Saturday, December 27, 2014

The Long Run and What does that have to do with me?

Today is Nick Mangine's birthday. He is 35 and he is preparing for his first marathon in Jacmel Haiti on January 4th. While Nick has spent months preparing for this event he has really been in training for years. He has always chosen to step up to the hard challenges. He has never been content to be on the sidelines when there has been a race to run.

Many of you first learned who Nick was shortly after the Haiti earthquake nearly five years ago. (January 12, 2010) That was when people got really interested in the 'race' that Nick and Gwenn were running.But the race began miles before the public interest.Nick sold everything and gave up a good career in 2009 and moved his wife and family to Haiti. Even that took over a year to prepare for. This truly has been a race of more than seven years at this point.
 It was just that during those hard miles after the quake we all had a good view from the spectators stand. We watched the endless videos on CNN and saw the tragic photos. Our hearts bled with all of Haiti during the months that unfolded and much needed giving was drastically increased.
Over the last five years Haiti has been and still is in recovery. Cameras have turned to other tragic stories.The race continues.
Other challenging hard miles have come and gone since those early days. As a family they have dealt with more in these years than most can image.A middle of the night home invasion and gunpoint robbery, robbed at gun point on the way to the airport and more serious illnesses than I can list.They have seen death and life up close and personal.Poverty tries to suck the life out of everyone in Haiti and Nick and Gwenn are not strangers to going without.
 Nick  sometimes has become  fatigued and weary from the run  and has hit a  wall and felt too tired to continue. He has experienced all all the highs and lows that a long distance runner learns to expect. He has had times when getting to the next 'water station' for refreshment could not come soon enough. He has felt the loneliness of the long miles when it seems that he is the only one on a stretch of road. He has felt the elation that comes when least expected a friend or family member shows up miraculously on the side of the road waving and yelling and holding up a sign  that says "You're almost there!" or "Stay Strong!" or maybe even a funny sign like "Run faster or the kids will catch up!". Those encouragements in the form of kind words, prayers, fellowship and financial giving have been the thing that keeps Nick on track. That and the sheer love he has for his wife and the twelve children in Haiti who call him PaPa Nick. Twelve children who are being trained to run their own races. Because of PaPa Nick they will be trained and ready to sign up for this marathon we call life. They will be equipped with courage, integrity and strength. They are learning that if sometimes the good things are the hard things. But the good things are worth the effort.

So on January 4th Nick will run 26.2 miles. In the heat. In Haiti. I have no doubt he will finish. Just as I have no doubt that when this life race is over he will cross over the finish line and be greeted with "Well done my good and faithful servant. Enter now into my rest."

Months ago when I heard that Nick had signed up for this marathon an idea started to run around in my head. (run around ...get it?)
In January a lot of people start new fitness plans  or recommit to an  old one. Now as Nick is about to run this race lets commit to run with him. Here is how  you can join his race:
Decide on a goal for your year. (When I was 58 I started running. Honestly... if I can you can.) Maybe you will run, maybe walk, maybe palates, yoga or chair aerobics. It's good for you. Do it.Then in the spirit of 'running with Nick' for the long haul commit to this: each time you complete your chosen activity put one dollar in a jar. At the end of 2015 send that collected money in to Joy in Hope. Because giving is about the long haul. Running with Nick and cheering him on takes effort.


In addition to the joy of giving you can get your very own running shirt!!!! I am going make running shirts available to everyone who commits to Run for Joy! Shirts will cost $25 with all of the profits going to kick start the giving! These will not be the cheap cotton shirts you get from your average 5K but will be made of 100% polyester so you can actually exercise in them.


Submit your shirt design to me and when we decide on the best design and the artist will receive a free shirt!!!
The design will be on a white or light colored shirt. It should contain the slogan " Kouri pou Lajwa" which means "Run for Joy" in creole. It can contain the Joy in Hope logo.
All entries must be received by midnight Jan 2nd to be considered. Once shirt design is selected we will be ready to take orders!
BUT don't wait for your shirt to get in the race! Let's run with Nick and  " Kouri pou Lajwa" ! Please share this post liberally. If one person takes on this challenge and works out 3X a week at the end of the year that would be $156.00! Do the math. This could be an awesome way to say Happy Birthday to Nick and cheer him on to the finish~!
Design submissions can be sent to me at put Run for Joy in subject line.

