Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Contrast 2

These are pictures of the same spot, from different angles.

Last Friday:

Today:

For a better perspective, try this:

Contrast

These are pictures of the same spot.

Last Friday:

Today:

The building's there, but the school's gone

The last few days, one of the topics we've spent a bunch of time talking about is this school in Raymond. We just took it over a few months ago and Danny and Leann have spent a lot of time hiring teachers, and generally getting things put together for the new school year.

The school opened a couple of months ago. It had a 160 kids, new books, new uniforms. It was the first time there a had been a free school in this town, ever. We had a lot of great plans for the future of this school.

Well, the building's still there, but the school's gone.

There used to be a river a few hundred feet behind the school. There is now a second river on our land behind the school.

And there's also a river a few feet in front of the school.

We're not sure what we're going to do with the school in the future. Honestly, it doesn't look like it will be possible to rebuild in the same place. And so all the plans we've made are gone...along with a school.

a sad, sad Danny

Nick will explain soon...

More pics posted

Hey guys--

Here's a link to some pics from this morning:

http://picasaweb.google.com/ng.mangine/MoreStormPics

A few things:

The driving rain has stopped for now. The sky is starting to look a little brighter. It's still raining, but not at all like before. The water on our road isn't as bad now either. Maybe the end is in sight with the rain?

Many people have asked how they can help... that's a good question. The way I see it now, the greatest need will be within the next few days and weeks to come... As the water recedes and damage is assessed there are sure to be additional problems with widespread disease, homelessness and hunger. Another thing Danny is anticipating is a great increase in people asking us to take in children in the weeks to come. Folks, this is the most heartbreaking thing to us because we are full. We are AT CAPACITY, period. We are actually OVER capacity. We have to turn down children all the time, but we expect that to be on the rise with widespread homelessness and deaths from the storm. Please pray for wisdom in how to help as we get these requests.

In the mean time, we've set up a link on the front page of our website: www.haitianchildrenshome.org where you can donate online towards this cause. This money will not be going to us or our kids, but for relief efforts in the community. I know that people try to defraud people all the time with tragedies like this-- I guess I have nothing I can say to you except give you my word that this money will be used appropriately to help with the most dire of needs-- food, water, shelter...

My sister Gretchen posted a comment asking if she could call American Airlines or the Embassy... thanks for the offer, but not right now. I know that the Embassy could try to evacuate us, but we really don't think that that is the wisest course of action at this time. First of all, we are safe here, so why take a risk like that if we are safe here? And the American Airlines thing-- it's really not a big deal right now. I will be following up with it in the States, but I feel like until we know when we can even get out it's not worth trying to change it again. Kwim?

Yes, this is a bad situation, but we are all safe here at HCH, so we just need to be patient and wait it out I think...

THanks,
Gwenn

Thanks for nothing American Airlines...

Okay, we went out for just a few minutes to go to the market...

I now know the meaning of "flash floods." It was raining really hard but the roads actually didn't seem to bad when we left. By the time we came back 20 minutes later, they were nearly impassable.

My heart broke as I saw a house flooding-- probably about 2 feet of water in it. A woman came out onto her porch, went back into the house, then came back out with her child (probably 3 years old). She put the child on her back with nothing else in her hands, closed the door to the house and just started walking through the thigh-deep water. I don't know where she was going. I don't know if she knew. She just couldn't stay there.

The roads to the orphanage are flooding now, as are the neighbors houses. I want to make sure you understand we are safe. We are still significantly higher than them, the foundation is HUGE and very strong. Something very serious would have to happen in order for us to be in any real danger.

So, Danny tried American Airlines for us this morning as there is NO way we are going to be able to get to Port Au Prince tomorrow. Yeah, first they told us they couldn't do anything because the storm went through two days ago. We tried to explain that really wasn't the case. We told her what we saw and that we were seeing driving rains and houses under water. She (her name was Delores) said, "well, our screens show that things should be fine by now." Danny said, "I am looking out of my door right now and it is NOT fine. There is no way to get to the airport." Delores then said, "Well, it's not really my concern if it's flooding there or if customers can get to the airport. The storm policy refers to the plane's ability to land."

She told us that she could change it to Friday with no penalty, but we were more interested in either Saturday or Monday to give it a little more time for the roads to clear, but she said that we'd need to pay $1000 to do that.

Danny then asked to speak to a supervisor and she said, "No one's allowed to talk to supervisors."

Really Delores? If no one is allowed to talk to supervisors what do they do all day??? In the end, we changed it to Friday, and hopefully we can call back tomorrow and change it again but apparently the policy is only one change per ticket, so we may have to pay-- in the scope of things, it's just not that big of a deal. We will not try to make it unless we know it's passable. But seriously, if what is happening here in Haiti were happening in the US, there is NO WAY they wouldn't work with us. Do you honestly think that when houses are washed away and roads are washed away, when there is no access to airports that we couldn't get our tickets changed without cost. But here, there is no media coverage. At one point Delores said there were no confirmed deaths in Haiti... let me tell you something people, that's just NOT true.

We just got word that the American Embassy is reporting that conditions will be like this for three or four more days, so... who knows when we'll get home. We know we are safe here, so we just plan to stay put until we are sure it's safe. Apparently the American Embassy and American Airlines need to get on the same page.

I am going to upload pics now, so I will post an update when they are uploaded-- it may take a while. Unfortunately, Leann's camera got fog in the lens and we couldn't take very good pics with it and I think our camera got water in it too so some of the pictures didn't come out at all-- just totally black.

The dampness is getting in everything... our computers are starting to act wonky, as well as the cameras, so I'll just update as long as we can.

Did someone build an ark and not tell us about it?

I 5:00am here. I know the time probably says 6, but there's a time difference.

