Thursday, December 30, 2010

Small Miracles

There must be something in the water here, or maybe the cooks are adding something to the kids food.  I don't know what it is, but the children seem to be growing up so fast lately.  It makes me so happy to see these kids doing so well, but also a little sad that they are getting so big so fast.  Here are a few examples...

The little girl that stayed with Nick and I when we were here in January is finally walking.  She has been so close for 6 months, and then all the sudden she started walking and hasn't stopped since.  She is all over the place, and learned right before her second birthday.

There is another little boy who has been living here since July.  This little guy couldn't put any weight on his legs for months.  You would hold him up and try to have him stand, put he couldn't.  Even with help, he wouldn't rest an ounce on his legs.  Now, however, not only does he stand assisted, but walks when you hold his hands and crawls all over the place.  He is fast too!!  When he crawls, he has a giant smile on his face and sways his head from side to side!  He is much happier now that he is more mobile.

There is another little boy here with special needs.  When he started crawling, people were amazed.  Now he pulls himself up onto everything and walks around whenever he has something to hold on to.  His nannies hold his hands a lot and have him walk all over the place.  It looks like before long he will be walking unassisted!  When you let go of his hands, he can now balance himself and stand on his own for several seconds before falling.

There are so many more stories I could go on and on about, but I don't have all day, and I assume you don't either.  I will conclude with one more story.

A few days before Nick and I moved down to COTP, a little baby girl was admitted.  When I say little I mean LITTLE.  She weighed 1 lb 13 oz.  I even made the comment that she weighed less than a brick of cheese.  She was tiny.  We didn't have an incubator to put her in.  She wasn't in intensive care like she would have been in the States.  All she had was us, our love, and our prayers.  This little girl went home a little over a month ago and now weighs over 11 lbs!  We enrolled her in the formula program to help create a smooth transition home, so I get to see her every two weeks!  She is doing amazing in her Mothers care and is absoulutly beautiful!!

All these things are miracles and show how God is using us to do great things here.  I can't take credit for any of these celebrations!  Emily is the one who woke up every two hours each night with our premie babies for months.  She is the one who gets the credit for saving her life.  There are short term volunteers here now, and have been a lot more in the past who have worked countless hours helping each of these other children learn to walk, crawl, and flourish developmentally.  All of our nannies spend a lot of time with the children helping them in the areas that they are behind in.  Many more people have prayed specifically for each of our children and for the tasks they had to over come.  All these people are the ones who get credit for these great events!

Nick and I have been spending hours implementing a new system to how we organize pictures and distribute them to adoptive parents, sponsors, and staff stateside.  During this process we have come across several sets of admit pictures.  There have been a few children who I just open a picture for and start at it for the longest time!  I can't believe how far they have come.  Children who were literally skin and bones are now FAT.  Children who were inches away from death, now crawling, laughing, and healthy!  Children who refused to eat, now having seconds!

I have learned from working here that there is nothing more frustrating than a malnourished child refusing to eat, but there is nothing more rewarding than seeing them gain weight!

Monday, December 27, 2010

Thanks all for the Christmas wishes!  We had a great first Christmas with our son!  He was more entertained by the wrapping paper, bows, and boxes than his gifts, but he still had fun!!

My favorite part of Christmas was at the end of the day when we went out to the baby house to do Depot.  Nick was wearing an elf hat, I had on antlers, and Eventz and Mika (the little 3 year old who's living with us) had on santa hats.  Eventz held a box of candy canes and went from room to room and Mika handed each nanny one!  They got a great kick out of how ridiculous we all looked, and were excited for their treat!  I don't know why, but it made my day and was definitely my favorite part!!  Nick had also been saving empty clorox jugs for a few weeks, which are highly requested here, and gave each nanny one!  I think that this was their favorite part of the day!!

We hope everyone had a great Christmas!

Nick, Nikki, and Eventz

Friday, December 24, 2010

Early Christmas Present

Yesterday I got an early Christmas present, twin 8 day old boys!  They are cute and super tiny (at least during the day.  Not so much at night when the scream from 9-4 with out stopping)!!  They make my 15 lbs chunk seem like a giant!!  Both boys are small enough to fit in premie clothes, actually one is too small for even these!

So right now Nick and I are playing parents to 4 young children!  We are quite busy (with all the diaper changes, tube feedings, etc), but still plan on having an amazing Christmas!!!

Tomorrow is going to (theoretically) be an internet free day for both of us, so I will wish you all a Merry Christmas now!!

Thanks to all our supporters and our family for the continual prayers you have shown us!  We are very excited to celebrate this with 48 beautiful Haitian children and all of our staff!

I also want to say a special thanks to Karen G. and all of her friends and family that purchased gifts for our children!  5 of us spent two FULL days wrapping and sorting them all!  The kids are going to love having a ton of new toys and clothes.  We feel very blessed by your generosity, we never expected to get half as much as we did!!

Merry Christmas,
Nick, Nikki, Eventz, and all our adorable babies!!

