Thursday, December 19, 2019

12 Days of Christmas : Years Ten Eleven Twelve (THE END)

The goal of this family tradition was two-fold.  

ONE - for memories of our kids as they grew up in Haiti. All parents know this all speeds by so quickly. 

TWO - to spread joy and maybe make you smile. We hope it brought you at least one laugh.

We are INCREDIBLY GRATEFUL to each and every one of you that have supported or prayed for the work of Heartline Ministries in Haiti and the staff and participants and clients.  It is always humbling to meet people that say, "Hey, I've been praying for a Mom you shared about. Can you tell me how she is doing now?"  

THANK YOU for caring about the beautiful people of Haiti, especially Moms in the most vulnerable time of their lives, awaiting a new baby. 

The embed option on Blogger doesn't always work. For the last three videos I included the YouTube link in case the embedded video does not appear for you.


Year TEN: LINK -

Filmed at Heartline Maternity Center -- HOPE as MARY - Baby Jesus played by newly delivered baby Jamesly ... We just saw him a month or two ago and he's walking and smiling and doing great.

br />


br />


Sunday, December 15, 2019

12 Days of Christmas - Year Seven

In 2013, Paige moved to Waco Texas and I finished Midwifery studies.  Because we wanted to help Paige transition AND I had to do a bunch of stuff for my studies that I could not accomplish in Haiti, we lived in the USA from mid August until December to get my required clinical experience in USA.

We went for a week to our friend Melissa's (well, her Dad's) cabin in the Great Smoky Mountains for one week.  We had just bought the puppy (now an asshole - old dog).  So, Chestnut was like fourish weeks old. He wasn't supposed to be away from his Mom but she had a Meth problem and couldn't feed him so we bottle fed him and got him at four weeks of age.

ALL THAT TO SAY --- this was the year we were in TN to film.  We used Melissa's place to film the entire thing.  I had the idea that Jesus and Santa would battle.  OBVIOUSLY, Isaac was the only one that could play Jesus.  He's the nicest person in our family.

Hope you enjoy it!


Saturday, December 14, 2019

12 Days of Christmas - Year Six

This is all at the soccer field in the neighborhood we lived in from August 2008 until now. Troy wrote the extra verse for the song. This is from Christmas 2012 - the last Christmas we had Paige in Haiti with us before she moved out in mid 2013. 

Friday, December 13, 2019

12 Days of Christmas - Year Five

Troy wrote the new Christmas message lyrics to this well known song - this year was many laughs and not much rhythm.  Filmed in streets of Port au Prince, at Heartline Education Center and at our house in Haiti.

(5 of 12)

Thursday, December 12, 2019

12 Days of Christmas - Year Four

The Earthquake of January 2010 was a painful time. So many lost so much. We were incredibly lucky to leave Haiti with our entire family alive. We had to live in Texas for 9 months that year because Phoebe was not legally our child yet and her adoption paperwork was all under rubble in an office building that had collapsed. This meant we started her adoption over in the USA. We even had a homestudy done in a house that Columbus Avenue Baptist Church (Waco) was letting us use. The nine months turned out to be important to us. Troy and I got lots of help for some trouble we where having from a horrible thing that happened in 2008 and also got help from the earthquake trauma. Phoebe's adoption was completed in November of 2010. We spent the month of December 2010 preparing to go home to Haiti and left for Haiti on January 1, 2011. 
ALL THIS TO SAY -- the Christmas play was filmed in WACO, TX in 2010. Britt and Chris were newlyweds living nearby and going to school in Waco. Paige had a bad attitude about the play again this year but participated none the less.  I will post year five tomorrow! 

Sunday, December 01, 2019

Dedicated to the Sexy People & The Baptist Lady

Several years back, too many to count, we spoke about Haiti and other stuff at a tiny little Baptist church in the middle of vast fields of wide open space in the middle-east portion of the sprawling state of Texas. 

On that day, I did what I often do, I said more than people are comfortable with - maybe especially because we were in a tiny little Baptist church. I don't actually remember what I said. I only remember what happened afterward.

