Sunday, May 30, 2010

Bon Fét Manman

Today it is Mother's Day in Haiti.

What a day of mixed feelings for all of us here. In Haiti, a mother is not a guarantee, neither is a child for that matter. There are far to many motherless children and far to many mothers with empty arms.

Today I came into the kitchen of our home and greeted Maudeline, one of our cooks. "Ki jan ou ye?" I asked her, "how are you?" I was not prepared for her answer. Her eyes filled with despair, pain and tears. She looked at the floor and mumbled, "not well" She cried and I stood there helpless. There are no words to say to a woman who's firstborn son was killed, at 18 years old, when the building he was in was reduced to rubble. There are no words in any language. I'm sorry is not enough, I will pray for you is an empty promise. Her child is dead and yet, she wiped away her tears and went back to work. There is no luxury of a day off to mourn her first Mother's Day without him. There are little mouths to feed and a bit of money at the end of the week to bring home to her family that remains. Today Maudeline is a mother, without her child.

Wilmo is 16 years old. He was abandoned as a small child by his birth parents. For most of his life he lived with the family who took him in. After the earthquake the family that Wilmo was living with did not have the means to keep him any longer. He was sent to a home to work as a restavek where he was neglected and beat. He came to GLA in April with no other place to go. Wilmo now lives here, he receives food, clothing and a place to sleep. In exchange he helps around the house and yard. Wilmo is a 16 year old boy, who does not have a mother.

Last week Kervens spent several hours visiting with me. His heart is broken and he wants to talk about it. I want to listen. On January 12th Kervens' mother lie sick in a hospital bed. When the earthquake struck the hospital she was in collapsed and she was killed. Kervens said to me over and over again, "without a mother I have nothing. I have no mother to cook for me or take care of me. I am alone." Kervens takes care of Jerry, his 12 year old brother, the only family he has left. They are little boys, just children, without a mama.

There are 52 children here at GLA who were brought to us because their families had no way to care for them. There are mothers of these babies in Haiti today who are remembering them. Perhaps they are wondering what their babies are doing, if they are sleeping, if they are warm, if they are happy. They will never forget. There are mothers without babies.

There are 27 little ones here who are still waiting to go to their forever families in France, today is also Mother's Day there. 27 mothers who are still waiting to hold their babies and to bring them home for good.

No, this is not a "happy" Mother's Day.

But there is a girl named Judith upstairs with her baby, who is celebrating her first Mother's Day today. A woman who, when questioned by our social workers, told them that she would die without her son. Because he is here, Peterson is alive. Today she is a mother, with her baby in her arms.

There is a nanny in our nurseries named Jocelyne. On January 12th her 2 children were in their house in Carrefour, one of the hardest hit areas. Her baby lie sleeping in his bed while his world rocked and his home collapsed around him. A neighbor was able to get to him and Dawnski was rescued. 4 days later Jocelyne finally reached Carrefour and was given the news that her children were alive. Jocelyne, Endy and Dawinski now live here at GLA, waiting for their new house to be built. This afternoon Jocelyne sat with her baby on her lap and told me that this was the best Mother's Day she had ever had. Today Jocelyne is a mother with 2 little boys who are alive and taken care of.

For Jocelyne and Judith today represents hope, life and joy. For Maudeline, Wilmo, Kervens, Jerry and countless others it reminds them of death, pain and loneliness. Today my tears are falling for them, my heart is broken, like the families of this country.

I have nothing to offer but the promise that seems far to small... I will pray for you, I will carry you to Jesus and trust him to be the comfort and hope that you need.

Thursday, May 27, 2010

How Beautiful Are The Feet

How beautiful are the feet of those who bring good news!

How much more precious are the feet of those who receive it!

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I think, so many times it is easy to get caught up in the comforts of life. We become lazy. We are so wrapped up in demanding that we forget what we are truly here to do.

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It’s a fight that I struggle with often in Haiti. White people here are elite, I can’t sugar coat that. Haitian’s work in the homes of the white people. They serve us and I hate it. Even here at GLA we have cooks who prepare and serve our meals, household staff that washes our dishes, mops our floors and does our laundry. We have someone to carry jugs of drinking water into our house and someone to clean dog poop in our yard. There is always someone who’s “job” it is to do the dirty work that none of us want to do. I hate it! I hate that the people I want to badly to serve are the ones serving me. I hate that they cook our meals, the most delicious food I have ever eaten, and never taste any of it. I hate that when we watch movies in the evenings, on the comfortable couches, they stand in the kitchen and watch from “their” place. I hate everything about it!

