Sunday, May 31, 2009

Packing Pressure

There is no Target or Wal-Mart if I screw up and forget something. I always screw up and forget something. I started packing the 8 of us yesterday. (Jeronne and Annie are not joining us for this trading-spaces adventure.)

Today as I was hurrying around adding forgotten things it was nagging me that I was forgetting something big. I kept thinking, there is SOMETHING ... what is it?!!?!? I had to unpack everything in order to remember. As it turns out I had nothing packed for Hope. The boys, Lydia and Phoebe had clothes, diapers, books, sunscreen, etc, etc. Poor Hope had not one pair of skivvies or one outfit in the bags. I am glad I did not ignore the nagging or I would have had one ticked off seven year old girl on my hands - I could convince her of many things but she would never wear boy clothes/undies.

I wonder if the people in Cazale are aware the Ringling Brothers are bringing the Livesay Circus to town?

Rumors abound in this land, and for once I think a rumor is rooted in fact and it is not a good thing. Apparently there was some sort of a fire at the EDH main switiching station for a large area of the city. We have been with no city-provided electricity for three days and rumor is it will be weeks before it returns.

The problem is, if EDH says weeks ... that could mean months. Time is measured differently here. The average temp by 2pm in the shade on our porch has been 93 degrees with 65% humidity. This EDH fire is very bad for everyone. In order to have electricity the entire day it would cost about $25 in diesel per day. Obviously most of us cannot afford $750 of diesel for a month so we'll all figure out how to deal with zero electricity for much of the day and only run the generator to charge batteries enough to get through the nights.

Having lived in the countryside of Haiti I know that this is something that folks out there have to do without all the time, so really - I should quit my whining.... but I want to whine because it feels good. I also firmly believe that Port au Prince is usually about 5 to 10 degrees hotter than the outlying areas and those five+ degrees can make or break your attitude and coping skills. EDH is the payoff for living in this cement inferno - but when the payoff leaves ... then what?!?!? (Then I whine.)

To whom it may concern at Electricity D' Ayiti-
In the future I would like to request that EDH plans its fires in the months of December, January or February. June is not a good time to lose fans and refrigeration.
Hot sweaty regards,
T. Livesay

Saturday, May 30, 2009

Missionaries of Charity

For those unfamiliar, Missionaries of Charity was established by Mother Teresa in 1950. Read the two links for lots of history and interesting information.

Last month when our friends from Minnesota were here they allowed me to tag along as they went to visit one of the Port au Prince locations. It was a blessing to be allowed to go with them because I had heard about M.O.C. but had only briefly visited the other location, a home for the dying. The location shown above is at Delmas 31 and is a home for children. Families bring their kids there for a time to help them recover from injury or severe forms of malnutrition - this is not a permanent home for the kids. It is a place to recover.

The Sisters allow teams and volunteers to drop in and work for a few hours. There is no shortage of things to do and see. You can walk around aimlessly staring at the massive number of sick and malnourished kids, you can jump in and change diapers, you can pick kids up and try to give them some human touch, you can grab a bowl of food and feed them, you can do something to try to bring a tiny bit of relief.

Admittedly, it is not much, and you feel that while you are there ... but it is something. If you visit I think it is great to remember that even if it is uncomfortable, we can all learn from doing uncomfortable things. On my first visit I sort of took it in and did a lot of observing. Last Friday we went back for another visit. We held babies and cleaned up puke and changed diapers.
If there were forty of us instead of four, we could have all stayed busy.

For me it is an uncomfortable place to visit. I found myself feeling a lot angry and a little thankful. That was kind of an odd combo to figure out.

It is easy to look around and get angry. It made me mad that so many kids are sick and hungry. It is anger I don't know quite where to direct. It made me mad that they had to be there, that they were so ill. I was angry that there was not tons and tons of staff to give them non-stop one-on-one attention - it made me mad that there were 25 families waiting outside to place their children into the rooms with rows and rows of cribs. It just made me angry. But my anger serves no one and changes nothing - so I try to look on it with different eyes. I try to remember that I don't have the whole picture.

If the kids were not there, many would most likely be dead.
They are getting a chance to gain weight and be given three meals and a couple of small snacks a day. They are being given medicine when needed and the Sisters and nannies try to keep up with the needs of each child as best they can. It is not good enough by my standards, I doubt Mother Teresa would think it was good enough, but it still beats the other option. (They are trying. They are showing up.) An under-staffed room full of 40 very sick babies is not easy to accept, but when the alternative is slow death at home of starvation, my paradigm suddenly shifts. These babies just hit the jack-pot. They are guaranteed dinner tonight.

I am completely fascinated by Mother Teresa. I read this quote below and felt nothing but admiration for her raw honestly, her struggle and her courage ... and I can safely bet that many who work in these front-line positions day in and day out feel the same way at times.
[I think about Licia and Lori and the Sisters at MOC and many others across the world that deal with tragedy, death and abuses daily.]

