Monday, June 30, 2008

Yes, I am still alive.

Sorry for the lack of communication.

We took a "quick" trip up to Pennsylvania to get my kids... They were starting to melt from missing their momma and I was starting to melt from missing them. So we got up there and caught the last 36 or so hours of the Creation Festival. Good times.

I have many deeply profound things to blog about-- like Amy Grant TOTALLY not knowing the lyrics to one of Chris Tomlin's songs during the candelighting and trying to pretend she did-- which (in my humble opinion) is not a great idea when there are close ups of your face on a JUMBOtron. (It's called JUMBO for a reason.)

But alas, I am exhausted and Mt. Laundry is as bad as ever-- possibly worse since I have Haiti stank AND Creation Festival Camping stank to contend with. So you'll just have to wait...

Friday, June 27, 2008

Pics from JB's funeral

Hey everyone--

This post is a little more somber than most I write. I wanted to direct you to some photos Leann posted from Jabez' visitation and funeral if you are interested.

http://picasaweb.google.com/Lea2913/JabezSFuneralAndBurial

Tomorrow, if I can summon the mental energy, I want to share with all of you the impact this small child made on my life-- it was gigantic.

-G

Some random pics and commentary from our trip

This is Nick, sitting in first class, enjoying his breakfast. I thought the juxtaposition of his "missionary" shirt and first class meal was classic. (Disclaimer-- just because I DO care about image management... we did NOT order first class tickets. We were upgraded free of charge.) I actually felt kind of awkward sitting in first class-- but it was AWESOME. To quote my husband Nick Mangine, "The only bad thing about sitting here is that you don't get to judge all the people in first class as you walk past them to your seat in coach."


We stayed at Cap Lamandou Hotel and I found several hermit crabs on the back stairs. This guy was kind of large and I thought I'd pretend to give him a little taste. He reached around with one of his back legs and pinched me. As reflex I sort of accidentally threw him. He landed with a thud on his shell. I went to go check on him. As soon as he saw me he just retreated back into his shell. I am hoping he was just mad at me and not going back into his shell to die.



When you're in Haiti, pretty much any decent place (home, business, hotel, etc.) has a high wall with a locking gate around it. This is the Haitian equivalent of barbed wire. They press broken glass down into the cement (as it's drying) as the top of the wall to stop people from climbing the wall. Hey, whatever works, right?


This is Vania posing for her new sponsorship photo her her new backyard. (And my new back yard too!!! WOOO HOOOO!!!) I love this picture because it looks like it's a fake background, BUT IT ISN'T!


And then these are my legs. All banged, scratched, bruised, mosquito-bitten and chiggered up. *sigh* Now, I'll NEVER be a leg model. ;)

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Recap

So yeah. Back into the swing of things here in NC. Yesterday was a long day of travel-- a few hiccups here and there, but nothing major. I was glad to be back. I started crying as soon as I saw Nick-- I think just out of relief. All week long I have been trying to hold it together and muscle through the drama. I spent about an hour last night just sort of vomiting all my emotion out on Nick and then took a nice hot bath. I had a good night sleep and a lazy morning, and I feel like a new woman. (A new woman with itchy ankles-- I am thinking I might have chiggers or scabies or something... it's AWFUL.)

It's impossible to detail all of the emotion/events of the past week. There were a lot of really low lows. I ask you to keep Jonathan and Adrianne Bow in your prayers in addition to the Pyes. They had a very traumatic experience on their last day in Haiti-- (see details here) http://www.jonathanbow.com/carry_the_light/2008/06/okhere-we-go.html . Please pray for their "recovery" as they process all they experienced in those few hours.

The truth is that (unfortunately) most of what we experienced are things that happen regularly in Haiti. It is, however, RIDICULOUS how MANY of these hard things happened in such a short time. Absolutely ridiculous. The upshot of all of this is that I feel like we are getting a more accurate picture of what our lives will look like in Haiti. It's a constant battle to put out fires. And really, I feel good about our (Nick and I's) ability to do that once we're properly trained. I walked away from this trip wishing I didn't have to come back to NC, but wished instead my husband and kids could join me there. Don't get me wrong-- I had a few meltdown moments, but I also had the opportunity to see God's faithfulness and peace wash over me as others interceded for us, and as we tried to earnestly seek Him.

