Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Rebecca's Joyful Update

Recently Rebecca (purposefully cropped out for the sake of her privacy) came to show us her first semester report card and proudly shared that she is using all of her gifts and is at the top of her class. 

Read about Rebecca's story of courage, healing, and grace below. Congratulations to Rebecca and thanks to each of you that support Heartline Ministries and allow these beautiful stories to unfold.

Hope Realized
As we meet with women, some young and some not so young, we often hear stories that leave us speechless. The women of Haiti that we serve have often experienced pain, suffering, and trauma that we cannot easily imagine. One such young woman, "Rebecca" came to us early in her pregnancy.  As Rebecca opened up about her situation we grieved with her over what she had lost and what she still needed to face.  At the tender age of 15, Rebecca had been hurt.  An older man forced himself on Rebecca and assaulted her right in her neighborhood.

The community was upset, the police were notified, and in a rather unusual turn of events in Haiti, the assailant ended up fleeing Haiti to hide in the Bahamas in order to avoid the consequences of the rape. 

Soon after, Rebecca learned she was pregnant.  

The day we heard her story we sat quietly listening to her resolve and her strength and her plan of action.  "It is not the baby's fault that I was forced. I will love this baby," said the incredibly mature young woman sitting with us.

Rebecca came to weekly program at the Maternity Center faithfully all throughout her pregnancy.  She missed only twice, but both times she let us know she had a counseling appointment and would be absent due to that important prior engagement.  We had the honor of helping Rebecca through hours of labor and eventually welcoming a baby boy into the world.

Instantly Rebecca proved that teen-mothers often have the ability to bond, love, and serve their children every bit as well as an older, more mature mother.  Rebecca's baby grew fast and became a very sturdy little guy. He looked even larger in his Momma's thin arms.

When Rebecca's son reached six months of age we hugged, talked and said our temporary goodbyes on the day she graduated from the program. 

Rebecca graduated in January of 2013. On the day she left our program she asked about going back to high-school in the future.  We encouraged Rebecca to spend the next six months focusing on parenting her son.  We told her that if she would come back after his first birthday in July, we would discuss school for the 2013-2014 school year.

Just as expected, in July Rebecca came to see us. She held her giant one-year-old baby boy on her hip.  In October of this year she returned to school. Her mother is caring for her son while she presses on toward the goal of finishing high school.  This is no small task in Haiti.  The testing process is difficult and the work load heavy.  From the first day we met Rebecca, we knew she had a unique spirit, one that would allow her to fight the most difficult battles and not give up.  It was clear to us that sending her back to school was the right thing to do.

Heartline doesn't budget for these situations.  When we meet a pregnant woman we are thinking about the immediate health-related needs.  We are thinking about nutrition and vitamins and blood work. We are thinking about education throughout pregnancy and building relationships.  Later we are thinking about emotional support during the difficult hours of labor and delivery.  We are focused on breastfeeding and helping make the immediate connections between mom and baby.  Those things are the core of our program. They are the core of what we do. 

When we enter into these stories with women, we often end up knowing that our commitment to encourage, advocate, love, and serve does not end on graduation day.  

While we don't technically have a "send teen moms to high school" program and therefore had not budgeted for the more than $1,000 in fees to make it happen, we knew that Rebecca needed to be given this opportunity.  We will continue to ask God for direction in the unique situations that He brings to our Maternity Center, and we will continue to ask God to provide for the needs of the women through your generosity and love.

Monday, December 30, 2013

excelling in whimsicality and ALL the feels

The Randy & Carolyn Porter Family

In late July when we first landed in the USA for our 5.5 months here I wrote this:

"Yesterday someone was chatting with me and said, "When I was thinking about what I would do for my career, I chose to have a stable life for my kids." I listened carefully as he went on and described his path. I heard him and I knew that he was saying, "Dang woman - your life is unstable!" It is true. By comparison to some lifestyles, this is instability. 

