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. 

Thursday, February 28, 2008

What's In A Name?

Marko, Tarek, Kisha, William, Naomie, Katie, Leila, Jean-Luc, Marven, Laura, Fahed, Tayna, Anabelle and Parker.

These are all the names of the children in Parker's second grade class! I love that he goes to school with kids from all over the world, not just Haiti. In many ways He is getting a gift having this experience in his life. Many things are hard here, lots of adjustments have been made and lots of things have been given up. School here has helped make the transition easier and good in so many ways. Some one recently said, Parker is the kind of kid that can live anywhere. So far, they are right! I hope he will live many places.

Sunday, February 24, 2008

Cows, Water Trucks and Pigs

I can't say that I have ever considered myself as being a person who would have enough interesting things happening to actually write a blog. That was, of course, until we moved to Haiti. Now, it is like making a list of things and prioritizing them. Some are so funny, some are sad, others are just plain unbelievable. In the three months we have lived here I have done my best to add a variety of different things to share, so you will have a good feel for Haiti.

When we started coming to Haiti, eight years ago and finally met John and Beth, we knew we loved Beth for many reasons. Let's just say Lisa and I knew we had a kindred spirit. It was a confirmation when we finally heard the story about her running over the cow in the middle of the road. Sorry, another blog. The other part to this story is, and I am not really sure why, all these kinds of things happen when Lisa and I are together. We also have this thing happening that everyone calls me Lisa and her Sheila. Anyway, back to the story!

The theme to this story would be - Driving in Haiti. It is, in a lot of ways, like playing a video game. Only this one is in real life on roads that are really more like creek beds than an actual roads. Instead of Pac Man coming at you, it is a tap-tap or any number of things that will end your high score career.

I haven't exactly forgotten to mention this, but I did happen to get in an accident with a water truck in John's truck about a month after arriving in Haiti while merging onto Delma. Yes, Lisa was with me and no we didn't stop. It is only important that you know that two white woman in the middle of Delma who can only speak the language well enough to do basic clinic kind of stuff is not a good thing. So, in a split second decision, I said, we aren't stopping! And we made our way up Delma with my knees shaking making driving a stick even harder! The part I really hate is, since the accident, I have been with Dan and Junior, and they have done the very same thing I did and made a clean get a way! My grandfather has always said, an inch is as good as a mile, I just didn't know we needed to measure every ten seconds or less. Let's skip the part about having to tell John.

You now know Beth's drama, my drama and now for Lisa's drama! I can only say, I am happy to report I wasn't with her. Not that it mattered all that much because when the story finally came out it started out that "Sheila hit a pig!" Wait! Wait, a minute! I didn't have anything to do with this. Lisa was on her way to the church and I was at the church with Beth since Lisa had borrowed her car in order to get the bride to the church in the nicest car. Yes, you know the one! The one in the laugh attack blog. Ok, yes, you heard me right, Lisa hit a pig on the way to the church with the bride in the car. It is still hard for me not to start laughing every time I think about it. Because all I can think is, oh my gosh, we had to buy chickens and a rooster can you imagine how much a pig will cost. The bride started crying, Renald jumped out of the truck, thankfully returning with the good news that the pig didn't have an owner and the neighbors would be happy to share the pig!

All ended well, the bride was only an hour late. By Haitian culture standards, that is a good thing. But, from now on anytime the words, cow, water truck or pig come up in conversation everyone starts to laugh if we are in the room. Oh, let's not forget the bacon jokes that have already started and the collective gasp heard in church today as everyone held their breath when John used the scripture about the pigs going over the cliff!

Friday, February 22, 2008

"Tell Me About You"

Her name is Vanette. She is twenty-eight. She is from Pestel. She now lives in Tabarre. She is married with two children. Chrisoline, seven years and Mischael, two months. She used to be a machant, but doesn't have the money to buy things any more. She would like to work because she has a lot of problems.

