Sunday, January 31, 2010

Wonderful Weekend

Saturday was great!  I had won tickets to the Harlem Globetrotters show in Dallas on a Christian radio station.  Then, they entered Abby in the ballgirl/boy contest and she won!  Carter chose to play paintball with a friend instead of coming with us.  We had a great time.  Abby got to sit on the bench next to the players.  Our favorite TV show is Amazing Race so we were most excited to see Flight Time and Big Easy(our favorite contenders this past season) so close.  Our seats were really close to the floor.  After the show, we took advantage of our drive to Dallas and went to the Korean area of the city.  We have a favorite Korean store and food court called KoMart.  As you can see in the pictures, the kids loved it!!!  Mike and I both described the feeling of coming home when we walked into the store and smelled the smells and saw Korean faces all around us.  Funny, but we both think of ourselves as part Korean.

Carter's 14th birthday is Tuesday the 2nd.  I'll post a special birthday wish to him then.  This evening we had a small informal dinner with my side of the family.  Carter wowed everyone with his guitar skills--especially my dad who has played for years and leads church worship.  We had a sweet time  of fellowship with the fam and I got to show off my Haiti pics and tell of my trip(I also was honored to do that in Adult Bible Fellowship this morning at church).  It almost doesn't seem like I was really ever there).

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Vacation planning!

So, after saying something about Cancun in Tuesday's post, MIke and I started dreaming and scheming.  We absolutely LOVED Cancun summer of 08(thanks to George W's stimulus checks!!).  We took Carter and Abby and went with Mike's sister, her husband and 2 girls who are right around Abby's age.  We had the best time, loved every single minute of our time there.  We aren't the most disciplined savers.  I mean, we are fairly tight and practical and don't spend money on frivolous or expensive things.  Besides the usual retirement accounts and such, we have found an unconventional way to save money.  Ask any financial planner or CPA and they will tell you this is a horrible way to save, but it works well for us.  Mike and I don't claim deductions on our checks during the year.  Basically, Uncle Sam gets a huge portion of our check and keeps it for us til tax return time.  We always get many thousands back on our return and use it to pay off debt, give to a cause dear to us, go on mission trips or vacations, pay on our adoption loan(that is what this year's will do) and contribute to our college fund.  If I was trying to save a good bit every month, I know I'd be robbing myself all the time for things I "need"!  We are looking ahead and making big plans.  This summer we will do the great family lakehouse that my parents rent every year.  Then, in late July we will take the fam to Korean Heritage Camp in Tulsa that our adoption agency(Dillon International--the BEST adoption agency ever) puts on for families with children adopted from Korea.  Carter will be a Jr. counselor this year.  Next summer, Mike and I are planning on going to San Francisco by ourselves.  We never do anything for our anniversary and are ready for a get-a-way.  The BIG plan is for summer 2012.  I've already talked with Mike's sister and we are all headed back to the white sandy beaches of Cancun.  We will get a huge tax return next year thanks to the federal adoption tax credit(it is 11400 in case anyone out there is interested in adopting and needs to know about finances)!  So, there is my savings.  I'm so stinkin excited.  I feel like I need to start working our right now so I'm ready for the beach ;)

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Everyone's growing up!






I decided it was time to do a general update.  Hudson has been home 4.5months!  The 4 pics are his referall pictures from Korea.  Really, he is meshing in with the other children beautifully.  I know the first month was super duper hard, but I can't believe how easy it has been.  He loves to play with Hot Wheels cars.  He says "Up, more, please, milk, eat, Mommy(which is for both Mike and I), CaCa(for Carter), Abby, Uh-oh, Uh-Uh(which is his answer to any and every question), bye bye".  He even remembers some Korean.  I'll say "Omma popo" which is Kiss Mommy in Korean and he will kiss my cheeck.  Hudson is funny and follows me around jabbering and singing.  What a special treat he is.  We have a court date to finalize his adoption March 19th.  After that, I can apply for a SSN for him.  We won't be able to get the huge federal adoption tax credit yet since he isn't finalized.  I'll be looking forward to next year's tax return for sure(Can you say Cancun for mommy and daddy???)!  As for sleeping arrangements, well, he is still on the pallet in our bedroom.  A few days after I got back from Haiti we decided to try putting him to bed in Dillon's lower bunk.  It went amazingly well.  He didn't cry and went right to sleep.  Mike and I were so excited!  Several hours later, I was awakened by  crying.  I ran into the bedroom and poor Hudson had slipped into the tiny space between the bed and wall.  He was trapped waist down and wailing.  When I got to the room, Carter said "Finally" from his bedroom.  I asked Carter how long Hudson had been crying and he said "forever".  I said "Carter, why didn't you get him?"  Carter replied "I was dreaming I was trapped in the rubble."  We'd been watching CNN before bedtime.  I felt so awful for Hudson being stuck and crying that we haven't tried it since!  I'm going to get a bedrail to prevent that from happening next time.

Abby is getting so big(literally-I think she is the size of an 11yr old).  She is smart and content and starts girl's volleyball next month.  She always is playing with friends.

