Sunday, June 29, 2008

Orphanage Experiences

D and I have been placed in a unique situation in that, through our adoptions, we have been able to see the inner workings of two orphanages in Haiti. Being able to see two different places has allowed for us to have some good conversations with each other and other individuals as well about orphanage care and life. The first part of our trip was spent at Haiti Children's Home in Mirebalais, Haiti. It is run by an American mother and daughter who have been working in Haiti for over 20 years. During this part of our trip we put in 10 hour days at the orphanage, doing many different jobs from painting a mural in the baby room, to photographing portraits of all the children, to holding babies, to playing with older kids, to helping with meals and feedings. The second part of the trip was spent at Maison de Enfants de Deiu (For His Glory) in Port Au Prince. This trip was set up to allow for most of our time to be spent at the hotel with Kenson. However, we did spend a few hours at the orphanage and I have been to this orphanage before on a previous trip where I spent approximately 8 days, 8 hours each time at the orphanage. On this trip, D and I hung up the busy blankets we made for the babies' cribs, played with the older kids, and took photos of the children. On our previous trip to this orphanage, we did a ton of different things including painting murals, doing light construction projects, and organizing supplies. Here are some photos showing many of the ways in which we were able to serve.

Our projects

Mural D painted in the baby room

James, one of the boys from HCH whom we photographed

(James does not have an adoptive family and is a boy who truly needs a family. He wants a family with every fiber of his being. If you're interested or know someone who might be, contact Haiti Children's Home)

Busy blankets made by K and a friend for FHG

Saturday, June 28, 2008


Kenson Jules is growing like a weed! He is so big! We have always been told by the Haitian staff how big he is and well, it's true. For a Haitian kiddo, he is long and tall. We were pleasantly surprised at how well he was doing developmentally. Kenson has spent basically his whole life in an orphanage. That doesn't really bode well for developmental readiness. He is walking (not as well as Conleigh who is six months younger) but he is fairly adept at it. He points at things he wants. He nods yes and no, even when questions are asked in English. He loves to mimic. In fact, D taught him to rub his tummy and say "MMM" while he was eating. All of those things point to quality care and nannies who are taking the time to teach and love.

He was quite unsure of what to think the first few days with us at the hotel. The first night, D and I both cried because we knew how scared, sad, and confused he was. He just had huge quiet eyes that just echoed of loneliness and uncertainty. He latched onto me right away and for those first few days would hardly let me put him down. He then started to warm up and get braver and more secure but he rarely let D hold him. He would play with D and liked interacting with him but holding was a bit past the limits. The task of staying at the hotel with us was such a big one-our baby has really never been anywhere other than the two baby rooms of the orphanage.

Food was a bit of a question mark. The orphanage food is pretty mushy in texture. (Beans and rice, baby cereal, etc.) I had brought several toddler favorites like freeze dried fruits and cereal but Kenson really didn't care of the crunchy texture. He did decide he liked graham crackers, ice cream, and Coke. He ate other foods too like pancakes, ham, and spaghetti.

Again, we're so thankful for our connection to Kenson and confident that God has been at work in his life already. Enjoy a few of our favorite photos of Kenson.

Friday, June 27, 2008

More on Conleigh

For those of you who don't know the story of how Conleigh came into our lives, I'll share a bit of history with you. Last fall, D and I began praying and talking about starting another adoption of some kind. We were pretty sure it would be from Haiti because we wanted our children to not feel alone in their adoption stories, to have someone else in our family who had experienced some of the same things. Also, part of why we chose Haiti was because of it's proximity to the US and our ability to travel there with our children as they got older. Anyway, around this time, a missionary family was fostering a little girl in Haiti. They had been foster parents in the States and desired to do so while they worked in Haiti so they contacted an orphanage and asked to be foster parents. This family began advocating online on discussion boards for a family for this little girl. We both saw the woman's post and independent of each other made a mental note to share it with each other. We then talked about it and started looking for more information on the orphanage and the little girl. To make a long story short, we made a verbal committment to Conleigh in November of 2008 and then began assembling our paperwork. Unfortunately, the family who was fostering Conleigh had a family emergency and had to return to the States so Conleigh had to return to the orphanage.

