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.

Entering a Haitian Home

I've lived in Haiti for almost 5.5 months now, and yesterday was the first time I have entered a Haitian home.

I was in the process of getting my three kids up from their naps and getting them snacks, when Amy asked if I wanted to go with her to Milot.  I got super excited as this was the first time I have left the compound since getting back, and also the first time that Amy and I have ever gone anywhere together.  I quickly found Nick, told him he was in charge of the kids, and jumped in the truck ready for an adventure.  Everything in Haiti is always an adventure, you never know what to expect when you leave the gate.

We were going to pick up a little boy who used to live here and his Mom from the hospital.  Normally we would just drop them off at the intersection where we would go left and they go right, however, Amy and I were both curious where they lived so we asked if she wanted us to take her all the way home.  She was beyond thankful.  It was getting late, and there was no way she could have walked the few miles home before dark.  She walks the several miles to COTP once a week for us to evaluate her son, carrying him as he is an infant, with his oversized diaper bag that we always send them off with on her head, and her young daughter by her side.  She told us that it normally takes her 3 plus hours to walk and see us.  This is one way.  I can't imagine walking that far with that much stuff.

Anyways, we went down this road that didn't look like a vehicle had passed through in years.  It was overgrown, full of giant pot holes (nothing like what you see in the states) that were muddy and a mess.  We weren't sure if we would be able to make it, but she said we could and she was right.

When we pulled up in front of her house, everyone was excited to see her and ask her about the past few days that she had spent in the hospital with her son.  I would assume that many of them have never been able to afford to take their children to the hospital when they were sick, so this was a new exciting adventure for them that they were able to live through her.  She was like a celebrity, pulling up in a truck after spending a week in a hospital.  When we left Milot, someone asked her how she was getting home and she said she was going in the truck with a giant smile on her face.  It's quite possible that she had never been in a truck before meeting us.

She asked us if we wanted to see her house, and we said us.  We walked down the muddy pathway about 100 yards to her house.  There are several different types of houses in Haiti, and she by far lives in the worse.  Her house is made of sticks and mud and has cardboard filling as many gaps as she could find.

Living in Haiti I'm surrounded by these houses, but you always hold on to a hope that even though it looks like nothing, it's nice on the inside.  It's not true, its worse on the inside.  There is nothing there.  NOTHING.  It's an uneven dirt floor.  The entire house is smaller than Nick and I's bedroom here, and she is raising a family in it.  She has no cooking utensils, no toys for her children, NOTHING.  Her front door wasn't even on it's hinges, she just moved it and we walked in.  It wasn't even a door like what we use.

I went in many houses when I volunteered in Kenya and Mexico, and even though those are nothing special, they are mansions compared to the house I was in yesterday.

Her neighbor pulled over two chairs for us to sit in, and about 15 people gathered around to talk to us.  When we left they all followed us out to the car and said goodbye.  This lady is an amazing Mom.  She constantly kisses her child, which isn't seen here a lot.  He always lays his head on her shoulder, cuddling in close, and when someone else tries to hold him, he reaches back for his Mom.  He doesn't want anyone else.  He loves his Mom.

Last night reminded me of how little most Haitians have.  Here at COTP, we live in a little paradise.  We are locked in our gate, with plenty of food, medicine, and are surrounded by happy healthy kids.  Yes, the children are sick when they come to us, but only for a short time, and then they turn around so quickly.  It's easy to forget about what happens outside the gate.  It's hard to get out because there is always so much going on here, but when I do, I am glad that I am reminded of how people live everyday.

Lord please watch over this family and help keep them healthy!

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Back at Home

Written by Nick
Before I talk about the adventure I had getting back to COTP I want to thank everyone that had a part in our trip back to the states.  First the limited and already overworked Staff at COTP had to take on extra responsibilities with not much notice of our absence.  Thank you to Jamie and Jenny who hosted us at Minnesota, we had a wonderful time getting to know everyone and talking about our long future here at COTP.  Finally our Families who we completely surprised, they dropped all of their plans and spend wonderful time with us.  I truly enjoyed being home and it really re-energized me into coming back!

