Wednesday, December 30, 2009

The Blind Side. Sandra Bullock. Haiti.Jerry.


I knew when I stepped in the Pioneer Theater in downtown Manteo tonight that I would be watching a very well done movie about a rich white family and a poor black kid. I knew I would cry. I did not know that I would prehaps be crying for a different reason than all of the other people in the sold out seats around me. I did not know that I would be crying for the orphaned and abandoned children of Haiti.
When I was in high school I wrote an essay about adoption and how I wanted to adopt 6kids from all different backgrounds and races and raise them as a color blind family. I did not realize that dream in my life.
The day that I first saw Nico's photo which was taken in an orphanage in Haiti,I bonded with him. I feel in love with him on the spot just as much as if he had been born to my daughter. What I didn't know was that this was just a beginning. My dream for a color blind family would become a reality after all.
The movie The Blind Side beautifully illustrated the power of family. Family is not just mother,father, brother, sister. Family is a God given calling on our lives to be bonded together with others in a safe and loving atmosphere where we know we belong and are loved.
Families have traditions and stories, songs and activities and faith that define them as family. These things create bonds that knit us together in a way that organizations and social groups can not. Families create a place for us to vent our emotions weather good or bad.We can be silly.We test the water with people who will still love us at the end of the day even if we have been a jerk. Family will look for us when we run away/turn away/fade away and will always want us back. Families have our "blind side". We protect each other from the things that would try to hurt us and are ready to defend each other even if it means we will be hurt in the process.
I remember as a child being angry with my uncle for taking my brother's bebe gun away after he SHOT ME! And when he SHOT ME with a hunting arrow I covered for him so he would not get in trouble. (I know..I took it a little far :)
Big Mike (Michael Oars) in the movie was not motivated by anything his high school coach had to say to him. He was motivated by the words of the woman who loved him with a mother's love. This unlikely realationship created by not only a woman who allowed herself to love and trust this young man but also by a young man who allowed himself to trust and love her. At one point in the movie a friend says something to the effect of "You are changing this boy's life so much." to which Sandra Bullock says "No, he is changing my life so much."
Many, many times I have heard people say to me how wonderful my daughter is to give up everything and move to Haiti to run an orphanage. While it is true even to me that it is a pretty amazing thing to do, Gwenn is the first to say with sincerity that she is getting far more than she gives up.
Tonight as I watched this movie I thought of Jerry. I wish like "Big Mike" that Jerry would have been able to "close his eyes" when bad things were happening so as not to see them. He could not close his eyes and he as well as his Haitian brothers and sisters have seen far to much for their tender years. But there is redemption and his story does not have to end sadly. In time and with God's grace and with the love of a family that will be there, in time, in time this 9 yr. old child will know that someone has his back and his "blind side". For now the stripes on his back from the cruel whip that taught him to distrust are still too fresh. But as those scars fade and as he learns to trust that the hand that feeds him is also the hand that tucks him in at night, in time..in time he will not only know whose got his back and in time he will learn that he in fact is home.Home with a family who loves him.
To read more about Jerry and his family go to mangine.org

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Magi came from the East


1After Jesus was born in Bethlehem in Judea, during the time of King Herod, Magi[a] from the east came to Jerusalem 2and asked, "Where is the one who has been born king of the Jews? We saw his star in the east[b] and have come to worship him."
3When King Herod heard this he was disturbed, and all Jerusalem with him. 4When he had called together all the people's chief priests and teachers of the law, he asked them where the Christ[c] was to be born. 5"In Bethlehem in Judea," they replied, "for this is what the prophet has written:
6" 'But you, Bethlehem, in the land of Judah,
are by no means least among the rulers of Judah;
for out of you will come a ruler
who will be the shepherd of my people Israel.'[d]"

7Then Herod called the Magi secretly and found out from them the exact time the star had appeared. 8He sent them to Bethlehem and said, "Go and make a careful search for the child. As soon as you find him, report to me, so that I too may go and worship him."

9After they had heard the king, they went on their way, and the star they had seen in the east[e] went ahead of them until it stopped over the place where the child was.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

so they hurried off...


16So they hurried off and found Mary and Joseph, and the baby, who was lying in the manger.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Let us go and see...


15When the angels had left them and gone into heaven, the shepherds said to one another, "Let's go to Bethlehem and see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has told us about."

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Good Tidings of great joy!


I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. 11Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is Christ[a] the Lord. 12This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger."

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Do not be afraid.


"Do not be afraid. I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people.

Friday, December 11, 2009

They were terrified!


the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified. 10But the angel said to them, "Do not be afraid. I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. 11Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is Christ[a] the Lord.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

The Angel of the Lord


An angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them,

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Keeping Watch


8And there were shepherds living out in the fields nearby, keeping watch over their flocks at night.

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Her firstborn, A son


6While they were there, the time came for the baby to be born, 7and she gave birth to her firstborn, a son. She wrapped him in cloths and placed him in a manger, because there was no room for them in the inn.

Saturday, December 5, 2009

In Those Days



1 In those days Caesar Augustus issued a decree that a census should be taken of the entire Roman world. 2 (This was the first census that took place while Quirinius was governor of Syria.) 3 And everyone went to his own town to register. 4 So Joseph also went up from the town of Nazareth in Galilee to Judea, to Bethlehem the town of David, because he belonged to the house and line of David. 5 He went there to register with Mary, who was pledged to be married to him and was expecting a child.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Joseph, being a righteous man...