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Today was hot

(Duh, it's Haiti.)

I rode on my first Haiti motorcycle today. Roro drove and I was on the back. Of course Danny asked him ahead of time if I was too "gwo" (big) to ride. Charming way with words that man has. :) Come on, I have seen FIVE Haitians on one motor-taxi. Do I really weigh more than FIVE Haitians? (Well, maybe... but I digress.) It was wicked fun-- I kept telling Roro to go faster which was sort of pointless when we were on such bumpy roads-- I think I may have acquired shaken gwo person syndrome. And although it was fun, I have to admit I felt a little, um, awkward. It's pretty close contact for a stranger, if you know what I mean. I understand that this is Haiti and that's not big deal here, but I am not actually Haitian (just incase you didn't know that about me already-- although I could see how you would be confused by my stellar Creole-speaking skills, and ever darkening tan.) I am American. And generally in America that kind of close contact is usually limited to a select few-- at most, or in my case, one. But awkward close contact aside-- it was really fun.

Let's see what else? Hmmm. I worked on sponsorship surveys, ate Haitian spaghetti, made banana chocolate chip muffins, and nearly got hit by a motorcycle on a walk with Leann. (Apparently my Creole UNDERSTANDING skills could use a little brushing up, since he was telling me to stand still and I was trying to get out of his way.) He stopped the bike and he maybe was a little mad at me. So I yelled at him that I didn't understand what he was saying because I don't speak Creole. Of course I yelled it in Creole, so I am pretty sure he just thought I was liar in addition to a crazy (gwo) blan.

Speaking of lying, I lied to all of you yesterday when I said I was leaving at 4AM tomorrow. I am actually leaving the hotel at 3:30AM. Yes, really. (The wind is spilling out of my sails as I write that-- that is STINKIN' early.)

If you could please be praying for our travel (I am traveling back with Danny's dad, and Leann's mom, who hurt her foot badly and can't walk very well right now.) Also, please be praying for the Pye's as they continue to grieve Jabez. Life is hard in Haiti-- that's just the way it is. But this past week has been especially ridiculous with the number and severity of things that have gone "wrong." It hasn't created a lot of space for peace to mourn...

I am sad I am going "home" in the morning, but I am ready to see my Nick. I just need to be near him. Life makes more sense when we're together-- the whole "one flesh" thing is too hard to negotiate when we're apart.

Monday, June 23, 2008

I am sure I probably smell like livestock, but...

I like the way sweating in Haiti feels good. It feels clean somehow. I know that sounds weird. Heat in the US is not heat in the Caribbean.

Today Leann and I took the kids out to their land to take new sponsorship photos-- I love that land-- there aren't words to describe the beauty. The boys played soccer for a while and then we returned home.

Slendia had been feeling badly all day and had been home sleeping. She was burning up when we got back, so Roro drove her and I (and the head nanny, Anise) to the doctor. I was actually very impressed at how thorough of an examination he gave Slendia. Very similar to what our pediatrician does. The doctor was very nice-- he went to med school in the US and practiced in the US for 15 years, so his English was very good. I was glad to make that connection. Then we had to go to the lab for some blood/urine tests, just to be on the safe side to rule out malaria, and a few other things. Slendia was a trooper. We got home, she took her antibiotics and then Danny and Leann left to go out to dinner, leaving me to hold down the fort.

They literally weren't out the door or 5 minutes when Slendia starts puking ALL over the living room, so I throw her in a tub. Then Tina has a splinter in her toe and needs my help. Meanwhile, Omega was insisting that he's allowed to walk down the street to get a new phone card. (At least that's what I think he said-- my Creole is about as good as his English, so yeah, I am not 100% sure what I gave him permission to do.) But I made it VERY clear he was to be back in 10 minutes-- which he was, with a new phone card in his hand, so I feel okay about how all that worked out. I was starting to wonder if I could really hack a few hours by myself at the house with no other English speakers, and then I remembered I am a mom, and, therefore, a Superwoman. It got easier after that realization.

