Thursday, December 31, 2009

Happy New Year!

  • The condensed report of our four day week: Troy fought with the culture to try and get a truck back in working order for a Mamba delivery to happen ... the kids played and fought with each other a lot ... Tara helped with Women's Program and fought with her leg.
  • We have friends coming over to celebrate later tonight - fun!
  • We're all wound up REEEALLY tight - waiting for Britt and Chris to get here tomorrow. (Then we go on our little Christmas gift overnight trip together.)
  • We're excited that the Heartline Runners have reached their goal of 60K - and have even exceeded it thanks to the generosity of many.Thank you to each of you that chipped-in!
  • Welcome 2010 ... May we make it our goal to: Strive for growth, follow in obedience, lead with courage, live with integrity, cherish our families, and love God in the year ahead.
  • A New Year's Day gift for you - The boys sharing their new-found skills

Happy New Year from Port-au-Prince!

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Team Information

Haiti is a place that will change your life. It has certainly changed ours. We think there is value to visiting a culture  and land different than your own and learning more about your neighbors around the globe.

We're not personally huge fans of the traditional model of Short Term Missions - we've written about that a number of places, so we won't reiterate here.

If you can come open to learning from Haitians and without a lot of expectations, we encourage you to consider coming to Haiti.  If you are coming to Haiti to fix something or someone, we think you'll go home frustrated and probably either annoy or hurt the people you hope to visit/serve.  The Haitian people are brilliant and hospitable. They have things to teach us.

If you are considering visiting a developing country we urge you to read "When Helping Hurts" and "Toxic Charity" prior to your trip. It will help you to understand some of the problems of short-term missions and allow you to avoid the common pitfalls. 

We currently do not host teams in our home. We live in a regular single family home and are raising boat loads of  children and it is not possible at this time for us to host you in our home - mostly due to space and energy and the many, many children.

Occasionally readers write and ask to come check out what we do and to stay with us. We don't want to appear rude (maybe we are? if so. okay, we're rude) but we feel it is in the best interest of our family to keep these boundaries around our home and family time. We don't host people we don't know in our home. We'll bump into you during the work day but our nights and our home are reserved for our family, close friends, and immediate family to visit.

We are Co-Directors at Heartline Ministries.  Our model looks a little different  - therefore frequent Short Term Groups do not fit our core goals/values.  

Heartline Ministries does host a couple of teams a year but we don't host teams as a regular practice As a general rule we don't have enough things to keep volunteers busy. Sometimes hosting teams can take away from our ability to serve the people of Haiti well ... and divides our attention.  

(If you would like further explanation of why we don't do STM - please write to and we will happily share more via e-mail.)

Many ministries use the STM model and teams as a way to increase their income and to fund their programs, those are the ministries you'll find offering dozens and dozens of team trips each year.

Here are just a few ministries in Haiti that often welcome/host teams:
(this is not a recommendation or personal endorsement, just places that host teams frequently)
Mission of Hope
NW Haiti Christian Mission
Children's Int'l Lifeline
Haitian Childrens Home
OMS Haiti
Healing Haiti  - based in MN

Power & Responsibility

I really need to be better at recording some of the funny and cute things the boys are saying lately. I don't have baby-books for my kids so I need to record their lives via blog-baby-book.

Today ...

Noah- We were going to the PAP airport to get Paige. Noah had already thrown himself on the ground declaring that, "Moooommm, fifteen minutes until Paige lands is too stinkin long!" After we got there the boys were trying hard to see her walking toward us from across a parking lot. Noah said, "Mom, What color shirt is Paige wearing, do you know?" I said, "No, I don't know ... but I think you'll be able to pick her out." He said, "No Ma, call her and ask her about her shirt."

As it turned out the white skin and bright blond hair proved to be enough of a tip off and Noah saw her without knowing her shirt was black.

Isaac- As many of you know, the things you hear about Haiti are usually the worst things. Statistics are tossed around freely ... some of them accurate and some of them not so accurate. Isaac speaks in a jubilant and joyful voice most of the time. So, in that joyful voice he said, "Mom Mom - Most Haitian children die before they are 15. Will I die before then too?!?!?" I just about choked on the lump in my throat. I told him that "most" is maybe not totally accurate and that the reasons they die are not reasons that apply to him. That led to a deep discussion about why they are poor and without money for doctors and why he gets to have parents and money to eat and receive care when needed. (sniff) And really, that is not an answer I can easily package. It was pretty heavy stuff for an eight year old. Then Noah piped in with his thoughts about original sin and if only Adam and Eve had not so royally screwed up the whole plan things would be better for Haitian kids and then maybe they would not die before the age of fifteen.

They may not clean up after themselves worth a darn - but these little men are thinkers. Maybe tomorrow we'll tell Jeronne to put her feet up and we'll discuss the complexities of Old Testament exegesis while cleaning toilets. ;)

Here they are earlier this year discussing Super Hero stuff with Troy on a drive through Port au Prince ... (turn it up)

Let's Review:
With great power comes great responsibility.

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Culture Wars

John is one of many expats enjoying multiple chances to embrace the parts of the culture that deal with timeliness, or more accurately, the lack of any such thing.

This time of year there are tons of people getting married. Weddings that are scheduled to start at 2pm may not start until 7pm. Christmas parties scheduled for 4pm, may actually commence at 10pm. It's like you get to be a detective in a little mystery ... trying to guess the REAL start time for each and every event you're invited to attend! Good times.

