Monday, September 29, 2008
My cousin and I sold handiwork like purses, quilted table runners, and photo notecards.
My cousin enjoying one of D's GI Joe toys that were for sale. Somehow, my cousin ended up with purchasing this possession in some sort of deal he worked out with D.
My elementary aged cousins sold cookies, cinnamon rolls, beverages, candy, and homemade bracelets and magnets. (Notice the note...that's a take off on her older sister's etsy store, Miss Alissa.)
I also took advantage of having most of my family together and took their pictures to turn into a picture book for Kenson. I am also going to blow the photos up a bit and add magnets to the backs to make some doll like refrigerator magnets for Kenson. Don't you love the poses?
I sold four purses and had lots of people ooh and aah over them. Not a great outing as far as sales go but this wasn't really a craft fair type setting.
Here's a few of my favorite purses out of the 15 I actually took.
Now, as soon as I can figure out how to get pictures off of my camera phone, I'll post a part 2...the wierdest things we found on our journey.
It is very wierd to pray about today. It's hard to know what to pray. The humanness in me wants the conversation to be smooth and effortless. But prayers for an efficient meeting seem a bit callous, as if you are ignoring the gravity of the actual meeting. On the other end of things, you have no idea what the birth parent is really feeling. I can imagine what I think she might be feeling but I really don't know if praying for those feelings is accurate or not. I would think she would be intimidated by the building because it is a huge place with marble floors and granite countertops, a government building that is much nicer than any place she has probably ever been in before. I would think she would be anxious about saying the right things. And I think she would be heartbroken to know this is the last time anyone may ever ask her questions about Kenson. But the truth is she may not feel any of those things.
So that leaves me wondering what to pray. Remembering that prayer is less about my words and more about my heart's communication with an all knowing, ever present God.
Thursday, September 25, 2008
It drives me crazy to know that Christians, myself included, have difficulty naming the last time they really "did life" with someone who we might consider a least of these. (I'm taking that from the section of Matthew 25 where Jesus says whatever you did for the least of these, you did for me.) I think too often Christians want to say "well, that's not my calling to work with _________" You fill in the blank. The prisoner. The orphan. The widow. The homeless. The sick. But the truth is you are called because the Bible commands it. Matthew 25 discusses anyone in need of food, shelter, and clothing. Matthew 25 continues with those in jail or in trouble with the law. James 1 covers widows and orphans. If you took the time to do a Scripture search for widows and orphans, you would find even more refernces. And they are written as commands. Not as gifts. It does not say "And to some He gave the gift of caring for orphans or the prisoner." We are expected to do something in all of these situations, be it financial assistance, emotional support to those who directly minister to these groups, using our gifts to help, or donating supplies.
I especially think that this is true of people who live in the Western world. I read this week from The Mission of Motherhood, "The level of materialism in America, combined with the availability of Scripture and the freedom to invest our lives for Him, provides us with a heavy weight of stewardship for our own spiritual heritage." What a tragedy to know that we as Americans have much potential to be the change agents for the least of these but we often just keep it to ourselves. And even scarier, the thought that our failure to act is viewed by God as a failure to be a good steward of what He has given us.
Sometimes it's very hard for me not to want to physically shake people, especially when I see major self absorbed behavior. Mostly, I get that feeling when I watch celebrities . (That would be the pushy zealot part of my personality.) But the truth is, there are times when I feel that way about my friends and family. I want my friends and family, strangers and acquaintences to do something. Anything. Don't just sit on your hands while the words "How awful" fall out of your mouth. Do something! I share pictures and websites all the time with my friends and family because I hope the Holy Spirit will convict their hearts to do something. (Mostly, the bossy, pushy me hopes it convicts them to go on a mission trip where their heart will be forever changed but I suppose that's really not up to me.) And it drives me crazy to think that for so many of the people I encounter those words "How awful" will be the only action they take.