The kids are watching Enchanted (in French) right now, and when Danny and Leann get back we're going to all have a slumber party with the kiddos-- fun stuff. Tomorrow (after we go to the lab to pick up Slendia's results) I am going to hit the "grocery store" (and I use that term VERY loosely) and pick up a few things for lunch, as Sandra and Nixon are coming over. I am hoping to strike up a friendship with Sandra as we'll be neighbors (ish) in just a few months and I am scouting out all the community I can find. We're going to finish sponsorship surveys for our August sponsorship updates in the afternoon. We'll eat dinner with the kids, and then it's off to bed as we have to leave at dark thirty (4:00! yikes) in the AM to get to PAP so we can wait in the airport for 8+ hours while our flight gets delayed and cancelled over and over. And believe me, that's not a great airport to be trapped in-- smoking is A-Okay with everyone there, and unless you're interested in some rum or overpriced Haiti gak-- you know like Made in China" Tap Tap salt and pepper shakers or something equally as useful-- you're just sitting there. No wireless either (which doesn't really matter since I don't have a laptop, but you get the point.) I know I sound like a pessimist (although I prefer to call it a realist), but I am learning that if you set your expectations really low when it comes to American Airlines, you may be less disappointed when things don't hit the mark.

Nick said Josiah is walking now. I am sure that happened when we were in Haiti and he was SOOOO close before we left. In case you're wondering, no, it doesn't make me sad that we missed it-- we missed it with Nico too (that was during those pesky orphanage years). Missing it with Josiah makes me feel a little better about missing it with Nico in some strange way. I know-- I am a weirdo.

I miss my little kidlets and, of course, MY MAN. (That's Nick in case you were wondering.) But since I can't be with them now, there really is no place I'd rather be. Mwen renmen Ayiti.

Sunday, June 22, 2008

Have I ever mentioned--

that I LOVE this place? I wish I didn't miss my hubby and kiddos so much, but I just LOVE it here. *contented sigh*

Saturday, June 21, 2008

Daily Update

Today was fun-- well, for me it was.  Not so much for Nick.  He got to Port Au Prince at about 9:30AM and literally JUST flew out after being delayed for LOTS of hours and then having his flight cancelled.  He said there were A LOT of unhappy Haitians in the airport today. He's feeling pretty stressed out--  he won't make his connecting flight (obviously), so he's not getting home tonight.  American said they cannot get him to RDU tomorrow at all.  So, it looks like he may be flying into Charlotte and driving from there.  Here's the real funny thing about it-- when we decided to change my flight to Wednesday, he insisted that I keep the credit card and almost all the cash.  Please pray we can work this out.  He's got a very important meeting on Monday that he cannot miss.  The number of things that have gone wrong on this trip are getting so ridiculous there's a tinge of hilarity in all of it.

So while we are on things that went wrong-- I drove off a cliff today with about 38 kids on the roof of the Jimmy.  Well, that might be a *slight* exaggeration.   What actually happened was that I drove off a few feet into a ditch.  There were like 6 kids on the roof-- not 38.  We got out fine when we popped it into 4WD, and nobody got hurt.  The Jimmy really couldn't get any worse so it's not like I did any body damage... HOWEVER, after we stopped at the beach and were ready to load everyone up, the Jimmy didn't start.  Apparently an alternator belt got knocked a little loose during the "incident" and so it wasn't charging during the drive.  It got worked out after a few hours. 

You may be asking, "Why did you drive into a ditch?"  Well, I didn't actually mean to.  The Jimmy is  pretty large vehicle and I can't really see over the hood and didn't know it was there.  I was trying to take a turn wide because it was a weird angle and it didn't work out the way I thought it would.  Yeah, I know...  women drivers.  The kids apparently weren't that shaken up, they got right back up there after I got out of the ditch.  Mad props to Danny for handling the whole affair with a lot of grace and not making me feel too badly.

