Saturday, December 13, 2008

Letting Go

When you came to me, on that starry night
And I held you in my arms.
Moonlight on your face,
Heaven in your eyes
And you stole away my heart.
As you grew,
I always knew your destiny.
I knew someday you would have to leave,
But still, I can feel a mother’s pain,
So I cry.
Is it selfish when I do?
I don’t want to lose my life with you
Though I see the time has come to let you go
You know it doesn’t make is easier.
And so,
I will say my prayers with you my child
Wherever you
may go with love,
my love.
Is it selfish when I do?
I don’t want to lose my life with you.

I need to warn you now, this letter is an emotional one. It will be at times horribly selfish sounding. It might be scattered and senseless. But it will be real. None the less I think it’s only fair that I tell you in advance what to expect. Right now as I write to you my head is aching, like it has been for the last 3 days, it is aching from the tears that I have cried and the ones I am holding back. Next week my "Ella" will be going to her home in France. A woman who is a stranger to me will sweep into our gates and become the luckiest person in the world. And I will watch it happen. A moment that I have always known was coming but that I never possibly could have prepared for. She has a mommy and now she will be real.

On my rational side I can sit back and what a great, amazing thing this is for her! She is getting what we have all been praying for, she is finally going home! Doesn’t she deserve a real live outside of this place. She needs a mama who fusses over her. Someone to dress her up and show her off to the world. Someone to rock her to sleep every night and to hold her when she is sick, or sad, or scared. She is going to a place that God chose for her. This mother is the one that He handpicked because He knew that they would be perfect for each other. He created one for the other. The opportunities she will have are endless and I am so excited for her. She will go home when she is only 13 months old. With adoptions from Haiti taking an average of 18 months that is a miracle. An orphanage could never be a real home for her, no matter how much we here love her. She is so lucky to be going to her home being so young!

But here comes the selfish part. Because her adoption went through so quickly I have to give her up much sooner than I ever thought. I was convinced I would always have a few more months. And as good as I know this will be for her I don’t want to let her go! I think back on the things I have learned since coming to Haiti and one of the biggest is that time goes by right before your eyes and no amount of time is ever “enough” If I had been with her for years and years I don’t think I would still be ready to say goodbye. I love that baby more than I have ever loved anyone and now I have to trust someone else to take care of her, a person who I know nothing about. I know if a parent who had adopted from Haiti were reading this I would sound horrible. How selfish could I be, wishing that this sweet little girl would spend even more time away from her mother just because I want her with me? I realize how it sounds but I also know that you who are my friends and supporters will allow me to share my struggles with you no matter how rotten they make me sound. How do I know that she is going to be good to her? How do I know that she will raise her to be kind and gentle and happy? How do I know that she will take her to church and teach her about Jesus? I guess it comes down to the fact, and this is what makes it the hardest, that I don’t know! In my life there have been a lot of moments when I have had to trust God to be in control but I think this is the most difficult of them all. It is one thing to trust God with your life, it is another to give over someone you love more than life. It is true surrender and one I am being forced to make. I am thankful for it no matter how bad it hurts because I know it is a lesson that I have to learn. In giving everything over to Him you gain what you couldn’t ever get on your own. I do not love Ella with a love that was mine. It was a love that God gave me for this beautiful little baby and even if it means that I have to say goodbye, He taught me how to love through her. He gave her to me to teach me that lesson and whatever hurt I feel is losing her is worth the lesson of love that I have found.

I remember the first time I met "Ella". I was on the balcony one afternoon in April and Chris came up the stairs with the most beautiful tiny little baby and my heart was gone. She was 4 months old, weighed 10 lbs and had these eyes that captivated me! She watched me everywhere I went on that first day and since then I have been helpless to keep my mind off of her. I remember how light and tiny she was and how she loved kisses! If I kissed her cheek she laughed and laughed! The first time I gave her a sucker she made the biggest mess and threw a HUGE fit when it was gone. I think back on how many memories I have of her and I can remember for hours. It doesn’t seem fair, that I would have these memories when her mother wont. If I could speak to her I would tell her everything! I wish I could describe to her how she felt as a tiny little baby sleeping in my arms. I wish somehow I could make her see my memories of her eating her first birthday cake or the sounds of her very first baby giggles. I don’t know how to do that. I don’t know what I could possibly say. It just doesn’t feel right that I would have those memories and she won’t. I got to have her, only because she didn’t. The sadness that I feel is the joy in her heart. I never knew that one single moment could bring 2 people such opposite emotions. I don’t know how I will face that day. I think the only way will be to look through my sadness at her joy, otherwise I will never last.

I think it goes without saying but I ask you to pray for me this week. Pray that my last days with Ella will be filled with love and joy and that if possible maybe time could slow down, just for a little while. Please pray for the language barrier between her mother and me. I hope that I could at least be able to tell her how much her little girl was loved here at GLA and how much joy she brought me. I don’t know how much English she will speak and I would be so disappointed if I felt like I didn’t know her at all when she left here. More than anything else pray for this baby. Pray that she will be 100% healthy when her mom gets here. Pray that her adjustments will go well in her new home and pray that she will grow up in a place that teaches her to love Jesus and serve him with all of her heart.

Letting her go in faith and peace,

Monday, December 8, 2008

I Prayed For This Child

A greeting again to the ones I love, This may be the most exciting update I have ever written. This week I am convinced of the power of prayer more than ever! Usually I try to work up to my good news but I can’t do it this time. S is AMAZING! Last week when I asked you all to pray for this special little boy I knew I could count on you. And now it is my pleasure to be able to share with you what prayer has done in just this short time. Friday morning I went into the nursery and S was standing outside his crib holding on to the rails. When I walked in the door he looked up and saw me and proceeded to WALK holding on to his crib rails all the way across the room to where I was standing…all the while with a huge grin on his face! This may not sound like a big thing to many of you but believe me this is a huge milestone for him. I stood in the room with tears streaming down my face. I was completely helpless to stop them. The nannies were all staring but I could do nothing about it. God is so good to me. I have been so discouraged by S & S's situation that I have to admit that I haven’t always been praying with the faith that should have had. It almost felt like God had forgotten about these kids. Well this past week erased all of those doubts from my mind. God is working everything in His timing and now I am reminded of that, He decided to grace me with little signs that He is hearing our prayers even when I feel like He isn’t!

At Joel and Yvonne’s house on Sundays Joel has been teaching about the power of prayers and it is so fitting at this time in my life. God is speaking to ME personally! I feel so secure in Him today because I know that He is moving in my life and because of that I have nothing to fear. I have no fear for the future, I don’t have to worry about what will happen in June when I have to make so many decisions, because I know that He is in the middle of all of it and that is my comfort! I love knowing that God is The One making S grow. I take no credit for the progress he has made except to know that I have prayed. God put strength in his legs and in his mind to do the things he needs to do. God gave S amazing nannies to care for him, they encourage him and care for him and love his for 23 hours out of every day! The time I spend with my babies is amazing but I am not the most important person in their lives! Every time I have gone in the nursery since Friday S has been standing up with his nanny at his side! God put these beautiful women in S's life to do the work he needs. I spend an hour, they spend everything they have! I know that they also love him, they take care of him, they worry about him and they pray for him! God is taking care of him through them! What peace that brings!

Since I have such good news with S most everything else I have to report seems pale. This weekend we baked Christmas cookies with some of the bigger kids at the baby house. They each got frosting and cookie cutters and went to town! They had such a good time and I got some adorable pictures of them having moments that every little baby should get. At the end of the night we shared our creations with the nannies and the kids in the big nursery! I love watching those little babies covered in crumbs eating their cookies with such enthusiasm! How sweet!

The GLA baby boom continues! We had another 8 kids brought to us. 6 boys and 2 little girls over the last 2 weeks. Everyone seems very happy and surprisingly healthy. I pray that they will continue to be joyful at GLA and that they will grow strong and be prepared for some very special families! 3 more families where untied with their kids as well and we expect 2 more this afternoon! I will never get tired of seeing that! Please pray for their adjustments.

