Thursday, October 30, 2008

MN News

We're back with our kids and headed to some Doctor appt soon. We had an amazing three days at a beautiful lake home -- we're rested and ready to go again. :)

Tomorrow (Friday) we're speaking at the MN Teen Challenge Chapel service first thing in the morning. Sharing about Haiti is easy, sharing our personal testimonies is a little more nerve-wracking. We're hoping that goes really well.

Britt gets in later today. We're excited to see her and power shop for two days. The wedding is only two months away so we're hoping that Friday and Saturday are productive, whatever we don't find will have to be located on line without trying it on. Dressing the entire family for exiting the house in Haiti is a challenge ... getting the wedding apparel for 8 of us figured out will bring us to a whole new level of challenge. :)

Isaac says he is excited for us to come home. Jeronne says that Phoebe does not seem to miss us. We miss them ALL a lot and are anxious to get back to them.

The weekend will be busy and full. We'll find you when we get back home on Monday.

Sunday, October 26, 2008


We made it. About three hours into our time in Miami Noah said, "WHEN are we going to be in the States?!?!?! I thought there was snow here." He was not convinced that Miami qualifies as part of the USA. ;)

The flights went right on time, without any drama. Lydie acted like a fool for part of the MIA to MSP flight ... but one year olds are not built for airplanes - at all.

Snow flurries here this morning. No thank you...but Noah was happy.

The first speaking things went great. I got to meet an Internet friend, it was a good day.

We're taking off for three days of kid free, relax and vegetate kind of time. We're staying in the home of some friends and are VERY excited to use their place and lay low for a couple days.

Have a great week!

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Ready or not ...

We're headed to the US of A. The traveling team is suited up, packed and ready to rumble.

Benched for this round of play are Isaac, Phoebe and Annie.

pray for Jeronne especially as she cares for the kids. We've never left any of them for 10 days - pray they feel secure and loved. Isaac will get to spend a ton of time over at the home of his friends and and classmates, Ben and Joe Tlucek. He is very excited about this. If he cares we are leaving, he is not letting on.

A very cool God thing happened. We were fairly concerned about Noah especially. To be honest, we have been stressing about it for a week or two. We've been worrying about leaving him here. He ranks number one on the needy child list. Out of our seven, he requires the most time and individual attention. We love him - that child is amazing, but man does he need things.

We did not go into it here on the blog - but July and August were really hard times with Noah. He was angry and acting out and we were at a loss. We contacted a few of our praying family and close friends and gave them the specifics and details and asked them to pray for Noah. In the last six weeks he has only done one angry thing. That is huge because it was one or two each DAY before that. An answered prayer.

Troy and I had not planned to bring him on this trip. We did not really *want* to. We had found a free "miles" ticket for Hope to try on flower girl stuff and see Britt but never wanted to spend money on a ticket for Noah or Isaac. But as the date to leave drew closer we were both really anxious about it and not feeling peaceful. Noah was crying about it almost every time we talked about leaving. Well ... each day I would check for tickets and each day I would see that the ticket was well over $500 so I would not act. Each day I would ask Troy what he was thinking. Each day Troy would tell me he was worried too. We did not want to see Noah slip back into old stuff.

Last night a friend offered to cover a portion of his ticket. I said, "thanks - we'll let you know what we decide". Tonight a person I met for the first time ever - handed me an envelope. I opened it as I drove home from the ministry she works with, where I had dropped her off. In the envelope was a kind note and a check. The amount added to the offer from last night equaled $7 more than the ticket. (Starbucks anyone?)

I called Troy (which is not allowed while driving) and Beth - and asked what they thought. Beth asked me if I was dumb - she asked if I knew how to add. :)

Long story short, our lack of peace about our neediest child is no longer an issue. He is getting on a plane with his mom and dad (and some sisters) tomorrow. God is so good.

We have a lot going on and are excited and nervous for it all. The travel between the two places can mess with your mind a bit. We're hoping to shut off our minds and just be.

We are speaking/sharing at a couple of places during our quick trip.

October 26th one service at enCompass Church in Vadnais Heights, MN

November 1st at the Marriott for the World Wide Village Fundraising Banquet
(If you want tickets to this event the cut-off is 10/24 - contact

November 2nd two services at Living Rock Church in Norwood Young America, MN

We will have Women's Program one-of-a-kind purses with us to sell to anyone interested in seeing the work of the ladies in the sewing program.