At the end of the service when we were doing the stand around and be polite / do chit-chat thing, an older lady came to see me.  She was older in the sense of actual age. Not just older than me. I would estimate her age on that day to be 84.  She put her right hand on my wrist, squeezed and said, "Oh my Dear, thank you for visiting. We don't talk about those things in church."

I initially thought that was meant as an admonishment. Sort of a, "I can't believe you said that in the house of the Lord." Now I don't know for sure. All these years later I have decided that maybe she meant it as a kindness. You know more of a, "you Go, girl" kind of statement.

I think it is weird that so many topics are off limits with certain crowds.  My rebellion against that has been to freely talk about things most people find awkward.  It probably helps a great deal that I am a midwife and because I deal in poop, puke, fluids of all colors and aromas, nothing seems off limits for discussion to me.

Here's the thing about real stuff ... Real life is messy and unplanned. It is often disappointing or dull. It is not curated and lovely and linear. It it not always a perfect event like Internet "influencers" and advertisers wish us to believe. 

Why do we still pretend otherwise? I honestly

Real life is an overflowing toilet, an unresolved medical bill dispute, and kids with hormones and emotions ruining your hopes for order or family unity.

I recently learned about the newest hyped up event in our American culture. Because of movies and television and curated social media, kids are now making up prom proposals as if life is some sort of fairy tale. It seems that just saying, "Hey would you be my prom date" is a thing of the late 90s or early 2000s. 

If my son wants to invite a girl to prom and get the date, he is going to need to compete. I'm going to have to help him get his pilot's license, rent a skywriter airplane, and compose a sonnet in the sky. Sadly, the other guy that is asking the same girl already hired Pavarotti to sing an operatic prom invitation posthumously.  

Sorry, Noah. Your skywriter is lame-sauce. 

This is the over the top stupid way of our world now. 

Everything fancier, bigger, more expensive. 

It makes my old-lady bones rage.

Who can live up to these expectations of grandiose gestures?  

I will tell you what, youngsters ... Real life won't allow this nonsense for long!!

Thanks in part to ridiculous prom invitations and all of the unrealistic romance and sex on television and in movies, kids these days all think ahead about the wonder of being madly in love and how amazing the physical attraction and unhindered romantic gestures must be. 

For certain, two people that love each other a lot must be living the best life ever with only really great movie-like love scenes and trips to Venice or Paris happening on the regular. 

Because I am curmudgeonly, I would like to dispel some myths this afternoon.

We had not seen each other in a few weeks.  The 20+-years married attraction is still quite strong for us, but life, it gets in the way.  We were tired and our bodies ached from the busy day we had both had. We fell into bed and I said, "Rain-check for middle of the night or tomorrow morning sound okay?" 
(This is actual sexy-talk.)  

He looked deep into my eyes and said, "Heck yes, babe. Goodnight!"

A very short time later I sort of woke up. Disoriented, I wondered why there was tapping on my shoulder?? Does he think *this* is already the middle of the night or morning?!?!? GOD HELP HIM.  

Once I realized the tapping was a smaller person, the words I heard helped me snap to. It was not my dear husband with a rain-check in hand. It was a little girl saying, "I puked all over my bed."

I hopped up. I saw the massive destruction. I went to kitchen for a spatula. I stripped sheets and took them to the bathroom. I used said spatula to remove scoops of food off of bedsheets and place into toilet. I started the first load of stench laundry. I put new sheets on the child's bed. I washed my hands, face, arms with soap. Pieces of fried rice came off of me. I came back to bed with the man I love and had not seen in two weeks.

We laid there, staring at the ceiling.  

I finally said it.  

"We're awake now. Wanna go for it?"  

And so, the incredible unimaginably hot scene unfolded.  

Several moments into the rendezvous, I said, "Hold up. Argh! I cannot get the smell of vomit out of my nostrils.  I still smell it. That is really jacking with me,  would you please go put a ton of cologne on for me?"

A sexy-love-scene like this is what real life is. 

My man, he jumped right up and ran to his cologne bottle for me. He covered up the smell of our child's puke like the sexy-beast that he is.  

