Friday, March 30, 2012


Just your typical wild and crazy rowdy-house dance par-tay like every 
other insanely awesome Friday night in Port au Prince.  

Thursday, March 29, 2012

faithful action

"Our hearts and minds desire clarity ... life doesn't usually offer the clarity we are looking for. 

The borders between love and hate, evil and good, beauty and ugliness, heroism and cowardice, care and neglect, guilt and blamelessness are often vague, ambiguous, and hard to discern. 

It isn't easy to live faithfully in a world of ambiguities ... 

But authentic faith is antithetical to two things: certainty & inaction."

Faithful (with some measure of uncertainty) action is today's goal.

(H. Nouwen & G. Boyd words/thoughts mixed together) 

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

by Sarah Bessey

One of the very true things I read on the internet this week ... 

Click the title to read it on Sarah's site, but it is copied here in its entirety. 

In which I have an Evangelical Hero Complex

Do big things for God! Do radical things! Do hard things! You’ll reach thousands for Christ! An evangelist! A preacher! A pastor! A healer! A prophet! Signs! Wonders!

And every time I heard that message preached, it subtly communicated something to my young heart: If it’s not big and audacious, it’s not good enough for God.

Brian and I refer to it as our Evangelical Hero Complex.

All of those years of hearing sermon after sermon, youth camp after Bible study, about doing BIG things for a BIG God with BIG visions and BIG plans left us with crazy-high expectations on ourselves coupled with a narrow understanding of following Jesus. And then, when, like most of the kids in the youth groups or Bible colleges, we found ourselves in a rather usual sort of life, surprisingly not preaching to thousands on a weeknight, we were left feeling like failures, like somehow we weren’t measuring up, we weren’t serving God effectively, we must have missed it because isn’t our life supposed to be about doing big, successful things for God?

Plus there was this hierarchy firmly fixed in my mind that everyone in full-time vocational ministry was at the top of the Truly Committed Christian Food Chain - missionary wins every time - and the rest of us were support workers, some call it “pew fodder”. If you are really serious about God, you go into full-time ministry. And God will honour you with big, hairy, obvious success.  (I don’t think it was intentional and I yearn to give a measure of the grace that I have found and received in Church, but, I can’t deny, for better or worse, the message was clear.)

God loves big. If one is good, two is better, and thousands mean the Holy Spirit is all over it. And so we valued the man preaching at the front to thousands more than the social worker with a caseload of 80, more than the caregiver with one tired soul in their care, more than the father coaching basketball in the suburbs.

We were so busy celebrating the Evangelical Hero that we forgot heroes come in all walks of life, callings and success ratios.

And, like so many in my generation, I became so tired of doing big things for God.

Tired of feeling like I didn’t measure up.
Tired of gauging my obedience to someone else’s calling.
Tired of feeling inconsequential.
Tired of defining success by what others see in terms of numbers or income or job title.
Tired of celebrating the preacher and ignoring the foster parents, the hospice workers, the carpenter, the faithful giver-in-secret, the teacher, the prophet-disguised-as-a-mother.
Tired of feeling like it - whatever it is - all depends on me.

Here is the funny thing I learned when I began to dis-entangle from my Evangelical Hero Complex: I’m pretty sure that there aren’t actually any big things for God. There are only small things being done, over and over, with great love, as Mother Theresa said. With great faith. With great obedience. With great joy or suffering or wrestling or forgiving on a daily completely non-sexy basis. And grace covers all of it and God makes something beautiful out of our dust.

The Kingdom of God starts small, a grain of wheat, a mustard seed, a leaven in the loaf. And it spreads, oh, yes, it grows. But it starts small, even hidden in the secret places, a knitting together of wonder, perhaps. A candle on a lamp stand, a woman searching for a coin, a man in a field with a treasure worth selling everything to possess.

It won’t surprise anyone to know that I am no hero. I don’t really want to be anymore. (Okay, so sometimes I do. I’ll be honest. It’d be nice.) But I do want to take the work of my hands right now, today, whether it’s a book I’m writing or a floor I’m sweeping or a phone call I’m making or a meal I’m cooking and I want to hold it all in my hand, in my spirit with a breath of prayer and intention, like we are all a fragile universe needing love in this moment.

