Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Latest Medika Mamba Graduate

Milienne - these pictures show her when she entered the RHFH Rescue Center, three weeks into her Medika Mamba treatment, and after eight weeks on the Medika Mamba. Her improvement is clearly amazing.

We want to point out that results like these are also due in large part to the tireless efforts of the Zachary/Betor/Moise families and staff at their clinic and rescue center. Without the love, care, sacrifice, and hours and hours of work they pour into children like these - changing lives like this would not be possible. We love you Licia, Lori, and Zach for all that you do! Thank you for being an example and inspiration to us.

With the funds that are being raised the MM program will continue at Real Hope For Haiti and also be expanded to other ministry partners in other parts of Haiti.
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Monday, June 29, 2009

Explanation & Promise

In early May when I started thinking about running the marathon with my sister and tried to decide if that was a horrible idea, I thought, "Huh, I wonder if I could raise some money somehow?" S0, I let that simmer a while.

Then I decided that $2,600 would be a good goal. That I could probably pull off running it even if it looked/felt sort of ugly and un-athletic. Then the matching donor idea came to mind. I told my parents and they thought it was a good idea. I started hoping for a grand total of $5,200. The next week two people agreed to $2,600 right away and shortly after a third came forward. All of a sudden we were dancing with big money!

From there I quickly realized that I was aiming too low and that people are very anxious to help and happy to get involved when the cause is solid.

I have no idea if this new goal is obnoxious or not ... I just know that I believe that something big can happen (and already has happened) when people work together. I know that I have changed the goal once already when the third match came in. I don't want to be annoying to anyone - I promise this is the last time you'll see the meter change.

This Meter reflects the BIG goal ... the corrected, final, and ambitious goal. The number $18,200 plus the $7,800 in matching grants that will be given once I run - and equals the total goal of $26,000.

I think it is funny that it is TEN TIMES the original number I had in mind. If this Chip-In meter reaches 100% by October 1 - it means I will be running for $1,000 per mile. That amount will treat a minimum of 260 kids with severe forms of malnutrition in Haiti. That feels pretty exciting to us.

Thanks for running this road with me.

Dreaming big,
Tara

Surely We Can Change


Surely We Can Change
David Crowder Band

And the problem is this
We were bought with a kiss
But the cheek still turned
Even when it wasn't hit

And I don't know
What to do with a love like that
And I don't know
How to be a love like that

When all the love in the world
Is right here among us
And hatred too
And so we must choose
What our hands will do

Where there is pain
Let there be grace
Where there is suffering
Bring serenity
For those afraid
Help them be brave
Where there is misery
Bring expectancy
And surely we can change
Surely we can change
Something

And the problem it seems
Is with you and me
Not the Love who came
To repair everything

Where there is pain
Let us bring grace
Where there is suffering
Bring serenity
For those afraid
Let us be brave
Where there is misery
Let us bring them relief
And surely we can change
Surely we can change
Oh surely we can change
Something

Oh, the world's about to change
The whole world's about to change

Amen.

Sunday, June 28, 2009

Week Ahead, Run Report

This week -
  • We have an OB Doctor in town who has agreed to see all of our women for the full nine yards exam. Paige will spend a lot of her week interpreting and helping with that. They start Monday at 10am, appointments scheduled all week
  • English Camp for kids in the neighborhood begins on Monday. Runs for six weeks. The Tlucek Family head up / lead that effort. Pray for them and the many volunteers making it happen from now until August 7th
  • Please pray for Renald, that he will eat well and gain weight
  • Tuesday and Thursday regularly scheduled Women's Program classes
  • Friday a special clinic day for the OB Doc and one other Doc will join her. We'll rally and do what is needed to make it a slightly ordered day
Other-
  • Our truck broke on Thursday. The "Terracan" is not a vehicle available in the USA. Finding the part appears to be the tricky thing. Anyone headed to Haiti from Korea anytime soon? Speak up - we need you :)
  • Our house is far from healthy but everyone seems to be functioning well even with hacking coughing and much mucus
  • Probably not going to have much time to update this here blog ~ work with us on that

Run Report-
  • Week Four of training - done and done ... thank you very much ;)
  • 1- the number of days I missed running due to melt-down illness mode. crying in bed is not an approved cross-training option, but I went with that on Monday anyway
  • 2 - dingos maced because they chose to come at me and make me fearful
  • 3- the number of times I listened to David Crowder's Surely We Can Change on Friday's run
  • 4- bottles of water consumed on the long run
  • 6- new marathon sponsors this week - Thanks guys!
  • 8- the number of times I've wanted Dairy Queen this week
  • 0- Dairy Queens in Port au Prince :(
  • Friday's long run was supposed to be 9 miles. Messed up and did 9.8 miles. Finally felt like a runner again that day. Gave me a boost in confidence that I needed
  • I bumped my little tracking device on the Ipod and it ended my workout in the middle of the 9.8 miles. I had to reset it for the last half for it to be tracked as a separate workout. I was mad because it meant that the little Ipod lady did not say "Congratulations that was your longest run yet" - I really wanted to hear her say that :( I'll have to wait for her vote of confidence until July 3rd
  • If you know of anyone who might toss up another matching grant to remotivate the giving for the Mamba project, let us know. We're less than 10K from the ultimate goal of $26,000 or $1,000 per mile

Friday, June 26, 2009

Water Sports Haiti Style




It's almost July already. That is just plain crazy. We're headed to the local marina (not true) for some sun and fun ... Hope you are too.

