Friday, January 30, 2009

Meet Ella

Christianne had her baby last Friday. To read her story scroll down to the post about Prenatal Program. Her baby girl appears to be perfectly healthy. She is 7 lbs 11 ounces and absolutely adorable. We were so excited to be in on the naming of this baby! I was floored to hear Christianne say she wanted us to help her choose a name. Her full name is Emmanuella. (Nickname Ella) Through the kindness of a reader Christianne will be sponsored for a few months and have her rent situation corrected, allowing her to at least begin to find ways to heal and parent her baby.

Thursday, January 29, 2009

Wednesday trip to Petit Goave

Keeping Noah entertained and busy was my main role yesterday. Troy, Nate and Brenda had a meeting - and Noah does not do meetings. We spent the hour and a half solving the worlds problems and drinking lots of carbonated beverages.
One coke, one diet-coke, and many interview/videos later it was time to pile in the car and head back to Port au Prince. Noah demonstrates his random thought process below. He is obsessed with Valley Fair, which is an amusement park in Minnesota that is much like a Six Flags. He has never been there or even seen it - but he likes to talk about it often. He also jumps to telling me what adoption is ... And then ends on Valley Fair.

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Blog Aversion Relief #2

Q. I know the life expectancy for Haitians is extremely low.. in the 40s, I think. Yet some Haitians live incredibly long.. into their 80s. How on earth do you think they do it? Genetics? Luck? Or do you think that the infant mortality rate and the under 5 death rate is so high that it pulls the life expectancy rate way down?

My initial response was to say, yes, there are lots of older people in Haiti, so the life expectancy of 57 years MUST be pulled down by the deaths of so many babies. But then I saw this, breaking down the make-up of the population ...

0-14 years: 41.8% (male 1,881,509/female 1,851,591)
15-64 years: 54.7% (male 2,386,761/female 2,495,233)
65 years and over: 3.5% (male 135,695/female 173,764) (2008 est.)

We were amazed at the number of much older ladies and gentlemen out in the village, they must just be tough and have amazing genetics. How is that for a very scientific answer? Aren't you just so glad you asked? The CIA factbook makes it clear that people don't often live to be 90.

Fun Fact: Tipap's Granny is still alive and they say she is over 100.

Q. I was wondering if you really need my help finding someone to burn an old mattress for you?

No. Burning trash is not a problem for me. I can easily find someone to do it right outside my front door. Thanks though.

Q. Our two beauties in Haiti are orphans, we know basically nothing about their history... any ideas on how to best deal with this? 2)We are thinking of keeping their given first names, but changing the middle to be something we've chosen...advice? They are 6 and 3. 3) We plan to visit them in end of March or so, we've "known them in pictures and video" for nearly a year, they still do not know they are being adopted even... tell them when we visit, wait and act as "just visiting"? We are still at least a year out.

I am not a sociologist, psychologist, or adoption specialist ... and maybe they would all give you a lot better answers. I think if you truly cannot get any information about the death of the mother or any family info from a relative, then it will be important for you to be armed with as much information as you can have about where they were born and who they lived with prior to them coming to you. My kids have not really started asking any of this yet, but I assume they will have lots of questions some day. I think the only wrong answer is to say, "Oh why do you want to know that - you have us and we love you so none of that matters." They will have questions some day and allowing them to feel whatever they feel is so important. (Which you obviously know based on the question.)

Your idea about their names is great! Changing a first name of an older child can sometimes be a challenging thing. Some kids want a name change, others don't. (Please don't send hate mail if you disagree with me. Just disagree.)

Your last question shows tons of sensitivity. The 6 year old is old enough to get it. I can only tell you what I would do after seven years of watching the Haitian adoption process ebb and flow. And of course, it is totally your call and something to pray about and decide together. Knowing what I know now, I would choose not to tell a six year old that I was their Mom or that I would be taking them home to live with me until I was certain of the finalization of the adoption. ( And again, we can agree to disagree on this. Lots of people choose to tell their kids upon meeting them and I am sure they thought it through and came to their decision prayerfully.) I won't bore you with the reasons tonight, there are a few that play into my thoughts on this.