18This is how the birth of Jesus Christ came about: His mother Mary was pledged to be married to Joseph, but before they came together, she was found to be with child through the Holy Spirit. 19Because Joseph her husband was a righteous man and did not want to expose her to public disgrace, he had in mind to divorce her quietly.
20But after he had considered this, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream and said, "Joseph son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary home as your wife, because what is conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit. 21She will give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name Jesus,[c] because he will save his people from their sins."

22All this took place to fulfill what the Lord had said through the prophet: 23"The virgin will be with child and will give birth to a son, and they will call him Immanuel"[d]—which means, "God with us."

Monday, November 30, 2009

"My Soul Glorifies the Lord!"


Luke1:
39At that time Mary got ready and hurried to a town in the hill country of Judea, 40where she entered Zechariah's home and greeted Elizabeth. 41When Elizabeth heard Mary's greeting, the baby leaped in her womb, and Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit. 42In a loud voice she exclaimed: "Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the child you will bear! 43But why am I so favored, that the mother of my Lord should come to me? 44As soon as the sound of your greeting reached my ears, the baby in my womb leaped for joy. 45Blessed is she who has believed that what the Lord has said to her will be accomplished!"
Mary's Song
46And Mary said:
"My soul glorifies the Lord
47and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior,
48for he has been mindful
of the humble state of his servant.
From now on all generations will call me blessed,
49for the Mighty One has done great things for me—
holy is his name.
50His mercy extends to those who fear him,
from generation to generation.
51He has performed mighty deeds with his arm;
he has scattered those who are proud in their inmost thoughts.
52He has brought down rulers from their thrones
but has lifted up the humble.
53He has filled the hungry with good things
but has sent the rich away empty.
54He has helped his servant Israel,
remembering to be merciful
55to Abraham and his descendants forever,
even as he said to our fathers."
56Mary stayed with Elizabeth for about three months and then returned home.

Sunday, November 29, 2009

I am the Lord's Servant


Advent Thoughts. 2009
Luke 1:
26In the sixth month, God sent the angel Gabriel to Nazareth, a town in Galilee, 27to a virgin pledged to be married to a man named Joseph, a descendant of David. The virgin's name was Mary. 28The angel went to her and said, "Greetings, you who are highly favored! The Lord is with you."
29Mary was greatly troubled at his words and wondered what kind of greeting this might be. 30But the angel said to her, "Do not be afraid, Mary, you have found favor with God. 31You will be with child and give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name Jesus. 32He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High. The Lord God will give him the throne of his father David, 33and he will reign over the house of Jacob forever; his kingdom will never end."

34"How will this be," Mary asked the angel, "since I am a virgin?"

35The angel answered, "The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you. So the holy one to be born will be called[c] the Son of God. 36Even Elizabeth your relative is going to have a child in her old age, and she who was said to be barren is in her sixth month. 37For nothing is impossible with God."

38"I am the Lord's servant," Mary answered. "May it be to me as you have said." Then the angel left her.

Saturday, November 28, 2009

Finding Baby Jesus




Advent starts tomorrow. We will go to church then meet with friends and family to share a meal, make a wreath and share the lighting of the first candle on the wreath.It's time to slow down and make a real effort to celebrate the season. Slowing down is contrary to what our culture demands. But I have re-found the joy of this amazing holiday and refinding it began a few years back when I lost baby Jesus. What follows I have posted before and likely will post again because when Jesus shows you something that changes your life you just have to share it.

