Tuesday, January 31, 2006

Big Puzzles

When Lifeline booked our tickets to go on February 7th, it was because the two big construction mission teams would be departing that day.

We knew it was election day.(The fifth one.) Troy and I talked about that a lot. We prayed and discussed that if that date was unsafe, or unwise, or just not God's date, that we believed the airlines would cancel flights so it would not be up to us. The decision would be made for us. We also assumed that if the door did not close on that date, than it was a certain bet that we would have no issues getting in and out of Port au Prince.

Tonight when Troy called around dinner time to announce that the flights were all cancelled on February 6th and 7th ... it almost felt like a little kiss from God. Not because I don't want to go ... I miss Troy, and I DO want to go. But that is exactly what I prayed for. The 7th is not God's date.

God sees the whole puzzle. I have like six or eight pieces of His giant 1,000 piece puzzle. I really like that He knows it all. It is so good to not have any pressure to solve these things on our own. In every situation in life you are free to turn it over to someone who is WAAAY better at all puzzles and WANTS to take care of it for you. Nice. I like it. ~Tara

"I believe in Christianity as I believe that the sun has risen: not only because I see it, but because by it I see everything else." ~C.S Lewis

Paige's note below

I decided to let Paige post before I helped with proof reading ... I think you can figure out what she was saying. Don't worry, I am now printing it for her to revise and correct. ;)

The other day I was listening to her play with her friend. Most 11 year old girls play make-believe by playing house, or something like it. I remember playing restaurant and having a medical clinic with my cousin Shey when we were little.

While I was listening to them I heard Paige say, "Please ma'am, this is Isaac's valid passport, it is all we have, please let him in." HA...I got a kick out of that. I asked her later about it and she said "Yeah, that game is fun, it is called the passport game."

Have a great Tuesday! Troy said he was going to try and find time to update us all later today.

From Paige

Hi all,
I am geting so excited to move! I can not wait to go and serve God in Haiti. It seems a little overwellming beacuse we all had to get some "shocks" (as ike calles them) (he means - shots.) My mom, Britt, Ike, and I went to get shots yesterday. The nurse thought that we were crazy. SHe said: You're bringing all these kids?" "you have two more?" and "thats a mager undertaking". So as you can tell a lot of people think we are crazy.
Some people don't understand why would you want to leave all the things you have? I am so willing to go and do this. Right now I am so pumped to go. I would want go tomaro. I know that it will be hard to be away from family and friends but I want to go and serve God so much that it is worth it.
I know that my dad is doing so well in Haiti. I know that it is beacuse we have so many people praying for him. We all can tell that God is with him. So that makes us want to go be with him even more!
Please keep praying for us!


Monday, January 30, 2006


The kids and I had a great weekend together and had fun with Porter relatives on Sunday night.

Troy has been very busy, and when it comes time to sit down and report he has either been too tired, or without internet. They are having a few problems with the generator so he has been losing his connection off and on ...so it is hard to motivate yourself to write somthing if you think it will get lost.

The container cleared customs, they got all the stuff up to the mission. They worked more on the building project, went to church, went to the open market in Archaie, took the team to a restaurant on the beach about 40 minutes north of the mission and other things that I am forgetting. Today was a big day as the second construction team arrives and overlaps for one night with the first team. I think he said 30 people in the house for tonight.

We have some organizing and packing to do here, and one more immunization appointment today. We are accutely aware of God's hand on us all, both in Minnesota and LaDigue. We are so thankful for that!

Saturday, January 28, 2006

Visit Us - Mission Trip Info

We keep hearing that lots and lots of you want to come to Haiti. We LOVE that idea. Before anyone has a chance to be disappointed we wanted to let you know that even if you are our friend or acquaintance, the mission trip fee that Lifeline charges will still apply. (Only moms & dads and brothers and sisters are exempt.)

The $300 fee covers your lodging in our home (we are above average hosts), your food along with safe drinking water, and your transportation to and from Port au Prince (about a two hour ride). See this link for more info. http://www.childrenslifeline.net/Teamtrips.htm

As we understand it you can either organize a team to come and work with Lifeline on open dates, or you can come individually and we just have to get clearance on your chosen dates, to be sure that there isn't a team scheduled at the same time. Lifeline prefers teams of approximately 12 people. Larger teams are okay but then you'll need to be more flexible with the sleeping arrangement and share rooms. Lastly, if you want to come; think about what types of projects you enjoy, how you can best use your gifts and what things you'd like to see and experience.

Call us!

We really hope that we will continue to connect with you by phone in the coming months. We wanted to let you know that we are learning that our Internet phone is not as easy to use in Haiti, as we had hoped. But, it is still a good way to talk without paying $3.00 a minute international, like we would if we called to (or from) the Haiti area code.

When you call us you will call a (763) area code, as if you are calling Minnesota. It can take two or three tries sometimes before you get a good connection. Also, when we call you, it might seem that you are being prank called... just remember it might be us, but it can take a few seconds for the satellite to give us a good connection so that we can be heard. If you wait 15 seconds it usually clears up. Background noise on either side (such as a piano or screaming children) will make it impossible to hear the person speaking on the other end. Lock your pets & children up before you call.

Friday, January 27, 2006

Word for today

ex·pec·ta·tion (n.)
1. The act of expecting. 2.Eager anticipation. 3.The state of being expected.

4. Belief about (or mental picture of) the future 5. Wishing with confidence of fulfillment 6. The feeling that something is about to happen.