I don't have anything new to say, no new pictures or anything. I just want to let you know that it's still raining. Which means that the water is higher than yesterday and still rising.

We're planning to try to visit the Raymond school in the morning. We're pretty sure the road is impassable, so we'll have to walk (we won't do anything stupid). I'll let you know how that goes.

We're still safe here and we slept well. There's no reason to think that that will change. But I don't know how anyone else in this city slept while the rain continues to threaten more landslides and floods. Lord, please rain down mercy instead of water.

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

More Noel Pics

http://www.flickr.com/photos/haitianchildrenshome/tags/noel

Still raining...

The rain hasn't stopped... well it did and now it's started again. I know in the Triangle we are all praying for rain, but perhaps you weren't specific enough on WHERE you wanted the rain to fall-- maybe you could pray it would stop here and start there?

I wanted to let you know where some pics are posted online--
http://picasaweb.google.com/ng.mangine/Floodinglandslide

I don't know how much press this situation is getting in the US, but it's bad here in Jacmel.

There was an enormous rock slide that brought BOULDERS down the mountain... places that were grassy fields now look like a river bed.

See that thing Danny is standing on in that one pic of him in the rockslide? It looks like a big rock, but it's actually the foundation of someone's home. Their home was completely torn down and carried away. There are probably about a half dozen just like that that we could see from this one spot-- and it went on in both directions for as far we could see.


There is also the picture of the river we regularly drive through to get to the church in Basin Bleu. Look towards the bottom of the pic -- there's a man standing there for size reference. Near the old river banks was the garbage dump... now there is no dump and all the trash is in the ocean... We don't have any idea when we will be able to get to Basin Bleu, and we can't get in touch with the pastors up there.

Finally notice the pic of a whole community underwater. See the people trying to swim to safety?

I wanted to let you know that the food Nick and Danny were able to distribute will feed 80-90 families. Cool, huh?

Please continue to pray. Like I said, we are going to be fine. There is no question of that. However, we have some concerns about getting into Port Au Prince for a morning flight on Thursday. American Airlines will charge us $1000 US to change our tickets unless they extend the weather advisory. Please pray they do. We won't do anything stupid so we'll pay it if we have to, but if we're going to spend $1000 I would rather it go to help feed a few hundred people. Anyone have any connections at American Airlines???

More when we know more. When we get home we will upload all of our pictures-- the connection here is really slow, so I can't do them all...

BTW-- I can't make any more guarantees about future photos... when Nick was out with Danny this morning something happened and now the screen doesn't work. It still actually works, but you just can't see what you're taking a picture of. Guess we're taking one for the team on the camera... Hmmm, since the Haitian Children's Home is a non-profit, can we write off a new one??? Just kidding.

The rain has not stopped

When Danny and I first ventured out this morning to help out a fellow missionary, I wasn't prepared for what we would see. Devastation was everywhere. My first clue was when we pulled on the main road through Jacmel and it was covered in a foot of water--most of the homes around here are build below the level of the road.


We turned left and headed out of the city. Things were bad. Look left and you see a 50-foot-wide landslide that took out everything in it's path--homes, roads, walls, everything. Look right and you see a lake--where there used to be a town. I saw people in boats trying to get out of their houses... it was surreal. We didn't have our camera at the time, and Gwenn is out with Danny getting pictures of the same area right now.

Instead we went back to the house got our camera's and, after contacting some people back home to be confidant we could afford it, headed out to buy supplies--food, water, cooking oil, sugar, and cheese puffs (for the kids)--for people who had lost everything.


We met up with Pastor Placid and he led us around to about 5 different church member's homes. The idea was to drop off a large amount of food at one house in a bunch of different neighborhoods. That way food could be distributed by the church members as needed. We were trying to find a way to distribute the food without starting a riot. I hope it works.


One of the people that we brought food to mentioned that had lost their last bag of rice to flooding this morning. No food, no clean water, no hope. And this was a fairly well-to-do member of the community. I can't imagine.


The rain continues. I hope things don't get worse. We're fine, but please pray for the people.

OH MY!

I just read on weather.com that Hispanola (the island Haiti is on) will likely measure 30 inches of rain from this...

The rain is stopping I think...

So, I will get back to the emergency at hand in just a little bit-- the guys are out taking care of some stuff and they will have photos...

Anyway, since we are just kind of waiting here until they get back I wanted to tell you a little more about some things that have made this trip very meaningful to me...

One thing is that I LOVE LOVE LOVE seeing Nico in Haiti. While he is not always comfortable and needs reassuring, it's definitely solidifying our bond with him. He IS turning to us for comfort. He IS wanting to be near us. But also, it's SO cool to recognize some "Haitian" things about him. For example, since he's been home, I am always getting irritated with him at the table, because he's always picking up his plate and turning it over and tapping it and just messing around... well, that's what I thought anyway. He actually did this at the table the other night, and Danny said, "That's a very Haitian thing he's doing." Apparently it's something Haitians do-- this plate tapping thing. Cool, huh?

Another thing is that we always thought that it was cute how he came home knowing how to "pound it." (Basically punching fists with another person.) We thought that was cute, since it's not really a typical thing for kids to do... well, again, we learned that this is a very common Haitian greeting. You pound it and then pound your chest twice... we just didn't know what.

Some of his words we have realized are actually Creole words, although much of it is just babble. Nixon, one of the guys who works here is very fluent in English and twice now when Nico's been babbling on he's said, "I have no idea what he is saying... do you?" (uh, no... for sure no.)

I love the Haitian culture. I love learning things that we can teach Nico about his culture. I love becoming more and more familiar with the language and being able to communicate with the kids here on a very basic level. I love that people can talk to my child in Creole and he understands what they are saying...

