Monday, June 30, 2008
In "Rocks in the Sun" you'll find Troy's best photos from the last two and a half years in Haiti complied in a photo book he has been working on for many months.
The book has over 250 beautiful, colorful photos, along with some of our favorite Haitian Proverbs. We're hopeful that you'll preview it. (You can look at the front cover, the back cover and the first 15 of the 120 page book.) Blurb offers a price break for volume orders.
We've priced it well, hoping you'll consider buying a couple of copies. There are three versions available at different prices. We make approximately $28 per book sold. All proceeds from the book will be used toward our start-up costs as we move into a new phase of ministry.
We appreciate your help getting the word out!
Thanks for checking it out!
tara & troy & kids
Beth and her husband John have lived and served in Haiti for 20 years. They are currently experiencing huge growth in their Womens program.
Sunday, June 29, 2008
Summer 2008 Hope & Phoebe
b.) WHAT???? You saved those dresses for 13 years? (Why yes, I did. Thank-you for noticing.)
c.) You know you're frugal (Dutch) when ...
d.) Girls clothing lasts!
Saturday, June 28, 2008
Our quest for Corporate Sponsorship has come to an end. We're contacting VIP's at both companies to discern who can offer us a better package. We'll either be promoting Depends adult diapers -- or MasterCard. Whether that means walking around with our diapers exposed or painting our vehicle with the MC logo - we're game... Just show us the money. ;)
Representing the West Coast, Kristen Howerton and proud to be representing the East coast, Bryan Fox ... They have both won Letters from a Skeptic by Gregory Boyd.
WINNER ONE- Kristen Howerton
Was inspired by the story about Aaron Ivey's ill-fated walk, as well as her own recent adventure with “Haitian Happiness”.
check out her winning entry at:
WINNER TWO- Bryan Fox
Was inspired by his first hand experiences in Haiti. His Entry:
- 9 airline tickets to Haiti = US$5,000
- 1 Mitsubishi L200(slightly used) = US$18,000
- 1 Block house with missing doors, windows and plumbing.Occasionally has current = US$300.00/month
- Enough food to feed the Livesays for one year = US$10,000.00
- 52 boxes of tissues for drying tears when you miss friends and family= US$79.00
- Petty cash to pay off out of control motorcycle riders that decide to use your truck bumper as crash pad = US$100.00 (likely to happen multiple times a year)
- Serving God and growing to love the people of Haiti = Priceless
There are some things money can't buy. For everything else, there's Mastercard.
www. Brokebutblessed . com (proposed web address)
About the winners:
Kristen is the mom of two (soon to be three) beautiful children and lives in California. She and her husband Mark are currently adopting a little boy from Haiti. Kristen is a professional counselor, and obviously, very creative. She also enjoys the Internet more than laundry. We were excited to meet her and get a peek at her cute family when they visited Haiti last month.
Bryan is a busy father and husband. He currently resides in Georgia and is a Missions Pastor at a church outside of Atlanta. He and his wife Kelly are raising four rambunctious little boys. Bryan was the full-time missionary here in LaDigue for two and a half years. We were able to meet his family in September of 2005. He has a deep love for the people of Haiti.
Friday, June 27, 2008
Our blog attempts to both- keep it real and keep it light - a tough combination at times.
Everybody who blogs knows there are topics you just don't write about. We've tried not to be the person stuck in hardship and complaining about it non-stop. We just don't ever want to be "that guy." We're Minnesotans. We buck up. When the going gets tough. The tough get going. Right?
The last 10 months have been some of the most challenging months of our lives, they have been filled with letting go; and sometimes letting go is really hard. We let go of everything from a kid, to a house, to a job, to personal belongings, to relationships and expectations.
Some of the letting go felt like failure.
We faced harsh personal attack from someone we thought should love us. We hurt, we cried, we felt angry. We grieved over decisions, we felt defeated and at times alone. The stress of it all weighed on us heavily.
About two weeks ago, I had it out with God. I cried until I was unrecognizable to my own children;I cried about everything and anything that I stuffed these past months. I admitted that I was hurt and bitter and angry. I admitted that my expectations (reasonable, or not) had not been met by people or God. I recognized that on some level I had also let others down.
And by just laying it out there, something changed.
It's been a hard year;my disappointment and hurt have been like a ball and chain in my life. I know that through all of this character is being built. The next few months won't be without tears and more healing as we close this chapter of our lives .... but for today; it feels good to be starting the climb out.
Less Like Scars
by Sara Groves
It's been a hard year • But I'm climbing out of the rubble • These lessons are hard • Healing changes are subtle • But every day it's... • Less like tearing more like building • Less like captive more like willing • Less like breakdown more like surrender • Less like haunting more like remember • And I feel you here • And you're picking up the pieces • Forever faithful • It seemed out of my hands a bad situation • But you are able • And in your hands the pain and hurt • look less like scars and more like character • • Less like a prison a prison more like my room • Less like a casket more like a womb • Less like dying more like transcending • Less like fear, less like an ending • • And I feel you here • And you're picking up the pieces • Forever faithful • It seemed out of my hands a bad situation • But you are able • And in your hands the pain and hurt • look less like scars • Just a little while ago • I couldn't feel the power or the hope • I couldn't cope, I couldn't feel a thing • Just a little while back • I was desperate, broken, laid out • Hoping you would come • • And I need you • And I want you here • And I feel you... • And I feel you here • And you're picking up the pieces • Forever faithful • It seemed out of my hands a bad situation • But you are able • And in your hands the pain and hurt • look less like scars • And in your hands the pain and hurt • look less like scars • And in your hands the pain and hurt • look less like scars • And more like character •
We are still deciding some of that. Heartline also has teams now and again. We won't be able to host teams in the exact way we did here in LaDigue. Right now we're figuring out what might work well.