I think the kids and I are most accurately found in number 2. We keep hearing from Troy about all of the neat things and cool people he is meeting and about the peace he feels being there. We want to see God work. We want to know Him better. We are beyond anxious to experience the good, the bad and everything in between. I think Britt said it a while back ... enough anticipation already, we're ready to go!

"The child of God should always be found living in expectation of the divine" ~A.W. Tozer

Jack-Jack Attack

Jack is ready for Haiti...but I am not sure if Haiti is ready for him.

Today he spent the day at our Pastor's house while the big girls and I went on a field trip to the science museum. He had a good day and had not destroyed anything in many, many hours. Maybe he is on his best behavior when in the presence of a Pastor and a Pastor's wife?

At the end of the day we had some time to kill before Britt needed to meet her friends. Britt asked if I would take her to spend a gift card at the outlet mall, after we got the three little people back.

She ran into her store and the kids and I walked into Bath and Body Works. I looked away for 12 seconds and the next thing I knew Jack was handing me a bar of soap with a large chunk bitten out of it ... leaving behind not only missing soap & messed up packaging, but also the chocolate cookie that was in his mouth was slobbered all over the packaging that remained.

If you will pick up any random item and take a bite out of it do you belong in a Third World country? Huuummmmm. We're not sure, but maybe not. Troy, while you are out and about killing rats, maybe you could also sanitize/sterelize the entire village? Thanks honey, you're a doll.

The last two mornings, when he does his talking to himself in the crib thing (right after he wakes up) ... he has been saying: "err aaahhh ooouuu mama? Daddy wooek" (Where are you momma, daddy work.) He knows if Troy is gone, then he must be working.

Oh, lastly ... to explain why a child named Noah Matthew ended up going by "Jack-Jack" ... he has an amazing ability to move quicker, destroy more, and yell louder than any child we have ever parented. So, when the movie "The Incredibles" came out and the crazy Superhero baby was named Jack-Jack, it just stuck.

Thursday, January 26, 2006

Details Schmetails

Ok, fine. I admit it. Details aren't always my thing. Especially details related to scheduling, planning, and calendars. Many of you already know this, so it shouldn't come as a surprise.

I fit right in here, though. Haitians are notorious for telling you they'll show up at ten o'clock and arriving at noon, and for saying they'll be somewhere Monday - but get there on Wednesday. Maybe I'm just becoming one with my surroundings. Give me a break.

For the record...Today, THURSDAY, the best laid plans were again set aside. One step forward and two steps back, as usual. We had to go to Port-Au-Prince for more tin for the soffits on the new building. It was on back-order. Wasted trip? No...I got the butter AND ice cream. Take that. :)

On Troy's Post Below

You may notice that Troy's post is a report on "Thursday". Well, I saved him from himself once already and now I have decided it is more fun to tease him than it is to save him. In a post earlier this week he was off on the day and I changed it. He is experiencing a common problem for Americans in Haiti.

It is impossible to tell what day it is there unless you are committed to waking up and going to the calendar ... but then you would have to have done it the day before and the day before ... and you get the point. Troy has not been doing that. Britt just said "He had issues in America, so what do you expect?" HA.

So, to reduce your confusion ... no Troy did not do all that he said he did by 5:22am on Thursday(which is today) --- he actually did that on Wednesday (yesterday.)
(Does this look like a man who would trouble himself with silly details, or insignificant things, like calendars????)

"We tease because we love." ~Porter Family Motto

Drive Time

The roof is half covered in tin, no thanks to me. I spent Thursday driving again, for a total of about five hours in the truck. I visited CAM (Christian Aid Ministries) about 45 minutes away to check on the status of our container being shipped here (They assist Lifeline with a large container shipment once a year). We were pleased to find out that our shipment is in the country, but it's stuck in customs at the present. Nothing that more money won't fix eventually. They have held it there to examine the contents, and then charge extra money while it sits there so they can examine it. We made a little progress, though, and the container should be out here next week. That's good news, since all of our personal furniture and most of the families summer clothes are on it. I was starting to worry that our kids would have to start out living like the village children - nude.

The other time driving was spent going town to town trying to find a few items, 2x4 lumber being the most important, ice cream probably the least. We did find the lumber, and when you ask a Haitian for a 2x4, it is 2" by 4", rough cut. That was a surprise when we were expecting regular boards and they brought out what looked like whole trees. But it was a success to find somewhere only 30 minutes away with a somewhat decent supply of lumber. We struck out on the ice cream, which was a disappointment to our hard-working guests. All day we stopped in markets in each town we went through and inquired about "creme", and the kindly shopkeepers would point us to the next town, assuring us that we would find our treasure there. I gave up in the fifth or sixth place, I lost count. In the end, I think we could have driven all the way to Port-Au-Prince for everything we needed and back in less time.

The founder of Lifeline Mission, Arnold Lemke, is here this week and he accompanied me on the drive. It was nice to spend time talking with him and hearing the countless stories of God's provision and blessings on this work in Haiti. It was a real encouragement, and the amazing things that have happened here over the years show God's perfect timing and compassion for the poor.

Today we'll hopefully accomplish these things - finish the roof (all but the gable ends), fix the fenceline where the goats are getting in, check the water level in the batteries that give us power when the generator is off, find the generator owner's manual (it's acting up), move shelves and organize the warehouse to make room for the new container-load, and get more butter.

If today is anything like yesterday, I'll be lucky to just get the butter.

Wednesday, January 25, 2006

God is very specific

Today I (Tara) spent a good portion of the day feeling totally annoyed and discouraged about homeschooling. It has been clear since last April that the Lord was leading us to homeschool Paige. (Before we even knew we'd end up in Haiti.) Even when you know something is "supposed" to be, it is still easy to get discouraged and forget why you decided to do it in the first place. I forgot this morning.