Nick's facebook :!/ng.mangine?fref=ts
Gwenn's facebook:!/mangine?fref=ts
Let's go Haiti (marathon) on facebook:!/LghMarathon
Closed group on Facebook for those who want to join the run : Kouri pou Lajwa- Run for Joy

Sunday, October 12, 2014


If you know me you also know that the Creation Music Festival in PA has played a large role in my life for many years. In fact my Creation experience began in 1980. I was 24 years old. I am now 59. When I went on volunteer staff in 1985 the story really began. That was when the 'family' started to evolve for us. Over the years staff members have come and gone but for most of those years we have had the same core group. Young men with braids down their back have turned into...not such young men with blue hair around the side and no hair on top. Children have grown from toddlers to teens to young married to parents. Many of us are grandparents now with our new generation of Creation family in tow. What keeps us coming back has never been the music, or the preaching. What brings us back is the family reunion.You pick up where you left off the previous year and you catch up, laugh, work and pray. Us old timers are pretty die hard and most have not missed a year in decades.

My job as the Ice-Pop lady is very visible and even if they don't know me personally most people know who I on around the farm. Others are more behind the scenes kind of people and perhaps are not as easily recognized.
I think it was in 1992 that Fred McNaughton asked me to serve as supervisor for the Individual Campsite Ushers. This might be thought of as a step up from being a supervisors with the 6 pack crew. The six packs were how we referred to the wooden outhouses that housed 6 toilets each. But honestly that job was great for the seven years I did it. Melody a toddler when we started grew up holding the doors open for us and handing us toilet paper. Individual Campsite Usher was not my gift. I found it VERY stressful especially when the weather got bad. Jackie and Cathy were the supervisors over me. They paired me with Priscilla.  A red haired quiet woman who was perhaps a little harder to get to know. As my partner we each had a radio. I don't think Priscilla liked the radio because she would never use it! If a call came from Jackie or Cathy I had to answer it. Only I really didn't know what I was doing.. I often could not find Priscilla because she, as I mentioned, did not like to talk on the radio!  Did I mention that that job was stressful? But my partner rolled with it. Along the way I learned that she never married, had a government job and came up to the farm weeks in advance every year  to help Ken Taylor flag the fields. During this era Creation did not close the gates overnight. Priscilla and I pulled a few overnight shifts. It was then that I got to know this quiet woman. As the stars cascaded across the black  backdrop we sat in our golf cart and watched the light show. The crickets chirped and the night sounds echoed around us. The air was crisp and clear.Sometimes cold. We didn't bother to look at each other as the night was too dark for that and in this beautiful overnight shift we shared our hearts. We connected on a level that would not have been possible on any other shift. I felt so honored to be invited into this quiet woman's world.As I mentioned that I found Individual Ushering very stressful. It was also hard to work the schedule out because Melody was still a young child and I did not like leaving her overnight with her sisters at the campsite.( Yes this was pre-cell phone era!)  When Fred offered me the Head Supervisor for the Deaf Ministry area I jumped on it!  I don't remember how many years I worked with Individual Ushers  but I 'think' it was seven years. (WOW is that even possible??) Priscilla was always my partner. And she never spoke on the radio!! When I moved into my new job Priscilla and I would only run into each other now and then at meals. It was always good to see her but without the shroud of the dark night we never had any more deep discussions. But still we were family. We were different parts of the same body. We were the Body of Christ. When I read on Face Book today that Priscilla has died my heart instantly rushed back to our overnight shifts in the middle of the H field. I am thankful to have shared that time with her.I am shocked and saddened. I am grateful and encouraged. We are family we will have a reunion once again. Good night Priscilla. This shift is over. Your years of dedication and service to your Creation family are remembered. My heart is with your family now and with Cathy and Jackie and all the people who worked so closely with you for so many years. I am blessed to have known you. Until we meet again.

Monday, August 4, 2014

The years that the locuct have eaten.

It was the summer before my thirteenth birthday. I cringe at the memory. Inside my head I am embarrassed to even think about it. But today I am reminded.

