Thursday, August 31, 2006

Gearing Up - Thursday's Thrills

Today was a day to stop procrastinating and start planning and accomplishing.We cleaned, organized and moved furniture to get set up for school.
Let me just be honest enough to say, homeschooling is not my favorite thing and the discipline it requires of me is a big stretch. The 4 year olds and 2 year old stress me out when I want to focus on the 11 year old. That is not cool.
We have some plans in place to help alleviate meltdowns and freak-outs and the kids might benefit from those plans as well. ;-)
Anyone who thinks homeschooling is just for rebels or uni-bombers who don't like to play by the rules, has it all wrong. People who choose to homeschool are not nuts because they pulled their kids out of school. They are nuts because they signed up willingly to do a butt-load of work. If the truth were told, and I had the option, I think I would be using the services of a a qualified LaDigue area school. (Homeschooling crusaders are collectively gasping.) I am up for it though, really I am. The fact is, I cannot do it unless I go to God everyday and ask Him to do it for me, through me, with me. I am a miserable failure without His leading.
Half of the battle for me is just getting started. We organized and went through our curriculum and made our plan, we'll start tomorrow. A one day school week is a good way to start. Overachievers, we are not. Paige is starting 6th grade and Isaac and Hope are going to do some pre-school stuff for a couple hours a day.
Britt has much of her work on-line and some of it independent study.She has a computer in her room now as a way to escape the noisy end of the house. She is all but ready to go. We ran into one glitch when the Chemistry kit showed up in Minnesota and we realized that the airlines and federal agents might not be too keen on the explosives being in our checked luggage. Dad has mailed it and we are hoping for delivery by next Saturday. Pray that no one takes it from us in customs.The girl needs some science credits.
My prayer is that we find a groove fast and we all keep loving (and liking) each other just as much as we do during the summer. It would be good if they all learn something too.
Other Random Things
Peanut grew a lot while we are gone. She is the size of a lion now. She is going to go into heat soon. I find myself questioning the wisdom behind not getting her fixed. I have nightmarish visions of Peanut getting knocked-up by some nasty scrawny little disease infested Haitian dog. If you have been here, you know of what I speak. Suffice it to say, Peanut's days of romping around are over for a while. If we are dealing with puppies, it will be in the distant future, and not with a Dingo for a dad.
A conversation overheard on the porch this afternoon: Isaac and Hope, often like a little old married couple with the way they gripe and pick on each other, were cleaning up toys and chatting. Hope started counting. She does not count with as much authority or speed as her brother, but she can count. So, she was kind of sauntering through her numbers "13 .............14.................15..........." when Isaac could no longer take it he said "16-17-18-19-20!!!!!" as fast as a human can rattle those numbers off. Hope's response to his hijacking of her counting: "Isaac, I CAN HANDLE IT!"
Troy worked on the Lifeline accounting stuff and installed a fan in our bathroom. It is nice but it is really going to mess with the mold-growing experiment I had going on in there. There is a tri-pod on our porch now. In the evening we hear geeky things like "uh-oh, uh-oh we have good light ... we have a sun event ... this is perfect..." Then he is dashing out the door as if someone has yelled "FIRE!" I have officially lost my lover to the Nikon D70. How easy it was for him to let me go.
We listened to Phil Visher's sermon from Okoboji on DVD today. He is the creator of Veggie Tales and a generally cool guy from what I know of him. I grew up going to the same Bible conference as him but always thought of him as the crazy/funny/too cool-for-me older guy. He shared about his experience of having a dream, God blessing it and realizing that dream and then losing it all.(He no longer holds the rights to the company he created.) He talked about the importance of keeping your dreams from replacing God. Even if your dream is ministry and serving Him ... it is still possible to lose sight of God and His desire for relationship with us. He said anything that you pursue more than God is an idol and pursuing impact for the Kingdom still counts as idolatry if it is first in your life. The best line in the entire sermon:
"Impact does not occur pursuing impact, it occurs when we're pursuing God."
The boys all got green shirts. They were compliant enough to wear them on the same day. Check out the pet lion in the doorway.

The photo to the right is of Paige trying to get her friend and Tipap to teach her how to sing Amazing Grace in Creole.