My journey back to COTP was an adventure to say the least.  I used the phrase many times “we have more time than money”, so for instance when booking our tickets and planned the trip I opted for 2 layovers between Portland and Flordia.  I will say that the trip back was normal and a perfect success, some might disagree, its all relative.
I arrived at PDX a good 2 hours before my flight to Sacrament, where I had my first layover.  When I arrived I was through check in, through security in 5 minutes and at the gate in another 3.  Everything so far was going perfectly.  We landed in Sacramento and I needed to switch planes.  Unfortunately the plane I was suppose to go to Denver on was broken so they re-assigned us to a different gate.  After they figured out that there were logistical problems with the gate that they assigned to us they gave us a different gate and delayed the plane 20 min.  
About 40 minutes after the plane was supposed to leave we left for Denver.  I began to consider that I only have 70 minutes from when I land in Fort Lauderdale in Terminal 1 to get to Terminal 4, check in, go through security and board the plane.  At this point though I was still pretty confident that I would make it.
In Denver I had to stay on the same plane to Fort Lauderdale, the plane landed in late so they made everyone stay on the plane and tried to turn it around as quickly as they possibly could.  I was flying on Southwest and they have a unique boarding system.  Everyone gets a number and when its your chance you get to board the plane and sit where ever you want.  This to me is foreign and strange but so far it has worked out really well.  When we landed in Denver I was able to ‘pretend‘ to disembark and then sit down in the very first seat.  I thought this would give me an extra 5 minutes in Fort Lauderdale if I didn’t have to wait for everyone in front of me.  (this worked great by the way.) However, when a large family boards last and throws a huge fit when they all get separate center seats it can delay the plane 20 minutes!  So now on top of our other delays I figured at best I would have 30 minutes by the time we arrived at the terminal in Fort Lauderdale.
Usually I am able to sleep on flights, I board, I sleep, I wake up to get my free drink, I sleep some more, and then I leave rested.  I sat there wide awake thinking of the delayed factor and the huge unknown of the level of violence that was in Cap-Haitien.  I was still debating whether or not I should have changing my route, etc... I was wide awake the entire time.  
We landed in Fort Lauderdale and I had 25 minutes exactly as I ran off the plane and down the terminal.  The Fort Lauderdale has 4 terminals.  I was not sure which one I had flown into so as I ran past the TSA dude I asked him,  It was an additional blow to hear that I was in Terminal 1.  Terminal two or three would have made it a much quicker transfer.  In desperation as I exited the building I asked a taxi driver if he would drive me to Terminal 4 for $5.  He said No.  So then I had to make the decision of walk/jog or wait for the shuttle.  Although typically reliable I figured that I could not chance the shuttle at 10:30 at night so I would walk and Jog to Terminal 4.  I arrived at the counter sweaty, huffing and puffing, and 10 minutes before the plane took off.  The desk agent first told me that I was too late.  Then his supervisor piped up and said that the plane had been delayed.  Apparently it had been late getting out of Boston.  The desk agent reminded me about 10 times how lucky I was, I just kept thinking ‘I know!’.  
The nice part about flying into Santiago was that after that I had no plans on what to do.  So arriving at 4am was pretty much no different than arriving at 3am!  My plan in Santiago was to wait until daylight, go to the bus station and then get a bus to the DR.  
I met some people on the plane that were headed to Puerto Plata, a resort town north of Santiago.  After the plane landed, we got our bags, made it through customs and even though I was planning on hanging out in the airport for 2 hours they asked me if I wanted to split a taxi with them to the bus station.  I figured that this was probably a good option because the Taxis are expensive, and the bus stations are safe.  
When I got to my bus station I jumped out and said ‘Dajabon’, I was hoping that by me saying one word he would understand that I didn’t speak any Spanish and that I wanted to go to Dajabon on a bus.  He nodded yes and sent me to the counter to buy a ticket for the bus.  I went to the counter and again said ‘Dajabon’ hoping that if there was any translation issue with the first guy that she would be able to figure it out.  She nodded, took my money and printed me out a ticket and I returned and climbed aboard the luxury bus, once again saying my destination to ensure of no mistack.  I just kept thinking how lucky I was because 2 minutes later I would have missed the bus, and who knows when the next bus comes.
After riding the bus for about 20 minutes I began thinking that I didn’t recognize this at all.  It was difficult because it was still dark and raining lightly.  Then I saw signs that said Santa Domingo Straight ahead.  I didn’t want Santa Domingo to be straight ahead...
So I arrived in Santa Domingo about 2.5 hours after I left Santiago.  I thought ‘well God, you must not have wanted me at the border yet.’ I got off the bus, bought another bus ticket and was headed back to Santiago 5 minutes later.  The bus I went back to Santiago was even fancier than the one I had left behind in Santiago Domingo.  It had onboard WIFI, who has ever hear of that, not to mention that there were no signs advertising it.  I just happened to check for wifi, not that there has ever been free wifi on any vehicle I have ever ridden on.  It was so nice to have internet.  I was able to connect with Nikki and update her on my status. She was also able to give me information from a phone card so that when I got to the boarder I would have service.  It was amazing that it worked out so well.  
When I got back to the bus station I was able to find a person to translate to the Taxi driver exactly what I wanted.  The taxi driver then took me to the bus station that I had originally wanted and I got aboard a not so luxury bus.  Again, I arrived just in time, two minutes later I would have missed the bus.  The bus ride was fun, I find it amazing that I can understand some creole now, and incredibly frustrating that I can’t understand or speak any Spanish.  My seat partner had bought an orange from a guy that jumps on and off busses selling goods when the bus makes their super quick stopes.  He shared it with me and had a good laugh watching me spill orange juice all over myself.  After that I shared a can of BBQ Pringles with him and my other bus friends that I could not talk to.  We arrived in Dajabon about 3 hours later.  I jumped on a motorcycle and said ‘Haiti’ He understood that and took me the 15 or so blocks to the boarder.  
When I go to the boarder I stood around and looked confused for a minute trying to figure out my next step.  I tried to call Nikki buy my phone was still on the DR networks so it was not working.  From what I could tell they boarder looked pretty peaceful.  I then saw some guys that looked friendly and started talking with them.  They had just came across from the Cap area and told me that everything is fine.  They said that they were waiting for a group from the nearby hospital to come, and that they would be there any minute.  I said thanks for the great info and started across the boarder.  
The boarder bridge was as peaceful as the day we had left.  I crossed with no problem. Just as I was finishing my paperwork on the Dominican side I saw two trucks pull up with people that were leaving, as well as one of my friends that had been working at the Hospital.  I literally could not have planned, predicted, or even thought of it working out so well.  I finished my paperwork on the Haitian side and we were off back towards COTP.  I talked to Nikki and they were relieved that they did not need to come pick me up because everyone was so busy.  
The ride back through Haiti was fine and peaceful.  You would not have known that awful rioting had been happing just 2 days prior.  I also made some more friends with the people that had escorted the doctors to the boarder.  They were nice guys, and were able to drop me off at an intersection next to where I live where I was met by one of our staff members on a motorcycle to take me the rest of the way.  
When I made it through the final gate into COTP I was full of joy to see my Wife and Son sitting under the tree waiting for me.  
Traveling to and from Haiti is an event.  I find that it is better to always think of it as an adventure rather than dreading it.  For instance did you know that they sell Krispy Kremes in Santa Domingo?  I bet not.  But I drove past the store.  Next time I have an craving for some good doughnuts, it would only take me about 8 hours to get there, but it might be worth it!
Thank for reading all of this, I know it became a bit long, bud I didn’t want to leave out details, I hope it was entertaining, I also hope that you can rejoice with me in how amazing our God is a protector, planner and comforter.  