We're anxious to see Britt and help her choose a wedding dress and also to talk all sorts of other wedding details.

We return before the election ... that was by design. Just hearing about it from you is enough for us.

Thanks so much!
(and a special thanks to KH and CM)

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Clinic Day Photos

heavy heavy

The clinic today went amazingly well given the number of people we brought in vs. the number of docs and nurses. (Photos coming)

My favorite lady (her name is Dani) in the pre-natal program got to see a Nurse-Midwife and is getting close to delivery. I cannot explain why I like this particular lady so much; I just do. It was fun to be with her watching her get checked out by an expert. Something about her just makes me feel protective.

There is a mom in the program that is HIV positive. Today the team brought a "lab in a suitcase". Sheila told the mom to bring her whole family. They were able to test the Dad and the three kids. The results were heartbreaking and none of us wanted to believe it so before talking to them we decided to do one more test. Toward the end of the day I ran them over to a nearby lab to have the tests done again.

Sitting in the waiting area with them tears rolled down my face. The gravity of it all was huge. They are such a cute family. The mom clearly loves her children. She had them all dressed up and looking good for today's appointments. I talked to the dad during our wait. He appears to be very proud of his family. He speaks of them with love in his voice. During the blood draw, the three year old girl put up the greatest fight -- it was impressive! Later when her Daddy went in for his turn she told her mom she would go sit with her dad to make sure he did not cry. :)

A few hours later we got the same results again from the second test and because it confused the Doctor - he is going to do a THIRD test. It is odd that one does not have it. Mom - positive Dad- positive Ten year old boy -- positive three year old girl -- negative new baby -- positive. Babies sometimes go negative after a number of months but it was a heavy day with very life-changing results for this family. We're hoping tomorrow that based on the third result John can talk with them and the Heartline Women's Program can attempt to walk them through the next many months and get them involved in a program that will allow them the meds they all need.


Short Report

  • The photos above are looking out onto the Dominican border. This was a stop alone the way to Mirebelais. That lake sits between the two countries.
  • Troy went to Gonaives on Tuesday. Someday I will convince him to write about all that he saw and did. He got to spend 8 hours in the car with one of the most interesting guys we know in Haiti and he asked all sorts of questions. There are about 4 blog posts from that one day.
  • We're packing and trying to finish 100 things before Friday. We're tired. Someone might need to wheel us onto the airplane.
  • Today a visiting medical team is doing a clinic for all the women and children in our programs (Heartline) we'll all be there acting in support rolls. We're expecting a couple hundred people to come through.
  • Troy had his license taken yesterday because a cop told him you cannot talk on the phone and drive. We think that is a funny rule. You can drive like a total jerk and drive on the wrong side of the road and cut people off and pull out in front of traffic ... but they draw the lines at distractions - no cell phones. Troy talked and talked and talked until the guy said, "I will give you a chance" - and handed his license back.
  • It is "Spirit Week" at our kids' school. We (the parents) hate Spirit Week. Isaac tends to take things and make them quite a bit more important than they are. Fun things turn into assignments.He has been difficult this week. Each day the decision about WHAT to wear and HOW to best be spirit-filled has driven us to the point of zero patience. Today he wanted to be Batman for whatever the assignment is -- wanna be day or something -- but of course the batman cape cannot be located. That was almost enough to push him over the edge. I am the Mom that says "suck it up kid" "move on" so I just suggested wearing something comfortable (non-uniform this week) and not worrying about it. He went into melt down / zombie mode. I sent him to eat breakfast and ignored it. Troy is the nicer parent so he searched and searched until he came up with a better idea for Isaac. He helped Isaac create a "Baseball Player" look and that met Isaac's expectations ... sort of... then Troy shook his fist in the air at Spirit Week. Tomorrow wraps up spirit week with Purple and Gold day. We left Mn and the Vikings behind almost three years ago. We are fresh out of purple and gold clothing. We'll see how Isaac copes with that news.
  • An older Haitian gentleman once told us that "October 21 it cools off in Haiti" ... yesterday came and went and I am currently dripping in sweat at 7am. I wish he was right, I am just not seeing the proof. Forecasted high of 95 today. The 30 degree MN temps are going to shock our systems.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008


Selling Charcoal on market day.

First Day

This is Tipap. Many who read our blog have met him. To meet him is to love him. He has a unique gentle spirit and a true desire to work hard and to learn. If you go back to this post you can read about his huge family and many siblings.