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The poorest of foreign aid workers in Haiti are richer than the average Haitian. The “uneducated” Canadian has received more schooling and training than most Haitian people will ever dream of. The hardest physical labor an America will experience is nothing more than the every day activities of the people here.

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I didn’t ask to be “better” than them. I had no control over where I was born and the life I have lived. I have no power but I still feel guilty. I feel guilty when I look in the eyes of a person who is hungry and don’t give him something to eat because we are taught that we can’t hand food out or people will mob us. I feel guilty when a child sees my white skin and immediately asks me for “one dollar” I feel guilty that they are taught that the white people are so far above them that the best they can do is beg us for help. I feel guilty when I don’t give him a dollar, because I know he needs it. I feel guilty when I do, because I know it just solidifies the cycle. I feel guilty that the people I came to serve give me more than I will ever bring to them. And then, I feel guilty when I don’t feel guilty…

Ok, so I feel guilty, what am I going to do about it? When will I decided to stop feeling guilty put my love into action?

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

I Will Never Be Sick

I will never be sick of this view…

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I will never be sick of these people…

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I will never get sick of their bright, beautiful smiles…

Or listening to the  stories of sorrow they have lived…

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I will never get sick of this country…

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And I will never get sick of sitting for hours on end with this precious, smiling little boy!DSC04962

There are days when I am really discouraged. And days when I want a really long hot shower. Days when I wish I could watch my favorite show on TV…  And then…

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He takes my breath away.

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Sunday, May 23, 2010

Nugget

Do you remember this baby?

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How could you forget?

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Do you recognize this face today?

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Clercineau has changed so much in his time at GLA. From a 13 month old, 5 pound skeleton of a baby, to this bubbly, 15 pound NUGGET!

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Friday, May 21, 2010

Dear Kerdjerns

Today I went to Kenscoff, Haiti  the hometown of my little brother. I was there to help distribute 120 bags of aid supplies to the people who live in the area…

This is where you were born…

Kenscoff, Haiti is a town of about 4,000 people located in the mountains above Port Au Prince. It is a 35 minute drive from the  Thomassin area, where I live.

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The road to Kenscoff is winding and bumpy, dotted with small shacks and vendors.

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The city center is always busting with activity. Here you can buy pate, plantains, sweet potatoes, fried pork and a lot of other kinds of my favorite foods.

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The buildings are all painted in bright colors, many of them have bible verses or other encouraging phrases written on them.

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Although you wouldn’t imagine it, thinking about an island in the Caribbean, Kenscoff can get very cold at times.

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Before the earthquake most of the people lived in cement houses or buildings made of a mixture of stone and wood.

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During the earthquake a lot of people lost their homes. They now sleeping in tents outside.

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The people of Kenscoff lost a lot during the earthquake but they have not lost their spirit.

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Their eyes still sparkle.

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Kenscoff was your first home. It is bright, colorful and full of life. It is one on the most beautiful places I have ever been and I can’t wait for you to grow up and see it for yourself.

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Thursday, May 20, 2010

The Hope We Hold

Sometimes God throws people into your path and you aren’t quite sure why.

Chrissie came into my life in away the was undeniably orchestrated by God. Shortly after the earthquake I began receiving comments on my blog from someone named Mattie. I assumed, as I can often be accused of, that this was simply a woman who had stumbled across my blog and was showing her support. So imagine my shock when the following comment was left by Mattie…

“I will totally pray for you! I have been reading your blog for awhile and really appreciate your honesty. The truth is, we all need a little prayer and encouragement sometimes! I am in love with Espwa Berlancia. You are what I hope to do, Rhyan. I am 12 years old and we are in the process of expanding our family to a big ol' 14! We all have a heart for Haiti and hope to adopt our 7 kids from there.
In Christ,
Mattie Patterson”

I couldn’t believe this was a 12 year old! I knew I needed to write to her and get to know this special girl!

Little did I know how Mattie, and her entire family would impact me in the short time I have known them.

Chrissie is Mattie’s baby sister. The Patterson’s adopted her 7 months ago from a Siberian orphanage. When they accepted the call and decided to adopt Chrissie they knew that she was very sick. Chrissie had a heart defect that would require an extremely complicated surgery. They were never assured that Chrissie would live long, in fact they knew she probably wouldn’t. And yet they opened their hearts and their home to her. Oh, how I pray for a heart like theirs! I struggled with this very concept when Sabrina came into my life. I’ve struggled over and over again, choosing to love while knowing that letting go loomed ahead. Loving a baby here comes with knowing that they will not be yours forever. I will admit there are times when I just don’t want to do it because, selfishly, I don’t want the pain their leaving will bring. I wish I were more like Lorraine. She heard God tell her to love this baby, and so she did. Never holding back, never guarding her heart from feeling too much. Her brothers and sisters embraced her into their home and their family. She was Chrissie Patterson, daughter and sister. She belonged, just as she had dreamed of. They gave her all they could, all the love in their hearts, all the while knowing what lie ahead.