One thing we would like to do is offer a different type of trip for the adventurous. We're thinking maybe one or two times a year to take a group hiking back in to the mountains - maybe a four night, five day trip with one night in Port added onto each side. Below is a video from a trip Troy did in 2006. If something like this might interest you, let us know. It will be helpful to know if there are people interested.
Thursday, June 26, 2008
Background for new readers:
Back in the 1960’s, President Kennedy sponsored a program that sent machine oil, among other things, to Haiti. The Haitians tried to use the oil for other purposes, such as cooking, and concluded that the gift was of inferior quality. Ever since then, the president’s name has been synonymous here with secondhand and/or shoddy goods.
As you go through the marketplaces you see vendor after vendor selling both used and new clothing. If you buy a used t-shirt, it is usually something that came from the USA, it has been broken in for you. A Kennedy if you will.
A few faves from the past-
Kennedy Installment One
Kennedy Installment Two
Kennedy Installment Four
Kennedy Installment Six
Wednesday, June 25, 2008
- We talked with Tipap and he informed us we need to add "fil fe American"to the house we rented. We thought we were hearing him wrong, but he kept repeating fil fe American – or American iron wire … apparently one type is just fil fe (regular barbed wire) and one is "fil fe American." It is considered American because it is more expensive and used by Americans down here. Are you all using razor wire around your houses now? A product has been named as if you are
- Watermelon season is in full swing. We're consuming at a rate of one melon per day - Pastor Rony is our dealer and is doing a great job of assuring that supply meets demand
- Yesterday a substitute worker showed up to replace his brother as a intake person in the medical clinic. This is something that happens frequently in this culture, if you cannot work you simply send the replacement of your choice. Try that at your job and let us know how it goes for you. ;) The word came that the replacement worker had informed the head cook (Aline) that he was working until 5pm and would require a meal, but did not like the cornmeal being prepared in the feeding program, therefore she would need to prepare an alternative meal for him. Aline came to Troy for some backing ... replacement employee was set straight in a jiffy
- Paige and Asline and Kerline sometimes hang with another girl named Magene. Magene goes to school in Port and lives with family there during much of the year. She has returned for the summer and this fourth person really throws a wrench into the working relationship the three girls have built. Paige said yesterday, "You know the drama is going to start right away and I am just going to stand back and watch and not be involved. It is so easy to see that Magene has been Port-au-Princeized." HA! I thought that was quite a funny statement, I'm uncertain of what it actually means though. Us village-folk remain un-port-au-princeized for now. ;)
- Noah woke me up at 1:20 attempting to vomit on my feet. He redirected just in time and spent the night in our room with a tummy ache. For now he remains down for the count and quarantined.
- Last night at supper we learned that Noah wants 8 kids, Isaac wants 6 and Hope wants 5. Isaac has informed us that his children are named already, and his three sons will be called - Moseph, Joseph, Zechias, (a wee little man was he) -- and 3 girls- Melissa, Alissa, and Kayson. And, for the record he will live in either the country of America or the country of Texas - he is still thinking it over for now. Hope only knows that her first daughter will be Sarah because she loves that name. Noah only knows that his wife needs to look like Tess. Isaac has clearly put the most thought into all of this.
- If you live in the Twin Cities area or a reasonable distance from there and you have any need or interest in a 6 piece (Armoire, long Dresser w/mirror, nightstand, headboard/footboard/frame) King size bedroom set, in perfect condition (photo shows similar set - not actual set) - please email us. Proceeds will go toward purchase of fil fe American and numerous other start-up costs.
- We found out that the court papers that were served by the former school director amounted to a silly practice in this culture that says -- even though you have settled your case -- you have six months to decide that you don't like how it settled and go back and re-sue the person you settled with. We're unsure of what it will amount to, probably just another few hundred dollars and some inconvenience. TIH.
- Ten years ago today, Troy and I got legally hitched. Our families were unaware of this, but my friend Lisa (the elderly pregnant one) was our witness, so she knows the story. We had our wedding on the calendar for Nov 14 - we had Uncle Rick lined up to officiate. We had all the traditional wedding plans made.... But we were faced with a little health insurance dilemma and being married would help all four of us get really great health insurance. Without much thought we headed over to the J of the P and asked him to marry us. It was spur of the moment, late in the afternoon. The guy was about 108 years old and not as sharp as he had probably once been. He actually married two people by the names of "Tracey and Tara LivERsay". He never called Troy by the right name - not once. We giggled our way through it -- signed up for our killer-good insurance and pretended that it had not happened - waiting for the real day to come. November is our true anniversary, but today stirs up memories of old retired Judge Swenson ...and his sweet little wife Nella, who served as the second witness. I love you Tracey - Happy fake Anniversary!
Tuesday, June 24, 2008
Multi-cultural potty training in the post-modern world:
Finding our role in sustainable training practices,
reducing diaper consumption, and how it relates to the third world economy
Monday, June 23, 2008
We get a kick out of all of the ways Paige has embraced this culture. The other day she came home from the market and when I asked what she had purchased she said, "I am going to start washing my clothes by hand like the Haitians do - I got some stuff for that."
She actually is gardening with her friends too. They swim in the dam, they dance, they giggle and gossip, they share clothes and shop together ... although, don't be picturing a mall - picture an insane open-air market place, heated up to about 108 degrees with bodies smashed up against each other. Now add in some body-odor, some raw meat and some flies ... She LOVES it.