Had a great day today and got to see something further south than the National Palace, so that was really cool. I will incorporate the story of today's events into my answer to the last couple questions. (Heather P. and E-Mom, I left your questions for last.) Must snooze now though.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Blog Aversion Relief - Part 1

Q. How do you manage the children everyday? Where do they go off to while you work? How often do you have visitors to your neck of the woods? Do you get mail from the US?

It depends what you mean by "manage". Some days really well, and other days are an embarrassment. I used to feel like a really capable and even above average mom. But that was like three kids ago. Somewhere around Noah or Phoebe it all fell apart.

Three of the kids get up at 6am and are out the door at 7am for school. They don't get back home until 4:30. Lydie and Phoebe wake up next at about 6:15 and Noah and Annie usually sleep till about 7am. Once Noah is up, all moments of quiet are gone for good. He enjoys the sound of his own voice. A lot.

Jeronne is responsible for Annie, and does a beautiful job with her. I am actually home with my kids 80% of the time. I only regularly leave to go for a run or to go to Women's Program on Tues and Thur. afternoons. They stay home with Jeronne while I do those things.

A part of me wants to be out and doing more - and wishing I was easily able to - but more than anything I want to be around right now when Lydie and Phoebe and Noah are so little and high-need (and all three of them are) and I know that in a couple years it will be easier to get out and doing more mission/ministry stuff. For now, Troy does the majority of that.

How often do we have visitors?
We used to host large teams in our home, but since we moved in August, we have just had a few friends and relatives stay with us. It seems like we have someone here at least once a month. We bought a futon and the family room is our guest room, it works out great. We've found it much easier to host two or three people -- ten and twenty was too much for us with our large family. It was causing stress between us and we needed to protect our family and our marriage. It is nothing personal against teams, it was just very tough to pull off that much company for multiple days while trying to love on and meet the needs of a lot of little kids.

There is not regular mail service in Haiti, no one here gets mail delivered to their door. We use a Missionary mail service called Agape. The address is in Florida. They fly the mail down to missionaries in the DR and Haiti twice a week. We don't really get much mail because we pay bills on line and most people write us via email -- but we do have a way to get mail - it takes a bit longer to get it, but is reliable.


This morning I went for a run. It was a weird experience because without warning I had some sort of emotional snafu - and I was bawling while running. I have to wait to explain the scene until I am in a writing mood ... or I won't do it justice. In the afternoon Brenda joined us at Women's program. It went well... we found out Dicleat is only having one baby. She is very relieved, but she is also insanely anemic and admitted that she does not take her iron pills because they make her sick. There was also a new three pound baby. The young mom of the baby (Monique) is not doing well with keeping him hydrated so Beth spent a lot of time with her trying to get the message across. Poor little guy was not looking very good. :( We also heard that Christianne had her baby and that they are both okay, we hope to see her on Thursday and confirm that.

Tomorrow I actually get to leave Port au Prince to head south with Troy, Nate and Brenda. Every time I have been in a position to go see another part of the island something has come up that kept me home. I am willling the children to stay healthy so that I can go on an adventure to check out some property and do fact finding in Petit Goave.

I'm not ignoring the other questions, thanks and I will get to them later this week. :)

Hi Britt!

Ask and you shall receive.

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Wise Old Man

This photo is one of my favorites. I think this guy probably knows some things.

We've loved having some adoptive parents in this weekend. Three of the moms that are here were on the May '08 team. We also have the Yonkers visiting from Michigan ... so lots of 'old' friends to reconnect and catch up with this week.

One fun random fact:
I made contact with my youth pastor from 20 years ago. I have not talked to him for about 18.5 years. He was the person at our church that we went to first with my pregnancy news (I was 16 at the time we found out) --- he did a really amazing job of dealing with it in a way that did not excuse my poor choices but still really showed love and mercy and grace to me and my family. I have always wanted to thank him, and last night I found him and was able to do so. I am still smiling and thrilled that I found him!

I have a serious aversion to blogging lately. I don't know why. I feel like a broken record and I need some new topics.
What is going on with you guys?

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Prenatal Day

As you know, Thursday is "Prenatal Day" for the Heartline Women's Program. I really like Thursdays because I feel like I have a better handle on the names and faces of the ladies that come on Thursday.