These kids and their silly prom-posals don't even know what there is to look forward to.  

The 84 year old lady at the Baptist church will never read this post.  Nevertheless, I dedicate it to her.

~  ~  ~  ~

Facts for your enjoyment:
How much does it cost to get something written in the sky?
If winds are strong, visibility of the skywriting can vary from a seconds to 5-10 minutes.  Skywriting starts at $3,500.00 for a single writing, plus any ferry fees to move aircraft into your desired location. Multiple writings per day can be discounted depending on location.  (Maybe ask two girls to prom to be sure you end up with a date?)

Tuesday, November 26, 2019


Today Noah and Isaac went over to the Navarro household for a movie.  These are our "neighbors" in the 25 minute away sense - and also new friends. Melissa was the realtor that found our house and showed it to us and put an offer in for us without us ever setting foot in the house. 

The boys have convinced the Navarro clan that the entire Marvel movie series must be watched in order. Today they started with Iron Man, circa 2008.

I left the guys there and went to run errands and adult like the quickly developing adult that I am.  

Later, I saw a photo of them with high-end snacks in hand and wondered why I ever let them leave the house. 

Now they know about movies with a variety of snacks. 

Gone are the days of Corn Flakes or Pasta with bugs with movie tonight. 
(I'm exaggerating. The pasta only had bugs sometimes.)

Anyway, that's not the story. 

The story is that when I picked them up from MarvelFest2019 they got in the truck and Isaac said, "Holy cow, the Navarros use A LOT OF ICE with their drinks."  

I snort laughed.  (JUDGERRRR!)

Noah said, "Oh my gosh, I thought that same thing!"

Troy and I have raised children to believe that there is a scarcity situation when it comes to frozen water products.  Isaac and Noah could hardly believe Melissa Navarro and her 3/4 full glasses of ice. Scandalous.

America, man.  It's crazy. Excess. Excess. Excess.

On the ride home I was explaining to the guys that Troy has mentioned I am spending too much on the house and getting set up. I shared this to discourage their dreams and crush their childhood hopes. 

I went on to tell them that if we leave a balance on the credit card we then pay something like 19% interest on that. 

Isaac said, "Oh so is 19% a really fast interest rate?" 

I hope you can now see clearly how awesome our parenting and preparation for adulthood has been the past decade. If you want us to work with your kids, please make contact. Our rates are competitive.

Hope is busy being seasonally employed at Target. She is the only employed person if we want to be technical about it.  She is equal parts proud that her first job is an awesome one that pays a really great hourly wage and SAD at how it cuts into the reading and larding and reading and larding time.  

The other day she forbid me to check out at her aisle if I came in the store. I have no idea why she thought that was the thing to say to me. 

REAL curious, that kid. It's like she never lived a day with me.

Before I went to her check out line I attempted to send Troy a message written in Christmas stockings.  

I want you to know that Target DOES NOT OFFER A STOCKING WITH A "Y" on it.  I thought this was America, but no. There are 25 letters to chose from and I only really wanted the Y to finish my message.

I'm learning a lot about me too, here in 'Murica.  

The more laid back Tara that emerged in that decade plus in Haiti seems to have left the vicinity.  

For example, in Haiti I don't care about a pile of dirty dishes for a time or stacks of random kid crap left by the front door area.  In America I need the measuring cups stacked up with the handles facing left inside the drawer at a 45 degree angle adjacent to the silverware tray.  I need every dish loaded at bedtime.  

I would consider spending a little time feeling like a dick about this, but I happen to know from years of counseling that when I get like this it means things feel out of control. It is my attempt to be in control.  

The measuring cups are all I have, okay?

Troy is doing the same thing. He currently controls the thermostat from Haiti. That's right. I said that. He did that.

If we are cold and turn it up past 68F, he's going to know about it.  

On the warmer days when the kids have feeling in their fingers they are actively writing a parody song based off of this Bette Midler song from the olden days ...



(Sidenote: DO NOT see how many words are misspelled in this video. It will give you a deadly and painful DESEASE.) (start at 1:34 if you must)

From a distance, Troy is watching us.  

