Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Making a difference!

I'm a blog stocker, I'm constantly reading other missionaries blogs and hearing their stories about everything they do to make a difference in Haiti.  Reading these blogs is both inspirational as well as discouraging.  I love to read them, but it always makes me feel like I'm not doing enough to make a difference.  The grass is always greener on the other side.  There are times I wish we were running programs and missions like the ones I read about on blogs.

I often feel discouraged that we aren't doing enough to help our biological families, our nannies, and our community.  Of course I know we are making a difference.  But everyday Nick and I are asked for loans from our nannies who are having some sort of emergency and have to tell them no.  We have had 13 of our children pass away in the 14 months we've been here.  3 of our kids who have been reunited with their families have also passed away.  We are constantly being asked for work and have to tell people we don't have any available.  We get asked all the time for help from people who are desperately in need, but we have to turn them away.

It's easy to get discouraged here.  To see all the things we aren't able to do and all the people we aren't able to help.  It's easy to read other missionaries success stories and assume they are making more of a difference than what we are.

Thankfully recently God has given me a few moments that have really touched me and reminded me of the importance of our work here.

While Nick was gone Eventz, Wedly, and I had a 1 year old boy stay with us for a few days.  The four of us were laying in my bed doing our normal bed time routine of reading stories, reading the bible, singing, and praying.  Eventz was laying on my chest, Jeff was laying next to me in one of my arms, and Wedly was holding on to my hand and staring into my eyes.

I just sat there for a while enjoying the moment and then it hit me.  There are a lot of things I am not able to do.  A lot of people who are suffering right outside my gate that I can't help no matter how much I want to.  But for those three beautiful little boys, I was able to show them God's Love that night and make them feel comfortable as we spent quality family time together.

A few nights ago we had two more kids staying in our house with us who were recently admitted.  As I was giving the 2.5 year old a bath and gently washing his body, he looked up at me and smiled.  A child, especially an older child, smiling in their first few days here is huge.

His smile absolutely broke my heart.  He gave me this look that made me realize it had been along time since anyone had taken good care of him.  He wasn't used to the hugs, kisses, and gentle touches I gave him his first few days here.  It was all I could do to keep from crying as I tried to imagine what his first 2.5 years have been like.  How hard it must be to have lost both parents, be neglected, and then come here to this strange place with strange people who speak a strange language.

Both of these boys have since moved out to the baby house and I don't get to have these intimate moments with them, but I am so thankful that God gave me these moments as a way to remind me that I am making a difference.  I'm able to pray directly for these children.  To help with their development and to show them God's love.  My time with them is short, but it is indeed making a difference.

Thanks to all of you who pray for our family, children, and staff everyday.  We need it to have the strength to serve God to our full capacity.

Friday, August 26, 2011

Diaper Drive Update

Thank you so much to everyone who has signed up to buys box of diapers each month! We currently have 13 people who have volunteered to help us fill this need, we so greatly appreciate it! Today was mail day and we already received several boxes of them! Jenn is already handing them out to the rooms! We can't express how much of a blessing this is to COTP and our babies!

We still have several spots open if any one would still like to purchase a box. For more info see my last blog post.  Here are our openings...

Size Newborns: 1 box needed
Size 1: 6 box needed
Size 2: 5 box needed
Size 3: 4 boxes needed
Size 4: 1 box needed

Thanks for helping us reach our goal!!

Thursday, August 25, 2011

370 days ago

370 days ago Nick and I's lives were drastically changed.  Sadly we didn't really know then that anything out of the ordinary had happened.

370 days ago Eventz and Wedly were admitted at COTP.  I don't remember much about that day except for the parts that include them.

Wedly and Eventz story of how they came to COTP actually started 373 days ago.

Early one morning a man showed up at our gate.  Nick and I were the only ones up, so he decided to go talk to him.  Nick came back and told me that the guy was coming back the following day with two babies which we were going to admit.  I was shocked and kind of nervous that Nick was going to get in trouble.  We hadn't been at COTP very long at this point and we had never done anything at the gate before, and here Nick goes and tells some guy that we'll just take two babies who will go up for adoption right away, even when we very rarely put kids up for adoption at admit.