Growing up in Haiti usually means that education ends at about the 6th grade. Tipap was able to complete 7th grade, but went no further because he could not pay for it. His Dad had him working in the garden after he finished 7th grade.

From 7th grade until he was given a job at Lifeline he had no true direction and was not sure there would be much opportunity for him to ever get back to school.

He clearly wants to learn more and sits reading the Kreyol kids Bible out loud quite often. If you enter the room he is reading in, he does not stop. :) It makes us smile. He never turns down a chance to join us at church. He has learned a ton of English just working with Paige. The English he knows helps our little kids a ton - he helps them talk to Jeronne and vice versa.

Tipap is pronounced Tee - Pop and means "little daddy". It is a nickname that suits him. He is great with kids and loves babies. It makes us laugh when all three baby girls are wanting him to hold them. He is their favorite because he will just walk and walk and walk with them ... Jeronne and I put them down after a few minutes to do the next thing. :)

When we moved we told him we would try to find a school where he could be trained as a diesel auto-mechanic. He loved the idea from the start.

As of a week ago we had no solution for him yet. We could feel him starting to get bored and maybe unhappy. You can only do so much security for a place with a giant cement wall around it. ;) I felt bad, Troy was frustrated. We needed an answer for him.

A great and well-connected Haitian guy from our church offered to take him to meet with a school director at a large trade school. He said that the minimum requirement was a 9th grade education. He said he would vouch for Tipap's work ethic and see what he could do.

There was lots of smooth talking that had to be done ... but it worked!!!! That all happened last Wednesday ... and the first day of the school year for this trade-program was Monday/today! Talk about timing.

I am sharing this story for the family that sponsored Tipap's education and covered the first year of school ... because it is SO cute.

Ever since he found out he was going to start today he has had a bounce in his step. He worked like a maniac all weekend and seemed totally motivated and purposed about everything he did. I asked him if he was nervous and he said only about the theory portion which is in French. He will have to work really hard to keep up in French.

Today he left mid morning for school. When he got home he was so happy and chatty. Sometimes his English does not exactly translate but he told me all about it and from the parts that make sense he really likes his teacher and it did not take as long to get there as we all feared it would. The school is in Carrefour - not an easy place to get to from our house.

When Paige got home he said "Hi Paige, how was school?" Paige gave him the 13.75 year old response which is kind of a half response. Paige could tell he was waiting. She was wondering what the heck he was acting so weird about. He was waiting to be asked. Finally he said in a triumphant voice, "I had school today too!" It was SO SO stinking cute. It made both Paige and I smile.

We're so happy for him. We want him to succeed. We want to see him be trained and have opportunities to make way more than he can ever make working this lame security job ... we want to see him quit us and make some real money! In two years that will be a real possibility.

Everyone in this country needs a break. They could all use someone to stand behind them and cheer for them. It would be wonderful if it was this easy for everyone to catch their big break.

If you want to wish Tipap well ... I will print off comments for him to read.

Monday, October 20, 2008

Cell Phone

If you've not visited Haiti, this is one way you can use a phone. Land lines are almost non existent (and never work anyway) - but you can find a guy walking around with a cell and pay him a few gourdes to make a call. Hopefully you don't need privacy for your phone call. It is kind of like a roaming phone booth.

Haiti Going "Green"

This billboard was put up by the "Minister of the Environment" in Haiti. (Now THAT is a huge job!)

It says "Clean and Green" and shows a tree-lined road with center-lines painted and no trash or diesel fumes.

I've never seen that road.
The thought is LOVELY though. On our run Friday Beth and I actually held our breath for a good minute while clouds of dark black smoke came off of a passing truck. The Minister has not gotten to the task of regulating vehicle emissions yet. ;) We'll be thrilled when he does.

Saturday, October 18, 2008

time flies

if there is one thing that constantly smacks me upside the head ... it is the realization that i don't spend enough time engaged in the moment. i always plan ahead (even here - where planning is discouraged and disrespected) and i rarely savor the moment.

i was looking through photos from the time we moved here. it has been three years since we decided to see what God would do if we followed Him here ... three years that flew by. seeing the old photos of the kids, and the visual proof that they've changed so much- made me wish i had engaged more in each moment. (photos from 2006)

yesterday we laughed and laughed at the hilarious things our kids were saying and doing. it felt good to slow down and just BE with them. seeing these old photos caused me to pause and be consciously aware that the next years will fly by too, and the babies will be babies no more and the moments will be gone.this morning laying in bed cuddling with lydie -- troy said, "i want to remember this ... i don't want to forget any of it."

babies don't stay babies

We leave in less than a week, there is SO much to do before then.