We took a hike up on the HCH land-- aka-- WHERE I AM GONNA LIVE!!!  :)  It was so great.  I love that place and get more excited each time I step on it.  It was amazing to stand in the place where my house will be and realize that in a year I could be living there.  Crazy, wonderful.  There are lime trees and mango trees on the property.  And today I found a watermelon growing there. (WATERMELON IS MY FAVORITE FRUIT-- I didn't even know they grew in Haiti...  woo hoo!)

I love the kids here more and more each time I visit.  They are such characters.  My heart beats fast when I think about 20 more-- kids that will members of OUR family.  Who will they be? What will they look like?  How will my life be changed because of them?  I feel like I am a child waiting for Christmas morning.

We continue to need and appreciate your prayers.  Other than when Josiah was in the hospital, I can't think of a time I have prayed more.  I feel like I don't have a choice when I am here except to be in near constant prayer.  Maybe this is what Keith Green meant when asked God to make his life a prayer.  Maybe not, but either way-- it's all good.

PS-- Sorry if I caused a rukus with the whole "arrest" thing on yesterday's blog-- it was nothing serious, just a license plate issue that ended up being a misunderstanding...  you know me, always exaggerating the real story to make my life look more exciting.  Speaking of which, I took a little spill while hiking on the land today and I have a gigantic open gash spanning from head to toe, bruising such that my entire leg looks like I may end up losing it-- or in other words, "I skinned my knee."

Friday, June 20, 2008

Add to that list--

a donkey braying (LOUDLY!), and motorcycles passing by...

As Tara Livesay would say, TIH (this is Haiti).

Weary

It's been a long day-- a really long one.

It's been filled with adventure (me driving in Haiti is always an adventure) and drama (someone-- I won't mention any names-- got arrested), busyness (getting everything ready for the memorial service) and heartache (just all day and night long.)

We are all grieving sweet Jabez differently and I feel honored to be here.

Nick flies home tomorrow-- I am here until Wednesday. Transparent moment here-- this is the hardest "Haiti trip" I have been on. Murphy's law seems to be the presiding law of the land-- especially this week. Nick and I were reflecting on how yesterday was the best day of the trip so far and that included a delayed flight, lost baggage, a viewing, and having to re-wear Wednesday's underwear.

Well, I need to get cleaned up and organized around here-- Nick and I swapped with Danny and Leann. They are at the hotel and we're at the house tonight so that they can get some sleep. I hope it's quieter there than here-- at this very moment I am listening to a circular saw outside, roosters crowing, dogs barking, kompa music from upstairs, kids chatting, and the voodoo drums are just getting started.

Please pray for us--

Update from Haiti

Hey there all my loyal bog junkies--

Just have a minute, but wanted to let you know that after many, many hours, tears and drama, we made it into Jacmel yesterday. They, of course, lost our bags, but they were found and we had a friend deliver them to us last night.

It is hard here. My heart is breaking right along with Danny, Leann, their family, friends and all the HCH kids. We all miss Jabez. Today is the funeral, please pray.

In other Mangine news, we're no longer homeowners. Our house is now officially our EX- house. We closed yesterday. We are houseless, but not homeless. The reality of the upcoming transition is starting to really feel real. It feels right, but honestly, a little terrifying. I am thankful to my God who holds me.

Hopefully more later.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Disarray

Today my soul is in disarray-- my heart is broken as we mourn. Our dear friends in Haiti, Danny and Leann Pye, said goodbye to their first child, Jabez as he slipped into the hands of Jesus.

This news is shocking and heart-breaking. I beg you to pray for them and the whole family down at HCH as this loss is processed over the next days and weeks and years.

Here's his obituary from Danny and Leann's blog.
This morning around 9:30 AM, Jabez Joseph Jn Baptiste aka Jabez Matthew Pye went to be with Jesus. He was surrounded by his mother and father as he took his last breath. Please pray for the Pye family, HCH children as we weep, rejoice, and remember his 3 years on this earth. His funeral will be Friday. Again please pray for us during this difficult time.

Monday, June 16, 2008

Things I discovered this weekend--

- Ethiopian food is really good.

- There really is nothing more fun than a bunch of girlfriends out on the town.

- Facebook may become a bad habit for me.

- I am part of a really, really awesome church. (I think I knew that one, though.)

- Amazing Grace is a good movie. I think I may need to buy that one.