This Man was the Pastor of Wedly and Eventz parents church.  Nick told him to come back the following day before 2 so that our adoption workers would be here to admit them.  Of course they showed up at 2:30 and there was no one to help them, so we sent them away, again asking them to come the following day before 2.

Before we sent them away though, Amy spent a long time talking to them trying to decide if we were in fact going to admit them.  It didn't take her long to decide that Eventz would benefit from coming here, but she hesitated on Wedly for a long time.  These boys were the first kids that she admitted and she was a bit nervous.  Since Wedly was at the top of the age range that we normally admit and he was healthy, she wasn't sure that it would be a good idea.  However we also admit kids if we feel like they could get sick without our help.  Long story short she ended up deciding that we would take both children.

By the time they showed up on the third day, our adoption workers were all gone.  Since they lived so far away and we felt guilty asking the pastor to drive them once again, we called our adoption worker back in to help fill out the paperwork.  I remember the first time I saw Eventz.  It was as his Mom was stepping out of the car and he was in her arms.

By time they finished everything it was well after dark.  I watched Eventz Mom walk out of the pharmacy and get into the truck.  I didn't think much of it.

Amy asked me if Nick and I could take one of the two boys for the night.  I was secretively a little disappointed because that was supposed to be our first night off in a long time and I really wanted to sleep.  She asked if Carla would take the other child.

I debated in my head for a long time which child would allow me to get more sleep.  There is a strategy to figuring out how children will do on their first night here.  Unfortunately I wasn't super good at the strategy at this point.  I've got it down now though!  Eventz was so tiny that he was going to need to eat a lot during the night, but he was also young enough that he would probably sleep a lot.  Most people would think that taking the a toddler would mean more sleep, but that's not always true, and definitely was not in Wedly's case.  Then on the other hand, it might be worth it to have one or two bad nights knowing that that child will go out to the baby house soon where as the tiny malnourished one will likely be in the volunteer house longer meaning continuous nights with out sleep.  (Can you tell I was pretty tired at this point?)

It took me about an hour to decide, but since Wedly was screaming and Eventz was chill I took him.  I still wonder to this day what would have happened had I have taken Wedly instead.  I've apologized to Carla a few times since then for making her have the harder child and not letting her get any sleep that night!

The next day Wedly was ready to move out to the baby house.  Carla was busy and asked if I would take him over.  She specifically told me "he's sensitive so don't give him to Rosemanny give him to Bouta.  Rosemanny will probably throw him up in the air or freak him out where as Bouta will just hold him tight and cuddle him."  I agreed and promised to do my best.  It was love at first sight for Carla and Wedly and they still have that bond now a year later.

I took him to the baby house, and although I tried to give him to Bouta, Rosemanny was much to excited about the new child, and a chubby one at that, so she ripped him from my arms, started bouncing him on her knee, throwing him in the air, and singing obnoxiously loud like only Rosemanny can.  Wedly was totally freaked and crying, which only made Rosemanny do it more.  She has way more energy than anyone else I know!  Carla was very disappointed in me, but she got over it and Wedly eventually ended up in Bouta's arms where he was given lots of hugs!  Rosemanny thought it was funny to put him on a toy car and push him around the baby house even though he was still shy, so she did this when ever she got the chance!

Eventz stayed in our room for the next two weeks.  Since he was so tiny he had to eat every 2 hours around the clock.  He was also very stubborn and refused to drink, so I had to syringe feed him for about a week.  He was furious every time!  Even so we bonded quickly.  Eventz refused to go to anyone else.  When a short term volunteer would try to hold him while I did depot, he would scream his awful high pitch scream that I could hear from the baby house.  Multiple times that week he was brought out to me and I had to hold him while handing out supplies.