Carter is nearly 14 which blows my mind.  Oh, don't act like I told this or he'll kill me, but he shaved last week for the first time.  Mike taught him how and after wards Carter exclaimed "that feels so much better!"  Personally, I never saw any hair to begin with :)  His picture is missing on here because he was embarrased  that I posted the picture of him and Dillon playing the guitars last week--teenagers!  He is saving to buy his uncle Kyle's truck when he turns 16.  I'm proud of how much he has saved already. Of course, I have to take the cash straight to the bank or it will burn a hole in his pocket if left for long.  I've been warning him for 2 months that the day he turns 14, he begins doing his own laundry!  We'll see what happens.

Dillon is feeling much better.  He lost a top tooth last week(as the above photo shows).  He is happy at school.  He will play spring baseball in a few months. Dillon loves to sing and play his little guitar.  Carter gave him an old microphone and boy does he put on a show!

As for Mike and I, we are trying to keep our heads above water.  Mike should be preparing to jump back into the doctoral program beginning in June.  The only problem is, he doesn't want to!  He is praying for wisdom and guidance but just really does not feel an strong purpose in going. 

I'm finishing up another great book "The Autobiography of George Muller."  He was a missionary in the 1800's who set out to prove you can have a growing ministry and trust the Lord for everything.  He had a Bible institution, several day schools and 3 orphanages.  He never once asked for money or told people the state of the ministries finances.  Through prayer, he relied on God.  I'll share some of his quotes later.  I bought a new Pilates DVD to start exercising again.  I haven't run in months and feel like a bowl of jello.  My mom and sisters and I are planning another "Outard Focused Life" event to give out diapers and home-made fleece scarves in a low income neighborhood next month.


Sunday, January 24, 2010

What's so special about special

Shout out to kids with special needs!  You are special, useful, valuable, wonderful, pretty and handsome, cool, funny, and smart.
Don't know why I wanted to say that, just felt like it.  I want my 7yr old to know he is all those things above.  He may not be able to tell you his full name, read a book yet, or clearly say the ABC's, but this kids is hilarious, and makes me feel like a million bucks.  He often, out of the blue, will say "Mommy, I love you." 

Now, to brag on my sister, Emily.  Emily teaches high school art at a public school.  She is a super creative and energetic and a great teacher.  Emily has several special needs teeagers integrated into her art classes.  These kids have pretty severe special needs.  Public school teachers have so much they must do.  I totally understand that having several special needs kids in a classroom would put a strain on anyone.  Emily has found a way for them to thrive.  She has art fairs for these teens and displays their work for all to see.  She started a little business at school this year for them to "work."  They make fleece scarves in the school's colors and sell them at peprallies.  The kids love it.  They feel useful and talented.
Here is one of her blog posts about working with these kids.

One of the joys of my job is teaching special needs students. Everyday I get the pleasure of challenging students with Autism, Cerebral Palsy, and Down Syndrome to experience new things. In doing so, we have lots of trial and error, but we have so much fun!
This week we are working on stringing beads. We are going to work up to making paper bead necklaces. Yeah, I’m well aware that it’s going to take a lot of planning and work, but I also know that it would be an awesome Mother’s Day present for someone special in the lives of these young adults.
So, Tuesday I decided that the best first step would be to just get them stringing wooden beads. Learning how to string the beads and counting them into groups of 10. As we worked we were talking as best we can.. and I told them I had a surprise for them. That we were going to make something REALLY special! In response, the boy with Down Syndrome said.. MAYONNAISE???? and was totally excited. I said no, that we were going to make something else, but yes, I liked Mayonnaise too. This boy happens to be on a mayonnaise kick and so everything is related to that!
We continued counting and stringing beads until the end of class, but it got me thinking.. So often we (as teachers, members of society and so forth) feel sorry for people with special needs, but how refreshing to be able to enjoy life! The student’s that I meet everyday have enormous challenges in front of them, yet they face them with dignity and courage and passion for life! When was the last time you talked to someone that was passionate about Mayonnaise (well, besides Paula Dean?)
In contrast, I also teach more than 100 teenagers that are “normal” and of those I could easily say that 80 or more are disengaged with most of school. The vast majority not only don’t “get” why they have to be there, they don’t get how fortunate they are. Now please, don’t think I’m student bashing, because that’s not my purpose, but I have come to the realization that most students do not live life with dignity, courage or passion. More than that, not only do they not live it, they don’t even KNOW what they are missing!
So how do we teach these things? We can’t with words. We have to live it! The hard thing is, we have to take the time to build relationships in order to do so. We have to choose to live passionate lives and allow ourselves to stand out and be different in order for others to see that there is another way. As long as we just go about things business as usual we don’t have to worry about people thinking we might be different.. but if we live with gusto, all the sudden others think we are quirky at best.
In my self-reflecting tonight, I realize that after a dozen years teaching, coming from more than a handful of different school environments, teaching 13 different subjects, I can honestly say that my most treasured moments have been from connections with the “special” students. Over the years I have taught everything from third grade special education, self-contained math to economics to high school seniors. I can say that I have seen every kind of student. And yet, the students that are considered “fringe” or “outsiders” have always found friendly space in my room
So as I ponder the future and consider my present, I find myself wondering how to teach my students to live passionate lives. I wonder how to connect with the students that are more concerned with fitting in and hiding their identities than they are with finding out who they were meant to be. I wonder how to bridge art and special needs. I wonder how to show students that living passionately, while sometimes embarrassing, is so worth it! For I don’t want to miss out on anymore mayonnaise moments!