"Where is my faith? Even deep down ... there is nothing but emptiness and darkness ... If there be God—please forgive me. When I try to raise my thoughts to Heaven, there is such convicting emptiness that those very thoughts return like sharp knives and hurt my very soul ... How painful is this unknown pain—I have no Faith. Repulsed, empty, no faith, no love, no zeal, ... What do I labor for? If there be no God, there can be no soul. If there be no soul then, Jesus, You also are not true." -Mother Teresa

I am hoping to make Missionaries of Charity a semi-regular part of our summer. I know I grow when I force myself out of the comfy places and I know I have lots of that to do.
After we left we were discussing how overwhelming and devastating a place like that can be. My Dad summed it up best when he said, "Yeah, I spent a day there one hour." When you think of it, please pray for the people in Haiti working with the sick and the forgotten ones.

Be faithful in small things because it is in them that your strength lies.

Mother Teresa

Do not think that love, in order to be genuine, has to be extraordinary. What we need is to love without getting tired.
Mother Teresa

God doesn't require us to succeed; he only requires that you try.
Mother Teresa

Photo Credit: Marcia Lard Erickson

*We're off to our "trading spaces" adventure in the village tomorrow. Not sure how often we'll update.*

Friday, May 29, 2009

Toss this training book out...

Above 85 degrees - the suggestion is: Forget it.

I don't think that training philosophy will work here. :) Maybe my trainer will arrange for Mother Nature to schedule only cloudy cool Fridays from here on out.

We met up with Mr. E for a total tour of the path he created around the Petionville Club and it was about a 1.5 mile loop of amazing beauty. Trees, flowers, grass ... it is nothing like the other running path we follow along Kenz Oktobe - nothing like it. (well - it is not a path - it is just a road with sidewalk here and there - and I use the word road loosely)

The hills are pretty steep and it will be like a trail run - but that's okay, I still love that challenge a lot more than the challenge of trying not to get flattened by tap-taps and UN trucks.

We have our plan and I got the okay to run there Fridays for four months. I will pack a little cooler of water, gatorade, powerbars and sunscreen and hide it along the path.

I even got a T-shirt. Meet my Haiti training sponsor:
Thank you Mr. E for allowing me to use the club - I'll try to get the club some ink in MN in October. :)

Thank you also for making up funny stories along the path and delivering them with such a serious matter-of-fact tone that I was gullible enough to believe them. Every time I am on the brick steps I will think of Henri Christophe and of your excellent sarcastic storytelling skills.

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Ti Update - Many Topics

Kids are hyper. School is out. Aforementioned kids need direction and parameters.

(Photo Tuesday - 8th grade "promotion" ceremony)

Family meeting tonight, 8pm - BE THERE.

Purpose of meeting: To address concerns and air grievances. Let it be known Isaac cannot stare at the PS2 all summer. Paige cannot sleep all summer. Noah cannot whine all summer. Hope cannot feign total innocence while being mostly complicit all summer. We must survive this, our first full summer in Port au Prince, and not drive one another to drink or violence. (And we must not be jealous and hateful as most missionaries begin to clear out for a luscious summer with A/C and DQ in the USA and Canada.)

Paige is all official and pumped about being a High School student. She says "Aaaaah yes, 8th grade - I remember the 8th grade like it was yesterday." Troy teased because he does not embrace this culture's appreciation of ceremony ... he agrees with Mr. Incredible and said in a grouchy tone- "We're celebrating mediocrity." "We did what we're supposed to do - yay us!" He makes me laugh.

Paige celebrated her first day of summer with her favorite riding lesson ever and a trip to the orthodontist. She said she has never moved that fast on a horse in her life. She loved it. We are very excited that Paige has riding clothes coming her way - the generosity of this community astounds us.

This week has been insane. We did so many out of the ordinary things and we have been going going going like crazy. (Unless we were sitting sitting sitting in traffic.) Friday looks much the same. Saturday looks pretty chill. On Sunday we are clearing out of our house for one week. We're doing a "house swap" with someone we love very much. We're going to get a taste of her life and hopefully give her a chance to take a little break at our place. It should be good for all. A week in the village will do us cement city dwellers some good and a week away from an intense ministry will do our friends some good.

Lydie loves to kiss and give "the rock" - about 30 times a day she throws out her bottom lip and comes toward us with great purpose. She follows most kisses up with a fist bump, and knows that we should say "Kenbe fem" (stay strong - hold firm) as we connect our fists. It is beyond cute. She is teaching Annie to be cool too.

The initial response to the Medika Mamba Marathon is so very encouraging to me. I skipped around here all night feeling giddy about the outpouring of interest. We'll keep from making this the singular topic of our lives - but we are wrapped up in planning our work and working our plan, so we hope we can toss in a paragraph or plug here and there without being "that guy" - you know, the annoying one who never shuts up.