Last, but not least. Thanks for calling, Dianne, it brightened our day. Thanks for the e-mail Meg, sometimes hearing, or reading, the things you said are just what the Dr. ordered. Off to bed, hoping to wake up transformed into Haiti's future teacher of the year ... or at least a person more patient and much kinder than I am. Kris, I have you to blame if it goes poorly ... or thank when it goes WONDERFULLY. :)

Love to all of you, Tara

Quotable Men

"You guys cannot sit up there in the United States and put your knee in my leg (pointing at his neck while saying this) and put the pression on me."

"Uh- oh, number 2 is being naughty. Do we need to go up to the prayer rock and pray about this number 2?"

J. R. R. Tolkien-
"All we have to decide is what to do with the time that is given to us."

Wednesday, August 30, 2006

Haiti's Children

2004 Statistics:

Total population: 8,528,000

Life expectancy at birth m/f (years): 53.0/56.0

Healthy life expectancy at birth m/f (years, 2002): 43.5/44.1

Child mortality m/f (per 1000): 122/118

Adult mortality m/f (per 1000): 417/358

(World Health Org. Statistics)

One day, traveling through our village, I was struck by the realization that most of the Haitians I see are young. Very young - at first glance, you would think that rural Haiti is made up entirely of children. I quickly realized why this is the case: Out-of-control birth rates followed up by one of the worst life expectancy rates in the world. There simply aren't enough adults surviving to look after the children this society is producing.

Even when child mortality rates are so high (205 deaths by the age of 5 for every 1000 children []), the children still outnumber the adults who could guide and teach and protect them.

Each of these children pictured here were on the street or in the village all alone. No adult supervision. No watchful eye. No protective hand.

Mark 10:14 - When Jesus saw this, He was indignant and said to them,
"Permit the children to come to me; do not hinder them; for the kingdom of God belongs to such as these"

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Finished Product

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More Domestic Problems

By Britt:

Yesterday was a light day for medical patients. Aida (heel sutures) came for a bandage change & then only one other person besides her. I think it's safe to say that this last patient made up up for the light day.

WARNING: Do not scroll down for the 'before' picture if you are not up for a seriously gnarly wound. It is at the very bottom of this entry, so you can still read the story. The after picture is up above on the previous post.

Allow me to introduce our second domestic case covering La Digue and the surrounding areas:

Titi (tee-tee) is 34 years old and lives down the road from us. He was in an argument with his wife/his wife's cousin (maybe both, maybe one or the other - still a little unclear on that). For whatever reason, his wife's cousin hit him in the face with a pot. I'm not really familiar with pots having jagged edges but I think they must be making them here with this special feature.

While I was cleaning it out, Titi was talking with Pastor Sonson (whose school is one of the places that kids are fed) about pay. I understood what they were saying and told them that pay wasn't necessary. Later on, I told him that I had changed my mind. I jokingly told them that after thinking about it, I'd decided that Titi's wife's cousin needs to pay me, since she caused the wound which brought the work. They both laughed & seemed to like that idea a lot.

In all my suturing experience (a whole 3 months & 9 patients), this was the hardest wound to suture. I wasn't thrilled with how it closed up, but I am just praying it heals nicely anyway. I did about 7 deep sutures inside and 10 surface sutures outside. It took about an hour and a half, filled with numerous needle breakings, changing suture sizes, stopping to inject more lidocaine & lots of sweat dripping from my face onto Titi's face.

I'm just thankful it is over & am hoping that the jagged edged pots are not used as weapons again any time soon.

Working .... dripping:

Before. I feel like gnarly is the perfect descriptive adjective.

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Lizard Suicide

Dear Depressed Lizards-
This is a permanent answer to a temporary problem.

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Tuesday, August 29, 2006

Pray by Number

Isaac praying today-

"Dear Heveannny Fader- Please be with us and help us to be good and help us to be a family and help us to be good. And be with number 16. I love her so much. And number 11, I love her too. Oh, yeah and number 31 please be with him."

(At this point we figured out that we no longer have names and instead are going by a number that corresponds with our age.)

"Lastly, be with 34 too Lord, she is my best friend. I love her."

Isaac is very into numbers right now. We worried that he would never get it, but now he is obsessed. (You know, that thing when you are worried that your kid is behind.) Our worries were premature. At least ten times a day we have a big discussion about numbers. Like what comes after 24 -- and then he might hold up two fingers on one hand and five on the other and say "twenty-five" ---- he is done dealing in one through ten ... he is on to the big stuff now.