He sees it all. 

Between 'Find my Friends', the doorbell camera, and notifications when I charge something on the credit card with the fast interest rates, we basically live in communist China. 

I cannot remember anything in this season of transition. I cannot remember anything in seasons of calm either, but I'm pleased to have a reason for this memory failure.  

Anyway, I set alarms for everything from eating to restroom breaks to laundry switching. I only ever mess up on taking pizza out of the oven.  Home is where the burnt pizza is. 

So, the other night I told my phone "Set an alarm to go get Hope at 9:15." 

 Off to find help now.  

In my next installment we will discuss driving at high speeds with teens that don't know anything about America and embarrassing teens by wearing a side pony in public. 

Also, side note ... I went to London and Haiti since I last posted here and my brain is more scrambled than Boggle dice.  

(Troy knows when we play Boggle too!!) 

Friday, October 25, 2019

Come On, Let's Go

Port au Prince Airport 
Chestnut, the tiny Shih Tzu dropped a dookie in the Fort Lauderdale airport.  He was walking along minding his own tiny-guy business in Ft Lauderdale International Airport and a turd just fell from him.  It wasn’t even intentional, we don’t think. 

This was a case of involuntary fart pebbles. 

Lydie saw it happen. She stopped mid-traffic to address the situation.  A woman standing nearby  was not too kind or patient. Lydia was verbally assaulted while she made her plan to clean it up.  

The size of Chestnut’s whole entire self is about the size of a size 6 women's shoe. 

His poop could best be compared to three Milk-duds stuck together, or maybe two Whoppers.  These are not large pieces of excrement. Lydie was standing over the milk-duds and protecting ALL airport travelers from stepping in it while Phoebe ran to a bathroom to get toilet paper.  

The woman that was berating Lydie kept saying she needed to pick it up barehanded right that minute. Lydie just  said, “I will wait for the toilet paper.”   Another woman, standing within hearing distance, whispered to Lydia, “Sorry, honey.”  

There are always nice people to offset the grouchy ones. 

Why did Chestnut fly to Fort Lauderdale?

Troy made him go.  Sort of. 

Truthfully, Troy and I had a really excellent counseling session. Maybe a LONG OVERDUE counseling session??? Troy FINALLY admitted that he has never liked that tiny dog or his ear-piercing bark and he wanted him gone. 

No, not really.

Really … Troy and I realized that after six weeks of diesel shortage and added stress on Troy to keep the Heartline Ministries employees working  and programs operating and keep the Livesay kids fed and fanned off in the night (need diesel for that) - he was at his stress breaking point and he felt like the kids needed to be out of Haiti for a while so he could buy less food, buy less water, buy less diesel, and just generally be out on the roads less buying all of those items.  

Besides that, most of our kids had not left home or school for 6 weeks. Each weekday they travel three blocks by car to school and return the same way after school. None of us think that is the worst thing in the world and we are really aware of our privilege to have a safe home and a school house a few blocks away — but as you might imagine, being inside of cement walls for six weeks straight can make everyone a little stir crazy.

After the counselor helped Troy and I hear each other better during that session, we made a really emotionally intense decision together. We talked about every variable and what it would mean longer term and we talked to the kids after sitting with the plan a bit to see if it felt right. 

The key question the counselor asked Troy and I was this:  “What is it that you are waiting for before you decide to move your kids?”  I won’t go into details on our realizations. Suffice it to say, that was a clarifying moment for us.

For us, peace in decision is important. We don’t often think there is just one right choice, we just know that each decision needs to bring some sort of true peace, even if it is a really REALLY hard decision.  

Truthfully, we love Haiti and the work of Heartline so much that we know at times we have put it before our kids.  We have always been aware of the pitfalls there, but sometimes the needs and desperation can cause a disordered priority list. We are guilty of that here and there, for sure.  I own the mess-ups of the last 13 and a half years in Haiti.

