Saturday, September 27, 2014

Happy Chaos

I am hoping to sit down over the next day or two and update an exciting (new) thing going on at the Heartline Maternity Center.  I have a half finished post in drafts and we are excited to share with you.

(Also, two new Moms went home Thursday, another baby boy was born Thursday, we have lots of ladies due in the next month.)

Because the McHouls are moving after 16 years in one house, we have been busy helping get them moved out of one place and into the other.  We were also moving the Heartline office at the same time and getting a staff house ready for a new family moving here next week. The chaos of it all was mind-numbing.  The stuff that happens is utterly worthy of a reality show, I just cannot even begin to tell you how weird it all is.  If you peeked into one singular box of things belonging to John McHoul, you might start looking for a way to get Beth a safe distance away from him.  Related: If you need a VCR, he has six broken ones we are trying to get him to part with; make a bid.

Meanwhile, I am a tightly wrapped rubber band on the verge of snapping.  The tension over waiting on the travel date for Paige and baby and the tension over leaving the other kids and Troy and the Maternity Center has me walking on the edge of melt-down at all moments.  Troy suggested a sleep over for a couple of the kids last night and I melted down over it (got irrational and ridiculous) because I don't want them gone from me while I am still here.

Noah has always been in tune with emotional things. If he senses someone is sad, he is the first to reach out or try to make us laugh.  He is constantly saying ridiculous things or contorting his scrawny body to do silly dance moves and bring a smile. A minute ago he walked up, sang me a made up love song and ended it with this ...

video

"When you love somebody, you don't need proof. You can feel it."

I am hoping that he is right  - and that while I am away all the people I leave here in Haiti remember that I don't care or love them any less even when I'm many miles and two airplane rides away.

More from here soon ...  Happy Weekend! 

Thursday, September 18, 2014

To our first grandson, some thoughts on life

36 week Grandbump
Dear little man,

It hardly seems possible that in four weeks you will be with us on the outside. Enjoy these last weeks in your mommy because being carried around in there is by far the easiest of all the options in life. Your old Mojo (that is me) sometimes wishes she could get back in the dark womb and hide in the warmth and peace for a bit.  (Don't be concerned about me, I won't actually attempt to do it.) I am not trying to scare you, I am just saying - enjoy it. That right there, inside your Momma, is the high life.

There are so many things I want to share with you.  Things about your Mom, things about this family, things about my mistakes and things I hope you can learn without pain. Learning is hard, it takes so many tries. To me it seems that most of us need to learn the hard way. We learn slowly, we fall, we stand up, repeat, repeat. 

I wish I could tell you ALL things that would help it be easier on you. More than that, I wish you could listen and truly hear me. The thing is, I know that you cannot.  I know you cannot  because I did not, and your Mommy did not. Because that is not a thing. We seem to be a gene pool that wants to get knocked around a bit as we learn.

Having said that I know I cannot save you from all pain or from making mistakes, there are just a few things I decided you might like to know before you come out into this boisterous and chaotic world. 

1.
Love wins. Every time.

Now you might be saying to your baby self, what does that even mean, Mojo?  That is so abstract! You sound like a hippie or something. Let me tell you: As you grow up, you will find that sometimes things hurt you or make you angry.  Someone might misunderstand you, say something hurtful, or even intentionally lash out at you. When things hurt, when we hurt, we always want to curl up, withdraw, or strike back. That is just how we are, this gene pool.  

Your old Mojo wants to tell you that love never returns void.  I know you don't know the word void yet.  Let me try again.  When you are hurt, if you can try super hard to love yourself and love others around you, even the person that was mean to you, that will never be something you live to regret. A regret is something you later wish you could change.  The things I wish I could change in my life are all things that I did when I was very hurt or angry. We read that a soft answer turns away wrath, but a grievous word stirs up anger. That just means, when someone hurts you, you return their insult with a loving response. This sounds simple, but it is so crazy hard. It might take you fifty or sixty years to get it right.  I  know people that died very old that never quite got how important kind words and love are. Your Mommy and Daddy are going to teach you about love, watch them closely. I think they both know a lot about love.