Send him a note with your age and he might pray for you too. ;-)

New Camera Practice on Cute Kids

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Call Us

Our VOIP Minnesota phone is working again. The internet drops a few times a day but when we have internet the phone should work.

Same area code as before then, 515-2943.

We are also figuring out how to get the messages out of the voice mail ... should be able to get them now. Try us sometime.

Monday Medical Madness (Part 1)

By Britt:

Today was a great day.

Disclaimer: I do not rejoice over people's injuries. I am excited at the opportunity people's injuries bring but I don't hope people get hurt.

Today I started keeping a medical log. This wise suggestion was made by my mother. I really like the idea, it is actually kind of fun for a weird detailed person like myself. The following are the first few entries in the La Digue Medical Log.


~Tiga, 6 yr old boy, fell & got a cut above his left eye on 8-20. The cut probably needed stitches, it is now infected and his eye is swollen. Forgot to take photo.

~Madame Mercius, a LL cook, came with a breast abscess. It had opened up on its own yesterday so it looked like a infected flat sore. She is 5 months pregnant, maybe the cause of the abscess (breast ducts clogging). Either way, ow. Purposely did not take photo.

~Cherline, 5 year old girl, came with what looked to me like an eye infection. I asked my friend, Dr. Jen and she said that it was probably not a bacterial infection therefore an antibiotic wouldn't do much for her. We are praying that it runs its course and leaves her soon. She is very shy but way cute (photo does no justice)

~Rosius Dieujuste (Rose-e-us Diuh-joost) is a man with a toe that grossed out many of you. The toe is still the coolest, craziest thing I've ever seen. I will not post the before but if you need a refresher or don't know his story click here. (hint: you could read how it happened & cover up the photo with a piece of paper while you read.) He went to St. Aird, a clinic about 30 mintues from us run by our Indiana friends, The Fultons. The Haitian doctors there cut off the 'meat' (scar tissue) on August 10th and things are looking up. I was happy to come down and still see he had a toe; it would have been easier to aputate the whole toe but I'm glad the doctor who did it knew that the easy way isn't always best. He will return everday for dressing changes.

~Willman (wheelmaan), a man from Barbancourt, was 'passing by' a fight when he got hit with a rock on the top of his head. It must have been a very large rock, because this is a very large cut. He went to a doctor in Archaie for stitches and hadn't changed the bandage since then (8 days). So it was pretty stanky. I was pretty appalled unimpressed with the suture job. Mainly just thinking about the fact that he paid for that. Degaje (Kreyol word that translates to 'make it work' ; kind of like 'oh well, do what you gotta do'). There were like 4 big, loose stitches and I took them out because it had been long enough and it was looking infected. He will return every-other-day until it is healed.

Left Photo: before I took out the floppy stitches.

Right Photo: afterwards. The sides didn't come together perfectly, do to the fact that it was probably a jagged laceration to begin with.

Continued on next two blog entries...

Continued - Part 2

Krispe came after Willman. (His last name is not Kreme & the correct pronunciation is : Kreespay) We took off his unna boot yesterday. The ulcer is now the size of a dime. I found a picture from the first time he ever came, April 27. (Photo is below on the left, at that time it was a very large open wound.) It is awesome to see how far he's come. God is good all the time.

His attitude continues to be happy. We invited him to church but he didn't come yesterday because of the rain; he lives about a 30 minute walk from us in Barbancourt. Please pray that we have more opportunities to invite him to church & that others respect him more than ever. Krispe is similar to a leper in this society. People have never respected him ; he in-turn didn't respect or care about himself. He is a great guy, and is continuing to gain respect for himself. The smile on his face every time we've removed the unna boot and seen the change is one of my favorite things ever. I promise on a future blog to have a picture of that smile. But for now, here is the ulcer as of yesterday. (Photo to the right.) He will come everyday; we are trying a thing given to me by Lori called a silvercel pad, to soak up the stinky stuff that leaks out of the ulcer. The dark pigment is coming back in & it is so close to being done.