She will sit and chat at the gate every.single.night. for hours.
In this video she introduces her two best friends, Kerline and Asline .
Sunday, June 22, 2008
As we attempt to raise money for our move we're not ashamed to just put it out there ... we can be bought. Corporate Sponsorship - no problem here.
Maybe you're a heavy hitter for an up and coming product line ... maybe you need some advertising. We're here for you. We'll change our names, our blog title, anything that needs to be done ... we could name our ministry just about anything ... Cool Ranch Doritos Livesay Family does not have a great ring to it ... Serving in Haiti for the Lord and Captain Crunch - hmmmm??? Maybe not.
We need your help! ;)
Re-name us with a corporate sponsor name. Entries received until midnight Friday, June 27th. Winner will be announced one week from now on Saturday. Two prizes will be awarded. Prizes will go to the most creative, ridiculous, ingenious entries. The independent Accounting firm of Livesay, Livesay, Porter, and Livesay will be choosing the winner. Contest rules below.
Each of the two winners will receive a SIGNED copy of Letters from a Skeptic, by author Greg Boyd.Prizes will be mailed no later than July 15, 2008.
NO PURCHASE NECESSARY. To enter, complete the entry form in the comments section of this blog. To be eligible, entries must be completed and received on or by the closing date. Incomplete entries could be disqualified. All entries shall become the property of the Livesay Family. The family is not responsible for lost, misdirected or delayed entries. Entries received by telephone, fax, courier or personal delivery will not be accepted.
- The contest is open to all citizens of all countries, as well as anyone currently without a home country, but a mailing address. Identification must be produced on request. Affiliates of the Livesay Family, its contest prize sponsor, advertising and promotional agencies and their respective affiliates and associates and such employees' immediate family members and persons with whom such employees are domiciled are excluded from this contest. (That is you Britt.)
- The prize is not redeemable in cash and must be accepted as awarded.
- Decisions of the contest judges are final - no substitutions will be available.
- By claiming the prize, the winner authorizes the use, without additional compensation of his or her name and/or likeness and/or voice/photograph and municipality of residence for promotion and/or advertising purposes in any manner and in any medium (including without limitation, radio broadcasts, newspapers and other publications and in television or film releases, slides, videotape, distribution over the Internet and picture date storage) which the Livesays may deem appropriate.
- One entry per person. One entry per comment form. Must be 14 or older to play.
Saturday, June 21, 2008
Friday, June 20, 2008
It is so odd to have thought one thing for your entire life - and then suddenly find yourself thinking about things differently. There are times when we actually say, "What is happening to us?" The changes effect our faith, our politics, the way we relate to people, our entire worldview is being totally harassed and shaken by this place.
We were once as sure of ourselves as the Family Ties character, Alex P. Keaton . What a great character.... that guy was SURE of himself. Now we find ourselves looking closer at multiple topics and questioning some of the things we once held dear. Rather than trying to know everything about everything, we kind of feel like we are in this place of stepping back from knowing so much and just sort of taking time to sort through it and trying to BE. It might sound like apathy, but it is not -- not at all.
We're being convicted that our bonds in Christ actually free us to disagree. (even with ourselves lately) Because, we can agree that His blood was shed for the healing of the world - and the world needs healing.
After that last post a former missionary family wrote to me and said that it would be more weird if we were not changing. They said living as an expatriate anywhere would cause that - but especially living in a culture with poverty and multiple challenges everywhere you turn. They said their faith was rocked because they saw so much devastation and hurt that it was hard to reconcile it with the way they related to and thought about their faith, views, etc.
We just hope that we're able to use these experiences to grow closer to one another and to God. We hope that rather than feeling misunderstood or alone - that we might search for and find a deeper understanding of what it really means to live in (and offer to others) His healing mercy and grace.
My darling husband dislikes this drawing-out-the-reader blog technique - he is quirky that way... but I am curious so I am ignoring him.
Q. What event in your life made the greatest impact and challenged your worldview?
YIKES! Troy attempted to help Rony with that theology, but it did not really seem to make any impact.
Wow. I cannot imagine the scenario of constant guilt one would feel with that sort of theology. I fell asleep praying last night, I never got to praying for Troy ... if he crashes in Minneapolis today it will be all my fault. HELP!
Then, there is this guy. If I were not trying to work on judging people less, I would mock him mercilessly. Or, is it possible to mock without judging?
(Thanks Lisa! )
Judge not, that ye be not judged.
Jesus says regarding judging - Don't. The average Christian is the most penetratingly critical individual. Criticism is a part of the ordinary faculty of man; but in the spiritual domain nothing is accomplished by criticism. The effect of criticism is a dividing up of the powers of the one criticized; the Holy Ghost is the only One in the true position to criticize, He alone is able to show what is wrong without hurting and wounding. It is impossible to enter into communion with God when you are in a critical temper; it makes you hard and vindictive and cruel, and leaves you with the flattering unction that you are a superior person. Jesus says, as a disciple cultivate the uncritical temper. It is not done once and for all. Beware of anything that puts you in the superior person's place.
There is no getting away from the penetration of Jesus. If I see the mote in your eye, it means I have a beam in my own. Every wrong thing that I see in you, God locates in me. Every time I judge, I condemn myself (see Romans 2:17-20). Stop having a measuring rod for other people. There is always one fact more in every man's case about which we know nothing. The first thing God does is to give us a spiritual spring-cleaning; there is no possibility of pride left in a man after that. I have never met the man I could despair of after discerning what lies in me apart from the grace of God. -Oswald Chambers
Wednesday, June 18, 2008
So, we went to this church located in a suburb of Minneapolis. I won't name it - because the point is not to attack them - the point is to think about what they taught. They were all about prosperity. They made sure you knew it by the chandelier in the entry. You know, if you follow Jesus there is no reason he won't give you everything you want. GAH! I cannot believe we went back after the first time we heard that. But we did... Because, hey - black people are not that easy to locate in Minnesota. Ultimately, we realized - that teaching people that Jesus equals fancy things is a great disservice and also (insert Dwight Schrute voice) it is FALSE.