And I want to honour and respect and celebrate the work of us all, big, small, noticed, unnoticed, seen, unseen. 

He is The God Who Sees and I want to see with His eyes.

Even those people doing the big traditional Hero Things have told me this, they are just doing one thing at a time and the daily work of it doesn’t look that sexy. There is a lot of blood, sweat and small wins coupled with small failures along the way and usually we are only seeing one small part in that moment of their life.

One soul is as valuable as thousands, millions. One soul is as important as 99, worth leaving everything behind to rescue. If there is one soul in your care, one face in your loving gaze, one hand you are holding, you are holding the world. If anything matters, everything matters and the work today, the love we give and receive and lavish on the seemingly small tasks and choices of our every day all tip the scales of justice and mercy in our world.

Monday, March 26, 2012

a striking viking and other tales

Noah Leif Ericson
The kids give speeches at school each Monday. Noah gave a speech AS Leif Ericson today.  

Viking head-gear must have looked quite a bit like this ...  Yeah - for sure it did.

Little known nugget of historical goodness recently unearthed by researcher Noah Livesay:
The Vikings were revered for their innovative use of polycarbonate composite in combination with aerodynamic tin-foil horn design.

During the research phase the names of Leif's family members brought raucous laughter from this particular eight year old. Wikipedia, the source of all the truest and most reliable information in the world (after the media of course) says,

"Leif is described as a strong man of striking appearance, 
who was wise and considerate. During Leif's stay in the Hebrides, 
he fell in love with noblewoman Thorgunna who gave birth to their son Thorgils."

If in fact the real life Leif E. was this striking, and also so safe and conscientious as to always wear his chin strap securely fastened, it is no wonder Thorgunna chose him to father her son and make a Viking life together.


Vitana is starting to think about transitioning out of the Heartline postpartum wing and back to reality ... no official date is set but the babies passed the two week mark yesterday.  Hurrahs going up all over the place for Vitana!!!!!


Last night and earlier today ...
First it seemed Faphane (15 years old) was in labor, then it seemed she wasn't, then she was again, then ???? -- We're not totally certain, we're just watching and encouraging. Contractions had slowed way down by 3pm. Whether it happens tomorrow or next week, one thing became clear -- she is pretty darn scared about labor and delivery.

Like many young women in Haiti she's been mistreated and badly hurt. That variety of injustice makes a this person want to scream their her ever-livin-head right off.

We so hope Faphane can conquer the fear and scars that haunt her. We pray she'll begin to accept that she is  loved by people who don't expect anything in return - that she is deeply loved by a God the grieves such injustice.  He.MUST.grieve this sinful, sick, horrible injustice.  

There is a love that never fails
There is a healing that always prevails

Love wash over a multitude of things - and make her whole.  

(Unashamedly stealing some Sara Groves lyrics and making them a prayer for Faphane.)

Saturday, March 24, 2012

Happy Birthday First Born !!!


Our Brittany Rachelle turns 22 years old today.  We're beyond bewildered at this reality and totally uncertain if it is even possible.  Even though we miss her so stinkin much, we are proud and thankful that she is chasing her dreams and married to her very best friend and making a life in Texas.

We love you Britt.  Praying for you today and everyday and hoping that the year ahead is filled with excitement and conquering challenge and so so so much love and joy. Happy Birthday baby girl!!! 

By Beth McHoul

Three Heartline vehicles went in different directions as we finished up yesterday.  Tara drove to two separate hospitals for pick ups and  then dropped one lady off her home.  Betsy and I went in one direction with a mom and baby and John took another mom and newborn in the other direction.  Both moms and babies went home to a tent.   The gal Tara brought home went home with  empty arms due to preeclampsia.  Heartbreaking.

The dry season switched  to spring rain right as the time changed (Haiti has decided for the first time in years to do daylight savings) and we have been having nightly downpours.  Mud puddles, impassable streets, traffic jams.  Rain.  I lay in bed last night thinking about the two newborns and their moms in tents.