We're actually going out to eat with other real grown ups tonight and then hoping to get our broken truck fixed and chillaxing at home on Saturday. Sunday we have multiple churchy-type events. Just one church event on a Sunday- not enough. Super holy people do these sorts of things. ;)

Have a good weekend.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Gratuitous Kid Pics and Some Bullet Points

Paige/Lydia/Annie
Noah vomits then returns to saving the underwater world - except that it is not really underwater. Phoebe stands in awe of her brother and his super-human ability to puke and instantly return to playing. She also wonders if maybe he should not immediately go inside and eat an entire jar of Mayonnaise before he falls through his butt and chokes himself.
  • Right now 13 people reside on this plot of land called "Kay Troy" (house of Troy) (Don't ask where the extras came from ... it is complicated and kind of sort of temporary. I do not know when we became the hippie communal living types- it is all a blur)
  • Of the 13, here are the current up to the minute ailments: 9 with bad coughing ~ 2 with intermitent vomiting ~ 2 with heat rash ~ 1 with di-di ~ 1 with an ear ache ~ 10 reporting frequent headaches and low fevers ~only 3 claiming perfect health: Paige, Isaac and Annie - the last ones standing as it were. I am trying to figure out what those three have that differs from the rest of us... I thought it had something to do with being born on an even numbered day of an odd numbered month and also having an "a" and an "i" in your name. (11/30 ~ 9/18 ~ 11/26) If this is not the common link, I do not have any other bright ideas.
  • So, when are you coming over?
  • Batteries (read: fans) at Kay Troy crapped out at 4:20am. The 100 minutes that followed until the generator could be started were intensely challenging ones.
  • We do have an adoptive dad from NY coming to stay with us next week. (Hey Lancer!) We've warned him to bring a swine flu mask and a giant vat of anti-bacterial hand stuff in which to sit for the week. Because he is an attorney, he will be forced to sign waivers before he sets foot on our property.
  • Today at Womens Program Carsen (visiting for a month) taught the lesson and Paige translated. Nothing makes me grin like listening to Paige and her street-Creole.
  • There were a few crazy situations in the clinic room today, my pep is dwindling and won't allow for detailed story telling tonight. Suffice it to say, I think it would really stink to have to live in a place where doctors do (questionable) things to you without explaining what they did or why they did it!
  • 9 mile training run tomorrow. Beth is joining me. Still hoping for 26K for Mamba.
~~~~~~~~~~~~~
From the archives of late May: Grandma with the three girls right before she left last month. No one ever accused these three of being uber cooperative.

Struggle


Tomorrow after Thursday's prenatal class we will break the news to a young woman that her lab work returned with the devastating news that she is HIV + Beth had hoped to share this with her last week but with a big team in and lots of chaos the timing was not right.

Sometimes the heavy things in Haiti are mind-numbing. Often I find I don't even know how to pray. Praying "Help her accept the news" is about all I could come up with today as I thought about how odd it is that tomorrow her entire life as she knows it will change.

When we were out in Cazale earlier this month I bent down over an older boy laying on a cot. He was bruised, swollen, tiny for his age and mentally delayed. Without any forethought I caught myself praying God would just allow his misery to end - I prayed "Take this boy to Heaven Lord". It surprised me to hear it coming out of my own mouth.

It was a very odd moment for me when I was talking to the boy and telling him that many people love him. I started to list them. "I love you, Licia loves you, Mr. Zach loves you ..." I realized that when I got to "Jesus loves you" it felt empty to say. It is so difficult for me to declare to a person in incredible suffering that Jesus loves them. Yet I know that He does.


That whole problem of suffering always messes with me and I find myself stuck in those places where I feel uncertain of what I know.

"Jesus loves you SO MUCH but this life is totally unfair and I hate that for you" ---- is the new "Jesus loves you".

Sometimes people get really worried about me/us when we share these private thoughts and feelings. Some worry our faith is weak, we've lost our way, or even that we never knew what way we were headed in the first place if we could so easily doubt something as basic as the love of our Savior.

We are okay with sharing private thoughts and risking that judgment because we trust that God understands where we are. In the struggle - we may not always be growing, but we are always engaged and wrestling with Him. We are trying to find His answers and His peace in the suffering of the world. We want our answers to be real, fought for, thought out, tested, and full of mercy and grace toward the suffering. That beats the heck out of empty religious verbatim answers that can be spit out on demand.

I find myself more and more unmoved? turned off? discouraged? by pat responses coming from people who have every last thing all figured out. I'm getting comfortable with this reality - God is in the struggles too.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Off they went :(


a long distance punch in your arm

So it has been in the 90's in MN for a day or maybe a whole 36 hours. I'm not sure how they're coping ... People up there are perishing right and left. These same people were mad two weeks ago because it was in the 40's and 50's in the month of June.

