Monday, December 12, 2011


One Family in Christ Jesus Church is doing a month long series on "Family". I was scheduled to preach yesterday and I took on Marriage and Ephesians 5:21-33, specifically what Paul does and doesn't say about submission. I had some fear that when I finished we all might be run out of town for challenging the power structure, instead a man stood up and confessed to the congregation that he had been excluding God from his marriage. He confessed that he had not been loving his wife as the Bible teaches and as a result his marriage is failing. He confessed that he had abused his role and used it as a means to dominate. He doesn't belong to this church, he's not even from this area. He was just passing through and felt called to come to the service because he felt God drawing him to something he needed to hear. He said that he felt like I was speaking directly to him and he heard the truth in the words. He asked all of us to pray for him, his wife, and their marriage which has become abusive. He committed to change his ways and to invite God into his marriage and we all prayed that God would restore his relationship with his wife and his children. Before I spoke yesterday I prayed that God would prevent me from saying anything that is not true, anything that contradicts his word and will, and that he would make His words my words. Jen told me later that she had prayed something similar. I am grateful to have been a conduit for Truth. Please join me in praying today for marriages and for restoration of families in this community.

Sunday, November 27, 2011

A typical day

We have received some requests to share what a typical day is like for us.  Of course, it is rare that we have a 'typical' day.  There is almost always something unexpected: one of us is sick, a guest arrives, we are asked to join Kesnel on errands or visits. But, I’ll give it a shot:

The sun rises a little after 5, sometimes we wake with it, others we are able to sleep until 6, when the bustle of life is too loud to ignore.   If there is power, we will use our little microwave to make a cup of tea or a bowl of oatmeal.  If not, we will have some water and maybe crackers.  We take turns looking at the walls to give each other enough privacy to change into clothes for the day.   We walk across the courtyard, where by now school children and teachers are beginning to gather, to use the washroom.  

Usually, by 8 we are offered a breakfast.  It may be spaghetti, rice, or bread with peanut butter.  Sometimes there is hot chocolate.  After breakfast, I begin teaching our children, taking a late morning recess along with the school children.   We continue our lessons into the early afternoon.  A very kind friend lent us 2 series of educational audio books, so in the hottest part of the afternoon, the kids lay on their bunks with headphones and listen to these stories.  Much of Haiti takes a nap.

It is also in the hot part of the day when we shower, finding the cold water (almost) refreshing.  Later, when the sun has dropped behind the mountains, the kids will go out and play. 

Meanwhile, Chris is working with Pastor Kesnel, attending meetings and seminars, visiting other pastors and churches, or working on the sermons he is asked to preach.  In the afternoons, there are English classes, church services, and bible studies. 

Dinner , almost always beans and rice, canned chicken and red sauce with onions, is usually offered around 4.  Sometimes there is ground corn in place of the rice- we like the change of it.  Several times a week there are vegetables- carrots, green beans, or potatoes.  We dread the days that whole, fried fish replaces the canned chicken.  We have driven through the fish market.  It is nauseating. 

There are 2 types of markets here: the outdoor market is where you can buy local and dried goods- seasonal fruits and vegetables, (right now it's oranges, grapefruits, carrots and green beans), sugar, coffee, beans, and rice- and meat (live chickens, turkeys, goats..and terrible fish).

Then there is a grocery store, which we visit about once a week.  It is a small store by American standards; huge by Haitian.  We buy things like canned fruit and juice, peanut butter, oatmeal, raisins, and snacks to replace our missing lunch.  The prices are 2 - 3 times those in America.  We are limited to packaged goods as we do not have a refridgerator.

Saturdays, we do laundry in the morning to the soundtrack of the 6 hour prayer service happening in the church.  In the afternoon, we read, play a game, or  maybe even watch a show downloaded from itunes.  Sunday is occupied with church services. 

The sun begins to set around 5, and by 6 it is dark. Sometimes, we have a bit of battery power to keep lights on in the evening. If there is a church service, the generator may run, and then we will have fans as well. There is almost always a few hours of dark silence between the last of the battery power and the begining of state provided power.

By 7pm we are tired.  By 8, the children are asleep.  By 9, Chris and I are too. 