On the second day of class, I asked each lady to tell me something about themselves. Truthfully, they said very little, some more than others. I am guessing no one really asks them these kinds of questions, except nosey white women like me. They all live in a very small community that is just trying to live day to day.

Sarah, the midwife from Canada gave them the idea for the bags. I think she had seen it in Africa. It was not unlike the many projects we have seen in Africa. So, week after week, we have been saving our bags from the store, while Vanette, along with a few others, have been coming in with bigger and better bags. About two weeks ago, Lisa asked if she could use her favorite bag as a pattern and make another bag for her. Today was like my birthday, Christmas and every other reason to get a gift when Vanette walked in with her newest creation! Wow, it was beyond what I could imagine!

Everyone has heard "teach a man to fish". Well, give a woman a few used bags and a crochet hook and look what you get!

We are taking orders if you are interested in giving her the chance to empower herself! Bravo Vanette!

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Right In The Middle Of Dinner

Cooking here has been a real learning process, or should I say challenge. I can't say I was a great cook in the States, but I did have the ability to do a few things right, often doing things by opening a can, dumping and hoping it turned out O.K. - I considered the crock pot one of my best friends! You have to make due with what you have here, or don't have as the case may be most of the time. My kitchen is stocked with only the basic stuff. Most days I don't feel like eating dinner and you can forget the drive thru at Mickey D's to make the kids happy. I would be happy with pop corn cooked the old fashion way with EVOO. It is a bummer that I don't really have a good pop corn pot, so popcorn tends to burn most of the time, well, every time. Yet, another lesson in the purchase of third world pots and pans.

Today was no different, always an adventure. I was in a hurry to get ready for Rosemine and Baby to come over M,W,F at 6:30 for our language lessons. I had promised Parker pancakes, we would now settle for french toast, eggs and bacon. It was close! I had a good start on dinner when I noticed nothing was happening on the stove. Out of gas! Right in the middle of cooking dinner, no less! It was now 6:00, the guard was here and needed his security stuff, his water and his dinner! I needed gas to finish our dinner.

I am thankful we had another tank and I could finish with no problem, since my yard man was here! Dan the yard man! I am sure Dan never thought he would have days like these, cooking tanks, gas tanks, generator tanks and water tanks!

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Ladies, Meet Everyone...Everyone, Meet The Ladies!

Day Two - Bravo!!

Today was so much fun! I really had fun with the ladies and I think they are happy to be learning! I have been praying for this day for a long time. I admit, I did start to cry, I excused myself, went to the bathroom, closed the door just for a few minutes to thank the Lord for being so sweet to me. I still can't seem to get it in my head that this is our house and we live here and are doing this!

Pinch me!

Don't get me wrong, we have so much on our plate I could consider freaking out! We a joke that the guys are really just yard men. Really they run around all day long getting everything done for five houses, prenatal classes for twenty ladies, childhood development for twenty ladies, sewing for fifteen ladies Monday to Friday, literacy classes and embroidery classes. Us girls, we hold down the fort so to speak with all the different programs. This isn't even including everything that needs to happen for the adoptions. That is a whole different story for another day!

Many nights we lay down thinking, I am pretty sure I just got up about fifteen minutes ago! But, it is good! It is all good!

Saturday, February 16, 2008

Starting Sewing School

"More Tears Are Shed Over Answered Prayers Than Unanswered Ones"
- Truman Capote

Have Annie, Will Travel

We arrived in Haiti on November 26, 2007. It was a life changing day for us and was marked in my mind by the birth of Annie Grace. She was born to a women who has attend our woman's program, who was in very poor health herself and couldn't take care of another child. This mom is also the birth mom of an adopted child of our friends Tara and Troy who are here in Haiti. Annie Grace, however, will be going to live with Tara's sister. She will live with them until her adoption can be complete.

Tara and Troy have a lot to do with a really big team, their family, home school and so on. They needed help since Annie's nanny is on vacation and Jes, who is here helping John and Beth, had to go back to the States for her grandfathers funeral. So, I said, I would help. No problem, Annie is kind of special to us. Tara went over all the details and provided me with a detailed list of what I should expect. On my way out the door Tara said, oh, do you want the portable crib? Yes, I said!

