Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Happy Birthday Haiti Style


Fifth Grade


Anson's classmates sang Happy Birthday to him in three languages.  English.  French.  Creole.




 Ms. Nash.  Anson's teacher.  We love Ms. Nash, and we're so thankful for her.

Elijah.  Anson's sweet friend.

Birthday Biscuits for the Birthday Boy


Birthday biscuits are a tradition in our house.  Anson is 11 today.  Our first birthday to celebrate in Haiti.
 




From Daddy...


10 years ago we had our first big birthday party for you.
It was a huge ordeal that, of course, you don't remember...
tons of presents...
tons of decorations...
tons of people.

Now 10 years later, this birthday will look much different.

This time we celebrate your birthday in Haiti ...
with very few presents...
no decorations ...
and totally different people.

But today is still just as special.

11 years ago we started out our life as parents.
Your mom and I will both admit that we had no idea how to be parents when you were born.
We made lots of mistakes along the way.

And yet, by the grace of God, you have become an amazing young man.
Your gentle spirit and your love for the Lord are a blessing to us and those around you.
It's an honor to be able to watch you grow and to help shape your life for the Lord.

We love you more than this blog can explain.

Happy Birthday Anson

From Mom...

Don't ever let us try to take credit for the person you have become.  You live with us. You know.  We fail.   Anything good or right that comes from your life belongs to God and only God.

It brings me great joy to watch the story of your life unfold. What a lovely story God is writing through you.  What big plans He has for your life.

I pray this year is full of new experiences, new struggles, new trials, new joys, new ways to know Jesus and His nature better.  New reasons to have to trust God, to come face to face with His faithfulness.

And because I'm your mother, it must be said...I don't know how it's possible, but you manage to get more and more handsome and clever every single year.  I wonder if your next birthday will find you taller than your mom.

Monday, September 27, 2010

Storms:::Tents:::Trees:::Dirty Boys

He covers the face of the full moon, spreading his clouds over it. He marks out the horizon on the face of the waters for a boundary between light and darkness. The pillars of the heavens quake, aghast at his rebuke. By his power he churned up the sea;...by his breath the skies became fair;...And these are but the outer fringe of his works; how faint the whisper we hear of him! Who then can understand the thunder of his power? -- Job 26:8-14

A violent storm blew through Port-au-Prince on Friday.

One report said we experienced 65 mph winds.

Trees blew down all over the city, on our campus, and one fell down on our house.


Our kids and a lot of their friends stood in our living room staring out the windows watching the storm.

In those moments as we saw tree limbs falling, limbs blowing across campus, and the wind being a big bully to potted plants and anything else in its path we talked about a lot of things.

“Isn’t it amazing to see a storm this big?  To know that this is just a fraction of God’s power we’re seeing blow across this campus?”

“Humans think we have so much control, and then you see a storm like this and remember that every moment of every day we are at God’s mercy.  He is strong.  We are weak.  It's always true, but sometimes He makes sure we remember.”

When I see a big storm or natural disasters unleashed, it's kind of comforting to think about what a huge God we serve. When you see wind snap a tree in half, it's hard to believe that God loves us with such intensity.  Creation has only shown us a speck of God's love for us. But it's also a little scary when we consider that the things we see on earth are only a fringe of His works.  When I see the wind take down mature, thick trees I can't help but wonder what God's wrath will look like one day, and thank Him that He has saved me from ever seeing it.  If this storm is just a drip of God's power, I would hate to have to stand up against the force of His wrath towards sin one day.  It makes me thankful for Jesus.  It makes me good and weepy as I consider how Jesus felt on that cross, tortured by the weight of God's wrath towards our sin. It's crazy how watching a storm can make you feel urgency about sharing the gospel. Weird how a storm can cause you to beg the Lord to pursue and save.

It was a special, reverent moment watching that terrible storm, tucked in, hidden away inside the house with a bunch of kids who were just the right level of scared.  The scared that makes them quiet.  The kind of scared that makes them watch their mother's every move, every facial expression trying to read her...trying to figure out how they feel.  Strange how a mom's face can puppeteer a child's heart.  It was calm and quiet inside, but it felt like a ticking bomb.  I knew...at any moment, I could scream or get a little scared and every kid huddled around me would start crying.

Then a bunch of high school boys came screaming across the yard and landed on our front porch. They were crazy excited.  Jumping around.  Soaking wet.  Boys, drunk on a dose of danger.

Comic relief.  It arrived at just the right time.  All good scenes, once they are good and tense need a moment of relief.  Those boys were our relief.

I talked to the kids about the tent cities.  The storm waylaid our campus.  In only a short time, the storm turned our beautiful school into a total disaster.  Debris was everywhere.  Roofs were leaking.  Trees fell on power lines and smashed vehicles.

We couldn’t even imagine how a tiny tent could hold up to such force.

As parents came to pick up their kids from school we got reports of tents being in the road and personal belongings blown into the street. 


People who have lived here over 20 years said they had never seen anything like this storm in Port-au-Prince.  We are shielded, thankfully, from the hurricanes.  No one was prepared for a storm with winds this severe. 




Once the scary parts had past, the boys wanted to play in the rain and all the water that had collected on campus. In case you don't know this, Haiti is gross.  It's really dirty.  People pee on the side of the road...right in front of you.  Gas station bathroom.  That's what this country feels like.  I was a little grossed out by the thought of my kids playing in the rain water even on our relatively clean campus, but Kirby inspired me...you should check out the mud fight pictures she posted of her kids.  Precious.  I told the boys to take off their white polos and have at it. Asher and McKlayne can't have all the fun.





Check out Ashton's belly. So like him.  Putting the tattoos on one at a time was just a little too much work.  So why not put the entire sheet of tattoos on your belly?  That boy.  He's the poster child for a kid who attends Christian private school isn't he? White polo.  Blue shorts.  Tatted torso.


At first, the older kids on campus pointed and laughed at the Hendrick boys.  Did our kids care?  Um..no. Not at all. They know what's fun.  Pretty soon the pointers and the laughers were inspired.  They left campus totally soaked from all the fun they had.  I'm going to try and avoid their mothers for a few weeks.


I'm sure Ashton is getting worms in this picture.  Good thing we have a great doctor.  The Amazing Doctor Bacak has already received several pictures of Hendrick boy rashes in his inbox.  Even from far away, we still have the best doctor ever. We should all make wagers on how long it will take before Rusty gets a picture of Hendrick boy poop in his email.  Two weeks?  Four weeks?



Thanks for the inspiration, Kirby.  I think this is one of those days that will be gorilla glued on our kid's minds.

Thank God for the times when He reminds us that He is big and we are little.

Thank God for the opportunity for us to see, up close and personal, how different it was to ride this storm in a concrete house, instead of in a tent.  I'm not sure what to do with that knowledge, but I'm thankful it's right in front of my eyes where I can't ignore it.  It's tempting to sit in a concrete house as tents fly down the street and say stupid things like, "Thank God I'm so blessed. Thank God for this house."  Funny how Jesus never said, "When you see great need, sit back and count your blessings."  He said if we see someone in need, meet the need...share...and when you do junk like that, you just served God right to His face.

Saturday, September 25, 2010

When a Baby Has a Baby


She's fifteen years old.  Her baby weighs four pounds.

