Wednesday, November 26, 2014

on writing and a podcast

I enjoy writing, it is my second favorite hobby.  I like telling stories and processing the things of life in writing. 

Over the past year or two it has become more difficult to write about Haiti and the people we live and work with here.  I could tell a new, interesting, inspiring, sad, difficult, or triumphant story every single day  -  but I find myself chickening out for fear of disrespecting someone's story.

I've shared before that Haiti is mysterious. Things are rarely as they first appear.  It is said you should believe nothing that you hear and only half of what you see.  Stories evolve, truth is revealed slowly as relationships and trust are built.

Understanding a culture takes many years, even decades. I don't understand very much.

Last week was a rough week at the Maternity Center.  There are four or five individual situations that came up.  I also hesitate to write too much when things feel rough or overwhelming because I don't want to sound like I am complaining. It is not my life that is hard, it is the lives of the women we work with - and that I want to vent on their behalf and honor their struggle and strength.

I haven't done this for quite a few years, but am willing to try it again. If there are questions you have wondered about, feel free to leave in comment section or email us. We can write responses as time allows. We are happy to write about adoption, large family stuff, Haiti stuff, Heartline Ministries stuff, Maternal Healthcare in Haiti, culture, living cross-culturally  ... The only off limits topics are theology and politics because that's stuff that is pointless to talk about unless you are in a relationship with someone and can talk to each other with kindness and mutual respect.  If there are no questions at all, that is cool too.

~      ~      ~

When I was in Texas I was a guest on my pal Jamie Ivey's podcast.  We talked a bit about Short Term Missions, Parenting, Haiti and a few other topics.  If you want to listen, you can find Jamie's Podcast called Happy Hour, HERE.  I rarely finish talking after any recording or speech opportunity without feeling like, "darn, I wish I wouldn't have said it that way" - but for once I think I actually agree with myself.  

(Random) photos from the last week ... 

Beth and KJ in the kitchen - that is tons of lard (french butter) that went into dozens of pie crusts for Thursday
also, look at that top-knot -- a thing of wonder!

Hope's artwork, love her creations and thought this was something we all need.

Ketia, Lisena, Lamercie, Brunette, Tara, Christella
(a group of six month old fat babies, graduating from class)

This amazes me. I don't know much about it.
Clearing land on Route Nationale 3 for this.
Dear God, please, no. 

Sunday trip to see Jen and visit patients at hospital -
Looking down the mountain on a windy afternoon

Dokte Jennifer and Noah visiting at the Hospital she is working at this month.
(Zanmi Lasante)

On the way home when I asked. "Want to stop to watch the sunset, buddy?" Noah said, "Uh, okay, but I heard staring at the sun would make you go blind."  We worked it out. Saw it set, Not blind. 

Girls looking down at Port au Prince on Monday
our sleepiest child
Graham son - because I must

Wini and Glenda bringing Rebecca and son home on Tuesday 

We celebrate Thanksgiving in Haiti.  Tomorrow we will gather to give thanks and eat turkey. The Americans (and even many Canadians and Haitians too) all eat at Beth and John's table.  Beth makes insane amounts of food for large crowds and I never understand any of it - it is magical. I just know that tomorrow I will be thankful for many things, just as I am today. Counted among those things is you, the friends and strangers that pray for and share your gifts with Haiti, Heartline, and us. 