We have the privilege in our mission to have close contact with our ladies.  When they have a successful birth and healthy newborn we rejoice with them.  We breathe a sigh of relief knowing the odds are against them.  We are also involved for six months after the birth.
 Beatrice lives in desperate poverty.  She and her husband stay in a well kept, almost empty tent behind a partially built house that fell in the earthquake.  I assume they are squatters on the land tucked away behind the fallen massive structure.  Beatrice comes across flat and disinterested.  Something made her come to program, and from the start her history, size of her belly, and pregnancy dates did not match up.  A tiny woman, except for her face, she looks like a preteen.  We accepted her immediately because of her history of neonatal losses.  Baby one died at 5 days, baby two at 7 days, baby 3 at a month.  No living babies save the one she carried within her each week to prenatals.

Thinking she had a preterm baby we rushed her to another hospital when she appeared at our door in late labor.    Turns out she wasn’t preterm at all – just tiny.  Then we find out she was coached to lie to us about her dates to get into the program.  Layer upon layer we try to figure this out.  Turns out she really doesn’t remember at what point the first three babies died.

So here Beatrice is with baby number 4, the only one alive.  We suggest she stay in our postpartum unit until the baby is bigger so we can watch, not knowing what might have taken the three previous lives.  We have our incredibly smart pediatrician Jen on call at a minutes notice over internet to walk us through this.  As we talk, dates of when babies died changed, so our guesses of what they might have had change as well.   She declines our offer, insisting she wants to go home to her husband and tent.  We have no choice but to try to understand her discomfort and bring her home.  We give detailed instructions for her to bring the baby at the first sign of illness or lethargy.  We wait, we pray.
Like a ping-pong ball, we went through yesterday bouncing from sadness to joy and back again.  A happy mom supported by grandma heading home to love and care for her new little one.  Another mom back with us from the hospital who lost her baby, never held or saw her little girl who came too soon and by doing so saved her mother who was preeclamptic.  Then we move on to Beatrice, seemingly disinterested and unwilling to help us help her.  We can only guess at the pain behind those flat eyes. Her paradigm  is so different than the majority of our ladies.

We deal with intimate parts of people’s lives.  Birth and death – sometimes on the same day.  In truth we understand so little about our adopted culture and our foundation is very different than the one our ladies’ lives are built upon.

So often we can’t relate to the pain or the lack of pain when we think it should be there.  We can’t relate to a mom who won’t stay so that we can hover over and track the progress of her only living child.  But we will continue to love and support.

Tomorrow brings a new round of prenatals, baby checks and dealing with women in desperate situations.  Like a tennis ball we will bounce to and fro and occasionally get knocked out of the court.  We pick up, go on and are there for more moms and babies.  We have a lot of wins, a lot of moms who internalize the program and make positive  growth in their lives.

These moms win and we cheer!   Our program works because of the intimate contact and health care we give these women.  This very closeness is what causes us pain and heartache.  Because we are close we love them, we agonize, we take their pain home with us.   They touch us with their losses and their wins.

Beatrice may yet be a win!  Please join us in prayer for her tiny 4 pound girl.

“ Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.”
Hebrews 11:1

Beth McHoul

Friday, March 23, 2012

goofy kid things

Riding in back with Grandpa (yes I know this isn't that safe)
We are no longer parenting babies or toddlers. I always assumed I'd be sad to be done with that stage of life, that maybe I'd long for another baby in the house.


I love so much.  The kids are all at such fun ages and we're getting dangerously close to the day where each and every one of them will wipe their own butt. Oh what a glorious day that will be.

Today I enjoyed jotting down some of the conversation on the way to school. The topic jumping is mind-numbing ...

We see a wheelbarrow full of goats tied up and headed to the guillotine and to someone's lunch table.
Noah - "I wish I had money. I'd buy them all and set them free."


Talking about lunch/dinner -
Tara - "Oh you guys, I'm sorry we had spaghetti for dinner, I didn't know you had spaghetti for lunch."

Hope - "It's okay mom, Sourette makes her spaghetti different.

Noah - "Yeah, her spaghetti is really good."

Paige - "I don't really like when people say Godspeed."  

Noah - "Why not Paige?"

Paige - "It just gives me bad vibes."

Noah - "When I go to heaven will I be a spirit?"
Troy -  (distracted not really listening) "Uh, yes."
Noah - "So nobody can punch me then?"
Troy - "Uh. no. probably not."
Noah- "AWESOME!!!" 