It's been a long while since we last wrote about culture lessons. We learn those lessons all the time but writing about it without offending is a bit tricky. The fact is, I value my cultural way of approaching things and the Haitian people value their way. And like Noah, we both think we're the most-awesomest of all. ;)

Troy and I really would accomplish much less if we did not have full time help with our household and the little ones ... we found out last week when Jeronne went on vacation that we can do it without her - but we also found out we'd really rather not.

Without her help I would not be able to help with Womens Program at all. Our floors would not be nearly as clean - I could not keep up with the meals the kids and cleaning at the current level without some outside help. The week Jeronne was gone we skipped mopping and dusting and just focused on keeping kids fed and alive and doing dishes all day while trying to keep up with laundry and sweeping.

When you live with someone the differences between your two cultures become glaringly obvious quite quickly. Trying to convince Jeronne to do it our way is pretty much fruitless. I don't really know why we keep trying. Stupidity I suppose. I constantly say things to her that I know she is going to ignore. I guess it counts for practicing Kreyol, but I may as well talk to myself. Do not read this wrong. We are so blessed to have Jeronne in our lives for the last few years now. We love her and love working with her. She genuinely loves our children. I don't share these cultural-war-stories to be disparaging to her. I share to give you a glimpse into some of the ordinary day-to-day life stuff.

Children under four or five are not really disciplined. This culture typically (these are generalizations and of course I do not think every parent raises their child the same way). starts to discipline after a child is about four or five - and then the discipline becomes pretty harsh.

When I see Lydia or Phoebe doing something they should not be doing I first say "No" - if they don't listen I physically remove them. If they have a fit I will swat their hand or diapered butt. Jeronne shakes her head disapprovingly and tells me I might break their spirits.

This means that Phoebe, Lydia and Annie are not really consistently disciplined by Jeronne. Once in a while I'll observe her correcting them and standing her ground -- but in general they get what they want. Lydie knows that if she acts jerky enough, Jeronne will give her anything she demands. No matter how ridiculous it is. It is really not a fun issue to deal with. In some ways we've created a little monster by trying to have a multi-cultural approach to child rearing. I spend half my life trying to undo this problem. It's a little bit insane.

This morning Jeronne gave Lydia "Chicos" (Styrofoam cheese-puffs) for breakfast. I was offering toast, an apple, a banana, or cereal - but Lydie was shaking me off and saying no to all options. Jeronne walked in to see this and offered her Chicos. A breakfast of champions, fortified with 110% of the RDA of Styrofoam.

When Jeronne's daughter Jenny comes in from the village we ask Jeronne to please just let her play with the kids and she does not need to help in the kitchen or anything. We actually invited her to come so that they will both get to come with us for our little hotel trip once Britt and Chris get here this weekend. Hope loves playing with Jenny. We want to treat them too.

Today I walked in to find Jenny dusting. I got ticked and said, "If Jenny works - my kids work!" We made Jenny the "Pwofese" (teacher) and she showed the lard Livesay kids how to do some deep cleaning. I cannot convince Jeronne that it is wrong for Jenny to clean while my kids get to play. For whatever reason the kids of the white people are not supposed to work. Oh, my blood boils!

One of the not-cool things about having a live-in helper is that it creates lazy kids who think that someone else will do the work. I have instructed them to introduce Jeronne to guests as our "co-worker" because I hate hearing the other titles and I want to convince them that we need to work together to clean up after ourselves. We are co-workers! (Go ahead and laugh ... I have to start somewhere.)

At this moment I have all the kids with rags in their hands walking around "cleaning". Trust me, it is not doing anything at all for the cleanliness of the house -- but it just might be breaking their cracked notion that OTHER people do all the cleaning.

The other night Noah triumphantly declared that when he grows up he is not doing dishes, he will "get help." That pretty much sealed his fate and he is now in charge of his own dishes after every meal from this day forward. I bet he is wishing he could hit rewind on that declaration!

It is great to create jobs in a country where there are not a lot of jobs. We pay Jeronne well and try hard to love, empower and elevate her ... but in this culture it seems like many people feel more comfortable in a subservient role. That bums me out.

It has been kind of nice to chat with other people our age also raising kids here to find out that we're not crazy or experiencing anything unique -- culture wins whether you want to believe it (or not) fight it (or not) accept it (or not).

On another unrelated note, I reminded Jeronne that in December she gets her regular pay plus a whole extra month's salary for Christmas. (Haitian law requires a 13th month salary to be given at years-end.) She said, "No Madame Troy, don't do that, you don't have the money, the refrigerator is empty." I told her that it had more to do with no time to grocery shop -- and that she did not need to worry about us not having the money to feed the kids or pay her ... the refrigerator is actually NOT the economic indicator here.

She seemed totally unconvinced. :)

Noah just walked by ... I asked "When you get older are you going to do dishes?" He said, "Yep!" I asked, "Why?" He said, "Because you tode me yestawday that boys do dishes. That's why!!"

Available to all young ladies looking to marry a dish-washing husband around 2029...

Sunday, December 27, 2009


The table(s) and friends at Beth's house ...
A Christmas morning nap ...
Cake and a 3D movie for Hope's birthday party Christmas Eve ...

Hiking with friends on Saturday ...

If the photos didn't share it well ... we had an amazingly fun long weekend. :)

Troy's Grandma Livesay passed away on the 23rd. He felt bad about not being able to join his family to remember her life ... it is one of the tougher things about being so far away. We're thinking of them and praying for them as they remember her today and tomorrow.

