Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Sheese - Burger Anyone?

Above, totally random and unrelated photos.

First Lydie hating the way her parents are not focused on her. Second a menu from a nearby beach. We struggled to decided between the Amburger and the Sheese burger. Third, Tess & Ike - the two founding members of the long thin arm club.


Troy took Paige and Ike to go do the team shopping yesterday. The list for team shopping is always quite large. In addition to the team list we were picking up some items for Licia. There is something kind of creepy feeling about buying that much food all at once. Not that it is wrong but just that you're always ultra aware of it in this country. Just outside the doors of the grocery store are thousands of people that live meal to meal - literally hoping to sell something so they can buy dinner for the next day. That can make you feel a little bit squirmy while you pile a cart full of food to feed 20 people for a week or two.
I always write the list in the order of the aisles to make the shopping go faster. We use the same menus for each team, and as long as all of the important items are in the store we never vary the list too much. The things we have had trouble getting we stocked up on in the U.S. and brought back. We know where to find cheese when cheese cannot be found. It is all a game that requires skill and imagination.
Yesterday the list said "30 Hamburger buns" which meant 30 total buns. Troy sent Paige to grab the buns. He said he laughed when she came wheeling back toward him with 30 bags of buns (300 buns). Troy said the entire cart was full of just hamburger buns and she came back concerned because Licia's order would not fit. They corrected the error - the team arriving tomorrow will be offered more than just buns for breakfast, lunch and dinner.
Paige informed me that Troy yelled at some guy for checking her out. Apparently it was a younger guy working at one of the stores and Troy noticed him staring at her and asked him if he could help him. The guy said no that he was just working. Troy said, "No - you're not working you're staring at my daughter - but you should go work." Paige was flattered by the protection - Troy was annoyed and thinks Paige should not be allowed to leave the house until she is 30.
Last night we were having fun at Troy's expense, laughing at him because something he said sounded like an observation only a girl would make. As he sat chatting with us; Jen and Tess told him he was turning girly hanging out with so many chicks all the time. He agreed that maybe he is more in touch with his feminine side. Tess said, "You are SUCH a girl - you cried at Dan in Real Life two nights in a row!" It is true. He watched it twice - he teared up twice.
I better go make some kids get dressed and get them producing some real work. Have a great Wednesday.

Oh Lord, give me the heart of the servant. In every situation, on every occasion, may I seek to serve more than be served. May this become who I am.”

Tuesday, April 29, 2008


(Photo/Kennedy Credit: Aaron S.)

Dear Dad-You do rule. Thank you for closing on the house for us. But more than that, thank you for being totally inconvenienced and annoyed over and over again in the past two weeks. Thanks for moving all the stuff out of the house even though you are getting on in years and have rickety bones. We love you and appreciate you. Thanks to Kurt R. too for helping the old guy.


30 months ago as we prepared to move to Haiti, we were not ready to sell our house in MN. Maybe we were a pathetic combination of short-sighted and totally chicken- or -maybe we were incredibly wise. The jury is still out. Whichever it was, today we sold it.

It is an exciting and sad feeling. The comfort of "having a physical place to call home" is gone, but the stress of the renter and the payment are also gone. Last night I laid in bed having conversations with myself about it all. It went like this for hours until I finally cried to get it over with and then forced myself to think about something else so I might have a shot at some sleep. I believe this stream of consciousness is what would be called unresolved.
A short sampling of the insanity:

  • Oh I am not sure we should have sold, I love the memories in that house
  • but the propane expense would have killed us if we ever went back - seriously who can afford to heat a house anymore - I would have had to pick up shifts all the time
  • But the two trees we planted in the front yard and their significance it is SAD that we left them there
  • But the bathroom floor was so icky and needed replacing
  • I love the fireplace - I will miss it and the snuggling by it
  • The kitchen was too small
  • Who cares I hate to cook
  • No more massive mortgage debt
  • No more house
  • Free from huge loan - how liberating
  • Everyone has huge loans - it is the American way
  • I painted every single wall in that house myself
  • The stuff I chose for the bathroom is too country and dated - not even my taste
  • The neighbors make the entire street look like crud
  • But our place was kind of cute in spite of the appliances in their yards
  • I will miss the lake so much - and the view
  • That lake was more of a swamp
  • Ha! Remember when that boat we had just bought filled with water and sank!?
  • Oh, Paige learned to water ski on that lake-swamp!
  • It would be nice to have it to go back to if we needed/wanted
  • We can go anywhere, we don't have to go to THAT house
  • I love our old bedroom
  • but it was really cold on January mornings
  • If I have no home in MN am I still a Minnesotan? Huh.
  • Maybe we should have waited until the market recovered and made a decent profit
  • God will provide - He operates above profits and markets (repeat repeat repeat)
  • Hope and Isaac and Noah all came home to that house as their first home - oh! sad!
  • Phoebe and Lydie didn't - Britt and Paige didn't - that is more that did not than did - get over it you sappy fool
  • It sure was nice to have a renter covering the payment and still have the tax benefits
  • Tax benefits? Those are just words- you don't even know what you're saying. Who are you??? Seriously.
  • Is Haiti home now?
  • Haiti is not home.
  • Haiti IS home.
  • Minnesota is home.
  • No it is not. You have no home.
  • I want to live there again - I love it!
  • I am glad I never have to live there again - there are way better places! God has us in Haiti for a long while anyway.

The real estate deal was one of the oddest in history. Our house had been on the market since November 15. We like to wait until the 1. worst time in the history of the real estate market AND 2. the worst time of the calendar year combined --- then make our move to sell. We are retarded like that.

