Monday, July 26, 2010



Even though 'blogging' is so very 2006, the good things about blogs remain. You get to choose to read. You won't wake up to find emails in your in-box with information and stories you don't have any desire or time to see. There is never guilt for deleting without reading.  If you don't like it or don't have time, you don't come read it.  If it is offensive to you, it is your choice to never return. 

In the last five years this blog has become a place where we not only share all the stories and happenings in Haiti and in our family, but we also process things 'out-loud'. Sometimes our struggles have been more open, raw, and honest than some people are comfortable reading. I know this because of the occasional email we get explaining how we can be better at life, faith, and the sharing of both. 

The paradox of Haiti certainly creates conflict within us. There are plenty of posts that were written from a place of deep pain and total confusion. There are many more written from places of great encouragement and pure joy.  I don't want to be defined by things I said in dark times.  Some of what I've written over the years is not how I feel today. I have been tempted to go back and get rid of stuff I wrote when I was hurt or confused or just tired and vulnerable. The problem is, if I do that I make part of this story untrue. I make the journey into something it is not.  To be truthful is to acknowledge that parts of the journey are high places and parts of it are low places and that people change...  Their hearts change, their minds change, their moods change...sometimes all in the same day.  We are thankful that the vast majority of people offer grace and understanding as we walk through it all - the ups and downs, emotions, and confusion that injustice and traumatic events can cause.  Life is so messy - and we are messier still -  But here's to an honest journey. We don't want to fake anything.


I grew up attending an annual Missions Conference every August.  Besides the fact that family tradition demanded it, we went to see our cousins and aunts and uncles and to swim and enjoy summer. We also went to hear from preachers and teachers and missionary-speakers. The missionary speakers came dressed in the native garb of the land they were serving and shared about the culture they were living in and talked about the ways God was moving in those lands.  It was usually interesting to hear from them, and without fail each summer we listened to stories from around the world. I cannot say I ever felt like I identified with them or that I thought I would ever do anything like what they were doing. They were just a different level of humanity - they appeared similar to regular folks, but they had an aura of holiness.   (If you're having deja vu, it is because I wrote about them back in February too.) My perception, whether true or not, was that they had never made bad choices or fallen from grace. 

The summer preceding my senior year of High School I was expecting Brittany. I missed going to the conference that year. During the five years that followed I made a pretty big mess of things - divorce and then a second unplanned pregnancy and partying to name a few.  I missed going to Iowa a handful of years. After Troy and I were married we attended a few times.  The two times I have gone in the last five years Troy was in Haiti and a few kids and I made the traditional trek without him. In some ways I kind of felt ashamed to show my face there for a long time. I was embarrassed and wanted to hide. I don't blame that on anyone but myself - I just felt like my mistakes made me ineligible to attend.

A week from today we are going to go speak at that very conference that I grew up attending each August.  The meetings take place in the same building as it did when I was eight and thirteen and twenty-six. Tradition draws many familiar faces; a lot of the same people will be in attendance. It will be one of the top ten strangest experiences of my life.  But I am looking forward to it.  This is a good kind of strange.

We actually feel blessed that we've become an example of "see, God uses anyone" (not just perfectly holy and all-together people). If sharing our testimonies, stories, and struggles helps people to receive God's forgiveness and offer it to themselves ...  or proves to them that He works through broken vessels, we'll keep sharing.

In the six months since the earthquake we've been honored to share in all sorts of places...including - downtown coffee/wine bars with people randomly walking in off the street, vibey post-modern-ish candle-lit churches filled with college kids and hipsters, small old-school traditional churches where the pews are filled with the AARP crowd and Texas summer camps with hundreds of spazzy 9th graders. Once in a while a much older lady will come pat my hand afterward in a 'Oh honey -  we just don't talk about those things' sort of way - but for the most part, regular-joe-Christians seem pretty encouraged to see regular-joe-screw-ups like us talking about the multiple ways the love of Jesus can (and does) redeem. 

We don't speak eloquently, we are not all that faithful, we often feel that we lower the bar for missionaries everywhere - but we know- the Good News lies in His eloquence, told through our story, and His faithfulness, told through our healing.


Troy, Collette and Baby Ester
Up to this point July has been a month of purposefully engaging in real-life-relationships. (aptly named RealLifeRelationshipMonth)  It has been good for our friendships and for our family.  Our natural inclination is to keep getting the latest stories out of Haiti and keep putting it out there for you to see and in turn support.

Our hearts are with the suffering; we don't want anyone to forget Haiti or give up on praying.  But RLRM demands even less internet relationships -  and more real life ones.  Therefore this blog will get fairly quiet for a couple weeks after this post as we continue in that vein and travel with our crew across the great plains into northwest Iowa. We've not yet figured out if we can make it work, but we also hope to get to Minnesota for some time on the lakes teaching our little ones to water-ski and fish and all things summery and Minnesota-like.

Putting a teenager plus five young kids in a vehicle, all of whom are not used to road-trips or seat-belts or cops that care how they sit in the car, and driving 950 miles is something you would do for only three possible reasons -
1) You are insane

2) You are stupid

3) You are insane and stupid

Putting Lydia Beth Livesay, age 2, in a car and driving 950 miles is something you would do  for only one reason -
1) You hate yourself
(We knew we were having a girl. I used to lie awake concerned about what kind of baby she would be. I was scared to have her. And now - LOOK - two experienced parents fear 17 hours in the car with her.  We love love love this child but boy oh boy - she is a pistol. Car-seats and Lydia hate each other. Forcing Lydia in one makes her hate us. Earplugs anyone?)

