Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Random Blathering

Isn't it funny how life brings seasons where you are literally aware that God is shaping you and maybe changing you and just  - HELLO!!?!?! - trying to get your attention.

I just read this in a little devotional book and it seemed like it was in all caps it stood out so much:

"At certain times and places, God will build a mysterious wall around us. He will take away all the supports we customarily lean upon, and will remove our ordinary ways of doing things. God will close us off to something divine, completely new and unexpected, and that cannot be understood by examining our previous circumstances.  We will be in a place where we do not know what is happening, where God is cutting the cloth of our lives by a new pattern, and thus where He causes us to look to Him."

The last couple of weeks have been sort of spirtually heavy for us. I don't feel that I can make sense of some of it. (Which is partially why I write blogs that are sarcastic and silly  - to draw attention away from real feelings.) Certainly some things have gone on that won't be shared on the world wide web - it just wouldn't be appropriate and would cross multiple boundaries ... but suffice it to say we're feeling our brokenness in multiple ways and it has been a bit of a butt-kicking.

So we're plugging along and asking God to help us with the situations and we feel Him gently nudging and guiding and it is good and hard and sometimes confusing.  

We heard a sermon at that bar church ;) (called the Austin Stone) about temptation but that same sermon also included great illustrations of mercy and grace that were helpful to us.
This is how he put it:

Mercy is not getting what you deserve.

Grace is getting what you don't deserve.

The example for mercy -
You are speeding.  You are going 80mph in a 70mph zone.  The cop pulls you over.  He says, "You were speeding you know."  You say, "Yes. I was. I know."  The cop says, "I am only going to give you a warning, have a good day."  You deserved a ticket.  You did not get one.  That's mercy.

The example for grace-
You are speeding. You are going 80mph in a 70mph zone. The cop pulls you over.  He says, "You were speeding you know."  You say, "Yes. I was. I know."  The cop says, "I am going to give you a gift.  Here, have $100 and go buy your family some lunch. Have a great day!"  You deserved a ticket - you not only didn't get one - you got a gift too.  That's grace.

That sermon added to some circumstances of recent weeks set off a chain of events in my head that won't seem to stop.  I feel God doing something. I just don't think I know why or what yet.  These weird reflections keep happening.

Among dozens of jumbled and confusing thoughts and feelings of conviction I thought about how often I have received grace and mercy as opposed to how often I've actively offered it.  Not exactly a balanced picture.  

In thinking about the examples of grace and mercy that Pastor Matt at the Stone gave I realized that mercy is usually what we can pull off - that is what we sometimes offer each other  -- not grace so much.  It seems that we mix the meanings of the two up a lot.

In only two instances can I recall being a part of giving grace to another person and in both of those instances I heard God tell me what to do ... it was not me at all.  (God rarely speaks to me in a way I can hear tangibly - as in - so infrequently that I remember every occasion.)  

One of the occasions was in early 2005. I was standing at a counter checking out of Target. I heard an audible voice inside my jumbled and confused head and it told me to buy a $50 gift card for a specific person. It made no sense to me.  I did not want to buy a gift for that person.  It was not that I was mad at that person but I certainly had no reason to drop fifty bucks on him. I tried to shake off the instruction ... I heard again that I should do it.  I begrudgingly bought the gift card and did something I never do - I grabbed a pen at the check out and filled in the name of the person right there on the spot. (For no apparent reason.)  I picked up my other purchases and walked out of the store where Troy was waiting in the car for me.  As I exited the Target store I walked right into the person the gift card was purchased for - my heart raced.  I handed it to him and told him that we cared about him. I went on my way.  Many months later I learned a bit about where he was in his life at that time and I realized that I was privileged to be a part of God giving this person grace. (Giving him what he did not deserve.)  It is five years ago and it still gives me a strange yet creepy yet cool yet freaky feeling.

The other occasion was in 2009 but would be difficult to tell without crossing privacy boundaries, but it was similar. I was on a run and I heard a voice tell me to give gifts to a person I was livid with at the time.  It was equally freaky, awesome, scary, and amazing.

I have been on the receiving end of plenty of mercy in my life  - and also an amazing amount of His grace.  I am getting knocked around a bit this week as I think about how often I say I want to love and be more like Jesus ...  and how actually doing it ... actually BEING that kind of love/mercy/grace  ... well, that requires so much more of me.  

Hay-uh: Before & After

Morphed with Costner
The Johnald

Here we have a peek at many of the possible future looks of one John McHoul.  Ignore the two long cascading curls - the barber we will use in real life will be better than our virtual barber.

We are not yet to 30 days of raising funds for the hospital (and John's hair-removal) - we are at 20K and 40% of goal! Thank you for chipping in and loving Haiti!
50K in 100 days = bald John.

Closest to actual future hair cut - John Pitt
John would not be caught dead in that shirt

Monday, August 30, 2010

Amanda Update

Amanda trying to stay warm in MN

I think most of you are tracking with Jen and her updates, but in case you missed it she wrote here about Amanda and her trip to the USA.

(Thanks to Amanda's host family for the photo.)

Sunday, August 29, 2010

The Stone

We have visited Austin on Sunday a number of times during our Tejas time.  We love going to Austin, both to see friends, and to go to the "Austin Stone". 