Troy said, "I am going to speak to you as your trainer and not your husband." He paused, waiting to be sure it was safe and said, "You are older than the last time you did this and I think you need to do some strength training." He then proceeded to lay out the plans to help me strengthen my hamstrings and be less injury prone. He is working hard to help me make this training possible and maybe even enjoyable. He is my nutritionist and my personal trainer and my cheerleader ... Oprah can have that little fitness guru Bob Greene, I have Troy Livesay!

I know lots of people despise running talk. I will keep it to the bare minimum. Training starts officially on June 1st. For those who care, I am following an 18 week Hal Higdon plan. I have used similar plans in the past with success. The key is the long runs. You have to get them in. I think Troy hooked me up with a way to do my long runs at the Petionville Club around the perimeter of a golf course. Yes, a golf course in Haiti. Troy mocked my Dad in a YouTube video that was filmed on the course. The news of this development is hugely encouraging. It saves on harassment and dust and diesel fumes; it gets me off of hard cement surface for one day a week. It puts water nearby at all times. It pretty much removes every obstacle but heat and lack of will ... Troy is the bomb. Long runs will always be eaarrrrrly Friday mornings.

The Mangine family moved here a month ago. We had their family along with Megan from Three Angels Orphanage down for dinner last night. I say "down" because they are all up hill from here. When they flush their toilets, their poo runs this direction. We forgave them for all that and it was a good time. I met the most sarcastic person I have ever met in my life. Prior to that I had always been convinced that I travel in only the most sarcastic circles.
[National Sarcasm Society: Like we need your support].

This week the weight of worry and grief that many/most/all? adoptive parents feel hit home with us. We spent this morning in the car driving through the yuckiest area of Port stuck in traffic and thinking of and praying for adoptive families. I don't know how you're all doing this wait - it is horrible! We want to give you a huge cyber hug and tell you that you are brave and strong and that we're so sorry you have to wait two and three years to get your babies out of orphanages and into your loving arms. I hate it. The greatest injustices always seem to involve power and government and when it is at the expense of children it is maddening and wronger than wrong. (Not more awesomer.)

I read this on Glenn Packiam's blog - sound familiar?
"Power tends to corrupt; absolute power corrupts absolutely."
The phrase is Lord Acton's, a 19th-century English historian. He goes on to say that it is simply heresy to assume that the "office sanctifies the holder of it". In other words, just because you have power doesn't mean you are worthy of it. Even when it's earned, there comes a point where the kind of power given to a human surpasses a human's capacity. This was something the ancient Greeks sought to teach through the Myth of Promethius. The power of the gods cannot be handle responsibly by mortals. The Hebrews talked about the human heart as "deceitful and desperately wicked", "prone to wander".

I cannot write smart things - but I sure can read them. (and steal them and pass them along.)

Four babies have been born to ladies in our Heartline program in the last two weeks. All of them are wonderfully plump and healthy. Jina (pictured below) won the all time biggest Heartline baby competition when her little guy born just last Sunday weighed in at 9lbs today.

I need to prepare my notes and agenda for the meeting taking place in 10 minutes. Thanks for reading and jumping topics so well.


Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Medika Mamba Graduates

These children are the first to 'graduate' from the WWV Medika Mamba program at the Real Hope for Haiti Rescue Center in Cazale. Below are their before and after pictures.
Clearly, these are amazing results. It is not only the peanut butter making such a huge difference in these childrens' lives - the love and hard work of the RHFH staff also plays an important role.



Thank you to everyone who makes this possible. We are excited to see people getting behind this project and supporting Tara's upcoming marathon to help the children of Haiti.


PS- Licia writes about her thoughts on this program HERE.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Marathoning for Haiti

The Shortest Possible Summary-
On October 4, 2009 I will be running the Twin Cities Marathon. I am looking for runners and non-runners alike to get involved and support me. Three amazingly generous matching donors have come forward. If I am able to raise $7,800 - they will each kick in $2,600, for an exact dollar for dollar match. Update: Match requirements were met on June 21, 2009. But we're still raising funds ... read on.

The Ask-
On the top left side of the blog is the best way to donate. Please use the "Chip In" button to donate. Will you please consider sponsoring me at $1, $2, $3, or more dollars per mile? I am asking for sponsors at these three levels: $26, $52, $78, or more. (For non-runners a marathon is 26.2 miles.) Will you please sponsor me? Any amount will help hurting kids recover.

The Benefit-
Every dime raised will go toward helping hungry kids in Haiti. You will be a part of something big and something that will help hungry kids. Go to this post to meet Renald and to see an example of a child in need of help and put a face and a name to what we're attempting to do here.

ALL FUNDS RAISED will be used to benefit malnourished children in Haiti.
As Troy shared in this previous post we have been very excited about Medika Mamba and the results we've seen in the lives of sick and malnourished children. This locally produced product has incredible things to offer children in need. We could potentially use the product to help more than 250 kids recover from severe forms of malnutrition if you'll help me reach this goal. I am excited and I hope you'll get excited too.

