusting the Lord to walk with us; we know He is.

Wednesday, December 21, 2005

HO - HO - HUM


(Paige=HO Britt= HO Hope=HUM)

I figured I better officially check-in on the blog. This is Britt. I hope you are having a blessed Christmas Season. We are getting ready to drive down to Texas to spend time with the Porter family. After we get back we have about four weeks before we move down to Haiti.

When I was first asked to pray about our potential move, way back in June or July, I was not really thrilled about it. My only thoughts were how much I loved my life right now how it is and why should I leave a perfectly good life? I was the only one who did not want to go in the beginning. But that changed, as I realized my selfishness and current state of distance from God. I knew that God and I hadn't been close over the summer and just blamed it on being too busy. I started reading my Bible more and praying more.

Over the summer, I totally changed my opinion/attitude and was really excited to go to Haiti. I had started to tell some of my friends (who by the way, were supportive, but probably thinking we're nuts. That's ok though, because I kind of think we are nuts too!) and I was totally on the 'we're going to go serve in Haiti' bandwagon.

This feeling has fluctuated, (never let your feelings dictate your actions-feelings change by the minute) as the actual move gets closer. Not that I am doubting that we are supposed to go; I know this with all my heart. And I know that as it gets harder and harder and we want to turn back that that is just more reason that we are supposed to go.

If you hadn't figured it out by now, yes, I was one of the two people in this family to melt-down. I don't know; I guess I just never knew I could be so attached to a house or a room. I really really love our house but I know we will come back to it eventually. Also, it was just hard realizing that I have so many goodbye's ahead of me. I know that God will help me through it and I know that He will bless us in Haiti just the way He has here.

This is a quote my grandpa Porter sent that I really like and agree with:
"Better to love God and die unknown than to love the world and be a hero; better to be content with poverty than to die a slave to wealth; better to have taken some risks and lost than to have done nothing and succeeded at it."
~ Erwin W. Lutzer

Tuesday, December 20, 2005

Christmas w/ Mary, Joseph and some cute Wisemen


Isaac has rarely been described as "wise". Yet, here he is with cousin Luke looking very, very wise.

This is Mary and Joseph and a very odd looking Inn-keeper. (From Christmas 2004.)

Monday, December 19, 2005

Meltdown Record


For those of you keeping track, here is the melt-down count.
2 out of 7 have offically melted down. (Hint: both were girls over 14 years of age.)

Leaving our house was hard. (Especially for two of us.) Troy was good enough to offer to pray for us and the house as we left; that helped.

Onward and Upward.
(A Hope,and an Isaac melt-down; documented in 2003. Attractive, don't you think? Britt and I looked very similar but thankfully there were no cameras around!)

Sunday, December 18, 2005

We've Moved & other Miscellaneous Things


This will be random. Forgive us, our brains are mostly fried.

Proof of this; today I asked Troy for directions to the gym that was close to my Mom and Dad's house. By the time he was done giving me the directions I said "Where was I asking you to give me directions to?" ACK!
(We are living at my parents house until we move to Haiti.)

Seriously, trying to keep everything straight while we packed and separated things, may have used every last brain cell. We now have four categories. 1-Storage 2-Needs to be used in the next 30-45 days in winter weather 3-Needs to go to Texas for family Christmas trip 4-Needs to go to Haiti.

THEN, there is the Good Will pile, the Mya (smaller cousin) pile and the Tina & Matt pile (they are having a baby next year!) The very last pile is for those things that you stand and hold while you blindly stare into space trying to recall why you ever needed to own such an item. Things like the thighmaster, and the torso trimmer. Wouldn't we love to have a dime for each of those items!

Two items we would really like to sell---proceeds will be used to get us to Haiti:
1- A beautiful full size cello.
2- A very nice Bianchi Mountain Bike

And, Things we need if you know of anyone looking to sell or donate:
1- A laptop to take to Haiti because we cannot get our home computer down there without it being destroyed or stolen. We need to carry one in our carry on.
2- Airline miles that could be used on American Airlines flights.

If you have any ideas or interest in the aforementioned items, contact us at TL7inHaiti@yahoo.com

Last, but not least. Someone asked me for a carseat in an email. I cannot remember who asked. Please don't take it personally, but it is plaguing me. So, know that I am not ignoring you; I have just lost my mind. Ask again please!