It was 1968. Born to Be Wild was a hit that year. As were other great (not!) songs like 'Yummy, Yummy'. Chambers Brothers 'Time' was popular as well. People Get Ready was on that same LP. Wish I had understood that song then. Inagattadivita. ( Is that even a word?) was popular that year. And Christian Rock and Roll legand  Larry Norman was with a band named People and sang 'I love you.'

I had finished my first year of public school. Finally after seven years of Catholic School my mother had relented and enrolled my in eighth grade. That summer having always been around the friends of my older brother and sister I found myself experiencing my first 'date' and then my first 'boyfriend'. It wasn’t really a 'date' because as I understand it now it was sick. He was 19. That was a one night carnival gig. I let him kiss him. (Yuck) Shortly after I found myself with his younger brother. A mere 17 year old. We rode around for aimless hours in his car. He removed the center console so I could sit by his side. Born to Be Wild was his favorite song. We went to bars. Yes. I was served beer in these bars. Yes. I was 12. I smoked about a pack of Marlboros a day. All the while I thought I was a good girl because I was a virgin and I was not using drugs.

I was well acquainted with the drug culture at that time. There was always someone around me sniffing glue, smoking pot or hash. LSD, mescaline, and speed were around. As well as heroine. I told myself I would be a 'good girl' because I did not want to hurt my mother. Honest...I thought I was good. I continued to date older guys for a while. It is a wonder I did not get into some really big trouble.

My father left when I was four. My mom worked six days a week. She loved me I am sure. If she were alive today I would not write this. I still would not want to hurt my mother.

All this is just a brief history to get to today. Today. Those years that the locusts have eaten have been redeemed. The curse has been broken and I am free from that ugly part of my past. Today I sat in the front row of church and cried as I watched my oldest grandchild
led worship. She is exactly how old I was that summer. She is beautiful and could easily pass for a much older young woman. It was easy as I watched her to see how it was possible that I could date such older guys. Like her I did not look 12. But that is where the comparison stops.

Katie has been raised in a intact family. Her parents love each other and they love her. My daughter has managed to work hours that allow her or my son in law to be home most of the time. Katie is bright and confident. She is also kind hearted and sweet spirited. She is not sheltered but she is protected. As I listen to her sing and play her guitar I wish that I had come into a relationship with Jesus early and spared myself these embarrassing memories. But I also consider the love of my Daddy God who reminds me "You have done some things right." My children never had to know the pain of divorce. They never had to fill a Daddy void because they had a Daddy to tell them they were good enough, smart enough and pretty enough. While far from perfect I am mother to three awesome women who love and serve God. Somehow in spite of me, God allowed me to be part of His plan for my family. The yesterdays are now redeemed by the todays. I no longer have to be ashamed. I am part of the story of Katie standing in front of the church and leading God's children into worship. Leading me into worship. Tears freely flowing. Knowing the love of my Daddy. Redeeming the years.

Friday, June 13, 2014

Second Hand Smoke

It has been widely studied and documented  that when a non-smoker is exposed to  cigarette smoke  on a regular basic has a higher than average chance to contracting lung cancer than a person who is not exposed. 
Today I think of this as I am speaking to my son-in-law's mom. The  things we have shared together over the last seven years might only be seen as toxic to those who might study our case.

