Thursday, November 30

Birthday Party Pics

We had a wonderful afternoon celebrating Paige's life. We all agree the weirdest thing was laying by the pool listening to "I'm Dreaming of a White Christmas."
















Golf Haiti-Style



It is true. There is a golf course in Haiti. A very nice golf course at an exclusive private members-only association called The Petionville Club. I've been fortunate enough to meet "Mr. E." (don't want to give away the identity and ruin the chances of future rounds ;) - he is the director of the club and one of the nicest and most gracious people I've met here in Haiti. (Yes, I'm sure my opinion is biased by the fact that I PLAYED GOLF IN HAITI!!! but he is a very, very nice man.)

Above is a picture Tara wanted to take before we left. She said she needed to show us in our "golf outfits". I assured her that I had no such thing as an "outfit" for playing golf. Randy, however, does. In his defense, we bought this outfit for him as a Father's Day gift, and it most certainly is a "golf outfit". An acquaintance of Randy's, upon seeing the golf outfit on a course one day, said: "Some poor old Jewish guy in Miami can't go to the pool today because you're wearing his shirt." We've gotten a lot of mileage out of that joke.


The golf course is amazing, especially considering what I had expected before arriving. I had pictured a sandy rocky field where you hit balls back and forth. It is a very nicely laid-out course with many hills, large trees, and green grass everywhere. Mr. E. said it is currently in it's best condition ever, and I believe it. Even if we hadn't played golf, I still would have counted the trip worth it just to see and walk on so much grass. There are a couple interesting holes where you play them out of order and use different tee boxes for the same hole...there are 8 actual holes total, I think, and some different ways to play to turn it into an 18-hole round. We were a bit confused at times, but always got straightened out by Fahi - my caddy, and Frenel - Randy's caddy and the club's caddy-master. These guys were great. They are both great golfers, judging from their practice swings, advice, and example shots they offered, speak enough English to give us a hard time about our poor play, and were amazingly skilled at club selection. On the "front nine", Randy kept looking at the clubs Frenel would hand him and say "You gotta be kidding me." But Frenel was right every time, so eventually Randy gave up and just trusted his caddy. Just like being on the PGA tour. I never looked at my clubs, just trusted and knew that Fahi knows way better than I do.


We had a great time and actually played pretty well for a couple of hacks like ourselves. Even after being there, I still can't believe there is that much real estate tucked away there in the hills of Petionville. I had no idea the course would be as big as it is. All sides of it are surrounded by cinder-block walls with razor wire on the top, and there are the crowded concrete homes of Port-au-Prince pushing right up to the walls outside. As always in Haiti, the views were beautiful, and the contrast between the beauty and the despair was hard to take in. It is one of the most surreal experiences I have ever had. Below you can see the mountains across the bay from Port, the Caribbean Sea, the homes of the capital city, and Randy hitting from a terrible lie.


A big thanks to Mr. E. for the opportunity to play at his wonderful club, to Randy for footing the bill, and to Tara for shouldering the extra load while we were away.
In the States, we always said golf was "a good walk spoiled".
Down here, I don't think anything could have spoiled an escape from reality like walking across a grassy golf course in Haiti.

Stay tuned for the video version, and the next golf-related Kennedy installment.

Happy Birthday Paige Noelle

~ Paige Noelle ~

Happy 12th Birthday!


The last year has been a year of big changes for you, not only did you leave the familiarity and comforts of life in Minnesota to move 2,700 miles away to the developing world, but all of a sudden you are a young woman and no longer a little girl. We have been amazed at the graceful, even peaceful way you have emerged into the more mature Paige. Your insights thrill us, it has been so fun for us to watch you learn Creole and minister to the people in LaDigue. Most of all, you always pleasantly surprise us with your depth, faith, and love for others. We're proud Paige! And with good reason. You're a gem. God loves you, we love you!


There are stories that belong in the past, and there are stories that should be told. When I think back on the beginning of this story, I do so with mixed emotions. I have never been one to conceal things. Because facing things squarely brings healing, and healing is from Him, and all things are for His glory, I am inclined to share the story. It is a story of healing. It is a story of HIS love.




To go back to the beginning of Paige' s life is to take a trip through some of the roughest times in my life. There have been plenty of difficult things that I faced due to my sin and poor choices, and the poor choices of the people I surrounded myself with; my pregnancy with Paige was one of those difficult things.