Thursday, January 21, 2010

Homecoming for Eva,ramblings about us, soapbox

First of all, I want to report that Christi texted me at 1:45 am that they, indeed, had baby Eva in their arms!!!  I'm so humbled and grateful that 2 weeks ago I got to see this darling 2yr old in her orphanage in Haiti and Christi crying, loving on her.  We had a long conversation about not seeing how it would all work out, but that she knew in her heart, since first seeing her a year ago, that Eva was their daughter.  What a blessed homecoming!!

As for us, I think we are all finally better.  After the vomiting began a week ago today, everyone went back to school/work.  Mike lost 7 pounds.  I wretched so hard that the blood vessels around my eyes burst and I have tiny purple dots around my eyes.  Abby was still puny, but went on.  Dillon, bless his heart has had it the worst.  After 3 days of walking around hunched over and in pain, he woke up better.  Our pediatrician cleared him for school this mornig and I took him straight there :)  When we walked up to his class the kids all crowded around him saying "Dillon's back!"

Warning, if you don't want to get offended, don't read.
So, on to my vent for the day.  I'm a bit frustrated that suddenly, so many people care about Haiti's orphans.  I've been praying for Christians to be burdened for the worlds' 143 million orphans since we first brought Abby home almost 9 years ago.  I've told everyone we know what a blessing it is to adopt!  Probably 75% of the time, people smile and say how nice that is for us, how they wished they could adopt but couldn't afford it or are too busy or their husband didn't believe in adoption, or they maybe they are nervous about being a transracial family.  Now, after seeing the horrible conditions these kids are faced to endure on CNN, all the Christians care.  I know, I'm tired(haven't slept throught the night in about 3 weeks) and PMSy so this sounds rude.  But, it's the truth guys.  Very few people(approx 300 Haitian children were adopted to US families last year) wanted to adopt from Haiti before.  People watch the news and the tragedies and devastation and they feel sorry for the kids and emotionally get involved.  Adoption is a life-changing, forever choice.  It is wonderful, fun, sometimes painful, beautiful and the greatest picture of Gods' love for us.  I'm just wishing all these people would have cared a long time ago, before the tragedy.  On the brighter side, I am THRILLED to see the huge outporing of compassion and interest in adopting these precious children. I have no doubt that most of the families inquiring to adopt Haiti's children are genuine and sincere familes. Thank you CNN for doing such a fantastic job and showing the world the quakes most vulnerable victims.  But what about the children living in orphanages in Ethiopia, India, China, Nepal, Russia, the 200,000 children living in US foster care????  They all need us.
Good thing I have to approve comments before they are posted ;)

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Pray--A miracle in the works!!!!!!!!!!





My Haiti team leader got an astonishing phone call today.  The doll baby above is the little girl they've been trying to adopt.  WELL, the orphanage she is at was awarded some emergency visas and we believe she is on her way to the US!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!  I just cannot believe this is happening.  What a precious precious miracle to come from such devastation.  Please pray all goes smoothly!

On a thankful note, I'm thankful for medical care.  Our entire family has had the stomach virus the past few days.  Dillon was over it Saturday.  Starting yesterday, he'd wail in pain and hold his lower right side.  During the night, he'd be fast asleep and begin wailing.  He'd walk hunched over, guarding his right side.  Our pediatrician sent him to the children's hospital er thinking appendicitis.  After 7.5 hours(it was packed there!!!!!!!), we are home.  Dillon does not have appendicitis.  He has an inflamed omentum, whatever that means(apparently they saw it on sonogram and it is off the liver).  With fluids and rest, he should be good as new in a day or two.  While sitting in the er, with his iv fluids going and tests running, I was reminded how amazingly blessed we are to have access to specialized children's medical care.  I sure saw first hand how the children of Haiti have none! 

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Saturday, January 16, 2010

Keep hoping and praying and updates on us


This is Markes.  His family in Florida still hasn't heard anything about his whereabouts.  I HAVE to believe that sweet, bright(and very good looking) Markes is in Port au Prince helping pull people from the rubble and is okay.  Please keep praying for him and his family.


This is Hudson with 4 new teeth up top.  He looks so cute!   They have  been really sore.  So sore that he can't suck on his night-time bottle.  He sticks the nipple in the side of his mouth like a pipe.  I think the bottle is about to go bye bye anyway :(    Hudson is so funny and cute.  His is extremely bright.  He sure punished me for a few days when I got back from Haiti.  He would only let MIke hold him and he closed his eyes at me.  Now, he is velcro baby again!  If I didn't think it would really really hurt his attachment process, I'd leave for Haiti in a second to go help. 


Sister and brother--sweet sweet family time

Dillon wants to play guitar like big bro.  Carter is learning quickly and has a knack for music.  Dillon just loves music.  Dillon is doing well.  He had a stomach bug Thursday night and a bit yesterday.  We are soooo blessed to have grandparents fairly close.  Mike's mom came to our home to keep the little boys while we worked.  Thanks Nana!