"The Stone" -  a bar or a church? You decide.

Only totally vibey churches have a name that could easily go either way. 

We enjoy the preaching/teaching, we love seeing good friends of ours lead worship, we love having lunch together afterward - it is one perk of being in central Texas.

The Stone is a large church.  Like most large churches there is a labyrinth of mazes and flow charts and equations that must be completed in order to figure out what room each of your children needs to be dropped off to for kids church.  Due to our family size, we must arrive shortly after sunrise just to allow the time necessary to figure out where to bring each of our children.

Not unlike many mega-churches, you get a claim number to get your kid back at the end of the service.  I understand the need for this. I recognize that we live in a day and age where you cannot be too careful.  I am not ripping the number system.  I am only saying, the number system does not work for everyone.  Some of us are not to be trusted with so much.

Today we were given three numbers.  One for Phoebe, one for Lydia, one for Isaac, Hope and Noah combined.  We enjoyed the sermon and the worship and chatted a few moments after the service.  I asked Troy who he wanted, we always divide and conquer.  He said he would get big kids and meet me at the little kids wing after he was done.  He handed me the two laminated number cards.

Paige and I headed out into a very crowded area, I put the numbers in my back pocket. We slowly zigged and zagged our way toward the steps.  We made a bathroom pit-stop after we got downstairs.  I did what you do when you go into a restroom.  Once finished I stood up, flushed, glanced down and ... OH.NO.

One of my claim cards was in the vortex of toilet water and urine about to disappear forever.

I had no time to reason it out or to consider which of the two children I might never see again. I only knew that one time many years ago at 'Open Door' in Minnesota (see - church or bar name?) they would not give me my kids when I lost my number ... and in that nano-second I made the decision to plunge my hand into a public restroom toilet to retrieve my laminated card.

My soaking wet hand prevented me from getting my pants buttoned. I said "Paige, this is disgusting, you won't believe it."  I stumbled out to quickly get soap on my hand and the card ... only to find - soap.dispenser.empty. My next idea of scalding off the top layer of my own skin was not an option either,  the high-school bathroom I was using only offered cold water.

I convinced Paige to stop telling me how disgusting and embarrassing I am and to just dry off the card and go get the girls with me.  As we walked I reached into my pocket to find the other claim card, it was missing. At that point I felt both irresponsible and gross.  As I walked toward the girls' wing of kids church it fell out of the bottom of my jeans.
I don't know. Don't ask.

We purposefully set the claim cards down in the box at the door, not forcing the poor volunteers to touch them. We gathered our two children and made for the exit to meet Troy and the other three kids.

Once to lunch with our friends I totally forgot about the whole plunging of my hand into a toilet that hundreds of women had used just that morning - that is - right up until Paige reminded me as I happily chatted with my friend and ate my chips and salsa. 

I like stories with happy endings.

This is not one of them.

Saturday, August 28, 2010

MN and Mayo Clinic bound

Thankful today for the answered prayers for Amanda as she officially begins her journey to the Mayo Clinic. We're excited to hear about her flight to the U.S. of A  from Dokte Jen. Their first flight got canceled after spending much of the day at the PAP airport yesterday, please be praying they make it to MN safely tonight.

In 25 days we YOU raised $19,000 for the first phase of the Heartline Hospital and for the removal of John's mangy mess hay-uh (which of course is secondary to the hospital but SO very satisfying).

John has a false sense of security ...

Begin forwarded message:

From: John McHoul
Date: August 26, 2010 5:49:57 PM GMT-05:00
To: Tara
Subject: shampoo

Hey Tara,
Trust that you are well.
I am bringing back with me a couple of suitcases of supplies to Haiti.  I especially made room for a very large bottle of shampoo as I expect not to lose my hair anytime  - or any year soon.

We hit 19k a little after noon today.  THANK YOU to each and every donor.  I will let John know to save the shampoo money and donate it to the hospital fund.  (John, go ahead and do that by using the Chip In button to the top left side of the screen.)

Please spread the word to your friends.  Heartline invests in the lives of the people they serve.  Amanda is just one example ... after months and months of hard work by many players she is getting to one of the finest medical facilities in the world for specialized care.  Rather than shrug and say, "Sorry, we cannot help",  Heartline volunteers and staff made it a priority to fight for Amanda.

Heartline will advocate for those without the ability to fight the system and we will pray for answers when there seems to be no answers. We love these people we are blessed to interact with and we are committed to helping them. Your help and prayers are more than appreciated and key to our success. Please keep encouraging others to look at the work being done and invest in the future.
THANK YOU for your love!

Friday, August 27, 2010

I spent a year there one week

It only felt like a year.

This was one long and difficult week. A week in which many battles were waged between parents and children.  On multiple occasions we (the two adults) looked at each other with baggy eyes and slumped shoulders and said, "What tha?!?!" We would have said more, had we not been too exhausted to form sentences. All conversations were kept to a ten word minimum.

"Troy, I need you to run to the store and ..."
Out of words.
Will finish sentence tomorrow.

The kids did not plan the coordinated uprising - or so they say - but it was a full-on non-stop assault none the less.