Of course not one person looked at it until the holiday season was over. One of the coldest winters on record helped nothing when we ran out of high-priced-propane and had to make the decision to let the house get/stay cold.

One person who looked at it left feedback that said, "It was too cold to see." As in, their retinas froze in place or something along those lines.

Once the house was heated again we had an offer come in. We have a crusty old realtor (that is for all of you at New Joy Church) that told us the offer was an insult and not to take it, and we agreed with him. The buyers were asking for ridiculous amounts of furniture for free, plus the offer was total crud.

We went back with a strong counter offer which they accepted. The closing was set for May 16. A few days later they switched it to May 8. A few days later we found out our septic tank drain field is "non compliant." That is a huge problem. We figured the deal would be off or slowed way down. Wrong. They wanted to close on April 28 or 29 instead. Huh????

The septic drain field is still crappy (pun intended) but it will be fixed with escrow money. (The DNR takes issue with non-compliant septic systems draining into lakes. Go figure.)

I think it is good that my Dad went and acted as Power of Attorney at closing because I would have wanted to ask them what they were thinking with their first offer and why the spazzy rush to close. I dislike them. Mostly for totally irrational reasons. I don't even know them; but still - the dislike.

We were asked to price out our furniture for them so they could decide what to buy. We priced it all at low garage sale prices. None of it was intended for haggling. For example, two fairly new dehumidifiers were priced at $10 each. They counter offered on ten dollar items. They offered $5 each. Seriously. You're buying a house for many thousands of dollars and you want to act like you're in Tijuana dickering over blankets or a Sombrero. Please.

And so, it is done. There is no house to go back to - so I guess we better not ever want to run away. Do I find it odd that this house has such a hold on me? Yes. Do I question if maybe I am too wrapped up in the dumb place? Yes. Does it make sense to be so weird and possessive about a house that I have not even lived in since December of 2005 when I am surrounded by people that live in 10X10 huts? No. It makes no sense and it is not too cool either.

(Troy is not the least bit torn - I just called to tell him it all went through and he said, "Hallelujah the monkey is off my back." )

Men. :( hrumph.

I question the wisdom in letting you inside my tortured mind ... but it's written now - and nobody ever accused me of being wise. Plus, the only other thing I have to blog about today is mosquitoes, sick kids, and slow Internet ... and all of that is equally uninteresting blogging material.

TO Dave Foy -

(someone read this to him or help him get on the Internet or something)
Thank you for everything you and your team did for us. We know you never signed up for the real-estate drama this turned into, but you stuck with us and we appreciate you and have been blessed by the love you've shown us.

(And - if you're buying/selling a house in the Twin Cities, Dave is your guy - call him!)

With gratitude,

troy and tara and family

Haitian Proverb

Lespwa fe viv: Se vre
Hope makes us live.

Monday, April 28, 2008

On the Road

The Minnesotans in the crowd might know about the show called "On the Road with Jason Davis" that airs on Sunday night on Channel 5 or KSTP. The show spotlights positive things Minnesotans are doing locally, nationwide and all around the world.

About a month ago Jason Davis and one of his producers stayed here at our house for a night to do some filming of their show to be aired May 11th. The show is featuring a Minnesotan named Richard Proudfit.

Proudfit is the man who started "Kids Against Hunger" formerly known as Feeding Children Int'l. He has worked hard to get food to many countries in the world. Lots of Minnesotans have volunteered and packaged his food over the years. Lifeline is currently one of many ministries that uses some of the food produced by Proudfit's organization.

If you get a chance to watch it on May 11th after the 10pm News, you will see a lot of footage from right in our village as well as some footage that they shot in Cite Soleil.

For those of you not in the Twin Cities metro area, Jason suggests checking the website on Monday May 12th or shortly thereafter to see the show on line.

I will try to remind you again closer to the date the show will air.


At about 5pm today Phoebe turned the corner and she is talking and acting more like normal. Thanks so much for praying for her!

For the first time ever, all 11 of us went to eat at at a nearby beach yesterday. It was odd to all leave the mission at once. Other than Phoebe puking at the table, it was a nice time.

Phoebe has been running a 102 to 103+ temp for about 12 hours. We'll take her for lab work tomorrow if things are not any better. If you could please pray for her, we're concerned and trying to juggle a lot of things.

Saturday, April 26, 2008

I will never be President, not even in a dream

Just a day ago I poked my finger at your misfortune. I laughed in the face of the pain you endure day after day on CNN, ABC, FOX, CBS.

It is wonderful not having TV reception and it is wonderful not having the 2008 Presidential race in my face all. the. time. I have been reading things here and there on the Internet. I have been chatting with my Dad a bit. I have listened to other thoughts as Jen and Tess and Troy follow along with the hubbub on line as well.

I *thought* I was pretty comfortably removed from the process - until last night.

I dreamed that I was running for office. I kept getting letters from my Dad telling me why Obama could not win, why he thought that would be terrible. The pressure was on me to win. Dad seemed to think the entire universe and its well-being depended upon my candicacy ending with a succesful bid for the Oval office.

Of course my opponents were doing everything in their power to dig up dirt on me. The problem at first was that I aleady told every bad thing I had ever done on my blog. That left them with little to dig up. They were stumped, so they had to dig deeper. I kept moving forward, gaining momentum while they languished in frustration over my squeaky clean record.

Until ...

They found out about the fight I got in back in the 6th grade. The fight itself was not so terribly scandalous, the boy I fought with had picked on me for weeks on end.

One day at the end of his driveway two houses down from mine, in Brooklyn Park, MN - I saw my opportunity to take him down. When he was looking away for a moment during our heated verbal exchange, I took a cheap shot and with all my strength and two hands planted firmly on his shoulders, I pushed him hard. He went flying backward into three garbage cans that sat at the end of his driveway. 6th grader Tara Porter, takes down 7th grader Mario Perez.