His little legs are deformed.

A teen mom in Haiti.  I wonder if there's any harder demographic to be a part of in this world.

I went to Heartline this morning and worked with this young mother to get her baby to nurse well.  Breastfeeding is vital in this country.  Heartline works hard to teach the women of Haiti about breastfeeding and to encourage them...cheer them on...as they learn how to feed their babies.  Heartline is saving the lives of mothers and children in Haiti.  Crucial.  Their ministry here is crucial.  If you want to invest in Haiti...in something sustainable, in something that is effective, put your money on Heartline.

Every time I am at Heartline it's emotional.  It's not very often that you get to be a part of something so obviously good, vital, and redemptive.  It's like pure beauty, right in your face.  You have to sort of sit there, stare at it, and soak it in awhile. 

***

I have helped many new mothers learn to breastfeed over the past 10 years. What a sweet joy that is.  To get to be a part of something so real and honest is a huge privilege.  Birthing a baby has a way of stripping away all the falsehood.  The phony parts of us fall apart.  What we're left with is raw and frightfully human. 

A new mom calls.  She's crying.  She wants so badly to nurse her baby, but her nipples are killing her. Nothing is working right.

I think there are three times in life when you realize what's on the movies isn't real.

The first time you have sex

In the delivery room and

Nursing your new baby.

Did everyone just nod and say, "Amen?"

It's always hard to watch a new mom doubt herself.  She's delirious from lack of sleep.  She wants to cuss or kick her husband in the man parts every time she goes to latch her baby onto her breast.  During one of the most vulnerable moments of a woman's life, I'm invited into her home.  She hates her post-baby body.  She looks like hell.  Sitz baths and pads the size of a twin mattress are sitting in the bathroom.

And yet...because she loves that tiny little life so much and would do anything to give her baby the best gift ever, she sits there, tears running down her face, body exposed, begging for help.  Teaching a woman to breastfeed is more than simply teaching technique.  It's about loving a woman right where she is.  She's tired.  She's scared.  She's in pain.  She needs love and encouragement.  She needs to be reminded that God is there...right there.  She is loved.  She can do this.  God is inviting her to be a part of a miracle.

After you share this experience with a woman, you are automatically bound for life, in some unwritten covenant of friendship.  The women I have loved and served this way are forever mine, and I'm forever theirs.  What a blessing to share this special connection with them.  No matter if we see each other often, or hardly at all, we hug and some times tear up.  We squeeze each other, look one another in the eyes, smile, recognizing that some things in life have no words, no words that work or say the right things. I hope in those moments these women know how thankful I am to have been a part of something so beautiful, intimate, and personal.  I hope they also know that I'd never tell anyone what their abs looked like, or how messy their kitchen was, or repeat any of the things they said to me as they sobbed and sobbed.  Those are forever our secrets.  Ours and only ours.

There are some things you wake up and find yourself a part of that you know, without a doubt, you were not worthy enough or smart enough to sign up for on your own.  That's how I feel about teaching women to breastfeed.  It's a sweet part of my story that God wrote into my life.  He chose this goodness for me, and I'm incredibly grateful.

It was moving for me today to get to use this gift in Haiti.

Lots of things were the same, but I have never taught someone to nurse their baby in Creole.

That part was totally frustrating.  I get so irritated with the language barrier some times I want to take a bat to it.  Beat the crap out of it.

It was wonderful to help this new mom.  I loved every second of it.

But today, by golly, I'm learning the Creole words and phrases for

nipple

squeeze

ram it in

open the baby's mouth...huge

supply and demand

do your nipples hurt...if they hurt, we can fix it...I promise...nursing your baby is not supposed to hurt

your boobs won't always be giant freaks of nature (unless they were giant freaks of nature before you had a baby, then I can't help you, but you should really, really invest in a good bra)

You can do this, God made you to do this, no one can love your baby like you can love your baby.

I'm here.  I'll help you.  You're not alone.

For pictures of Adema, and to hear more about what's going on with her little boy's legs you can visit the Livesay's blog.  Go check it out.

Friday, September 24, 2010

Building Better in Haiti



As Aaron stood at the gate with the lady and her baby, to say it was a hard moment would be laughable.

What word do you use to describe a situation like the one Aaron and this lady found themselves in?

There are times when words fail, and this is one of those times.

He could not take the baby and let this woman walk off.  We knew that was not the answer.

However, it also seems wrong to send a woman away with a baby that she just tried to give away.

Aaron felt sad, confused, shaken that he had no answers, on top of being worried about what would happen to this tiny baby in the dirty towel.  In good conscience how do you send a woman away with a baby she just said she did not want?

He felt a sense of responsibility towards this baby and her mother, but that did not mean he had any idea what to actually, physically, tangibly do.  We have never thought through what we'd do if someone handed us their baby.  In that heartbreaking moment, I can't describe what it felt like to sift through a huge pile of "thoughts" as a woman waited there...for a decision...an answer...her baby and her eyes right in front of us.

Remember Monsters Inc. That scene where one of the monsters is learning to scare children?  Remember how they could pause the scene, stop and critique it?  Oh how I wish we could have taken our shocking, sad, scene at the gate, hit pause and then have an expert panel critique and discuss how we should have handled this new, difficult situation.  How I wish we could go back and fix some things.  Handle it better.  Shock is a strong emotion that we haven't experienced often enough.  We could not think clearly and had no idea what to do.

We're so new in Haiti we are still figuring out how to drive. I'm still trying to figure out how to not turn into a Yetti since shaving with cold water is not appealing to me.  I'm trying to figure out how to have a period in this country without crying every time I go to the bathroom.  We're still trying to figure out what it looks like to have sex as a married couple when we're hot and I hate shaving.  Hot as in sweaty...not hot as in Bradgelina.

That's the honest truth.  Maybe too honest, but a woman tried to give us her baby the other day and so in true Haiti fashion, everything...every single thing...every emotion...every fear..it's all like an open scab.  Everything feels earthy.  Real.  Honest.  There's no hiding here.  Reality jumps on you, seizes you, looks you straight in the eyes and with a loud, intimidating growl shouts, "Deal with me.  Deal with every single part of me."  Unfortunately reality is not very polite here.  It doesn't wait until you're all settled in to start banging at your door.  Oh no.  Reality decides when and where it will be reckoned with.  Reality showed up uninvited as we held that sweet baby in our arms last weekend, and it downright intruded when a mother showed up at our gate and pushed her tiny baby towards Aaron and begged him to take her.

It would be easy to never talk about real, personal issues on this blog.  We could easily fill your minds and eyes with stories and pictures of big things that God is doing in Haiti...even ways our family is getting to be apart of those spectacular ministries.  That's tempting.

Maybe the devil is in the details, but Jesus is in the every day.  We may have moved to Haiti, but that did not change the fact that our marriage matters.  The kids in our house matter.  Sex is important.  It's hard for me right now to feel like an ugly, unattractive troll.  I'm not sure what to do with that.  We're asking God to allow us to be a part of something big and beautiful in Haiti, but I'm just as much asking him to meet me here every day as I slowly but surely learn to live in Haiti, die to myself, and seek first God's Kingdom as a woman, wife, and mother in this country. Before we are missionaries, adoption advocates, or parents, we are unfortunately human.  Very human.

