Saturday, September 29, 2012

free birds

On Friday, after another busy day, we actually went so far as to ask Jesus to please keep all babies inside of all bellies for this one weekend.  So far it is working. We enjoyed a day with friends today and have a family day planned tomorrow.  


Of course I'm not the only tired person. The whole little Heartline Maternity Center team doesn't want to look at any vaginas this weekend if at all possible. 

It's weird how a really difficult and busy week doesn't allow time to process anything and then you come home and find out that the really difficult week made your kids sad and disappointed and even that you hurt one of your kids with something you didn't do and then you're incredibly sad about that and then you still don't process the difficult week because you're trapped in a glass cage of emotion and you kind of just want to curl up in a ball and wait longer to begin to feel it all.

I don't have the oomph required to break down those four births and that long week of sick kids, very little sleep, sick self, sick husband, strained relationships, difficult goodbyes ... I only have the oomph to say - God is faithful.  Even when I've been bawling my head off over one situation or another, I've had this sense that I'm not alone and I'm not battling anything unknown to my Heavenly Dad. He showed Himself to me in the middle of the messes.That helps a lot. 

More soon.


PS - 
From the three day, four birth marathon, in order of birth ... 
Gidette named her baby girl "Fredge" 
(mixing Alfred and Gidette  ... yes, we questioned overlooking Fredette as a bit more conventional mixture of those names - but Fredge it is)
Stephanie named her son Daniel
Wislene named her daughter Saraphina
Edline named her son Shane 

Disclaimer regarding photo: 
Yes, no seatbelt. Yes, head out window. Yes, this is illegal in many countries. No, not this country. Yes, unsafe. No, not looking for feedback. 

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Edline & Shane

Obviously, we are always pulling for every woman that comes through the program.  

Every once in a while there are situations that multiply the intensity of our desires to have a happy outcome.  

Many moms that come have lost multiple children. We've met a lot of older first time moms. We learn about difficulties in their lives and it makes the desire for healing that much greater. We want their babies born healthy and safely and we pray for the Lord to use the babies to bring them joy and to bring healing to their hurts. 

After almost losing Wislene on Monday night there was a certain level of anxiety going into Edline's birth.  We all love Edline and she obviously has faced much adversity in her life.  She is so brilliant and funny and enjoyable to be around, we desperately wanted a perfect outcome for her as she worked to welcome her son, Shane, into the world yesterday. 

Edline's water broke Monday night at 36 weeks but labor did not start. We needed to get labor started by using pitocin, something we very rarely do.  Edline started having contractions around noon on Tuesday. They got painful for her around 6pm.  She pushed for about an hour and delivered a few minutes before 1am.  Even though Shane was early he is 6 pounds 10 ounces and looks great. 

Edline began the day thinking she couldn't get off the bed without help but by 3pm she was marching with high knees around the driveway working to advance the ball (baby) and get things moving quicker. Her family was precious and we laughed and enjoyed each other's company all evening as we took turns encouraging Edline. 

Edline & her momma

Cherline (Maternity Center invaluable staff member) & Edline

I do not define myself by how many roadblocks have appeared in my path.
I define myself by the courage I've found to forge new roads.

I do not define myself by how many disappointments I've faced.
I define myself by the forgiveness & faith I have found to begin again.

I do not define myself by how long a relationship lasted.
I do define myself by how much I have loved & been willing to love again.

I do not define myself by how many times I have been knocked down.
I do define myself by how many times I have struggled to my feet.

I am NOT my pain. I am NOT my past.
I AM that which has emerged from the fire.
(unknown author)

first time momma, Edline, with Shane

Edline started out pretty afraid, but was amazing once she found her strength and courage. She is such a great communicator and always told us when she needed more encouragement or was feeling afraid. I can honestly say it was one of my favorite labor and birth experiences as a midwife apprentice. 

I love Edline. I love the team at Heartline and the joy with which the more experienced midwives and medical wizards teach, mentor, and train. 

Welcome to the world baby Shane! You are loved, your momma is too! 