Friday, November 19, 2010

CNN article with pictures

First I just want to say that Nick made it home safely yesterday and it was a miracle how well it worked out.  He had quite the adventure, but I'll let him tell you about that.  He is sleeping in this morning, but plans to blog about it today.  We were expecting him to get stuck in the DR for a few days or maybe even a week or two, so him getting through is great!!

Here is a CNN article with current info on Cholera and the violent protests that are going on in Cap Haitien and Port au Prince.  Yes it has now spread to the capital.  Elections are coming up next week, so it likely won't stop for a while.  This article says that 6 people from Cap have gone to the hospital with gunshot wounds related to the fighting.  We have also heard that 4 people have died, but aren't sure if this is true or not.  Another source I read said 35 people with gunshot wounds.

Of course with all these protests, it's resulting in more people dieing of Cholera because people aren't able to make it to clinics in time, and a lot of clinics have shut down as a safety precaution.  Supplies to treat this can't make it to the Cap area as our airport has been shut down since Monday.

This picture is from Port Au Prince, not Cap.
Over 1100 Haitians have now died of Cholera, and more than 18,000 people have been sick with this bacteria.  These are just the cases reported; the people who are fortunate enough to live near a hospital or clinic and can afford to go.  I'm sure a lot of people who live in more rural places have unknowingly died of this as well.   Nick spent time yesterday with people who work in Milot at the hospital and they said that they currently have 80 Cholera patients admitted.

So far none of our nannies have gotten it, please continue to pray that they don't.  We have posters all over our compound reminding people to wash their hands and how to prevent it from spreading.  They are all terrified of it and doing all they can to keep it at bay.

Thanks for the continued prayers with everything that is going on here.


Thursday, November 18, 2010


The following is a blogpost from brooke ( a girl who works in Port au Prince.  A few of my recent post have showed the bad side of Haiti, but I want to make sure that I am also showing all the amazing things that happen here as well.  Haiti is an amazing place, and it's people preserver through many trials.  Enjoy these next few uplifting posts!