Teenagers-  We respect the privacy of ours.  Let us just say:  Not a great week.

School-aged-children-  We have created some systems to be sure that all homework is done, all letters/notes are signed, all are fed their 3square a day. The hope is that all the teeth hookup with a toothbrush at least once daily, and they are clean and clothed as they walk out the door to school at 7:25 each morning.

These are not lofty goals, we recognize this.

The system broke down when somehow Isaac managed to go four nights without showering even though he was scheduled for bathtub time on Tuesday night. We learned a valuable lesson, though. Asking Isaac to shower is not good enough.  You have to ask and then physically walk him to the bathroom and hear him turn the water on and get in. If you neglect this step, he'll skip it and put his pajamas on. Once in the shower you have to help him realize the size of his own noggin and shampoo more than two or three inches of the front of his hairline.  If you cannot see the back of your head, it still exists.  Who knew?

Noah has no plans of embracing his new Kindergarten life.  On Monday night when I tucked him in, I told him I'd wake him the next morning and to please try to be cheery - or at least not hateful.  He said, "WHAT?!? I have to go again? How many days till it is a day I don't have to go?!"

Thinking it would really excite him, I woke him this morning and whispered, "You get two days off after today honey."  I waited for him to pop out of bed and do a end-zone celebration dance.  I waited. Nothing.  "Noah?  Did you hear me?"  Long pause, he rolled over and said,  "I want TEN days off after today."

Small Toddler-sized people- These two believe they are in charge. From that belief, all problems flow. Phoebe and Lydia, for the first time ever, are watching all of the other kids leave and experiencing less divided attention from their parental unit. They get more wrestling time, more playing time, more one-on-one attention. They now have almost 8 hours to rule the roost together. One would think this would thrill them. Perhaps they'd even enjoy it? If the way to express content and even excitement is to bite one another and scream for half of the day, then yes, they are thrilled with this turn of events.

These two continue to impress us with their disdain for one another and their disregard for the rule of law. Neither is willing to secede in the battle over the role as top-toddler in charge of the drones parents living in their kingdom.  If we would hand over the Suburban keys, and if they could reach the pedals, chances are they'd race to the driveway to see who could get to the courthouse to file for emancipation first.

Earlier today I heard Lydia raise her voice and yell, "No, I told you no first!"  I wondered what had come between her and Phoebe.  Then I heard Troy say, "That's it missy, you cannot talk to me that way."  And so it goes.  A two year old that will chew out her Daddy is a two-year old to run-from fear pray for fervently.

And we do.

All of that aside, we managed to sit down Sunday night and make a plan for meals.  Typically at around 5pm I say, "What should we have for dinner?"  Troy replies, "I don't know. Mac n Cheese???"  From there we keep Kraft in business and never eat much more than white flour and powdered cheese products for days on end.

This week we tried something new.  Maybe you've heard of it?  It is called - Planning.Ahead.

Shockingly enough it led to five unique menus in a row, none of which called for a packet of florescent orange cheese powder. Who knows, maybe it was the real food that energized the troops and caused them to flip out in unison.

The rest of the non-child things that made this week a buttkicking are related to passport application rules, re-adoption hoop jumping, bills, and other horribly mundane things.

All of that to say - good riddance to the last full week of August 2010.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

More from Beth in Haiti ...

Carline (new photos in the previous post, scroll down) and baby are home and settled in as mother and child.  Carline had a marathon labor and horrific birth and she will probably tell the story for years to come.  We raise the bar of what women expect out of their birth experience and they are terribly disappointed when they get cheated out of delivering with us.  Carline is sweet, cooperative and doesn't expect much from life.  No husband, no job, a tiny house, not much of an education.  Somehow she found our program and started to learn about how important she is as a mother, how much God loves her, how she can try to shape her life with good choices.  She is learning that she is worthy of respect and honor.  She was blindsided by a  birth experience that ended up being at a large, overcrowded, understaffed hospital.  But, she came through fine, the baby is fine and she has moved out of our prenatal program and into our child development one.

Today we had another birth with a young girl named Florence.  It went perfectly as we wish all births would.  She came in yesterday with a few cramps.  Like any first time mom she was sure she would deliver any minute.  We sent her home for the night with instructions to rest, drink and eat.  Then the phone calls started.  In a voice way too happy to be active labor Florence would tell me she needed me to get her right away.  I held her off (after 6 phone conversations) until 5:30 this morning.  Then I went and picked her up along with the baby's dad and two sisters.  Immediately Florence was at ease.  She was prepared after being with us for many months of prenatals.  She responded to our every suggestion and cooperated throughout labor.  After bathing, putting on a new gown, drinking and having all her needs attended to Florence delivered a baby boy on our birth bed.  Right where she was supposed to be with three midwives and lots of love and encouragement. 
Florence and her new son

Florence said later, "I listened in class, I knew what to do, and I did it."  Not all births go so easily but we sure rejoice when they do.  Our program works and when all goes well our women deliver surrounded by beauty, emergency medical supplies and love.
Jonna & Beth (midwives) with Florence & sisters

Today our maternity center did what it was made to do - it gave a mom and baby a safe birth, great post-partum care and a positive experience.  Every woman should have this whether she has a perfect birth or an emergency situation.  All women deserve good care.  All babies should come into the world surrounded by love and equipment to save their lives if necessary.  Today it happened.  We are working towards it happening every time.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Update on Carline & Baby

Beth sent these new photos of Carline and baby. She wrote about them here last week. They are doing well and Beth is loving on them.