Friday was here and it was time for Troy to drop off Annie on his airport run. I went and got Annie at the baby house after we finished some shopping. No portable crib, not to worry. I didn't think about the fact I was at the baby house I could just ask for one to borrow for a few days. I was in a hurry. I would think of something. I am a mother and have taken care of many children. I am sure when Tara asked if I would watch Annie she wasn't thinking I wouldn't put her in a suitcase. She fits perfectly! This is the life of two mom's with a lot on their plate.

Thursday, February 14, 2008

Clappers or Zapper

You have seen the "The Clapper" on television, but "The Clapper" won't work here in Haiti since we never have enough power to have lamps plugged in. Now that I think of it, we don't own a lamp. We have "The Zapper". Well, I don't have one, but Dan, Maddie and Parker have one. What is "The Zapper"? More importantly, why do we need one? I don't really think that this electric tennis racket bug killing thing has a real name. Maybe it should be called "The Cracker" since that is really the sound you hear as all kinds of flying things hit the current inside the tennis racket and get a shock that ends their life. (Please not animal cruelty comments... John) I don't know that I have enough time or energy to have one of these things, but everyone in my family is now addicted to walking around faithfully trying to reduce the mosquito population of Haiti, or at leaset our house. This is a good thing, maybe, since I don't think we can afford stock in "Deep Woods Off" with at least 40% DET. We have found that anything less than 40% DET is really considered candy. We are now reduced to being a family of zappers.

Wednesday, February 6, 2008


I don't know if pride is the right word, I guess it could be, but it is safe to say I was humbled on Wednesday. I have always been willing to buy things to help support the research and prevention of HIV and AIDS. I admit I have two shirts, a bag and a scarf from the RED campaign at the GAP and they are some of my favorite things. Not because I love the GAP, but because I wanted to help make a difference. I consider myself someone who is aware and concerned with what is happening around the world with AIDS. But, this past week changed everything for me.

For almost two weeks now we have been dealing with three different cases of HIV - a brand new baby, a mother of three and a young single woman who is only two months pregnant with her first baby. I can't seem to stop thinking about this beautiful young woman who has come to our program. She has tested positive for HIV twice now. Wednesday would be the day we would have to sit down with John and tell her that her world would forever be changed. I can't think of anything worse. Our Wednesday clinic was coming to an end and she still had not come to see us. John had Carine call and remind her he needed to talk to her. Soon enough, she was here and it was time. We sat in John's office with the new varnish smell filling the air as he was inches from her face asking questions to buy time before he would have to tell her what he really needed to say. I was holding my breath, but it wasn't the varnish smell, it was the news. Finally, in my broken understanding of the Haitian language I heard the dreaded word, SIDA (HIV). I wanted to close my eyes and be some place different, if I could just borrow Dorthy's ruby slippers I would have been out of there. The varnish smell seemed to fade from the room as the sound of her crying filled the room as she called for her mother and Jesus. My face was hot and I could feel the tears welling up. She put her head down on the desk and cried calling out in sobs for help.

Soon Beth, Lisa, Jes and Agahte would come to sit with us. We began to pray and cry with her. Beth shared with her how much we loved her and that she wasn't alone and we would help her get into a program that would supply the meds she would need to live a better life. She prayed with us to ask Jesus in her heart. Not the church kind of Jesus you only see on Sunday but the real Jesus that you hang out with everyday for the rest of your life. The kind of Jesus that she was going to need everyday.

I have a handful of pictures in my mind of looks on peoples faces that I wish I had a delete button for because they haunt me at times. The look on her face when she heard John say, SIDA, is in fact one of those pictures. Her face was frozen, eyes locked with John for a split second as her mind raced wildly, and than, she was gone, on the downward spiral of questions.

We had finished. I gave her tap-tap money, hugged her again and promised I would see her in the morning to go again, for yet another test, just to make sure we would have three positive results. I stood in the breeze way wanting to scream! So much for my RED purchases, like they really helped her have a better life, was all I could think.