I invited you to all PLEASE keep praying for the situation with S & S's birth mother. I know that God hears our prayers. He is showing me that He is still in this situation and I am renewed because of it. I want to have an even better report for you next time I write. Please pray also for Ella. She has been sick for about a week now with a bad ear infection and I just pray that she will be healthy again soon. And, as always please pray for my strength here. My scabies and ringworm are both fading and I am very thankful for that but I need prayers that I will not be infected again! What a miserable time I have had! Please pray for my spirit; although I am filled with joy today there are still moments of discouragement in my work. Please pray that I will stay joyful and energized for my work here.

Praying for babies,

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

The Lifter Of My Head

"What do I have if I don’t have you Jesus?
What in this life could mean anything more?
You are my Rock, You are my Glory
You are the Lifter Of My Head"

2 weeks now since my last update and I have much news to share. Life in Haiti goes on and with each passing day it becomes more and more obvious that my calling here is a privilege to me. Until I sat down to write this I couldn’t think of much of anything to write that I feel like I haven’t written before. As usual, now that I have started the words won’t stop.
In 2 weeks we have gotten 3 more new babies. S is here with her mother because she is sick. She was about 6 weeks old and weighed less than 4 lbs when they came to us last Sunday! She is here for medical care to get healthy enough to go home with her mother. Until then her Mama will stay with her and help in the nurseries. A few hours before S we had a little boy dropped off. He had no name and so a name was given to him. The name that was chosen he shares with my brother and so of course I am drawn to this sweet boy, he is tiny but very healthy and of course adorable! When I am holding him I can’t help but think that his blankets weigh more than he himself does! Also brought to us was another much needed baby girl! Since I got here we have had only one other little girl brought in and so B is a welcome addition and I must say we are all enjoying having a bit more sugar and spice in our world here. She is adorable just around 5 months old, she has a TON of hair and big huge captivating eyes. She has me wrapped around her little finger.
Amidst all the joys that new babies bring I have sad news to share. On Thursday night at about 8pm DJ went to be with Jesus. DJ had been very sick since he got to GLA and it didn’t come as a surprise but it was a sad day when he left us. Seeing him in his last few days, filled with so much pain, made me extremely grateful for the assurance that we have for eternity. I can know that he is free of any pain and struggle now!
Joel and Yvonne, who are missionaries in our area and hosts of our church services every Sunday are finally back from The States! They have been out since I got here and I have thoroughly enjoyed having them home! They host our church services in their home every Sunday and come to us every Tuesday night for a bible study. I missed having a regular Sunday service while they were gone and the Tuesdays add even more. They really help keep me excited about God in the role that He has put me in here. The encouragement and teaching they share with us here plays such a huge role in my attitude towards my work! We are so blessed to have them back and I praise God for returning them safely to us!
The last few weeks all of my kids have been doing really well! M, my little tiny guy who turned one last month has gotten 2 teeth! A wonderful milestone because he has been so malnourished but I think that I will really miss his beautiful, toothless little grin. I have also been working particularly hard with one of my little guys since I got here and I have seen some wonderful growth in him. S is here at GLA with a twin sister. They were 2 last August. While his sister has done very well and it right where she is supposed to be in her development, S is falling more and more behind. He has a weak eye which makes it very difficult for him to focus on objects, his vision also makes it really hard for him to have any sense of balance and so he isn’t walking yet. He is a big boy and working with him can get exhausting but I know that he has so much potential and so I feel so much more urgency to give him 100%. When I got here he didn’t do much of anything other than lie in his crib all day. He could sit up but he didn’t really show much interest in what was going on around him. While I have started working physically with him I have started praying constantly over this child. God is hearing my prayers I know it! S has started responding in so many ways. I found a big bouncing ball that Molly and Joyce were kind enough to share with me and we are using that help with his balance. He sits up tall on it and thinks that it is just so much fun! Little does he know how much good it is doing him too! He has also started following simple instructions from me, when I tell him to come to me he scoots on his butt all the way across the floor to wherever I am. If I hold on his hands he will stand up and sit if I ask him to. Just last week he has started walking while holding onto my hands!!! Best of all S sees me now! When I go to the nursery to get him he smiles up at me. He used to hit me in the face when I would try to work with him, now he gives me big grins and huge kisses all the time. His love and hugs are the most rewarding moments of my day because I know how far he has come. A lot of times when I am working with him I have to take a break and wipe tears from my eyes because I am so amazed by this child. He is the only reward I will ever need for this work that I do These are remarkable improvements from where he was at when I got here and I know it is because I am covering this little boy in prayer.
S and his sister have a unique situation here at GLA. Their adoption went through the Haitian court system last spring. They have the most amazingly patient Mom and Dad in The States who waited for them for 19 long months before that. At the end of the adoption process for children going to The United States an orphan investigation is performed. This is so that the US government is sure that the child has not been sold into child slavery or was forced to be given up for any other reason. Usually the step is a formality since all the parents of GLA children are required to sign the papers allowing their child to be adopted when they bring them to us. This was true in their case but now their birth mother is refusing to give her consent. I don’t know exactly why she is choosing to do this. I have heard so many different stories that I am not even going to try to share any of them with you. That isn’t important. What is important is that because of this the US visa for the m can not be issued. They are stuck waiting and no one knows for how long. According to Haiti the twins belong to their American parents but they are not allowed to enter the United States without their visa. This is a heartbreaking situation that has been going on for far too long. Their birthmother has no resources to take care of these children. If they were to live with her, surely Sonel would die. If Sonia lived she would grow up here in Haiti with no hope for a future beyond what her mother is living in. She would be hungry and weak and would be forced to grow up before she would ever have a chance to grow old. I am one who will always speak about the love that I see in birthparents here, I could never imagine the courage and heartbreak they must go through when making the decision to give their child to another person. But I am also realistic. There are some children here whose parents are not loving towards them. There are parents here, just like anywhere in the world that should not be allowed to raise their children and I believe that is the case in this situation. These chikdren belong with a family who can give them the life they deserve. S has done so amazing the last few months I can’t imagine what he would do if he had the proper therapy. They have parents who are not willing to give up on them no matter how hard it gets. I know that is very rare. How many of us could do the same. Waiting every day and not knowing if you will ever get to bring them home but living every moment believing that you will! It must be exhausting. It is the proof I need that they are the perfect people for these kids. During my prayers over S I pray for this situation. Every morning I take him at 8 to begin my day, and before we do anything else I pray over him. I place my hand on his head and I pray that his eye will be strengthened. That he will be able to see perfectly and with that his physical abilities will just explode. That he will walk and talk and run and jump like he should. I pray for his Mom and Dad who have spent so much time waiting! I pray for their strength and for their spirits. That they will not be discouraged but they will use this time to seek Jesus with all of their lives. That they will be so close to Him that nothing could diminish that joy and that waiting will just become one more way for them to serve Him. Mostly right now I pray for S's birth mother. I pray that her heart will grow with love for her babies and she will recognize that they only thing she can truly do well for them is to sign those papers. I pray that she will not find rest until she does just that. I pray that God would give her peace and that He would love her and that He would give me a love for her. That is a very difficult thing for me to do because I see what she is doing by holding out. These babies are being punished and it is so hard to watch because I witness what they could be and I don’t feel love towards her. Sometimes I think I might even hate her for this, but I know that hate will never win. I pray that God will grow a love for her so that I can pray sincerely for her. It is a work in progress but I feel it some days more than others. At the time being I am using my nights to pray for this specific part of the situation. The nights are not quiet here and I wake up often. Usually 3 or 4 times a night and when I do I immediately start to pray. I pray that wherever she is she would feel restlessness. I pray that God will put on her heart what she needs to do and that she will be woken at that time with that task in her mind. I know that our God is a God who answers our prayers and when I am lying in my bed I can picture her wherever she is being woken and touched by God. I would like to ask special prayers from all of you in this pursuit as well. Please join me in praying Sonia and Sonel home. When you are lying in bed at night and you find yourself awake please pray for this! Pray that she will be touched by God by so many of our prayers that she can’t think of anything else! Pray that these children can go home! I am praying every night and at 8 every morning. I know the scripture talks about the power we have in numbers so I urge all of you to join me. 8am here is 7 for any of you in Minnesota. Please make a point of saying a prayer for this situation at that time. I have confidence that we will all be amazed at what God is going to do in this!
Along with this you can always pray for the babies here. I think the chicken pox is almost over! We have only a few kids who still haven’t gotten them so we have an end in sight. Please pray that the ones who are still sick will be healed quickly. Pray also for Joel and Yvonne and all the work they do. Pray that God will give them the words and wisdom to share with us what we need. And as always pray for my spirit. That I would always be serving and growing in His word and that I would be a light. Pray that God would be lifting me into the paces He chooses!
Staying encouraged in His love,