The headlines the next day, "Presidential candidate prejudiced - proven record of beating a man of Hispanic descent."

That one fight, with the boy two doors down, that took place in 1984, brought the entire house of cards down around me. Dad was disappointed. I dropped out of the race, and my political career was effectively over that very day.

All of this is to say, as far removed as we are from the never-ending news coverage ... Apparently we're still engaged on some level. Or why would I be dreaming about it?

Sorry Dad.

Friday, April 25, 2008

Blink an eye - Two years go by

End of April 2006
This morning we woke up too early and heard from bed that pretty much every last child was awake and playing in the family room. Troy asked how in the heck we ended up running a child-care center that opens at 6am. I reminded him this was all his idea. This group of five (above) was so much more manageable than the thing we've got going on now. Sigh. I am trying to figure a way to trap Tess here with us forever. Ideas? Send them to me privately - I am working against a lot of people in MN that are excited to have her back in the North in about a month.
Noah went to wake up Tess this morning (without our permission) to ask her to use her long arms to get something off the ledge for him. Tess is apparently some sort of saint because she actually got up to try to help him with his request. The entire world revolves around Noah and his needs. Yesterday he wore his goofy little fanny pack in the kiddie pool, came out, dried it with a towel and wore it to bed again.
We were asking the kids about their future plans last night. Both Isaac and Hope plan to marry at age 35. Noah thinks he will marry when he is 15. They chose those numbers independent of any suggestions from the adults in the room.
The last time we talked about it Isaac said, "I am going to name my wife Tara." I told him his wife would come with a name and that was not going to be an option. He then said, "Well, then I will name my kids. I might name them God, Jesus and Magic."
This has us questioning his theology (among other things). We're working on figuring out what the heck is going on in his head. When we told him those names were not good kid names, not a single one of them ... he said, "Okay- then I will name my kid Butterscotch." He is a constant source of entertainment.
Today is payday, I still have no idea how Troy keeps it all straight ... or how he forces himself to touch piles of incredibly dirty money while he sorts it all out. The office smells downright funky on payday.
We're preparing for our May 1 team, getting things planned, purchased and ready. We're anxious to meet them - and spend a week giving them the Haiti experience - they are all very excited to come so we're glad that the situation in Port and around the country seems to have quieted down.
Have a great weekend, I asked Troy to give me a new group of Haiti photos to post, we'll try to put photos up even if we have nothing else to say.

Thursday, April 24, 2008

Kennedy for the Americans

The definition of a Kennedy is here. (First Kennedy post.)

The most recent Kennedy we posted is here ... where in fact we may have falsely assumed something about one of the presidential candidates.

In light of those premature assumptions about that particular candidate, and taking into consideration the news out of the great state of Pennsylvania ... we bring you
Today's Kennedy :
Or not.

And, for the record ... I am THRILLED to be far, far away from the never-ending coverage and the talking heads and the blah blah blah of the entirely too long and terribly arduous process.

Kennedy Photo Credit- Lori and Licia @ Cazale

Irresistible Mischief-makers

The cat has just been freed from a cardboard box.

photos that don't make the blog

Phoebe playing hard to get ...

Hope trying to get something ...

Paige loving math ...

Hope's solution to the lack of salons and Lee Press-On nails available to her in Haiti ... also may come in handy the next time she needs to find something in her nose.

Time for coffee here. Lots of coffee. First kid got up at 5:40. :(
The children embrace the early to rise Haiti way of life. The parents do not.

Wrestling II

All the self-examination and wrestling has brought to the surface a few things that I'd like to change about myself and be more aware of in coming days and months . I feel ultra-aware of the way some of my beliefs about God are bent towards poorly thought out, yet deeply rooted legalism (which I hate) and some tendencies towards believing whatever is easiest to believe. If that makes any sense at all... and it probably doesn't.

I think I know what I mean. But I can see why maybe that does not really translate to *you* knowing what I mean. Ignore me. I don't even know why I am trying to write this in the first place.

Living here I don't often get to church with Troy (sooo many kids - too far away - too early in the morning with his worship team schedule) and my lack of Creole skills combined with the Haitian style of service does not exactly feed me spiritually ... So I listen to podcast sermons from two Minnesota churches. (If our home church had a podcast, I'd add it as a third.)

I've pointed you towards some sermons from Church of the Open Door before. I totally dig the two teaching pastors at Open Door. Lately I am following a series at Woodland Hills Church about "believism" and moving beyond belief. The timing of the series fits with this wrestling phase I am in.

I know it is hard to make time for this stuff ... if you are like me you barely succeed at reading a Bible so how the heck are you gonna add another sermon? -- but maybe a handful of you would be interested in these messages. They are NOT boring.

The Links (MP3) are right on the sermon titles -

I am specifically recommending the sermons by Greg Boyd called "Facing Reality" & "Inside Out"

Jesus didn’t water down his message for the crowds or give them just what they wanted to hear. Jesus called them (and us) to repent – to face reality and turn from living in lies that hinder our ability to participate in what God is doing in the world. God’s Kingdom happens in our lives and in our communities when we repent and line our lives up with God’s way of looking at the world and God’s ways of living. [Focus Scripture: Luke 11:29-32]

How does true spiritual change occur? Sometimes we focus on the outside and try to change ourselves through what we do. But we don’t become clean by paying attention to external “religious” behaviors. In this sermon we’re challenged with the example of generosity to the poor and learn that becoming clean is an “inside-out” process, where we allow the Spirit of God to transform us on the inside so that our outside behavior lines up with his Kingdom. [Focus Scripture: Luke 11:37-41]

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

More Cultural Things

The other day I was with my friend Beth. We were chatting in line and people kept telling me that I was in the wrong line. I knew I was but I was going to chat with Beth and then go to the line I belonged in after we finished talking. Because I am not naturally a super patient and kind person my immediate tendency is to sort of get annoyed with being told I am in the wrong place, sort of a "Duuuh, yeah I know I am in the wrong line - quit bossing me around!" type response. When trying to determine how I ended up being surly, I decided my grandfather might be to blame. Once, when he was robbed at gunpoint and was being yelled at to put money into a paper bag; he told the robbers to put the money in the bag themselves if they wanted it. I come from a long line of people who don't like to be bossed around. Personality flaws passed from generation to generation.