          *  * * *

Last night I read this piece a friend of mine and a Board Member of Heartline Ministries wrote. (worth your time!) This resonates in that I think we always ride that line of putting "ministry" or "mission" as our first priority and I have come to a place of believing God is not nearly as harsh on me as I am on me. I really don't think He is up there wishing we would all suffer more. I originally moved to Haiti thinking that was the thing you do if you want to prove yourself as a legit faith-person. (And, I could be wrong - on either or both of those thoughts and probably every other thought ever.)

To be clear, we don’t think our own decisions need to be compared to what others decide. We don’t feel that what we decide for five older kids is what some other family with passports needs to decide for theirs. I don’t want anyone to think there is only one way for expats to deal with political unrest and instability. Each individual situation warrants its own personal examination. 

The house we lived in 11 years together  - also, the longest I ever lived in one place.
Prior to moving to this home, we lived just under three years outside the city of PAP.
I said, "I WILL NEVER live in PAP."  Don't say things like that! 

There were many tears, some anger, some joy and anticipation when the decisions were shared. The packing began after the tears. 

We packed up 12 bags (48 to 52 pounds each), 5 carry-ons taking full and LIBERAL advantage of the fact that nobody weighs them. We found unstained shirts and long enough jeans for five kids ages 12 to 18 and we put those on along with backpacks that would barely zip closed. We had papers from our Veterinarian friend, Kelly for our five pound pooper, Chestnut. All of that, along with the very last shred of my sanity, we boarded a flight bound for the USA. 

After the milk-dud debacle in Fort Lauderdale, we got on a second flight to Austin, TX. At the Austin airport we found THREE giant carbon footprint vehicles waiting to take us and our 748 pounds of luggage to Temple, TX — where we are now sitting in 45 degree weather. 

Walnut lost his therapy human but Stefanie Raleigh (kids’ teacher and education-wizard of our lives) and Walnut (Isaac’s dog) are coming here to TX soon.  He just could not fly out with us due to heat. You know, our dog drama with travel is now a trilogy being made into a motion picture.

Stef and Walnut headed for the airport together. Next they will road trip for several days.
Stefanie is going to continue teaching the kids until Christmas and then we know she will stay with the two Seniors and the Sophomore to help them finish the year out in May of 2020, but we don’t yet know what we will do for Phoebe and Lydie and we don’t know where quite yet either. 

We are heart-linked to Haiti and Heartline Ministries. We will continue on like this in Temple and in Port auPrince and back and forth between for the next several months.  Troy will spend the vast majority of his time in Haiti. I will mainly be with the kids but I will take turns going to Haiti and we are working out a new plan day by day. I am glad you're not here listening to it all unfold. It can be dramatic at times.

My approach to not seeing KJ and Troy every day.
My best friend and Midwifery partner is a key part of all of this. She is in Haiti at the Maternity Center now and she and I are a team and will continue to be as we develop The Starting Place and work to see the model of care expanded all over the world. We will work hand in hand with the Midwifery staff - which just grew by another member this week, we hired a new person!

The travel from Austin is very easy, there is an option to leave Austin, TX at 11am and be in Haiti at 5:30pm. This is part of the reason we chose to live in close proximity to Austin in the more affordable Temple, TX.  (I cannot travel seven miles in Haiti as fast as I can travel to the Austin airport from Temple.)

We originally set foot on the island of Haiti to meet  smiley baby Isaac in April of 2002.  He brought us to Haiti for the first time three-and-a-half years before we decided to move to Haiti full time. He is 18 years old now. He was 7 months old then. 

Long before this most recent round of political upheaval Troy and I knew we wanted to remain available to Isaac and Hope as they begin a new and intimidating chapter of their lives.  

We feel that Haiti is a cord of our DNA as a family, but we feel equally certain that our kids will need us close to them in the coming couple of years while they navigate a culture they did not grow up in and get used to new bizarre things.  Both kids have expressed how scary it would feel to do the transition to another country without us.  In the spirit of full vulnerability, I regret not being near Paige and Britt during their transitions. No rewind button available for that but it does inform my decisions for Isaac and Hope starting college.