2.
Forgivness is so hard, but it is a part of love.  

This one is gonna be rough, there is just no way around it. I am sorry to hit you with so much before you even get here.  I just want it to be easy for you later, that's all. There is a man named MLK Jr. that I hope you will learn about that said, “Forgiveness is not an occasional act, it is a constant attitude.” That is a way of saying, forgiveness has to be worked at non-stop. People will hurt you, if you are able you will respond with love, but you will still have the work of forgiving ahead of you. If you try to continue to love someone you have not forgiven, you will get a big old smack of reality right between your blue eyes, it is basically impossible. Forgiveness just means that you don't allow that hurt to continue to cause you pain. You turn it over and cross it off, and it no longer acts as a weight you must carry.

One of my very favorite Dutch guys, his name is Henri, said it his way, “Forgiveness is the name of love practiced among people who love poorly. The hard truth is that all people love poorly. We need to forgive and be forgiven every day, every hour increasingly. That is the great work of love among the fellowship of the weak that is the human family.”  

To simplify for you, Henri was trying to say this: Forgiveness is really just love, and you already know how important love is.

3.
Nothing is ever as bad as it seems.

This is just something you figure out when you reach 40 or so.  I am telling you early, to save you the trouble.  Sometimes it feels like the pain won't go away, or the embarassment or shame is just insanely HUGE and earth-shattering.  It does feel that way in the moment, your Mojo knows it so well. This might sound silly to you, but just give it a few weeks.  After a few weeks things seem smaller. You are just gonna have to trust me on this one until you get a chance to see for yourself.

~           ~            ~

Now that I have shared those things, I feel like I should say one more thing to you.  Someday, when you are quite a bit older, you will learn about my reaction to the news of you.  You might hear that I cried and felt overwhelmed for your Mommy and Daddy.  You might learn that for a few weeks we had a bit of hard time. Then, like number three says, we woke up a few weeks later and realized that things were going to be okay. We figured out that it was not so big or impossible. Not only did we realize that things were going to be okay, we got quite excited about the prospect (do you know that word? it means the coming possibility) of meeting you, holding you, smelling you, and getting to know you. 

More than 30 weeks have passed since I learned about your little beating heart inside your mommy. In those weeks I have prayed for you, loved you more each day, and watched your Mommy's tummy grow and begin moving like crazy. (She sends me videos. What is it you are doing in there, exactly? Nobody expects you to produce work until you are a bit older, take a load off and get some rest while you can, because it is not nearly so calm and dark out here.) When I meet you in just a few short weeks I know I will be in awe of you. I hope you will show me some of those fancy moves once there is more space to perform. 

I need you to know, the time it took for me to get totally excited, was really just fear.  I was afraid for your Mom and Dad and for you, too. It was unnecessary fear, I know that now.  I guess you get your first chance at forgiving (which we already know is love), right away. Forgive me for being fearful about you, please.  

I am so excited to meet you. I think we are going to like each other a lot. 

all my heart,

Mojo 




Capitalism redefined




You know how people say, "This is worth your time" ?   Then you give your time and afterward you get all hot and bothered that it wasn't worth your time. Those people waste a lot of our time.

We are not those people. (We are not impartial in any way, shape, or form), but THIS IS WORTH YOUR TIME.  

This is our friend Matt, the man that taught our kids what a hickey is by mimicking in the air what it might look like to give a hickey. (fine-full disclosure, we were playing charades) We owe him a debt of gratitude for that, so please hear his thoughts on poverty and work and capitalism redefined.  

We are for you, Little Haitian Factory! 

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Date Night


I have been with Troy for 18 years, almost 16 of those years we have been married. This means date night is kind of a been-there done-that regular event. Many years of trying to squeeze in a date means many years of quick meals, often close to home. Date night can even be running an errand and trying to be back to tuck the kids in to bed. Sometimes it is romantic and sweet. Other times date night can be kind of hot and sizzly. Most often, it is just your average nice time to talk without any interruptions. Less phone/internet/four second conversations and more real/lengthy ones.

Well, tonight date night was not romantic or sizzly. It was however, insanely unusual.


~           ~           ~

Hospitals in this country are not good at communication.  That is me being my absolute very nicest.  I so wish I could expound without burning  the badly damaged bridges. We try hard to be patient and considerate while they don’t communicate with us.   We share records and information; they don’t.  We know our women by name; they don’t seem to. We desire to be excellent in our communication and co-care.  This seems to be an extremely one-sided desire. 