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Is This What It Takes To Get My Attention

As I write this letter to you I hear the drums of a voodoo ceremony somewhere in the distance. They have been going strong for over 12 hours now. All night last night they played. I heard them for so long that they became a rhythm inside my chest. My heart pounding to their beat. I fell asleep and woke up to the sound. Over the course of the night I must have become accustomed to the sound because when I woke up this morning it took a few minutes to register what I was hearing. My greatest fear in Haiti is coming true. I am becoming used to the life here and I hate that idea. I don’t want to become used to the struggles of Haiti because when I become used to it I don’t feel urgent about it anymore. I don’t ever want to see a child on the street during the day because her family can’t afford the tuition to send her to school and find that acceptable. I don’t want to sit in my car downtown when a barefoot young boy with dull hopeless eyes hold out his hands for whatever pennies I will drop and not have my heart break at the sight. I don’t want to see a baby with every rib showing and skin so lose it sags and not be shocked by the sight. I can’t stand the thought of these things becoming normal to me and yet this is what I find happening.

I believe God has seen me struggling with this and so, is brining the true desperation that I am living among into full view this week. Reminding me why I am here and how much people need GLA. Last week ended on such a high note. Sending home those three girls was such an incredible answer to so many prayers. With those little girls we have now sent home 8 children since I got here! Over this last month first M and them DL came to us. Things were going well. Last week, over a six day period we had 5 little babies given into our care. J is 8 months old and the others are all under 12 weeks. No matter how many children we send home our numbers stay the same. God is showing me that the need for GLA in Haiti is still large. I stopped really seeing that. I was so caught up in how many children we are sending into their new homes that I almost forgot about the children left here in Haiti who still need us. The work here is far from finished.

One little guy, who was brought to us on Saturday, he is about 2 months old and very sick, he is malnourished and as a result has some sort of skin condition. His face looks like it is literally peeling away. The poor little baby must be in terrible pain and Dixie has said that she isn’t sure yet if he will survive. Even this doesn’t shock me like it should. I hate that. M and DL came so skinny and weak and already they have grown fat and strong. They are so healthy that I almost don’t remember how they were before. The fact that they could have died just doesn’t seem real. But in fact the reality it that many children here do. Even today while I sit here there are babies just miles away that I can not help. This is a very upsetting idea to me. When I came here I wanted to help everyone! Over the course of my time here, becoming discouraged, I have forgotten that although I can not help everyone I can help SOMEONE! Rather than become overwhelmed and eventually deal with it by accepting the way things are I need to be filled with a passion to do what I am able. I pray that God would fill me with that urgency again. I realize that I will be here for a long time (although already it seems not long enough) I can’t possibly live every day being overwhelmed by what is going on around me. But I pray that God would keep reminding me of the struggles in little ways. That I would find it impossible to slip back into the comfort of life, even here and ignore it. It should take a week like this to bring me back to the needs of the people I serve.

Along with the struggles of this week came fun and joy as always. My kids continue to grow and progress every day. F is walking more and more and one little guy J-Man started taking a few steps as well. Ed who is 17 months old got the chicken pox this week and K is still recovering although he looks much more comfortable in the last few days. He is still waiting on a family, please pray that one will come forward soon. I have been having a great time with my Ella. She was moved up into a bigger nursery this week and I am very excited to see how she will grow in her new room. Wednesday November 12th will be her first birthday. How blessed I am to get to share such a very special day with her.

This past week has been a very unique one for me for another reason. Molly and Joyce who run the toddler house and whom I live with have the opportunity to go to The States for a much needed vacation and a day to visit with many GLA kids who had a reunion in Michigan! They got to see many of the kids they cared for and the families of several kids who are still here. Before they left they got together those kids and made videos for their parents. I’m sure they were thrilled to see their children on film. Since Molly and Joyce are gone and I am here at the house they showed me how to run the generator and water pump. It seems like a lot of pressure and I was a little nervous but John Louis, our gate guard and all of the nannies have been so great and helpful! Everything has gone perfectly smooth so far. John Louis even helped me pull off “movie night” on Friday for the big kids. They know they can’t get away with anything with him there. I have had a great time with them but they ask every day when Joyce and Molly will be back. It is obvious the kids adore them and when you see them all together it is evident that Molly and Joyce feel the same way. I helped them make a paper chain to tell how many days until they are home and every morning we tear off one link. 4 more days! Please pray for them in their travels this week. Pray that everything would go smoothly. That they will be well rested and return even more in love with their kids than when they left.

As far as the school tragedy is concerned I don’t have much new news to report. Saturday I did hear that they uncovered 2 classrooms full of children that withstood the crumble. Praise the Lord these lives were spared! I also heard that the very youngest students escaped harm because they were outside for a recess during the accident.

This week I ask that you continue to pray for several things. Please keep on praying for those involved with the school disaster. Pray for the families who lost their precious children. Pray for people to search for answers and to find them in Jesus. Please pray for out new babies, especially for little DJ as he is very sick and in a lot of pain. Pray for our kids who still have the chicken pox, for a quick healing. Pray for Molly and Joyce in their travels and for the kids who are missing them. This week too I ask for your prayers for myself. Please pray that my passion would grow with each passing day, that it would be impossible for me to look past the things going on around me, and that I would really see them. Pray that instead of being discouraged I would feel energized for the work that I have been given! Pray for my love to grow.

Until next time, I will be faithfully carrying out to the best of my ability the greatest assignment of my life.

Saturday, November 8, 2008

School Collapase

Many of you have been contacting me with questions about the school collapase, like most of you the only information I have recieved is what is on the internet news sites. Yahoo news reports have been printed off and passed around to us here. The report I have and I'm told is the most accurate is this...

PETIONVILLE, Haiti – Rescuers digging through a collapsed school in Haiti pulled more bodies from sandwiched slabs of concrete, raising the death toll to 75 on Saturday as crews continued searching for survivors. President Rene Preval said poor construction, including a lack of steel reinforcement, was to blame for Friday's collapse of the concrete College La Promesse in Petionville. Roughly 500 children and teenagers typically crowded into the three-story building. Preval told The Associated Press that structures throughout Haiti are at similar risk because of poor construction and a lack of government oversight. "It's not just schools, it's where people live, it's churches," he said at the site of the collapse as crews picked through the wreckage in search of more victims. Doctors Without Borders was treating more than 80 people, many with serious injuries, said Francois Servranckx, a spokesman for the aid group. Petionville Mayor Claire Lydie Parent said at least 17 students were found crushed in a single classroom on Saturday but the report was denied by a doctor and firefighter at the scene. "There are a lot of rumors, you know," said Cap Haitien Fire Chief Ardouin Zephirin, who was brought in from Haiti's second-largest city to help with the disaster on the outskirts of the capital. Preval said a previous mayor of Petionville had tried to halt the expansion of La Promesse over safety concerns but the effort faltered when a new mayor came into power in the hillside Port-au-Prince suburb. "We have got to have a consistent policy that when one administration leaves office the next continues its work," the president told AP. "The next time the mayor speaks and the authorities speak, people will listen." International aid was trickling in. Nearly 40 search-and-rescue officials from Fairfax, Virginia, were expected to arrive with dogs by Saturday afternoon, said Alexandre Deprez, acting director of the local U.S. Agency for International Development. "I see a dramatic turnabout in the situation once they're here," he said. "We've done everything we've possibly can practically from the first hour." The Dominican Republic, which shares the island of Hispaniola with Haiti, was sending two helicopters to help, Dominican Health Minister Bautista Rojas said. France also sent a team of 15 firefighters and doctors with two rescue dogs. A French civil protection official, Commandant Patrick Vailli, said Saturday that the workers spotted five people believed to be alive in the school's two basements and recovered two bodies. Haitian Police commissioner Francene Moreau said the minister who runs the church-operated school could face criminal charges. Efforts to reach the preacher were not successful. Thousands looked on from beside the school and across the valley, cheering each time a live student was extricated from the debris. One student who emerged and was lifted on a stretcher cried and made the sign of the cross over and over. Thousands of Haitian menial laborers live in collapse-prone hillside slums around the capital to be near the mansions of the foreign diplomats, U.N. staff and wealthy elite for whom they work. Parents said they toiled endlessly throughout the year to afford the school's $1,500 tuition in hopes of empowering their children to someday escape poverty. Haiti, the poorest and most politically tumultuous country in the Western Hemisphere, has been struggling to recover this year from riots over rising food prices and a string of hurricanes and tropical storms that killed nearly 800 people. U.N. peacekeepers were sent to Haiti following the bloody ouster of former President Jean-Bertrand Aristide in 2004 and have improved security by fighting gangs and training local police.