It is definitely harder being here with the kiddos than without, but I wouldn't trade the tantrums and the clinginess for all that we are gaining. Nia loves it here-- she's learning a lot of Creole and is asking me for things in Creole... It's pretty cute. At home we give her watered down juice to drink a lot. She calls it "waterjuice." Today she said, "Mom, can you get me some dlowjuice." (Dlow is water in Creole.)

Okay, here's a funny story-- not about my daughter believe it or not! Slendia is a little girl that lives here. She's actually not an orphan but is the daughter of one of the nannies, who is a single mom. SHe just turned 6. She's SUPER cute. ANyway, all the little girlies here love Josiah and love to hold him and feed him... Slendia has been hanging out with Josiah all week and just yesterday she was in the room when I was changing is diaper. As I took the diaper off she exclaimed, "Oh! Josiah GASON!" (Gason means boy.) All week long she had been thinking Josiah was a girl, and it wasn't until I changed him in front of her she realized J-man was a boy. Cute, huh?

HEY-- just got word from Danny and Nick-- they are out helping people out of flooded homes. We won't have pics for another few hours...

We'll keep you posted.

please pray

let me start off by saying that we are personally safe... as is everyone here at the HCH.

however it is awful in the community-- major flodding, massive landslides... people trying to get out of their homes in boat (people that largely do not swim)

we see how destructive this kind of thing is in the US with the resources of the government behind us--

but that's not an option here-- we are literally in the poorest country in the western hemisphere--

there is no national guard to save people from the danger

please pray

thank you

Monday, October 29, 2007

Monday in Haiti

Well, things are really good here. We’re getting some hard rain and a little wind but it would appear the bulk of the storm is to our east in the Dominican Republic.

Things are going a lot better with the kiddos sleeping. We’ve just sort of given in and let Nico have a bottle of water at night and nap time… that’s been helping. We’ve also been laying down with them until they fall asleep. Not something I plan to continue back in the US, but it works for now… they are certainly distracted by the noise level of 25 other kids around, but seem to be sleeping through it well once they fall asleep.

Okay, let me just say this—Danny and Leann are pretty amazing people. I love their family. They’re very suited to this lifestyle—tender compassionate and generous hearts, yet they can be firm when necessary. They’re awesome. I just love them!

We’ve been really trying to hit these admin tasks hard… and all of our brains are “full” I think. So many things we’d like to do, but trying to figure out what God wants for us and how we get there using what he’s given us right now… last night we went through the web site and planned for updating it so all of our info is current. Look for those changes and NEW PICS in a week or two! www.haitianchildrenhome.org

I am posting some new pics under this album address: http://picasaweb.google.com/ng.mangine/HaitiOnMonday

It’s some from last night and today so far… Look out for:

Cutie pics of Mama Leann and baby Jabez—

Pics of the kids dancing—they LOVE our Kidspointe worship songs!

Me washing our clothes Haitian style—thanks Diane and Loudridge for the help!

Nia bathing Haitian style

Me getting a splinter of glass out of Rico’s foot—I made him cry pretty bad :(

Nick’s trigonometry project—and him making a jig so the kids can make Christmas ornaments for supporters…

Slendia’s birthday

Nick and Nico’s haircuts from a Haitian barber…. (best haircuts they’ve EVER had… and at only $1.50 each… you can’t go wrong!)

Good stuff!

Noel

Okay, so yesterday it really looked like we weren't going to see anything from the then tropical depression.... However, it is a tropical storm now and is expected to hit Jacmel this morning.

That being said, we've yet to see even a drop of rain. We feel very, very confident that we will be fine here at the orphanage. But please pray for the many people in Haiti that this will catch completely by surprise without a stable house to weather the storm.

Let me assure you, we don't feel worried or scared about this at all, but we are taking this information seriously and making adequate preparations...

Sunday, October 28, 2007

undignified

Today was church... it was really nice. I had a chance to thank the congregation for praying for Josiah. I was overwhelmed with emotion and humbled that this group of people would take the time to pray faithfully for us. It's hard to put these things into words.

One of the things I love about going to church in Haiti is the way that everyone wears their absolute best clothing. They all LOOK very dignified in terms of their attire. However, once the music starts and they start getting into things, they become "undignified" pretty quickly. When I say undignified I don't mean that in a negative way at all. I mean it in a really, really good way. What I mean is that they are not ashamed to worship freely. They dance and and sing and just pour their hearts out in an authentic way before God. It's pretty cool.

Danny and Leann have recently started running a children's church. Today there were about 120 or so kids 12 years old and younger. They watched "Prince of Egypt" and even though it was in English, one of the HCH staff members, Nixon, sat there with a microphone translating the whole thing. It was a LONG time for children's church-- over 2 hours. But the kids just sat there the whole time and were obedient and not causing any sorts of disruption. Nia did so well. I was so very proud of her.

Our biggest struggle here this week has been the kids' sleeping... or lack of it I should say. Nico's been a little emotionally uncomfortable as I mentioned, and it really exhibits itself at night time. He's been waking up with awful terrors, but the problem is that I think he's still sleeping when it happens and we can't really wake him up. He just sits there screaming and inconsolable with his eyes jammed shut. These are screams of terror-- it breaks my heart. Josiah is doing pretty well with night sleeping-- it's just that napping isn't working too well for him as it's hotter than he's used to. He's gotten a few bites too so I think he's itchy. Nia has just kind of been getting OVER tired and then having trouble falling asleep. But other than that-- they are still doing really well.