We are getting so excited to see Britt (and lots of other friends/family) and actually get to be involved in some of her planning for the wedding. She comes to MN for a weekend toward the end of our ten days there. (We will shop for wedding clothing and have a bridal shower for her during her three days in MN.)

I've struggled with being angry (at ? I don't even know who!!) that I am away from her and missing out on this wedding stuff with her. I guess I want someone to recognize it and just commiserate with me ... can someone acknowledge it; maybe just comment with "yeah, that really stinks" or maybe "no fair" - that will help me. :)

The previous post applies here as well. Ten years ago the little girl in the first photo was only a 3rd grader ... now she is a young woman preparing for marriage. time flies.

i have to go cry now.

Thursday, October 16, 2008


One of the greatest things about being here is our ability to work together as a couple/family. I have always loved that aspect and it is still a wonderful benefit in my mind. I love being removed from the pressures of "suburban America".

We are granted so much time together - we did not used to have much time to connect. Life is simpler and I cannot imagine going back to the run, run, run of sports and lessons and activities and social events and more sports.

While Haiti can be (and often is) difficult and draining, we are thankful and feel blessed to be given an opportunity to live in a place that allows for our family to be "tight" and yet simultaneously stretches us as individuals and as a family.

(To those helping us be here: THANK YOU! We need you to do this!)

People often ask us, "What is the hardest part about living there?"

Our answer has varied during the time we've been here. In the beginning the stresses were much different than they are today.

I recently found an online job description for a position in Haiti, it listed these challenges:

1. One of the biggest challenges is learning to cope with limited infrastructure (electricity, phone systems, roads, etc.) and working with a struggling government system.

2. Also challenging is the overwhelming need and the frequent requests for help that one receives. A person filling this assignment will need to be able to handle this type of stress and be able to develop coping mechanisms in order to appropriately respond to these situations.

3. Haiti is known for its political instability and unrest, which requires adjustments on the part of all workers there.

Right now we are feeling the heat of #2. It has become difficult to even keep up with the requests for help that come our way. But more difficult than that is trying to decide what the right thing to do is.

We don't want to be the people who won't even listen and just out and out slam the door and say "NO!" We also don't want to be the people that say "yes" to everything and end up not being able to pay our bills. It is a incredibly difficult situation and one we've not yet figured out. It can be uncomfortable saying "yes" and it can be terribly uncomfortable saying "no".

Just this week alone we've had these requests for help (us personally, not the ministries we represent).

1. Isaac's birth father needs surgery. We agreed to cover it. We went to pay for it and he then asked if we would cover them for the one month of recovery time ... so feeding a family of 8 for a month. We said no to that, but who knows if we made the right choice. We've covered many of their needs in the past yet we don't want to become their sole support. We can't become that.

2. Our neighborhood has a gate at the entrance (a gated community as it were). The guy who stands at the gate came to our house to ask for a loan for his daughter who is six and is in the hospital.

3. Tipap starts school on Monday. While he makes a much better wage with us than he did in the past, it is still not enough to cover his school and transportation. We're trying to determine what is right.

4. Every weekday we travel Delmas. Every day no less than eight children tap on the windows asking for money. Is it wrong to give them something? Is it right? Is there any clear-cut answer? Do you vary your response? Do you not look them in the eye?

I do not know that we have developed very good coping mechanisms for this stress. We are at a loss and we constantly second guess ourselves ... in BOTH responses.

The added difficulty is the fact that when we truly do not have the money to give, the person asking does not believe that. Some months we spend beyond our budget (as we have all done at times) and if we were to say, "I am sorry, we don't have X amount of dollars to give you right now" - that would not be received as truth ... perception is reality and the perception is, we have unending wealth relative to the people here.

I think our single greatst prayer request is for wisdom. We never want to hurt someone. We want to make good choices. We want to show compassion without being idiots.

is easier said than done.