Petionville is located about 20 - 30 min from where God's Littlest Angels is. We have not been able to help with efforts at the site because everyone has been asked to stay away and let the workers do their job. Dixie has contacted Lydie, the mayor of Petionville, who has shared some of the needs with us. We are all asking our supporters to help with these needs. We are collecting money to go to 3 specific causes. The money will go to help with the hospital costs of survivors as well as helping with funeral costs and provide relief for those paying for morgue bills. A morgue in Haiti charges about $100 a day to keep a body, this is a huge ammount and is not possible for many Haitians. If you would like to help with this you can send money to Mrs. Jean Bell 2085 Crystal River Dr. Colorado Springs, CO 80915 With School Relief in the memo. Please Please Please keep the people here in your prayers this week! There are many families who have lost precious children and many more who are still waiting on news. Pray for them. Pray also for us here that we would be witnesses in our actions towards the Haitian people at this time.

More news as I get it...

Sunday, November 2, 2008

Fix This

In my time here in Haiti I have seen many people come and go. Diffrent people with diffrent mindsets. One thing I have seen too much of in this short time is the number of people coming here thinking that they are going to “fix” Haiti. Often times setting out, although probably not consciously,with an idea that Haiti needs to become like North America. That they can solve the problems with a band-aid made of money. Being here, seeing Haiti, I know that is not what she needs. Yes Haiti is a poor place. Things happen here that would never happen in the United States. But Haiti is not the United States. Haiti is Haiti. She had a people with a rich culture. A people who love to sing and dance and who are so genuine when they speak to each other that they hold the hands of the person they are speaking to. They look into each other’s eyes, in North America that seems to be a very uncommon thing. We find it uncomfortable when someone looks so deeply at us. What is it that we are trying to hide?
Haiti needs help, that is a fact. But does she need to be fixed? Maybe she just needs to grow. This week made me very conscious of this idea. Since being at GLA I have seen many babies go home, a few weeks ago it was two 5 year old boys. But this week we sent home 3 girls. Sisters, almost 4, 7 and 9 years old. Tonight they will fall asleep in beds that have been waiting for them for many months. But it is unfamiliar. I wonder if they miss their rooms at the orphanage, where their closest friends are always just a few feet away. I wonder if they find it hard to fall asleep without the dogs barking in the distance and the sounds from the homes around them. The muffled Creole words seeping through the walls. I wonder how long before they start forgetting.

I am so excited for the things these girls will be blessed with in their lives. The oldest sister, at 9 years old, has experienced a life in her years in Haiti that would make most adults give up hope, things that will probably never leave her. But now she has been given a new chance! She and her sisters are going to a home with a mom and a dad who have prayed for them. Who have worked with everything they have for them. They will give them everything a child needs to grow up. Never will they wonder when they will eat again. They will have a home, and when someone asks them what they want to be when they grow up they can pick anything, ANYTHING and know that it is possible. Best of all they will grow up to know Jesus. I overheard a conversation between this father and his new daughters on his first night here. They stood in front of a statue of Jesus, he pointed to it and said “you know who this is? This is Jesus, He loves you very much and He gave you to me to take care of you”

From the next room where I was trying not to listen in on this private moment I wiped tears from my eyes. I am convinced that this is going to be the best possible family for these girls. They were chosen twice, by this man and woman who would become their mommy and daddy, and by God. He chose them for these 2 people, to be a family, and He chose them for Him, to do His work. 3 girls went home today to a place where they will grow up, a place that will give them the a chance to be anything they want to be. But they also left a home today. A place where they were born, a place where, also they grew up. A place, I pray will never leave them. I prayed a prayer over them that I pray for every child here. I prayed that God will bless them as they grow. I prayed that He would give them a love for their families. That he would make them happy. I prayed that he would give them talents and energy to do amazing things. On top of all of this I prayed that He would give them a passion for their first home. God has filled me with this passion for Haiti having never known the place, how much more could he do with one of her own children.

The babies of Haiti, like every other country are the hope for the future. But that future will not exist unless they return to her. They must leave to get the resources to do the work that Haiti needs, but they will need the courage to return to do that work. They are the ones who understand the most what I see, that this is a beautiful land that needs, not to be fixed, but to grow.

Though My Body Fails

This week I think that Satan has found a place where he can catch me! He must see the work I am doing here and hate it because he is desperate to stop it. Only days after recovering from my bout with pink eye I was hit with a cold. Not just any cold but without a doubt the worst cold of my entire life! I have been brave, I have sucked it up and went on with my days but I am miserable! My sinuses are infected and so swollen that it is viable in the skin under my eyes. My chest is congested and every breath burns. I have a cough that rattles every few minutes and I have a gland on the right side of my neck that is swollen to the size of a grape! I started feeling a little run down and stuffy on Wednesday afternoon and by Thursday morning it had hit full force. I couldn’t even force myself out of bed. Another staff member here has the same virus and compared it to getting hit by a Mack truck, the funny thing is, a Mack truck has actually hit her so I guess she knows what she is talking about! All I know is that I did not get out of bed all day. The only thing that drug me out of Friday was the fact that I had Creole class that afternoon and I knew I needed to be there for that. I did begin taking an antibiotic, which is not something that I take lightly. Hopefully it will start working soon.

After missing a full day with my kids and feeling pretty quiet for 2 others this week was pretty uneventful. One of my little girls F did have a great day on Friday. She has been in such a wonderful mood lately, laughing and smiling and always excited to see me. She is now able to walk up and down the stairs to the balcony all by herself! I took her up on Friday morning and she was in such a good mood that I went and got her for some extra time in the afternoon. I am so glad I did. We spent some great hours together! All of the sudden it was like a switch was flipped and she was walking. Since taking her first steps a few weeks ago she has stalled. Nothing could make her walk after that. Now she has decided to start once again! She walked all afternoon and after supper I brought her down to the living room where, after being bribed with chocolate chips she walked some more. This kid is going to be running in no time!

As of this week 4 of my kids have had the chicken pox. My S Twins, K and J-Man all got them this week. They look pretty miserable, especially K who seemed to have them worse than any other kid here! They all run around covered in calamine lotion with socks taped over their hands! S and S both look like they are almost totally healed. M, my littlest boy had them a few weeks ago so most of my kids have gotten it over with. No one seems to be affected seriously, for which I am thankful!

Yesterday after I started feeling a little better we went to PetionVille to a hotel called the El Rancho. We went for a swim in their gorgeous pool and had lunch in the restaurant. It was a great day of relaxation for everyone and a lot of fun to lie in the sun for a few hours. On the way home we stopped at a grocery store. The biggest I have seen in Haiti. It was almost like walking into North America again walking though those doors. Almost, I bought cheese and grape juice and even some chocolate but I still had to “drive” my cart every aggressively, just like out on the streets. All in all it was a positive way to end the day!