We really wanted to get this information to donors that specifically support our family budget and salary. I tried to email everyone privately but many emails returned undeliverable.  If you’re reading this and wondering why you did not get an email from us, please know I tried and we honor your sacrifice to help us do this weird, wonderful, and heart-breaking Haiti life.  

(It is ALL those things.) 

I am not linking recent news stories here, but if that is something you would like to read, let me know and I can send you links to some news we feel is accurate. 

We are incredibly grateful for the 60+ employees of Heartline Ministries.  Their lives are far more difficult than any of us can really understand.  We want more than anything for them to have a way to feed their families and for their hard work to equal opportunities for housing, sufficient food, and education for their children. We added health insurance and tried to improve wages where budgets and finances would allow.  We have made it our goal to encourage the the men and women on staff to grow personally, professionally, and spiritually.  We have attempted to make life a teeny tiny bit less stressful for them. I wish I could say we succeeded, but Haiti is not an easy place to live. Stress and trauma are a daily thing.

Our hope going forward is to carefully and intentionally begin to turn over much more responsibility to these local leaders, the employees we have been investing in for years.

In mid 2020 we will get out of the way so to speak.  We have determined that as long as we are physically present in Haiti 100% of the time, we are a deterrent to their ability to truly have a chance to lead.  We all talk a lot about empowering Haitians and sustainable ways of doing ministry, but lip service is only that.  

We would like to offer the best and the brightest at Heartline Ministries the chance to lead the day to day work.  It is their country and they stand to gain or lose the most.  We think they are ready. We are ready to test that next year and hold the hand of those that are rising up. 

We will continue on as Executive Directors of Heartline Ministries, but we will be changing our home base to the US in June of 2020.  

At that time we will both (Troy and Tara) travel to Haiti quarterly, and be in contact with the key staff, but we want to see them have an opportunity to grow and take on more, we feel that we have to remove ourselves to offer them true power to make decisions. 

We hope this frees up time to do more development of key partnerships. (This is the non-offensive way you say - We hope we will now be able to meet with people with money and love for Haiti.

Several weeks ago I was at home when the Midwife on duty called.  She shared the details of the client that had arrived in very early latent labor.  She asked me, “Should I admit her or send her home?”  I said, “Yes, should you admit her or send her home. That is the question.”  She asked again, frustrated with me.  I said, “You are a Midwife. You can make decisions. I support you. There is not a wrong answer here and you can decide.”  The next day, the Mom returned in active labor and had her baby and I asked the midwife how she felt about her decision to send the Mom home to do her early labor at home.  The Midwife said, “I think it was a good choice. I thank you for telling me I could decide and for being confident in me.”

That is what we have learned.  When we are here, people will always defer to us.  It is not necessary or healthy.  We believe they have the answers and the ability.  The cultural realities mean they just need a little encouragement and accountability.  

Our hope is that for the next two to three years, we will be able to support this transition by traveling in and out of Haiti and encouraging and offering accountability.  We know there will be set backs and mistakes and maybe even some heartache as these changes are made.  We also know that if we don’t try it we will never know what each employee is  truly capable of if we were out of the way. Heartline’s board of directors has been involved in developing this plan and Troy and I remain grateful for their leadership, wisdom, dedication, and love.

We are hoping that those of you that have supported so much of this Haiti journey might consider sticking with us and sticking with Heartline. 

We have created a FAQ page of questions asked by the first few people we told, we hope they clear a lot up but we welcome any other questions you may have. If you would like a copy of the FAQ please email us and we will send it on to you. ( 

With our love and thanks and unrelenting hope.
Troy & Tara Livesay
(18) Isaac, (18) Hope, (15) Noah, (13) Phoebe and (12) Lydia 
Heartline Ministries & The Starting Place 

Heartline Ministries USA Mailing address: 
910 Franklin Avenue
Suite 3
Sunnyside, WA 98944 

"Felt cute, thought I'd move to TX." 

First photo of new home in new location - same kids. 

Our cute 1908 house. 
The emoji house was modeled after this house.

Lastly today, the part that is important for me to say- on a more personal note. 