I have started handling the updating of files and that helps me to commit each lady and her information to memory. We've recently had about 8 new ladies join us as 8 have had their babies and moved onto the early childhood development class on Tuesdays.

Each Thursday the ladies filter in from about 11:30 until 12:30. As they arrive we get their blood pressure, their weight and their temperature. Every once in a while something will be way off with one of those stats and we'll know to dig a little deeper.

In the USA once a month is sufficient for these checks, but doing it every week is a way to stay better in touch with them. It has proven to be a wise choice. Most of these pregnancies would be considered high-risk as so many are undernourished and struggling to provide for themselves. Almost every week someone has a blood pressure or a weight loss that points out a need for quick intervention.

Some weeks pre-natal day is encouraging and fun. Other weeks are heavy and mind-boggling. Today was the latter.

We showed a movie to the ladies called "The Victim" - it is heavy material meant to point out how choices of one person can trickle down and affect many. The movie was made in Haiti and Beth first saw it when she was on a bus to the D.R. The film takes a look at AIDS and the way it spreads and destroys lives. A lot of it is shocking from a Western perspective - so much of the cultural way that men and women interact here is difficult to understand or accept for us. The room was pretty quiet and as near as we could tell it caused most to pause and think. Abstinence is the ideal, but pushing something that won't work in a culture or play out in real life is a lot like beating your head on a wall ... many choose to do that ... but we handed out protection. It hurts our heads a lot less.

Today was chock-full of heavy situations ...

The first was a new girl that showed up. She was 21 and frail looking. She had a baby and lost it when it was two months old last year. She said it died because a "werewolf killed it" and then she said she thought she might be pregnant again. We took her blood pressure. It was 153/107 - she was a tiny little 87 pounds. When we did the pregnancy test it came back negative. We took some time to try to get to the bottom of things, most of which we failed to do. She said she did not nurse her baby; she gave it bottles. We asked about the water she used and wondered if maybe the werewolf was not really just dirty water that caused diarreah, dehydration, and eventually death. We asked her to come back in one week so we could re-check her blood pressure and look into options for meds for that.

The second situation was with one of my favorite ladies in the program. Her name is Dicleat. She is as cute as can be and incredibly sweet. She is 41. She has five kids but has not had one for ten years. She entered the program back in early December, each interaction we've had with her has been so positive. There are some ladies that we easily connect with and get to konw. We think we hear two heartbeats. Beth checked and re-checked and kept feeling like we were hearing more than one. She was so visibly shaken and upset at hearing about this possibility that we backed way off and said we were not sure, we needed to send her for an ultrasound. The fear and worry was evident and I felt so bad for her. As we prayed for her when she left I just asked God to show us how to support her ... whether she learns there is one or two babies when she goes for her ultrasound.

The third and most troubling situation of the day involved Christianne. First of all, we did not expect her to be back today. She was due Jan 15 and measured 42 cm last Thursday. She came today and spent some time opening up about her situation and her past. Christianne has two kids with an ex that is a drug addict. The baby she is currently pregnant with is not wanted by this father. He told her that the baby was not his and she should get rid of it. She shared with us that for the first four months of her pregnancy she tried to abort the baby. She specifically mentioned taking herbs, drinking a lot of alchol. She said when it did not work she would do it more.

As she sat in front of us looking like she was about to burst with baby she said "But none of that worked." To think of the trauma this baby has been through and the possibility that it may be irreperably damaged was incredibly sobering for us today. Christianne lives in a house her brother owns, but she is $700 (Haitian) dollars behind on rent so he took her door off. If you cannot turn off the electricity or the gas, the next best thing is to remove the door. :(

I don't know what Christianne wants to do. Christianne does not seem to know either. She seems very peaceful and nonchalant about things right now - but she does admit that she does not know what is best for her baby. When Beth suggested that after all those failed attempts to abort the baby that maybe God has a big plan for the baby, Christianne smiled and nodded in agreement. We're praying that this baby is okay. We're nervous to find out if any defects or harm have been caused by the choices this mom made early on in her pregnancy.

As always, we appreciate prayers for these women as they face situations and hardship that most of us cannot easily imagine.


You've heard of 'safety first' ... this is safety last.

Today is Jen Halverson Day!!!!

I have no title ... no influence or ability to make it an official holiday ... but in the blog world I feel just a little bit empowered ... I therefore declare today, January 22, "Jen Halverson Day".

