Saturday, July 30, 2011

dishonest depiction

Top Half of Card

Bottom Half of Card

Today is Tara's birthday.  Last week Isaac came to say he was going to make a card for her. He left. He came back to ask me how old she was going to be.  I told him 39.  He left again.

When he returned he had a horrified look on his face. He held up his paper to show me the grave mistake he had made.  He was concerned he needed to start all over again.  I told him, "It's fine buddy."  He said, "But Dad, that is not really what she looks like." (He decided to just make a note of apology right there on the birthday card.)

Tara's birthday wish: 
No, not for implants in order to make this drawing accurate  ...  :)

Her wish is that you would read this post our friends wrote and consider giving a gift to their ministry as they daily fight Cholera in Haiti.

Friday, July 29, 2011


Having started out as a know-nothing, border-line stupid novice in the field of midwifery, I've now grown more confident in many areas of prenatal care and childbirth. I can "palpate" and determine position of a baby with growing certainty. On a recent Thursday by some massive stroke of luck I nailed the baby's position on 4 out of 5 of the women we saw in Beth's room.

When it comes to labor and delivery I can handle the blood and fluid and yes, even the poop. I am getting better at separating myself from the pain of the woman in labor and suffocating my natural tendency toward empathy. I don't need to look away at any point during a birth anymore. Because of all of that I have mentally come to a place where studying midwifery is something that seems like the next logical thing to do.

I am working around both the real and perceived obstacles that stand in the way of the official course-work beginning.  I'm thinking about how I could study with the kids, how I could do better at prioritizing my time, how I could kill face-book once and for all. I'm examining my tendency toward fooling around and wasting time and my general bitterness and rebellion toward rules and authority and anything resembling a "should". (As in, you should be studying.)

Additionally I'm wondering if I have the ability to learn medical terminology and memorize facts. I'm questioning my intelligence and discipline.  Questioning it a lot.  I know that given a choice after the kids are in bed, nine times out of ten I will choose the unproductive  (Modern Family) over the productive (returning emails, writing thank-yous, studying Kreyol) .

All that to say that basically I'm in a place of getting some of the logistics worked out in my mind.  I'm not ready to start until I am more certain that I won't fail.

Yeah, yeah, yeah - failure is the road that paved the way to success and yada yada yada with all the Zig Zigler quotes ...  the only failure is not trying,  failure is not final, blah blah blah blah blah. Yes, I know failing isn't the end of the world but I'd rather not start only to quit a few months down the line.  I need to be uber certain I'm up for the hard work first.

John McHoul started early on in Beth's move toward midwifery calling midwives - "weirdwives".  He is a jerk and we expect teasing from him. He simply cannot help himself. I hate admitting any agreement with the man, but I smell what he's stepping in on this one.

One of my biggest and most serious concerns about this pending leap into "official" training in midwifery is that I don't fit the midwife mold.  I'm not super earthy. I have nothing against pain medications. I don't think I could ever see home birth as the only or even the very best option ... (midwives everywhere are throwing cyber-rocks at my head right now) and I don't know that I'd ever want to circle up and sing love songs to my life-giving uterus with hundreds of other women at some convention. (I assume this happens tri-annually.)

The thing is, midwives are kind of weird.  Like a lot weird at times. I know there are midwives reading this.  Sorry. We are all weird people, it is just that you are weirder.

Midwives say things about vaginas the same way regular people discuss politics or talk about a new restaurant they tried or a movie they enjoyed.

It begs the question - can I just throw the word vulva or placenta or mucus plug into my every day vernacular? Can I? Can I do it without bright red cheeks blushing in embarrassment? That is a prerequisite you know.  If I cannot confidently and unapologetically say words beginning with 'V' and often times ending in ina or ulva - I am clearly not the real deal. I'd be seen as an impostor -  a poser - and not cut out for the real world or work of midwifery - and therein lies my problem.

"V ...   Va .... Vvvvvvaaa"
Nope. Can't do it yet. 