I am sitting here, avoiding cleaning our empty house ... I better get to it so the renter can have her keys and move into a place without dusty corners & sticky floors. We love you and we can feel your prayers. They are working; we all still like each other!!!!!

Much Love-
Tara

Friday, December 16, 2005

From Paige



Hey I am Paige.
I am now 11.
I am getting really excited to move to Haiti.
I am going to miss some things though , but I think it is wirth moving to Haiti. I am thankful for my friends and family - they are all very loving.
I am having a good day today. I hope you are too.
Thanks for reading,
Paige

(These photos show two of the many people I will miss. My friend Julia and my friend Jill.)

Thursday, December 15, 2005

Countdown Activities



Here are a few of the things we are doing to get ready. Isaac is learning to carry things on his head the way the Haitian ladies do. Here he is practicing with a Christmas Tree box. He needs to learn to do it without his hands like the lady on the right.



Another thing we are doing is being careful to notice all the things we are really blessed to be able to do. A stop at the Wendy's drive-thru is a big treat, we are being sure to savor it! Today we had fun in seven new inches of snow. The snowfall was beautiful here today, the kids enjoyed it this afternoon. Noah stood at the window and yelled out at them.

We are doing pretty well with our packing. The Haiti pile will need to have some sifting but we are close to being able to call ourselves "semi-organized". We are not aiming for perfection; something resembling organization is our goal.





Tuesday, December 13, 2005

Worry changes nothing


(Photo 2002; 3 weeks after Hope and Isaac came home from Haiti.) (On right, new photo of Hope w/grandma.)

When we first met our Haitian daughter, in April of 2002. She was tiny and sort of frail looking. We believed that Hope was the most fitting new name for her.

During the six months of her adoption she became very malnurished and sick. One night we recieved an email from Haiti that said "Astride just screams, no one can touch her." "Please bring medicine."

That was it. The email ended at that. As you might imagine, we were freaking out. We felt totally helpless, we needed more information but none was available.

At the time, I was not able to step back from the situation and have faith that anything good could happen. I thought for sure the next email would tell me she had died. I let fear grip me for the next several hours.

You might be wondering why the heck I am telling you this????? Maybe you are worrying/fearful about something in your life?

I have been reminded that the Bible has lots to say about fear. There is nothing wrong with realistically acknowledging and trying to deal with the identifiable problems of life. The problem starts when you make up a bunch of scenerios in your head that lead you to an unhealthy place of non-stop worry that immobilzes you. I had a couple of days like that last week. I believe that God can release us from the grip of fear if we ask Him to help us.

I spent the end of last week worrying about all sorts of things that are not too big for God. He delivered Hope out of Haiti in time for her to have surgery and become a totally healthy little girl. All my fears, worrying and fretting about it changed nothing. It is easy to forget all of the things He has done for me. It is easy to forget that worrying changes NOTHING!

I confess that I have been fearful. Afraid that He would not provide for us once we are in Haiti, afraid that our house would not rent, afraid that the work in Haiti will be too hard for us ... and on and on and on --- the rest are too silly to share with you! Along with God's provision & answered prayers, the verses below were great reminders to me.

"I sought the LORD, and he heard me, and delivered me from all my fears" (Psalm 34:4).


"Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus" (Phil 4:6-7)

"Humble yourselves, therefore, under God's mighty hand, that he may lift you up in due time. Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you" (1 Peter 5:6-7)

"Then Jesus said to his disciples: "Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat; or about your body, what you will wear. Life is more than food, and the body more than clothes. Consider the ravens: They do not sow or reap, they have no storeroom or barn; yet God feeds them. And how much more valuable you are than birds! Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to his life? Since you cannot do this very little thing, why do you worry about the rest?" (Luke 12:22-26, NIV).

Monday, December 12, 2005

How does an 11 year old pack?


We are packing stuff up ... in a most unorganized fashion. The method looks like this.
1. Grab a box 2. Walk to an area of the house that needs packing 3. Throw anything and everything into the box 4. Take a step back, think, grab a few things out of the box that you might need in Haiti 5. Put that thing you needed in a pile for Haiti 6. Carry your full box down to the downstairs room where we are storing things. It might sound like a decent plan to you --- but consider that four people are doing this.