On this trip, we met Conleigh for the first time. She is 16 months old and a precious, precious girl. She has beautiful Haitian features specifically huge almond eyes and a small flat nose. Unfortunately, when we were there, she had a bug bite on her eye that she kept scratching. (Or possibly impetigo?) She is petite but chunky. Her mobility is quite amazing and I really thought her problem solving skills were exceptional. She definitely knows what she wants and then figures out a way to get it using her brain or her body. I can also tell that the orphanage is overwhelming for her at times. She doesn't appreciate the noise and the constant presence of other children. But she is being loved and taught about Jesus which are blessings to us.

Please find below a few of our favorite photos of Conleigh Deme. What a beautiful girl, what a blessing from God!

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Worldview Challenge

Before I start downloading and uploading and bombarding you all with photos of our Haiti trip, I want to take some time to decompress, to let my most recent Haitian experience settle and churn and resonate and rest. Having left three very poor countries on four separate occasions, each time I have always felt a huge responsibility to be the world's story teller. I always have a hope that my words and my ability to retell and related my experiences will do justice to the people whom I have just meet, that my stories will be pressed down into the hearts of my friends and family and then resurrected in their own lives in some tangible way.

So before I piece together my random thoughts and hundreds of photos, I want to chalenge you to consider your heart and the worldview that you hold based upon your life experiences, your compilation of knowledge, and your heart's fervor. What experience in life has most molded your current worldview? What experience has created a dramatic change in your worldview, for better or for worse? I hope you'll post your answers. I'd love to know what events have been important in your life. And then I'll tell you mine...and share about my current worldview including the impact Haiti has had on how I see the world.

We're baaack!

It's Thursday around supper time and we just got back. We've surveyed the damage that not being home has done (ie tons of email, lots of weeds in my flowers and garden, and a lawn that needs mowing) and thought people might like knowing we were home safe and sound. Tomorrow, I am subsitute teaching summer school so I won't be around much. We'll try to get some posts with details about our trip up in the next couple of days.

Friday, June 20, 2008

New location-start of trip 2

We've now changed locations which makes it feel like we've started a second trip. New places, new faces, just an overall different feeling. We probably won't post for a while now until we're on our way home just for security reasons. But we did want to let you know that we had gone on to the next part of our trip.

Wednesday, June 18, 2008


We have spent quite a bit of time with Conleigh so far. The orphanage likes to keep kids in their normal routines as much as possible so she isn't going to the hotel with us and needs to be following her usual schedule as far as eating and sleeping goes. But there is an upstairs where we are that we can use to have a little bit of quiet time with her throughout the day. She took about half a day to warm up to me and is still unsure of Derek. She will let him touch her and giggles at him but doesn't want to go to him or with him. She often sucks her right thumb and pulls on a braid with her left. (At the same time) She was in a private home with a missionary family for almost 9 months and just came back to the orphanage in January or February. Having lots of other kids around who are always in her space is a challenge for her. She really just wants a grown up one on one and for the other kids not to touch her a lot.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

An Adventure No Doubt

We have arrived! And it has been an adventure so far. I was excited because I knew I would get to see more of Haiti on this trip. Well, we've definitely seen a lot of Haiti. After getting into the airport, we went to two grocery stores and a restaurant so that mean quite a bit of driving in town. The grocery stores were interesting. Of course, most Haitians don't shop at grocery stores so the stores are really intended for non Haitians or wealthy Haitians. I saw proscuito, a gallon of artichokes, Lebanese olives, and real blue cheese. (None of which I would be able to buy at my usual grocery store.) I also saw a group of Japanese United Nations soliders buying like 5 cases of rum as well. (Good to know that they have guns and stuff that explodes.)