An Open Letter to Minnesota and her people-

Do not complain about your 90's. The world is beginning to think you just like to gripe no matter what your weather. Don't do that to your great state. If you check around, I am sure you might be able to find an air conditioned building or two in which you can hide from the oppressive heat. Mother Nature might just be smacking you up side the head to try to get you to quit your non-stop weather whining. It seems you'd like to order up a 75 degree day with no humidity and until you can - you're going to moan and groan. The rest of the world is no longer sympathetic. Buck up Minnesota, buck up.

A Concerned Friend


(Noon) Forecasted Temp and Heat Index Port au Prince, Haiti -
Today 96 feels like 110
Tomorrow 94 feels like 107
Friday 98 feels like slow death

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Tuesday Tidbits

From: S H
Date: June 23, 2009 12:42:33 AM GMT-05:00
To: Tara Livesay
Subject: Your daily dose of motivation.Train Hard. This guy didn't let anything stop him.
You are welcome.

With people like Shannon sending me highly motivational emails like this, there is no stopping me. I have walking pneumonia and have had a heck of a time getting the runs done but I have yet to poop myself. So I have that going for me ... which is nice. (I am finally taking anti-biotics and already feel the "ish" leaving my lungs.Thanks to Dr. Jack for the suggestion and thanks to Beth for the antibiotics which began to work fast.)

I have not been writing much this week, we've been spending as much time as possible soaking up Amie and Tim and trading ideas. I love Amie and Tim and they have always inspired me in ways they don't even understand. They are brave and they are tough and they minister to a forgotten group of kids and adults in the projects of Wake Forest. They think Haiti would be a more difficult place to live and love and we think what they are doing is much harder ... which goes to show you that God equips you for what He asks you to do. Troy and Tim instantly loved each other just like Amie and I always knew they would. We have just today left with them and plan to go hold babies at Missionaries of Charity and then go to Womens Program in the afternoon.

Once I say my ugly-faced crying goodbye to my Amie tomorrow I will attempt to get back to the blog on a more regular basis.

Have a great poopy pants-free Tuesday.

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Hurrah!!!!

Marathon for Medika Mamba Update:

A combined total equaling $16,065.70 has been promised/raised to help severely malnourished kids recover.

Still 15 weeks until race day. Who knows what can happen by then?

Saturday, June 20, 2009

Press On - The Run Report


I track my runs (because everything in life must be quantified) with a little Nike thing on my running shoe. For the most part I love having this information. It tracks miles, speed, total time, and produces this fun graph.

This device tells me that I have logged over 55 miles since I started training for the October race three+ weeks ago and it tells me how far I have gone each day so I know when I can turn toward home.

Most days my graph looks a lot better than this ... it will often dip in the middle but it is not usually quite so roller-coaster-ish. The majority of the time I am able to start and finish strong - with the toughest part of each run being right at the mid-point. (Running is more mental than it is physical in many ways.)

Above is yesterday's run, which was mentally and physically very tough. I've been fighting something for a week and am constantly coughing and not sleeping much. Our week was emotionally more draining than most weeks. We're all a bit tired. Yesterday the conversation in my head was "You will never be able to do this race" (see dips in the graph) mixed with pockets of "you have to do this you can do this you will do this!" (see spikes in the graph)

The lack of sleep, the very muddy/wet sidewalk and the heat and humidity made for an extra tough running day. A lot of my run was side stepping to find a place to land that was not deep mud. Have you ever seen those Army drills where they run through tires so they are forced to go left then right left then right ... that was Friday's run. The obstacles seemed not to end.

I will never be a fast runner. I will rarely feel a great sense of pride in the time it takes me to cover 6 or 16 or 26 miles. My speed cannot be where I find my satisfaction or motivation. For me the sense of accomplishment has to come simply by moving forward step by step and day to day.

I got home and looked at that 5.55 mile run on my computer and thought " It was hard, but I kept moving forward, and I covered the distance."

Running is a lot like life that way. In order to succeed you have to push through even when it hurts and even when everything is stacked against you. Many times you've got to get beyond yourself and just go even though nothing feels good or works right. We all face highs and lows ... it is rare to go very long without a major obstacle. Those who succeed are the ones who keep moving forward and keep pressing on. Sometimes it is all about just showing up.

Next week the jump in training miles begins in earnest. The Friday runs get a little more intimidating.

As I am running, I pray. God meets me in those moments, right where I am whether it is a good day or a bad day, He always shows up. I pray for Renald, I pray for Haiti, I pray for a variety of things ... and sometimes I just pray for my own endurance ... Both in life, and in that day's run.

