Sunday, February 28, 2010

Pray for Chile.

NY Times Op-Ed

Read it here.

Fresh new expression of God's love ...

Above, a new Baby Girl born last night at Heartline.
She is 8lbs and 1ounce. Jen was called in when she was 8 minutes old because it got scary at that point. She recovered quickly after some help breathing and a few chest compressions. For a few minutes everyone was pretty nervous. She is doing wonderful today, so is 29 year old mom, Jesula.


Little Baby Kenny(above and below) born to the young mama named Djenie (Jenny) below.
The Heartline team fought to save him last week and now he is at the MIA field hospital for a while. We hope to spring him from there soon.


Below, baby girl Rochelle, at MIA field hospital. Her parents are adorable and hopeful for her full recovery.They have four other children at home.


PICU/NICU at MIA field hospital - more preemies - they're doing great things with the little ones. I think I counted 8 or 9 on feeding tubes, in isolettes or under bilirubin lights. These babies, post earthquake are alive BECAUSE of the earthquake ... kind of strange to think that they have a place to grow bigger and get stronger, whereas prior to the earthquake they would not have had this resource available, and therefore would have died. The complexity of that thought is too much for my head. Others died without good care, and the little babes get to live because it got here. Does that stir up unexplainable emotions for anyone else?

Dr. Jen and Dr. Abe are Minnesotans (Jen in yellow, Abe in scrubs). Lyndsey lives in Mexico full time as a missionary there (in brown). Peeking from behind Dr Abe is Barbie, a PA from Alaska. In addition to these four we have about 25 others from all over the USA and Canada. The team has continually gelled really well, an amazing thing for people from varying backgrounds and so many in and out of the hospital week to week. I agree with John McHoul that God has shown favor to our little gig.

Below is a beautiful woman (two actually) that got a tiny bit of care on the night of the earthquake but then waited three whole weeks before finding her way to Heartline through a friend of hers that knows John. Her femur was fixed at the Double Harvest Ortho surgery center and now she is recovering with us. Can you imagine having a broken femur with no pain meds for three weeks? Me either.
Most every team that has come and gone in the last several weeks has fallen for this guy. He is pictured above helping to do his own dressing change. He needs to feel a little bit more in control and Jen and Barbie allowed him that today. He lost BOTH his mother and father on Jan 12th. He has lost range of motion and use of one of his hands from a crush injury. His leg is still healing, as is his head. His maternal grandmother is his remaining family member. He is ten years old and a total charmer. Today Rosemon and I went on a little field trip to drop three nurses off to the airport and then came to meet Jeronne and Tipap. Rosemon thinks daily trips to hang out over at our house is a great recovery plan moving forward. :) I cannot say that I blame him. Later in the day Rony (the new little guy from the Comfort ship yesterday) came for a visit. He also had a Coke and enjoyed a break from the hospital scene.

To: Isaac and Noah, these little boys (Rony and Rosemon) are both ten and they both really like your light sabers, please pray for them - they are tough and strong just like you guys but they need prayers for healing. They are keeping Jeronne and Tipap company because this house misses you kids!
It was very interesting to me to watch Jeronne and Tipap's response to the boys. I think that if you have a way to insulate yourself from the reality "out there" - it becomes really easy to not know how bad your friends and neighbors are hurting. Both of them became incredibly somber when I brought the boys over. It was good to sort of talk through their stories and see the compassionate responses. I suggested that they might like to come cheer people up and make short visits to the hospital. I am hoping they decide to do that.

I have long thought it is super easy to stay fit and trim in Haiti. You work hard, you sweat non stop, you sometimes run out of time or energy to eat. But, I might be in trouble this week. Jeronne is so happy I am back she is making me massive amounts of her food. I am beyond touched by her love, but a person can only eat so much vegetable oil before their heart clogs up and chokes. A lot of Haitian food is fried and greasy. I told her tonight that she better not send me back to Troy with a giant butt. She just laughs at me.

I better get going to church. If I don't go I will never hear the end of it from one, John McHoul. John claims he is having an alter call just for my benefit tonight. I told him I would swear on the way down toward the front if he did that, he said, "That's fine, as long as you don't swear afterward."

Have a great Sunday night, I am so blessed to be here.
Thank you God.

Tara

Saturday, February 27, 2010

Emotions




Today was such an amazing day.

I woke up to read about Chile and the earthquake and for the next few hours I could not get my mind wrapped around a 8.8 earthquake ... I still cannot. I know what 7.0 felt like and I cannot imagine moving more than that. So very scary. I am terribly sorry to hear of more loss and destruction.

I hurried up and got ready to head over to the hospital. Jen had invited Beth and I to join her on a trip out to the Comfort Ship. I had no idea how much I would get to experience. I have been on the ship once before in April when they were here for a good-will scheduled trip. Today was so much more interesting having so many connections to people on the boat.



As we arrived by smaller boat, we were greeted right away by beautiful women. They were nurses, a midwife, and doctors (all military) that knew Collette, knew baby Esther, had deep connections and were a part of the larger story that God told with Collette.

We got to hear about the surgeries and the situation with Collette and what they went through to make their decisions. We all stood there teary-eyed realizing how many miracles lined up for Collette and Esther and how amazing it is that they both withstood those injuries for 6 days before we ever found them. There was supernatural protection around Collette and Esther, there has not been anyone that can believe they both lived. They told us that Esther is famous all over the world. She was in LIFE magazine and on the cover of a Navy Magazine. :)

We got to have lunch on board the ship and hear the stories of what went on during the first crazy weeks on the ship. It was both heart-breaking and encouraging ... like so many things have been since the earthquake. They shared about the huge need and the feelings of not being able to get to everyone quick enough. They told of survivors that defied logic. We asked lots of questions and they graciously answered all of them.

(Troy- I got to meet C. Jones too! Cool, huh?)

We got tons of fun pictures but Jen was the only one with a camera so Beth and I are patiently waiting for her to be able to share them with us.... she is still hard at work tonight and I would be a total butt to bug her for them now. :) I will add a few in to this post later tonight and more tomorrow.

The Comfort Ship will leave Haiti in the next day or so. They have done AMAZING things there. They have loved Haitians and served so well. I am not being critical of them leaving, just sad they need to leave. I know that they needed to make that tough decision and I know things like that happen at very high levels. The people we met all seemed a bit sad too. They so clearly loved the people, I could tell in the way they shared the stories. It is a bummer to lose loving people like that. I loved that they figured out many true things about the strength of the people. I hope they share that back at home. If I knew of a better way to officially thank the military folks we met today that did SO MUCH for Haiti, I would do it - THANK YOU TO EACH AND EVERY PERSON THAT SERVED ON THE U.S NAVY COMFORT SHIP in the last six weeks. THANK YOU SO MUCH! (Thank you to all the civilians that worked on board too.)