I decided not to take his comment personally. It isn't personal. It is a choice. We made it and we recognize it can been seen as unconventional. I don't love the pain of transition for myself or my kids but I don't know that I want stability to be my most important value, either. 

I think there must be a nicer word for instability. Maybe we are unstable, but also, maybe we are just "excelling in whimsicality". 

~      ~       ~ 

Here we are, late December, packing up our Legos to head home. Once again excelling in whimsicality and the other less popular 'ity'  ... Insanity. 

We have a large room that looks like post-apocalyptic Shanghai right now. There are piles that mean different things.  One such pile is "the kids won't be okay with this not being packed so hide it under a sheet and pretend it is packed until a time you can smuggle it the heck out of this house" pile.

Praise the Lawd, my back is to it all for the moment. The longer I write the longer I can pretend it is not there. 

We are in full swing saying goodbye, see-ya-later-don't-know-when, etc. etc. We just spent 10 nights in the South Padre area with my (Tara's) family. It was made even more special because our (new to us) niece, Whitney, joined us for a few days.  (Back story here for those that don't know it.) It was really special for my parents to have everyone in one place for the first time in ever ever. 

The goodbyes are always weird for me because I have things I want to express but I am a shoddy verbal communicator. In my mind I know what I want to say. It would be something like this:  "Mom, Dad, Sister, Daughter, Friend: I wish you knew how much your friendship and love means to me every day. Sometimes, I feel like we're together even when we are apart because I carry you so close to my heart at all times. I am grateful for you and I loved being with you these X amount of days/months. I enjoyed knowing you were just a few miles or hours away. I dread the distance that will come between us again now and I fear things too. I fear losing you or not seeing you again here on this earth. I want us to be together again because together is so good.  Is it not grace that God gave us such a beautiful and loving group of friends and family? Thank you for having our backs and walking with us in the trench; we are bolstered by that."   

Problem is, this is what came out of my mouth: "I love you. Please don't die. Please don't wait too long to come visit."  Moving, huh?  I know everyone felt my deep feels with that stirring 14 word address. 

We think we kind of kicked they ay-uss of this America thing.  We accomplished things the way you all do. Lists, appointments, vaccinations, education, bill-paying, insurance, meetings, the whole gamut of big-people activities.  Even today I made some important calls to try to get Paige's life in order a little bit more before we bail on her. You've got to be proud. Or something. 

That stuff is all really good, but late this afternoon I went into the library to give them every book I found while cleaning and packing and said, "I need to know what we lost. Can you look at our fines and what books are still missing?"  The librarian said, "This is all of it and you owe me $1.80 in fines."  I'm not gonna lie.  As she turned her back to get us our change from the fine, Troy and I chest bumped right there in the library to celebrate. That's right people, we lost zero books.  Big moment indeed. I feel like we could be trusted with children or pets now.  

Speaking of pets, Chestnut (NutDog 3.0) is still all the rage at our house. I think we waited long enough to add him to our family that we might actually succeed with this one.  Our small dog record is quite dismal. It seems that a Cocker Spaniel named Farley (Chris Farley's namesake) was too mean and then later became the three legged dog of Troy's parents. The Pomeranian named Benny was possessed by evil spirits and had to go on to greener pastures to perform his weird shock-collar back flips. The big dogs have always done fine and have fit well. Small dogs haven't been our specialty -- until now.  I think this little dude is gonna make it as a Livesay. It wil be much easier for him to make it if we get the papers back in our hands in time to allow him on the dumb airplane. Time will tell, as per usual we cut it very close and they "think" they can do it in time. I am thinking there is wisdom in waiting to claim victory over the Chestnut situation at this point. When a letter is neeed from a government agency during a holiday week, don't count your ShihTzu 'till it is hatched. That has not made it onto any official idiom lists, but I am thinking it will eventually be there. Feel free to use. 

What else?  Well ... We got a two page hand-written note from Isaac with $41 taped inside. He left it in Troy's drawer when he went with my Dad early for the Christmas getaway.  Troy found it a few days after Isaac left.  We don't do very much for gifts at Christmas - Isaac knows this of course.  That did not stop him from writing a convincing plea.   (Don't bother feeling judged or condemned - we don't make rules about things for you and we don't think your life is our business -- please - have your gifts and open them too!)