I have some pics--
http://picasaweb.google.com/ng.mangine/AnotherDayInHaiti/

Saturday, October 27, 2007

the land and the beach

Today we headed out to the beach and the land in Raymond we would like to buy. It’s a long story, but we just really feel like this is the place that we want to develop with new orphanages. Danny, Nick and I walked the land today pretty extensively. It was amazing. About ¼ of it is grassy beautifully flat land and the other ¾ is volcanic rock and very hilly. It’s beachfront and the two most beautiful place I have ever been (Basin Bleu being the other). Take a look at the pics.

http://picasaweb.google.com/ng.mangine/BeachlandDay

After that we went to the beach with the kids. The water was perfect and all our kids did great. Nico LOVED the ocean and didn’t even mind going under water. He was just so cute. After a while the kids from the Hands and Feet came by (they are all littler kids). Pretty dang cute. Our kids hung out with the little ones and we got some cute pics of them playing in the baby pool together—it will probably be easy to pick out Josiah and Nia in those pics… Speaking of our kids—they are really just rolling with it. They are awesome. We hardly ever see Nia because she’s playing with her new friends—usually Tina or Elinda. She loves washing clothes and always wants to be part of that. We hardly ever see Josiah because the girls here LOVE him, especially Diane and Lovelie. They always want to carry him around and give him bottles. The nannies are quite smitten with little J-man too. He’s just a really happy guy. I love that little kid. Nico is doing very well, too, but it is obvious he’s uncomfortable with his surroundings some time. We’re just trying to give him extra love and attention. (Which is why you will see him in the Mei Tai in all the photos of the land. Nick is such a trooper—but in all honesty I did think he was going to pass out by the end.)

Gracious, I am tired. Long day… great day.

enough

Okay, so I was having some quiet time this morning and it’s pretty cool of God to show us how things all fit together—the Bible is His story from the beginning, and we are just a continuance of all that he’s already done and will continue to do. I love how God shows us the right things at the right times and that the Bible is so dynamic that we can see new meaning in scriptures we’ve read dozens of times over. And also how things written thousands of years ago are still so relevant today. That happened this morning…

So a little background—I have been doing Beth Moore’s “A Woman’s Heart, God’s Tabernacle.” It’s very good. I am learning a lot and I am enjoying the ways God is speaking to me through it. But I digress… my study is on Thursday mornings and last week, knowing I would miss 2 Thursdays for Haiti trip, I didn’t really push to get it done. Well, actually, full transparency here—I didn’t get ANY of it done for last week. I finally got to it today and it was all about when God, after giving and giving and giving to his children in the wilderness, finally asks them and allows them to give back. He asks that anyone who is willing to give their fine things (gold, silver, gems, expensive cloth, etc…) and he asks anyone who is skilled to give freely of their work.

This is a concept that has been solidifying in my life lately. I read a book about a week or so ago called, “Always Room at the Inn” and it was basically just a local (Raleigh) woman’s journal of spending Christmas time in Haiti a few years ago working at St. Joesph’s home for boys. It was a quick short read and pretty accurately describes much that happens in Haiti. I’m just babbling at this point again… Anyway, there was one paragraph that really struck me and since I don’t have it here with me now, I will have to paraphrase. It basically was just the prayer of this woman after she had returned from Cite Soleil (the largest and most dangerous slum in the Haiti). She was crying out to God and just trying to understand. She said something like, “God I know that you have created this world with ENOUGH. God help us figure out how to disperse what you’ve given us so that there doesn’t have to be a Cite Soleil, so that there can be peace on earth and good will to all men.”

We’ve been having meetings since we’ve been here—talking catching up about all the things going on here and planning for the future. My soul is just overwhelmed with the depth of need. Everywhere we go it’s just need after need after need. Every time your vehicle stops, there are children (and adults) with open hands begging. And you want to help, but you can’t do everything. And even though I feel like we are fully invested in the Haitian Children’s Home, I am always convicted when I come here that God wants more from us—more from our family. But here’s the rub—even if we (the Mangine's) moved here and gave every cent we had to those in need… it just wouldn’t be enough. What God needs from ALL of us, is people who are not just willing to give of themselves out of obligation, but who are so grateful for what he’s done in their lives that it is their JOY to give and serve both generously and sacrificially.

We’ve had a lot of people talk to us recently about why we’d chose to bring our kids here with us. And the truth is—it’s a good question. This is the poorest country in the Western Hemisphere. There are real situations with sanitation, clean water, disease, etc. It’s hot here. There’s no AC. There are some risks… but here’s the deal—it is not really a sacrifice. We love it here so much that we want to share this with our family. We wanted to bring them because we want them to grow up knowing that this is why we were put here on earth. This is why God has blessed us by allowing us to be born in the richest country in the world. God has put us here “for such a time as this.”

Last night we spent hours working on our organizational flow chart. Talking about all the schools, churches, orphanages, outreaches, etc that HCH is involved with here in Haiti. It will blow your mind once we get it up on the website. It’s so awesome. But it’s also REALLY scary. We do NOT have regular funding for all of this—and we just are trusting God each and every month to meet our needs and the needs of the schools, churches, orphanages, outreaches and families we support.

And it’s not just all about funding… The Israelites gave of themselves. ANYONE who was skilled in a particular trade gave of themselves—their time and skills. Exodus 35: 10 says, “All who are skilled among you are to come and make everything the Lord has commanded.”

And then look what happened. Exodus 35:2-7

Then Moses summoned .... every skilled person to whom the LORD had given ability and who was willing to come and do the work. They received from Moses all the offerings the Israelites had brought to carry out the work of constructing the sanctuary. And the people continued to bring freewill offerings morning after morning. So all the skilled craftsmen who were doing all the work on the sanctuary left their work and said to Moses, "The people are bringing more than enough for doing the work the LORD commanded to be done." Then Moses gave an order and they sent this word throughout the camp: "No man or woman is to make anything else as an offering for the sanctuary." And so the people were restrained from bringing more, because what they already had was more than enough to do all the work.”

