Sunday, January 31, 2010
This week I really need to be in contact with an accountant and an attorney with some expertise in immigration laws. I am in the Fergus Falls area. If there is anyone in the area willing to sit down and meet with me I would be forever grateful. Please let me know. If there is anyone else who can help me via a phone conversation please call me. (218) 731-5060. Up until 19 days ago I was just a girl living my life and going to Haiti when I could. In just a few short weeks I have been faced with new responsibilities I have never even thought about. It has come to my attention that I am in need of the advice of a few people right now. If there is anyone out there who is reading and feels like they can help me please let me know!
Saturday, January 30, 2010
Friday, January 29, 2010
Don't you love camping. You pack up your "grub" clothes. You get to eat only food you can cook over a fire. You get to sleep outside. How can you not embrace the adventure of camping?
But what about when "camping" becomes your entire life? What about when you have no choice but to sleep outside. What about where there is a fire but no food to cook on it? What about then. Where is the fun and adventure when camping is no longer a choice, but every day for as far as you can see.
That is the reality of Haitians again tonight. Their "tents" are bed-linens, plywood and sheets of metal. Tonight the skies are dry. But is just a few short weeks the rain will come. Rain in Haiti is like none I have ever felt. Sometimes it rains so hard it is painful when the drops hit your skin. I have seen roads turned to raging rivers in a matter of seconds. Dry riverbeds heave with torrential waves after only a few minutes of downpour.
Have you ever woken up after a rainy night of camping and experienced the miserableness of everything being damp? How many times have you just packed up and headed home at that point? Soon the Haitian will face even more hell. Pain on top of pain. Uncomfortable circumstances that would break any one of us down in a matter of seconds. I am in awe of their strength. I honestly do not know how much they can take. They seem unbreakable. Resilient to everything that could possibly be thrown their way.
And here I sit. With my running water, cable TV and space heater at my feet. Dreaming about the camping trips of my youth. The tents we used once or twice a year are better than the living conditions of the people I love. Oh, how it hurts.
What can you do? Can you buy a tent? More than one? I HATE feeling SO helpless. It seems so small but the truth is is could become the home of a family that needs shelter from the storm. I am sending some, will you?
If you would like to donate a tent to house a family in Haiti please send them to
God's Littlest Angels
2085 Crystal River Drive
Colorado Springs, CO 80915
*Photos taken by James Dindin, of what is left of his family home.
Tonight they are not camping, they are just living...
Wednesday, January 27, 2010
Sunday, January 24, 2010
Saturday, January 23, 2010
Tuesday, January 19, 2010
UPDATE: OUR DIAPER AND FORMULA SUPPLY IS HOLDING UP WELL AND WE HAVE MORE COMING IN TODAY. WE NEED BABY AND CHILDREN'S CLOTHES FOR OUR KIDS TO WEAR HOME! A LOT OF 9-12 MONTHS SIZES. WE ARE ALSO IN NEED OF SHOES FOR OUR KIDS FOR THE JOURNEY HOME. ANYTHING IN GOOD CONDITION WILL BE VERY HELPFUL! WE ARE BRINGING OUT EMPTY DUFFEL BAGS THAT WE HOPE TO FILL WHILE IN MIAMI AND BRING BACK WITH US. WE WILL ALSO GO SHOPPING, IF ANYONE WANTS TO MAKE A FINANCIAL DONATION TOWARDS SUPPLIES YOU MAY DO SO THROUGH MY PAY-PAL ACCOUNT ON THE RIGHT SIDE OF THE PAGE.
We just found out that BRESMA orphanage is sending 50 kids to The States today. They need escorts so Brandon, Moriah and I will be flying with them, spending the night in Miami and then returning to Haiti tomorrow. I probably will not have access to a computer until I get back. I will have my American cell phone with me (218) 731-5060. Right now we are hoping to find a hotel close to the Miami airport that will give us 2 rooms for the night. Though nothing compared to what is happening around us, I have not had a shower since the day before I flew into Haiti, to be able to clean up a little would be nice for all of us.If anyone knows of anything please call my phone, I will answer or get back to you as soon as I land in Miami. Also, we are in need of a few things that we can carry back to GLA with us, diapers and baby formula are most needed! If anyone can meet me in Miami with any of these items please call me tonight and set up a place where we can meet! PRAY that we will have no trouble getting back into Haiti tomorrow. I will be heartbroken if I get stuck and unable to get back to these babies.
He will go today.