I know much of the world thinks homeschooling is some club for freaks who don't have a clue about educating children. It is not my job to worry about what people think. My job is to do for my children what is best and to submit my decisions to God and pray that He would give me discernment and patience and wisdom.

Anyway, I was discouraged with some stuff that had happened in the last day or two and I was just angry and wanting to quit. (Not that I was going to quit, just that I was pretending in my head, like I had the option.)

First a friend from IL called to encourage me, she let me vent and listened. Then at nap time I left to go run and pray and change my attitude. When I got back from my run the doorbell rang. Standing at the door was my mom's friend who wanted to check on us and pray for us. She said she wrote down on her calendar about a month ago that she would stop by today when she was coming through Big Lake. She said she crossed it out and decided not to come but then when she was driving towards home, she decided she better stop.

She has homeschooled for many years and knew exactly how to encourage me and help me change my attitude about some of our recent bumps in the road. She talked to me for a while and then offered to pray before she left.

It is crazy that she stopped by on the exact day at the exact right time that I was discouraged and that God is *that* specific that He would send her to encourage me. No coincidence that these friends showed up today. It serves as an excellent reminder that He is in control of everything and that He cares about everything we struggle with.

“The next moment is as much beyond our grasp, and as much in God's care, as that a hundred years away. Care for the next minute is as foolish as care for a day in the next thousand years. In neither can we do anything, in both God is doing everything.� ~C.S. Lewis

Tuesday, January 24, 2006

Pictures from Tuesday

We had a great day and accomplished more than we had planned.
We built and installed roof trusses the old-fashioned way.
These are some before, during, and after photos.

Counting down in Big Lake

We are inside the two week mark to go join Troy. We are so exicted! I for one, was MORE excited prior to reading Troy's post that made reference to "rodents."

Almost all of us have one real phobia ... don't we?

I cannot tell you how horribly terrified I am of all things in the rodent family. I don't know the difference between mice and rats but I know that they are both grotesque.

Troy, PLEASE do not mention them ever again ... I plan to get through this with denial. You are not helping me.

Noah just walked and saw the picture of the rat and said "Puppy!!!"
Let's hope he never gets a hold of a rat in Haiti, he'll pet it!

I miss you Troy! You have two weeks to remove all rodents from the village. Get to it.

Monday report

Monday morning I left La Digue at 7:30am and drove to Port-Au-Prince to take care of business all over town and pick up this week's mission team, returning home at 4:30. I was exhausted. I know I've mentioned it before, but the driving here is something you have to see to believe. I will try to describe it briefly:
It's just like a video game, except if that bus does hit you, you're done...for real. It's insane. The roads and the vehicles require your constant attention. If you look at your watch, you might get crushed. If you scratch your back, you might drive into a store or broken-down vehicle in the middle of the road. If you blink, you might obliterate your tires in a pothole the size of Minneapolis. Other than that, it's almost fun. A Haitian friend told me I drive just like a Haitian. I don't think that's necessarily good. But I'm getting around. As he said, "it's all brakes and horn." True. Honking is an art. The more the better. And every time you get up to speed, you have to slam on the brakes to avoid a pedestrian or goat or cow or push-cart or pothole or bus or motorcycle. The idea of lanes and right-of-way are nonexistent. Just go until something bigger or badder is coming at you, then avoid. Oh, and it's fun to have your guide sitting behind you pointing directions you can't see, telling you to turn at the last second, and mixing up his English when it comes to right and left. I quickly learned that 'goch' is left, 'dwat' is right, and 'ale dwat' is go straight. 'ale dwat' literally means 'go right', but apparently when said while driving it's 'go straight'. So it was a day full of "DWAT?", "no, ale dwat","What? Go right?","no, go straight","What? Straight?", "yes, ale dwat", "ok, go straight", "yes, dwat","RIGHT?", "no, ale dwat!", and so on. Crazy, I tell you.

We made it home safely with our group of fifteen new friends from Indiana and had a night of fellowship and rest. We'll start building trusses today. First I have to go buy some more extension cords that haven't been chewed on by rodents. (Tara should not read this.) I think the shop that sells them is on the dwat.

Please pray that we accomplish a lot this week (hopefully complete the roof on the new 120'x32' building), and that I never forget how amazing this is. I don't want to get complacent and stop noticing the incredible differences here. I hope the new things I am seeing every day never get old. Everywhere I look I want to take a picture and remember it forever. Love, Troy

Monday, January 23, 2006

Semper Gumby

This is good. Troy & Paige are the best Gumby's in our house. The rest of us are trying our hardest. Good thoughts from "A Word with You" Ministries:

Semper GumbyTranscript #4893 Acts 20:22

If you've ever been a Marine, this question's a piece of cake. What's the motto of the United States Marine Corps? Even if you've never been a Marine, you may well know the answer: "Semper Fidelis" - always faithful. Or "Semper Fi," as the Marines like to say. But a former Marine recently told me that there's another Marine Corps motto, and it doesn't appear on anything official, but he said it's one Marines learn to live by - "Semper Gumby." Remember Gumby, that rubbery cartoon character who could bend every which-way? Semper Gumby - always flexible!

I'm Ron Hutchcraft and I want to have A Word With You today about "Semper Gumby."