Cholera getting Closer

Last week we had two of our employees ask to use our truck to transport family members who were sick with Cholera to the local clinic.  The first time was at 7:30 at night and Nick hoped in the truck and headed to the clinic.  Earlier that day we had been in town and saw a ton of rented vehicles (at $80 US per day) for this one particular organization.  I'm not going to name this organization because I don't want to get any hate mail, but I will just say that I guarantee that you all have heard of it.  All of the vehicles we passed only had one person in them and we were commenting on how much they must have spent to have this fleet.

Once Nick got to the clinic, he was originally impressed by how nice it was.  They had a really nice, expensive tent, and he thought that they were providing a great place for these people to go and get the medical attention they need.  Then he walked inside, and his mind was completely changed.  There were no beds, not one.  All the patients, who were already extremely uncomfortable from massive diarrhea and vomiting, were laying on the ground on tarps, rocks, and mud.  When Nick got back he was just disgusted and kept telling me how awful he felt for these people and how sad it was.

It's hard to know that they are spending thousands of dollars on vehicles, that appear to be in excess, when they could be spending this money on beds or medical supplies.  It's frustrating because some people have the attitude that what ever we do is better than nothing and so people should not be complaining about the quality of care because at least they are getting it.  In some ways this is true.  If it weren't for all these clinics, people would be way worse off.  But, it doesn't mean that these patients shouldn't be treated with respect.  I wouldn't want to lay on the ground, especially if I were deathly ill.

Now to be fair, I have to admit that I may not have all the facts regarding this particular situation.  It could be that this clinic just opened and that they decided to take patients right away rather than waiting for the beds to arrive.  Or, maybe they shipped beds in, but with all the political unrest they just haven't arrived or got lost.  These are all possible, however, I wouldn't be surprised if there weren't any bed on the way and that what he saw is all there is.

With two cases of Cholera literally right down the road from us, what precautions are we taking to prevent it from spreading to us?  Nick just bought a new water filter that will remove the Cholera bacteria.  We have our own clean well that already went through two cleaning cycles.  Basically, we didn't have to worry about it before, and now we really don't.

As far as I know both people we took to the hospital are doing fine and were discharged from the clinic!
I have not heard of any of our other employees family members having Cholera either so that is good!!  Meci Jezi!

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Destroying Christmas Presents!

Guess who started crawling today, and guess what was the first thing he did??

He went over to the tree and destroyed his Christmas gifts!  A child after my own heart, trying to open them early!!

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Christmas Cookies

Earlier this week we made Christmas Cookies with the oldest 8 kids!

The children loved it and Did a great job!

And we only had a little bit of a mess to pick up afterwards!

More pictures coming to the picture blog soon!!

Weight Watchers Update

For all you out there keeping up with Eventz weight, as of Friday he weighed 15 lbs 5.8 oz!!  He's getting huge!!

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Permis de Séjour- Phase 1 Continues

Remember a few days ago when I wrote that long post about how long it took us to get our medical certificate for our Permis de Sejour and how happy we were when we finally finished it?  Don't forget TIH, which means the drama continued!  Pauline came to get our paperwork on Saturday, only to tell us that the doctor had only signed 1 or the 4 papers he was handed.  SIGH!

Monday morning we sent a staff member back to the hospital once agian to get our stuff signed!  As far as we know we are officially done with phase one, at least for now!  Excited to see what the next steps include!!

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Monday, December 13, 2010

Baby it's cold outside!!

Part of the reason that I moved to the Caribbean (besides for my desire to serve people here) was because it's the Caribbean, meaning, it's summer all year long!  Coming from Washington, I try to soak up every ounce of sun during our 3 nice months, cause I know that the other 9 months of the year will be all rain and cold.

I couldn't wait to live in Haiti and post facebook statuses or email my family rubbing it in their face that while they were wearing winter jackets and running from their car to the store to avoid getting drenched, I was wearing shorts and flip flops.  I was sweating and enjoying the sun.

Turns out that Haiti doesn't have summer all year long, and it's gets cold here and rains as well.  A few days ago I wore pants and a sweat shirt all day and was still cold.  All I could think about was taking a nice hot bath or wrapping up in a blanket.  Oh how I wish I had a blanket on some days.  I have a feeling (actually I know since I got it in the mail and wrapped it my self, sorry Karen) that I am getting a blanket for Christmas.  I've been tempted on several occasions to take it from under the tree and use it, but I'm doing my best to wait until Christmas comes!

As we were crawling into bed the other night, Nick said "I wish we had our electric blanket here."  This is a thought that I have had many times over the past week or two.  If it didn't use so much electricity, I'm sure we would have emailed our parents and had them send it down already!

When we first moved down here, my Grandma sent me a box of snacks, and in it was 4 boxes of hot chocolate mixes.  I hate to break it to you Grandma, but I thought you were a little crazy and wondered if you knew I had moved to the Caribbean.  However, Grandmas know best cause Nick and I have been drinking it lately.

Now having said all of this, I have to admit that it hasn't gotten below 75 degrees since we have been here.  But it really is cold, I'm not exaggerating this or being a baby!  When we are used to 90 degree weather all the time, 75 is freezing!  All of our kids wear sweat pants all day, and our nannies come in winter jackets.