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Be near, oh God

Troy & Wislene's daughter
Sunday morning Gidette showed up in labor.  Shortly after Gidette, Stephanie came in early labor too.

Gidette delivered a girl at 3pm on Sunday.  Stephanie waited till 6am on Monday morning to deliver her son. 

(What now feels like a week ago, rather than a day ago.)  

As soon as Stephanie was put to bed in the post partum area, Wislene showed up saying her water had broken.   

Wislene is a 45 year old mom of five, pregnant with her sixth.  The day flew by with lots of checking Wislene and other appointments happening at the Maternity Center.  

The story of Wislene's birth might need to be told later, after more time has passed and we've all slept a few nights. It was a surreal experience that requires some processing time. For everyone in the room and the ambulance it was one of the scariest hours ever. 

"Every so often I get a sense of God's nearness. Last night was one of those time. So grateful that the tiny baby sitting beside me has a mama still after an amazingly difficult postpartum hemorrhage." 
-Sarah Obermeyer  

Just a week after writing about the dangers of older moms of many having a postpartum hemorrhage, we had our first one last night around dinner time. 

As it became apparent that all the normal solutions to bleeding were not putting an end to Wislene's heavy bleeding, we called for the ambulance and began the trek to the Doctors Without Borders Maternity Hospital a few miles away. 

To those that donated to the 2009/2010 fund for the Heartline Ambulance -- that might not have felt tangible to you at the time -- it maybe felt even more intangible when after ordering the truck we didn't get it until many months later. 

I want all of you that helped buy that $60,000 truck to know that last night, while we fought our way through Port au Prince traffic with blood and sweat dripping everywhere, the purchase of that truck and the need for it felt incredibly tangible to each of us riding in it. 

With lights and sirens and oxygen and IV bags and a stretcher all being put to use, the evidence of your donation was more than concrete. 

Wislene's uterus had had enough already, she needed an emergency hysterectomy.  We are anxiously waiting to hear how she is this morning and will bring her baby to her in a few hours.  Her big baby girl spent the night at Heartline so that Wislene could rest after an enormous and life-threatening blood loss. 

Just when we thought our September babies were probably all here, the phone rang. Today Edline will be laboring. Her water broke around 9pm Monday night, she arrived to the Maternity Center shortly after the ambulance pulled back in for the night.  Edline is expecting a baby boy, her first child. She is 38 years old. She is such a smart, tough, precious lady. We're all asking God for a drama free day for her as she welcomes her son to the world later.  *Edit/Add - Edline's son is to be named Shane (not here yet). 

Be near, Oh God. 

Saturday, September 22, 2012

Woman of Valor

Late last month I was tipped off by my friend here in Haiti (thanks Ruth!) about an essay contest that Rachel Held Evans was hosting. Rachel is running a series of posts describing "Women of Valor".  

I am honored that my essay was chosen to be published on Rachel's site today. You can read it below, or on Rachel's website by clicking HERE.  Happy, HAPPY Birthday to this woman of valor. 

~   ~   ~   ~

Beth McHoul, A woman of Valor

Mother. Runner. Wife. Midwife. Sister. Hostess. Grandma. Missionary. Chef. Aunt. Trendsetter. Leader. Christ-Follower. Teacher. Friend. Encourager.

Those are a few of the titles that my friend and co-laborer Beth holds. 

Beth is a 22 year resident and servant of Port-au-Prince, Haiti.  You don’t live that many years in a place as volatile as Haiti unless you have valor. 

“We’re almost there, we’re going to do this!” she exclaims.  I look at her cross-eyed, wondering who taught her math.  We’ve run seven miles in Port-au-Prince, Haiti and we have thirteen left to go. It’s 94 degrees and the humidity is stifling.  “We’re almost there,” she repeats.  On some level I know it is not true, but her certain encouragement convinces me otherwise.

We met through a common love of distance running and Haiti in 2005, and my life has been richer, fuller, and much more exciting because of it. No other person has served to encourage me to take risks, be brave, and try new things more than Beth.  She frequently paves the way and easily convinces those watching that they can do it, too. 