Thursday, July 28, 2011


"The situations that grow me the most are those in which I feel the most helpless, but in which love compels me to keep trying."  
- Greg Boyd
I was listening to a podcast a few weeks back and wrote that sentence down from a sermon Greg preached.  
It struck me that night - most of what we encounter here can and does make us feel pretty darn helpless. 
In this line of work we're supposed to convince everybody that we totally know what we're doing and that we always make our plan - execute the plan - see results and produce positive outcomes.  If only it were that easy. The endless ambiguities don't allow it to go down quite like that.
Thankfully it seems like most of you have no time for a bunch of show-business reporting and you'd prefer to read/hear how things really are. That works for me because I'd rather be brutally realistic and honest about how complex some of these things are than blow sunshine your way simply because I need to sweet talk you out of your dollars.
Without going into the whole convoluted and long story ...  The last few days Troy has been working through a drama with teen mom, Djenie. He literally has no idea what is true and what is fabricated and he cannot easily figure out if anyone has pure motives in a situation with little Kenny.  Djenie no longer lives at Harbor House but we're still in relationship with her and trying to discern how to encourage her to keep parenting Kenny
Her life is too difficult and different from ours for us to truly grasp. The oppressive chains of poverty and broken and corrupt systems and cultural norms threaten to pull her down every day. Troy stands listening to the latest with tears in his eyes in deep sorrow at one moment and with knots in his shoulders in total frustration in the next. 
Greg's quote couldn't be more true.  May we keep growing in the discomfort of our helplessness - compelled by love to keep trying! 
"The situations that grow me the most are those in which I feel the most helpless, but in which love compels me to keep trying."  

the fabulous, fabulous lives of the middle-class and unfamous

(by tara)

I'm back home with the spaz-crew. They greeted me with much fanfare and acted like I'd been gone for weeks. The celebration dance Noah did for me yesterday when I pulled into the driveway was an all-time top-five welcome home gift.

Nothing about July 23 through July 26 had anything to do with responsibility or reality.

Two sisters went on a little vacation together and had a schedule that looked like this:

Sleep in, drink giant coffee made by someone else, go for a run, head to the pool to lounge and sun, get dressed/ready, go browse a few shops, go out to eat, return to hotel, watch TV in bed till sleepy ....

 ... sleep in, drink giant coffee made by someone else, go for a run, head to the pool to lounge .... you get the idea.  The main first world problem we had was deciding where to go out to eat each evening. As challenging as it was we prevailed and made a choice every night.

Our lives were so.totally.all.about.leisure for four fabulous days.  A person could get quite lard-ish very quickly if allowed to be that unproductive for long. 

South Beach had some of the best people watching imaginable.  The human mind cannot conceive of the lengths people will go to in order to gain the attention of strangers on a beach. I'm left questioning everything I ever believed about fashion and mankind. 

Just like that four days flew by and I'm back to eating food that is neither Sushi  - nor is it arranged in the shape of a flower.  That's tough stuff. Really hard for us. I'm sure you can understand how difficult this major adjustment back to non-flower shaped foods could potentially be for both of us.

In all seriousness, the time together was so good for both of us. We had a lot to catch up on and talk about and we enjoyed the opportunity to do that face to face. We logged 24 miles in the hot steamy (late) mornings in Coral Gables. The trip was perfection, all the way down to to the small details ... The restaurant at our hotel was called 'Two Sisters'.  :)

We've never met in the middle  like that  - and now of course we think it must become a mandatory annual event or we'll surely perish.

Thank you Troy and Paige for making it so easy for me to go have fun with Tina. You two are the best!

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Somewhere we know that without silence words lose their meaning, 
that without listening speaking no longer heals, 
that without distance closeness cannot cure.  

Monday, July 25, 2011

I Run

While Tara is enjoying the opportunity to log quality time and miles with her sister, we're posting things from the archives. From early 2009 ...

7:00 am-
I am off and running.

The sun is beginning to climb high into the sky. The streets are crowded. Each person seems to go about their business with purpose. Everywhere I look I see throngs of people trying to make a few gourdes. They sell bananas and eggs and deep fried plantains. They negotiate price, they trade, they make their way.

A pregnant woman who looks to be expecting her child today balances a basket full of mangoes on her head as she hurries toward a friend motioning for her to come quickly. The air is thick with the diesel from the overburdened roads. A haze of smoke from burning trash hangs in front of me. Dust kicks into the air with each passing car. We all breathe it in, we all exhale it out. I run.

The foot finds very little even ground on which to land as garbage and rocks are scattered all around. On the corner goats hang upside down by their legs off of sputtering tap-taps as people push in trying to pay the driver for their ride. Just above our heads an enormous United Nations helicopter whirls, deafeningly loud, as soldiers gaze down upon the chaos of the city. The sound is overwhelming, it seems to be bouncing off of the cement houses and amplifying as it does.