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Celebration!!!!!!!

I heard from Christi that Wilfred, Immanuel, and Nicholson are safe at the GVCM orphanage.  Praise you Jesus!!  But, no word from Markes.  Please keep praying for him.  Christi and John leave Feb. 11 to help in Port au Prince.  Tickets are half what they cost when I went last week.
Carter was awarded the part of Lumiere for the musical Beauty and the Beast.  The play isn't til May but he is already singing and speaking with a French accent ;)
I got a surprise blessing today.  I don't feel the need to share all the details, but I was awarded a special honor and bonus at work(I had no clue I was in the running for this).  When my boss called today to inform me of the honor and bonus, I couldn't help crying like a baby.  Many things have been going on the last 3 weeks that made this come at the most amazing time.  Like I keep saying you just can't make this stuff up!!!  We can never outgive God.

So, to celebrate, we took the fam to Olive Garden.  MIke's aunt had given us a generous gift card at Christmas with instructions to splurge on appetizers, desert and things we never order.  We had a grand meal.  Dillon, however, was getting sick.  Just as we were enjoying desert, he threw up at the table!!  Never a dull moment around here.  That is the 2nd time we've gotten a gift card to a nice restaurant, splurged with the kids, and Dillon has thrown up right as the meal was ending.  I made a hasty get-a-way while Mike took care of the tab.

Sweet memories of Haiti

Hello all.  I know you are thinking I'm a blog obsessed person.  Really, I'm not sleeping well and so early in the morning or during nap times, I blog.  I haven't slept well since I landed Saturday night.  First, it was just travel catching up to me.  Since Tuesday, it is saddness and worry.  Last night Carter dreamt he was trapped in rubble. I've never been a light-hearted, easy-going person.  I've always been rather serious and passionate.  So, to let this all go and not worry, is impossible for me.  I'm currently watching CNN and Ivan Watson is live with men trying to free an 11yr old who is screaming from under the rubble.  They may have to cut her leg off. We still haven't heard a word about Immanuel, Nicholson, Markes, and Wilfred.  Last night, I was unpacking my Haiti backpack and saw the bracelet Immanuel bought me last Friday.   A precious gift and reminder.  He has such promise, he has to be alive. 

I want to tell you about last Thursday.  We began our trek along a dirt road full of huge potholes, way up into the mountains, near Dominican Republic.  The village has a new church and school that gvcm.org helped start.  We brought our 250 shoeboxes and makeshift medical clinic.  The kids streamed in and began singing in Creole.  While half the team began distributing the boxes, the medical team set up clinic.  We were in a very cute and tiny bamboo hut next to the church.  After working about 2 hours, it got noisy outside.  I couldn't see what was going on, but Wilfred told us to pack up and leave.  We heard drums beating and then firecrackers.  It seems our presence had greatly angered the voodoo priest who was standing on the other side of the dirt path, about 100 feet from us.  As we began our trek back to the bus, he was standing there yelling and had placed a voodoo doll on the path, hoping to vex us I guess.  Thr priest told our interpreter we had to leave because he "felt his power leaving".  To this statement, the pastor of the little church shouted "Victory!"

(voodoo priest)
We smiled sweetly and prayed.  Once loaded on the bus, we began the drive back.  About 30minutes down the road, we got stuck in a deep dip.  The back tires weren't touching any road.  We all piled out and stood on the side fo the road watching the Haitian young men try various tricks to free the bus.  After an hour and a half  we were back on our way. 


Not 20minutes down the road, we had 2 tires blowout!!!  No lie!  By this time it was dusk.  A very big rule for visitors to Haiti is to be inside by dusk.  Well, not gonna happen.  We immediately were surrounded by  curious village children. 


We played little hand clapping games with them, told the story of Peter walking on water, the children sang some hymns for us in Creol.  I'm tearing up remembering them singing the praise song "You are my strength when I am weak, You are the treasure that I seek, You are my all in all."  Long story short, after 3.5 hours, standing on the side of the road in the dark, we got back to gvcm safe and sound thanks to our tireless knights in shining armour(or trucks!).   These men who helped us all week never ate their meals until our team was fed.  They carried the heavy supplies up the hills for us.  They translated all day.  They served and served the Americans.  I hated it because it made me feel like a rich white plantation owner with my servants.  So, on Friday night, our team leader Christi asked us if we wanted to do a feet washing ceremony to honor the Haitians who had served us all week.  We were so happy to do this.  Read how Jesus washed his disciples' feet if you don't know what I'm talking about.  It was so powerful.  Not a dry eye in the place.  While some of us knelt and washed feet, the rest of us prayed blessings over the Haitians.  I remember specifically asking God to use the bright young men to raise up a generation of mighty men of valor who would lead the people of Haiti.  The guys told us that  no mission team from the US has ever done that before.  I'd say we all bonded in that one week.



The trip all seems a bit silly now.  I'm not trying to be melodramatic or discount what we did.  But, last week we passed out shoebox gifts to kids and treated minor medical problems in clinics.  Today, thousands are dead or buried alive in rubble.  My team leader and her husband are flying out in 3 weeks.  It was a prescheduled youth camp that has now turned into a relief mission.  If money were no object, if I didn't have to work a set number of hours a check to pay for health insurance for me and the kids, if I didn't think my family would have a heart attack at me returning, I'd sign up right now to go help.
How do I put all that aside and go on with the piddly things of life like errands, laundry, watching stupid things like "American Idol"? 