Monday, August 23, 2010

30 days of photos

Japanese Birthday Celebration

Birthday Party with the kids
Biggest kids and little kids 

Britt made the cake
Isaac comforting Lydia
Steven Bush photographed Troy in a tap-tap that sits outside of our Haiti house

In early July we took photos of Phoebe to get photo proof of her weak eye muscles. We've noticed an increasing problem along with a lot of depth perception issues.  Both of her eyes shoot all directions throughout the day. She sometimes bangs her head into things due to the poor depth perception.  She will be having surgery the second week of September on both eyes. I think we are far more nervous than she will ever be. Every time a kid of mine goes under anesthesia, I get a lot freaky.  The specialist says she will experience amazing improvement and that it is a low risk surgery.

Hope and Phoebe

In late July I celebrated my birthday with all of my kids. It was a fabulous day. It started with meeting Britt and Chris at the YMCA to join a bunch of college kids to play water polo.  The highlight of my morning and possibly the best birthday gift was when one of Chris's lifeguards said during the game, "Chris, your mother-in-law is persistent!"  He could have said, "Your mother in law is old slow weak fragile!" I love that kid. After water polo Britt took me to coffee at Starbucks.  Later in the day she took me for a pedicure.  At dinner time we all met at a Japanese restaurant.  Isaac was hilarious and totally impressed with the hibachi grill. He told the chef preparing our dinner how fabulous he was at his job. Over and over. and. over.  It was one of my happiest birthdays ever.  Thanks to my sweet kids and their fabulous daddy.

3 months shy of 3 years old ~ Lydie Beth

We are missing home a lot this week.  There was a hope that we could start school on the 17th with QCS and be settled in and ready to roll without bothering with a Texas school.  I recognize my plans are only that - mine.  Oddly enough when word of the passport problems came to us I did not shed a single tear.  None of the hassles with government bureaucracy or the challenges of adoption surprise me anymore.  It would be weirder if it was easy.

While we were in Iowa there was one speaking gig that was much more relaxed. Of all the times we've shared it was my favorite one. We sat sharing a bit about the things God has done in the 14 years Troy and I have been together and when Troy came to the spot in the story about the things he feels when he steps off of the airplane in the beautiful paradoxical heartache called Haiti - and how deep those feelings run - and how they don't make sense in some ways - he started crying.  From that moment in the morning and for the rest of the time, it was basically a cry fest.  There is no true point in my telling you any of that, other than to say what I already said. We are ready to go back.

For the love of everything good ...

... please help me quiet this man down. 
I beg of you. 

Email #1 -
On Aug 22, 2010, at 2:17 PM, John McHoul wrote:

We  have Waterloo and Little Big Horn and so what shall we call your upcoming defeat of the Big Hair Challenge?  How about: TARA'S FOLLY. Lets choose the name well for posterity as our children's children will be studying this great  defeat in their history books. 
Yes I like it: TARA'S FOLLY.

John the Victor

My Reply -
I have 100 days.  I would say it is faaaaar too soon for you to be smackin your lips  ---- 30% of the way there in 19 days.  You will be beautiful bald.

Email #2-
August 22, 2010, at 3:57 PM, John McHoul wrote:
My, my, my and I suppose that you believe in BIG FOOT as well. Poor dear, rest and don't over exert yourself. Drink warm milk at night so you can get some sleep. 

I am not even slightly worried. It won't even take until November 12 for the hair to go.

You have no chance McHoul.


Obligatory serious portion of this post :

The hospital will serve far more than just pregnant women.
But today I am focusing on them.

From the World Health Organization-  On maternal death rates ...
"Poverty also plays an important role. Some 99 percent of the estimated 500,000 women who die every year giving birth are in developing countries where medical supplies and skilled workers are in short supply."

Please read past posts to get an idea of the population we are reaching ..

or here
and here
and lastly here.

(The ambulance/transport vehicle that we raised money for when we ran the January 2010 Disney Marathon has been ordered and we are waiting on its delivery anytime.)

If you have time, look up the maternal death rate in Haiti.  Think about having no place to take your tiny sick newborn baby. Think about having an infection after giving birth but having nowhere to go for help.

Heartline is positioned to help change those statistics. Our women do not need to have high risk pregnancies without care that end with a delivery at "home" (a tent? a 10X10 tarped off area?) and the loss of their babies and possibly their own lives.  We know what the problem is. We don't want to look the other way and ignore it. With God's help, we are in a position on the ground  - with experience and love we can and will impact lives.  We will continue to work in relationship with each woman we meet. We will continue to support her in the crucial first six months after her baby is born.

Getting turned away by a hospital with a woman in labor that needs IMMEDIATE care is not acceptable to us.We need the facilities to handle the highest-risk cases and options for c-sections and complications with babies after their birth.  Our choices and other options are incredibly limited and downright disappointing.  We want to do better. We want to build a hospital. Will you help us?

