Living The Life That God Has For Us....

God's Plumbline Ministries is called to repair devastation in the lives of God's people allowing restoration both physically and spiritually. Providing creative solutions for employment, education and life skills allowing God to repair and restore hope.  Empowering each community to establish a secure foundation both inside and out, while keeping in tact God given talents and uniqueness, not focusing on man's ways but God's ways.  Developing working relationships within social and economic circles, working hand in hand with community leaders to bring the love and compassion of Jesus Christ. 

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Traditions and Transitions

My kids have been counting the days until we would be back in the States for Christmas. Last year we had Christmas in Haiti, so this year I wanted them to experience some of our different family traditions. One of those traditions is my dad's homemade chicken noodle soup. My grandmother taught him how to make the noodles from scratch and he is the only one who knows how to do it. As we sat and ate bowl after bowl I considered asking him to teach me this tradition but had second thoughts since it takes a whole entire day to make the noodles. Dinner was really special since my dad has been so sick and now he is well. (Thanks for the prayers!) It was also special because my grandfather, who is ninety, was brave enough to get on a plane and come to be with us for Christmas. As we prepared to eat our soup my grandfather prayed for us, another tradition. It's a funny one because he talks so softly we never really know when he is finished so we all keep looking up from time to time to see if he has finished. This year, the first one ever, he talked so loud we didn't have to peak.

Santa has been coming several times a day filling each stocking with small wrapped gifts, very important tradition. As we drove in the car a few days ago the radio was playing a clip asking kids "What is Christmas really about"...one of the kids in the interview said.."Transformers". Parker said, Is that what he really thinks? We all laughed. Knowing that Jesus is what Christmas is about.

As we enjoy the many different traditions, we are also dealing with different "transition" issues.

Crazy things like...

- forgetting you can brush your teeth with the water in the bathroom

- it is not necessary to know what sockets work in the evening so you can use the hand mixer forgetting we have power 24/7

- no need to walk through the house shutting off every light thinking we are wasting inverter and won't have a fan at bed time

- I don't need to cover up my hands while I am sleeping so the mosquito's won't bite me in the middle of the night

- you can randomly stand in front of the fridge with the door wide open not needing anything and just look

- yes, they have celery in the grocery store....every day

- you can have two kinds of lunch meat and cheese in the fridge and eat them for breakfast, lunch and dinner

- you can have white milk, chocolate milk and egg nog all at the same time

- you can really upload photo's on the Internet

- you can take a grocery list to the store and buy everything on your list

- you can drive seventy miles an hour on the free way and every car only has one person in it

- you can leave things plugged into the wall here for hours at a time and nothing will happen to them
It is an odd thing to live in two different worlds and they are both "normal".....

Friday, December 19, 2008

Christmas....Just Getting Started



We will be spending Chirstmas in Atlanta...we are just getting started with all the crazy family traditions needed to make this trip "fun"! Lights, shopping, whipping cream right out of the can, not just once either, wearing p.j.'s until noon drinking coffee, our favorite foods, friends and family.
Merry Christmas!

Monday, December 15, 2008

Marjorie a.k.a Sheila

Everyone meet Marjorie a.k.a. Sheila.
Marjorie is me when I am not here or me when I am here at times. She is almost always on the same page with me and/or is one step ahead of me. She has been a great help in making the sewing program successful.
John called one day and said, Sheila, I have someone I would like you to interview to be your assistant, she is a friend of Junior's and went to school to be an accoutant. When she is at work she can be soft spoken. I know now that this is not the case because a few weeks ago she was asked to speak about the ladies retreat at our church. She stood with such confidence and said, Good Morning Church.....
Suddenly she had this very strong and confident voice. I was thrilled and did a little cheer from the back saying - hey, she works for me! (Thanks John!)
About two weeks ago Beth and Shelley started a Sunday school class for the ladies at church. I found out that she told John on Monday morning she didn't want to come because she could only see "gran moun" at the table. That means "old people". She just happened to be talking about Beth and I. When John busted her on Monday in front of me she quickly said she meant to say "mature".
Old or mature, black or white, that is what this program is about. Bringing hope to Haiti. It isn't about me staying forever, it is about finding really wonderful, strong Haiti women who can replace me and build upon the foundation we put in place together...building something that will stand on it's own with out me.

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Hand Made In Haiti


This weekend we started having "official" purse parties. We have shipped out hundreds of different purses to several different ladies in the States along with the new video talking about the women's program and sewing school. It is fun to see all the different ideas coming together. Some have posted all the bags on Facebook, others are doing it at home serving appetizers, while others are selling them at work. It works just like a Tupperware party but fifty percent of the sales go back to the ladies who made the purses so she can support her family. It is a really simple idea that has taken on a life of it's own. I am so pleased with how many people want to help our ladies be successful. This is a real way to build a network of people who can bring change to the nation of Haiti one lady and one bag at a time. It builds relationship with the ladies. You are taking a personal interest in her and her life. It's working too. These ladies are buying their own sewing machines, paying for their children to go to school and buying stoves with money still in their business accounts.
So, if you see someone with this logo in her bag...you know it was hand made in Haiti by a woman who is working toward a better life.
Coming soon to a party near you....

Friday, December 12, 2008

Vacation

Today as we drove to the baby shower for Fritz and Magalee, Maddie and I talked about leaving for Christmas. She and Parker have been sending weekly shopping lists to my mom for food she should have ready in the fridge i.e. egg nog, white milk, chocolate milk, turkey lunch meat, pepper jack cheese and sour dough bread for starters.

As we drove she said, I am going to miss seeing all the adventures in Haiti. Like the tap-taps, guys laying in the middle of the street changing tires, dodging all the pot poles as we drive, the ugly paintings for sale everywhere, people washing themselves in the gutter, cow pies in the middle of the road, goats every place you look, the smell of burning trash everyday, Baby singing in the morning and Rosemine playing her sax everyday. Pretty soon we started laughing! None of these things seem like you should miss them but they are part of our life here.

I asked her where she would rather live? Haiti, she said. It is always interesting and you never see this stuff in the States.

True, very true!

How It Really Works

Late Tuesday morning Suzanne came to me and said, we don't have thread for sewing the bags, we will need to go shopping. I have learned that shopping for thread here is only done as a last resort. The thread is poor quality for many reasons. It can be old, or it has been sitting out in the rain, humidity and heat for who knows how long and really ends up not being worth the money we spent to buy it. Suzanne wrote out a list for me as I was telling her, I just don't have it. I know she could hear me, she was only about two feet from me, but my words didn't seem to matter she just kept writing.

Uummm - Hello!! I don't have it. For those of you who want to know the truth about our program...this is how it works!
It always makes me laugh when John says, we are big time missionaries! I am not sure what that should look like or feel like but we are the kind that have to pray in thread and fabric!

Here is what an answered prayer looks like:

Wednesday morning Suzanne didn't say a word to me about the thread. I had remembered her list and told her I was meeting Ginger for dinner with Tara. I had never met Ginger and she had never met me. She had met Tara at a dinner in Minnesota and was coming to do some paperwork on her adoption. She sent me an email saying she was going shopping for fabric with her mom and girls and would be coming soon. It has happened time and time again. I never know what people are going to bring but it is always a treat to see what we get in. Thursday morning was better than Christmas here! Everyone stood around Ginger's suitcase cheering! The fabric was wonderful! Bright, new and everything we needed!

Oh! Suzanne's list.....I crossed off every single color with the exception of yellow and sent it home as a "thank-you" note for Ginger's mom who couldn't make the trip with her for health reasons.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

strong vs weak


I have been thinking about strong vs weak a lot over the past week.
Last Tuesday we opened Pandora's Box so to speak when we started teaching on domestic violence.
I don't think that there is room in poverty for weak women.
The weak just don't make it. The fight to make it everyday.
I often ask myself if I could live the life they live? Without any hesitation I say no and don't want to ever be in the place where I have to find out if I could or not. I think to be a woman here you have to be strong beyond what we can understand. From an American stand point it makes teaching about domestic violence hard. I mean, really, what do you say? Go to a shelter, call the police, get counseling, stay with a friend. There are no shelters, no church programs, counseling for what they would say and staying with a friend when they all have too many children and all live in one room anyway - right.