My last patient of the day was a 65 year old woman named Aida (ayeeda) Bozor and probably the cutest little old lady ever. She is the grandma of someone we know. She was suprisingly tough. She cut her heel in a motorcycle accident. I started by cutting off all the dead skin, than cleaning out the little rocks and then stitched the real cut. The big area was just where the top layer of her skin was scraped off (well I cut it off but it was detached already). The deep cut wasn't really all that deep at all, and I debated on whether or not to stitch it but I decided to because of its location. My spacing kind of stunk but I will get over it somehow.

Part 3

Aida's Heel-
<--Before I cut off the dead skin

All done, 5 total -->

Aida, the cute little old lady I had the privelege of meeting today:

Today was a perfect reminder of what it was that helped me decide not to swim & leave Haiti for four months. I love my life & the amazing opportunities God is giving me here. I love meeting & chatting with people like this sweet old granny. I am thrilled with what/where God has me. And how He continues to guide me and give me happiness & contentment.

Final Photo Credit: Troy Livesay with his awesome new camera. We love this pic! The other photos were all taken by me.

Monday, August 28, 2006

Hairy Spiders Love Honeycombs

See second photo to view Spider eating sugary Post cereal.

This LARGE spider was at the bottom of our steps. The kids threw a honeycomb at it to see what would happen. He acted angry (spiders have feelings too) and attacked the honeycomb.

We all ran away screaming. stayed calm and watched Tipap kill it.

Monday in Port with Eddie

Today was a Port au Prince day. Here are some photos from our trip to town.

First stop, "One Stop" the place where you go to exchange your U.S. bank account check for cash ... Haitian money. It is an all cash society, with a few exceptions. We had never been accustomed to using cash much, we found that if we had cash it seemed to spend faster. But here, there are not a lot of merchants or street vendors excepting Visa, MasterCard or checks from Wells Fargo. So, off to One Stop we go. It is an easier way to keep your spending in check- simply because you cannot over-spend with credit cards the way you can in the land of plenty.

See that, the glass is half full. ;-)

Next we met up with Eddie. On the way to meet up Troy had gotten on Eddie's case on the phone and basically chewed him out. (Justified, totally justified.) I was entertained. Troy was annoyed and frustrated. Eddie was pissed mad.

After a few minutes of chatting he said "Good Mowning Tawaaa, I fowgot say good mowning cuz your husbant is piss me off."

HA, good times.

They made up, we went on our way. Next stop, the Department of Motor Vehicles, to attempt to get my Drivers License. Eddie calls it "circulation." We have no idea why.

Eddie called us from inside the building to ask my blood type. Just being a liar and making it up, Troy said "O - " so I asked him what he had said his was? Troy said, "B+" was the made up blood type he had given back when he got his license. We laughed that he was BE POSITIVE and I am OH NEGATIVE. Mean! Is there such a thing as O-? Do most people know their blood type? Are we alone in our ignorance?

After about 30 minutes Eddie reappeared with a 90 day license for me and a lot of stories about why he is not all done with an old project and what we need to do next and blah blah blah. He encouraged Troy to take me out to lunch as a distraction from the conversation about what Troy wanted him to get done. Eddie is not great at the bait and switch, but we give him credit for trying.
This is a common sight. Both the dirty windshield, and UN vehicles/troops.

Troy had his fancy new camera along. These photos come from my very average camera, so Troy will have to do his own blog and share his pics. He is like the Paparazzi with that thing. It's embarrassing. ;-)

Augustine on Love

What does love look like? It has the hands to help others. It has the feet to hasten to the poor and needy. It has eyes to see misery and want. It has the ears to hear the sighs and sorrows of men. That is what love looks like.
Photo Credit - Scott Tanner
Taken May '06 Petit Bwa

Sunday, August 27, 2006

Weather News

Hurricane Ernesto appears to be hitting the south-western tip of the island. Haiti is shaped like a "U" laying on its side. We live in the bottom of the U. On the map to the right we live in the blue area looking out at the small (blue) island that lies in the opening of the sideways U. That means Ernesto is not really hitting us - it has just caused a full day of rain. It is uncommon to have an entire day of rain here. It usually only rains in the evening. But today it rained all day.

Current temperature is 78 degrees. It is cool and breezy. For Haiti it is goofy and unusual weather. A nice way for those of us who spent two weeks in air-conditioning to ease back into reality.