"Semper Fidelis" isn't just a good motto for a Marine - it should define the life of any follower of the Lord Jesus Christ - always faithful. But that other motto's a good one for us Jesus-followers as well - "Semper Gumby." Because to be a man or woman who knows and does the will of God, you've got to be "always flexible."

You can see that all through the Book of Acts in the Bible. Here's the story of the most powerful people who ever lived; the original followers of Jesus. Reading what they allowed God to do through them, ordinary as they were, shames me. I want what they had. I want my life to have even a fraction of the impact theirs did. So as I read, looking for the qualities that make a person powerful for God, I come across this trait I call "spiritaneity." That's living by the inner promptings of the Holy Spirit, which requires something that doesn't come naturally to a planner like me - flexibility. The willingness, the readiness to get a call from heaven's dispatcher, the Holy Spirit, and go that direction no matter what.

God's not against long-range planning - as long as you're always willing to let Him pre-empt your plan with His. He reserves the right to redirect your day, your energies, even your life without explaining Himself. Those who live supernatural lives are those who simply move at His command - like God's ancient people who moved whenever and wherever the pillar of cloud and fire moved and who refused to move when it stood still.

Acts 8 gives us one of many examples of a life of "spiritaneity." Philip is in the middle of a revival in Samaria when "the angel of the Lord said ... 'Go south ... to the desert road.'" He goes, not knowing why, just knowing God has prompted him. He sees a man who's part of the royal court of Ethiopia and "the Spirit told Philip, 'Go to that chariot and stay near it.'" No explanation - just obedience. The Holy Spirit then begins to unfold a conversation that leads to this man coming to Christ and becoming one of the first representatives of Christ in Africa.

Our word for today from the Word of God, Acts 20:22, gives a great example of how the Apostle Paul lived this way. He says, "Compelled by the Spirit, I am going to Jerusalem, not knowing what will happen to me there." Paul was a master strategist, the epitome of reason. But he's "going - not knowing." That's spiritaneity. I don't know what's ahead, but I know God is leading me there and I have no choice.

That's how I want to live, because I want a supernatural life. And I know you do, too. But rigidity can quench the promptings of the Spirit of God and leave you with what you think should be done. God puts this magnet inside you, drawing you to a certain person, a certain action, a certain place. And He doesn't explain why. Often, His leading will seem like an interruption, an intrusion, a detour. But His way is always the right way. And you have to obey, not because you know the plan, but because you know the Planner.

Maybe you've been gripping the steering wheel of your life so tightly that your Lord can't begin to take you where He wants you to go. It's time to let go. It's time to live each day with flexible plans. You plan based on your best sense of His leading at that moment, and you proceed with the plan, ready to move another direction at a moment's notice at the prompting of the Holy Spirit. You are Jesus' "Semper Gumby" follower - always flexible, so you can be His "Semper Fi" follower - always faithful. Spiritaneity - the kind of responsive heart that makes your life the great adventure that God made you for!

Sunday, January 22, 2006

Debbie Downer

I 've been enjoying a really great week and have been staying very positive & focused ... that is, until late this afternoon when I threw a little pity party, where I was the only one in attendance. I just miss Troy now. The pity party did not seem to make me miss him less. How lame is that?

I keep thinking back to the sermons I heard at Chuch of the Open Door last Saturday and then at New Joy on Sunday. Two sermons in a row made reference to the healing at the pool in John 5:3-8, where the guy is laying there (for 38 years)complaining that he cannot get to the pool to be healed and Jesus says "Get up, pick up your mat and walk. (You can almost imagine Jesus saying 'you BIG baby'!)

That story can be used to teach many lessons, but both of the sermons we heard last week talked about getting your eyes off of your circumstances, and onto God the Father who is bigger than any circumstance and able to deliver you from whatever it is *IF* you let Him. That would mean letting Him.

Feeling sorry for yourself is such a waste of time and energy. Being self focused and negative is so empty and boring. The world is full of real problems and serious issues, so I am going to get over it now.

Saturday, January 21, 2006

Weekend Update

Saturdays have an entirely different feel to them here at the Mission. Our list of things to accomplish was as long as ever, but it's much quieter and there are only a few employees around. It's certainly not the same as hearing the teachers calling out instructions, the children reciting grammar and bible lessons, and especially the children's laughing and playing. I missed that today. I guess I'm used to the sounds of children around for some reason. :)

I love it here. I've been meaning to say that, but I haven't been able to describe exactly why. Tonight I think I realized how to sum it up best:
I have never experienced anything as fulfilling and rewarding as being squarely in the middle of God's will for my life. The joy it brings is beyond my ability to describe.

Tomorrow we will attend church here at the mission, and enjoy the singing and praising of our new neighbors. It is a great experience, even though at this point I hardly understand a word they're saying. I did venture out into the village without an interpreter today, and I'm starting to be able to communicate a few things. I'm fine right up until someone starts replying to me, then I'm lost. The locals get a great kick out of my struggling, however.

Please pray for safe travel to the city and airport on Monday to pick up next week's mission team. And that Jason and I don't starve while cooking for ourselves.

Friday, January 20, 2006

Shopping for chicken in Haiti

Here is the rundown:
Fixed things (lights, truck horn, other truck seat)
Cleaned things (house, office, extra rooms, kitchen)
Broke one thing (playing with electricity, trying to fix something)
Shopped for some food things (in Archaie, the nearest "large" town)
Moved furniture things for upcoming mission team visit
Spent some time this afternoon sitting with the head cook and her family in the village.

Today's best tidbit, as decided by moi:

Here is a tip, if you find yourself shopping for chicken in large quantities at an importer/distributor in a third-world country...
Don't ask if you can have fifty pounds of said chicken in the form of chicken breasts.