This week I ask, of course, that you pray for my health. I already feel like I am getting better but I am far from the 100% that I need to be to keep up with my kids. I also ask that you pray especially for three little girls who went home to their forever families this week. Please pray for their adjustment in the weeks and months to come. Pray for their parents, that they would have a love for these girls an that they would become a strong family. Also this week I ask that you all pray for my little F. Pray for her physical health and for the strength she needs in her legs to walk. Pray for her emotional health, that she would continue to be filled with joy and that her bond with me and her nannies would grow strong. Pray for her spiritual health, that she would grow up to love Christ. That she would long to seek and serve Him. Pray for her families. Here in Haiti that they would also be brought to Christ through her life. That they would feel joy and peace over their decision to bring her to GLA and pray that they will strive to make a difference in the place where they live. And for her adoptive family, that they would also have a peace about their decision to chose a child from Haiti. That they would have strength during the months of waiting and that when the time does come for them to take her home that they would raise her to love Jesus above all else and teach her to work for Him all the days of her life.

As always, I thank God for each of you in your faithfulness to me in this journey.

Sunday, October 26, 2008

I loved them enough...

to catch this sickness...

2 weeks later…

My last letter to you feels like a lifetime ago. How will I fit all the events of those many days into one entry? More importantly, in the midst of so much information, will my passion still stand out? I will do my best.

On Saturday of 2 weeks ago several of us set out on a hike to a waterfall in the area. It wasn’t very far and BEAUTIFUL once we go there. It began as a tiny trickle in the middle of huge riverbed and grew and grew. By the time we reached the actual falls a few of us were already soaked. At the site of the falls there is a rock wall that leads up to the top. Any of you who really know me know that of course I would have to climb to the top of that wall! I have never been much of a rock climber. You know those set walls with the perfectly strategically places had and foot holds and the nice safe harness? I usually get about halfway up those and then freeze on the spot. This wall had no nice hand and footholds, and there was no safe harness or rope in sight, but I was not to be deterred. I was going to climb that wall. After a few attempts I found myself at the top of the waterfall. Looking down the 10 feet I had just climbed didn’t seem nearly as high, but it my defense it was almost completely vertical! 2 other adventurers had also made the climb and we hiked further in, following the river until we came to a point where we could walk not further. Tropical trees and plants, just the 3 of us in this amazing creation! You feel the greatness of God in a place like that!

Sunday night we celebrated thanksgiving. I am surrounded by Canadians here and though the timing of the holiday was off for me I’m not going to complain about turkey and pumpkin pie! We followed the meal with a time of praise and worship. Acapella, we were a group of believers brought together by a calling to Haiti and a passion to follow it. That night was one of my favorite times here so far.

In the week following Thanksgiving we sent home 2 boys from the toddler house. Visas to the United States seem to be the ones we are receiving lately. These boys being the 4th and 5th U.S. adoptions since I have been here. It is encouraging to see but the US visa has been giving so much trouble lately it is still such a frustration process to watch. Being here, knowing these little people, I see how much they need to be at home. It is heartbreaking to see a little 3 year old baby without his Mommy and Daddy. Please pray for the adoption process here. Pray for strong government officials to step up and for hearts to soften to the lives that they affect so deeply.

With children going home the cycle at GLA continues. Another new little one was brought into our care. DL is a little girl around 2 years old. She was very underweight and depressed when she came to us and after a few days we were forced to put her on a feeding tube and Iv. Since then she has come off her iv and has begun eating a small bit on her own. She is still on the feeding tube because she is not taking any liquids and she is still very sad. I find myself pulled to this little baby girl. Yesterday I sat with her for quite a while and she gave me lots of kisses but still does not smile. I know that GLA will give her a hope that she couldn’t have had otherwise but she will take some time to adjust. Please pray for DL.

We also had a little girl this past week that passed away before reaching out gates. She had been born 2 months prematurely and was on her way to GLA when she died. I am told that is not uncommon for this to happen. That GLA will get a call asking them to take a child only to have that baby die in the tap-tap on the way up the mountain. I know that that little baby is safe and whole now but it made me think a lot. In the states we have children born in hospitals with every resource available at their fingertips and so sometimes they live, but sometimes they die. And here we have babies born on dirt floors, with nothing to turn to if things go wrong and also sometimes they live. But often times they die. Because they live though, I know that God is in this place. He has planned a course for each of these children. He chooses to give them a life for a very specific purpose. To be a part of this place, to help them become the people they are to be in the purpose He gave me. I am alive for this work! What an incredible idea that is.

Last weekend we went for a drive up the mountains to a place called Kenscoff. From a lookout spot there you can see all of Haiti. From the Port of Prince shipyard to the mountain range that borders the Dominican Republic. It is easily one of the most amazing spots I have ever stood. On the way back down to the orphanage we stopped and got an awesome lunch. We ate a Haitian feast of Pork, Akra, Sweet Potatoes, and Picklies. DELICIOUS! A great day. We lost and added volunteers again this week. Pam and Heather are both gone. We added to out numbers Janet from the Midwest and El and Mark from Seattle. The balcony feels very full!

I got pink eye! A lot of kids at the toddler house have had it and when you come out in the morning and they climb up on your lap you can’t push them away. I think that catching the yuckies just means that I am loving them fully! However it is an uncomfortable thing to deal with. Please pray for a quick healing so I can get back to normal soon! The chicken pox are still making their rounds. Babies are sick and itchy. It hasn’t been serious at all, which I am very thankful for but it is still a situation that we would like to resolve quickly. Please pray for healing. We also have visas for 3 little girls that we hope to receive this week. They have had quite a bit of trouble in the last weeks with this adoption and now it seems the end might finally be in sight. There are still a few things that could hold this up so please pray faithfully for this. Pray especially on Tuesday as the adoptive parents fly to Haiti and on Wednesday and Thursday as they have appointments with the officials that decide this matter. Every hour on the hour I have a new child in my care. I like to begin my hour with them praying over their lives. I pray for their families, in Haiti and around the world. I pray for their health and for their strength and for the adults they will become. If you note these times and pray with me I know that great things will happen. When 2 or more are gathered in prayer the Lord is among them. I don’t believe we have to be in the same place for that to happen.

This week I continue to love my babies. I get to watch them grow and fall more in love with them each day. I am eternally grateful for these months I will have with them, and I am grateful to all of you for helping this happen. My computer is in the state right now being repaired and that makes the updates harder to write but I will do my best to keep you all up to date.

Serving My Purpose,

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

First Steps

From Haiti with love,

I am so excited to share with you that I finally witnessed the first steps of one of my babies! My oldest kid, a little girl who is 3 1/2, took her first steps on Tuesday! Missy F has been trying to walk since she came to GLA last March. Finally it happened! It took some bribing and a little chocolate, but she finally decided it was worth it! Very exciting and the best part of it all, I got it on video! I am trying my best to get my uploader installed so I can share my videos and pictures with you. As soon as I can they will be up!

The first steps of a child are so exciting, it got me thinking a lot. I am still amazed that I was chosen to be put in such a position, that I am able to be apart of these unforgettable moments. Even so, in the midst of all the joy these days bring I started thinking about the people who are missing these moments with their babies. F has a mommy and daddy in The Netherlands who are waiting to bring her home. I know the amazing joy they will feel when they hear of their daughters first steps, and I know the moment of sorrow they will also feel, having missed another milestone in their baby's life. To not have the story to share with her when she is all grow up about the day she walked. I can't help but think that it is unfair that her first steps were into my arms and not theirs. I also think of another mother and father that F has. Somewhere here in Haiti are an man and woman who I know also dreamed the first steps their baby would take. 2 people who wanted with all of their being for their little girl to have the chance to walk. A chance to run and play and to grow up. Knowing they could not give her those opportunities must have been the most painful realization of their lives. The longer I am here the more I am convinced that every child we care for was brought to us out of love. I will never get over seeing someone put their baby in the arms of a stranger and walk away. Fighting the overpowering urge to snatch them back and run way, maybe thinking that if they run long enough they will end up in a place where everything will be ok. The courage and selflessness they show in bringing these little ones to us is a trait that I can only pray that I will someday posses. Could I ever be selfless enough to truly put someone else's needs above my own desires. I hope so!