So now the box is open and once it is open you can't shut it!

Last week we read a story about an abusive relationship and did some role playing afterwards.
In the roll playing Tara and Marjorie started fighting about getting home late from shopping and getting beat for it. When we asked questions about the situation being good or bad, the whole room said, she should have gone earlier in the morning so he wouldn't be mad at her and hit her.

You could feel all of our hearts sink, holding back tears as we took a deep breath understanding we had a lot of work to do.

One of our mom's and former sewing school students came to us and told us her heart breaking story about her "husband" beating her up leaving bite marks all over her body. Why? Because her daughter had a small amount of swelling on her arm from a routine vaccination. This is all very normal but he wanted her to got the hospital, she was going to try a salt compress first.

When I was a teenager my mom used to work at a hot line for domestic violence. As our mom told her story I could hear my mom's funny way of saying... that's what you get for thinkin' rolling around in my head. It was all to familiar, she had crossed an invisible line with him. A line that is blurry and moves. She would pay the price for doing what she thought was right and thinking on her own.

It seems unfair and overwhelming to me to add this very real problem to the list we are already working on. STD's, HIV, lack of education, poverty and no jobs. We have asked the Lord to make this house a light house in our neighborhood and it looks like that is just what He is doing. We will continue to tell ladies the truth, look for programs already in place here in Haiti and take this one step at a time.

Friday, December 5, 2008

Marley and Me - The Original Version

I have never read the book, "Marley and Me" but I think about Marley here in Haiti when ever I see the book and say, oh, I should get that for Beth. I never did.
So today when I saw that they are doing the movie version, I was thinking - hey, wait a minute, we have the original version of Marley and Me.
When we first went to John and Beth's for dinner, I will be honest, I thought Marley looked like he could eat Parker. After all, Parker was only three. This was the same visit that I was talking to Beth about all my fears about being in Haiti with a three year old that was always putting rocks in his mouth and going outside with out his shoes on.
She said, just de-worm him when you get home.
Duh, why didn't I think of that? Ummm....why would I have thought of that. Who de-worms their kids in the States? Not me!
While we sat and visited I panicked becasue I hadn't seen Parker for awhile. I went to look for him and found Parker outside with Marley playing in the swimming pool that John will never put water in. Marley, the two hundred pound Mastiff was baby sitting Parker and playing ball.
From that time on Parker has always wanted his own Marley. We lived on a golf course in Florida. I could just see this two hundred pound dog chasing golf balls scaring everyone off the course.
Well, now we have our own version of Marley. But, our Marley's name is Harley (Marley is the Papa).
Thanks for the good name Maddie.
Yes, I am guessing he too will weigh close to 200 lbs when he is grown.

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

High Five

Do you think you can high five God. I am! I have been praying about something (I can't say just yet what it is) for a really long time. I got an email today out of the blue and I am given God a high five. I can't say that all the details are worked out, but I can say, Wow! God really was listening to me and everything I was saying. I will try not to look like the Cheshire Cat while I wait for all of the details to be worked out.
Don't you love it when you say...Lord, I need something from out of the clear blue as a confirmation and bang it happens!

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

11/26 = 1 year in Haiti

Today we have been in Haiti for one year!
I don't think that there is an emotion that we haven't felt this year.
The good, the bad, the ugly... if you really must know.
It has been wonderful and really, really hard all at the same time.
Better than I thought in many ways and harder than I thought in others.
Over this past year I have held on to the words of Emmi.
You will need to know that you know...and you know. It isn't something you choose - it chooses you.
I cried that day. I needed to hear those words. I was feeling numb. It wasn't connecting that I really lived here and I wasn't going home in two weeks. Emmi was here with the Salvation Army. She came from Switzerland of all places. She was in Haiti for thirty-five years and she left this morning. As she sat with me the numb feeling melted away and I could feel myself again as we talked. She told me about reading an article in the "War Cry" Salvation Army newspaper about Haiti. She said it was like she heard a voice say to her, "you will go there once". And she did. For thirty-five years she was a nurse-midwife here in Haiti. When she left that day I told Beth it was like I had spent the day with Corrie ten Boom.
So yesterday when she came back into port on her last day it was bitter sweet to see her. I loved that she came to see what we have done in one year but it was like closing a very important chapter in the history of what is good about Haiti.
Beth sent me an email this morning that said I hope when we are old we are like Emmi. Me too!
Today as we prayed before we did our prenatal class I thanked the Lord for Emmi and the example she is to me.
A strong woman who lived her passion in a place she loved and called home.

Monday, November 24, 2008

Illiterate


A very good friend of mine sent me an email with this quote by Alvin Toffer, "the illiterate of the 21 century will not be those who cannot read and write, but those who cannot learn, unlearn and relearn."
We have been talking about this very thing for awhile now. About our ability to be effective in ministry if we are not willing to forget what we think we know in order to learn what God is in fact saying right now. It's hard! We are always so sure we have it right, all of it! When suddenly your not talking the same language so we assume that everyone is wrong, not that we need to change.
I pray I never find myself in the place of being illiterate. Not with God, ministry, friends, my children or myself.

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Thoughts From South Africa

I have been looking through my pictures trying to help Caleb find a picture of himself for a school project. It isn't that his family doesn't have pictures, I am sure they have hundreds of them. When we moved here we didn't pack much of our personal stuff making it hard to do stuff for our kids at school. We don't have all the "just in case" stuff laying around making it hard to do last minute dress up days, spirit week and some normal school stuff like being student of the week. My computer has saved the day many times since I have so many pictures on it.

As I was looking through my pictures I came across this one from my second trip to South Africa. We had spent the day with our friends Ned and Susan visiting District Six and learning about the history of aphartide. I remember being emotionally overwhelmed at the end of the day.

I am not the kind of person that likes to debate politics and I was happy that we didn't have to listen to all the stuff with the debates for president this year. So, for what it's worth I think this sign makes a very powerful statement in Africa, Haiti or the United States.

Friday, November 21, 2008

Fake Birthday


Today is Parker's "fake" birthday (Parker's words). Monday, November 24th is his "real" birthday. Our fake day started with a trip to the vet with Lilly and the puppies. It was time for them to get their six week shots. I am hoping this means they can start going outside to go potty. Everything went fine and they are back just in time for the real boys who are here spending the night to celebrate with Parker. I was told that even on "fake" birthdays you need real cake, food, friends and presents. Parker has been very blessed with some great real buddies to hang out with. They are all outside shooting each other with the Nerf guns.....trying to get the bullets back from Uno is part of the fun for Uno and the boys.

Monday, November 17, 2008

Giving Back

An important part of our program comes into play when the ladies who have graduated give back to the new ladies just starting our program. I loved today. The ladies who have graduated from literacy class came to teach the ladies who are new in our sewing program how to crochet. It has taken some time to get to this place but we finally got here and it feels great to see the ladies working together. This is a core value we are teaching while we build relationships with these ladies. It is about giving back what has been given to you to help build your community.

Saturday, November 15, 2008


Thought....

When you run into someone who is disagreeable to others, you may be sure he is uncomfortable with himself.

The truth is, the amount of pain we inflict upon others is directly propotional to the amount we feel within us.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Caged Bird Sings

I am the kind of person that gets things stuck in my head and they stay there until I resolve the issue in my heart. I have to be at peace with it. I think that is why the double ferris wheel is my favorite ride. One wheel goes about life and the everyday stuff, while I am sorting and processing all of the things going around and around in my head with the other wheel. Once I have an answer, it is like getting a "get out of jail free" card and it can finally leave me alone. It's not like bumper cars, always banging into stuff and never seeing above what is coming at you. It is finding the place where you can see things from a new place, seeing the whole picture clearly.