One of the more amazing things that happened- Jen was asked if we could take a little ten year old boy named Rony to recover at our hospital. She happily agreed. It turned out that Rony was the VERY LAST patient to leave the ship. We took the boat ride into the port with him in a little boat ... the crew clapped for him when he left, people cried, it was incredibly touching. I tried to explain to him that he is kind of famous being their last patient to leave ... he had specialized surgeons work on him, he has a lot of recovering to do. He has very severe injuries to his face. The Comfort Ship provided him (us) with some of the best medication available today and we hope to make the next two to three weeks at our hospital a comforting and healing experience for him. He looks really roughed up right now. He did not get help until four weeks post EQ and the infection was/is quite severe. His adult older brother is staying with him at Heartline.

It was so humbling and touching to meet a lot of people who were happy with the partnership with Heartline and who spoke so highly of Jen and ALL of the medical professionals that have been in and out of our little post earth quake clinic/ER/hospital. I was struck by how amazing it is that our tiny little operation (relatively speaking) has received so much positive recognition and affirmation. God is good like that. :)

Right this minute, we have a beautiful Mama named Jesula getting ready to push - this is her third baby. Dad and Sister are here supporting her. We'll share more after baby arrives.

Here is a little video Dr. Abe Jacob from Minnesota took last night of our patients singing and having church time.




Check back for photos from the comfort ship and of new baby later. It is raining here tonight. We hate that for the people. The tents are not a great place to be in the rain.

Thanks for following along and holding these people in your prayers, it means a lot.
tara

JEN blogged about it here.

Friday, February 26, 2010

no creative titles available

Coming home felt so good yesterday. Hugging Jeronne felt so good. I brought video of the kids that she loved watching. Seeing the work and healing happening at the hospital feels so good. Being with my good friends Jen and Beth feels really GREAT.

The mosquitoes, roosters, and lack of power at 4am all reminded me I was not in TX anymore. :)

Today I don't feel incredibly able to share any detailed stories. I am unfocused. I have someone that is doing a story for a news network coming to talk to me about adoption and all the disagreement and issues. They will be here in 15 minutes and I need to make myself look and smell better before they get here. I am hoping to get a chance to explain that the issue of international adoption is multi-faceted and not all good or all bad. I am hoping to point out how seeing it as all good or all bad really can hurt children.

I transported patients around most of the day. There is something about puking in the truck that I am driving ... Jen always gives me the pukers. At one point today I had two pukers in one truck at one time. One guy was so sick we wondered if he might die during transport ... he made it to Miami/Medishare Field hospital (needed oxygen the whole ride which meant having a giant tank because that is the only size tank we have) and will hopefully get some help. The poor guy is 30 and is really ill. It does not seem to be earthquake related. When I was not doing transports I was getting caught up on Women's Program stuff and sterilizing instruments. It was a busy but really good day.

Gotta go-
T.

Troy - I love you. You're the Dad-Bomb-Diddly. Kiss some rowdy kids for me.

Mwen la

The group (and I) got in late this afternoon. I am happy (SO happy) to be here for a bit. The mosquitoes are feasting on me so I am going to keep it short. Really short.

Goodnight.

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Unfortunately disasters don't stop bad guys from doing their bad guy things.
First story here.
Thanks to Soledad O'Brien.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Heading Southeast

Jen tells me that Suzanne (above) has not been back for her narcotic pain patch. Her pain would be severe enough to send someone for it, we're thinking she may have passed-away. There are three people that have deeply moved me in the days and weeks post-EQ, Suzanne is one of them. I like to think of her pain-free and hanging out and talking smack while having a cup of super-sugary Haitian coffee with the Kreyol-speaking angels.

I am packing and getting ready and trying to spend some time tickling and wrestling small people; I need to keep this short. I have been so touched hearing of all the people praying about the different requests I've posted here. I don't really know how to thank you ... but it is insufficient to say "We've been blessed" --- it is more than that. Thank you.

If you're still taking requests, please pray for the new team of 8 flying in with me tomorrow and for Troy as he stays in Texas with our kids. Pray for continued healing at counseling for Troy and Paige. (Yesterday was really good.) I am so hopeful that this trip home will help me figure some things out and get some peace about our future and this Earthquake-forced break we're having in the USA. I am not scared or nervous -- just excited and hopeful. (Don't worry Mom - it will be okay.)

LINKS -

Amazing photos here.
Stories of families being reunited here.
Thoughts and feelings that resonate here.
Ripple effects of the EQ here.

BUSINESS ITEMS -

If you have written asking about sending supplies/donations to Haiti, at this moment I don't have a ton of answers for you - which is why I have not returned your emails or FB messages. We all walk a fine line as far as that goes. If we can buy it in country and feed the hurting economy, we would most-often rather do that. We are still dealing with an emergency situation and that means that cold hard cash is still the most helpful thing to tangibly and quickly (like today) help people. If we can put some money into the hands of a Mother of six today - we are doing her a greater service than telling her to come back for baby blankets and clothes in six to eight weeks when we figure out how to get the items into the country. Shipping things down is incredibly costly and many times we could use that money to buy an item in country. The Haitian Government now has Customs officials charging high taxes again, that also makes it hard to decide to take baby clothing and similar donations. This is not to say that the two ministries we work with won't be shipping containers down, it is just to say at this time I do not have that information for you. Because I don't have a place to store things, I cannot allow you to ship your clothes, toys, hygiene kits, or other items to me. Thanks for your patience and understanding.

If you've written about bringing a team sometime this spring, summer or fall - Please know that we don't at all discount your desire to help. Right now we don't have enough answers about the needs to promise you anything. We do not have adequate housing for teams and need to figure out how to better receive groups. Troy and I made a decision a long time ago that hosting groups in our own house is bad for our kids and our marriage -- we just have far too many balls in the air with our large family and regular ministry responsibilities to host groups in our home. (Read: we immediately start to take the stress out on each other) Rather than write to us, please write to the ministry headquarters with team questions and try to be patient as we determine what the needs (and our ability to host you) will be in a few months.

Until Later,

Tara

Monday, February 22, 2010

Our Babies

There is something very strange about having these two girls in the same place. Our oldest and youngest. Three months after Lydia was born Britt left for college.

On one of our last days together Britt cried that Lydie wouldn't know her. I remember feeling really sad for both of them. These two sisters have reconnected. Lydia (by her choice) left to go with Britt this afternoon. Just the two of them on a date. On Tuesdays and Thursdays she goes to work at a local church with Britt. She adores her big sister. It is so cute. Lydie also loves Chris (her brother-in-law) and calls him "Kiss" and runs when she hears he is at the door.

Yesterday we followed Britt to church and Troy said, "How weird is it that - that is our kid - driving a car - that they bought - there she is - right there in front of us?" I just nodded in agreement. All of this is so odd and so not what I thought February 2010 would be.

We've always sort of felt like our life is not our life. Having kids in college and in diapers - and all the other things that make us odd - we have no category. It seems even stranger to us than it does to you.

Paige is taking a three week Drivers Education course, another thing that does not seem possible. She is very excited. Because of this class even when we return to our Haiti home, she will be eligible to come to TX to take her test to get her license when she is sixteen. That is *big* to this particular 15 year old.