Even if you have an interpreter, it doesn't work. Trust me on this. They find it very funny and apparently a strange request. I actually think they thought we were demented somehow.

Since this experience, I have been taking special note of the chickens in the area (including those on our property here). They do have that part of the body, but I guess I just can't ask for it. Another adjustment to make, I suppose.

I'm wiped out after a big day, and looking forward to a shower and some rest. I wish you all well.

I had a great time talking to (over the internet with a web-cam) and seeing my lovely wife and three littlest ones at home tonight. Britt & Paige - I love you and miss you, I'll hopefully talk to you soon. :)


Britt spoke about the move to Haiti at a chapel service today. It was at the school she attended from 4th to 8th grade.

She did a nice job explaining her thoughts and struggles and made me smile with her easy delivery. Her cutest comment, after she spoke and took questions, was in answer to a question about the high temperatures in Haiti she said:
"I am kind of a sweaty person you know, so sometimes it might be pretty hard to stay cool and sleep at night."

Those of us still in Big Lake are off to Tina and Matt's place for the weekend.

Quote of the day: "I have been all things unholy. If God can work through me, he can work through anyone." ~St.Francis of Assisi~

Thursday, January 19, 2006

First post from a world away

As Tara has already shared, I arrived safely at our new home this afternoon. Thank you for all of your prayers. The country I've seen so far seems no different than any other time I've visited. There is no feeling of insecurity or danger, just the usual necessary awareness of your surroundings. The media reports really do seem to be blowing the safety aspect out of proportion. I met a man from New York last night who pointed out that two years ago, there were 770 murders in the city of Port-Au-Prince. It is a city that is home to over four million people. That same year, the city of Chicago had nearly 1,900 murders with a population of less than three million. I haven't heard the Press and State Department shutting down travel to Chicago and declaring it a disaster, unless I missed it since Tuesday. Yes, things are a bit more heated right now due to the elections, but what I'm trying to say is...the reality of this place is better than reported as far as danger is concerned. And one more time, I'm safe and sound. All glory and honor to God for having His hands carry us here safely and showing us over and over again that He is sovereign.

Since arriving, I've been travelling with Jason (serving with us at Lifeline, from Michigan), Robenson (an employee of Lifeline who interprets and works with the children), and Pastor Rony, who leads the congregation in La Digue. We have had some laughs and enjoyed the work we've done so far.

We stayed in a "guest house" in Port-Au-Prince last night that is run by a missionary family working for C.S.I. Sounds exciting, I know, but we didn't do any forensics :( It stands for Christian Services International, and they have a beautiful home and fed us great meals and we had wonderful fellowship with a work-team visiting from Ohio. They are here building a school in a small village near the Dominican Rep. border.

The most interesting story so far is this:
I received my Haitian Driver's License today (Much quicker than I've ever gotten anything from the government at home). I watched the man type it up in front of me on a typewriter straight out of the 1960's. That was actually kind of fun. It was not fun when about 15 minutes later, I was forced to turn our truck around to circumvent some traffic issues. I followed another truck in front of me onto a side street and we were met by a police officer who kindly informed me that this was a one-way (unmarked, mind you) street and I would be
ticketed. He took my brand-new Haitian Driver's License and walked away down the street and around the corner. This concerned me a little bit, so we parked the truck and Robenson and I followed him for about three blocks (I can see my license in his hand the whole time) back to his "squad" - a 1991 Suzuki Sidekick. Through my interpreting friend, I learn of the "crime" and it's penalty (loss of my brand new Haitian Driver's license) until a fine is paid and a court appearance and so on and so forth. There was quite a bit of negotiating and forehead rubbing and chin scratching between the two Haitians, and before I knew it, I was paying the fine of $100 on the spot (100 Haitian dollars, about twelve U.S. dollars). Then I received my license back and upon questioning my interpreter learned that we had just basically paid a bribe and we had better get on our way. I left the scene thinking "Great, I've been in-country less than 24 hours and I've already been stopped by the police, lost my brand new Driver's License and bribed a police officer."

Obviously, that was the worst part of my day, and I was excited to get out of the city and home to this village. Jason and I are trying to unpack at the moment, and remember why we packed certain things, and why we forgot to pack others. Tomorrow we will get organized for next week's mission teams and figure out what else we forgot. I'll check in again soon, and hopefully I will not have had any more encounters with "Haiti's Finest" in the meantime.

Love you all-

Random (and unrelated) Thoughts

There are a lot of cool things that have happened in the last six months. It has been amazing to watch God answer prayer after prayer, removing obstacles and opening doors for us. Some of it defies logic. If you judge the future based on your past experience, it would be safe to bet we have only just begun to see God at work. That is exciting to us.

As a mom, I look at the work ahead differently than Troy. Everything is examined from a caretaker's point of view. I think about how different aspects of the job or the new culture will effect our kids first. He just shrugs his shoulders and gets to work. ;)

We had always planned that Troy would go ahead of us for a week, maybe two. Then we found out that two large teams would be living in the mission house and that the container would not clear customs until early February. I couldn't imagine introducing the kids to their new home with 15 guests and none of their toys or books or familiar things. So,that is why we are waiting three weeks to go.

I have recieved lots of encouragement over the past few weeks via email. It has helped so much.

This is from a friend in North Carolina ... (jumping in mid-letter)
"There will be bad days. You will get frustrated with your kids, you might fight with Troy. You may feel (as I do sometimes) like everything hinges on whether or not you can pull yourself together. I want to make sure you know it does not! It all hinges on a wonderful, Holy God who has already counted you faithful. He's not sending you to Haiti so that you can impress Him. He's sending you to Haiti so that He can amaze you! It's all about Him."

