The frequently asked questions page is under construction - we add to it on occasion. 

We started this page because we are sucktacular at returning emails in a timely fashion. 
This is a personal blog. We work full-time in Haiti with Heartline Ministries. The opinions,views, and thoughts expressed here are ours alone and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or positions of Heartline Ministries. 

In no particular order ... FAQs:

I want to adopt from Haiti. Ideas?

We don't have any one organization we recommend. The organization we adopted from many years ago ended up being a mess and was closed down.It is important for all prospective adoptive parents to know that they have very, very, little say and recourse when it comes to the decisions of a foreign government. Americans tend to come in thinking the rules here are the same as the rules in the USA and that filing a customer complaint will bring resolution.  That isn't true. Foreign governments can and will make you wait inordinately long. It will likely enrage you because it makes so little sense. We believe every person interested in adoption should also find ways to promote families remaining together. Reducing orphans is the most far-reaching way to love orphans. We're hearing and have become aware that there is political pressure placed on the Haitian Gov't to not allow international adoption. We suggest contacting programs/orphanages in Haiti by email to find out more about specific programs. (A google search will bring you many results. 'God's Littlest Angels' seem to have good updates.) We also have an adoption tab at the top of the blog if you want to follow links specifically about adoption. Please do tons of research, then do more research. Listen to the voices of adult adoptees, first mothers and adoptive parents.  All three players in the adoption triad have a lot to teach us all. 

How long will you stay in Haiti? We moved here in January 2006 thinking we would stay 12 to 18 months, yet six+ years later  - here we are. We are trusting God to make our future clear, at this point we take it one day at a time and know we want to be here for the next year at least. It seems quite feasible that we could be here long term, but we try not to get ahead of God. We don't even know what tomorrow holds. We certainly don't know what our more distant future holds. Ask us again in a year. :)

How do you guys feel about short-term missions?
Quote from Verge 2012 - "We are evaluating our mission trips by how they affected us, not the people we go to serve." 
...And therein lies a problem. It isn't supposed to be about us. Missions trips should NOT be pushed by the American church as "adventure" and sold by telling people how "awesome it will make you feel".Since when does true service and sacrificial love need to be an "adventure" and/or for our own benefit? It needs to be about respecting and loving others and if in turn we get to have some sort of life-changing moment, well then, great.

See this post .
See this post.

Our opinions are born of our experiences. Yours are too. We recognize these posts cause many people to feel defensive. We're sorry about that but we share these things out of a deep love of the Haitian people we work with and we're more interested in defending them than we are in making strangers feel coddled. The church needs to do better at educating and preparing people and not "selling" people. Missions done without planning, forethought and respect are not helpful. The consumer mentality where it becomes about how it will benefit us is uncool and also - not Biblical. Some ministries and organizations can use help, others will spend all their energy making up jobs for you to do so you'll feel like you did something. Please don't show up uninvited.Can you imagine if we knocked on your door to tell you we'd come to help but you had no idea we were coming and you didn't know us or need any help? If an organization says they don't need volunteers, please respect that. It is hard to keep unplanned visitors busy and it distracts from the true ministry focus. People say that we 'sound very anti short term missions'. We are actually just anti short term missions done without education, compassion and humility. Come when invited. Come to learn. Come to observe. Come without any agenda or expectations.

Aren't you afraid - we hear Haiti is dangerous. What about illnesses and your kids? Sometimes we are fearful, yes. But most often we feel very safe. We believe that the safest place in the world to be is in God's Will - not easy - not "safe" in the traditional sense ... and we cannot deny that He brought us here. Could something bad happen? Have bad things happened? Yes, of course... But bad things can happen anywhere in the world and we don't want to live in fear no matter where God plants us. There have been some incredibly challenging things - we've wanted to run away at times. We are no different than anyone else - we fall flat on our face and cry and grieve and sometimes get angry over things that happen (and often cannot share them here) - but God seems to show up again and again and He provides healing and strength and ways to keep going.

I want to move to Haiti/think God is calling me there. I visited. I love it. Please tell me what you think I might need to know.

Read THIS post. 
We can only speak from our own experience. We are sure that we cannot confirm or deny your desire or call.  

We can tell you that you will face adversity.  We can tell you that there is very little commonality between visiting here for a few weeks or months and living here longer term. Two totally different animals (in our opinion).  

Someone once told us if you make it past the important "3s" you may be a lifer.  3 days - 3 weeks - 3 months - 3 years.  It seems like a lot of people come to Haiti for less than 3 years. Not sure why that is. I think sometimes we are all guilty of romanticizing working abroad or with the poor. 

We assumed wrongly that following God and going to Haiti might mean total protection.  In the five years since we moved we've faced assault, Dengue Fever (X3 cases) Malaria (X12 cases) Meningitis (x2) trouble with understanding culture, stealing, curses placed on us, co-laborers hurting the cause (and their families and ours) by involving themselves in totally inappropriate behaviors ...  and the list goes on ...   

The point of this is not to gripe.  The point of this is - we STILL want to be in Haiti and we are still happy and thankful for all the good that happens in our lives each day. God carried us through every hardship and while it sounds trite, it is also true -- God is faithful. The point of that list is more to tell you that your call needs to be bigger than all the hardships you WILL face. Lack of electricity and bugs and heat will be the least of your hardships. Haiti is described by people who have worked all over the world as a very difficult and complicated place.  So many factors are at play, suffice it to say there are not many things that are cut and dried. An Ambassador to Haiti once said, "In Haiti I believe nothing that I hear and only half of what I see."  We suggest that you confirm your call by visiting for an extended time, by talking with your pastor and close friends and by reading and researching. Some of what we have done in Haiti (once considered helping) has actually not proven to be helpful. We ask that anyone considering coming to Haiti either full time or part time really examine their motives and expectations. Haiti will kick your butt either way, but honesty about what drives you to work with the poor can only help you as you prepare to come. If you wish to read a great book to understand more about the ways our good intentions actually hurt the poor - read  "When Helping Hurts" - it is a good starting place. 