As I go about my everyday stuff I have been thinking about Maire Loude next door. She hangs out everyday in between her household chores and watches everything we do. Says nothing, she just watches.
No harm in that, right!
However, it is a different matter that has me stuck.
Not the fact that she can't come to literacy class, not the fact that she is so young and works so hard.
At first, I didn't notice because I am so busy in the morning and Haiti is a very loud place. We have people coming and going all day, classes going, dogs barking, machines going in the back ground all the time.

It is always early morning before I make my way down stairs when I hear her singing. Everyone from the house next door has gone and she is finally alone.
The sound of her voice haunts me when I sit and think about it.
Sometimes she sounds like a little girl singing loudly off key and silly.
However,it is the other times that haunt me.
She isn't singing a sad song. She has found a place within herself that seems happy and peaceful just like the ferris wheel. When I think about it I am reminded of two very different things.
One - Mia Angelo's book, "I know why the caged bird sings" and something I heard Elie Wiesel say on Oprah, "free men never have to run". She isn't free or is she?

Why? Why Maire Loude, Mia Angelo and Elie Wiesel. I am on top of the ferris wheel looking for the big picture on this one. In my American mind I had it all worked out. She couldn't be happy and I didn't like her life. In my book, it was an injustice and I was going to fix it. But why is she singing every morning?

I have come to understand that peoples lives are not what we think. People are complicated. Life is complicated.

In Blue Like Jazz Donald Miller asks, what song will you sing when your soul gets set free?

Sunday, November 9, 2008

Quick Updates

Here are a few quick updates...

1. Uno is going to have to go to the vet in the morning. His right leg and shoulder are very swollen today.

2. I think we will name the puppy, Harley Culpepper Lynch.

3. We finally have city power and the generator is fixed - woot!

4. Granny Smith apples are the best.

5. Aaron, thanks for the new ipod - hands off peeps!

6. We will have lived in Haiti for one year on November 26 (also Annie's birthday).

7. Thanks Surfaid International for the "malaria sucks" t-shirts, they are a big hit!

8. I love a nap on Sunday afternoon!

9. Suzie and family are now getting HIV meds.

10. Maire Loude was not able to come to literacy class.

11. Still need an answer for Jean Kelley......

Thursday, November 6, 2008

A Name?


I guess it was about a month ago we talked about dogs and how it was that we will have three very soon. Well, today we did the official switch! Lilly is now here with her two puppies. The boy puppy that Maddie is holding will be our new puppy. Dolly had to move back to the baby house until the puppies can be without Lilly since they don't get along. We will have Uno, Dolly and the new puppy with out a name. The name is Maddie's choice and she hasn't picked one. John and Beth have a theme...Marley, McGuire, Larry, Annie - all singers.
We don't seem to have a theme.
Maybe you guys can help.
Here are the choices..
1. Carter (Minnesota Viking's football)
2. Culpepper (Again, Minnesota Viking's football)
3. Gandalf (Lord of the Rings)
4. Harley (motorcycle)
5. UGA (Georgia football mascot)
6. Randy Moss (Hmmm, maybe we do have a theme - Minnesota football)
Maddie says, once you vote you can't change your mind so I am not picking a name as of yet.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

First Day Back

It has been a very eventful first day back....can I just say life is full of strange things here!

Today started off pretty normal. I was happy to see everyone and was sorting all the stuff I brought back. A team had just dropped in to learn about our program, so I explained what we are doing and answered questions. They wanted to go see the boys and girls homes so they all piled in their tap-tap and John took them over to see the kids. I went back to sorting medical stuff. When all of a sudden I could hear Dan screaming! I didn't know what he was saying so I went to see what was going on. It seems Uno had run out of the gate, again, but this time Dan was watching him get run over by the tap-tap. As he watched the front wheel go over him he started yelling more so the driver stopped. Only to stop with the back wheel partly on top of Uno. Dan pulled him out and got him back to the house. He was in bad shape for a few hours but seems OK now. We didn't know what to do so we gave him Advil and put antibiotic cream on his wounds. It seems chocolate labs have more than one life.

The power went off today at 9:30 am....at about 4:30 Dan went out to run the generator so we would have power for the night by charging the inverters. The generator was only on for a second when we heard a loud bang. It seems the whole cranck shaft broke off, leaving the fan hanging off to the side and spraying anti-freeze everywhere. It is 6:30 now and the inverter reads 24.2. It crashes at 22.0 - so unless the power comes on early tonight we are not going to have power, which means sleeping without fans and listening to the mosquitoes buzz until midnight when we may or may not get power. Tomorrow will be a whole new adventure in seeing if we can get a repair guy to come to the house and fix the generator. We have not even had the generator for a whole year, so we are praying that the company we got it from honor this by coming and fixing it for free.

Yep, I am back in Haiti!

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Let's Make A Deal

Here are a few thoughts on being a "missions type traveler"....

1. You can easily be the woman people hate at the airport with the number and size bags you travel to and from Haiti with at any given time.

2. It is good to travel on election day - no one else does. With the exception of today, I have never made it to my gate with a Starbucks in hand under thirty minutes. That includes check-in, moving around the weight in all four of my bags and security.

3. If your bags are over weight, oh wait, they are always over weight - one package of chocolate brownie mix for your children weighs 1.5 lbs so putting two of them in your personal carry-on will be a quick three pounds off the scale.

4. Four double Whoppers with chesse for those who didn't travel with you will be just fine in your personal carry-on with the brownie mix that you had to take out so you didn't have to pay another $50 to American Airlines.

5. They never weigh your personal carry-on bags so mine always weigh close to fifty pounds. It is a trick getting it into the overhead compartment without drawing attention to yourself. This time, thanks to my mom, I had a dozen Granny Smith apples from Costco and two frozen blocks of pepper jack and swiss cheese. Let's not forget the chocolate....

Remember the show "Let's Make A Deal"? I am sure I could win all the money in Monty Hall's suit pocket if I was on the show. I think the person who thought of that game had missions type people for parents.

Sunday, November 2, 2008

Wonderful and Strange

By the time I get home to Haiti on Tuesday I will have been on seven planes in ten days and had nine speaking appointments. It has been wonderful and strange all at the same time. Being in the States can be overwhelming. When you live in a third world you don't always have the ability to make so many choices. Going someplace may involve waiting until everyone who needs a ride is ready and dropping off several others along the way. You are almost never alone. It is almost never quite. When you go to the store you are very limited in the things available to buy. Many times you never come home with what you had planned to get simply because it wasn't available or the quality was very poor. So, going to Costco almost took my breath away. I wanted to cry when I saw the huge pile of beautiful Granny Smith apples. My mom said, why didn't you buy some? I don't really know? I had it in my mind to get some, but at that point I just wanted to get my things and leave. It was very strange....

I still can't get over going to a restaurant for dinner the other night that had a wheelbarrow just inside the front door. I didn't get it at first, but I finally made the connection when I began to look at the all the photographs on the wall. Each photo was of a person who had eaten too much. The deal was, if you ate too much you would sit in the wheelbarrow, they took your picture, posted it on the wall of fame and escorted you to the front door via the wheelbarrow since you would be too full to walk by yourself. I don't want to be critical of the blessings this country has but it just seemed so wrong to be able to have so much food you could really do something like that and find it funny.
It too was very strange....

On the wonderful part...my grandfather, who is 90 years old took his very first air plane ride from Minnesota to Georgia while I was here. He said, it was fantastic and he loved every minute of it. I thought he might be scared. Nope! He is still talking about it. He has come to stay for the winter since he can't afford his heating bill any longer and the winter is too cold and long now that my grandmother is gone.

My dad's operation was on Friday - he is doing well! Thank you to all of you who have been praying for him. It has been so good to be here with my family and to see so many of my friends. Yes, I am homesick for Haiti, but I am so grateful for the people that God has placed in my life to make what we are doing in Haiti easier.