We're hoping to hire some Baylor Education majors in the coming week and get them started tutoring our kids. We've decided with such an unknown future and so much to process that traditional school is too much right now. For school, we're reading and writing and letting a lot slide so we can get counseling and go to Doctors appointments and simply work at figuring out life done first. Worst case scenario, the kids won't get a long summer break and will need to make-up work during that time. Earthquakes have a way of jacking with your plans and any ability to make new plans.

The last few days we've been reading funny FaceBook stati (plural for status?) about the people staying at our house. Kind of weird that we will never meet a lot of them. I am actually heading home on Thursday, very excited about that. I will only stay a week or two depending on what Troy thinks once I am gone. He is Mr. Dad/Mom/do-it-all Extraordinaire and will have (almost) no trouble running this show without me. It is super odd to be going to VISIT my home. But that is what I am doing, so just more weird on top of the weird.

I am anxious to work with Beth to figure out what the post-earthquake Heartline Womens Program is going to look like. I might get south to see the World Wide Village Leogane Hospital project. I am SO looking forward to hugging my amazing friend Jen and spending some time together without as much chaos in the evenings.

I am also excited to assure Jeronne that we love her and deliver her a new pair of jeans that she requested. Troy is giving me his list to accomplish and hopefully it will be an incredibly productive time. I truly hope and pray I can also use this time to help solidify some of the things Troy and I have been talking with God about. See you soon Ayiti Cheri!

For those of you that have received Humanitarian Parole for your Haitian-born child, if you have any marvelous government-type-people that know how to go about getting that HP turned into legitimate U.S. Citizenship ... please let us know. It seems most everyone is getting very few answers about getting started on that process. I get the feeling that will be the next battle for all the adoptive parents.

There are so many great songs and videos and efforts being made to help raise money for Haiti ... here are two more that I have not yet posted here:

Come Together Now - Music City Unites For Haiti from Provident Label Group on Vimeo.



Sunday, February 21, 2010

Power Corrupts

Read this post. (Please).

Also-
Americans with permission to leave Haiti from Prime Minister Jean-Max Bellerive AND from the U.S. Embassy ran into trouble as they tried to exit the airport. There were a few loud people who believed the kids were being taken (thanks for that, red-haired lady from Idaho) illegally and they (falsely) accused them.

The security at the airport did not allow the story to be told or evidence to be seen, they reacted and they removed kids from the care of LEGAL guardians to a unicef camp. The guardians were not allowed to stay and calm the kids. The unicef camp would not allow them inside.

I am so sad to have learned (as a result of the earthquake) that most everything in the world is based on money and power. I guess I was a total ignoramus prior to January 12th.

In the last month I have seen such politics and power plays that I feel sick thinking about it.

  • I don't believe media (any of them) reports freely. I believe they answer to someone. I believe governments place pressure on media to not run certain stories and I have seen evidence of such.
  • I believe that governments are in incestuous relationships with large NGOs and I believe they get so caught up pandering to one another and playing games that they allow people to suffer in the process.
  • I believe that many people employed by government agencies in the USA and other countries are afraid to do what is right because their government is too busy doing what is politically prudent and diplomatic. They want to stay employed, therefore they are too fearful to rise above the political bull$%&. (And I understand wanting to stay employed. But it still stinks.)
  • I believe that unicef, as an organization, is currently on one of the most obnoxious power trips of all time. I believe that they should have to answer to someone for this abuse of power.
I don't expect people in power to do the right thing. I have grown incredibly cynical. God and God alone can fix this. Men will continue to do whatever serves their own interests. The pursuit of money and power trumps all in this day and age.

Please pray for the six children stuck in a unicef camp. They were torn away from their caregivers and they have families. Please also pray for God's Littlest Angels Orphanage, which has been operating in Haiti for more than 10 years. Pray for political agendas and desire for power and money to be laid down --- and for the love of God to shine through this particular man-made disaster.



Saturday, February 20, 2010

The Choices - Vast and Unending


Most of our children have lived the majority of their lives in Haiti. This means that they have very limited exposure to shopping, kids' clubs, youth groups, sports teams, choices, and American culture in general. Lydie and Phoebe have no memory of ever entering a Target or Wal-Mart. The two of them have spent only a few weeks of their lives outside of Haiti.

Isaac, Hope, and Noah are freaks inside of these stores. Freaks I tell you. We are making every attempt not to enter those centers of copious amounts of crap with them in tow. Isaac and Noah especially are especially ridiculous. The fact is, these places cause us anxiety, and we're 30-something adults that lived all of our lives with so much to choose from.

The yogurt section alone in a big grocery store is the size of the entire dairy section in the biggest grocery store in Haiti. (Which, incidentally is no longer standing). :( Today Troy said, "The kids like yogurt, let's get some." I thought it was a good idea until I rounded the corner to see that (above). Then I said, "Nope, the kids don't really like yogurt." And we left without any. I am learning that I prefer two choices. Not thirty-four billion. I watched Troy choose cheese today. I peeked from around the corner. It took him 90 seconds to choose a bag of shredded cheese.


Now that we're going out and about into the big world - we are realizing how much easier staying put is and how much Jeronne really helps us. What I am trying to say is: We don't think we are capable of this.

When we go places Troy tries not to create a scene - or so he thinks. Taking our family anywhere draws looks ... so many kids and of multiple skin-tones always draws attention. If by some odd stroke of luck it goes pretty well when we're all out and about, Lydie does her best to fix that. She'll scream in Kreyol or demand things unceasingly. I like when we park and Troy unloads the kids while saying, "Okay now kids, we're going to walk in quietly and we're going to stay calm and mellow." Before the sentence has spilled from Troy's lips, Noah is sprinting across the parking lot yelling and I am laughing at Troy and his overinflated and unrealistic sense of control. Just minutes later Noah opens an emergency exit to prove my point.

Last night the lifeguards at the Baylor pool told us "most parents don't watch their kids" and that we were "exceptional." I was not sure if we should be flattered and pat ourselves on the back or admit to the lifeguard guy that if we don't watch them, there is a really good chance Lydia will strip down to her birthday suit and take a dump in their pool, or Noah will figure out how to pull the plug and drain their pool altogether. (Although, if Lydie had pooped that might be a good thing.)

Our lives in Haiti are very centered on home and family. Most every night we're home. If we go out of our gate, it would be to eat with John and Beth. At home we eat the same four or five menus all the time. The variety is little but no one feels they are lacking a thing. We go out as a large group only on Sunday for church. There are no swimming lessons or soccer practices to juggle. No Target runs, and no McDonalds. We hang out and make our own fun. Nobody charges us for it. There are not constantly pressures to run from thing to thing. The lack of television means my kids are not begging for toys and all the things advertising convinces us we need. It is beautiful and it is one more thing I love about living in Haiti.

The other night we took our kids to a local establishment for dessert. They were wildly begging and had not left the house that day and just would.not.drop.it. They knew what they wanted, it seems their older sister introduced them to this crack-for-kiddies before we arrived.