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

what now?

First of all, thanks to my friends and family who have called, emailed, or sent messages on Facebook.  I'm safe and that is the great irony.  I should feel so happy to be home and safe.  Yet, I'm heavy hearted.  I only was there a week and yet made sweet friendships.  Knowing that some of the people I met and touched may likely be trapped in rubble sickens me.  I was planning on posting a pic of Hudson's 4 new teeth(he got white caps on his rotted top teeth Friday) and congratulating Carter on getting a lead role in the middle school spring musical.  It all seems insignificant now.  The team leader with me in Haiti is in the adoption process of a 2.5 year old girl at th orphanage we were working at.  She is so sad and my heart hurts for her. 

Last week I drove by the President's palace, today it is collapsed


The slums in Port au Prince

The people at our first stop, a church in a part of Port au Prince called Delmas, an area hit really hard


This was the church in Delmas, last week anyway


Our sweet servant and friend Markes(the young man in blue).  He is so bright and humble.  Markes translated, carried our supplies, used his body to shield our team from the desparate crowd that got out of hand, this young man who wants to come to the US and be a doctor.  He was in Port au Prince.  Please God, spare his life!

So, what now?  I guess the only things to do is pray and donate.  There are many good places to donate.  Dillon International(our adoption agency) has an orphanage and hospital in Port au Prince, you can donate here https://secure.groundspring.org/dn/index.php?aid=22119 
We support an organizaation in Haiti called Food For the Poor  http://www.foodforthepoor.org/ and they would be a great place to donate
the place I stayed at last week in Haiti would be awesome too  http://www.gvcm.org/
and Samaratin's Purse, Franklin Graham's ministry is great too!

Thank you all for caring for the least of these.  May we see God's work and may He bring beauty from ashes.  May the American church pour into Haiti with love and resources.  If I could get on a plane and go work in medical tents I would.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

PLEASE PRAY HARD


Actual picture in earthquake, copied and pasted from Pastor John's blog.
This was the house(totally collapsed now) next to the little boys home that houses children waiting to be adopted in Port au Prince.  Praise the Lord all the children at Heartline Ministries are okay.  I was there, took pics, bought some purses the single mothers sewed and loved on the sweet children.

I just saw that a huge earthquake hit Port au Prince a minute ago.  I'm absolutely SICK!!!  Not only was I so close to being there---Thank you Jesus that I'm home, but my heart is totally broken for those people.  The one nice hospital, that we drove by last week, has collapsed.  This is devastating. You don't understand how desparate the situation is unless you've been there.  Please please please pray hard.  The slums made of sheet metal are likely flattened and many many people will die.  If we were sad about the state of orphans before, imagine what it will be like.  My precious brothers and sisters there, Immanual, Pastor Ricardo, Markes, Milka, Nicholson, the children, Pastor Charles, OH my, please Jesus, protect them.  I only hope the surrounding countries with resources will rush in to aid the people of Haiti who have nothing!!!!  Gonna go cry and pray now.

Monday, January 11, 2010

More pics and thoughts


Streets of Port au Prince


One of the precious 61 parentless children in the orphanage


Children lined up in a tiny dirt floored church waiting to get their Christmas Shoeboxes


Looking through the goodies


Me in the carved out tree crossing the river--the woman version of Man Versus Wild :)


Another clinic out in the jungle

Stories from Haiti.  It was hilarious.  No, really, I don't think I've ever seen a team of people mesh so easily and have so much fun together.  We laughted our booties off.  Believe me, there was plenty to laugh at!

Here I am using my skirt to cover for my friend while she uses the outhouse

And here are the village people watching the strange "blanc"(whites) laugh hysterically while trying to use the bathroom and not touch anything!!

You have not truly lived until you've peed in the jungle with a pig, a goat, and a group of curious people watching you!

Haiti was great!  I don't want people to get the wrong impression.  It isn't all bad or sad.  One of the guys on the trip offered a great comparison.  He reminded us of skiing.  There are bunny slopes that are tiny hills to get used to.  Some people want a bunny slope mission experience:  stay in a hotel, go out during the day and pass a little food out, maybe paint a church or something, but not get uncomfortable, dirty, or touch the people.  Then there are triple black diamond slopes that are at the summit of the mountain, have  lots of moguls and are for daredevil experts.  Our trip in Haiti was a double black diamond.  We didn't want to play it safe(I'm glad I only had 4 days notice or I would have chickened out for sure!).  We knew the Lord had gone before us and could use us mightily, if we'd let Him.  This team was flexible, cheerful, and appreciated adventure with eternal Kingdom purposes.  We wanted to see the people on the outskirts, where help rarely comes.  Our medical clinics were very interesting.  I'd say 80% of the adults(the children had lots of problems) had nothing wrong with them.  But, they'd never been to a doctor and loved having me listen to their heart and lungs.  They'd giggle while I did, like it was a fun treat.  I did see a few sick people.  One young woman had a heart rate of 140 and complained of weakness and no appetite.  Well, I had zero equipment.  At my cardiac unit at the hospital, the docs would have done several tests and tried several treatments.  I had a thermometer, an otoscope, a stethoscope and that was it!  I told her to go to a hospital if she could and gave her some baby aspirin.  One little boy came with a 105 degree fever, stiff neck and could barely stand up.  We were really afraid of meningitis and pleaded with the parents to take him to a hospital.  They had no money and couldn't.  We gave him tylenol and motrin and prayed like crazy for John(his name).  I saw at least 5 young women with loud heart murmurs.  I'd bet $100 that they each had heart valve problems from untreated rheumatic fever as children.  We are SO SO fortunate here in the states!  Be grateful.  Don't complain.  Lord, help me not to grumble when things look a little tough!  May the lessons of Haiti increase my faith!