Oh Lord… let it be so here too.

Friday, October 26, 2007

up the coconut tree...

So I went up to Basin Bleu with Danny and Pastor Placide this afternoon as some things were left "undone" and had to be taken care of...

So this was cool-- as we were standing there watching the foundation of the church being finished, Pastor asked me if I would like to have a coconut drink. I really didn't know what that meant, but Danny explained it to me, and then the coolest thing happened. Pastor went over and talked to a young man and in just a minute this man was scurrying up a coconut tree-- he twisted a few coconuts off-- pulled out a machete, chopped off the top and gave it to us to drink. Cool, huh?

Tina's gift

One of our newest girl's here at HCH is named Tina. Here she is on one of the first days with the family:

Luckily we were able to find her first sponsor a couple of weeks ago. They're local in North Carolina so we were able to grab a few small gifts and pictures for Tina from them before we left. The first night here we were going through all the things we had brought (it took awhile thanks to everyone who pitched in). Leann came across the stuff for Tina and said “You want a picture of this?” So we got a our camera and awaited her response...

As you can see, we got nothin'. Oh well.

A day goes by, and I notice Tina sitting at the kitchen table drawing intently. Figuring that she was using the new stuff from her sponsor, I snuck up behind her and took this picture:

There's Tina drawing beautiful pictures on her new paper with her new pencils, stopping every few minutes to take a look at the picture of her sponsor--as if for inspiration. Awesome.

Working on the road

So we have this kind man (along with what appeared to be the rest of his family) to thank for our safe, smooth trip up to Basin Bleu church today. In absence of the government improving roads (which, by the way, they are doing a great job of—just not in this area), people have taken to some interesting methods of funding road improvements.

So this guy has chosen this particular chunk of the road to keep up. But how can he possibly spend all day volunteering to work on a road and still support his family? The kindness of others. It's a pretty common practice in Haiti to see random people working on a road. And if you have the money, you can stop and give them some. No tax, no pressure—I didn't feel any from him—but the system works. Those that can't afford to pay don't and those that can do. Nice.

So why I am so thankful to this guy and his family? Look off the outside edge of this corner—

It's a pretty long drop.

Cool stuff...

Today we visited a school in Raymond that is part of a ministry we "inherited" with the orphanage.


Driving to the school in Raymond we noticed that much of the road had washed away in a landslide—we were driving very close to the edge. Danny had said that this had just happened recently. Nick asked what the implication this would be for the school and community if the road washes away. Danny said that this is the only road to the school and village and it would isolate them from getting anywhere with vehicles. So the next thing we asked is how it could be fixed and Danny showed us where the road had be reinforced with large metal crates of heavy rocks.

We drove a few more minutes and through a small stream that also had a landslide situation. The road goes through the stream (like many roads in Haiti) and actually Danny said that 3 people who were crossing the stream on foot drowned two weeks ago as the current swept them away and they were killed. This road needs work!

We got to the school and saw the awesome things that were happening. Danny was able to convince village leaders to let the school use the church building for their school. There had been LITERALLY 180 kids in one tiny little building. Now there is space in the church building (still only one room) for several classes. It’s so great. This year Danny was able to secure funds to provide new uniforms and school books for all the children in the school. (Mind you, this is a FREE school—which in Haiti is not common). Just last week Danny had a crew that built a new outhouse. It replaced a simple hole in the ground that had been used prior. It’s great because it has three stalls so that there can be a separate ones for boys, girls and teachers. Also instead of using just plain outhouses, there will be actual flush toilets as there is a river nearby and the kids will be able to flush it with a bucket of water.

This is the school for which all of the school supplies that were collected through Eddie Mullin’s gel group will be used.

Speaking of water, there is a fresh spring that runs through the property that can provide FRESH water to the land. This is a good thing because we have the potential of getting clean running water to the small school on the property, and any other community buildings we could build on the 1.3 acres that belong to HCH there. Cool stuff.

Here’s some pics of today and yesterday:

http://picasaweb.google.com/ng.mangine/FirstDayInHaiti

http://picasaweb.google.com/ng.mangine/HaitiTrip01

Nick and Danny are currently at Basin Bleu to take a look at the construction and pay the workers building the church there. We’ll upload pics/stories about that later.

Okay, one more funny story about Nia (yes, I am THAT parent) I was in here feeding the baby and wasn’t really paying attention to Nia (not that that is uncommon) and she was outside with Aline (one of the nannies) washing clothes. She’s actually been “helping” for probably 45 minutes now, just yammering on not really understanding that Aline doesn’t speak English. She just nods every now and then. Nick has our camera at Basin Bleu, so I can’t update a pic now, but Leann snapped a few so I’ll share them when I can…

Have I mentioned we love it here? Our dreams for this place only grow bigger and bigger.

Hey guys--

Yeah sorry there's no pics yet... aargh. The camera is in our room and the kiddos are sleeping...

Also, Jonathan-- your wireless doesn't work here. We are SO bummed! Se we'll be limited to what's happening with our wireless here at the orphanage....

Sorry we didn’t get a post in last night… we were just very busy getting here and settled in and then when I was going to get to it, we started a pretty heavy discussion, and it just never happened. (No, not a fight :)

We’re here safely and everything is all so great. The plane ride into Port Au Prince was uneventful (just how I like it) except we did have to wait on the tarmac for over an hour before we took off… that was not too fun with the kiddos knowing we still had a four hour flight ahead of us. They did really, really well. It was funny, there was only one other white person on the plane (of about 300 people) and at one point Nia leaned over and whispered, “Mom, I think I just heard a lady speaking Creole.” (Ya think?)