~           ~           ~

7 days ago …

Tuesday of last week (the 9th of September) we had one very sad day. One lady  (named Sandra) needed to go to a local hospital due to a failed induction and severe pre-eclampsia.  Another lady (named K) needed to go to a hospital outside the city due to preterm labor and a baby showing signs of stress. (K has a history of preterm labor and loss.) Two transports, one day.  None of us like this. 


3 days ago …
On this day we hear that our patient at the local hospital thinks she has Cholera and we hear that our patient at the distant hospital is hanging out being observed.  It seems that nobody has had a baby yet, or at least nobody says they have.

1 day ago …

Nirva, the nurse that brought Sandra to the hospital, stopped by the hospital to check on her.  The hospital told Nirva they have no record of her being there. We never know if this is a game, a power trip, or if we should maybe not assume conspiracy, when incompetence explains everything.  We feel frustrated that we don’t know where the woman is that we brought there for care.

8 hours ago …

As we all sat down to start our day at the Maternity Center today, word came from a friend of Sandra, the patient at the local hospital.  The friend said that the hospital we had dropped the woman off with had brought her to another hospital.  We were incredulous. Why would the specialty hospital do that?  The friend went on to say that there had been a  C-Section and a seizure (eclampsia) after the surgery and that for some reason she was at a different hospital than we dropped her off at one week earlier.


~           ~           ~
(Date Night!)

Tonight Troy and I set off on a pseudo date. Neither of us expected hot and sizzly or romantic, but we figured we could grab a quick visit with friends up the hill or maybe stop for a sandwich or something. 

Our date night plan was to bring Sherly, a mother who delivered at the Maternity Center last Friday, to her home about 10 miles away and on our way home we’d pass by some options for a speed date, plus we would get the drive time together without kids.

While Troy was picking up the Mom and new baby and KJ, who had agreed to come to our house to be with the kids, we learned that the patient (Sandra) at the local hospital (the second local one according to the intel we had been given by the friend) had been discharged and needed a ride.  We decided we could go get her after dropping Sherly.

Date night began at about 6:45 pm as we pulled out of our neighborhood with the new Mama. She explained where she lived to Troy.  We climbed up the hills toward her area of town and she asked to pull over to use the bathroom in God’s great big toilet (the city of Port au Prince has been called worse). 

I got to hold baby Zola while that was taken care of and we continued on our way.  As we discussed the hard day it had been and how frustrating all the crappy care of humans can be, I said to Troy, “I need to remember this baby has nothing to do with this, when I am frustrated and want to give up I need to remember that Zola deserves kindness and a chance.”  

Rain started to fall in the fashion in which it usually falls in Haiti.  That is to say, it began to intensely pour down rain.  We sat in traffic jam after traffic jam.  Just when we thought we were all clear to reach a record-setting speed of 35 MPH, boom, another log jam.  Troy continued on toward our destination.  At 8pm we arrived in Sherly’s neighborhood, approximately 8 miles from where we began. We parked the ambulance on a steep slope with rushing water all around us.  We sat for a moment wondering if we would all rather wait for the rain to pass.  Together we agreed that was not likely to happen anytime soon.  I wrapped Zola tight, cursed myself for wearing wobbly heels (HELLO?!?! – DATE NIGHT calls for heels) and we followed Sherly down a lightless tight corridor with uneven ground and ankle spraining opportunities at every step.


Troy decided it smelled like urine and wished he had closed toe shoes.  I thought, “at least your open toes shoes aren’t two inch high heels, Mister.”  We walked to the dark home of Sherly.  City power was out for that zone, therefore a quick prayer in the pitch dark was said and we went back out to the uneven, urine  scented, narrow passageway.

We knew by this time that stopping in to visit friends or sitting down for a meal would mean that the lady waiting on us would wait too long.  We ran into a grocery store and bought two sodas, cheese, chips, and hummus.  They charged us the wrong price for the cheese and my Dutch heritage grabbed hold of me tightly and I had a little fit.  The credit card had already been swiped with the cheese that was apparently worth its weight in gold.  Troy looked at me as if to say, “Do we need to do this?”  I declared defeat and walked outside to wait for him to sign the slip. While I was walking to the car complaining about the crappy customer service and my frustration at the cashier’s refusal to give a damn, Troy said he was thinking, “You need to remember when you are mad and frustrated that baby Zola has nothing to do with this and deserves kindness and a chance.”

