Friday, February 27, 2009

GRANT!!!Growth Opportunity

Heartline Women's Program Updates

The Women's program had plenty of heavy moments today. We have a new lady with whom we needed to share HIV + test results. That is never easy. One lady threw up. Four ladies were so anemic we are not sure how they were able to get to class. One had her baby girl on Sunday and brought her to show us.

As always, we pumped them all full of teaching, vitamins, directions, lectures and prayers.

The need for basic health education is huge. We're attempting to make a small dent in some of the incorrect assumptions and superstitions while hopefully encouraging personal growth and positive change.

We now see 36 women in Early Childhood Development, 20 in Prenatal, 22 in sewing and 18 in the current literacy class. (That is 96 women currently being encouraged and trained.) The programs for women continue to grow as word of mouth brings new ladies that need help each week. We need to grow responsibly and slowly but at this time space and money won't allow for more ladies to join us.

In the coming week or two we will be introducing you to a brand new web site for learning more about the Heartline Women's Program and the products the sewing school is creating. A talented and generous family in California (who I will introduce you to when the site launches) has agreed to become our stateside support team. This brand new web site will become the place we'll direct anyone who is interested in purchasing a purse made in Haiti by our ladies and anyone interested in hosting a purse party to spread the word about Haiti and Heartline Ministries and programs.The BIG news:
Heartline has been given a 15K matching grant. If we can raise 15K in the coming months, there is a Foundation ready and willing to match it. Would you consider making a donation toward this special opportunity? Many of you have expressed love and interest in the women of our program - this is a great way to make your money go a lot farther. Click here to see the information on the grant from the SG Foundation.

Click ON THE HEARTS to donate to this special opportunity.(As of today just under 5,000 has been raised - we have 10K left to raise to be awarded the matching funds.)

Thank you so much for helping us love the women and children of Haiti.

*edit - 3/3/08
The "SG Foundation" asked us to remove their letter from the Heartline site - they prefer to remain anonymous. Please pray about helping us raise the entire 15K so that it can become 30K!

Thursday, February 26, 2009

Dozens of unrelated topics and photos

Tipap has been off of school for the week. Like it or not he ends up being back-up baby helper and is quite popular with the ladies. He is willing to push them on a little baby bike for hours - no one else is ... it should not surprise him that the little girls all seem to gravitate toward him. Lydie calls him "pap" and leaves off the Ti. She looks as ornery as she is in this photo. While I am conscious that I do not want to wish this baby-hood time away ... I am still anxious for the day she can be reasoned with. (Never end a sentence with a preposition.) I am hoping her age of reasoning comes sooner than Noah's did. Because his has not yet come. Last night he was arguing with Troy. I asked him why he was whining and arguing and if he thought that a boy about to turn five should whine like a two year old. He said, "I don't tuwn five till Maw-ch." I informed him that was just a couple of days away and said, "Why do you whine like a two year old?" Noah replied, "Because Hope and Isaac tweat me wike a two yeaw owld - *that* is why." At least he presented a solid case.

Yesterday afternoon the Day family came over to swim, eat, and hang out. Isaac and Noah worked on this display all morning, informing me that it was for their friend Kevin, the 6 year old - and that this would tip Kevin off as to which bedroom belonged to the boys of the house. I just love that they already recognize that duct tape has many uses.
Boy Rock - and so do boys.

Pictured above, the boys that rock.

So, the pre-Lenten festival of Carnival is over. The whole idea of living large and drinking/eating to excess right before you enter into the season of Lent - (yes Wikipedia is TOTALLY the best source of information on the history of ancient religious tradition - everyone knows that!) is beyond odd to me ... but I digress.

On my run early Wednesday morning I saw one man lying face down asleep on the side of the road, he apparently went all out for his Fat Tuesday. So much so that it carried well into Wednesday. It did not look like fun to me...But let me get to the point...

Last night I was thinking about my use of "free time". In the hours in which children are basically occupied and I am home I am often checking the computer. Walk by, check. Change a diaper, check. Start laundry, check. Then, after I put the kids to bed, I sit for a long time staring at a bright screen of Facebook "status updates."

