Friday, October 30

Laughter Soothes the Soul


This Friday began early with a long training run. I must admit that the long run thing is getting a little.bit.tiresome.and.boring.and.toomuchtoooften. But, it is for an amazing cause that I believe in every bit as much as Medika Mamba.

I hope you're getting over to the runners blog to read about some of the great people sacrificing time and energy to help raise awareness and funds for the beautiful, courageous, and tenacious women of Haiti. We are also continuing to introduce the ladies in the prenatal program on that blog and you'll enjoy a little peek into their lives. I LOVE working with these ladies so much and find them and their endurance and toughness to be totally inspiring.

I ran 18 miles on Monday, then did the mountain hike to get the sweet little guy home on Tuesday. My knees were screaming at me big time. I scolded myself for doing two days of abuse in a row ... but then it occurred to me as we climbed up and down the hills to get to Renald's family that we are totally weak compared to the natives of this little island. Plainly stated - let me give it to you straight - we are total wimps. Every last one of us. You. Me. The whole lot of us.

A couple of cute Haitian ladies jumped in Zach's truck because he offered them a ride. I asked them where they lived. They had been planning to WALK 5 more hours to get home. They had walked DOWN earlier that day. They all had on $2 flip-flop shoes that made my feet hurt just to look at them. They were carrying heavy things. LARGE heavy things. They were going straight up a mountain for five hours. When they arrive home they don't get to put their feet in ice, jump in a cold shower, or drink a protein shake. (Plus Troy is not there to be all sweet and encouraging.) Kind of made me feel like a boob for whining about a little running.

Troy and I had a bunch of things to accomplish today. Scratch that. Troy had a bunch of things to accomplish and I wanted to buy paint to paint the little girls' bedroom this weekend. Because there was one thing that required my presence, I got to tag along with him for a full day of Port au Prince fun. We used to do this together back when we were a five kid family ... but in the last year I don't believe I have tagged along more than a couple times.

After Troy dropped our friends the Mangines off to the airport we got on our way. We make a decision when we leave to laugh at things and not get frustrated. We laughed so much today, it felt marvelous.

It was great to have a day without little ones to talk without non-stop interruption. I love my kids ... they bring much joy, but man are they chatty. Right now Noah is talking non stop about the way a Tyrannosaurus Rex walks. "A T Rex goes like this and then he goes like this and then Mommy, mommy look - he goes like this."

stttttilllll talking.

Here is what we determined: If you can laugh all day while receiving poor to very poor customer service and narrowly escaping death on the over-taxed roads --- you might just make it in PAP!I was allowed to help Troy "tweet" all day; it felt quite powerful to just type on his phone and send it across the world. I think I tweeted responsibly. He was worried about his rep - but I don't know that I did it any damage.

We went down to the Haitian American Institute for a meeting. We went to listen to our favorite racketeer tell us a bunch of lies about why he is not done with our car-registration, we chuckled about how cruddy he is at making up lies and how he cannot even keep them straight. We went to Sherwin Williams to pick out paint. We laughed that they could not tint it today. No, no ... we need to make another trip back to pick it up. We searched for items on Paige's list for her science experiments - and chuckled that the curriculum suggestion was that you could go to a craft store like Hobby Lobby to find test tubes. Empty spice bottles will have to suffice. Later in the day we ran into Zach in the grocery store ... which turned out to be VERY important considering the grocery store credit card machine declined two (the only two) of our credit cards. (For no apparent reason.) Zach was walking out when we said, "Uh, Zach, excuse us ... let's see ... no easy way to say this -- we have no spending power - can you please cover about $225 U.S. in groceries for us and we'll write you a check?" The grocery store was the last stop, which was good considering somebody put a lock down on the Visa and the MasterCard.

Some odd/interesting/fun sights along the route: 1.) Cops leaning on walls all over town 2.) Honda Del Sol circa 1989 IN HAITI - on THESE roads 3.) Totally naked dude walking the hills of Petionville

The only time we almost failed at laughing was on Delmas when a mad kid starting hitting our truck with a stick again and again. That was not all that amusing. I don't believe we even fake laughed at that.

Unfortunately none of Paige's science experiments call for tarps or tow-straps, because by accident we located Tarps and Towstraps R Us.
I plan to use all of my free moments doing "painting therapy" this weekend. The girls are excited to have orange walls. I am excited to have free therapy. Have a great weekend.