A year ago God used Jen to save the life of our baby Lydie B. and today is the day to thank her and Him.

Last years stories -

Day Lydia was admitted
Day of sorting out anger
Jen's post before the seizure scare
After the scare

Jennifer -
Troy and I don't go many weeks without revisiting the miracle that happened last January. Thank you for being there for us and allowing God to lead you to Haiti and then later to Lydie's side at the exact moment in time that she needed you. We love you so much. God is good. Happy Jen Halverson day to you my friend.
We miss you!

God provided in totally cool ways last year. Jen needed a ride on a day that Lydie needed to be admitted (but we did not necessarily realize it) - so we ended up bringing Lydie to Port because of Jen's advice - then admitting her --- and then Jen came to spend the night with me at the hospital on the exact night she needed to be there to take charge and stop the seizure. Lydie seized for a long time, but without Jen there wouldn't have been anyone in the hospital that knew how to stop it. There were tons of little amazing details that brought it all together ... 

We are also blown away at the number of people that prayed for us in the middle of this ... there were hundreds interceding on Lydia's behalf. Thank you all so much.

(Top photo, Marcia Erickson 2008 -middle photo taken the day Jen moved back to MN in May 2008 - last photo Dec 2008)

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Hope's Memory Work

Psalm 1:1
Blessed is the man
who does not walk in the counsel of the wicked
or stand in the way of sinners
or sit in the seat of mockers.

Ike's Memory at work

Happy Birthday to Isaac's Grandma Porter!


Random Quick News:
  • Beth and I got home safely and without trouble.
  • Being back points out how easy it is to sleep in America. I did not miss the 42 mosquito bites in the night. (whine)
  • We're doing dinner with some Minnesotans up at Healing Hands for Haiti tonight.
  • Lots of adoptive parents come in this weekend.
  • Nate and Brenda Yonker get here Sunday.
  • Lydia finally switched to walking about half of the time.
  • Peanut killed a giant rat in the night. (Nasty.)
  • Paige's kids-club will start up again Sunday.
  • Thanks everybody for the Christmas cards you mailed mid December - we are finally laying our hands on them and enjoying reading/seeing your updates.

Monday, January 19, 2009

Boom Box Beth

John warned me that traveling with Beth might be a challenge. He complained of the speed at which she walks and other things that sounded good to me. I was not concerned at all.

I learned a few things about my friend B. on this trip ... most of them entertaining ... and a few of them a tad bit embarrassing. Her Boston roots combined with the 2o years of Haiti makes for some interesting shopping experiences. I laughed when time after time she found a way to annoy the cashier and then said to me, "Was I being rude?" I laughed half the weekend. Living in Haiti 20 years teaches you to find a way to get the attention of the customer service rep ... one way or the other.
The photo above is on the plane out of Phoenix this morning, we happened to be flying to Miami with this amazing Ethiopian guy who also happens to be one of the fastest marathon runners in the world. His time yesterday, 2:10:36 ... don't believe me? Look him up - Tekeste Kebede.
Beth gushed over him while many looked on in amusement ... I kept my head low (while trying to discreetly meet her photo request, a difficult combination to pull off) -- then she called her daughter Morgan to figure out if he was who we thought he was -- and her daughter told her to quit being a weird stalker ... none of that worked because at the end Beth forced me into having *my* photo taken with him, I can tell you honestly --- we really scared him... he thought we were wacko. Beth is hardcore people. HARD. CORE.Either way, it is insane how fast this little guy can run. insane. I could have squished him like a bug he was so tiny. Running that many miles takes so much - I cannot comprehend how fast this guy moves.
Below - the girls that hung out all weekend (and four of us ran on Sunday) ...
We slept very little and made the most of a weekend (shop-eat-talk-repeat repeat) without responsibility.
Back to Haiti life and Haiti running tomorrow. :)
I cannot wait to see my peeps!
(Troy does not really claim these photos as his, not sure why there is that copyright thing there.)

Friday, January 16, 2009

Our Church in Haiti

When we left Minnesota we said goodbye to wonderful friends and community at our home church there in Rogers. We wondered what it would be like worshiping in another language.