We hope God allows us to be a part of turning hearts towards Haiti, but we also want to do it with honesty.  We don't want the focus to be on us, but we also want to always be clear...very clear...that we are not super humans living and serving in Haiti.  We're ridiculously flawed people in need of grace and faith. I don't see that changing any time soon.  Our story is wrapped up in this story.  It's wrapped up in Haiti.  But all of these stories, I hope and pray are pointing  to God's Story. He owns every word, every piece of this and I pray He is ultimately made known through Haiti and our family.

It's been difficult the last few days to equally want to help these babies and to also have to admit we can't do something this big right now.  We're people who hate excuses.  They get on our nerves.  We know that Americans tend to think that every star has to line up in order to ever move forward.  We know that as a group, Christian Americans have to admit that we play it too safe.  We want everything to work out just perfectly and the moment things are hard or difficult it must mean God isn't in it. I wonder how loudly Jesus would have laughed at our thought process as He was living on earth 33 years, far removed from the comfort of heaven.  When Jesus was dying on the cross I wonder how offensive it would be to Him as we Americans stamp "not God's will" on all things "hard, stressful, painful and sweaty."

We don't want to be people who love excuses and comfort more than we love living by faith and following Jesus' example for ministry on earth.  We believe that excuses can't stay excuses forever, or even for very long.  We're asking God to move us to quick obedience...to heal the parts in us that are broken.


But for now, I don't think we're going to take a baby.  It's too big.  We love adoption, and honestly look forward to being a part of adoption again.  For now, we have no idea how long God wants us to be in Haiti.  We're asking Him to solidify some things in our soul about how long we're supposed to stay here.  Taking in a baby hinges on how God answers that question.

For now we have to learn  how to do the basics in this country before we even consider bringing a baby home.  If not, we're afraid of the extra stress it will put on us as a couple and on our kids.  Have I mentioned that it's already stressful and a lot of work to live in Haiti?  I know that won't always be the case.  One day we'll know our way around better.  One day we'll be better with the language and be able to hold our own in conversations with Haitians.  One day we'll get back to our American level of dysfunction when it comes to our marriage and parenting.  One day sweaty will be the new normal.  We see improvement almost exponentially in those areas as each week goes by in Haiti.  We have great hope for each of these areas, but we know that each of these things have felt a direct hit and are experiencing culture shock.   

For now, we're asking God to continue to reveal sin in our hearts, selfishness, and fear.  To solidify in our souls the reasons He brought us here...to show us how to love the poor and the orphan in Haiti. We're asking God to build a strong foundation in our life here in this new country before we dive into the kind of ministry we believe God is calling us to be a part of and many of you to be a part of as well.

We've only been here a little over a month.  Some things must be in place before we start doing crazy things like taking in a baby.  God may call us to do that but until a stronger foundation is laid, we think we'd be jumping the gun.

It's been good to identify some areas where we need to continue to grow before physically tackling "more" in Haiti.  They may be uninteresting to you, but I'm writing them down because I will need this reminder.

Discipline in God's Word and Prayer
Aaron prepares to teach four Bible classes a day in Haiti.  He is on Bible overload at the moment.  He's loving it.  I on the other hand am still struggling to find consistent time in God's Word.  If you know me at all, you know how big of a deal I think this is.  My kids wake up at the butt crack of dawn in this country, and that used to be my time.  I'm working on finding a time that works best.  Apart from God I know nothing good can come from us being in this country.


Discipline in Hearing God's Word Taught and Preached
Praise God for Matt Chandler and the internet.  I just listened to him for the first time in a long time this week.  I need to listen to a sermon every week.  Church has been different here.  Not different/bad.  Just different.  There's no nursery.  I miss part of the sermon or Aaron does every week as we try to train Hudson to stay in church (or not stay in church, it's completely up in the air right now what we're actually teaching him.)  I have to learn to be disciplined to sit my own butt down and make time to hear God's Word taught and preached.

Family Discipleship
This is getting better and more consistent in Haiti.  The last thing Aaron wants to do is move his family to Haiti, teach Bible every single day to students at QCS and neglect to daily teach his own children God's Word.  We're finally getting back in the groove of this.  QCS is filled with children who get solid Bible teaching every single day, and yet many of their hearts are far from God.  We're thankful that our children's teachers love God and teach them a lot of the same things we are trying to teach our sons at home.  However, we've been reminded since we've been here, that it is our job (specifically Aaron's job) to teach our children the character of God.  It would  be easy to punt this to the school, but God commands us as parents to see this as our job, not the school's job and not even primarily the church's job.  It's our job to share the gospel with our kids and teach them firsthand what it looks like to love God and love the things God loves.


Community and the Church
God has graciously hammered into our heads over the years that community is important.  The church is important.  Thankfully we are growing in community here and we are getting connected to a local church.  Actually it's so local it's in our front yard.  To do anything big and beautiful here in Haiti, we need a strong community with our friends and church back home, and we need a strong connection with our church here.  Although very new to us, God is good and is providing a lot of growth in this area.  We've identified older/wiser people in our church who we can go to for wise counsel.  These people scare the crap out of me.  Their lives are selfless and the way they love people is almost frightening to me...frightening and attractive at the same time.  Scripture is clear...God desires to work through His church...through His people. God has graciously taught us the value of being a piece of what God is doing...to be intimately connected, like family with believers around us.  We're seeing this happen around us in Haiti. 


Our Marriage
We're finally getting past me constantly whining about Haiti, and constantly apologizing for whining. Like I said, sex has suffered, and let's all get real...that means everything else has as well.  I get mad.  Aaron pouts.  I'm sorry for being mad.  Aaron is sorry for pouting or even caring about this since he knows it's been hard and frustrating for me to adjust here.  We both feel bad for making the other feel bad.  We're trusting that God wants us to have a hot marriage...even in Haiti.  And by hot I do mean Bradgelina this time....not hot as in the sweaty, stinky kind.  We're going to continue to fight for this.


Knowing how to meet our basic needs...
Bottom line:  We still have a lot to learn in order to meet our most basic needs and the needs of our kids in this new place.  I need to know how to drive by myself.  I need to find the hospital, the pediatrician's office...things like that.  It's coming along, and we're begging God to keep us on this fast track of learning what it looks like to live in Haiti...the real Haiti.

Until those things are better, we're not jumping into much more around us.  And by better, I don't mean perfect.  What a joke.  I just mean back to where they were when we got to this country. Growing again...not suffering.  The last thing we want to do is come to Haiti to sit around and focus exclusively on our kids, our marriage, and our own relationship with Christ.  Those are good, but those things are simply tools that God wants to use as we reach out and live out the gospel and the Great Commission in Haiti.  Those are tools God wants us to use to care for the poor, the oppressed, and the orphan.  They are gifts that God has given us..gifts we were meant to share.

All of these thoughts, this giant mountain of personal issues...some good, some understandable, some neither of those things went through our minds as we frantically dealt with the sad scene at the front gate.

Aaron called a friend of ours.  He runs a Children's Home.  He told Aaron to send the lady his direction.  He'd find her some help.

Mom and baby walked away...down the street.

They never made it to the Children's Home.

To be continued...