I just nodded politely the first two times and said, "Yep I am just here to talk to my friend then I will move." On the third time someone told me I must have looked annoyed, Beth said, "Isn't it nice how everyone is looking out for you to tell you where the correct line is for your ticket?" It struck me that I am usually bugged first -- rather than just rolling with it and assuming it is a kind gesture. I liked the way Beth guessed they were helping rather than bossing. Not a bad idea at all. When I get all grow up, I think I will try to act like that.

The other way I have received lots of "help" is in the area of baby-rearing. Besides the socks on baby rule and the warm clothing rule (even when it is a bazillion degrees accompanied by smothering humidity) -- there is also no shortage of ti-blan grangou (hungry baby) experts around.

Apparently Certified Lactation Consultants ABOUND in this land. ;) I have been amazed how many people will tell me WHY Lydia is crying when I am out in public. The common advice I get: "Bebe vle tete." Which literally means, baby wants breast. The larger issue is that then they stand watching and waiting to see if I am indeed going to quiet the baby- right there on the spot. The week I spent in the hospital it became apparent to me that I better get over my need to nurse privately ... what with 32 different lab people, nurses, & cleaning people of both sexes coming in and out all day.

But every time someone says tete to me, the 12 year old in me comes out and I get all squirrely when they use that word. Very mature, I know.

I have never told another mom in Target that had a crying baby -- "Yeah, your baby wants to eat lady. Offer the kid a breast would you?" Not planning on it anytime soon either. I have heard from Haitian ladies and gents that Lydie wants to eat no less than 20 times in recent months -- which does not mean I don't giggle at their word for breast - but it does mean that I now realize that people mean well and are just offering trying to help.

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

conversations w/ Peter installment II

We rode with Peter again today ... he did not fail to entertain, inform or share strong opinions.

1. I asked him what he thinks about the Prime Minister being asked to leave (fired) and if he supports Preval or if he still likes Aristide. He said, "Oh, I tell you what. I don't like or dislike any of them. My family tells me and I listen, not to get involved in politics, it is the way to end up dead. I think it is all corrupt and all of them, Duvalier, Preval, Aristide - they are all crooks. They're not interested in the best for the country or the people, just themselves."

*I am quoting ONE person, not claiming everyone feels this way. (Interesting thoughts on being too actively involved in the political process equaling danger though.)

2. Out of the blue Peter said, "I don't know why Haitians (keeping in mind he is Haitian) insist on stuffing their babies - it is crazy to do that when it is 90 degrees! Always a hat and socks and a blanket on the poor baby when it is so hot. I tell my wife and I tell my wife not to stuff our baby but every day I come home from work and there is the baby with a hat and all kinds of clothes on!"

When he says "stuff the baby" he means putting on a bunch of warm clothes and wrapping the baby up. It is true that I get lots of looks over not having socks on Lydie - and sometimes *gasp* I let her sit around in a diaper only!!!!! ;)

3. We were discussing his Mom and Dad who live in Florida and have for 40 years. He said that his Mom always calls him worrying. She hates that he is in Haiti and she worries about him and even more so his older brother who is also here in Haiti now. He said, "I told her - do what the chickens do. We were little chicks, you stayed right by us, you watched us you took care of everything. But now we are not little chicks, and like the chickens you need to not know about us anymore. Mama chickens don't know where their kids are anymore and you need to do that too. You will kill yourself worrying about us. Stop now. You did a good job now you are done!"

4. I was asking about some flirting I had seen between a 28 year old employee and some of the 6th grade girls. We talked about the cultural way of much older men choosing young women and even girls and how that is an accepted thing culturally. Peter said that yes, a 28 or even 50 year old man can choose a 13, 14, 16 year old girl and that as long as the family of that girl takes no issue with it - it is totally fine. Peter said that it "makes him sick" how that happens and is not seen as a problem or abuse. He said that if the family thinks the man will take care of the young girl, they feel that they might even be doing her a favor to allow the relationship.

We all hold our own cultural norms as the "best" way to do things. I am attempting to share culture without putting too much personal spin/opinion in --- but lets be honest, that is almost impossible.

Monday, April 21, 2008

Ike & Annie

Blogs connect people in many cool ways ... we're thankful for those connections. Some of you go all the way back to 2002 and you remember when Isaac was a baby in the PIHS orphanage. Someone asked to see Ike's baby photo side by side with Annie. Above, Ike at 7 months (the first time we met him) and below, Annie at 5 months.

Sunday, April 20, 2008

We're recognizing some of our own tendencies to try to please people and to always want everyone to like us. It has not happened yet, and it probably won't ever happen. So, rather than go slowly, insane, we're working on letting go of that nutty idea all together. God wants us all to desire Him and His approval -it is a journey and we're hopeful that along the way we learn a lot about loving Him and about loving others - whether they approve of us or not.

This song is good. Hope you like it.