After living here a few months we realized it was incredibly important for us to go to an English speaking church. At that time we started driving two hours to attend Port au Prince Fellowship.

Now that we live in town Troy is regularly able to help by leading worship and we can attend without the stress of getting kids up at 5am. We love this community of believers and are so thankful for the option of worshiping in our heart language here in Haiti.

I thought you would like to see the sardine style seating that is required. If you visit Haiti please check us out, but set aside your American-style-space-bubble expectations and don't forget your deodorant. :)

Washing off the Port au Prince

This is dry season. The dust/dirt and diesel seem doubly bad this time of year. This is the typical look of our legs after returning from a short run. Tasty, huh?!?

Beth and I are headed out for the weekend. We were blessed to be able to go run a race for free in Arizona. Thank you to the Hyatts, the Gayharts and PF Changs! Free trips are SO fun! We're meeting up with another friend who is running to celebrate her 50th birthday. We are sharing about Haiti one morning and hoping it will be a fun, fast, and productive weekend in beautiful Phoenix, Arizona.

Paige is off to a youth retreat, leaving Troy to manage the tribe on his own. I am anxious to get back and see how much cake they ate for breakfast and when they last bathed. :)

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Papa Jeronne

Pictured above is Mr. Alexandre, the father of 8 children. (It is pronounced without the "r".)

Jeronne's Mom died many years ago after the birth of the youngest child in the family.
Jeronne is child number 7 of 8. She does not know exactly how old she was when her Mom died but she says that she has no memory of her mother.

Jeronne is 36 years old. Her oldest sister, the first born is approximately 65 years old. When I asked Jeronne how old her Dad is she said she is not sure but she thinks maybe early 80's - he has had a few health struggles lately and we have noticed Jeronne's great concern for him. She took a few extra days off to spend with him.
When we moved to Port au Prince and asked Jeronne to consider living and working with us full-time, we had no idea what that would be like or how it would work out. She has been SO fun to get to know and I think I can honestly say that she loves living here as much as we love having her here. We're so thankful for her and cannot wait to support her efforts to enter sewing school this fall.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

My Savior My God

There are like 20 songs that Troy and Paige and I listen to frequently and find encouragement when we do. Paige's current fave is "Mighty to Save" so maybe we'll post her favorite next. I love the first four lines of this Aaron Shust song. There are so many things I DO NOT understand ... but it really changes nothing about Him. I don't need to understand it all ... which has always been very freeing for me personally. (Yes, we know this is two years old already, but it is a great song.) Check it out.

I am not skilled to understand

What God has willed, what God has planned
I only know at His right hand
Stands One who is my Savior

I take Him at His word and deed
Christ died to save me this I read
And in my heart I find a need
For Him to be my Savior

That He would leave His place on high
And come for sinful man to die
You count it strange, so once did I
Before I knew my Savior

My Savior loves, my Savior lives
My Savior's always there for me
My God He was, my God He is
My God He's always gonna be

Yes, living, dying let me bring
My strength, my solace from this spring
That He who lives to be my King
Once died to be my Savior

That He would leave His place on High
And come for sinful men to die
You count it strange so once did I
Before I knew my Savior

My Savior loves, My Savior lives
My Savior's always there for me
My God He was, My God He is, My God He's always gonna be (x6)

My Savior lives, My Savior loves
My Savior lives, My Savior loves

not parents of the year ... only 14 days in, we're voted out

The last few days we're having trouble keeping all the balls in the air.

That is a nice way to say that we forgot Hope up at her friends house on both Friday and Monday. Two school days in a row this conversation took place:

(Scene: kids are being dropped off and entering the house)
Isaac- Hi Mom
Paige - (mumbles 14 year old variety of) Hi
Me- Hi guys, how was your day?
A few minutes of chit chat and small talk and unpacking backpacks
Me- Hey! Where is Hope?

I am especially proud that we did it two school days in a row. I think it showcases our stellar ability to learn quickly from our mistakes. :( The people who take care of her after the noon dismissal of Kindergarten are surely whispering about how bad we suck.

The kids' teachers might hate us because we've not gotten all their stuff back in their folders. I felt like I had conquered all last night when I got all six littler ones bathed, in their P.J's, and fed before Troy and I had to leave for dinner. (Jeronne had a headache.) But, as Troy pointed out, I forgot to help with homework for Isaac. So, in fact, I did not conquer all.