Thanks Robert, Tammy, Meri, Pam, Laura, Claudia, Lynda, Mom and Dad!!

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Travel

Traveling from Haiti is always an adventure. This trip was no different. It left Haiti at 9:00am Thursday morning. I took three planes to Kansas City getting to my hotel at 1:00am. I was not happy to learn that I couldn't get a Starbucks in Ft. Lauderdale - what is up with that? But, they did have free wireless Internet. At my stop in Dallas they took a guy off on a stretcher, not sure why? I got a lot of reading done and am loving the new book I am reading about a lady who lived through the genocide in Rwanda - "Left To Tell".

When I finally got to my room I was freezing and am still freezing! Thanks for the sweat shirt Tammy! How quickly I forgot it was really cold here in October. It is not cold in Haiti in October. Living in Haiti and making the transition back to the States is a bit odd at times. It is quite here, you can drive really fast, you can drink the water and take a hot shower.

When I woke up in the middle of the night in the hotel and found the room to be so black my first thought was - great we didn't get power and the freezer isn't working. As I drifted off back to sleep I remembered I wasn't in Haiti but I was in Kansas (City that is). It was still a strange feeling knowing I didn't need to worry about the power and that was the first thing I was thinking about.

So far the trip is going well....we had a purse party! More details on that idea later. I will also be posting Corrigan's great video for God's Plumbline. Thanks for busting Dan - Corrigan!! Woot!

The Rice Family has been great. Joseph loved his Ragaman!

Peace Out Peeps!

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Suzie

I don't even know where to begin. I have written about HIV in the past. I have told you that I have a passion for working with the women and children who have HIV and if I wasn't doing the sewing program I would consider doing it full time.
They need a voice. They need someone to help them fight for their lives. They need someone to push through everything that makes a "free" program too much trouble even knowing they could die if they don't fight for what is free. They need respect and dignity, two things that are pretty hard to get with HIV.

I have been working with Suzie for months. She tested positive when we did her labs. She didn't really agree to go to get meds, but I told her she was going to start dreaming about me bugging her if she didn't go. She needed to go for her unborn baby and her other children. I got all the paperwork done so she could transfer to Doctor's Without Borders and have her baby for free, in a safe place. No such luck, she had her in the back of a tap-tap. No, I am not kidding.
I bugged her and bugged her to bring her family and get tested. It didn't seem important. It was complicated. I was not getting through to her.
So today when the whole family walked through my gate I determined none of them was leaving until I got the lab work done even if I had to sit on them. Trust me I would have! The team was here with a lab in a suit case! It was perfect.
I understood it would also be the painful truth if what I was thinking was true.

My worst fear came true today. I had a house full of people, wonderful people here to help with clinic and about a hundred who needed to be seen. I had to find John and we had to figure this out. What should we do? I was getting pulled in so many directions that I was not finishing my conversation. John was showing people the baby house and would be back in ten minutes. With lab results in hand we finally talked about what to do with a whole family that tested HIV positive.

I wasn't feeling good. My head was spinning. I told Beth, I hate today. The husband wanted to leave, I told him to wait. We came up with a plan. Suzie would get a shot for family planning, Tara would drive the whole family to another lab for confirmation of our tests. They would meet as a family on Friday with John to talk about the results.

I am still numb. I have so many unanswered questions. How can a whole family have HIV - four out of five have HIV. Depending on what happens with the other lab results it could be five out of five. It could be that the three year old has reverted back to negative and the one month old baby could as well. I have to get on a plane in the morning and leave Haiti with so many unanswered questions. How can I leave? The sad truth is, I can leave and they can't. When I come back they will still have HIV.

Friday, October 17, 2008

Gladys

October 21st will mark the one year anniversary of the death of my grandmother. I still cry at church when we sing songs that she loved. I am not sure I know that she is gone yet. In some respects she will never be gone. I keep her close to my heart always wearing her wedding ring. While she was here on earth she never ever took it off her finger. As a child I did everything I could to get her to take it off but she said my grandpa put it on her finger and it was meant to stay there. I did talk her into moving it up as far as her finger nail once. Now it is mine.
After she died I was talking to my grandfather about her life. They had been married for sixty-eight years. As we sat and ate breakfast together I asked him about drinking his coffee without her in the morning and what he would do without her. As he sat with me, he said he never remembered her ever saying anything that she had to apologize for. Not to him or anyone they knew. He said he had said things he had to apologize for and wished he was more like her. I told him I had the same gift he had, talking first, apologizing later. We laughed.
I find the example of her life a great strength to me. I loved her deeply and miss her very much. She showed me Jesus in a way that shaped my life for eternity.
She was known as the cookie lady of Danbury. With every plate of cookies she and my grandfather delivered she talked about Jesus and how much he loved everyone. She kept the tract people in business always giving out the message of Jesus every where she went. I can still here her say, Jesus Loves you...and so do I!
I pray my life will honor her.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

magical and bizarre


When we have guests coming for the very first time I am never really sure what to say when they ask us what to expect.

It is hard when the media says so many bad things, friends and family say other things and if you read the state departments website you may never come.
John always says you should know what God says.

"That was magical and bizarre all at the same time".....
is what Claudia said to describe our walk on Thursday. I took her down to the ravine. The people are sweet and wonderful, but very poor even by Haiti's standards. It is a really good place to experience what life is really like here for the average family. I explained that so many of our ladies live just like these families.

Tuesday was a hard day. You can't really prepare for a three pound baby to show up at your door with a mom who says she is thirty-nine and looks fifty-nine. The week before the mother had come with complications and we sent her to the hospital. As she was leaving she asked if she could be in our program after she had the baby.
Sure, we said.
Honestly, I was shocked to see her. I didn't think she would have delivered a baby that would live with the kind problems she was having. While doing the well baby check-up we asked the babies name. She said she didn't have one. Well, she did but the dad named her and she forgot.
Yet, another thing that is hard for a visitor to prepare for.
In the States mom's are planning the name of their babies for months in advance, making sure the initials look good and don't spell out bad words. Not here.

We heard the same thing today from another mom who came for a well baby check-up. This time with a six pound baby.
I was glad Claudia was taking a break. The good part in all of this was we really saw what a difference eggs, milk and vitamins make in the life of a woman every week. Healthy babies and mom's are what we are here for.

I guess if Claudia is like most people that visit for the first time, she is still trying to figure out why they don't fix the roads and pick up all the trash. She will need a few weeks to process what she has done, seen and heard this past week. I often say that either you love it or the minute you are up in the air with a diet coke and a glass of ice denial sets in and you want to believe this didn't just happen. There is no middle.

Now that you are wondering if you would love it or hate it. We love having people come and visit. If you would like to come and see what we are doing in Haiti we would encourage you to come.

But, like John says, ask the Lord what He thinks before you say yes or no.

Saturday, October 11, 2008

Maddie, Dolly and Uno


When we moved to Haiti we promised the kids they could have a dog.
Truthfully, we had been waiting three years for Marley to hook up with his girl friend and have puppies but it wasn't happening. So our second choice was a chocolate lab. We named him Uno. Why? He was the first born, the only boy and we love Uno's pizza. Not after the card game. We got past the potty training days with out killing him when Lilly came over to stay because we thought she was finally having puppies, but she is good at wanting Beth to give her liver and eggs and tricked us. She did us a big favor and taught Uno that you go outside to go to the bathroom, for this we are greatful. But, back she went to the baby house.
Uno, however, became Trouble, yes, like the game. It was a game. A game that lasted all day everyday. He would get cell phones, shoes, toys, stuffed animals and we would chase him out the gate, down the street, around the yard and upstairs. We ended up being the losers, buying shoes and cell phones for what seemed to be every person that came to the house. I even made a new rule for the sewing ladies...DON'T LEAVE YOUR CELL PHONE OR SHOES ON THE FLOOR UNATTENDED OR THE DOG WILL EAT THEM. I have it on paper and posted it the first day of school.
What to do? Answer: Get another dog!
We had planned on getting another Lab puppy but since Beth and John now had too many dogs we took Dolly to our house.
She did the trick. Uno is now this very laid back, hang loose kind of guy. The kind you love to have around. Problem solved.
Oh, but wait!
Marley and Lilly finally hooked up and we are going to have a Marley puppy the end of October!
We will have three dogs. These dogs are tricky! You get one for the kids to make them happy and then you end up with three before you know what is happening.
Dogs....