As grandmothers we have dealt  with the tragic news that our grandson at birth was not ok. We have walked the halls of Duke Childrens  hospital watching, waiting and praying as Josiah underwent open heart surgery at four days old. 
We watched and waited for two years for the arrival of our grandson Nico as the adoption process stretched on and on. We would see the photos and get the reports and know how much he needed to just be home...but wasn't.  
We have watched our children sell off their home, their car and all of their possessions to move to the poorest country in the world. WITH OUR GRANDCHILDREN! 
With each of these events we would breath a sigh of relief as events unfolded and life became more 'normal'. But that 'normal' was never long lived. Because for whatever reason that second hand smoke was determined to affect us. Our phone calls would confirm that each of us were choking back our fears and even our doubts from time to time. Then the air would clear and again we would be hopeful.
Josiah's birth. GASP! Nico's adoption. GASP! The decision to move to Haiti. GASP!  The actual day they moved to Haiti. GASP! The earthquake. GASP! (Big gasp.)  Malaria. GASP! The ministry split and betrayal. GASP!  Josiah's illness. GASP! Gwenn's staph infections. GASP! Middle of the night home invasion at gunpoint. GASP! GASP! GASP!! The bandits on the road to PAP that robbed them in the car. GASP!   The continued land dispute. GASP! And of course all the GASPS that went along with the every day problems  raising  children with attachment and trauma issues. 
And then as the smoke clears we breath easier for a time and pray this time will be different. This time it will get easier. But somehow it is never long lived. We have seen Malaria. We have seen den-gay. We have seen staph. We have seen the results of a lion fish sting. An allergic reaction to a wasp sting. We have seen the most awful pink eye that one can imagine. And with each new illness there is an inaudible GASP! inside our hearts. And when these things happen we turn to each other. Our grandmother/mother hearts just need to know that there is someone else who 'gets it'. 

And now Chikungunya.   Spell check doesn't even know about it! But this latest 'second hand smoke' is a tough one. Haiti is in the middle of an epidemic and once again we are watching our children and grandchildren suffer. The news says in a week you will be better and you will be immune. We know better. We know that everyone is relapsing or reinfecting and there does not seem to be an end in sight.
Today Wildarne has a head to toe rash and a fever of 103 F. She has had a fever for 3 days. Nick spent the night vomiting. Fritzie also relapsed. And as we sit on the sidelines we breath in this illness into our minds and hearts and GASP! once again for air. Thankful once again we have each other to balance our thoughts and concerns. Praying that the air will clear again and life will get back to normal. You know- Haiti normal. The kind of normal that is riddled with 'normal' problems like no electric. Manifestations where people set up firey road blocks to demonstrate the lack of electricity. School closures and 'normal' Haitian problems. But there is a smoke screen that clouds our vision and we can not see even the Haiti normal now.

People have asked me "Don't you want them just to come home?" or say "They just need to come home." Even with the 'second hand smoke' I can say "No way!". They are home. 
Sometimes we Christians seem to think that when we become believers that God will pave the road for us to have a comfortable or at very least a 'safe' life.Sometimes we even get angry when bad things happen to us. But the Word of God says "it rains on the just and the unjust". To choose the 'safe' way is not always choosing God's way. Look at the early church. History tells us of the awful deaths that the apostles died. While they lived they faced danger and hardship everyday. I think of the 'second hand smoke' their families must had inhaled. I think of Mary the mother of Christ and how she must have groaned in agony when she saw her son suffer. But we never read of her telling Jesus to just come home. I think of her 'pondering these things in her heart' and I am glad God has given me another woman to share my heart with. I don't know if I could just ponder these things alone. 

Breathing in this 'second hand smoke' has definitely changed my life. There is always a nagging cough that is just below the surface. There is a constant tickle in the back of my heart and when the phone rings and I see on the display that the call is from Haiti or from Nick's mom my first thought is "What's wrong?" When I awaken at 2 AM for no apparent reason I start of pray for my family in Haiti because 2 AM is when bad guys like to rob people. 
On the other hand I think I am maybe even a little hardened to the hardships in Haiti. Things that used to concern me pretty much don't. When I first went to Haiti the whole voodoo culture pretty much freaked me out.Now I just turn on the noise maker on my phone to drown out the drums so I can sleep. I also don't 'worry' as some might perceive the word. I do think about the things going on there a lot. I do pray about the things going on a lot. I do talk about Haiti a lot. But I am equally sure that if God has brought them to it that He will lead them through it. Fighting the affects of this 'second hand smoke' has brought me closer to Jesus much as a person who is suffering a physical illness will draw closer to Him. So in the end of this tale I thank Him. I thank Him for counting me worthy to be close enough to the smoke to breath it in. Even if it is uncomfortable and even if my whole person smells of smoke. I want to be as close as I can be to the place where Jesus is glorified in all things not just in the easy things. I pray for the time to come quickly when there is once again some fresh air and my family in Haiti (and Nick's mom and me) can breath deep and have a time of refreshment and health. Until then I will continue to trust and be thankful for each tiny breath of fresh air.  I will thank Him for each day of health that He affords our family. I choose to be thankful because I know without doubt that God is good all the time. God is here even when we can't see Him. 
Breath of God fall on us.    