I have stopped reading a lot of blogs and have reduced how often I write on our blog, finding it much healthier to write only when I feel like it and not because of some real or imagined expectation. It has been a positive adjustment ... but then I caved to Facebook and of course I loved it instantly!

The time I gained when I re-ordered things was redirected to the massive time-sucker called FaceBook. I justify it with my "but we don't have TV" argument. But in my heart I know that a couple hours a night/day are spent looking at Facebook and "connecting" with people. While the connections themselves are very good, the time it consumes is not so good. To quote Ann Jackson - "Online connections are good. They can be deep and good for our souls. But when we turn them into an online community, they can, and do, impact our face-to-face interactions. When we spend more time staring at a glowing monitor than we do into the eyes of those we love, or need to love, it might be time to shut off the computer."

Go here for a thought provoking article she wrote in Christianity Today.

So, for the 40 days of Lent I decided to cut at least one thing out of my life that causes me to avoid my Bible, the dishes and sometimes even the people in my own house. During these 40 days I hope I find a way to better balance and moderate my "social networking" time.

Unfortunately for my addictive personality type, St. Augustine nailed the truth when he said "Complete abstinence is easier than perfect moderation". For me, this is true of everything from diet coke to facebook - but I am not insane enough to give up diet coke. At least not now.

I am reading stories about the 30,000+ Haitians set to be deported from the U.S. (sigh) A few years ago I would have waved my hand in the air and dismissed them all without a thought. I had never attempted to empathize. Today, it disturbs me.

In January we flew back from the wedding with a deportee. We watched as the guard escorted him onto the plane then stood at the door until the door was closed and locked . The young man looked like he might toss his cookies he was so scared. Of course I have no idea what he did to get booted out of the USA, but knowing that thousands of people who don't want to come back here might be forced to - well, it makes me sad. That poor kid on our flight did not even know Creole or have a clue how to survive here. It would be no different than me dropping Isaac in New York City and telling him to figure it out. "Bye Isaac. Good luck!"

I know there are strong opinions about it and I am hoping not to stir up some storm here - but once you stop seeing people as the label you've handed out ( - dumb immigrant - stupid Haitian/Mexican/Hmong - welfare recipient-) and start seeing them as people ... with fears and failures, hopes and dreams, families and friends and a story to tell ... it is pretty hard to just wish deportation on the whole lot of them. I don't know the answer, but mass deportation to a country with so little resources seems like an unjust one to me.There are a few things we've been scouting locations for and doing fact finding. Last Saturday was especially entertaining. We went to check out a "guest house/vacation property" not too far from our house. The place was called "Dr. B's Paradise Club" - the internet advertisement promised much, using words like- "tranquil" "paradise" and promising views of "city lights" and "mountains" - THE WAY VACATIONING SHOULD BE !!

I don't know which city lights they are talking about. That is funny stuff. Never in my most crazed state would I describe any portion of Port au Prince as "tranquil".

We pulled in and my brains started rattling around in my head. They had giant DJ/Club sized speakers blaring music out onto the cement driveway patio. ("Tranquil"??) There were tables set up with cheesy tinsel trees as centerpieces. The music level stayed blaring the entire time we looked around the "paradise". The house had central air conditioning units sitting out in the middle of family room space, right next to large flat screen TV's. None of the duct work was hidden. It was truly an odd combination of well done construction and very poorly done planning. At the end of the tour the girl showing us around made a call to Miami , presumably to Dr. B himself. The rent was discussed by phone with Troy while we drank ant-covered Tampicos we were offered and waited a polite amount of time so we could get up and go. It was one of those TIH moments when you shrug and wonder who the crazy person is and why normal to me is so very different than it is to Dr. B's friends.