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Xander's Eye

Since arriving in Haiti nearly 6 weeks ago, we've experienced our fair share of illness: fevers, colds, intenstinal troubles, and now our second case of pink eye.  Here's Xander's video diary for today.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

The thing I hate about Haiti

If you have ever traveled to Haiti with me, or heard me talk about my travels in Haiti, then you have heard me talk about the things I love here: the hope, the joy, the stripping away of excess, the beauty of the mountains, the children’s smiles.   Chris calls me an optimist.

Haiti has her dark side, too.  So often, visitors here can only see the dark: the want, the need, the desperation, the lack of education, the chaos.  I see all of these things- I always have.  I’ve just been able to see the beauty as well. 

But, there is one thing I just hate about this place.  I hate the beatings.  In the last week I have witnessed so many children being smacked, slapped, spanked and outright beaten.   Toddlers are smacked on their hands and legs.  Preschoolers and children are whipped with belts, cords, or switches torn from the tree and de-leafed while the child watches. 

It disgusts us.  One 5 year old girl was beaten for ‘playing games with boys.’   Another, for not wearing underwear.  A 2 year old boy was hit on the legs with a stick.  For what, we don’t know.    Every day, children wait in a row in the principal’s office (which is right below our room) to receive measured smacks on their hands with a 1/2inch PVC pipe.

Not everyone beats the children (Pastor and Madame Kesnel are more likely to have a child kneel facing the wall) but, everyone condones it.  One older boy here who speaks fairly good English said that “if you don’t beat them they will just go wild.”    It is accepted as normal.    

I am powerless.  There is nothing I can do.  I shield my own children from witnessing it, but there is no denying the sound: the swish through the air, the smack against a child’s skin, her wail of pain.  Sometimes it repeats 7,8, 9 times.  I do all I can to not throw up.

I would love to hate the women- it is almost always the women- who dispense these blows.  But, I can’t.  I can’t hate them- I pity them.  They have never known any other way.  Could they number the beatings they have received in their own lives?  Has anyone ever given them love and tenderness, and invested the time and energy to encourage good behavior or thoughtful self-discipline in them?  Probably not. 

I think of the times, when, in my own fit of frustration and/or exhaustion I have lost my temper with my children.  I think of that moment when I can’t bear another irritation, another infraction, another complaint, another argument.  I snap.  I lash out, not with my hands, but still in anger.  Am I that much different from these women?  I have the blessings of plenty, of education, of knowing and sharing love and trust, of hope for the future.  I also have other outlets for discipline- I can restrict privileges, charge chores, or simply express my disappointment.   Yet, still sometimes anger wins.

In this place, where tenderness is scarce, where children have no privileges to restrict, where there is little bond between the women and the children they are paid to care for, where centuries of abuse and punishment have been endured, it is no wonder that the children are beaten.  But, I still hate it.  

Sunday, October 30, 2011

I almost didn't post this blog.

I try to be the sort of person who, in the absence of something nice to say, is silent.   In conversation, I am frequently challenged by this, but composing a blog post has given me several chances to stop, edit myself, avoid complaining or whining. 
This last week has been extremely difficult.  We discovered upon arrival that the expected construction on our rooms was not only incomplete (we were told they were still in need of doors ; but what we didn’t know is that for the door to be installed, the entire wall would first have to be constructed).   Instead of a few days in the small “guest room,”  we are looking at several weeks to (please, God help me) months.   Haiti Lesson #1: time moves differently here.  Lesson #2:  Haitians are a people of acceptance and endurance.  This American family, not so much.
The guest room is 16’x16’ concrete block construction with 2 small windows- just cinder block holes on the front and a series of small holes (“windows”) along the back wall.   We were given a double bed, bunk beds for the kids and mosquito nets.
In a place where roofs are made of lacey tin and people sleep on floors of packed dirt, we should be grateful for the accommodations.
But, we’re finding it difficult.  We are almost always hot.  Initially, the bugs were unbearable.  Flies, mosquitos, bees all came and went freely.  We have since installed screens along the front windows, which has helped tremendously.  The materials are here to place screen over the back windows as well, but we haven’t yet had simultaneous availability of carpenter and power.    We run through a perilous few hours at the end of the day when our room is just too hot to be in.   The cool of the evening can be enjoyed if we are willing to pay our blood offering to the mosquitos, otherwise we give our sweat offering sitting under nets on our beds.   Blood or sweat.  And more than once, tears.
We are sharing a bathroom with the Pastor Joseph and his wife.  It is in another building across a courtyard.  Cold showers are an accepted truth of Haiti, so I won’t complain about them here.
For the first few days we didn’t understand that food was being placed on the dining table in Pastor’s apartment for us.  We were waiting to be invited in.  We were frequently hungry, because Pastor and Madame work non-stop, often not pausing until well after the sun has set.   Now, we’ve learned the routine, and when to expect the food, and to be bold in entering their apartment- they honestly don’t mind.  We’ve also made it to the grocery store, and bought a little microwave. 
Again, I almost didn’t write this.  Why would anyone want to read our complaints?  But, today I started reading a great book, “The Art of Crossing Cultures,” recommended to me by a friend who left home to plant a church in Paris.  In the first chapter of this book, the author lists several difficulties most expatriates experience in their first few a weeks abroad.  He expresses how it is important for people on both sides of the international relationship to understand what the expat is going through- the complete upheaval of all routines, all norms, all predictability of their world.  Yep, that’s us.  I can’t wait to get to the next chapter where he tells us how to deal with some of these difficulties, but for now it is enough for me to know that I am not failing if I admit that I am temporarily miserable.  I am not being arrogant to miss the virtues of my homeland.  I am not blind if I find myself annoyed with the locals.  I am…we are…adjusting.  We are building new rhythms, new routines, new norms.   There are days when all we want is to go home.  And, there are days when home is where we are.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Holy Ground