Adoption Thoughts to End November

Because adoption is woven into my life in so many places, my thoughts and feelings about it are very complex.  I think about it much differently than I did 15 years ago. I have a huge desire to see less children placed for adoption and for more of us to figure out how we can be a part of reducing the number of children placed in orphanages around the world. (Plug: HEARTLINE MINISTRIES)
I grew up with three cousins adopted from Korea. I witnessed one cousin my age sorting through the loss and memories he had of Korea. My little sister married an adoptee. Prior to her marriage my little sister placed a daughter for adoption as a young mother. My sister reunited with her daughter a couple of years back.  That same sister and her adopted husband also adopted my niece, Annie, from Haiti. My husband and I have adopted three children. We (and they) know their first families and have frequent interactions and are always seeking to build understanding and relationship with them. My future son-in-law recently met his birth father and is in the process of building a relationship. My other son-in-law has one adopted sibling. In every way possible, we have been able to build relationships with the three key players in the adoption triad. This allows us to have a less romantic view and to see adoption with eyes of realism.  It allows us to understand the nuances and to be able to say, adoption means loss too.
As the end of November draws near, and the month of recognizing adoption comes to a close, I wanted to share an article a friend of ours wrote.  We first "met" Angela and her husband, Bryan, when we learned of their project and became backers of a film being made about Angela finding and reuniting with her birth mother. If you have not seen Closure, we highly recommend it. Buy it here.
Below is an excerpt and a link to Angela's full post at Christianity Today. 
"I view adoption to be a necessary solution to an unfortunate need. It’s a tragic situation for one family (birthparents) while simultaneously offering great joy for another (adoptive parents). Adoptees sit between the two.
We can recognize the tension of their position, and the role of adoption in our communities, when we listen to adoptees. Their stories grieve and mourn the loss of their first family, celebrate their adoptive family, and everything in between. The complex truth of modern-day adoption reminds me of these words from the Franciscan Benediction:
May God bless us with discomfort at easy answers, half-truths, and superficial relationships—so that we may live deep within our hearts.
May God bless us with anger at injustice, oppression, and exploitation of people—so that we may work for justice, freedom, and peace.
May God bless us with tears to shed for those who suffer pain, rejection, hunger, and war—so that we may reach out our hand to comfort them and to turn their pain into joy.
And may God bless us with enough foolishness to believe that we can make a difference in the world—so that we can do what others claim cannot be done, to bring justice and kindness to all our children and the poor."

Angela Tucker's full article can be found HERE.  

Sunday, November 16, 2014

on heart surgery, car buying, and an intruder - a two week update

Welcome to the neglected space where we write about one time a month and call it success.

Life is too busy, the (next) season of busy is upon us all.

I am recording all this for my kids as much as anything else.

In bullet point fast-blog fashion, the things from last couple weeks ...