That establishment is case-in-point for all that is wrong with consumers today. We get fooled into believing we need so many choices -- and simply just that we NEED at all. On that night, the Livesay kids thought they NEEDED dessert.

Here is what the consumer experience looked like:
  • You walk in to a peach and teal painted shack, meant to replicate a beach-side stand.
(Note: you're still in the center of a giant state with no beach anywhere to be found. And it is still 45 degrees outside.)
  • You ask the teenage girl chewing her gum with purpose and ignoring you to take your order.
  • She acts like you've inconvenienced her but gets up anyway.
  • You then must help six children choose from not one not three not five flavor choices
... No ...
  • You must help them choose from 7,000 flavors. Grape or Guerilla Grape, Super Strawberry or Strawberry Shortcake or Strawberry Cheesecake or Sour Lemon, Lemon-Lime, Lemon Twist, Lemony Lemon ... and on and on it goes.
  • Once you've done that you happily turn over close to $3.00 for 8 ounces of shaved ice with a squirt of colored sugar water on it.
  • You leave thinking you've done something really great for your kids.
  • In reality, you've just given the beach-side shack in the commercial district of Waco, TX about $20 for colorful frozen water.
Oh Choices. You slay me.

Counseling is going well. We learned that each of us experienced the earthquake and everything after it in totally different ways. What bothers me greatly does not bother Troy. The three of us doing EMDR are still finding it incredibly bizarre -- but also incredibly effective. We can only say that as weird as it is, it works. We've always been open to counseling. I totally don't get being embarrassed by going to talk to a counselor.

Troy and I have gone to counseling on and off for years and have only had really great outcomes. Once, early in our marriage, we got really stuck in a fight about having kids vs. not having kids. We were arguing about having one more. We had the girls. (Troy's awesome package deal he got when he landed me.) I was happy and thinking we did not need more children. Troy wanted at least one. So off to counseling we went after a few weeks of disagreeing and getting stuck in a cycle without reaching a conclusion. It helped to talk through our fears and get to the root issue.
So, our compromise was to add five children ... see - see how counseling helps you make really awesome decisions like that. :) (We still don't really know how that happened.)

A good counselor can be hugely effective. Our past (and current) counselors have spoken truth into our lives and have been a huge blessing. Not getting help when you need it and ignoring problems is far more curious to me than counseling is.

Counseling has me thinking about bigger things too. I am trying to determine what it is that makes me feel a strong pull to Haiti? What it is that causes me to wish we could all go back tomorrow. Often times we do things for selfish reasons and certainly I am no different. Haiti must provide a pay-off for me or I would not feel so pulled to get home. So far I think it is just that leaving Haiti intensified the grief. Being there was so much easier. We figured out how to live there and overall this seems harder. (Yet easier in other ways.) Those who have asked how Troy is doing, he feels the same as me, is also grieving, only with 56% of the intensity. ( 2% margin of error). He's a guy. He's not going to blabber on and on about his feelings. Sorry.

I'm also realizing that one of the biggest things to grieve is the loss of what was Haiti. Of course there are those that say that Haiti now has a chance to rebuild, and use this as a way to make things better. That will be amazing when it happens, but I still cannot help but feel grief. I am a little bit stuck in the bargaining stage and find myself constantly asking God for January 11th. That normal is not coming back. Everything has changed. It makes me profoundly sad. Those people buried in mass graves don't get to be remembered and honored in the way they deserved. Their suffering could have lasted days and we'll never know those stories. That makes me sad too. The things that the survivors saw and had to do is crushing and I don't know how they will recover from those horrific sights and sounds and experiences. There are not enough EMDR therapists in the world. That makes me sad.

I am anxious to be further down the road and looking back at this time ... I want to see and feel more of the good and more of the future. I want the Haitian people to experience miraculous and unexplainable healing and peace. I want them to have a future and a hope. That is what we're praying. Lord hear our prayers.

Prenatal Care

The reason I have been in love with the work that I have been blessed to be a small part of is that every week or two I get to see a fresh new expression of God's love when a baby is born to one of the ladies in our program.

I am not a midwife, or a nurse, but I am able to offer administrative support to some pretty amazing people who are. Heartline was delivering babies before the earthquake and will continue to do so for years to come. The article below talks about the reality for pregnant women in Haiti. We can only serve a tiny percent of the population, but we are focused on doing that really well with the goal of sharing His love with each Mom and baby we serve.

If you're interested in learning about the core programs at Heartline, please ask! Beth and Laura are working hard to get the regular programs back up and running now that the clinic needs have diminished a little bit.

http://www.miamiherald.com/582/story/1488238.html

(Miami Herald, February 18, 2010)

Haiti struggles to keep up with births

BY KATHLEEN McGRORY

Gina Pierre laid on her back in the dusty tent, crying out in pain and clenching her older sister's hand.

She was about to give birth to triplets.

Two days earlier, the concrete walls of Pierre's home had collapsed around her. Now, there was no place to deliver her babies -- only the tent made from scrap metal and bed linens where she and her family were sleeping.

``Please, God,'' she prayed. ``Let my babies live.''

Pierre is among the hundreds of Haitian women who have gone into labor following the Jan. 12 earthquake.

Many, like Pierre, are giving birth in the tent cities that have come to dominate the Port-au-Prince landscape. The women have almost no privacy, and doctors and midwives are scarce. Garbage and human waste are everywhere.

Other pregnant women are crowding the hospitals and medical clinics that were established by the international aid community. It's putting a strain on the relief organizations, many of which did not bring obstetricians or the proper equipment for delivering babies.

Earlier this month, the University of Miami field hospital had to turn away pregnant women. There weren't enough doctors or supplies.

``We came here with earthquake specialists -- orthopedics and surgeons,'' said Cristian Morales of the World Health Organization. ``In an emergency, they can deliver babies. But we need to replace adequate facilities for obstetrics and gynecology. . . . If we don't act, we are foreseeing an increase in the already obscene maternal mortality rate.''

Maternal mortality has long been a pressing issue in Haiti. Roughly 670 of 100,000 mothers die in childbirth -- compared with 150 in the neighboring Dominican Republic and 11 in the United States, according to the most recent figures from UNICEF and the World Health Organization.

There are new concerns for the 63,000 pregnant women now living in Port-au-Prince.

More than 7,000 are expected to give birth this month.

``People here are giving birth under the absolute worst conditions,'' said Dr. Jonathan Evans, a pediatric gastroenterologist volunteering at the University of Miami field hospital. ``They can't find access to midwives. Little problems become big problems.''

In the sprawling camp at the city center of Champs de Mars, where the fruit flies are unrelenting and the stench of human waste inescapable, Antoine Toussaint worries about the health of her unborn child.

Toussaint, 27, is nine months into her pregnancy. She lost her last baby, a son, in childbirth two years ago. This time, Toussaint will have only the help of her family if complications arise.

``This is where I am, this is where I am going to give birth,'' she said, sitting outside the cream-colored tent that houses the seven members of her family. ``It's not going to be good for the baby. It's cold at night. It's not an appropriate place to give birth.''