We feel like we are always three of four phone calls behind. Communication failures are abundant and troubling.

We stayed out too late with our group last night - went to bed after midnight - then of course we lost power at 2:45 a.m. - which means a lot of not sleeping, being snappy with each other and being angry at the world and the roosters -- then (of course) we overslept this morning and almost made our kids late for school.

I better go - I have a lot of stuff to screw up today.

Monday, January 12, 2009

start em young

Lydie B. came to Heartline Women's Program prenatal class/day last Thursday.

A brand new baby from the program was there to be ooohed and aaahhhed over and weighed and checked out.

We did all of that and Lydie checked his eyes (and found them to be perfect.)Our only negative observation was that he was dressed a tad bit too warm for the 85 degree Caribbean temps.

Sunday, January 11, 2009

Smorgasbord Post

Henri and Gladys were the most adorable thing. Paige, Troy, Lydie, Phoebe and I went to the wedding. We figured Lydie and Phoebe got ripped off not getting to go to Britt and Chris's wedding, so we took them. Phoebe did well, Lydie was less than well behaved but her white skin did entertain a lot of interested children at the reception...although she did get tired of being poked at. And she also hates sentences that end with a preposition.
For those who don't know these names, these two beautiful Haitian people have known and worked together for years and have been running a great ministry called Canaan in Montrouis, Haiti (pronounced Moe - eee).

Many have wondered over the years if they had an interest in one another. When Henri called Troy to say he was getting married, Troy said, "Who is the lucky lady?" Henri's response was "Oh, you know her." The entire way to the wedding we wondered if we were getting ahead of ourselves and maybe there might be some other mystery bride. T.I.H after all. :)

They openly share that they were both slaves to a horrible life of drugs and alcohol but that they have been set free from that and want to serve their country and their people.Their testimonies are amazing, they truly are a redemption story - God writes those stories and they are SO encouraging. Anyone who believes they cannot be used by God to do big things is dead wrong. Ask Gladys and Henri. :)

We learned of the wedding 24 hours before it happened and were thrilled to be able to go. Haitian weddings are totally entertaining, different than American weddings in fun ways. They do not walk down the aisle, they dance down the aisle. There are so many little quirks that make them unique. To choose one example- the wedding that was supposed to begin at 3pm - instead began at 4:45ish and at the time there was still a man bringing and unloading tables to set up for the reception.

The ministry of Canaan has been to raise and educate abandoned children. They use the ACE curriculum and the kids even get to travel to the States for homeschooling competitions. It is a warm place where you can easily tell the children are loved.

My favorite part of the entire thing was when the minister (who came from B.C. Canada) pronounced them husband and wife and they kissed --- the kids went NUTS laughing and screaming -- they thought it was great. You can tell that Henri and Gladys had never done that in front of the kids. We have had the pleasure of introducing lots of our friends and guests to this ministry, we figured this news would make you grin as much as it did us.

This photo of Troy in 6th grade showed up on FaceBook recently, I was amazed at how much 11 year old Troy looks like 33 year old Troy and 4 year old Noah. Noah sat most of the weekend out with a high fever. This morning he woke up in our bed announcing he had wet our bed. He then moved to his bed where he puked five minutes later. It's cool though ... because I barely do any laundry and I was totally bored and looking for a chore.

The little girl I shared about in this post ... has gone back to her birth family. This is amazing news! Paige found out today and cried because she did not get to say goodbye but ultimately this is REALLY good - and we are all thankful to those of you who prayed for her. :)

Today we went to church., then we went to lunch with the crew from Teen Challenge afterward. Isaac and Paige got voted onto the "go out to lunch" team. Ike almost melted down when he ordered Pomme Caramel thinking he was getting a good old fashioned apple on a stick with caramel wrapped around it. The face he made when he saw what it actually was- screamed "this is not what I had in mind!"

Tomorrow Troy will assist the TC visitors in getting from points A to B as they look at rental properties and prospective locations for their ministry plant. They will end their day with dinner here at the loud house - John McHoul warned them it might be corn from a can. John might have been invited to dinner, but we crossed him off the list when he got smart like that.