The roles she plays and has played in Haiti are numerous. It might sound cliché to say “too numerous to count,” but when it’s true, it must not be cliché.    

As one of the co-directors of Heartline Ministries in Port-au-Prince, Haiti, for a decade and a half she ran a Children’s Home helping poor and orphaned children feel loved and secure as they waited for their adoptive families to come for them.  Countless young adults lovingly remember “Mama Beth” for her delicious French-butter-based meals, her giant 200-pound dogs, and her patient concern and affection.  During those years responding to the call to place the fatherless in families, Beth loved and helped more than 250 children.

Years of caring for orphans gave her a heart and deep desire to get to the core of the matter; she pioneered attempts to reduce the number of children being placed in orphanages due to poverty.  She recognized that if women were giving up their children due to a lack of education, jobs, invested fathers/husbands, she needed to address their reasons for placing their children by offering something different: education, a way to make an income, steady love, support, and encouragement.

For the last six years Beth has been responding to a new call.  As a quinquagenarian she had the moxie to make a major career change. She left her beloved island home of Haiti to officially begin her midwifery training in the Philippines at the age of 52. Since then she has spent countless hours memorizing medical terminology, the physiology of birth, and signs of preeclampsia.

Beth is responding to the needs of pregnant women in Haiti. Her goal has been helping Haitian women have healthier pregnancies, supported labors, and safer deliveries.  The Prenatal program has grown from a dream Beth had into a reality.  Each month “Mama Beth” helps usher in precious new life and lovingly places babies into their mother’s arms. She supports new mothers through the intimidating early months, always encouraging, “you can do it!”

All of that is amazing, but her endurance and perseverance and ever-present soft heart are what touch me most. While many that come to serve Haiti get tired, cynical and sick of the battle, Beth seems to get more energetic, more empathetic and more willing to give of herself with each passing year and approaching challenge.

To quantify the numerous ways she has served would be difficult at best. From hundreds of orphans that found families, to lonely new missionaries that found a warm reception and a familiar meal, to pregnant women that are weekly being told, “You can do this, you can give birth safely and you can raise your child,” Beth has touched untold numbers.

Dressed in her trademark short-skirt, she’s often seen by the traditional missions circles and community as a rebel. She looks to God to direct her steps, ignores the chatter, and pushes forward.  She has paved the way for countless young missionaries and leads by example. Beth McHoul is a trailblazer for so many.  I have personally been inspired by her in many ways, including but not limited to: having the courage to train for a marathon in Port-au-Prince because she had done it first, having the courage to raise my children here through many trials because she had done it first, having the guts to begin to study midwifery at the age of forty - because she had done it at the age of fifty.

Always loving, hospitable, warm, encouraging, and welcoming - no one that comes into contact with her forgets Beth McHoul. She is a woman of valor.

(first) photo credit:

Friday, September 21, 2012

fast friday facts

 Celebrating Edline's 38th birthday & Wini doing her prenatal visit.
Edline is pretty nervous about her delivery, please pray for her.
 Sarah D. & Lydia
Paige and Sarah X2
 Prenatal visit with Elaudie (Sarah O.)
our new entry-way art ... compliments of Sarah D.

  • Fridays at Heartline there is a 10am Bible Study led by Agathe.  
  • After Bibles Study Wini teaches a class about birth control and especially focuses on DepoProvera. Women that want to stay for Depo shots can stay. 
  • Women that think they are pregnant and want to get into the Prenatal program stay to be interviewed/screened.  
  • After all of that is finished there are usually a few other situations to sort through. It is always a busy and somewhat chaotic day.  We are thankful to offer women a chance to get free birth-control and have a bit of power over their future. 
  • The Depo program is growing by about ten new women every week. We have more than 500 women in that program at this time.
  • In midwifery training it is important and necessary to work under a preceptor. I will have at least two preceptors. Sarah O. and Melissa C. are both going to be supervising, teaching, correcting, and helping me.  It is going to be a busy week with Sarah O. in town ready to share her wisdom and experience. Here's hoping my brain isn't too atrophied to hold onto terms like trophoblast, blastocyst, and chorionic villi (that sounds like a villain in a cartoon, doesn't it?)  I am truly blessed to have these loving and brilliant women acting as my preceptors. 
  • The Sarahs are visiting from CA.  You might remember they are the kind women that housed Paige for her summer CA adventure. We're all so excited when they visit.
  • Dr. Jen is going to go south to visit Mama Emmanuel she was released from the hospital. Her life is truly a miracle, thanks for praying for her! 