Try to sell that to this country. Tell faithful believers in mud huts in Kenya all about it. See how they receive that message.
I love sarcasm (newsflash) - therefore this post about prosperity is maybe one of my favorite things ever.
Be sure to read the end of it, after the list. The less sarcastic thoughts are there.
Stuff has never made me happy. I've certainly tried that route - thinking things are what will fill me up and at times fall back into thinking "Oh, I gotta have that!" In reality, anytime my heart has swelled with the fullness of God's love ... it was because I was surrounded by people I love - not things I love.
(Troy is off and on his way to MN. Isaac sensed my sadness and said, "God loves you Ma, He will take care of our Daddy.") :)
Tuesday, June 17, 2008
One of our classmates has done extensive research into human trafficking where young women and girls are traded, sold, and abused as sex slaves right here in our own nation -the land of the free. Knots in the stomach.
Perhaps you saw the 20/20 special a while back on prostitution. Women, young and old, who sell their souls to the devil (or at least the local pimp) and sell themselves for as little as 25 dollars. Enough to get the next hit of crack, cocaine, heroine, anything that will dull the pain of reality. A life created by bad choices? In many cases perhaps. Well, why doesn't she just 'pick herself up by her bootstraps' and leave that lifestyle? Considering that I barely have the self-discipline to not eat an entire cheesecake in one sitting, I'm willing to assume it's just not that easy.
Add to these things the AIDS epidemic, malaria, children in Haiti eating dirt, war, pedophilia, natural disasters...whew. That'll bring your spirits down. So, what do we do? What is the biblical response? Well, we all agreed on one thing. The thing we CANNOT do. We CANNOT do nothing!
It is easy to become paralyzed by the overwhelming need. In this age of technology, it is easy to become desensitized and disinterested. It is even possible to run sporadically from urgency to urgency without ever effecting a lasting change. These are things we cannot do. We also can't allow ourselves to think that one person doesn't make a difference. We have to redefine greatness.
Throughout history great leaders have emerged for noble purposes. But no one can lead a great movement without committed followers. Some examples:
Abraham Lincoln emancipated the nations enslaved people -thousands of men and boys lost their lives so that Lincoln's proclamation could stand firm. They represented greatness.
Martin Luther King, Jr. powerfully and eloquently lifted a voice for his people, leading the charge of the Civil Rights movement -countless men and women marched in peaceful protest, and braved the sting of fire hoses, and endured the blistered and bloodied feet while walking miles to work in support of the bus boycott without ever being pictured on the six o'clock news or named in the history books. They embodied greatness.
If I redefine greatness, then I see that while I will never single-handedly end world hunger; I can effect change in one child's life through sponsorship.
I may not have pages of the history books dedicated to my work toward racial reconciliation but I can step out of my comfort zone to love someone who is not just like me and raise awareness of the issue among others.
I may not lead great crusades where people flood the aisles to embrace their Savior but I can faithfully share Him with those around me.
I don't write deep thoughts very often (not because I don't have them -watch it!) because I know that we all enjoy being entertained more than being challenged. BUT I can't help thinking --what if we cut the crap, lose the rhetoric and pretense, and just decided to look like Jesus; what would change? What would we become passionate about? Who would we become passionate about? Would we begin to see every opportunity to love our neighbors (from Jerusalem, Judea, Samaria, and the uttermost parts of the earth) as an opportunity for greatness?
Monday, June 16, 2008
Above is an amazingly artistic aerial view of the scene. We are the vehicle waiting to turn left. A tap-tap was loading so we could not turn. The tap tap is the smaller square to the left. The thin arrow is a motorcycle and that is the way he chose to pass the two trucks standing still. He was maybe not very smart. We turned left - assuming that because the tap tap had pulled away we were free to do so -- and the motorcyle ran directly into our front drivers side tire. The purple is the crash site. (Purple used for dramatization.)
In Haiti, rules are sort of ... how shall we say ... stupid. The rule is, whoever is a better actor wins. In hindsight Troy messed up when he did not instantly fall to the ground flailing about in pain. Hindsight, as they say, is 20/20. It is all about show-business. (Take note for future trips here.)
The motorcycle driver and our truck were both moving very slowly. The bike was not damaged. No one even got scraped enough to bleed. The driver actually stood up, picked his bike up, moved it to safety all by himself and then ... bam, the injury set in. Below is a reenactment of his fall to the ground once he had used his two arms and two legs to move his bike. Once he fell to the ground, he never again was able to walk or talk or move freely in front of us. Oh, no scratch that ... he was suddenly able to talk again when he was negotiating how much money we were going to give him in order to be done with it all.
About 30 people gathered to yell and interject their opinions into the accident that they had NOT WITNESSED - it was a real blast I tell you. Knowing we could not walk away without a riot, we put the guy in the back of our truck. He refused to move, we lifted him in. I rode with him in back. We took him to a nearby hospital.