We took a new angle on our celebrations this year. This Christmas we decided (even planned) to spend little to no time feeling sorry for ourselves or sad about being away from family ... making that decision meant our Christmas weekend was filled with a lot of joy and lightness/laughter. Missing people and whining about it does nothing to actually bring you closer together with those people - so we just decided to skip it. On Christmas Eve, hearing my Dad's voice on the phone almost wrecked it when unexpected tears welled up in my eyes ... but I regained composure quickly and continued on with the plan.

On Christmas Eve we had Women's Program. Hope came with me, it was very fun to watch her responses. Joanna (new friend in Haiti for 90 days - labor and delivery nurse) let her feel a baby move. Hope's eyes got even BIGGER (if you can imagine that).

After that we came home to grill steaks and celebrate our Hopie! I get goosebumps thinking about her entry into the world. We know her birth-mother was trying to get to a hospital on Christmas Eve when - bam - Hope entered the world on a tap-tap ride out of Cite Soleil. The first nine months of her life were spent in an orphanage. She was so severely dehydrated and malnourished she passed a kidney stone as an 8 month old, 12 pound baby. We have seen this little girl throw off her "failure to thrive" label and grow into a sweet, smart, and beautiful (inside and out) little girl. Our Hope was born at Christmas ... literally and literally. :)

In the afternoon on Christmas Day we joined Haitian and American friends and went to John and Beth's for a delicious meal. I brought one of the two things I know how to make. Beth made a million delicious things. After dinner we drove Joanna back to her guesthouse singing off-key Christmas carols. Singing carols on a warm day while driving on dusty bumpy roads is odd - but still fun.

On Saturday we met Matt and Esther and their two little ones for a day in the great outdoors. Our kids cannot stop talking about it ... we had a blast and enjoyed the beauty of Haiti. Isaac keeps asking, "We will go back there someday won't we???" He loved it. We were able to hike a little while and ended up all alone in a beautiful forest preserve. After we walked around a bit and explored we enjoyed lunch and just sitting and chatting and trading Haiti stories. This last month has been fun for us, we've connected with new friends (mainly married couples) and have enjoyed getting to know them all. We have such a large (and young) tribe at home - that making time for friends and socializing is really difficult -- but we've enjoyed a few opportunities in recent weeks and its been great for both Troy and I.

Today Troy led worship at church and John spoke about being light ... it was a message that is simple - yet extremely important. The world is dark and ugly. I often find myself discouraged at the injustice I see each day. But today I was reminded that a small amount of light (one singular candle) does pierce the darkness. I am not without hope. I can be light - with His help. You can be light- with His help. And while our individual efforts won't fix every unjust thing in the world - they still produce light in someone's darkness.

We really enjoyed reading what Joel and Rachel wrote about their thoughts on Christmas in Haiti ... and we think you will too.

The end of the year has always been a time of reflection. I purposefully take inventory and think about the highs and lows of the year. We moved to Haiti in January, so the end of the year marks another year of this crazy-ride we're on, too.

I try to remember not to get any big ideas about what the coming year will hold ... Experience being a teacher, I ought to know better than to think I can plan my year or even my day tomorrow.

Our year started with a beautiful wedding of our daughter to her best friend. We wish we could replay that in slow-motion it was so much fun.

Big highs came mid to late year and included the amazing thing many of you did in making that Medika Mamba fundraiser so successful and fun, and the joy of watching Renald's miraculous recovery.

We were unable to write about some of the most difficult things that happened in 2009. But, as I look back on it - it seems really obvious that God provided for us without us ever blabbing about our situation.

We have felt His provision in tangible ways. His love has been evident in the people He placed in our path, in the Grace extended by close friends and family, in the form of timely visits from: Marcia and Greg and Jen and Tess and Terri and Amie and Tim and Mom and Dad. (All of them came in the same ten week period that we really needed to be with friends.) We have felt Him in the mercy of slow and steady healing. When we needed it most, He showed Himself to us.

*That* is how I will remember this year.


p.s. thanks for sharing your top-secret locations, it was very fun hearing from you.


Monday, December 21, 2009

Anticipation ...

Things are rolling right along in Port au Prince. Vivien headed home to Dallas this morning, Paige heads out for a quick Minnesota trip tomorrow. Our team from Austin, TX has been easy and fun, they leave Wednesday.

After Prenatal Class on Thursday we'll officially settle into Christmas Eve and Hope's Birthday at home with our tribe. We've purchased the birthday ice-cream and somehow we'll figure out a way to find an acceptable birthday gift in a land with no such option as a "Target-run".

We've been blessed to have Joanna from Minnesota helping us on Tuesdays and Thursdays at Womens Program this month. She is fun to be with and has been an asset to the program. Wednesday night she has offered to baby-sit all small Livesay-people by herself. People don't offer that too often, so we're going to run out of here before she changes her mind, even if it is just to drive circles around the area. Actually, we may take our almost 8 year old, Hopie, out for a special dinner with just Mom and Dad.

The Heartline Runners fundraiser is very close to reaching the goal. The runners are dealing with snow, sleet, injuries and busy holiday schedules ... thank you for encouraging us/them with a year-end donation to push us/them past the goal. How exciting it would be to go into the race and the last week(s) of training knowing the ambulance can be purchased!

Christmas is definitely different here than the celebrations we'd grown accustomed to 'at home'. In spite of the sunny, warm weather and the dusty, diesel fumigated air, the anticipation and sense of wonder remains.