Trip to Mirebalais

Troy went in search of some documents in Mirebalais yesterday. There was a major road construction project going on. It was encouraging and rare to see such a large undertaking and developing infrastructure. After the hurricanes and tropical storms of this season people are left finding alternate ways across the river. The bridge is destroyed. Haitians are amazingly resourceful, even when faced with insurmountable obstacles they find a way to get through it. Most of these make-shift "boats" were constructed after the storms.

The city of Mirabelais is divided into two parts. If you need to get to the other side by vehicle you'd have to drive an extra two hours out of the way.

How is your commute looking today?

before & after

I decided one yellow wall was enough. Paige wanted yellow so she had her entire room transformed yesterday too. We are the first people to live in our house. The construction finished at the same time we were looking, after years and years of working on it.The man who owns it owns 11 other houses and a water company. He is a smart business man who has been very successful here. His nickname is Dodo. He owns "Dodo Dlo" the great big tanker trucks that fill cisterns with water. We hope we don't get in trouble for changing a few of his cream walls. :)

(Dad - my work and edging would have made you proud ... nothing like the work Tina and Mom do. Standing on two barstools to reach the ceiling would NOT have made you so proud ... degaje.)

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Machann Blan

We have a GINORMOUS Mango tree in our driveway. Paige is always looking for an angle and a way to make money. In about a month you might drive through Tabarre and see her sitting on the corner with a basket full of Mangoes. But be warned, she LOVES the process of haggling and wheeling/dealing and she will take up a lot of your time just enjoying the sport of negotiating price.

Troy left eary and is off to Mirabales this morning. He officially feels rid of his Bronchitis and the fatigue that Dengue causes is getting better each day. It has been long enough now that I think I can safely say none of the rest of us are going to get it. Thank you for your prayers about that. Troy lost 7 pounds but with a trip to MN coming up, we're certain that weight can be replaced.

I am hoping to get caught up on a few things and get the kitchen painted today ... we'll just see if the little ladies agree with my plan.

Haitian History Lesson of the Day ...

Jean-Jacques Dessalines

No school on Friday in order to observe this holiday.

Have a great day!

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Crazy Annie Super Niece

If you're going to take care of a child (other than your own child) for a year or more, it is nice to take care of one as cute, silly, and WONDERFUL as this one. We all love Annie Grace!Annie @ 10.5 months.

Dr. S.

There is a Doctor right in our neighborhood. He lives two blocks from us. We actually used to drive all the way from LaDigue to see him sometimes. He has seen Troy, Noah, Phoebe and Paige so far.

Once Troy came to him crippled in pain and the Doctor ordered him to a hospital ... which turned out to be good and important advice. We find him totally entertaining ... And often hard to follow.

Troy says he is just like the Doctor on the Simpsons, mainly because he laughs at inappropriate times and makes jokes about dying. He was trained in the States and speaks English with a thick Haitian accent. His "style" is quite Caribbean.

When we got there at 2:30 last week he said "Why do you come so late?" We said, "Uh, because we were just finally thinking we should have someone listen to Troy's cough/chest." Then he said "Well I am open until 4, but you should not come this late." Uh. Okay. Noted.

He examined Troy, declared it Bronchitis and gave him a shot of some anti-biotic in the rear. A prescription was written and then discarded since he happened to have the third-world cough medicine in his cabinet. It is called RESPIRA - "The X-TRA power cough formulation". The product literature probably did not originate in English, but assured us that it is for "When Productive Cough is Difficult to Expectorate".

He keeps 5 X 7 note cards with his records (sometimes) ... no medical file, no real charting of the information. For those in the medical profession that hate all the paperwork ... come work for Dr. S. He does not busy himself with those details. (The bottle on the lower left is an ashtray, by the way. Your doctor smokes in his office, right?)

He asked if we had gone to get our absentee ballot forms from the Embassy. We said no, we had not but why was he asking? He said, "You need to vote ... For McCain." We went on to question him further and he said that the economy is going to be crud either way ... But he believes it will be less cruddy with McCain. He doesn't trust politicians to run the government from either side, but thinks one side has the money part figured out better than the other. The entire conversation was alternate reality ... and because he has dual citizenship, he was off to the embassy the next morning to cast his vote.

At the end of the appointment we gave him what amounts to about $25 USD.