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Marie Lourde


I was a little freaked to be out smarted on the first day of sewing school.
In Haiti, it is normal for only about half of the people you think are coming to really show up, unless it involves food, than they bring the whole family and more! It is pretty comman that if they do show up, you can bet that eveyone will be very late! The bride is always atleast an hour late to her own wedding. Why wouldn't the same rule apply to sewing school? Just because we agreed that we would have twenty in our sewing class didn't mean they would all come, I figured by rights I could have extra's signed up and still be fine - right!

Wasn't I at a loss for words when twenty-three ladies showed up bright and early! What to do now? Twenty-three ladies all packed in the benches! Today one lady did call and say she wouldn't be coming because her baby is very sick and she will miss too many classes. So, for the past three days I have been in and out of class watching the ladies, getting all my paper work done, putting sewing boxes together and training my new assistant.
For three days I have also noticed I have another student. She has been watching every detail of what has been happening around here. No one has said a word to her. She doesn't have a pencil or a notebook and I don't have her name on roll call. Billy did tell her to get lost and get way from the window. She didn't really listen to him, she knows he is just the yard man. Besides, I had already taken her picture.

I finally went to talk to her.
Her name is Maire Lourde.
She is ten.

Most likely you have heard all the bad press coming from Haiti about restavec's. Restavec is a french word that means" to stay with". If your not thinkin' of the French, most people say, slave children or house servants. The press says, Haiti has over 250,000 slave children. I am sure it is more. The wealthy, middle class and poor have these children working in their houses. They cook and clean for a place to live and food.

Before you freak out about the fact that she is a restavec, let me say something. There are atleast a hundred things I don't like or agree with here every single day. Lots of people are up in arms about these children for very good reasons, I agree, I don't like it either.
It isn't OK with me.
Haiti is the kind of place that before you go ahead and think that you are going to "fix" it, you better have a plan worked out from A to Z! FYI - it is never just A,B,C.. it is more like A,a,b,c,d,e,f,g and maybe if your lucky you will start with B, a,b,c,d,e,f,g and so on.
It is layer after layer of complications.
There are reasons why Haiti is the way it is.
Bottom line these children live and work for people with the hope that they will be fed. Most hope to go to school, but that may or may not happen. Most of them come to work in Port so they won't die. Many of these children have families who argree to this as a better life. They believe it brings hope and a chance to have a something more in life.
Maybe?
I can't say - I really don't know if that is true.
What do you do in a place like Haiti? Mothers have child after child with no means to feed them. Tradition and culture says that this is ok. Voodoo is this countries national religion and it says it is ok. The government can't help.
Someone said to me... they have so many children because they don't love themselves. That made me cry.
The problem is so much bigger than taking these kids and putting them back with their family or in a group home.
For now, she can come to shchool here everyday as the window watcher as far as I am concerend. I won't call her name at eight o'clock everyday, she won't have a note book and pencil, but maybe I can talk the people she lives with into letting her come to literacy class for free.
Maybe....

Monday, October 6, 2008

My Cup Is Full

Beth has the best way of explaining what life in Haiti is like to others who don't live here. We are all major coffee drinkers around here so she uses a coffee cup as the example of our lives in Haiti are so full that when we add a few more things our cup over flows, spilling over. My problem is my cup can be right up to the surface for awhile and I know it is getting ready to spill over. I can feel myself needing a break. I tell myself I am good for awhile longer and all of a sudden I am in tears.

Today was one of those days:

2:00 - no power and I am not sleep thinking I will need to start the generator soon
4:00 - power, thank God
5:30 - wake up to let the guard out
6:00 - coffee made, laundry sorted and started, snacks and water bottles ready for kids
6:15 - kids up, start computer to check email, few more gulps of coffee
6:30 - still in p.j.'s while John is introducing me to the young woman he thinks would be a good assistant for me
7:00 - tara is here to do the car pool run, maddie is yelling that Uno got out of the gate
7:01 - walk down to the end of the road in my p.j.'s to get Uno back from parker boy while tara and gang wait for me
7:30 - students are beginning to arrive for the first day of sewing school
7:34 - power is finished for the day - so much for a second load of laundry
7:35 - john is back with my new assistant and we sit down and talk for a few minutes
8:00 - john takes her to the office to talk to carine
8:01 - school starts - all 23 ladies show up for school - plus a few extra that should be in literacy
9:00 - send billy to get all of the scissors sharpened for school
10:00 - finish getting supplies and get Suzanne started
11:00 - school is finished and everyone has questions
11:05 - can I please do a pregnancy test for a student that has not been well
11:07 - test is positive
11:08 - sign her up for the prenatal class as well
11:10 - talk to dan who is in the states selling and packing stuff in our house to bring in extra cash
11:30 - have another meeting with john
11:45 - take billy with me to get rid of the trash that is now attracting rats and snakes
12:00 - sewing ladies come to start sewing for the day
12:10 - stop at the doctors office to get the lab work back for the prenatal class on thursday
12:15 - get money from carine to pay for the lab work, john will have to get cash
12:20 - get the ladies thread and fabric to start sewing
12:40 - call beth to come and help me deciede if vanette's son needs stiches in his finger
12:50 - help get stuff for beth to clean the wound so she can take pictures and send them to dr. jen
1:00 - literacy class ladies are here but the teacher isn't here, she is running late
1:05- carine and my assistant teach class
1:15 - more fabric and thread needed
1:20 - maybe I need to eat since I am not feeling the best
1:21 - beth leaves to go make cake for nadia's birthday
1:59 - start the generator so the inverters don't fall
2:00 - generator dies for no reason
2:01 - call john to ask about the generator
2:02 - call tara and ask her about doing car pool since it is my turn this afternoon
2:05 - my phone is ringing but I can't find it because I forgot it in the cabinet with the bandages
2:06 - sewing ladies call me so I can find my phone
2:15 - beth is back with jenny, kesline and ali with cakes for nadia's birthday
2:20 - sing happy birthday to nadia and pass out cake to the ladies in literacy
3:00 - literacy class is over
3:02 - restart the generator
3:15 - generator dies again - wait for john
3:01 - talk to beth about tuesday's class on std's
3:05 - work on the tuesday and thursday files for class tomorrow
3:30 - say good bye to beth
3:35 - talk about what we will do with lilly when she has puppies since beth and I will be gone
3:36 - take apart zippers for sewing school project
3:40 - billy tells me some one with a baby is waiting outside to see me
3:41 - maire pierre is here with her HIV meds for me to record
3:42 - I ask her if they have checked the baby for HIV
3:42 - yes, he is positive
3:42 - cup is now spilling over!
3:43 - I am crying and recording her meds while getting money for tap tap
3:45 - I sit, I finally enjoy my day with a HIV mama and baby, I think about her face, she smiles at me
3:55 - I say good bye after talking to her about the baby
4:00 - thank you tara - my kids are home

Home work, dinner and generator all done and fixed!

Maddie's Question: Mom, you know God said, thou shall not kill - right? Yes. Well, do you think war counts?
Oh, Dear!

Saturday, October 4, 2008

Car Pool Tap-Tap

Again, funny peculiar or funny Ha-Ha!