The Heartline Maternity Center is a place I feel and experience a lot of hope. I love that place and I love the women it attempts to walk with in pregnancy and postpartum. It is a bit painful to be far away from the women I have worked with daily for more than a decade and to know we will be making this a new norm.  

At the same exact time, I know that a lot of us make our work or our "mission/ministry" the whole of our identity. That is not what I want and I am trying to be a whole person apart from my work. I love the work and believe it is holy, but - it DOES NOT need me.  

Because I knew that no work should be dependent on the leader, we have spent the last two years turning the vast majority of deliveries and more of the risk-management decisions over to the national staff. They are learning a ton and stepping out of their comfort zone. 

I share this to say, I want to be clear that the Maternity Center can and SHOULD function without my (or Troy/KJ's) presence constantly.  

Mission or humanitarian work should not be about the (expat) people that came to do it. It should be forward thinking and while "sustainable" tends to be an exaggeration that many non-profits use too freely ... it ought to be the long long range goal and hope.  

Please rally with us to support the work and the workers. The care provided is something that is desperately needed. We cannot do it without a team. 

You are the team. 

There is no o or u in team - but there is no i either. 

There is an e and the e is for WE - WE are the tEam. 

Come on, let's go.


Wednesday, August 07, 2019

A Tale of Two Generations

It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity, it was the season of Light, it was the season of Darkness, it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair, we had everything before us, we had nothing before us, we were all going direct to Heaven, we were all going direct the other way--in short, the period was so far like the present period, that some of its noisiest authorities insisted on its being received, for good or for evil, in the superlative degree of comparison only.” -Charles Dickens

It was the best of times, it was the worst of times.  It was the age of Tara being foolish, it was the age of Paige being foolish. It was the epoch of flying dogs through the air, it was the season of idiocy, it was the season of shame, it was the spring of another generation of dim women, we had everything before us, especially an ass-load of stress, the period was so much like the period that proceeded it that some of its noisiest authorities insisted history was repeating itself, for good, or for stupidity, there was much to be compared.  -Tara Livesay

The Bible speaks of the sins of the fathers being visited upon the sons.  

Today we lament the poor decisions of the mother becoming the poor decisions of the daughter. In an effort to preserve history for the next generation, I bring you this story wherein my daughter Paige is doing EXACTLY the incommodious thing that I did back in Aught-Seven.  And there is nothing I can do to stop her. 

In 2007 Brittany, Paige's big sister, was 17 years old and leaving for college at Baylor University. She was to have a three month period in the USA before she began her University classes. During those three months we would welcome Lydia to the world and reside mainly in Minnesota.  Brittany played on all my Mom guilt and sorrows over the ending of her childhood and she insisted her 130 pound Mastiff be in the USA with her for three months.  

I wrote about it here.  

That decision became one of the greatest debacles and sources of shame of my life, but I learned, by God, I learned.  (Being by yourself, at the mercy of an airline employee, without a car, a home, or cash, at 5am with a three month old baby and a giant sedated dog and far too much luggage will teach you something, by-golly.) 

Sadly, my learning is not transferrable to Paige.

Paige announced to me that her dog was going to go to South Korea with them. It was over the internet and just a voice message. 

I physically cringed.  I forced my lips together and said nothing. I continued like this for a commendable time period.  (I was commended by KJ.) 

I only lamented and complained to Troy and KJ. “WHY would she do that?", I asked repeatedly.

And so, like sand through the hour glass, so are the days of our lives. History has a way of repeating itself.  She will do it because she wants her kids to have their dog.  The same reason I did it.  Mother guilt.  The strongest force in the universe.  Two generations of loving, guilt-ridden, mothers.

Paige’s dog, Cooper, is going to South Korea.  

A poorly behaved dog from the humane society in Waco, TX is moving abroad, seeing the world as it were.  

And what dog shouldn’t see the world?  What are you doing for your pet, exactly?  If your pet has not left the country in which it was born, please explain yourself.

Cooper the humane society dog cannot fly out of Texas because of course he can’t. (You may recall the Mastiff debacle of Aught-Seven included driving from MN to TX because MN was TOO COLD for the dog to fly out and return to Haiti with us.) 