Thursday, September 20, 2012

september babies

Fifi's friends and family holding impromptu prayer time during her labor

Fifi welcomed her son into the world on 9/19
September is shaping up to be just as expected: busy!  
So far September is mainly about baby boys... we are thankful for many healthy babies and mommas this month!
  • Fifi had a baby boy at 3am today
  • Shedlyne and baby Regina are working at getting some weight on itsy-bitsy Regina
  • Nadege left the post-partum area after a week, she and her son Jerry are now home
  • Lumana and her son are doing well
  • Marie and her son are doing great too
  • Stephanie E. (one of three Stephanies) delivered her son Thursday night, it was a crazy intense birth with lost of adrenaline and a happy outcome 
  • Due to chronic hypertension issues Natacha delivered prematurely at a nearby hospital, we await further information 
  • One mama miscarried on Monday
  • Two more babies (maybe more) expected in September ... Wislene and Stephanie S. are both due at any moment
  • There are three or four other ladies with some pretty difficult concerns- It appears one mother will lose her child before or shorty after delivery due to a severe abnormality, we also have a couple older first time moms that are struggling a bit with fear and complications .... please don't underestimate the importance of your prayers for these ladies

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

face of grief

There is a story to share today.

It is not a story of economics, although it is.

It is not a story of injustice, although it is.

It is not a story of hope, although it is.

It is not a story that changes the world, although it does.

Statistically speaking, mothers that have given birth multiple times are at a greater risk of death with each subsequent delivery. Specifically, the term 'grand multiparas' - mothers who have given birth more than five times, are at a higher risk of postpartum hemorrhage and other complications. The most at risk groups are grand multiparas and very young first time mothers. 

  • 99% of all maternal deaths occur in developing countries.
  • Maternal mortality is higher in women living in rural areas and among poorer communities.
  • Women in developing countries have on average many more pregnancies than women in developed countries, and their lifetime risk of death due to pregnancy is higher. A woman’s lifetime risk of maternal death – the probability that a 15-year-old woman will eventually die from a maternal cause – is 1 in 3800 in developed countries, versus 1 in 150 in developing countries. {Currently the lifetime risk for Haitian women is 1 in 93.}
Statistics are shocking and easy to share. 
Stories are startling; they are shared with care.  

Stories are about people and people deserve respect. Telling stories is never about inviting pity or exploitation. Telling the stories is always about opening the eyes of the world to the realties around us.  Telling stories is about stirring hearts and inviting those with the means and the ability to join together in action to help respond to the need. Telling stories is about honoring the strength, courage, and resiliency of the people of Haiti.  More than anything, we wish their battle were not so agonizing. We wish they had no need for such tenacity. We wish there were far fewer stories to tell. 

It is not a story of economics, although it is.
It is not a story of injustice, although it is.
It is not a story of hope, although it is.
It is not a story that changes the world, although it does.

One life lost too young always has an enormous effect on those left behind. In this instance the loss cannot be quantified. Today we learned of one life lost at the age of 36. In one fell swoop seven children became orphaned as one mother passed away.

Yveline entered Heartline's program when she was three months pregnant. She delivered a healthy baby girl at the maternity center in late January. Yveline and her daughter graduated from the Early Childhood Development program about eight weeks ago. Once the ladies graduate they typically only stop in on occasion to say hello.

When Yveline walked into the house holding a tiny baby and her 7 month old daughter today, we instantly wondered why. Over the next several minutes Yveline tearfully explained why.

Yveline with her 10 day old niece

Last week Yveline's thirty-six year old sister gave birth at home, in Petionville, to her seventh child.  According to Yveline, everything seemed okay and her sister, Yvrose, asked for food not too long after delivering her daughter.  The only family member with her at the time left to go buy food for her. When the family member returned Yvrose was dead.  It cannot be known exactly what happened, the assumption is that Yvrose bled to death.