Yesterday as I drove to QCS to do the afternoon car pool run I sat in traffic trying to figure out what on earth was in the tap-tap in front of me. I looked and looked and still had no idea. I inched my way closer and closer still not able to make out the picture. I finally had to take off my sunglasses, pull myself forward while grabbing the steering wheel sitting very still to figure it out. I could make out the horns with no problem. Next I noticed a giant behind and a tail... it was a bull. Yes, a several hundred pound bull smashed into a tap-tap. Better yet, he wasn't in there all by himself. On the bench seats next to him sat several goats. I don't have any idea how they got him and his pals in the tap-tap or how it was that there wasn't mass confusion going on inside. They all seemed just fine. I am still wondering how they got him out.

I think we can all agree that this is not something you will see in the car pool line on your local school run. But it is a Haiti thing.

Last, but not least....Happy Birthday Jes with one s - we love you and miss you! See you soon!
BTW - you now have a cake and a purse named after you since we can't say the name of the cake with out laughing everytime. It is now the Jess cake! That would be Jess with two "s" in this case!

Friday, October 3, 2008

Flood


Rain, rain on my face
It hasn't stopped raining for days
My world is a flood
Slowly I become one with the mud

But if I can't swim after forty days
and my mind is crushed by the thrashing waves
Lift me up so high that I cannot fall, Lift me up

Lift me up
when I'm falling
Lift me up
I'm weak and I'm dying
Lift me up
I need you to hold me
Lift me up
Keep me from drowning again

Downpour on my soul
Splashing in the ocean, I'm losing control
Dark sky all around
I can't feel my feet touching the ground

But if I can't swim after forty days
and my mind is crushed by the thrashing waves
Lift me up so high that I cannot fall, Lift me up

Lift me up
When I'm falling
Lift me up
I'm weak and I'm dying
Lift me up
I need you to hold me
Lift me up
Keep me from drowning again

Calm the storms that drench my eyes
Dry the streams still flowing
Cast down all the waves of sin
And guilt that overthrow me

But if I can't swim after forty days
And my mind is crushed by the thrashing waves
Lift me up so high that I cannot fall, Lift me up

Lift me up
When I'm falling
Lift me up
I'm weak and I'm dying
Lift me up
I need you to hold me
Lift me up
Keep me from drowning again

This is how I have felt the last couple of weeks. I am sure many of you have heard this song and said "oh yeah its great" but have you really felt what it is like to feel like you are drowning and you are calling out to God and it seems like he doesn't hear a word you say. I really have lately.

As you may know I am planning a trip to Haiti or should I say that God is planning a trip to Haiti this summer and I am just the person he chose to use to get it done. I am not sure why he has chosen me to do this but there must be a reason because I am not this crazy on my own...ahem...not to say that God is crazy but this is not something that I would do on my own. And I am not I have my friend Calah who has been there helping me plan and get all the things done that need to be done. We have made a lot of progress. It is just that there is a daunting task ahead of us and we feel as though we are "splashing in the ocean, losing control". We are having a hard time seeing the finished product which is sixty smiling faces at English Camp. We need a lot of supplies like back packs and regular school supplies and also camp supplies like dry erase markers and t-shirts and prizes that we can hand out for camper of the week. We are believing that Go will provide all of this for us and we know He will but we can't do all of this without asking like it says in Luke 11:10 "For everyone who asks recieves, and he who seeks finds, and to him who knocks it will be opened".

So if you wish to send donations or money please send it to the following address:

Alyssa Hallaway
2317 Westland Mill
Acworth, GA 30102

If you can not help in giving, please give in your prayers, support and blessing.

Alyssa

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Funny...

For the most part, I think things in Haiti are funny peculiar vs funny Ha-Ha! But, every once and awhile, they are funny Ha- Ha! Maybe they wouldn't be funny if I didn't live here. Many days I feel like crying so maybe I laugh instead of crying.
I will give you a few examples and you can deciede what you think, funny peculiar or funny Ha-Ha!

1. I ordered eggs on Monday. No, we don't buy them at the store we order them, the "sista's" lay them and Big Eyes brings them to us. We have had an egg war going on for months and Big Eyes is always in the middle since he takes care of the chickens. You have to get in line for eggs and you may not get them for a week. We need eggs for all of our programs, if you live here you come last. Our workers buy them and sell them, our sewing ladies buy them and sell them, we need them for the kids, Tuesday Early Childhood Development and Thursday Prenatal classes. At times John has even had to buy them back from the workers for more than he sold them for because the kids needed them.
On Tuesday, Big Eyes come to my house with my egg order. I only waited one day, I was so shocked. I said to him, Wow, you are really good at getting the "sista's" to lay eggs! He said, yeah, I had to slap them for your eggs! We will skip the picture that went through my mind. It hit me funny. Why, I don't know. I started lauhging and couldn't stop.

2. We had pancakes for dinner with our eggs. But, the syrup had mold on it. Since when? Since when do you get mold on syrup? I have had syrup for months in the States and never had mold in it.

3. Today as I was returning from the morning car pool run when I came to the intersection just in front of the police station. Every thing was at a stand still. No one was moving, the police stood in the middle of the intersection with everyone looking at them, and people stood on the street next to their cars. I was thinking oh, great! Some one got shot! No, they all stopped because the national anthem was being played at the police station. Are you kidding me? Never have I seen that before.

4. Beth was telling me the story about Jeffy playing with the kitchen toys on Monday at the boys house. When he came to the strainer and said, this is for bugs! Well, yes, it is, sorta! But, only a kid in Haiti (or another third world country) would say that.

5. Every day for the last two weeks Dan has caught a rat in the depot. He is in the States doing house stuff and if you think for one minute I am going to open the door to the depot and check to see what is there you are so wrong.

There you have it......

Saturday, September 27, 2008

New Sewing Machines

Vadette
Vanette
I am so glad Dan has a camera on his cell phone. I had forgotten to give him my camera to take pictures of the ladies when he took them shopping for their new machines!
I would have hated to miss this one. It would be like not having pictures of your kids first birthday!
I am happy to say I haven't forgotten the camera for that one, but I have on countless other things.

After only a few months, three of our ladies got to go shopping to buy things with the money they saved in their business accounts. (Not pictured - Igemene and her new stove!) They are so happy. It was a great reward for them (and us) to see that their hard work and commitment payed off. Others told them it was a waste of their time, I beg to differ!
I am sure they have never had this kind of money in their hand and walked into a store and said, yes, I will take this one!
They walked through the store looking at all the things they wanted to save for now with the money they are making.
Ofcourse they all wanted a television! We will have to see about that....kids school first!

How are program works: Each lady has to take a test in order to come to school. If she can't read and write well enough to pass the test she must go to literacy classes. Sewing school is for six months. While in school she will have been doing some work in the program to begin making some money. At graduation she will be offered the chance to sew for us for six months. During this time we give them 50% of the sale price of the bag and the other 50% goes back into the program for supplies, rent and other program needs. When she gets paid, half of her money goes into her hand and the other half goes into her business account to buy her sewing machine. Next she can pay for her childs school and after that she can buy things for her home.

We will start our next class for sewing on October 6 with another twenty ladies.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

I am Reading...


I am reading Blue Like Jazz.
Last night I got to the part where Donald Miller is having a conversation with Moses and Moses asked him if he was on crack? I haven't laughed that hard for a long time while reading a book.
It still makes me laugh.
I guess I find it so funny because I have been having a few different conversations with some of my friends about being a Christian and how we are feeling these days. It seems to me, that most of us are having growing pains and are really seeking change.
Real change that makes life different.
For years I have said, if you don't love this guy Jesus, why on earth would you sit in the same place every single Sunday going to the same church your whole life. Why not go out and find something that brings passion to your life.
Maybe I know the answer to my own question. Maybe?
Answer: MOVING.....moving from my place in the church and life that makes me comfortable will cost me.
Moving to Haiti is something I have wanted to do for a long time. If it wasn't Haiti, I knew it would be Africa. I love Africa as well.
As a child I was thinking India.
Who knew?
I am pretty sure if I didn't live in a place like Haiti my mom would have lost a bet some where. She has always known I would do something like this. Maybe she didn't want me to, but she knew.
Church is pretty much the same deal.
I always think I would like to go the same church my whole life and sit in the same place every Sunday my whole life like my grandparents.
Well, I think it and laugh. I could never do it. I just don't have it in me.
I need Jesus to be more than that.
Back to moving....
Moving to Haiti has cost us a lot and nothing all at the same time.
Living in passion and destiny sounds so "in-style" when you talk about it at church.
You know the conversation.... follow your heart, be true to yourself.
Depending on the day you say that to me, I may punch you or start crying. It is a mixed bag of emontions for me, so I may say nothing.
But the one thing I want to share after all this is....
I have found a place in Jesus that I have not known. A place that if I whisper His name He is so close I can feel Him with me.
Cost me?
Maybe? I am not sure I have an answer, but I needed to move in order to find him in this way. No, I am not on crack.
He is real, just never real in the way we think He is or should be real.
I don't know what "moving" looks like for you, but I hope you will choose real change, change that makes a difference.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Tuesday Is Baby Day!