(Sunday October 16, 2011- Chris)
I met up with Pastor Joseph at the crossroads in Croix Des Boquetes. We drove up Goat Mountain to a town called Mirabalis. This is the location of Pastor Joseph’s third church plant. The congregation had been renting a plot of land on which to have Sunday services. The land lord grew tired of their inability to pay the rent and drove them off. They tried to meet in a cheaper place further up the mountain, but even the smallest rainfall made the road almost impassable for the elderly members (which was most of them). Pastor Joseph came in and purchased the original plot of land they had been renting, and gave them the UNICEF tent he had used after the earthquake.
There looked to be about 30 members gathered when we walked in, more than half of them were under 12 and over 55. Pastor Michelette was speaking. He had recently been in a motorcycle accident that had left his upper lip scarred and swollen. Pastor Kesnal said that Michelette had cut down some of the trees on the property, without consulting him and felt that the accident was a divine consequence. Joseph also told me about a place down the road that is a “Mystic place.” Every year voodoo practitioners gather there and bath in a waterfall and hold ceremonies etc. This past year some of the congregation went to that gathering to evangelize. They warned those people that there would be consequences to their actions. Later that day there was a large car accident that killed many people. “Divine consequences”.
Kesnal and I sat in the front of the room. The floor was dirt. My right foot was next to one of many ant hills. This was church stripped down. No microphones, no multimedia, no producers, no hospitality table, no handouts, no kid’s ministry. The worship instruments were a large two sided drum (a thick stick hit one side while the left hand hit the other), a weida (kind of like a cheese grater scraped with a fork), and the voice of the worship leader. The song was from a hymnal that no one had, they sang from memory. I lamented my pitiful Creole. Then the pastor went into a message, which included a memory verse, John 10:26. He must have lead them through that verse 35 times. Kesnal leaned over and asked, “Are you ready to give a short message?” I was not, but I said yes and prayed for words. I read John 10 and I expanded on the bit where Jesus rebukes the Jews for their disbelief in spite of seeing His miracles. “You don’t believe because you are not my sheep. My sheep hear my voice and they listen.” Jesus is speaking, He is leading us like a flock of sheep. Listen. When He gives direction, follow. When He gives a command, obey.
Then I spoke about His miracles. We all have miracles that He is working in our lives. Should we keep those a secret? No. Tell others. Tell everyone about what He is doing with us, to us, and through us so that they too may believe. For those who won’t listen or believe, keep talking and leave the heavy lifting to God. Kesnal translated and then spoke for about 45 minutes…I have no idea what he said, pitiful Creole.
From Mirabalis, we went further up and farther into the mountains. The pavement turned to dirt, and the dirt turned to rocks, mud, and holes. It was the bumpiest ride…ever. There were times when the vehicle was almost completely sideways. There should have been a camera posted on the front of the car, it could have been a commercial for Land Cruiser.
Finally, we came to a riverbank that defeated the Land Cruiser. It was a 3 foot drop to the rocky bed. I figured that we would be walking or turning back. Two men walked up and said they would dig out the drop and make a ramp. So they started with their hands, then a man (probably about 65 years old) showed up with a pick axe and went to work. A few moments later there were 5 men with pick-axes. For 100 goudes (about $2.50) they made an incline for the land cruiser. The goudes was an afterthought. I think they did it because we were in need.
We made it up to Holy Ground church and met Kesnal’s brother-in-law, Paul. Paul has the same Jesus tattoo over his left eyebrow that Kesnal and his wife Yanickhave. Paul also spent most of his life in the U.S. but came back to Haiti to serve. He has been in the mountains for 2 months and dreams of going higher into them.
“Everything you need is up here.” He said to me while showing me around his house, “We have goats, we have chickens, we grow rice, we grow corn, we grow, coconuts, mangos, melons, avocado, and coffee. Our water comes from a spring high up and flows down to us. We have a view that is only rivaled by Heaven. And the people here are beautiful. What else do we need?” Paul waved his hands and I took in the view. I have been telling people about the deforestation and erosion of the island, and it’s absolutely true, but at the same time here was this place. The people are financially poor yes, but they have immense resources.
 “The world has these people brainwashed.” He said, “They think they have to take their resources down to Port au Prince and bring back plastic junk and bags of garbage. They are told that they need technology and commercially produced stuff. They are told that they need Port au Prince, but they don’t. They walk their produce down the mountain through those crazy roads and get cheated. If they just kept what they grow here, Port au Prince would come to them. People in Port au Prince are brainwashed too. They think the people up here are savages and that nothing good can be up here. You’ve been to both places now. What do you think? History tells us that the white settlers thought the Indians were savages, but who wiped out whom? Who was the savage?”
I sat with the pastors and relaxed. I drank water from a coconut that had just come from the tree and then ate the flesh from inside (tasted like coconut pudding but not as sweet). I ate beans and rice and chicken (from a chicken that had been alive earlier that day). I ate an avocado that came right from the tree (tasted like buttery bread). And I drank the juice from a grapefruit that was still warm from sunning on the branch (sweeter than orange juice). All of this warred with my fear of illness, but as I write this 24 hours later I feel fine. I pushed past that fear and found happiness.
We went back down the mountain and into Croix de Boquetes. It was dark and charcoal fires burned everywhere. The smoke and exhaust were thick and made my throat raw. If they ever get a chair lift or something for those mountains, I’ll move in tomorrow.