The wise-babies are planning a short encore performance sometime before Christmas ... they are still following that star ... and trying to get along.

This Christmas may the truth of his love permeate your heart - no matter what your geographic location.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

One Has Come

To see this in a larger format, go to YouTube by double clicking the video.
To see last year, go here.
To see 2007, go here.

*If you are so inclined, we would love to know where you are reading from. We're showing the kids on the world map and would enjoy knowing and looking for your location.

Merry Christmas

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

It's a wrap

Our annual Christmas video is finished.

As usual, Troy shook his head and rolled his eyes at all the ideas I tossed out - right up until film day, then he was an over-the-top perfectionist worrying about stuff I'd long since given up on and forgotten. (Hope was supposed to fly through the air, but we never figured out how to do that without great risk of injury.) The delivery of six animals from the village was most certainly the highlight for the kids. Our next-door neighbors watched closely and speculated on what sort of freaks would dress their kids up in odd costumes and ride animals around the backyard. Considering the variables, the animal thing went well. Phoebe got head butted by a ticked off mother-sheep, but if we're telling the truth, she sort of had it coming. ;)

Isaac, Hope and Noah are the perfect ages to be very into the whole idea and excited about pretending to be back in time in Bethlehem. Paige is a good sport, at fifteen she could easily tell me to take a hike, but instead she showed up ready to give it some stick. Thank you Paige!

The littlest three girls kept things interesting by refusing to move where we wanted them to move unless there was a reward - ahem ... bribe, on the other end. We used to be the kind of parents that tried to avoid bribing our children ... saying things like "You will listen to me because I am your Dad/Mom." "Used to" being the key words there.

Once the numbers got so skewed and we switched to running a zone defense 24/7 - let's be real - bribing a child is not a question of bad or good parenting, it is a matter of survival. If you had eavesdropped in recent weeks, you may have overheard this- "You will listen because I am going to give you a little cup of Coca Cola if you do."

This is: Parenting Many Small Children 101. Welcome. Check your big ideas at the door.

Troy might have lost a little of his joy during the production phase when we realized that all of the work we did with the three not-so-wise-men was lost. The camera dumped the footage and it could not be found again. We put them back into their costumes and gave it another try. He may have also seemed a little on edge while trying to lift a donkey back into a tall truck. I'd love to show you that footage but PETA would be on our doorstep in a flash.

(No donkeys were harmed in the filming of this video.)

We hope you enjoy it ... but more than that we hope you'll experience a little bit of the same amazing joy and great anticipation that the angels and the shepherds felt so long ago.

In other news -

Be sure to watch Licia's blog (links on left) for Medika Mamba graduates. We've been lards about getting the before and after photos posted ... until we get our act together and get on it, Licia has been on the ball and posting them periodically.

Lately I have had a major hitch in my giddy-up ... I did a number on my left calf during a run and am not able to run at all (unless I want to just have screaming pain the entire time). For now, I am switching to running in water, which is totally unsatisfying, in hopes that I can heal in time to pull off 26.2 in about 25 days. Ugh. I am very bummed and really want it to heal fast. I tried the "run through the pain" approach - not recommended.

Barring some major exciting event that *must* be shared, we are going blog-silent for awhile.

We'll be celebrating little Miss Hopie's (the featured singer in the video) 8th Birthday on Christmas Eve. (click on her name to read about her dramatic arrival 8 years ago) We'll be enjoying some time off of school. We'll be counting days till big sister and big brother get to Haiti. We'll be trying to survive seven days without Jeronne's help. We'll be hosting one more team. We'll be having a giant Christmas party for the ladies in the Heartline Women's Program. We'll be waiting on deliveries of babies due yet this month. Once Christmas arrives, we'll be trying to spend a few days just "being present" with our children. We'll enjoy a meal with our Haiti-family on the 25th at the McHouls. Mostly, we'll be preparing our hearts and minds to rest in the peace that the gift of Jesus' birth and sacrifice provides us. He came as a baby to be our Savior, to redeem us ... and for that we are very thankful.

Merry Christmas to all
- with gratitude for your kindness toward us.

**A MUST read here.

Joseph prays before his journey begins

"But this child was a new kind of king. Though he was the Prince of Heaven, he had become poor. Though he was the Mighty God, he had become a helpless baby. This King hadn't come to be the boss. He had come to be a servant."

-the jesus storybook bible

Sunday, December 13, 2009

"I realized that my life was to be one of simple, childlike faith, and that my part was to trust, not to do. I was to trust in Him and He would work in me to do His good pleasure. From that time my life was different."
C.T. Studd
Posted by Picasa

Friday, December 11, 2009

Always with the nothing to say ...

So ... we're working on our Christmas thing.
In my mind -
two and three year old children are always more cooperative than they are in reality. If only we all just lived in my mind.

Lydia is a real turkey about carrying the frankincense - she seems not to understand the significance and importance of this gift to the Christ-child. Annie and Phoebe are not necessarily putting out their best efforts either, but at least they don't cry non-stop. Mark it down as year three of Lydia failing to show up. ;)

While we're busy playing dress-up for the reenactment of the birth of Jesus, we'll point you other places. Today, you can read Lucas' blog about his day with Troy earlier this week. Troy is not much of a blogger, he relies on the rest of us to carry his weight and tell his stories. Thanks Lucas. Thanks me.

(The house they visited near our former home was the home of Gran and Sophia. Sophia was severely malnourished at 11 months of age and spent a short time recovering with our family and a year at the RHFH Rescue Center. She is now four years old and doing well. Her mother died giving birth to her, she is being raised by her grandmother.)