Isaac - "What does unorthodox mean again?"
~~~~~~ immediately followed by - 
Isaac - "If we ever get a cat when I am older, I am gonna name it Cargo."
Noah - "You know what I wish Dad?  (pause) I really wish Haiti had sidewalks. People just have to walk on the road."


Of the multitude of things we wish Haiti had, sidewalks are of utmost importance.  (?) 

phone photos

In Port-au-Prince traffic. Where most of life is lived.

 In a laboratory waiting for results to be typed. 
Flashback to the late 60's.
 (which we know nothing about)

Two cute and 'helpful' little ambulance co-pilots helping with 
a non-emergency transport. The part where Lydia screamed 
her head off in anger at Phoebe wasn't that helpful (or cute).
Vitana observed and said, "The last (child) is always the naughtiest."


Thursday, March 22, 2012


"Trayvon Martin and Joseph Kony are two sides of a coin in a cultural currency that must go bankrupt, if not in this country, then at least in the community of faith. " 

"It’s suspect to me that some in our community create an organized, trendy outcry to injustice abroad and turn a blind eye, or worse, deny, the injustice at home. And having been profiled, snubbed and belittled too many times by good Christian people because of how God created me, I’m sick of being polite. For my son’s sake, I must speak out."

Full article:
 'Why I Fear "Good" People' by Sharifa Stevens here.

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

dinner table conversation

Isaac "I hope nobody ever shoots me because I am brown." 

Hope: "Dad is always gonna be with us. He'll protect us." 

Noah: "No, that's not true. You are going to grow up. He won't be with you. That's tragic."

This person - 5' tall - no longer exactly falling into the "cute little innocent black kid" category ...

Nothing much changes, except maybe his height/littleness ... Only needs to put on the 'wrong' clothes and walk in a neighborhood while casually looking around, to possibly be considered "suspicious". 

By Tim Wise:

And by empathy here, I don’t mean merely the ability to feel for the family of this murdered child. I’m guessing most all can manage that much. Rather, I refer to the kind of empathy too rarely attainable, by whites in particular, in the case of black folks who insist, based on their entire life experience and the insight gained from that experience, that their rights to life and liberty are too often subject to the capricious whims of those with less melanin than they, and for reasons owing explicitly to the color of their skin.
Empathy — real empathy, not the situational and utterly phony kind that most any of us can muster when social convention calls for it — requires that one be able to place oneself in the shoes of another, and to consider the world as they must consider it. It requires that we be able to suspend our own culturally-ingrained disbelief long enough to explore the possibility that perhaps the world doesn’t work as we would have it, but rather as others have long insisted it did.
Empathy, which is always among the first casualties of racist thinking, mandates our acceptance of the possibility that maybe it isn’t those long targeted by oppression who are exaggerating the problem or making the proverbial mountain out of a molehill, but rather we who have underestimated the gravity of racial domination and subordination in this country, and reduced what are, in fact, Everest-sized peaks to ankle-high summits, and for our own purposes, rather than in the service of truth.

Tim Wise's full piece can be found HERE. 

The Curious Case of Trayvon Martin

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

anguish & exhilaration

crushing despair
soaring victory









One woman doesn't understand the consequence of her choices.
One woman seizes an opportunity and employs all she's learned.

Over and over Haiti has been described as a land of contrast. So much so that it has become cliche, even a bit worn out.  Beauty and pain intermingled. The thing is: those contrasts are so real, so obvious, so bright that if you don't look away they'll blind you.

After a long thirty-six hours, we're simmering in a pot of fatigue and confusion. The temptation is always to try to figure it all out, to make sense of every interaction and every choice, expecting there always to be clear evidence of cause and effect. We mistakenly presuppose that it should  be easily understood and filed away neatly at the end of the day.

That's not how it plays out.  We end the day the way we started our day; pleading for understanding and strength, grace and mercy  ... "Papa nou bezwen ou - Father we need you."

Today we witnessed the anguish of:

1. Clotilde - who was transported with dangerous preeclampsia earlier than it is typically seen. Today, when picked up from the hospital run by an international organization she shared that she saw her baby on a sonogram alive. She was told it was about the size of a 24+ week old baby. She was informed that she'd have to deliver in order to reduce her dangerous blood pressure. She was induced and delivered a little girl. She never held her daughter. She was counseled afterward. She was told by the hospital psychologist that all things happen for a reason and maybe this was for the best.  She has resolved to see it that way.  "Maybe it is for the best, there was a lot of tension in my family and I was stressed." We dropped her off at home this afternoon.