Loaded automatic weapons are cocked and ready as white truck after white truck of Brazilian men in fatigues roll by. A small child walks alone with a five gallon bucket of water on her head, dust whirls around her feet as she walks, it appears she herself has not had a drink in days. Giant piles of reeking trash jut out into the roadway. Workers in yellow t-shirts scoop it up. Their work won't soon be complete. Two men argue and begin to push while frightened little ones peek from behind their mother's skirt.

Outside of the giant Embassy people shove and elbow jockeying for position to tell their stories to the guards, trying to get their chance to see an employee and ask for a visa to visit another land. Cars and trucks strategically speed up and slow down fighting to park in a place where they can see the most. A woman exits weeping, her request to go see her ill father has been denied.

Another half mile down the road, trucks jammed full with people and animals honk impatiently waiting for a chance to turn - an accident blocks the road. No police arrive; the angry and injured must fend for themselves today. A silver streak appears overhead as an American Airlines flight screams toward landing. People don't stop what they're doing to look up in the sky. They keep selling, pushing, moving, surviving.

In the distance, as far as the eye can see, more and more and more of the same. I run.

In my right ear, I have my mp3 player on as loud as it will go. Derek Webb reminds me This Too Shall Be Made Right. The combination of the music in my right ear and what I am taking in with my left ear and the dozens of situations I see around me cannot be easily reconciled or accepted. Does God see this too? A wave of something that feels like grief hits me. I am bombarded by a multitude of thoughts. I run.

I find myself feeling such admiration for the endurance of the people around me, for their ability to do so much with so little.

I wonder how they do it.

I find it unfair, even ugly.

I feel angry. I feel weak.

While I admire the strength I see, I somehow simultaneously feel pity. They probably don't want my pity. I wonder why it cannot be easier for them.

Tears stream down my face and I run and run and run. And I try to make sense of it all.

Derek Webb - This Too Shall Be Made Right -

people love you the most for the things you hate
and hate you for loving the things that you cannot keep straight
people judge you on a curve
and tell you you’re getting what you deserve
this too shall be made right
children cannot learn when children cannot eat
stack them like lumber when children cannot sleep
children dream of wishing wells
whose waters quench all the fires of Hell
this too shall be made right
the earth and the sky and the sea are all holding their breath
wars and abuses have nature groaning with death
we say we’re just trying to stay alive
but it looks so much more like a way to die
this too shall be made right
there’s a time for peace and there is a time for war
a time to forgive and a time to settle the score
a time for babies to lose their lives
a time for hunger and genocide
this too shall be made right
I don’t know the suffering of people outside my front door
I join the oppressors of those who i choose to ignore
I’m trading comfort for human life
and that’s not just murder it’s suicide
this too shall be made right

The song in my right ear changes. I pick up the pace as I am nearing my home and when I pray a strange peace washes over me -

I am listening to these lyrics:
Mercy, weep over me Let Your tears wash me clean - Majesty, be merciful with me ... mercy mercy mercy.

And I pray for mercy as I run.

Friday, July 22, 2011

help us win!

I love the way this set of photos captures the love and care each woman receives in the Heartline Prenatal Program. From the time they enter the program, through the multiple months of prenatal care, and long beyond the difficult day of labor and delivery  - we make it our goal to be loving, concerned, and connected friends to each and every woman in the program. 

For the "Giving of Life" grant contest we are currently in second place.  The voting will continue until November.  Someday when you are extremely bored please choose the "register for more votes" option in the top right corner.  If you provide your name and email address the Giving of Life people will give you three more votes.  We know registering is extra steps and it takes time, but if you're willing to share minimal information we would really REALLY appreciate it if you could register and use all the votes possible.

Also, unless there is some sort of fluke here in Haiti.... It appears you can vote once every day without registering. First place wins 50K, second place will receive 20K and third place wins 10K.  We'd really love to be in the running for that money come November.  We're up against some organizations with 200,000 people on their mailing list (which is approximately 196,000 more than us) but we still think we have a chance at this.  We're just that confident stupid.  

If When we win one of these three grants, it will be put toward the new maternity center.  It will allow us to grow the program to better meet the medical/pre-natal needs of more Haitian women. 

Okay - so in review - GO HERE please and share, share, share, vote, vote, vote.

Mil Mesi pou tout bagay - Many thanks for everything!

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Harbor House Challenge Grant

THANK YOU!!!!!   