Fine.  Expensive cheese is a small problem. I hear that...Probably not a reason to throw in the towel.  (If only we had a towel on this date.)

We ate Chips and Hummus and tried not to shiver in our wet clothes and shoes and headed toward the hospital to find Sandra. 

At the hospital we spoke to a receptionist, a doctor, a guy with a job that we couldn’t discern, and we were led room to room  (a few of which smelled like urine too, but that could have been Troy’s shoes) asking every nurse in every room full of  people for Sandra.  We most certainly walked in at least two complete circles and found little to no response or aid in our quest.

After twenty minutes of looking room to room we called the Maternity Center and asked the family member waiting there if they would tell Sandra by telephone that we could not locate her and to please come to the front of the hospital.  Fifteen minutes later I said to Troy, “You know we could be here another hour waiting for her to come out.”  He said “Yes, I know. Now we wait. The trick is to wait well.” Troy called the Maternity Center and asked for a phone number for Sandra.  Upon calling the number Troy learned from a relative that they were waiting outside but did not see us so they went back in. Troy explained that we had been waiting inside, but now were looking outside, and still did not see them. He eventually asked, “What hospital are you outside of?”  As it turns out they were back at the original hospital we had dropped her off at a week earlier.  We headed there. 

Upon arrival we learned that Sandra’s family member refers to  hospital #1 (and maybe all hospitals) by the same name and therefore when we were told she was at hospital #2, it was really just one family member not knowing the name of hospital #1. Our heads were spinning by this point (hours later) but we were very relieved to find the waiting new mother and baby.  

As we headed back to the Maternity Center, I looked at my phone and found a message that said, “K's husband says that the hospital wants them to leave tomorrow (tonight if possible).” The hospital she needs to be picked up from is at least ninety minutes outside of the city.

Sadly, or fortunately, date night was over. 10pm, we pulled into the Maternity Center with Sandra and decided K would need to wait until tomorrow. 

Looking forward to a new day - another opportunity for rain, urine, dinner in an ambulance, and time with Troy and Haiti’s new mothers, babies, and families.  I can’t wait!



Tuesday, September 9, 2014

the current blur

Since I last wrote here it became "fall" and the 2014-2015 school year started. We are zooming toward the end of a calendar year that has been filled with surprises. (A grandbaby, a terrible ongoing battle with a tropical virus we had previously never heard of, a finish line of midwifery school, a start line of midwifery, a wedding in the works, etc. etc. ad infinitum.) 

The days are flying by in a blur of action and activity and intense emotion.  Do you remember when Lydia used to communicate high HIGH emotional turmoil by taking her hands, making little claws, and shaking them up near her ears while gritting her teeth? Well, that's me right now. 

With so much happening I find that there are too many feelings left unprocessed (or possibly too big to process yet) and for me, that is the number one cause of writers block. 

The time to officially begin using our mixed-drink-sounding grandparent names is fast approaching. In a month we will split up our family in order for Mojo to meet grandbump and Tito to keep the other five in school and on task in Haiti.  I am looking forward to that. I am dreading that. I am looking forward to that. AAAARRRGGGHH. I'm conflicted, as per usual.

I have been asking God for an invention that allows me to be in two places at once. I wait impatiently for His reply.



Beth M, KJ, T, Dokte Jen

Last weekend the Heartline midwifery staff of three met up with the Heartline Physician advisory staff of one - and we all re-certified our NRP skillz.  A room full of crunchy midwife ladies with the good Doctor Jen as the only physician in the room made for some good clean fun. We stopped short of taking off our bras, joining arms, and singing to our uteri - thank -you Laawd.

Thankfully, Dokte Jen understands weirdwives after so many years with us. We have all been taught so much by Jen - things that we could not have done without her guidance. We make a rare team and a there is a bit of a mutual admiration society between Doc and Weirdwife.  At the end of the class a lady told us that she enjoyed watching us interact all day and that she could see we loved each other and had a lot of fun together. We felt that was the ultimate compliment.

morning beach walk/jog in FL


not part of NRP but part of being weirdwives - or just weird 


checking out the USA celebrity news in line at WalMart
Trips to the USA with Beth McHoul are never boring. A person that has resided in Haiti 25 years is good for many wonderful insights and laughs in 'merica.  KJ (Beth J's name to keep the Beths straight) and Jen tried to say that I am on my way to being just as entertaining but I categorically reject that lie. 


