Monday, January 31, 2011

Rooster, it's what's for dinner.

Next door to us is a man who has a "hobby" of owning and raising birds.  He built them a two story house of their very own. (Like you do.)

We would estimate that there are upwards of 100 roosters, chickens, pigeons, and other dirty fowl living about 10 yards from our house.  The amount of noise they make is comical.  Sometimes in the morning when they are at their most boisterous it is hard to hear each other in regular conversation. Most of us have learned to accept it as background noise. Sometimes we don't notice the ruckus.  Thankfully they seem to sleep from about 5pm until 2am; there is a nice chunk of time of relative quiet.  T.I.H. 

Last night there was a little rumble in the hood.  Somehow this rooster ended up on our side of the cement wall and went to meet his maker at the hands paws and jaws of one Peanut Livesay.

This morning there was much excitement at finding this. (photo above) Troy and Geronne debated about how to dispose of it.  In the end Troy pitched it back over the wall to allow for proper grieving and closure for his relatives.

A little later Lydia went under the table to show Peanut the photo of the dead rooster on Twitter.  Who doesn't want to reflect upon their accomplishments and bask in a moment of self-congratulation for at least a moment?

In other gross animal news:
Jen and I pulled into the Red Cross yesterday to donate and pick up blood.  We commented on how odd it was that they abandoned a gurney/bed in the parking lot.  Later, I ran to the truck to grab some hand-sanitizer and my phone and I noticed what I had missed at first ... The deceased lying on the gurney.  How nasty is that?   

We both happen to have a highly desirable blood type. ("Superior blood people", as named by Troy on Saturday.) We went down there in order to be able to get blood for a patient from Cazale. 

In Haiti you need to give blood in order to get blood. Jen gave blood.  I tried. They wouldn't allow me to donate because my BP was too low. It was a bazillion degrees in the room, but Jen remained upright. We watched a few minutes of a movie with Steve Martin speaking French in a voice that did not match up on the television.

After waiting a while we were able to transport blood across town to the patient Jen was helping.  (Like you do.)

Saturday, January 29, 2011

Five Speed Paige

Today while Troy was in Ti Goave with a big group visiting "little Emmanuel", one of the earthquake hospital patients, and I was hanging at home with the fabulous five, Paige and our friend "Tex" (Harold) had a date with the truck in Port au Prince.

We're so glad Tex came to spend a few months in PAP ... it is fun to have a representative for our Austin friends here with us for an extended time. :)  (Missing you Austin lards!)

Lesson one of: "Learning to drive a stick shift in one of the most challenging driving locations in all the world" is complete.

Paige and Harold both feel that lesson one was a success!

Friday, January 28, 2011

Little by Little

Prenatal Class in December - "Belly Mapping"

Heather Hendrick wrote about the things that happen at Heartline Prenatal Program each week in detail on her blog. Check it out.

The youngest woman in the program right now is 15 and the oldest woman is 52. (Having her 12th child and happy as can be.) We currently have 27 pregnant ladies in the program with a wait list that often exceeds that number. We give preference to "high-risk" pregnancies, which is kind of like saying we try to give preference to everyone because they are all high risk. 

The next woman due to deliver any day is Dalonne (22) if you'd like to pray for her by name I know she'd appreciate that. 

Enisse (15) (in Heather's photo below) moved into Harbor House on Monday and gained four pounds by yesterday's prenatal class!  :)  She is coming out of her shell and the shy, timid, almost unresponsive girl from two weeks ago now has a bounce in her step and a change in her countenance.  That's what food, love, and prayers can do. We're anticipating more growth (emotional and physical) as she settles into her new safe home.

On Monday we'll be welcoming another pregnant young woman into Harbor House.  Her name is Leoni, she is 19 years old.

(More about the girls and Harbor House updates, challenges, prayer requests and thoughts coming next week.)

Right now we're just so anxious to get things more structured ... or, maybe I should say, right now I am driving Troy completely nuts by feeling and acting very impatient with what is left to do to make it into a ordered, and well run program.  I want it structured yesterday!

Troy just shakes his head disapprovingly and keeps saying "Piti piti zwazo fe nich li". (Little by little the bird builds its nest.)  I need to absorb more of that particular variety of patience.  Ak pasyans wap we tete foumi. (With patience you'll see the breast of an ant - translation of the translation: with patience anything is possible).  
That ends Friday's Haitian Proverb lesson.

Today as we interviewed Leoni and talked her through the move in plan, Jonna kept Lydie and Phoebe busy for us by listening to their hearts.

Hope & Noah this morning before school

Noah and Isaac had a rough day the other day and were at each others throats on the ride home.  (They rarely fight.) We had Harold (from TX) helping us out by driving them home and we were bummed they fought and acted rowdy for a person trying to do us a favor.  I talked to the boys at length and reminded them what their Dad always says - "The world is going to knock us down, so while we are home, while we are able to be together, we build each other up."

I talked much longer than they listened and for sure they were hearing only pieces of the end of my lecture. I forced them to hug, apologize, and claim forgiveness for each other before heading out to play.

That night Troy returned home late and he said to the boys as he tucked them in, "Anything I need to know about your day guys?"  Noah said, "Yeah Dad, I gotta tell you one thing."

Long pause.
Troy waited.

"Dad, today I returned evil with evil." 

Troy said he had to stifle his snort laugh.  Thankfully it was dark in the room and Noah didn't know that. :)

Parenting this crew requires more patience and skill than we possess ... but little by little they're learning.

Little by little we are too.

Thursday, January 27, 2011


Today is pre-natal day at the Women's Center. There are a handful of ladies in their final weeks of pregnancy. Thank-you for praying for them.  Some of them are sleeping under tarps as they prepare to give birth.  Can you imagine that?  

Please also keep the young moms at Harbor House in your prayers. Building community and trust is not an easy thing. This is a week for growing pains.  We've seen over and over the power of prayer, so we'll keep asking you to intercede for Mari Carmelle, Djenie, Seirgeline, Ernege, and Enisse.

Oh let our faith be not alone. May our hearts be not of stone. Give us souls that never close. To the grace that you bestow. Oh may our eyes be quick to see,  to see that you are here, you've come to rescue me.

Thank you God. You are here. You've come to rescue me.

Editorial in Miami Herald with thoughts on Duvalier.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

deye mon gen mon

Today was a rough Haiti day.  We're facing our first big challenge at Harbor House and praying for direction and wisdom. We also have some new friends from Leogane dealing with their own big challenges.

You've likely heard the Haitian proverb: "Deye mon gen mon" or, behind the mountains there are mountains.

You've maybe also heard that Haiti is like an onion.  You must peel layer after layer to get to the bottom of a situation/story/problem.

We're not sure what it is that makes these things true.  It can be discouraging at times.  Things are not easy to discern. A Haitian man told me on Sunday that he believes Haitians don't generally trust each other or anyone. (Often with good reason). We talked at length about the jealousy and mistrust and tendency to seek revenge that frequently occurs here.  

This post from 2009 came to mind tonight while we talked through what to do next.

We're so grateful that God goes before us in these things and lights the way, because we're so clueless. 

Prayers for illuminated paths in the morning!



Tuesday, January 25, 2011

pics & links

Two (four) graduating from Early Childhood Development class today

  • Want more info on the Heartline Guest House?  - Extra photos being added in the coming days, please check back.  Photo album on FB here.

  • Linking to thoughts on (not so) Baby(ish anymore) Doc's oddly timed return from a Haiti blogger here. 
  • Linking to today's political rumor here.

    Photos by: Joanna Howard, Blake Thompson, Brian Williams, Joanna Thiele 

    Ernege sharing her story


    Mari Carmelle and Amir

    Dorks promoting shirts OR Shirts promoting dorks? - You decide

    Cool and Not Cool

    Harbor House staff and residents in ambulance

    • We took the ambulance for her maiden voyage late Monday afternoon. Old timers at this here blog will recall that a bunch of us ran a marathon together just two days before the earthquake. If you rally all your faculties you might also recall that you and others gave of your resources generously to sponsor us in order to raise funds for this much needed vehicle. We ordered it after the earthquake. It took a year to get it but finally we have the ability to help our ladies. So cool! Now we can pick them up in the middle of the night and deal with emergency situations in a vehicle big enough to deliver if necessary. We pray it will serve the women and pre-born babies of our area well. Thank you again for caring for Haitian women!

    • Please pray for Enisse.  She is the newest young lady to move into Harbor House.  Today she came with her one tiny bag of possessions.  Understandably, she is pretty scared. She has always seemed a bit withdrawn and quite shy. We're a little worried about her. The other young women have been living together for some time and she has some breaking in and relationship-building to do.  She is fifteen years old, was recently kicked out of her house by her mom and is due to deliver in about four weeks.  We fear her baby may be pretty small. Please pray for Enisse and the Midwives and Dr. Jen as they prepare to welcome this new little one into the world soon. 

    • We learned last week that a mom in our prenatal class is suffering from pre-eclampsia. Guerda is about 33 weeks into her pregnancy and needs prayers.  We hope to help her and improve her situation with medication, nutrition, prayers, and careful monitoring. It is possible she could improve enough to deliver with us, but she may require a c-section if things remains as they are today.  We're hoping she can hold on another four weeks until her baby is big enough to do well.

    • The little guy born last Friday just after midnight is hospitalized.  Jen and Jonna did a home visit on Saturday (a tent visit as it were) and found him running a fever.  Please pray for him and his momma, Roselore.

    the new property

    • Until Sunday I had not had a chance to see the Heartline land.  We visited after church. We will eventually move the Women's Maternity Center onto that property and (si Bondye vle) build the hospital and housing there.  It is a lovely piece of land.  I am less of a visionary and more of a doer. Therefore I experience dangerous spiking heartrates thinking about all that needs to happen before we can work on that land.  I am told others don't necessarily respond that way.  This is reassuring.  We think God is moving. 