Sara Groves - This Journey is My Own

When I stand before the Lord, I'll be standing alone. This journey is my own. Still I want man's advice, and I need man's approval, but this journey is my own

CHORUS: Why would I want to live for man and pay the highest price? What would it mean to gain the world, only to lose my life?

So much of what I do is to make a good impression. This journey is my own. So much of what I say is to make myself look better. This journey is my own I have never felt relief like I feel it right now. This journey is my own.

' Cause trying to please the world it was breaking me down, it was breaking me down Now I live and I breathe for an audience of one, now I live and I breath for an audience of one. Now I live and I breathe for an audience of one, 'cause I know this journey is my own

You can live for someone else, and it will only bring you pain. I can't even judge myself. Only the Lord can say, "Well done."

Run Beth Run

A 20 year missionary to Haiti - Beth is an amazing friend and mentor to me. Tomorrow she runs the Boston Marathon. How stinkin' crazy is that?

Beth, I am praying for you and hoping that at about mile 20 or 21 - you feel like you traded your tired old legs in for some crazy-fast Kenyan man's legs. I love you! You can do it!

Friday, April 18, 2008

conversations w/ Peter

Troy and I were riding with Peter yesterday. After the ride I asked Troy why he never writes any of the conversations down. There is ENDLESS blog material in an hour ride with Peter. I was in the backseat shooting Troy looks in the rear view mirror the entire time.

Just to re-cap some of the quirky cultural oddities ...

1. Troy was telling Peter how a super nice guy was helping him fix a tire on Sunday. Another guy came along and started griping at Troy and yelling at him that he had parked too close to the side of road and would cause an accident. (This is funny in and of itself because we all know there are no safety precautions when it comes to driving in Haiti - but this guy was apparently terribly concerned- the self-appointed safety police of Arcahaie.) So, the guy fixing the truck got up and told the guy who was griping that he better knock it off and if Troy were not a white guy he would never be hassling him in the first place. Troy said, "Yeah, I thought that was pretty nice of the guy fixing my truck." Peter said, "Well, that angry guy was stepping on his money." That had not really occurred to Troy. The guy fixing the tire did not want Troy to move away therefore causing him to lose a way to make some money. None of us like it when someone "steps on our money." :)

2. Peter has a daughter that is two weeks older than Lydie. I asked how she was doing and if she had any teeth yet. He said, "No she does not have teeth but boy she puts everything her mouth. I just cannot keep her from it. So I give her a chicken leg to chew on. Oh she has chicken all over her face and head. She just loves to chew on a chicken leg." So, when the Pediatrician recommends adding in fruits and vegetables, maybe some Cheerios at six months - they are forgetting to tell you about the chicken legs. According to Peter this is excellent baby food.

Peter's son is named Nakim. Originally, they named their new baby girl Clessia - after one of Peter's sisters. Recently we heard him calling her a different name. He told us he changed it to Mikan and said "I wanted her name to be like Nakim, but backwards. See what I did there?" We see, but still think it's odd. We can't be too critical, however, because we thought about naming Lydia something different. Like Haon. See what we did there?

and the sad one ...

3. Peter was talking about a particular kid in our village. Like lots of kids his family is kind of a mess. The kid is constantly in trouble. Peter said, with no shock in his voice, no disbelief - just sort of telling a normal every day story, "Yeah, Edmond must have been stealing because his hand was all wrapped up from his mother sticking it in the charcoal." He might as well have been saying, "Yeah Edmond got a timeout." Harsh punishment is a cultural norm. Troy says there is a Haitian proverb about this ... it is something like, "Timoun se ti bet" which basically means little children are little animals. The punishment for misbehavior is terribly harsh and totally accepted.

I rarely ride around town with Peter, I told Troy he needs to travel with pen and paper and take notes.

Thursday, April 17, 2008

More on Our Father's Love

Click above to play:

How deep the Father’s love for us,
how vast beyond all measure
that He should give His only Son
to make a wretch His treasure.
How great the pain of searing loss.
The Father turns His face away
as wounds which mar the Chosen One
bring many sons to glory.

Behold the Man upon the cross,
my sin upon His shoulders.
Ashamed, I hear my mocking voice
call out among the scoffers.
It was my sin that held Him there
until it was accomplished;
His dying breath has brought me life.
I know that it is finished.

I will not boast in anything:
no gifts, no pow’r, no wisdom.
But I will boast in Jesus Christ:
His death and resurrection.
Why should I gain from His reward?
I cannot give an answer.
But this I know with all my heart:
His wounds have paid my ransom.

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

More posting of things of almost no real importance

While Tess and I attempt to become nice each morning (read: coffee, lots of coffee) Lydie and Annie hang out together with their toys.
Above, photo-proof of the lengths that cat will go to get away from Noah. Expect to see a photo of Noah up there very soon. :(

This morning Phoebe dumped baby powder EVERYWHERE in the room she shares with Hope. When I asked Hope, "Is it pretty bad?" Hope said, "It is a mess Mom! (Insert disdain in voice) Phoebe needs to learn some things."

And don't we all.

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Circa 1982 - Paul McCartney & Stevie Wonder

Ebony & Ivory
"Live together in Perfect Harmony Side by side on my piano keyboard Oh Lord, why don't we?"

Just Kidding.
They don't play piano.

But they do love Itunes. And they live together.

Time to pitch in on the subject of Haiti’s escalating situation, my naughty son, and the Father’s love for us.

Troy wrote this a week ago, and I kept forgetting to post it ... if you have been reading for more than two days - you know Troy is more mature than me and less of a tortured soul. I really love the guy and I am glad God allowed our lives to intersect. :) You can certainly see why he now has more than 60 Facebook friends. ;) Oh - hey, I just realized it is the dreaded tax day for you guys. Hope you're ready.