I promise you I am so happy for him, and yet at the same time, my heart is breaking. His mama is waiting with open arms, but I am not ready to open mine and release him. I didn't know this was going to happen already.
When I found out, I was in the nursery and beyond my control the tears began to fall. The nannies, who I have hugged and loved through their own tears this past week took me in their arms and held me. Tears were shed all around. We are happy but it's never easy to say goodbye. There is never "enough" time. It never gets easier. I have held this sweet baby while he discovered the world and I discovered it again, through his eyes. I kissed him when he cried and fed him his first bites of food in days. I rocked him and sang songs that were saved only for his ears. When I came back and he was so unsure, I sang him those same songs. It was in that second that he looked into my eyes with recognition. He knew who I was, it was back to those months. Again, I was "mama". The nannies used to call me "mama Patrick" He is the baby who taught me everything I know about love. Today I let him go, in that love and in the assurance that the One who held him while his world rocked beneath his feet, will hold him on a flight to his new life. I am so happy and yet I cry, I can not lie and say they are tears of joy for they are not. They are tears of a heart that is lost and aching. I don't know how to even start to say goodbye to him...
How do I say goodbye?
Monday, January 18, 2010
Today I have a request for all of you. A gift I would like to give to my dear Haitian friends. I would like to make a list for them, of all the people, all over the world who are holding them in their thoughts and prayers. Today the nannies are more discouraged than ever. There is no end in sight for them. Today I would love to be able to write a list to hang on the wall where they all pass by for them to see how many people are out there thinking of them. I know that just seeing that list will lift their spirits a little. I am asking you to please leave a comment on this post with your first name and where you are reading from so that I can put together this list. Just to see the numbers and names will give them a glimmer of hope, perhaps the only hope they will feel today.
Thank you everyone from the bottom of my heart, for your prayers for me and on behalf of my friends here in Haiti.
Saturday, January 16, 2010
I realize that I write often about how I feel about the things going on here. I write about current news received and I write about the awful things this country is going through. But I realize that I do not write about daily life. Let me tell you what we did today. Since the quake this is what a "typical" day is like.
7:30am - Volunteers go to the big nursery to help the 6 nannies who have been working nonstop since Tuesday. Breakfast cereal is shoveled into open mouths. Babies are wiped down, diapers are changed and clothes are put on.
8 or 8:30am - Volunteers (there are 11 of us here) each take 2 babies up to the balcony for the day. We give them cups of water or juice and play games all morning.
10am - Snack is served. Sometimes it is cookies. The last 2 days it has been Goldfish Crackers from the Costco box I brought with me.
11am - a 4.5 aftershock hits. Nannies are terrified again. Even though the house is thoroughly checked by John and Brad they will not stay inside. All babies in Urge B and Big Nursery are moved back into the driveway. Blankets are spread out.
Noon- Lunch is served. Each volunteer feeds "their" babies. Today was rice and beans. I fed "C" my "earthquake baby" I feel such a bond to him. "C" is the baby I held when the quake hit. He was the one I carried as we ran from the house. He ate perfectly. I also fed "M", a little boy who is HIV positive and loved by all here. He was dezoid (naughty) spitting all his rice out into his hands to look at it before trying to shove it back in his mouth. Most of "M's" rice lands on floor. Diapers are changed and babies are taken down for naps.
2pm - At a time when babies would usually be sleeping they are all up. It is almost impossible to get them to nap on the blankets spread out on the concrete.
3pm Volunteers take 1 or 2 babies for the afternoon. Most stay downstairs around the dining table with quiet toys. The rest remain outside with nannies.
5pm - Supper is served. Rice and beans again. We feed outside. Volunteers find random little ones and spoon food for them. Faces are washed.
5:30pm - Dixie tells the nannies that it is impossible for them to keep the children out any longer. It is too cold for them to sleep outdoors. And the house is safe. Babies are brought back in.
6pm - All babies are in pajamas and in bed. Volunteers head downstairs for supper. Our supplies are still good, tonight we ate taco salad. For the first time since the quake I ate supper.
7pm - All gather to watch Dixie live on CNN.
The rest of our evenings are filled with email, waiting in line for the international phone, CNN and occasionally something more lighthearted to take our minds off things. This is our new normal. We don't know for how long but we are making it work. Today it actually felt somewhat organized. How quickly we become accustomed. How quickly the children have adjusted. I think they all think it is great fun going up and down the stairs. Getting extra time on the balcony and new, exciting snacks. I pray they will continue to respond well the their new world. We are doing well.