At Kreyol class I/we've been learning a lot. I even managed to teach Troy a few things he did not know. I love when that happens. Here are a few very easy to remember Haitian Proverbs.
Try these:
Sak vid pa kanpe. (An empty sack cannot stand.)
Manje kwit pa gen met. (Cooked food has no owner.)
Deye mon gen mon. (Beyond mountains more mountains.)

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Fet Noel

If you want your kids (or wife?) to see Santa ... uh, and maybe get groped? ... Megamart in PAP says- come on down.

The weeks are flying by for us lately. Kreyol class uses all the extra brain power and energy I have right now - therefore the short blogs about nothing continue ad nauseam.

Wednesday, December 09, 2009

Diagnosis: Confusion

Some of the greatest stories the old-timers in Haiti tell - are related to this well known ailment ...

A person never wants to grow cynical, but some persons have indeed grown cynical- in spite of their desires not to ... most of those persons have been around long enough to have seen some things. (late edit- video link fixed now)

I don't understand it, but for whatever reason a lot of times when someone finds out there is nothing wrong with them (or their child) and that they do not need any medicine, they appear to be very disappointed. This happens a lot on Tuesdays when the nurse that works with our program sees adults and kids after the class. "You're healthy - everything looks and sounds great!" is often met with slumped shoulders and a defeated expression. It is one of Haiti's many unsolved mysteries.

There are plenty of very real problems. The fake ones kind of frustrate me.

Also quite frustrating, the fact that I never have anything interesting to write lately.

Tuesday, December 08, 2009

Tuesday Tidbits

Having a photographer** come deal with this tribe - is something I am unwilling to do - so we used a remote - w/ the camera on the dryer - it worked out well because we went in with low low expectations. Troy and Noah were checking the camera placement in the photo above. The dryer, the remote, the mostly compliant children ... it all means we are sending a Christmas card from here for the first time! Maybe it is too soon to be pompous about it, they are not here yet, not stamped or addressed .... but still ... we feel a bit pompy having gotten this far.

**Marcia E. is the exception. She deserves and is worthy of our particular brand of challenging.

Women's Program today will focus again on breastfeeding. We made December "breastfeeding month" and are doing an attendance incentive ... which has meant 35 moms on Tuesdays. Last week the room looked like this as Esther guest-taught for us and the women enjoyed her thoughts and words and got to meet her plump, healthy baby boy. (Heartline's first at-home delivery was Esther and Matt's son Niko.)

Troy and John are playing Tennis this morning. Troy has never beat John. I really hate that for him. Looking at John, you would not necessarily think "athlete" - but he is tricky like that. He was quite a Hockey player in his day and he is very good at Tennis. He drinks Diet Coke while playing Tennis. (He never drinks water ... I know that sounds disgusting and insane - but it is also true.) John has a nasty cough right now - I am hoping that cough might mean a win for my man today. If not, I am sure the ever-so-humble-Mr.McHoul will let us know.

We solved our guest house cleaning person dilemma by going to LaDigue. We lived there almost three years and made some great friends. Rather than hire someone in two days that we did not know well, we called on Jeronne's former roommate. Marie Elise (in pink above) moved into Port and is staying with us at our house until the teams all depart. She was excited to have a job for three weeks and she and Jeronne seem very happy to get to spend time together. We teased them about the time they got in a giant fight about one not waking the other up for work. In the end Troy was called in to referee and settle things down.

Last night Jeronne and MarieElise cooked a delicious Haitian meal. We had rice and beans, fried chicken, pikliz, and fried plantains. I tried to put money in Jeronne's hand to pay for what she bought at the market and she sternly told me that if I did not let her buy our dinner and give it to us as a gift that she would be angry with me. I believed her.

She paid for and prepared the entire meal - we are touched by her example of giving. Our family could not possibly love working with Jeronne more - our kids all love her (and tell her daily). She is taking a week off later this month and then returning with her daughter to join us for a late Christmas celebration and a short trip to Jacmel.

The kids only have 8 more days of school before Vivien heads back to Texas for Christmas with her family. We will stay put and count down the days until Britt and Chris get to Haiti. The boys think Chris walks on water and can hardly stand all this waiting. :)

With love and wishes for a great Tuesday from sunny and cool(er) Port au Prince,


Monday, December 07, 2009

SO close ...

We are only $2,202 away from reaching the 10K matching grant. Please consider a donation as a gift to honor of a woman you love ... let her know the gift you made in her name will tangibly and practically help a women in Haiti. Click below to go chip in!

running for women in haiti

Saturday, December 05, 2009

Congrats to the Happy Homeowners!

Britt and Christopher and their dogs Yogi and Zoe are officially homeowners in Texas. We are really hoping one or two of us can go see their pad sometime in the first part of next year. If not then, we'll be there next December to see them graduate. Already excited about that, but hopeful that we might not have to wait so long.

Thanks to all who offered to search for shoes for me, I think I have three pairs found ... that is awesome because I go through one pair every three months. (Once they are not good for running I can wash them and give them to someone to get much more use out of them.) Again, I thank you so much for your help!