Saturday, August 21, 2010

Road Trip Review

19 days and 2,000 miles after we departed Waco, TX, we returned in one piece (or seven pieces plus the one piece that came back here by airplane and skipped the dreadfully long ride home...lucky piece that she is). For the most part engaging in real life relationships and ignoring the internet turned out to be everything we'd hoped for. The 'Suburden' carried us and a billion crumbs and wrappers with only a few hiccups.  When we pulled back into the driveway after 20 hours straight in the truck, Troy said, "Let's not do that again." (The drive - not the time away.)

The Highlights-
  •  Well planned food and beverage stocked in vehicle prior to departure
  • Melatonin
  • Singing 'Wavin Flag' at the top of their lungs, kids entertained us
  • Stayed at a fun hotel in downtown Wichita, KS
  • Spoke at a fun church in Wichita, KS
  • Met the Glovers, a cool family in KS
  • Had mandatory exercise session at every gas station stop, including wind sprints, jumping jacks, and the hokey pokey
  • Made it to Iowa after a long car day to be greeted by the warmth of the Erickson's cabin
  • Enjoyed the Conference and met a lot of great people for the first time
  • Group meals with cousins and friends at the Conference
  • Running with a friend
  • Boating in Lake Okoboji with family
  • Meeting missionaries from Afghanistan that instantly inspired us and touched our hearts
  • Experiencing God's provision - received an amazing gift for our children's education in Haiti
  • Phoebe became a US citizen!
  • Fun with the Slaters our first days in MN
  • Dinner with Aunt and Uncle and cousins in MN
  • Went to G and G Livesay's to tube, ski, fish, enjoy the boat and beauty of their spot on the lake. Grandpa took big kids for an outing. Grandma made encouraged them get their teeth cleaned at her dental office. :)
  • Spoke at New Joy Church and saw lots of friends from our home church
  • Spent time with friends Sara and Joe and Jen and Erik and Nikki and kids
  • Went to G and G Porter's and Uncle Matt and Aunt Tina's to jump on the trampoline, go to the YMCA and see a MN Twins game 
  • Running with Tina  
  • Met and enjoyed Sara Groves performing (long time fans of hers) at a small IJM gathering
  • Met up with Joanna and Jen and Anne and friends after concert 
  • Lydia was in her car-seat 3/4 of the way south

The Lowlights-
  • Could not start trip until late afternoon due to school orientation meeting - meant keeping kids up till midnight before church visit in KS
  • Truck made bad noises the first 90 minutes of the trip
  • Too many Peanut Butter Sandwiches days one and two 
  • Peeing in Styrofoam cups or "Little Johnny" (One small bladder spoils the travel strategy for the whole bunch of strategists - we found a way around it)
  • Incredibly sucktacular gas mileage
  • Paige refused to participate in gas-station exercises even though "mandatory" - needs lesson on the meaning of the word mandatory
  • Whining Noah
  • Bored Isaac
  • Using Skittles and Licorice to bribe Whining Noah and Bored Isaac
  • Getting lost in Iowa after 8 hours in the truck
  • On the way North - Lydie almost never in car-seat
  • Dragging an obnoxious amount of stuff in and out of many destinations
  • Troy and Keith (cousin) leg wrestling for their honor
  • Realizing that the passport people require more documents than the immigration people and not succeeding in application of passport for the newest citizen
  • Realizing we would lose our spots in the Charter School if we did not truck it back to TX right away ... and without an idea of when passport people will become reasonable having a school seemed fairly important
  • Realizing as much as we want to make a plan -- the time to make one has not yet arrived
  • Sleeping from 5:30 am to 6:30 am at truckstop because eyelids would.not.stay.open.
  • Finding three kids soaked in urine at 7am stop in Kansas
  • Driving straight through to TX midnight departure ~ 8pm arrival 
  • One 1hour sleep stop ~ 1 change the pee clothes stop with breakfast added ~ 2 gas station/ caffeine stops ~ 1 we need a really decent meal to end this well stop
  • Going to school 11 hours after returning for 19 days of non-stop fun/activity 

    The 3 kids (Isaac, Hope, Noah) were four days late to school - but thankfully their lottery spots were not taken from us due to our tardiness and they were allowed entrance at a great charter school.  Isaac and Hope seem very happy with it.  Hope especially loves it, she came home telling us we'd found her "the best school ever!"  Isaac always gets a little disturbed by bad behavior of other kids. He cannot quite understand why anyone would lip off to an adult or be naughty.  He asked after day one, "What the heck is going on with those kids?"  Oh the sheltered life.  It must be nice.  Noah. Our dear kindergarten baby boy, all ready to go, or so we thought.  Day One:  "They make you do what they tell you to do and not what you WANT to do."  Day Two: "Am I going to go to have to go fo-evah?!" (tears) He begged not to go on the second morning.  He is not too impressed with it so far.  It also REALLY ticks him off when they call for him to come to the door by saying "Livesay" instead of Noah. Both days he came out frowning and said with disgust, "They don't even know my name!"I believe we have convinced him he needs to give it a few more days before he makes his final judgment and quits school fo-evah.