~~~~~~~~~
Thank you to those that posted links to the information about raising money for Medika Mamba. Thanks to those that sponsored me this last week! I truly appreciate your help.

~~~~~~~~~~

Tim and Amie got in safely on Friday. We're thrilled they're here and enjoyed a busy Saturday with them. Tomorrow at Port au Prince Fellowship Tim will be our guest speaker. We're hoping for a peaceful day in town as they re-vote on the Senate elections from April.

HAPPY FATHER'S DAY to all the Dads out there - but especially to my Dad. I love you Dad!
~Tara

Guest Blogger - Malia's Mama


Medical Me?
A few years ago, my mother was hospitalized for her second knee replacement. Though it was June, University Hospital was heavily air-conditioned, so she asked me to find her another blanket.

Opening the cupboard in her semi-private room, I didn't find a blanket, I found many. Some showed their wear, but they were all pristinely clean, all readily available. I was glad for my mom, and for the hundreds of other patients the hospital serves who I'm sure had their own well-stocked cupboards. But, having just returned from Haiti, I was newly sad for those unlucky enough to be sick there, in the Western Hemisphere's most impoverished country- sick among the flies, among the garbage, among the throngs just trying to survive from day to day.

I love Haiti. I have since my very first visit in 1997 and the places that seem to draw me, year after year are the hospitals and clinics. To say one sees desperation, borders on understatement when on any given Saturday at St. Joseph's clinic, Cite Soleil's most destitute come. They line up 4 and 5 deep, many holding tiny, listless babies who look like they won't survive the wait. They line up with horrific burns that would have them in intensive care, in Canada, but in Haiti, they will be debreted and bandaged, maybe given an intervenous if there is enough serum that day and sent home with a handful of anti-biotic- hopefully one that hasn't reached expiration. They come with enormous, throbbing abscesses that are as common as acne is to us, they come with cancers that have manifested outside the body. Funny... before I saw this for myself, I thought it was a physical impossibility. They come because the medical care provided by The Missionaries of Charity- Mother's Teresa's Sisters- is free and the touch, compassionate.And, I have the privilege of working among them and trying to help ease the suffering, at least for those few hours.

The Brothers of Charity Hospital is another place where the hopeless find hope, or at least companionship as many await death on their hard, plastic mattresses. When I go to Haiti on my own, this is my "domain" as it were. The Brothers come to rely on me, the men all hope for a female's touch whether it be just nail clipping and shaving or the more involved tasks like dressing changes and suturing. I have held the hand of many as they gave up their spirits to God. It is a deeply profound experience.

Some mornings it is difficult to leave the relative cool and calm of the Guest House and walk the 1/2 hour in the dust, the unrelenting sun, among the pungent smells of exhaust and sewage into Pele. But the moment I enter the maze of shanties and vendors' stalls, I feel more than welcome, I feel at home. Even more than that, I know I am needed.

When I tell North Americans what I do there- IV's, closing gashes, lancing infections, the first question is always, "Are you a nurse?"

No, I am a secondary school teacher. My medical training, like many of the volunteers, was "trial by fire". I sewed up my first cut, a jagged wound on a little girl's head, after being shown the first 3 stitches by one of the Brothers. He did this, then handed me the hemostat and the needle saying, "Now you". He watched me do one, then smiled, clapped me on the back, and went back to dispensing meds. I didn't have time to feel frightened, or to protest; I just did it because there was no choice. Soon, and maybe a little sadly, it becomes routine. At least while you're there, actively working.

But, at night- and Haitian nights are long with the sun setting around 6pm each night- at night you remember. At night the young architect who'd had such a bright future, who had that day proudly shown you the passport he carries in a little plastic sac, comes back to you and it is very difficult to reconcile the handsome, somber looking youth in the official photograph with the mask of scarred tissue that barely looks human with its fused features and skull bone showing through raw and tender scalp that he is 10 months later.

But, it is Daniel. He natters at me in Creole, then French, then English, and throws in a few words of Spanish. He wants me to appreciate how intelligent he is. He wants me, and anyone else that comes into the milky vision of the one eye he has left, to know there is a human being beneath the horror. At night, I see him more plainly than I did during the day and I try to think of ways to help him- email his picture to burn specialists, beg their help... no one even answers.

Back in Canada I talk to people, show them video, motivate them to care, to help in some way, any way- money, time, to go see for themselves, join an NGO. And, each time just one person asks an unsolicited question, or mentions Haiti on his/her own, my heart leaps. Yes! Ask, comment, argue with me, just give Daniel and the Richards and the Eliases and the endless many whose names I don't even know, but who suffer for one reason only- their geography- an opportunity to speak.

My mom will likely be in the hospital again someday ; she is prone to it. But she will have a comfortable mattress, clean sheets and her own pillow. She will also have a trained medical team, not just a volunteer teacher, concerned with her, treating and caring for her - and thank God for that. I just wish it were like that for those who are my second family, too.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Degaje (Orthodontics in Haiti)


