Monday, October 31, 2011

common sense deployed elsewhere

Ever the slackers and disorganized fools, we realized when we went to the McHoul wedding that our passports were going to expire in about two weeks.  We were actually really grateful to have decided to go to the wedding or we would have learned about the expiration after it took place. That would have been an ugly and embarrassing discovery made at the PAP airport or possibly revealed in Miami, as we were being cuffed and detained.  Blame would have been placed, insults hurled, feelings hurt.  'Whose responsibility IS THIS?' we would ask one another.   

(For those keeping track - for sure this is Troy's department. Just sayin.)

Expired passports seem like a bad idea ... And so, our day began at the U.S. Embassy.  

The movies and television frequently lead the American viewer to believe that an Embassy is a place of refuge.  If you watch enough high-action programming, you might believe Americans abroad only need to get to their embassy and everything will be okay.  The embassy is a beacon of truth and justice in this dark world. The embassy stands ready to assist in any manner. The embassy is your friend.  With bombs going off behind you, just run for your embassy, they'll fling the doors open for you.


In our dealings with our embassy we've learned that they don't actually want to have to interact with us if at all possible.   The manner in which most (not all) employees conduct business is unfriendly, bordering on rude. After we got everything turned over to renew our passports they informed us that the passports would be delivered to our house.  We have a friend that attempted to go that route with his renewal and as far as we know he is still in search of his passport.  Troy said, "No. I don't want it delivered.  If it is coming here to the embassy anyway, I live nearby - I'll come pick it up."  

It is, after all, a fairly important document, one we'd like in our hands as soon as possible, so why not cut out the middle man?  Makes sense to us. Troy was informed that he is required to hire the messenger service because the Embassy doesn't want him to have a reason to come back into the building.  They (the American Citizens Service unit) are "reducing their traffic". (As it turns out, they are ALSO increasing our chances of not having our passports.) Listening to the bureaucratic-speak about where our documents would be "deployed" was slightly aggravating, mostly because of the lack of common sense.

After watching the inner workings of government ineptitude while adopting Phoebe post-earthquake, we recognize that most everything they do because of "policy" or "procedure" is code for "charging you money to keep our lives easy and yours annoying and inconvenient".

The passports take 7 to 10 days to come back but the messenger service says we'll have them in 30 days.  I'm the first to admit I am no math wizard but something tells me there is a bit of a problem with that. It is almost as if 20 days are in between the passport arriving and the passport being handed (in theory) to us.  Call me a skeptic; call me a jerk, but I'm not super thrilled with my passport being in an undisclosed ambiguous location for three weeks.  I'd rather just have it in my hands.  I guess you could say it's my policy.  Ahem.

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Esther's Baby Boy

Esther had an incredibly long day and night of labor. Her blood pressure sky-rocketed; lots of medical intervention was necessary. At 7:26 this morning she delivered her 6lb 9ounce baby boy. She lost quite a lot of blood and will need to stay at the Maternity Center for close observation as she recovers. She's not technically out of the woods, so please keep covering her in prayer. A seasoned nurse midwife named Melissa will be with us often from here on out. (top photo standing up) She brings a lot of Haiti and high-risk experience to the table. We're so grateful she was here for Esther's birth.

We're all blessed by your willingness to pray for these ladies. Their lives are fragile and the odds are stacked against them in so many ways. With each complicated birth we recognize more and more what a ginormous gift it is to be able to offer this option to women in our area. Thank you for helping to make this ministry possible. Please keep giving. Please keep praying.

This story and the stats within seem hard to believe in 2011, but please read this recent article about some of the realities of giving birth in Haiti found here.

That is why the Heartline Maternity Center and Prenatal program exists. That is what motivates all of us to want to grow bigger and take on more ladies.

Halloween 2011

Three Blind Mice
Three blind mice.
See how they run. See how they run.
They all ran after the farmer's wife,
Who cut off their tails with a carving knife,
Did you ever see such a sight in your life,
As three blind mice?

Jack Sprat could eat no fat.
His wife could eat no lean.
And so between them both, you see,
They licked the platter clean.