    Looking Ahead

    We're trying to resolve the issues to get Phoebe her passport.  I guess the U.S. government is so thrilled to have her as a citizen, they don't want to let her leave. If the passport stuff won't work itself out as quickly as we'd like it to, Troy will plan a trip and a few weeks in Haiti next month.  We'd much rather all go home together as one united family, praying for that to be possible. 

    Sunday we're going to worship with some of the greatest people in all of Texas at Church Under the Bridge.  Troy gets to play guitar and sing with the worship team. The kids get to ask me lots of questions about why people are smoking at church. I.LOVE.IT! This place brings me to tears every time I attend, it is a beautiful picture of the church being the church to the lost ... rather than go on a rant about all that bothers me about today's christian church of america -- I will just say:  If you are ever in Waco, TX on a Sunday, you MUST experience this beautiful place. We've enjoyed a couple of opportunities to be with Jimmy and Janet Dorrell - they are an absolutely fabulous and inspirational couple that we hope to learn a lot more from before we bail out of this state/country.

    John is smack talking about his Hay-uh.  Help shut him up for a few days. Please GIVE to the Gwo Cheve Challenge and help build a 20 bed hospital in Port au Prince, Haiti.  (See previous posts for details and Chip In Meter to donate.)

    Help Wanted:

    We are in need of a few nurses, an EMT, and a physical therapist to help out at Heartline Hospital from 9/18/10-10/7/10. We will be partnering with a surgical team at Double Harvest Hospital (located in Croix-des-Bouquets, about 10 miles from Heartline). The leader of the surgical team, Dr. Steve Smith, is an orthopedic surgeon with whom we worked closely back in March of this year. He will be bringing a second orthopedic surgeon, 2 OB/Gyn surgeons, and an ENT surgeon. They will be in Haiti for 10 days and plan to be very busy operating during that time. Heartline has many patients we will be sending to Double Harvest for surgery. We will take the patients back to Heartline for all of their post-operative care. Additionally, we will provide post-operative care for any other patients the Double Harvest surgical team feels would benefit from more prolonged post-op care. Nurses and EMTs would provide direct patient care (including medication administration, dressing changes, wound care, and so on) working 12 hour shifts, either day or night. Nurses and EMTs may also assist with patient transport and with the Heartline women's program. Physical therapy is generally provided to the patients during the daytime hours.

    If you are interested in volunteering, please e-mail Jen at halv0105 AT umn DOT edu. Please include a short description of any previous experience you have in the developing world (especially Haiti), any language skills you have, and any other skills you have (wound care, IVs, OB/peds experience, etc). Please also let me know your medical background and what dates you'd be available to volunteer. Volunteers are responsible for purchasing airfare to get to Haiti. Once in Haiti, housing, meals, and in-country transportation are provided. Thank you!

    Thursday, August 19, 2010

    A MUST See

    Please read about Terri here.


    “Hope and despair are not opposites. They are cut from the very same cloth, made from the very same material, shaped from the very same circumstances.  Most of all, every life finds itself forced to choose one from the other, one day at a time, one circumstance after another.  The only difference between the two is that despair shapes an attitude of mind; hope creates a quality of soul. Despair colors the way we look at things, makes us suspicious of the future, makes us negative about the present.  Hope, on the other hand, takes life on its own terms, knows that whatever happens God lives in it, and expects that, whatever its twists and turns, it will ultimately yield its good to those who live it well. When tragedy strikes, when trouble comes, when life disappoints us, we stand at the crossroads between hope and despair, torn and hurting. Despair cements us in the present; hope sends us dancing around dark corners trusting in a tomorrow we cannot see.  Despair says that there is no place to go but here.  Hope says that God is waiting for us someplace else.  Begin again.”
    (unknown author)

    Monday, August 16, 2010

    MN Summer

    Lydie struts in her one-piece

    Hopie got to see Wicked in Mpls. A MAJOR treat for our aspiring singer
    We learned that there is no such thing as "too much tubing"
    Fish slayers
    Isaac's first catch - He went on to catch 25 Sunfish in an hour - Phoebe cheers

    Lydia getting fresh with our god-child Grady Slater 

    We're wrapping up our time in Minnesota.  It has been so much fun to enjoy the lake and see family and friends. Paige is back in TX with Britt and Chris and has started 10th grade. She decided that even for a few weeks it would be good to get back into a routine of education and using her brain power.

    We're applying for a passport for the newest citizen today and planning to buy tickets back to the Caribbean sometime this week.  We think early October is realistic - we're hoping American Airlines has some decent fares and a couple rows of empty seats then.

    Troy is considering driving all 1,106 miles from MN to TX straight through. Without our MVP (Paige) I don't know that we can pull that off but we should be back to TX by Thursday early morning. Earplugs may be in order ... and possibly some melatonin. (For the kids - not the driver)

    Ex-con or Missionary? You decide.

    Thanks for getting on board to help us reach our 100 day goal of $50,000.  People all across the island nation will soon thank you for ridding them of this monstrosity of an eye-sore.

    How long can they endure the risk of running into this head of hay-uh? 