Tomorrow morning we're taking off to Jacmel for one night. There are a few meetings taking place and we're excited to possibly meet a few missionaries face to face that we know only through internet communication. Two Livesay kids got voted on the Jacmel team, leaving Jeronne and Tipap with a little bit lighter load. Troy will bring his camera and we'll share more about the adventure soon.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Fat Tuesday

Troy has borrowed a vehicle to provide sober-cab around the city tonight ... all of Port au Prince collectively sighs with relief.
go troy.

Monday, February 23, 2009

Campfire Cooking

S'mores are our Minnesota campfire specialty. Here in Haiti they kick it up a notch and actually feed many families a full meal from giant pots of rice and beans.

Lately Jeronne has been hearing lots of compliments about how good her rice and beans are ... Which is true and has inspired her to make them more often ... Which has meant we eat it more often ... Which has meant a couple of pounds on the butt for some of us.

The reason the rice is soooooo good is because of the massive amount of oil and salt (maggi) that goes into it. It is not exactly Uncle Ben's rice and water. I love it but I know it is not healthy and I think people need to stop complimenting her so she will stop making it so often.

If she makes it and you don't eat it - you will offend her. If you walk by it once it is finished and do not take some immediately, she will say "Mr. Troy - I made rice for you - eat!" It matters not if it is 3pm or 8pm ... when the rice is done, you must eat.

Jeronne has the sweetest spirit of any woman I have ever met here. Every single one of us love and appreciate her ... Now if she would just stop making us eat her fattening rice - everything would be perfect.


People are gearing up to party their way through Fat Tuesday tomorrow. Fast Eddy (to meet and read about Eddy go here or here) even showed up trying to trick Troy into handing over some money for things we supposedly NEED to have. He has a knack for figuring out things we need right around holidays. We did not need anything a month ago, but today - IT.IS.IMPERATIVE!!!! He seems to think we're quite dim and unaware of this pattern. Troy informed him we were out of cash today. He left quickly after that. He had to go dig up his Carnival money elsewhere.

We are told today is the day to rest and get ready to party and tomorrow *is the party* and Wednesday is the day to recover from the party. We're thinking a single glass of wine and some dancing with the kids in the kitchen will be enough Mardi Gras for us.

It was an odd morning around here. In the period of an hour another family with lots of kids came over for a few mintues, Zach showed up with a very sick and maybe mentally ill lady and her family, Eddy showed up with his stories, a couple important phone calls came in and Jeronne was out for a while. There were 12 kids here, 11 of them 7 and younger - meanwhile the adults were trying to figure out what was going on with the lady who wouldn't speak and her eyes were darting all over the place. Then about ten minutes later I was working on laundry and picked up a bag with a mouse in it and screamed bloody murder and sent everyone scrambling. Troy stepped on the mouse and killed it. The people all left. Jeronne came home. Things returned to the less chaotic normal.

Our kids are off school all week and many businesses close down so it will be a mellow few days for us with lots of kid time. Troy went to golf with a friend today. I like that for him - he used to love to do that in MN ... so hopefully he is hitting them straight and having some fun. :)

Happy Fat Tuesday from Haiti.

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Love from Annie ~ Lydie B. ~ Phoebe

Dear Grandma & Grandpa,
We miss you - we love you - we want you to see how big we're getting! When will you come visit us again!?!? Let's get something on the calendar because as you can imagine we are quite popular and that sort of demand causes our schedules to fill quickly. Please check with our manager and let her know when you'll next be heading south. We are saving our very best tricks for your visit.

Warmest Regards, Annie, Lydia, Phoebe

Baby photos are a replacement for words of substance, obviously we're totally out of those lately.

(Annie 14 months, Lydie 16 months, Phoebe 27 months)

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Phoebe, House, Police ... and More

  • Phoebe is big into screaming when she is angry. Lydia and Annie copy Phoebe. We need a new leader.She looks very sweet in that photo. Don't be fooled. ;)
  • This is where we live. Like many homes here, it is all cement construction. There is not a single piece of drywall in our house. We were very thankful to find a clean and nice house that had never been rented before. Downstairs is a family room, dining room, kitchen, porch/front room, one bedroom and one bathroom. Upstairs there are three bedrooms and two baths and the giant wrap around patio where we do all of our smack-talking and sit and listen to roosters as we unwind.The roosters live to the right and the generator haters live to the left.
    In the back yard there are separate quarters with two rooms and a bathroom.Tipap has one room and Jeronne has the other. They are free to be in the house anytime they want/need to be ... we've all adjusted well to sharing living quarters. At first it was very weird, but over time we've got it mostly figured out.