While driving in my car recently I have heard a certain song over and over. Usually this annoys me. I hate when they overplay songs, when you can't turn around without being bombarded by the same melody. Most of the time it's enough to make me want to pull my hair out. But this particular song has touched me. Every time I hear those familiar chords of the beginning I have to just crank it up and sing along!
(don't forget to pause the blog music at the bottom of this page!)
This song is the prayer of my heart.
It feels strange to approach this topic. I almost feel like bringing attention to it disregards everything I am trying to say, but it's come up so often lately that I just need to share.
I am not a good person. I do not go to Haiti and do the work I do because I am so giving and kind and "christian". In fact the reasons for the work I do are 100% selfish. I work in Haiti because I love it. I love every single bit of it. I love the smells, the people, the food, the country as a whole. I love Haiti. That is why I work for her! I was given a passion and equipped to live it out. I didn't chose this path, but I can't deny it. I go to Haiti because I literally can not live without it! I do not go there because I want to do good things, I go there because I want to feel alive! I go there because that's the only time that my chest doesn't ache when I breath in and breath out. I go there because that is where the constant pain in my arms is soothed by the weight of a tiny child. I go there because it's the only thing I really truly love to do.
I know that God uses me in my time there. I know that the things that come about because of the work of His missionaries in Haiti are good. I know that lives are being saved and battles won for our God, but not because of my human body. No, the works I do are not good, but the God that I serve is.
I will never claim to be a good person and it makes me cringe when people think that I am. The truth of it is that not one of us really is a good person. Mother Theresa was not a good person. She was a person who gave fully to God, her sinful self and chose to let him lead. But that didn't take away any of the sins in her life. In the same way, though I am a changed soul, my mind and body still fail. Countless times a day I disgust myself with the things I let take over. The lying, envy and pride that creeps it's way into my heart. The anger and selfishness that overtake me. I want to be different, and in some ways I am, but mostly, I am still the same girl I was, waking up every day in desperate need of a savior. I will never make it on my own.
Does this mean that I think I am an awful person, not at all. Just to get out into the open that I am just like anyone else. Thankfully I have been called and forgiven by a gracious Savior. When He looks into my soul He sees the purity that He has given. But as long as I am in this world I will never be able to live completely in that purity. I can try my best but when it comes down to it, I am completely reliant on the Grace of my Father. How thankful I am for that grace! Because of it I don't have to spend my time focusing on the ways I fail, but can live every day striving to point to the One who has saved my life!
I have heard many times from people what a good thing I do by working in Haiti and of course, everyone needs to be encouraged. But I want to make sure that rather than see me in the work that is being done they can look past and see the One who called me, who prepared me, who created me, who gives me the strength to make sure that not my will, but His be done. The One who truly deserves the credit. I want to live every day to leave a legacy, not of my name but of His grace!
Friday, January 15, 2010
They had walked for hours. Their faces showed their exhaustion, physically and mentally. They barely pulled themselves to the dining room before collapsing in tears. I held him. They told their story to Dixie and I kissed his little head. They ate while I looked at the child I held and knew that without a doubt I am exactly where I need to be.
Before I left for Haiti I prayed that God would teach me to trust. He started small. I was almost not able to purchase my plane tickets, I called off the trip. The next morning I had all the money I needed for the flight! Within 2 hours someone had contacted me and told me she would pay my room and board fees. How I wish I could have counted that enough. How I wish that would have been all I needed to learn that lesson. But no, I am stubborn. I am headstrong. "I CAN DO IT BY MYSELF!" It took an earthquake to break me down. For me to learn to rely on Him, God had to rattle the ground beneath my feet. Well God, it worked. I'm listening. What do you want me to do? I will trust unwaveringly.
A missionary who has lived in Haiti for over 30 years sent out a letter tonight, in it I found something that jumped out at me. "On a good day Haiti is hell for nine million illiterate, unemployed peasants. Tuesday, January 12 was a really bad day, hell just got worse." "Hell just got worse." How can a place be both heaven and hell at the same time. Haiti is heaven on earth to me. It is the place that I was created by my Father to love. It makes since that it would be the only place I feel truly alive. It is heaven. And then I drive the streets and I see dirty, barefoot children's sorrow filled eyes and I see hell. A life of living in Haiti, not by choice, is hell. How is it that a place can be both heaven and hell?