 Little Big Red Riding Hood, The Big Little Bad Wolf, Grandmother

Did you ever see such a sight in your life,
As three blind mice?
 Dr G. Alexandre
 John and Beth McHoul
 Jimmy & Becky ~ Zoro protecting his egg
 Harry Potter & Pirate Ashton
 SUPER-Family of Super-HEROES (Jared, Jalayne, Miles)
Halloween 2011 declared a success. 
Those Hendricks know how to party.

Saturday, October 29, 2011


Esther is at the Maternity Center, her water broke, her contractions are 5 minutes apart. Prayers for her and for a safe delivery are appreciated today.

OCT 29 - Adoption Day

Nine jam-packed, exciting, intense, fabulous years ago these two little Haitian sensations became citizens of the United States of America.

On the afternoon of October 29, 2002 a mountain of paperwork was handed over.  In a Miami airport immigration office they were declared Livesays and distinguished residents of Minnesota, USA.

There are portions of that emotional day in 2002 that are vivid and crisp in our memories. The moment the airplane tires lifted off from Haiti  -  the strange and inexplicable combination of grief and joy over what they had overcome and what they had lost.

We arrived to our Miami hotel for the night, turned on the TV, and saw that a boat full of Haitian people had arrived in Miami at almost the same time as us. The news coverage showed their desperation and panic as they were being chased down and detained. There we sat with documents of legal citizenship in our hands. 'Sobering' isn't a strong enough word.

There is no way we could have known or even imagined on that day that we'd be so blessed to return to the country of their birth to live, work, learn, struggle, and grow as a family. 

We're grateful to be raising these precious children. We're grateful that God has made a way for them to have open adoptions and removed our fears and reservations surrounding that.  We're grateful for healing that has taken place in each of them. We're grateful to a gracious and faithful Father that continues to love, heal and provide lavishly for Hope and Isaac. We're grateful for their U.S. citizenship - but even more grateful for their true citizenship in The Kingdom of Heaven.

Friday, October 28, 2011

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Ode to Bacon

Noah is sporting especially poofy hair lately. The curls are perfectly activated, therefore I cannot bring myself to cut it quite yet.

When I arrived home Monday I had six boxes of Honey Nut Cheerios.  We usually buy boring Haiti corn flakes because they are the one affordable cereal, but the kids are over it.  Lydia praised me enthusiastically for the "yummy round kind" and went on and on about how good it was and how great I was to bring it to her.  I reveled in my hero status all morning Tuesday.

Yesterday Troy arrived with cheese, some meat for the deep freeze, and ...  BACON.

We had chicken for dinner but the kids asked for bacon to go with it.

One pound of bacon allows exactly 1.25 strips per person and is basically just enough bacon to tease them but not fully satisfy.  Hope can put away a pound of bacon all by herself.

During dinner while they savored their bacon Noah said, "Oh this is so good, it sure makes me remember the last time we had bacon.  Remember guys?  Remember when we went to that huge place with all the bacon after Phoebe's passport? Oh my that was a good day."   He was talking about the day Phoebe became legally ours and we left the Texas courtroom and went to celebrate with breakfast at Cracker Barrel.   On October 27, 2011 the boy was reminiscing about his November 17, 2010 bacon.

Tonight's bedtime story did not hold Phoebe's attention - maybe a bacon-induced coma:

To bacon and sweet dreams,

Mama Emmanuel, hanging in there

Esther, hanging in there

Prenatal day today was packed full of lab work, teaching, consultations, and fun.  We're meeting tomorrow (the full-time, long-term team) afternoon to get a grasp on our growing and busy program and make plans for the future.  It is a true blessing and joy to be a part of such a beautiful program.

You may be checking in on Esther and Mama E tonight ... The expecting ladies are making general guesses about their LMP or conception dates.  Many are not too certain.  Figuring out exact due dates in Haiti is not something that can consistently be accomplished. (truth be told - me - telling you - what day it is today - cannot consistently be accomplished)

All that to say, we don't really think Esther and Mama E. are many days over forty weeks right now and they are both doing really well  - as are their babies.  We continue to wait with them. These are some highly anticipated babies!