This photo is from late May when the parental unit visited. Paige had a loose wire and my Dad, the multi-talented one, jumped in to fix her up. I am sure her orthodontist would be impressed.

If one word were used to describe the way of life in Haiti, it would be - degaje. In most situations things don't go as planned, you don't have the right tools, the right people, the right paperwork or the right attitude to complete your daily tasks. When this happens you do what the Haitians do, which is to "make do" or to make it work - known as - degaje (pronounced d'egg - ah -jay).

The team has been busy doing a VBS for kids at one of the houses and a Nanny Training School at the other. I miss out on a lot of the action being home with my babies but Beth reports that the Nanny training is going very well and that the room of 43 nannies yesterday sat in rapt attention as they learned about attachment. Today we expect 47 in that class.

Our kids are invited to VBS. Troy dropped Hope, Isaac, Noah and Phoebe on Tuesday morning. Noah immediately got squirrely. He told Troy he wanted to go home. Phoebe was thrilled to be part of the action and skipped off to find some fun. Yesterday Isaac and Hope were all chatty and excited getting ready to go again and Noah turned to me and said, "Ma, they can go. *I* get to stay with you all day!!!" He announced it like he was spending the day doing something very special and unusual. More proof that he is not yet Kindergarten material. We love our baby Noah. He may never leave us.

Today we've got a busy day with prenatal class and the team. I am taking Noah over to a visiting Doctor to have her listen to his hack that is now on day 10. I coughed from midnight to 2am but finally gave it up and got a stellar, refreshing four hours of sleep. When I am dragging myself around at 2pm today, I will make do ... that might mean massive amounts of coffee, or laying down on the clinic room floor to take notes - either way - degaje.

For past examples of degaje-ing - check here here and here.


Wednesday, June 17, 2009

too tired to type

... just enough energy for one short story.

We have been so busy this week that we have not taken the time (three hours) it takes to get up to the top of Delmas and get groceries. There is no such thing as a "quick errand" or "just running to the store" - everything is a major time investment.

We've been eating whatever we can find, and calling it good. It was like a challenge each time you went to make a meal. It was getting kind of fun. Cream of chicken soup with mustard anyone? How about a just add water pizza crust sans toppings?

This morning we used the last four eggs, the last butter and the last loaf of bread. The cereal was gone days ago. We were going to go up there to shop yesterday but ran out of time.

Today Jeronne waited until both Paige and I were in the kitchen trying to find some suitable lunch - (peanut butter on a spoon) to say this to Paige: "If your parents don't have money for food I have money I can loan them."

That was our cue.

Grocery shopping complete - and cereal for dinner - is now back on the menu!

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

More Medika Mamba Graduates at RHFH Rescue Center

Nikenson
Evenson
Ogeste

To graduate, the child reaches the weight that is considered the median weight for their age and gender - these weight standards are set by the World Health Organization. (WHO)

For those that may not know, the swelling you may notice in many before photos is called Kwashiorkor. (Look at Evenson's legs in this post or on the top left side of the blog, notice Renald's feet.) It is mainly caused by a poor diet with little to no protein in it. It looks less shocking than a child who is skin and bones but this form of malnutrition is very dangerous. The prognosis is better for kids who have not yet developed kwashiorkor.

This is what wisegeek.com says about it ... Kwashiorkor is a disease which appears to be caused through severe malnutrition, and it primarily impacts children. It is most common in developing nations, where famine conditions can bring about the disease.

The disease was first identified and described in the 1930s in Ghana. The word kwashiorkor comes from the Ga language, which is widely spoken in many parts of Ghana. It literally means “one who is physically displaced,” a reference to the fact that the disease emerges in children who have just been weaned off of breast milk. When the disease is not immediately addressed, it can cause severe disabilities. If left untreated, kwashiorkor can lead to death.

Wikipedia's page about Kwashiorkor

The Medika Mamba is rich in nutrients and protein and is turning things around fairly quickly for these malnourished kids. Be encouraged!

Monday, June 15, 2009

A Post With a View

  • Troy managed not to get meningitis during the 2009 get-away - making it a total success! Not being 9 months pregnant and not having a husband who is trying to die makes for a much more romantic trip. Look at him, a picture of health!
  • As if the time away with air-conditioning and hot water were not enough, our friends upgraded us to a Junior Suite, put money on our tab to use for food and sent us a bottle of wine. One of us burst into tears at how sweet and kind and overwhelmingly nice they were to us. The other got a little teary. We also had access to the "Executive Club" where there were snacks and pop many hours of the day. The only thing better than a diet coke is a free diet coke. We were like children heading up there two and three times a day for our pop fix. We tried hard to act like executives but we fooled exactly no-one.
  • We stayed within 3 miles of the hotel the entire time. It was totally low-key and wonderfully relaxing. We both thought it was more fun than our honeymoon. You can decide for yourself what that means. :)
