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 .