I think this particular paragraph of my friend's letter meant something to me because it is easy to trick yourself into thinking you have to be perfect. Like, since we really believe that we should be in Haiti, and that God is leading us there ... then we better not ever screw up while we are working down there. We better have a perfect day with perfect attitudes every day. Ha, good luck to us!

The most important reminder of the whole letter was that I cannot really impress God. He knows me and He knows that as hard as I try I will still have days where I freak out about some insignificant thing. (Basically, this is guaranteed.)He is okay with that and He plans to amaze us with His love, grace, forgiveness and perfect provision. ~Tara

Wednesday, January 18, 2006

Off he went

According to the American Airlines web site Troy landed at 2pm in Port au Prince. He is staying in town tonight at a guest house so I won't hear from him until tomorrow. As soon as I do I will post.
Saying goodbye was ... uh, I don't know if I know what word I am looking for. I guess it was mainly just a surreal afternoon together. We ended up finally leaving my mom and dad's house at around 1:30 (after one false start and turning back to get the internet telephone that Troy needed.) We went to walk around the Mall of America. We let the kids ride a few rides and Britt and Paige went to spend some of their Christmas gift cards.
The contrast between where we were standing last night and where we are headed was very real to us. We stood watching our kids run from bright lighted rides to jumping in huge balloons, passing 10 places to get any food you can imagine, on to lego-land...total sensory overload.

Troy has since landed in a country without a single department store, mall, or amusement park. 99% of the children have no idea what legos are. Beyond that, most of the children count themselves lucky to get a plate of rice and beans once a day. It is a sobering contrast. It hit us in a different way last night. I for one just kept reflecting on how incredibly lucky we are to have the prosperity and the opportunities that we do.

Because the mall is right near the airport we got to watch quite a few planes landing and taking off. Jack-Jack (Noah's nickname) kept screaming "Haiti - Haiti - Haiti" ... it seems that telling the kids we would go on an airplane to Haiti has confused Jack into thinking that airplanes are actually called "Haiti."
After we left the mall at about 8pm we went and stayed at a hotel near the airport. The seven of us were packed in like sardines - it was a lot of fun. We watched Madagascar together. When the movie was over we prayed together and Troy went around to say goodnight to everyone and hug them goodbye so he would not have to wake them up to say it at 5am. It was dark in the room and he had started to cry by the time he was done. We were hugging and crying but the kids did not know it because it was so dark. It had been quiet for a few minutes and then Noah started fake snoring ... we all busted out laughing. What a goofy 22 month old! He's learned what snoring is from hearing "Pa-Pa." Now he does an excellent immitation. (Dad, now even your youngest grandchild is mocking you.) ;)
Laughing while you are crying is the best. My sister always quotes a line from Steel Magnolias and says "laughter through tears is my favorite emotion." It was a good way to get over crying and go to sleep.
This morning when I dropped Troy at the ticketing level and we were both crying again he says: "This was your idea." That made me laugh. It wasn't really, but I knew what he meant and it was another good tension/sadness breaker.
We are back to Big Lake now. We stopped at the mall so Britt could return something that lost its appeal in the night??? The photos below are from today.

Please pray for my sweetie. I recognize that military wives all over the USA handle seperation after seperation for months on end ... I am amazed by them. Troy and I have never been apart for three weeks in 9 years of being together ... maybe if he was not so wonderful and sweet it would be easier. I guess I have a good problem on my hands..!?! 

Tuesday, January 17, 2006

Before I go...

I am having a hard time sitting down and writing this, because my mind won't stop and compose a coherent thought. It's been like that all weekend. This weekend flew by, and we were blessed to spend time with some of our best friends and family.

Friday night I said goodbye to my friends at work, and kissed a paycheck goodbye also. I don't know which was harder. Just kidding, I'll definitely miss the paycheck. Ok, that was for my friends from work, who know that I will miss them and have appreciated working with them.

Saturday we had lunch and dinner with friends (fattening up before the arduous journey). Sunday's church service was bittersweet. I loved being able to play with my friends on the worship team one more time, and having another chance to be encouraged and commissioned for the work ahead. It was hard to say goodbye, though. Thank you to all of you who are supporting us and praying for us. It has made this journey easy so far. The hardest parts may still be ahead, but mountains have already been moved, so I know we can press on in faith.

I got to spend Sunday evening with my parents. We had a nice time catching up and having another meal (out to eat, of course). I'd better not get on a scale anytime soon. They are adjusting to the idea of the grandchildren being so far away, but glad that we'll still be in contact through modern technology.

By the end of Monday, I'd given up completely on any sense of order while packing my bags. But, it's done and I'm ready. I'm sure that I've forgotten things, and that I overpacked and probably have doubles and triples of things I might never need, but forgive me - I've never packed bags for moving to a third-world country before.

I am looking forward to getting on the plane Wednesday, so that the preparations and worries can be behind me. I am dreading getting on the plane on Wednesday, because I will miss my family while we are apart. It has been wonderful to have a few extra days to spend together before I leave, and I pray that the time will pass quickly for them until we're back together. Please pray for them and for Tara's travel with the five kids, I wish I could take some of their luggage ahead with me to lighten her load.

I'm excited that the time is here, and don't feel any fear about it.

"You will keep in perfect peace him whose mind is steadfast, because he trusts in you."