Friday, October 14, 2011


We are rejoicing today!  Our trip was as easy as travel could be.   Even a delay proved a blessing:  our first flight had a mechanical issue (we later learned that it was a part necessary for landing!) which delayed us so long that we missed our flight to Haiti.  We spent the night in a nice Miami hotel, with plenty of food vouchers from the airline to order room service for dinner and breakfast- much to the kids delight!  We all enjoyed long, hot baths and showers, and a full 10 hours of sleep.  We returned to Miami airport on Thursday morning, and breezed through security.  On the flight to Haiti we were all filled with nervous excitement.  Xander sat by the window, eager to catch his first glimpse of Haiti.  Every island (even the little uninhabited ones) we passed, he asked “Is that it?”  And, then he saw the mountains.  He became quiet, taking everything in.  As the plane landed, he said “Mom, it’s pretty; I didn’t think it would be pretty.”  My heart sang!

Coming through the airport in Port au Prince is always a bit of adventure, and hearing the porters yelling their demands to each other seemed a little frightening to the kids, who are only used to hearing raised voices in anger.  But, that was all forgotten in face of tremendous adventure: riding in Pastor Joseph’s tap-tap (a Haitian taxi).   They gave each other a special high-five and said “Super-risk-taking-duo…AWAY!”   Again, joy.

From the airport, we visited our new home.  We’ll be staying in Pastor Joseph’s guest room while construction is completed on our rooms.   (In Haiti, much of life happens outside; rooms are mainly for sleeping.  We will be sharing a kitchen and dining area with Pastor and Madame Joseph, but will have two rooms and two bathrooms to ourselves.  Each room is about the size of an average hotel room.   It’ll be a month of transition for us! )

Pastor Joseph’s church, One Family Mission, is home to about 40 orphans.  Madame Joseph has been teaching the children English, and Xander and Ella were very happy to be able to communicate with the older kids.  In fact, Xander and a boy of about 12 have already declared themselves brothers!  It was truly a beautiful evening.  We were introduced to the staff of the One Family, and are excited to begin working together. 