This post is already too long, and the truth is...there's only so much reality a brain can take in for one day.  My mind is tired.  My soul is exhausted.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

This is Haiti

A lady tried to give her baby to Aaron outside our gate this morning.

It was heartbreaking for Aaron to witness as the guards translated this woman's story.


A brand new baby.

Beautiful tiny girl.

Dressed in a pretty little dress.

Wrapped in a dirty towel.

This is Haiti.

This is reality.

Please pray for Haiti's babies.

Pray for Haiti's mothers.

These women need jobs, support, and encouragement.

I'm going out to Heartline again today.  After the scene at the gate this morning, I have never been more thankful for the work that Heartline is doing.

Monday, September 20, 2010

Sore Arms:::Broken Hearts



When you hold a statistic it becomes real.

We knew when we moved to Haiti that there were over 500,000 orphans in this country prior to the earthquake.  God is literally the only one who knows what that number is today.

500,000

When we toss around that statistic, it seems big, but numbers are cold.  In lots of ways they are dead.  They are impersonal and lifeless.  Black and white with rough edges.

We forget that inside that figure are fingers and toes.  A little soul.  Two sad eyes.  A tiny mouth.  A heart longing to be rescued and loved.

We held a statistic this weekend.

We sat with one piece of that number in our arms.

A stiff, stoic number all of sudden became soft, warm, weak, and needy.

Like the Velveteen Rabbit, that statistic came alive in our arms this weekend and we have wept over it.

A four week old baby girl from an orphanage nearby.

Her mother died at birth.

A lot of orphans in Haiti are not true orphans.  Many have parents.  Those parents simply can’t take care of their babies.

This baby is a true orphan.

All we’d have to do is say the words, and she could stay here with us.  We could take care of her and possibly adopt her one day.

And yet I’m terrified.

Adoption in Haiti is a nightmare.

It can take a very long time, especially if you do everything legally.

To say yes to this baby would mean probably saying no to going home to the US for Christmas and the summer.  It would mean staying here for much longer than I am prepared to commit to at this time.

It’s been an emotional weekend.

A few months ago I lived far away from this country.  Crazy how you can live far away from a country you don't actually live very far away from.  I lived far away from statistics like “500,000.”  I could almost pretend that fatherless children did not exist in real life.  I could walk around with my eyes closed tricking myself into believing that everyone around the world lived just like me.

I said “No” to the world's helpless babies every day when I lived in the States.  I said, “Who cares.”  I said “Not my problem.”  I said, “I love my own comfort and safety more than I care that unheard of numbers of children…living numbers…are suffering every single day.”  “It’s sad, but I’m not giving up my life to do something about it.”
I did not say those things out loud.  But with my actions…with my life…I was screaming those words.

Things change once you hold a statistic in your arms, look her in the eyes and say, “I’m sorry.  No one wants you.”

There are a million and a half reasons why it’s not smart to say “yes” to a baby in Haiti.

There are a million and a half questions that I wish could be answered.

Like at what point do you have to say no?  At what point is your home full?  At what point is enough, enough?  How long would this really take?  How long Oh Lord?  How long?

And yet we are literally grieving over this baby.

Aaron held this tiny girl in his arms.  Blinking back the tears he said, “I know there are a million reasons not to do this, and maybe we shouldn’t.  But here is a tiny baby girl with no parents.  She doesn’t have parents.  How do we say no to her?”

For now she is back at the orphanage with 43 other kids.

We’re praying, asking God for wisdom.

Asking for faith.

This has been so painful this weekend.  What I want to do is close my eyes and pretend it all away.  I didn’t want to have to deal with the orphan issue so quickly in this country.  But Haiti has a way of not letting you ease into anything.  Haiti throws you in the deep end and forces you to swim.

Aaron and I know that no matter if God wants this baby in our home or not, it is time for us to hold that giant statistic in our lap…it’s time to face it…to talk about it. 

I know many of you are going to be moved by this baby’s story.  I love you guys for that.  I know you will read this and pray with us and hurt for us, but here’s what I need you to not do…

Please do not say, “Oh…I’d take her in a second.  I want her.  I would take in all those babies in Haiti.”
Because what we mean when we say something like that is, “If they could all come to the US, I’d take them.  If I could stay here near Target, in a house with AC and hot water…then I’d do something about the orphan crisis in Haiti.”

Well that’s not an option.  Most of these kids can’t come to the US.  None of them can come to the US any time soon.  Not in time to save their lives.  Adoption is great.  We love adoption.  But adoption is not a viable option for a large number of the orphans in Haiti.

It is easy to read a post like this, see the picture of that sweet baby girl and say, "I'll take her.  I want her."  

But that’s where things get tricky right?

Tricky because to have her, you may have to move here.  To keep her, I'd have to stay here in Haiti for a lot longer than I was planning to stay.  Tricky because the hard, terrible truth is there are 500,000 kids like the one in the picture who are helpless and hurting, but to care for them you'd have to come to them instead of them coming to you.  In no time at all, you could fill up a house in Haiti with children who need a mom and a dad.  You'd probably have to leave your home to make a dent in the orphan issue in Haiti.  You'd have to leave the US.  I'd have to stay in Haiti.

To care for the orphan in places like Haiti the church is going to have to get dirty and hot.

That’s when we’d have to really be living for a Kingdom we can’t see, because caring for the orphan…rescuing children like this baby in this picture will take more than words or even money.

It would take our very life or at least a huge chunk of it.  It would take a life long fast from the things of this earth.

I wish the answers were simple, pretty, and easy.  Haiti is teaching me that following Jesus is rarely any of those things.

As I held that sweet baby this weekend there was a moment when I was so grieved that tears were dropping from my eyes onto her little onesie   I was hurting for her...ashamed of all the excuses I was making...mourning this world that is so incredibly broken.  Coming to grips with the fact that I live in a country where a baby is handed to me and someone says, "Do you want her?"  It was hard to admit that I've always lived a few hours from this country, from babies just like this one and yet I managed to ignore them.  As I cried over this baby the only words I could think to say were, "Please Jesus.  Please hurry up and come back.  Please fix this."

And so we continue to hurt today.  Our arms are sore.  We held "500,000" this weekend.  That number is awfully heavy.

"Everyone who has left houses or brothers or sisters or father or mother or children or fields for my sake will receive a hundred times as much and will inherit eternal life (Matthew 19:29)."

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Sewing Their Way to Freedom

Think about this: Just one Fair Trade purchase from every American churchgoer this Christmas would lift one million families out of abusive poverty for one whole year. Let’s make sure that when gifts are given, they speak of the sort of world that Jesus came to show us — one where the last is first, where the poor are included, the sick are healed, and the captive is set free. - www.tradeasone.com



I'll be writing a great deal about Fair Trade over the next few weeks.  Fair Trade allows spending to become redemptive.  Isn't it exciting to think we could be a part of freeing the captive and loving our neighbor by simply buying the products we were already going to buy anyway?  If you want to learn more about fair trade and how you can use your money to invest in Kingdom things, stay tuned in the weeks to come.


Since we're talking about Heartline this week....
  
Heartline isn't just a ministry to pregnant women and their babies.  Heartline also offers weekly Bible Study for their ladies.  They teach them to read.  They also give them the skills they need to break the cycle of intense poverty in their lives and their children's lives.