It's raining today which is a good thing and a bad thing.  It means that all of our laundry, which we have a ton of with 43 babies and all of our staff, won't get dry today.  During the summer most of our clothes go on the line, or are sprawled out on the grass to dry.  During the rainy months, it's supposed to go in the dryer, but our dryers are currently broke and you can't buy one in Northern Haiti.  We are hoping to take a trip to the DR here soon to purchase one, but thats always a trip.

It's also bad because it means that many Haitians, including the home we visited the other day, will have rain inside their homes and children will sleep on muddy floors.  It means that our roads will get in worse condition and become muddy messes.

Rain is good however because it means that the rioting here will stop.  The only thing that Haitians hate more than being cheated out of an election is rain.  It shuts things down here.  (FYI: the rioting has stopped in CAP, but has still been going on in Port and other surrounding areas.  They are going to announce today wether or not the 3rd place person will be allowed to move on to the second round of elections.  This means that there likely could be more rioting once this announcement is made.  Nick is stocking up on all of our supplies today so that if anything happens we will be good for two months.)

Ok, off to make breakfast for the kiddos!!  I'll post more on the elections/riots as I learn more! I think I'll have some hot cocoa with breakfast, thanks Grandma!!

This model comes equipped with reverse!!

Eventz is working real hard on learning to crawl.  When ever we sit him down to play with his toys, he finds a way to make it on to his belly, which is huge cause he used to hate being on his stomach.  If he sees a toy to the side of him, he can turn himself around to see it.  I often see him spinning in circles looking at all the toys around him.  But as much as he tries, he just can't move forward.  Whenever he tries to crawl, he just scoots backward!  I've seen him move almost two feet, but it's always away from his toys even though he is trying to go towards them!  He's got the whole reverse thing down, but now he's got to figure out how to switch it to forward!  I think it's only going to be a few more days, or possibly a week or two before he is crawling all over the place!

He is also working on trying to pull himself up.  He gets close but hasn't yet successfully done it on his own!  It's so fun to watch him develop and see how excited he get when he discovers new things!  I love every minute I get to spend with him!  On one hand I'm very happy that he is moving along so well developmentally, but a small part of me wishes he wasn't.  I just got him, I still want him to be a baby for a while, to depend on me to carry him from place to place!  But, I can't deny that he is adorable as he is learning all of these new skills!

The little guy just loves me so much!  Every time he sees me or hears my voice, he gets really excited, laughs, and his whole body shacks with excitement!  Nick says Eventz laughs cause he thinks I look and sound funny, but I know that it's cause he loves me!!

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Giving it all away

My first 5 months living in Haiti, I stayed pretty much stayed inside the gates here are COTP, and as I have said before, this is paradise compared to other places in Haiti.  I was always too busy to go anywhere.  The few times I did get out, it was normally to go to the beach or the local hospital.  We employ a lot of people from our community, so the houses in our area are relatively nice, and the poverty isn’t quite as bad.  However, since I got back to Haiti almost a month ago, I have been getting out a lot and seeing new things.
Today we went to visit a child who used to live here and his family.  It was shocking to see how little they had.  I wrote in this post that the family we visited lived in the worse type of house in Haiti, but the house that we visited today was much worse.  When Amy and I left, we were literally heartbroken as we realized how little we can do.
We have been watching a lot of sermons and reading different passages during our bible studies recently, and all I keep hearing during these is “GIVE IT ALL AWAY, GIVE IT ALL AWAY.”  How do I do that?  We have given up a lot in order to live here.  We have missed important family events, our parents don’t get to spend time with their new grandson, we can’t hang out with friends, or enjoy a lot of the activities that we used to enjoy.  But we still have so much.
Tonight I stared at my overflowing pantry, thinking I had nothing to make my family for dinner.  Then I thought about the family I just got back from visiting, and how they said they had not yet eaten that day, even though it was late in the evening.  I have no idea what it means to have nothing and felt guilty for when I realized how much I had to cook.
Eventz has his own bed, in nice clean blanket and warm pajamas.  He doesn’t sleep on a dirt floor, under a roof that leaks when it rains.  We have a front door and don’t have to worry about people coming in at night.  Mt son gets three square meals a day, and as many snacks as he wants.  He has more toys than he could ever possibly play with in a day, or a week.
On the drive back from our visit, Amy and I talked a lot about how we want to do so much, but in reality, can do so little.  We both fully know that we are doing good things, and that we are making a difference, but it doesn’t make it any easier when you know there is nothing you can do to help out someone who you have grown to love.
Again I hear it.  GIVE IT ALL AWAY.  Again, I ask how?  Do I get rid of my extra clothes and only keep what I need.  Do I drain my bank account and give it all out as community aid?  Do I choose a few families and invest in them, whether it be school, housing, helping them start a new business, or what?  
Nick and I have been praying that God will open and close the right doors for our future and that he will help us see how he wants us to serve the people here.  We are happy where we are, but is this where we are supposed to stay?  Nick and I have talked a lot lately about starting a children's home and taking in 8-10 kids and raising them as our own.  Should we invest all of our money into buying property and building a home?  Is this really giving it all away, or is it still selfish because it’s investing in something for us?  
It’s not that I don’t have the opportunity to help people out, we are asked constantly to help people with various things.  The issue is more of choosing how and when to help.  It’s about finding a balance.  How do I give it all away, and yet be able to provide for my son, and our future children?  Does this mean I shouldn’t save for the future?  Should we not think about saving for our children's tuition?  We still want to give them all the extra things that we grew up with.
I also realize that God doesn’t want us to just blow our money.  We have to be smart with how we spend it.  It’s just so difficult to see so much need and then look around our apartment and see how much we have.
Earlier today Nick and I went on a quick moto ride.  We turned down a random back road trying to explore new areas.  It has been raining here lately and this “road” was such a mess that we couldn’t go any further.  We both got off the bike, leaving it there, and decided to continue walking down the road.  It’s quite possible that there have never been any friegners in this area before, so we were quite an attraction.  All of the kids from the community ran over to us and followed us on our walk.  They all thought it was funny that we were there walking through the mud and speaking Creole.  Every time we said anything, they would laugh at/with us!!
I love getting out and having these types of experiences.  It’s what gives me hope that we will be able to make a difference here.  We are confident that the right doors will be opened and that we will know who to help and which direction to go with our futures!
This week we were given a the opportunity to help out a family who was really in need.  I’ll let Nick write more about this later though as he was the one who went with the family!
Thanks for your continued support!