We did an 18 miler yesterday. This morning I was walking like an 80 year old granny. New shoes are going to help ... mine are not doing much for me anymore. The path we go on for long runs is not the path we filmed for the runner-cam video. This path is very congested for one mile but the other miles have less people on foot. The only thing that stands out about yesterday's run is that I saw a guy on a bike get hit by a tap-tap. It popped him off the bike and onto the hood. He seemed okay (his bike was not okay) - but I was tired enough that seeing it caused a few involuntary tears. I think physical exhaustion must make me partially crazy or something. When I got home I sat down at the table where Lydia, Annie and Phoebe were eating and burst into tears again. Not really sure why though. I have never seen those three babies (they may always be called that - even though they are not really that anymore) sit so still and so quietly all at once. I totally freaked them out. I plan to pull that trick out in the future when I need them to pipe-down.

I finally got tired of knowing only 30 phrases and I am working much more at forcing myself to speak Creole and not ask Troy or Paige for help when I get stuck, but keep working at it until I get it right ... Jeronne is complimentary and says I am doing well. Paige told me she hears a difference and that it is working. (Taking a class finally too.) Little tiny bits of acknowledged improvement is all it takes to motivate this lard.

The lost box of important stuff showed up at Britt's house Monday and will finally get to Haiti on Thursday... then the Christmas tradition and production can officially begin. Joseph may look like someone kicked his butt in this year's production - he took a hard fall today and bloodied his nose ... we expect he'll wake up with some bruising tomorrow. The roughed-up looking Joseph may tell a different story about the travel from Nazareth to Bethlehem ... like when the Shepherds jumped him??? ... stay tuned ...

Public Service Announcement

The last seven days have been so busy, I did not take time to write about most of it. Even though time does not allow for a full report on the last week, we did not want to miss the opportunity to warn all visitors to Haiti ... do not drink the kool aid John McHoul is serving.

Thursday, December 03, 2009

Runner Cam

Warning: If you suffer from motion sickness ... Don't watch this.

FAVOR: Please sponsor me at $1.00 per mile for the 26.2 mile run we're preparing for. It will benefit the strong and amazing women of Haiti. Go Here to do so.

Run Strong.

Tuesday, December 01, 2009

World Aids Day

I admit that the global problem is too big for me to wrap my mind around, I admit that statistics simply overwhelm me. I confess that fighting AIDS seems daunting and difficult - and things that big make me want to look the other way. I admit that at one point it was something I brushed aside - even thinking, 'that is their problem'.

In the last 18 months we've been working more and more with people affected by the disease. We've seen some harsh realities of the disease. It has a human face. That cured me of thinking it is their problem alone.

Now, when I think HIV/AIDS - I see the faces of seven women we have come to love, respect, and understand. Their stories are heartbreaking. They did not ask for the disease and they do NOT control the circumstances that caused them to contract the disease. There are underlying social and structural issues that increase their vulnerability - most of which I cannot possibly understand coming from my American paradigm.

They are people with hopes and dreams and hurts just like you and I. The statistics don't tell the human stories. of these millions is known by name by the GOD of the Universe ... and if He cares - I darn well better care too.
  • 33.4 million people living with HIV worldwide
  • 31.3 million adults
  • 15.7 million women
  • 2.1 million children under 15
Praying for them and caring about them on World Aids Day and the days to follow.


Monday, November 30, 2009


We never stop learning how the culture works ... sometimes the lessons are amusing, other times they are annoying ... and lots of times they are just sad - but either way, we keep learning. :)

About four months ago Tipap moved over to the Guest House to sort of keep an eye on things there. We did not have enough work for him at our house, and we needed eyes and ears over there.

We have a much more steady supply of sugar at our house since his departure ... man did he enjoy a sugary juice now and again and again and again. ;) But, he is still a bit of a hero at our house and the boys and little girls are happy to see him when he stops over. He is in his second and final year of mechanics school, and takes care of the yard and does odd jobs at the WWV house.

There is a cook that comes in when teams are in. The other position at the guest house is a cleaning position. We have not had such great luck in filling the position.

At first we hired Tipap's sister. There were some really good cultural reasons to hire his relative. We truly thought it out beforehand, convinced it was an excellent plan. She lasted about 7 or 8 weeks. As it turned out she was mad anytime she had to work. Troy finally told her (in the form of a list) what needed to happen daily, weekly, and monthly. She got very mad. She thought if she had to work - then the pay, shelter, and food allowance she was receiving was not enough. All of that was apparently her reward for breathing.

Even when you're annoyed, firing someone stinks. Troy hates it. It has not gotten easier. As it turned out she was HAPPY to be fired. She practically skipped out of Port au Prince. Tipap seems happier without her too. We were wrong on that hire.

The next person we interviewed was mad when she showed up. She had some anger toward someone and something that had nothing to do with us. Troy got up and walked out of the interview and told her it was obvious they were wasting time.

The next person we hired was AMAZING at cleaning. She was nice, smiley and friendly and knew how to clean very well. But she stole Vivien's clothes, guests toiletries, and food. So, today Troy fired her. She did not ask why or get mad. Obviously, she knows why.

The weird cultural lesson came when I asked Tipap on Saturday if he liked the new cleaning person and if he thought she was doing a good job. (I only asked to practice Kreyol.) He hesitated and then looked down and shook his head no. I pushed him on it. Finally, with my cajoling, he shared that she has been stealing. He told me she had taken some things from his kitchen (an outdoor Haitian style kitchen) and that he had seen her take other things. He had no plans of telling me but I bugged him until he did. When Troy talked to him he told Troy that he wanted to wait and watch her and see if she took other things ... sort of give her a chance to get worse or better while he decided what to do. He and the cook had talked it through and had a plan for observation and control of theft.