I love Tuesday...it is baby day here.
As you can see Usher (Etrinne's baby) is doing well. Tara and I have noticed he has the George Jefferson hair thing goin' on. (Thanks for the picture Tara...)
We had a full class on Tuesday with lots and lots of kids needing meds. With all of the rain we have had in Haiti we are seeing lots of respiratory problems and funky skin stuff going on. A little rain here changes the face of everything but when you add days upon days of rain you have trouble for many families especially the children. Children who are not starting with a good base line to fight with are always at risk no matter what and in a country like Haiti it is not easy to stay ahead of the game.

This is exactally why we are starting with mothers who are pregnant. By giving a milk, eggs and vitamins to a mother you are giving each baby a better start so they are prepared to start life with a better base line. Life is hard here for children. Being poor is hard enough but being poor and sick is harder.

When I first started coming to Haiti I always thought I would work with children. I still believe what we are doing with our woman's program and sewing school is for the children. It is just coming at it in the back door so to speak.

God's plumbline in the book of Amos talks about the foundation being accurate. Without a good foundation things don't stand well. The same principle applies to life and the life of a child. Simply, we are working on putting good foundations in place and building better lives.

Saturday, September 20, 2008

In Progress


For the past two days we have been working with Corrigan Clay on a video for God's Plumbline. We have been in need of a tool to help us show people what we do in Haiti.
It just so happened that Corrigan and his wife Shelley (and three children) go to our church. He is also the art teacher at QCS. Shelley has a heart for a sewing school as well so we had them over for dinner so we could show them what we are doing. While eating dinner we started talking about going to art school and as they say one thing led to another and now Corrigan is here helping us with this very needed project.
Thank you - Corrigan!
It is hard to share what you are doing with others while you here and have so much on your plate. You can't just pick up and go and be gone for weeks at a time. We believe that just from the visitors we have had in the past few months many will want to partner with us to help the women of Haiti be successful. One part of them being successful is that we, as a family and ministry, have a support base to help us stay here. We need others to pray, others to come and help, others to send fabric.
Talking about what we need is really hard and feels uncomfortable. It feels strange telling people that apples cost almost $2.00 each and one pound of turkey lunch meat is $23.00 per pound. Most people believe that living in a third world country is "cheap". On one hand I wrestle with sounding like I am begging and on the other hand I struggle with being really honest because it may sound like I don't have much faith. When the truth may be that others have a heart to help and just don't really know what it like to live in a third world country. I sure didn't and I came to Haiti for eight years before we lived here. Others may have the same ideas and passions that we do and don't know what to do. Seeing and hearing what we do may open a door for someone to be willing to walk in their destiny. For that reason alone I know we need to talk about what is like for us and our lives. It is important for us to share our heart and our passion to help make a difference for the next generation.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Samson - Thoughts from 2007


I had spent many years visiting children in orphanages in Haiti. By now I was not a stranger to being caught off guard by what I may find on my visits.
On this day, I was standing before a child whose body had never had the ability to move at his command. He labored hoping that his sounds would eventually make a word that I would understand. But, not to worry if I didn’t, he would continue drawing me in and pulling me closer. I was always aware of feeling the physical struggle with in my own body as he labored to share with me what he was thinking. Over the years I had gotten better at understanding him, I was no longer uncomfortable spending time with this broken child. I would look for him on each visit finding him in his chair bouncing with a joy he could not control, a freedom I don't understand. He owned joy unspeakable and it knew him well consuming his whole face. Now, he would have to try to control the joy that consumed him while trying to say something.
Suddenly his arms could jerk and his head would fall back, he was struggling to pull his words from a door that seemed to be locked. Finally he managed to unlock the door and find words that would alter my life. Words that brought me instantly to a place I had never known to exist. I was instantly standing alone while surrounded by ninety children.
With hot tears on my cheeks, I pulled myself back from this place trying to process his words…I love you, Sheila.
Stunned, I remember gasping for air, speechless.
I hadn’t seen him for months, how on earth did he remember my name.
How could he?
His body was so broken?
I couldn’t speak.
I had collided with a time and place that I didn’t know existed with a child that for all purposes had no value.
Not in America, not in Haiti.
But he mattered to Jesus, just as all the other children matter to him. There was no difference between us. At that place and time I knew instantly that the love of Jesus had no boundaries.

As I lay in bed that evening I cried myself to sleep. How did this child know my name? It was so pure. I was ruined. I returned home not telling many people of the place this broken child had taken me. How hard it is to explain these things. How could I put into words the deep work the Lord had done in me in that moment.

This morning was no different than any other. I was back home, settled in, several months after my trip. I had gotten the kids off to school and had sat down with a cup of coffee to do my morning devotions, studying the book of Judges. I had come across the time and place of Samson’s birth. His parents had a collision of sorts. An angel of the Lord had come and told his mother about a child they would have. His father not believing asked for the Lord to come back and give a confirmation to them. He would be a Nasserite, set apart and different from the other children. His name means sunlight, to be brilliant.

Ofcourse his name was Samson. I am not talking about the man who was to bring freedom to the children of Israel by using his physical strength as a weapon. I am talking about the boy I left in Haiti who had all but been forgotten by the world. What else could his name have been?

All of a sudden, just as before, it all came crashing together hitting me again, catching me off guard. This child, Samson, the Lord used him to speak to me that he loved me in such a pure way. This child was a source of brilliant sunlight.
My emotions overwhelmed me and I began to cry again. This time it was a confirmation of the greatness and mystery of the Lord Jesus. The creator of the universe could take three words like, I love you, from a broken child and change me so deeply. It was just like Jesus to mend years of never understanding His love with the life of a boy that no one would choose, not in the broken body of a child.

It is an amazing truth that the Lord will use the unlovable and the things man rejects to bring His kingdom to earth. But, it is often not what you are looking for that often stops you in your tracks and leads you to a place that you had not known to exist, but it is in these places you will find Jesus waiting for you.

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Gonaives






The needs are beyond what you can imagine in Gonaives.
I believe that if everyone will do just a little part to help it will all get done and people will soon get the help they need. Don't get me wrong, some things will take months, some years and some things will never be the same. Some of these kids today are kids that lost their families in the storm in 2004 and now they have lost everything again.
I keep thinking about the saying...How do you eat an elephant? One bite at a time.
Today we took our first bite!
We drove out and got this group of kids that had been stuck on top of their orphanage in Gonaives.
They had not eaten or had anything to drink in days. We stopped and got bread, bananas, water and peanutbutter.
Trust me - we did the easy part.
We would meet up with Mike, Beaver, Renald, Rose and her family who had done the hard part. Walking for hours with all the kids. We met them at the badly damaged bridge and would carry them across. Our job was feeding everyone and giving them a ride back into town to stay at Sherry's.
BTW - she isn't running an orphanage, she is running a school. She never planned to have an orphanage, but she just happened to have an empty building ready for these guys to stay in. Hmmm!
Now the really hard work begins.
They will need food, clothes and help getting the waist deep mud out of their orphanage.
I have to keep telling myself - one bite at a time! We are collecting supplies to bring over to them in the afternoon.
I was thinking we should do something just crazy, fun and ramdom - like getting them icecream!
That is always best eaten one bite at a time - well, really big bites if it is Ben and Jerry's, but we don't have that here.