The doctor at the hospital clearly knew we were getting scammed. He looked at him, gave him a shot most likely containing a placebo to keep him from further dramatizing, an Rx for some ibuprofen and sent us on our way. A full two and a half hours after the collision we brought the guy home and heard how much it would cost to get him around for the next many days while his legs regained function and his back stopped killing him. Troy complained about the scam that it was. Our Haitian attorney friend said, "Yes. That is the problem in Haiti. Sometimes you pay because you can."
We paid the money and left. TIH. We heard the party was very nice.
We live in a village setting. Electricity must be produced by generators, solar panels, batteries and inverters. Sometimes, when all else fails, and we need a fan ... Isaac is our back-up plan.
We're working on a dramatic re-enactment of the events of Sunday. As soon as all the actors are hired and cooperate with the camera man, we'll post it.
Sunday, June 15, 2008
shall I focus on that super cool part in your 70's dude-wig-hair or your flippin sweet mustache? How could you even see through those tiny little frames? Polyester loves you too by the way. Props for sticking to the no teeth-smiling for photos rule. 30 years ... That sort of resolve is admirable.
Go Here for loving and serious thoughts.
Saturday, June 14, 2008
Friday, June 13, 2008
My best friend since the 5th grade is currently pregnant with her first child and she sent me this last week ... which proves my point. They call someone 35 "elderly" and therefore this "snapping back" thing is neither simple or easy.
Since I didn’t know what that was I looked up the term and found it on Wikipedia.
- A gravida is a pregnant woman.
- A nulligravida or gravida 0 is a woman who has never been pregnant.
- A primigravida or gravida 1 is a woman who is pregnant for the first time or has been pregnant one time.
- A multigravida or more specifically a gravida 2 (also secundigravida), gravida 3, and so on, is a woman who has been pregnant more than one time.
- An elderly primigravida is a woman in her first pregnancy, who is at least 35 years old.
Yesterday it was really bugging me that in 1990 I spent like $4,000 to go to "The McConnell School of Travel". It was a nine month course that prepared me to ... it prepared me to ... uh ... lets see... it prepared me to --- work in a hotel and --- be quick to recognize airport codes.
I mean ... really, in a world where people don't have enough to eat, I think it is just wonderful that I spent a bunch of money to be able to tell you that BNA is Nashville, TN and BDL is Hartford, Connecticut and ORD is Chicago O'Hare. If you were curious, I could also tell you that Houston has two airports, using the letters HAS and IAH. Because, without me telling you that, there is no way you would have access to that sort of information. It is a secret club and you only get in if you're
Somewhere along the line we missed doing some research that would have informed us that within just ten years the entire world would be booking their own travel; airport codes would not be top secret information any longer.
My pregnant friend also attended the "school of travel". Together we have the power to name every airport in the continental United States of America. And it only cost us eight grand. We might both be elderly now; but we know some airport codes.
Let us know if we can be of service to you in the future.
Thursday, June 12, 2008
- Jeronne, the lady that helps out at our house in the mornings has been working on her English. So far, everything she knows she learned from Elmo. She says, "Oh boy! that tickles!" And she says it perfectly.
- It is bloody hot here lately.
- The short-term team has a lot of teenage boys. This has made for some interesting moments with our teenage daughter. We'll be banning teams with boys ages 14-18 from here on out. We already had one daughter fall in love in Haiti.
- We're searching for a new country in which to serve, possibly one too far away for American boys to visit. Isaac has always liked Madagascar ... hmmmmm
- We always get a kick out of people visiting Haiti and speaking English and assuming everyone understands them ... and then maybe speaking English LOUDER to help them out if they don't understand. IF I YELL AT YOU IN ANOTHER LANGUAGE-- THEN MAYBE YOU WILL SPEAK THAT LANGUAGE!?!?!? That is soooo logical. So, the other night one of the team members launches into a long conversation with Pastor Rony. We were listening from the porch trying not to pee our pants. Rony is learning English but he was totally scamming the visitor. The guy said a lot of things and Rony would keep responding with his best, most interested sounding "Ooohhh yes" at one point the guy said, "I'm not much of a basketball fan really ... " Rony just stuck with what he knows and said, "ooohh yes!" It was all very entertaining.
- If you want to read something really funny, read this post. We've been examining our own buying habits and just recently decided that some changes are in order. We're finding that even in Haiti, we consume more than necessary. Our kids still manage to be "stuff" focused. We're hoping to fix that. We want our kids to know the difference between need and want. We're working on teaching them all about planned and perceived obsolescence. More on that another time.
- Isaac said to Troy the other day- "Daddy, how long have you had me?" Troy said, "Almost six years buddy." Isaac said, "Is there such a thing as 100 years? When you have me 100 years then will I really be yours?" Troy assured him that he is REALLY ours now. It just reminded us that we can never remind our kids often enough that they are OURS.
- Love wash over a multitude of things ... love wash a multitude of things ... make us whole There is a love that never fails, there is a healing that always prevails, there is a love that never fails --- the lyrics to the song I am listening to as I type this random report.
- Okay. I have no idea if this will reach the desired party. But I am giving it a shot. First, let me set this up a bit. Have you ever been in public with one of your kids and had them freak out at the sight of their teacher? I remember vividly seeing Paige's teacher at a grocery store once and she was all, "OH. MY. GOSH. MY TEACHER. MY TEACHER IS AT CUB FOODS?? MY TEACHER EATS? OH NO. WHAT WILL I DO? I have to hide!" She refused to go say Hi because her teacher had no context outside of the classroom. That person only exists in the place where Paige knows her. Having said that, we realize we've fallen victim to this troublesome phenomenon. We don't expect anyone to call us here - ever. So, the other day ... my cell phone rang and someone said "Hi is this the Livesays? Hi Tara, this is Marsha!" (or Marcia maybe) But then I said, "Marsha? I am sorry ... uh .... help me out, I am drawing a blank here..." Then the line went dead. I don't know if Marsha was too offended to call me back or if she just was warring with that which is the Haiti telephone devil. I never heard from her again. Marsha/Marcia that called me on my Haiti cell number - please, call again - write - make contact - send a telegram - something!!!! It is killing me. I must know who you are and why I have no context.