    • One way God is moving is through three guys that are visiting this week.  They are currently downstairs pontificating with pipes in hand. They are with SafeWorldNexus and the Dave Ramsey Show and are here with us specifically because they want to raise money to help Heartline develop the property sooner rather than later. Cool! Not only did they bring an obnoxious bounty of crackers and granola bars, but they brought their cameras and their notebooks and their skills and will tell the Heartline story soon in hopes of raising beaucoup bucks for building on the new property. 

    • The commute to school has its ups and downs. (Literally and figuratively.) We were amused to find this note in Hope's schoolbag the other day. It is good to know that we toil not in vain! The training and instruction in the fine art of sarcasm has begun to pay off. Below you'll see she goes with a much more advanced technique wherein you begin totally sarcastic, but then - BAM - just like that without warning - you switch to truth.  It is sort of along the same lines as, "I really love what you've done with your (fill in the blank).       NOT!"

      Monday, January 24, 2011

      Quoting ...

      “More and more, the desire grows in me simply to walk around, greet people, enter their homes, sit on their doorsteps, play ball, throw water, and be known as someone who wants to live with them. It is a privilege to have the time to practice this simple ministry of presence. Still, it is not as simple as it seems. My own desire to be useful, to do something significant, or to be part of some impressive project is so strong that soon my time is taken up by meetings, conferences, study groups, and workshops that prevent me from walking the streets. It is difficult not to have plans, not to organize people around an urgent cause, and not to feel that you are working directly for social progress. But I wonder more and more if the first thing shouldn’t be to know people by name, to eat and drink with them, to listen to their stories and tell your own, and to let them know with words, handshakes, and hugs that you do not simply like them, but truly love them.”   ~ Henri Nouwen

      This might be the hardest adjustment coming back home after most of 2010 in Tejas.  It is important to remember that the most powerful currency in Haiti is relationship.  Sitting and talking (sometimes about nothing) is a difficult thing to force ourselves to slow down and do.  We're driven by our personal desires to get things done, show results, impress donors, finish the task, etc. etc.  ....   but we always come back to realizing that what feels significant on the surface is not nearly as important as sitting with someone who needs time to be heard. Presenting fancy graphs, charts, and stats about lives "saved" is so much less meaningful than being with one person for as long as they need and actually touching their life. 


      Friday, January 21, 2011

      Happy Birthday Miracle Babies

      The stories of two January 21 babies:

      You've heard us say in the past that one of the great joys of living here is being privileged to be sitting front row to some mind-blowing miracles.  This is not to say that miracles don't happen in the developed world; it is only to say that here in Haiti - the things that happen often scream "miracle".

      Beth recently told me that when a midwife friend from California scoured the files of the prenatal ladies, she found that in 2010 every single birth that ended with a baby needing emergency help, it just so happened Dr. Jen was in the room.

      The first baby born into the program once we added the labor and delivery piece was born September 15, 2009.  Since that time there have been a handful of very scary situations.  There are times when it is totally necessary for a skilled pediatrician to be in the room.  Beth never knows when those times will be, she doesn't necessarily ask Jen to come attend births.  Jen sort of attends according to her schedule/availability. As you likely know, Jen splits time between Haiti and Minnesota.

      Last night I was leaving to go cheer Beth and Jonna on at the end of a long labor and delivery with a young mom named Roselore.  It was about 10pm when I left home and as I got up to leave Paige and Jen decided to come with me. 

      When we walked out of our house I said to Jen, "You really want to come?" She had already had a long day and I wanted to let her off the hook to go to bed.  She said, "Yeah, I think I should come. Maybe they won't need me and that's fine."

      At 12:09 on 1/21/11 a baby boy entered the world and went straight into the capable hands of Dr. Jen as she got him breathing and responsive after a pretty stressful birth.  (Jonna and Beth turned their focus on Mom.)

      As it turned out Beth and Jonna (both fabulous and amazing midwives) needed the support of all three of us - but especially Jen.  It was an unusual birth with some unexpected twists and turns.  Had Roselore chosen to give birth at home both she and her baby would not be alive this morning. (That probably sounds dramatic but it is totally true.)  The power of prayer is something we never take for granted.  Those that support this ministry with prayer, thank you!

      We're so in awe of the way God provided last night.  Mesi Bondye! 


      Exactly a year ago today another miraculous birth took place aboard the giant floating hospital known as the USS Comfort.    

      This story will always be one we hold tightly and carry with us because it serves as a powerful metaphor for the way God cares for the forgotten, lost, and broken - and is mighty to save. 

      He takes us from our broken, battered, messy places and He lifts us up and heals us.  

      One of the posts from the ship here.  (This is a Comfort Ship blog post.)

      The Backstory: Below, an excerpt from this post.

      "On Saturday (which feels like a lifetime ago) Troy and John went into Simone Pele to visit with the people of that area and assess their situation. We have ties to the community due to a monthy pre-natal outreach we’ve been doing there. It is considered a rougher area by most. 
      On that day Troy talked with a young woman named Collette in Simone Pele. She is 7 months pregnant and had suffered a broken pelvis during the earthquake. There was a giant yard area where many were gathered and injured. They had not received medical attention. He was standing next to where she was lying and talking to other people gathered around. She grabbed his hand and made eye contact and said, “Pa Bliye’m.” (Don’t forget me.)
      Troy told her he would be back to get her on Monday. She had been unable to move for days at that point.

      This morning John McHoul (head of Heartline Ministries) and John Ackerman (a nurse in Haiti) went back to Simone Pele to get our first load of patients.

      When they got to the house Troy immediately looked for Collette. They had not picked her up. There were so many with crooked bones or with bleeding, infected and oozing wounds that her broken pelvis did not look serious enough to get her on the first truck.
      In the afternoon the first round of patients (that did not have to stay on IV fluid) were returned to Simone Pele. Troy needed to bring more patients back to the Docs and nurses. He was not going to leave without Collette. The guy that was with him kept finding other patients and Troy kept reminding him that he needed to keep looking until they found her. 
      After backing the truck in to get very close to her so she could be moved with the least pain possible, Troy got out of the truck to hear Collette screaming “Merci Jezi, Merci Jezi” while waving her arms wildly. 
      Troy said it was all he could do to spit out the words, “M pa bliye ou” (I didn't forget you) without bursting into tears in front of all the tough guys standing around watching.

      Tonight Collette rests under the care of volunteer Docs and Nurses at the Heartline Women’s Center house."

      A couple of days later -
      Excerpt from this post ...
      This is where the day went cuh - razy. The Doctors were quickly realizing that even though they were doing some pretty big surgeries and risking a lot --- we still had people on our hands that we absolutely could not do enough for. One of those patients was Collette that I told you about a couple of days ago. (Pa Bliye'm story)

      Dr. Jen decided to research how close the USNS Navy ship was to arriving and emailed contacts she has from earlier this year when we got to go visit the Navy ship that was here. We did not hear back and did not hear back and the afternoon was getting away from us. We had 11 people that we hoped to take but could not get the 100% go ahead. On a wing and a prayer we decided to load our patients and try to find the spot to get them on the ship. We had like ZERO information. But off four vehicles went in a row to try to find the right spot in a crazy city of millions.

      My heart rate must have been off the charts as I wondered what the heck we thought we might accomplish. I felt sick wondering if we had loaded up these poor suffering people with horrible pain only to aimlessly drive them all over the city. We had trouble and stopped and asked and and stopped and asked and stopped and asked .... and got pretty discouraged.

      Finally we turned down a road that we hoped might lead us out to the water. A man rolled down his window to tell us we were heading towards Americans. We pulled in to find about 30 Americans setting up camp. They were unloading dump trucks and starting to set up their first large tent. The two docs that came with the patients approached and asked if they could possibly help us. They told them that we'd heard the U.S. Navy was sending a ship or serious operations and very high need cases. They shook their head a bit and explained they had JUST arrived about 60 minutes before us and they were not even set up. They said they would try to radio the boat, but it was not really yet set to go either. Gently Dr Jen and Dr McKnight asked about getting a helicopter to take our patients. They seemed sort of non-committal - we knew it could go either way. The last thing we wanted was to return to our little make-shift hospital with 11 people that really need surgery.

      We waited for our miracle.

      All of a sudden out of nowhere a helicopter circled over a time or two ... then swooped in. It landed right out in front of us. Two studly helicopter military guys walked over and said they could take four people. We chose the four worst. They said "We'll be back in ten minutes for more." We could not believe what was happening. They came back ... and back. Three trips to the ship for the people of Simon Pele. I asked a couple of the patients that I had connected with if they were afraid. They seemed to know that something big was about to happen. How humbling it was to watch the poorest of the poor ... forgotten by most ... be some of the very first patients to arrive by helicopter to a US Navy Hospital floating in the Port. I stood there weeping as they took the last group up.

      We left Heartline on Jen's hunch - with almost no location information and no certainty we would be received - and we found the American base, that had only been in place for 60 minutes, that led to the helicopter coming, that led to hurting people getting help.

      It felt like justice to me.

      Hurray for justice. Hurray for miracles.

      Wednesday, January 19, 2011

      mini midwives

      Phoebe and Lydia are becoming miniature midwives in training.  Lydia is with me almost everywhere I go.  Thankfully Phoebe agrees to stay home about half of the time. She likes being home and I like that I only have one needy, incredibly chatty, and super busy "helper".  

      The ladies in the prenatal class seemed mostly amused by their belly rubbing and questions last Thursday. It might become less amusing for them as time goes on so we're working to convince Lydia she can stay home and play on Thursdays.

      This morning she allowed me to leave to run without a single tear, this is progress!

      Post-earthquake Haiti is much busier than we've known it to be previously. Monday through Friday the days start at 6 and we go many different directions much of the day. At about 4:45 everyone is back home. At 8:15 everybody but Paige is usually in bed and Troy and I reply to emails, read news, write something here, attempt to communicate intelligently with people and be organized for the next day, etc.  It is either that, or we lie down with Lydie to get her to go to sleep (as required by Lydie) and we fall asleep with her. It is somewhat surprising how much more tired you are at the end of the day here. 