To Dad From Ike - 
What I would like for Christmas is a lego set called Craggers command ship. It has 609 pieces and comes with 6 minifigures (lego people). It is a "lego legends of Chima " themed lego. The ship that it comes with has two red cockpits which are supposed to be Croc eyes and then it has a big croc jaw at the front. Oh, the ship has lots of olive green. It also has 2 yellow jetskis. animal warriors are 3 crocs named Cragger, Crominus, and Crooler. Two lions named Leonidas and Lennox and last but not least a raven named rawzom. It is lego set 70006. The ages recommended for it is 8-14. If you are wondering about how we would bring it back to Haiti, here is how: I'd throw away the box and only bring the bags that the pieces are packaged in - if you don't want me to start building it right away which I would totally be fine with. Besides, I'd love to have a lego to build especially one with crocs in it, oh and would totally share with Noah. After all, he did use some money of his on my J.D.C.C. short for Jedi Defender Class Cruiser. Love you and may God be with you in whatever it is you will do next. 

P.S. You know the bags that will have a big black number on it and they are see through? For example my Spidey set had 5 of them inside and they are not too big. PPS If I have to leave any legos behind, I know which ones I'll leave. Here some money to boost you on that gift I'd like. PPPS- The minifigures are just like human legos but with animal stuff added. For example my croc stands up like a human but it looks like a croc. like these two things" ... 
(there was an arrow pointing down to two cut out pictures from a lego catalog showing us what standing up animals look like). 

So, of course another 609 pieces (including Cragger, Crominus, and Crooler) are headed to an island in the Caribbean very soon.

~      ~      ~   

People always ask us how long we'll stay in Haiti.  We always say, "Don't know. Ask us again in a year." Some really cool things have happened in the last several days. We have a real sense of peace that we're on the right path heading mapless into God's vast goodness and grace. Five years ago I might have said something much more confident or pompy sounding than that. I have lost some of my "this is God's plan" kind of talk because I don't usually feel that I know God's plan and I feel a little lot bit squirmy claiming that.  What I am trying to say is, there have been beautiful confirmations for us that our time in Haiti is not finished and that our family can return feeling quite certain it is where we need to be right now. The future is unknowable and we don't pretend otherwise. 

I am now stalling. It's becoming obvious to Troy. I am thinking of all the things I'd like to write out for posterity's sake.  I'd like to gripe about the things little kids think you should put in a bag and bring to Haiti. (Shells, rocks, rotten pumpkins)  I'd like to (lovingly) mock the hilarious things they said today as we packed. The thing is, a luggage scale and mounds of crap await me. I'll have to mock my children later. Back to the piles.

The best way to wrap this up, a pearl of wisdom from Lydia as we drove through the dark Texas night...

"I am sad and I am happy... I don't know what I should more feel."

Lydia, Annie, and Phoebe together again last week 

Next posts: 1. An awesome update on Rebecca, the teen Mama from Heartline and 2. The two very WEIRDEST days of 2013 and all the insulin, vomit, and drama that went with them. Isaac wrote too, will try to publish it soon. 

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Christmas Extravaganza '13 is Here ...

Special Thanks to the Douglass Family and the Bernards for use of your lovely homes. Thanks to Sara and Troy Groves for a beautiful song.

Peace. Peace. 

Our love and gratitude for your kindness,

Troy, Tara, and Tribe

*There are no esoteric statements about Santa or Jesus here.  It's meant to be entertaining, not necessarily historically or biblically correct, or educational.  Jesus doesn't really like to play Jenga.  Everybody knows that.

Enjoy the Advent season, we'll find you in a few weeks.

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Trailer for 7th Annual Livesay Family Christmas Extravaganza

Coming Wednesday night to an 
internet service provider near you.