....or soccer. Yesterday the whole orphanage and many of its staff attended a futbol/soccer game by the Haitian Amputee Soccer Team, which was created after the earthquake. When I heard about it, I began to get all weepy. What hope this must give these people who have suffered so much in the last year. Each team member played without his prosthetic and ran around using crutches. I was inspired and I hope you will be too by just the pictures.

"When I lost my limbs in the earthquake I thought my life was over. But God helped me and now that I am playing soccer and working with great coaches, I have much hope for the future." - Cesar, Goalie.

The team has been invited to play in the 2010 Paralympic World Cup in Argentina this October. They need to raise $50,000 in order to participate. Go to in order to find out more about it or to donate.

After the amputee team played, the older boys at our orphanage played Quisceya Christian school, a school for missionary kids and the bourgeois (elite, wealthier class). All of our kids and staff are excited when the boys or girls have the opportunity to play and have some real competition. Haitians are fantastic soccer players. Our boys won, 5-2!

Mdl boys

Wednesday, November 17, 2010


Our goal at the moment isn't to escape poverty. It's to escape misery so we can get back to poverty. Haiti Prime Minister Jean-Max Bellerive

Protests in Cap Haitian

The past three days there have been a lot of protests and riots in and around the Cap Haitien and Milot area.  It started off with people throwing rocks/bottles and burning tires, but has since escalated.  There is a rumor going around Northern Haiti right now that the Cholera bacteria (which has killed over 1000 Haitians and spread through out the entire country) was brought in by someone from the UN.  People have decided that they no longer want the UN present in this country and are now attacking all UN compounds in the area.

The UN personel who were here previously are not allowed to fight, but we have heard that they are, or possibly already have brought in the UN army who will help.

At first we assumed that this would all die down after a day or two, but it is still going on.  Haiti is no stranger to these activities.  When COTP was started 10 years ago these were every day activities.  On our recent trip to Minnesota the founder of COTP was telling me stories similar to these.  In recent years things have calmed down a lot and this doesn't happen nearly as often.

We have heard that things are getting better, but we have also heard that nothing is changing.  Due to these activities the Cap airport and the local Haiti/DR border are currently closed.  Nick flies into the DR tonight at midnight (assuming he makes it since his first flight was delayed) and was originally going to walk across the border.  We now are unsure of when he will be able to cross.  I made him promise me that he will not attempt it until we are 100% positive that he can do so safely.  This means that he may spend several days, or maybe even longer in the DR.  It's going to kill me knowing that my husband is only an hour away, but completely unreachable.  I just want him back home with us, spending time with our new son!

Children of the Promise is about 3 miles outside of Cap, in the middle of no where.  This may not seem far, but with these roads it's about 45 minutes, if your lucky enough to own a car or moto which most people dont.  There has been no violence here and we feel completely safe.  We have a decent supply of most things we need and have people who are getting the few things that we are low on.  None of us will go in town until everything is back to normal.

Please pray that things calm down soon and most importantly pray for the safety of our nannies and their families.  We are only having the nannies from Lagossette (where we live) and other local villages work for a while so that the Cap nannies don't have to worry about coming out in the middle of all the fighting.  Our nannies, and a lot of Haitians believe that the best way to bring about peace is prayers, therefore they had a worship session that lasted several hours last night after all the babies went to bed.  They sang and prayed and it was beautiful.  I could hear it as I laid in bed trying to fall asleep.  Please join our nannies in pray and help bring this to an end.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Open Adoptions

I have known all my life that I have wanted to adopt, and I have always said that I wanted to do an open adoption (where the biological parents are still able to have contact with the child) because I feel that this is in the best interest of a child.  In my opinion, it's beneficial for them to know where they came from and who their parents are.  However, this is one of those things that is easy to talk about, but much harder in real life.

Eventz and his Biological Mom
Yesterday Eventz Mom came to visit for the first time without us asking her to come for paperwork.  She lives over an hour away, so she is not able to come often as it is expensive to get here.  She spent 4 hours here with him, and I was nervous the entire time.  Until our adoption is complete, she can change her mind and take him back at any time, even if he had been living with us for several years.  We have not yet told her that we are going to adopt him but I feel that after we do I won't be so nervous when she comes to visit.  We are going to tell her real soon, but want to do it together.  Probably with in the next few weeks.

I'm not positive, but I think our nannies may have already told her that Nick and I are going to adopt him because she referred to me as his Mom on 3 different occasions.  There could be a lot of reasons for this, including that she knows I am taking care of him, and therefore playing the part of his "mom" for the time being.  Our nannies have referred to me as Mom of several of our kids who have stayed with me in the past, so this would not be uncommon.  either that or it could be the fact that I peeked out the window at them about every 10 minutes the entire time she was here.  This was the first time he has been out of my sight since I have gotten back.