I fell in love with Eventz during these two weeks and was incredibly disappointed when he had to go out to the baby house.  I really didn't want him to, but there was no other option.  Most kids, especially kids as young as he was, do really well with this transition.  Eventz however did awful.  He screamed bloody murder for 2 days straight.  His nannies held him, rocked him, feed him, pushed him in the swing, but nothing worked.  He would not quit screaming.  And if you've ever heard Eventz scream you know it's ear piercing and awful.  If I would just walk in the room and not even hold him, he would stop crying, however, as soon as I left, he would start again.

These two days were incredibly difficult.  The second day I was locked in the far side of the depot organizing and I could hear him screaming.  I sat down and started crying because I felt so bad and just wanted to bring him back to our room and never let him go.

Thankfully after two days he started doing much better.  I didn't even allow myself to go into his room or any where around him because it was to hard for me.  After two weeks in the baby house, I saw a nanny handing him to Amy.  I secretively was hoping he was sick (which means he would stay in the volunteer house).  I hope I didn't look to excited when Amy informed me that he was ill, but I quickly offered to have him again.  I don't ALWAYS try to get out of having babies at night!

After a day and a half it was decided he should go to the hospital because he wasn't doing well.  He spent 5 weeks there total.  Amy went and checked on him one Friday and when I asked how he was doing she said he wasn't doing good.  I asked if he would make it and she hesitated.  I ran straight to the office and told Nick we were going to go see him first thing the next morning.

When we got there I was devastated by what I saw.  He laid there, completely lethargic, eyes rolled back into his head, and limp.  He had an incredibly high fever and bad diarrhea.  He looked awful.  I held him for a long time bawling.  Everyone around me was staring, but I couldn't help it.  As I was holding him I was picturing what I was going to bury him in because I was certain he was going to die in my arms right then.  We had just had another little boy I loved pass away the week before from something similar and had he have had IV's started early enough he might have been saved.

Nick went and asked the nurses to start an IV on Eventz.  They looked at him like he was an idiot and said they'd get around to it in a minute.  He asked them a few times and finally said in a raised voice, "if you don't start an IV now he's going to die."  They stared at him blankly and Nick turned and walked out of the room.  This only made me cry more.  I think they wanted to get me out of there or felt guilty for me or something, because they came over shortly there after and started attempting to put in an IV.

Eventz was so lethargic that he didn't even cry or flinch when they were poking him which isn't a good sign.  It took several attempts but they eventually got one in and he perked up quickly.  We stayed with him for a while and then came back the next morning to check on him again.  I prayed a ton those two days!  Thankfully he was doing much better and appeared to be slowly on the mend!

It was that night that Nick and I started talking about adopting him.  We knew it was crazy, but I couldn't let him go again.

He came home about a week later.  When I heard the truck pull up I sprinted out of the depot, leaving Nick to finish handing out supplies by himself.  I was so excited to see that when he came back he was smiling and in a great mood.  Eventz came home in a onzie that said "I love my Mommy and Mommy loves me!"  As the 4 of us (we had another baby staying with us at that time), laid in bed, Eventz kept saying "Dada" and smiling.  I convinced Nick that he was saying it to him, which of course he wasn't, but it was then that we officially decided to adopt him.  We continued to pray and think about it for the next few days before we finally asked if it would even be an option.

A week later we were on a plane to tell our parents the good news and the rest is history.

A year later, I couldn't be happier that we met both of these boys and that they are both now living with us.  They are both such a joy to us and it's a blessing to see how far they have come.  Wedly is only ours for a short time, but we hope that the time we spend with him will not only change his life, but ours and Eventz as well.

I can't imagine how much more I will love Eventz in another 370 days.  It doesn't feel like I could love him any more, however I know I will continue to love him more and more each day!

Thank you Lord for these boys!

Admit August 20, 2010:

August 2010 Formals:

September 2010

Wedly's 1st piece of cake!

October 2010:

Eventz the night he came home from the hospital!

First Family Pic!

December 2010:

February 2011:

Eventz 1st bday!
March 2011:
Wedly's 2nd bday!
Eventz with Madam Jean Pierre, the nanny who worked with him in the hospital the day he almost died and nursed him back to health!