Chrissie’s heart surgery was scheduled for April 19th. On that day Chrissie’s Mom and Dad stayed next to her until the moment she was wheeled into surgery. She saw their faces as she closed her eyes. On April 19th Chrissie died while in surgery. Chrissie was dead and then God chose to give her back. She was placed on life support and her Mom and Dad were by her side. For the next 31 days, through procedure after procedure Chrissie was never alone. After 31 days of life support, doing the dance of one step forward and two steps back, Chrissie finally took her grandest and largest step, into the arms of Jesus.

Chrissie, though I have never seen her sweet little face in person, has changed my life, she has rocked my world and impacted the way that I will live every day. I refuse to live in the fear I had before. I refuse to hold back, what every precious child deserves, to try and save the pain of goodbye. Today, because of Chrissie, Mattie, and Lorraine I will love more than I have ever let myself. I will not hold back. I will not find things to fill up my days that are “more important” than just holding them. Today, I will bring JOY that I have learned from the life of Christyn Joy.

My heart breaks for the Patterson family today, I know the pain that they are feeling wants to overwhelm and capture their hearts. I also know that God is bigger, bigger even, than the death of a baby. God is bigger than the pain and his promise are bigger than the lies the wicked whisper. The promises of hope that he gives are greater than any despair the enemy can pour out. We have home for Chrissie and for those who love her today!

I will share again, the song by Steven Curtis Chapman that I have clung to so many times…

WITH HOPE

This is not at all How we thought it was supposed to be We had so many plans for you
We had so many dreams
And now you've gone away
And left us with the memories of your smile
And nothing we can say
And nothing we can do
Can take away the pain
The pain of losing you, but ...
We can cry with hope
We can say goodbye with hope
'Cause we know our goodbye is not the end, oh no
And we can grieve with hope
'Cause we believe with hope
There's a place, by God's grace
There's a place where we'll see your face again
We'll see your face again
And never have I known
Anything so hard to understand
And never have I questioned more
The wisdom of God's plan
But through the cloud of tears
I see the Father's smile and say well done
And I imagine you
Where you wanted most to be
Seeing all your dreams come true
'Cause now you're home
And now you're free, and ...
We have this hope as an anchor
'Cause we believe that everything
God promised us is true, so ...

So we can cry with hope

And say goodbye with hope

We wait with hope

And we ache with hope

We hold on with hope

We let go with hope

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

How Sweet It Is

Worth every tear I cried, the hours I worried and the countless moments spent in prayer.

Worth every drop of sweat shed sitting  in a room that at times, felt stifling.

Worth every day spent, by so many hard working women to bring life back to this little love bug.

Worth every second I spent doubting it would ever happen…

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(Not the best quality photo, I was much more interested in living the moment than watching it through a camera lens.)

Never in my life have I been blessed for my work with something so sweet. No job on earth will ever compare to this one, no reward will ever be as precious as the one I received tonight.

Sunday, May 16, 2010

His Tears

Can make my heart hurt.

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They can bring me  to my knees, they can make me want to cry along with him.

Ti Bet is not better today. When I went up to see him this morning he was crying pitifully. He doesn’t usually cry and I knew something was wrong. His tiny twig arms and legs were stiff and his abdomen swollen. He cried for about 40 min before he finally fell into a fitful sleep. I lay him in his bed and prayed for relief.  Oh how I wish I could take his pain away. I wish I could fix his hurts. Once again, I wish love was enough.

You can read Susan’s thoughts and stories about P here. Susan is the nurse in our NICU and she has been caring for Peterson since he arrived.

Dixie has also written about Peterson, you can read what she wrote here.

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Please pray for Bug. Pray that we will figure out what this sweet baby needs and how to best treat him. I hate when he cries!

Friday, May 14, 2010

One Sick Bug

Ti Bet has not been well the last few days. DSC04794

I hurt for this sweet little boy. He has been through so much in the last week. I realized that it is all for his well being in the end but he doesn’t, it has been hard on him. I have had a lot of sleepless nights spent in prayer and tears for sweet little bug. He’s scared me a few times but like every little baby here, I have chosen to give him over to God, praying that He will bring me peace at the same time.  Being stuck and pricked and messed with over and over again has done nothing for P’s poor sad spirit and my heart breaks for him a little more every day.