  • Troy just got a letter from the famous firm in San Antonio known as "Linebarger Goggan Blair and Sampson" telling him the great State of Texas still wants money for a seat belt ticket he got in 2005. He is a wanted man. We did not intentionally ignore it, there was some court date but we had already moved here and then we forgot about it. He either needs to pay it or never ever return to Texas ...
  • Troy visited "Love a Child" today with the group from MN. He has long been curious about it and said it was quite an operation. There was on police stop that required some smooth talking. (notice the Troy and police theme here?) The van that we borrow for teams has lapsed insurance (yes you are required to get insurance here and no it does not pay for anything when you get in an accident) and we've had a heck of a time getting it renewed. Nothing .... and I do mean nothing seems to happen without four extra steps and a lot of headaches.
  • Don't hold back your questions on the sporty - fun - gas efficient Suburban - your purchase of a Suburban will fund the education of one point two five little Livesay people next year. That will bring you such satisfaction and warm feelings as you drive around town looking sooo so good... But before you go to Texas, be sure to transfer the title.
  • Tina heads home today. :( We are sad.
  • The country is getting ready to celebrate Carnival this weekend and next week ... things get a bit nutty - we're hoping to catch some of it with the camera and post photos soon.

Monday, February 16, 2009

Updates of the Random Variety

  • Paige's Kids Club had a few rough weeks. Gorge was not letting the kids come because they had to work. Those are his words, not ours. Last Sunday four came about an hour late. Paige is doing great with them and they seem to have fun while they are here with her. Nehemie is also back, for which we have no real explanation yet. On Sunday Gorge informed us that he loved us, would do anything for us, and he means anything ... and also that he had just had quite a bit to drink.
  • Christianne is all up to date on her rent and seems to be doing great with baby Ella.
  • Natasha is looking for a house and coming to Tuesday classes.
  • There is a team in from MN. We're sort of peripherally helping with the group. They're working out at Chambrun (that means something to a few readers) for the next two days. We'll hook back up with them Thursday.
  • Some funny guy wrote to Troy and said when he googled searched "missions in haiti without legalism" that we came up. That totally entertains. We like that guy.
  • Paige is all starry eyed mushy gushy smiley happy over a boy. It is cute and scary all at once. I suppose it will be one long string of romances and broken hearts from here on out ... five girls feels like quite a few to calmly steer through this stuff. We may need some bubble wrap for the heart.
  • My sister is here one more day. We are making the most of it. Seven nights is not very many when it is your sister.
  • Was entertained to witness the cheesiest cheese of all cheesy nerdy short-term-missionary type guys the other night. He was over the top with his bless you bless you bless you Bless the Lord bless you Christian-ese. Maybe you had to be there. I probably cannot do it justice. It was embarrassing. He spoke English to the locals VERY LOUDLY though, so that is always good. I know I understand Creole much better WHEN SOMEONE SCREAMS IT AT ME. (And yes I know he could be very sincere and that I am mean.)
  • We ran 12 miles today, it was fun to bring Tina on a longer run. It went well, no major troubles. When we returned home I found out from my Mom on the phone that I am too old to be running that far. This is her way of saying she does not want me to run in Haiti. Ever. Period. If I am too old to run ... then she must basically be ready to cash it in all together - all things being relative. (Hi MOM! I'll be fine. Enough with the worry already.)
  • In one week we beat another couple in a competition of sorts, won a pair of Brooks running shoes, AND almost found a buyer for our '99 Suburban. A great week!
  • But we did not find a buyer so you should totally buy our Suburban. It is VERY pretty. 6K is all it takes. Write us for all of the fabulous details.
  • Four + pounds of cheese now consumed and gone forever.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

I Run

7:00 am-
I am off and running.