This is a very typical response. Tipap hated to see her lose her job and wanted to protect her. It is very normal for us (as the outsiders) to be the last to know. Tipap was ticked off at her and did not like her but he did not want to be responsible for ratting her out and therefore "causing" her to lose her job. Even though in our minds it is HER fault for choosing to steal -- in Tipap's mind it is his fault for telling.

We have teams for 20 days straight starting this week. We have no cleaning person. TIH!

Happy Birthday Paige Noelle

As much as we love John Mayer, we took down the automatic music/slide show - as promised.
CLICK HERE to see it.

For now
- we celebrate Paige and the beauty and grace that grows in her each day. We are so privileged to know and enjoy this young woman.

May God protect her, provide for her, pull her near to Him and surround her with prayers and people that love her in the year ahead. Amen.

P.S. Paige got to see Renald on Thanksgiving morning. He still weighed 25 pounds and was running a little fever. He will be back for another check in mid December. Thanks for praying for him, please don't stop.

Saturday, November 28, 2009

Weekend Linkage

  • There is a ginormous relief having zero sales, zero advertisements for said sales, and zero stores to go to this next month. Nobody opened at 4am in our area. ;) 'Black Friday' in Haiti is a market day like any other day - goats and chickens and rice sold at market price - just like last week. Lots of Western practices make their way here eventually, so who knows ... maybe next year we can get up at 3am to go get reduced price dead animals.
  • Beth shared a sad and beautiful story about Natacha on the other blog.
  • Our Christmas production has hit a major snag. The USPS lost the package with the things we need - Britt mailed it a long time ago, but it is still missing - the main day of filming waits on the arrival of that package.
  • I read this article this morning. We have friends that have experienced similar situations. Many times they went to the USA as young children and grew up assuming they had all the legal rights and paperwork to be in America. Later in life they learn that some paper was not filed (by their parents) and their worlds are turned upside down. In my opinion, it is terribly sad and often unjustly dealt with by the government. Even more sad to me were the comments on this article. The lack of compassion is astounding.
  • 2010 is an election year in Haiti. We moved here on election week four years ago. That was timing that required a little extra faith. :) It will be an interesting year for Haiti.
  • Only 40 days left until the Marathon. I am not so encouraged with the training but keep plugging along. This week marked over 600 miles logged since June 1st. (616 to be exact) If you are a person that regularly visits stores that sell running shoes, let me know if I can have you search for my shoe for me. I have exhausted all on line options and need some seasoned searchers to help locate a running shoe that is no longer being made - but likely still sits on running-store shelves. I am looking for an Asics shoe that they retired last year (the new model is not good) ... if you are willing to look please write me. It is possible that only runners will understand how important a specific shoe is -- in that case, RUNNERS - I need you.
  • This is a good read if you have time.

Friday, November 27, 2009

now that i have seen, i am responsible

Albertine's name could be interchanged with so many names. We pray for these children in Rwanda, in Haiti, and all around the world.

New Traditions

A year ago we made a weird and maybe even a little bit unpopular decision. We did not buy our children, extended family, friends anything for Christmas. We made a decision and we gave it a try. We have toys, we all have clothes. We have been blessed. The kids get birthday gifts and surprise small treats throughout the year. Kind people bring us goodies to Haiti fairly often. The great need is not here. Not at our house.

In truth, we'd rather our loved ones feel no pressure at all to get anything for us or our kids for Christmas.

Of course there are many times when a gift is an act of sacrificial love, and is given from the heart - we've received that from others and we hope we do that FOR others whenever the Spirit leads us ... we're not talking about never giving gifts. It is not that at all. We're talking about the gifts that we all buy because we are "supposed to" and because our consumer driven culture might tell us we have to do it.

A friend said, "That is sad that your kids don't get gifts on Christmas morning." I don't know if it is sad or not, but we've decided we're done with commercialism-Christmas-as-usual and we're going to continue on in the spirit of new traditions again this year.

Last year we took our kids to a hotel for one night and they loved it. We enjoyed family time and enjoyed the gift of each others company. We had a blast. This year we will do the same thing after Britt and Chris arrive.

We will still give gifts
in honor of the people we love - but instead the gifts will be received by the people that need the things.

Advent Conspiracy’s job is to help you do Christmas
in a way that is personal, and one big way to make it personal is to support an organization that you feel God is placing on your heart.

You can choose what fits for you and your new traditions.
Maybe it is not an all or nothing thing, maybe it is a decision to be more aware of wants vs. needs. Maybe some purchases this time of year are only out of habit and obligation. Maybe it is simply something to give further consideration.

"Christmas was meant to change the world. It still can. Worship more. Spend less. Give more. Love all."

-advent conspiracy

Thursday, November 26, 2009

HBD Annie

This little
is two years
old today

Troy and Paige are taking the team out to Cazale for the day and night. They are hoping to see Renald. His mother is supposed to be there with him for a check up this morning. We are praying for good news and a happy, healthy Renald. Troy and Paige hope to be back in time to celebrate Thanksgiving this afternoon with a huge crew of us at the Buxman house.

The last three days have been great days for our emergency transport vehicle fund.

Please help Thanksgiving be another big day, go here to donate!

Happy Thanksgiving (Americans)


We hope you'll all enjoy a beautiful and relaxing day with the people you love most. If you're apart from loved-ones, we pray peace and comfort over that separation. May we all take a moment to be grateful for the many blessings in our lives.

We're incredibly thankful to the families that have chosen to partner with us and support our work in Haiti - both with finances and prayers ... we cannot possibly convey how much that means to us.