- Kids eat free at Dickie's Barbecue (in Crossroads) on Sunday's.

- Dickie's Barbecue serves portions that are far too large and will likely make you utter- "I am never going to eat again in my whole entire life."

Sunday, June 15, 2008

The freshly-shorn Mangine's

Daddy and his crew...


"Nico, let me tell you how it's gonna be..."


Josiah sneaking up the stairs... Look at him. He KNOWS he's disobeying. :)

Pretty much the happiest day of my life.

Okay-- so maybe my marriage, my kids being born/coming home, etc. were happier days-- it's one of those things that is hard to measure.

Today was the Crosspointe BIG REVEAL. It was unbelievable. In one week our community gave over $405,800.00. That's more than enough. I seriously don't have adequate words.

My God is SO big, so strong and so mighty there's nothing my God cannot do.

So our target date to move is May 1, 2009. More to come soon soon soon.

Saturday, June 14, 2008

Grrrrrrrrrrr.

I just feel like complaining-- so don't read on if you don't want to hear negativity.

Well, apparently we're NOT closing on our house on Monday. Something is missing in the paperwork (on the buyers side) SO.... we wait for that to get figured out.

And have I mentioned we've been without one of our cars since before our trip to the Bahamas? Yeah, we need a transmission rebuild. For like $2000.

And our dang printer isn't working... again.

Grrrrrrrrr.

Thursday, June 12, 2008

First meeting about support-raising

So last night Nick and I had a long and WONDERFUL meeting with my new very good friend and "Pastor of Mobilization" (yeah, I am pretty sure she doesn't know what that means either), Pam McKerring, and our great friend and HCH Board Member, Steve Estes, to begin delving into this whole support raising phase of our Haiti adventure.

By the end of this month (after the big Crosspointe offering secret is revealed-- anyone else ANTSY yet????) we hope to have a target move date, knowing that it generally takes a family like ours about a year to raise support. It may take shorter or longer-- we don't know, BUT we trust in a God who is bigger than all of that. So I guess the target date we pick is just that-- something to shoot for.

There is a WHOLE lot to do, but I trust that as we move forward on this-- God will give us His grace to help us know what we need to do each day, and the strength/means/wisdom to do it.

Last night these two amazing individuals ended the meeting by laying their hands on us and praying fervently for us, our marriage, our children, this ministry, all that is ahead. It was this totally, totally awesome time for me and Nick. To just have these supporters (for that is what they really are) just hold us up before our Father. So humbling. So exciting.

I can't wait until Sunday when we know more! PLEASE GOD!

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Changing sheets and other house(non)keeping ramblings

One of my least favorite feelings is walking upstairs with a very tired child-- both of us very much needing a break from each other- and discovering that I've forgotten to replace the sheets I stripped off the bed earlier that morning as they were covered in pee/vomit/poop/spit-up/snot or some unidentifiable wet substance (or just general kid stank).

I know you're probably thinking, "If that's the worst thing that happens today she is in good shape." True. It's not a big deal, it just makes for a miserable 4 minutes (or however long it takes me to locate and put clean sheets on the bed.) Crying baby, exasperated momma...

But actually, the more I think about it, I should actually be grateful for those bedtime/naptime accidents every now and then since it means my kids will have clean sheets every month or so. People, I get a D- in housekeeping. I wouldn't say I am a dismal failure, because SO FAR no one has called Child Protective Services, but it's not my strong suit. And I like to pretend it's on purpose by telling myself, "You're just building their immune systems for when you live in Haiti." I know I am rowing in a sea of denial, but it's working for me, so if it ain't broke...

Monday, June 9, 2008

A.MAZ.ING.

Our room at the resort

The REAL Gwenn (sans all the drama)

Walking through Cloisters

The volcanic rock on Rose Island

Our excursion-- more later...

The REAL Nick (sans all the drama)

The benefit of being early risers-- having the beach to ourselves.

Enjoying a poolside beverage

The Bahamas were great. Totally what I needed. It was amazing and beautiful, relaxing and eye-opening. It was fantastic just to be with Nick—all by myself. And actually, (I’m risking sounding prideful here) it was also fantastic just to be with me. I think forgot how much fun I used to be. It was a relief just to put aside all the drama and seriousness of life and just BE. I think I want “fun, silly Gwenn” back more often.

