A few weeks ago a dentist examined the mouths of half our children to see who needs fillings, teeth extracted, and teeth repaired. Last Friday Bill and I took eight of the kids to this dentist's office with an expected arrival time of 9:30. After about 45 minutes of driving in circles and repeatedly calling the dentist to help us find the right turn, which was described as "the house with a tin fence surrounding it," we arrived. The dentist, a Dominican woman living here with her missionary husband, was prepared with her laptop and movies for the kids to watch while we waited. And wait we did- but Bill and I were both prepared with books to read because This is Haiti (TIH). Anderson's front tooth that was chipped years ago was repaired and the dentist took a molding of his gum and teeth to put a fake tooth where he was missing one in the front. Semi decided he did not want his front tooth fixed because he "looks handsome that way", but did have a few cavities filled. Some of the kids were able to have the work done without anesthesia, while many needed their hands held so as not to rip the dental tools out of their mouths (read: bring on the anesthesia!) Poor Yvenel threw up a few times before he made it to the dental chair. Skip past all your required years of cleaning and go straight to the drilling. Each kid was asked by the others when they were done: "Did you get a piki (shot)?" Mr. Bill made all of us- but not our teeth- happy as he bought ice cream for all before the adventure ended at 5pm. More trips to the dentist to follow for these same children and more.
Could this girl (Daphne) bring anymore joy to our lives?
Have you noticed how the airlines these days like to freeze you out with air conditioner, no longer provide blankets and pillows, and only serve pretzels or peanuts and a drink? However, the flight to Haiti on American Airlines is practically like flying first class. You receive crackers, spreadable cheese, raisins, and TOBLERONE chocolate!
Highlights of being in Haiti so far:
Worship with the kids and staff on the night of our arrival. I closed my eyes and thanked God for the opportunity to be surrounded by such a beautiful, faithful group of adults and children who were raising their voices in different languages and accents to our Lord.
Running into my friend Madam Jocelyn on the street before she left to travel to the Dominican Republic on Sunday. She will need to complete two more rounds of chemotherapy there first then the radiation will start. Please continue to pray for her healing or start to if you haven't already been doing so.
Visiting the home of Mari, the woman who died from breast cancer last April. Her husband, daughters, and sons seem to be doing well and are joyous and friendly as always.
Extreme spoons with the visiting team: BEST GAME EVER! Those who don't get the spoons that are out on the table have to duke it out over the spoons that are hidden in another room. I may use this as my new mode of physical fitness.
Running on the streets again and the shout-outs from the people as they see me "slowing" by. What I do can't really be described as running. A friend and I deemed it "slowing" years ago.
Praying with the ladies who work at the boys' home during their daily prayer time. They made me pray in Creole and it was highly embarrassing.
My good friends Jocelyn, James, and Alex received VISA's on Wednesday to go the states for English school. I've known these boys for 6 years since they were about twelve years old. I met them on my first trip to Haiti and they were part of the original group of twelve that first made up the boys' home. More recently they have been overseeing the little boys and leading at the feeding program. For at least a year a generous couple from Pennsylvania, Tom and Pat Murphy, have been working with a school and on the Haiti side to get all the paperwork together to apply for the VISA's. We were all concerned that one or two would get it, but the other one or two would be left behind. By the grace of God, they all were allowed to speak with the consulate together (as far as we know, this never happens) and Tom was invited to speak with the consulate as well. Then, they were told to return the next day to receive their VISA's. When we heard the news and shared it with the ladies who clean and cook at the boys' home they jumped up and down, waved their hands in the air, and shouted "Mesi Jezi" (Thank you, Jesus). When the boys arrived home after their appointment, the boys' home erupted into song and dance and laughter. It was beautiful to see all the other kids' excitement for these three who have showed faith and strong character and were blessed by the Lord.
My brothers James, Alex, and Jocelyn- not so little anymore
I'm in Haiti now, but first I thought I'd share a little about the week leading up to it.
My time in California was a time of blessing and encouragement. I spent three nights with my friend Rachel in Seal Beach. We watched movies, ate with her family, walked on the beach, and visited her boyfriend's fire station. He gave us a ride on his truck around the neighborhood and then outfitted me in a fireman's outfit. Much fun and laughter ensued.
A close friend and former coworker, Chelsea, drove up to see me and we had breakfast and a walk along the beach. She and I both share a heart for missions and adoption so it is always wonderful to talk and encourage each other.
My friend Brittany had a baby in September. Rachel drove me to see them and we spent the day eating and reminiscing about living in Haiti. Then, our friend Kim spent the evening with us as we walked in Manhattan Beach, eating free food and obtaining "free stuff" at a Christmas tree lighting event (we haven't even had Thanksgiving yet, people!).
I flew out the following day to Fort Lauderdale where I was picked up at the airport by Ted and Lisa Hojara. Lisa and I spent the next day at the beach, relaxing and reminiscing about Haiti, of course. In the afternoon Ted and Lisa's kids, her sisters, and I went horseback riding at Lisa's dad's ranch. I think its been about ten years since I've been riding. One of their horses- none of us rode it- was a serious pest and was, I think, trying to have a love affair with my horse. In the morning Ted and Lisa drove me to the airport and I was very thankful to have Lisa go inside with me as I was forced to do some rearranging of my luggage contents. I was good in California (bags were slightly under the weight limit) but after adding some books in Florida, I was over the limit. It really is quite embarrassing to be opening your suitcase in an airport and showing other passengers that you might not be the best packer. The week was a joyful time with friends, ones who are like family to me. See you all in Haiti!