~            ~               ~


As anyone reading this for very long has figured out, Troy married me and got three of us in a package deal. Britt and Paige went through all their teen years with Troy as their (step) Dad (they don't so much like him to have that S word added in.) That to say, we have experienced raising a couple of teens together. We have learned the hard way in a few areas.  We know we've messed up more than once. (Love wash over a multitude of things.) 

We are now entering into teen phase with the next grouping of children. 

Isaac led the way Sunday when he turned thirteen. He learned earlier this year that he was born on the 7th of September, his adoption paperwork had listed his birthdate as the 18th of the month. This year we celebrated his birth on the actual date instead of eleven days late as in the previous 12 celebrations. Our Haiti family/friends came to make the day special. Skype failed us, so the family and loved ones that are far away got to talk to him on Voxer. 

Hope and Isaac are both seventh grade this year.  It seems impossible that it was 12 years ago next month that they joined our family.  It has been wonderful watching them embrace their new more difficult curriculum and see them working hard to get the work done.  Jimmy and Becky are both teaching this first semester. For second semester we are so excited that Caroline (she taught math in Waco last fall) will join us for four months. 


First Day of School at Heartline Academy
Teacher Jimmy in back row, Meadows kids, Livesay kids


~           ~             ~


Links worth your time:


1.) Alice Su, 1 JOHN, ISIS AND THE GOSPEL VERSUS TERROR 

I have been afraid lately. I think often about the deaths of James Foley, Steven Sotloff, many more journalists and millions of children, women, fathers, brothers, best friends, uncles and neighbors in Syria, Gaza, Iraq, Egypt, Sudan and more. I can’t shake the feeling that death is crouching around the corner, at the doorstep of all the journalists, of all the civilians, of too many people who have become dear to me and thousands more that I’ve yet to meet. Everyone I know is scarred. Some are still bleeding. Hate and fear are in the air, and things are getting worse.
Later in the article:


The Gospel offers a call to die, not to take anyone down but to lift them up. To give our lives up in peace and sacrifice and brotherly love. It is not sane. It is utterly unsafe, flying against all my self-righteous inclinations. But that is Christ, and we love Him so, for He first loved us.
When we see and know and taste this, we walk forward with joy. We are walking on a stream of living water that flows from Him in and through us. It grows trees with fruit in all seasons and leaves for the healing of the nations. We are so alive! Even if we may die today or tomorrow. We live in light.
We are not afraid.

2.)
The Work of the People  - Greg Boyd, Making God In Our Own Image
(TWOTP has tons of interviews/videos and is my favorite website ev-ah.) 
http://www.theworkofthepeople.com/


3.)

Donald Miller - I’m Glad I’m Not the Same Guy Who Wrote Blue Like Jazz

If I haven’t changed, something is drastically wrong.

People are designed to grow and if they don’t it’s because something’s wrong. 

There are forces in the world that do not want you to grow, change or get stronger. A variety of motives cause this resistance, but regardless, it must be fought.
God designed you to grow from a baby to a child to a teenager to an adult and even after you’re an adult you’re designed to continue learning about God, about love, about each other and about yourself. Not a day goes by when we aren’t given the opportunity to become a better person. Why in the world would anybody want to stay the same?
Read the rest here. 

Monday, September 1, 2014

discussing all the things you must do or should never do

There is no shortage of  instructions on the interweb.
In any given month it is quite likely you will be instructed on multiple topics.  The list could include:
Those never ending lists just serve to overwhelm me.  Say this. Don’t say this. Do that. NEVER do this.
I can barely follow directions. Kraft Mac and Cheese has one step too many for me.
There are SO many instructions and they all run together and before I know it I have applied one of the items to the wrong problem.  After reading all those articles I learned that my teen was rebelling because I was too controlling. Somehow I got mixed up and became certain one of the keys to a happier marriage was to be more controlling.
As you can see, there is a HUGE margin for error here.

*                *                * 
At the post above, we discuss some ways to deal with trauma. While we were looking back for an old post from the year of the earthquake we came across this fellow sharing his earthquake account ... He is an entirely different big-guy now, we almost did not recognize this little boy...