Thursday, March 31, 2016

What If...

I share a lot of my heart. I share as much as I can because writing is how I “get it all out” but, believe it or not, there is much, much more that I don’t offer up on social media. There are a lot of reasons but probably the biggest is that even though I have many loving, open minded friends, judgment comes easy to those in the developed world. The questions I get in private messages are numerous… Why do the mothers wait so long to seek help? Why do they keep having babies they can’t afford? Why are people always asking for a handout. If I’m being honest, they are questions I have asked myself a million times over. I get the why’s because I have them too.

8 years here, and having grace drilled into me from an early age has given me the mindset that seeks real answers to these questions. Why DID she wait so long to seek help for her baby? Perhaps because “she” has never been valued enough to be taught to read or write, let alone given education on basic health and hygiene. Maybe “she” did everything she thought was best for her daughter, maybe “she” brought her to a clinic for a vaccine, the most loving thing a mother can do, only to be told that her daughter was very sick, and to find herself burying that baby girl just 24 hours later. Unless I am going to send the teacher into the depths, I have no room to judge. I have only room to love in the precious, raw open moments that I am given. And really, why does “she” keep having babies?? Maybe it’s because the choice of sexual contact is everything but. Maybe “she” has no say in when, where or how. Maybe “she” is just doing what she has to do. Maybe self control has nothing to do with it. 

 Last week I loved a baby girl with my entire heart but she was someone else’s entire world. Ketia was loved and treasured by her mom and dad and by her 3 older siblings. She was their joy, their everything. Her mom told me about her favorite songs. Her dad talked about the moments every morning when he got up with the baby before leaving for work, spooning food into her mouth and changing her diaper to give her mama a few more moments of sleep. They were normal! This was their every day life. Their life before they had to learn how to live broken.

Last Thursday Ketia was dying. I knew it when I held her in my arms. I begged and pleaded with God that He would change His mind but I knew that she was dying. That morning I had told her mom that it was ok to go home and that I would stay with her but within hours it was obvious to me that she was slowly leaving this earth. I put on a worship radio station, climbed into her bed and rocked and prayed with all of my might that she would hold on and wait for her mama to say goodbye. For hours I held her and sang and begged and fought with God. Most of all I desperately wanted her to wait for her mom to get back so that she could be the one to hold her in those final moments.

Finally, at about 6pm her mom and dad walked into the room. At this point Ketia had been unconscious for almost 3 hours, she had been “death gasping” for the past 90 minutes. I knew she didn’t have much longer and when they walked in they knew it too. We spent a few minutes all just gathered around this baby that we all loved and I finally told them about the reality of the situation. I explained to them the doctors prognosis, my own understanding of the situation and the options that were available to them. Her mama and daddy were so brave. They listened intently and they asked questions about everything. They asked what a tube for breathing would mean, what it would do for her, what it would do to her. They asked, with all sincerity, what her life from now on would look like. They asked if it would hurt her, they asked if she would cry. The doctor explained everything in the a way that I will always love him for. He was kind and honest and he told them simply the truth and in the end they decided that sweet Ketia had cried enough, that she had had enough hurt. Her parents decided that they did not want her to be intubated or resuscitated when the time came for her to go. They decided what what best for her, even though it was what hurt them the most. They loved their baby one last time.

After the decision was made I invited her mom and dad to come to the bed to hold and be with her and that was the exact second that Ketia decided to open her eyes, one last time. She looked up into the faces of the 2 people that she knew by heart and as soon as she saw her daddy, she smiled a great big smile. I had never seen her smile before. In that second, that wasn’t for me, she stole yet another pice of my heart. Ketia’s mom and dad spent time praying over her and I stood in the back of the room and I felt like an imposition. I was reminded, one more time that this wasn’t my pain, wasn’t my story. I have their permission to share it and I do, but not for me. Not so that people will tell me how sorry they are for me. I tell it because Ketia died, and that is a tragedy and the only thing more tragic would be if she died and it didn’t matter. I will fight, as long as I have breath, to make sure that Ketia matters, that she isn’t forgotten. That one more child lives, because she did not. I will fight for Ketia and I will fight for a mother who lost her baby and a father who’s light was stolen away.

They are why I will fight.

What if the mama who waited too long was just doing the best she knew? What if the one who kept having babies didn’t have a choice, but loved her children fiercely despite their circumstances? What if the only hand out they really wanted was a hand up, and the only thing they needed was a willing heart to embrace the ugly and hard in anticipation of the beauty that is lying, just beyond our sight?

Saturday, March 26, 2016

More Than Bunnies

Somewhere over the past 6 months or so I acquired this tiny little stuffed pink bunny rabbit. I cannot for the life of me remember where it came from but one day it was just there. It went into a box with baby girl clothes and supplies that are used as children come into my home and I never noticed it again.

When I got  call last Sunday for a medivac flight of a tiny little girl named Ketia I threw on some scrubs and tossed a few things in a backpack without thinking much about it. As Ketia struggled and fought to breathe on the plane I reached into my bag for something to comfort her and my fingers closed over that little rabbit. From that second on she loved that bunny and she was her constant companion. When she cried in the ER while they tried multiple times to  get an IV in her tiny veins, she clung to bunny.