Christmas can be a pretty hard time for me. Not because I don't like it- but because I do. Working at the Post Office often 6 or 7 days a weeks does not leave me with time to do the my regular chores much less to have the time to do the fun and relaxing things that come with the season. So, I make lists. Unlike many other people who make a daily list, my list may continue for days or weeks. I am always adding to it the things that I need or want to get done. I even write down the most obvious things like -cook dinner or do the laundry so I can reward myself with at least crossing off something. I even go so far as to break down the laundry into sub-lists: wash, dry, fold and put up are on the list because that way I have four things completed instead of one. It was this list that the Lord used to get my attention this Christmas season.
One afternoon I was climbing around in the attic pulling out the Christmas decorations. I unearthed the box with the wooden nativity that has been a central part of our Christmas celebrations since my daughter Gretchen was 2 yrs. old in 1977. My mother bought this particular set for us that year because she thought how great it was that the kids could touch it and it wouldn't break. Early in the season on the first day of Advent we set up the stable on one side of the room and Mary and Joseph on the other side with the kings even further away. The shepherds were positioned close to the stable where they would keep watch over their sheep. Each night during Advent the characters got closer and closer to Bethlehem until finally on Christmas Eve, Mary and Joseph arrived at the stable. On Christmas morning the children took turns putting baby Jesus in the manger. We then would sing Happy Birthday to our Savior and have a time of prayer before any gifts were exchanged. We have continued this tradition now for 28 yrs now with my grandchildren now stepping into the role that their mothers played. Needless to say, this little wooden nativity set is a very dear to my heart. Its monetary value is not very much but it is priceless to me. So this year when I set up the stable I was beside myself when I got to the bottom of the box and the one-inch baby Jesus was not there. What could I have done with him? Not really having time to look other places, I added this task to my list.
Days past and the list grew, Put up the tree, go to Belk, order Micah's gift, laundry –wash, dry, fold, put up. Copy Christmas card photo. Bank, call so and so. Some things got crossed off my list only to make room for other things. Then – last week I stood at my kitchen table, exhausted and cranky I scanned the list this time only one thing jumped out at me "FIND BABY JESUS". It hit me like a ton of bricks. All these other things that I had on my list were really of no importance. That was the only thing that mattered. It occurred to me that just as this wooden nativity piece was hidden somewhere in my attic in some box coved by some Christmas stuff -that I was doing the same thing with my Jesus. I was so consumed with all the Christmas stuff that I had lost Jesus. As with the wooden nativity piece I guess I just thought that I would find Him on the way.
We are surrounded by reminders of Christ at this time of year. If we are not careful it can all become just stuff to hide Jesus under. We and the world can sing Joy to the World or Silent Night and not find Jesus there. We will not necessarily just come upon Him because it is Christmas. The Bible tells us that if we search for God we will find Him. This is not a passive search but an active search. When the angel told the shepherds that Jesus was born they did not say "Cool, we will have to see if we run into him the next time we go to town for food." It was not enough for them to just know that he was there somewhere. The shepherds left everything that was important to them and they went "AT ONCE" to Bethlehem to see this thing that the angel had told them. They searched for Jesus until they found Him, they worshipped him and they went out telling others about him. Likewise, the wise men knew that it was not enough just to know that Jesus was born – they didn't just hope that someday they would see him. They searched for him for a long time until they found him. They worshipped him and gave to him gifts that they had prepared for Him. There was nothing passive about it. These men deliberately set out to find Christ. That is was Jesus is teaching me. I must set my heart on finding him. I cannot let the radio, TV or even my pastor tell me about Him and accept that as Christmas. I must take the time, even if this means cutting down my list and letting some other perhaps very good things go. If you set out to find Him, intent on searching until you do- you will. If I had been more careful when I put the nativity away last year I never would have lost baby Jesus. I must be careful not to put myself in the place where I cannot seem to find Jesus. I am sorry to say that as of yet I have not found my wooden nativity piece I am so glad to tell you that Jesus is right here with me.
Epilogue:
In January I was once again packing up all of my Christmas decorations. I picked up the wooden barn of the nativity set and turned it upside down to place it in the box. Now I was you could see this barn. It is very plain and there is no place in where anything could get 'stuck'. As I turned it over I heard something drop to the floor. There HE was. I had looked everywhere for Him. I started to cry outloud with heaving sobs as the still small voice said "I have been with you always."

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

House Cleaning

Today I had a day off from the Post Office. That was really good because my house was sorely in need of my attention. After what...4 days of rain with 8 grandchildren and as many as 9 adults.We were pretty much using ALL the space we have. Consequently I spend the day picking up little 'reminders'. There was a small pair of white socks left on the garden bench. A smaller pair of super hero socks in the loft bed. Marbles..well, just about everywhere. Little girls hair bands. Diapers neatly rolled in the trash. A little boy's sweat shirt. A grape behind the chair. A doll carriage on the front porch. A trike on the back. Hot wheels cars and a truck under the bench.Crayons in every room. An action figure under the sofa.
Now I sit in my quiet, clean house. The two clocks tic.tic.tic..and when they have ticked for 6 months the house will again be filled with 8, no, make that 9 grand babies. My cup runneth over.

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Bigsby

When I read Gwenn's blog tonight I was so sadden to read that their puppy Bigsby died. And even now I just can't seem to shake it. Maybe it is not just the puppy. But he was the best puppy I ever met.Really. He almost made me want to get a puppy. And I am pretty much not a puppy person. Oh yeah, he nipped at your feet and chased after the little kids and made them scream. But to hear Fritzie shreak with laughter as she played with that puppy made my heart so glad. There was 15 yr. old Fritzie riding around the courtyard on Nia's tiny bike dragging a broom stick and Bigsby chasing behind. It was so precious to watch Fritzie just being a happy kid. The cruel reality is that Haiti has taken so much of what we think of as 'normal' childhood delights away from so many children. They know too much about death and life and hunger and seperation. So maybe that is why I am so sad about Bibsy. He represented to me the simple joys of childhood. Each day during my week in Haiti we commented about how much bigger Bigsy was than the day before. It was amazing to watch him grow. Now he's gone.
When I was a little girl we had a beautiful white German Shepherd named Lobo.She was my friend. I remember telling her my troubles. Our lives were full of insecurites at that time. My parents splitup and while moving to my grandmohter's house the cat jumped out of the car and we never found her. Lobo had to go live with an aunt for a while but one day there was a surprise waiting for us. Lobo was home. She brouht stability and comfort and protection. The day that she was hit by a car and died my grandmother came over and cried with us. Did she feel then like I do now? Did she know my childhood fears and pains were wrapped up into the emotions I felt for that dog? I know that Gwenn's kids do not have years of emotions invested in to this puppy. But Gwenn's Haitian children have already lost so much in their shorts lives. It pains me to see them loose something else.
Maybe this is just God wanting me to process something. Or to understand something...maybe it is just a good time to be thankful for a grandmother who cried with me. So that now..I can cry for them.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

In Living Color






While traveling from Port Au Prince one is struck by the drab grays. The tap-taps do their best to bring color to the landscape but the canvas soaks up all the paint. But as you travel furter down the road the greys give way to blues and greens. The the canvas shows off every color of the aritist's pallet. The flowers, the trees, the amazing caribean sea, the mountains and yes the tap-taps.But you can also hear the colors if that were possible. Music everywhere. Bold and strong.Loud. Chickens and motos, street vendors peddaling their wares. Chickens and cattle. Goats.Colors touching all of your senses.Bright colors, dark ominous colors. Happy colors mostly.Colors of beach glass and boats.