My sweet friend Beth said, Sheila you are here and you are in the trenches. We are here in Haiti and have come to Haiti needing that very same real Jesus to help us in all that we do. I will continue to wear my t-shirts but they will mean something very different to me from now on. Years from now, I am sure I will see her face. I am pretty sure Beth was right, again, when she said, HIV isn't a surprise to Jesus. I am thankful he can say, I already have the t-shirt, been there, done that - thats why I died for you!

Monday, February 4, 2008

You have to be kidding! (plus a rooster update)

On Saturday when Dan got home from the men's seminar at church he asked if I had the number to Visa Lodge? What? Yeah, we (Dan, Ted and John) are gonna rent a room to watch the Super Bowl? You have to be kidding me! We live in Haiti and haven't watched television since November 26 when we got here. Every once and awhile I wonder what Oprah and Anderson Cooper are talking about but, I could care less about watching television. Dan, on the other hand is a major, major football person! You know the kind that lay on the floor beating the ground to help the ball get in the end zone. Ted, he is a football guy too, but not like Dan. John, he is a fake pastor kind of guy who likes books and old Star Trek videos, so I think this is the most shocking part to me. But, they are not kidding, they have a plan! We will eat a buffet lunch at Visa Lodge after church with Jes, Rosemine and her girls, swim for a few hours to pass the time so they can lay on the beds in the a/c eating beef jerky, jujyfruits and ham sandwiches. This has to be a complete guy thing!

Follow Up:
On January 25th, Dan killed the rooster! Well, he didn't kill the rooster and chickens on purpose! It was the spray we used for the wicked bad ticks and fleas in the depot behind the house. It was rooster and chickens all at once and had nothing to do with our new dog - Uno. It took less than a week since we moved in and it cost 300 Haitian dollars...

Friday, February 1, 2008

All In One Day.....

I am the kind of person that can go and go and go and than all of a sudden I have what I call a laugh attack. Most of the time the reason I am laughing isn't funny at all. Wednesday was one of those very days. I am sure you have had them yourself. They start out normal and all of sudden it is like you are on the most wicked version of Mr. Toad's wild ride.
We always have a busy day on Wednesday with the woman's program but today was even more so because we had started testing for sewing school. Lisa came with a mother and her three children who where at her gate earlier in the morning. The mother couldn't keep the youngest child, a baby girl, only ten days old because of a conflict with her husband. It was now twelve o'clock and the pregnant ladies would be here for class. I had returned with Agahte and her two babies so she could translate for me. We now had to do a Power Point of the stages of pregnancy, three pregnancy tests, an HIV test, feed nineteen ladies and give out malaria meds for eight.
By one o'clock John would come and talk to the babies mother because we had a potential home for her. After the interview Jes went to get blood work done. She returned and it was now three o'clock, I should have left by two thirty to get the kids from school. We stopped at the baby house to get Jes a few supplies, dropped Agahte off and made our way to the school only to stop half way there because we had a flat tire. A flat in the same tire Dan had fixed last week. What to do? No spare, a missing part to the jack, language barrier, one pump that plugged into the cigarette lighter that was broken. We soon had a knight in shining armor with a jack and a crowd watching. When all of a sudden the jack slipped with the guy under the car. It started! I had reached my full and spilling over limit! I was in the middle of the street trying to talk to Lisa having a laugh attack! I finally recovered and knew I shouldn't say, "what else could go wrong". Lisa and Zack had now arrived after getting my kids from school while Jes and I waited on the side of the road. Three hours later we would be on our way back to the house.
If I learned anything from my day, I learned that life in such a hard place is so fragile. Fragile for the young woman and baby who tested positive for HIV. Fragile for the mama who had to leave her husband and give up her baby and find a way to care for her other two children not knowing that she too would have HIV. Fragile for myself and my family apart from Jesus who strengthens us to do all things. It is in His strength that we live and minister in Haiti.