We have reached the 15K mark and therefore we will receive the Foundation Challenge Grant of 15K for operation costs at Harbor House.   Thank you for your hearts of concern for these tenacious teen mamas and their precious children.

We are in the process of having our 7th teen mama  (Lourdes Milla) move in today.  Please keep the peace and harmony of the house in your prayers as these adjustments are made.  We feel the prayers and appreciate knowing that so many love and care for these young women.

with gratitude,

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

one small favor

By Heather

Help us Make our Maternity Center a Reality by Simply Voting

Heartline has a chance to receive a $50,000 grant.  All we need is more votes.

$50,000 is a lot of money.  If we win the grant, we're one step closer to building our maternity center.

Although most of our ladies deliver their babies naturally at Heartline under the care of the midwives, there are times when there are complications.  Finding a hospital for our ladies, in an emergency situation, is rarely easy.  We've even been known to barter our way into a hospital using baby formula. Our heart sinks when we realize we must send one of our ladies to a hospital to deliver her baby or that we can't give a newborn the care they need, so we must seek outside help.  Our ladies and babies are valuable to us, and it matters to our team if they are treated with dignity, respect, and professional care.  We can't always guarantee those things if we have to transport them in an emergency to a nearby hospital.

Our goal is to build a maternity center where we will be able to handle all of those emergency situations that require us to load up our precious women and babies and drop them off at the front gate of a hospital.  We would love to keep our ladies with us, where they know their midwives and doctors, and feel safe and comfortable giving birth.

If the women and children at Heartline have stolen your heart, will you please take half a second and go vote for Heartline here?  You go to this page, click on "vote" and you're done.  So easy.

Can I ask another favor?  Will you help us spread the word?  We think we have a pretty decent shot at winning this thing, but that can't happen unless we all work together and spread the word.  Will you advocate for our ladies and babies today by asking your friends/family/co-workers/churches/sports teams/school organizations to vote for Heartline?  
-Heather Hendrick, Heartline Ministries

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Cholera Continues


go here to read entire post on their blog.  

Most importantly - PLEASE pray for them.

Written by Licia and Lori - 
I have started this post several times now trying to get into words what we at RHFH are feeling tonight.  We are very overwhelmed.  Even through the flood, earthquake and many other large challenges we have faced we are feeling more right now.  We see no real end in sight.  We see the need growing.  We see many, many people that are in great need of help with cholera.  We are not slackers.  We plan ahead for supplies and try to keep up.  We try our best.  But when the numbers increase as fast as they are we are having a difficult time keeping ahead.  We will be out of IV fluids tomorrow by noon.  But… CAM (Christian Aid Ministries) has a load for us to pick up early tomorrow morning.  We are so thankful to them for helping us over, and over and over again.  Always with a cheerful heart.
We knew yesterday that the numbers were picking up as we ran out of chairs for people to sit in.

In this small little yard, donated by a person in the Cazale community, many lives are being touched.

Tonight we had 101 people at the 6pm bed count.  There has been several others admitted after 6pm.  We have 67 cots.  I think you can figure out where that puts us tonight with beds and sleeping.  Several people to each cot.  Literally people everywhere.

Please read the story of a man that died within  hours of becoming ill and the rest of their moving post and specific ways you can pray for them here.
 ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

ALSO — as for needed supplies, anyone reading this can start sending supplies for the container leaving Minnesota this fall. They are also sending items into Haiti with teams leaving from Minnesota nearly every week for the next 8 weeks.

PLEASE send supplies to: Debbie Woodward
Northrup King Building
Main Office
1500 Jackson Street NE
Minneapolis, MN 55413

Anyone who has questions can e-mail

Please don't send something without being sure it is a high priority item first.  Items that are sent without clearance may not be put onto the container.

Sisters & Extreme Running

It has been 9 months since I last trained for any sort of distance running event. I've been running frequently, but more in the 4 to 6 mile distance category.  Prior to last Saturday I hadn't managed a run of more than seven miles since Christmas-time. :(

Saturday morning I forced myself out of bed at 5:45 and miraculously pulled off a little more than 9 miles.  You might ask, "What are you training for now? A race?" (you also might NOT ask - but I'm answering regardless)

No.  No.  Not.
Not a race.

I am currently training to see my sister.
I am training for a long weekend in Florida with her.