Update on Stanley


A few blogs back I shared the story of Stanley a Jacmel street kid. I am excited to post a follow up on this young man.
Before I left Haiti I gave Nick some money and asked him to find a tutor for Stanley. Even before that had the chance to happen Stanley came over the house and told Gwenn that he is going to school in January! I have no idea how but I am thanking God for somehow making provision for this young man!

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Fear of Food

It's almost like morning sickness.But it stays all day. I have not been able to eat solids since Sat.( I think today is Wed. but I might be wrong about that) Today I did have 3-4 saltine crackers. I thought maybe, just maybe I could eat some plain pasta.Now it is ready and I am not even liking the smell.I guess to desire to eat is a good thing. Don't think tonight will be the night. Abbie shared some of her icepops from when she had her tonsils out. Perhaps that would be a better choice. It's funny how I spend most of my life wishing that I ate less and now I just wish I could eat something.I know when I am well that I will struggle again with overeating but that is hard to imagine at this moment. Today I drove to Gretchen and Jon's so I could see the children. I pulled up in the driveway and that lined up about 10 ft. from the call and we talked for a few minutes. It's like water to a dry and thirsty land.Abbie's little no tonsils voice is so cute! My grandchildren make me want to get well and I am sure that they help me to get well.Soon they will ALL be here playing with the bikes and trikes and firetruck. The flu is a drag but life is so good. God is so good!


This video was taken just before Gwenn and Nick moved to Haiti. Now six months later all the grandchildren will be together again plus baby Cana will join them. The second little prayer that they sing was one that I made up for my girls when they were little. Gwenn then translated it into Kroyle. When I was in Haiti last week we went to the Pye's house for spaghetti dinner. When I heard the room full of 20 Haitian children singing this blessing it brought me to tears. You never know what God will do with what you teach your children. Some times it's the simple things in life that last.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

A Light at the End of the Tunnell-??

I arrived back at my house from my travels to Haiti at about 1 AM Sunday morning. As I was getting ready for bed I got the chills. Thinking it was just the cooler air of NC I ignored it at first. But then it happened again.Took out the thermometer- 101 degrees and all down hill from there. So here it is Tuesday and I have not unpacked the first thing. Aches and pains, fever between 101 and 103, loss of appetite, bad headache. Honestly I am beginning to think this will go on forever. But this morning I realized that there is still hope. I still have a 102 fever BUT I took a shower. This was the first shower since Friday when I was still in Haiti. AND I opened the blinds. Those two things alone greatly lifted my spirits. Maybe tomorrow the fever will be gone.

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Stephania

Stephania is a beautiful 15 year old orphan in Jacmel, Haiti. She has suffered from Elephantiasis since she was two years old. This disease is caused by a parasite and is not treatable. It has caused her left foot and lower leg to grow to extreme disfigurement. She is forced to beg for her food. But in spite of all of this she sings. She sings songs of praise.

Friday, October 23, 2009

Walking through the shadow.


This morning Gwenn and I got to spend some 'girl' time together. First we dropped off the kids at school and went to visit at Pye's house. We pulled out of the Pye's driveway and I looked at the clock on the dash.Yes, it really was only 7:30 in the morning and we had already been visiting. We went to the store for a few groceries, went to team housing to buy vanilla and coffee, picked up the kids from school and returned home. By this time it was 9:30! (it was exam week so the kids got out early) It felt like the day was long underway and it was only 9:30. What a time warp Haiti is. Like who would ever go visiting at 7:30 in the morning???
After dropping off the kids Gwenn and I became tourists. First stop the cemetrey in Jacmel. Yes, the cemetery.It's a family thing. When I was a little girl we would pack pinic lunches and spead our blankets out at the cemetery and have a nice quiet lunch. Afterward we would walk around and read the epitaphs.It was in no way disrespectful. We would wonder about these people's lives and familiers and deaths. Seeing a plot with multiple tiny head stones was always very sad and we would wonder how it felt to be a parent with such grief. As an adult I would still go with my mom to visit old cemeteries. I remember one epitahp in Salem,NY that read "All you who read without a care, who walk away and leave me here, must not forget that you will die and be entombed as well as I." So far my most memorable cemetaires have been in Southport, NC.Salem,NY, and Penscola, Fl and now, Jacmel, Haiti.
We traveled down the narrow streets past vendors and motos( motorbikes),tap-taps and chickens. We pulled over in front of the cemetery chapel. We passed the man gathered at the gate and proceeded throught the rows and rows of mausoleums. We had not gone far when a man approached Gwenn and asked her a question in Kryole. I think it was "Are you looking for the grave of a family member?" or something like that. She explained to him (I think) that we were just looking around. He started to guide us through this maze of burial vaults showing the more promenent family sites. All of this was very interesting but as I looked back I realized we were being followed,by one, then two,then three men. One carried a shovel, the second a pick and the third a mechete. Now in my mind I know that they are just workers in the cemetery and are curious about these white woman walking around. The other part of my brain is saying
"What are you nuts??? This man is going to led you into some remote area and his friends are going to use these tools for other than the intended manufacturers purpose." Of course the leader led us back out to the front gate. But if he hadn't...
But actually, it was a lot of fun~
After that we did the normal tourist things. We checked out the fancy hotels,(yes there are some) we looked at the really pretty beaches, we took pictures of fishing boats and a vodo temple.You know, the normal stuff. We ended our moring with a nice lunch at a facny hotel. We appeared to be the only people in the hotel except for the staff. We stopped by the Pye's house again looked at the dash board clock..it was 12:36 PM! Remember, this is Narnia time.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Contrasts