Whenever things get heated in Port and fear starts creeping in regarding my safety and the safety of our family – I always remember one specific time that God spoke to me and gave me peace that surpassed any understanding.

I was driving into downtown Port-Au-Prince over a year ago – at a time when kidnappings were still rampant and there was a lot of gang activity and unrest. The days’ activities required me to have Noah in-tow, so the two of us were headed into the ‘hot zone’ and I was becoming more and more agitated and nervous. I had spoken to a fellow missionary about the area I needed to go into, and he said “I wouldn’t bring my family near there”. My heart was really pounding and I haven’t felt that fearful in a long time, and I began praying. My prayers seemed to be interrupted each time I started with words from above. I started over a few times only to hear the same thing in my head, and then realized it was God answering my prayer before I even put my request into words – He said “HAVE THE FAITH OF A CHILD”. I looked down at Noah sleeping with his head on my lap while we careened through the streets of Port – unafraid, confident in the love and protection of his father - and felt total peace wash over me.

Since then, I always think back to that time and know that the same assurance of His protection still exists. He is immutable and forever. He has called us here to Haiti and we’re safest in the middle of His Will no matter what that means – even if it doesn’t look or feel ‘safe’ in the human sense – even if trouble does befall us – we’re going to remain faithful and trust Him and keep our eyes on the prize – a prize that puts any earthly pleasures or safety or security to shame.

Noah, on the other hand, can be all four seasons in one day. His childlike faith is also accompanied by proof of man’s inherited sinful nature, and it’s amazing to watch the gears turn in his head as he contemplates each next naughty move. He requires supervision at every waking moment, to keep him from giving in to the temptation of destroying something else. He pretty much always has terrible ideas. Recently, I decided that the supervision should also include his nap-time – just in case. Ok, I was really tired so used that as an excuse.

As I laid there looking at him and enjoying his rare peaceful and sweet side – I was overcome with emotion as I thought about how much we’re alike. I really want to please my Heavenly Father, but usually end up spending most of my time doing what I want and what pleases me…and deep down, Noah really wants to please me but doesn’t usually hit the mark either. I hugged him close and said “It’s really hard being a little boy, isn’t it?” He nodded and I started to cry... and I felt God nodding his head and hugging me close, too.



Troy has 56 friends.

Monday, April 14, 2008

Boy Stuff

Thanks for hearing me out on the previous post. Yes I know I did not have comments open and yes it was because I did not want anyone to fix me or give me their solution. I will get to my own solution - or I won't - either way I figure it is my thing to work out. Thankfully the emails that were sent were kind and no one labeled me a heretic. Which is nice.

Things are rolling along here, the mission is running well - things are fairly mellow. We heard no new bad news out of the bigger cities today. If something happened, we are oblivious. Troy said he saw a lot of evidence of the looting and such from last week when he was at church on Sunday, but other than that it was a calm Port au Prince visit yesterday.

We had a good day today. I don't think Noah lied or touched the cat or poured soap down drains.

The day started with an email from Britt to Isaac. Ike printed it and put it on his bed. The pride over receiving email was quite something. It was maybe too much pride because Noah was then jealous and whining about wanting to get email. Isaac wrote back to her. I thought you might enjoy what he said to her. She asked him what she could send him. Here it is typed word for word:

Date: Mon, 14 Apr 2008 06:09:00 -0700 (PDT)
From: Troy/Tara Livesay
Subject: Re: For Isaac Antoine
To: "Britt" <>
HI Britty!!!!
We love you and we are doing good and we love you and we miss you and we cannot wait to see you and we pray for you every time and we love you so much. Can't wait to see you again cause you are nice and loving and just a big sister to me.

Mom says it is 35 sleeps or something close. I just ask the Lord to help you and try your best and never give up. We all love you.

If you want to send me something from America Texas you could send me bubble gum or ordinary gum.



Later on when Noah got his email he wondered where the gum was. He thought the gum would come along with the email right through the screen or something. So. Terribly. Simple. That one is.

Isaac seems to be back on a wave of noticing skin color again. On Saturday he was saying something about making teams for a game and that Lydie and Noah should be on the same team since they are both white. I asked him why and he said, "UH. They both came from your tummy." I meant, why must they be on the same team just based on skin color, he thought I meant why are they white. At least he finally gets that piece of it.

Jen has a dark complexion and Isaac really wonders about her. He can't quite categorize her. But it does not stop him from trying.

A while back the girls told Troy he needed a FaceBook page. He told them he did not, that he was too old. They asked if they could give him one anyway. For the longest time under Activities it said "Being an awesome Dad" and under Interests it said "Being an Awesom-er Dad" -- in the section about what music he liked it said- "whatever my kids tell me is cool." Troy claimed he would never "do" the FaceBook thing. Just today I walked by him and saw that he is up to like 55 "friends" and has even changed some of the stuff the girls had on his profile.

Apppppaaaarreently Troy is not so old all of a sudden. The whole idea of the friends thing is the exact reason I cannot participate. Like, if you only have ten friends that means you are unworthy, a big loser - or something? And, what if you have 100 friends but you technically cannot even say what they like or believe or really know anything about them. Does that mean you've made it? I'll stick to email and blogs ... the popularity pressures of FaceBook are far too great for my wimpy little ego. I do know that Troy ASKED Tess to be his friend. She lives with us and they were not even friends. I think he is just looking for numbers now. Show off.

Sunday, April 13, 2008


You don’t have to read between the lines too much to know that I have been wrestling with some things the last couple months. It is a result of many things - some I've shared here and some I have not. Thankfully, my wrestling does not require me to wear that ugly, tight, one-piece outfit or get those hideous cauliflower ears. (And yes, now I have offended the readers with cauliflower ears - sigh.)