Yveline is still nursing her 8 month old daughter and has begun nursing her niece as well. Quite resolutely Yveline told us she has plans of taking at least a few of her sister's children in and will raise them. This is the Haitian way. Families help one another. Other family members absorb children when someone gets ill or passes away. We don't suppose that we can even begin to imagine the weight of this responsibility for Yveline and her husband. In the coming weeks as Yveline's needs become known, we'll better understand how to help. Please remember this family in your thoughts and prayers.

The Heartline prenatal program exists for a number of reasons; among those reasons is a desire to reduce the number of orphans in Haiti. The program seeks to achieve that by reducing the maternal mortality rate in Haiti and also by encouraging mothers that they can raise their own children and that material poverty doesn't need to mean placing a child in an orphanage.  

Heartline Ministries has hopes and dreams of expanding the prenatal program, thereby multiplying the number of women that can enter the program, receive prenatal care, and deliver their babies in a safer environment. Most maternal deaths are avoidable, the solutions to the common complications are well known and something as simple as a trained midwife can most often safe a life.

It is not a story of economics, although it is.

It is not a story of injustice, although it is.

It is not a story of hope, although it is.

It is not a story that changes the world, although it does.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

Stay tuned for information about the "Run for Life' taking place in a few months. This major undertaking will raise funds and awareness of the great need for high quality maternal healthcare in Haiti. Proceeds will be used to build a new Heartline maternity center with the goal of serving many more women at a time. 
(Click the words Run for Life to donate specifically to the campaign to build the Maternity Center.) 

Heartline Ministries is a registered 501(c)(3) in the state of Washington. 
To donate by mail:  Heartline Ministries P.O. Box 898 ~ Sunnyside WA 98944

"Investing in women and girls health is smart economics. According to the United Nations Population Fund women contribute to a majority of small businesses in the developing world and their unpaid work on the farm and at home account for one-third of the world’s GDP. The U.S. Agency for International Development estimates that maternal and newborn deaths cost the world $15 billion in lost productivity."

"Women are not dying because of diseases we cannot treat .... They are dying because societies have yet to make the decision that their lives are worth saving."  
-Mahmoud Fathalla

Additional Source: -WHO Fact Sheet 

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

palindrome boy

Today was a crazy busy day at the Maternity Center. This meant no time to do the annual birthday post. We're slackers at everything, including tradition it seems. It is still September 18 in the Caribbean - and therefore this still counts! We are sharing the words we wrote about Isaac last year along with his photo from earlier tonight.  A Tuesday birthday does not allow for a trip to the beach.  Isaac and Lydia decided to split the difference between their birthdays and go to the beach on a Saturday late in this month to celebrate their two birthdays that are only 16 days apart.  

Blessed are the peacemakers (Isaac) -- for they will be called sons of God.


This is a very special day. 

The appointed Livesay family diplomat turns the big one - oh today.  

Ever so skilled with people, Isaac Livesay has been designated to conduct all officialnegotiations and maintain political, economic, and social  relations on behalf of his parents, siblings, and pets, whom by their very nature are far less tactful at managing delicate situations.  (Peanut especially can be quite crass. Not to mention Lydia, I mean really. No one can negotiate with that.)

As the years have quickly passed, we've been blessed again and again by this boy. We've come to realize that he is beyond unique. His smile brightens rooms. His joy lifts spirits. His sunny disposition trickles down on all those around him. His crazy levels of curiosity kill the cat...or at least ensures that he knows absolutely everything about them. He loves to learn. He asks dozens of questions every day, hoping to glean a greater understanding of things. He cares about how others feel. I mean he really genuinely cares. He is a gentle, kind, and peace-loving boy.  

In so many ways Isaac amazes us.  We'll sometimes say, "He's not like us. He's SO good." Much of who Isaac is is nurture; we know that.  But more is nature.  God made Isaac a boy that loves harmony and desires to encourage others. We'd be hard pressed to remember more than a handful of times when Isaac was mean to anyone. He really is one of the very kindest people we know.