Saturday, January 10, 2009

Fun News

For all of you who have been here and have gone out to Canaan with us ... Henri and Gladys are getting married today!!!! They called yesterday (TIH) to tell us and invite us to come -- isn't that wonderful? We will fill you in on the whole story with some photos later in the weekend.

Friday, January 09, 2009

I can read

Four months ago these ladies could not read. Some of them could not write their own name.

Today they graduated from literacy class. They can read! We are so proud and happy! Jeronne is on the right. The girl in the orange dress has an amazing story, a former restavek ... now reading. :) Congratulations ladies!!!!

We are off to pick up the MN Teen Challenge group and Pat and Randy -- it will be a busy week ahead. We're looking forward to it!

Have a great weekend.

This was a great post, thought provoking and important to read.

Thursday, January 08, 2009

Relative Terminology

As we left Port au Prince and traveled to Florida on New Year's Day last week - we found ourselves on a full airplane. Most of those traveling had a visa that allowed them in and out of the USA for a period of a year or more, some were U.S. citizens. They likely had family and friends living both in the USA, and Haiti.

As far as their place on the Haitian economic ladder, they are "wealthy". Any Haitian with the ability to go to the Embassy and ask for a visa and then purchase an airline ticket is doing very well... All things being relative. They might be providing for 25 family members, they might have a ton of pressure to come up with answers and resources for a lot of people, but *they* are the "lucky" ones.

When we landed the flight attendant made an announcement and thanked everyone for flying. She said, "Thank you for choosing American Airlines, we wish you a healthy and prosperous new year."

It struck me as interesting - even odd. What does prosperous mean? What does prosperous mean to those Haitians on the airplane? What does it mean to those in the mountain villages who could never dream of getting a visa or seeing the United States or stepping onto an airplane? What does it mean to me? To experience economic well being or prosperity is relative.



1. having or characterized by financial success or good fortune; flourishing; successful: a prosperous business.
2. well-to-do or well-off: a prosperous family.
3. favorable or propitious.

For me, "good fortune" and financial success means I buy almost whatever food I want, shop for clothes for my kids at Target and Old Navy, go to the doctor whenever we need to, and pay all my bills on time without any juggling/borrowing of funds. It is making ends meet without much stress.

For some economic well being means they vacation thrice yearly, their investments are always earning money, their bank accounts and assets are growing while they sleep. For most Haitians, economic well being or "a prosperous new year" would simply mean that they could feed their kids and sleep with a roof (of any variety) over their heads.Their prosperous new year would look a lot simpler than mine - and mine would look a lot simpler than many.

What does prosperous look like for you? How does that compare to the world around you?

What if "prosperous" was defined less by our own personal economic well being and ranking and more by our ability to care for others. If giving was the standard for prosperity, how would I fare?

As I thought about the wish the flight attendant made for us --- I also hoped that we would experience what amounts to prosperity in 2009 ... But more than that I hoped that this year I would be uniquely aware and always conscious of my own abundant blessings and use the gifts I've been given responsibly, generously and without reservation.

Wednesday, January 07, 2009

Resolutions for a new year

I try not to write the same post year after year and month after month. Trying is really not enough sometimes. So, here we go again with more of the same...

I want to be more engaged. I think I take tons of things for granted. I think I miss God's blessings because I am too wrapped up in getting the day done. I literally lose sight of Him so often. He could be speaking into my life but I am too busy being task oriented to even hear it.

I don't appreciate my little baby girls enough, I focus on the overwhelmed-ness instead of the fun. Time is passing and they are growing and tomorrow they'll be gone. I need to live in *this* moment. (Emotions are running high today - feel it?)

Haiti is not an excuse - but I find I constantly compartmentalize. I cannot sort it out or reconcile it so instead - I shelve it. I push back feelings and frustrations and try not to let things "get to me". The sad stories and difficult situations are more than I want to face so I just don't face it. I try doing things without God. I don't go to Him, I just push it all away. I do this every. single. day.

If I started my day with prayer ... went to Him when I was overwhelmed with baby girls or sad about Haiti things or just plain tired of it ... who knows what my days would become.

I resolve to press in and spend less time talking to myself in my head and more time talking to God. I resolve to be present in the moments that He gives me, to trust Him enough to get me through each day, whether it be an easy or an hard day.