2. Beatrice -  Delivered a 4 pound 8 ounce baby girl at another area hospital run by a Catholic organization. We rushed her there with lights and sirens Monday believing that she was delivering a full ten weeks prematurely. We learned through information leaked to Agathe that Beatrice lied to us about her dates. She was always tiny - due to her meager income and lack of resources - but she was told by friends that if she said she was further along in her pregnancy we wouldn't take her into our program. Because of her dishonesty we believed her to be premature; we risked her out. One of the most desired and unique benefits of our program is the loving, safe, private room birth that is offered. She delivered with dozens of strangers in the room. Dr. Jen and Melissa had set a protocol for us, they knew that Beatrice had a history of losing babies.  We knew to give Beatrice penicillin while she was in labor to increase the chances of her fourth baby living. Her first three babies all died shortly after birth.  Because of the lie - the baby didn't get the benefit of penicillin. The hospital doesn't have time to know all of that history. The hospital had no idea. When invited, Beatrice said she didn't want to stay a few days to allow her daughter to be closely monitored. She preferred to go home. Her home is a tent.

Today we witnessed the exhilaration of:

1. Vitana - Her twin boys now being called Jean and Jeany :) went back to the hospital where they were born for a scheduled appointment. The Doctor proclaimed "What are you doing?! These boys look great!"  Vitana is courageously facing each overwhelming day of breastfeeding and her boys are getting bigger and stronger by the day.  She and her sister-in-law are heard singing and laughing together in the postpartum area. Together they are fighting hard for these little boys.

2. Chrislene - Just barely 20 years old, and only seven weeks in the program, Chrislene grabbed on to the opportunity to learn about labor, delivery, and nursing her baby.  Even though she was very afraid in the beginning, she believed what she was taught. She listened when Beth brought out her stern granny midwife alter-ego. She complied with requests, she patiently trusted her body and beautifully welcomed her daughter into the world while her Mother stood nearby singing "mesi Jezi mesi Senye".

Mother, Daughter, Granddaughter

Papa nou bezwen ou

(via Jessica Stone - a fellow expat - in north Haiti)

Sunday, March 18, 2012

hold fast

The new year began for us in the Dominican Republic in a fairy tale setting at a gorgeous house twenty paces from the Caribbean Sea.  Everything about those ten days was picturesque and relaxing.  We were intentional about leaving Haiti and going to re-group and reflect and relax. 

We were more than privileged and ridiculously lucky to have been able to "take a break".  In no way, shape, or form are we entitled to such favor. It isn't something we take for granted. We're ever aware that for the women we work with in Port au Prince, there is no "break" from real life. They don't jump in the car or on a plane and arrive in a relaxing place in a matter of hours. They don't get to choose to ignore poverty for a few days. They don't rest or reflect, those are concepts only a very select population can entertain. The vast majority hold fast, press on. 

One morning in the D.R. we sat around the table discussing what we hoped to accomplish in 2012. We all had at least a vague idea of one or two small goals for 2012 and expressed our hopefulness and motivation. One small goal of mine was to run more and try to get back to higher miles. 

In 2011 I missed the predictability, stability, and satisfaction that disciplined and purposeful distance running gave me. No other time in my day am I removed from telephones and computers and knocking gates and needy children. No other time allows such freedom to spend time alone talking to God. Knowing that stability is not only good for me, it is good for my family - I declared that 2012 would be a better running year, and for the most part, it has been.

Yesterday for the first time in many weeks I forced myself out of the shelter of our little neighborhood.  The majority  of the 2012 miles have been on a treadmill in my bedroom or in the safe and secure .57 mile loop around the area we live. I was making time for running, but I was hiding from the real world. I wasn't hiding in a Dominican Republic paradise for ten days, but I was hiding just the same.  I was avoiding Port au Prince and the hard realities that running in the city force upon me. 

I purposefully had Troy drop me off in the middle of the chaos hoping that once I was standing there with no easy way home I'd be forced to run in reality again. Forced to see again.