We spent the day unpacking, playing with new things (read: Troy has not put down his new camera in like six hours) and organizing. MOM, you should see how cute the kitchen curtains look. It was worth carrying those dumb curtain rods on two airplanes. Totally worth it.

Sunday Thoughts

May you be rooted deeply in the soil of God's Love.

I love that word picture. It is our hope for you today. In this place of hard realitites being rooted DEEP in the soil of God's love is essential for coping and growing and learning. It is essential for all of us, no matter where we are.

I cannot express how good it feels to be back in Haiti. My face hurts from smiling.

God is good and His love is real.

This Chris Rice song is on our top 10 list.

Enjoy your Sunday.


(for all)

Saturday, August 26, 2006

Weird Kid Gives a Shout Out

I was just checking email quick before bed ... and had to pass on this goofy conversation Britt is having with herself (and sort of Troy since he is technically in the room she is talking to herself in.)

She sings in a high pitched voice "sutures, sutures, gauze and tape." (sort of in an Adam Sandler kind of way.) She is sitting on the floor surrounded by all of the medical stuff many of your donated ... she is calling it "her bounty."

What kid says: "YES!, four by four gauze!" ???

The kid is a freak. A loveable freak, but a freak none the less.

The freak says:
"THANK YOU - Amie S. - Heidi F. - Jen H. - Grandma B. - and Int'l Aid"
(Bring on the bleeding people)

Home At Last

Flat tires, (on the airplane) rain delays, and confiscated liquid goods aside, it was a pretty decent trip home. We are tired and happy.

There was nothing too funny or interesting ... Stevie Wonder and Denny Green (former head coach of the MN Vikings) got together and had a child. He was on our plane. I could not stop staring at him. He was a little more to the Stevie than the Denny.

Happy Together-
T& T and Tribe

At Last? Maybe Not.

Well, fortunately I haven't left the mission to pick up the rest of the tribe yet...every time I check online, the flight is delayed further. Hopefully they still make it here tonight. We'd all rather be in Haiti than in a dangerous foreign country like Miami. Pray for safe travels.

-Troy Posted by Picasa

We ended the week strong, accomplished a lot, unloaded my head a little, and didn't mistake any employees for livestock.

We can't wait to see the rest of the tribe later today.


Friday, August 25, 2006

MN Trip Photos

We are on our way to the airport in just a few hours. We have to leave my parents house at 3:30am. We are so excited to see Troy and Ike and Hope.

Our sweet new nephew Porter

Cousin Timmy - Paige - Noah
Girls in Okoboji with Mom/Grandma

Lisa and Britt
Erik, Nik and Gabriel- they are coming soon to Haiti to get their daughter!!!!

Leaving is bittersweet. We all want to go home but it is hard (especially for me) to say goodbye for such a long time. I don't anticipate being back for a year. My nephew will be walking the next time I see him. :( Goodbyes are hard.

Friday night Family party ... Uncle Rick/Aunt Dianne & Cousins Nikki/Aaron my sister/BIL and newphews all came for dinner. We laughed and mocked and Aaron did many great imitations and then it came time to go ... so we prayed together and cried and hugged. And cried and hugged.

As a parting gift I attempted to burn my mother's house down. Lisa had given me three books to read (one Oprah book club two non-Oprah book club) and like an idiot I left them outside one night. The night it rained three inches. So I put the books in the oven at 150 degrees. At bedtime I turned the oven off. This morning my mom pre-heated the oven to 375, and .... thankfully she went to put something in the oven shortly after that or she would have found flaming books. They are crispy on the outside now and wet on the inside. sorry lisa!

Thank you Mom and Dad, Matt and Tina, Pals family Cousins and Aunts and Uncles, Porter family Cousins and Aunts and Uncles, Grandma Porter, Rene's Bible Study, New Joy Ladies, Julia, Lisa, Jody, Tom, Erik, Nik, Nancy, Brit, Erin, Megan, Jenny, Greg, Britta, Karen and all the nice people at the Advance Family Dental, Marcia, Jen, Kris and Jill, & Dr.Stauffer.

Thank you for taking time to see us and hang out with us and make us feel so supported. It is great to be surrounded by people who "get" us and make us feel held close, cared for and loved. Your prayers, kindness and concern leave us without words to properly thank you. There is no way I would want to be in Haiti without our major group of backers, covering us with prayer.

Headed South - Tara, Britt, Paige & Noah