-Isaiah 26:3-

"Ou menm, Bondye, w'ap ba yo kè poze! Moun ki toujou kenbe pwomès yo, wi, w'ap ba yo kè poze, paske yo mete konfyans yo nan ou!"

PS- I had to look the Creole version up, I'm not exactly fluent yet

Monday, January 16, 2006

Monday Night Madness

Troy is on the phone ... and on the phone...and on the phone. So I may as well update you. Today we officially used up our last active brain cells. Troy determined that he needs a police report to bring to Haiti saying that he is not a criminal. (There is some irony there.) That police report is in our adoption paper work at a friends house in St.Paul. (Don't ask.) Then we realized we forgot to give the guitar to Troy's friend Jim, for safe keeping, even though we were with him for lunch and talked about the hand-off. (Troy's Taylor guitar is his baby, Jim is trusted.) Then Troy went to St.Cloud for one immunization because our regular Dr. did not have it. He goes tomorrow for the other two. Troy will not be getting Hepatitis A, B or Typhoid Fever. Nice. Nothing like waiting till the last minute though.

Then we registered with the State Dept and filled out our Agape mail application. (The way we will get mail in Haiti.) Then we called American Airlines to ask about weight restrictions on the luggage because it changes now and then. While we were chatting with the AA reservations lady she asked "So, you said you are going to Haiti? Let me pull up your reservations." She went on to tell us that Troy's one-way ticket to Haiti on Wednesday would not be honored without having either a visa OR a return (round-trip) ticket. That was news to us. (He has a visa, but it is not in his hands yet, it is in Haiti waiting for him.) It definitely felt like divine intervention. (Actually, I am sure it was.) Had Troy shown up at 5am on Wednesday, they would have turned him away or required him to buy a new ticket at a hefty price. Lifeline spent the afternoon fixing that situation and we are back on track for a Wednesday 6am departure.

Dad took us to dinner tonight, Troy's last time to Applebee's for a long while ... unless they discover a market for the "Neigborhood Bar and Grill" in Haiti. Seems unlikely.

Tomorrow once we get rid of the guitar, find the police report and get immunized, we (the whole gang) are going to go do something fun ... maybe a museum or something, just to get away and be together where there is no phone or computer so we can enjoy some family time before life changes. That's my version of today's news. Troy promises a post before he leaves. ~Tara


So ... yes, these are some of our friends that we will miss. The ones we won't miss aren't pictured. KIDDING! We don't have pictures of everyone. We WANT to have pictures of everyone. Maybe if you are a good friend you will mail us one, that way we would have an updated photo of you for our refridgerator in Haiti. (This is a guilt trip, please respond accordingly.)

There are two really new babies (pictured) that we got to kiss this weekend. There are FOUR babies coming in 2006. (Belonging to three couples above, but not Kris and Amie because they both have husbands and are not a couple...phew!) If we are not one of the first to recieve news of the birth/adoption of the four 2006 babies, we will not be happy. Make a note of that. We love babies.

We'll be watching the mail.

Saturday, January 14, 2006

Grandma's worry sometimes

Making her WORLD WIDE WEB debut, Dorothy Porter. (Pictured with Uncle Rick and Cousin Nikki) Mother of 6. Grandmother to 19 grandkids,40ish great-grandkids and 3 great-great grandkids. Yikes!That is a lot of procreating.

My dad is printing the web-log entries off (Troy hates the word "blog") and sending them to my granny in Omaha, NE. (Is it a web-log once it leaves the web and is printed on paper? I think it ceases to be a web-log and is just a boring old journal at that point. Maybe not.)

She told us when we hugged her goodbye last weekend that she had supported & prayed for missionaries since she was 24 years old (that is more than 60 years) but now that it is one of her grandkids, (and five of her great's) she is not so sure about it all.

We love you Gran! Don't worry, we will be okay! Below are some verses that our friend from New Joy (our church) sent to me to encourage me. Hopefully they will encourage you.

From Marcy:
"This is the first verse that came to my mind when I read your email:

I Samuel 20:42 (NASB) Jonathan said to David, "Go in safety (peace - NIV), inasmuch as we have sworn to each other in the name of the LORD, saying, 'The LORD will be between me and you, and between my descendants and your descendants forever.' " Then he rose and departed, while Jonathan went into the city. Also these:
Matthew 6:34 (NASB) "So do not worry about tomorrow; for tomorrow will care for itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own."
Mattthew 28:20 . . . and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age." Matthew 28:20 (NASB)"

Friday, January 13, 2006


(Photo at taken at Beth's house, Tabarre, Haiti Spetember 2005 - after a morning run)

When we first started thinking that we should look into serving in Haiti, we spent a few weeks trying to discern if we were on the right path. One of the first things we prayed was that we would have some sort of confirmation, a tangible way that we could see that we were at least correct to be looking into the possibility.

At that time, in early July, I was getting ready to run Twin Cities Marathon. I was on a yahoo group for marathon training. I had been on the group since January.

Minnesota had a very hot summer as did a lot of the country. People were posting and complaining about how difficult it is to train in summer heat. A post came up that said "Try running in Haiti, I train for marathons in Haiti!" It was posted by Beth who has lived in Haiti for 16 years and has been a runner for 10. She had been on the yahoo group for a long time but had never posted before that day.

On the surface it might not sound like such a big deal. But the group has only 700 people on it. We had both been on it for many months and she chose to post for the first time within a day of us starting to pray that the Lord would show us if we were at least correct to be exploring the opportunity to serve in Haiti. Beth was our first tangible confirmation.