Before the quake, most Haitian women gave birth at home. About one in five delivered in the hospital -- and often only when there were complications, said Dr. Jean-Edouard Viala, the chief of staff in obstetrics at the Port-au-Prince General Hospital.

In the month since the quake, the general hospital has delivered more than 100 babies in its maternity tent, Viala said. The surgeons have performed more than 27 Cesarean sections.

Joanne D├ęsir, 26, rushed to the hospital in a rented red pickup truck when her water broke in a nearby tent city. She gave birth to a baby girl in the truck bed, just outside the hospital.

``I'm glad I came [to the hospital],'' she said, lying on a cot inside the maternity tent with her baby in her arms. ``I want the doctors to look at her.''

Still, doctors say even the hospitals and clinics are far from ideal for delivering babies.

At the University of Miami field hospital near the Port-au-Prnce airport, doctors didn't have access to a baby incubator.

They were able to deliver one preemie by emergency Cesarean section. But when the baby's temperature dropped -- a potentially life-threatening condition -- there was no way to warm her.

Thinking quickly, the doctors used ready-to-eat meals to raise the child's body temperature. She was later transferred to a hospital in Haiti with an available incubator.

Marjorie Michel, the Haitian minister in charge of women's affairs, said her office is working to address some of the concerns. She said the government will set up special tents where pregnant women can give birth in sanitary conditions. Her office is also trying to provide pregnant women with nutritious food, and new mothers with diapers, sheets and blankets.

Additionally, the World Health Organization is sending more obstetricians into Haiti, a spokesman said.

But even despite the challenges, there is a silver lining: These women are bringing life into a city where death has ruled since Jan. 12.

Miriam Seguie, 23, went into labor in the street two days after the quake. Her aunt, her only female relative to survive the disaster, dragged a tattered gray carpet and a fraying blue-and-white blanket into the street and assisted with the delivery.

Still, Seguie said she felt blessed.

``I did not die,'' she said. ``I made life.''

Gina Pierre gave birth to triplets Carline, Carlheinz and Carly in a makeshift tent two days after the quake. The mother swaddled her 8-pound babies in stained bath towels, and kept them warm by pressing them against her chest.

Five days later, the newborns stopped taking fluids. They looked weak, and their cries were labored. Pierre took the babies in her arms and walked a mile to the UM field hospital, where doctors nursed the babies to health.

The afternoon before the babies were discharged, Pierre rocked the smallest of the three in her arms. Her older sister Guerbine Pierre cooed over the other two, who wore tiny hats and rested quietly in baby blankets and bath towels.

``They're miracle babies from the earthquake,'' said Nicole Kalinowski, a pediatric nurse from New Jersey volunteering at the field hospital.

Said Guerbine: ``It's God's work.''

~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Pray for the pregnant women of Haiti; their babies will be born into a struggling and recovering land. Pray that they might grow up in a Haiti that is growing stronger and always healing. Pray they bring their families HOPE and JOY and PROMISE.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Link

One of the most beautiful things I have read post earth-quake ...

Today if you have time to read something true - you should read this.

"I want you to know that, before the earthquake, things in Haiti were normal. Outside Haiti, people only hear the worst -- tales that are cherry-picked, tales that are exaggerated, tales that are lies. I want you to understand that there was poverty and oppression and injustice in Port-au-Prince, but there was also banality."

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

They are Haiti


For four years we've been watching people come in and out of Haiti. The visitors have mainly been Canadians and Americans. Over and over again people talk about feeling a deep connection or a unexplainable love for Haiti and her people. More often than not people leave Haiti and soon after report that their lives will never be quite the same.

What is it?

Haiti is a country of stark and overwhelming contrast. There is stunning physical beauty, both the landscape and the people. At every turn you meet men, women and children that live their lives with inspiring strength and grace. They humble you. The good is so very good. The beauty so rich, so staggering. On the flip side there is deep poverty, and sometimes very deep corruption, wrong-doing, and abuse. The weak are not often protected, it can be devastating to witness. The society "functions" while looking away from much of that darkness.

It's beauty and it's horror.

Every culture has its strengths and weaknesses. That is not what makes Haiti unique. Haiti just functions in the extremes. The contrast is so incredibly in-your-face that you almost cannot categorize what you've seen or felt or been able to touch and smell and taste.

Our love of a place is either born of our own experience or from hearing of someone else's experience. There are many who have heard only the bad things about Haiti. Their opinions are based off of the incomplete snapshots of others ... Our opinion of the country and her people will depend on what we choose to focus on and see. All of it is real. The good. The bad. The beautiful. The hideous. But what sticks with us? What comes to represent Haiti?

While I am not terribly endeared to a few of the cultural norms in Haiti, I am inexplicably endeared to the people. I am especially touched, moved, inspired, awed, strengthened, fascinated, challenged and in love with the women of this culture. The old women usually leave me speechless. An old woman in Haiti deserves royal treatment. These ladies have seen things. They know things. They exude wisdom and knowledge.

To me, THEY represent the culture and to me they are Haiti.

The women carry the majority of the daily work. From my perspective they carry this land (on their heads) and they do it with style. They are tough, strong, courageous, reliant, tenacious, and graceful. Watching them and all they cope with and endure makes me want to be a stronger woman too.


They are Haiti.

~tara

Lament



Robbie Seay Band - Lament (We Cannot Wait)


Robbie told us that this song is being given away to help Danita's Children in Haiti. (Robbie tells you how to buy this song in the comments section.)

And, he helped us become a tiny bit more legit as Texans by indoctrinating us into the Chuy's cult (pending official approval) with a gift card to buy our very first vat of Creamy Jalapeno. It will not be our last, this I can assure you.

This is Hope - This is Love


  • Counseling started today. We are doing a specialized counseling for trauma called EMDR. It was kind of wacky but we trust the process and will participate without reserve. We think it will be helpful, but we'll sort of mock it and have fun laughing at how odd it is - which will help make the 80 minute drive seem shorter. Strange, strange stuff - I'll tell you that.
  • One of our kids is really starting to be hit with grief. I don't want to tell all the internet world every thing, but please pray for our kids. (And I know you are - thank you.) Maybe you'll even know which one to pray for. Tonight was really the first night of talking through and feeling some major grief and we sure wish we could make it go away. It is so hard to watch our kids hurt and feel crazy. But unfortunately - the only way through it ... is through it. :( It sucks.
  • Collette and her baby Esther (the 1st baby born on the Comfort Ship) - our miracle Mom and baby are back at Heartline. See the stunning Mom and Baby with Dr. Jen and Beth today :) God is good. This is hope. This is love.
What will baby Esther's Haiti look like?

May it be a Haiti that offers her the love of Christ, the gift of education, the benefit of medicine and the protection and comfort of a caring family.
Amen.


Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Up and Down We Go

Hurting and healing and being loved and loving - is a messy thing. When it comes to healing, we'd like for it to be linear and we'd like for it to always go from bad to good - in a straight line. Healing does not look much like that. It resembles zig-zags and dot-to-dot puzzles much more than it resembles a straight line. And so we ride the waves of crushing grief and brilliant hope up and down and up and down. The last couple of days have been filled with much hope. It's been good.

I am finding that people get really uncomfortable when they read that I admit to questioning God or that I am struggling with Him and working out the nitty-gritty pieces of my faith as a result of the earthquake. I have received the emails worrying that I am too far down the path of questioning or that I don't view God's sovereignty in the correct light. I truly appreciate that you want to tell me how you view God and how you deal with struggle ... I know it is meant from a heart of love. Here is the thing though ... this is between me and God. My faith journey is my faith journey alone. Like Sara Groves says in a song, "When I stand before the Lord I'll be standing alone. This journey is my own." I'm working it out with Him and growing and not growing and growing again at my own pace, in my own way. I cannot be where you want me to be and I don't need to be. I know God is so big and so loving and so EVERYTHING that HE alone can handle me and a billion more just like me and then some. He is not stressed out by me.

Because I blog openly about where I am in the struggle, I think people feel the need to correct me or fix me or tell me how to get to where they are faster ... but I just need you to know, I trust God to work this through with me. ALL the way through. I believe He will. I am waiting and while I am waiting I might be hurting - I might be angry- I might make you uncomfortable - but I am growing. I am on this journey and He's holding me and that is all I need. One last thing - if I ever think I have arrived - PLEASE - come smack me on the back of the head.

Yesterday we were able to share at a church in College Station (hey Aggies!) and even though I was not fully on board when I learned that Troy had agreed to it, I came away with an absolute sense of the love of Christ for me. We landed in Texas for this time of waiting and even though we're not truly Texans -- the people of Texas have treated us as such and have absolutely shown us A Jesus-variety-love. The people we met and spoke with last night were encouraging, understanding and loving. I just got the sense that they accepted us right where we are. For a first speaking gig post-earthquake I thought Troy held it together beautifully. Two teary break downs was about 32 less than what I expected. Thanks for having us Com. Church.

A local Baptist church is allowing us to use a house they own. The most beautiful thing about it is that there were no questionnaires or qualifying ... no one asked us to fill out forms and prove we were worthy. There was no concern about how we matched up with their views on theology or approach. That is so refreshing to me. They will know us by our love. This church just loved us, no questions asked.

Our kids are doing okay. From our perspective Phoebe and Lydia are insecure and freaky acting - and seem really unsettled; while Noah and Isaac and Hope are doing really well. Paige is with Troy and I just feeling things deeply. Fifteen is so stinking hard anyway ... she is carrying a lot and we're staying tight and checking on each other frequently each day. I can safely say that the uncertainty of the next few weeks and months is the hardest thing for us. We miss our regular life and are anxious to have it back. If there was some map laid out in front of us that said, "After you go here, you go here and then after that you will go back" -- that would be so much easier. The uncertainty is challenging. We like concrete plans - and right now we've got very few of those. Okay, none of those. So -- for Lent, we're all giving up our right to know what the future holds. (wink wink - that counts, doesn't it?)

Jen tells us that there is a strong possibility that Collette is coming off of the Comfort Ship and back to Heartline Hospital. Read Collette's story here (part 1) and here (part 2). She is not 100% sure of it yet, but it sounds very likely. We were SO pumped to hear that. There have been a couple others from that original group of 11 that have returned and it has been a huge blessing to Jen (and others) to see them come full circle. Jen and I talked last night about how awesome it is to be able to not just dump them on the next place and walk away ... there is something so beautiful about sticking with them through the recovery and getting to be a part of their lives as they heal.

Tonight Troy and Paige and Britt are off listening to Aaron Ivey and his talented band sing at a Baylor function. We had a really good day hanging with the Iveys. We first met them in early 2008 when they brought a team to the mission we were managing at that time. We've enjoyed mocking Aaron ever since. Paige gave their daughter Story a new/fun hair-do. The world needs more Paige. She's got skills.

Many of our friends in Haiti are telling us that beautiful things are happening right now. They are reporting a sweet, sweet spirit of praise and healing among the people. We wish we were there to see that for ourselves. It sounds amazing. There is a strong possibility that I will make a trip home late next week - hoping to get to see some of this joy and healing for myself.

A Twin Cities station did a few stories on the Heartline Hospital and the Minnesotans involved in the effort. They are linked here and here. Keep in mind that the leaders of this ministry have 20 years in Haiti and are from Boston and many volunteers from all over the U.S. and Canada have helped make the effort what it is, these stories take the local angle so lots of amazing volunteers and leaders are not shown or mentioned in the stories. The story below is more recent ... the Twin Cities FOX affiliate ran it a night or two ago. And this BBC story was interesting and compared other major earthquakes to the January 12 disaster.




Believing my Father will mend this,
Tara

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Unrelated Pieces and Parts

One week in the great state of Texas and we pulled off sitting down to eat together all at one time on both Friday and Saturday night. In a life as unsettled and transient as this I will take these small victories and make a ginormous deal out of them. So in that vein - Yay us! You're such totally stellar parents!

Troy has assured me he can speak in front of a crowd of people without giant strings of snot coming off of his nose and awkwardly hanging on his hand after he wipes his face. Because of this assurance I am going to join him for a speaking engagement in College Station, TX tomorrow (Sunday) night. I will speak just a few words so as to avoid public mucus humiliation. Instead I'll listen to Troy from the safety of a seat surrounded by copious amounts of tissue. The day may come where I could speak without uncontrollable sobbing, but it is not coming tomorrow.

~~~~~~~~~~~

Corrigan (full time in Haiti also) read my thoughts about Geology in a previous post and came back at me with these thoughts - I liked his angle and wanted to share it with you ...

Active participation:
God did this or allowed THIS for some reason

Passive Permittance:
God didn't have anything to do with THIS, but didn't care to stop it.

Active but ineffective Resistance:
God actively opposed THIS, but was not victorious in his opposition.

There is no "THIS":
God had a mixture of actions & responses to a whole bunch of things with great complexity.
A near infinite number of things happened on Jan 12, not just one earthquake with the same impact on everybody. Lots of peoples' stories came to very different transition points, plot twists and turns, and sometimes, tragic conclusions. There were things that happened that were just, there were things that were unjust, there were supernatural forces and natural ones, there were things that God wanted to happen and things that were not His desire, but part of an unfinished spiritual war. There was grief and redemption all in a swirl, because this is not yet the kingdom on earth as it is in heaven. There were plates shifting and prayers answered and there was evil. The only reason we look for ONE particular answer for it all is that it was ONE shared experience. But our stories aren't truly all the same... they just intersected. So finding ONE reason or one reason NOT to talk about reasons is just not whole enough of a response. God acted, resisted, allowed, rejoiced, grieved, and withheld in response to a million different things on Jan 12, like He does everyday, only I imagine this day he grieved much more.


(Corrigan Clay)

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

C.S. LEWIS SONG - TO LISTEN GO HERE

If I find in myself desires nothing in this world can satisfy
I can only conclude that I was not made for here
If the flesh that I fight is at best only light and momentary
Then of course I’ll feel nude when to where I’m destined I’m compared

CHORUS
Speak to me in the light of the dawn
Mercy comes with the morning
I will sigh and with all creation groan
As I wait for hope to come for me

Am I lost or just less found,
On the straight or on the roundabout of the wrong way?
Is this a soul that stirs in me,
Is it breaking free, wanting to come alive?

‘Cause my comfort would prefer for me to be numb
And avoid the impending birth
Of who I was born to become

CHORUS
Speak to me in the light of the dawn
Mercy comes with the morning
I will sigh and with all creation groan
As I wait for hope to come for me


Happy Valentine's Day to all lovers.

Friday, February 12, 2010

Patrick, Suzanne, Fritznelson, Evans, Collette, Jean, Roody, Cherline, Maxon, Naomie, Mikenson, RoseMarie...



Their names are known.

Melody, David, Gabriel, Denzel, Roseberline, Joceline, Roger, Tiga, Anso, Saraphina, Edithe, Anite, Lumen, Joseph, Roberson, Renald, Hermann, Merilien, Peter, Katiana, Phillipe, Oriole, Natacha, Rosemine, Youdline, Joranne, Ticia, Kerline, Astride, Esther, Claudia, Sophia, Benjamin, Duvancia, Jeff, Nico, Xavier, Manouchka ...

Calling For Balance

There are a small handful of beautiful programs working in Haiti to raise orphans to adulthood and teaching them to give back to their country. It takes a lot to pull that off. It takes strong and committed Haitian leadership.
~~~~~~~~~~