After the excitement of Tuesday the rest of the week seems fairly uneventful. Every day another tiny bit of my heart is pulled into the hands of these babies. I am so in love and inspired by them! I have a little boy that I work with JT. He is 15 months old and does not use the right side of his body. His arm and leg are drawn up towards his body and the muscles are very tight. His mouth and eye droop. We aren't sure if this is a permanent injury or even what caused it, so for now I am working faithfully with him to exercise these muscles and hope that it will do some good. He doesn't seem to mind it too much and his sunny personality is just captivating to me. He is beautiful and when he smiles you can't help but smile back. I have a few more little girls that I have started working with, Stephy and M have joined my crew for a few weeks. Both are very adorable and M has got personality much bigger than her little body can hold! Along with my little girls has come my new favorite activity, hair braiding! My "creations" tend to fall out pretty quickly and easily but I sure have fun doing it! The nannies think it is pretty funny but the other day when I came into the nursery they gave me a baby and a comb and told me to do her hair so I guess I'm not that bad at it!

The children at GLA have gotten the chicken pox! It sure is a pretty miserable time for all of the little ones affected but they seem to be recovering pretty quickly and none of our very fragile babies have gotten it yet, so we praise God for that. Please pray for the continued recovery of the rest of the babies! My own health is still keeping well! No sickness! Thank you all for prayers on that subject. We are still praying for a family for K and have found out this week about a few families who may be open to taking him! Pray for this! I would like to see his adoption process start soon!

This week I found that I am torn in being here. I love Haiti and I love God's Littlest Angels Orphanage, but every day I pray that a time will come when we are no longer needed in this country. I am looking forward to seeing the country of Haiti grow this year while I am here. I am confident that God is claiming this place for him, but it is a long and slow process. Please keep this country in your prayers always, for her people and their faith! Haiti will do great things for God someday! I pray that the day will be soon!

Thank you all again, I have no words to really express my thanks, I hope that you know that the words I do use are heartfelt and sincere. Until next week.

Praising God and rocking babies,

Sunday, October 5, 2008

Again It Rains

Another week has passed already! Is it even possible? How could my days already feel like they are slipping away? I try my best to live fully in each moment but I can see how quickly those moments add up to form my life here in Haiti. Weeks like this make the days go even faster because every minute has been packed with things to do!

Monday and Tuesday were taken up with my first of many photo days! Such a stressful but ADORABLE time. The kids always look so cute dressed up, getting there however is another story. We bring them from the nurseries, change them into the "picture clothes" and then proceeded to do everything short of begging on our knees to get them to smile (although if we thought that would work we would do that too) This months theme was fall and the kids posed in little fall outfits in piles of "leaves" it's a little surreal to see that and know we are actually in 80 degree weather but the outcome was very fun. I know that adoptive parents appreciate, in fact count the days until they receive their next photos and that makes the work all worth it, but I believe that every one of them should be present for one of those days to fully appreciate them :)

Tuesday afternoon was an eventful one for me, as I mentioned in my previous entry I spent Tuesday after lunch walking around the area where we live with 2 friends and sharing stories of Berlancia, spending hours remembering. Many moments of laughter over her silly antics. And even more silent steps in tears over the loss that we all still feel. After about 3 hours we looped back around to stop at the cemetery where the children of GLA are buried. it is a local Haitian cemetery, like none I have ever seen before. In Haiti the cemeteries consist of above ground cement graves. It was very emotional for me to walk into that place. Even though I know that B is not there, I felt overwhelmed with the fact that she was brought there and buried with no one to stand at her graveside. There was no funeral here in Haiti for this beautiful little girl. Of course that doesn't mean she wasn't loved here, just that it is not an unusual occurrence for a child to die in this country, and life must continue on. Funerals are not held at GLA. That was a difficult idea for me to grasp. I spent several moments in a corner grieving Berlancia, the graves were not marked so I did not know exactly where hers was. I placed a flower on the corner of one that looked fairly new and thought it as close as I could get. The walk home was draining but I am so glad I did it. It was a wonderful way for me to keep her memory alive and let myself cry.

Tuesday also brought us a new Volunteer,. Heather is a 27 year old from Vancouver BC. She will be with us for 2 weeks! The balcony is filling up! Joining the group on Thursday was a Mother/Son team from Billings, Montana. Jeneaine and Zak are here for a month. Our number is up to 8 now!

I continued with Creole classes Thursday and Friday afternoons. We learned this week the numbers and nasal sounds. Next week we start learning the different forms of "the". Wish me luck! So far I am picking it up pretty quickly.

My kids are doing great! I have a set of 2 year old twins who are so fun! Mr. Soso is fairly delayed in his development but 2 days this week he had really good hours with me. He stood both days for almost a half an hour! He will walk soon! My oldest little girl F said her first word! "Ale" (it means "go" in Creole) then a few days later she said "alo". She also was amazingly patient in letting me try to braid her hair! I turned out really cute but my hands don't work nearly as well as the nannies, the style lasted only about a day and a half before it had to be repaired. She is a lot of fun and I always have a great time my hour with her. She is my oldest baby at 31/2 and we have so much fun doing things that I can't do with the really little babies. She likes to color and build towers. She is also working on walking, soon, soon, soon! My tiny baby N has been sick and moved out of the nursery and into Nurse Susan's room for 24 hour care. Since Susan still has work to do during the day N and I spend a whole 4 hours together rather than just one. I am quickly becoming attached to her. I can't wait to watch her grow up before my eyes! K is amazing as usual! My Ella too! She will go home to France before Christmas! Probably around her first birthday, November 12th. Both K and Ella LOVE oatmeal cream pies and cosmic brownies, not very nutritionally positive but so cute to watch! K is still waiting for his forever family. Keep praying!

A few of the kids here have little aches and tummy sickness this week, nothing that doesn't affect every child at some point but they need prayers for quick healing and that the germs would not spread and affect all of them! Pray for their health! As for me, still 100 percent! Yay and praise God! I can feel your prayers surrounding me every day! My computer is not working very well right now, there seems to be a problem with the connection between the screen and the computer. Please pray that I will be able to find someone who can fix it for me! I'm still not able to upload pictures but I will keep working on it! I can't wait for you to see my babies!

All of you with your constant support and encouragement keep me going! Thank You, Thank You, Thank You! Rainy season is in full swing and affects the internet connection, hopefully it stays working for me! Until next time, I will be enjoying the sound of the drops on the tin roof, and loving on these angels!


Saturday, October 4, 2008

A Promise To Keep

Last week I told you all of a journey I would go on this past Tuesday. I feel like now is the time for me to share with you about that day. Tuesday September 30th was the 2nd birthday of our sweet baby Berlancia who died this past August. To celebrate her life and our memories of her, I went with Melanie, our update coordinator and Susan, our nurse who was with B the day she died, on a long walk ending at the cemetery where Berlancia and the other babies who have passed away at GLA are buried. This was very much a bittersweet day for me. My goal in all of it being to celebrate the joy that Berlancia brought in her life, and to celebrate the fact that now she is exactly where she belongs. However the day was also filled with sadness at the life cut short, and the ones she left behind.