After Beth posted we started trading emails and she became a great encourager and friend to me, and then to Troy. How cool that I found a friend who likes running and lives in Haiti! We were able to stay with them in September for a night and Beth and I even got to run together.

Meeting Beth is one of many examples from the last five months of how God confirmed that we should keep moving forward.

So many people don't think God answers prayer in tangible way, they miss the answers that God gives because they chalk it up to coincidence. We say there are no coincidences!

"Coincidences are spiritual puns." ~G.K. Chesterton

"What you have to ask yourself is what kind of person are you? Are you the kind that sees signs, sees miracles? Or, look at the question this way: Is it possible that there are no coincidences?" ~Unknown

Thursday, January 12, 2006

Thursday's Thoughts

This evening Troy is at his last Worship/Praise team rehearsal at church. It is so weird that he is going already.

It seems like two days ago that we first started praying about moving to Haiti. Two days can really fly by.

Britt and Paige had fun harassing my dad tonight. He told us that he is leaving on Tuesday and won't be back for a couple weeks. They gave it all they had trying to lay on the guilt ... that he should stay with us instead of going. Their efforts went without the desired result.

On the flip side ... when dad got home from Texas last weekend, the night after us, Isaac walked into the room where dad was reading his newspaper and said "Hey Grandpa, what are you doing here? Why aren't you in Texas? This is OUR house."

So, Isaac continues to be confused about the plan and who lives where. He is especially confused about who makes the house payment at 131 Powell Circle West!

Dad will come back in time to take us all to the airport in February. Thank goodness, we'll miss having a guy in the house. Isaac is not much for unclogging the toilet (which he has clogged) or shoveling snow or just making us all feel safe. Dad, are you sure you want to go to Las Vegas?

Quote of the day:
I know that God will not give me anything I can't handle. I just wish that He didn't trust me so much. ~Mother Teresa

Wednesday, January 11, 2006

Mouvman Avans Non Jezi (Moving forward in Jesus)

We have been flying around town like crazy people making sure everyone has their teeth pulled, their immunizations up to date, their eyes checked and perscriptions updated. We feel a bit insane.

The list of things to do is steadily dwindling though, so we must be doing something right. Troy has the most pressure since he leaves first, but lucky for him he has an excellent personal assistant. ;)

During the times that we feel overwhelmed with the lists and the impending move we are trying to remember that we are not alone. There is a verse in Jeremiah that says "Behold, I am the Lord...is anything too difficult for me?" The answer of couse is "NO" none of this is too hard for Him! So, we just need to keep reminding ourselves not to try to do it without praying and trusting in His strength to carry us through.

A while back our pastor's wife sent us an e-card that said "It is not the size of the mountain, but the strength of the mountain mover." Those reminders are important in these busy and somewhat daunting days.

In these last few days that Troy is here we may skip a few blog updates. We want to stare at each other instead of the computer screen. :)

Thanks for checking on us. MUCH LOVE from all of us to you and yours.

Monday, January 09, 2006

On being joyful, by Paige

I think that Isaac is the most joyful person in the whole world...and I am not kidding. If you are down, Isaac will make you happy. Ike can make anyone laugh.
He is great. Somtimes he is so joyful that he gets giddy.
He is beaming in every photo that we take.When we let little things get us down,we need to remember Isaac and how to him everthing is so great.
Even if to us it is bad.
Nothing bums him out. Our family is needing to remember that in Haiti we will be down somtimes missing family and friends or Dunn Brothers(my favorite coffee place) or Target ...whatever it might be. We need to remember to try to be like Ike.


Britt - 4 teeth = goofy

Paige and I are happy to report that Britt is back from having her wisdom teeth pulled. She is totally out of it and we are having fun laughing at how many times she repeats the same question. "Where are my glasses, where are my glasses ... and where are my glasses" along with, "Why didn't Paige have her tooth pulled, How did I get here, where are we, where are we going" and "Is my tounge huge?"

Thanks for remembering her, it went well and she is currently sleeping soundly. By the time she wakes up she should be making more sense which will be sad for Paige who is getting a real kick out of it. ;)

Sunday, January 08, 2006

Deep Thoughts on Change, by Paige

This is an old story, but I like it so it is worth re-telling.

In 2001 I took a job that would require me to travel about 30% of the time. Troy and I had been married about three years and Paige and Britt were 6 and 11 years old.

On my first trip to Atlanta for a week away from home, all three of them brought me to the airport. It was before 9/11/01 so they were able to come past the ticketing area and we ate dinner at a restaurant, while we waited for my flight to leave Minneapolis.

I was all teary and sad about leaving them and said, "Change is really a hard thing to deal with. I don't like it." 

Paige looks up from her food and says, with a lot of enthusiasm, "YEAH, I agree change stinks, I like dollars!"

Saturday, January 07, 2006

Do we live here?

So, we moved out of our house in Zimmerman on December 19th. We stayed in Big Lake until December 24th. We stayed in Texas until January 4th. We stayed in our second hotel room on the way home from Texas last night.

When we walked into the room Isaac said "Is THIS our home? Do we live HERE?" He is grinning ear to ear like usual so it does not seem to be affecting his attitude...but he is definitely confused about all of this moving around.

We have final confirmation in the form of an airline ticket, that Troy will be leaving at 6am on January 18th. The six of us will spend the next 11 days fighting over him. He finishes up his work with TDS on Friday the 13th. He has loved his job and the people he works with, he said he cannot remember ever feeling sad to leave a job but in this case he is.

We continue to feel your prayers and love, and for that we THANK-You!