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Permis de Séjour- Phase 1

Nick and I have been working on obtaining our Permis de Sejour, or our permanent residence card for Haiti.  Having this will allow us to open a bank account, register a vehicle in our names, and among other things, stay in the country for more than 3 months at a time (even though this law isn't heavily enforced and we would probably never have any issues with it.  This way though we don't have to buy return tickets each time we come into the country and then cancel them after we get through immigration.)  It will also benefit us when it comes to paying US taxes, but we aren't really sure how!
This is one of those things that could take us a few days, or a few years to obtain.  For instance, for the past two weeks we have been trying to complete one requirement of this, which is a medical certificate.  Basically, we just have to have a doctor write us a letter telling us we are healthy.  We thought about forging it or having a one of our friends who is a fellow missionary and pediatrician write it, but decided we weren't young enough to consider ourselves children!
It shouldn't take long to get a physical right?  Just a quick visit to the doctors?
WRONG!  This is Haiti(TIH).  
Last week one of our adoption workers told us at 1:38 that we had an appointment for our physical at 2 that day.  It takes about 40 minuets to get down town, plus we had to finish the project that we were working on.  He told us it would be ok if we were half an hour late and that the doctor would still see us.  We quickly talked Milouse, who cleans the volunteer house, into staying a few hours extra to watch our kids.  We hopped on our Moto at 1:50 to begin our journey.  (There was horrible rush hour in town, so I was very glad we were on a moto and could go around it all, on the sidewalks, opposite side of the road, swerving in between cars, etc).  
When we arrived at the doctors office 20 minutes late, not only was he not there, but they had no idea that we were coming.  So much for an appointment huh!!  TIH!
Later we found out that we could go to Milot, the local hospital and get it done there.  So, Tuesday we spent 3 hours there.  Think we finished it?  Of course not.  
Milot has an interesting set up.  First, you go into one of the tents and talk to someone about what you want to have done and they write you up a slip for it.  As we were explaining to her what we needed, she asked if I had eaten anything yet.  I told her I had and she laughed.  Of course this was all in Creole, so I thought maybe I misunderstood her.  She then asked Nick the same thing and he said he had.  Turns out we have to get blood work done, and for one of the tests you can't eat prior.  Whoops.  We were told we could do part of the test that day but would have to return in a few days to do the other part, and NO eating prior!!  She also wrote us up a sheet to be tested for HIV, which some how mysteriously disappeared during our next step, but that's another part of the story.
If it's your first time going to Milot, which it was for both of us, you have to go to the Archive Office, which is on the other side of the street to get your Dossier.  Each time you come to the hospital you have to bring your little Dossier card or you have to repay for it ($1.50 US).  Paying for and getting this card took us approximately 30 mins, standing in a tiny little room.  It wouldn't have taken quite so long, except I realized about half way through that Nick said his name was Nick, but for the medical certificate we needed it to say Nicholas.  This threw them way off (which I'm not sure why because Haitian always have multiple names).  They probably asked me ten times if my name was in fact Nikki or if it was also something else.
After this phase, you have to take the original slip that the lady wrote for you in the tent to the cashier to pay for what you need.  Unfortunately there was a really long line (and Haitians have no personal space so the people around you are constantly touching you) that took me another 30 minutes.  I paid the $6 US for them to write our medical certificate and then headed over to the lab to get our blood work done.  When we got in the lab, we found out that we had only paid for one of the two things we needed to.  Back to the cashier and another 30 mins in line.  
Finally, we went to the lab and were handed two cups for a urine sample.  Nicks was what I would consider a normal cup for this type of thing, mine was a used gerber fruit jar and had a babies face on it!  TIH.  When you're done filling your cup (or Jar) you put it on a table that has a sign that says "Mete pipi a la," put pee here.  The sign is hand written on a piece of cardboard in bubble letters and looks really fancy!  There is also a table for people to put poop samples, but luckily thats not what we were there for.  (I have seen moms sitting in the court yard holding their children with these jars underneath their bare bottoms waiting for them to get filled!  When ever I see this, I'm glad that it's not me holding the jar! TIH).  
Last step of the day, getting our blood drawn, which took about 2 minutes.  After 3 hours at the hospital, we only spent less than 10 mins actually doing medical stuff.
We returned to the hospital Thursday morning, with out eating breakfast, to get our last blood test done.  However, with all the protests, when we went to bed the night before we decided that we would not be going.  Much to my surprise, Nick woke me up at 6 telling me to get ready because we were going to the hospital again.  
ME: Is it safe?  Who is going to watch the kids?
NICK: I called Rikerns who called a friend who said it's safe.  He can watch the kids!
So Rikerns came over and watched Shrek with the kids and we once again hopped on our moto and headed towards the hospital.  We were told repetitively to get there at 7 to avoid getting stuck in long lines.  Rony, our adoption worker told Nick, "Don't forget to go to the hospital, it's very important.  Oh and don't forget to check and see if it is safe first!"  Great advice!!
The only signs of protest we saw was a black spot on the road where a tire had burned the day before and a slight smell of burnt rubber.