I'll leave you with a quote from Dangerous Surrender by Kay Warren. "It's very easy for us to remain aloof and untouched by the suffering that defines the existence of the vast majority of people on the planet. I have read that if you have food in your refrigerator, clothes on your back, a roof overhead, and a place to sleep, you are richer than 75 percent of the people in this world! If you have any money in the bank and some in your wallet and some spare change in a dish somewhere, you have among the top 8% of the world's wealthy; 92 percent have less to live on than you do! If you have never experienced the danger of battle, the loneliness of imprisonment, the agony of torture, or the pangs of starvation, you are ahead of 500 million other people in the world. If you can attend worship services at church without the fear of harrassment, arrest, torture, or death, you are more blessed than three billion people in the world. I don't tell you this to make you feel guilty-but I do hope you feel uncomfortable. I hope these statistics disturb you. God in His sovereignty decided where you would be born and allowed you to live in a place that has almost everything anyone could ever desire, so there is no guilt that He has ordered our lives in such a way. The only guilt we bear is ignoring the men, women, and children of this world who do not have what we have-the guilt of spending the majority of our time, money, and resources on ourselevs and our families. That is legitimate guilt."
Wednesday, September 24, 2008
Tuesday, September 23, 2008
There still is much to do but I just marvel at how God is using them right now. Please check out these sites for more information on what's happening at Real Hope for Haiti right now.
Jeanne's Picasa album-Jeanne's a volunteer at RHFH right now.
Lori's blog-Lori runs a feeding program for malnurished children.
Licia's blog-Licia is a trained nurse who provides medical care at the clinic.
Sunday, September 21, 2008
Here's a list of things we know will be new for Kenson or things that he has had limited experiences with:
- flushing toliets
- a refrigerator
- a kitchen stove
- birthday and Christmas presents
- car seats
- grocery stores
- items like food, clothing and toys being available all day long
- quiet places that aren't filled with kids
- car rides
- enjoying bathtime with toys
- ice cream, candy, and soda
- high chairs and booster seats
When you think of what an American two year old is accustomed to and then the things that will be new for Kenson, it's easy to see how he has so much new to acclimate to.
Saturday, September 20, 2008
Grace in a Restarant.
Last week, I took my children to a restaurant. My six-year-old son asked if he could say grace. As we bowed our heads he said, 'God is good, God is great. Thank you for the food, and I would even thank you more ifMom gets us ice cream for dessert. And Liberty and justicefor all! Amen!'
Along with the laughter from the other customers nearby, I heard a woman remark, 'That's what's wrong with this country. Kids today don't even know how to pray. Asking God for ice cream! Why, I never!'
Hearing this, my son burst into tears and asked me, 'Did I do it wrong? Is God mad at me?'
As I held him and assured him that he had done a terrific job, and God was certainly not mad at him, an elderly gentleman approached the table. He winked at my son and said, 'I happen to know that God thought that was a great prayer.'
'Really?' my son asked.
'Cross my heart,' the man replied.
Then, in a theatrical whisper, he added (indicating thewoman whose remark had started this whole thing), 'Too bad she never asks God for ice cream. A little ice cream is good for the soul sometimes.'
Naturally, I bought my kids ice cream at the end of the meal. My son stared at his for a moment, and then did something I will remember the rest of my life.He picked up his sundae and, without a word, walked over and placed it in front of the woman. With a big smile he told her, 'Here, this is for you. Ice cream is good for the soul sometimes; and my soul is good already.'
I pray you ask God for ask something good this week, not because you want Him to just do whatever you want but because authenticity is what He desires from you.
Wednesday, September 17, 2008
Sunday, September 14, 2008
My cousin has also been making purses and other items so we'll see if we can sell any. The four I took photos of are essentially finished except for a few spots of hand sewing. I have about 6 more in various stages of completition.
I recognize to that this sub job has allowed me to interact with various people who I normally don't interact with due to shared lunches, etc.. And some of those people are struggling with all the changes that have occurred in their jobs at school too. But I haven't really done a good job of not joining in the griping or of encouraging those people as they are in the thick of it. I knew I wasn't doing very good with that this week. And then during my quiet times I read Psalms 19:14. "May the words of my mouth and the thoughts of my heart be pleasing to you, Oh Lord." Just the reminder I needed. It takes a lot of effort for me to watch what I say. I'm a gabber by nature. But the real deal is God has given me what I need for godly living and this verse can help me if I choose to think about it throughout my week.