The Truth-
Running and Haiti are very intertwined for me. I started running shortly after Noah was born in mid-2004. In 2005 my little sister and I trained for and ran two marathons together. During that summer and fall the Lord was placing Haiti on our hearts and aligning our will with His in preparation for a move here. Haiti was the topic of conversation on many runs and accomplishing the marathon distance did much to build confidence, courage, discipline and determination in me. It prepared me for moving our family to Haiti. I learned about pressing on when it hurts, when you don't want to press on anymore, when you're very afraid and uncertain of yourself ... all things I needed to further develop in order to board the airplane with five kids and a handful of one-way tickets.

I am by no means a natural runner. I am slow and I struggle with injuries. It takes everything I have physically to do long training runs. The heat, humidity, crowds, bad roads, ministry, and larger family have made it difficult to be able to run, let alone WANT to train for a longer race.

After I moved to Haiti I cut back my distance running and have not run more than 13.1 miles since 2005. But this is different. I really want this. Not because I am such a stellar athlete (I'm not) ... But because it might matter to someone. For me this will be a major accomplishment. To train and complete the race during the hottest time of the year in Port au Prince won't be all rainbows and ponies and happy thoughts -- it is going to hurt.

Money for hungry kids motivates me.

Four years since I last ran the Twin Cities Marathon with my sister, I would like to do it again and tie my love of running and my love for Haiti together and have it make a difference to more than 250 little kids who can only dream of doing the things I have been blessed to do in my lifetime. My sister will be by my side race-day to help coax me to the finish, Beth and Troy will help me train in Port au Prince, Haiti conditions, and you will encourage me with your sponsorship, and it will matter.

  • To read a post I wrote about the sights and sounds on a Port au Prince training run go here.
  • Please consider spreading the word on your blogs and facebook.
  • Pray for strong legs combined with an extremely mild Haitian summer.

Monday, May 25, 2009

Medika Mamba

The name Medika Mamba means “peanut butter medicine” in Creole. It is produced by an organization called Meds & Food For Kids - you can learn more about them on their website at

We have seen firsthand that this product is culturally accepted, very effective, and in our opinion truly amazing. The Medika Mamba is also locally produced, which helps Haiti even more by providing many jobs in production and bolsters the economy and encourages agricultural development.

We will be partnering with MFK and Real Hope for Haiti (the Zachary's clinic and rescue center) to provide Medika Mamba for malnourished children in the village of Cazale, near Cabaret. We hope to expand the capacity and number of locations very soon. There are two other clinics currently being considered for Medika Mamba locations as soon as funds are available.

The pilot project in Cazale has been very successful - out of the ten children who started the program three 'graduated' in less than one month and five more have been added. One of the children currently in the program is HIV positive, and one of the original 10 children died last week due to complications from HIV. His name was Max Wildy. He was and is an angel. His story will be told in a later blog post.

Photos of the children involved in the program are currently available on my Flickr page here. We will attempt to post before and after pictures there and on the blog periodically.

Tara is planning a fundraiser for the Medika Mamba program and has obtained funds for a matching grant...stay tuned for details.

From a news article about the product:

MFK works to combat childhood malnutrition and related diseases in northern coastal Cap Haitien, Haiti's second-largest city, by giving Ready-to-Use Therapeutic Food (RUTF) to malnourished children between 6 months and 5 years old. The mixture, known to Haitians as "Medika Mamba," or peanut-butter medicine, is a nutrient-rich mixture of peanuts, sugar, oil, vitamins, minerals and powdered milk. It is distributed in plastic containers for families to feed their children at home and can be stored for several months.

Children start to show visible signs of improvement about 1-2 weeks after receiving the peanut-butter mixture, becoming more active and growing new black hair. One course of the six-week treatment, which can be enough to renourish the child, costs under US$100. (Full article here.)

Here is a video produced by the United Nations highlighting MFK and the Medika Mamba product:

We look forward to sharing more of the impressive results and life-saving stories in the upcoming months.

not yer average missionaries ...

... and john is not your average ANYTHING. I have no idea how she does it.

I have blogger block. I can't write right now for some reason. We're sad today as my parents leave. They have no idea when they will next see the kids and that always makes goodbyes so much harder. It means a lot to us that they came down to love on us. We were able to fill them in on lots of stuff that just cannot be shared over email or telephone ... lots of tears (and laughs) this weekend. Happy Memorial Day to those of you in the USA.

Friday, May 22, 2009


ED'H by you.

Tess brought massive ED'H (electricity of haiti) hours when she arrived last Friday. She left today and so did the electricity. After a week of 16 hours a day we are on hour 26 without it.

Most expats in Haiti spend a lot of time trying to make sense of the schedule and come up with theories and ideas about WHY they have electricity or why they don't. (Assuming that there must be some really good reason for it to come and go when it does.)

The other night I said, "Weird we still have electricity." Troy replied, "Yeah. Because it rained." I questioned him but he stuck to his theory. He believes if it rains they don't come to work to turn it off. And then if it rains when it is OFF, they also don't come turn it ON.