I ran. 
I saw.

I remembered why it is easier to hide from it - easier to look away ... Easier to run in place in my bedroom staring at the wall. It is easier; I'm not sure it is better.

While running in the city, weaving in and out, there is no way not to see what life is like on the streets. Life is hard. Life is unfair. For some life is desperately cruel. Of course I know that from interactions with women in the programs, but sometimes I know it without forcing myself to really know it, to look hard at it, to truly see the suffering - to  risk feeling it.

Even though I can see it, I can't identify with the suffering of my neighbors. I occasionally enter into their stories - but to say that I can truly identify is a total fallacy. My passport, my annual vacation, my ability to hide from it, means I don't fully understand their lives. 

I can look away. 
They cannot. 
I can take a break. 
They cannot. 

As I ran through congested and filthy streets I watched people going about their day, going about their lives. Running in their real world, I remembered what it is that most inspires me about the Haitian people. I was reminded again that they are a people that press on, hold on, keep on  - in the face of great injustice, failing governments, ineffective and non-existent infrastructure, natural disasters, misuse of funds, disease ...  

I listened over and over to a song I love by Josh Garrels while I ran and watched the people around me: ' Hold fast like an anchor in the storm ~ Hold fast my people and sing, through peace and through suffering. Hold fast - we will not be moved.' 

There are so many things the Haitian people teach me by the way they live their lives. 
This is just one of them.

Friday, March 16, 2012

Clotilde, Vitana, & Beth's post

Clotilde ...
is being induced today. Her baby isn't big enough to live outside of the womb here in Haiti. In developed nations with machinery and all the technology available tiny babies can often-times survive. As you well know, this isn't a developed nation and the machinery isn't sitting in these hospitals. We're sad for Clotilde and her husband and waiting on their call to tell us how they are. Clotilde took a quick turn for the worse between 3pm and 7pm last night. When we got to the Maternity Center to meet her, we found that her blood pressure was very high and her urine had protein in it. Additionally she had the headache of a lifetime and was in danger of seizing. Dr. Jen helped us by phone and an IV was placed and meds given to stabilize her for the rainy, treacherous ride to try to get her into a hospital. The first hospital didn't have room.  The second one thankfully took her in after seeing the chart and seeing that the meds we gave were wearing off and her BP was once again climbing. The only way to help Clotilde and to "cure" her dangerous preeclampsia is for her to give birth. The hospital is making the only choice they can make.  Please be praying for tender people to gently explain things to Clotilde and her husband.  This is their first child.

Vitana ...

 Twin B (yet to be officially named) is one funny little man.

By Beth-
Coming in and going out:
I sat and enjoyed visiting with 91-year-old Ivy Solomon the other night.  She is heading Stateside on her last journey out of Haiti after serving the people of Ranquite for 60 years.  She is sharp and polite.  We talked Haiti politics and I noticed she is neither naive nor bitter.  Tears welled up as I watched her, thinking that she is not the first of our friends to retire and spend their later years Stateside or in Europe after giving most of their adult years to Haiti.  I’ve said goodbye to dear Salvation Army ladies who we loved.  Women who gave and made Haiti a better place and they made light of it.  No chartered flight, no fanfare, simple celebrations and off they went with a suitcase or two heading back to countries they no longer fit perfectly in.  Women who have given many years to quietly serving in a country that always needs more.  Heroes of the faith who I have been honored to know.
The next morning I took our ambulance to pick up newborn twins who couldn’t deliver with us due to their stubborn sideways positions in the womb.  Fresh from the cesarean section, mom waddles to the truck while the twins squint in the sun being carried by Winnie our nurse and an aunt.  Barely born and already struggling to survive in the harsh country of Haiti.
Here I am, blessed to be an observer at both the end of a story and a beginning of another one.  Unnamed, which is most often the case, twin A and twin B ride back to our post-partum wing and begin their closely watched first few weeks of life.  Mom, Vitana, is a sweet lady who desperately wanted to deliver with us and is astounded that she can breastfeed two.  She will be surrounded by support and encouragement as we walk with them through these fragile first months of life.   Life is hard and it will be doubly hard for this mom of two tiny boys.