  • Five weeks and two days in the USA with the oldest girls and their boys came to an end Thursday.  I flew home with zero problems or delays and sniffed the humid Haiti air with glee around 4pm that day.
  • Michael had heart surgery about a week ago. It went well. His heart is healed. Mesi Jezi.
  • At the hospital during the surgery I was walking Graham in the halls trying to calm him while Paige rested.  A nurse said, "You look like you need a rocking chair, I will get you one."  I sat in the busy hospital hallway rocking Graham for an hour and it was by far the best hour of the five weeks in Texas. 
  • Britt came down to Waco after the surgery and we had a sleep over.  We talked in the darkness about anything and everything for hours.  That was my second favorite part of the trip.
  • The insurance company ended up paying us for the ruined car, and actually gave us more than we paid for it.  I take back my gripes about them.
  • I bought a car (for Paige) by myself.  Nobody spoke for me, I just bought a car by talking for myself, the way many people do these days.  I think we should all be more proud of the people around us.  Look around, the folks whizzing by you on the freeway bought cars.  That's hard stuff.  They are courageous.  If you want, you can walk up to someone in a parking lot and say, "Did you buy that car?"  If they say, "Yes, yes, I did."  You can give them a high five, a hug, or a word of congratulations because buying a car is difficult and inspirational.
  • The guys I bought from were older. Guys that could be my Dad or by Dad's older brother. They were named Pat and Joe.  Pat had a 40 year old daughter named Tara.  Joe had a son that was a radiologist. We got really close during those test drives. One really wanted me to buy, the other didn't give a damn.  I was drawn to the guy that didn't give a damn.  I'm sure that means something about me.  In the end I had to buy from the one with the car I wanted most.  I bought Paige another Toyota, just two years newer than her first Corolla.  I learned that in Texas, people ask to help you. I had a few guys offer help when the hood was open and I was pretending to check the engine out and do all that intelligent-buyer-posturing-stuff. I said, "Nope, just checking the oil.  Like I do.  Except not that. Because I never do that."  
  • I got the car well below blue book and I don't care if you are not impressed with me. I am enough impressed with me for all of us. I made my offer and sat in the terrible, uncomfortable silence and refused to speak until my price was accepted. I may have been too proud because after leaving the lot with the new car, I went to Target and locked the only keys inside the new car, in the ignition, while it was running. Add $35 (Pop a Lock) to the price of the car for that little pride-killing moment.
  • Troy and I never got in a fight in all those weeks doing our parenting jobs solo in different countries.  That is a first.  The last time we were apart that long was 2007 and it was not nearly so easy that time.  If you need to know how to have a long distance relationship with your spouse, we will happily share our hot-tips. Tip number one is to lower your expectations. Tip number two is not blog material. 
  • Staying in the attic bedroom with the slanted ceilings and getting a text from Paige each morning "we are up, come over" was also a very good (favorite) part of my time in Texas.
  • We got a lot of wedding stuff done.  I bought suits and ties and found used shoes for the guys and we made centerpieces and table runners and made a plan with Pastor Carn-Dog about the ceremony.  It seems like the 54 days that remain till the ceremony will require some organization, but nothing undoable by any means. If anyone reading has a great idea for simple and cheapish sound equipment in southern Florida, please share your wisdom.
  • Graham is the cutest baby ever born and incredibly photogenic. I assume there are many eyes rolling over how many photos I posted. Go ahead and roll on. I cannot resist. 
  • We will all be together in one place in January.  It is possible that sometimes I cannot control my bladder when I think about it.  Tonight Lydia said, "I hate the word bladder. It's kind of disgusting. I wish you wouldn't mention it."  
  • Noah fell off of a roof on one occasion (a tree broke his fall or we would be unable to laugh about it) , he sprained or maybe broke two toes on another, and shot a back window of an SUV out with a sling-shot on another. I might go away again until he is 25.
  • Arriving home I figured I might find myself in a hole with the kids.  Everyone seemed ready to start without any punishment for my absence, except Lydie.  Poor girl needed a big long cry. I think she has the gift of compartmentalizing and once I was back she could finally feel all the hard parts of five weeks without me. She cried a good cathartic cry and all is well. 
  • We have a new Mastiff puppy named Bono. He won't live here long term, he will be moved to the Maternity Center full-time in a couple months.  An awesome lady in Virginia gave us two male Mastiffs, the McHouls are in charge of the other puppy. 
  • Friday was our 16 year anniversary.  While on our date we got a phone call from hysterical Geronne. Troy could not even understand her. He said, "Geronne, slow down, I don't understand."  As it turned out, an intruder was in our yard. ( Happy Anniversary!!!!  ) We ran out of the restaurant in the pouring rain to rush home to learn more because Geronne was too upset for us to hear.  The whole drive home I just kept repeating, "Jesus, protect them."  The man in the yard was clearly casing the joint and just happened to get busted by Geronne. He told her that the kids let him in the gate.  She screamed for the kids who said, "Nope, did not let that guy in" ... Then there was the part where Noah got scared and grabbed a knife and the part where Isaac was never scared because happy happy happy, everything is wonderful. The most trauma was caused when Hope told the little girls to hide and Geronne was screaming loud to get the guy to leave and Noah thought that the little girls had been taken by the guy because he could not find them. All in all, it was upsetting to everyone but everyone was physically unharmed. The guy ran. He had come in during a hard rain, the dogs are typically hiding during hard rain and nobody can even hear their own thoughts, let alone hear an intruder climbing the wall. Geronne and Isaac chased him out the gate just as friends from Heartline arrived to help. Troy and I pulled up a couple minutes after that. A few hours later we all cuddled in our bedroom to process and talk and Lydia said, "Maybe he just needed some limes." (We have a lime tree in the yard.) I feel like that is the best way to frame it all.  The guy was in need of a great batch of Citron juice.  Can you even blame him? 
  • The Maternity Center is one of my happy places. Looking forward to some November babies. More updates on all things birth and pregnancy and newsy from over there soon. (Soon means weeks not months.)

I love this picture because the love is palpable.
Graham ~ so.very.delicious.
 Graham never stressed about the heart surgery.
Sleep over with my mini-me

If this doesn't say DANGEROUS SECURITY DOG, I don't know what does.