In the truest sense of the definition of "crisis pregnancy," I found out I was pregnant in March of 1994. The weeks and months following this discovery were dark, desperate times for me.
The combination of outside pressure and shame caused me to head down an arduous path, a path that I did not support or condone prior to traveling it. In my hurt and shame I lost myself.


I knew that the relationship I was in crossed boundaries for my parents. I knew I was ignoring the truth of what I had been taught. I knew I should not be involved intimately with someone who was not my husband. I knew all of that. I ignored what I knew. I did not care what God thought about my sin. I just wanted to do what made me feel good about myself in the moment. I was a 22 years old, divorced, single mother; trapped in a cycle of ridiculous choices.

I was under pressure. I felt too afraid and ashamed to go through an unplanned pregnancy "alone" so I shoved aside my beliefs and scheduled an abortion. I kept the pregnancy news quiet. Only two people knew.



Thankfully, God provided an escape plan. Even as I planned it and scheduled it,  I knew that having an abortion would be something I couldn't very easily live with and He  sent a rescue team. The night before my abortion appointment my parents showed up at the door to tell me they had learned of my plan and to remind me that my sin and unplanned baby were not too big for God. They spent hours convincing me that HE could help me deal with it another way and that, contrary to my belief, it was not too big for Him to forgive. They promised to stand by me.

I spent years feeling guilty for even considering ending Paige's life. Not anymore though. Those things have long since been forgiven and forgotten. The Bible says that whenever you come to the Lord with a repentant heart, He will cast that crud into the sea and it will be forgotten. He forgot it when I confessed it, and I'm not reminding Him! It is done.

I really had convinced myself that He could not love me and that I could not endure the shame it would bring to my family. Those were lies I told myself. None of it was true. And while it was, without a doubt, the toughest year of my life; it resulted in one of the greatest gifts I've ever received. I am thankful that rooted somewhere deep in my heart was the truth of God's love for me. Because of that truth, I had the strength and courage to give Paige life. I grieve for young pregnant women who lack God's peace that can (and does) provide them with courage to face mountains. I hurt for those girls who don't receive mercy and compassion from loving family and friends.

Late in my pregnancy, under pressure again, I met with an adoptive couple who I told, "If I do place the baby, I will place it with you." Not long after I met them I wrote the agency and asked them to tell the couple that I would not be placing my baby. I had made a decision to parent. I could not get peace to place, it was not what God had planned for me or for Paige.

Paige was due on November 15. On November 30, we finally used Pitocin and convinced her to appear. My mom, dad and sister were all in the room to welcome her into the world. Every detail of that day is fresh in my memory.

If I said it was all roses from then on, I'd be lying. God still had work to do on me. He works even today. I praise Him for not giving up on me. I thank Him for placing people in my life that would steer me back to His word, His truth, and His unfailing mercy.

Whenever Paige's birthday rolls around, (and it seems to happen faster each year,) I reflect on all the things the Lord has done in my life. He has forgiven me. He loves me enough to give me the gift of this child. I am blessed to parent Paige. There is nothing more humbling. God is good. He has big plans for this young lady.


Photos- 1. With great-grandparents Porter Dec. 1994, Paige three weeks old, Britt 4.5 yrs old 2. Dec. 1994, two weeks old 3. & 4. December 1995 with Grandpa Porter



All the birthday stories are linked on the kids' photos on the left side of the blog.

Wednesday, November 29

Wednesday's Work Report


Dad and Troy messed around with plumbing in one building and electrical issues at the gate. The electricity issues were caused by the 'steal one get one free' plan that some neighbors were using for electricity. The level of their skill (or lack of skill) caused a short for the whole compound and blew out the power for a while ... Troy had the guys dig a hole where he assumed the creative splicing took place, and sure enough there was a bundle of corroded wires causing the problems.


Mom worked on the homemade ice cream this afternoon. After seeing what making it from scratch entails, the $12 per gallon price at the grocery store, seems like much less of a rip-off. We are anxious to have it with birthday cake tomorrow night. To email the birthday girl you can use paigeinhaiti@yahoo.com


Britt (and Paige) are back in business, making house calls and checking in on their peeps. Here are some photos of a few of the people she saw today. Sadly, she has Porter genes and we all have a bit of a sweating problem ... as evidenced by the soaking shirt. She said a week in "cold" Cancun made her body forget how to cool itself efficiently. She will give the full medical report later, complete with wound photos.

Troy is working on his 'golf in Haiti' blog, and has big plans for a golf video offering too ... but now that he had such positive reviews for his driving video, the bar has been raised and he won't just toss any old video on the blog, he wants to keep producing high quality products. Yes, there is a golf course in Haiti, and yes it is a surreal experience.