While I can boast that I introduced her to running 7 years ago; that is both the beginning and end of my singular claim to fame.  She has run more than a dozen marathons, logged thousands of miles more than I have, improved her times dramatically, and has become pretty darn swift in the process. 

hilarious things happen on long runs
I am far too impressed with her speed and endurance and WAY too proud of her major-league-moxie to be jealous of her running successes.  But - I still have some pride - therefore I do have to train and increase my miles in order to even meet up with her this weekend. If I cannot keep up with her speed I have to at least try to cover the distance.

I am slower than a three ton tortoise in the most ideal running conditions.  That is simply to say, I don't have a strong enough idiom or superlative to describe my speed in Haiti running conditions. I admit that since we returned to Port au Prince I have struggled with re-learning to 'run long' here.  I was spoiled by the beautiful river-side paths, trash-free streets, friendly motor-vehicles, and scenery in Tejas last summer.

As underwhelming as my skill and natural ability may be, I love running.  I just don't love Haiti running quite as much.

It seems that a scale of 1 to 5 is the best system with which to rank the key components of running conditions.  (5 being the utopia of running and 1 being worst.possible.butt-awful.conditions.) Out of five categories one would expect at least one or two low marks.

Port au Prince Distance Running Conditions:

Air Quality- 1
(some days no trash is being burned - 2!)

Road/Path Conditions- 1
(the only more congested place would be the midway area of the state fair grounds)

Runner Friendly Community- 2
(some people don't point and mock)

Weather- 1-2
(except for three months of the year)

Traffic/Safety- 0
(the concept of safety or yielding to runners does.not.exist - sometimes it feels like the automobiles are trying to hit you - but only when they drive on the sidewalk or when they actually hit you)

Out of a possible 25 points Port au Prince scores 5-6 .  I'm no statistician or mathematician but I think those numbers indicate that there are better places in the world to be a distance runner.

Runners World Magazine said this about hot weather running:
"We all know that hot weather slows us down and makes us feel like overcooked potatoes. And it's potentially risky: An unacclimated runner exercising too hard in high heat, humidity, and sunshine could push himself from heat cramps to heat exhaustion to heatstroke.
Even if you don't push the pace, running in hot weather forces the body into overdrive. That's why hot-weather runners need to make adjustments for the conditions they encounter.

The adjustment is this:  Run slower.  That works out nicely for me since slow seems to be my natural speed. Even though Florida will also be humid and hot, I know the options for beautiful scenic and safe runs will be many.

There is no way to describe how excited I am to spend time with my speedy little sister for a few days.  Even if I am running 100 yards behind her and begging for mercy I know she and I are going to have a fantastic weekend - running, eating, lounging pool-side, catching up, and just being together.  Come quickly weekend!!

the part where she almost had to carry me

Monday, July 18, 2011

The List

Shaun Groves posted a list on his blog early this year. I loved how well he illustrated the losses  our adopted children face.   I recall vividly listening to Isaac's hysterical cry when he came to us. I wasn't nearly as informed as I should have been. I didn't instantly recognize it for what it was.  Deep, sorrowful, grief.  I'm so grateful that God was faithful to walk Isaac and all of us through that three month period of grief  - and occasionally even now as he continues to processes all the angles of his adoption.

I think adoption-education and preparation has gotten better over the years.  I am hoping most adoptive parents go in knowing that their children will experience grief and loss.

With permission, here is a portion of that post - he wrote:

Kim, our teacher, passed out paper and pens and asked us to make a list. 

Make yours with me now.

First, write down the name of the most significant person in your life.
1. Becky
Write down your most important role.
2. Husband
Now, write down your greatest support group: Church, family, a friend…
3. Brian and Amy
Write down your heritage
4. American?
Next, write the word “knowledge.” This represents the information that gets you through the everyday tasks of your day.
5. Knowledge
Then, write down your favorite place.
6. Home
Write down “Cultural Information.” This represents everything you know about your culture.
7. Cultural Information
Now, write down “Resources.” This represents all your material possessions, everything you own that has worth.
8. Resources
Next, write down “Values.” This represents your faith, concepts of right and wrong, priorities, likes and dislikes…
9. Values
Last, write down the activity that brings you the most joy.
10. Hanging out talking & laughing with close friends
Now, which four things on this list could you live without? Mark through them now.
1. Becky
2. Husband
3. Brian and Amy
4. American?
5. Knowledge
6. Home
7. Cultural Information
8. Resources
9. Values
10. Hanging out talking & laughing with close friends
Now, I promise everything will be OK.  
You will be just fine. 