At Heartline, women are invited to be a part of the sewing program.  They learn to sew.  Then Heartline helps these women sell their creations on the internet.  The money these women earn through working for the sewing program is literally freeing them from the chains of slavery.


I wanted to share with you one of the simplest ways you can be involved with Heartline Ministry.  Are you ready for this?


Buy a purse.




The purses these women make are on the internet.  You can see pictures of the woman who sewed your bag.  What a beautiful way to love the people who make our products.


I want to be really, really clear about something.


Fair Trade companies and other ministries that care for their employees by offering them living wages are not asking for your pity.  You aren't buying a product that is worthless.  You aren't giving your hard earned money to someone living in poverty and in return getting merchandise that's not up to par.


Fair Trade companies and ministries like Heartline are making quality items by skilled workers.


My Heartline Purse is my favorite purse I own.  It is well made.  It was worth every dime I spent on it.  I bought the grocery style bag.  My word.  It's majorly hip.  I love it.


After buying a purse from Heartline and getting to be a part of something so redemptive it makes the purses at Target seem like a major let down.  When I'm wearing my Heartline purse, it brings my soul great joy.  I think of the sweet woman who made my purse.  I think of how her life is different now because she is connected to Heartline and now has skills she can use to support her family, raise her own children, and break free from poverty.


If you'd like to buy a Heartline purse you can check them out on the website.


The second way you can tangibly be a part of Heartline's Ministry is to host a purse party.

I know.  Purses + Party + Women = Guaranteed Fun





I had one last year, and it was a blast.


Here's the info in a nut shell:


You contact Heartline.  You tell them the amount of people you're expecting to attend your party.  They send you a bunch of purses.  You give them your credit card number.


Nothing is charged to your credit card.  Got that?  Nothing.  Promise.  Cross my heart.


They send you a box of purses.  You open them up, swoon over them, thanking God you had the good sense to be a part of something so lovely, and that YOU are the host, so you get to pick out your purse first.


You set a date for your party.  Invite your friends.  Then you party it up.  People buy purses.  You watch a great DVD about Heartline.  The party is a ton of fun.

After your party you mail your purses back (shipping is paid for by Heartline).


I have an extreme hatred of the post office.  Really.  I don't know if it's the lighting or the smell of stamps (which I love by the way) but my kids turn into monsters in the post office.  Their heads spin around.  I leave sweaty and on the verge of tears.  Because of my hatred of all things post office, I was kind of late getting my box of extra purses back to Heartline.  They will not charge your credit card for the remaining purses before telling you to get your act together, find a babysitter, and take the dang box back to the post office.  Heartline is sweet that way.


At the party, your friends can pay with cash, check, or credit card online.  Isn't that easy?

I recommend having a party because you get such a great variety of purses.  I love Heartline, but the options on the internet aren't all that great.  The purse parties are where it's at.  You get a bunch of different kinds of purses that are not listed on the website.  If I were you, I'd ask them to send you plenty of the grocery style bags and lots of purses made of burlap.  Those were the favs in our fashionable college town.


If you want to organize a purse party, you can read all about them here.

If you decide to have a purse party, I would love to help you advertise your get together.  I'm not sure if I have readers in the city where you live, but we can give it a shot, okay?  You host a party.  I'll advertise it on the blog (minus your address).  Sound good?   If you have a party, please send me pictures of your get together.  They will make me smile.


Christmas is approaching.  I can barely tell it's getting close to Christmas time here in Haiti, but I hear it's actually getting cooler in other parts of the world.  Blows my mind.  These purses make excellent gifts.


Will you think about having a purse party in time for people to buy purses for Christmas?

Women fighting poverty and injustice by buying a purse.  You've just got to love that.


Just One Fair Trade purchase from every American churchgoer this Christmas would lift one million families out of abusive poverty for one whole year.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Dreaming:::Asking:::Hoping








Today I'm dreaming, asking, and hoping.

Dreaming of what it would look like for every church in the States with a Women's Ministry budget to have a line item that says something like...

"Heartline Ministry."

Dreaming of all the beauty God could do through women in the States to fight poverty, hopelessness, and darkness in the lives of women around the globe and particularly in Haiti.

Dreaming of what it would look like if churches in the States ministered to their sisters in Christ in third world countries, providing them the same opportunities and access to the gospel as the women sitting in their own congregations.

While I'm dreaming, I'm asking God what He means when He says crazy stuff like...

1 John 3:17
If anyone has material possessions and sees his brother in need but has no pity on him, how can the love of God be in him?

Acts 2:44-45
All the believers were together and had everything in common. Selling their possessions and goods, they gave to anyone as he had need.


"They had everything in common."  Sort of haunting.

Even though you and I are probably not from Haiti, as I sat with the women at Heartline yesterday I realized how very much alike we all are.

We love our babies something fierce.

We want what is best for them.

We are proud of our children.

We all fail and yet find grace and forgiveness at the feet of Jesus.

But there's something we don't have in common with the women in Haiti.

Recently Beth McHoul, founder of Heartline had to take two of the women in her care to a nearby Haitian hospital to deliver.  Let her words really soak into your soul...

"...the conditions of this hospital sent my head spinning.  I saw two doctors and one nurse for many, many laboring women.  The plight of Haiti - understaffed and overworked.  Broken equipment, no sheets, no supplies, bare, dirty, rooms, no clean up crew rushing over for every spill of vomit and blood.  ...I stood there, looking around, trying to keep back the flood of emotions.  I so wanted to grab our ladies and head back to our clean, sterile maternity center.  But they have what we don't.  An operating room for a possible c-section.  We know our limits, we know when care is beyond our skills.

I envisioned our ladies grabbing our bodies and hanging on as we headed out the door.  They didn't.  They hugged and kissed us with promises to call when babies were born.  They accepted this.  They are poor, Haitian and this is what hospital means to them.  They were not as appalled as we were.  They were not fighting back tears.  They were not thinking human beings should not birth in places like this.  They understood.

I don't understand.  And as a person with power I have to advocate and fight for them.  We can be a voice for them.  Our prenatal program services 20 pregnant women at a time.  We lavish them with good care, dignity, love and respect.  All women should have this.  We feel ownership once a woman joins our program and we have a commitment to see her through till that child is six months old and flourishing.
 
Sometimes pregnancy means complications especially with an impoverished population.  We can only go so far when dealing with these complications.  I want a better transport option.  I want quality care in decent surroundings.  This should not be a luxury for the wealthy only.  All laboring women should be guaranteed good care in a clean environment.

If we can't find it here then we have to take action.  We either need more money to send our ladies to the hospitals that only the rich and powerful can afford to go to or we expand and provide a hospital ourselves.  Let's do it.  A small hospital with clean sheets, equipment that works, a caring staff and patients that come out whole in body and spirit.  Our field hospital showed us that this is a possibly.  We can do it and we can do it well."

This verse came to my mind as I sat with these women yesterday...

Luke 3:11
The man with two tunics should share with him who has none, and the one who has food should do the same.

I wasn't thinking about tunics, cause I'll be honest...the last thing the women of Haiti need are tunics.  Heck, it's so hot here, if it's got sleeves on it, no one wants to wear it.  Thankfully, Jesus wasn't talking specifically about tunics.  Jesus was making a point.  If we have an abundance of something, we need to share the extras with others.