Have a great evening.

Lovely Update









This little girls is Lovely, she is the five week old baby that showed up here two weeks ago very jaundiced and sick. We have been monitoring and weighing her every few days. When she came on November 15 she was just over 5.5 lbs. She is up to 9 lbs 1 oz today and is starting to look healthy! Thank you for praying for her. We are SO encouraged with her progress. Don't her eyes look great now?



It's a Bird ... It's a Plane

Haiti is well protected from evil. No worries.

Tuesday, November 28

American Airlines


AAAAHHHH. I must peel myself from the walls and go for a run before my nervous energy causes some sort of accident. I wish I knew if this nervousness over my girls is normal mother behavior, or psychotic mother behavior. No. I take it back. I don't really want to know.

The flight was delayed and delayed and ... finally took off 1 hr and 45 minutes late.

Britt talked my ear off for a while and they both had fun and sound happy.

Actually, there is way less stress involved once Britt is with Paige. She would plow over anybody who tried to mess with her little sister and is basically a fully functioning adult. She assured me she knew how to navigate the PAP airport in the fastest time possible, and that her dad and grandpa could expect to see them emerging from the airport before anyone else. She'll puff her chest out and act like she owns the place; the key to success in the PAP airport.

Thanks for praying for them today!

Even More Photos



























These make me laugh...


I am not sure why I am so amused by these goofy reverse motivational posters ... I just am.
I woke up at 4am thinking about my girls. Both of them are sitting in airports right about now waiting to head to Miami. If you see this Tuesday morning please pray for easy travel and that they both get to Miami by 11am (like they are supposed to) and that they find each other easily so they can get on the 2pm flight to Port together. These travel days give me a gut ache.
Troy and Dad are hoping to find out that the Petionville golf course will let them come golf today. Troy golfed there once before with Jamie and said it was one of the weirdest experiences of his entire life. A golf course in the middle of stark poverty is an odd phenomenon. If they get to go, I will ask Troy to write about it this time.
Mom and Dad bought us a Christmas tree (also known as a Palm Tree) and an ice cream maker. We might do a practice run on the ice-cream today so we have it perfected in time for Paige's party.
Have a good day.
tara

Monday, November 27

Photos from Monday


Barbancourt Feeding Center













Like Karen Carpenter said ...



"Rainy Days and Mondays Always Get Me Down."

No, not always. I'm good. I'm praying for my girls, who spend the whole day traveling back home to Haiti tomorrow, and praying for baby answers.


I think it got my mom down though. We went on an outing to Lifeline's largest feeding center. It made mom sad. (It rained a lot today, right in the middle of the day, which is unusual.)

Weird Thanksgiving Habits of Missionaries

Some people swim in a pool.

Some people sing.

And, some people sit around an empty pool and sing.

Parent Things

There are so many things that you grow accustomed to after living in this country for a time.


One cool thing about having people come visit, is that you can see Haiti with fresh eyes as you listen to them take it all in. When a guest blogger recently described Port au Prince it made me recognize that I no longer see some of the devastation.



My dad commented about Hope shrugging after bumping into the guard with the sawed off shotgun at the place we had lunch. I realized that there are guys in the fast food place with SAWED OFF SHOT GUNS. That is normal to me now.


Also, apparently, it is hot here. Or so my dad keeps saying.


My mom wants to start a ministry to pick up the trash. It really bothers her. She wants to know why someone, anyone, cannot just start picking it up. Valid questions, but ones I don't ponder anymore.



I will allow my mother to guest blog. After all, her language is clean and she knows how to spell. Those are the only prerequisites for the un-missionary blog. Plus, who knows, I might learn more things about the country in which I reside. I WOULD allow my dad to blog, but it would read like this:


Haiti needs some work. Good talking with you.
R.


He is a man of few written words. Don't get me wrong, he has things to say, just not in the written form. Weekly I send him long, heartfelt emails -- just laying it out there --- filled with questions pontificating the greater meaning of things. Here is the reply I get over and over and over again.



Sounds good. Love you.
Dad


Last night we watched a video about Ken & Elaine Jacobs, missionaries to the Chamulans in Mexico. It was an awesome story of how two people started working with one man and how that man began a chain of events that led to thousands coming to know Christ in an area heavily controlled by oppressive systems of religion and government. The indigenous people of the area wore furry ponchos and my dad did his own narrating off to the side. While they were sharing their testimonies of faith, dad said "and here I chose to wear my bear suit today. I went with the Polar bear today, I took off the bear head for this interview."