      The last few days have been so crazy we have had to hide from the kids in order to talk to each other; somehow they always find us before we're ready.

      People sometimes ask how we can get it all done?  I think maybe they are assuming it is super orderly. It's not. There is not much margin. There is no margin. There are things we don't do.

      We don't play games, we don't read books nearly often enough, we don't talk on the phone/skype much with friends and family in the USA (no time or no energy being the chief reasons - plus if we have not talked to each other we figure talking to other people makes no sense) and we don't have June Cleaver variety of organized meals together. Meals are definitely a place we skimp to save time/effort. We feed the kids as we stand and manage them and eat while fielding their questions and commands and it is usually pretty unimpressive.  After that we hurry through home-work and start thinking about bed. Tonight they were allowed to swim instead of bathing. Water and chemicals must be equal or better than water and soap. Getting them all to bed feels like its own little victory. We cut-corners and "degaje" whenever possible.  If Geronne did not help us with the kids and handle 90% of the housework we would never make it.  She is the only reason this operation is functioning at all. 

      This week we're one kid extra. A sweet three year old named Melody is staying with us while her big sister travels for a funeral.  Today our friend Harold from Austin arrived. (John insists he be called Tex.) He is staying at the guesthouse for two months and hopefully among other things he will get the lay of the land and be able to drive and assist with some of the transportation issues we and others are having. If you like video games, you can drive in Haiti. Some of us are actually better drivers here. 

      Today Troy said: "I think I know what Neil Armstrong felt like now that I have a working data plan on an iPhone in Haiti."  In theory this new development will mean he can multi-task in traffic (since he spends so much time sitting in traffic) but in reality it might mean that he simply plays his next "Words with Friends" move much quicker than usual and nothing productive will come of it.

      Tomorrow night Jen comes back from Cazale and some of our favorite lards from MN (Marcia and Greg Erickson) come over to visit before they head to the south part of the island on Friday.

      The election and politics dramas continue to unfold.  There are plots and subplots. We're not sure who's on first...  Or what the heck anyone is thinking or doing.  Some of the statements made by attorneys of a certain "exiled" dictator are mind-boggling.  It would be comical  -  if so many lives were not depending on the outcome.

      Who needs television when you sit front row watching this stuff?

      That's it from here tonight.

      Phoebe on Sunday

      Beth feeding Lydia Nutella for lunch

      Lydia & Phoebe listening to heart-tones with Beth

      Lydie "helping" yesterday at Women's Program


       HERE is a link to a piece (with photos) written last week for "BlogHer". 
      (Pasted in without pictures.)


      There are a handful of places on the planet that grab the heart of every single person that visits. The vice grip hold that Haiti has on ours is difficult to explain.

      Difficult to explain that is, unless you have been here.

      In 2002, my husband and I first visited this country of deep beauty, great suffering, abundant overcoming, and stark contrast. While it sounds cliché, from that day forward we have never been the same. At the time of the catastrophic earthquake our family of nine had lived and worked full time in Haiti for four years.

      Wes Stafford, president of Compassion International, said, "Haiti was home to one of the worst disasters of our time. Then the earthquake hit."

      January 12, 2010, at 4:53pm, forty seconds of violent shaking changed this land forever. Long ago known as the “Jewel of the Antilles,” Haiti stood in total ruin.

      The hours, days, and weeks that followed the earthquake felt entirely surreal to us. It reminded us of the movies where things that don't make any sense happen and where story lines don't always match up with reality. On one corner bodies, were being stacked by the dozens for mass removal, and on another people gathered to pray, sing, and thank God for sparing them even as multiple aftershocks shook the ground violently.

      The media this week has focused much on the mind-boggling amount of work that remains to be done. They quote statistics about slow rubble removal and lack of economic growth. We don't disagree with them, but we think they're missing the real stories.

      As we mark the passing of this first anniversary since the devastating earthquake, the real stories are being told all across Leogane, Port au Prince, Petit Goave and the entire country. MSNBC and ABC must sell more advertising by focusing on the negative, because the positive is not very hard to find. It stands out all around us. It begs for us to notice.

      The positive is Antoinette, who walks perfectly on her prosthetic leg and is so filled with joy and gratitude for her life that you cannot help but smile when she greets you. The real story is Collette, who went from the poorest slum in the western hemisphere with a life-threatening injury to the USS Comfort ship by helicopter. Doctors did not think she would survive the surgery to meet her unborn baby girl. They told her as much before they operated. Today she walks tall, holding almost one-year-old Ester confidently on her shoulder.

      In the days after the earthquake, Haitians rescued each other; for hours on end, they dug by hand and with brute strength lifted giant slabs of cement with nothing but their will to see friends live and their faith. Yes, thousands of volunteers poured in a few days later, yes many big name NGOs responded, but the Haitian people were united and responsive first. In the hours of the greatest devastation and loss of life, Haitians helped Haitians.

      Day after day, miracles unfolded before our eyes.

      Our role in this epic undertaking was small. Each day we transported patients from the slums outside of Port au Prince to our makeshift field hospital a few miles away. When our medical volunteers could not meet their needs, we went to work networking with others on the ground. We acted as advocates in a place that often forgets the weak. We traded a patient that needed an amputation revision for a patient that needed tender loving care in a long-term recovery setting. We traded ketamine for morphine. We worked together with organizations from Israel, Miami, the United Kingdom, and even the United States Navy. These organizations worked together, and we did it without ego or concern for credit. It was not about us, nor did we want it to be. More than anything, we longed to see the people we so respect experience relief from their pain and feel both love and care in our touch. Each day, lives that would have been lost were saved. In a sea of 300,000 injured, our contribution was small, yet not insignificant.

      As we reflect on the earthquake and the aftermath, we find ourselves focusing less on how much cement there still is to move and more on how inspiring the resolve of our tenacious friends has been. We think less about the questionable behaviors of the president and the international community and more about the strength of spirit and example exhibited to us daily as we work along side our Haitian brothers and sisters.

      They are the reason Haiti has our hearts.

      Tara Livesay
      Port au Prince, Haiti

      Monday, January 17, 2011

      Harbor House

      In case you missed it, we're anxious to share that we've named the program/home for teen moms "Harbor House" (HHH- Heartline's Harbor House). 

      Thank you for praying for the girls and for the sweet words of encouragement as we kick things off.


      noun \ˈhär-bər\

      Definition of HARBOR

      : a place of security and comfort : refuge

      It is our prayer that this home will be a place of security, protection, provision, growth, and shelter for the young moms that live there.  In the next week or so we'll try to get some updated photos of their digs and new photos of them with their baby boys.  

      We have one prayer request to share.  We want to hire an older, mature, stern, savvy, and loving (the best combination of those things) "house mom"  - we have always wanted this position to belong to a Haitian woman.  This person will be a key to the success of this program. We have a candidate in mind to interview but are praying for five to six candidates.  We're asking God to bring the perfect mentor/mom/leader/shepherd for these fabulous girls.  Will you ask with us?

      Photos compliments of:  Jonna Howard, Theresa Reichert, Beth McHoul, Jen Halverson.

      Peculiar turn of events ...

      Truth has fairly consistently been stranger than fiction here, so maybe the return of JeanClaude Duvalier (Baby Doc) shouldn't surprise us so. 

      Amnesty Int'l has this to say.

      The AP pointed out that more than 50% of the Haitian population is under 21, therefore they don't have their own memories of Baby Doc's reign in Haiti.  Many people seem to romanticize that time stating only that they "had electricity all the time back then".  Families that were not political say they lived better lives.

      We're expats new to the scene but this strikes us as bizarre and scary.  It makes no sense to us that he would be welcomed back right now. (Exile doesn't mean what we thought it did.)

      Rumors are swirling. One person speculates the US and France brought him here to arrest so they could set a precedent and arrest Preval when he leaves office in a few weeks. Another suggests he is coming back here to die. (He looks pretty pasty and not so well.) Others say they are going to have a new election and let him run for office again. (In what twisted universe would a brutal dictator from the past be elected democratically?) That seems pretty far-fetched. It is also reported that he has a round trip ticket and will leave again soon. Some say Aristide is on his way back too.  A few prominent personalities say Preval brought him in as a distraction from the failed election mess, a bait and switch of sorts. Baby Doc himself said he came to check on the well being of the country after hearing and seeing disturbing images for the last year.  Irony anyone?

      We don't know much.  Only that it is all quite disturbing.
      Like you, we're watching and listening.

      Link to recently published story.

      Saturday, January 15, 2011

      Saturday Links

      From an American that was trapped in the rubble.

      "The certainty of life is things move forward whether you are ready or not. While I can so easily transport myself back to that potential coffin of rubble and the emotions that go along with that reality, a year has passed and my exterior marks are fading. I know that my scars on the outside do not have to mirror those on the inside, but their slow departure feels like pressure to move on and I am not ready. So what to do?" -Jillian T.

      From her husband, Frank

      "For most of the international community, the one year anniversary was used as a barometer for what has, or has not, been accomplished by the government and aid agencies to help the victims of the quake.  Only 30,000 transitional shelters have been completed, only 10 percent of the rubble has been removed, over 800,000 people are still living in tents.  These are all outrageous, and worth discussing, but when the day came, Haitians could care less about where they were getting their water, or where they were going to sleep, they just wanted their loved ones back.

      So on the day of the anniversary, most people weren’t screaming about their situation.  You didn’t see them taking to the streets to complain about how the recovery here can only be described as stagnant, you saw them flooding the churches and praying, you saw them taking the day to reflect." -Frank T.

      Please follow the links to read both moving posts in their entirety.

      A year ago today five of our kids landed in New Jersey at an air-force base tired and scared but safe and well cared for; I am grateful to my government for coming for them.  We had all the choices in the world, we are the privileged.