I heard John repeat a quote the other day that said something like: “I don’t feel I started well, but I want to finish well.”  Sometimes we are like the twins, twin B at a definite disadvantage, significantly smaller and weaker than his brother.  Some of us are born twin A, we have the edge.  Whatever the gifts we have or don’t have,  how we end is what really matters.  Some of us seem born to struggle, fight harder and work with things against us to win.  Others breeze on through, or like most of us, we are somewhere in the middle.
So here I sit – observing a “well done my good and faithful servant” ending and a struggling beginning of twins.  And what is the lesson for those of us walking in the middle of these two ends – run well with our eyes on the prize.
“I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.”
End well.
Beth McHoul

Thursday, March 15, 2012

learn, laugh, love, live

Today, like all other Thursdays, was a full day. 

We were blessed to have a guest speaker share during the classroom portion of prenatal day. Esther D. talked breast-feeding with the ladies and had the room laughing a lot. We were busy working on getting ready for the day but so enjoyed hearing the room erupt every few minutes. 

Six new women started prenatal program today.

Esther & Niko traveling to class today
Esther - talking breastfeeding and making it fun
38 weeks pregnant? Catch a nap when you can. (Chrislene & Faphane)
We just had pads made for this wicker hoping that during long labors it would be a more tolerable place to rest. I think we've determined the pads are a good upgrade.

Faphane - due April 5
I'm fairly sure Faphane has never been to Evansport, Ohio but she sports the Barney's Bar and Grill shirt well in spite of that fact.

Clotilde is struggling a lot with blood pressure issues. We so hope to find the correct combination of meds to get her out of the danger zone. Please be praying for her and her baby.   

**update - while writing this Beth called to say Clotilde just came back to maternity center and is crying and in a ton of pain, we may need to transport her tonight.  

(Updated update - Clotilde was transported with clear pre-eclampsia and accepted at the second hospital we visited tonight.)

quick visit with the twins on wednesday
Vitana's little twin boys are fighting hard ... they are being watched and fed around the clock. She has a huge job of nursing them almost non-stop. 

We're grateful to a visiting midwife (Betsy from Tejas) for working with Vitana to support the very exhausting (yet rewarding) work she needs to do.  

The good news is, the hard work provided a pay off this morning. They gained 3 ounces in 24 hours and the littler guy is getting kind of feisty after having a lethargic couple of days. In the coming weeks these ounces will most certainly all be celebrated with cheers and congratulations along with "nou fy√® de ou"s being freely offered to sweet Vitana. It appears our postpartum area is going to have three adorable residents for an extended period of time.

Our time with the parental/grandparental unit flew quickly by and they are nearing their home by now. The last day was spent staring at the beautiful Caribbean together. It is hard to know we are doing what we want to be doing, feeling pretty certain it is the right thing for now, where we want to be doing it, while making people we love feel sad at the same time. I don't know how to sort all that out, so I don't really try. One or maybe two detoxifying crying-jags are in order -  and we'll be back in business again. 


"It's not what we eat but what we digest that makes us strong; not what we gain but what we save that makes us rich; not what we read but what we remember that makes us learned; and not what we profess but what we practice that gives us integrity." 
-francis bacon

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Vitana's twin boys

Vitana left the hospital and moved to Heartline today. One twin is 6lbs., the other is 4lbs. Please pray for Vitana to have courage to attempt to nurse both boys and for the little twin to put on weight quickly. As far as I know the boys don't yet have names.

Photos: Beth McHoul

Monday, March 12, 2012

spring break 2012

Tara's parents arrived Saturday evening. We hiked Sunday in Kenscoff.  We're going to work at Heartline's new land today. Tuesday and Wednesday are reserved for something exciting and fun - not sure what yet.

Abigail Faith arrived Friday and the kids got to meet her on Saturday. Jimmy and Becky are excited, happy, beaming new parents.

Vitana had her twins via C-section yesterday. Once the hospital releases her she will come for postpartum care and support at Heartline for a week or so.

Hope & Abigail

Friday, March 09, 2012

of birthdays, bakeries, and bread

You've probably noticed Heartline Ministries in Haiti is mainly about working with women and operating programs endeavoring to elevate women.  

For the past five years the shift from caring for orphans into working with and caring for women while attempting to help keep families together has been purposeful and exciting.  