Oh, another funny story.  There were voodoo drums beating late at night, probably a 1/2mile or so from our compound.  We could hear them.  One of the guys, Bill, was so dry and funny.  Thursday morning he came out of the bathroom and serious as a heart attacked announced, "You know guys,  I don't think that was voodoo drums we heard, I think it was the toilet gurgling."!

I'll share the crazy last 2 days later and how my dear husband stood in the gap and prayed for my safety.

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Home and boy am I happy!

I landed last night at 9:30 pm!  Now, it is 4am and I have travelers tummy :((  So, here are some pics and thoughts:
View from the orphanage's new guests' quarters.  The cement blocks you see are the old toilets(thank you God they have newer indoor bathroom).  The land is gorgeous.

The brand new orphanage/church/school building.  Until very recently, 61 parentless children were living in a 2 room building.

When you hear the word "orphan", do you see his beautiful face??  Oh what an angel!

Preparing our medical bins.  Thank you FBC DeLeon for your donations.

Little Charlito sat in my lap during church and fell asleep.  A mommy's arms feel good huh?

This is a 10 month old severely malnourished baby who was at our clinic.  Pray for Haiti!!!!!

We are about to load up in hollowed out trees that serve as wonderful canoes, call me Indiana Jones!

Do you have clean water in your home?  If yes, be GRATEFUL!  And, please donate to things like water for life and water missions.  More children die every year, worldwide, from drinking contaminated water than any other illness.  Here the village children carry buckets to get water for the day.  There is no infrastructure in Haiti to bring clean water to the homes.

Here I am with a shoebox that was sent from FBC Stephenville--thanks girls!

This is my little lovebug, Ovenslay.  I adore him.  He has gorgeous eyes and dimples.  He is hearing impaired and I fear for his future.  The hardest children to place with families are boys over the age of 4--especially with a special need.  What kind of future does he have? 

My sweet Immanuel, who interpreted for me everyday in clinic.  What a precious and bright young man. 



And this is what happens when you have no access to medical care.  A simple shunt procedure at birth would have most likely prevented this horrendous case of hydrocephaly!  As you can imagine, I was sick to my stomach with heartbreak after seeing this.  I'm a mom of a special needs child and I realize how many times, without medical care, my Dillon would be in really bad shape--if even with us still.  The sweet parents were so proud when we asked if we could take pictures of her baby.

So, the question is "How was your trip?"  Honestly, I don't know yet.  I need several days to process it.  It was amazing, funny, adventurous, hilarious, ridiculous, scary, exhausting, wonderful all at the same time.  If I had never been to a poor country before, I'm quite sure I'd never go anywhere again.  Thankfully, God had prepared me first by going to Mexico on missions twice and Nicaragua once.  Haiti is beautiful and horrible together!  God worked mightily for sure.  The people at Global Vision Citadelle Ministries(http://www.gvcm.org/) were so giving, so humble, hardworking, and just flat wonderful.  I love them dearly.  I've never ever seen poverty and desparation like in Haiti.  Port au Prince, the capitol is in shambles.  No pavement, just dirt roads filled with huge rocks and holes.  People milling about with nothing to do.  Unemployment rates must be through the roof.  Only half of all adults are literate.  The good news is that there is progress!  I saw markets with fresh fruits and veges, livestock, electricity at most houses.  We were never threatened, well, a voodoo priest in a village did throw a tempertantrum when we were distrubuting Christmas shoeboxes in a little church and singing hymns.  How amazing is it to hear Haitian children singing How Great Thou Art in Creole??  Awesome!  Uh oh, my tummy is doing summer saults--pause!
Okay, I'm back.  I'm totally cracking up at 4:30 am because I just took Pepto Bismal.  Pepto was the magic potion of our medical clinic ;)  I'll explain later!  Must......get.....sleep..................

Saturday, January 9, 2010

Haiti update #7 (Final one from Mike)

Libby and the team spent their final full day (Friday) debriefing and relaxing a bit (a little beach time maybe?). She was able to use a computer in a restaurant to send a one liner that they’re doing well, the trip has been amazing/crazy, and she’s so ready to be home and see everyone. Team leader Christi said in a final email to families that it had “been a truly tremendous mission. God has answered EVERY prayer; lives have been saved and changed.”


The team is now at Miami airport and will arrive at DFW this evening; the kids and I can’t wait! I’m sure Libby will have LOTS to post, including pictures, as soon as she’s able to settle in over the next couple of days.