Meanwhile, 30 miles from here Pierre fought a cough and pain and was literally dying without us really knowing he was suffering. We had gotten frustrated at the lack of answers about his LEG and we thought we were dealing only with the leg issue ... and felt that the system was messing with him and giving him the runaround. Once he was dicharged from the little hospital and TB was ruled out he went home. Pierre and his family felt like going to Cange might be the next best idea, but we were uncertain and confused. He needed surgery to remove a growth where his leg had been amputated and we wanted to talk with Healing Hands and a Doctor in town here. We told them we would go talk to the Doctor and try to get the straight medical answer that they had not been given. Then Troy came down with his high fever and we put Pierre on hold. We told his family we would help but that Troy needed to be able to be up and on the move to go do the research.

We were shocked and really truly saddened to hear that he died in the night on Friday. We don't even know WHY or HOW ... and the family will never know either. So often the complicated system is what keeps people from getting help. It is no wonder a mother of a sick baby does not always seek help ... if you've been around you know that finding help is no easy thing and getting attention requires both unending patience and much persistence ... and in Pierre's case Troy and I did not even succeed at that.

One of the hardest parts is the sincere thanks the family offered when they shared the news of his passing ... they were kind, and gentle, and grateful ... for our NOT solving his problem and our NOT getting him his answers. It is sad and wrong. We want a "do-over" and we wish we could understand why we were so clearly called into that situation but the result was not what we had imagined, prayed or hoped for Pierre.

Monday, October 13, 2008

Writers Block

There is much to share, but the words are not flowing freely from our heads.

Pierre Eugene died on Friday. Once we wrap our minds around that we'll share more of the story. It is one of the reasons Haiti is so hard. You die here simply because there are no options for good care. Troy and I feel partly responsible having put him on hold while Troy was too sick to be out advocating and navigating the system for Pierre. The whole thing really sucks.

Prayers for his mother and family are appreciated.

We're off to a meeting ...

t & t

#2 & #5

Friday, October 10, 2008

Lessons with Lydie

We've been doing a lot of late afternoon swimming. Our pool is very deep, the shallow end is too deep for Hope or Noah to be able to stand. Each day this week I have joined the kids in the pool to splash around and cool off before dinner. Lydie will not hear of watching, she makes it clear she wants in the pool and in on the action.

It has been interesting to watch her in the water. She sees the big kids flinging themselves through the air and sees how they kick and are able to just GO. She thinks she is a big kid.

Each of the last four days she has gotten in holding tightly to my neck. About 30 seconds in the water and she is pushing away from me as if she does not need my help. I resist her push. I hold firmly onto her even though she really does not want my protection. I don't want to watch her sink; I prefer to help keep her afloat. After five or ten minutes of struggling against me to be given a chance to swim free of my grip, I have released my hold on her to let her try it on her own.

No surprises, of course she sinks in immediately and drinks a giant gulp of swimming pool. She comes up sputtering and coughing, and gasping for air. After it happened again today I thought, Huh - this kid is a slllloooow learner. The last fifteen minutes in the pool were spent holding onto my arms or neck and remembering how much it hurt trying to do it alone.

Today as the situation repeated itself for the fourth day in a row it occurred to me that this is often what my relationship with God looks like. He is there to hold me,He wants me to depend on Him and His wisdom and understanding of the situation in which I "swim" - He would prefer to keep me close and guide me. I forget that He loves me, He knows my limits and He wants to offer His help. I push Him away. I think I can do it on my own. I try it; I sink. I return to Him, sputtering and sorry ... until the next time, when I forget it all over again.