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

He Sets the Orphan Free II

Yesterday in the middle of a hurried afternoon I quickly skimmed an email that brought happy tears to my eyes. 
Much of what I read was the beautiful story of how two people met, married,  and built a family and a life together. 
I smiled as I read because there were sweet little cogodincidences and cool random connections within their story that led me to believe that what they were sharing was somehow going to be important.
The day got busy and I didn't get to read the entire email carefully. I planned to go back to it before bed.  Instead, I forgot about it and after getting the kids to bed I didn't get a chance to go look at it again.
Late this morning I got an email from Robin at Children of the Promise saying:
"He has a family!!  Just approved the family today. I think it will be a great fit for him and am eager to get that process started for him. Hopefully our other special needs kiddos have families soon too."
I wrote her back a hyper message and then went to read the email from Tuesday more closely.  
Moses has been matched with the sweet couple pictured above.  They are gathering paperwork to pursue adopting him.  I want to be careful to protect their privacy, but they gave me permission to share this thrilling answer to prayer with you.   They are nervous, excited, and thrilled to be walking a path that they are certain God has laid before them.  
I cut out a few pieces of their email (deleted some details):
We first heard about Moses through a link to your blog my sister-in-law posted to her Facebook two weeks ago.  Since we read this story, we cannot get Moses out of our thoughts.   I initially read the requirements for adoption and said, "Moses must be meant for someone else."  But I serve a God who throughout His redemptive story has done things in ways that, to finite humans, defy explanation (see the Incarnation- "Holy God squeezed into a baby!"--words from a fave Ross King song).  So, Lisa and I can't deny that our hearts are open to whatever God has in store for us and we are open to Moses.  We know that if this is God's plan for us, the Haitian requirements for adoption won't be an obstacle. 
By God's grace we are able to see as German theologian Dietrich Bonhoeffer once said, "It is not your love that sustains the commitment, but rather your commitment that sustains the love."   
We feel that, out of love for our Father, we need to step out in obedience and inquire about what part we might have in Moses' future. God has blessed us abundantly.  We have been in contact with Robin from COTP and have filled out an application per her direction.  We have been praying continually for Moses.Are you able to tell us anything more about how he is doing? We are more than ready to shower him with the love of Jesus.  Even if that means he never talks, never walks. This love that is burning within us for this sweet child of God is opening our eyes to so many things.
I admit that I feared Moses would languish for a long time without a family. I worried that the Haiti laws and process might scare away the perfect people. Many of you prayed that Moses would find a family. Many of you shared the post about him and spread the word. THANK YOU for that.  This prayer was answered.  God loves. God answers.  We're so grateful to see Him answer so quickly.
Will you pray for Lisa and Nathan and their family by name now? Will you pray about the journey ahead?  Will you ask for a miraculously quick adoption for Moses? They come very close to meeting the requirements and often those requirements are more relaxed for 'special needs' adoptions. We are believing with Lisa and Nathan that Moses is their son.
He Sets the Orphan Free!

Se Bondye ki tout pwoteksyon nou, se li menm ki tout fòs nou. Li toujou pare pou ban nou sekou lè nou anba tray. Nou pa bezwen pè anyen. 
God is our refuge and strength ~ a very present help in trouble. Therefore we will not fear.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Beyond the Blue - Josh Garrels

Stand on the shores of a site unseen
The substance of this dwells in me
Cause my natural eyes only go skin deep
But the eye’s of my heart anchor the sea
Plumbing the depths to the place in between
The tangible world and the land of a dreams
Because everything ain’t quite it seems
There’s more beneath the appearance of things
A beggar could be king within the shadows,
Of a wing

And wisdom will honor everyone who will learn
To listen, to love, and to pray and discern
And to do the right thing even when it burns
And to live in the light through each treacherous turn
A man is weak, but the spirit yearns
To keep on course from the bow to the stern
And throw overboard every selfish concern
That tries to work for what can’t be earned
Sometimes the only way to return is to go,
Where the winds will take you

And to let go, of all, you cannot hold onto
For the hope, beyond,the blue

Yellow and gold as the new day dawns
Like a virgin unveiled who waited so long
To dance and rejoice and sing her song
And rest in the arms of a love so strong
No one comes unless they’re drawn
By the voice of desire that leads em’ along
To the redemption of what went wrong
By the blood that coveres the innocent one
No more separation
Between us.