Things Paige needs in Haiti are quite random and odd. Yesterday we found that she needs a large, framed paint by number picture she painted in third grade, a 11X13 print of a picture of herself and Troy when they were both in a wedding five years ago & a huge box of dominoes that weighs about 6 pounds.

Each bag or bin that we will check to put on the airplane, has a 50lb. weight restriction, so 6 lbs of dominoes seems like a really good idea. ;)

Saturday, December 10, 2005

Getting Ready

Well, it's getting closer by the minute. The pressure of all that needs to be accomplished seems overwhelming at times. We have a meeting with our renter tomorrow afternoon to sign the lease and finalize everything. That's a little scary, there's no turning back now! We will probably need to be out of the house by December 20th, which is entirely too close. Please pray for wisdom and guidance as we make our final preparations and plans. We will live at Tara's Mom and Dad's house in the meantime. There is a lot of work to be done in the next two weeks to get the house ready and organize/pack our things.

My trip last week was great and it was hard to come back. I felt at home and enjoyed getting to work down there. I definitely felt peace about it all, which was an answer to prayer. One of the craziest parts of my time there was spending time driving in Haiti. It's absolutely nuts. In places where there are sidewalks, they are crammed with makeshift stores and markets, so the pedestrians are pushed out into the "streets" (usually wide enough for one and a half cars to begin with). Vehicles are secondary users on the road, and sometimes it's a miracle you can go anywhere. The right of way belongs to whoever is gutsy enough to take it. It is a necessity to drive with horn honking and lights flashing, just to make your presence known and to show that you actually intend to get somewhere. The "official" tourism guide for Port-Au-Prince (as if there is any tourism) actually states the following rules for driving:
"1. Being stingy with one's use of the horn is as rude as it is unsafe.
2. Space in the city being limited, if two cars can slip in somewhere, there must be a way for a third one to fit in.
3. (my favorite) Priority is given to whoever is most in a hurry. In the event that two hurried cars meet, the larger of the two is given priority.
4. When parking in town, designate someone to keep an eye on your car."
(Otherwise it may not be there when you get back)

The final and most evident rule in Haitian transportation:
Fit as many people as possible on any given vehicle. Here is some evidence of that...

Wednesday, December 7, 2005

Words for the day

possesive- adj. 1.Pertaining to possesion or ownership 2.Overly desirous of owning or controlling.

bittersweet- adj. 1.Both bitter and sweet or pleasant and unpleasant.

emotion- n. 1. Any feeling, esp. a strong or intense feeling, as of love, joy, fear, etc., often accopanied by complex physiological changes.

This is just honesty. Today we had someone turn in an application to rent our home. Everyone except Troy found that to be a strange situation to sort out. It feels weird. Good and bad and fun and scary all at once. Troy must be the goofy one to be taking it all in stride without getting weepy or nervous. It must be difficult to be so sensible. ;)

Tuesday, December 6, 2005

Update



We are currently at 85% of our fundraising goal. Once we hit the 100% mark Troy will choose his move date and book the flight. We are aiming for January 15th. We have one person very interested in our house. We hope to rent it for December 20th so we can get that finished before we travel for Christmas with Tara's parents in Texas. Please pray that God shows us His timing but even more importantly, pray that we don't go crazy waiting to see how it is all going to work out! Some of us are a little crazier than others. ARGH! You can make your own assumptions about that. ;)

The photos above are from the September trip to Haiti. One of us with some kids that followed us on our hike, and one of an average house in the village; this house is right outside the gates of the Lifeline Mission.

Monday, December 5, 2005

Home for now


Troy got home last last night. His trip was great. He enjoyed getting to know the other family that is planning to move to Haiti to work with us. He was able to go see our friends John and Beth McHoul on his last day in Haiti. I will convince him to give a full report later today. We show our house twice today and then we are taking the kids to the government center to apply for passports. Hugs from freezing cold Zimmerman, MN. ~Tara

Thursday, December 1, 2005

My first experience "blogging" (Troy)


Hi All. I don't know what the strangest part of all this is right now: the fact that I'm in Haiti, the fact that I'm on the internet in Haiti, or that I'm posting to a blog.