There are two beautiful hospitals in the town I call home in the States.  Both of those hospitals are filled with doctors and nurses who love and care for the women who come to their facility to deliver their babies.
My heart hurts that women here in Haiti do not have a safe, clean birthing experience like we do in the States.  Today we have to admit that we don't have this in common with our sisters in Christ in Haiti.  We have lots and lots of incredible hospitals in the United States where we can deliver our babies while the women of Port-au-Prince have none.

Heartline is attempting to remedy that in Haiti.  They are trying to build a birthing center for the ladies in their program.  Because of the work that Heartline is doing these women currently have access to the gospel, they are surrounded by people who love them and share God's love with them, they take classes every week that teach them how to love and care for their babies.  Heartline provides literacy skills and job training so that these women can be free from the chains of poverty.  They are fighting the orphan crisis and caring for the orphan by providing mothers the resources they need to successfully raise their own babies.  But Heartline wants to build a woman's hospital.

Will you dream and ask God with me how we can each be involved in loving our sisters in Christ in Haiti?

Will you dream and ask God with me to soften hearts in American churches...to give women in the States a passion for world missions and for loving and serving their fellow believers around the globe?  That women's ministries would be excited about discipling and sharing their possessions with the women living in third world countries?  That American women would use their beautiful, creative brains to serve the least of these?

I'm grinning right now thinking of so many of you ladies who read this blog.  I'm smiling because I can literally hear you...see your brains working, dreaming, thinking, planning and envisioning the role God wants you to play.  Using your life, your skills, your time to make a huge difference.  I'm thankful to be in this with you.

My heart is filled with dreams and hope today.  I pray God is filling your heart with dreams and hope for your sisters in Christ as well. 

God is inviting us to be a part of something big and lovely.  He desires to write new chapters in our lives...chapters filled with stories of living by faith, living for eternity.  Chapters filled with hope and love.

Let's dream big, God-sized dreams for how we can personally be involved with ministries like Heartline, and how God can use each of us to bring excitement in our churches, particularly among the women in our churches to share our tunics, our hospital options, and our access to the gospel with women we'll spend eternity with in heaven.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Babies, Breastfeeding, and Purses, Oh My!

Aaron updated the Mosaic Village Website.  No one faint.  Instead, check it out. 

Today I'm going to Heartline Ministries to be a part of their Women's Program.

Heartline has been near and dear to our family's heart for a little over a year.  I first found out about them when I was researching fair trade.  I was on the hunt for ways our family could use our money to do good.  We all know money isn't bad.  It can be a neutral thing.  One of the most exciting things about buying from fair trade companies is all of a sudden, money is no longer neutral.  Instead, we can use our money to do good...lots of good.  Isn't that an exciting thing about following Jesus?  Even the mundane things...like buying a purse...can turn into a way to live out the gospel in our world.

Heartline is doing meaningful, much-needed work in Haiti.  I'll bring back lots of pictures today.  For now, check out this video.  It's moving.  If you love women, babies, discipleship, or Haiti at all...you might need a tissue.



I'm so thankful for the work that Heartline is doing in Haiti to bring hope into dark places.  I'm also excited about how God wants to use each of us to be a part of ministries like Heartline.

More to come on ways you can be involved in this beautiful ministry to women.

Monday, September 13, 2010

Another Introduction


Have I mentioned we are extremely blessed to live on campus with a boat load of precious people?

I'm sure I have.

I have not mentioned that Aaron and I are almost the oldest people living on our sweet little commune.

There's one couple older than us who lives on campus.  I'm not sure how I feel about being runner up in the "oldest" category.

Meet Ben and Katie Kilpatrick (pictured above).  Ben and Katie played a big part in our family up and moving to Haiti.  For that reason, there are days I'm thankful for them, and there are days when I kind of want to shove them on the ground.

I wanted to introduce this couple to you because we love them, and because they have posted some pics of our boys on their blog.

Pics of the little boys and a pic of Aaron leading worship.

There are also pictures of the seniors in my kitchen learning to make homemade pizza.  What a fun group!


Please tell me we all have those days when we pretend we're someone else.

When I have those moments where I escape from reality I imagine I'm either someone who can shake it like Beyonce, a doctor who delivers babies in the tent cities, someone who is tough enough to be on a roller derby league, or I'm someone who is fluent in a different language and uses that skill to constantly save the day.

Kind of sad...but it's true.

Well...see those seniors in that picture up there?

In one moment they will be speaking perfect, smart girl English.  In the next moment they bust into French.  Give them a few more minutes and they will be talking in Creole.  When they do that crap around me I grab their little faces, look them in the eyes and say..."You are the coolest. person. ever."

The seniors are pretty special.  Aaron gets to spend time with them every day.  He adores them.

Check out their mad pizza making skills here.

Oh...and why not check out this incredible video about Ben and Katie?  They were recently featured on Brian Mosley's Blog, President of Blue Fish TV.



I hope their story inspires you to risk, to trust God, and to let Him write a beautiful story with your life!

Friday, September 10, 2010

A Life Long Fast



I sit in a country infested with poverty.

Poverty

I can literally feel it...and some times it seems like I can see it.

When I stop and think about what the streets of Haiti would look like if I had eyes to see things spiritually, I imagine darkness...evil imps dancing a wicked jig as they wrap heavy chains around and around the people
of Haiti.  In their shrill voices they hiss and chant, "Hopeless.  Trapped.  Forgotten.  Forsaken.  Dirty.  Broken.  Useless.  Ugly.  Unloved.  Unwanted."

Poverty

It's like a heavy, hot, itchy blanket.

I've been reading and rereading Isaiah 58.  In the beginning of the chapter God is angry with His people.

They are rebellious.  They have sinned.

He says His people act like they want to hear from Him.  They pretend they want to be close to God.

The Israelites argue with their Father.  Like a bratty child they sass God and say things like, "Why have we fasted and you haven't seen it?  Why have we humbled ourselves and you have not noticed?"

They are quick to yank out their lists of Christian deeds...the list that proves they are godly.  I think we're all tempted to keep that list in our pocket, aren't we?  We're even quicker to whip it out and shove it in God's face or in each other's faces. 

In Isaiah 58, God's people are quick to reach for their list.

God firmly addresses their perverted views, particularly when it comes to their idea of fasting.

God tells them they fast...do all the physical aspects of not eating...and yet their hearts are not changed.  In the middle of their so called "service to God" they do evil things.

And then God says something that I'm trying hard to understand these days...

"Is this the kind of fast I have chosen, only a day for a man to humble himself?"

One day.  One act.  One token.  One religious act.

God is infuriated by the idea that serving and loving Him could ever be boiled down into an event that begins and ends.

God doesn't seem to be a big fan of our "This makes me a Christian" tokens.  He doesn't seem pleased with the thought that we can divide up our life...chop it up into sections...keep most of those sections for ourselves and hand God a sliver.  He seems even more annoyed that we'd think He should be pleased...stand and clap that we were so generous offering him a tiny piece of the life that He already paid for in full.

It doesn't seem like God digs the one day fast.  The "this makes me an acceptable Christian" check list.