Monday, March 31, 2014

Looking back...Looking forward.

Tonight as I was thinking about my trip back to Haiti this week I was remembering..
It was five years ago next week that I took my very first trip to Haiti. I was filled with wonder, excitement, fear, idealism, faith and more questions than answers. Now, well I still feel that way only it is no longer blind wonder, excitement, fear, idealism or faith. Still I have more questions than answers.
Kristi, Gretchen and Gwenn at home dedication
Street view from the guest house.2009

Street view from guest house.2009
 That first trip in April of 2009 was with a team of family and close friends . We were going to prepare a home for Gwenn,Nick, Nico and Nia. This was to be the home where they would raise their growing family. We cleaned and painted, built, laughed, and prayed. The walls were fresh and clean and many of the household items were in place. The children's books awaited them in their freshly painted rooms and we felt good. We were glad that just as we had been a part of their 'old' life in the US we were now part of their 'new' life in Haiti. We also did not yet know the expression TIH. This is Haiti. That expression has been a term on which one could loose or gain their mind for the last five years. Everything in Haiti is fluid. There are so many factors beyond ones ability to anticipate let alone control. Slowly you begin to understand that normal is not a word to be grasped. Everything changes and sometimes will even test your faith. If you cant accept  this expression you will loose your mind. If you can accept this you will be able to laugh at things ..well things that are not really a bit funny.You have to. Or loose your mind. Your choice.
The freshly painted, newly dedicated home was never to be lived in by Gwenn and Nick. The landlord backed out of the contract and they were left searching for a new home. They found one in downtown Jacmel and that was where I stayed on my second visit and got to meet the first three of the new children.This was a cute little bungalow with a very leaky roof. Which was fine if it didn't rain. (check out this video)

In this home the family started to be reinvented and in October of the same year I got to visit and meet Fritzie, Wildarne and Prisca. Watching how Nico, Nia and Josiah went with the flow was heartwarming.

Oct 2009

Family was being established. It was a pretty calm time and I was excited to really be experiencing Haiti on the community level. Going to the market with Gwenn and into local barber shops. Working with a street kid named Stanley who stole my heart. Watching Fritzie and Nick climb canape trees and playing with Bigsbee the most adorable puppy EVER!
But because TIH a few weeks later Bigsbee was poisoned. He and his puppy brother who was visiting died. And because Stanley the street kid was stealing he was no longer allowed in the yard. And because 'this is Haiti'  life did not stay the same.
What happened between my second and third visit would forever rock our world and change our life.

In January of 2010 the earthquake hit. A phone call turned my life upside down and the next six months were spend in a frenzy of taking care of Gwenn and Nick's children after they came back to the states, fund raising for the ever mounting needs in Haiti , collecting diapers, starting a small business for fund raising purpose  and trying to stay somewhat sane while holding tightly to faith to sustain me.

  July 2010

July 2010

July 2010

And the visits continued. Nearly every six months. For five years. There was the trip I missed when I had cancer. On that trip my team went down. Gwenn and Nick were robbed that week in the middle of the night in there bedroom. TIH
I think I am glad I missed that trip.
And so over five years my hair has grayed.And the children have grown.Over the last five years the Haitian children have learned a lot of English. I have learned a little Creole. I think they have learned that I am not going away.
We are family. Like Haiti itself the family is fluid and changing and you never know what to expect.
I'm ready for this next adventure!
                                                                               Sept 2013

Yves and I July 2010

Yves  and me Sept 2013
And I look back at photos of myself from the last five years and think "Crap I have aged." There is no doubt in my mind that TIH has given me a bunch of white hair. But because TIH... I really don't care. I am glad to watch grandchildren gow. And to do that I must age.  I'm good with that. So when I head back on Thursday I don't know what it will look like. I have my plans. Build a chicken coop. Visit with my Deaf friends. Go swimming in the blue water. And hang out with my Haitian/Haitian-American/America grandchildren.
I never know what adventure might await me because in Haiti you live in real time/Narnia time. And you never come home the same.