Selma avek Jezi.

tara

Wednesday, October 28

Renald's Return

{This is the story of returning Renald to his family after acting as a "foster" family and nursing him back to health in 2009.}


In the last few months there has been a major road project going through the center of the country. Because of this new road we did not have to walk six hours to get to Renald's house. We were able to drive about 70 minutes and then walk the last two miles into the area where his home is. The road is really an amazing thing, a huge, huge undertaking. Seeing the giant earth moving equipment right along side people who've lived a very simple life for decades and decades seemed quite odd. In the photo below you can see the road winding behind us. Before the hurricanes came through last fall this road did not exist. All of the travel to the area we were heading was by foot or donkey.


We've been in the mountains of Haiti before, but it has been a long time. I think we forgot. The views were breathtaking. More than once there were tears streaming down our faces as we took in such vast and overwhelming beauty. Photos of what we were seeing will never do it justice, the clouds were sometimes below us and the mountains went on for as far as the eye could see. For the entire ride I just kept thinking, this is too beautiful to be real.Renald seemed nervous and off his game a bit. He is fairly verbal but he was not talking on the ride up. The two photos below are right before we started the walking portion of our trip. We walked straight down steep mountains and back up again to reach his home which is located a long way off of the new road. In the second photo Paige is looking toward his house, where our walk would take us.

About 1/3 of the way into our half hour trek we ran into a guy who said he was "with the mother of the child". Renald showed no recognition but went to him when the man reached for him. My heart sunk learning that there was a guy in the picture. So often the new guy does not want the previous guy's kids. That story has been told over and over again in Haiti.
As we got closer to the area where their house is located Renald asked for Paige and switched to her arms. He seemed to know where he was. He also seemed concerned (that is how we read it anyway) and maybe a little bit nervous.
While the next 15 minutes were not what I prayed or hoped for, I am trying to be objective. I am not Haitian and I do not express emotion like a Haitian. It is unfair for me to expect them to jump up and down and hug their child and cry for joy and do what I think I would do ... that might not be a response that happens in this culture.

Renald was not very happy, while he seemed to remember them he tightened his grip on Paige. His Mom smiled at him as we walked up but when he did not want to go to her she was put off and seemed hurt and upset with him.
The boyfriend is not Renald's father and was telling Troy and Frank (a long-time employee from RHFH/Cazale that escorted us) that he was really kind of thinking we would just keep Renald. The boyfriend was the low point in the whole situation. The Mom never said anything like that.

In situations like theirs it is possible that a healthy kid that is used to eating three meals a day might be an overwhelming thing for them. Not only another mouth to feed, but a child who won't be happy with one tiny meal a day.

Renald cried softly for most of the time we stood trying to talk to them. A crowd of relatives gathered. The brightest moment was when Renald's Granny realized he was back. She was genuinely happy and pleased to see him healthy. He did better going to Gran than he did going to his Mom.

Troy asked a lot of questions about the other kids and how old they were. It was sad when the Mom could not remember the name of the 18 month old baby. She came up with it about 30 seconds later. I don't know if survival mode makes names unimportant or if possibly prolonged malnutrition or other factors play into things. It did seem like the Mom was struggling to take in the information and answer questions. She may have been totally overwhelmed by all the attention. I have no way of understanding her life... Simply no way at all.

Beth asked me if I thought it was universal to love your child and if possibly the privilege of wealth allows us greater freedom to love. I don't know the answer. Maybe so.

Below are two older siblings of Renald and also his little brother, who is the child of the boyfriend we met. They are standing in front of the house they all live in. None of them look all that healthy, but none of them look as sick or as malnourished as Renald did back in June. The sister is 8 and the older brother is 6.

While everything in us (Paige and I) wanted to just take him and run, we know we needed to give them their son, brother, grandson back. He is not ours to take from them. I think we want to believe that we love him more -- but there is no way we can know that. That is our egotistical (ethnocentric) judgment.

The reactions were not what we wanted but we cannot know their hearts. Renald needs time to bond to them and we were dumb to think he would be instantly happy to be home. Because I can provide a nicer house, toys and food -- it does not mean that I am a better person to raise him. I value those things, you value those things ... but plenty of people live their lives without those things and they live long, happy lives.