    More important than freeing John from his hippy hair, we're excited as we look forward to Heartline's future hospital for the Haitian people.  Please be praying for the decisions being made and for the funding as well. Scroll down to the previous post to give!

    Off to enjoy our last 48 hours in the land of 10,000 lakes,

    T & T

    Friday, August 13, 2010

    By Beth McHoul

    This is why you should consider giving to the Gwo Cheve Challenge:


    It's near to 11:00 PM and most people are home in bed.  In my exaggerated thinking of the moment I feel like only scoundrels and midwives are out in Haiti this time of night.  Here I am doing another transport after a 24 hour labor and delivery effort that ended in no delivery.    When a c/section looms our choices are limited.  The small hospital with no doctor or the huge hospital with few doctors and hundreds of women.  I chose the latter.

    Carline is 18, single, sweet and eager to please.  Although exhausted she responded to our every suggestion and was totally cooperative for two full days.  She sat defeated when we explained our findings  but she understood only one thing - we meant transport.  She cried.  We cried.

    In the rainy dark we loaded up my car.  Two guards, one grandma, a nurse, a cousin, the mom-to-be and me.  Off we went.  The empty streets were full of puddles, trash and the occasional group of people brave enough to be out this late.  I speed past Cite Soleil.  I enjoy the speed, the lack of traffic jam, the empty streets.  I hate the reason I am on them.

    I've been to this hospital twice before, I am prepared.  I've even made an acquaintance of  one of the doctors shaking my head in understanding as he told me how overcrowded they are.  I can see that.
    If I thought last time was crowded tonight seemed doubled.   Laboring women were everywhere.  On benches, lying on the floor, on beds, walking about, yelling, crying, screaming and moaning.   Every hallway had laboring women on the floor.  Blood spots here and there.  Trash all around.  The new doctor I meet tells me yes, he agrees, our gal probably will need a c/section but she has to wait in line.  There are several before her.  I'm now moaning along with the laboring women.

    I'm filled with disappointment, guilt and frustration as I leave this teenager here.  Due to government legalities I am not allowed to stay and help.  My heart is sick.  The doctor doesn't want one more patient and I don't want to leave our patient here.

    We drive home in silence.    Once again I am defeated by the inability to provide a woman with a safe birth.    A woman we have cared for for months.  She knows us, she trusts us, she believed we would help her through this birth experience and now I find that we are not able to finish the job.  We are a maternity center and not a hospital.  We can only handle normal births.  Explain this to a frightened 18 year old who is staring at the multitude of swollen bellies, sweat, urine, vomit, blood and amniotic fluid all around her.

    We clean up our fluids quickly, we give Gatorade with a straw, we wipe foreheads with cool cloths, we hug, we check on baby and mom continuously.  Not so in this hospital for the poor.

    I'm not blaming the overworked staff.  The residents are doing their jobs under terrible circumstances. Foreign groups are making huge efforts at the free hospitals to make a difference.

    It is not enough.  The conditions are like out of an old horror movie but it is all too real.  Too real for Carline.  Too real for all the women that have to go there because they don't have money to go anywhere else.  Somehow they come out with a baby.  Most of the time.

    This is not acceptable for our transports.  The women entrusted to our care should not end up in overcrowded hospitals with broken equipment and filthy conditions if they need more care than we can give.

    Heartline is committed to building a 20 bed hospital.  We need safe deliveries, safe surgeries and quality postpartum care.  Every transport nightmare reinforces to me how important this is.   Just ask Carline.
    Beth McHoul

    Thursday, August 12, 2010


    John's nest of hair is 25% more in danger this morning. We have approximately 90 days to raise the remaining $ and free him from that rug.

    If torturing John does not motivate you to get involved, we are hoping that the vision of building a small 20 bed hospital WILL motivate you.  

    Prior to the earthquake Heartline was operating a pre-natal program and delivering the babies of the women in our program. Since the earthquake Heartline has determined that once they have delivered these women need more support. Sending them "home" to a tent with a one day old baby is not sufficiently caring for them and often leads to infections and complications.  The goal will be to keep each woman for 7 days to help establish nursing, build relationship, and to watch for infection.  Unfortunately in the conditions these women live, infection and complications are probable.

    The hospital will serve our moms and will also be open to dealing with other non-pregnancy-related illness and disease.  We are excited that the first funds raised for this project will be the encouragement and sign that this is the right thing to pursue. 

    It is likely that you've read the statistics and you know that prior to the Earthquake Haiti had one doctor per 10,000 people. Finding quality, loving care in Haiti was and is incredibly difficult.  The care available is often  a far cry from what any of us can even imagine.

    Beth McHoul tells of multiple situations of neglect and poor quality of care as she has been forced to transport patients to area hospitals when they've needed a C-section.

    Our hospital will be clean.  The staff will be well trained.  The care will be top notch. The respect shown to the patients will be exemplary.  The love of Christ will shine to each and every patient.

    Help us begin the exciting journey to build a small hospital ... and help us reach the equally exciting goal of seeing John bald.

    Please give today. $5, $50, and $500 gifts welcomed!