Ultimately all of this is between you and God.  What the heck do we know?!?!  
(answer: nothing.) 

Lastly - as an aside ... IGNORE the voices of people that want to discourage you from following God to a hard place.  Ignore the naysayers that want you to be 100% trained as a theologian and cross-cultural expert and understand every last detail of the work you are heading to do. That is nonsense.  God calls us to big things that don't make sense on paper.  If you are truly hearing from God you will know it. You will act on it. He will equip you.  Not suggesting that you not prepare as best you can, simply saying that there is no formula. People like the comfort of the boxes they live in, but you are not obligated to move into the box with them.

How did you meet? How do you have that many kids that quickly? 
Tara had two daughters before she was 23. We met at a job we both worked on weekends. We did not like each other the first time we met.  We ran into each other the second time (four years after the first time) and liked each other. We dated two years. We got married in 1998.  Troy became a step-Dad to Tara's two girls (ages 4 and 8 at that time).  We quickly lost two babies to miscarriages. We decided to adopt one son.  That adoption turned into two adoptions simultaneously. Once our first two adoptions were complete we got pregnant. After Noah was 20 months we moved to Haiti. We planned to be open to more kids but not necessarily seeking more kids.  Once in Haiti we learned that Hope's first mom would be placing a child she was carrying for adoption. We tried to find ways to support her to keep her child but she wouldn't consider it. We decided to keep the siblings connected and adopted Phoebe. Right after we started Phoebe's adoption we found out we were pregnant with Lydia.  We believe our family is complete. Lydia is the grand finale  ...  we remain open to weird God-sized things and circumstances but we don't anticipate another biological child and don't currently feel like we'll adopt again.  

What denomination are you? What church do you go to?
Tara grew up attending both Christian and Missionary Alliance and Covenant churches. Troy grew up Jehovah's Witness. He left at 18.Our faith isn't in religion or religious systems. Our faith rests in and on our wholehearted belief that Jesus Christ came to earth to show us how to live and love -- and through his death and resurrection to save us from and forgive us of our sins. (We were saved, we are being saved day-by-day, we will be saved.) 

Live like Jesus? Easier to say than to do. 

We both struggle with our attitudes toward "the church" as a whole and are working to be just as gracious to people and institutions that have hurt us as Jesus is to all of them and us. Neither of us get too worked up about denominational stuff. We've benefited from meeting a wide variety of believers and can see that it isn't worth sweating the small stuff. We have attended multiple styles of worship and are comfortable in most. We now attend Port au Prince Fellowship which is fairly charismatic in its style but not too easy to put in a box - a non-denominational multi-cultural English speaking church. We aren't thrilled with labels and theological debates because we have not even perfected the first two commandments (Love God - Love others) so we're not thinking we should spend a ton of time debating theology until we get that right. We're very very comfortable with having lots of questions and saying these three words: "I don't know". 

“Give me one hundred preachers who fear nothing but sin, and desire nothing but God, and I care not a straw whether they be clergymen or laymen; such alone will shake the gates of hell and set up the kingdom of heaven on Earth.” 
― John Wesley

What are your political views?
We are suspicious of earthly governments. We've backed way off from the entire scene - some find that to be unAmerican, we find it to mean much more PEACE.
(Psalm 20:7) 

Why do you blog? 
See this post.

How do you balance a big family and work in Haiti?
We think it might be EASIER in some ways here because there is less social stuff and sports and events going on and in the evenings we are mostly home as a family.It would be VERY easy to give our every waking moment to things we're working on in Haiti - we try very hard not to allow "ministry" to become priority over God, our marriage or our children. We don't personally believe Jesus asks us to serve His people in Haiti to the detriment of and/or at the expense of those closest to us. Keeping priorities in order is a constant struggle and something we are addressing quite frequently.

What does it cost to live in Haiti?
Living here is expensive unless you can live a very simple, electricity and vehicle-free life. (Vehicle upkeep and generators and batteries and diesel alone add a ton to the budgeted expenses.) We wish we could live like the amazing mountain people of this island  - we're not that tough and we live like Americans in that we have water and electricity and buy some foods from "home" (groceries are more expensive here) ... we estimated that our cost of living is approximately 25% higher here than it would be in the average medium sized U.S. city.

Where is "home" for you?
Home used to be Minnesota.  Now we're not sure. Either MN, Texas or Haiti ... all three places feel like home and none of these places feel like home. We think C.S. Lewis got it right ... “If I find in myself desires which nothing in this world can satisfy, the only logical explanation is that I was made for another world.” 


Steph said...

Thanks for the updates! I love reading about the work you are doing and about your family. If I ever make it to Haiti I just might have to meet you! Love the two quotes you gave, saving those. Keep on keeping on! :)

You Have A Choice Ministries, Inc said...

Just wanted to say I truly enjoyed reading your blog.

jomazorl said...

Thanks for posting these Q&A's. My family is in the process of preparing to move to Haiti in Jan 2014. We are constantly researching and trying to get in touch with others over there to hear about their experiences and any advice. Would love to touch base sometime soon :)