While she was here, she told Amy that she wants to take him to her church to get dedicated.  I am all for this, but I think I would be more comfortable if we took him and met her there.  Plus, I want to be there when my child is dedicated as well!  Before she left, she told me that the next time she comes she wants to talk with me, but not this time cause she knew I had to put Eventz down for his nap.  I am unsure of what she wants to talk about.

Over all though, I am very glad that she still shows interest in her (our) son and that she wants to do what is best for him.  No matter what, Eventz will always know that she loves him and that she would literally do anything for him, including the extremely difficult decision of adoption.  As long as she is willing, we want her to be apart of his life.

This is what Eventz does while Mommy writes blogs about him.
He's his fathers child, can sleep through anything!
On another note, Eventz began to say mom and mama today!  It is super cute.  He isn't saying it in reference to me, just babbling, but I still love it!!  One of our nannies heard it today and was excited with me!  And then at lunch he was saying dada repetitively and I said "no, mama." and he looked right at me and said mama!  I have been working all week on getting him to say this, so I defiantly feel successful now!  The other little girl staying with me even tells him "no daddy.  Mama" every time she hears him say dada.  We can't wait for Daddy to come home and hear him say this and see how big he has gotten!  Plus he has a special outfit his Daddy bought for him and he is about to outgrow it, so Nick needs to get home soon to see him in it!

Please pray for Nick to have safe travels!  He leaves Portland tomorrow, but will likely have trouble crossing the DR/Haiti border and could have to stay in the DR for several days or maybe even a week or longer.  More on this later.

Monday, November 15, 2010

Cholera update

Hey everyone,

I have been debating for a while wether or not to post this cause I didn't want our families to be nervous, but since it's made international news, I guess that doesn't matter anymore.  Plus, I want to be as honest as possible with this blog.

Cholera has now spread to North Eastern Haiti, and the last I heard is that there has been nearly 60 confirmed cases of it in our local hospital.  Of these, 3 people have died.  I don't know how accurate these numbers are, but this is what I have heard.  I do know that it seems to be way worse Limbe, a town about an hour or so from here.  One of our staff members took a doctor out there a few days ago to help work in a clinic to treat people.  He said that all the clinics and hospitals in that area are over flowing with people.

Today there has been some rioting in Cap Haitien due to the outbreak.  Before I go any further I just want to say that we are on the outskirts of Cap, in the middle of no where, so we are perfectly fine and won't see any effects of this.  Anyway, there are several rumors going around as to why these riots have started.  These are all just rumors, so take them as you like.

The first is that the bacteria was brought in by the UN, and therefor many Haitians want the UN to leave the country.  The other rumor is that one of the candidate running for president brought it in as a way to help his campaign.  Again, these are rumors.

One of our nannies was about 2 hours late to work today because people were throwing rocks and bottles in town and she could not get here safely.  We have also heard that a lot of people are burning tires.  We recently talked to our friends that work at the local hospital, and they are locked inside their compound because there is a lot of rioting there.  Elections are in a few days, so people are kind of stirred up about that as well.

We have enough supplies to hold us for a while and have no need to go into town.  We are going to stay away from Cap until this all clears up and we will be just fine here in Lagossette.

We are all hoping that the rioting stops soon and that this outbreak gets under control soon.  Here is an article that CNN wrote today about all of this.

Thanks for your continued prayers!

Friday, November 12, 2010

My Haitian Pumpkin!

Moving in!

Hey All,

Sorry this took me 3 days to write, but I am safe in Haiti, enjoying spending time with my little boy and moving into our new apartment!

My travels went great, I couldn't ask for an easier time switching airports in Port au Prince.  I'll be honest, I was a little worried about this part as last time Nick and I did this people were very pushy, grabbing at our bags, demanding bigger tips, and it was over all hectic!  No one tried to grab my bag, except the guy I asked too, he was fine with his tip, and I got a taxi for a very reasonable price, after a little negotiation that is.  It was a lot easier this time now that I can speak Creole and say that I know $15 USD to go half a mile is way too much and I'll only pay $2.50.  Plus I had Gourdes, so using their money always helps too!!  It was hard flying in and out of there and seeing tents cities covering all of Port Au Prince.  It's been 10 months, and people are still living in tents.  It's horrible.

Rikerns was waiting for me at the Cap airport when I arrived.  He was very excited to see me, even though I know that he secretively was hoping Nick was going to be there too even though he was told he was just picking me up.  He kept saying that he was glad I was back and that he missed me.  "Every day I go to work, I don't see Nick and Nikki.  I miss Nick and Nikki.  My Mother ask me if I miss Nick and Nikki and I say yes, I miss Nick and Nikki.  I love Nick and Nikki!!"  He's a great guy!!