Saturday, September 13, 2008
But today I read something that made me think that sometimes, it is okay to think about my faith in terms of what God does for me. What I read sums up one of the real benefits of faith. Without faith, too much of life looks bleak and hopeless. Without faith, things like orphans and hurricanes and poverty and cancer look like deep pits of dispair. Without faith, even small circumstances like broken cars and messy houses can feel like crazy bad, want to cry to my mom things. But because of the Gospel, there is hope. And that hope is a benefit of my relationship with God. I'm not choosing to be with God because I believe He will remove the terrible things from my life; I'm choosing to be with God because I believe He will redeem those terrible things.
"More than anything else I could ever do, the gospel enables me to embrace my tribulations and thereby position myself to gain full benefit from them. For the gospel is the one great permanent circumstance in which I live and move;and every hardship in my life is allowed by God only because it serves His gospel purpose in me. When I view my circumstances in this light, I realize that the gospel is not just one piece of good news that fits into my life somewhere among all the bad. I realize instead that the gospel makes genuinely good news out of every other aspect of my life, including my severest trials. The good news about my trials is that God is forcing them to bow to His gospel purposes and to do good unto me by improving my character and making me more conformed to the image of Christ."
Milton Vincent's Gospel Primer
The children's home was not flooded although the water came within 20 feet of our perimeter. Most of our neighbors that are on the side toward the river were completely flooded out with some of their homes being completely covered by water! No one was killed, thank the Lord but several were hurt and the terror was beyond anything I can explain as the flooding took place at 2 -3 am and many woke up to the water already high in their homes. One man tells of frantically looking for his two year old in the murky water, in the dark when she fell as they were trying to run. He did find her and was able to pull her out before she drownd.
We had to evacuate as the water kept rising and we felt it wasn't safe to keep the children in the home. At 2 am I woke up and couldn't go back to sleep but didn't realize why at that point. I sat and read a book and then I began to hear the noise from the rising river never dreaming that it would ever be able to come clear up to our neighborhood. Around 3 am I went down the hall and listened and I began to get concerned as it was obvious that the river was quickly reaching our neighborhood as it sounded like it was right outside our gate. I tried to call some of the neighbors to let them know that they needed to evacuate but the phone service was down and I couldn't get through. A few minutes later I hear screaming and lots of it. I knew immediately that some their homes had flooded. I called for our night staff and asked her to go downstairs and wake up the children and start carrying the toddlers upstairs (the babies live upstairs). I went and woke up our 2 volunteers and my mom. I don't think I have ever had an adrenaline rush as huge as that night. Our power was out and the stress was overwhelming as we ran room to room making sure we weren't leaving any little ones behind. As the ladies and I ran from one room to the next suddenly a group of young men from the area came bursting into the house screaming, "get the children, the river is coming." They helped us and within 5 minutes we had all the children safely upstairs. We went back down to get clothing etc.
In the meantime, Thym went to see if the road was still clear so we could evacuate and it was but by time we loaded 15 infants including the 3 premature babies and 25 children in the truck and were ready to leave, the road was covered high with water and the truck could not get through. We unloaded the children and decided to just keep everyone on the 2nd floor of the house and pray for God's mercy as we didn't know what else to do. Thym continued to look around the area to see what we could do to evacuate at least my mom and the children to the hospital up the hill to a safer place. After about an hour and a half he came home with a solution. The neighbors up the hill (so away from the river) had agreed to allow him to drive our truck through their gardens and out to the main road. Thym knew that our new truck would not make it as it lacks height and the engine is not powerful enough so he prayed a prayer and fired up the old Toyota. Within minutes we had my mom and most of the children in the truck. Thym made 2 more trips and got everyone to safety. I stayed behind to pack the necessary items, make arrangements for food, get bedding together and boil drinking water and sterilize enough bottles for all the babies (15) for 24 hours. One of the most amazing things about this part of the story is that the Toyota had not been used for several days because it was out of gas and we were not able to get any. The truck made 3 trips over off-road muddy terraine on E. Isn't God wonderful. His miracles never end.