Last night on AC360 Anderson visited an orphanage outside of Port au Prince.

As he interviewed the people overseeing the orphanage they said things and he repeated them in agreement. It was the "let's all agree and not think critically" segment.

During the interview one women admitted that most kids were placed in the orphanage as a result of financial hardship in the birth family. She did not claim the children had deceased parents. (Although some of them probably do.) She went on to explain that they would not want to offer adoption as a choice because these children need to stay in their own culture. Anderson did not ask a single hard question and just nodded in agreement. In reality orphanages are a subculture and cannot effectively preserve the culture that they so adamantly claim needs preserving.

AC went with the unicef line about how much better it is to be raised in an orphanage in your own country ... preserving your cultural norms and avoiding adoption at all costs. (Meanwhile unicef spokesperson Angelina Jolie adopts children from other cultures and ruins their chances of growing up in an orphanage - yet somehow that is different. You must need to be a celebrity to break unicef rules.)

The weird thing is, they stood in an orphanage meant to house 100+ kids at once and literally said "We never want to take these kids from their parents, their parents love them." Yet the kids are LIVING in the orphanage ... do they not count that as taking them from their parents?

Basically, you can take them from their parents to raise them in your crowded institution - but you cannot take them and place them in nuclear families abroad ... that is abusive. They sat there saying that the kids were placed mainly due to financial reasons, then tried to say that they must be raised in Haiti to be able to help Haiti some day. One teenage girl spoke on camera, saying something like "If you adopt all the kids out they won't be here to help their people, and that is what we want." It was an odd soundbyte by someone who is likely on a short-term visit to Haiti and has very little big picture perspective.

I hardly think anyone is suggesting that we take every.single. child in every.single. orphanage and move them out of Haiti. OF COURSE NOT. As usual, they change the argument into something it is not. ALL children leaving Haiti is a bad idea. An idiot knows that. You cannot remove the entire next generation. But, ALL children staying in Haiti (closing down adoption on the whole) is a really bad idea too.

The same thing applies as in every other argument ... it is not a black and white, one size-fits-all argument. Different situations warrant different responses ... there is no hard and fast rule, no one response to the orphan crisis. Keeping hundreds of thousands of orphans (with or without living birth-parents) in institutions and thinking that these institutions will prepare them to "give back to their country" -- is nothing short of totally ignorant. The vast majority of orphanages in Haiti are horribly understaffed and overcrowded. Those conditions don't turn out world leaders.

Most orphanages look different on the days that visitors come. They are not wonderful, loving, centers of cultural goodness. 100 kids living in one building was presented as a brilliant idea by Coop last night. I am not exactly sure what he was thinking. Live in an orphanage for three months when there are no cameras around. THEN come tell me how totally awesome it is to stay in your home culture.


I don't know why Anderson is generalizing and suggesting one solution for the problem of orphans in Haiti. These one-sided platitudes must be encouraged by unicef or by those ten people that tried to take kids illegally ... but either way they are misguided. I'd love to see Anderson actually report on this issue looking at BOTH sides.

Adoption is not warranted in every situation. Of course not. But keeping all orphaned kids from the opportunity to be adopted in order preserve their fabulous (orphan) culture and keep unicef in business, is not a one-size-fits-all solution either.


tara

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Radyo Tran-n de



In the weeks and months prior to January 12th I was trying hard to finally get my act together and get my Kreyol skills to a passable point. (Don't ask me why I waited almost four years to do that.) Paige and Britt and Troy all kicked my butt and made me look pretty pathetic and I had decided it was time to work hard at learning the language and quit making excuses about my little kids taking too much of my time.

I loved going to Kreyol class and enjoyed finally being able to communicate. Everything seemed so much easier with some language skills. Outside of learning grammar and pronunciation we also learned cultural sayings and proverbs along with lots of insider cultural information from our instructor.

Word of mouth communication is huge in Haiti. Most people don't have TV and many will have cell phones but no ability to consistently put minutes on their phone. People pass important information with great skill by word of mouth. In the past, if we wanted to locate someone it would be as simple as getting the word out to someone with a connection to the community we *thought* the person was in ... within a few days the person we were looking for would appear.

The system is amazing and unique and most often works for good. The downside is that untrue things can be spread this way. Shortly after the earthquake rumors of a giant, killer tsunami spread throughout Port au Prince like wildfire. There was panic and fear and it was all based off of word of mouth rumor that no one could substantiate. Friends of ours told us that where they were- people were running in the street screaming that the water was coming.

In Haiti if you heard it by word of mouth or through the rumor mill it is called "Radyo Tran-n de" (Radio 32). Radyo 32 is in reference to the 32 teeth in your mouth and is a way of saying that you heard it from someone's mouth. As the weeks unfold into months and the Haitian people learn to navigate the new Haiti, we hope the truth will be known and spread. Living in fear is exhausting. We hope that won't be the way Haitians are forced to live.The Kreyol way to say earthquake is- tranbleman de te a - or literally translated, "shaking of the earth". As we walked around talking to friends and neighbors and injured people after the quake, we often asked if they suffered their injury before, during, or after the shaking of the earth. We asked about their family. In Haitian culture when you see someone after a long time you always ask them how their family is. This is the second question you ask after asking how they are. After the earthquake this is even more important and culturally sensitive. When asked, many of them would share their story about where they were and what their experience was on January 12th. People need to talk about it and each one experienced it in their own unique way. Just listening to people share their experience felt important. If you're going to Haiti in the coming months it would mean a lot to just listen to the stories and in whatever limited way possible to show concern and sympathy for their trauma, suffering, and great loss.