      After reading Frank and Jillian's posts I got to thinking about how many stories haven't been shared. It is overwhelming to consider how many experiences and tales of those days will never be known. 

      I'm thinking today about all the people who never got to tell their stories because all around them were thousands of people who were not in a position to sit and grieve or listen to them .... They were also busy finding their own loved ones or trying to find a way out from under rubble.  When an entire city is gripped by grief and loss all at once there aren't enough ears to listen and console.  I hate that.

      It is true that time heals wounds but in my observation, for the Haitian people, the emotional healing has only just begun.


      Below, earthquake amputee Jean (11) with his prosthetic leg and Lydia with Jean after he took it off before bed-time last night.

      Jean is the same boy pictured here at this post.

      (Jen's photos taken Friday)
      A little later today we're taking Jean to be fitted for a bigger leg. He has grown enough that his current leg is a bit too short already.

      Thursday, January 13, 2011

      Kid Updates

      Try as they might our moms still worry about us and their grand-kids.  This post is open for public consumption but mainly intended to calm the nerves of the two grannies in the house.

      Be at ease grannies. Everyone is doing well.

      We've been busy and in many ways it feels busier than when we last lived here even though Annie is no longer here and being down one ornery pre-schooler should make this feel easier, right?  No. Not.  We'll find our groove soon I think. All that aside, the six kids are great.  The biggest adjustment has probably been the travel time to and from school. We are not convinced it is something we can do long term. Right now it is the best option but we're reserving judgment about the more distant future. Nobody wants to spend that much time riding the clutch up and down hills in gridlock traffic. Troy's left leg is going to get disproportionately muscular and that will just look weird.

      Paige, Joanna, Beth
      Paige is going to be a big help to Troy and I at the Harbor House (the official name for the Teen Moms Home). The young moms living there all really like her and she bridges the culture gap a bit with her  understanding of slang and "street" Kreyol (for lack of a better word to call it). School is going okay for her. I think a really good friend would mean a lot to her.  We're praying for that.  She should be getting her braces off of her teeth very soon.  She's excited for that.  Jen let her drive home the other night so she felt pretty pompy having driven in PAP .... even if it was only three blocks. :)

      Isaac is a little bit worried on and off about another earthquake. Troy has been praying with him a lot about his worries and he always seems to let go of it after talking through it.  He is making us laugh by asking Jen a billion questions and then looking up answers in his encyclopedia. He pretty much thinks Jen is able to answer any and all questions. The other night they discussed the black death, penicillin, and other random things of Isaac's choosing.  He seems to think about what topics he'd like to broach with Jen and then waits to grab her at the gate when she gets home in the evening. If Jen is having a down day he is sure to boost her ego a bit. She knows everything! :)

      Hope already got to stay over night at a friends house last Friday and is doing great. She likes her teacher, enjoys school and is generally chipper. She has not complained about roosters or mosquitoes ... but she cannot sleep well without her fan.  Thankfully Troy (the master of inverters and the power overlord) got us back in business a few days ago. She and Phoebe share a bed now that we moved Lydia out of the crib and into Phoebe's toddler bed. Hope is usually very patient with Phoebe and they are two peas in a pod in a lot of ways. 

      Noah is madly in love with his life here. He is less bored here than he was in TX and is just plain dirt-covered, sweaty, and happy. He has lost two teeth in six days and thinks ten gourdes is an awesome tooth-fairy gift.  One benefit of living in Haiti right there. He has fluid build up in his ears and probably needs tubes because he is having a lot of trouble hearing. (That started in mid to late December.) Dr. Jen is on it and has already found an ENT doc that will do it for us in Haiti this spring. April is a long time to be mostly deaf, we're hoping it might resolve itself. In the meantime we're repeating ourselves boisterously quite often and are glad there is a way to fix it if the fluid doesn't drain on its own before then. He loves his teacher, Mrs. Ackerman. (Hope had her for Kindergarten too). 

      Phoebe is excited about all the dolls and toys she left here still being here and is happy to stay with Geronne when we're gone. She also seems totally at peace with being back. She has been and still is one of our most introverted but when she's been out for church and group functions she has done well. She melts down when there are too many mosquitoes or a big bug in her sight .... we're not sure where the bug phobia came from. She still speaks of herself in the third person consistently. (Like Elmo does.)  Tara thinks that is hilarious.

      Beth's photo of Lydia and Marley
      Lydia is the only kid that seems a bit fearful. We cannot leave her at home if we're both going to be out at the same time. We've done it twice but not without gnashing of the teeth and clawing at our clothing. We're not sure what she remembers from the EQ and we're no child-psychologists but she definitely does not want to be away from us. When I said Lydia moved to the toddler bed, what I really meant is that Lydia sleeps between us every night and her toddler bed is in the house she lives in waiting for her to come to it.  She LOVES LOVES LOVES all the dogs. She can often be found sitting holding a dog's paw at whatever house we are visiting. 

      One of my favorite moments since we've been home was when Lydia watched Antoinette (a Heartline Hospital patient and friend) take off her prosthetic leg.  Lydie's eyes are big anyway but they grew larger as she tried to take in what she was seeing.  It was very sweet to read the concern and dismay she had over poor Antoinette's situation. We explained it to her and she verbally reviewed it aloud for the next couple of hours.  Last night, when we gathered to pray and sing and remember January 12, she saw Antoinette with her leg on again and told me, "She got hewr leg on now and she happy. Hewr house fall though and she scared."   It was cute because Antoinette was totally comfortable letting Lydia check it all out and stare at her.  Marjorie, another woman that lost much in the earthquake let Lydia check out the stump where her hand used to be. She even stretched it forward for Lydia to shake.  It was precious for two reasons - 1. Both of these amputees are comfortable and unashamed and daily being healed inside and outside  & 2. Lydia was genuinely concerned for them both and unafraid of touching them and asking questions.

      Other less grandparentish news:

      Jen & Kenny*
      Geronne is very happy having us back.  On the anniversary of the EQ she definitely mourned a bit.  She thinks Lydia's ornery side is hilarious.  She is the only one that thinks that. :)  Her laugh is infectious and we are very blessed to call her our friend and co-worker.  She never corrects me when my Kreyol stinks and I am begging her to stop being nice because it is not doing me any favors.  If you know her, you know she'll probably never correct me.

      Jen has a bunk bed and a corner of the dining room that she calls her home.  We all co-habitated in 2008 so we knew we could easily do it again and get along no problem.  We have a tight and an easy-going relationship and we all love her & really enjoy that she is here.  Heck, I'd love having her here if she was a court reporter or an assembly line worker, but I gotta say that having a (very good and very smart) ER Pediatrician in the house really puts this Mama at ease.  She'll be here another several weeks before she has to head back to the frozen tundra to be a grown up and go to her other life and work.

      Time of worship/prayer 1-12-2011
      Troy and I will be working together at overseeing Harbor House. (Brit G. has the biggest job of living there with the moms.) He is much better at understanding cultural nuances and his language skills are very solid.  He has a lot of experience managing employees and I don't. He is one of the more tender and protective guys you'd ever meet (ask B and P and Jen) and I am really grateful to have his help.  The main thing we're attempting to do right now is just building relationship and trust.  That probably sounds sort of intangible ... mostly because it is totally that.  One of the ways I'm doing that is to have them work with me one on one helping me with improving my grammar and vocab. They act as my professor, I am vulnerable and it builds trust and language skills all at once. At least in theory, anyway.

      We're slowly finding our feet and very grateful to be back. 


      *Photocredit: Theresa Reichert

      A picture is worth ...

      Wednesday, January 12, 2011


      On 1/12/2010 at 4:53pm the landscape of Haiti was irrevocably changed. 

      Despite great tribulation and loss the heart and spirit of the people endures.  

      Today an entire country stops to remember those they lost. Please pray for them and with them.


      Last year's initial thoughts found Here. 

      There is no week in our lives that is as vivid and ingrained in our memories as a year ago this week. It is so hard to imagine or accept the volume of suffering that occurred in the hours and days that followed the earthquake. 

      We are crying out for this beautiful place and her beautiful people and asking God to move on their behalf. Heal this land. 


      Also written last year, the days that followed:

      EQ P1

      As Jeronne let her grip loosen on the kitchen table and ended her 40 seconds of screaming at the top of her powerful lungs for Jesus, it slowly began to sink in that we'd just experienced something epic. Something we will never forget.

      For me personally, the sound of the earthquake is what struck me the very most. Yes, we were shaking and yes the entire house was rocking, so much that you easily fell down as you walked. But the sound was deafening and it is what first registered with me when I wondered WHO could possibly want to bomb Haiti?

      The kitchen floor was covered in soy sauce and spaghetti sauce and glass. Troy was pacing. He seemed uncertain of what to do first. Upstairs the desks had vibrated out of their places to the center of the office area. Books had shaken free from their spots on the shelves. The floor was covered with office supplies, papers, things from the walls, and glass. The boys' "pet" lizard used the opportunity of a broken pickle-jar to escape once and for all. The walls were bare of everything that hung on them just sixty seconds earlier. Water leaked from the toilet that had been shaken out of its place.

      While Troy went to check on the Guest house and our friends and sons, I moved the kids to the driveway. Their bodies shook even though for those few moments the earth stood still. When just minutes later the first of many strong after-shocks hit, they all dove for my arms, for safety in my lap. Jeronne screamed for Jesus again. Paige remained cool and calm and helped hold little ones. Even in the chaos and fear, I noticed her response and felt gratitude to her. She had landed back in Port au Prince from Florida only six hours earlier.

      The internet phone rang, it was the weather channel. The call dropped before we could figure out what they wanted from us. We were too confused to understand how the Weather Channel even found us? After getting the call out to my Dad and posting a quick blog post, the internet dropped. We spent the first two hours after the earthquake trying to determine that everyone in our area of Tabarre was accounted for. Troy had gone to get Vivien, Megan, Kristen, Erin and their kids from the guest house. They all moved to the driveway of our house. We traded a lot of "I don't believe this" type commentary.