Just when you begin to count on the schedule (about five or six days into a consistent pattern) - it changes ... and the cycle of figuring it out begins again.

Some people play Bingo, others Poker, some watch sports or bowl in a leauge ... in Haiti we play "Guess when the electricity will show up."

Hours of free entertainment each and every week.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Outdoor Cooking

Tara's parents got in yesterday. Tess is with us for just one more day. :( We're soaking up their presence and enjoying the time we have together.

We've never tactfully figured out a way to blog about how easily people just wanting to help out- can get taken for a ride if they're not careful ... it happens a lot. Tony Campolo did a decent job here. Check it out. (And check the work of the people you donate to.)

Edit to add -
I am not really sure I think it is a great article now ... see comments.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

A request

I know lots of you are praying people - quickly wanted to ask for prayers. Please pray for Paige's dad, Paul, who is having major surgery right now - for a successful surgery and smooth recovery.
Merci Anpil !

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

A beautiful spot ...

An 18th century sugar cane plantation, Moulin Sur Mer is located along the Côte des Arcadins, an eighty minute drive from Port-au-Prince.

Monday, May 18, 2009

Shutting down another flag day

Flag Day was totally uneventful. It was a non-work day in Haiti. We had big aspirations for family fun - but then we remembered that the idea of going out with all the kids - is way more fun than the reality. And staying home costs less!

Paige did homework while Tess played with kids. Troy worked on Medika Mamba tracking and promotion and computer and plumbing issues. I argued with Citi Bank and tried to fill out forms and meet requirements for proving health appointments and bills in a country that scribbles on a piece of paper and calls it an invoice.

I am trying to convince the folks at our health care co-op that we just don't roll all official and uptight here in Haiti. Napkins count as official documents and credit card receipts are about as specific and itemized as a Doc is going to get. It says what we paid and the Doctor's name. Good enough right? I actually said in my cover letter, "The Doctor smoked and took phone calls while cutting large chunks of flesh out of my chest. I think an itemized American-style bill might be more than we can expect." Hopefully they can lower their expectations and reimburse us the Benjamins.

After Sloppy Joes and rice and beans for dinner, the babies fought for attention from Troy - and I captured this small piece of a game of Hop on Pop. *That* is the wrap up of Flag Day 2009.

Please forgive us for the topless chicks.

Two more sleeps until Grandma and Grandpa get here. 7 days of school left.

More information about Medika Mamba and how you can get involved soon ...

Election Things on Haitian Flag Day

Our opinions are not super relevant - they might be somewhat informed, but even that is up for debate. We're visitors here and we cannot possibly understand all the politics and history undercurrents and issues - there are too many layers.

We hear opinions, so we'll share what we're hearing.

The election was a month ago already. Hardy anyone voted. Most here don't believe it matters. That is proven just by the turn-out. Jeronne said if Troy were running she would vote, but since he was not she had no interest. I thought that was a brilliant brown-nosing move on her part ... she has never voted at age 36.

On Saturday a woman who has lived here 30 years said she hates to say it but things were best when Haiti was a dictatorship. She misses Baby Doc. We listened and she shared her reasons for feeling that way. We've heard that before but are uncertain how popular that belief is.

Another very well educated older Haitian man doing work with an NGO in Haiti said that "Haitians don't know how to do freedom with responsibility" - he went on to explain that further with very convincing reasoning.

The election cost 16 million dollars. About 10% of the population turned out to vote. No winners were declared due to close margins. 16 million dollars.

Here are some links to other expat election photos and observations:

Providence Ministries

Ben and Lexi

Curtis and Danielle

Happy Flag Day from Haiti.

Our first flag day is still our favorite of the four.

Saturday, May 16, 2009

Tess is back ...

...and a certain five year old boy cannot contain himself, he's still smitten a year later.

The Port

The day we went out to the U.S. Navy ship last month we were able to watch the cargo ships that come into the port with deliveries. We learned that the rice arrives and is then bagged right here in Port au Prince. If you look closely at the third photo you can see the rice in the yellow crane with the orange scooper being lowered to the area where they bag it up for distribution. There was a time Haiti did not need rice from other countries. Local farmers could not compete with prices of imported/subsidized rice and now there is no easy way to reverse the country's dependence upon it.

Friday, May 15, 2009


Occasionally I have the opportunity to lead worship at our church here in Port au Prince. The church is called Port au Prince Fellowship – we have Sunday services in English – the congregation is made up of Haitian nationals, missionary families, and other humanitarian workers and business people.

It is an honor and a privilege to lead God’s people in acts of worship and service to Him. I am always grateful and humbled by the opportunity, and I find it very fulfilling. (I realize that music isn’t everyone’s gift or preferred way of getting close to God - and sometimes I’m uncomfortable with the way we’ve decided to make it the primary and sometimes only method of worship within the church – but I digress.)