This year's extravaganza was  filmed in the Great Smoky Mountains of Tennessee and at Britt & Chris's house. 

more incarnation thoughts

If the incarnation teaches us anything, it’s that God can be found everywhere: in a cattle trough, on a throne, among the poor, with the sick, on a donkey, in a fishing boat, with the junkie, with the prostitute, with the hypocrite, with the forgotten, in places of power, in places of oppression, in poverty, in wealth, where God’s name is known, where it is unknown, with our friends, with our enemies, in our convictions, in our doubts, in life, in death, at the table, on the cross, and in every kindergarten classroom from Sandy Hook to Shanghai. -Rachel Held Evans 

Photo: Heartline Maternity Center, Port-au-Prince, Haiti ~ December 2013
More information and an opportunity to give can be found here.

Thursday, December 05, 2013

Kid stuff: volume ? - Christmas Vids Past

  • Sitting at a donut shop with my two little girls, Phoebe said- at the top of her voice, "WHOA, A LOT of people that got SILVER TEETH come here."  Yes, yes, thanks for noticing so boisterously, Phoebe.
  • Same donut shop, a lady tapped me on the shoulder and said, "Who did her hair?" It was a woman from the Senegalese braiding shop we walked out of in October because they were so rough. Oddly enough, I felt like I was caught doing something wrong and hesitated before I answered.  Phoebe jumped in and said, "A nice lady did it!"  Ha. That's not awkward at all.  (And yes, the lady asking had silver teeth.) 
  • The doctor was giving me advice about what Lydia is old enough to do. She suggested Lydia could be trusted with some chores. I just politely nodded and listened.  When the doctor left the room Hope went off about it. "MOM, that doctor is giving you advice??? She knows you have seven children! What in the world?!?!"  It was super patronizing but I can fake nice for a few minutes of patronizing behavior; Hope apparently cannot.  
  • Sunday we were gone for a few hours and the five kids were home.  This is a new thing and not something we had done in Haiti.  Isaac and Hope are supposedly in charge and there are lectures given. No wrestling, no playing with matches, no using scissors, knives, or ice picks. No cooking on the stove, no using the Internet, no playing on scooters or bikes.  Basically they are to read, do math, watch Netflix cartoons, or stare at a wall while we are away.  When we got home Isaac said, "Oh, did I tell you I found $200 dollars today?"  We had been home a while.  I said, "Wait, you found $200 and you are just now telling us? Do you know that $200 is a ton of money?"  He went on to tell the story of how he was walking on the sidewalk at the house next door he looked in a pile of leaves and saw two one-hundred dollar bills on the ground.  He picked them up and came home.  We fussed and informed him that $200 is no small find and marveled at his good luck. The next day Troy looked at his back-pack he carries almost everywhere and saw that there was plastic toy food sitting in the pocket where he had shoved $200 a friend generously gave him on Saturday. Troy went to Lydia who confessed she took the 2 $100 bills and went outside with it in her pocket. When she checked her pocket later it wasn't there. When she heard Isaac found $200 she never thought to mention that small coincidence that she was missing the exact same amount.
  • Lydia also played with $20 of Hope's money. We have some sort of serial thief on our hands. Shocker, that money is also lost.  When my voice got loud and demanding and I asked her to find it right now. She said, "I don't want to look for it. I just want to pay Hope back with Dad's money."  She went to her bed with crossed arms over the injustice of my veto of that ridiculous idea. Guard your wallets from this kid, people.
  • Paige and Troy had a class together this semester at the local community college. The stories from this have been so fun to hear. Students have made commentary to Paige "Your Dad" this and your dad that. Troy delivers food to her in class when she is dumb and forgets to plan ahead. This is Troy's post from their second to last class period together .... "Thankful for the semester I've been able to spend in school with this amazing girl. Blessed to be with her on the hard days...and will never let her forget the ones like today where I provided her Kleenex, granola bars, a phone charger, cough drops, and laughs to get her through."  Troy just shook his head at her two hours of sleep and no breakfast and said, "What happens when we leave her?"  In four weeks we will all find out. 
    bad day photo documentation
  • When Chestnut (the greatest puppy ever) pooped I asked Lydia to clean it up. "I don't want to - I have a smelling issue", she said.  I mocked, "Oh, a smelling issue, huh?"  She got serious and said, "YES! I do! When I smell something yucky it makes me not be able to smell other things good anymore."  So, I cleaned up the poop  - because I have zero smelling issues.
  • As I am known to do when I feel like I might lose it, I sent the five kids on a walk the other day. When they came home they said, "Oh my gosh Mom, we met another homeschooling Mom. She said she wants your phone number because she has kids our age. They are named Audra, Luke, and Taylor and we are going to be their friends.  I said, "Oh, okay, did you mention that you are leaving Waco, TX in four weeks?"  Isaac, said, "No, because I could tell she liked us and I didn't want to wreck it." So, it appears we have new besties nearby until January 5. 
  • We were driving to the library and talking about marriage and future spouses.  I asked Isaac what type of person he's searching for. He thought a minute and said, "I'd like a girl JUST like you except less temper and sarcasm maybe."  touche.
The last three years Christmas Extravaganzas ... 2013 coming next week.




