Tuesday, May 19, 2020

Ideas and Plans

The day the calendar rolled over to May, did you marvel at how many years you spent getting through the first four months of 2020?

We did. 

I haven’t written here since before all the virus things began to happen. My last three entries were in February. Things are weird for everyone and the days are long and the months take years.  

The kids started their 2019-2020 school year (THE ONE WE ARE STILL IN) back in Haiti in the month of August, fully anticipating that it would end in Haiti in the month of May. The two seniors were eager to get going, knowing that they had much to accomplish before officially becoming eligible to enter college. 

They went to school in Haiti in late August, all of September, and until October 18, 2019. 

This (thumbs pointed at collarbone) frugal lady printed invites to the graduation taking place in Port au Prince, HAITI before we ever entered October because there is no greater joy than a $1 dollar per invite price - marked down to twenty-five cents per invite.  

Sadly, my frugality so long ago meant creating a sticker to go over the top part of the invite to cover up MOST of  the Port au Prince location information.  A sharpie was used to color the edges of the P in Port au Prince that the sticker did not cover.  All very classy. 

By October 2019 the kids had been on seven weeks of lockdown due to total upheaval in the streets of our area.  Troy and I called it.  Enough is enough, we said. All plans for a smooth Senior year were failing.  

Our commitment to one another this day, is to NEVER use the word “plan”.  


Anyway, all that to say our ’19-’20 school year was a whole thing, not even sure it can be explained. It was less like a school year and more like a seizure, starting and stopping at unpredictable intervals.  Now we have school, now we can’t leave home because rocks and bullets, now we have school, now we are on a plane to Texas, now we have school, now it’s Christmas, now we have school, now it’s spring break, now it’s time to start back, now there is a virus, now we are all tornadoes of turmoil and angst. 

It certainly helped that their pre-2011 schooling was herky-jerky, so they've got experience in this way of life. 

The babies (old nicknames die hard) made it as 6th and 7th graders in a public school setting an ENTIRE seven weeks to Spring Break.  We went on spring break and before it was over the virus hit and all schools were closed and thus their career as public school students was placed on hold. They are not so impressed with the new country we chose. I assured them it really did not matter where we went after Haiti, they were destined to be stuck at home. It matters not in what country they reside. 

Graciously, we were in a better position with Isaac, Hope, and Noah than anyone in the entire state of Texas because they had already been doing homeschool and on-line school and had planned to do that until the completion of their Senior (Isaac.Hope) and Sophomore (Noah) year anyway. 

Stefanie Raleigh moved from Haiti to Texas with us to see these three into the far-off month of May. 

Stefanie set out to graduate Isaac and Hope and she has been unstoppable. They will graduate this coming Sunday, May 24th. We have caps and gowns and the whole nine yards. 

Just a few days ago Stefanie helped Isaac and Hope choose all their classes at Temple College and got them completely registered for fall semester.  To be clear, THE IDEA IS, they will attend Temple College in the fall. 

Noah is done with 10th grade. He took his finals and crossed the finish line victorious.  Noah has visited the local High School and wants to go there to finish 11th and 12th grade. It’s another idea we have.

Troy got to the USA about 7 weeks ago. Haiti is not allowing any commercial flights in or out on a normal schedule and therefore we made a decision that we wanted Troy “stuck” with us in Texas over not knowing when he could get out and come join us. 

Since Troy arrived we are going for family therapy two times a month. This is allowing our kids to process 14 years in Haiti and to share their hurts.  I don’t think parents generally want to open themselves up to the pain of their kids’ resentment.  

Truthfully, I don’t really “want” to either, but I prefer to hear the hurts now and hopefully make reparations and find some healing. A decade from now the stuff that was hard about the time we lived in Haiti will be the same, we are just going to talk about it now in order that we may have a healthier future.  It’s an idea I have. Maybe even a hope. 

