Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Once Again


I love fall! It’s always been my favorite season. I love the cold, clear nights, the snap in the air, the scented candles and hot caramel apple cider. Everything just feels so cozy and cuddly.

I struggled my first few years in Haiti. There just isn’t that definite changing of the seasons here like there is in Minnesota. I missed it. A lot. But, the longer I am here the more that homesick longing fades. Last week during an afternoon thunderstorm I had on my flannel pajama pants and fuzzy socks and I  commented to a friend about the awesome fall weather. I find myself looking forward to Christmas season here, a bizarre mixture of familiar carols and palm trees. With each year that passes this place feels more like home to me.

While I love fall there is one thing that happens every year that I dread. The ever present need to raise the money that I will need for the rent each year. Last year, if you remember, I was able to push off paying part of the money until April and within just 24 hours, you faithful friends had provided all I needed with even some to put towards the coming year. This year I will need to pay, in full, by the beginning of November. I was able to pay $1500 already but there is a remaining balance of $2000 that I will need to have in the next week in order to be set for another year of living in Haiti.

This home where I live is so much more than a place that Annabel and I go to sleep. It is where we do life, it is where we love on sick babies and nurse them back to health. It is where women knock on the door to share in the joy and fear of what the test results will say. It is the safe place where I unwind, where I can freely break down and cry over the injustice of this place. It’s where I ruin countless attempts at  recipes shared with me by neighbors.

The 3 babies that have shared our home in the past 6 months. 
This place is hard work but it is also home. I don’t want to be anywhere else. I am called, commanded by my God to be in the place where He built me to serve. The place that points me more toward Him every day.

Each of you who has given has been a part of what I am able to do here. Every dollar you donate to provide shelter for Annabel and I is another day spent holding and loving on His sweet children. I am eternally grateful and humbly ask again for your partnership that keeps me here.

Friday, October 25, 2013



One Tuesday morning in early September I laid eyes on a tiny and breathtakingly perfect set of newborn twins. A round faced little boy weighing in at 6lbs 4oz. and a petit little girl, 3lbs 9oz.

As the days of living up in the mountains of Thomasin pass into each other I find my life heading in directions that I never would have imagined. After the blessing of having Nerline in our home I have been praying that The Lord would continue to allow me to love on His children in such a special way.  On that fall day I heard His calling, again.

After visiting with mama, and doing a few blood tests I began to feel that familiar stirring in my heart. That little voice that whispers that this one is different. This one would capture me. I had been waiting for the next ones that The Lord would lead to me and I and jumped in fully. I lost my heart to that family in the few seconds that I held those babies and heard their mama tell her story.

A past full of more death, pain, sickness and difficulty than I could ever fully grasp. Her life was HARD and it always had been, now she faced the responsibility of caring for 2 brand new babies completely alone. Add to that a dangerous post partum infection and I knew that she would need someone on her side. I could think of nothing I would rather do than be that one. 


Just a few hours later, mama’s health had continued to decline and it became obvious that she needed to be transferred to a local hospital. 2 different hired vehicles and a rainy ride in the dark through twisting mountain roads before we arrived at the local emergency room. She settled in with IV antibiotics and a sweet neighbor woman to keep her company while I returned home to 2 little ones who would share my mattress on the living room floor for a sleepless night.


And sleepless it was! Between two newborns needing feeds and changing I didn’t get more than 20 minutes of rest all night. They kept me busy in one of my very favorite ways. The next morning baby boy was looking a bit yellow so I set him up in the Caribbean sun for some good old fashioned vitamin D and went about trying to get baby girl to take in as much milk as possible. She was almost 2 full pounds smaller than her twin and wasn’t totally convinced that eating was more fun that sleeping yet.


While baby boy was bigger than his sister, he was also jaundiced and had some sort of skin infection. It was decided that it would be best for both him and his mama to have him join her at the hospital for a few days. Not only would he be getting the medical attention that he needed, mama would have a chance to bond with at least one her new babies while she was receiving care.  He moved into mama’s hospital bed and baby girl settled in with Annabel and I.


You wouldn’t believe what a complete and total joy this baby girl was! we both fell head over heels in love with her immediately. She started eating well once I was able to take some time to really commit to getting milk in her little belly. Over the next few weeks she ate, slept, smiled her first smile and spent hours dancing in my arms around the living room.

It didn’t take me long to realize that, off all the “temporary” babies I had cared for, this one would easily become the hardest to say goodbye to.

With some kind of fierce love that is impossible to describe to anyone who isn’t a mother, I cared for her. I woke up in the middle of the night, glad that she had cried to eat because I had already started to miss her in the few hours we had been asleep. I celebrated every single bottle finished and every tiny ounce gained with a bit of pride in my heart. I took her for walks and smiled and agreed when the neighbors would stop us to to tell me how beautiful she was. I daydreamed over what she would be, who she would become as time went on. I took her to church, I prayed over every inch of her little body. I painted her tiny toenails pink.


As baby girl grew stronger, Mama began to improve too. Finally, she was released from the hospital. She moved into the small room we had prepared to be her new home. She grinned to be reunited with both of her babies, she put on a happy, brave face but in her eyes I saw just the smallest flicker of fear. The responsibility before her was huge.


Women in Haiti make decisions every single day that would wreck you and I. Life here is something that, even though I live among, I just can not comprehend. I will not pretend to understand them, it is not something that can fit inside of my head. These women are stronger than I could ever dream of being. 2 weeks after being released from the hospital, with my support and love, Mama of baby boy and baby girl decided that she simply could not parent these babies in the way that they needed. I won’t lie, there was a brief, and terrifying moment where I wondered if God was really asking me to take both of these babies into our family. I knew I couldn’t do it! It became obvious, very quickly, that He had a plan for these two precious little lives. That afternoon, Baby Boy and Baby Girl were admitted to a local Creche (orphanage) where they will wait for their new family to come get them.


A broken past leads the way for a broken heart. I wanted things to be different, I wanted this family to be the one that stayed together. I wanted my encouragement and work to mean something. I wanted everything to be different for this mama and for these babies. I did what I thought was best but I still have so much to learn. My human heart felt that I failed until I laid it before Him and His promises whispered loud. “I know. Me too. I cry for my children who hurt. Remember, I make all things new. I create BEAUTY from PAIN. I have a plan for them.”

No child should live in an orphanage. No woman should be sold for her body. No man should die because he has nothing to eat or drink. This world is full of unfairness and “shouldn’t be’s”.

This mother deciding to relinquish her babies felt like a failure to me until I realized how outrageously prideful I had become. Who was I to think that I had anything to do with this families future? I was nothing but a weak and willing heart called to love on them for a little while. He holds their future, not me. He was putting this puzzle together and He is the one who loves them more than anyone else. I just got to go along for a bit of the ride. He blessed me to fall in love with a baby girl and share a few weeks with her. He graciously put her into a tiny bit of the picture He is painting for my life and now I can’t help but wonder the masterpiece He has in mind for hers.