So lift your voice just one more time
If there’s any hope may it be a sign
That everything was made to shine
Despite what you can see
So take this bread and drink this wine
And hide your spirit within the vine
Where all things will work by a good design
For those who will believe

And let go, of all, we cannot hold onto
For the hope, beyond, the blue

Said I let go, of all, I could not hold onto
For the hope, I have, in you

Monday, October 24, 2011


Megan survived the four+ days with the Fab Five in Port au Prince.  Paige survived getting Amanda back into the country (and acted as Amanda's arms, and her own arms, ... no small thing). Beth and I and many hams are here now too  - which is nice. I am going to bed early hoping that some babies are born in the night and we'll all get to wake up and rally around 3am.

Thank-You ...
  • Thank you to Morgan and Tony for inviting us to be part of their special day. 
  • Thank you to Joanna T. and her awesome family for putting us in a Westin Hotel where we could not only rest in style but also RESTORE OUR WORLD. Troy took a dozen hot showers in four days and did his part to restore the world. You'll have to thank him later. 
  • Thank you to our extended Heartline family for helping pick up the slack. 
  • Thank you to Megan for being wicked brave and awesome at pinch-hit parenting. 
  • Thank you to Florida for being so full of bacon, electricity, and hot water.  
  • Thank you to the airlines and airports for going easy on us today.
  • Thank you Lord for helping me see materialism for what it is and my tendency to be trapped by it (again). 
Amie shared the anti-climatic and tear free reunion our husbands had last night on her blog ...  Even without bromantic tears, it was still fun to see.

Weekend pics ...

Paige makes us act 16.  We have no other explanation.

the joy of traveling multiplied

Troy left Florida last night to go surprise our friends Tim and Amie.  He is spending 48 hours in North Carolina with them before he comes home.  They've visited us in about four locations over the years. If we wanted to keep them as friends it was time to go see them on their turf. 

Paige escorted Amanda home, they left Tampa at an ungodly hour this morning.  Amanda had been in MN getting further medical treatment for earthquake injuries.

I GET to travel with Beth.  Having done this before I have made a choice to enjoy the show she creates when she travels. The first time I traveled with her I spent a lot of time pretending not to know her; I'm taking a new approach this time around. 

We're sitting in the Tampa airport.  When her carry on was scanned the TSA lady radioed the other people and said "Bag-check, you're gonna love this one."

We're headed home with Beth's 60 pound carry on filled with hams (yes multiple) and meatballs and cheese. I'll get to test my upper body strength as I lift it into the overhead ... If you've had dinner at Beth's house you know this is a small sacrifice to make in order to eat her delicious Sunday dinners.

Excited to get home to my little people ... more excited to get to be at the births of Esther and Mama Emmanuel, we thought for sure we'd miss those - but if they wait till this afternoon we can be there. :)

Haiti bound,

Tara, Beth, & many hams

Sunday, October 23, 2011

two worlds, much love

Little Emmanuel and his Mama continue to wait on the arrival of the new little one.  (Esther continues to wait as well.)  When they were checked on Thursday everyone guessed both big events would happen within 48 hours.  That hour has come and gone, thanks for continued prayers for both women. (photo: Jonna Howard)

We are in Florida this weekend with these two precious hippies. (Actually, to be accurate, Beth is precious. John is a different p-word that ends in eculiar) They married off their only daughter last night.  Troy and Paige did the photography while Dr. Jen and I held things and acted as highly valued assistants.  Troy won't let me have any of his photos, he says the bride gets them first. 
(photo: Helen Hostetler)

On Friday we accomplished more things in one day than we ever accomplish in a week in another unnamed less cooperative place. It was very rejuvinating to have a list of things to do and to conquer 100% of the list in five hours.  Two doctor appts, a stop at the Social Security office, a couple of shopping errands, all in a few hours. Congratulations on being convenient Florida, we salute you.