So today, as we count our blessings, we count you!

Happy Thanksgiving from Haiti,


Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Odd Man Out

This morning Troy asked Noah if he wanted to come along with us to take the team to visit a Compassion project. (Aaron promotes for them and wanted to visit.)

Noah asked "What does that mean? What are we doing?" Troy told him it was a school with lots of kids. Noah said, "No Daddy, I don't want to go with you. Whenever we are at those Haiti schools all the brown kids pick at me. I will stay home."


Lydie B. did not seem to mind the attention too much though ...
(Click on photo to enlarge.)

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Bon Tuesday

We had a long, full day ... leaving little energy for long reports.

Troy went with the team to the village we lived in for our first years in Haiti. He had a good time seeing friends and co-workers from our time there. (Everybody loves the guy that is no longer their boss a lot more than they love that same guy when he IS the boss.) He has some fun photos that I will post later.

For all who know and love Pastor Rony, Troy says he is doing great and they had an awesome visit.

I wrote about Angena over here tonight, I hope you'll read it.



Monday, November 23, 2009

The Great Feast of Aught-Nine ('09)

The stinkin mosquitoes are at their all time worst right now. Which is saying a lot. Last night at the dreadfully early hour of 11:00 something, we lost power. For the night. EDH failed to bail us out of our dilemma.

It is cooler, and that is a wonderful thing - you can lay without a fan and not be totally soaked in sweat ... but once we lost power we were feasting material for the aforementioned horrible disease carrying beasts. Despite valiant efforts on Troy's part to rid our abode of them, the air is still thick with the little blood-sucking devils.

We have a car battery in our closet charged and ready to go. (Don't you?) One fan can run off of the car battery for more than a few hours. Noah and Hope were the first to join us right around midnight - huddling in front of that fan.

At about 2am Isaac and Paige came in too. (Make that six people sharing one fan.) At 3am Jeronne came upstairs to sleep with Lydia who she heard awake and calling for rescue from the bugs. (Those of us with the fan never heard Lydie.) Phoebe & Annie managed to sleep on and off through the night in their own beds.

At 4am the car battery system failed us. From 4am to 6am it was a mosquito free-for-all. We ALL woke up crabby this morning. No exceptions. At 6am, when we were all bleary eyed but on our feet, of course EDH returned.

Not a good night.

Unless you were a mosquito.

Overlooking PAP on date weekend

Above, the Palace, the Port, the airport runway, all visible.

Below, a cute guy - also visible.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Four Year Blogiversary

  • Fun weekend - parents left the kids - parents still totally dig each other - Kids did fine, despite dramatic goodbyes and tears and yelling "I love you I llllooooovvveee you - Daaadddy Moooooommmmyyyy" as we tried desperately to remove them from our legs - all is well now, the family is reunited with no plans for separation for many many months
  • Stopped by area hotel to pick up suitcase full of goodies from the Rumo family and friends ...very fun, thank you very much to all who made it happen!
Busy Week Ahead:
  • Team from Austin led by A.Ivey arrives Monday - bring on the manpris (capris for men worn by rock star hipsters such as Aaron Ivey)
  • Adoptive Dad (and friend) arrives Thursday for long weekend in Haiti
  • Thursday we will come as close as possible to a traditional American-type Thanksgiving meal hosted by the Buxman Family in our neighborhood - Bringing Jeronne for Haitian feedback and critique of American-style celebration :)
  • Celebrating Annie's second birthday Thursday ~ Prayers for her Mom and Dad and brothers in Minnesota
  • Troy's computer that I dropped and damaged is returning home, and just days shy of Troy's head implosion. Phew.
  • 22 donations came in today toward the Women's Program Emergency Transport Vehicle - we are so thankful to each of the donors and we humbly ask all who have not given to consider helping us have a big week this week. We could use a Thanksgiving week boost!
  • We started this blog four years ago this week. So much has changed about us since this began- some good, some bad - some up for debate ... The people we've met along the way have been the greatest encouragement to us. We thank you for that! It's fun to have you along on this crazy ride.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Thursday Things

Joranne's baby boy - doing great!

Vivien taught class on HIV today.
17 of 20 in the program - 2 due very soon

Yesterday was a Haitian holiday and we were able to get a lot of (boring) paper work stuff done at home as the rest of town was shut down to celebrate the holiday. Beth and I ran hills in the morning - we have a 35 mile week this week, finishing out the last 10 miles tomorrow morning. Big mile weeks equal 1am trips to the fridge to binge on everything and anything that is not a condiment. I stop just short of eating straight up barbecue sauce - whenever possible.

We were very pumped about the matching grant and hope to see more people get involved in helping the beautiful women pictured above. We will be telling all of their stories in the coming weeks and months. Their resiliency spurs us on and inspires us all.

Speaking of resiliency, please say a special prayer for Rose Marie, pictured in red above. We're doing everything in our power to bring her blood pressure down and help her get the nutrients she needs to deliver a healthy baby. Rose Marie is doing fairly well with eating and drinking as instructed. We know that prayers for her and her baby are the very best way to battle for her. She is due January 10th and we're asking God for a healthy mom and baby.


The Livesay kids have finally put away the scratched, skipping, 1994 Barney the Dinosaur DVD's and joined the developed world watching this odd show (on DVD) instead ... Annie is mesmerized by this weirdness, her family may even seem normal to her when she finally gets to them. :)

Tomorrow night there will be a party in Troy and Tara's tummy when they go out to celebrate their anniversary at an undisclosed location.