It's been raining here a lot and is pretty cold, it stays about 75 all day, so all the nannies have been in winter jackets and pants!  It's funny to see!!  A lot of stuff around here is flooded, and the roads seem to be a little worse than when we left!

The nannies were also excited to see me, and shocked that I came back without Nick.  They all laughed every time I said that he was still in the States and I came back by myself!  They all said that they were happy with me because I came back!!

I have learned in these past few days that I just can't please these women!  As you remember from this post several of the nannies have been harassing us saying that we need to have kids.  I told them that Nick and I were adopting Eventz, and they were all excited for us for about 30 seconds, and then started to tell me that now that I have a son, I also need a daughter and that Eventz needs a sister.  I told them that he needs a sister and a brother, but not for a while.  They wanted to know how long until we would have another child!  Geez, I just had one, now they want me to have another!!  I let them know that it'll be a little while yet!!

 It's so great to be home with Eventz!  He is catching up developmentally really quickly, currently weighing over 12 lbs!!  He learned to sit up with out using his hands while I was gone and can now do it for several minutes without falling over!!  When I stand him up, he puts pressure on his legs!  He also now knows how to play with toys which is a big change from when I left as he would just look at them and not know what to do.  He was sitting next to me on the couch as I pulled out all the stuff his grandma and great grandma gave him.  He would be holding one toy, and the one next too him would start to sign, and he wouldn't know which one to look at.  His eyes were bigger than I have ever seen.  He was way over stimulated!!  It was adorable!

Every time he says DADA, I tell him that I am MAMA, and he just laughs at me!  One of these days he will know who I am!  His hair is getting so long and starting to curl, and the part that was shaved at the hospital to put in an IV has almost grown all the way back!

He wore footy pajamas last night and was adorable!!  Ok, enough ranting about my boy, I have to go give him a bath because he has breakfast all over him!!


Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Hurricane Tomas

Late last week Hurricane Tomas passed between Haiti and Cuba.  Meteorologists originally thought that it was going to go directly over Haiti, but luckily it shifted west and, although it was still felt in Haiti, it wasn't nearly as bad as it was originally predicted.  COTP is in a valley surrounded by mountains, and so they had rain and wind, but it wasn't anything destructive at all.

I am very thankful that the women I have spent so much time with over the past few months weren't directly effected by this.  However, there were people who were.  Click here to read what young children at the Foyer Des Petits De'munis Orphanage went through during the hurricane.  It is unreal to think that these kids had to sit on a roof in the middle of a hurricane because it was the safest place for them to be.  I am thankful that we didn't have to do that with our children.

Sprinting in the Airport

This morning I walked up to the ticket counter at 8:30 to check in for my flight.  This is the conversation I had with the guy at the counter after he types in my name

Him: you're running really late.
I look at him with a confused look on my face.  "My flight doesn't leave tell 10:05."
Him: Nikki Stolberg, final destination Ft. Lauderdale?
Me: Yes.
Him: You're flight leaves at 8:50 that's 20 minutes.

Woops!!!  Guess Nick and I looked up my OLD flight itinerary and not the new one!  I had 20 minutes to check in, make it through security, and all the way to my gate, which of course was at the end of the terminal, before my plane left.  That's not 20 minutes before it boarded, it had already almost finished that process.  NO, it was 20 minutes until it left, took off, departed.

I was standing in line at security and the guy in front of me kept trying to walk through the metal detector with money in his pocket, or wearing his belt and sweatshirt.  Then when my bag was going through they paused and looked at it for a while.  I kept checking my watch, praying I wouldn't miss my flight.  It felt like it was taking forever.  That whole process probably took 10 mins and I was afraid that they would have already closed the door before I got there.

There is a slight possibility that I may have cut in front of an old couple who where at least in their 80's during security.  But they were going slow and I was in a hurry!  I didn't even repack my back pack or put on my sweatshirt after security.  I just grabbed all my stuff and started sprinting to my gate.  When I got there the lady knew who I was (the guy from the front counter called and had them hold the plane for me) and gave me my boarding pass for my next flight and I sprinted onto the plane.  I had left my ticket stub with them since I was in such a hurry and as I boarded the plane realized I had no idea what my seat was.  I choose a random empty seat, and as I was storing my bag, remembered that Southwest doesn't have assigned seating so I could seat anywhere, luckily!

Anyways, it all worked out, I made my flight, and didn't have to spend a bunch of time waiting in the airport or get up ridiculously early!  It all worked out!! Now I'm just hoping that my bag makes it to Florida and doesn't get lost.  I didn't really give them much time to put it on the plane.  And I was in such a hurry that I didn't even put an address tag or my name on it.  I'm trusting that it'll be there.  It's full of clothes and Christmas presents for Eventz, so he might be sad if it's not!!