Thursday, October 09, 2008

Falling back on the trusty bullet point post

  • Troy continues to improve, slowly but surely. He has Bronchitis too which is currently more annoying to him than anything. I love the experience of visiting the Doc we sometimes see here, he is BEYOND entertaining, almost like a Simpsons character, that is its own post that I will get to soon. Thank you all for your prayers, so far no one else has shown signs of Dengue. Another five or six days and we are out of the woods.
  • Ran into Zach (the dad of Licia and Lori) yesterday. It made my day to see him smiling and back where he belongs. On top of the joy of seeing him was the joy of learning that in his grocery cart were two cases of diet pop FOR ME! He is like my personal Santa Claus, even in October. Thanks Zach, we love you and are so happy you are back.
  • John McHoul gave me a keyboard. It is in Spanish. It was $5.00 at Walmart and was in his "inventory."It is making for some interesting typing issues. The keys don't match what they do. He is now only accepting emails in Spanish from me... Because he is a dork. This is the only thing I really need to know how to say when I am with him : Este hombre va a pagar por todo!
  • I am working with Sheila, the talented lady who oversees the sewing program, to figure out how to best market/sell the purses being made by the Haitian ladies in the program. I also have beautiful hand made greeting cards that are made by some ladies working for World Wide Village. If you are an expert on e-sales and have some advice for me about shipping and how to do something like this from a land without mail service, please share your thoughts ... thanks!
  • The next two weeks of October are chalk full of visitors and appointments ... we're anxious to connect with old and new friends, it seems that lots of people chose October to travel south.
  • Later this month we're heading to MN for a quick trip to do some speaking/fundraising, take care of some boring life/tax/business type things, do a couple Doctor appts, attend a bridal shower for Britt who will be in MN from TX for a weekend, shop for wedding apparel for the ginormous lot of us, and try to get a couple of days alone to celebrate our 10th wedding anniversary. Most of the kids will remain in Haiti with Jeronne and Tipap. I think Phoebe, Annie and Isaac will be fine. If you know Noah, you'll begin praying for him and this time away from us now. I am nervous about his response. Unfortunately, flying a butt-load of people out of here is cost-prohibitive... so he must remain behind. The poor guy.¡Que pase un buen día!d

Wednesday, October 08, 2008

Heartline Women's Program Update

By J. McHoul
We are
currently running four different programs:
  • Pre-Natal Class - This class meets once a week with pregnant women to provide pre natal care.
  • Early Childhood Development Class - Once a woman gives birth this class provides education on caring for their new born and existing children. Each woman and her child can stay in this class for one year.
  • Literacy Class - This class meets three times a week to teach Creole reading and writing and lasts for about four months. It is a pre-requisite to our Sewing Class.
  • Sewing Class - This six month class teaches women how to sew and run a business.
Measuring Material Our first sewing class started on February 18, 2008 with fifteen women and seven graduated. The women who graduated have started to earn money from their sewing skills. Even those who did not complete the class have gained skills that are allowing them to earn some money. Three of the graduates have earned enough money to purchase their own sewing machines. In fact, one woman has made enough money that she has been able to bring her children back from the village so that they can live with her and have her raise them. Within a six month time frame she has earned about 6 years worth of wages (half of it going back to her business). None of the women that started the program were able to provide for their families before the class. Most of them worked as merchants buying and selling products, but unfortunately, most of the merchants end up in debt to those who provide them goods as they are unable to sell enough goods at a high enough price. This class has been a miracle for these ladies as they can now provide for their families in a positive and healthy way.

Classroom WorkWe are allowing the women who graduate from the sewing class the option to work at our facility several days during the week when our facility is not being used by other programs. We provide the material, machine and a safe place and then each woman gets to keep 50% of the sales proceeds from each item they make. We currently have an onsite store to sell the bags and other items made by the women. To date, we have sold over $6,000 of merchandise through the store. We have also recently obtained a contract to sew school uniforms for students at a local school. School uniforms are a mandatory part of school in Haiti, and even the poorest Haitian will sacrifice greatly to provide their child a uniform. As women earn enough money they will buy their own machines and be able to work out of their homes.

The current pre-natal class has 20 women. Lab work is done on each of the woman as they enter the program and monitored on a weekly basis. This lab work is critical to assessing the health status of each pregnancy. Of the current twenty women, four tested positive for HIV, three tested positive for STDs and all twenty showed that they were anemic. It is imperative that these situations are treated immediately to improve the health of the woman and the chance for a successful pregnancy. While we are able to treat most of the problems, we send the HIV positive women to other programs for treatment. Currently we are looking for a liaison to go with these ladies to this program as they are unaware of the need to take medication, ask questions about their disease and to be consistent with their treatment. Each week women in our program are given eggs, milk, vitamins and medicine to help them have a healthy pregnancy.

Early Childhood Development ClassThe early childhood development class has approximately 20 women and children at any time. This class is invaluable in getting the Haitian women the skill they need to raise a young child. During this time they interact one-on-one with American women who teach coping skills (malaria prevention, spending money wisely, importance of breastmilk, and child interaction). In addition to this education, they are given eggs, milk and vitamins for one year. Depending on what point in her pregnancy a woman enters the pre-natal class; almost two years are spent with each woman in close relationship.

Our literacy class is taught by a Haitian woman and has been successful in giving each woman the ability to read and write in their own language. It is very important that these women become literate if they are to provide for their families. Being literate gives a woman the ability to know truth about prices at the store, contracts they sign for their children to go to school, medicinal dosages as well as the Word of God. Learning to read and write also enables them to go through our sewing program. This class teaches 20 women at a time.