The water never did reach the children's home. It did come within 20 feet on one side and several yards on another but it didn't come in. There were homes straight across from us that were completely flooded but the water never came in our gates. The local people say it was the work of the angel of the Lord. They say that God put his angels around our home and kept the water out. It is the only explanation really. We are grateful for His faithfulness and mercy.
We spent 1 day at the hospital and by then the water had gone down enough that there was no longer a risk and the rain had stopped and the road was clear. We were so grateful to the hospital for taking us in but keeping 40 children (premature infants to 12 years) and all their stuff in a 12x14 square is a difficult task. The children were so crowded that they could hardly sleep and kept rolling on top of each other as they were spread out all over the floor. At 4 am Monday, I woke up our oldest boy (12 years) and had him start helping me load the truck. We then woke up the 7 school age boys and we headed home with the first load of stuff. The children were so excited when they found out not only were they going home but they could have a bath (the local hospital has no water). One 6 year old boy bounced up and down and on the seat of the truck and said in a sing-song kind of voice: "We get to take a bath, we get to take a bath." By 6am all the children were home. They were so tired and worn out from the whole ordeal that all of them took a nap that afternoon.
The destruction caused by the flooding is wide spread here. The river flooded so badly and the current was so strong that it pulled up everything in its path including homes, heavy equipment from the UN base outside of our village and anything else in it's path. All this debri collected at the bridge on the main road between us and the local village, finally the bridge could not stand up to the pressure and was ripped out completely. With the bridge out the only way from here to there now is by a rough hand-made canoe. This means we have no way out in case of emergency between 5pm and 5am and we can no longer get in our vehicles and go to the village or to Port-au-Prince.
The past few days we have spent every minute we can trying to help those in need. Up in the village there are hundreds whose homes were destroyed by the river. On Tuesday the mayor asked us for help with clothing, blankets and whatever we could give. He said there were 25 naked babies at the shelter and he had nothing to give their parents to put on them. We went through our storage shed and sent several totes full of baby pajamas, blankets, and chidren's clothing across the river to them.
Wednesday and Thursday we went from home to home cleaning up piles of mud, scrubbing floors and walls and doing whatever needed to be done to help the people get back into their homes. All of the homes near us were able to be clean and can be repaired but many of those up in the village are completely destroyed.
Yesterday afternoon we delivered several plastic totes of children's clothing, blankets and shoes to our neighbors homes as many of them lost everything in the flood. We hope to be able to help them more in the coming weeks as the Lord provides. Hunger will become even more prevelent than before over the next several months as everyone in our area lost their gardens. Even the plantain trees were destroyed which means this storm will effect some for up to a year an half from now as plantain trees bear fruit in 12 to 18 months and plantains are a staple here.
I am thankful for those in ministry positions around Haiti who will have opportunities to help. Praying that God blesses them like the boy who gave his fish and bread to Jesus: may God take the little they have and make it stretch to meet the needs of many.
I know of several opportunities to help with relief in Haiti. Food and water continue to be major problems and even when supplies are available, getting it distributed can be a challenge as many areas are esentially isolated due to washed out roads and bridges. Real Hope for Haiti would like to purchase another vehicle that would enable them to effectively distribute aid. A church has already raised a portion of the $40, 000 needed but another $15, 000 has yet to be raised. Contributions can be sent to Real Hope for Haiti (TRUCK FUND), PO Box 23, Elwood, IN 46036.
FHG in Port Au Prince is trying to do a food drive so that they can deliver food to the birth families of the children at the orphanage. Monetary donations or people to organize food drives in their area are needed. Contact Linda at firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.
You can also lobby your Congressmen to send more US dollars to help with relief efforts. I have also heard rumors that the UN has not been as helpful as they should be in distributing aid to those who need it. You can email your elected officials by using the website, http://www.senate.gov/general/contact_information/senators_cfm.cfm to find their email address.