      Not one single Digicel (local cell provider) call would go through for us. About 45 minutes after the EQ John pulled up on his motorcycle and informed us that Jonna, Joanna, the Tlucek kids, Kelli, the Childrens' Homes, and the Buxmans had all been unhurt and their houses remained standing, although damaged to varying degrees. Just knowing that our little circle of people were all alive felt like a gift. We did not know the magnitude of the damage across the city by any means at that point, but we knew that 8 houses still standing up and no injured people was nothing short of miraculous.

      Overall during the first two hours everyone stayed very calm. Inside I think we were all incredibly afraid. I remember feeling helpless as Erin and Kristen wanted to talk to their husbands but the internet phone was not working well.

      Around 7pm the dinner that had been started before the earthquake was finished and we all quietly fed the kids enchiladas as we tried to act less nervous than we were each time the house shook. By the time we finished eating it was very dark outside and we knew we needed to start conserving battery power. We began discussing who would sleep where. Kristen's infant daughter was running a fever and vomiting, the sick baby added to the heavy feeling in the house.

      I lose track of time a bit at this point, but around 8pm or so Megan began to share that she had not gotten through to her friends at Three Angels Orphanage and that she felt it was important to go check on them. I remember my initial response. It was a mix of selfishness and understanding. I said, "Well, you cannot drive a stick-shift and Troy is not going to want you going alone so he'll have to agree to come with you." I was instantly wishing I did not have to give Troy up, but I knew Megan should not go do that alone. (If you know her, you know she would have gone alone on foot if necessary.) I went to Troy to tell him what Megan wanted to do. He agreed they needed to get up the hill to check on the orphanage. I am not sure where the feeling came from but saying goodbye to him felt very large to me and I was incredibly fearful that I would never see him again. I actually said, "If I never see you again, I love you so much. But PLEASE come back." Everything felt so out of control. Paige really wanted to go with Troy and Megan. I had no peace about that and although Troy would have allowed it I said, "No Paige, I don't know what it is like out there." She was pretty angry with me for that.

      After Troy and Megan left we lit candles and put everyone to bed. The aftershocks continued every 30 minutes or so but were less strong. I laid next to sleeping Paige and begged God to protect Troy and Megan. I prayed things I have never prayed before. The hours wore on and I paced the house trying to calm down. Eventually I grabbed Troy's lap-top and went to the guest house. I think that was around midnight. I was too afraid to go inside and sat on the stoop outside of the house. When I logged into Troy's computer it began to download over 1,000 messages ... I glanced at the subject lines as they downloaded, they said "have you seen" and "can you help me confirm" and "my husband is missing" and "will you talk to us by phone" ... I started weeping. I read Troy's tweets to learn a few things about where he'd been. I logged into Facebook to see a link to a photo of the Palace. Collapsed. I could not believe my eyes. I think that was the moment, around 1am, that I realized the magnitude of those 45 seconds of shaking. As I sat on the stoop willing the battery to hold up the aftershocks continued. Each time little pieces of cement would fall out of the wall of what used to be Vivien's room. As they happened the neighbors gathered in a circle in the street would pray and sing louder.

      Troy and I are already fuzzy on some of the timing of that night/morning. Around midnight he was back in our area but his main purpose was to get Jonna and Joanna and if I remember right, Vivien - he was checking to see if they wanted to help at a make-shift medical clinic for the night. Megan had stayed with the Three Angles group. After retrieving supplies and the girls, he brought them back up the hill to work. He returned home around 4am. We laid down and Troy told me what he had seen. He cried as he told me the story of a young woman and her husband's cousin sitting outside of the collapsed St. Josephs Boys home. Her husband was trapped inside. The husband had been singing for awhile, they could hear him, but eventually the singing stopped. Troy asked if he could give them a ride, they were not ready to leave or give up on saving their lost loved one. They wrote their names down for him in shaky writing, the paper sat on the kitchen counter waiting to be reported to the US Embassy when we could get through to them. He told me about other things, like walking over the top of buildings and past many bodies. He listed the places we know well that he had visited and found reduced to rubble. He said it felt like Armageddon. Around 5am Troy fell asleep for 30 minutes. I got up. I wrote this but could not post it until later that morning when I went back to the guest house. When I went to post it another 800 messages downloaded. Most of them were in search of an interview or a loved one. A few messages demanded we post photos immediately - I was ticked at that and responded with this comment: "We will not be posting photos here. We have limited time and internet ... Imagine the worst - you have your picture." I had no idea how true that statement was.

      Kristen and Erin started getting some calls out to their husbands to help them find a way out of Haiti. In the end all of the flights their husbands booked never left Haiti. But for 48 hours they booked and re-booked flights frantically. I barely offered them comfort as I was so freaked out about everything, I know they could have used a more encouraging hostess, but we all sort of did our best.

      Troy left again early Wednesday morning to go out for the first time in daylight. We had no way to communicate back and forth within Haiti but he was trying to find out if some friends and acquaintances were okay. The emails poured in faster than we could read them. I delivered messages to Troy and John as I was able. Morgan, John's daughter, wanted him to go check on some family friends. Those friends ended up coming out of the rubble as John arrived on Wednesday. People wanted Troy to check on their loved ones. The feeling of helplessness hit hard. There would be no way even with unlimited diesel (which we did not have) that we could go to all the places or check on all the people. Roads were blocked, fuel was running short, everything took so much time and there was no way to quickly communicate back to me as he found things out. As requests came in with photos attached, we separated them into categories ... areas we could get to and areas we could not get to ... faces we knew well and those we had no idea how to find. I made a list of the ones Troy could feasibly check on.

      Weeks later, certain faces and photos and names stick with us. A photo of a red-haired man that was at the Montana Hotel is forever etched in my memory. I know his name and his face, his family never got to see him alive again. I pray for them every-time the image pops into my mind. Troy will never forget the people he met that night, the ones who lost their husband, their cousin. He ran into them again at the US Embassy on Thursday.

      At our own house the internet would come up for an hour then drop, each time it was up the phone rang non-stop. Media outlets we did not know existed wanted to talk. We felt far too overwhelmed to talk to them, we did not want to say something in our exhaustion or fear that we would later regret. We had others help us screen calls and refuse all interviews.

      (For the sake of finding them later each installment will be EQ P# - for earthquake part _ ).

      (The less detailed telling of the first few days can be found here.)

      EQ P2 when time allows. The details of deciding to evacuate the first five kids and the experience at the US Embassy.

      March 24, 2010

      EQ P2

      Wednesday, January 13 came and went. Troy spent that entire day trying to assess the situation while looking for living people and confirming answers for acquaintances and strangers alike. I never left home except to use internet a few doors down when I needed to. I stayed with the kids and our two friends/guests. Nothing about that day felt real, it was very much a time of floating above reality and looking down onto it. I believe the psychologist types call this disassociating.

      We did not sleep more than an hour or two Wednesday night heading into Thursday. We woke up Thursday to learn that Kristen and Erin could not get out on the flights they had booked but that their husbands were talking and making plans B and C.

      Word on the street was that possibly 50,000 had died. The bodies were beginning to pile up around town. That seemed impossible. Fifty-thousand?

      Troy left to go up the hill to Delmas 75 to check on the folks working that clinic and to find out if there was diesel available anywhere along the route. Kristen and Erin and I fielded phone calls and tried to give the kids attention, but we were not all that good at it. The house had 10 kids, ages 15 - 8 - 8- 5 - 3 - 3- 3 - 2 - 2 - and 9 months ... we were outnumbered on a good day but with our brains spinning and no sleep, none of us were in stellar parenting mode by any stretch of the imagination.

      During times when the internet was up I tried to keep track of emails for Troy. Sometime during the first half of that day (somewhat in response to emails and questions) I wrote three very short posts. This and this and this.

      When Troy got back around 11am he decided to take a motorcycle (pay a driver to take him) to the US Embassy. The reason for that was to conserve his own diesel in our truck and to try to keep from wasting while sitting in gridlock traffic. We had not yet gone there and we were hearing (through you and the internet) that evacuation flights had begun. He left for the Embassy at around 11:15am and was supposed to get back by 1pm to bring Kristen and Erin to a flight they thought they could catch to Jamaica. When he was not back at 1pm I got ready to take them, not really sure what to expect or if it was even possible to make it the the airport. As we were about to pull out Troy arrived back home. He said he had been to the Embassy and had decided while there to put our kids' names and my name on the list to evacuate. The Embassy had told him that things were changing all the time but that if the kids could be back within an hour they could likely get them out on Thursday night around 4pm or 5pm. They said each person could have 50 pounds of luggage. Being back within an hour, even though the Embassy is three miles from our house, was basically impossible. Plus, we had guests that needed out too and wanted a ride the other direction. He sort of gave up on the idea that we would get our kids back to the Embassy in time for that flight they mentioned. Troy left around 1:30 with Kristen and Erin and Kristen's infant daughter. They pulled out thinking they would head to try to get the Jamaica flight. Their two in-the-process-of-being-adopted sons stayed back with me. (There was no humanitarian parole for kids in the adoption process on our radar at that time - we were still not to 48 hours after the EQ.) Somewhere on the drive they abandoned their Jamaica plan and went to the U.S. Embassy. I was not in the car so I don't know how that decision was made. Troy dropped them to the Embassy and came home.