This morning after Nia finished her home schooling we went for a walk to the beach that you can see from the back of Gwenn's yard. From that distance you don't get the real picture. The beach is dirty. Litter is everywhere. Random flipflops and bottles, plactic bottle caps. Admist this trash there is treasure. You can not walk more than a few steps without finding perfectly worn colored beach glass. I picked up green, blue, light blue,amber,clear and even pink glass. I had never seen pink beach glass before. The 'boys' came along for the walk. (Two street boys who help out around the house and a friend.)These boys looked after the children and even carried them when they became tired. They also picked up a lot of beach glass and gave it to me when we got back to the house. I thought how lovely this beach 'could' be and if it were you could not keep the tourists away. But when people are struggling just to get the next meal on the table I don't imagine they are interested in beach improvement.
In the afternoon we drove up to the land where Haitian Children's Home will build their new compound. The mountains rise up against the prestine pebble beach. The water is so blue it draws you in and makes you smile.
The same ocean, the same town, two completely different pictures. One picture painted by God, one painted by man.
So it is with our lives. God created us in His image.In our sinful nature we have corupted that which was good. We are left with the dirty beach that makes us unfit to carry out the orginal plans that God had for us.But the cool thing is:the beach glass. God sees us in all of our filth, and He searchs for the that which is still of worth.We are just like the beach glass being constantly tumbled with the stones and sand to wear down the sharp, jagged edges to create smooth edges. If surrendered to God that thing which is the most painful in our lives can become the very thing that makes us valuable to our Creator.And He can restore the years and he will redeem us. And He will even clean us up.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Education and Stanley


I have read the facts about Haiti and I have seen the poverty.This small country has touched my heart on so many levels. Today was one of those days I was angry and sad at the same time. Angry because, plain and simple the world is unfair, and sad because I see how that unfairness has touched a young boy.
Stanley is a 14 year old street kid who may or may not have a place to call home. He has been known to sleep on Gwenn and Nick's front porch and is often at the front gate calling for "Papa Nick" and hoping that Nick will find some work for him that day. Sometimes he will come around a meal time in hopes of getting some food as well as a small sum of money for what ever chores he might do.It is obvious the way he hangs around that he likes it here.
Today I was going over some words in a Haitian/English picture dictionary with him and realized that he could not read. I came to discover that he maybe finished second grade and he could not even print his name. I gave him a notebook, a pencil and some crayons and we practiced letters for a little while. When Fritzie came home from school he hid our work from her seemingly ashamed to be practicing his name.
In America every child has the rite to attend public school. Every child can get special assistance and every child can get food. I know that not every child gets the best education, not every child gets the best food, but every child can be educated and every child can be fed.We have so much in the states that we have lost site many times of the value of what we consider to be our entitlement. Our chilren's life are filled with activities to entertain.Children complain about getting up early and they stay up too late.Parents fight with their kids about homework. While there are many who enjoy school, I mostly hear complaints from students and parents about what is wrong with their schools or how the teacher is to blame for not doing his/her job.
In Haiti the children who go to school all wear uniforms. Their white shirts are starched chrisp. Sometimes with a coal iron. Gwenn's girls are up and dresses and ready for breakfast at 5:30 AM. As soon as they return from school they take out their books to continue their study. These girls are 6,7 and 15. I have not heard one complaint all week about this arrangement.
I have spoken to three young men this week who have the privledge of attending high school. All high schools are private but follow a Haitian certificate program. Normal studies for these students are: English, French, Spanish, Creole (that's right 4 languages)math, bio, physics, soical studies,applicatons (?) and geography. ( I may have missed something as well) Before school and after school if you meet these young men they have their face in a book studying. If they do not pass their exams then they are taken out of the program.
Then there are the Stanley's. The children who either have never gone to school or only went for a very short time because there was not funds to go.They want so much to study. They are hungry for knowledge and hungry for food.
Then there is the deaf school. These children are educated in private schools up until about sixth grade. Then their education is ended.
I can't help but wonder "God why was I born rich?" Am I rich? By American standards, no. In Haiti, very much so. The only answer there can be is for me to respond to the needs I see with the resources God has given me. My money, my time, my blog. So that just maybe a few Stanley's in this world might be given hope.