If I hear of more opportunities I will let you know.
Thursday, September 11, 2008
- We had a gas leak at school today so I spent around 40 minutes in a gym full of 700 elementary kids while a handful of teachers tried to keep everyone entertained and try to fend off chaos.
- I reached over to pick up the power strip that was connected to the tv in my classroom today and got a large shock. Apparently, there wasn't any plastic on the back of the power strip so I touched electrified metal. FUN... The best part is once you tell your kids you've been shocked then they all scurry over as if they should pick that item up to help you out. The grouchy teacher in you then wants to volunteer select children to go touch the said item.
- This week has been better than last but I still have been moaning and complaining about things way too much, especially in relationship to this long term sub job I'm doing.
- My parents called last night and said they were coming our way tomorrow evening. Now I really need to clean. Normally, not something I get too excited about but I've got to get the toothpaste wiped out of the sink at least.
- D started a 6 week soccer club for the elementary boys who attend our school's after school program
- I've been slowly but steadily working on purses. I'd like to sell them at an upcoming event. I've got 4 totally finished and around 5 more started.
- And lastly, this list should be bulleted but for some reason my dear friend, Blogger, isn't doing it.
From the various things I've read, it sounds like food and water are currently very hard to come back in Haiti. Even though there are organizations who have responded, they are having trouble getting aid to those in need due to washed out roads and bridges. There are many organizations that could use monetary help to fund rescue projects including Real Hope for Haiti. Please consider what you might be able to do.
Sunday, September 7, 2008
HCH is in Mirebalais which is not on the coast as you can see on the map but it is sort of on the north side which is where Hurricanes Ike and Hanna have done the most damage. To give some perspective, Port Au Prince is about 45 minutes southwest in the angle part. Gonaives, which was hit hard is more to the north and closer to the coast.
Saturday, September 6, 2008
Friday, September 5, 2008
Wednesday, September 3, 2008
If we are alive today in spite of
hurricanes, hunger and sickness,
we should say,
Thank you, Lord.
We must be here for a purpose.
Below are some news reports on Haiti. They have had three major hurricane events with Hurricane Ike picking up speed. Generally speaking, Haiti is a muddy rainy mess. Ike is predicted to be a category 4 storm. Not good. Everyone knows how devestating hurricanes can be in the States where most people's homes are wood with concrete foundations or slabs. Imagine what it would be like if this was your house. And here there are trees and grasses to help keep the mud from just going everywhere. Imagine if this was what your yard looked like before the rains. (It's actually a peanut field but in Haiti yards and fields are pretty much the same thing.)
As far as I know both of our kids are okay. Conleigh's up into the mountains and Kenson's orphanage, while in PAP, has only experienced minor flooding in a storage area. But many others who had very little to lose to begin with have probably lost everything. And the rain has made travel difficult and has hampered the ability of workers to get in and out of the orphanages. I know Kenson's orphanage is having some problems getting their clean drinking water in and out. Another site to check out is http://haitirescuecenter.wordpress.com/ . They are not where either of our kids are but have some great first hand photos.
The situation was dire elsewhere in Haiti as well. Floodwaters swamped a hospital near southwestern Les Cayes, and nurses moved patients to higher floors. At least 5,000 people in Les Cayes were in shelters, said Jean-Renand Valiere, a coordinator for the civil protection department.
PORT-AU-PRINCE (AFP) — Hurricane storm Gustav killed 77 people and left eight others missing when it barreled through Haiti last week, officials here said Monday.
Officials said another 36 people were injured by the storm, which last week struck the island of Hispaniola, shared by the Dominican Republic and Haiti -- the hemisphere's most impoverished country -- as a Category One hurricane. Gustav regained hurricane strength as it plowed through the Cayman Islands and Cuba, and then battered the US Gulf coast on Monday as a Category Two hurricane. Officials here said some 15,000 Haitian families were affected by the storm, which leveled some 3,000 dwellings and damaged another 11,458.