- Happy Friday to all!
Wednesday, June 11, 2008
You are my love and my best friend and my favorite person on the face of this earth. But you already know all of that. The 33 things for your 33 years is an attempt to tell you some things you might not know- that I love about you. (In no particular order.)
- Your devilish good looks
- The tricks you can do with your eyebrows
- Your furry legs
- The way you put people at ease
- Your awesome Kip (Napoleon Dynamite) impersonation
- Your heart for worship
- The way you compliment me and our daughters daily
- Your KungPow Chicken
- Your problem solving skills
- Your faith
- Your smile (the way your eyes smile too)
- You’ll stand up for what you believe no matter what – you’re never concerned with doing or being what is popular, you’re simply concerned with doing what is right - you LIVE your beliefs
- Your widows-peak
- Your weird and entertaining sense of humor
- Your Mensa-brand intelligence
- HA! The way you defend me – remember when you threatened to beat up that tall fat man for me?
- The care you show in trying to spend a few minutes one on one time here and there with each of our kids (and that is not easy)
- Diaper changing Dads are dead sexy
- You let me vent without judging me – you allow me to feel things without correcting me – you accept me right where I am no matter what
- You fight fair
- Your passion for the Philly steak sandwich & BBQ Ribs
- Your willingness to give up things you love to be where God wants you
- The new gray hairs that you are getting
- Your obsession with researching products before you buy
- Your talented artist eye for photography
- The way you try to make people laugh by being willing to make a fool of yourself
- The smell of your neck
- Your kiss
- Your night owl tendencies
- Your ability to roll-with-it no matter how difficult things get
- Your sweetness shines through in everything you do
- The way you maneuver around Port Au Prince with ease and skill
- The total studly way you look while water skiing
Happy Birthday Baby!
Tuesday, June 10, 2008
There is an unwritten law here. It says, when you’re feeling overwhelmed and think that you’re coping with quite enough – a paper will be delivered to you to tell you to appear in court. It never fails. TIH. Maybe it is a way of learning that God will help you handle more even when you feel you've reached your max capacity. Or maybe that is not it at all. :) Who knows?!?
The last time
About ten days ago, on a Friday, I noticed that the former school director was at the gate. I thought it was odd because he has been gone for months and the case he brought had settled. We figured we were done hearing how upset he was with us. (Wrong.)
There is some nasty Haitian-Happiness bug going through our family right now. When we see people running for a bathroom we just step aside quickly. Hope puked in her hands the other night, it was quite impressive. We wish she would train the boys to do that.
The time without the Internet has given us opportunity to talk A LOT and to read. That part has been really good. I heard stories about
The books we’re reading with our time have led to great discussions.
In our deep conversations and soul searching of late, we have identified some things.
Have you ever watched the Biggest Loser? Have you ever read anything those folks say after they are done and trying to live their lives in a new body? They talk about feeling uneasy because they are so different than they used to be. They feel that people who knew them as fat have trouble accepting them as thin. They themselves find that they are sort of uncomfortable because they were used to the old version of themselves and they don’t have a true comfort level or an understanding or an acceptance of their new identity.
All of that relates a lot to outward appearance, yet it is so hard to reconcile. Imagine the discomfort when the changes are not simply external, but internal.
More than anything we're glad that we're changing together and that we understand each other. I can toss out some really weird new thing I am thinking and not have the thought diminished or dismissed - because Troy is experiencing all the same things and wrestling with the same issues. God is so awesome to give us one another. :) I think loneliness is a part of the human condition because we never fully accept God's love for us. We always let our own perceptions of Him and our own pain get in the way of receiving that. We feel misunderstood on a much grander scale than what I have just described. We're trying really hard to just be where we are without feeling the need to be understood. I think it is our attempt to just rest in Him.
Some days we get good rest, others -- not so much. (Sigh.)
When Troy was out of town recently he had something occur to him that I had occur to me over the same weekend. Those are super cool moments -- where you are more certain it is God's prompting ... we were many miles apart yet hearing the same thing.
t & t
Monday, June 09, 2008
I'm on the McHoul's internet getting caught up on emails and monthly mission business while I can do so, and Tara sweetly requested that I post to the blog. But not just post - FUTURE POST. Scary. So NOW, instead of trying to think of what to write to you today, I have to figure out what to write for MONDAY when this posts.
Peter will be meeting me at the airport later...right now he is visiting Beanne (H & P's birthmother), and dropping off some clothes and a little money that we sent to her.
Beanne has been wanting to start a business again selling clothes. She used to do this but was robbed a couple years ago and hasn't had the startup money to do it again. She had another job as a housekeeper until recently, but she left that to stay at home and take care of one of her other daughters who is now pregnant. (With her third child. I think H & P currently have four nieces and nephews from the two older siblings still living with Beanne.) We've helped them whenever possible to make sure they have a roof over their heads. Sometimes it is hard to know how much help to give though, and this sort of relationship in an adoption is definitely uncharted territory for most.
When it comes right down to it, I can't say no to her. I will probably never be able to explain it - but I'm going to try a little bit...