All in all, our first day in Haiti as a family has been wonderful.  

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Celebration & Sadness

The last few days have been amazing.  We have had wonderful opportunities to celebrate our friendships, family, our church, our mission & our God.   We've been able to reflect upon the last year with joy and gratitude.  We've had the chance to share with many (I wish it could have been everyone) of our friends & family our love & appreciation.  We have been inspired by leaders & visionaries in our church community, and the prayers and encouragement we have received has been overwhelming.

But, this has been a time of great sadness as well.  Each celebration ends in a tearful goodbye (seriously, I'm dehydrated).  Our joy is compounded by the pain of knowing how much we will miss and be missed by those we love.  

That is what truly has amazed me: the willingness of our friends & family to celebrate through the sadness with us; to say this hurts, I love you and want to be near you, but I believe that this is where you are supposed to go, and I send you with joy and blessings.  I'm (almost- it is still me afterall) speechless every time.   

And to see it in our children is breathtaking.  To witness the sincerity and depth of emotion they have formed in their friendships reminds me that these children are not just our mini-me's and we are not just charged with getting them safely through childhood.  They are people- designed with great love and intention by the Creator.  God is using their life events to draw them ever closer to Him; just as he has used mine- even when I didn't know it.  I don't know where their path will take them, but I am grateful for every friend God is giving them along the way.

So, we are sad, but we are celebrating.  As we have cried together through our goodbyes, I've told our children that if it was easy to leave this life, it wouldn't have been much of a life.  Thankfully, it is very difficult to leave. It is painful to tear ourselves away from so much  love and laughter.  It stings to think of  the celebrations we will miss.   It is not easy, but good things rarely are.

Thank you for loving us, laughing with us, praying with us,sharing life with us, and sending us with faith, joy and courage.  We love you.  

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

1013 Missions

In the days following the January, 2010 earthquake in Haiti, Chris and I both felt called to serve in Haiti.  We have spent months in prayer and study to determine what that serving might look like.

In just 2 short weeks, we will launch our mission in Haiti, which we've named 1013 Missions.  1013 was the only identification given to a little boy who had been crushed and broken in the earthquake.  His body was beyond repair, and he had been left to die outside, alone.   In this time, Chris was serving with a group of amazing people- doctors, businessmen, employees and volunteers with The Global Orphan Project- all pulled to Haiti by the cries of her suffering people; all doing everything they could to help.  When they found 1013, all knew he could not survive.  Not in the ravaged state of Haiti, probably not in the best hospital in the States.  But, neither could they leave him to die alone outside.  Instead, they scooped up and drove him over destroyed roads to a place where he might at least receive relief from his pain before passing away.  During that drive, Chris cradled the boy in his arms, prayed for him, and sang to him.  He gave thanks for his life, and prayed for God to end his suffering.   Chris stood in for the boy's father, loved him, and mourned him.

We have named our mission in this boy's honor- with the only name we have for him.  It is our reminder that the things of this world are not as they should be.  

Our goal is simple, but huge: to bring the hope and life giving truth of the gospel to Haiti.  We envision a church that is a vibrant center in its community- led by Haitian pastors and on mission to serve Jesus.  We see a church in partnership with an American church- not a one-directional financial relationship, but a true exchange of fellowship, prayer, and support.

In just 2 weeks we begin.   For several months, we will be actively learning about Haiti:  language, culture, and church.  We will settle ourselves, and our children into "home away from home."  We will be working in close partnership with an established church and Pastor- learning more about church in Haiti.  With him, we will identify potential leaders and begin growing a group of people that will become the family of our church.

And, we will be working to create a guest house- a place where we can invite a group of 10 or so to come experience mission in Haiti.  We're hoping to be able to host the first group in late spring of 2012.  Want to visit us?

Monday, September 19, 2011

Finally! Already?

Our time has come!  We've begun the countdown- 24 days until we leave- according to Ella's daily announcement.