  • We took a bus over there. We found a lot of the things about the bus ride entertaining. The best being the whole process at the border, mainly how totally pointless and inefficient it was. Do this do that stand here now stand there nevermind that no one knows what you did and did not do but keep acting like mindless drones anyway - yes now back on the bus to ride one block and do it all over again. As we returned to Haiti we were asked to wash our hands before handing the Haitian agents our passports. ('Hi dirty people who went to the D.R.' said the cartoon bubble over my head.) There is just something funny about that. Once we washed our hands and proved we don't have swine flu they begrudgingly allowed us to come back to clean, disease-free Haiti.
  • Paige and Jeronne rocked the house. Our kids all did fine. Beth got Paige out of here twice to give her a break from her insane siblings and she said that helped. Isaac asked "When are you leaving again - Paige is a great Mom" - if that is not a ringing endorsement I don't know what is. I thought about taking it personally but decided against it. He was sad to hear I have no plans of leaving until October.
  • Paige sent me this email on the last night:
    Subject: good luck....
    To: "Tara Livesay"
    Date: Saturday, June 13, 2009, 5:24 PM

    so lyd is eating dinner.. and im sitting there - she started standing up in her chair.. she stood all the way up. i had asked her to sit down twice.. she smiled at me and ignored. so i went over there and swatted her on the butt. she laughed, sat down, and kept on eating.

    good luck with her when she is my age.

  • I think it is funny when 14 year old kids wish their parents luck. (Also implying that she has always been and is OF COURSE *the* model child.) Little does Paige know, we will need a lot more than luck to survive the next 18 years of child-rearing.
  • Marathon training report week two: Mon, Tues and Wednesday runs were great. I felt fairly elephantine on my 7 mile run Friday, but the eating out and 432% Santo Domingo humidity maybe played into that? The cross-training day was very fun with a full gym at my disposal.
  • I now have a virtual running partner in Los Angeles and a virtual Physical Therapist in Iowa. I am waiting on the virtual dietitian to show up next.
  • Troy decided to do five of seven with me on Friday. I was partly touched at the gesture and partly annoyed because I knew he would soon be hobbling around in pain ... And he *is* hobbling around in pain. He wore Keen Sandals. I cannot say anything nice about that shoe-wear decision.
  • I secretly think that raising 26K (or 1,000 per mile) might not be out of the question. I not so secretly hope that it comes to pass. Between coffee shops in SD and other side efforts you just never know how this might all play out. Do you think that is unrealistic?
  • Just to make it clear that we are no longer vacationing, we woke to Lydie covered in vomit and crying. Noah has a killer cough accompanied with sore throat and headache that I managed to pick up from the D.R. and now we are having coughing contests to see who can best annoy Troy and Isaac (our respective bunkmates). Hoping against hope that the issues can stay isolated to the three of us.
  • Today a team of 30 arrive to work with Heartline for the week. They will be doing a few things but their #1 purpose is to put on the annual nanny training that Heartline offers to other orphanages. We're hoping for a good turnout. The training will cover all sorts of topics with the main goal of improving quality of care for these kids who now must reside in orphanages for a couple of years. (Rather than months.) It is assumed that most folks come into a job knowing how to properly care for a child. That could not be further from the truth. The objective of the training is to teach about loving and bonding with a child in a way that will allow them to then go love - and be loved by their new family. It is no small thing, please pray for the training taking place June 16-20.
  • Paige has taken on a special project, we're praying for her and her project and hoping it is a blessing all around.
  • On Friday one of my very closest friends in the entire world is showing up here. Amie and Tim arrive for a four day visit, Troy and I are looking forward to time with them ... we've got lots of history and lots to catch up on too. Tim is our guest speaker at PAP Fellowship this coming Sunday.
  • Tina (my little sister) ran a marathon this weekend. I am now (right this very moment) informing her that she better be ready to slow it down when it comes to running with this heavy-legged sister of hers. [Good race Tina, you athletic jerk!]
  • Thank you to our guest bloggers from last week - you were awesome.
  • The rest of the borderline obnoxious (self) portraits from our trip are below ... (and more proof that Troy stayed healthy)
This one is titled "How cheesy can we be?" (And the answer is: I think I just threw up in my mouth a little bit.)It is so.so.so.stinkin hilarious to try to take photos with a timer
While this one is more along the lines of "I am drunk on your love". And this is Troy acting Mafia and acting Mafia in a bathrobe. I'm pretty sure he was ordering a hit right there. And this hotdog stand was always closed; possibly waiting on a bailout. (That photo was taken for you, lards - you know who you are!)

This concludes the trip report.

And now back to your regularly scheduled reality.

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Back on the West side of the Island

We're home. We are amazed at what a little air conditioning can do to enhance a love life.

Va va voom.

For now, there are too many happy kids to hug and love on to sit here staring at a computer.

We'll catch up later. Goodnight!

Saturday, June 13, 2009

Women's Heath in Haiti

The video below was produced by UNICEF. I have mixed feelings about UNICEF (I tend not to trust government agencies or powers of any sort - conspiracy theories flood my cramped brain) but the information in the video seems quite accurate.

For this very reason Heartline Ministries, under the direction of Beth McHoul, is beginning to look at ways to expand the prenatal program and offer a safe place for Haitian ladies to give birth. We hope that by 2010 (or sooner) we are able to deliver the babies of the women in our program.