Thanks for your prayers!


Mike

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Haiti update #6

The message below is from an email sent out today by Christi Barnes, the leader of the Haiti team.

Today was quite a day in beautiful Haiti. I will start with the end of the day, which was evangelizing through the countryside and getting to see three people give their heart and life to Jesus Christ! It was awesome...the girl who got saved last year is still battling parents consumed in voodoo; there was quite the voodoo temple areas set up at their house this time. We also got to see the twins that were newborn last year whom we had the honor of dedicating to the Lord. They are in church, big and healthy and we prayed over their home and family for continued blessings.


Now, the other part of the day was definitely the witness of Jesus who came for the sick. We went to a six month old church plant in a community across the river called Bellmead. They had hundreds of people crammed into a small church hut and things went from nuts to mob FAST! We did get to worship, pray and share the story of Christ's birth before we had to leave.  It was sad and intense, but we were all safe. They are just desperate and need Jesus as well as to be discipled. It will be a different experience after the church and area has been established more. I am sure of it. So, we left there and then got blessed in other ways. We continue to do morning and evening devotions with the orphans and that is always fun! Today we gave them all toy party horns and read out of Joshua on Jericho . We all marched around and blew our horns in victory! Tonight we did glow sticks and talked about the light that Jesus brings to our hearts. They all love it.

Tomorrow we go to a place called Passparam. PLEASE pray...we trust God will move mightily but this is a remote area where there are a lot of people and limited amount of shoeboxes that we can transport there. Prayerfully, the clinic there will be a huge blessing of God's love to the people.

This is truly an amazing team!

Love and miss you all!

Haiti update #5

The message below is from an email Libby sent us today...

Hi guys! The pastor's internet is working, but I must hurry, nothing works more than a few minutes. Today was nuts. We went across the beautiful river taking with us shoeboxes and the MASH clinic to a new church plant. The people were mob-like from the moment we got there. They were so unruly and crushing in that for safety sake, we had to close up quickly and make a hurried exit. After a lunch and rest, we hiked into the beautiful hills and witnessed. 3 young woman said they accepted Christ. Cool huh? I'm soooooo exhausted and miss you all so badly. I love being here but it is getting old. I've taken ice cold showers in the orphanage. I hate seeing the children just shuffle about, big ones praying on the small and weak ones. The deaf children have such limited language and no real skills--what kind of life do they have here? No future at all!!!!! It is heart breaking. My patients today had never been to a doctor. This only a 2 hour flight from Miami. How does this happen in 2010???? Americans with 3 cars, fat from too much food, kids wearing 100.00 jeans while I'm seeing 10 month old babies who weigh 7 pounds, have no hair and scabs covering their bodies while starving to death slowly. AHHHH, too much to look at. On a positive note, there is progress. The people who have been here before are very encouraged by the bits of progress. The land is stunningly beautiful(except they have no public trash system and there is trash lying around everywhere!).


I'll be home soon. :) You and Carter must come here with me, maybe next year.
I love you sooooooo much!!!!!!

Libby and Momma ;)

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

It is Me, from Haiti!!

Amazingly enough, the internet is working at the director of the orphanage's office.  This doesn't happen often.  Today was AWESOME!  We traveled through the most beautiful countryside with scenic mountains, palm trees, tiny shacks, pretty rivers and it was spectacular.  We took 300 Christmas shoeboxes to the sweet church in Cholera.  I missed the shoebox presentation due to medical clinic needs were overwhelming.  My first patient was a very lethargic, dehydrated old lady who I'm sure had pnuemonia too.  We saw about 50 patients in 3 hours(3 RNs and and audiologist).  We saw a young woman who I'm pretty darn sure had mono(classic symptoms just like Carter had last year).  The most heartbreaking was a 10month old twin baby who was a skeleton with a bloated belly. 

Haiti update #4

Libby was able to call again today and it was so good to hear her voice. The team had a break and she was able to borrow a friend’s international cell phone to touch base with us.


The trip so far sounds like one eye-opening experience after another. Yesterday (Monday), the team loaded medical supplies and shoeboxes onto small boats and went down the river where they unloaded and carried these items about a mile cross-country to another village. There they conducted a medical clinic and distributed the shoeboxes. The medical team was able to serve over fifty patients in the three hours.

Libby said that she is growing close with the other members of the team. They sleep on air mattresses in the orphanage and the food has been good. She said that the running water and electricity come and go, and that they’re happy/lucky to get a cold shower now and then.

All in all, it sounds like things are going well. Thanks for keeping the Haiti team in your prayers!



Mike

Monday, January 4, 2010

Haiti update #3

We were shocked last night when the phone rang and Libby’s voice was on the other end of the line! It was crackly and her voice came and went, but it was so good to hear from her. She said that the team is doing well and that she misses home, but she is still glad she’s there. The team is staying at an orphanage and she’s already connected with a special little friend—a six-year-old boy who is deaf. Libby knows a bit of sign language, and she said this made his day! He looks for her whenever she’s around.


Yesterday the team worshipped at the orphanage church plant, played with the children there, sorted through shoeboxes, organized medical supplies and bagged vitamins/medicines for distribution.