Twenty months ago, God called us to Haiti. Then, He took us on a year long detour through Lemont.  At first, it seemed like an unwanted, but necessary diversion.  God wanted to show us something.  But, in the same way that a drive on a long country road is good for the soul, our time in Lemont has brightened us.  We have been blessed to be a part of something wonderful.  We've been able to help bring church to a community that needed and wanted it.  We've been able to act as advocates for Haiti, and even inspired others to travel on mission.  We have formed friendships that we treasure.  We are more focused, more determined, and more dedicated to our mission.

And now here we are; on the verge of our heart's desire.  We are filled with joy and trepidation.  We are sad for the goodbyes that must be said.  We have moments of doubt, and fear.

We see the mountains ahead, and they are beautiful.

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Ella in Haiti

Since our first trip to Haiti in 2007, Ella has talked about wanting to go to Haiti 'someday.'  The idea of visiting a foreign place, and her natural curiosity about anything that her father and I talk about have been strong motivators.  After the earthquake, when Chris and I began to visit Haiti more frequently as well as talk about moving there, Ella's drive became more powerful.  She would beg to join us on our trips.  Finally, this May, she had her chance!

We landed in Haiti early on a sunny Friday morning.  Ella was excited and observant.  She noticed the children especially- how they went to school on foot or motorcycle; how they wore brightly colored uniforms, and how some had backpacks like her friends.   She noticed the tents and the destruction and the beautiful colors in the flowers and painting by the side of the roads. 

Upon arriving at the first orphanage we visited, Ella was excited and a little nervous to meet the children.   As the first blonde haired white child most of the children there had ever seen, she was an instant attraction.  All the attention overwhelmed her at first, but she soon made friends with a few of the girls her age and she was gone.  For the rest of the trip, Ella was either climbing a tree, jumping rope, dancing, playing soccer, or sitting under a mango tree with three or four children. 

The kids in Haiti were amazed to see an American child- with her mom!- in their home.  They all wanted to know if she was my 'bebe' and didn't believe that she was only 8, (Haitian kids are significanly smaller than American).  They were also very protective of her, and excited to show her the details of their world.  They loved to hear her sing and thought it amusing that she was shy in front of the cameras.

After visiting several orphan homes in multiple neighborhoods in and surrounding Port-au-Prince, it was time for us to go.  Ella, like me and several others on our trip, wasn't ready.  She wanted to stay.  In just 4 days, Ella developed friendships that she wants to nourish as well as a love for a new culture. 

Returning home was difficult for Ella, as it is for most people after their first visit to a developing country.  The easy availablity of medicine, food, and clothes inspired a sadness and anger in her.  She was able to recognize the blessings of plenty that we have here, as well as the burdon of greed.  She has become an 8 year old advocate.

It has been humbling and amazing to watch Ella through this time.  I am grateful for the experience and bit of wisdom that Chris and I have been able to share with her.  I am excited to see how God uses this experience in her life.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Slowly, slowly.

Slow has never really been my speed.  I prefer to Get Things Done; quickly.  I like (really- I enjoy it) making a list every morning and checking the tasks off as I move through the day.  But,  God's to-do list doesn't always fit with mine, and slowly, I am learning that this is more than ok.  It is Good.

It's been 15 months since the earthquake in Haiti.  Just a few days less since I felt God calling me to redirect our lives dramatically.   On my life's list, 'Move to Haiti' was supposed to be checked off months ago.   Yet, here I am sitting in my living room.  And, as much as my entire being longs to be in Haiti, I wouldn't have it any other way. 

These last several months have been filled with education, opportunity, and experience that will surely help our mission in Haiti to be far more successful than it would have been otherwise.  Additionally, we have formed relationships that have enriched our lives and our faith in unimaginable ways.  It has been a wonderful adventure.

But, I can feel the wind starting to shift. I feel as if the time to move to Haiti is finally drawing near.   I am excited, and of course scared.  Things are starting to fall into place- as they can only do when God is leading the way.  Right now, Chris is in Port-au-Prince, learning about the work and needs of a potential partner. 

In one month, I will be traveling to Haiti to lead a 5 day vision trip.  I love getting to experience Haiti for the first time with someone, and on this trip I get to share that with a very special person- my daughter.  I can't wait to see her in Haiti; see her on her first mission trip.  She's looking forward to it:

Slowly, slowly, we are making our way to Haiti.  The path is longer than we thought it would be, but well worth it.

Saturday, January 29, 2011

Thank you!