It's pretty amazing that we get to get to have this boy in our family.  We're so lucky. 

Monday, September 17, 2012

pursuing one hope

We don't often write about current events or what is in the mainstream news. We're narrow and limited and what you see is what you get.  

Generally, we only write about two things:  1. Our tribe  &  2. Living, working, and everyday learning & growing in Haiti.

Once in a long while I'll get worked up about something. That usually happens because some news story has touched a deep nerve in my heart due to a personal connection. With only a few exceptions, we don't venture outside of the lines here. 

We're the experts of nothing and the masters of zilch. Half the time I have to google things people are talking about to figure out what the heck is going on in the outside world of grown-up big people. 

You'll never find a recipe or a political discussion posted here.  I would rather pop my eyeballs out and set them in a pot of boiling hot bean sauce (and not share the recipe) than talk about politics on the internet.  

(Ironic twist: I am talking about the politics that I refuse to talk about - this, though - finished!)

Besides the fact that I generally distrust governments and systems and all people with power, and therefore don't choose to engage it much, this excerpt sort of sums up my reasons for attempting to stay far away from the political controversy and especially the conversations that happen online:

From Communication Across Borders:

"Dialogue is best done in relationship, over breaking bread, over coffee." 
"We both have strong convictions that could lead to ugly...  Human reactions, emotions and interactions are complex. I also know there are some things that I won't discuss online, not because I lack conviction but because the potential for misinterpretation is too high..." 
That's it!
If forced to talk politics I'd want to talk at a table, looking eye to eye. (I mean after we dug my eyes out of the bean sauce, of course.)

I think we're all fairly poor listeners. Misinterpretation or not, we aren't really open to hearing in the first place. We're a lot better at stating what we think than we are at hearing.In part, that must be why we love the internet so much. Because we struggle to hear one another and be respectful listeners in a face to face conversation, I see no point in attempting to communicate this more contentious stuff outside of close relationships, and not on the stinkin' internet.

I have good friends that cross all political lines and can be categorized in dozens of ways.My opinions (or my apathy) are not as important to me as my relationships with my friends.I value greatly my friendships with people that are disillusioned and not even sure what they believe anymore because they are too deeply entrenched in unanswered questions. I value my friendship with my Libertarian friend in Virginia and I value my friendship with my Obama-loving friends in Minnesota.I value my friendships with my conservative friends and family. I have listened to how they arrived at their decision and I don't begrudge any of them for believing in "their guy".I just don't believe much of it with them.  

I doubt I can articulate clearly what I'm trying to communicate today. Trust me, I don't want to be controversial, combative, confusing or any any host of other words that start with the letter C.

I just know that there is something that is true for me personally.I don't presuppose anyone needs to feel the way I feel about it. I assume that I arrived at this point as a result of being removed from the vortex of the system. Simply put, I believe that I need not become embroiled in the debate, nor need I engage the rhetoric of the political high-season.  I've been told this is un-American, and I disagree.

Here's the thing, in my mind it's all an earthy battle ultimately bound to fail. I'd rather battle for Kindgom things that I don't believe will fail.  I'm in a place where instead of engaging in that battle, I'd rather focus on the real and tangible war right in front of me.  I don't need to battle over politics because I have a massive fight on my hands as it is. 

The battle to walk closely with Him day-by-day. 
The battle to be salt, to be light. 
The battle against my own sin and depravity. 
The battle to love my neighbor well. 
The battle to act justly; to love mercy. 

The Kingdom isn't so much about how I vote (or promote my vote on-line) - the Kingdom is more about the way I love and live and act toward the lost and hurting around me. 

I urge you: Walk as Jesus walked. 
Live a life that is worthy of the calling 
He has graciously extended to you. 
Be humble. Be gentle. Be patient. 
Tolerate one another in an atmosphere thick with love. 
Make every effort to preserve the unity 
the Spirit has already created, 
with peace binding you together.  
There is one body and one Spirit, 
just as you were all called to pursue one hope. 

from Ephesians 4

~  ~  ~  ~  ~

Photo: Jesus for President, Shane Claiborne

Saturday, September 15, 2012


Henri Nouwen wrote: "fundraising is first of all, a form of ministry. It is a way of announcing your vision, and inviting other people into your vision with the resources that are available to them."