    Tuesday, August 10, 2010

    MN Update

    We're still on the road with the tribe and in and out of the gas-guzzling carbon footprint creating crumb machine ... Because we're not sitting still for long (and we are enjoying RLR) we've not had time to update here.   This is what you might care to know:

    • Okoboji Lakes Bible and Missionary Conference was really a great time. We met amazingly kind people (Thanks to all of you!) and were blessed by some really brave missionaries (and their stories) from around the world. 
    • The last speaker spoke on anger and fear and those topics are fairly ...   ahem .... relevant for me. 
    • Loved it.  Loved being there.  Exhausted from going 100 miles a minute and dealing with cornholio kids that were short on sleep for 10 days straight. Hoping to find a dark room for them  - to force them to catch up on their sleep.
    • Stayed at a friends cabin on Spirit Lake.  SO beautiful and fun. (Thanks lards for sharing!)
    • Saw lots of family...SIX of my aunts in one week. (And five uncles.)  That has maybe never happened?
    • Paige was baptized in lake Okoboji, a super sweet moment in her life.
    • Our speaking went fairly well.  You always seem to wish you could change something once you're finished.
    • Got to spend tons of time with two of my closest friends - my little sister and 'Dokte' Jen ... loved that so much.
    • Got to MN yesterday ...  trying to see and hug all the MN friends before we head back to Tejas next Monday.
    • Three Livesay kids visited Grandma for teeth cleaning at the dentist today.  
    • Saving the best for last ....  I am pleased (giddy, freaking out happy, grateful, thrilled) to announce that the Livesay family has added a 100% legitimate and official U.S. Citizen to the family.  Our daughter had her citizenship granted :)
    • We get to start figuring out when we'll head home to PAP. :) There are passports/logistics to figure out and some variables to manage & decisions for Troy and I to make - but the great news is that the biggest hurdle has been conquered and so many prayers answered ... and we finally get to leave limbo-living behind. Thanks to each and every person that covered this situation in prayer, Miss Phoebe is a proud American. 
    • Mesi Jezi!

    Wednesday, August 04, 2010

    The Gwo Cheve Challenge

    Gwo Cheve = Big Hair

    Many, many months ago I was trying to come up with creative ideas to jump-start the fundraising for the Women's Program. I was purposefully trying to think outside the box in order to come up with something new and different. I wondered if there was a new and creative idea we were missing. Running marathons is fun, but we needed a break from intense training. I woke up one morning with a fabulous idea. I went to John with it -  and he immediately rejected it. 

    I said - "John - Finally! I have an idea that will sell. We should auction off an opportunity to decide on and execute your next haircut ... If you truly love Haiti, you will want to do this."

    After I pitched the idea to him, I got this email in reply:

    "Tara, I am praying for you. You are obviously mentally ill."

    (I think there is some irony there somewhere. THAT guy calling ME mentally ill.)

    The next day John verbally abused me at church, as he often does. He can do that, it is fine, I don't tire easily and I just kept making my case.

    Yesterday, after NINE months of trying to convince him - he finally relented.  His hair is at least 8 inches longer than when I first thought we needed to get rid of it last year! He often brags about how seldom he cuts his locks - usually only twice a year. At this point, we are way beyond that benchmark and things have been too busy ever since the quake to address his burgeoning coiffure. It has become a game for him to taunt and tease the rest of us that have grown tired, disgusted, and a little bit afraid of that mop. The game is up.

    He has agreed to allow us to earn the right to rid him of that atrocious head of "hay-uh" (Bostonian for hair).  We have 100 days to raise the required amount. He seems to think his hay-uh is safe with the amount he requires.  I think he is wrong. That hair is coming off.

    In the last 21 years, scores of people have been tortured by John. And I do mean scores. Maybe they came to Haiti and got sick while staying with the McHouls and John laughed at them for having Haitian Happiness. Maybe he took them on long car rides on purpose to torture them. Maybe they made a dumb mistake and John never let it go and teased and teased and teased. Maybe they misunderstood the culture and said something kind of silly and John gave them a nickname that they could never escape. (Just ask "Melda Mace".)

    His vanity requires a pretty hefty donation if we ever hope to see the spectacle of a tet/head that lies beneath his hair.

    He has agreed to allow his head to be shaved BALD - recorded on video to be posted on the internet- if we can raise 50K (USD) in 100 days.

    Once we reach 50K the massive mop of hair will be shaved.  Tweet this, share it on FB, tell your friends, tell strangers ... help spread the word!  The cause is wonderful.  If you've been following the ministry of Heartline since the EQ, you know that in response to the catastrophe we opened a clinic that became a hospital.  We've been in prayer about what God would have us do in the future and we're moving forward to open a year-round, fully functional and staffed clinic/small hospital.  This 50K will be the beginning as we move forward to build a facility.

    All funds are deposited directly from the chip-in meter to Heartline's account and are tax-deductible.

    There are, without a doubt, a plethora of folks out there that have been dying to settle the score with one Mr. John McHoul.

    Sorry John, these people are about to bring their A game. Kiss your Hay-uh goodbye.


    (If you prefer not to donate on-line, please contact us for snail-mail donation information. Mailed donations will be updated periodically, but cannot be added to/reflected on the chip-in meter.)