Troy and I were blessed to meet Joel and Rachel over Christmas. We were gathering together with a group of other expats to celebrate Advent and Joel and Rachel were an adorable young couple that were celebrating their first Haiti-Christmas. As we shared with them and listened to them over a subsequent dinner I could not help but feel that they were really having a rough start in Haiti ... after they left our house we talked about their strength and grace in dealing with some pretty hard things for people in their twenties. We agreed that at that age we were nowhere near so mature. That was all before the earthquake. Their hard start in Haiti had only just begun. Rachel wrote today about their experience in the earthquake as their building tumbled down and they were left to figure out how to survive. I hope you'll take time to pray for these beautiful people and for God's healing in their lives. I cannot imagine what these days have been like for them.

Prior to the trembling of the earth I would have bragged to you about how much Haiti had taught me patience. I would have told you I was a very changed person due to the speed of the culture and the ways it forced us to wait so often. Today I don't feel that patience at all. I feel uncomfortable in my own skin and I am desperately restless.
As it turns out, I am not patient. Not at all. Open-ended uncertainty requires a faith level that I have not yet attained. Truthfully, my false sense of knowing the future gave me false comfort that I falsely trusted - and - I want all of that falseness back!
An earthquake survivor from a 1976 earthquake wrote to us to tell us that the way her parents came undone after the earthquake changed the course of their family. She encouraged us to deal with it and get help. We don't want to be "undone" and we don't want to do that to our kids... yet now we're here physically with them - but emotionally I often feel a million miles away. The most precious moments in our day are the rare times we can set aside our own stuff and just enjoy the beauty of the amazing children God has given us. This morning when Isaac said something silly, Hope excitedly exclaimed, "MOM! I saw you smile!"

We want to give our kids the time and attention they need. We believe the counseling is going to be important for us. We hope that we are starting that next week. We found the people we want to use and are just waiting on the appointments to be confirmed. Overall we feel that our kids are doing pretty well. Lydia shows the most outward signs of fear and insecurity and is much, much more clingy than the Lydia of early January. Paige has agreed to talk to someone. The other four kids are really doing pretty well and verbalizing things better than a few days ago. They are insightful and wise. Isaac and Noah seem most concerned with whether or not Peanut is still our dog. "Is she our dog when we're not with her?" It is a question that can be filed in the same giant drawer with, "If a tree falls in the forest and no one is around to hear it, does it make a sound?" These are the great questions of our time.

We know that our house in Haiti currently needs to be a place for volunteers and that it is not a good place or environment to raise kids. To go back there when we don't have much control over who comes and goes at our own home is a bad idea. We have legal paperwork to work out on Phoebe's adoption. There are all sorts of things to fill our time and they are tangible valid reasons to be here in Texas ... but none of them make it much easier being here.


Our friend Corrigan nailed it on the head. Staying in the thick of the work and staying busy was key to not thinking or feeling. That business of DOING something insulated us from the range of emotions we're drowning in right now. Rather than become a broken annoying overplayed horribly boring record, I will try to go back to story telling and leave the emotion-dumping for the counselors.

We've been calling home to talk to Jeronne every other day. (She has worked with our family for almost the entire time we've been in Haiti.) It always ends in Jeronne and I bawling on the phone together. I love her ... so much. She and I are the same age but I feel fiercely protective of her and hate that we abandoned her. I wish the governments of this world would allow for humans to present human situations and then they could respond with fair, loving, humanity. Friends of ours cannot even get their long-time spouses out of Haiti to go see their American children right now, so we knew there was no way we could convince anyone to let Jeronne come with us for a while. Tonight on the phone Jeronne told us that the radio and Digicel has been telling them there will be more earthquakes. Tipap told Troy the same thing and then told him that tomorrow is a day to fast and pray for Haiti.

Our hearts and prayers are with the men, women and children of Haiti ...

I found their struggles to be enormous and unjust before this catastrophe. And now!?!?
No words.

Please pray with us. Please keep looking for organizations you believe in and give when your heart prompts you to give. I have always been drawn to smaller grass-roots organizations. To me their work is more tangible, more personal. Of course the large international organizations are helping too, but if you're searching for places to give where you can know the names and faces of those putting your money to work, and where you can cut out a lot of overhead and administration costs, please check these out:

Real Hope for Haiti
The Apparent Project
Providence Ministries
Joy in Hope
and of course Heartline Ministries.
Photos: Troy Livesay

By Beth McHoul


HAPPY HEARTLINE HOSPITAL

We've seen so much suffering. Every person at our makeshift field hospital has broken bones, gashes and untold amounts of hurts. They suffer. They also laugh, pray, argue, have deep discussions about food and what Haitian food tastes best, and they love to worship really loud early in the morning while the rest of us are sleeping.
We've been doing sort of a patient exchange with Merlin, a British based field hospital, set up on the tennis courts where John used to play tennis. The hospital and housing are in tents with British folks running around and British doctors doing skin grafts. Haiti being the barter country it is, is a place where we barter for everything. In the first week of our clinic we bartered with some British firefighters for our corpse for their broken legs. We weren't being cold we just didn't know what to do with our dead lady. Finally John, who has always had morgue duty dealt with the situation.
Now we barter skin grafts for physical therapy. The only glitch is our folks don't like it at Merlin. Merlin is great, they heal wounds, do things we can't do and are fine folks. Their tents are hot and they don't have church at 5:00 AM. Yesterday when Doctor Jen and I were there a few of our folks came up and said, "Mme John, we want to go home! We are hot in the tents, we don't have enough food we are not comfortable here." "Take us home." By home they meant our field hospital at our boy's home. We have rows of cots outside, kids running around, two dogs. lots of American doctors, nurses and support staff. We have become a family. They have church at night (and in the morning), the nannies who used to watch the kids are now helping patients, babies are fed, games are played and community lives. They like each other. They like us.
It gives me such hope. Community where pain is. We are all in this together and we see no end in sight. All of our lives have changed. Nothing is the same as a month ago. My house still stands but different people live in it with us. The boys, girls, and women's homes still stand but they perform new functions. My dearest friends have left for a while. Our women's clinic is now a giant pharmacy. Bedrooms lay empty while the driveway is full of beds because Haitians will not sleep inside.
Nothing is the same except the strong spirit of the Haitian people. The commitment and love of foreigners. Doctors and nurses who work long days and nights from the day they arrive till the day the leave. These things are the same. People caring about other people. I am a witness to huge sacrifice and strength. I see God at every turn. I see people helping other people and putting their own emotions on hold. I see life.


About Beth:
Beth has been in Haiti for 20 years. Beth is my running partner, ministry partner and best friend. She and her wonderfully odd husband John are two of our favorite people on the planet and are an inspiration to us and many others. Please pray for the McHouls.

We love and miss you John and Beth.

Photo: Troy Livesay