Today they cross the river to a remote village, Bellvue, to do a medical clinic and distribute shoeboxes. The team leader, Christi, asks for prayer for revival through the worship and sharing of the word. As you may know, Haiti is a dark place spiritually, and many Haitians practice the voodoo religion. Spiritual warfare is real, so thanks for your prayers.

This morning I was reading in Matthew 4:12-25 how people dropped what they had to follow Jesus and how large crowds flocked to experience the hope and healing he brought to their world. Join with me in praying that the Haiti team will also bring hope and healing to a dark land, and that these men and women who “left their nets and boats” to follow and serve will not only experience God’s great protection and provision, but will experience the joy of being used by God in very special ways.

The kids and I are doing great.  My mom is keeping the little boys (Dillon and Hudson) for a day, which is a fun break for them.  Abby and Carter start back to school today.  All's good on the homefront!

Thanks,
 
Mike

Saturday, January 2, 2010

Haiti update #2

[Email home from Libby]

Hey,


We are at a pastor's office and I can say a quick Hi. We are doing great. It is just sooo much like Nicaragua except they speak Creole instead of Spanish. No probs at all through customs and airport. I haven't slept one bit since 10pm. The airport was seriuosly 50 degrees and I shivered all night! We are at a babies home and temporary place for kids waiting to be adopted, and a mother's care area where they teach them crafts. Heartbreaking for sure. I miss you guys so badly already!!

Love to all of you,

libby and momma

Haiti update #1

This is Mike everyone, posting on Libby's behalf.  The families of members of the Haiti team get occasional email updates, so I'll do my best to keep you all updated as well.  Sometimes I may copy and paste directly from the updates I get, and other times, I'll just summarize the basics for you all.

We took Libby to the airport yesterday and all went well.  As would be expected, the goodbyes were fairly emotional, but everyone did well.  The kids miss her as do I, but we're so excited about what God will do through her and in her during her week of service.

We got an email this morning indicating that the team arrived in Miami without incident and according the American Airlines website, their flight to Port au Prince arrived this morning around 7:30 our time.  As you may know, they spent the night in the Miami airport, so I'm sure they're bushed.  Pray that they'll not have any adverse effects from not getting enough rest last night.  Those of you who know Libby know that she needs her sleep!

Once again, thanks for your prayers.  I'll keep you updated as much as I can.

Friday, January 1, 2010

Ready to go!

At least I think I am.  I'm not really sure how prepared a person can be to spend a week in a third world country with 3.5 days notice!!  HA!  Still reeling at this crazy turn of events.  Honestly, I'm feeling like I'm sinking in the "ready" department.  In case you thought otherwise, I'm not a super woman with no fear.  Fear isn't the right word, more like reservations.  I'm not afraid at all.  I am, however, very very sad about leaving my family.  My heart is ripping right now.  Dillon keeps asking me why I'm going on a trip and telling me he doesn't want me to go.  OUCH.  The momma guilt is setting in severely.  Iif something happened today and the trip was called off, I'd be really disappointed but also relieved ;)


 I know there are many people who would like to tell me that I have no business leaving my family for a week to go to Haiti.  That my poor husband shouldn't be left with 4 kids, one who is still new to us, while I go off chasing dreams of ministering to starving people and orphaned children.  Thankfully, those people are keeping it to themselves.  Mike, actually, was and is very supportive.  He told me to go and is in awe of how God orchestrated this trip.  What a man.  I'm telling you, I have the most amazing husband in the world.  I take him for granted often, but today, I really really am blown away by his selfless love and sacrifice.   Thank you Mike!  We both want our kids to grow up loving people of other colors, races, and nationalities.  We want them to desire to serve others, not themselves and to value people and experiences, not money and security.  Maybe they will learn that from watching us?  I must go and I want to go.
 
I also feel woefully unequipped for this.  The person I'm replacing was a doctor.  Man, the team got a bum deal on that one.  I have no MD training and can't diagnosis illness. It has made me really start thinking that I'd be so much more useful if I went back to school and became a Nurse Practioner.  Hmmm, maybe someday?? Not to mention that I know zero Creole or French.  Now if we were heading to a Spanish speaking country, I'd be in good order.

So, am I ready?  Well, I am packed.  I've got some new songs and several Robert Morris sermons loaded on my ipod. I'm praying for favor with the airlines to let the team check all 20 bins of supplies, for grace, peace, patience, and wisdom for me and the team, for my kids to be peaceful and well behaved at home, for Mike to have extra patience and endurance, for Hudson to feel loved and not upset that I'm gone, for the Holy Spirit to infuse me with wisdom when I'm treating people with unknown ailments and there is no doctor around, for the children in the orphanage to feel that somebody does indeed love them and care!  I'm also praying that seeds from this trip will be planted in other people's hearts, even some of you reading, to be willing to go and spend themselves with the poor, the sick, the orphaned.  I'm praying that the Holy Spirit will plant a love for the orphan in people's hearts and many more Christians will start adopting.  Uh oh, watch out :))

There ya have it.  Straight from my heart.  Mike might be able to post some of the updates the team leader will send back home.  I don't think I'll have any access to a computer.  See ya later and thank you in advance for your prayers!!!!