      When he got home we had one of the more intense conversations of our marriage. He wanted me to leave with the kids. I felt torn and uncertain, and just sick. I asked if Kristen and Erin could possibly escort them? He said, "No, I put YOUR name on the list." We went round and round and it was highly emotional. He wanted me to go out to feel like he had us all in a "safe" place and I wanted to stay and work and get the kids out while we had capable, loving escorts to help them. We really could not communicate well (read: fighting) because we were both under stress and not able to share our fear-based choices. I wanted to stay to work, but I also was not ready to leave Troy in such an unknown new world. I knew the kids would be safe once they were on U.S. soil we had all the plans made with Britt and Chris and my parents and that felt okay to me. Leaving Troy when things were spinning out of control in Haiti was too much for me in that moment. We eventually decided that I would pack my stuff, I would pack the kids stuff, and I would be ready to go *if* the U.S. Embassy would not allow us to have Erin or Kristen escort.

      About 5pm we were packed and ready and headed with the five passport carrying kids to the airport. I bawled my head off saying goodbye to everyone, uncertain if I would be returning home or flying out with the kids. We left behind the Haitian kids without U.S. passports, Jeronne was home with Megan to care for them. The kids were full of questions, but not yet afraid. Troy walked us into the Embassy. At the door they had security and the normal scanning machines and check-in process.

      Troy went into the building to see if they would take my name off of the list. I waited in the courtyard with the kids and many others who were gathered there waiting for that same flight out. Troy came back out to tell me he had listed Erin as the escort for the kids and that they told him that no flight had left yet and that the plan was to leave around 10pm and go to Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic to then book commercial flights to the USA on our own.

      The Embassy staff was clearly working under great stress and with lots of conflicting and wrong information coming their way. I felt terrible for them as we watched them talk to angry people and put up with a lot of crap. When you got on their list you had to sign a piece of paper that said that the U.S. Government has a right to bill you for your evacuation. It made perfect sense to us. We choose to go abroad. A disaster happens. Our governmentt shows up with planes for us. We get to leave. Seems simple.

      While I am nervous to see if we ever get a bill, I sure as heck think it makes sense that they may bill something for it at some point. Every other time I leave Haiti I pay for a flight out. I know others disagree on that ... and I know it because people were jerks to the Embassy employees about it. As if the US Embassy employees set that policy. A woman literally said, "What? You might bill me for my flight? It is not MY fault the Earthquake happened!" Uh. Yeah. Apparently it is their fault? People are ridiculous sometimes. But I digress.

      There were people trading stories in the courtyard. Paige ran into a lot of friends from school. Her friend Dawn was there with her family. Their house had collapsed on them but they had found a way to crawl out. Dawn's Mom was hurt and needed to be carried. Dawn seemed incredibly strong for a teenager who had gone through what she had gone through. Dawn's dad works for World Vision and Troy quickly offered them any help we might be able to offer and exchanged emails.

      We are unsure of exact count, but there were probably about 175 people at the Embassy that night. Some stayed in the courtyard and others sat inside.

      Troy left to go get sheets for the Church of the Open Door group (people we have MN connections to) to use and something to lay our kids down on and some food. Before he got back, at around 7pm they came out to distribute MREs (military ready to eat meals). We sat in a circle with our group and the Buxman kids and the Tlucek group. Troy delivered blankets and we laid them out to get everyone to sleep for awhile. (In theory.) Lydia was manic and would not settle down. Isaac and Hope and Noah all fell asleep around 10pm. Paige could not sleep. Lydie sort of did for about three minutes.

      Around 11pm there was some buzz around the courtyard that if you were willing to abandon your bags and you did not have a baby, you could go on a flight straight to the USA. We did not jump on that because we had Lydia and Kristen had Karis. We watched as a few decided to take that chance, including the Tlucek kids and their guardian Kelly. Ten minutes passed while we discussed the change and tried to figure out if the Dominican Republic plane was still coming? No one seemed to really know. I went to ask an employee. She said she did not know yet that the only SURE flight was the one straight to somewhere in the U.S. (she did not know where) and that you could not take luggage.

      We talked some more and Erin was willing to take the kids and go if they would let Lydia sit on a lap. The Embassy lady said okay and we began trying to put layers of clothes on the kids while trying to wake them up and get them on their feet. The Buxman kids were unsure about leaving their bags and Kristen felt that she could not travel without luggage with her infant, she was thinking she would stay and see what other choices might be offered.

      Erin and I walked into the Embassy from the courtyard and got in a line. The line let us out the backdoor to a driveway area where black Suburbans were pulling up. As you got to the front you showed your passports and had your names checked against a list. In that line Isaac lightened the mood by saying, "Hey Ma, do you think there is any good place to get a haircut in America?" Right as we were getting to the front Kristen showed up with her baby girl and said she decided to go with Erin and the kids. They loaded into the Suburban. Paige was crying quietly, Noah was crying with some force, and Lydie was screaming. Hope and Isaac were both quiet.

      After they were in the Suburban the Embassy worker saw me crying and said "Ma'am I can try to get you on this flight too." I told her I was staying but wanted to stand outside until the Suburbans left. At that moment there was obviously major stress among the Embassy workers. They forgot about me (the only person outside the back door with them at that moment) and talked together about the news they had just received. One woman told the others that USAID was asking that all the Suburbans come immediately to the Hotel Montana to work on recovery. Yet their orders were to get people to the airport. They discussed the options for about a minute then one dark-haired woman who seemed to have the most authority said "Go go go, get these people to the airport and then go straight to the Montana."

      Off the long line of black Suburbans went. My kids and friends ended up being in the second to last one. I think that was right around midnight. I walked back inside wondering if I had made the right choice. I felt utterly alone and on the verge of vomiting. I passed a woman sitting in a side waiting area that thought I was an Embassy employee. She said, "I have myself and one child with passports, but two children without. Can we please go?" I told her I was not in charge but that I had heard they would only talk to people with a passport in hand at that time. She asked me to take her two kids without the passports. I said, "No, I'm sorry, no."

      I walked back into the large waiting area. The room was mostly empty. I decided to go outside and gather all the bags that our group had abandoned. As I walked out a lady carrying two of our pillows and a blanket passed me. I said, "Hey, those were ours!" I immediately felt like a jerk and told her to keep them. I gathered the stuff into a pile and listened in on a conversation nearby for a few minutes. I saw a few rats running along the wall and decided I did not want to lay down outside yet.

      I went back inside with a blanket and laid down on the floor near the TV that was broadcasting CNN. Anderson Cooper stood in his black t-shirt talking about the numbers of deaths. I watched the footage as if it was not where I was. A heavy darkness fell over me. I wondered how this could be true? After a few minutes more people trickled into a fairly empty room. The Embassy employees were giving them instructions about the new bag rules. One young Haitian-American woman who had been visiting Haiti for two weeks got very angry about not being able to bring luggage. She verbally abused the weary Embassy employees while they graciously kept apologizing. She went on a major rant about how expensive her clothes were and how much she needed her scarf, and her shoes, and her toiletries. I listened to it while still laying on the floor watching the footage of dead bodies on the sides of the roads - right.outside. - right outside - a mile away - dead bodies ... and there she stood complaining about the cost of her designer wear. "You are the US Embassy - you said I could bring luggage - you should KNOW if I can bring luggage." It was atrocious listening to her - atrocious.

      The full story - not sure I should tell it -- but I lost it. Really lost it. I stood up on my feet and across a few rows of chairs I told (yelled) her to SHUT UP and sit down. (There were strong swear words involved. People that know me in real life do not find this surprising.) She came right back at me and told me she would stick her foot in my #$* if I did not lay back down. I told her I'd like to see that and said, "Bring it." I then told her that she was a spoiled, entitled jerk (add more swear words) and that one look at the television told me her suitcase and precious designer clothing was actually of ZERO importance. There was a moment where it easily could have turned physical. Thank goodness the rows of chairs separated us. I was as mad as I have ever been and she was as self-centered as anyone can be. I laid back down shaking mad. She left to get in line to go to the airport. The pastor from Open Door was at the far end of the room. I wondered if he was impressed with my language.

      After another hour of CNN coverage and all hope zapped, I went outside. I laid awake listening to planes and helicopters and wondering where my kids were until about 5:30am. That made three nights with less than four hours of sleep combined. As the sun started to come up I fell asleep. I woke up to Troy's voice yelling my name. He was outside the courtyard. I got up and started walking toward him. He yelled that our kids were safe and in New Jersey. I fell on the ground crying and thanking God. It was very dramatic ... not the way I typically roll - but then nothing about that night was typical. Troy helped me get the bags out of the courtyard (a few more things had been stolen in the night but I couldn't care less) and into our truck. We drove three miles home crying and amazed that our kids were in New Jersey, of all places.

      Shortly after we got home on Friday morning, I wrote this.

      EQ P3 - Chasing down emergency twitter messages (the good and the bad parts of that) and what we all did to get ready for the medical clinic, the weekend of January 15-17th.

      March 26, 2010

      EQ P3

      Things in our memories (especially timing of when things happened) are not as clear after our first five kids left. We were sleep deprived, emotional, and things just started to blend together. As best we could, we've pieced together some of the things that happened Friday through Sunday. I don't think I can keep them completely chronological though.

      By Friday night at 6pm our kids made it to DFW to be picked up by Britt and Chris. They took a police-escorted bus ride from the New Jersey Airforce base to PA to catch flights to DFW. Paige reported that the day was exhausting and she does not really know how she held it together - Britt reported that Paige looked like a freight train hit her when they finally locked arms in Texas. When the kids talk about it now, they complain most about how cold it was. Other than that and how loud the C-130 was they say very little about their evacuation experience.

      In the days immediately following the earthquake twitter went crazy. I am not telling you anything you don't know. We had no idea how often Troy's face was popping up on news outlets and that his tweets were being read by so many, had we known that we would have been freaked out - I am glad we were oblivious. That whole thing is still very crazy to us.

