We started this page because we are sucktacular at returning emails in a timely fashion.
In no particular order ... FAQs:
How can I contact you privately?
You can email us at - Livesayfamily@gmail.com
I want to adopt from Haiti. Ideas?
We don't have any one organization we recommend. The organization we adopted from many (15) 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 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 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 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. The super truthful response is this: Most short term missions (that we have watched in Haiti for more than ten years) is offensive and disrespectful of Haiti in our opinion.
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 for the culture you are visiting 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 and don't assume they are assholes. Maybe they are super committed to creating jobs and employing Haitians, maybe that is far more helpful than giving you a job. 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. It is not easy - not "safe" in the traditional sense ... but safe in that shit happens everywhere. 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 most people that think they want to move here and do it very quickly end up leaving very quickly too.
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.
The important thing I feel we should share: 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 mentors 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. After that, read Toxic Charity.
Ultimately all of this is between you and God. What the heck do we know?!?!
How did you meet?
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?
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. We've benefited from meeting a wide variety of believers and can see that it isn't worth sweating the small stuff. 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".
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 and and watching quite carefully.
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 badass 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 40% higher here than it would be in the average cost of living 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.”