The sun is beginning to climb high into the sky. The streets are crowded. Each person seems to go about their business with purpose. Everywhere I look I see throngs of people trying to make a few gourdes. They sell bananas and eggs and deep fried plantains. They negotiate price, they trade, they make their way.

A pregnant woman who looks to be expecting her child today balances a basket full of mangoes on her head as she hurries toward a friend motioning for her to come quickly. The air is thick with the diesel from the overburdened roads. A haze of smoke from burning trash hangs in front of me. Dust kicks into the air with each passing car. We all breathe it in, we all exhale it out. I run.

The foot finds very little even ground on which to land as garbage and rocks are scattered all around. On the corner goats hang upside down by their legs off of sputtering tap-taps as people push in trying to pay the driver for their ride. Just above our heads an enormous United Nations helicopter whirls, deafeningly loud, as soldiers gaze down upon the chaos of the city. The sound is overwhelming, it seems to be bouncing off of the cement houses and amplifying as it does.

Loaded automatic weapons are cocked and ready as white truck after white truck of Brazilian men in fatigues roll by. A small child walks alone with a five gallon bucket of water on her head, dust whirls around her feet as she walks, it appears she herself has not had a drink in days. Giant piles of reeking trash jut out into the roadway. Workers in yellow t-shirts scoop it up. Their work won't soon be complete. Two men argue and begin to push while frightened little ones peek from behind their mother's skirt.

Outside of the giant Embassy people shove and elbow jockeying for position to tell their stories to the guards, trying to get their chance to see an employee and ask for a visa to visit another land. Cars and trucks strategically speed up and slow down fighting to park in a place where they can see the most. A woman exits weeping, her request to go see her ill father has been denied.

Another half mile down the road, trucks jammed full with people and animals honk impatiently waiting for a chance to turn - an accident blocks the road. No police arrive; the angry and injured must fend for themselves today. A silver streak appears overhead as an American Airlines flight screams toward landing. People don't stop what they're doing to look up in the sky. They keep selling, pushing, moving, surviving.

In the distance, as far as the eye can see, more and more and more of the same. I run.

In my right ear, I have my mp3 player on as loud as it will go. Derek Webb reminds me This Too Shall Be Made Right. The combination of the music in my right ear and what I am taking in with my left ear and the dozens of situations I see around me cannot be easily reconciled or accepted. Does God see this too? A wave of something that feels like grief hits me. I am bombarded by a multitude of thoughts. I run.

I find myself feeling such admiration for the endurance of the people around me, for their ability to do so much with so little. I wonder how they do it. I find it unfair, even ugly. I feel angry. I feel weak. While I admire the strength I see, I somehow simultaneously feel pity. They probably don't want my pity. I wonder why it cannot be easier for them. Tears stream down my face and I run and run and run. And I try to make sense of it all.

Derek Webb - This Too Shall Be Made Right -

people love you the most for the things you hate
and hate you for loving the things that you cannot keep straight
people judge you on a curve
and tell you you’re getting what you deserve
this too shall be made right
children cannot learn when children cannot eat
stack them like lumber when children cannot sleep
children dream of wishing wells
whose waters quench all the fires of Hell
this too shall be made right
the earth and the sky and the sea are all holding their breath
wars and abuses have nature groaning with death
we say we’re just trying to stay alive
but it looks so much more like a way to die
this too shall be made right
there’s a time for peace and there is a time for war
a time to forgive and a time to settle the score
a time for babies to lose their lives
a time for hunger and genocide
this too shall be made right
I don’t know the suffering of people outside my front door
I join the oppressors of those who i choose to ignore
I’m trading comfort for human life
and that’s not just murder it’s suicide
this too shall be made right

The song in my right ear changes. I pick up the pace as I am nearing my home and when I pray a strange peace washes over me -
I am listening to these lyrics:
Mercy, weep over me Let Your tears wash me clean - Majesty, be merciful with me ... mercy mercy mercy.
And I pray for mercy as I run.