Troy and I have an agreement when we talk. OR, I should say, we have this agreement when *I* talk. If I don’t want him to try to fix me or correct my stupid or angry way of thinking about something – if I just want to vent without his interjections, I say “I am not looking for feedback here.” This has helped us tremendously. I can just spew and not get angry when he tries to give me a quick fix or an answer. It is a system that works well for us.

I share that because my topic tonight is one of deep personal wrestling and not really so much about needing feedback. My fear would be that the feedback would miss the mark and maybe get preachy – and I’m not so much looking for preachy. One of my biggest pet peeves is when you are in a place of really hashing out your faith, bringing things to the surface that have not been examined, going to the mat and arguing things out … When you’re really searching and struggling and someone whose faith is superior to yours (or so they tell you) tosses a Bible verse at you like a weapon. Or they tell you a bunch of crap about why your struggle is not normal, is not sensible and is not “Christian.” I find all that to be unhelpful and untrue.

A blog is technically an on-line journal … Take it or leave it, assume I am totally lost, messed up, and simple - or nod your head in agreement because you get it.

Here is the thing.

In the last two years, and especially this year, I have been in a constant debate with myself about what I believe. My never-ending desire for justice has been totally screwed with by living in this country. Injustice is gargantuan here. Of course it is evident everywhere in the world, but it most certainly feels magnified here. Because nothing is just and nothing is fair and there is no way to make it so … And it is in my face day after day after day, I end up in this place of wrestling.

Of course on some level I know that nothing in this life will ever be made fair. Things like starving kids and sexual abuse, good people getting dumped on ... and all varieties of horrific injustice won’t be wiped out in the here and now. But, for whatever reason I still rail against it all. Over and over and over again I ask “WHY?” And that is where all of my struggle happens.

In Blue Like Jazz, by Donald Miller, he says:
“…This is why Paul had no questions. This is why he could be beaten one day, imprisoned the next, and released only to be beaten again and never ask God why. He understood the earth was fallen. He understood the rules of Rome could not save mankind, that mankind could not save itself; rather it must be rescued, and he knew that he was not in the promised land, but still in the desert, and like Joshua and Caleb he was shouting, “Follow me and trust God!”

My struggle is not totally just with trusting God -- it is more with accepting the fallen-ness and the depravity and the terrible injustice in the world. I mostly trust Him, I just struggle to accept that this is the way it is going to be for now. Screwed up - all the time so screwed up. I always want resolution. I always want justice. It rarely happens. I hate it.

In addition to the constant “Whys” of late I am realizing that I just don’t have all that many answers.

A few years ago, I thought I had so many answers. Name a topic, bam - I could spit out my brilliant and undisputed opinion at you without much contemplation. I did my best to always go with some sort of "this is God's will" type answer whenever things were unclear. Some of my answers probably hurt people ... I had my answer and I probably pushed people away by knowing so darn much. Lately, I feel that most of the toughest questions are questions that won’t ever be fully answered in this life. So much of what I sort of thought I knew – is now filed under the “This is too complex for me” tab in the filing cabinet of my head.

Just because I am a person of faith, a follower of Jesus, a person who desires to know God better - it does not mean I have answers for everything – or even most things. I just know that formulated theology does not work for me and putting God in a box is a mistake. It means I am a work in progress ... sometimes not so much progress, but always a work.

I am starting to be comfortable with not knowing everything. I often feel that I don't know anything at all.

I am currently reading Blue Like Jazz. If you've made it to the end of this post I highly recommend it. The subtitle is "Nonreligious thoughts on Christian Spirituality." The back of the book says this, "Miller's words will resonate with any believer who has ever grappled with the paradoxes of faith."

I am drawn to it because it is incredibly honest and real. It allows me to see that other believers also wrestle - even often -- with questions of their own - and that God is really and truly big enough to allow us to grapple with all of it. He is big enough to stand up to our questions - His ego cannot be damaged by our struggle. He is God.

"Be patient toward all that is unsolved in your heart. And try to love the questions themselves. Do not seek the answers that cannot be given you because you would not be able to live them. And the point is to live everything. Live the questions now. Perhaps you will then gradually, without noticing it, live along some distant day into the answer." -Rainer Maria Rilke, Letters to a Young Poet, 1929

Saturday, April 12, 2008

Phoe to the be Joy

Phoebe is rarely photographed lately. Not because she is not photo-worthy. She is! The fact is, the child has been so terribly miserable lately. You have never seen anything like the inside of her mouth. Her gums are swollen and resemble raw ground beef. She is cutting six teeth at once. We've been medicating her (under the watchful eye of a prrrrretty decent pediatrician) and trying to help her with the pain. The poor child is having a rough few weeks.
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Blogger has been giving us fits ... after numerous attempts to post something witty and informational yesterday, we finally gave up on it.

This is a test. Before we waste any wit or work, does this post show up for you? The photo?

Late edit: It did not work from Haiti (boo!) internet, but B in Texas successfully posted it for all y'all's viewing pleasures. Sic 'em!

Thursday, April 10, 2008

Haiti Beauty

Kid Stuff

Annie Grace

Hope & Isaac

This morning at 6am we heard Noah out of bed. He was out on the porch feeding the cat some dog food. The cat he is not supposed to touch. 6am is a record-early timeout.