The fast God finds good, right, and acceptable seems like it would take more than a day to accomplish.  It could quite possibly consume our lives.  He says He wants us to fast in a way that looks like this...

loose the chains of injustice
untie the cords of the yoke
set the oppressed free
break every yoke (anything that enslaves)
share your food with the hungry
provide the poor wanderer with shelter
clothe the naked

spend yourselves in behalf of the hungry
satisfy the needs of the oppressed

Maybe we all need to ask God what this looks like.  Maybe hard questions are in order.

How are we, our families, and our churches fighting injustice?
How are we, our families, and our churches setting the oppressed free?
How are we, our families, and our churches clothing the naked, feeding the hungry, and providing shelter to those who need it?
Are our lives being spent...spent...let's let that word sit on us for a little while.

How are our lives being spent caring for the hungry?

I hate it as much as the next person, but I think if our lives were truly spent to care for the poor we'd feel it in some way every single day.  Would people say we are individuals or people or churches who spend our lives on behalf of the poor?  Spending our lives on something may look way different than throwing money at a problem every once in awhile, donating shoes to the yearly shoe drive, or even coming to Haiti for 9 months.  While those are good things, if that's all we're doing, I think that may be the one day fast God is so disgusted with in His children.

This is important because Isaiah 58 seems to say that somehow our righteousness, our intimacy with God, our healing, our ability to be a light in dark places are all interwoven and connected in some way to caring about the things that God cares about.

The tokens.  The one day fasts.  Our loose change.  Those things are frustrating to the Lord.

I've been reading this passage every day.

I seem to be at a crossroads spiritually.  One part of my heart is in Haiti.  A giant part of my heart wants to go home in nine months.

I stand at the fork in the road.  One path takes me back to the US.  To a cute home.  To nice furniture.  To hot water.  To clean, safe streets.  To friends.  To family.  To comfort.  To 16,000 choices of cereal.

The other road is hard.  It smells.  It's sad.  It's hot.  Uncomfortable. Frustrating. A little lonely.

I'm asking myself...what does it mean to fast forever in order to care for the poor, to feed the hungry, and free the oppressed?  Not fast from food.  I'd fall over dead.  But what about fasting from comfort?  From Target?  From nice neighborhoods?  From nice tile?  What does it look like to fast from the things that prove I'm living for this present life instead of seeking first the Kingdom of God?

What if we're called to fast every day of our lives to care for the hurting?  What if we fast every day on earth because we believe so deeply in the kingdom that awaits us...in the kingdom that is coming?  A life time of fasting because this life does not matter.

I want to be clear.  We do not care for the poor because we are trying to earn our salvation.  We could spend every moment of every day caring for the poor, and yet if we do not belong to God, we'll sit in hell one day next to people who have never even given a few quarters to the bell ringers at Christmas.  The Bible is clear...salvation is a gracious gift and God gives it to people who are ridiculous, selfish, undeserving, and wicked.  And yet He calls us to use the life that we have received from God to care for the poor and the dying...to live out the beauty of the gospel towards our fellow man.


What if I never get to go home to the US and have my old life back?  What if this fast lasts indefinitely while I live on this earth?

What if you're called to do the same thing or something similar?

What if you're called to live in such a way in the United States of America that you are spending your life for the poor?  Fasting from that bigger house, that new car, from buying clothing made by enslaved children on the other side of the world, etc?  Fasting from the American Dream so that you can give more and join God in what He's doing all over the globe.  Fasting from "the next new thing" to buy medicine and food for 24,000 children who will die today from preventable diseases.  Fasting from this world so that the gospel goes out.

What does it mean to fast in a way that means we consider the poor...remember them every time we reach for our wallet at our favorite stores?  What does it mean to fast in such a way that we feel the weight...the friction between how much we have compared to how little most people have.  What does it look like to fast in such a way that we open our eyes, keep them open, start fighting poverty and injustice instead of hiding from it?  To fast like God describes, we'd have to take comfort in Jesus' words..."And everyone who has left houses or brothers or sisters or father or mother or children or fields for my sake will receive a hundred times as much and will inherit eternal life (Matthew 19:29).

It would take an awful lot of faith to live like God seems to want us to live.  Suddenly "Do not love the world, or anything in the world" takes on new meaning (1 John 2:15).  Suddenly Jesus' words take on new life when He says, "The man who loves his life will lose it, while the man who hates his life in this world will keep it for eternal life"

Right now I don't have the kind of faith required for a fast like God describes.  I like the tokens too much.  When I consider the fast God is describing, my soul is immediately flooded with doubt.  Stay here in Haiti?  Give my entire life to care for the poor, the orphan, and the oppressed?  Fast forever from the American Dream?  What if heaven isn't even real.  What if Jesus isn't real?  What if this life is all there is?

A fool.  I'd be a fool.

I almost despise situations in my life that show what I really believe.  It's way more enjoyable pretending and lying.  The moment I quit judging myself on a human scale and begin examining my life according to scripture and the person and work of Jesus, things get really sad, really quick.

I'm asking God  what it looks like to spend our life carrying for the poor.  Maybe you can ask God that question with me.

I sure wish God was talking to one man in Isaiah 58.  I wish with all my heart today that God's hard words were for one person.  Then it would be very easy for me to say, "Spending your life to care for the poor, the hurting, the oppressed, the enslaved and the fatherless are for some people, but God doesn't call everyone to do that."

Instead, God tells Isaiah in the beginning of chapter 58 to shout these things..yell them...holler them out loud so that ALL His people will hear.

When God  is calling for a fast that requires spending our life for the poor, He's talking to every one who claims to belong to God.

So maybe we should ask God what He means and what this looks like in our lives.  Like everything else, God isn't trying to be a bully or a jerk.  He loves us.  He wants good things for His children.  Somehow us understanding these truths translates into us loving and knowing God better...to us enjoying God and delighting in Him.

Isaiah 58 ends with sweet promises from a loving Father...

The LORD will guide you always; he will satisfy your needs in a sun-scorched land and will strengthen your frame.  You will be like a well-watered garden, like a spring whose waters never fail.  Your people will rebuild the ancient ruins and will raise up the age-old foundations; you will be called Repairer of Broken Walls, Restorer of Streets with Dwellings...then you will find your joy in the LORD.

Today I sat and talked with a man who has lived in Haiti for over 20 years.  In the area where he is working the mortality rate for babies is 50 percent.  That means 50 percent of the babies born die within their first couple of years.

Let's ask God what it looks like to fast in such a way that we prevent every other baby in some parts of Haiti from dying next year.

Thursday, September 09, 2010

Lesson Learned The Hard Way

You learn something new in Haiti every day.

Today I learned that I should look up the butt of my chicken before I boil it for an hour on the stove.

As if deboning a chicken is not gross enough...look what was hiding up my chicken's hiney.


I should have known something was up (no pun intended) when I opened the dang thing.

I thought to myself, "Why no wonder this chicken was so expensive...it includes the feathers."

Who knew it also included the feet, the heart, the spleen, and the ovaries.

I guess we got our money's worth.

It looks like I cooked a little old lady for dinner.

So much in our lives has changed hasn't it?  Sold our dream house.  Moved to Haiti to love the poor, care for the orphan, and cook the elderly.  That's what we do these days.