For those of you who don't know, Berlancia died of AIDS. She inherited the disease from her birth mother, who perhaps by now has also been claimed by the sickness. Berlancia was just a baby, her virus was not caused by a choice in her lifestyle, like 16,000 other people in Haiti this year, she died. She died because she was born to a mother infected with HIV. What is worse, Berlancia died without a mommy holding her. There were many people who cared about Berlancia, she was blessed for most of her life with caretaker who loved her with all of her heart. She knew her love, but she was not a permanent family for her. She had an amazing family in Vermont who had chosen to welcome her into their home, but before she could spend even a moment in their arms, she was taken. All of those people felt the sadness of losing such a special little girl. She touched each of their lives along with many others. There were GLA employees who knew her since she was a tiny baby. Those who watched her grow. There were volunteers who had worked with her, or who had seen her on the balcony day to day. A baby like Berlancia was impossible not to notice. The lives she touched are countless and still she died in a heartbreaking way. In a place where, although she was loved, could never replace a true home. There are 190,000 people in Haiti infected with the AIDS virus. 17,000 of them are children. More than 15,000 will die this year. Haiti is only 800 miles away from Florida. Less than 2 hours by plane and yet it is a world away. Babies like Berlancia, who are born to families torn apart by this disease, are dying, while I sit in my home and try not think about it. Well, I can't not think about it anymore. AIDS in Haiti has a face, with big brown almond shaped eyes and a squealing, innocent laugh that is impossible to forget. I will never be the same.

On Tuesday before we left I spent some quiet moments alone, remembering B and preparing my heart for what was to come. I decided that what I would really like to do is to write a letter to Berlancia telling her what her time with me had meant. Since I leaned of Berlanci's death AIDS in Haiti, especially in the babies of this country, has been placed on my heart. I have found myself researching the statistics of the disease and it's impact on the children of Haiti. I have found a passion for this subject that I have felt only once before in my life, in my call to God's Littlest Angels. Over the course of that call I have learned that God's plans are amazing and I have learned to put my trust fully in Him. I have no idea where this new journey will lead me but I am open to whatever that will be. Every child, being healthy or sick deserves to have a family. Weather they will be with them for a short time, or for many years to come, they should be held, they should be rocked to sleep at night in the arms of someone who loves them and they should never have to be alone. A child who has HIV is a child, they are all the same. I have seen the wonder in their eyes at blowing bubbles and birthday candles. I have seen them cry when they fall down. I have seen them laughing and I have seen them lonely. In everything they are just children, like the ones you will tuck into the beds of your home tonight. But so many of them are alone. They are waiting for someone to chose them. To give them a chance at love. The promise I made to Berlanci in the letter I wrote to her was that I would never forget her life and that I would use the memories of her to inspire me to work for babies like her. I don't know yet what my work will be but I know that the life of Berlancia will impact me until the day I die. In Creole the word for hope is espwa. That is what I have, hope for the children of Haiti who are being torn apart by this virus. Hope that they will have a future. Berlancia's hope lies in my heart and will be a reality one day. There is a song that I came across this week that touched my heat, reminding me mostly of B but fitting for all the children who are suffering from AIDS. It is called Never Be Forgotten.

Never Be Forgotten
I’ll always see your face
The corner of your smile
And all the little things that no one will ever know
Like it was yesterday, won’t ever fade away
Goodbye is just a word that I will never say

You will never be forgotten
A million days could pass us by
But what is time but just a dream
Oh I still feel you here with me
You’re more than a memory
Oh you will never be forgotten

I can‘t hold your hand
Or look into your eyes
And when I talk to youIt just echoes in my mind
But If hearts are made of dust
And if we fell from the stars
I look up tonight and know just where you are

You will never be forgotten
A million days could pass us by
But what is time but just a dream
Oh I still feel you here with me
You’re more than a memory
Oh you will never be forgotten

And the world just keeps on going
It has no way of knowingThat you’re gone

You will never be forgotten
A million days could pass us by
But what is time but just a dream
Oh I still feel you here with me
You’re more than a memory
Oh you will never be forgotten

Berlancia will never be forgotten and through her I believe many lives we be changed and many will be saved. Please pray for this cause. I believe this is just the beginning of Berlancia's Espwa .

Sunday, September 28, 2008

Miracles and Blessings Flow

To all of you who follow my trip and lift me in your prayers,

My thanks and gratitude to you! What a week I have had! Everything and nothing has happened and I find it difficult to think there was enough worth mentioning to fill these paragraphs but as usual with my writings the words seem to write themselves. We started out with a new little guy brought into our care, a little boy about 15 months old , with a very "american" style name. Funny because is not a common Haitian name but a small reminder to all of us of the worlds we left behind. M was a special case for me and I can't help but feel for him each time I pass his crib. He is old enough to be missing his Mama and it is heartbreaking to see the despair in his eyes as he sits in his bed and looks out at all of these strangers that are now surrounding him. Like the other kids at GLA soon he will become familiar to this new world around him and within a few months he will be fitting in with everyone but the next weeks will be a difficult adjustment for this little baby. Please remember Baby M in your prayers.

I had the opportunity early in this week to go visiting the home of a missionary to the area who I know from my last trip down here. We were invited for a feast of fresh lobster tails and rice with a delicious creole sauce, Molly and Joyce made onion rings to compliment the meal. All the food I have had here has been a treat but the lobster was especially great! While we were waiting for dinner to finish we had another treat, American satellite TV! I was able to catch some news from home and a special on the best and worst dressed stars at the Oscars, oh the important current events I have been missing :)

I have seen first hand this week the healing that God provides. First in our little guy who I wrote to you about last week, who is now off of all IV lines and eating well on his own. He is still tiny, weighing about 7 or 8 pounds and being 9 weeks old, but he is healing fast and will be growing quickly I am sure. The second healing I have seen in one that touched my heart very deeply. There was a baby boy here at GLA in April who was one of the sweetest kids I encountered. One that I often remembered at thought of while I was at home. When I left last spring K has just celebrated his first birthday and was very developmentally delayed. He couldn't sit up or roll over, he couldn't even hold his own head up for more than a few seconds. K had tested positive for HIV. It seemed there wasn't much hope for this little guy, there was just too much working against him. When I found out that I was going to be working with K on this next trip I was excited, he was such a sweet baby, I knew he would be a joy. I returned to Haiti and the child I left behind was not the same one that greeted me. K is crawling! He is pulling himself up to stand in his bed. He has made amazing progress. If you had asked me 5 months ago if I thought he would ever walk I would have said absolutely not, and now I am confident that in one of my very soon updates I will be telling of K's first steps! The best news of all is that last week I was told that K is not testing positive for HIV anymore! Up until a child is 18 months old he can carry the virus from his mother and test positive for the disease without actually being infected. I am told this is what happened with K, he is now 19 months old. Should I try to excuse this miracle with a medical explanation? I don't' think so! K was healed and God is showing Himself through this amazing little boy. Now K needs another miracle. Because of his developmental delays (he is still considerably behind where he should be) he is difficult to adopt. He needs a very special family to step up and chose to love him. I am praying faithfully and fervently for a family for K. The adoption process in Haiti takes a long time and this baby doesn't need to wait any longer. Please join me in prayers for a family for K! God has used this baby in an amazing way and I am confident he will continue to do so! I will keep you all updated on him!

Yesterday I got to take in PetionVille for some shopping and lunch. I was able to purchase some beautiful paintings and we found a sandwich shop where I enjoyed some fresh vegetables that I didn't even know I had missed, green peppers never tasted so good! On the way back up the mountain we stopped at the lookout. It is a place that overlooks all of Port Au Prince, you can see from the airport to the ocean. A beautiful view of a city that very few could find beauty in. I spent a few minutes looking out, millions of people below me and found myself paying as naturally as I breathed. There isn't much else to do at a point like that. To see the beauty and pain right next to each other. People need Jesus here and I can feel him moving, but there is still much work to be done. I pray that they will give him the chance to rise them up. Haiti can only be healed through the power of Christ and the citizens will be strong if they allow God to work in them. We all know there is nothing impossible to the God we serve!

We still aren't holding church services on Sundays, since our missionary family who usually hosts them is still in the States. I must say, I am missing the fellowship and worship time that comes along with a meeting specifically designed for that purpose. I have the blessing of a beautiful balcony off of my room with a view of the mountains and the area below. A lot of nights I sit out there and have my devotional time and I have started using that space for some quiet praise and worship as well. I pray that will hold me up until our weekly meetings start again.