(Lord, Don't let me lose my sight of You.)

Gravity, Shawn McDonald

The ways of this world are grabbing a hold
Won't let me go, won't let me fly by
It takes it's toll down on my soul
‘Cause I know what I need in my life
Don't let me lose my sight of You
Don't let me lose my sight
I don't want to fall away from You
Gravity is pulling me on down
I don't want to fall away from You
Gravity is pulling me to the ground
This world keeps making me cry
But I'm going to try, going to try to fly, going to fly high
Don't want to give into the sin, want to stay in You ‘til the end
Don't want to lose my sight of You
Don't want to lose my sight
I want to fly
Into the sky
Turn my back on this old world
Leave it all behind
This place is not my home
It's got nothing for me
Only leaves me emptiness
And tears in my eyes

Two Business Items

  1. Troy chose the random number 33 and that makes Bryan and Emily M. the winners of either a Rocks in the Sun book or a picture colored by Hope. Let us know which you would like and we will get it in the mail to you!
  2. to Ron and Chris Millender - my favorite North Carolina expats in Africa - do not dare me! This "sweating problem" is well documented ... a combination of bad genetics - too much dancing - too much holding children while dancing. But - mostly bad genetics. Troy still loves me. Noah does too. Sweat or no sweat, at least I don't look like this ...


Isaac was not happy to be getting up at 5:45am and made his wish for, "no such thing as getting up early" known out loud. We all wish there was no such thing as getting up early.

We returned home this morning without much drama. The AA employee made us shuffle some stuff around in bags but we were able to 'degaje' and it all worked out. We brought home tons of cheese and that makes us all happy. :)

Our friends, the Millenders in Africa, have put forth a challenge - forgetting that my over-active sweat glands and general nastiness is a legendary and well known fact. You guys think I won't post that photo? Puh- lease. ;)

I have so many thoughts and a couple of stories swimming around in my muddled head - but right now I need to unpack, do laundry, and love on baby girls. Lydie looks different after six days. Phoebe seemed kind of ticked off at us. Annie was her happy self.

The Board of Directors from MN Teen Challenge are headed down here on Friday to scout locations and fact find and we've got lots to do to get organized and ready for the week ahead. Paige, Isaac and Hope are excited to get back to school. I think Paige would have gone today if it was worth the drive up there.

We spoke with the NYC honeymooners a few times and heard they were having a great time.
{Duh. ;)} They head back to Waco and school tomorrow. I wish I could see them one more time.

I am oddly more emotional and weepy today than I have been in the past five or six. Troy had to go and bring up Britt's bedroom in our first home together and the pink ballerina teddy bear theme...and her 8 year old face popped into my mind ... and then the tears came.

I will be unpacking and crying for a while, then later on, I might have something worth saying.

Oh. I just realized we need to pick our winner for the five words 2008 thing. Will do that tonight after kids are in bed. :)

Tuesday, January 06, 2009

Lastly ...

A few of Troy's pics ...Unity sand ... the beach variation on a unity candle...Marcia working her magic with Noah ...
The Ladies Man ...

I pressured Troy to let me use unedited photos. He unwillingly succumbed to my pressure.
After the wedding they had their reception at the Swimming Hall of Fame banquet room. The food was awesome and we danced non-stop for a couple of hours. Isaac loves to dance with five or six girls at a time. He announced on the way home that he loves weddings and that this first wedding he ever went to was his favorite and ... when could Paige get married?
Isaac had so many great questions all weekend. He asked Troy what will happen if Britt and Chris have a baby some day. Troy thought a minute about what sort of answer Isaac was looking for and said, "Well I guess then I will be a grandpa." Isaac's expression changed and he said, "But where will I live??!?!?!" Once you are a grandpa you certainly cannot be a Daddy anymore. ;) According to Ike anyway. Hope just shakes her head at him and gives him the "oh you simple boy" look.
It is very strange having kids in such different phases of life. Troy asked me if it was weird to be giving one away in marriage while one still drinking a bottle waits at home for us.
uh. yeah. weird does not begin to cover it.
We will now stop going on and on (and on) about the bride, the groom, and their amazing day.
We head home early tomorrow morning so we are off to find some fun today.
And now, back to our regular life.