Give up two more.
1. Becky
2. Husband
3. Brian and Amy
4. American?
5. Knowledge
6. Home
7. Cultural Information
8. Resources
9. Values
10. Hanging out talking & laughing with close friends
Now, I am the almighty social worker. 
Trust me. 
And give up two more.

I couldn’t. I couldn’t imagine life with any less than this.
I teared up a little. I was surprised at the deep sadness that gripped me. Beyond empathy. Beyond compassion. I think it was mourning.
I mourned all that the children I don’t yet know will give up to become my children.
Am I worthy of all this sacrifice? 
Is anyone?

Pizza and Pears

Paige is off on a new translating assignment today.

She's helping to take a survey and gather data with some of their summer interns.  It is a pretty fun assignment because we know the Pastor of that community and used to live near there and work with him in 2006 and '07.  Brittany once stitched up his foot after a moto accident.  

Isaac and Noah and Hope are all working on  filling out some questions their teachers sent them in order to get to know them a bit.

I am enjoying the conversation and snickering from nearby.  Right now Isaac is interviewing and filling out Noah's sheet for him.

Isaac - "Noah - What is hard for you?"

Noah- "Uh.  Hmmm.  Keeping my temper?  Do you think I have a bad or good temper?"

Isaac - "Well. Let's see.  I think I'd say you have a bad temper but I can call it an average temper if it makes you less mad."

Ha.  Who needs entertainment when you can eavesdrop on these little fools? 

Here are a couple of Isaac's answers:

Cow and donkey poop is a huge problem here.  (?)  Isaac described himself as: cheerful, smart, and energetic. He listed EVERY subject in school in response to the "what are you really good at in school?" question. He personally enjoys the activity of "exploring".  He would also like to "learn more about experiments."

Here are a few of Hope's answers:
I love Hope's description of Haiti.  In that order.  Beautiful. Hot. Trashy. Windy. Noisy.  Agreeing with her; tents and earthquakes are not likable.  Hope noted that she is a fast runner, that she has trouble getting along with her brothers when it comes time to choose a game together, and described herself as "happy, smart, funny."

Both Isaac and Hope list pizza as their favorite food.  

Noah -  
He described himself as "affectionate, nice, curious" and when asked what he personally enjoys he said all of this: "swimming, writing, climbing trees, swinging on ropes and vines, talking a lot, playing on rock-walls, being silly, fake crying, diving off high objects, and water balloon fights."

(That fake crying thing has got to go. Doctor Jen - please come back.  right away. I had no idea he likes diving off of high objects.)

He described Haiti like this: "Hot. The ocean is cold. Lots of filthy birds."

That one has me laughing. The filthy birds all seem to live next door.

Noah dislikes that there is trash and pollution and electricity that goes out in Haiti. He loves that he has mango trees in his yard and can swim every day all year and that he has a fan on his head when he sleeps.  He lists his favorite food as: pears. 

Coming to visit us?  Bring pears.

Saturday, July 16, 2011

welcome little one

Baby Girl born 7/16/2011 at 12:53pm - 6lbs 13 ounces 20" long - not yet named

Mom, Guertha, did beautiful work. This was her first baby. She labored and delivered with the perfect combination of grace and moxie. When commended for such a great job she told us that she listened in class and trusted the advice she was being given. (Guertha is pictured at the top of the "Things of Thursdays" post.)

Melissa delivered, Beth assisted, I assisted in the second assistant role.  Three is a perfect number of people. Everyone can stay busy.  Papa and sister-in-law waited just outside the room.

Below ~ Sans graphic photos ~ Saturday's birth in pictures ...

Friday, July 15, 2011

Mama E.

For those of you that have been reading since the time of the earthquake, you may remember "Mama Emmanuel" or maybe "Little Emmanuel". 

When we spoke in Okoboji, Iowa last summer  - we shared their story. (A hard one to tell without getting emotional.)

Like thousands of others, Emmanuel's mother lost so much on January 12, 2010.

A Heartline volunteer wrote about Little Emmanuel here, at this post.

Beth and Mama E yesterday

This woman's faith and depth of character spoke to more people that we'll ever know or count. She is joy. She is a testament to healing.

Observing her worship from the center of the Heartline field hospital reduced the burliest of men to tears.

Emmanuel is doing well. They have a home again. They live a few hours south of Port au Prince. It is possible that little E. might have another surgery this year to continue to repair the damage done 18 months ago.