I am faced with another week full of possibilities and I can hardly wait to see what they will be. Please keep praying for my strength and health in the coming days. We have a few children who are feeling unwell and I ask that you pray for a quick healing for them. I am taking Creole classes and find that the language is coming to me quickly! Praise God! Continue to pray that I would have an ear and tongue for these beautiful words. I have a special journey ahead of me on Tuesday of this week that I will share with you in my next update, I anticipate that this will be a difficult day for me and I especially ask for your prayers on that day. As always, I remember each of you in my prayers of thanksgiving for this journey that I am on.

Seeing miracles every day,

Saturday, September 20, 2008

Right Where I Need To Be

Greetings from Haiti!

How wonderful it feels to be able to say that! Praise the Lord! All of my flights were uneventful. Everything was on time and all of my bags arrived right where they were supposed to. I spent the night between my flights in the Fort Lauderdale airport which was fairly uncomfortable but more convenient than trying to gather all my bags into a taxi for a hotel visit, just to turn around 5 hours later and come back. I had the amazing blessing of flying to Haiti with 2 families who are adopting children from our orphanage! One couple is here to pick up their twin boys who were the very first children I ever worked with at GLA! It is so encouraging for me to see my work in full circle. What a way to get me excited for the work I will be doing here!

As our plane touched the ground a cheer rose from the passengers. Stepping off the plane in Port Au Prince was truly like coming home. In the many times I have gone away and returned to Fergus Falls, I have never felt so much like I was back home as when I stepped onto that pavement. If there weren’t so many people around I probably would have kissed the ground beneath my feet! I settled for reaching down and placing my hands on it. I said a prayer for the country I have been called to and set off on a long hot walk. After arriving in customs, amidst a true Haitian greeting, with a band and some dancing, and making my way quickly through customs I found myself in the baggage claim area. How different it is the second time around. Last time I came to Haiti the activity and confusion were overwhelming. This time it just felt welcoming. I found someone to help me with my bags and set off again! Finally making it out of the airport and into the sun! James was there to pick us up and I was greeted by my first familiar face. Of course this made me so anxious to get to the orphanage and see all my babies again! After a 45 minute drive that felt like it took hours we pulled up to the gate. I was home!

Walking in I was hit by the smell that I just couldn’t get myself to remember. I never thought I would miss the smell of orphanage, but my goodness! Even that was welcome to me on that afternoon! We arrived just in time for lunch. SPAM sandwiches and cold sweet potato casserole was on the menu. Not my favorite meal but after long hours of traveling I found myself thoroughly enjoying the wonder of SPAM.

Finally it was time to go upstairs and see the babies, the very thing that brought me back here! Of course my first stop was to see my "Ella-baby"! I could hardly believe how big she has gotten. She looks like a totally different child. But the face that I fell in love with is still the same. With her big open mouth grins and her beautiful eyes that stole my heart away 6 months ago! Oh how I loved on that baby. I made the rounds to the other nurseries, seeing kids who were still here so grown up and rejoicing for the ones that were sent home in the time I have been away! It seems much has changes and still everything is the same. The people and faces are different but the goal we all work toward remains. There were some sad moments along the way as well. After supper I spent some time on the balcony alone, watching the sun set, rocking and remembering. I remembered a baby that I did not get to greet.
One of the faces I looked forward to seeing the most but had missed by just a few weeks. A little girl who was the light of our balcony! Berlancia brought so much joy during my last trip here! I heard of her passing and I grieved, and when I came back and it was truly real to meI grieved again. I spent a lot of time that night in tears and prayer. I praise God that He took her to a place where she feels no more pain or sickness, a place where she is whole, the way she was meant to be. And in it all I also, selfishly, grieved for myself that I would not hold her again this side of heaven. I will never forget that baby and the life she lived. I know that God will continue to use her life and her story to impact people. AIDS in Haiti is a very serious problem and through the testimony of one little girl many people will have this epidemic brought to their attention. I just hope that they will listen to it that maybe someday, something will be done to change the statistics that are not numbers but faces.

I have so much I feel I want to share with you. But can I describe the smell in the air, the feeling of the rain on my skin, the joy in the pit of my soul? There are no words. I am so content to finally be here! I am still convinced that this is the exact work I was created for. I am at peace! Again I thank all of you for traveling these roads with me. I feel we are at the beginning of an amazing journey!

Some specific prayer requests I have this week… Please pray for a little tiny boy we have here. who is very sick. Just in the 2 days I have been here I have seen him fade. We are all very fearful for this little life. There is nothing to do now but wait and pray! So pray we will. A healing for this baby is what we need! Please also pray for the health of everyone here at GLA. The first week is the window for the travel sickness and the “haitian happiness” that I wish to avoid. Pray I will stay strong and not fall to weakness of my body but that I will be renewed each day for the work I am to do.

I must close now, I have many babies to love and children to hug! I thank you all again and praise God for you in all my prayers!

Right were I need to be and always in His care,

Sunday, September 14, 2008

I'm Going Home

I am now just days away from returning to Haiti and God’s Littlest Angels. The hours keep passing, although at times painfully slow. But I can now look ahead and see that in less than one week I will once again be flying away.

It is strange to think that 5 months ago I was preparing for the same trip, but with such different plans. Little did I know I would ever be traveling that same path again, let alone just a few months later. And yet, here is where I find myself. Once again, packing and weighing and repacking and weighing again. Planning airport trips and hotel rooms for layovers, getting ready to say goodbye to the ones I leave behind, and also to meet the people who will be the most important part of my life for the next 9 months.

In May when I came home from GLA I still wasn’t sure that I was ready to commit to a longer trip. Sure I had an amazing time, but I just couldn’t let go of such a huge amount of time. Over the course of that month God just worked through me so much. He didn’t let up and I am so thankful! I can’t believe how much I have already been blessed and I haven’t even gotten there yet! I went to GLA to hold babies, I did not expect them to hold on to me. How can I leave the place where I my soul was so alive. To borrow words from a dear friend of mine and fellow GLA volunteer, “the babies of Haiti grabbed on to my heart and held on, and in the grasps of those tiny hands is where the pieces remain.” How can I stay away from a place that holds my heart?

Once the plans to return to Haiti were in place I became the most anxious person alive! I did not want to be here. I just wanted to go back! The months ahead of me seemed like they would never be over. Why in the world would God keep me away from those babies for so long? What could I possibly be doing here that is more important than being with them? Well during this last week it came to me. The reason I had to wait so long to go back to Haiti was because God had a very special lesson to teach me. Over the course of this summer I have been forced to put the trust of my finances entirely in Him. Having the financial worry being the biggest challenge of this trip, I soon became nervous. I know that God has a plan for me and that He is always in control but the human inside me just was not willing to give it entirely up to him. After spending much time with this worry I knew that I couldn’t do it anymore. I spoke to a friend who told me that God just wanted me to give it all to Him. To let Him work it out. I took a big step one Sunday in doing that, and the results have been amazing. Since that day, every moment of worry has been followed by blessings beyond comprehension. It seems that the moment I start to worry, the money flows in. I have never been more convinced that I am doing the will of God! A beautiful poem was once shared with me, I don’t think that the friend who gave it had any idea the impact it would have but I would like to share it with you, it is called Broken Dreams.

Broken Dreams
As children bring their broken toys
With tears for us to mend,
I brought my broken dreams to God
Because He was my friend.
But then instead of leaving Him
In peace to work alone,
I hung around and tried to help
With ways that were my own.
At last I snatched them back and cried,
"How could you be so slow"
"My child," He said, "What could I do?
You never did let go."
Robert J. Burdette

I have found that in letting go I receive so much. That when I give my hopes, dreams and struggles to God is when He blesses me more than I could ever imagine. As much as I have hated being away from my babies for such a long time, the lesson was one I will continue in the rest of my life. I am thankful for the pain of the growing and now I look forward to the future in that assurance!

3 days from now I board my flight. I will do so immersed in a joy that I have found through the beautiful country of Ayiti and the people she holds. I move forward in the hands of my Lord, protecting me and guiding me, and with the prayers of all of you, my supporters in this journey, always surrounding me. There are no words enough to thank you for all you have done for me. I hope that through these letters you will all travel with me over the next 9 months.

Always in His care,