      On Friday around 4pm a phone call came in on our internet phone from the USA. A man told me that he got our number of off the internet and that he had a friend who had been walking for a day without food or water. He said his friend was vomiting and ill and needed a place to stay for the night and would be going to the Embassy to evacuate on Saturday. He asked if we could go get his friend. Troy was not home and phones were still barely working (one in twenty calls would go through) - I told him we had no way to go pick his friend up. In a day and age where anyone can find you the call did not surprise me that much but my response did. Without any qualifying I said, "sure" and gave this stranger on the phone the location of the gate into our neighborhood. After I did it I realized I was kind of stupid. Or really stupid. I started to wonder if I had just given some bad guy information and I let my imagination run wild. I reigned it back in and decided that if the guy made it to our gate we needed to let him rest and help him get to the Embassy. The man in the USA called a few more times and sent me an email photo of the person walking toward our house. Eventually he said his friend was too tired to walk anymore and would be sleeping south of Port au Prince.

      People from all over the world were sending us messages via twitter and email with urgent and frightening requests. They ranged from asking for help to dig someone out at an assumed location, to delivering food and water to orphans, to helping the elderly that were being eaten by rats. If one thing kept me from sleeping it was laying down at night and picturing helpless elderly left alone to fend for themselves against rodents.

      Most of the time the emergency messages came in without information about where the information originated and at what time the request was first made known. Most requests also lacked a specific location or address. That is not surprising in that even before the earthquake finding things in Port au Prince was a challenge. Once you know your way around it is not that difficult, but the tips were coming from abroad and the people giving the tips would say things like "near Delmas 33". Saying "near Delmas 33" is a lot like saying, "near Manhattan" - it is far too broad.

      In a few instances we received 30 to 40 requests to go help the same people. The hard part was trying to understand if we were hearing a new need or an old need or a totally fabricated need. It got difficult to know what to do.

      Troy was asked by John to be careful with diesel. As of that moment on Friday we had not found any to buy and we had no idea when we would. Some of the places we were told had dying people waiting on help were more than an hour away from us.

      The situation was heavy and we tried to be open to any request and ask God what to respond to. We knew we could not physically respond to most of the requests. We definitely prayed and asked God for mercy on the suffering with each email. We have recently gone through all of those messages in search of loved ones, we now know that many of those folks you emailed about did not survive the earthquake. We extend our deepest sympathy and prayers for those who mourn.

      Troy ended up feeling strongly about responding to an orphanage near the Caribbean market. We heard they had no water and no food and no way to get it. We had friends that have adopted kids from there so we knew sort of where it was from being there months before. The problem was, a lot of fallen buildings blocked the usual routes. With very little diesel in the truck he and John went to try to see what the situation was. They tried to get there a bunch of ways but kept being blocked by large crowds of people or by rubble.

      Eventually John said they needed to give up and Troy left the area without having accomplished his goal. He came home very upset and tried to figure out another way to get back up there. In the meantime CNN had showed up there and someone wrote us to tell us that. We decided if CNN was there it was probably not something we needed to worry about anymore.

      The next day we again got dozens of messages about that one location. A lot of them seemed based off of the CNN report but we could not imagine that CNN would show up, do a report, and then leave without the situation being rectified.

      In the end we made phone contact with the girls at that location and while they were telling us by phone that they were fine and had what they needed at the moment -- we were getting multiple requests telling us they were not fine and PLEASE would we get there ASAP. That played itself over many times in the coming week. We called and checked on them and each time they told Troy that they were okay. We went with the on the ground information and tried not to stress about the frantic emails. We are certain that twitter and social media helped save lives in that first week or two. The benefits far outweighed the mis-communication and confusion it caused.

      Mid-day Friday we met together with everyone associated with Heartline to discuss what our next step was as a ministry. At that time, the (expat) adults and young adults in Haiti were: John McHoul, Lisa & Don Buxman, Joanna Thiele, Jonna Howard, Britney Gilbert, Vivien Ingram, Megan Haug, and Troy and I. Our Haitian staff was also in attendance.

      Heartline has been on the ground in Haiti for 20 years, but it was obvious we needed to come up with a plan of action that addressed the current overwhelming (overused word? there needs to be a stronger word) need. During that meeting we talked a lot about not wanting it to be "show business" - this is a John phrase meaning, we need to do it well ... really well.

      Thinking back on this meeting and what became of our little desire to meet needs well, and to avoid "show business", I cannot help but point out that no single person made this happen. The coordination that went into throwing this together was utterly crazy and the number of people that helped make it happen is mind-numbing. People that screened volunteers and dealt with fundraising in the USA need to be recognized for the role they played. God completely blessed the efforts of this little known NGO and we're grateful to Him for that.

      We divided up tasks for Friday and Saturday and believed that on Saturday a team of volunteer docs and nurses could begin arriving. At the time of that meeting around noon on Friday, we had no supplies and no idea how to run a clinic in a developing country that had just been rocked by the worst natural disaster of our time. Of the people in the meeting, we had zero doctors and zero trained medical clinic administrators. It was the truest degaje moment of our time in Haiti.

      During that meeting it was also decided that our area of Port au Prince had done well enough in the quake that we might consider going to get our patients in worse off areas with our big group truck. A plan was made to go to Simone Pele on Saturday to assess the need in that area. We chose that area because we already had relationships there due to our Prenatal outreach each month. From Simone Pele we also eventually went into Cite Soleil, Wharf Jeremie, Cite Militare, and surrounding areas. It quickly became clear that the need was great in those very poor areas, we stuck with that all the way through the response.

      At the end of the meeting Dianne Sawyer showed up to do a story on Heartline's kids - we met her and got out of her way. We scattered to start on our assignments for the day. I made lists of things we needed and lists of the personnel we thought we would have to work with based on the people on the ground and the word of mouth about who was coming to us from Florida. Our needs included everything from heavy duty trash bags for medical waste (a weird thing to deal with in a country that dumps its trash outside of the city in a field) to wound care supplies, to food to feed volunteers.

      In the USA Beth McHoul, who was in Florida at the time of the EQ, was working with others to buy as many supplies as the private chartered planes would hold. They took calls and emails from us all day Friday and Saturday with new requests and new thoughts ... the calls often went like this, "We just remembered that the lighting in the room we'll be doing small surgeries is very poor. Can you buy some sort of flood light?" and "We need small gasoline generators, can you buy that?" "We are not sure about the availability of propane for cooking, can you bring lots of dry and ready to eat food?"

      I was not on the USA side - but I know from talking with Beth and Dr. Jen that it was insane for them. They spent two days in Wal-Mart and Home Depot. The Docs had rallied for medical donations and came with lots of things to get started.

      Sometime on Saturday we sent Kristen and Erin's sons back to their respective homes, we felt bad doing it but we were totally ignoring them and we felt they might be more secure and loved in their own environments. That left us with just two kids in the house. Tipap and Jeronne also left sometime Friday to go check on their family and loved ones about 30 miles away.

      Even before the Docs showed up, God provided through the Zachary family. Friends Lori and Licia and Zach have been running a medical clinic for years and showed up on Saturday with incredible amounts of supplies to begin getting set up - as we unpacked it and organized it we marveled at all the stuff they gave us to use.

      We attempted to design a use of the Womens Program building that made sense. We made the sewing machine room into the operating room. The classroom for literacy into the recovery area. The "Heartline store" where we sell the purses the ladies make was an office and supply area. Upstairs was a giant pharmacy with everything organized and labeled. People with great organizational skills were highly valued. Thank goodness for type As!

      Getting the place set up with tables, chairs, supplies and a system took all of Friday afternoon and Saturday and the morning of Sunday. We learned early on Saturday that the flight with the first Doctors, Dr. Tom McKnight, and Dr. Jen Halverson would not be given a slot to land. They were bumped back.

      In my memory it was a Monday when they landed, but as I look back on old posts I see it was Sunday. Every day felt like Monday for about three weeks.

      On Sunday we all worked nervously wondering if the planes would be allowed to land. That day around the time the planes were to land a man named Scott Salvant showed up in his unassuming way and delivered precious diesel that he had found for us in the D.R. His timing was perfect and all of us at Heartline viewed him as God's angel to us in that day and in the coming weeks.

      Two planes landed with our people and supplies on Sunday, I probably cannot accurately list every person that came in to start the hospital/clinic, but Jen wrote about it all in detail here and here. After they got in there was much more to unpack, organize, and label. Sunday was spent discussing how we thought it might work and getting ready for Monday's start of clinic.

      On Sunday night the buzz about Humanitarian Parole made it to our ears. We'd not really thought much about Phoebe or Annie (for new readers - Annie lived with us 26 months during her adoption process, she is now with her forever family) getting out - not that we did not want that - just that we were way too focused on everything else. The Heartline kids had their cases being worked on by Tim Pearson, an adoptive Dad. Megan helped gather paperwork and it seemed that most if not all of the Heartline kids might get an opportunity to go to the USA on Humanitarian Parole.

      On Sunday late afternoon John pulled me aside to talk to me about Phoebe and Annie. He told me they could go that night. It was a replaying of Thursday afternoon with the other kids. I burst into tears trying to decide if I was going to leave or stay. Jen had just arrived. I was scared to leave Troy. There was work to be done. The girls needed an escort. Sunday night was more irrational behavior and trying to decide things that were impossible to decide. In the end the girls and the other kids in the Heartline group did not leave until Friday (five days later) but right away on Sunday night Megan agreed to escort our girls to meet my family. I packed the girls Sunday night. Their bags waited ready to go for whenever we got the call.

      In EQ P4 - The clinic opens - The first truck load of injured arrive - More kids come to town to stay with us while waiting on parole - We see many miracles and horrifying destruction - The frustrations of getting our hands on supplies - people show up for shelter - Some of the kids get Humanitarian Parole - Anger and frustration and how we let it affect us - The overview of days 6 to 12 post earthquake.

      March 31, 2010

      EQ P4

      On Monday morning, January 18, everyone nervously waited on Don and Troy and John to arrive back to Tabarre with the first load of patients. I don’t think anyone necessarily knew what to expect. I think I can safely say there was a bit of apprehension for all of us.