I waited a day to write because I was angry and upset and I know I needed to step back and calm down. I instantly decided that they don't love him as much as we do ... and that was wrong of me. I do not know that.

The truth is, all of us (some of you included) fell hard for this beautiful little boy. We tried hard not to entertain the idea of begging the family to let us adopt him. Trust me, we thought about it a lot. Renald needed healing and God gave him that. He gets to start over without worms and fevers and illness. He touched our lives with his fight to live and his beautiful smiling eyes and crazy fun dance moves.

I have to believe that Renald is not done touching lives. Not by any stretch of the imagination. To think that this little boy from a tiny shack in the remote mountains of Haiti has been seen, prayed for, and loved by hundreds and hundreds of people from all over the world is mind-numbing.

I hope you'll continue to love and pray for him.


We prayed with his Mom, hugged him goodbye, and left with heavy grief and blurry-eyes.
There are plans in place to help them with food, etc. We are not leaving them hanging. It is a tricky thing because we want to do our best to make sure that the kids are going to benefit from the help. Explaining why that is tricky is a whole different blog post. Renald's Mom will hopefully keep her appointment with Licia and Lori in Cazale in late November. At that time we'll be able to see how Renald is doing. For now we know we need to give this family a chance. We need to reserve our judgment and trust the same God we trusted for Renald's healing.

The peace we were longing for has yet to settle in on us, but we wait in hopeful expectation.

These last photos were taken after we hiked back out. They overlook the absolute beauty of the Artibonite Valley.

A GIANT amount of love and respect goes out to Licia and Lori and Big Zach. They do the hard work of helping children heal and then watching them leave ... only they do it all the time.
Until later,

Tara for all of us

Tuesday, October 27

Mountain Trip

Today was utterly confusing and not what we'd hoped it would be. Renald is home, deep in the mountains of Haiti with his family. Too soon to process it all. Continued prayers for Rey are important.

Monday, October 26

Two Things for Monday


  1. We just learned that Renald (go here and enter password Renald - or here to learn about him) is going to be reunited with his Mama tomorrow. She has not seen him in person since early June. We are praying that seeing the new Renald will be HUGE encouragement to her and that through Renald's healing, that more than anything, she will feel the love of God. Prayers for all involved are so very appreciated. It is a big day that we've prepared for as much as possible - and although goodbyes hurt terribly - we know it is what is required. Renald is well. Thank God for that! This little boy changed us, and we're so very blessed.
  2. I have been asking you for running sponsorship money since the end of May. You're probably a bit tired of it. (I am actually getting kind of tired of myself.) Here is the thing --- If you've got the ability to give - we need you! Large and small gifts are needed. If you're just not able to give or just not interested in our cause, we understand that - But, we're wondering if you'd kindly pass the word on to your friends and family and others who might be able to help. We have 11 weeks left to raise 58K... not too big or impossible - not at all! Our goal is to love and serve Haitian women. Your gift will help us do that better. Read more about it here: www.heartlinerunners.blogspot.com

Friday, October 23

Transracial Adoption

In the fall of 2001 we made a decision to adopt internationally. We had our own personal reasons for choosing to leave the USA to build our family.

We followed our hearts and felt strongly that our hearts were aligned with His and moved forward without too much consideration about being a white family raising black kids.

 To our discredit we did not fully research or understand the challenges of transracial adoption. Sometimes ignorance really is bliss. Thankfully, that bliss of ignorance can only last so long ... then you learn something.

I remember people questioning us about raising Hope and Isaac in a 99% white suburb, and not really agreeing with them that it might be difficult. (And now, many years later I simply think that there will be challenges either way- just different ones in different locations.)

Ike and Hope have been with us for almost 7 years. In that time we've encountered some hurtful things, some funny things, and some totally ignorant people, and some really encouraging people. We've have been hurt by harsh words but we've also had multiple positive conversations. We've learned a lot about what we didn't know when we first sought to adopt cross-culturally and transracially. We've grown more sensitive to the way we speak about adoption, families, birth-parents, and certainly the language we use when we make observations about ourselves or other blended families. We've tried to offer grace to people who just don't get it.

Moving to Haiti has not removed the challenges for Hope and Isaac - it has simply created new ones. In MN they were the minority and stood out as such. In Haiti they are the majority and we (their parents) stand out, therefore they do too. It may be harder for them here. They don't escape being "different". Now they are "those kids that live with the blans" to our neighbors. In many ways moving here just made us all odd outsiders and it is no longer a unique thing that only Hope and Isaac experience.