Living here surrounded by so much need and pain, it is a constant frustration trying to know how and where and who to help. The fact that so many are scamming the system leaves many jaded and cynical about this whole country. I understand that and have experienced it at times. Running a mission, and trying to be a good steward with its resources and for those of our family puts the challenge of discerning who to help before us at all times. We've been burned, and we've learned from it. We've been blessed and able to benefit others who really are hurting as well.
With Beanne I always feel like it's the latter. I feel deeply connected to her and her family - of course because she has given two children to us - but also because it has been a blessing for me to get to know her. She helps me keep things in perspective. I might never experience a life as hard as hers. I want to make hers better. She is always joyful and pleasant. From our western mindset there is no reason she should ever be. She has made mistakes in her life, and so have I. I haven't had to live out the wages of my sin the way she has. We're both forgiven, and she is filled with joy because of it. A joy I don't always have or understand. She is truly happy that her two girls are in our family and thankful that we are caring for them. She loves to see them and know that they are doing well, but seems to have no problem watching us walk away with them after a visit. I just can't imagine how hard that must be. She doesn't always know how she or her family will survive, but she has faith that they will. Our family has never suffered or had real fear about the future, but our faith wavers.
I love her for sharing her family with us, and it makes me want to share anything I can with her.
Here is what prompted me to write this - Beanne called me from Peter's phone before he left her. She was excited and brimming with joy to get to say thank you. What we sent her was nothing. She said it will change her life. She said she can't repay anything but will not sleep until she is done praying for our family. What more could we want? That is so humbling to me. And another reason why I love her. She has things in perspective. I hope I can get there too.
Please join me in praying for her and her daughters Joanne and Bedline who live with her, and the four (soon to be five) grandchildren (Bedlines two + children live with Beanne still, Joanne gave her two children up for adoption). Pray for them to rely only on their Heavenly Father to care for them and to stop turning to men who let them down. Pray for us to have wisdom to know how and when to help. Please pray too for the countless other women in this country who are alone and discarded by a society that uses them and leaves them behind.
Sunday, June 08, 2008
It is very odd (and honestly- difficult) to feel so disconnected from the news of the world, family and friends ... but it is what it is and it seems that we are not in a position to get it fixed anytime soon.
We've scheduled a couple of posts, but other than that we need to take a blogging leave of absence.
Saturday, June 07, 2008
My best friend Lisa tells me, “People love bullet points”. Lisa is known for many other very deep and meaningful thoughts too. I'll have to save those for another day.
I'll have to save those for another day.
For today; we give you our weekly run-down bullet-point-style:
- Paige told us that she prefers to have total control of the house. Rather than sharing responsibility with whichever parent is home, she wants to be large and in charge. She actually went as far as to say, “It is better for me when you’re not here.” We’re still reeling from the pain of that verbal assault - but all in all we did see that while we were gone for a couple hours finding Internet, she handled six kids and the house and never broke a sweat. In fact, things seemed eerily calm upon our return. We’re sorry she does not need us – yet we’re totally impressed by her moxie.
- We had one very long hard rain and got about four inches of rain in less than 90 minutes.
- The Haitian Doctor that worked with Jen a bit in May has been hired and will re-open the clinic on Monday. We’re VERY excited about this.
- Paige and her friends are planning a garden. She openly admits that the planning is the fun part and they may never actually plant anything.
- Isaac was on the phone with Grandpa (
Tara’s Dad) this week and said, “So how is ?” Grandpa speaks for the entire country - he is that important. Later in the conversation Ike said, “Well I am just making sure you’ve got things under control up there.” America
- On Tuesday Phoebe had a 103.8 temp for about four hours, and then she was totally fine.
- Annie and
both had growth spurts and seem bigger. Lydia
- Troy has been having terrible lower back pain. Not sure what it is about, hoping it goes away really soon. No decent Chiropractor on our road. :(
- Thursday Hope was not-so-patiently trying to teach the boys the RIGHT way to play baseball. Listening to her talk to them leads us to believe she has a bit of a superiority complex. But, it *is* hard being the only voice of reason. By about five minutes in Noah was using the bat to try to swing at birds and all plans for a real game went out the window. Poor Hope.
- All the beds are made, the food is purchased (save the bread which the store did not have) (TIH) and we are ready for the team of 11 to come Saturday afternoon.
- The song from Lion King, that kind of cheesy one ... I think it is Elton John- it goes, “And can you feel the love tonight? It is where we are -its enough for this wide eyed wanderer that we got this far” (What does that even mean?) is being played over and over and over every day in the canteen. Apparently this is the song of choice for a dance at graduation and the practicing is taking place every day for the next two weeks. It is very odd to sit in the house and hear Elton John singing in English coming from the canteen. I want to spy on the dance rehearsal, and ask about the choice of song - but have not yet.
- While running to and from the Cross yesterday afternoon for exercise, the song “It’s a Small World” was blaring from speakers in the village somewhere. Random. Three little boys stood staring at me wondering why I was running the same 1/4 mile path over and over and over.
- Noah was climbing a very steep hill behind our house. He thought he was going to catch the cat. The hill is covered in brush and sharp thorns and weeds. I yelled “Honey get back to the front of the house, those weeds are going to make you itch like crazy.” Later I was on the porch when Noah came around the house and said to Isaac, “Isaac, Mom says do NOT go on the hill, it will make you itch and then you will go crazy!” (It’s all in the translation.)