I’ve seen other ‘worship-type’ people (to use John McHoul language) blogging about their ‘set-lists’ from Sunday services and find it to be very interesting and educational. I doubt the same is true of everyone reading this so I’ll leave it out.

One thing I often notice when looking at the worship list from other churches is how short they are. We’re usually in the nine to ten song category, which is apparently a lot. Not that there is any proper length of service rules or anything like that – but in my opinion when a body of believers gathers together for the purpose of worshiping our Creator and Savior there should be some serious time spent in the act of worship.

A lot of this is due to the cultural differences between the US and Haiti and the different viewpoints on time. Sometimes those differences drive us nuts but in this case I think the ‘hot-climate culture’ way of ignoring time-frames and schedules may be a good thing…at least for me and my love for worshiping through music. I have to confess to checking my watch on Sunday mornings in the past and squirming in my seat if the service was running over because I needed to get home for the game or to the restaurant before the rush or whatever.

When I was in Texas recently I drove past the famous ‘drive-through’ church that offers a 30-minute worship service. In-and-out church for those on the go. I’ve read and heard that there are good things going on there – and that’s great – but I don’t think it is for me. For me, the music and worship part of the service is equally as important as the message or sermon. It is when I am often able to truly commune with God and experience worship in spirit and truth…and I like that to last as long as possible.

(Note: the pastor of the 30 minute church has totally legit reasons that I’ll post in the comments later – I don’t mean to criticize them specifically – rather I think we should look at our attitude towards church services and what it means to really worship.)

Many times in our church we truly experience the presence of the Holy Spirit and an anointing on the gathering of believers. This last Sunday there were prayers voiced before the service that we would experience some of heaven on earth that day and I believe it happened. It was awesome to be a part of it. I wish it could have gone on for hours longer, because I didn’t want to leave that place – sensing the power and presence of God while worshiping Him and putting our spiritual selves out there above and before the physical. That sense of heaven on earth depends on us and our condition and reaction to God’s presence more than what building we’re in or how long our service is or how many songs we do or who we’re worshiping with. We’re called to be worshippers and bring the Kingdom to wherever we are.

It dawned on me later in the day that I don’t think we are supposed to leave ‘that place’ at all. Our lives are not our own – we have been purchased at a very high price and saved from paying the penalties of our sin – we don’t deserve a bit of it but through God’s grace and Christ’s sacrifice our debts are paid. What other response could there be but to live a life full of worship, praise, and thanksgiving?

I know I am preaching to the choir to a certain extent, but in this case I think our choir has grown too silent and distracted to remember that we are a choir called out to magnificent purposes: to use our lives to praise the Creator, to bring His Kingdom here on earth as it is in heaven, to be the salt and light of the earth, and to join with the angels in singing God’s praises.
Whoa, still preaching I guess. Enough of that – time to worship Him – in whatever way connects your soul to His – whether it be singing or playing or writing or reading or jumping or running or meditating or dancing or painting or driving or anything – He’s made us all differently and it’s okay that we all have our different ways of worshiping and connecting to Him…He already knows that so let loose and be a worshiper.

I’m really done. Now go – you’ve stayed your hour.

A Rough Commute

We're off for an adventure in a bit. Hoping to avoid situations like the one pictured above. Troy is a better video game driver than most, so I am sure we'll be fine. (People often describe driving here as similar to video game driving.) Close your eyes and hope for the best!

Happy Friday!

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Dear Brittany,

It has never been as fun since you got all grownz up and left our pad. We think about you daily. We know it must kind of be lame to miss out on excitement that you were once centrally involved in ... and we hope you know you're both missed and adored by your many siblings and your parents. Sending Hugs to you and Chris in Waco now...
With all our love,

(Photo Haiti - Spring 2006)

Yesterday after school Paige had her second lesson. Ike and Lydie got to take their turn coming along to see horses. Isaac took the whole hour to warm up enough to touch the horses. When I asked him if he was afraid he said, "No I am not afraid!" - as he jumped a mile high because a horse a couple feet away moved. Do any of you experts know the best places on line to buy riding boots and a helmet for Paige? She thinks it is nasty to wear the community helmet and I cannot say that I disagree with her. Sweating profusely into a helmet and handing it to the next guy is pretty gross. Hey, check out that spot on Troy's head - I gave him a sub-par haircut the other night. Oops. Little mistake behind the ear. The nice thing is, the other side matches.A person we know well called us on Sunday. After trading the usual pleasantries they got to the point. They found a house. They really like it. They want us to buy it for them. Troy was thinking that they might be leading into asking for a 5K or 6K house - he was preparing his words to tell them we were not in a position to do that ... but then the ask came. They found a five bedroom house near Delmas 19 - and we can buy it for them for $120,000 USD. Cough. Cough.