Texas is too hot in the summer.  August is no joke. Just try to find a Texas tarmac that is not hotter than the center of the sun.   

Originally we were to drive all the way to Seattle.  My girlfriends heckled me and said, "My Lord, Tara, why would you do that? Haha, I guess you are a supportive Mom, but, I mean, where is your sense of pride?" 

Anna, a Heartline donor, stepped in. She couldn't allow a four year old, a two year old and a poorly behaved dog road trip of 34 hours.  She researched temperatures and weather patterns. She all but laid down her life for the cause. She booked us tickets from a slightly cooler city in the midwest. 

Later in August, we (Paige and I) will drive Cooper and his favorite boys to Kansas City, where, if God loves us, it will be under 85 degrees on the morning we fly out of that airport at 6am. We then fly direct to Seattle for a couple days before Paige, her boys, and her Humane Society dog fly away to South Korea. 

Obviously, before arriving in Korea, Cooper the poorly behaved dog has requested a chance to see the Space Needle and Pike Place Market and Puget Sound. (Der.)

The newest PETA (People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals) initiative is being headed up by Cooper. He is calling it DETA - (Dogs Enjoying Traveling Abroad).

It was the best of times, it was the worst of times.  It was the age of Tara being foolish, it was the age of Paige being foolish. It was the epoch of flying dogs through the air, it was the season of idiocy, it was the season of shame, it was the spring of another generation of dim women, we had everything before us, especially an ass-load of stress, the period was so much like the period that proceeded it that some of its noisiest authorities insisted history was repeating itself, for good, or for stupidity, there was much to be compared.

Wednesday, July 24, 2019

Philosophy of Culturally Competent Care


What better place to start to address systemic and structural issues than with Moms and their soon to be born babies?

We are preparing for the upcoming three Starting Place classes being offered at the Heartline Maternity Center.   

These classes (sharing the model of care) will be offered this coming October, February and May.

Today we are focusing on the portion of our model that addresses cultural competency and how that relates to short term volunteers.

In 2016 we made a decision to invest in local midwives and medical professionals by increasing the size of our staff and pouring into them by offering continuing education and support.  Finding jobs in Haiti is VERY difficult, we are happy to provide 12 jobs at the Maternity Center, 7 of those 12 jobs are medical professionals.

We made a decision that every woman that is pregnant deserves to meet with someone during her consultation that speaks her language, understands her culture, her life, and her challenges.  When I was pregnant, I always had care providers that spoke to me in my own language, and that is what we think Haitian moms deserve too.

We believe that the best way to build trust with clients is to begin by building relationships.  We decided that relationships can't be built in a week or two or three.  

We made a decision that the Midwifery Model of Care cannot take place in a clinic or birth center where people rotate in and out and there is not a consistent and predictable face providing the clients with consultations. 

We decided that Haitian care providers are best prepared to understand Haitian clients. We decided to train only Haitian care providers because they are the ones that will likely live here for the next forty years.  

Please hear this. We did not decide we dislike North American medical professionals.  We did not decide we don't want Americans to train as midwives. We simply decided that if Haiti is ever to see any true and lasting change in the care that is provided, it is going to depend on Haitian medical professionals being excellent and ready to respond to the needs of patients, therefore we prioritize investment in local midwives.   

Cultural competence refers to the process by which individuals and systems respond respectfully and effectively to people of all cultures, languages, classes, races, ethnic backgrounds, religions, and other diversity factors in a manner that recognizes, affirms, and values the worth of each individual. 

Cultural awareness is the deliberate, cognitive process in which health care providers become appreciative and sensitive to the values, beliefs, practices, and problem solving strategies of their clients' culture.

The number one way we practice cultural awareness and competence is by remaining committed to providing Haitians with jobs and giving them a lovely work environment wherein they can serve their neighbors, the women in their own country.

Heartline Maternity Center is not closed to visitors.  We are always happy to schedule and provide tours of The Maternity Center and would love to talk more with you when you're in Haiti.  We just don't have work for you to do because the people doing the work really love it and they need their jobs.