As for today...well, every day gets better and every day gets worse. We are still short staffed but slowly and one by one the nannies are coming back. Today there were more than yesterday and tomorrow there will be more than today. We are still working in the nurseries helping them. My Creole has expanded more in the last few days than my entire 9 months before. We keep busy and it helps. We are getting into a routine that works for us and we are all starting to fell like we have things under control. This afternoon we saw smoke start to rise over the hills. My evening our throats were scratchy and our eyes were watering. The smoke comes from the piles of bodies they are burning in Port. I never imagined... But we don't think about it. We can't think about it. We just go on...
Thursday, January 14, 2010
"last year my father became dead and now, my heart is dead too. It is dead because my [Father-in-law] he went down to the city and my sister, she is dead too because a building that was a school collapsed on her. My mother, she was in hospital. All the hospital, they fall down. I know my mother must be dead to."
Kervens is my friend. We met last year while I was here. He used to walk up and down the mountain with me, he speaks beautiful English. This little boy is my friend, and as with any of my friends I wish so badly that by taking him in my arms I could take his pain away, again, I am helpless. I would give anything to help Kervens...
We have only a fraction of the staff members we need to care for all the children. Today we fed, changed diapers and cared for all the little ones alongside the nannies who are here. We worked beside them as they received long awaited calls about family members. They were safe. Praise Jesus. Tonight, we worked along side of them as one received the call everyone dreaded. Her brother. We cried with her. We held her, and then she wiped her eyes and went back to changing the diaper in front of her. What words do we have to comfort them? A language barrier is broken, in crying there is no barrier. We all cry the same. Haitian staff members who have been out are in shock. The strongest men I have ever seen are breaking down in tears after seeing their own people wiped out. The destruction and devastation is indescribable. No one can understand it. Piles of bodies are faces they know and love. The pain of losing just one person is often unbearable. How do you deal with the grief when it is over and over again? I don't know. I don't think anyone does. I heard these words "I'm not ok, I'm not ok, I will never be ok". They came from the mouth of someone I love. How can my heart break for them and at the same time not be able to feel their grief. I hurt for them but I will never understand.
Tonight I am in Haiti. I'm sorry if some of you don't understand that. Tonight, and every night until the day my God tells me to go, I will remain. Is it because I am brave or because I am scared...Honestly I don't know. But I am here and I will do what I can do.
Wednesday, January 13, 2010
Dixie on NBC this morning
When the big quake hit I was on the second floor of the orphanage, in the biggest nursery. No one had any idea what was happening. Babies and nannies were falling on the ground. For a second I thought the entire house was going to tip over sideways. I couldn't believe how violently it moved! There were not enough doorways for people, everyone was screaming, it felt like it would never end. It stopped for a fraction of a second and then the 5.9 hit. At that point most of us were on the stairs running outside. By the time we got there it has stopped. The earth was still... it was eerily quiet. And then the cries. From all around we heard them echo as the realization set in that this was BAD. Rumors began from all around. The buildings that once stood tall are now gone. A friend described it as this, "in downtown Port Au Prince, the Presidential Palace, the Parliament Building, the Justice Building, the UN Headquarters and the US Embassy have all either collapsed or experienced substantial damage. That’s like the White House, the Capital Building, the Supreme Court Building, The Senate Office Building and the Smithsonian all getting wiped out in Washington DC."
Chaos, confusion, fear, all are running rampant in hearts today. We are still feeling small aftershocks. When I close my eyes everything sways. I, along with many others here feel physically sick, unimaginably heartbroken and totally helpless. I am looking at photos that have been posted of the country that I love torn to pieces. I hate myself for being so cliche, for not being able to just praise God that He saved us and trust him today, for asking why. But I can't help it. WHY!? Why a country with so much hurt. A place with so many orphans, now has more. A place that at times seems to be the very pit of hell, now worse. I hate feeling helpless, I have that I am scared when I should be brave for these babies. I hate that the people I love face more heartache. I hate that one of our nannies had a little baby at home, in the area that was hit hardest, and still has not been able to get work from there! I hate what has happened, but I love too... I love that last night as we huddled in the driveway the nannies sang Great Is Thy Faithfulness. I love that the people of the neighborhood, when scared gathered at the gate of God's Littlest Angels. I love that God is alive and working in this tragedy and that He gives his people a beacon of hope, held in a green building that is still standing this morning.
I can not yet allow myself to sit here and realize what a miracle it is that we are all here today. I can not think about what could have been. When I do, I shake as violently as the earth beneath our feet did. Instead I do what we are are doing. I hold tiny bodies close to my heart. I whisper prayers and I keep busy. It's all we can do.