The joyous news of Mama Emmanuel's pregnancy was discovered by Doctor Jen a couple of months ago. Jen went south to do the initial pre-natal exam and give all the vitamins and iron needed.

Yesterday Mama E and Papa E came to Port au Prince for a full pre-natal consultation.  She is our only long-distance client.  We're hopeful that this baby will bring her even more joy and healing. 

Join us in praying for this amazing woman and the new life growing within her.

things of thursdays

Thursday, as you may recall, is the day I leave the house. I'm madly in love with Thursday. Prenatal day is so fun. I enjoy getting to be with the ladies for a few hours each week. Their lives are so complicated, yet every week they show up smiling.

Troy has been able to spend each Thursday with the kids.  They are always happy to have a 'dad day'. As Noah informed me last week, "I still love you Mom, but I need to tell you this ... We don't have to do as much work when Dad is the one in charge of us."

I said, "Well I'm glad you still love me."  He said, "You are my Mom even when I have to do so much work - of course I love you." That right there is the sort of love Hallmark has made fortunes marketing and selling.  Deep, abiding love. 

The summer is half over and all the children residing here under my care seem happy and mainly content.  No eyes have been gouged out in desperate fits of boredom. No one has perished under the strain of hard work.  During bedtime prayers the other night Lydie even thanked God that "mommy stay with me."

That Lydia prayer was offered shortly after she doubled over grabbing her belly and telling me that she was 'so mad at Paigey for making her to dance at hewr dance pawty and making her get a tummy ache.'

Paige is known to throw dance parties for her siblings occasionally. I didn't attend the most recent one but apparently there was a lot of forced dancing.
all the pregger-ladies

The other night Paige lamented aloud that as a teenager in Haiti she "cannot get a job and make money"  like all of her friends in the U.S.  She said, "Mom, I want to make and save money."  I am convinced she wants to make it.  I'll fall over dead if the saving part happens.

Stuff like that always causes me a tinge of guilt that moves me to action. Even though these gypsy children are not lacking very many things that we (as parents) highly value, I still have a healthy amount of concern for them when they vocalize the things that bug them about living here.

It is true after-all, she is missing out on flipping burgers at Sonic. I told Paige, "I will find work for you soon."  I sprung into action informing anyone that cared that she was available to translate for them. (With recognition that we know it makes more sense to give those jobs to Haitians whenever possible.) Within hours Paige had three weeks of translating work and I walked around the house pumping my fists in the air proclaiming victory over her lamentation. 

She is figuring out that translating can be a pretty exhausting activity. She is earning her dollars the hard way.  As mentally tiring as it is, it's probably still more interesting than flipping hamburgers.   

Running has been my saving grace this summer.  Bad moods get reset instantly in 30 minutes time. I have been recording my miles on paper (something I've never done unless marathon training) and that means that my obsessive-compulsivity has a chance to come alive again. Seeing miles on paper drives that particular neurosis.  I can motivate myself to go further if I know it will make a nice round number. This week I'm aiming for 30+  miles with the long run (8 to 10ish?) planned for Saturday morning when Troy can stay with the kids.
Monday - 5.25 mi.
Tuesday - 5.5 mi.
Wednesday- 5.5 mi.
Thursday - 3.75 mi.
Friday - 4.0 mi.

On Tuesday Beth and I ran 4.5 together out on Kenz Oktobe. I finished with a mile in our little neighborhood. We both had our hands plastered over our mouths a couple of times trying not to inhale thick black smoke from burning trash piles. The humidity did the best job I can ever recall at holding down the smog that morning. It messed with us and slowed us down. Nothing increases the freak-factor or draws attention like two white women running through the insane streets of PAP with their hands over their mouths.

Yesterday Troy suggested we grab a few hours alone before the next team arrives. He asked if I'd be up for a date after prenatal program. I didn't know it was transparent - but when I asked Paige if she wanted a babysitting job she said, "Yes, you guys need a date."  In other words, she noticed a bit of elevated tension.  Running resets crabby moods, date-night resets our communication skills.

We headed to our favorite date spot last night and had a fabulous time.  Sometimes the actual act of getting to the date spot makes it not seem worth it.  Thankfully the traffic wasn't too intense on the way up the hill. When we arrived there were black Suburbans with 'National Palace' license plates pulling in with us. The guys with guns strapped to their legs jumped out and we got pretty excited thinking we'd be having dinner and a show.  Once inside we never could figure out who the big-shot was but the security guys stood guard over the place throughout dinner.  