This is the level of maturity displayed by the man who raised me. One commenter recently said she was not accustomed to such irreverent people working on the mission field. Blame him.



Sunday, November 26

They're Here


We are so happy Grandma & Grandpa made it here safely. Their flight got in on time, they received the usual welcome of Haitians shouting and fighting over bags, it all went well.


We had fun staying at the Visa Lodge last night. This morning Troy went to Worship Team rehearsal then came to pick us up for church. It was a great service (my mom says WONDERFUL) she will guest blog sometime this week.
We went to lunch and stopped in at the McHoul's for dessert on the way home. It is so great to be together ... All my homesickness from last week went out the window, you won't have to hear me whine about homesickness until December 23. ;-)
Much Love from La Digue-
Tara for all

Saturday, November 25

Ten Things

This blog is supposed to be about Haiti and our family ... And not much else.

But, for today, I am bored with those topics. Plus, everyone is Christmas shopping, so there are only 4 people reading this anyway.

In the blogosphere there is this odd thing were you "tag" someone to do a list. A lot of people have the "100 things about me" list. I don't have 100 things to say about me or anything. So, rather than go with what I was tagged to do, I am rebelling against 100 things and switching it to ten things I want to do before I die. Put your ten things in the comments section. Or put three things, or whatever.


In no particular order, staving off boredom with...

Ten Things I want to do Before I meet My Maker:


  1. Put and end to The Blue Man Group (the most awful two hours of my life - after I put an end to them I would like all the toilet paper they waste in their shows to be donated to public restrooms all across Haiti; where there is never t.p. available)

  2. Scuba dive (with tanks and fancy gear & stuff)

  3. Go on an Alaskan cruise

  4. Climb Mt. Kilimanjaro (towards the top of the list)

  5. Skydive (Not tandem)

  6. See some people I care about come to know Jesus (maybe this should have been first?)

  7. Go to the Holy Land (walk where Jesus walked)

  8. Meet my niece

  9. Learn to play golf, then beat Troy at it (no explanation necessary)

  10. Get a glimpse of what my kids will do with their God-given gifts

Haiti related-


Today is the Saturday for Pastor's Training. Troy will do a short piece of it, then he is turning it over to the famed man behind the Cazale ministry, Mr. Davis Zachary. Zach is teaching today and Troy couldn't be more excited. Once that is finished we are loading up the mini-tribe and the dog and heading to Port to get G & G. We are staying in town tonight to make tomorrow mornings church commute less horrible. We'll check back in Sunday afternoon.


Friday, November 24

Friday


Today is pay-day and report card day in La Digue. The kids get out of school early, right after report cards are handed out.


We are counting the hours till grandma and grandpa Porter arrive. (Tara's parents) They get in Saturday late afternoon. Isaac started the countdown at 10 sleeps, we are glad to be down to one sleep left! Dad has been to Haiti twice before, and Mom once. We are glad to have another chance to show them the sights and just be together. On Sunday we'll take them to visit our Port au Prince church and then when Paige gets back our other big outing will be for her birthday party on Thursday.



Hope is getting fresh braids, Ike had a haircut just to be sure everybody looks spiffy for G and G. Mom and Dad have not seen Hope or Ike since March, both of them have grown close to four inches since then.



If you are wondering how we are doing with the "baby-watch," we'll honestly tell you that we are a bit stressed. When we're rational we can calmly discern that God has a plan for this baby girl and that He will be letting us in on that plan when it makes sense to Him. We understand that we're not in control and that we are probably supposed to be learning something while we wait.



When we're irrational, and less faithful, we wonder if the baby is still living, if maybe mom and baby are too sick to come, if mom has some other agenda that we are not yet aware of ... and on and on. We are trying not to imagine the worst and reminding ourselves that when Hope was born she stayed with her (her mom) for 28 days before she was placed in the orphanage.



We think it is unlikely that the girls' mom has decided to keep the new baby girl. But, even if that is the case, that would be so much better then some of the imagined scenarios. Knowing this is Hopie's little sister created and instant bond in our hearts and we're just praying that she is healthy and in no danger in Cite Soleil.

We honestly just wanted to ask you to keep praying for their safety. It would be such a relief if we had answers soon and the ability to introduce her to my parents this coming week.


Good Luck with your Christmas shopping. That is one tradition we're not sad to be missing. :-)



With Love and Thanks,
T & T and reduced Tribe

Bread Smugglers



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