Friday, September 12, 2008

Remembering 9/11 and SaraH



Yesterday was 9/11. Even with our lives full of so many needs here in Haiti we didn't forget about the twin towers, we talked about it at dinner with our children. We also talked about the fact that on 9/11 last year I got the phone call saying that SaraH died here in Haiti.

I have posted a picture of SaraH the first day we saw her. It was my first trip to Haiti and I promise you I thought I had fallen in to a really bad dream. But my buddies, Barb, Kim, MaryAnn and Lisa, who got me into this mess, seemed to be right next to me reminding me it was all very real.

I can still see a picture in my minds eye of her standing on the road with her grandmother. I have to skip that part because I cry everytime.

SaraH's story is long and complicated for so many reasons. Part of me thinks maybe a blog isn't the best place to explain, but than again, it might be the perfect place. I am thinking a book.....

For now I will just say that I, and maybe others, still find some of her life very painful to talk about. I have struggles about her life... what could have, what should have and would have's mess with me.

But, this morning my sweet Jesus said to me...it is not how you found her, it is how you left her.
I could have added...."But, what about..." to His words, but that isn't what He was saying to me.
It was simple.
After a year of doubt and questions I got such a simple release - Sheila, you left her heart in a good place.

This blog wouldn't be right if I didn't add one final note about my buddy who loved SaraH most. She would not like it if I talked about her in public so I will just say - ditto! You left her heart in a good place!

Just one last note....Dan just drove in the gate with the ipod pounding out a song. It just happened to be playing Hall and Oats...you guessed it...Sarah smile! I am so not kidding!

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Storm



As I went to get Jean Kelley the other day someone told me about a woman who went up to the roof to get away from the flood that was coming. As she waited for the water to pass she went into labor having her baby on the roof in the rain.

Yesterday, Junior showed me this picture.....

I am pretty sure I don't have the right words to finish those thoughts...

Sunday, September 7, 2008

Mom...


Yesterday, out of the clear blue, Parker said to me....Mom, who made God?
Mom: Uumm...well, God has always been here. He IS the creator....
Parker: Mom! But, WHO made him?

He didn't like my answer so he went to Dan.

Parker: Dad, who made God?
Dan: I think I was eight when I asked the same question......Son, God has always been here.
Parker: That is what mom said!
Dan: Believing in God is about FAITH!

That was that and he walked away...I don't think we are done with this one!

UPDATE:
1. You can send funds for Jean Kelley to the p.o. box listed on our blog. Please make a note in the memo so we know what the funds are for.

2. Thank you to all who have been praying for Haiti - we are fine but we had a really bad storm last night! Adding more rain made it even harder for many. We have two ladies in our program who are now homeless. They told us they are sleeping on a porch and left with only their babies and no other personal items. Please let us know if you would like to help them as well.

Thursday, September 4, 2008

Urgent Request For Jean Kelley


The past two days have been a bit of a blur. I got a phone call saying that Jean Kelley was in pain and he needed me to come and help him. For those of you who don't know who Jean Kelley is... I posted a blog on August 14th that you may want to read before you go any further. For those of you who know Jean Kelley, you know that he never asks for anything or complains about his leg. He is very much like my own kid, calls me mom and the whole bit so getting his phone call told me that this was something that needed my attention right away. This is where it gets blurry. I have been down this road with him and I kicked in to high gear. We went and got him from the orphanage he lives at, had a nurse look at him, got him meds for pain, fed him, sent emails, made phone calls to help determine our plans for today. With some direction from Dr. Jen I made phone calls to find the best price for an x-ray, labs and to find the doctors office that Tara and Troy had used. It makes me laugh that you can call a place to check on an x-ray and they can tell you that the generator doesn't work and they don't have current so try back in the next day or two. John said, he has had to buy gas for a generator in order to get an x-ray done. Only in Haiti!

So here is what I know now:

1. I need your help!
2. The doctor asked to do the operation today!
3. It will be expensive! It could be $3000 - plus!
4. It needs to happen asap!
5. I will do everything I can to save his leg - even when they say the "a" word!
6. The doctor said that there is so much infection his leg could burst again!
7. He will need IV meds for six week after the operation.

Please let us know if you can help!

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Thorn

Today was kind of gross....well, not kind of, it was really gross.
Roseline didn't come to sew on Monday and wasn't here again this morning. I was disappointed that she didn't come because I see so much ability in her.
At about 11:00, I heard the gate close and looked up to see her walking in with her son who had his arm in a sling.
Oh, dear! What was wrong now?
She began to explain that the thick yellow paste all over his hand was butter. No, he hadn't been burned. He had been poked by a thorn. OK....why, butter? I never did really get an answer to my question. His hand was so swollen I couldn't imagine what had happened. I was thinking a bite of some kind. No, it was a thorn. I had her take him in the bathroom and wash his hand so I could see what was going on with his hand. When I got it under the light I could see a small scab like thing on the side. I touched it a bit and found that the thorn was still in his hand and had been for the past three days. As I touched it he wiggled and made faces - it had to come out.
About this time Dan was in the kitchen making eggs and Spam. Yes, Spam! His new favorite breakfast meat. I am sorry, but I can't even really talk about it because I still can't believe that he really likes it. Remember, I am in the clinic room about to pull out a thorn that has been festering for three days and this kids hand is three times bigger than it should be. That can only mean one thing...it was going to explode. Suddenly, with out any warning Dan says, do you want eggs and Spam? Pop! The thorn was out and I was really thankful for a strong gag reflex! The stuff that was pouring out of his hand didn't go well with the picture of eggs and Spam, trust me! Nor was it good that it drained junk for a long time mixing with the smell of Spam cooking!
I told you it was gross!
BTW - she did stay and sew after the operation!
Spam anyone!
Sorry!

Monday, September 1, 2008

Even Little Girls...



I kept hearing myself say, "they are so cute!"
I wasn't making the connection that all the little girls with scarves tied on their heads loaded down with water, food or house hold supplies aren't really little girls in a third world country.
Pretty soon "cute" left me uncomfortable as I noticed that they look and act just like a grown up doing jobs just as a grown up would do, never saying a word about how hard it is or how unfair it is. I don't recall seeing any of them with a baby doll. A real baby, yes, but not a doll. I see dirty little feet that don't struggle to keep flip-flops made for some one much larger on their busy feet. They are often empty looking, watching every move made around them, never saying a word. Maybe be it is me that has caused the silence. Maybe it is me that has taken away any expression, reaction or emotion. I have, on occasion, seen children run as fast as they can to get away from the white people.
My guess is, it is more than that. I think that as a little girls their lives are lived as adults, even down to the way they dress.
I have learned to travel with candy on long road trips. It opens doors!
Even little girls who live life as an adult like candy, so do big girls who are now mama's.

Saturday, August 30, 2008

Vanette and Katie's Bag








Maybe you could call me the purse police! I am always on the look out for a new idea. The idea for this bag came as I walked down the street with Katie. She hadn't been here more than an hour or two but I had my eye on her bag. She mentioned that it was a gift from her sister on her recent trip to Africa - perfect! As soon as I could I was asking her if I could "borrow" her bag so I could use it for a pattern.
She was happy to help and put all of her stuff in a plastic bag so I could use it for a few days. Our program has come full circle! Katie's sister helped a woman in Africa, now Katie was helping another woman in Haiti! Her name is Vanette. Vanette came to us while she was pregnant with her youngest baby, Michael. She graduated from literacy school and sewing school! She is amazing! She is working to support her family making "Katie Bags". I am really proud of her for how hard she has worked to make her life better.

This is the second style of bags that we will have available for you to purchase to help support Vanette and her family!