While she was held down for an echocardiogram that gave us a peek at her heart, she rubbed her soft ears.

While she breathed her last she had that bunny cuddled up to hear cheek and yesterday, when I laid her to rest I tucked that little bunny in beside her one last time.

Ketia loved that bunny.

I love that bunny because she loved her.

On Good Friday I buried Ketia at a cemetery a few blocks from my home. I couldn’t help but feel overwhelmed as I watched them prepare, and then close her tomb.

I thought about our Savior. I thought about what it looked like when he was buried and then even more so, what it looked like when He defeated death and burst forth from the grave. When the man who oversaw the cemetery began to seal the tomb I though to myself how final and permanent that seal was and my mind immediately went to that first Easter morning. What must have it been like to have watched that tomb sealed, only come back a few days later and find it broken open. The shock and fear would have been great. I imagine there was confusion and anger and so, so much grief.

I used to think about Easter as a happy, hopeful time. But this year for the first time I wondered and thought about those  dark, ugly terror filled days where there was no hope in sight. Those living in the midst had no idea that “Sunday [was] coming”.

This year, that is me. The fear is too much and I can’t possibly imagine the day when this is all woven together to make sense. I can’t imagine a day when anything will ever be ok again. I can’t imagine a day when I won’t wake up overwhelmed with grief and tears for the ugly reality that these babies are fighting.

Facing the death of this baby that I loved was hard. Harder than anything I have done in a very long time. Processing her death over Easter is something that has completely brought to life the reality of why I will keep fighting. Because this isn’t about what I do at all, it’s about what He did when He gave everything to rescue me. It’s about the fact that when a baby dies I can grieve but that I can also get up tomorrow and do it again, because I have a hope that lasts far beyond this broken world and the hurt that it holds. It's about the fact that every single Ketia and Youvika that I have lost has been swept up to dance at Jesus' feet and all I can do is keep pressing forward until the day He finally sees fit to let me joint them.

Ketia loved her bunny, and I’m glad she gave her comfort but this year more than ever I am reminded more than ever that Easter is not about bunnies.

Thursday, March 10, 2016


If you follow me on Facebook, chances are you’ve seen me talking a lot lately about something called Medika Mamba. Today I want to invite you to take a closer look at this miracle “medicine” and learn more about this product that is saving lives all across Haiti.

From Meds and Food for Kids:
"Sometimes called miracle peanut butter, the Ready-to-Use Therapeutic Food (RUTF) Medika Mamba is considered the “gold standard” for treating malnutrition by the World Health Organization.  Miracle or medicine, no one can argue with the results. Children who enter treatment severely undernourished and underweight show great improvement in just six weeks."

"Mothers, once in despair for their children, are empowered, encouraged and hopeful for the future
once they see the bright eyes and strong limbs of their once fragile child."

"What’s Medika Mamba?
Medika Mamba is a RUTF made of ground roasted peanuts, powdered milk, cooking oil, sugar, vitamins and minerals."

"How long does treatment take?
A typical treatment program for one child lasts 6-8 weeks and takes 25 pounds of Medika Mamba.

How effective is Medika Mamba?
Within six weeks of starting treatment, 90% of children on Medika Mamba recover, far better than the 25% survival rate with older, milk-based treatments."

"Simple Ingredients, Essential Nutrients"

And check out this video…

Medika Mamba is our #1 defense against malnutrition and our most essential item in caring for these precious children. Next week I will be placing a large order of Mamba to stock our pantry. This will be the first time I have had space to store several cases and will ensure that I will never have to hesitate to extend care to a child at a moments notice! If you would like to donate towards this purchase you can do so by clicking below. $70 covers the cost of 1 case, which will treat one child all the way through recovery!

Tuesday, March 8, 2016

Dear Haitian Woman

Dear tiny Haitian baby, with your big brown eyes and soft dark curls. The dirt where you play belongs to an earth that holds beautiful, breathtaking things and adventures that are just waiting for you. Tiny Haitian baby, do you know someone’s whole life revolves around you?

Dear little Haitian girl, with your shiny black shoes and crisp clean uniform. This world is bigger than you can even imagine. You know all those far away places that you are learning about? They are right there, waiting for you, for your brilliant ideas and the talents that only you have. Little Haitian girl, do you know that you can be anything you dream of?

Dear new Haitian mama, with your still soft belly and your tiny little daughter. You are everything to her. Your breast is the one that fills her belly, your voice she knows by heart. Your love is what nourishes her soul. New Haitian mama, do you know that you are changing the world every single exhausting day?

Dear old Haitian woman, with the deep lines on your face reminding you of the years of hard work and hard laughter. You have buried too many babies, too many friends, too many lovers. You are the one who stands before your family, a shining light guiding their entire course of direction. You are the one who’s knee they sit before to soak in wisdom and history. Old Haitian woman, do you know you are a warrior?

// Photos by Kadi Tiede and Laura Nickel of The Sakina Mission