When it came to raising our family, we were inured to the risks and the stress and the constant battles each week presented. We couldn’t see how intense it was because intense was status quo. It became so normal that now when a kid says, “ HEY! Remember that time I had to duck down on the way to the orthodontist because of all the gun shots around the car?” - We think to our more sane selves, “Huh. Yeah. That wasn’t ideal.”  (And we recognize our privilege to have choices to remove them, while most parents living in volatile areas of the world do not.)   

Our kids will keep therapists in business for life. I’ve said it before, we have done our part for that profession. We provided BOTH quantity and quality.

I mainly and especially wanted to offer an update to those that donate to Heartline Ministries. Perhaps you’re wondering what the heck our plan is. There is no plan. I can, however, share the IDEA.

When Haiti opens back up to incoming flights, some combination of Troy/Tara/KJ will return to help get the newest Midwife settled in and to check in on everybody. 

We are in contact with the leaders in Haiti frequently. They are grateful for the prayers and concern as they are working hard to keep the essential services Heartline Ministries offers open and available.  We are proud of the work they are doing and are happy to see all the healthy babies being born in a safe and supportive environment.  

Orthodontists and Therapists - We salute you. 

By Lydia Livesay - 

Hi, I am Lydia. I am twelve years old, and I have a long and strange story of how I'm trying to get my teeth straightened. (STILL trying)
When I first got my braces on it was February 2019. I was eleven years old, and we were still living in Haiti at the time. I was super excited to get my braces on, but once it was getting close to the day I was going to get them on, I wasn't ecstatic to fix my teeth. On my first few appointments, they only cleaned my teeth, made molds of my mouth, and took x-rays. On the third or fourth appointment, I got my braces on. It hurt worse than I thought it would since my siblings kept telling me it doesn't hurt, your mouth just feels sore after it. It took a while for my mouth not to be sore.

Orthodontist appointments in Haiti were often very scary. After getting used to my braces and going to several appointments, many of which I had to get new brackets because the glue at my old brackets seemed to break off the instant food touched it, we would usually go to the store or run an errand. Sometimes we wouldn't be able to go because of the parking issue in the parking lot or insane traffic.
The craziest part was when we had to drive through ongoing riots, which often consisted of burning tires, group marches with signs, fire, people driving motorcycles in a way that would be illegal in America, and more. The scariest experience I've had on my way to the orthodontist was when we drove through burning sticks, tires, and people gathering around watching and laughing at a guy sitting inside a half-destroyed car sticking a gun out the window. It freaked me out because it was pointed straight at us, my friend KJ just kept driving, and I didn't know what to do, so I just ducked. The guy with the gun decided to shoot, but he pulled it into the air and not at our car, but still, hearing gunshots so close to me was very nerve-racking. We continued to head home and had to turn around and reroute several times. Whenever KJ and my Dad's security guard, saw something they didn't trust, they told me to duck down, and that made me extremely nervous because I didn't know what was happening. Getting my teeth straightened in Haiti was never without a bit of drama.

Four months ago we started going to a new orthodontist in Texas. I enjoyed my new orthodontist place a lot more because it just seemed reliable. I bet it had more to do with the calm of Temple, TX, but they never cancelled appointments. A lot of what happened for the first 9 months I had braces really didn't get too much done. The new place in Texas re-did a few brackets and told my mom that they were going to restart the process. I enjoyed being pulled out of school to go to ortho appointments. My favorite was when I got out of pre-athletics on Fridays because we typically run a mile on Fridays.
I was just starting to feel like everything was getting normal, and my teeth were doing great and finally we had some momentum and they were moving into place. That is when COVID-19 made everything shut down. It's been a long time since I last got my wires tightened, and my teeth are probably getting less straight by the day.
It feels like maybe these braces will be on forever. At least I'll always have a story to tell. My tip for you, if you want to have your teeth straightened in a small amount of time, do not choose Haiti or a time of pandemic to begin.