Tuesday, September 07, 2010

This is the Way We Wash the Dishes, Wash the Dishes, Wash the Dishes

For all of you who played the dish washing game last week...thanks!  The situation...we have a one sided sink.  We make a lot of dishes since there are a lot of us, and we try not to use too many paper towels, ziplock bags, or paper plates.  Those things are crazy expensive in this country and man...you spend one day walking on the roads in Haiti and the last thing you want to do is contribute to the trash situation on this island.  We don't have hot water.  We don't have a garbage disposal.  We need to conserve water, and there are parasites and bacteria in our tap water that can make Americans spend an awful lot of time on the potty.




Meet the dinner dishes.  I didn't have room in the picture for the pots and pans.  They are sitting on the stove waiting their turn in the dish water.  We bought some sassy lime green tubs from a merchant right outside our gate.  We keep one next to the sink.  We scrape off our plates into the trash, quickly rinse them, and put the dishes in the "dirty" tub until the tub is full and it's time to wash a sink full.


I put a pot of water on to boil.  I know we probably don't need to use hot water to get the dishes clean, but there is something nice and familiar about washing my dishes with hot water.  Maybe one day I'll get over this, but for now it's where I am.  I use hot water.  It makes me think the dishes are clean and feels good on my hands as I wash rice off plates.


I fill the sink up with cold, soapy water as I wait for the hot water to boil.  Then I add the kettle of hot water to the cold water.  I add the dishes and begin to wash.


When I'm washing dishes I also keep a sassy green tub on the right of the sink as well.  After the dishes are washed in the warm soapy water I put them in the other tub.  It becomes a game.  How tall can I get the stack of dishes?  I was super impressed with myself last night.  Who knew making block towers with four little boys was preparing me for dish stacking in Haiti?

I don't rinse the dishes in the green tub.  That would normally be a great idea...but we have too many dishes and most importantly, my sink is deformed.  The faucet is so low in the sink that I can't get anything under it.  I wouldn't be able to fill up the green tub with water for rinsing because I can't get the tub under the faucet.  We're getting a new one soon.  This one is causing all sorts of issues.

So to rinse the dishes I let the water trickle...and I mean trickle...as I quickly run the dishes under it and then stack them in the two dish racks next to the sink.




Then we wash the sassy green tubs out and let them rest for about 10 minutes until we start making dirty dishes again.

So what about the parasites and bacteria in the water?  What do I do about those?

The answer...nothing.

Maybe I should, but here's the honest truth...

After about day three of living in Haiti I broke down.  Like all the way down.  I could not believe I brought my children to such a filthy country.  Hudson was wallowing all over the floor in the house.  The floor is gross...cracked tile that goes straight to the mud.  It was covered in dirt because I couldn't keep it clean.  I was washing several loads of dishes a day by myself...trying to bleach everything...staying on my kids about washing their hands constantly.  After we walked on the street I wanted to set all our shoes on fire.  I was losing it.

It hit me...either I'm going to let my fear turn me into a giant nag in this country and make my husband and my children hate me, or I'm going to let some things go, realize I'm human, and there's only so much I can do. Either go crazy or trust God.  That's the choice before me.

Really it wasn't a choice at all.  It was all so overwhelming and so much work to physically try and keep my kids germ free and from rolling around on the floor or touching nasty things on the street that I only had one choice.  Let it go.  Give up.  Surrender.  Throw in the towel and trust that God is in control.  He loves us.  He loves my kids.  He knows they are gross.  He knows this country is gross.  He knows that's a bad combination.  And yet God wants us in Haiti.

I quit putting bleach in our dish water.  Not only is bleach probably terrible, it was giving me another step in an already huge task.  I was also constantly afraid I was going to get bleach water on my clothes.  I didn't bring very many and I'd like to take care of the ones I have.

We let the dishes air dry.  We make sure they are completely dry before we put them away.  The end.  That's all I can do.

I'm pleased to report that so far we have not been sick in the stomach department.  We've been here almost a month and so far so good.

Washing dishes is a big pain lots of days and another moment when I have to trust that God is good and knows us.  He knows me.  He knows when enough is enough.  He is in control of huge things and tiny, microscopic bugs in my tap water.

I loved many of your ideas and will be implementing some of them.  Thanks for sharing them with me!

When it comes to housework and cooking, everything in Haiti is way harder than it was in the US.  There are times when I'm tempted to complain and whine about the hour it's going to take me to wash the dishes.  But I was tempted to complain and often times did my fair share of complaining when I lived in the US and had a garbage disposal, hot water, and a dish washer.

In the US I would sometimes grumble as I cleaned the house, followed a crazy, rebellious toddler around, or folded ridiculous amounts of laundry.  I would wonder why Aaron got to be at work doing something creative and fun while I scrubbed toilets and tried to teach our sons to be kind to one another.

I had those days when housework made me angry.

I still have those days in Haiti.  I wasn't issued a new heart when I entered this new country.  Unfortunately customs allowed me to bring in my wicked sinful heart that has always made its home in my chest.

As I'm chilling in the laundry room with the rats and filling up washing machines with water hoses, I'm still tempted to complain...to wonder why Aaron gets to be in a classroom every day telling kids about Jesus and it seems like I came to Haiti to hang laundry on the line and wait for water to boil so I can wash dishes.

God is reminding me, after much fit throwing, that hanging laundry or washing dishes is worship.  It can be if I will let it.

I am asking Him to teach me...to teach each of us...no matter what country we call our home...that we can serve the people in our homes with joy and as unto the Lord.  That's one of my most favorite things about Jesus and following Him.  He can take simple things and turn them into something lovely, meaningful, and beautiful.

We can be a part of something good and redemptive by tending to a home and the people inside it.

We can be a part of furthering God's Kingdom by teaching and training our kids to love the Lord every day in our homes.  We can teach them about God's nature...about how much He loves and cares for them as we love and care for them as mothers.

It is harder in Haiti for me to wash the dishes or do the laundry...but my heart is the same.  There are days when I see what I'm doing through earthly eyes...and that's when I get frustrated and irritated with how exhausting life can be here as I try to take care of my home and my family.  But there are moments when God is so good and He give me His eyes.  He lets me see how folding clothes or carrying heavy baskets of laundry across campus becomes a way to worship..a way to love the people of Haiti..a way to give high school students in Haiti the gift of Aaron...of God's Word being taught to them every single day.  In those moments I am overcome with emotion.  I am overcome with thanksgiving.  In those moments what was mundane and difficult becomes an honor...a privilege.  What was earthly and meaningless becomes spiritual and a way to live for a kingdom I can't see.

So no one tell me in the comment section about how you feel bad that you moan and groan about your dishes in your state of the art kitchen.  No matter what kitchen you're standing in, let's just agree that our hearts are the same, and our heart...not our kitchen is what God is after.

Today let's encourage one another to love the ones God has put in our homes...to bless them.  Let's be reminded that motherhood is a gift...no matter what country you are in.  It's a chance to invest our lives in eternity...a way to store up precious treasure in heaven.

The Kingdom of God can be found in many places, but I want to be reminded that every day it's found sitting around my kitchen table. I could think on such truth forever.

(and the kingdom in my kitchen makes an awful lot of dirty dishes.  did I mention that?)