Monday, February 09, 2009

Field of Dreams


Merci Jezi ?

Thank you Jesus ...

uh ... ahem ... for the 'flipping of the bird' stickers for the back of our bus.

Appreciate it.

And ... it has been a long time since we last featured a "Kennedy" ... go here for explanation.
Last Sunday this guy in pink was standing next to us in church ... which made his shirt that much funnier to the immature people (with cameras) at church.

It says: "If you think I am a B word - you should meet my sister" Allllrighty then. Back to praise and worship.
(The immature prefer to remain anonymous - for their own protection.)

We had such an amazingly fun weekend. Friday night we made salsa and had a family dance party. Saturday we went to a crazy-great birthday party with ponies! Sunday we had church, lunch with Big Zach, and some chill time.
Hoping your weekend was great too ... Auntie Tina comes this week and the troops are more than a little excited for that.

(Tina, Noah is watching Evita over and over in preparation of your arrival.)

Sunday, February 08, 2009

Theme: Three

Our three year anniversary in Haiti passed us by recently.

I was looking through old photos and found this one of Troy and most of our kids- taken in February of 2006. (Hope must have been napping or something???)

Three little girls were not even on the radar screen yet. A lot changes in three years, huh?

Saturday, February 07, 2009


On Tuesday this sad lady came to talk to Beth. I walked in a few minutes after the pregnancy test was given. I could tell there was stress in the room.

A test confirmed that Natasha is pregnant.

Like any woman who finds herself pregnant and not wanting to be, Natasha was incredibly emotional and upset. She cried hard and said she needed to leave immediately to go to the hospital to "take care of it".

Beth calmed her down a bit and tried to talk to her about her initial fears. Natasha said that if the people she lives with find out she is pregnant again, they will kick her out. She said they told her that and she cannot let them find out or she and her children will be homeless.

We asked a lot of questions and learned that Natasha does not necessarily want to abort the baby but she feels trapped and fears losing her house. She is not ready to decide if she will parent the baby but she was willing to hear us out on the choices available.

I spoke with her a bit about my own experience and understanding unplanned/crisis pregnancy and the deep fear and shame that comes with that. She listened intently but in the end she said, "It is not the same". I could not disagree. It is not the same. I had dozens more options and way more support. It is not the same. I told her she was right, but that deciding quickly was not necessary and that time was on her side. I encouraged her to think about things for a week or two.

Natasha is undecided. If she could find a new place to live she might have more options. She cannot come to Thursday class yet because if people in the room on Thursday know the folks she lives with they will tell her housemates that she is pregnant and then she'll be kicked out. She stopped in today but did not stay for the class for that reason.

This situation is heartbreaking, not unlike many you've probably read countless times as you cruise Haiti blogs. I know that God prompts us to respond to different needs at different times. Some needs spur me to action, others do not.

If there are any of you out there that feel a prompting to enter into this situation, please write me. We are attempting to raise rent money to move Natasha to a new location and some support $ for the next 18 months. We will be asking her to participate in literacy classes in exchange for this assistance.

She'll be coming back to speak with us soon to see what we're able to offer her. At this point no promises have been made. *Edit - Five families have indicated an interest in helping Natasha, we might have this covered now.*

Friday, February 06, 2009

Bathing Beauties

Troy and I split bathing duties up. He takes boys, I take girls. The math would suggest that he is getting the easier assignment, but the math lies. I can bathe four girls in half the time he can bathe two boys.

In 28 hours Jeronne returns. I. Love. that. woman. So much.

Read this. I have dozens of sarcastic comments, but those people, in that building, ultimately decide the fate of my adoption so I'll keep them to myself.

Thursday, February 05, 2009

Winter Blues?

I know this will annoy everyone north of Missouri, but folks around here are giddy happy today because it is "cold" (70) and cloudy.

The kids celebrated when they saw the clouds. Troy has a bounce in his step.