Seven years ago next month with turning and nervous stomachs, we sent out our very first fundraising letter.

Have we been able to approach fundraising with the attitude of Henri?  Uh.
<Ahem>  no. not always so much. 

Thankfully even though at times we've been too prideful or too afraid, good folks have joined the vision and for seven years have been a major part of this crazy-town-adventure to love, serve, and learn in Haiti. We have no idea what compels friends, family, acquaintances, and strangers to help us live and work here -- it must be Christ in you - but we do know that you're loving, generous, kind, and magnificent people - and we're grateful beyond description to have you walking this road with us.

It matters and we're touched.

In a month where
  • Ed'H (an ambiguous and somewhat intimidating utility provider) bills us an insanely huge amount
  • the rent goes up again and we need to pay most of the year all at once 
  • the old vehicles act like old vehicles - and require repairs weekly
  • the children need curriculum and school basics
  • the trucks (the ones in the shop) need required by law "insurance" stickers (insurance is a loosely defined word)
  • the tropical storm knocks out power meaning much more diesel burned 
... Well, in that kind of a month - we admit we are stressed - but more than that, we are so grateful that you see fit to help us be here and you generously give and you pray. Thank you for that.

We know sacrifices are made in order for you to send a check to Heartline marked "Livesay Family".  We don't underestimate or discount the tangible ways you literally make this possible for us.

We have seriously appreciated your ability to hear from us and accept us during high points and low points on the journey. We've found this to be a safe place to share a lot of joy and a lot of sorrow without too much measuring or weighing our words. We're humbled and grateful for that.

Thank you for being with us on this joy and sorrow-filled, beautiful and chaotic journey of learning and love. Please continue walking with us - because

Thought provoking excerpt (that resonates) from THIS full article... by DL Mayfield

I am the mission, here. 
I am the one who is in need, who is eager to learn about Jesus from the lives of people who are different from me. I need to experience the miracles that come when you live and work with the poor and the powerless, when you get to see Jesus in all his power, when you are stripped of your own safety nets. I want to see the kingdom of God made manifest, to see it where Jesus promised it would be: in the margins of society, on the fringes of religion. I want real life, I want to drink it full, and I don’t want the watered-down happy and dull life that has been promised to me, both by the church and my culture at large. I want to understand the worst parts of the world so that I might marvel even more at the good. 

You can go here to read her entire post.

Friday, September 14, 2012

chaos & beauty

Troy took this photo on a road trip yesterday. After many years here Troy finally got to see a lot of the country on two separate road trips in the last week. This tiny country is full of surprises and unrecognized beauty. (This is Lac Peligre - reservoir and hydroelectric dam between Mirebalais and Hinche, Haiti.)

Between Troy being gone, that stupid flu bug at our house, lots of action at the Maternity Center, and news of sorrow and loss from more than one friend across the globe ... well, the last couple of days have been 110% chaotic and tiring.

Time is short and emotions are running high. We're all processing a lot and praying hard for a handful of complicated and sad situations.

The way chaos and suffering and beauty and life intersect - is sometimes overwhelming.

One thing before we take on Friday...
After the earthquake (because of the earthquake) Troy and I met a generous and bigger than life kind of guy named Paul Beltis.  He and his wife loved on us in 2010 and have been a huge blessing to our family and to Heartline Ministries in the past few years.  Our kids all enjoyed a week with "Mr Beltis" at our house in January of this year.  He actually seemed like a real-life SantaClaus. We currently have a massive and obnoxious supply of Starbucks Christmas Blend coffee on hand (in Haiti in September) because Paul once heard I liked Christmas Blend. That's only a tiny peek into his unique way of encouraging all of us. On Wednesday this exceptionally giving man passed away unexpectedly at his home in California. As a family and as a part of the larger Heartline family, we all grieve his passing and thank God for the opportunity to have known him in this life. His six grown daughters and wife are in our thoughts and prayers.