Tuesday, December 03, 2013

Year End Giving: Why you want to consider Heartline Maternity Center

This December it is possible that dozens or even hundreds of non-profit organizations have asked you to consider donating to their cause.  I need more than my fingers and toes to count the number of appeals we have received. 

When so many are asking for our dollars, it begs the question, "WHY, should I choose your organization?" 

I want to answer that question.

Heartline Maternity Center and our programs are unique. Yes, we offer a incredibly needed and valuable (life-saving) services. More than that though, we offer love, relationship, friendship, and time. 

We meet women early in their pregnancies. We meet women that are living in a country with the highest maternal mortality rate in the western hemisphere, where 2 out of 3 of their friends deliver at home without a skilled birth attendant. Because of that, we meet women in a country where the risk of dying during child-bearing years is unusually high and the chances of losing the baby are just as daunting. 

We are able to spend 7 to 9 months of a woman's pregnancy getting to know her story, her needs, her unique situation. Prenatal care is rare for Haitian women, we are thankful to offer the same quality prenatal care in Haiti that our friends and relatives in North America are receiving. By the time a woman delivers her baby with us we know the details of her biggest challenges in life, and we know how to support her in a personal way as she delivers a new life into what oftentimes amounts to hardship and chaos. 

During labor and delivery a woman is able to do the miraculous work of bringing her baby into the world in a calm environment where people offer nurture, gentleness, kindness, and love. If you have visited a Haitian hospital or walked through a crowded neighborhood in Port au Prince, you understand the vast difference our birth-center environment offers a woman.

After delivery we are able to walk with her as she does the work of bonding.  In cultures of poverty this doesn't come as naturally as it does for those of us living with material blessings galore. We love, encourage, and stand with the new mother while she begins to nurse her baby and bond to him or her in the process. We encourage mothers that God has given them the skills and heart they need to love, serve, and raise their children. 

We offer education and ongoing support for the first six months of her baby's life.  We teach about child-spacing and safe and effective methods of birth-control, in order to empower each woman to take the lead in their own health and future.

We are human and we make mistakes, we are not perfect, but we try hard to get it right when we're walking along side our Haitian friends. We work diligently to withhold any judgment and simply offer a place of safety and love and grace to a woman that is coming to us from a life of difficulties we will never fully understand. 

It's awesome and we are so grateful to have never lost a mother in our delivery room - but we are even more proud to share that the women that enter our doors feel valued and honored and loved --- and that is the reason you want to consider supporting Heartline Maternity Center when you give this season.


To donate on line:

To donate by mail:
Heartline Ministries, a 501(c)(3) organization,
PO Box 898, Sunnyside WA  98944.   

(Tax Identification Number 91-2072330)

*If you have questions about Heartline that you would like to ask before giving, please contact us at livesayfamily@gmail.com