Danny met us right where he said he would and we got our bags—we were starting to sweat when one of them didn’t show up, but it was there—we just had to be patient. The trip was about 3-4 hours from Port to Jacmel, but we were in Pastor Placide’s new SUV—it’s TOTALLY sweet. Once we were out of the city, Nick drove—which scared the heck out of me in the mountains, but it was really not a problem… I just have issues.

It was so amazing to see the new place—there are three new kids since we’ve been here last so it was a lot of fun to meet them. Sweet, sweet kids. Being here makes me with more and more that I spoke Kreyol. I get SO frustrated wanting to love on the kids and ask them questions and not being able to. Nia doesn’t seem to mind. We didn’t see her from the moment we got here until her tantrum at bedtime. The kids here LOVE her and it’s totally reciprocated. It’s amazing to watch them play—they just played and played and played and squealed with laughter and danced ALL evening long. I went up to get Nia for dinner and she was already eating with the kids—Haitian spaghetti (spaghetti with ketchup—yes, seriously.)

Nico is doing FAR better than we imagined—now, I realize that could all “break” at any point, but he doesn’t seem freaked out by all this—at least not this initially. The kids here love him too and he’s wandered off playing with them, but will soon wander back to make sure we’re still here.

Josiah is a champ—he’s just happy old Josiah. Thank you Jesus for Josiah!

Nick and I love being here—it just feels right to us here. We both made the comment separately that here feels like “home.” We love these kids. We love the model for this family. We love Haiti. I am so glad our kids do too…

This morning we are going to visit the school in Raymond (Danny has a meeting there) and then Nick and Danny will be going up to check on the Basin Bleu construction. We’re having a Haitian lunch (yum). We have a whole list of things to discuss and work through while we are here, so we are just going to pick a topic and work through it one evening at a time…

I love being here. I am already sad we have to go home in a week.

Thursday, October 25, 2007

On the way...

Well, actually that's not entirely true. We are actually OUT of our way. We are sitting in the JFK airport. Does that make any sense to anyone? Not to me. We had to fly from RDU to JFK (in NY) to fly to Haiti... Well, actually we didn't have to, but it saved us about $200. I am starting to rethink the wisdom of that decision. Traveling by air with three little ones keeps you on your toes!

Many thanks to Kris L. for getting up VERY early to drive us to the airport. We took her big ole SUV and rode in style and comfort. (We had to leave our house at 4AM, so she got there about 3:45AM-- that's a TRUE friend!)

The kids are doing pretty well-- Nia's kind of antsy, but that's mostly because she's tired. We had to get the kids up really early (obviously) and she was so excited she didn't fall asleep until at least 9:30. We had put the kiddos to bed at 7 PM last night but we heard Nia talking in there for a long time.

Okay, I have to share this funny story. This morning I was putting a ponytail in Nia's hair and she said, "Mom, did you know that Grandma is like Daddy." And I said, "What do you mean?" and she said, "Daddy can't do a ponytail either." :)

So in case you are wondering how we are doing with all our kids and all our gack-- here's your answer-- Nick's a pack mule. Just so you know, I DID offer several times to carry/manage some of the stuff/kids, but e's pretty willing to lug it all around. I have some funny pics but can't seem to upload them...

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Well, we're packed...

It wasn't an easy task-- but we are packed.

We have "mount army duffle" taking up most of our living room.

We have a TON of stuff-- THANK YOU to all those of you who donated items/money...
we have awesome stuff to bless the kids/the school/the staff, etc. with...

I will be updating daily hopefully...

Sunday, October 21, 2007

Best and Worst of the weekend...

Okay, the best thing that happened this weekend-- Nick DID get me an Ipod. It's pretty awesome. A new Nano with video-- I LOVE IT! He apparently had ordered it weeks ago through a friend, and he didn't mention it to me on our anniversary because he wanted to surprise me... I was very surprised. So the speakers actually WERE for me. I have never had any sort of technical gadgets... ever. So this is pretty cool for me.

The worst thing is that Nick and I rented the first disc of the first season of 24. We had heard it was good-- yeah, that was dumb. It is good-- really good. Now we are hooked and pretty useless.

Friday, October 19, 2007

One of those NEVER ENDING days...

Today is one of them. Today is the kind of day when I am just watching the clock SO ready for my husband to get home from work. It's not that the kids are being "bad", it's just that time is seeming to go backwards.

I often find myself thinking back to my 10th high school reunion when a former classmate told me that she thought stay-at-home moms were the (and I quote) "most pampered women on earth."

Give me a freaking break. I'd like to see her investment banking tail try this for a few days.

It's not that I'd want to do a different job, it's just sometimes the days wear on and on and on...

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

New pics of the kiddos... etc...


Well we are at day 20 on the Daniel Fast. Tomorrow is our last day... which is good because if I eat any more soy products any time in the near future... well, I don't know what I will do... but I am sick of them. I have definitely come to the end of myself several times over the past few days-- which I guess is the point, huh?

I posted some new pics of the kiddos here: http://picasaweb.google.com/ng.mangine/Kiddos they are driving me up a wall with the bickering and whining, but they are cute in pictures anyway! And sometimes I just let them go at it... which is what you will see with them playing "king of the mountain" on the slide. :) It's really nice that the weather is cool enough to play outside on a regular basis.

I *think* we are all healthy. No one seems sick. (Thank goodness.)

We're getting excited for our trip to Haiti-- but we still have a lot to do. Pretty soon I want to update you all about what the HCH is up to-- but in the meantime you could just check out their website... www.haitianchildrenshome.org .

Sunday, October 14, 2007

Happy Anniversary to me!