- Still no Internet at home, (TIH) we’ll find you in a few days
When the heat of the rolling world can be turned away
An enchanted moment, and it sees me through
It's enough for this restless warrior just to be with you
And can you feel the love tonight
It is where we are
It's enough for this wide-eyed wanderer
That we got this far
And can you feel the love tonight
How it's laid to rest
It's enough to make kings and vagabonds
Believe the very best
There's a time for everyone if they only learn
That the twisting kaleidoscope moves us all in turn
There's a rhyme and reason to the wild outdoors
When the heart of this star-crossed voyager beats in time with yours
And now this odd song can also be stuck in your head!
Friday, June 06, 2008
When we’re out and about and we see something that absolutely defies logic or safety, it gets the “T-I-H” stamp. Brief examples:
- A Donkey carrying a very large Television
- A motorcycle carrying one adult and five children
- A man sleeping on the top of a bus as it barrels down the bumpy road at 50mph
- A truck so loaded down with people the back bumper drags at times
- Grocery stores without bread, meat, or cheese
We’ve learned that Gas stations don’t necessarily have gas. The name “gas” station is misleading. True. When the station is out of gas,
Wednesday, June 04, 2008
A cloudy (weird) day in Haiti today. I have way too much real work to do to blog right now. I'm using McHoul's internet to get work done while Troy gets the groceries for a team coming on Saturday. If I work fast I'll try to post later.
Hope you're all doing well.
Monday, June 02, 2008
A while back I put parentheses around the word (Haiti) in the blog title. There was a reason for that. Because we reside and work in Haiti the majority of readers come looking for Haiti news. We don't only write about Haiti. We write about our kids about half the time ... they are more than half of our day to day life.
We'll keep telling Haiti stories, the good the bad and everything in between. There are some stories that are hard to tell and time needs to pass before they're told, there are others that are hard to explain without causing offense and therefore feel wrong to tell. But no matter what, those stories will always appear here whenever possible.
In October of 2006 I said this:
Blogs are on-line journals. Everything is editorial. It is just our opinion, we recognize you will either take it or leave it. We're not a news organization, we're a stupid blog.
Contrary to one person's criticism, we do not think
And, while many of our Haiti experiences have reshaped our thoughts about faith, and Haiti and ministry, (and about blogging on the interweb) the words above are still true.
We also share the random, inconsequential, mundane and unusual things that happen in our lives. We love that you're here. We love that you're reading. We know some days you're like, "Say something would you?!??!!?" Because things can get pretty fluffy at times. Many times you probably wish we would shut up about our kids. We get that too. We're so fond of them though!
Truth be told, we keep this blog for many reasons. Some selfish, some not. This is my journal. This is a history I can leave my children and their children.
When we left the USA I left behind things that I called "recreation." I miss long weekend runs along quiet Minnesota roads, breathing in crisp fall air. I no longer have the luxury of meeting a friend for a day of chatting and encouragement. We don't double date with our friends anymore. There are not sporting event outings or concerts. Not complaining, just explaining. (Okay, maybe I am complaining a little.) Writing has replaced those hobbies that are not available to me here. For whatever reason there are days when writing is cathartic. Because I cannot always easily talk it out on the phone with my sister or a friend, well then ... by golly ... I will write it down for dozens of strangers to read. ;) That makes total sense (?)
In reality, the MAIN point of writing this stuff out (outside of - and more important than - the ones already listed) ... is to hopefully encourage someone somewhere. Troy and I believe that God is the author of every good story, and without any prideful tone, we think we are one of those good God stories. Here is why: No less than 11 years ago we were broken, hurting, lost, twenty-somethings in search of God. Troy would tell you he was leading a double life, and I was pretty trapped in my own deceit. We'd both done things we were terribly ashamed of and we were both running hard from anything and everything that smelled like, looked like, or even hinted of God, or faith.
The fact is, we hope that we are a living, breathing example of the way God writes redemption stories.
If you've ever said "God cannot use me" or if heaven forbid- some holy-roller person told you that you were not usable because of X Y or Z in your past - you must know those are lies.
God can and does use anyone willing to be forgiven and forgive themselves. We had to do that in order to allow Him to work. We've seen and experienced rejection from those who believe falsely that God is only performance based ... and we venture to guess you have too. Throw off those opinions, they are very small things.
What is true about you, what is true about us- is what God sees. And if we believed today - that God cannot use us - because TODAY we struggle with the hard facts of life and we grapple with deep questions of faith --- we'd have to close up shop. There is a way in which God can use anyone and everyone seeking Him. Having every little answer packaged up nice in a fancy box is not necessary or possible.
Not. Necessary. Not. Possible.
There is a misconception about what it looks like to be used. I don't think it only looks like going to Africa to hold AIDS babies. I don't think it only looks like pulling up stakes and going somewhere far from where you live today.
I think it looks like something different for each person. That is an issue for each of us to work out with God. I think for some it is reaching out to the guy next door whose wife just left him, inviting him over for dinner. I think for others it means coming along side a 16 year old that is pregnant and afraid. Maybe it means baby-sitting for a struggling single mom down the street. Maybe it is as simple as being kind to a real geek/dork that you work with. Maybe it is finding out how to interact with the homeless in your community and going way outside your comfort zone to do it. It mainly means allowing God to take us to uncomfortable places where we're loving people that we don't find all that lovable. The location in which it happens is irrelevant.
The people that showed me unconditional love when I was a pregnant unwed mother (twice) are the people that changed the course of my life. The people that showed Troy compassion during a time of searching and running and lying are the people that laid the ground work for him to be doing that for others today.
We hope there is something here for you. Whether it be a story about Haiti that moves you, a goofy kid moment, a confession that helps you know you're not alone in your struggles or a chance to see God's amazing creativity and ingenuity by working with ordinary people that are not missions trained, ordained, perfect, or even all that together ... Be encouraged.
tara (& troy)