Our sarcastic friend Megan is with the other kids this weekend. She has been sending photos frequently to prove that she has everything under control.

America's #1 feature: hot water ... and the hot baths hot water can make
America's #2 feature: cars, appliances, electricity -- that ALL work at once. And then, later, they work again.
America's #3 feature: Crispy, delicious, tart, and fresh apples, bacon, and walking/running paths for after the bacon. Going home tomorrow. Having bacon today.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

maternal health in the developing world

Can you imagine taking your very pregnant sister, friend, or wife to a hospital only to be turned away, verbally abused, and/or neglected?

Can you imagine being in a hospital room with dozens of other laboring women and only two nurses to work the entire room?

Can you imagine a hospital without consistent electricity, basic supplies or equipment?

Until I was exposed to the harsh reality of what the statistics looked like in the flesh, none of the things I had heard about maternal health moved or affected me. 

I've had a few babies, and while everything did not go great with each delivery, I happened to be in a level one trauma center in the well-developed land called Minnesota. When they called "STAT OB" out over the intercom, everyone came running to save my life - and to save Noah's life.

I couldn't imagine what a placenta abruption or even a much less dramatic problem would look like in rural or Port au Prince, Haiti.  I never played those situations out in my mind.

The fact is, until you see, touch, hear, smell, and fully experience injustice with your own senses; it is very difficult to find yourself deeply concerned.

In a world full of injustice we can't each take on every issue.  We pick and choose, we leave some  things to others, we go where God has called us to go and we act when He has planted a deep passion in us to do so.

We are growing more and more passionate about this issue as we learn about the gravity of the situation. The more I am given opportunities to witness disrespectful and disinterested care of women, the more I am finding myself concerned.

In Haiti and all around the world women are forced to make difficult decisions about their health.  They lack choices and when they do make a choice to try to use a hospital they are often met by overworked, underpaid, uncaring and disrespectful medical staff.   Often times less educated women are discriminated against by doctors, nurses, and other medical staff. They are given little to no information about their own health because they are perceived to be too dull to warrant taking the time to explain.

The White Ribbon Alliance put it this way: 

"Interpersonal care before, during, and after birth that is disrespectful and abusive to women is upsetting and appalling. It strikes a deep chord within us as a violation of women's basic human rights. Disrespect and abuse during maternity care is also of great significance because it can deter women from accessing the maternity care system for vital care and treatment.

The contributors to disrespect and abuse are complex and multi-factorial. But no matter what contributes to it, a growing number of maternal health stakeholders agree that disrespect and abuse in facility-based childbirth cause significant numbers of women to suffer ...

This is a problem that is reaching a tipping point of urgency and creating a growing community of concern that spans across the domains of health care research, quality and education; human rights; advocacy and civil society. We need the number of people who know and care about disrespect and abuse during maternity care to keep on growing, until it can no longer be ignored."

Some statistics:
  • Worldwide the leading cause of death among women age 14 to 44 are complications from pregnancy and childbirth.
  • 15% of all pregnancies result in a potentially fatal complication during labor and delivery. Women in the developing world rarely have access to emergency medical care.
  • More than half a million women die in pregnancy and childbirth every year - that's one death every minute. Of these deaths, 99 per cent are in developing countries. The lifetime risk of dying in pregnancy and childbirth in Africa is 1 in 22, while it is 1 in 120 in Asia and 1 in 7,300 in developed countries. (Source:UNFPA)

  • Only 28 in 100 women giving birth are attended by trained health personnel in the least developed countries. (Source:ActionAid)

  • Experts estimate that 90% of maternal death is preventable
~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

Over and over again women come to the Heartline Maternity Center to ask to gain admittance into our program.  Their lives are complex.  It is likely that we won't ever totally understand all that they face.