We then went into the countryside to get to the orphanage. Ummmmmm, the trip defies commentation. Think really bad gravel road, mountainous Colorado, and road construction all in one place. After three hours of jostling, we got to the orphanage and met Conleigh. She was a bit shy and spent most of the time hanging onto one of the orphanage workers but she did warm a bit after some chocolate chips and water. She is just beautiful. Since then, we've hugged and held lots of babies and children, helped with bedtime, played soccer, walked down to the river, eaten the standard beans and rice, and started painting a room. As I mentioned before, we've seen a lot more of Haiti this trip and when we get back I will have to elaborate on all of that, hopefully with some pictures.

Saturday, June 14, 2008

God and Me 4

I can't say I've really had much indepth spiritual stuff going on this week. (Or even the last few weeks.) This has been a week where my spiritual life has been a discipline. Not a joy. Not a solace. Not excitment. But a discipline. Sometimes life is like that. You just plug on because it's the right thing to do.

At church a few weeks back, someone whose son was finishing up basic training for the Army Reserves said that the Army really is a great metaphor for spiritual training, especially in relationship to the word discipline. Basic training is generally unpleasant, difficult, exhausting, and grueling. But it is all done as a preparation for things that will or might happen later on.

That's what a lot of life is like. It's doing something hard so that we can reap the benefits in the future. Doing quiet time or going to church or choosing to listen to Christian music are things that make me think of that. It's about doing something that, at times, can seem trite and boring. But you make a choice to do it because you know it may prepare you for something in the future. The words you read or heard may be beneficial later on.

The times in life when you feel like you're enveloped by darkness and confusion are also discipline. Again, our brains have a tendancy to see discipline in a fileal way; we can't help but equate the word discipline to words like "Wait 'til your father comes home!" or the physical feeling of dread that comes from knowing a swat on the behind is coming. Tough situations, even the ones that totally reek of injustice and heartache, are not this type of discipline. And while I do believe not all situations are created by God, these situations can become God's version of boot camp. God uses them to prepare us for future experiences. Life's rottenness never seems pleasant at the time; I daresay, some events will never be pleasant no matter how many years separate me from them. But I do believe that by enduring them, I am better prepared for life.

So this week has been that kind of a week, I think. A week of choosing to be disciplined in my quiet time, even though I could have been watching tv or browsing the Internet or reading a book that I would have deemed much more fun. One full of plugging away even though I can't say I've seen or heard or done anything spectacular. One that makes me believe that the words that have been placed in my path this week will somehow benefit me in the future.

Friday, June 13, 2008

Two Quarters Quotes June 08

How You Live…
Life is not a journey to the grave with the intention of arriving safely in a pretty & well preserved body, but rather a skid in broadside, totally worn out proclamation, “WOW! What a ride!”

Well behaved women have never changed history.

God stuff

Jeremiah 29:11 (The Message) "I'll show up and take care of you as I promised and bring you back home. I know what I'm doing. I have it all planned out -plans to take care of you, not abandon you, plans to give you the future you hope for."


If our expenditure on comforts, luxuries, amusements, etc., is up to the standard common among those with the same income as our own, we are probably giving away too little. If our charities do not at all pinch or hamper us, I should say they are too small. There ought to be things we should like to do and cannot because our charitable expenditure excludes them. C. S. Lewis

Children, parenting, and family...

Do not mistake a child for his symptom. Erik Erikson

Every parent is at some time the father of the unreturned prodigal with nothing to do but keep his house open to hope. John Ciardi

We must make sure we depict the kind of God a child can approach with confidence. Dr. Theresa Whitehurst

Our commitment is more resilient and reliable than our motivation, willpower, or enthusiasm. Dr. Theresa Whitehurst

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Strawberry Fields

Strawberry fields we don't have nor am I even sure I've ever heard that song. But we do have an ever growing strawberry patch thanks to my mom. A couple of years ago my mom bought me three plants at a small town "have it all" store. (ie it sold lumber, plants, cattle feed, etc..) Anyway, my three plants quickly took over the small bed I had them in so D built me a raised bed for them. (Maybe 4 x 7) They have since filled that bed and I began dividing them and giving them away last spring. This year we installed some bird netting over them; last year, we really only had a few handfuls of strawberries maybe from birds, maybe not. We've been saying for a couple of days now that we should probably pick strawberries, so tonight, we braved the mosquitoes and started picking. We ended up with two large bowls full. I'm guessing between 10-12 cups of strawberries....I think I'm going to make jam tomorrow. But for tonight, we'll savor the sweetness that comes from seeing fingertips dyed red and shirts used as makeshift bowls. There's just something about eating what you've grown that the farm girl in me totally loves.