So TODAY is seven years married to the amazing Nick Mangine. Can I get a woot woot?
I love being married to Nick! He's pretty awesome. And I love his family too... I couldn't have asked to be married into a better family. His mom took the kids on Saturday (ALL DAY!) so we could go to a marriage conference at our church. It was so nice. As an anniversary gift I got Nick an ice cream maker and he got me some speakers for his Ipod. :) (They actually WERE for me... I wanted to be able to listen to his Ipod when I am downstairs...) And just for the record, I DO NOT have the 7-year itch... nothing could be farther from the truth. It's not a lie when I tell you that I love being married to Nick exponentially more today than the day we married. I couldn't be happier or more excited to be his wife. He's so kind, loving, generous, compassionate, humble, giving, and supportive... and he's FUN... and cute... and adventurous. I am much closer in my walk with Christ because of my husband... He'll always me my only one!

Next topic-- the Daniel Fast... We are BOTH so over it. Meaning, we can't wait until Thursday. It's getting very, very hard. I have seriously considered quitting early SEVERAL times today, (and yesterday and the day before and the day before that.) For some reason last Thursday was when the rubber really started to hit the road and it started to get REALLY difficult. So, we just went to Whole Foods to stock up on some delicious whole foods and are trusting that while we want to quit, God has a plan for us during this time. It was especially hard today when it was our anniversary... (In full disclosure I DID go out with some girls LATE on Friday night and we ate "non DF" foods-- still no meat, but I don't think Southwest eggrolls at Chili's are part of the plan... or Yuengling :) ... but anyway... As I learned this weekend at the marriage conference, "We all stumble in many ways..."

So funny story-- Nico is quite the mimic. He mimics Nia all the time, he mimics Nick and I (especially if we are yelling... he gets the intonation just right!) and then the other day he started mimicking our dog Strom. He likes to lick his hands like Strom licks his paws-- and he actually does it quite often. Well Nico was apparently mimicking Strom the other day and I came into the room and this is what Nick had done to him...

Yup, that's the dog harness on him. The funny thing was that it was actually too loose for Nico. Then a few seconds later he crawled over and picked up Nick's shoe in his mouth-- which actually puzzles me because Nico has never seen Strom do that... he hasn't done it since he was a tiny puppy over 6 years ago...


Alrighty, gotta go to bed... oh, and BTW-- Nico did have strep. I stinkin' LOVE the minute clinic!

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

A hyper-active sense of responsibility...

Several months ago I was seeing a Christian counselor to work through a few situations I had going on in my life. (I thought I had stress THEN... HA!) But I digress...

One of the things she tole me about myself (which is entirely TRUE!) is that I have a hyperactive sense of responsibility. I think everything is "my job" to do or to fix or to work out. When, really, it isn't is it? She encouraged me to let some things go and remember that my primary job in life is being a wife and a mother to my family.

So, with that being said, I HAVE TO get this off my chest-- I am SO overdue on thank you notes it's embarrassing! We've been SO BLESSED by so many people. I was about up to date before Nico got here (after the whole Josiah hospital business), but then once Nico came to us-- forget about it!

The worst part is that I have a huge long list and I have even written about half of them. But since I haven't addressed or stamped them, there they sit... in the pile with the unwritten ones and the list.

I also have Nico's announcements to send out but I just can't get to them! arrgh!

So, I guess all this is to say... PLEASE be patient and don't think I am ungrateful. That couldn't be farther from the truth. The "urgency" of every-day life is just intervening...

And now, well, with our trip to Haiti coming up and 'the approach'... I'll try to tuck them in your Christmas cards with Nico's announcement... (if I even GET to Christmas cards this year.)

*sigh*

Tuesday, October 9, 2007

CALGON... TAKE ME AWAY!!!

Can only blog for a sec...

Just wanted to update that Josiah's eye is fine... no problems whatsoever... just a "fluke" thing. Thanks for your prayers.

Nico is running a fever this afternoon... strep??? I wish he'd let me look in his throat but it just ain't happenin'. Perhaps another trip to the "minute clinic" will be in order in our family tonight.

Monday, October 8, 2007

"Weekly update"

Okay... news on our front...

Daniel Fast-- today was day... ummmm... 12. It's going well. I am learning a lot about myself. Jonathan (our pastor) gave a message yesterday about self-control and it cut right to the heart of the issue. Very well done. Our church (www.crosspointe.org) podcasts their messages, so be sure to check out the entire "Above Ground" series about the fruit of the spirit... good stuff.

So my mom came into town this weekend to visit, play with the kids and BABYSIT FOR ALL OF THEM SO NICK AND I COULD GO ON A DATE!!! WOO HOO!!! You'll never guess what we did on our date? We went to the "minute clinic" inside CVS because I was pretty sure I had strep throat. (I was right.) Sounds like a great time, huh? It actually was a fun date, though not exactly what I had had in mind. The best part of it was coming back and my mom had CLEANED THE WHOLE HOUSE (well, at least downstairs...) vacuumed and mopped, did about 7 loads of laundry. It was such an awesome surprise. She rocks.

Today was Nick's turn to visit the "minute clinic" as he was starting to feel badly last night-- turns out he has strep too. (Um, aren't healthy foods supposed to make you healthy???) When he went to get checked out today he had a fever of 100.8, and he asked the lady there... "Can you check and see what my wife's temperature was yesterday?" He is SOOOOOO sure he's sicker than me. :)

Update on the kiddos-- they rock. They drive me crazy and make me want to pull out my hair but they do rock. Josiah is the HAPPIEST little kid I have ever seen. He smiles incessantly and has the GREATEST temperament. I am being completely honest when I say that he only really cries if he's hungry or dirty (or maybe if Nico is laying on top of him or pressing on his soft spot.) If you think of it, please pray for him tomorrow as he has an appointment with an ophthalmologist. I have a slight concern about his left eye, but I am sure it will turn out to be nothing.

Here's some pics of the happy little guy...