Another Kennedy

For new readers, "Kennedy" is defined here.

This Kennedy was sent to us by Elliott T. - thanks!

Friday, June 12, 2009

Guest Blogger - Malia's Mama

Youn Moman en Ayiti
It was an absolutely sweltering day, as are most August days in Haiti are. I was just finishing work at Mother Teresa's Home for the Dying in Port-au-Prince. The morning had been hard with more than the usual amount of dressings to change and so little healing apparent.

I sat down on the bed of one of my favourite ladies. She had end-stage AIDS. She was literally skin and bone, but her sense of humour had not left her and I always enjoyed a few moments with her before leaving for the day.

Her lunch had been brought to her- consommé because it was all she could keep down now, but she hadn't touched it. Shyly, she asked me for a Juna, the cloyingly sweet juice-like drink ubiquitous on the streets of P-au-P.

I gladly gave one of the helpers the 3 gourdes (about 12 cents) that would bring the treat, adding some extra to buy one for herself.

My lady smiled when the cold bottle was placed in her hand. But first, she wished to pray.
We said a short "grace" and then, as was the custom, I asked her if she also wanted to pray to go to Jesus, now. This was a joke between us. Usually she'd answer "poko" (not yet), but today she said "Li la" (He's here). Jokingly, I told her to drink up before He decided it was time to go, and making a small noise meant to be a giggle, she started to remove the foil that covered the mouth of the bottle.

Suddenly, she stopped and reached up to hand it to me. Thinking it had been too hard for her frail fingers, I pried off the top and went to hand the drink back. What happened next, I can still see and feel as clearly as if she was in front of me, now. She held up her hand. I stopped. "Ou premye", she told me. Me first? Me? Robust, able to eat anything I wanted and with money to do just that, ME!??

I tried to tell her I couldn't, but she was insistent. She said that I must be thirsty too, and that she wanted to help me as I had helped her. Tears stung my eyes, and though I dislike Juna immensely, I took a swallow and handed it back. Her smile broadened.

When I came in the next day, her bed was empty. Apparently Jesus had not left without her.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Happy Birthday to the Father of Many!


Posted by Britt in Waco

I first met my dad when I was invited on his second date with my mom. It was in late October and we went to a local haunted hayride. It was the type of place that took guests out on the hayride & then dropped them, forcing them to walk back to their cars (the haunted part). After the ride portion was over, we started walking only to be met by a creepy disguised character. That was enough for me, so I asked Troy for a piggyback ride. He obligingly carried me the rest of the way. I was six years old.

Since then, there have been numerous other creepy, disguised characters in my life. Each time, I have been blessed to be carried & protected by my dad. Sometimes I did not always accept or deserve the piggyback offer, but there was never a time that he wasn’t there – selflessly offering his love & guidance.

When my parents first married, I wasn’t quite sure how Troy & I (then eight years old) would relate, and because of that I made the first couple of years kind of hard. Eventually, we gained each other’s trust; we both remember this as almost one single, “clicking” moment during a summer evening float on the lake in our backyard.

The thing that strikes me about my dad is that he made a choice to be involved in my life and to build a lasting relationship with me, his non-biological daughter. I have been incredibly honored by the way he has continually loved and cherished me. He, probably more than anyone else, has taught me so many of life's lessons and has played a huge role in shaping me into the person that I am today. I have many fond memories of drives in Haiti & afternoons on the lake, sharing conversations and talking through things big and small.

As most can clearly see, he has always had more responsibility in his life than the “norm” for his age. Yet, he is still the most patient person I know.

As they grow up, I hope that my siblings will recognize what an amazing father they’ve been given --- and that he’s there to give them piggyback rides through life, too.

I love you, Dad. Thanks for always sticking by me, even when it would have been easier to give up. Hope you have a wonderful 34th Birthday in the DR!

~Britty

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Guest Blogger - Christine Moers


To Adopt or Not to Adopt

I have a very serious problem. Looking at pictures of orphans causes me to price airline tickets and find ways to sell all of my earthly belongings to bring them into our home. I don’t care for dogs. I tolerate our cats. Even adults can annoy me. Yet, show me a child in desperate need of forever, and I have an overwhelming passion to dive in without thinking.

Anyone with me?

I’m now a mother or five. Our first two came to us through birth. The third is African American and entered our home via domestic adoption (after waiting in a private foster home for seven months, because there were no waiting couples open to a child of color). Our two newest additions are Haitian. They came to the United States just over three years ago. Their first adoptive family chose to disrupt the adoption after two years of very painful struggles (they both have varying degrees of attachment disorder). We were foster parents for two years, somewhere in the middle of the last decade, as well. We’ve been around the adoption block a few times. While I still have to keep myself from photo listings, and my husband always fears I’d return from mission trips with another child in tow … well, I’ve learned some very difficult and valuable things along the way.