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

toilet bowl theology: lessons from the throne

One child woke up covered in regurgitated rice. 

Reflecting on what was eaten three hours earlier at the dinner table, the quantity of rice seemed to have multiplied by five in her stomach. 

Her hair was washed, her pajamas changed. 

Every thirty minutes for hours on end she heaved and writhed in pain while we rubbed her back and stifled our gag reflexes of steel like valiant champions, supremely trained for the barf-battle. 

Two hours into bedding changes and hand sanitizing another child dramatically entered our room and flung himself at us in unrelenting turmoil.  

"I prayed seven times asking to not throw up! WHY didn't God listen to me?" he bitterly asked. 

The room grew eerily silent as the parents engaged in an epic game of  "(s)he who speaks last wins". 

"That's not really the way it works son..." his father responded, thereby losing the competition ... 

...And thus began the midnight theology lesson that ended in many more hours of truly remarkable rice multiplication. 

the day after 

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Talking to our children about things like this can be complicated. It becomes more complicated by the fact that we're always parsing out our own theology. As parents we're coming at it from two different upbringings, two different backgrounds, and more than a few misconceptions. Additionally, life in Haiti has us constantly wresting and interacting with evil and injustice in ways that force a harder look at our beloved assumptions and rote answers. 

It can be a bit vexing to face the balderdash of some of our tightly held religious rhetoric in front of our answer-seeking children.

Simply put, "Ask and you shall receive" isn't an uber helpful stand-alone tagline. 

David began Psalm 13 this way: “How long, O Lord? Will you forget me forever? How long will you hide your face from me? How long must I wrestle with my thoughts and every day have sorrow in my heart?” (Ps 13:1-2, NIV). The desperation and pain can be heard in chapter 88, “I cry to you for help, O Lord ...Why, O Lord do you reject me and hide your face from me?” (Ps 88:13-14). 

These words don't bring me much comfort but they do remind me that we're not the first to struggle with this. Noah isn't the only guy to ever ask, "Why didn't you hear my cry?" while violently vomiting his guts out. 

If there is one thing we're hoping to succeed at as parents, it is teaching our children that a total understanding of all things God, faith, and theology isn't the key to a full life with Jesus. (Technically speaking we'd like to succeed at more than one thing but aiming low has been quite fruitful to this point.) We want our children to know that their sufficient certainty and "rightness" is not what saves them.

In fact, the answers and the rightness of said answers too often become the God. 

I recently listened to a sermon. The pastor said:    (paraphrased) 

We have this picture of God sitting in Heaven telling us we have to believe right or die - a God giving us a theology quiz asking us all to pass the test or go to hell ...  if you get the crucial questions wrong you flunk.  He went on to say:  I don't see that picture of God  - it is not consistent with what we learn about God in Jesus Christ.  We should want to believe the "right" beliefs and they are important but in the Biblical model of faith beliefs are not an end in and of themselves. Beliefs are important because they point to and support a relationship with God. The end is what you do with your beliefs. Faith starts where belief ends. The end is the relationship. Biblical faith starts by striving to be faithful regardless of your uncertainty.  

We want these kids to get all of their life from Jesus - to define themselves from an outpouring of that most important relationship - to have space to question without fear - and not to feel like they must have all the right answers in order to have Jesus. 

Questions are welcome. 
Wrestling with them isn't unholy.

We're teaching them these things by not claiming to have perfect and complete ownership of all understanding ourselves. This frees them to safely doubt and question things. In fact, we want them to know that a relationship with the living, loving Jesus does not require them to agree with us or pass any theology test. 

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While he was questioning God's concern for him and miserably clinging to the porcelain throne, we tried to gently point our son to the throne. In the end we comforted our barfing son this way-
"We hate that you're suffering, it is terrible for you right now. Even though it is hard, let's just try to remember that you've been very sick before and that you got better and came through it."

Hear this our precious son: He loves you - He loves you - He loves you ... He is with you He is with you He is with you.