This trip has been amazing so far, just like every trip here seems to be. It is strange how much this place feels like home. God has certainly moved me to a totally different place (physically and spiritually and every which way-ally) than I ever could have imagined.

It is an assault on the senses to be in an entirely different world and culture. The smell of burning trash is all over the cities and villages, but fortunately not here in La Digue. The sights and view of God's magnificent creation are, well, magnificent. The beautiful mountains and Caribbean sea are always the backdrop to the suffering and poverty that grip this country. The most interesting sounds I've heard have been: the goat kids braying somewhere on the Lifeline property while I was eating goat for dinner, the accordion accompaniment and men's singing group practicing in the yard last night, and the sounds of worship and praise going on in church tonight.

We have been very busy so far this week. Monday we ran (drove) errands all around the capital city of Port-Au-Prince, and then made a mad dash (2 hours) home to Lifeline at nightfall. Tuesday we returned to Port to pick some other missionaries up at the airport, finish more legal paperwork in town, and get some groceries. It doesn't sound like much, but it takes an entire day for that sometimes. I suppose the 4-5 hours driving cuts into productive time a bit. Wednesday I visited a school that Lifeline supports (pays the teachers) and feeds their children there. It is heartwarming to see their joyful spirits in the midst of awful living conditions. Then we delivered "Love Bundles" (a program similar to Operation Christmas Child) to another Christian school that Lifeline hopes to be able to support in the future. The director of Lifeline (Donald) shared the gospel message with the children and teachers there. They listen so intently and hang on every word. It is humbling to see the hunger for God and education that they have. These two schools are just down the "road" (bumpy rocky treacherous path) from the Mission, about twenty minutes away.

Today we visited one more school,took inventory of all supplies at the mission, and then drove north to Montrois, a larger village 1.5 hours north of here (only about 15 miles) and picked up construction supplies for the new building. The biggest challenge was finding plumbing supplies. There is not a big need for indoor plumbing parts here, nor any Menards or Home Depots to purchase them in. It is always fascinating and educational and sometimes a little intimidating to accomplish anything here. It takes a lot of patience and willingness to try. Then I came back to the Mission and pretended to be a plumber all afternoon/evening. I did okay, lots of trial and error, and as far as the Haitians could tell I'm an absolute pro. (Maybe)

That's it for tonight, time for dinner and some reading and rest. It has been cool and comfortable here this week, about 80-85 degrees. It's weird to say that on December 1st, and to call it cool.

I am missing my family very much, but staying in contact often, and looking forward to having them here with me.

Mo' Pizza or Mo' Jesus?


Noah is learning new words. Sometimes they get scrambled in his head.

Today he was screaming at me while I ate my lunch. "MO JESUS MO JESUS" (MO = more) I thought, "wow my kid is so advanced and on fire for the Lord ... we must be doing something right! What good parents we are." I turned away from what I was looking at to gaze upon my spirit filled little cherub ... only to find him grabbing for my pizza.

Refining Process



Malachi 3:3 says: "He will sit as a refiner and purifier of silver."
This verse puzzled some women in a Bible study and they wondered what this statement meant about the character and nature of God.
One of the women offered to find out the process of refining silver and get back to the group at their next Bible Study.
That week, the woman called a silversmith and made an appointment to watch him at work. She didn't mention anything about the reason for her interest beyond her curiosity about the process of refining silver.
As she watched the silversmith, he held a piece of silver over the fire and let it heat up. He explained that in refining silver, one needed to hold the silver in the middle of the fire where the flames were hottest as to burn away all the impurities.
The woman thought about God holding us in such a hot spot; then she thought again about the verse that says: "He sits as a refiner and purifier of silver."
She asked the silversmith if it was true that he had to sit there in front of the fire the whole time the silver was being refined. The man answered that yes, he not only had to sit there holding the silver, but he had to keep his eyes on the silver the entire time it was in the fire. If the silver was left a moment too long in the flames, it would be destroyed.
The woman was silent for a moment. Then she asked the silversmith, "How do you know when the silver is fully refined?"
He smiled at her and answered, "Oh, that's easy -- when I see my image in it"
If today you are feeling the heat of the fire, remember that God has his eye on you and will keep watching you until He sees His image in you
.