We got to the hospital at 6:45, because Nick has to be early for everything.  We sat there until 7:30 when we finally talked to a guy who told us that the tap taps (main form of transportation here) weren't running because there were still riots downtown Cap and that he had no idea if any of the lab workers would be coming to work today.
We had to get back by 8 for depot, and I had to relive Rikerns of the children, so we decided to leave instead of waiting any longer.  
Friday morning, Nick once again woke me up early to inform me that he was going to the Hospital.  His plan was to go and get the blood work done, come back by 7:30, and I would go in with Rikerns.
At 7:48, I get a call from Nick saying that the lab people still haven’t shown up and that he won’t be back to do depot.  Great, I have to finish feeding both the kids and get them dressed in 12 mins, not to mention make them both sit through depot.  
He also reminded me that I couldn’t eat any breakfast.  I had just made myself two nice pieces of toast with extra peanut butter, had a yogart and a juice out, and now I was told I couldn’t eat it.  AND I had to watch our kids eat, go downstairs and watch the baby house kids eat, smell Maude’s French toast that she was making for the volunteers, and smell and watch the nannies eat their breakfast.  If you know me at all, you know I’m not a fan of skipping meals.  I like to eat!
Nick got back about 9:45 and took over watching the kids so that I could go in with Rony.  On the way there, he double checked to make sure I hadn’t eaten breakfast.  NO.  Did you drink water? Yes (It was after 10, of course I’ve had a little bit of water).  You can’t drink any water either.   I assured him it would be fine, but as we walked into the lab he told me to tell them it was just a little bit of water.  They never even asked. We walked right in and were seen instantly.  As soon as my blood was in their vile, I pulled snacks out of my pocket and put them right in my mouth.  Rony laughed and asked if I was hungry.  Of course I was hungry, it was almost 11 and I hadn’t eaten yet.
Rony said that our test results would be done at 1, and we decided not to wait around.  On the way back to COTP, the tire on our Moto was low, so we had to stop on the side of the street and have some guy fill it up with a hand pump!  I didn’t have any small bills, but promised the guy we would pay him when we came back, which turns out we once again needed air so we would’ve had to stop anyways.
Nick went back in at 1, thinking he would just have to pick up our papers and we would be finished, but don’t forget, TIH.
He found out that we still needed to do our HIV tests.  I knew loosing that paper during the dossier process was going to cause trouble.  Nick calls me and tells me I need to find someone to watch the kids and come in again.  Rikerns and I jump in the truck as it is now raining and all the motos are gone.  On our way we see a guy driving his moto holding a giant purple umbrella!!
During this time, Nick had his HIV test done.  The lady doing it was so hard to understand, and she had her radio blasting in her tiny office, so Nick had to have a translator come help him because she spoke no English.  Nick was my translator because I also couldn’t understand ANYTHING she said.  The plan was for me to quickly give my blood and leave with Rikerns so that I could get back with the kids.  After I got my test results back from this, which was negative for both of us, I jumped in the truck and thought I was heading back to COTP.
After we were about 100 yards down the road, Nick calls and says I need to come back to the hospital and met him in tent 1 so that the doctor can look at me.  The doctor listens to both of us breath, says we are fine and fills out our medical certificate!  Finally we are done.  Just kidding, he takes them back from us and remembers the director of the hospital has to sign it, more waiting.  
He did finally get them to us though and we were able to finish it, which is great cause Pauline, another adoption worker is going to Port au Prince this morning and will be taking them down there for us.  Finished just in time.  She was going to leave yesterday, but thanks to the rioting closing down both airports, she was delayed a day.  We are glad that we got it done and didn’t have to forge it!!
Anyways, you see why I say this could take us any where from a few days to a few years to get!  Supposedly we are going to have to go to Port to finalize all of this.  We were originally scheduled to go last Monday, but since it's now Saturday we obviously did not go!  Nick thinks we'll go next week, I think he's overly optimistic and has not yet learned that THIS IS HAITI!!!
I’m sure that there will be more interesting stories related to us getting this document, so stay tuned for the next phases!!
It took us a total of 8 trips to the hospital to get this finished.  Yes it was annoying for us and kind of a pain to get it done, but we have access to our own motos and a truck.  We have multiple people who can watch our kids so that we don’t have to take them with us.  We would never think about walking for hours to get to the local hospital.  We have money to pay for gas and to pay for our hospital visit.
This experience made me realize how fortunate we are and how difficult obtaining  medical care can be for many Haitians.  If most Haitians were asked to come back a second day to get a different test done, they probably couldn’t afford to.  It’s not uncommon for people to spend everything they have to get there.
For the first several months we were here, the hospital was seeing and treating everyone 5 and under for free.  The peds ward was always overflowing and we often had difficulty getting our kids admitted.  They recently went back to charging for this, and now the room is almost empty.  I have been there several times recently (obviously) and am amazed that there is no one there.
Health care just isn’t available, and even when it’s around, it’s only for the few who can afford it.  Makes me realize how fortunate we are.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Election results result in violence