I love date night.

15k match within reach

For the Harbor House ...

Thank you to each and every generous person that brought us this close to the goal!

blessed in haiti,

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

for the love

These fabulously creative comments of the anonymous variety come in every so often. Most of the time we laugh at how redonkulous someone must be to think we care what an unknown stranger thinks of us or our parenting decisions. After we're done laughing we usually just delete them.

Today's anonymous installment of ridiculous took it to a new level, thereby forcing me to mock publicly.

From: Anonymous <>
Date: July 12, 2011 12:26:37 PM GMT-05:00
Subject: [Livesay [Haiti] Weblog] New comment on mission accomplished.

Anonymous has left a new comment on your post "mission accomplished":

I just heard a talk show on the radio about Haiti. The expert said that the children there are not yet attending schools because of the destruction and slow rebuilding. If this is true where do your younger children go to school and what country are they residents of? If they are legally residents of the U.S. then they legally have to be attending school. If they are attending some kind of school there I really wonder what kind of education they are receiving. It's sad you have pulled your children into this gypsy lifestyle. You look like aging, unclean hippes.

Posted by Anonymous to Livesay [Haiti] Weblog at July 12, 2011 12:26 PM

Dear anonymous person -
No need to wonder anything. Our oldest kid that left Haiti to graduate from Baylor University with great grades in three years time - was also a deprived gypsy. It's kind of amazing they even let her into that University what with all the laws we have been breaking.  They probably only accepted her into grad-school this fall because they felt sorry for her knowing she was raised by "aging unclean hippies."  It really is SO super-duper sad for her.

You are incredibly kind to care so much about the education of total strangers, thanks for that!!!

Warmest personal regards,

True Story: Troy is the cutest aging unclean hippie alive. No contest. 

Late Edit: 
Sony and Cher 
Evidence of the aging hippie part?

Monday, July 11, 2011

the electricity nazi

permission was not given for this activity
Julia and Paige said their teary goodbyes on Saturday.  It was a sad moment to observe.

It was so fun having her here with us. She was a quick study and learned much faster than most all about how to keep the electricity nazi happy.

She wrote to us after getting back to MN and said that she can no longer stand with her refrigerator door open without thinking of Troy's rules.

Troy spends large portions of his time at home managing electricity. He has made it his personal mission in life to be sure that no one is careless with the supply.

When the city electricity is out you best not be opening the freezer for ice more than once a night, using an extra light, charging any phones, walking away from your fan without turning it off ... unless of course you enjoy getting reprimanded.  I have noticed that he is much more strict in enforcing the rules for Paige, Dr. Jen, and guests.  Somehow I have been offered a more lenient set of regulations. I guess it pays to sleep with the electricity nazi.

If you wish to see a predictable yet entertaining display of utter disgust, just turn something on that has a heating element at a time that the house is being powered by batteries only.  Heating elements are the arch-enemy of battery supply - EVERYBODY knows that!!!

Even though he has confirmed hearing loss, every once in a while he'll perform an amazing feat of hearing genius. Troy sits catching up with emails in an office area at the top of the steps many evenings.  Most often there are multiple background noises ranging from fans, kids, roosters, video games, etc.  If Isaac were to pop a piece of bread into the toaster downstairs in the kitchen and push down the handle, it wouldn't be at all unusual for Troy to bellow from the upstairs office area, "Did someone just use the toaster?"

Paige is the most skilled at stressing the e.nazi out; he wonders aloud if her stunts aren't meant to push him over the edge. Hair straighteners, lamps, curling irons, decorative lights, hairdryers, ipod docking station, and the list goes on...  Suffice it to say, our batteries lasted much longer while she was in the USA last month. 

Troy has recently been working with an electricity nazi child prodigy. The power that comes into the house from the city (EDH) is totally wonky. It spikes (see photo) and drops and throughout the day things blip. When this happens Lydia's proclamation "EDH is OUT!!" can be heard throughout the house.  She's not about to waste battery powered electricity, heavens no! She's been trained by the best.

Today when it blipped she started unplugging things in a fury of conservation concern. When I kind of ignored her announcement and said "Okay Lydie" she said, "NO, say - Thank you for telling me Lydia." 

Our fearless e. nazi is driven by love. He wants us to have battery powered electricity all throughout the hot, muggy, buggy nights. Knowing that love and concern for us are his only motivators - we may snicker at his neurosis - but we're all secretly thanking him when our fans are still spinning at 3am.