A few of my friends threw me a going away party on Thursday night. It was so fun for me to see my coworkers and former roommates meet each other, chit chat, eat, and find common ground- other than me, of course. Thank you Katie, Andrea, and Suzanne for planning it and to all the ladies for the delicious food and for coming! I felt so loved and encouraged!
Friday night my church friends attended a party for me thrown by my sister. Scrumptious food, wine, and laughter were served. Again, the encouragement and love was overwhelming. It made me realize how much I have to be thankful for concerning people in my life. I have a ton of loving friends and wise women in my life who have supported me even more since I returned home.
Yesterday my family and I ate some turkey in celebration of an early Thanksgiving. Today, my nephew, Elias, was baptized at church then we went out to lunch. I guess the theme of the last few days has been food!
Tomorrow I'll be leaving to see my friends Chelsea, Kim, Brittany, and Rachel. My wonderful friend Megan came over last week to help me pack. It was a huge burden lifted off of me to have that done early. Thanks Megs! Just a few final touches before I can shut- er... smash... er...jump on- those suitcases. Au revoir!
Just a few of the children I look forward to loving on when I return
Last Wednesday I gave my three week notice at my workplace, Children's Hospital. When I asked our nurse specialist when my manager would be back at work, she responded with, "You better not be quitting." I couldn't lie so I told her "yes." She was very supportive of my reason (she wasn't surprised) and even went so far as to say she might like to come visit me! Rarely do I have someone bring that idea up themselves... it seems that it comes from some prompting on my part or others. My manager was understanding and supportive as well. My last day is November 8th. On November 16th I will be flying out of Seattle to see a few friends for a couple of days in California. Then, I will spend two nights with Ted and Lisa Hojara in Fort Lauderdale (the Hojaras lived in Haiti last year and worked with Maison de Lumiere). On November 21st I arrive in Haiti, the same day as a wonderful group of people from Bill and Susette's church in the states, Kings Harbor. I have met and enjoyed many of these people on their previous trips to Haiti.
What will I be doing with Maison de Lumiere? Much of the same duties I had before: nurse for the childrens' homes, nurse for the community, and leading bible studies for the girls alongside the Haitian staff and my new friend Dana and Bill and Sue's daughter, Ariana. Dana is living at the guesthouse, ministering to the girls, and overseeing the feeding program for the neighborhood kids. She and I will be roommates. Ariana (my friend I tutored in math last year) is now living at the girls' home. I would love to reach out more to the ladies in our neighborhood with Bible studies, health and hygiene classes, and teach them how to read.
Stay tuned for updates from Haiti upon my arrival and check out my friends' blogs from Haiti listed to the right.
The pastfive months that I have been back in Seattle have caused much reflection and prayer on my part. I have needed to drawer nearer to God to heal my heart, to strengthen me, and to learn how to live in America again.
I have also been praying to know if it is the Lord's will for me to return to Haiti long-term again. I had asked Susette (who started the Maison de Lumiere ministry with her husband, Bill) how she knew she was called to live in Haiti. She said she first knew when she felt the plane was going the wrong way after her first visit to Haiti and she was leaving. She feels more at home in Haiti than she does in the states...not that she loves her friends and family in the states any less. It is painful for her to leave them. But, she feels more passionate about serving in Haiti than she does anywhere. And, she had a heart for the boys since she first met them when some of them were living in a terrible situation. This conversation has been resounding in my head since we had it. I knew that all these things applied to me when I was still in Haiti. Yet, I felt like I needed to be back in the states to really know it and for other reasons. As I've said before, I have loved being back with my family and friends. It has actually been an easier- not easy- adjustment than I had thought it would be. However, the faces of the Haitians, especially the children, flash through my mind a thousand times a day and I think of all the memories we created together. My heart feels like a big hole has been cut out of it and left behind in Haiti. I have never loved doing anything as much as I have loved "doing" Haiti. My church is excited to financially and prayerfully support me and the Manasseros have asked me to return. For these reasons I see that the Lord has called me back. Additionally, I am convicted by these verses:
Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world. James 1:27
I am NOT saying that Christians obtain their salvation or a relationship with God by works or looking after orphans. I am saying that looking after orphans (and widows) is a fruit or sign of our relationship and salvation by Christ. And He commands that we do it. How are we looking after orphans and widows? How are YOU looking after orphans and widows? What does this look like to you in your life?
I am NOT tooting my own horn. It is only by the grace of God that I have a desire to do what I am doing. He has given me these dreams and put His love in me to love Haiti and its people. I give Him the glory. I wouldn't be doing this of my own volition. I am thankful I won't be doing it alone or by my own strength.
I've had some issues with the Mac format for blogging, so I have switched to using blogger for my ramblings. You can still read my old updates at http://web.me.com/brookerenee
I thank you for still reading!