May 2011:
Visiting Buddies!

July 2011:

August 2011:

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Through the worst of it!

Well it appears that we are already through the worst of Hurricane Irene and it really wasn't bad at all.  Nick and I were in the middle of Hurricane Gustav when it hit Jamaica on our honey moon a few years ago, and so we were expecting it to be similar to that.

This hurricane was originally supposed to hit us directly, but thankfully ended up shifting north and basically missing all of Northern Haiti!  The shift must have been from Nick checking the weather channels website every 20 mins for the past 24 hours! (JK)  I woke up twice last night and had to yell at him to get back in bed and get off the computer.

We did have heavy wind storms off and on and a bit of rain, but nothing to bad.  We will likely still see more of this for a few days.

Although it wasn't as bad as we were expecting it might be, it still would have been miserable for those living in leaking houses.

Thanks for your prayers!

Preparing for a storm

Last night we went for a walk in our community.  We stopped and visited one of our child's grandma and Mom.  We also visited several of our nannies, one of which just had a baby.  Not even 30 mins after we returned home did it start pouring.  I was thankful that I didn't get drenched.

But then my stomach started hurting as I thought about the people that we had just visited who live in mud and stick homes, whose roof's leak, who have giant holes in the side of their homes where their house is falling apart.  Here I sit in my nice sturdy house not having to worry about the storm; enjoying the fact that during the storm there will me no one at the gate needing help, the nannies will stay in the baby house and won't come asking for anything, and the internet will be out meaning my husband won't be working.  But at the same time people literally right out side my gate will be sleeping on wet beds if their lucky enough to have a bed, if not they are sleeping on a muddy floor.  People I love and care about are getting wet.  Their few possessions are getting ruined.  Their kids getting wet and sick.

I started thinking about times where we have had flooding in Washington.  The news is all over it, showing video's of neighbors helping each other fill sand bags to keep the water away.  Showing giant lines at the store buying groceries, batteries, and various supplies to help protect peoples property.

What do we do to prepare for a storm here?  Well at COTP we pick up all the kids toys, put towels in some of the windows to prevent the rain from seeping in, and Nick and I move our bed away from the window to keep it dry (we only have screens so rain can come in).

But what does the rest of Haiti do.  Nothing.  There is no way to prepare for it.  If it comes, it comes.  If they get wet they get wet.  If their house floods and they loose all their stuff, they loose all of there stuff.  There are no stores selling supplies to prepare for it.  Often there is no way to fix up their house to prevent the rain from coming in.  There is no neighbor helping neighbor.  What happens happens.

Cholera is still really bad in Haiti, and likely will be for a long time.  It's likely that this storm and all the rain will make cholera even worse.  We have taken in several kids recently whose parents have passed away from this illness, an illness that is easily cured with IV's and oral hydration packets, basic medical attention.  It's easily preventable with clean water.

Please pray that this storm passes quickly, doesn't affect any of our nannies, doesn't increase Cholera, and that it's the only one of the season.  Please pray for us over the next few weeks as we will likely have people coming to the gate asking for help as a result of this storm.  Please pray that we are able to help them.  Please pray for our nannies that work today and aren't at home with their families, comforting their children, and letting them know it'll be ok.  Please pray that the roads don't get to flooded or washed out.


Hurricane Irene Update

It looks like Hurricane Irene will be down graded to a tropical storm by time it hits us.  So far we have had a few heavy rain storms but nothing to bad.  When it rains we loose internet, but I'll try to keep you updated as much as possible!  Please continue to pray for everyone whose house leaks or who doesn't have housing at all.  Especially pray for all those living in tents in Port au Prince still from the earth quake.

Monday, August 22, 2011

Hurricane Irene

Hurricane Irene is coming straight at Cap Haitian and should be here tonight or tomorrow.  We are already seeing some of the rain and wind from it.

We of course will all be safe as we live in sturdy houses.  Please pray for our staff, community, and biological parents as they may not have adequate housing.