Will you allow me to lovingly share some thoughts with you on adoption? There are many who feel we should never, ever discourage anyone from adopting. I disagree. There are waiting children, but these children have special needs throughout a lifetime. Every single adoption (even infant adoption) involves pain and loss. Adopted children grieve their birth families and histories, even if those involved abuse and neglect. So, I’m not saying, “Don’t adopt.” However, I ask you to converse with God and determine if you are really ready right now to parent one of these children. If not, what will it take for you to get to that point? How does God need to work you over?

First and foremost, the very best place for any child is with their first family, if it is safe and loving. I know, I know … it seems as though if a child has to skip a day without food and cannot ever afford to go to school … well, they should be somewhere else, right?

No. No.

In case you didn’t catch that, it was, “No.” We need to support families who can and will parent their children. This is a struggle for me. I am American. We see certain things as basic rights and basic needs, when our greatest need is family. Take a few deep breaths and wrap your brain around that one for a little bit. There are no clear-cut answers, and it is organic with many, many factors. However, always, always keep this truth in focus. We should be supporting families first. Period.

Next, I ask you to consider a quote from Heather T. Forbes: “Adoption is trauma.” I realize I’m giving you all sorts or really difficult things to choke down, but really – adoption is trauma. Whether it was knowing a voice, heartbeat and rhythm of life for nine months that changes abruptly, or moving to a new country and a new language with new smells and sounds and tastes … adoption is trauma. This shouldn’t scare you, but it should make you more determined to acknowledge the losses your child has and will experience. It should spur you to learn everything you can to help your child navigate life with their very special needs and issues.

There are very few healthy babies out there waiting to enter homes. There was, but the need has shifted. There are a LOT of kids needing homes, but the job description looks more like this:

“Amazing child looking for family. Must love me forever. Have ability to be patient and kind, even when puberty hits and I scream, “You’re not my real mom!” Need not be jealous over the fact I miss my first family. In fact, you will need to talk about them regularly, knowing I’m thinking about them, even if they don’t come up in conversation. Must have determination to give me all I need, whether it is therapy, special parenting techniques, lifebooks, contact with my birth family or just holding me when I’m hurting and feeling loss … even though it takes a significant amount of time and effort. Cannot be easily provoked, as you may discover I have attachment issues, and will spend many days trying to make you hate me. It is required you be able to celebrate the good and teach me what is true about myself, even when I believe lies so deeply imbedded within my thoughts and heart. Requirement: must bear all things, believe all things, hope all things and endure all things. You are not expected to be perfect, but you are expected to never give up.”

Do you believe in the God who parted the Red Sea? Who turned water to wine? What miracles does He need to perform in your heart so that you can commit your life to a child who needs someone to be Jesus to them … by parenting them … even if there are some major difficulties and surprises along the way? This is what these children need. We serve a God who will turn us into just that, if we will let Him.

I could never, ever capture all I’ve learned about adoption in one post. So, in closing, allow me to be a lazy turd and just link to some of my other blabberings on the subject:

Painful Truth of International Adoption
Kids From the Hard Places
Open Adoption
When an Adoption Must Disrupt
Definitely, Maybe!
That Kid is Not “Bad,” He’s Hurt

Don’t freak out. Just stare it all in the face. Then stare yourself in the face. Then figure out what God is asking of you. Then throw up. Then do it.

Christine blogs at www.welcometomybrain.net

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Our house will smell for an eternity

Phoebe loves beauty products. She loves dumping them out more than anything. Whatever she finds - she dumps. The other day she put about $18 of age defying cream on her scalp. Her scalp looks like that of a newborn baby now!

I was gone at Women's program today when Phoebe put red nail polish all over her hands and feet, not just the nails. Troy (in his infinite wisdom) assigned ISAAC to remove the polish, and then he left the house. (Don't ask how he came up with that plan... he's slipping badly as he nears the ripe old age of 34 this Thursday).

Isaac took charge. That is the kind of man Ike is when given a task. He used a bottle of Eternity cologne for men and removed all of the polish with it. No detectives were needed to figure it out - it smells like the 9th grade boys locker room before a school dance here.

When questioned, Isaac said "it looked like polish remover".

Phoebe smells like a man on the prowl, Troy is out of cologne, and Isaac accomplished his task.
The End.

joyful in hope, patient in affiction


Love must be sincere. Hate what is evil, cling to what is good. Honor one another above yourself. Be devoted to one another in brotherly love. Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, and faithful in prayer. Share with God's people in need. Practice hospitality.
~ Romans 12:9-13~





That's a tough scripture to live out, huh? I for one struggle to be joyful in hope and patient in affliction ... I tend to be angry at reality and ticked at affliction.
:(
I hope and pray that this too shall be made right. And Lord, sooner rather than later would be great. Until that time we'll hate what is evil and work harder on perfecting the other challenges of Romans 12

Photos:
Cazale RHFH Rescue Center - June '09
Wings of Hope home for the disabled - March '09