Fine Dining


Tonight all eleven of us changed our clothing, piled in to the pick up truck went out to dinner at a really nice restrurant.
http://www.hotelcyvadier.com/page10.html
We sat on the terrace overlooking the beautiful blue caribean water. I walked on the beach and bouhgt a few trinkets to bring home. Nick had called to make reservations and to preorder our dinner. What did we have you may wonder. Well, we had french fries and coke, or 7-up or some other juice or soft drink.That was dinner. This was all perfectly acceptable. They were happy for our business. We were not treated badly for only ordering french fries and no one complained that french fries were considered the meal.We did have a big meal at lunch time. We had some kind of vegtable dish, a grits type of side dish and bean sause and a few slices of avacado.
Dining out was a treat for the whole family.It is possible,probable, that the three new children in Gwenn and Nick's home have never been to such a fine place.I left feeling very satisfied and it occured to me that what is on our plate is not the important thing. The important thing is who is sitting at the table.

Papprazzi

I think I am beginnig to almost know what it feels like to be stalked by the Papprazzi. Everywhere we go people stare. In the disabled school the children came up to me and were pushing in to touch me.They want to touch my skin, my hair, my clothing.People love to practice their English when they find out I am from America.Today was the best. We took the kids to the park and someone was actually taking pictures with their cell phone of the 'blanc'.Nick says that when we were in the park we had every white child who lives within 50 miles of Jacmel with us. We are odd. When Gwenn speaks Kryole they are very surprised.
If anyone wants my autograph you can send me a self addressed stamped evevlope and $2.50 processing fee and I will see what I can do. Delivery should be expected in 6-8 weeks.

Monday, October 19, 2009

A Day at Raymond Beach, outside Jacmel, Haiti and stuff






(note to reader...no spell check again!!)
Sunday after church we packed up the pick up with Gwenn, Nick, Ester, Nahomie (the two Nannies)the six children and myself and headed for the beach. Unlike in the states it was not such a big deal. We took two towels to share.It's a lot of work to wash towels here, everything is washed by hand. That's it, just two towels and the people. No car seats here. The kids and I piled in the back of the pick up. Nick was driving and they started chanting something about "Go faster PaPa Nick!" (not in English so that is a loose translation) Then the kids would scream. Listening to my six year old grandaughter Nia was amazing. Not only does she speak fluent Kryole but she often will translate without being asked. (Speak first in one lauguage and then switch to the other so everyone can understand her :)The water was very warm but Gwenn commented about it being a little chilly.The little Haitian boys played naked on the beach as if they did not know that they were. It seemed almost like Adam and Eve in the garden. Until sin entered the world they did not know they were naked.These boys are naked innocents. I was taking a lot of pictures of my grandchildren when two young boys approached me. They wanted their photo taken. Shortly I was surrounded by maybe 10 teenage boys wanting me to take photos of their karate skills. They kept on posing and I could not make them understand it was a video camera. I lost the shots because without my glasses I could not tell that it was not recording. Gwenn and Nick were piling everyone in the truck and the boys wanted me to stay so they could show off for the camera.It is so funny how open people are here.
Sure there are many who will see that I am 'blanc' (white) and put out their hand and ask for money and say things like "I am hunrgy." It is so hard not to just stop and get them food. But you can't.I think of Jesus when he said "The poor you will always have with you." I could give money to every person who asked for it and at the end of the day the poor would still be here. It is hard to wrap your head around.I need to be delibrate in my giving so that I can change what I can change. I can't change it all.Others who approach me not asking for money I think are just curious about me. Not me, per sey but me the white person. Today I went into the store with Gwenn and a young man, maybe 15, began to speak to me. I told him in Kryole that I do not understad Kryole, I am American and I speak English. He said " What is your name?" I told him, we shook hands and he walked away. There is not the same social rules here.It is kind of refreshing.
I also got to go to what is called the iron maket today.We walked from the house a very short distance. Gwenn needed diapers for Josiah. It can only be compared to a flea market but way more crowded.We had to weave your way in and out of people and fruit and wheel barrows full of stuff with men pushing them and whistleing a high pitched whistle to let you know to get out of the way.We reached a place with diapers and Gwenn asked "How much?" the reply was fifty Haitain dollars. Gwenn said "I give you 40." The woman said "45" Gwenn said "No" and walked away. The woman called after her "Madame!Madame!" Needless to say she got her price. ( About $5.00 American)
I spent the morning with Nico, Josiah and Nia playing outside and protecting them from the sharp little teeth of their beautiful puppy Bigsby.What a great time just to hang out with them and get to know their developing personalities.
I am very impressed with Gwenn here. She drives like a crazy Haitian (but not as crazy as Nick!) She talks back to people on the street. A man asked her for $ for food and she said " I see you can afford ciggerretts.You should buy food." It's like in Haiti people say all the things you want to say in America but don't dare. (Let me clarify that Gwenn is in no way unkind, she is just wise to the ways of this culture.)
I visited the deaf school today and was surrounded by all the deaf students. We had a great little visit with lots of laughs. I will go back tomorrow to meet the younger childen and sit in on their class.
Tonight as a seasonal storm passed through Gwenn collected buckets of water in the kitchen where the roof leaks. I am talking serious leaks here. And water also came in the back door. When I get home I will post videos that don't really do it justice.But it's ok.Yes it will be nice when they can be in a house that does not leak but for now, this is home. Home to Gwenn, Nick, 6 children, two Nannies and a cute black puppy. It is comfortabe and safe and there are 3 meals a day.There is singing and laughter, tears and hugs. You can climb the fruit trees to get your snack food, little fruits the size of grapes that taste like candy.If you are Fritzie you only want your "Papa Nick" to climb the tree and pick the fruit for you.It's a hard life. It's a good life. It's a simple life. It's an honest life.
I know my days will pass quickly. I also know I will start to plan for my next trip here. I am excited for whatever adventures await me tomorrow. God is good and His covering is sweet.