A HUGE thank you to everyone who has joined our support team!  We are grateful for the prayers; and the financial donations & pledges have brought us about half way to our goal!   If you'd like to join our team, financially, prayerfully, or as a volunteer (in the US or Haiti!) please print our contribution letter and send it in! 

"All this is for your benefit, so that the grace that is reaching more and more people may cause thanksgiving to overflow to the glory of God."  2Corinthians4:15

Saturday, January 15, 2011

The Girl Who Wasn't There

from Chris: A memory of St. Louis du Nord, Haiti July 2010-

I sat on the floor of a steamy nursery in an orphanage in Northern Haiti, watching a “mama” (mama is the Haitian term for orphanage worker) feed beans and rice to an emaciated baby. The baby, Sarah, weighed in at 5 lbs. I learned this from our doctor, Bill Gossman who had just examined her, because in addition to being severely malnourished she was also sick (probably a cold one of us blancs gave her).

Sarah was thin and ghostly. Her skin hung loosely from her arms and legs. She was quiet and still, except her mouth. Her mouth worked feverishly on the beans and rice. I stared, the only sound Sarah’s gums smacking as she ate. Babies should not look like that. This was the overriding thought running through my mind. Babies should be chubby and full of color and not look like they were found under the robes of the ghost of Christmas Present-“The girl’s name is want, the boys’ ignorance. Beware them both but especially the boy because on his brow I see doom”. Sarah could have been written by Charles Dickens.
Her name was not really even Sarah. When someone asked about the baby’s name the mama had said “M pa konn ki sa li te fe ” and the only bit the person could make out was “sa li” and that became Sarah. “Sarah” had been brought to the orphanage by her father a few days before. His wife had died and he was unable to care for Sarah…clearly. I don’t know how long her mother had been dead, how long Sarah had been wasting away, but she wouldn’t have lasted much longer. There just wasn’t anything to her. I have often misused the word ‘Horrible’, and in that moment I regretted every instance, because this was horrible. This had nothing to do with the earthquake, Port-au-Prince was a 10 hour bus ride south through the mountains, this is Haiti. This stuff just happens here. If I were to ask any Haitian about this, 9 out of 10 would say without batting an eyelash, “This just happens here.” In the shadow of what is arguably the richest country…ever, there is one half of one island where little baby girls starve to death. “Sarah” barely existed. When my friend Dr. Bill came to check her out and asked to see her medication chart, there wasn’t one. Sarah wasn’t on the list of children in the nursery. The Americans who ran the nursery didn’t know anything about her and had forgotten that she was there. The mamas knew her age and how she got there but that was it. “M pa konn ki sa li te” means “I don’t know who she be”.

It was horrible, the whole thing, but here she was and she was eating. Three members of our team really took her and by the time our week was up “Sarah” went from 5 to 8 pounds. And due to their devotion and Dr. Bill’s very loud criticism, Sarah would go to a hospital that specializes in treating starving children. But in that moment it was just Sarah, the mama, and me. It was hot, horrible, and beautiful this baby eating rice and beans. I don’t know how long I sat there, but it was long enough for the more practical part of my mind to ask the question Why the hell is she feeding her rice and beans? I mean, 1) That’s just a risky thing to feed any diaper wearing child, but 2) and more to the point, I have two children and they didn’t start any solid foods until they were 6 months old. How was this little one able to eat this? So I asked the mama “Se li ki laj?” how old is she? And she held up nine fingers and said “nef” nine. That didn’t seem right so I asked “semen?” weeks? The mama shook her head and said “mwa… nef mwa” months…nine months.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

One year later....

(From Jen)

My heart is heavy today. It's been one year since the earth shook apart the lives of millions of Haitians. Lives lost, forever changed by injury, exposed to homelessness, hunger, desperation, illness. Nearly a million people still live in tents.

My thoughts dwell on a little boy that I love who lost his parents in the quake. Just a few months later, when I met him, he asked if we could be his family. I ache for a baby girl whose teen-aged mom GAVE her to me, and couldn't understand why I wouldn't (couldn't) bring her home to America. I weep for a man, a strong, peace-filled, God-loving man, who continued rescuing children while mourning his own son. I pray for a woman who delivered her baby into a loveless room.

For reasons I don't fully understand, these people have become part of my family. I love this country. I love her people, and their culture. I hurt for their loss and hope for their future. I long to be there in a way that I can only describe as longing for home.