If you are wondering how to help right now I want to direct you to a GLA blog that has set up a fund for relief. I'm sure there will be other ways later but for now this is what we have in place! More than anything we need you on your knees! We need prayer for this time. We rely heavily on supplies that are brought to us from Port Au Prince by trucks and obviously that will not be possible. I don't know how much we have but I know how fast we go through it. Pray for miracles in our pantry, water cisterns and diesel tanks. God is hearing. He weeps with us and he upholds us. Blessed be the name of the Lord.
What can YOU do?
Tuesday, January 12, 2010
Sunday, January 10, 2010
I held him as we visited all the nurseries and I greeted the nannies. It was a loud exciting time, of course I recognized and knew all of the nannies and most of the babies. A few of my little ones, J and Ti Tootoo knew me right away! It was so much fun to see all of those little faces again! I can’t believe how much they have changed! My littlest baby N was just over 5 lbs when I first held her, now she is so grown up! She is in the big nursery and walking! M, my sweet little boy with HIV is also looking great, he has gained weight and is so smart! G-bebe, I believe remembers me too but she was much more reserved in her greeting. I have to think that maybe she has gotten used to people leaving and so she isn’t quite as easy for her to go running into my arms anymore.
When we first arrived Kerdjerns was sleeping and so I didn’t get to see him but after a few hours with Patrick I went upstairs and found him awake and so I was able to bring him down for some treats. He has gotten so tall I can hardly believe it! I brought him some clothes and I don’t even know if they will fit him! He talks to his nanny and she told me he says her name, “Mesi” “Gade” “Ale” and quite a few simple Creole words. He was a little shy with me and wouldn’t talk but I’m sure he will open up soon! As for us, those sleepless airport hours are catching up and we are ready for some sleep! Tomorrow will be a big day getting to know all of our little ones!
Saturday, January 9, 2010
It feels unreal! Since my first trip to Haiti, this is the longest I have ever been away! Tomorrow I will go back. I have goosebumps. I let myself get excited and then I draw myself back. I can't allow my heart to believe it. In just 12 hours I will be sitting in an airport waiting for a flight that will take me to the one and only place I ever want to be. Me serving in Haiti is not me serving. No! It is my Jesus, the one who created my inmost being, the one who made me the person I am, allowing me the desires of my heart! Those sweet little babies serve me 100 times over what I will ever give to them. The way my spirit is healed when I step off that plane and into the hot, heavy air of the country that holds my heart... I can't describe it! What words could I possibly have for the feeling of KNOWING I am EXACTLY where I was created to be.
I don't even feel like I deserve to get on that plane. "They"' are going to know! Just as soon as my flight is called "they"will come out from all around, "they" will tell me I can't go. Someone who knows my deepest darkest self will find me out! "They" will tell me those little ones deserve so much more than I will ever be able to offer. "They" will see the depths of me, which are neither serving nor good. "They" will wake me up from this dream I am living. And yet I know, my God told me to go, and so I will go. Feeling like the luckiest girl in the world, because tomorrow I will go, once again journey to the land I love, the babies I treasure and the work I was created to do.
I can't wait!
Tuesday, January 5, 2010
I look back on thing I have see and stories I have heard and it is easy to remember the pain. It is easy to see the hurt of Haiti, what isn't quite as easy to focus on and to remember are the promises of our Savior for these little ones. Yes, it is devastating the living conditions and deaths of so many but it would be more devastating to allow my focus to remain on that. Instead I look towards the promises of a Jesus who loves His people, One who understands and grieves along with us for their suffering. One who gently lifts them from the hurt of this world into His eternal glory. Never again to feel the pain this life brings. No more hunger no more tears. How sweet that day must be. How complete and whole they are today. The strength to run and play like children should. I can not wait to see for myself the things Sabrina and all those other babies are seeing today. To be in the presence of my Jesus forever! To be wrapped in His arms. To hold her again! The pain of Haiti is clearly visible, undeniable. I see it every time I close my eyes. But today, instead of remembering the pain I pray I will focus on the the promise. I want to see what she sees!
Monday, January 4, 2010
Daphnee and I (notice that cute little head of hair!)
Daphnee's Mom and I with the girl!
Saturday, January 2, 2010
Every night while I was in Haiti I had a goodnight routine with the babies. Each evening I would make my rounds, starting in the big nursery I went from crib to crib giving goodnight kisses. The older babies all quicky became used to this, running to their beds as soon as I came in the room and tiping up their little faces for their kiss. This video was taken the night before I left Haiti, my last goodnight with them. I can't wait to get there and have the most amazing nights I have ever known! Oh how I miss these moments!