They all desire to understand more about their own health and they want their babies to live. They want to live.  They want to be healthy. They come with history. They come with a story.

"My sister died when she had her baby."  
"I have lost three children."  
"I don't think I can have a living baby." 
"The doctors didn't tell me why my baby died."
"I don't know why I had a C-section. They didn't tell me."

We rejoice with them as they welcome their new little one to the world.  It is painful and difficult when we have to transport them to a local hospital for a c-section.  We know it is likely they'll be treated poorly.  When they share their stories after delivering at Heartline they talk about how different it was having two and sometimes three people taking care of them. They marvel at what a difference there is in the attitude of their caregivers.  They talk about feeling loved, respected, and truly cared for during the difficult hours of labor and delivery.

The women in our program don't have to fight for follow-up care.  There is no armed security guard waiting at the gate for them to talk into allowing them to enter. They don't have to run their medical needs past any random stranger. They are treated with the dignity and respect that they deserve. They are greeted by other women that care about them and their story.

We desire to continue to meet these women wherever they are in life ... to walk with them through the pregnancy, to educate them about taking better care of themselves, to educate them about warning signs, to provide them with life-saving, respectful, and consistent prenatal and postnatal care.

We're blessed to be here getting to know their stories, getting to welcome their little ones, getting to be part of a positive birth experience; part of something they didn't know could be good. 

Even more amazing is to sit in the front row and to watch these young women fall in love with their children. With a little support and encouragement, every mother, no matter how poor, can bond deeply to her baby.  Poverty tries to ruin that connection, we believe there are ways to beat the odds. We believe in doing whatever we can to help a mother choose to parent and raise her own child.

God in His love and mercy, paved the way for this program to grow.

He continues to provide the hands and funds required.

We look to Him for the growth and future of our unique and special program in Port au Prince.

Please consider how you can help us empower these ladies...

 Ideas of ways you can join us to bring them love and dignity:

1.  Give a gift in honor of a pregnant woman you love. Let us know in an email and we'll write to the person you're honoring and let them know about your gift.  (

2.  Pray for health, protection, and provision for the women we serve. Prayers are more important than anything. Find names and faces at this post.

3.  Give a one time gift for operating expenses. (Chip in meter below or by contacting Teri White at

4.  Give a recurring gift.  As soon as a woman delivers we take a new women into the open place in the program. We have 30+ pregnant women in our program. When we build the new maternity center the program will more than double.

5.  Spread the word.  We desire to serve more women.  We are at capacity at our current location and are raising funds to build a much larger maternity center on the land that Heartline bought in 2010.

6.  Contact us if you have questions about our program.  We'll email or call or put you in touch with a Heartline Ministries board member in the USA.

7.  You can go to THIS PAGE and click once to vote for us to be in the running to win a grant. The voting ends November 8th, 2011.  If you register with your email address you will be given additional votes.

8. We have a small "gifts in kind" wish list.  If you are coming to Haiti and would like to donate something from a very specific need list please contact me. We are not able to receive or distribute other gifts in kind.

9. Pray for the midwives, nurses, and entire team at Heartline; pray specifically for wisdom in each interaction and decision.

~ Heartline is a registered 501c3 ~

For mail donations: PO Box 898, Sunnyside WA 98944

Monday, October 17, 2011

art show!

The picture of the stick bug - and the entire two minute time investment that went into it - brought a buyer.

Never mind the buyer has little to no common sense - and comes solely for the purpose of entertaining us- it sold for $20 USD (not gourdes). 

As it turned out all seven artists had a crazy-haired man buy a piece of their art for that price.

The Hendrick and Livesay school-aged kids with their first customer collector.

Heather did a lovely job reviewing the day here.  These photos are also hers.  :)

Other topics:

~ Still no babies for Esther or Mama E.

~ Today was a holiday in Haiti. In 1806 on this day Jean-Jacques Dessalines died.

~ We had a short school day and celebrated the holiday by having tacos with the Hendricks. USA ground beef provided for this Haitian holiday by Texan Harold Hanusch.