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Reporting Live From Jacmel, Haiti! (or Deaf for Today)






Grab a cup of coffe..this is a long one. (and the spell check is not working..so..you will reading my honest I can't spell verson.

Wow! Has it only been two days since I left Manteo? In this time warp where everything is so new and so familar at the same time. JFK and the frustrations lie somewhere back in time and I have stepped thru the wardrobe into Narnia. Time at home (now where is that again??) has stayed the same. On this side of the wood it is all so strange and yet so wonderful!
I was met at the airport by Nixon. He "tipped" all the right people and got me in and out without any fuss. The excitement erupted as I stepped on the bus to chants of "NANA!, NANA! NANA! Nick brought all six of the children to meet me.It was AWESOME! The ride over the mountains was not to bad if I didn't look out the winow. But you can't help but look out the window because of the incredible beauty, and the incredible poverty. The winding mountains ride got even a little worse when the storm came and decreased vibability to say NOTHING! Everone slept but Nia and I ( and the driver thankfully) we had a lot to catch up on. Nia is a read dear child.
I brought gifts for the children (of course I did, I'm their grandmother!)I gave dolls to Fritzie, Wildane and Princess (that's not her name but I can't remember how to spell it and princess is my assocation word :)It was maybe the most satsifying gift givig I have ever done.Their reactions where so sweet and they have played with and cuddled their new dolls all last night and all day today.
We had campout last night and I slept in the living room with the entire Mangine family!And sleep I did. Out like a light in minutes, no...seconds.
This AM was Sunday and church. Gwenn stayed home because she has been sick. Josiah stayed home with her. Nick had to teach children's church so he and Nico went there. Nia pleaded to come with me to church so Nick let her :) I wasn't the only 'blanc' person there. I saw one other. As I entered the room there was the strong, yet not offensive smell of sweat. (The temperture was in the high 80's a far cry from the 100+ temp that I had seen predicted)Still with no AC and hundrends of people in a small church and lots of dancing and clapping..well you sweat. A nice, honest type of thing. If that is weird to you it is because you have maybe not been here.
I loved that the deaf kids who I met in the Spring all smiled and waved when then saw me. My friend Marie-Denise was quick to welcome me back with a big hug. Nia and I sat close to the front and watched the deaf as they signed the worship songs but I could not see the inturperter. When she stopped to allow a young woman to sign a song I caught her eye and signed to her "May I come over there so that I can watch you sign?" With a big smile she waved me over and Nia and I crossed the front of the church and sat slap in the middle of the deaf kids! I loved that I knew what was going on and was able to follow most everything in the service.I understood for the first time why sometimes deaf people tune out and get distraced. It is hard work,at least for me, to watch an inturperter for 2-3 hours! So here is this 'blanc' grandmother with her grandaughter in the middle of the deaf section in the front of the church. SO..someone sent for Leann so she could introduce me to the church. When church was over my deaf friends lingered for a LONG time. Most of them have aged out of the deaf school which is very sad. We spoke of God raising up one of them to be a leader and maybe even a deaf pastor. I have so many things I want to get some of my friends in the states to help me help these kids!Tomorrow I will visti the deaf school to meet some more of the students and speak with Jean-Claude the teacher.
The baach was wonderful and warm. Not quite so blue today as it was churnned up but beautiful none the less. The beach is still very littered.
I have so much more to say but it is late....so I will close and listen to the fan, the distant drums and the lonesome treefrog.

Friday, October 16, 2009

My Life as a Bag Woman

Sitting on the floor at JFK by my airport cart overflowing with my luggage I think of her. Her being any woman or man for that matter whom I have seen pushing her/his cart down the street with all of their possessions in the cart and the weight of the world on there sholders.
I am only sentenced to this life for a night. The floor is hard but it's not that cold in here. Where would I go if I were her? What must it be like to have this cart as your life rather than your night?
A few weeks ago I learned that on our lovley Outer Banks of NC that we actually have communities of homeless people. They even tac pictures of their loved ones to trees.
It makes me so thankful that I have a home. A family. A soft bed and plenty to eat.It makes me so mindful of those who don't.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

My Purpose


This Sunday my church prayed for me and my trip to Haiti. After the service Jim, one of our elders (and our family pastor) approached me with Daniel another man in our church. Daniel felt like he was given a Word for me and wanted to share it with me and pray with me. It was a word, one word, purpose. So before I thought I knew why I was going. I was going to visit my grandchild in their new home, to meet the new children in my daughters home,deliver the clothes and gifts collected for the orphanage, spend some time with kids in the deaf school..you know this and that. A vacation of sorts. Of course it is a vacation WAY outside of my comfort zone! Traveling alone kinda freaks me out a little. But now, Daniel has me thinking. What is God's purpose for me making this trip? How does he want to use me for the next week. And if God wants to use me what kind of restistance might I expect? I can't dwell on that because the enemy wants me to fear. That's a trick he uses to throw us off course. So tonight I committ myself to God's purpose for me. Whatever that is. I am available for His use.
The LORD will fulfill his purpose for me; your love, O LORD, endures forever— do not abandon the works of your hands.
Psalm 138:7-8

Monday, October 12, 2009

Open the Flood Gates!