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Two Quarters Quotes Explained

For those of you who don't know, I am a serious word hog. I love big words, unusual words, quotations, books, anything with words. I used to read the encyclopedia when I was younger. I've also been known to look through phone books and marvel at the names found there. Only my husband knows how truly nerdly I am and,, it's too late. He's kind of stuck with me.

Anyway, my new blog catagory, Two Quarter Quotes, is in honor of the serious logophile that I am. (And yes, that's really a word. ) Halfway through each month I'm going to post some of the best quotes I've heard or read in the last 30 days. (Hence the title "Two Quarter Quotes." Think 2/4 = 1/2. It's little bit of traveling on a tangent to get there but it will do.)

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Digital Scrapbooking

At the risk of being called a home ecky Becky by my friend Lisa, I'm going to write a bit about digital scrapbooking. Seriously, though, it is quite easy. If you possess some basic computer publishing skills, then you can use your computer to create amazing scrapbook pages. In fact, you can even use Microsoft Word to create pages in. But it is probably easier to use a program specially designed for graphic design. I just bought Creating Keepsakes by Broderbund off of for under $10. I wanted something that was cheap, easy to use, and something that I wouldn't have to learn a bunch of new skills to use. I spent most of the morning today making scrapbook pages for Kenson and Conleigh and was pleasantly surprised at the program. The software comes with a set of papers, backgrounds, graphics, fonts, and other design elements but I really didn't use hardly any of these. Instead, I used several from which were free downloads.
Creating Keepsakes uses the same basic skills as a Word document. You do have to import your images if you don't use the ones that come with the software. But I thought it was a lot easier to control the layers you create when you start stacking papers, stickers, photos, etc.. It was very easy to send one item to the back or put another one at the front. And it allows you to add shadowing to make elements like buttons and flowers look three dimension. You can also add something called radiant glow to your words which gives the effect of chalk. I know most "professional" scrapbookers use the program PhotoShop but that is a bit pricey for me. (Over $75) This cheapy program will did what I wanted and more. Anyway, I thought I would post a few of my creations and let you see what this program could do. Great buy for an easy to use scrapbooking program.

Friday, June 6, 2008

God and Me 3

I read this posting off of a blog this week. It was a great post and perhaps one of the best things I read this week so I'm passing it on. A little bit of background about the writer-her name is Tara Livesay and she and her family are currently missionaries in Haiti. She has spent a lot of time running from God and a lot time finding Him. Her post is a great reminder of how God calls us to little things that are often big, of how our impact on this world is not limited by our own abilities, of how God constantly is at work designing human interactions to reflect His love, of how sometimes we mess that up with our actions and words. I found it to be very encouraging and honest.

Troy and I believe that God is the author of every good story, and without any prideful tone, we think we are one of those good God stories. Here is why: No less than 11 years ago we were broken, hurting, lost, twenty-somethings in search of God. We'd both done things we were terribly ashamed of and we were both running hard from anything and everything that smelled like, looked like, or even hinted of God, "religion" or faith.

The fact is, we hope that we are a living, breathing example of the way God writes redemption stories.If you've ever said "God cannot use me" or if heaven forbid- some holy-roller told you that you were not usable because of X Y or Z in your past - you must know those are lies.God can and does use anyone willing to be forgiven and forgive themselves. We had to do that in order to allow Him to work. We've seen and experienced rejection from those who believe falsely that God is only performance based ... and we venture to guess you have too. Throw off those opinions, they are very small things.