Death by Mango

Our mango tree has always been a favorite of our volunteers and kids.  It's almost like a place of refugee.  Hundred's of birthdays have been celebrated underneath it's branches, birthday's of kids who we weren't sure would even make it.  Many kids have been tenderly nursed back to health under that tree in the loving hands of our volunteers and Nannies.  There's been hundreds of going away parties under it for kids who's adoptions are complete.  Our kids and volunteers alike have spent thousands of hours doing one on one time there.  We've celebrated holidays under it and eaten thousands of meals in the shade it provides.  I can only imagine how many thousands millions of pictures have been taken under our mango tree.

Needless to say it's a favorite location of hundreds of people all around the world.  I often here returning volunteers rave to the new-bee's how amazing our mango tree is.  People talk about it for years.  It's a HUGE part of COTP and is smack dap in the middle of our compound.

However, this summer our mango tree, our place of refugee, had a different feel to it.  It went from a place of fun, where friendships were made and children were taken care of, to a war zone!

This summer our tree was full of thousands of mangos that could and would drop at any given moment.  At the beginning of spring they were pretty tiny and many of us got hit in the head and we'd all laugh and joke about what we would do when they were bigger.

Then they kept growing, and growing, and soon they were full sized mangos that still continued to drop constantly all day long.

It got so bad that we eventually had to make the mango tree off limits and tell everyone that the children were not allowed underneath it.  For the most part people understood why, but there were a few people I had to remind several times a day of the new rule!  I don't blame them though, the mango tree is awesome!

One of our nannies kids came in after being hit in the head by a fallen mango and was in a ton of pain.  He was 16, I can't imagine what it would do to an infant or toddler.  Some nannies even suggested we walk in a big circle around the mango tree as to not go underneath it at all when carrying a child.

As a mango fell you would have about 1.5 seconds of warning to throw your hands over your head to protect yourself as it hit other branches on its way torpedoing down to earth.  Sometimes 3 or 4 would fall at the exact same time and they'd almost surround you.  Carla was hit in the foot by one that fell.  I had several fall a few inches away from me.  Toby, our dog was  brave stupid enough to lay under it and got hit in the tail by one.  Luckily besides for those instances no one else was hit or hurt!

The toddlers did love it though because they were able to eat mangos every day, some times multiple times a day (that explains the never ending diarrhea)!!  They were like little savages, they would just rip the skin off with their teeth and devour the whole thing in minutes.  They would have juice dripping down their face and shirts, but they didn't care and would go grab another one and eat it as well!

Each of our nannies would take a whole bag full of them home everyday, and we'd still have more.  You couldn't even tell that they took any because the ground was so covered.  I even saw one nanny gather up a giant 50 # rice bag full of mangos, which I assumed she was taking home to sell.  The bag was so heavy that two of them had to drag it to the gate.  It was quite a site.

Apparently it wasn't just our mango tree that had a good season because multiple times a week, sometimes multiple times a day, I would have nannies bring me a giant bag of mangos from their local tree at home!  I appreciated it, but there was no way that my two boys and I could go through 3+ large sacks of mangos in a week.

Thankfully though mango season is all over and COTP has returned to normal.  Our volunteers are much happier now because they can sit under the mango tree and love on the most adorable kids in the world.  Our kids are happy because they can have one on one time and birthdays under there again.  And we are happy because they are happy and theres no nannies lecturing us about the kids being under the tree!

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Every Once in a While

Every once in a while I have to upload pictures of our crew to keep the grandparents happy and from sending me hate mail.  So here you go Grandma's lots of pics of the hooligans...

Visiting with Family

Eventz doesn't cry over spilt milk, he just drinks whats left in the cup!
Opening a package from his Mom and Dad

Nice Shoes Dude!
Eventz running laps around the table!

Enjoying the fort

This is how I found Wedly one morning when I looked in his room!
Mesmerized by the TV
Trying to look around me so that they can see their movie!

Unfortunately this will be the first and only time the boys wear these glasses as they all broke!