Troy just said "NO" - he did not bother with any long drawn out pleasant ways to say no. There is a bit of a misunderstanding of middle class wealth - you are either a millionaire a few times over, or you've got nothing. Apparently we're millionaires a few times over. Perception is reality. The person on the phone does not believe us when we say we cannot buy a house for them. They think we WON'T buy a house for them. (Which, incidentally is also true.)

It is 6:01 and someone is pounding on our gate. I better go. Women's Program today, but not until after we get an exhilarating Port au Prince run in this morning. Tess comes tomorrow, everyone is very excited, especially Paige. (Tess lived with us for five months in 2008 and helped us so much.)

By Carrie in China -

Is there something about your lives and work currently that you wish your friends and family could 'just get' but is difficult to communicate without walking in your shoes?

Our close friends and family are really understanding about our lives and our work. They are incredibly supportive, and almost all of them have been to China and understand first-hand what it is we do. But, if I were to pick something, I would say that most people (not necessarily talking about close friends/family) don't understand what working so closely to deep suffering, loss, and injustice does to a person. Experiencing this reality has really changed the way we think about God. Our faith is less black and white than it used to be. We're more comfortable with unanswered questions and ambiguity than most people. Sometimes when we share something we've seen and experienced (like grappling with a child's death), people try to respond with things that they think will make us feel better -- like "Well, God needed another angel!" I used to think that way, but I don't really anymore... without getting into a big theological discussion, I'll just say that we've learned nothing is simple and black and white. We can't easily explain-away the pain and suffering we see in the world with some discussion about "God's will." At one time we thought we could, but that was before pain and suffering was something we personally saw on a daily basis. So, it is hard when people don't understand what it's like to live with that reality on a daily basis. Also, sometimes (when I'm in the USA), I find myself in conversations where people are talking about things that I don't really care about anymore... I'm not judging them; it's just that I realize there's a giant gulf between who I was and who I am now.
(Exactly, exactly. Thanks Carrie!)

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Give Me Your Eyes

The last few months were difficult ones for our family. It is beginning to feel like we're coming out on the other side in a healthier place though. We could not share too much, it turns out not everything in life is world wide web material.

There were some real struggles to work through and some healing that needed to be started. Ultimately we needed to accept that things are not always what we pray and hope for them to be... Sometimes quite the opposite. When you figure that out you have to rethink your understanding of prayer and God.

We moved down here expecting God to answer all our prayers and provide for us in very specific ways. We romanticized what coming here would mean and we expected to always be safe from spiritual or personal attack. In truth, we confess we had a little bit of an attitude of entitlement - thinking, "Do you see me? I came here - I think you owe me this Lord - protect me from all the bad stuff."

That was totally cracked theology for sure, but when some of our prayers were not answered we were hit with a bit of a crisis of our faith. After going through the difficult stuff; fearing future trouble became the challenge. (Thinking- God did not hear me and He won't likely hear my next request either.) All of a sudden we were in a cycle of worrying a lot and sinking into fearful places. Playing a game of "something bad is probably going to happen" in your head won't help if or when the something bad happens. That is just more cracked thinking.

We've changed our view of what following Christ means. It no longer means total protection and all answered prayers. It does mean walking in His love minute to minute, hour to hour, and day to day. Not looking too far ahead or obsessing about the past.

It sometimes means facing things we prayed we would not face and loving God anyway. It means trusting Him to help us get through the crappy parts of life and believing that He can turn hurt into healing and bad into good and maybe even sorrow into joy.

It is not needing to get the WHY of it all the time; or even most of the time. In the light and in the dark we need Christ. The dark times bring desperation. We need his presence in pain, His strength where we are weak and His peace and forgiveness. I shake my fist at Him in the morning and fall on my knees crying in the evening, and He patiently and lovingly accepts both.

Every day is a new chance to see people the way He sees them. We want to be loving, we want to be forgiving; yet we're human and struggle with bitterness and frustration. What we want to be and who we are does not always connect. Daily we're given a new opportunity to be patient and kind. We hope to look at each person with His eyes, knowing there is a story we don't understand. Rather than feel frustration with lack of progress , we want to stick with it, keep trying, just the way He is sticking with us.

For however long we remain here, we hope to see people with His eyes ... and ourselves as people that are not owed an easy life - but in spite of the challenges are still able to love wherever He plants us.

"Give me your eyes for just one second Give me your eyes so I can see Everything that I keep missing Give me your love for humanity Give me your arms for the broken hearted - Ones that are far beyond my reach. Give me your heart for the ones forgotten Give me your eyes so I can see.

Brandon Heath - Give Me Your Eyes

Looked down from a broken sky
Traced out by the city lights
My world from a mile high
Best seat in the house tonight
Touched down on the cold black tile
Hold on for the sudden stop
Breathe in the familiar shock
Of confusion and chaos
Are those people going somewhere?
Why have I never cared?