      While we organized and set up supplies that Zach continued to bring in from Cazale, we learned from Tim that he would be going to the Embassy to work on the release of the kids at Heartline, two kids at RHFH and "our" girls. Zach dropped Ronel and Amos off at our house to wait it out and be ready if the good news came quickly.

      As the truck pulled in we began lining people up outside on benches… some of the injuries were shocking and horrible, others were less difficult to look at but still very serious. The images you've seen on TV of bones poking straight out of skin and open gashes were exactly what we saw on the 6th day after the earthquake.

      One of the very first patients was a young woman whose head was split open from her forehead/ skull down across the edge of her eye – it had been stitched elsewhere with very thick string in a couple of spots, it looked terrible. Lori Moise of Real Hope for Haiti boldly took on her case. A few hours later – the young woman left, obviously benefiting from the work of a skilled perfectionist.

      The Docs and staff that came in on that first flight on Sunday all worked well together and challenged each other to work within the new system in which they found themselves. As happened all over the city that week, Doctors did things they would not do in the USA. They worked in anything but a sterile environment. They worked without the tools or medicines they might really want to use, they did their best with what they had.

      Early on we were set up to be able to sedate our patients with Ketamine and the Anesthesiologist worked each case one by one and helped oversee each patient with great care and concern. We heard many funny things from the patients while they were sedated, lots of singing and boisterous conversation.

      We’ve heard a lot of hospitals/clinics needed to work without being able to help their patients with pain, we’re so thankful it never came to that for us. We saw so many children and that would have made everything so much slower and more draining for everyone.

      In those first days there were countless cases of people that had either not been seen at all, or had been seen once and had received a lot less than ideal care but were not left with any sort of follow up instructions. Some of the people spoke of being turned away many times in the aftermath and search for care. It was heartbreaking to hear their stories of searching for help at one full hospital after the next.

      As they left they received a card listing their rendezvous time and day and they were told to watch for our big white truck with the cage and to return for a dressing change or a check-up. They were sent home with painkillers and instructions. We regret that the need was so intense and the work in front of the Docs so overwhelming at times - that we did not keep nearly the statistics we would liked to have kept. We do know that statistically we saw far more people 25 and under than 26 and older and we saw more women than men. Most injuries were crush injuries, either gaping wounds or broken bones. There were also a significant number of burns from the cooking taking place at the time of the EQ.

      By the end of day one we knew we would have to have a true "hospital" section for after-care. We tried to do it in the recovery room area but it filled up too fast and so the building that was formerly a boys orphanage became our hospital. The patients, even in great pain and pretty serious situations, refused to enter the house no matter how safe we told them it was. The hospital "beds" began to be set up in the driveway on the large slab of cement. Some tarps were hung for protection from rain and sun.

      Once the first truck load was treated those well enough to go home were brought home and the next group was located and brought back. In these lulls in the intense action there were recovering patients to look after and the staff used that time to make connections with supplies and attempted to keep up with new information as it came in. This time between patient loads proved to be key to our success because it gave the time needed to build relationships with other organizations and connect with key personnel to begin the crazy business of trading medicines and even patients.

      The truck continued to go in and out of the "slums" for weeks to come, always finding new untreated people and always experiencing safety in areas considered dangerous by most. Each Doctor, Nurse, Physical Therapist, EMT, and Physicians Assistant that spent time working with the clinic has twenty or thirty stories of their own. Each of us connected with different people and learned the horrors and miracles they had experienced. I've said it so often, I wish these stories could all be told.

      As the week wore on our house filled up with guests planned and unplanned. We wrote about that in a Thursday post. We handled the guests fairly well. It is always interesting watching different personalities jockey and figure each other out. There were a few nights with 22 people in the house, but most nights we ran around 15. There were of course some things that happened with a guest or two that stressed us out and caused tension, but under the circumstances we did great if I do say so myself.

      If you've been reading since January you already know how God worked miracles for Collette and many others in very serious condition and made a way for them to be moved from the slums, to a makeshift hospital, to an enormous ship. Rather than re-write that particular portion of the week one story, it is here:
      Day Three of Clinic/E.R. (This post has a CBS news video clip of the patients coming off of the helicopters and onto the ship.)

      The only thing I will add is that on Wednesday, the day that we went to find the ship, things were very tense. I think we were all feeling the weight of day one and two and watching the cases that needed immediate surgery pile up. What were we going to do with all the people that needed surgery? People were a little shorter with one another and there were other outside factors that played into the stress.

      I was being polite when I wrote about a little conflict I had and I will still be polite by not saying who it was. This man had committed to helping us for the day by doing three truck runs for us. We were giving him some food that he needed out of our supply. It was a basic trade-out that we agreed upon on Tuesday night. After his first run into Simone Pele on Wednesday he came back griping and complaining about how hard it was and how dumb it was to only be able to get ten people at a time. I happen to know the guy and really dislike him on a good day so I told him to beat it and forget about doing the other runs, we would figure it out. I was mad and I wanted the good ole' boy out of my face. John saw him on the road and said, "Hey, no way are you leaving, you promised three runs - get back to it." Ooops. John just shook his head at me.

      When the aforementioned selfish redneck came back with the second load of patients he was in a foul mood and acting even more obnoxious than earlier in the day. Picture this: A man with bloody bandages around his head climbing out of the back of the truck, a woman with a limp baby sitting down to wait her turn, a seven year old boy crying in pain over his broken and floppy left leg, a sister with her brother who has lost his leg and it has not been closed properly ... all climbing down one-by-one out of the truck. As this is taking place the guy from the other mission says, "This is just a waste of my diesel." "I cannot keep going in and out of there when I don't know what is going on out at my place. I got people waiting on me!" (I wish I could type the way he talks, but I cannot. I can impersonate him fairly well if we ever have an opportunity to meet - remind me to share.)

      That statement about "wasting fuel" -- ON PEOPLE -- REAL LIVE HURTING PEOPLE -- brought on my second little rage fest. I asked him what in the world he thought was more important use of diesel? I was livid. I had to go inside and get the former Air Force Doc to go out and deal with him as he tried to leave without doing his third run of the day.

      Our third run was to the Comfort Ship with 11 patients and we needed his big truck. We took three of our smaller vehicles with patients and this other truck with Mr. Yucky driving to go find the Comfort Ship.

      Finding that location was a miracle in and of itself. I still get goosebumps recalling how that all went down. When we got there and tried to negotiate with the military people to call for a helicopter, we had more trouble with our buddy. He walked up and started telling the military how angry he was and spouting off at them about this and that. Jen put her hand up and said "That guy is not with us. He just drove a truck here." How embarrassing. I have not seen him again, but if I do I plan to tell him he does not belong in Haiti.

      By Friday I think we were pretty ticked at a lot of things. Being ticked changes very little, but we felt it none the less. The supplies that sat on the tarmac and the frustration of finding what we needed sometimes resulted in a snaggy tweet from Troy or a angry word from me. We were not the only ones feeling that way, but if we had it to do over again we would have leaned less on our own ability to find supplies and more on trusting God to bring them to us --- because that is how it worked out anyway. :) The day we were going to run out of Morphine, guess what, Morphine showed up. It went like this day after day. It was a privilege to be able to watch it happen.

      After five days of Heartline representatives going to the Embassy each day, finally many of the kids were cleared to leave Haiti on Friday evening the 22nd. I did not write about it at the time because I felt bad knowing so many parents were still waiting, the victory of getting a good portion of the Heartline kids out was overshadowed by the many still stuck. Unfortunately one of those kids was the one I made big promises to all week.

      On Friday Tim, or John, or I don't know who called to say "Okay - FOR REAL - we are leaving tonight. Get the kids to the Embassy". (We thought they might leave on other occasions - so we needed to be told this was real.) Annie and Phoebe are too little to explain it to, but I did keep telling them that Megan was going to take them on an airplane. (Thank you is not enough to say to Megan, she helped us out so much by taking the girls to Florida.)

      I had Amos and Ronel all decked out in really cute duds. They were so cute helping me choose things. They showered and got dressed in their "America clothes" and we waited until about 6pm to go over to the orphanage to join the other kids. When I pulled in and unloaded the kids with Megan; John walked up to tell me that Ronel was not approved. I basically said, "No - you're making that up." John assured me that Tim had called back to say Ronel was not approved. Yet, there he stood in his fancy outfit expecting to climb on the truck with his friend Amos. It was horrible. I just kept hugging him and telling him he would get to go .... that someone made a mistake. I felt like such a creep having to put those other kids in the truck while the oldest kid, who understood the most, was left in the dust watching them go. Ronel and I drove home. He got in bed and cried himself to sleep.

      I looked back at what I wrote that day. I skipped all of this, it was too heavy and too unfair and I never said that our daughter got Humanitarian Parole along with our sweet niece that lived with us for more than two years. No fancy goodbye parties or time to get used to the idea, one phone call and they were gone. I felt the worst for Jeronne who lost a lot that week. Not only did the five kids leave, but then when Annie and Phoebe left she had to say goodbye to Annie for good and it all hurt a lot. I still cry thinking about this day and how hard it was on our sweet Jeronne. Bittersweet does not adequately describe it all.

      Saturday we got up and went back at the business of the day - we wrote this in the morning:

      We pray today is another day of miracles and divine appointments and saved lives. God is with us. Thank you for your prayers.

      That turned out to be exactly what happened that day. On that Saturday a little boy named Jean with a bad amputation and a bone sticking out exposed was moved to the Miami Field Hospital, our first day to connect with them and get a promise of surgery.

      Late that night a woman showed up bleeding badly. Ten minutes later an emergency c-section had been performed under flood lights powered by a small generator. If I had not seen it with my own eyes, I would not believe what took place. In a period of 97 seconds from the start of the incision the baby was out ... the baby was handed to Jen to work on and five minutes later the panic and fear began to subside and all present in the oddly lit room realized they'd just witnessed another miracle.

      We entered week two of our clinic bolstered by these things.