Last night the results of the Presidential Elections in Haiti were announced.  In order to win in the first round, a candidate must have at least 50% of the votes.  If no one does, than they take the top two candidates and do a revote.  The top two winners are Jude Celestin, who got 20% of the votes, Mirlande Manigat who received 30% of the votes.  This means that either way the majority of the population doesn't want either of these two to be the President.

From what I have heard, Manigat, who is a former first lady, is very well educated but apparently worships satan (whether this is true or not I don't know, rumors spread like wild fire here).  The other guy is hugely supported by the current President, however many people are saying that he actually came in 3rd place but the elections were rigged so that he was "placed" in second place.

There are reports that there have been a ton of fraud involved in this election.  Apparently a lot of people who died in the Earth Quake some how voted, but others who were registered to vote were not allowed to do so.

After the results were announced, there has been violent protests all through out the country, including here in Cap.  People are throwing rocks and bottles, and are burning tires again.  Both the Cap and Port au Prince airports are shut down right now, and we once again can't go into town, (which really sucks because we have been out of butter for almost a week and I have been wanting to make sugar cookies with the kids)!

Not that I'm condoning any of it, but at least with the riots last month, they had someone to be angry with.  They were upset with the UN and were attacking them.  This time, there is no one to be mad at, so the protestors are just attacking each other and hurting their own people.  It makes no sense.  I was talking to the nannies today and I asked why people are protesting.  Their response was that they are crazy!

We are hoping that things are back to normal soon.  This is one of those things that could be perfectly fine tomorrow, or it could last for a few days.  More in likely it will calm down soon, but then start up again when the next election takes place.  There were announcements on the radio yesterday before the results were announced that said "if you're unhappy with the results, start fighting again."

Hoping things quite down soon!!  The second round will take place on January 16th.

Here is a good article about the election and what is currently happening.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

World AID's Day

December 1st was World AID's Day, and unfortunately I didn't know about this until afterwards.  I'm sure if I had  logged on to facebook within the proceeding week, I would have been reminded, but I rarely do that these days.

Thinking about AID's is much different for me now than it was a few months ago.  It's no longer some mysterious disease that affects millions in some far off place.  It's no longer something I can ignore.  AID's now has a face, a laugh, a voice, and most importantly, a special place in my heart.  I am reminded of this disease every day when I walk out into the baby house.  We have a few children in our care who are HIV+, and if I could tell you one thing about these children, it would be that they are children!

There are so many stigmas out there about AID's that people often don't know what to think or do when they encounter people who are positive.  But these children aren't any different than any other child in the baby house, or the world for that matter.  They all want to be held, kissed, loved.  Just by walking into the baby house, you would never have any idea who is and isn't positive because these children, just like the rest are laughing, smiling, and happy.  They don't appear to be sick.

On the other hand, I fully realize how serious HIV is.  We have had one child pass away since I have been here because they were HIV + and their body just couldn't fight what ever was making them sick.  It's hard to know that these children will have this the rest of their lives and always have to take medicine for it.

However, I am very thankful that they are in our care and that we were not only able to test them, but can provide them with ARV's (Anti Retral Virals) to help keep them healthy.  Getting them healthy at an early age could not only change, but save their lives.  I love each of these kids and know that they will flourish where ever they go in life!

Monday, December 6, 2010

I can't believe it!

I can't believe that this 14 lb 11.8 oz chunk (yes he did gain 11.8 oz in the last 8 days) is the same 8 lb baby I met 3 months ago.  I can't believe he is the same baby that I had to syringe feed for the first week and a half that he lived here because he refused to drink or eat!  He now eats ANYTHING I give him.  I haven't found a single food he won't eat.

I can't believe that this baby who couldn't even hold his head up at 6 months old, or roll over at 8 months, can now sit for long periods of time, stand, bounce, roll over, and almost crawl!

I can't believe that the little baby I held in my arms at the hospital 2 months ago, who I honestly believed wouldn't live more than a few hours is now this happy, energetic, little guy who never stops smiling and laughing.

And most importantly, I can't believe that this amazing human being is MY son!!  I am so blessed to get to spend every day with him!  The first thing I do every morning when he wakes up is bring him into bed with me to cuddle, and the last thing I do at night before he goes to sleep, is play with him in our bed, read him a scripture from his beginners bible, read him a story, pray with him, and put him in his bed with a hug and kiss.  No matter how much time I spend with him, it's never enough.