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His mom returned on Monday and I have been able to spend quite a bit of my evening hours getting to know her. She is a sweet girl but it is heartbreaking to watch her and realized that she is just a child herself. She certainly has moments of “immaturity” and acting her age. I pray for her a lot… She needs a lot of love, compassion and training to become the mother that this little boy needs.

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P still hasn’t smiled. I asked him mom and she told me “he used to smile and then he got sad, he doesn’t smile anymore.” Depression in a baby is something I will never be used to, something I will never understand. How can a life so tiny hold so much pain. How can this world be so hurt that it takes away the smile of an innocent baby.?

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Every day I visit Bug several times in the nursery. I usually sit with him for several minuets rocking and holding him and singing little songs. Every evening after supper I sit with him for at least an hour, just holding him and marveling that I am allowed the honor of knowing and loving him. When I come in the room his eyes get wide and he immediately starts to whimper to be held. I am happy to oblige. He always stares deep into my eyes and follows my every move. He knows that I am there just for him. I love giving him that. I love that he knows I care about him, I just wish it were enough.

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I know one day I will be able to write the beautiful story of P’s first smile. I know on that day I will realize that is was worth every second, every tear and every prayer. I know that day will be added to the list of dates that are always in my mind. It will be a very good day!

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Tuesday, May 11, 2010

For Mattie

About 3 months ago I had the privilege of getting to know a young woman named Mattie.

She and her amazing family live on a ranch in Texas where they are raising several beautiful children that God brought to them through adoption. One of them is Keifer, a 21 month old Haitian boy. The other one is Chrissie, a 4 year old miracle who continues to fight for her life every day.

Mattie made an impact on me because I have never met a 12 year old quite like her. In fact, rarely have I ever met a grown woman with the poise, faith and articulation I have witnessed in this girl. Mattie has a heart for orphans and a heart for Haiti. I can’t wait to bring her with me someday!

Mattie, this is for you. I’m thinking about you and I thank you for your beautiful friendship!

Dear

Mattie

Thank 

You

For

 Praying

For2

Us

Sunday, May 9, 2010

I Will Tell The World

I will tell them what I’ve seen…

I saw tears rolling down the cheeks of a woman as she told me the names and ages of her 8 children who died when her home collapsed. Farah lives completely alone now. She told me she wishes that she had died next to her children because she has no life without them. She showed me the torn canvas bags that held all of her worldly possessions. I saw Farah… 100_9143

I saw a little brown toe peeking out of the corner of a tattered shoe. My eyes traveled beyond that foot, up to the badly scarred leg of 8 year old Jameson. He held my had for over an hour, limping from one tent to another and proudly naming the families who lived in each one. When I commented that I was impressed that he knew all of his neighbors he told me “Oh no, they are not my neighbors, not even my friends. They are my family now, we are all family”. I saw Jameson…

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I saw a red string. It was tied around the wrist of a tiny baby. Her name is Nadege. I knew what the string was but I asked anyway. Her mother told me it was to keep away the evil spirits that would make her sick. I looked into her mothers eyes and told her that her baby did not need a piece of cloth to keep her baby well. I told her that her daughter needs to grow up loving Jesus, not scared of evil spirits. She nodded solemnly and as I walked away I heard the people of her tent burst into laughter at my ideas. I saw Nadege

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I saw a dusty, naked toddler standing all alone. I picked him up and asked him his name. I barely made out his whisper, “Israel” I held him as it grew dark and watched his eyes grow in wonder over the huge screen and projector were set up in what was his open play area. I rocked him back and forth, he whispered in my ear “mwen grangou, I am hungry” gave him a granola bar, all I had. I sat him high on my shoulders and he towered above everyone who was bigger than him. I held him until a young girl came and told me that he was her cousin and she needed to take him to their tent to go to bed. I asked her where his mother was and she told me that she was missing, her own mother and grandmother were dead too. This 13 year old girl was taking care of her 3 year old cousin. Sendy and Israel had only each other, everyone else was dead. I saw Sendy and Israel…

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I saw rows of tents that were now the homes of thousands of people. I saw teachers, artists, merchants, mechanics and grocery store cashiers reduced to a life of unbearable pain. I saw tents…

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I saw rows of toilets and people waiting to use them. I saw their patience and their humility as they stood in line. I saw their brokenness…

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I saw the dust and dirt running down the drain as I washed my feet that night. I saw it slip away in seconds and as I crawled into my bed and prepared to sleep, I closed my eyes and I saw their faces…

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