Truth be told, I probably worry more about Isaac than the girls. It does not take an anthropologist to figure out that many folks have already made their decisions about young black men. No longer can Isaac escape prejudice by being "that cute little black boy" - he's getting to the age (and size) where he'll likely begin to notice less automatic acceptance from some people.

As parents, we place a ton of faith in the power of love - and we trust and look to God for direction when situations arise. We strive to make sure our children know beyond any doubt that there is one place in this world where they will always belong and are so special they cannot be replaced. That place is here in this family. We're not so ignorant to think that we can protect them from all hurt and painful things -- we just hope to provide cushioning and encouragement when the punches land. And while adoption is a positive thing to them right now, we're prepared that at times in their life they may not feel that way.

When we went to Minnesota we had an interesting experience at immigration in Miami. As the five of us (T and T, Paige, Isaac and Noah) stepped forward and handed the officer our passports, the officer said in a terse voice, "Who is he with?" Troy and I were standing behind the three kids but Troy's response was to turn and look over his shoulder behind us to see if someone else had stepped forward to the window with us.

Troy looked back to the officer confused and the officer said, "This guy here", pointing at Isaac. (The officer had five U.S. passports in his hand already.) Troy said, "He is our son, he is with us."

The officer said, "Where are his adoption papers?" Troy said, "He is a U.S. Citizen and you have his (previously used and not brand new) U.S. passport in that stack." The officer went on to question when we adopted him, etc. He did not bother to look at the passport to see Isaac has been in and out of the country plenty of times.

Troy answered the questions, Isaac stood listening and Paige and I were just shocked by how cruddy the agent was at human-interaction. As he finally started to scan our passports he looks at Isaac and says, "Who are these people?" while gesturing toward us. Isaac looked at the guy and then glanced at us with a questioning look and said, "my parents!" (like, what is this guy thinking? duh.)

The whole thing annoyed me not because I expect a immigration officer to be adoption savvy or sensitive -- but because I expect an immigration officer to look at the passport he was handed and use his brilliant mind to do a little-tiny bit of detective work.

After we walked away to go grab our luggage I said, "How are you Ike - are you okay honey? Are you feeling alright about things?" I was all prepared to do damage control and counseling.

Isaac said, "Yeah, I just wish I could stop sneezing so much!"

I am so grateful for our family and the way God put it together. I am thankful for opportunities to learn and grow. I am good with being different and as a family we celebrate the many things that make our family "weird" to others. Isaac and Hope are a gift to us and everyone who knows them. We thank the Lord for entrusting us with this awesome responsibility.

May we be equal to the task He has given us.

(2002)

Thursday, October 22

Boy Quotes


Noah-

"When I grow up I will be brown like Isaac."

"Dad, I am saying when you have permission to kiss Mom. No doing romantics until I say it is okay."

Isaac-

"How do they make Frosted Flakes? If we just knew how they make them we could make them ourselves and save a lot of money."

"In America they don't have generators, because they have electrical poles - and they also don't have problems."

Wednesday, October 21

Run

Good post at SCL today.

In other news - there is a new post at the runners blog, please check it out and pass it on!

Tuesday, October 20

Confusion Abounds



Tuesday is Early Childhood Development day. This week, it was also a day to solve mysteries.

For whatever reason (that I do not understand) lots of people in Haiti have names, nicknames, and other names that they go by - and then their real name might or might not be known and/or used.

It is not uncommon for one person to answer to three names. This is very confusing to the expats who are used to: first name - last name - and only one possible spelling. The spelling of a name changes week to week ... and if I wanted to fully embrace my current culture and fit in I might go by Tara one week, Rachelle another week, spell it Terra sometimes for fun and then another time when asked my name I might just say "T." or maybe Livesay or even some other nickname like "Fifi" and let everyone else figure out what that is all about.

Today a very thin woman walked in. I knew right away that she was not a regular in our program. She was so tall and thin you would not easily forget her. She explained that her friend sent her with her (the friend's) baby because she was too sick to come herself.

We asked the obvious question "who is your friend?"