Excited to see my boy in less than 24 hours!!

UPDATE: Both my bag and I made it to Ft Lauderdale without any  problems!!  Now I just have to get through my next two flights!!

Sunday, November 7, 2010


Being "home" is a weird feeling.  It's not that I really have culture shock.  I have known about and been working abroad off and on since I was 12.  I can easily go from one life to the other and not have a difficult time adjusting.  It's still weird for some reason.

Nick and I have grown up here, but we don't feel like this is home.  Each day something happens that reminds me of our children in Haiti.  It's not even the stores, nice roads, or conveniences that we have that make being back here weird, it's the relationships with people.  It's the way people act and the things they say.  It's the relationships that they take for granite.

Going to a child's birthday party here makes me long for our birthday parties under the mango tree.  We were at a party last night and Nicks Mom made the comment that there were so many people there that you could hardly talk to them all.  What an awesome problem to have.  I wish that our children were surrounded by so many aunts, uncles, grandparents, and friends on their birthday that they didn't have a chance to talk with them all.  Don't get me wrong, our children are surrounded by nannies and long term staff that love them, but it's not the same as their family.

I watch and listen to my foster sisters to see the drama in their lives and compare it to the youth of Haiti.  One of them was watching a show about wedding dresses where the lady paid $24,000 for her dress.  I couldn't believe that this is what is being portrayed to our youth, it's dreams that will never happen.  Can you imagine how far that money would go in Haiti?  How much formula it could buy?  How many houses it could build?  How many lives it could save?  Why are these things not being portrayed to our youth?  Why are they looking up expensive shoes online, trying to save their money for these things that they "need?" How come when I talk to my foster sisters, or honestly, anyone stateside, they have no idea what it is like to live in Haiti or any developing country.  It's unfathomable for most.

When we told one of the other long term staff in Haiti that we were coming back to the States, she asked if we were excited.  Nick and I both paused for about 10 seconds, and then answered at the same time with a NO.  It was hard to leave.  I hugged and kissed each one of our 40 kids before we left, not knowing if I would see some of them again.  Since being gone, some kids have gone home and one even passed away.  I will likely never see these children again.  New kids have been admitted.  Kids are beginning to walk.  Children are getting sick and going to the hospital.  Some of our nannies are sick.  Cholera is still spreading through the country.  Haiti is being hit by a hurricane.  Nick and I want to be back.  We miss it and we want to help and be there when the children meet different milestones.  We want to hug them before they return to their families and pray over them when they are sick.

My Mom has been watching the news about Hurricane Tomas.  I can't bring myself to watch it and avoid the conversation when it's brought up.  The news only shows Haitians at their worst, kids looking depressed, and families struggling to survive.  The news companies are more into it for the story than anything.  The way it's presented makes people pity Haitians.  I can't tell  you how many times I have heard "those poor kids, they've been through so much."  It's frustrating.  Pitying these people won't do ANYTHING to help them, in fact, it will probably make things worse for them.

I wish the news would tell more success stories.  I wish they could see how much these children are loved by their parents.  How hard working they are.  How much they preserver even through the difficult times.  How they long to go to school, and how hard parents work to make this a possibility for their children.  And most importantly, how deep their love is for Christ.

I've been asked a lot "what is Haiti like?"  How do I answer that.  What if I asked you, "what is the US like?"  How can I explain the hug of a child or how excited they get when I walk into the baby house.  How can I explain how excited the nannies get when I learn to say a new phrase in Creole or how hard it is when they ask for help and I can't do anything for them.

Haiti is horrible yet amazing,
It's heartbreaking yet heartwarming,
It's full of death and full of life,
It's chaotic yet peaceful,
It's covered in poverty, yet surrounded by potential,
It's confusing yet realistic.
Most importantly, Haiti is home.

We have also been asked if we are back to avoid the storm and the outbreak.  NO. We wan't to be there and feel guilty that we are here where it's safe and that we don't have to worry about anything.  People we love are living in Haiti, fearing that this outbreak or this storm may come to our area and make life even more difficult for them.  I can't imagine what this must feel like.

Being back in the States confirms the fact that I am not meant to be here.  I have known for a while that I was made to live somewhere else, and now I am positive that that place is Haiti.  I'm ready to go home, to hug and kiss on all the kids at COTP, and be in the place I am meant to be.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Big decisions!

When Nick and I moved down to Haiti, we knew that more than likely we would end up staying for more than our original year commitment.   A few months in, we emailed our director and told her that we were interested in staying at COTP for 2-3 years.  We had decided that we would wait to tell our parents this until they came down to visit us, because after meeting the kids and staff, as well as seeing how happy we are there, we felt they would better understand what led us to making this decision.