We're truly in awe at how much has changed and how Heartline has expanded. We're astonished by how many people have stepped up to love, support, pray, and give  - allowing us to keep growing and continue moving ever so conscientiously forward.  

Our core programs are about and for women. 

However, the guys have been praying about a program for men for almost two years. The men on staff, Haitian and expats, meet each weekday morning to pray together. They feel that it is time to take on the challenges of fatherlessness and some of the deeper societal issues. They have advanced carefully and prayerfully and are getting ready to officially begin a small program for men.  

John McHoul
Please read this, written by John McHoul (22 years in Haiti, Director of Heartline Ministries):

"Heartline for some time now has been praying and seeking God for His direction as we look to impact men in Haiti. We believe that the Lord is leading us to begin a two year discipleship program for a group of about 10 men. The purpose, of course, is to teach these men (and learn alongside them) what it is to be disciples or followers of Christ. To encourage and support and stand with them as they try to be involved fathers and husbands and grow to be men of character know for their integrity and honesty. 

An important part of this program will be the bakery run by the men. This bakery will be one of the places where we will be able to see if what is being taught in the classroom is being lived outside of the classroom. The proceeds from the bakery will be used to pay for the expenses of running the discipleship program. It isn't enough to provide bread baked in an oven. Jesus said that He is the "Bread of Life" and so this Heartline program isn't just about making bread as much as it is about teaching these men to share the Living Bread, The Bread of Life with others, especially with other men."

Multiple things and a lot of research has been happening in preparation of launching the men's program.  Those of us on the ground here never want to perpetuate cycles of dependency. We continually desire to work in ways that support the liberation and emancipation of the poor in Haiti. We move forward cautiously with those goals and desires in mind.

Today, March 9th, in honor of John McHoul's 59th Birthday we want to raise $5,900 to be used for bakery equipment and start-up costs for the men's program.  

Your donation is tax-deductible and the process is easy and quick:

Please help wish the aging and odd Bostonian a very HAPPY BIRTHDAY! 

Please pass this along to others. (Pray, Share, Tweet, Give)

Most importantly, please consider helping this program move from "prayers and dreams" stage to BIRTH stage. We're excited to see how this program will grow and evolve and we're thankful to have you working with us to come along side the innovative and tenacious men of Haiti. 


baby coming soon ...

Baby girl named Abigail Faith born a little before 2pm today! Mom, Dad, and baby are all well. Mesi Jezi.

For the last several days the littler kids have come home from school to announce "Ms. Becky did not have her baby today."  As if she might have had it at school while teaching Math or Science and we'd maybe not heard about it yet. :)

Monday starts our long-scheduled Spring Break week and Grandma and Grandpa get into Port au Prince tomorrow.  

More exciting than that is this:   Becky is in early labor this morning!  Such impressive timing. 

Our kids are obviously off of school today for one bonus spring break day and running around saying spazzy and ridiculous things. I am going to start counting how many times I'm asked "Did Mr. Jimmy and Ms. Becky's baby come out yet?"  I told them this will be an all day event. "All day" apparently means six to seven minutes. Isaac is not enjoying the fact that Becky will have pain today. He'll be glad to hear she is happy and resting with a baby in her arms. We will too! 

Please be praying for Jimmy, Becky, & their baby and for their midwife Betsy that is here from Texas to deliver their baby. 

Thursday, March 08, 2012

International Women's Day - Ayiti

 "Bleeding to death after delivery is the leading cause of maternal death worldwide, with the greatest burden of disease in the developing world. Women who give birth at home are especially vulnerable to succumb to this largely preventable cause of death." (Source: USAID)

"No woman should die giving birth." - Our key message for International Women's Day. - The White Ribbon Alliance for Safe Motherhood

In honor of International Women's Day
please consider donating to Heartline Ministries.

Wednesday, March 07, 2012

(more) haitian proverbs & links

Neg di san fe. Bondye fe san di. 

Men talk and do not act. God acts and does not talk.

  • This is a great post for adoptive parents waiting on children to come home.
  • The Prayers for Pregos tab has been updated again with new photos and a staff section
  • The FAQ tab has new questions/stuff added
  • Check out our friends in Uganda working to reduce orphans. Encourage them please!
  • Highly anticipated (by someone) one-day event in honor of a birthday coming Friday ... please stay tuned!