This is the rest of our conversation:

Tall Girl - Rose Marie Devalier

Me- Rose Marie Devalier? Huh? (not recognized as a name in our program)

Tall Girl - Yes

Me- We have a lady with that last name in pre-natal but her baby is not due for months.

Me- How old is that baby?

Tall Girl- It was born October 1st

Me- What? Okay. What is the Mom's name again?

Tall Girl - Rose Marie

Me- Does she go by any other name?

Tall Girl- I don't know. yes. I think. Maybe.

Me- Okay then - what is the baby's name?

Tall Girl- I don't know. I forget.

Me- You don't know the name of the baby you're caring for? Well, is it a boy or a girl?

(baby is dressed in white and pink frilly clothing)

Tall Girl- long pause ... thinking .. "A little boy"

Paige- So he was born in October?

Tall Girl- No I said he was born in August.

Me- Does the Mom go by the name "Rethly?" (I guessed this because the last name almost matched up right with a Mom named Rethly who had a baby in August.)

Tall Girl- Yes Yes she does.

We weigh the baby. The baby weighs the total wrong weight to be Rethly's baby. If it were her baby it had lost 5 pounds in a couple of weeks.

Me- Still digging through files, taking a wild guess, "Is that baby Judens?"

Tall Girl - (with enthusiasm this time) YES YES --- I FORGOT - YES THAT IS THE NAME OF THE BABY!!

Me- Okay, good ... so, is the mom RoseManie Charles?

Tall Girl- Yes!

(Never mind that the name Charles had never been given.)

At that point we were ten minutes in and searching files frantically trying to figure out who the baby belonged to ... still not exactly sure why the friend gave all goofy information at first ... but it felt like a major victory to identify the baby and figure out who his Mama was. Oh, and the baby was actually born Sept 16 ... details-schmetails.

Basically, the tall girl knew this: She had a baby - in her arms - that someone she is aware of - gave birth to - sometime in the past. What more is there?

We sent the tall girl into class after she told us that the baby was ill and needed to see the Doctor and that she was also pregnant and wanted to join the program. We told her we would see both of them after the lesson.

During class we observed her taking a baby bottle out of her purse for the baby. That was when we also noticed her Bible and her bottle of Barbancourt Rum. Finding that combination of items entertaining, Beth snapped a few photos.


After class John Ackerman saw the baby boy, named Judens, while we did a pregnancy test and made sure that the pregnant mom was not sipping on the Barbancourt. (She said it was not for her, but for a friend.)

If the process of identifying the baby she was caring for was any indicator, I would have to say she'd had a giant glass of rum on her tap-tap ride over.

Case closed.

Mamba Miracles

Jonas
dob 4.20.06 13.6 kg to 14.7 kg had severe case of kwash

Giliane
dob 8/10/05 10.9kg - 12.8kg


Claudia
dob 4.20.05 severe kwash
12.2 kg down to 11.4kg and back up to 12.5kg (kwash gone!)

Monday, October 19

Birth Center Parties



Of all the things our teenage daughter could be doing on a Friday night, we're pretty pleased that this is her version of a wild night out. :)

(In this video - Sarah, Joanna, Stephanie - Certified Midwives - along with Vivien, Corrie, Britney - all here in Haiti helping to teach missionary kids and assist at Heartline - along with Megan H.- works for Heartline and Paige.)

Flag Football Haiti Style

Sweatbands make the athlete ...


The cheering section ... (Noah alternates cheering and playing) (Renald alternates running onto the field and cheering)

The neighborhood we live in would be considered middle class. The homes are larger and usually have quite a few people living in them but they are homes with running water and electricity (most of the time).

We are very lucky that just three blocks away there is a giant soccer field for the kids to go run. Our "yard" does not have a blade of grass - so going to the field for some freedom is GREAT fun.