What is true about you, what is true about us is what God sees. And if we believed today - that God cannot use us - because TODAY we struggle with the hard facts of life and we grapple with deep issues of faith --- we'd have to close up shop. There is a way in which God can use anyone and everyone seeking Him. Having every little answer packaged up nice in a fancy box is not necessary or possible. Not. Necessary. Not. Possible.There is a misconception about what it looks like to be used. I don't think it only looks like going to Africa to save AIDS babies. I don't think it only looks like pulling up stakes and going somewhere far from where you live today.I think it looks like something different for each person. That is an issue for each of us to work out with God. I think for some it is reaching out to the guy next door whose wife just left him, inviting him over for dinner. I think for others it means coming along side a 16 year old that is pregnant and afraid. Maybe it means baby-sitting for a cruddy single mom down the street. Maybe it is as simple as being kind to a real dork that you work with. I think it means allowing God to take us to uncomfortable places where we're loving people that we don't find all that lovable. The location in which it happens is irrelevant.

The people that showed me unconditional love when I was a pregnant unwed mother (twice) are the people that changed the course of my life. The people that showed Troy compassion during a time of searching and running and lying are the people that laid the ground work for him to be doing that for others today.

Sunday, June 1, 2008

More Summer Photos

Just a few more. Hail to the signs of summer around our house! Hope they make you long for a big glass of Countrytime lemonade and a creaky white porch rocker.

Kirk Cameron and the Gospel Truth

As I thought about what I wanted this blog to look like, one of the things I wanted my blog to include was access to the best story I've ever heard, the story of Jesus. Telling that story should be my life mission, although I have to say it often receives only 1-2% of my attention. Anyway, I'm committing to sharing the story of Jesus once a month on my blog through posts catagorized as The Gospel Truth.

The other night I witnessed a magical moment. One of my favorite political pundits and a childhood crush were on the same tv show together!!!! (I know it's difficult to hold back your excitement.) On Glen Beck's television show, Kirk Cameron aka Mike Seavers was a guest. Those of you who are women and who grew up in the eighties loved Kirk too, just about as much as you loved your hairsprayed bangs and leg warmers. Don't even try to deny it.

Anyway, Kirk Cameron now is mostly known for being a guest speaker, starring in the Left Behind movies, and marrying his on screen love interest from Growing Pains. As a 20 something adult, he followed a girl into church, mostly as a way to impress her. But his time there lead him to think "What if I'm wrong?" I would urge you to consider any views you hold on Jesus, God, the church, etc. in light of that question. "What if I'm wrong?"

On Glenn Beck, Kirk doesn't really discuss what his specific viewpoints on religion were but there are a lot of commonly held ideas out there that he might have been holding onto. Like "I'm basically a good person. I haven't killed anyone or committed any real atrocities." Or "Heaven seems like a nice thought and maybe I'd like to go there but only because Hell seems like a really rotten place." Or even "I'm pretty sure there's no such place as Hell. Maybe heaven doesn't even exist. I mean dead is dead, isn't it?" Those are all pretty common thoughts and ones even Christians have had or still have. In all honesty, knowing the story of Jesus isn't about having all the answers. But it is about couple of things: an intimate relationship with a pursuing God who loves you enough to cover up your ickiness with His son's goodness and believing in some things including Hell and Heaven as unchanging Truth.

If you have questions or don't have a really good answer for "What if I'm wrong", please talk to somebody about it. You can certainly talk to me. I won't promise to have the answers. But I will listen and share with you the whole Jesus story.

Adoption Update

Kenson's orphanage tries to send two updates a month. The 15th is for new pictures and the end of the month is for paperwork. Our paperwork is waiting to be submitted to MOI which is essentially a part of the passport application process. Kenson's adoption file needs to have every t crossed and every i dotted before it enters the office because this is the last Haitian office it will go to. Not having things done correctly can result in a longer stay in this office and a longer time until the passport is issued. Currently, we are waiting for a paper to be redone. Once this paper is redone, then our paperwork with go into MOI to apply for a passport. We have been waiting for this for a little over a month so hopefully it will be in MOI soon.