Overall, the women's program is now influencing the lives of up to 80 women at a time 20 of which have recently given birth to a child and 20 who are pregnant. All the women have families they are trying to care for. The impact these programs are having is truly remarkable. Without these programs, the women do not have any hope of gaining the skills necessary to care for their families. There are other programs in Haiti, but the number of women needing education and help far outnumbers the available programs.

How can you help the women's programs?

All of these programs require time and money. The sewing program is generating some revenue, but most of the revenue is going back to the women working in the program. Therefore, we are in need of sponsorships to put women through the program. The pre-natal and sewing classes are the most expensive to provide due to the medical and supply costs. We are looking for sponsors to provide $500 per woman in these programs. We are started our second sewing class on October 6, 2008. Our goal is to get 40 sponsorships in the next few months to provide for the needs during the next six months.

With these funds we are looking to continue what we have started. We are also looking to the future and have hopes to do the following:
  • Add a part time Haitian liaison to go with each HIV positive woman to the clinics to assist with their treatment program.
  • Add a fifth class for crocheting and embroidery for those women who are not able or willing to go through the sewing program.
  • Add a child care program for women going through the program. Many of the women have to leave their children alone at home in order to come to our classes. We would like to provide a safe alternative for these children.
  • Hire an additional sewing teacher to assist with the class.
  • Expand our store and obtain additional contracts for making uniforms and other items.

To become a sponsor or to make a donation to the women's program, please fill out a remittance form with the amount how you intend to donate the amount (monthly, quarterly, one time, etc.). You can send a check with the form or go to our website to pay by PayPal or by signing up for an automatic deduction from your bank account. If you plan to donate with PayPal or automatic deduction please email to indicate the total sponsorship amount you are donating to the women's program.

Thank you for encouraging us and for being the hands and feet of Jesus to the women of Haiti. ~tara

The Lord's Prayer??????

We. are. not. sure. Why? Isaac. speaks. in. short. blurbs. But we. sure. do like. the effort. Do you remember that scene in National Lampoons Vacation where Clark Griswold is praying for the Grandma after she dies? Something about the end of this video brought us back to that scene. our father who aren't in heaven... the power. and the creation. and amen.

oh ... and. you should know. that Troy. got out of bed. for four hours today. that. is what. we call. progress! thank-you!


"Keep your friendships in repair."

"The only reward of virtue is virtue; 
the only way to have a friend is to be one."

~Ralph Waldo Emerson~

Note about HANDS Across Haiti

We value adoptive parents, we value short term mission trip participants, we value people who just love and care about Haiti ... we truly value all of that. It is important and we do not diminish any of those awesome things.

Just to clarify, the HANDS Across Haiti vision is to connect people doing on-going work in Haiti. The point is to share resources, share information and connect with others on the ground here. In order to keep the site focused on its true purpose, we are going to try to keep membership limited to those folks.

The site defines it like this
"This network is exclusively for humanitarian support personnel presently serving in Haiti, either in part-time or full-time capacity."

Thanks for your understanding.

Die by the EDH

EDH punished us for badmouthing them.

They sent through such a crazy strong current this morning that it freaked out the whole house and made the breaker on the inverter pop ... And simultaneously fried out my keyboard. Dead keyboard. Killed by EDH. Later today when I go get Hope from Kindergarten I will also be searching for a keyboard. Grrrrrrr.

(Photo note: When Troy took this photo a little kid walking with us said, "Yo pa la" -- or "they are not there")

Tuesday, October 07, 2008

Perfume Advertising in Haiti

Life is hot and buggy.

Is it me you cannot resist?

Or is it my
REPEL Insect Repellent Sportsmen Max with 40% DEET?
Uuummm hmmm, that's right baby ... I thought so. The taste, the scent ... the DEET.
Treat Yourself

Because I am busy dealing with all things illness, children, and Haiti, I have no deep thoughts. Only random ones like how gross it is to kiss someone who is wearing bug lotion. I want to become better at dealing with hardship, I get rather cranky and I'd like to take on these bumps in the road with a little more grace.

Troy went to the Doctor today, that is its own blog post. Maybe for tomorrow.

Actually, I am VOID of deep or coherent thoughts. You'd have to go back here to find some of those.