Saturday, October 17

A Good Read


These paragraphs (excerpts) resonate:

Taken from "Why I stopped serving the Poor"
By Claudio Oliver

Throughout my life I have kept the habit of always asking myself whether what I am doing makes sense, whether my heart is aligned with God’s will, and whether or not I am missing the point.
~~~~~~~~~~~~
Over the years I’ve discovered that the very position of serving the poor from a commitment to “liberate” them, has been filled with a sense of superiority. A kind of superiority that is translated into giving others what I have, assuming through my actions that what I have or do is what he/she should have or do. This subtle translation is noticed in the subtle arrogance of the so-called politics of “inclusion”, always trying to put the other inside the box where I live, including them in the sameness of my lifestyle.
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
All of this led me to give up on serving the poor. By making this kind of statement I am not taking sides with those who, from their positions of wealth, comfort and well being say, “See? That’s what I have always thought.” I’m sorry to inform these people that in no way do I believe in or embrace their lifestyle. A lifestyle that by design, separates them from contact with the poor, the sick, the hungry, the naked, the ugly, the smelly, and the “uncivilized” barbarians.
I do not side with those who pay their taxes or contribute to charity saying in that way they are fulfilling their role. To these people I keep on retransmitting the message of Jesus that confronts their blind, insensitive and arrogant lifestyles, a message that calls madness what the worlds calls security.
~~~~~~~~~~~
We suddenly saw ourselves mirrored in the very “poor” we were serving. We recognized that we were constantly using the same excuses and lies to get what we wanted - perhaps more successfully, and surely with more social acceptance and security mechanisms. But throughout this process we came to discover that we were “the poor”.
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
The only way to remain with the poor is if we discover that we are the miserable ones. We remain with the poor when we recognize ourselves, even if well disguised, in him/her who is right before our eyes. When we can see our own misery and poverty in them, when we realize our own needs and our desperate need to be saved and liberated, then and only then will we meet Jesus and live life according to His agenda.
God is not manifest in our ability to heal, but in our need to be healed. Finding out this weakness of ours leaves us in a position of having nothing to offer, serve, donate, but reveals our need to be loved, healed and restored.
Herein lies the meaning that the power within us is not the power of our strengths, abilities and wealth, but rather, in the power that is present in our personal misery, so well hidden and disguised in our possessions and false securities.
~~~~~~~~~

Serving from the Bottom-Up

I came to re-encounter my poverty, to see myself in each situation of misery, and to get in touch with my inner pain. From there, I pray for healing, freedom, community and love. I ask for mercy and restoration.
Whoever serves out of the sense of having something to offer, serves from the top down.
Jesus calls us to become incarnate and to see ourselves in the other and to place ourselves under him or her as powerless dependents. He calls us to give up in trusting our own capacity to impart goodness and to change our direction in order to encounter and recognize our own wounds, weakness and pain. From there, we discover the power that lies in being less and not more.

Friday, October 16

Bulletpoints from the week that was

Good:
  • Purging thoughts and struggles in blog posts.
  • Settling back into a routine of sorts.
  • Having hope.
  • Babies being born at Heartline. The fourth one was born yesterday.
  • Paige as a "doula".
  • Encouragement provided to Paige from sweet new friends.
  • God's grace.
  • The adoption finally moved forward. One step is all it takes to call it "progress".
  • EDH schedule that gives city power NINETEEN out of 24 hours. :)
  • Spending almost nothing on diesel for the generator.
  • Having friends here and having friends there. And knowing distance cannot break our bond.
  • Taking prophylactic Chloroquine until the rain lets up, and knowing that fevers don't mean Malaria.
  • Knowing Britt and Chris are coming to visit in a couple of months.
  • The steak in the freezer from Minnesota that is fun to look at a few times a day.
  • The planning of a weekend getaway for our Anniversary in November.
  • Being ready to run 12 miles before the sun is even up.
  • A forgiving and mellow husband.
  • More Medika Mamba graduates in Cazale. (Photos to come.)

Bad:
  • Dropping Troy's laptop on the floor the other night. Opening it to find the screen does not work. Coming home to show him what I did.
  • Finding out it will cost about five Benjamins to fix it. Shipping it to America.
  • Mystery fevers for Lydie and Annie.
  • Storms that knock out the EDH.
  • Heavy rain (after rainy season is supposed to be dwindling) that leaves mud so thick that you cannot walk to Womens Program and cannot run without almost falling on your bum.
  • The humidity in PAP this week.
  • Trying to explain to Isaac why I was married to someone else before his Daddy. I have no idea how he figured it out, but boy - was that a conversation that rocked his world. Divorce is now a concept swimming in Isaac Livesay's mind. :(