Give me your eyes for just one second
Give me your eyes so I can see
Everything that I keep missing
Give me your love for humanity
Give me your arms for the broken hearted
The ones that are far beyond my reach
Give me your heart for the once forgotten
Give me your eyes so I can see
yeah .. yeah .. yeah .. yeah

Step out on a busy street
See a girl and our eyes meet
Does her best to smile at me
To hide whats underneath
There’s a man just to her right
Black suit and a bright red tie
To ashamed to tell his wife
He’s out of work
He’s buying time
Are those people going somewhere?
Why have I never cared?

Give me your eyes for just one second
Give me your eyes so I can see
Everything that I keep missing
Give me your love for humanity
Give me your arms for the broken hearted
The ones that are far beyond my reach
Give me your heart for the once forgotten
Give me your eyes so I can see
yeah .. yeah .. yeah .. yeah

I’ve been there a million times
A couple of million eyes
Just moving past me by
I swear I never thought that I was wrong
Well I want a second glance
So give me a second chance
To see the way you see the people all alone

Monday, May 11, 2009

Naked Back Ladies

For some reason, the naked back lady with giant booty and hair in a bun paintings are big in our area of town. We've not yet purchased one though. We saw that someone got to our blog by googling "Haitian Babes" and another by "Naked Haitian Girls" so we thought we'd add yet another category to draw all the total pervs in as new readers.

Today I will be helping Beth make John very mad by getting rid of massive amounts of his crap. We are cleaning out "his room". He is already in full pout mode, but it matters not. We MUST get that room ready before the influx of summer guests. I will be pulling samples of what sorts of things he finds it necessary to save. On Saturday I opened a random drawer and found a letter from voter registration about the 2004 election. *That* was certainly something he needs to hold on to forever and ever. He said he was holding on to it because he still hasn't decided yet. For all of you who find John a peculiar specimen, I will happily reinforce that belief while completing today's project.

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Happy Mother's Day

"Relying on God has to begin all over again every day
as if nothing had yet been done..."

-C.S. Lewis

Photo of a Haitian Grandma raising her grand-daughter because the Mom passed away giving birth. Prayers for "Gran" and Sophie today.


We have been trying to plan a few nights away from our tribe to reconnect and regroup. I think we have called John Ackerman for advice thirty-four times. We have discussed it and looked at rates and attempted to *just make a decision already!* for a few weeks. We asked the boss-types at both ministries if we could go ... But we were not booking anything ... enough research time had been spent to ask each other "are we doing this or just talking about doing it?" We were feeling guilty and unsure about spending money on a hotel when it is not even really our money... And yada yada yada.

At the same time we really want - no NEED - to spend some time together SOON without. any. children. There are so many times that we start talking and never finish -- the most oft spoken words here are "What was I saying before ____ interupted?"

Large families are a gift - I know we are blessed - don't hear me misunderstanding my own blessings - but it SO tough to find any pockets of time to really connect with your spouse in the middle of the chaos of Haiti and so many little ones.

To the point ... we are going to the Dominican Republic ALONE to a gorgeous hotel for four nights in June!!!!!!

The Hyatts (adoptive family, friends, encouragement team) gave us their hotel points that cover the entire hotel stay. We are beyond giddy. Who even knows what we might say to each other over that stretch of no-children-everywhere-you-look time. I bet other things besides deep conversation could happen easily too. I hear they pretty regularly use this fancy gadget over there called "air conditioning".

CAN'T WAIT! (Anticipation is half the fun, agree?)

(Plus - between now and then Tess (Big Tuna) AND my parents are coming to see us.)

Saturday, May 09, 2009

History ...

I never look back on the blog unless I am trying to find something. I don't like to because I get annoyed with my own view of things sometimes. I know that sounds stupid, but that is only because it is. Tonight I went in search of Jeronne's story and was surprised at how much has happened that I have forgotten already. I am so glad we'll have this record to look back on someday ... because apparently memory fails some of us - even in our mid thirties. No good.

On this day in May 2006 - Troy had his first ever case of Malaria and we were pretty freaked out by that, we did not yet know Phoebe was growing in her first mother and we were praying for this baby that is now happy and adopted and thriving in Washington. We looked a lot like those people pictured below...Whoever they were.On this weekend in 2007 we had a child in the village come to us with a split open skull. It was the worst cut we'd ever seen. She is now thriving and has no permanent damage from this accident. We were cooking up Lydie and our littler kids looked like this:
On this weekend in 2008 Tess and Jen lived with us and poor Isaac had a tough thing happen to him based on the language barrier, it broke my heart all over again to remember it. He has figured out how to protect himself out in the big bad world of school and life - but underneath he is the same tender, innocent, sweet and slightly oblivious boy.And on this weekend in 1970 - my parents got married-Which I also have no recollection of but with better reason. Happy 39th Anniversary Mom and Dad. WE love you and CANNOT wait until later this month when you show up on our doorstep. Missing and loving you today and counting the days till you get here!
T&T and Kids

P.S. In case you missed it, that was your anniversary card, so don't look for it in your mailbox.

Your gift is below. Enjoy it and don't worry about sending a thank-you note.