But if ever there was a time to do something this dumb, real-life-relationship month seems like the month to do it.  Our truck is already a crumb-filled, crayon-melted, pop-stained, mystery-substance encrusted, downright nasty machine. When Troy takes it to the car wash he reports that at times, lighting a match to it seems like the best option. Another 950 miles won't hurt the old gas-guzzling grey beast.

Before we check-out for a while to fully engage in RLRM - we wanted to update a few current projects/activities.

In Haiti:
Houses are slowly but surely being built.  Many of the 42 houses (21 purchased plus 21 matched) will be going to Petit Goave. That area is very near the epicenter and has been all but totally destroyed. Ten houses have been committed there but we are planning to increase that number due to their need and the great partner we have helping coordinate the work. In one week they built six houses. They plan to get 21 up by mid August. A friend that we met back in 2006 is overseeing that work.  The houses are being built mainly by Haitians, they need the work more than anything.

The other houses are going to Heartline patients, employees of Heartline, family of friends, other ministry partners, and a handful that have yet to be designated.  We knew this would be a long project due to land issues, please be patient with us as the logistics are worked out for the remaining homes. We'd love to give you a date and time when all 42 will be built and given to the recipient families - but anyone that has experienced Haiti knows that would be just making stuff up. Western culture loves a deadline, meanwhile Haiti scoffs and rolls her eyes. It is often frustrating but Haiti has its own pace. We can only do our best and work within those constraints and we assure you, that is exactly what is happening. :)

Heartline Ministries continues to work on their existing projects while constantly identifying ways in which they can further invest in the lives of the people they serve. Stay tuned in to the work on websites and blogs. When we return from the road-trip/RLRM we'll update the situations on the ground.

In the USA:
It has become clear that in order to remain in Waco long-term, we are going to need to get some fancy rims. Waco loves tricked-out rims. It is one of the key identifiers for 'TIW'.  (Don't know TIW? - see this post for clarity.) We only know this, it probably means we can't stay. When we burn the Suburban it would be a real waste of flashy rims.

We've been in this waiting season for six months. Our advancing ages tell us that six months is not a long period of time. Even so, occasionally we've been frustrated and impatient in the wait. At other times we've acted a little bit like grown-up people living in the moment and accepting there is little we can do but try to wait with grace. We know there are lessons in waiting. We believe waiting prepares us, produces patience, and provides opportunities for personal growth.  We want something and we cannot have it yet.  What will we do with our waiting?  There are lots of options.  We are attempting to choose good ones as the wait continues.

If you are in Wichita, KS or Okoboji, IA  - we'd love an opportunity to meet and engage in RLRM with you. Come find us. We'll be the harried looking people in a Suburban with boring rims and a bunch of kids. Times and locations of those speaking events are always in the left column. If any others pop up we'll post them there.

We are hopeful that we can move back to PAP in the next few months. Things have happened and finally we are seeing movement in our case. The timing of a lot of things is such that we have many decisions to make while having no exact return date set. We have this unexplainable total peace that we will be back soon enough, because of that peace we're moving forward with paying another year (paying a year at a time is the norm in Haiti) of rent on our home in Haiti and starting to look at tickets to transport the tribe back to the island.

Until the date is set, Troy will be back and forth more. School for four of the kids starts in mid-August in both places - so we have some pretty major decisions to make about that as well. Today we don't know which country they'll start in - but what the heck - we've still got three whole weeks till school starts to decide. An eternity really.   

The variables surrounding each option are mind-numbing. Making decisions in the TOTAL absence of facts is more challenging than you might imagine. I figure after Troy and I have finally had enough "if this than this" sorts of conversations we'll get around to deciding to expect God to do some good things with the timing of it all. We might even try to set aside a few hours 15 or 16 days from now to sit down and recall the days of late July, realizing we stressed about it for nothing.

We know many of you pray for us and specifically about these sorts of logistics that go along with living with one foot in two worlds, we thank you for that and ask that you pray about the August decisions.  Mesi Anpil!

We don't typically (ever) use this blog to fund-raise for our own personal needs, that has always been uncomfortable and/or unnecessary.  Raising money for earthquake relief, new houses, Medika Mamba, surgeries and really important needs of the Haitian people always feels right.  All of this is to say, we're still uncomfortable with fund-raising for ourselves via the blog. Fund-raising for personal needs is number one on the "don't like" list of required things in this line of work. We have been incredibly blessed by loving and generous folks that have been willing to sacrifice in order to help us live and love in Haiti. This core group has sustained us during hard times. We owe them a debt of gratitude.

The fact remains that our budget upon returning will be greater due to four children going to school and general increased cost of living.  If your church, family, or civic group is interested in learning more about the work of either of the two ministries we represent and are open to supporting a 'God-works with-ordinary-messed-up-people' type of missionary family in Haiti, please contact us. We'd love to share more about the work and ask you to prayerfully consider partnering with us in the coming year.

Thanks for reading, enjoy RLRM!

T & T and the tribe

"This life therefore, is not godliness but the process of becoming godly, not health but getting well, not being but becoming, not rest but exercise. We are not now what we shall be, but we are on the way. The process is not yet finished, but it is actively going on. This is not the goal, but it is the right road. At present, everything does not gleam and sparkle, but everything is being cleansed." 
Martin Luther