  • When Phoebe walks away with a cell phone and you're forced to call it 25 times until you can track it down in the bottom of a deep toy box or trash can.
  • Losing Hope's math book and having to call Vivien to tell her that our parenting is off the charts unorganized this week.
  • Waking up because the neighbor next door is doing dishes at 4:30am - that is how close our bedroom is to her kitchen.
  • Realizing that something screwy happened to the clock in the night and it is not really 4:30, it is 3:30.
  • Slamming a cup of coffee before looking at the clocks and figuring out the inaccuracy, ruining the chance to climb back in bed.
Risky:
  • Asking people to keep giving.
  • Coming back at you again - and so soon.
  • Go HERE please.

Thursday, October 15

More of the same


Today a friend reminded me of this post I wrote almost two years ago while we were in Minnesota on a three month furlough having Lydia and sending Britt off to college.

After being reminded of it I came home and read it. It was interesting to read it again today, in the current "unsettled" place.

Everything in that post is still true. I think the difference is that two years further down the road I understand even less about Haiti and less about why God so clearly directed us here. The long defeat has become more personal and ... well .... longer.

I don't think we'll ever change Haiti and I don't live here because I think it is more significant than living anywhere else. Not at all.

The single reason we live here is because for some reason living here is what was required in order for us to be obedient. I do not like it every day. I do not always do it with a joy filled heart. Sometimes I really stink at obedience and I have fits in my spirit that only He knows about.

Trips back have a way of stirring questions and even discontent. When we go home people always ask "How long do you think you'll stay?" The answer remains the same: we have no idea.

Just as the lyrics to the Sara Groves song say, "I won't pretend to know what's next."

Things always go best when we live in today and make a conscious and purposed decision not to get too puffed up thinking any of this is anything other than an opportunity to turn our total insufficiency and all of our uncertainties, frustrations, and fears over to God.

There are people telling us we need to be Haiti lifers. There are people begging us to return "home". We're trying hard to ignore people and listen for God. We're attempting to love others and walk with Him in the place He planted us until He gives us peace about being planted elsewhere to do that same thing.

Besides re-reading "The Long Defeat" post that was written so long ago, I also read this paragraph below from Carrie's blog.

These things put together are important words for me (and maybe you) this week.

"I've learned that while we like to ask God location questions, He likes to ask us heart questions. Heart questions are the hardest questions. We've grown to understand that whether we're in Beijing or Boston, God wants one thing from us. He wants us to act justly, to love mercy, and to walk humbly with him. (Micah 6:8) We can do that anywhere. We have spent a considerable amount of time asking God where?, waiting for some lightening bolt to fall from heaven and provide us with a specific zip code. But it seems that in the last couple of years, we've learned that God just wants us to fully be where ever we are..."

Tuesday, October 13

Tucking in Tuesday

Women's Program went well today. We had a smaller group today, not sure why so many were absent. Today was Early Childhood Development day, moms come to this class for one year after their babies are born. After class John Ackerman, a nurse and 20 year resident of Haiti is available to listen to sick babies and try to offer the moms some help and encouragement.

I am going through this odd season of reflection. Reflecting on the past, uncertain about the future ... basically just sort of unsettled. Traveling seems to do that to me, but also I think it is because we went to a couple of counseling appointments when we were in Minnesota and we talked a lot about what we've learned about ourselves during our time in Haiti. (And what we have learned about Haiti -- which is basically that it won't ever be understood by us.) Those appointments were really good for us - and important - but I am ready to turn my brain off and just feel all settled in my soul again.

I was looking back at our old videos and realized that this one was taken three years ago today. We lived 90 minutes from Port au Prince and we'd been in Haiti only 10 months.



I wish I would not have blinked. Just like that, they're big kids.

(Photos from today of Paige with Sophia and Lisa, Jonna and Beth)

Two


We celebrated the baby of the family tonight, also known as "the grand finale" or "the closer". The video will not upload, so photos must suffice. This is mostly for her godmother and her grandparents who we wish could have been here. (Why weren't you here guys?!!!)

The last remaining one year old in this house is our niece, Annie. We hoped and prayed that she would be a proud American in MN to turn two, but we now know that won't happen. :( She'll have to settle for us on her birthday in late November.

Troy reports an extraordinary day in Port au Prince. He had TWO positive customer service experiences in ONE day. Two in one month is the previous record. A shocking turn of events no doubt.

The kids are back to school with Vivien and seem ready to get back in gear. She is working hard with them and they all seem to enjoy the set-up.

No time for more right now. Happy Tuesday.