The Lord is cool! I had a small blurb in the local paper asking for dornations for the Children's Home in Haiti. Now I have piles and piles of beautiful children's things and more coming! Som much so that I wonder where I will keep it all :)I truly am seeing that people love to give. It is a blessing on both sides. Can't wait for Gwenn to come to the US and going shopping at my house!

Sunday, October 4, 2009

Simply Sunday





The beauty of grand parenting is not that you "have to watch the kids" it's that you "get to watch the kids". Katie, Micah and Abbie came home with us after church. It was Abbie's turn to help prepare the meal. Leftover spaghetti with hot dogs..ummm... She got to cut up the hot dogs and stir it all together then she made the brownies.)We had a little lesson on fractions using the duck measuring cups to show how much 1/3 and 1/4 were.)We added some applesauce and lunch is ready.
After lunch Micah and Abbie and Grandad took a short nap while Kaite and I cleaned up the kitchen. But first we danced a little to Uncle Digger's CD. It's a very happy CD. We worked on a basic box step before we moved on to the dishes.
After naps the children got very excited that they "get to" garden. Again it is not a "have to" event. The first item of business was to look for the new fish in the pond. We only have three so far and grandad said they should be named Katie, Micah and Abbie, which is fine as long as we get more fish before the rest of the grandchildren come to visit.
Next Abbie and I worked on the compost bin while Katie,Micah and Grandad cleaned up some limbs on the climbing tree in the garden fort. Micah helped me put together the garden arch and Katie helped me decorate it with silk flowers. Katie and I raked as "the littles" worked on a design for a tent they were constructing for their dolls.I drew the line when Abbie showed up with a pillow from the sofa. :)
God smiled on us with a beautiful sunny day. I smile as I reflech on our simple Sunday. I would not trade these days for all the amusement park trills in the world.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Finding Favor

I have always been a good bargain shopper. I suppose it comes from being raised by my mom who was the queen of making something from nothing and making do in style with a little of nothing. I would much rather "hunt" at thrift store or yard sales than go to the mall.In that way I was "green" before "green" became the fad.( I have also used cloth grocery bags for more than 20 years.)
Gathering things for my upcoming trip to Haiti has been fun. Not only because of how I love the hunt but because so many have joined with me in it!I have received a large box of children's clothing from a woman I never met in FL who saw a post I made on facebook. Donations of flip flops, back packs and clothing have come in from friends in PA.A woman in my town has given material and sewing notions. More bags from people in church, school supplies from a young man at my work. Money was given for me to shop from a woman's group where I shared the story of Haitian Children's Home. AND I have shopped. But my bargains were multiplied by the favor that God has given me with man in this effort. I went to the Dollar General and asked if they could make a donation of Summer clothing.They did not have the authority to make a donation BUT they did tell me on the side when they would be marking down summer merh by 75%. Then I went to CVS as I was sharing with the manager about what I was doing and looking over the half price summer stuff and quietly told me to come back on Sunday when the prices would drop down to 75% off.(I got 60 pair of Hanes socks for $6.00!!) I went to the local bookstore to buy books with the donation I received and went to check out. The owner of the store would not take my money and said it was his donation.I went to the local thrift store and asked when they would have their clearance bag sale. They didn't know but I got a phone call at my job telling me that if would be on Monday. When I made my purchases they charged me half price because I was shopping for my Haiti trip.
I have decide that people are really nice. People like to give. It is wrong to not allow them to help and it is always right to ask.
I have found favor because God made it so.I have lots to sort and decisions to make on what will come and what will wait. It is excited to see God multiply these goods. My cup and my spare room runneth over!

Sunday, September 27, 2009

A Place of Their Own




Children love little places to call their own. When I was a child there were two very special places that were just "for us". The wonderful world of childhood shared with my cousins. Uncle Arty built the tree house when his oldest children were small. He didn't imagine that generations would find such joy in that little red tree house overlooking the beautiful lake. We pretended there. Told secrets there. Sang songs and made up games. Sometimes we even slept there. Uncle Charlie also built us "a place of our own". Oh..I know he built it for his 6 children but I also know he built it for all of us. This little red house was not in a tree but it was every bit as wonderful a fort and private place to pretend. Uncle Charlie's house also had other secret spots to hide out in. A large bush that was just next to the privet hedge in the back corner of the yard made a great shade fort to spy on the world outside where we were sure they had no idea we were there.
So inspired my own need to create "spaces" for my grandchildren. Our play house is perhaps my favorite thing about my property. I love to listen on the baby monitor as the children use accents and grown up voices in their play times. I love to hear the record player playing Christmas music or James Taylor, often on the wrong speed.( what does this generation know about turntables??) This children's place is everything I remember my childhood memories to be.
With the birth of my new garden space there is another new favorite spot for the grandchildren. I cleared out a space in the wooded area at the back of the garden. Katie helped me as the "littles" napped. All the brambles cleared and the pine needles swept, a little secret garden has emerged from a ugly overgrown woodland. There is a climbing tree in it's midst and enough space for a bench and a small garden table. A fairy statue and a fairy box is nestled in the corner. In the late afternoon the sun angled just right and a sunbeam magically lights up just that one little spot. It's magical. It's quiet, and small and it is childhood captured.