Each day I fall more in love with him.  Each day I get to know him a little better.  Each day, a little bit more of his personality shows through!  He is developing and changing daily.  Nick and I originally said that we were hoping for him to be fully caught up developmentally by time he was 18 months (so 9 months from now), but I think we were very wrong on that estimate.  I now think he will be caught up way before then.  Currently the only area he is behind in is crawling, which we are working on.  I think that he is capable of doing it fairly soon, however he hates tummy time so much that he never wants to even try it.  If we can just get him to play on his belly, he will be moving all over the place in no time.  Although it's probably a good thing he's not moving yet because then he would be pulling things off the Christmas tree and getting into everything!!

I know people will make fun of me for saying this, but his language skills are amazing.  Yeah he just babbles, but I'm very glad he does.  This is one area that most of our kids are very far behind in, so the fact that he babbles all the time is amazing!  He can say Dada (his favorite word), Mama (he rarely says this except for when he's mad), Nana, Baba, and a lot of other weird sounds!  He is constantly experimenting with his voice and trying things in different pitches, tones, etc.  Eventz is the easiest, happiest baby I know, and I know a lot of babies!!  I can't say enough how lucky I feel that I get to be his Mom!!

His biological Mom and Dad came today to do some paperwork and we talked to them about the fact that we want to adopt him.  I'm pretty sure they already knew this, but she smiled when we said it anyways, so I think that she is happy!  They both seem really nice!  His Dad pushed him in the swing for a while today and let Eventz suck on his nose, which is one of Eventz favorite things to do.  His Mom said that his two siblings cried today because they wanted to come see him but couldn't because they were in school (I was very glad to hear that they are able to go to school)!  I also learned that his sister is 7 and his brother is 5!


Eventz has made amazing strides in the last 2 months since coming home from the hospital and we are so proud of our son.  Living and working here is so amazing, because we are surrounded by success stories like these all the time!  Everyday when I walk through the baby house, I am amazed by how fat, healthy, and happy all of our children look.  With many of them it's hard to remember how small and sick they were when they first came!  We get to watch as their personality develops and as they grow.

Yesterday I was in the baby house, and the little girl that stayed with us when we visited in January walked over to me.  She just learned to walk this week and I'm so thankful I get to be apart of her story.  Two of our children returned home to their biological parents last week.  It's amazing how far they came in the three months in our care.  Please pray that they transition well back to their parents care and that they thrive there!  Also please continue to pray for Eventz and that he will flourish in our care!  He is really starting to bond with us and you can tell that he knows he is well loved!  He already is beginning to realize that I am his Mom and is a little unsure of other people holding him!

Friday, December 3, 2010

Kids Alive

Yesterday Nick and I took a few hours off to go and visit another local Mission called Kid's Alive!  This mission is currently ran by all Haitian staff, which I think is amazing!  They take in kids who don't have homes or families, and match them with house parents who will raise them until they are 18.  They currently have 77 kids living in 7 different homes and a school for all of these kids as well as an additional 60 children from the community.  They just bought some new land (because there was some discrepancy with the land they previously owned.  Apparently the original owner sold it to them as well as another person) and are going to be building 8 homes for these families to live in!  The entire compound is set up around a soccer field.  They are also going to be building transitional housing so that when these kids turn 18, they can move in there for a while before moving out on their own.

Nick and I were very impressed with what they are doing for the children in their care!  They are truly making a difference in these kids life and giving them a chance to grow up as healthy Christian adults.  In July, Kid's Alive took in 44 children who were living in tents in Port au Prince.  These kids were from an orphanage there that had collapsed during the earth quake and they had no where else to go!

There are no other organizations like this in Northern Haiti and it's great to see what is being done outside our gates!  It was also really nice to get out and see yet another part of Haiti!!

To learn more about Kid's Alive you can visit their website.  They work in several countries all over the world!

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Riot Free and Haiti Aid

Hey Everyone,

Thanks for the prayers!  Cap Haitien successfully had an election WITHOUT any riots!!  There were riots in Jacmel and Port au Prince, but none here which we were very thankful for!  We should know in a few weeks who the winner is and who will be the President of Haiti.  This is a very important election as this President will be the one who decides where all of the Haiti Aid goes and begins the process (which will probably take decades) to bring infrastructure to Haiti.  This has been one of the most important elections for a while.  Many are saying that they were not held honestly and that a lot of corruption took place.  Please continue to pray that this all works out and that Haiti can begin to move forward!

We have often been asked "Where is all the billions of dollars designated for Haiti Aid going?"  We can't completely answer that, but we can tell you that we have definitely seen some of it flowing into Cap!  The Dominican government is paving a few mile stretch of one of the main roads here; the one that goes from downtown out to the hospital.  They have been working on this since we moved down and are nearly finished with it.  They are doing it really well too, so we are hopeful that it will last.  The few paved roads around here are less than 2 inches thick, and this one is over 4!  We sure appreciate this road as it cuts down on the wear and tear on our vehicles and makes travel a lot easier and faster!