In good kid news... For months (six to be exact) I have been getting up with Lydie two or three times a night. I knew that she was basically running the show but it was just a matter of needing to be willing to let her cry through it a few nights. I finally did that and she slept from 8pm until 5:30 today. I don't even know what to do with that much uninterrupted sleep. I might jog to St. Marc today with my extra energy. The other thing I was attempting to do with Lydie was to convince her to take a bottle. Troy and I had high hopes of getting away alone for a couple of nights next weekend. On the third day of fighting it, Lydie won that battle and I have already given up on it. She acted like a bottle of formula was poisonous venom -- there were a couple days of high drama and fasting on her part, then I broke down in a heap of my own drama and told Troy she will have to be our side-kick for any romantic getaway. Lydie wins. Romance loses.
We've decided that Lydie has now taken Phoebe's title of "most photographed baby ever" away. The goal is to catch one of her not looking startled. No luck yet.

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Wednesday, April 09, 2008

thoughts from a PortauPrince resident

Ruth said:

There are several different things going on. First, many, many people are really suffering. They are hungry and they see no future for themselves or their children. People like that demonstrate peacefully - as is their right - and express their legitimate frustration and despair. But there are also people who are taking advantage of the situation to loot and steal. These people I saw today were not Jean Valjeans stealing a loaf of bread because they were hungry. They were taking 5 gallon water bottles and emptying them out, taking ice from the machine and throwing it in the road. They were going from one store to another and breaking all the windows. They were carrying away furniture and even the fire extinguishers. I don't know what all their motives were for this but clearly the motive wasn't to make food prices go down.Without exception, the people from this country with whom I have talked have expressed their disgust with those who are doing these things. They aren't improving the situation of high food prices and a difficult life - they are making the situation worse. Most people here are ashamed that the world is seeing these actions and associating this country with violence and destruction. This is not a violent country. Looters and destroyers do not represent this country any more than serial killers represent the United States.

Dennis The Menace part II

Here's what happened after the last photo of Noah and the cat. Like we said - the cat has had more than enough.

Noah is now "grounded" from the cat. No touching the cat. Period. We'll see if that goes better than, "no dumping shampoo down the drain." Are these expectations too high?????

If having your face clawed at won't stop you - what will?


" I don't mean to be presumptous in speaking my mind, but it's spring -- the season for hope. My hopes for my country are the same as my hopes for my family: that we may craft meaningful locally grounded lives that bless others, and that we may see ourselves as related to all people, even and especially those left out and left behind."

-Jenell Paris

Tuesday, April 08, 2008

Food Prices

Link to an informative MSNBC article about food prices here. This gives a better information about the big picture/longer term effects of the current economy.

Some basic examples of the increases that have been noticed here-

1 bag of rice (50kg) 1200gds ($31.37us) 2000gds ($52.28us)

1 bag or beans (50kg)2000gds ($52.28us) 3000gds ($78.43us)

1 bottle of cook oil 175gds ($4.57us) 300gds ($7.84us)

1gallon of gas 175gds ($4.57us) 230gds ($6.00us)

1 can of powder milk 1000gds ($26.14us) 1800gds ($47.05us)

We know of nothing better to do than pray. Troy was in town today and got in and out with no trouble at all. We're hearing about the trouble.Our friends who live in Port all tell us that they are well and monitoring things closely. We're all asking God for peace and provision and safety and an answer for hungry Haitian families. Praying.

Dennis the Menace

Most parents have one child that pushes them to the brink, forces their "A game", raises the parenting bar, mandates more creativity and tons of patience. For us, that child is Noah Matthew.

Noah is a constant reminder of the Father's love for us. Daily we watch as he breaks our rules, ignores our correction - spits on our genuine efforts of patience . We are left torn between utter and complete love and gentleness and total exhaustion and disappointment.
Many days he uses up more gentleness than we even knew we had. Parenting a child like this helps us understand the depth of God's love for us and the true meaning of grace and forgiveness. We've got ONE kid that pushes us. Imagine the sheer volume of nonsense the Lord deals with daily.

The boy is a mystery. The boy makes us tired. The boy is darling. The boy drives me nuts. The boy melts my heart. Oh how I adore him.

His latest trick has grown annoying quickly. It started with dumping the hand pump soap dispensers out into the sinks. What fun! A few times asking him not to do that and a few time-outs later we switched to bars of soap at his bathroom sink. Problem solved? No. He moved on to shampoo. No less than six full bottles of shampoo have been dumped out in the shower. Never mind the trouble he got in after each and every bottle was dumped; if you spy on him in the bath you can still catch him twisting off the top preparing to pour. We moved the shampoo to higher places.

Yesterday we asked where the bars of soap had gone, only to learn that he flushed them down the toilet. The dumping of bottles of hand-soap and shampoo created bubbles, we could see how that entertained him - but flushing bars of soap down the toilet seems to offer no reward at all. Unless you count a spanking as a reward.

If it were not for the fact that he loves dirt and animals, maybe we would just do away with soap all together. Noah LOVES this cat. He wakes up asking to go see the cat. The poor kitty has had enough of Noah to last her all nine of her lives.

Last night he was walking around with his Childrens Bible opened up to the story of Noah in Genesis. He said, "When am I gonna boat with my ark again?" We told him we are not so sure an ark is part of his story. Then he said, "Aaaawwwww, what about the beard? I don't got no beard either!!!"
Once he stops dumping all of our soap down the drains we'll talk about growing some facial hair. Until then he's beardless.

Economic Hardship

Links to- CNN story & AP Story

We are blessed to be able to absorb the rising cost of food. We've noticed our own grocery bill has increased by about 30% since 2006. The cost of rice is up about 40%. We cannot imagine trying to absorb that sort of increase as a Haitian making very little each month. It is understandable that people are getting angry, but unfortunately the protesting results in little positive change.

We're praying for a great rainy season, growing gardens and that cooler heads prevail.

Monday, April 07, 2008