Nico is such a little man. He's doing very well. He still struggles at night, but the past week or so we've seen a definite change in him. He's starting to really want to be affectionate with us and it's becoming obvious that he's starting to think of himself as our child. God is gracious.

Check out this pic of Nico after he and Nick got out of the shower the other day... pretty cute, huh?
And finally, my sweet Nia. Nia was sick all LAST week, but is feeling better now. She LOVES LOVES LOVES preschool. She's very smart and articulate and loves Math like her dad. I hope that sticks. Tonight I came into the kids' room after changing Josiah and didn't see Nia. I did, however, see this:
Yeah, she had grabbed a book and was just chillin' under J-man's crib "reading" it. She told me it was her "hideout."
That's all for now... I am going to retire to bed. (Nick was feeling so awful he went to bed at about 6:45PM... poor guy.)

This deserves it's own section---

I wanted to update everyone on us-- our family, the Daniel Fast, etc... but first I wanted to mention this and I felt like it needed to be separate from all that.

I just want to continue to ask everyone to pray for my cousin Jesse and his kids... on Saturday Jesse's wife Lisa went home to be with Jesus. Most of you know that I am a Christ follower, but let me assure you I have no answers as to why God allowed this. I ultimately trust in his sovereignty, but I have no thoughts about "God's plan" on this one...

Thanks for praying...

Thursday, October 4, 2007

So it's midnight...

... and I am sitting up here in the office because I can't fall asleep. I just took a Benedryl (which is sure to make the morning fun) but I am just totally keyed up-- and not in a good way.

There's a very serious situation going on with my cousin's family right now, and I am just heartbroken. I can't understand why or how God could let something like this happen. I've just been crying out to Him with all these questions-- it's something I can't wrap my mind around and for which there are no easy answers.

Today in my Bible study we were listening to Beth Moore talk about the curse after the fall in the garden of Eden. The whole idea of having to work through life with thorns and thistles to deal with. She made the comment that in a land flowing with milk and honey, you still have to deal with the bees. And then she said, "Life ain't pretty." It's true. Many times, life just plain sucks. And just when you think it can't get any worse--- BAM-- the unthinkable happens.

Lord, I don't understand. I am AGAIN drawn to Psalm 13... How long O Lord?

Wednesday, October 3, 2007

We're on day7--

and all is well.

I am really branching out in my cooking. Today I made two homemade soups to have on hand-- tomato and brown rice, and butternut squash and leek. Both are DELICIOUS!

Last night we also had a really yummy meal-- "taco" salad. I used the veggie crumbles and taco seasoning and had it over lettuce with tomatoes, pico de gallo, yellow peppers, rice, corn, and tomatillo sauce. Talk about delish! (I only wish I had cilantro on hand... oh well, next time.)

Some other things we've tried:
Stir fry with broccoli and barley a few nights ago-- also a winner.
Hummus on sesame Ezekial bread with lots of fresh veggies have been a few meals.
Veggie chili over brown rice.
Homemade French onion soup (made with vegetable stock.)
Roasted sweetpotatoes with rosemary and garlic.
For breakfast today we had oatmeal with mashed bananas and walnuts in it.
For snacks-- apples with natural peanut butter, (or celery with natural peanut butter.)

It IS more work to prepare meals, BUT I feel very good about feeding my family whole foods.
And I have to say-- Nick has been a CHAMP. Not only does he not complain, he actually seems to LIKE these things... (If only ice cream was part of the Daniel Fast we could probably do it indefinitely... :)

Hope you're having a great day.

Monday, October 1, 2007

Oh! One more thing...

Yeah, I couldn't pass up sharing this story... warning-- it might make you vomit...

Yesterday as we were about to sit down to eat dinner, I noticed Nia sucking on the hem of her dress. This is not really something unusual, as she is a VERY oral child and puts EVERYTHING in her mouth-- her sleeves, her necklaces, her fingers, etc... So I said, "Nia please don't suck on your dress."

And she said, "But it's all wet, I am just sucking the water out."

And I said, "How did it get all wet?"

And she said, "I think my dress was too long and it went into the potty." (You may walk away to barf now.)

And so I said, "WHAT ARE YOU THINKING?! TAKE THAT DRESS OFF RIGHT NOW, PUT IT IN THE HAMPER AND WASH YOUR HANDS!"

And she said, "Yeah, that's a good idea. That way I won't spill dinner on my dress." (Yeah, cause I am REALLY worried about that at this point!)

*sigh*

E Coli, here we come... seriously, kids are GROSS!

Day Five

Today is day 5 of our Daniel Fast. It's going well and we've become more adventurous. It'ss interesting. I am definitely not getting hungry very often. This kind of food keeps me full from a huner standpoint, but I find I am missing foods that I really like to eat. And more than missing food, I am REALLY REALLY REALLY missing coffee. I haven't had any coffee since last Friday morning, so I am now officially off of it, but I miss it A LOT.

I still need to work on the whole hunger thing a little better. I DO want to wait until I am hungry to eat-- something to keep working on.

Nick is a trooper. He's finding out he has more food issues than he thought. :)

I think this is a worthwhile exercise for us and I am really glad we are doing it. We're nearly a fourth of the way done.

IN other news-- MAN, having 3 kids is a lot of work. I don't mean to sound like a complainer, but this is much harder than I imagined it to be. I am sort of a "roll with it" kind of gal, but having 3 small kids is really taking me to the limits of what I am capable of. I think the extra needs that Nico (and Josiah for that matter) has have made life very challenging at times. Through it all though, I am grateful for them. I love them to pieces (that's a weird expression), and to quote the very wise Adrianne Bow, "someday my kids will be gone and my house will be clean and that will make me sad." So... I guess we just keep on keepin' on.

More later...