Also, the Venezuelan government is fixing our airport which will allow major airlines, such as American, Spirt, Air Canada, etc to fly into Cap.  This means that my Mom won't have to worry quite so much about coming to visit us!!  Rumor has it that it'll be done in 18 months, but who knows.  We have also heard that they are building a whole new terminal!  This should bring in a lot of commerce to Cap and hopefully help create more jobs here!

So funny story about the Cap airport!!  This may or not be true because rumors are common here, but this is what we have heard!  Several years ago they were going to make the Cap airport big enough for Jets, so they started on each end and met in the middle, however when they did so, they were off by a foot!  Essentially half the runway is unusable because there is a foot drop off half way down it!!  The other half is now used for people like Nick to take their bikes out on and Joy ride!!

Anyways, just wanted to let you all know that things are starting to improve here and that some of the money is being used for it's intended purpose!!  All of downtown Cap is under construction right now, which is currently a mess, but will make things a lot better in the future!  We feel that Cap Haitien in particular has a lot more potential in the next ten years than it did in the past ten years!

Monday, November 29, 2010

What I'm Thankful for

I know, you all are thinking that this post is four days late, but thats only because we celebrated our Thanksgiving on Sunday instead of last Thursday, and we ran out of internet yesterday so I couldn't post it then (yes, we have a certain amount of internet and once it's gone it's gone).  All the other long term staff were gone on Thursday, so it was just Nick and I here and we were busy, but that didn't stop us from having an amazing Thanksgiving anyway!

This year I am thankful for the two guys in my life.  I have the most amazing husband who would do anything for me, and the most adorable little son!!!  I am Thankful that he has been healthy recently, is catching up developmentally, and has gained 5 lbs since coming back from the hospital a few weeks ago.  He now weighs 14 lbs!    I feel very blessed to have the opportunity to be apart of his life and watch him as he changes on an everyday basis.

We are thankful for our family, friends, and supportors around the world who pray for us daily, and support us in being here.  We couldn't do it with out you!  We are also thankful that we were called here; it's such a blessing to live and work with the Haitian people.  The children here are amazing and make me smile everyday!

Lastly, I am thankful for the amazing feast that we were able to have yesterday.  The mission that brings us our mail brought us a turkey, rolls, stuffing, pumpkin pie, etc.  We also had apple crisp, fresh watermelon, sweet potatoes, mashed potatoes, and more!!  We ate so much, it actually felt like Thanksgiving!  Eventz enjoyed his first Thanksgiving, but I think the turkey got to him to fast.  He feel asleep in my arms before even finishing his dinner!  He was so excited about the food!  Eventz looked adorable dressed up in his kahki pants and nice red dress shirt!

Now that Thanksgiving is officially over, we have moved on to Christmas!  Tonight we turned on some Christmas music, set up our Christmas tree, and decorated our apartment!  I never thought I would see the day when Nick and I would have a fake tree, but there really aren't any trees here we would want to bring into our house!  Nick was extremely disappointed that we couldn't find any light to put on our tree.  Eventz slept through the whole process!  When we were done we had warm chocolate chip cookies and watched a Veggietales Christmas story.

Tomorrow we are decorating the Baby House!!

Saturday, November 27, 2010

1600 Deaths

The latest statistics are that 1600 people have died of Cholera in Haiti, and that over 18,000 have gotten sick from it.  As I have stated before, these are just the reported cases, THERE ARE SO MANY MORE.  These are just the people who have been able to afford a trip to the hospital, many can't afford this.  So many people are getting sick and dying at their homes, or in the country side.  Estimates say that approximately 200,000 people will become sick from this bacteria.

I read that the expected death rate for this was 1%.  In Port Au Prince, the actual death rate is 4%, and in Cap Haitien, it's 7.5%.  That ridiculous since this is a curable bacteria.  All that they need when they get this is an IV and rehydration fluids.  They will be miserable for a while, but if treated fast enough, should be able to leave the hospital in less than 48 hours.

The local hospital here has been maintaining an average of 60-80 Cholera patients.  Many are discharged, but others keep coming in.  Amy went to a clinic in Limbe a few days ago and is there again today to help with Cholera patients.  She kept saying how understaffed they are and how much work they have to do.  She put in IV's all day and ran around changing IV bags.  The way she described the clinic was horrible.

A lot of people here are wearing masks, think this will help prevent them from getting this bacteria, even though it isn't airborne.  Rumors here spread like wild fires and might as well be fact.  That is part of the reason why so many people are dying of this, many simply don't know how to prevent it or treat it once they are sick.  Education is key.

There is a blog that I read of a guy who lives in Port au Prince.  I'm not sure that I should put this on here because it's a bit graphic, but he just wrote a post about Cholera there.  He has some pictures, that again are graphic, but, it shows what is really happening.  If you are interested in reading his post, you can click here.  I don't add this to make you pity those who are sick, but just to inform you of what is really happening here.

There hasn't been any rioting in Cap Haitien for almost a week now.  Nick has been in town several times and says that it is completely fine.  You can still see heaps of metal which are left from all the tires that were burnt.  Tomorrow is election day, so many are afraid that the rioting will start up again.  Normally most political unrest is in Port au Prince, but we are unsure if we will see any effects of it up here.

Thanks for the continued prayers.