Our time in Haiti has continued to be amazing, and we decided that we no longer liked our 2-3 year commitment.  After a lot of discussion and prayers, we decided that we could see ourselves living in Haiti for 10, 15, or possibly more years.  We see ourselves raising our kids in Haiti. 

After we decided that we wanted to stay in Haiti for an extended period of time, we began talking about the possibility of adopting an adorable 8 month old boy!  Nick and I are proud to announce that we are the parents of Eventz Benjamin Alexander Stolberg, our first son!  He is tiny, adorable, and amazing!  We feel very blessed to have him be apart of our family, and to have the privilege to raise him.

Last Wednesday we left Haiti some what abruptly and spent 5 days in Minnesota talking to the board and our directors of our desires to stay in Haiti for years to come.  (We both only had shorts and flip flops, and with the weather in the low 30‘s, we froze!  Luckily there are Walmart’s there so that we could get some warm clothes).  We both have a lot of visions of what we would like to do to create a change in Haiti, and how we will live our lives there.  After presenting these ideas to the board, we feel confident that God will open and close the right doors for our future.

All the details are still a bit fuzzy as we wait for the board to decide what are the next steps, and whether or not we fit into the long term picture.  One thing that we know for sure is that God will provide for our family.

We arrived in Washington today, completely unbeknownst to our parents.  After spending some time visiting with them, we informed them of our plans to stay in Haiti and adopt Eventz.  I can honestly say, I don’t think that any of them were “that” surprised.  I’m sure that they all knew there was a chance we would stay longer.

Adopting Eventz is going to be a difficult and exhausting task to complete.  Haitian adoption laws are VERY strict, and Nick and I not only don’t met these requirements, but won’t met them for several years.  Realistically it could take us 10+ years to make Eventz legally our son.  This means that we will not be able to travel with him, or take him out of Haiti for a long time.  There are a lot of uncertainties that go along with adopting him.  Adoption laws could change at any moment, and make it impossible for us to finish the process (we actually can’t even start the process for some time).

Nick and I aren’t staying in Haiti only to complete our adoption.  We also aren’t adopting because we are staying in Haiti.  Both of these decisions were talked about separately and are both things that we feel called to do.

We have been away from our son for 7 days now, and are very excited to get home to Haiti to spend time with him.  I will be leaving on the 9th to go back and Nick leaves on the 18th.  We would love to visit as many of our friends and family as possible while here as we aren’t sure when we will be back in Washington, together at least.  We feel that until Eventz is comfortable in our home, one of us will always stay in Haiti with him at all times.  Since he is so young we are hoping that we will both be able to leave for short vacations within the next year or two!

Please pray that Eventz adjusts well to being a member of our family, and that God will continue to open all the right doors for the 3 of us!  Also please pray for Eventz continued health.  He was recently in the hospital and quite sick.  He is doing much better now, gaining a lot of weight, and catching up developmentally.

We are beyond excited to be parents and love our son very much!

Nick and Nikki

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

It Clicked!

Nick and I have been working on our Creole for the past 4 months, struggling everyday to communicate with our staff, community, and the people of Haiti.  About 2 weeks ago, God must have decided that we had suffered with this language barrier enough and decided he would allow us to speak and understand Creole much better than we had before.

Literally, we just woke up one day and it seemed that we were able to communicate much better than we had the day before.  I walked away after having a conversation with a nanny one day and said to myself “whoa, I actually understood ALL of that and not just bits and pieces.”
We are by no means fluent, and still have a lot to learn each day, but we are able to communicate so much more effectively.  One night we needed to talk to the nannies about an upcoming event, and sat in the Zandolit room for probably 15 minutes talking with them about it and laughing a lot.  We were able to make jokes and tease each other a bit which was fun.  Nick and I even pulled a map out and showed them where our parents live, where other long term staff are from, and where kids have been adopted to.  They loved it.  Often they will know that a child lives in Maine, but won’t have any idea where Maine is.  It was fun to be able to show them these things.
Nick has thought that it would be a good idea to tell all the nannies that I don’t like to cook and therefore he does most of it for our family.  Half the nannies lectured me about the fact that I need to cook, and the other half thought it was awesome that he does it.  One nanny told me that Nick is a great guy because no Haitian men would ever cook.  I told them that he is great even on US standards!!!  It’s fun to be able to communicate other things than just work related topics.
We have been going for walks lately and spending time talking to people outside in the community.  We went to Sampson and Michou’s (yard guy and nanny) new house and were able to just visit with them.  The more we learn the better our relationship is with them!