One funny thing to note though was that the whole time I was there I had this inner battle with guilt. This is going to sound very weird, but I felt like I was cheating on Haiti. I went through this utterly odd set of feelings as in my head I kept comparing and contrasting the two places. So much of being in the Bahamas reminded me of being in Haiti. I had this eerie déjà vu as we arrived in Nassau and I walked out on the tarmac and the heat slapped my face. The general ambiance and appearance of the airport was so similar to Toussaint Louverture International Airport, I expected to hear the Digicel band welcoming us. I had to fight the urge to utter a “mesi” or a “bon jou” to drivers and waiters. I would catch a small whiff of Port Au Prince here and there in the diesel fumes while driving through Nassau. I tasted faint taste of Haiti in the beans and rice prepared for us on Rose Island. The entrepreneurial spirit of the women at the craft market reminded me of haggling with street vendors in Petionville. I arose early in the morning and watched a man use a ladder to climb a coconut tree with a machete in his hand to cut down some coconuts, and I recalled being in Basin Bleu the day the foundation was finished, when a young man shimmied up a coconut tree (with no ladder) to cut down a coconut from which to drink. The humid salty air whipped through my recently blown strait hair, creating a mop of jumbled, tangled waves and curls, and instead of feeling disheveled, I felt young and beautiful and full of life. And as I basked in the breeze of this hot Caribbean air, I remembered the feeling of being on the land in Raymond-- feeling somehow cooled off, even though it was a hot breeze. And I thought about how I can’t stand being hot in the US, but somehow here the heat was not only tolerable, it was strangely enjoyable. I looked out at the clear blue water of the ocean interrupted here and there by sharp volcanic rocks and I thought of the place I dream will be my home.

There were so many beautiful experiences in the Bahamas-- but it was missing the essential essence of the country I love. And I love that. I know life will not be easy when we move, but I do know that it will be home.

Thursday, June 5, 2008

Well, because "my public" (ha!) is demanding an answer--

I will admit it.

Men's boxer briefs work like a charm. I actually told this solution to someone I am very close to and she tried it too and can vouch for me.

So, because I know you are wondering-- I went out and bought a pack, I did NOT, repeat- DID NOT wear my husband's underpants.

So yeah-- $8 for a 4 pack of Fruit of the Looms... pretty decent price if I don't say so myself.

Be brave women-- give it a try. I believe you will find it works very well.

Carpet art

I need this vacation.

Yesterday MAY have just been the hardest day of parenting I have ever encountered. Josiah was sick (of course he was sick, we're planning our first full-fledged vacation since we went on our honeymoon!) Then I got sick in the afternoon-- I'll spare the details but it is not pretty. So we were already starting with a stacked deck-- add laundry and packing, cleaning and, well, life-- it was just an all over bad day. The final straw was coming upstairs into the loft where Nia and Nico had been playing and in addition to EVERY crayon, marker, + piece of chalk strewn ALL over the floor, Nico apparently thought our (NEW!) carpet was not colorful enough and had done this:
I SERIOUSLY thought I was going to lose it. (And I was probably pretty close to coming competely unglued.)

Today is marginally better. We're all the way packed-- kids and all. Clean sheets are on the beds. Bathrooms have been cleaned. Nico took a morning nap this morning which helped me get these things done (both in that he was out of the way and that he encouraged me to change the sheets since he peed the bed.) But when he woke up, the old sibling fighting between him and Nia flared up.

As I was cleaning up the pee sheets, Nia did not like that Nico was walking around with a pacifier in his mouth and started shrieking (literally) at him to get it out of his mouth. He mumbled a reply through the pacifier, to which she snatched it right out of his mouth. To which HE started shrieking as if someone had shoved bamboo shoots under his fingernails. I then entered the picture in earnest and put them both in time out.

Here's the dialog that followed:
**************************
Nia (talking back to me sassily) "I AM THE HELPER! IT'S MY JOB TO HELP. YOU ARE NOT LETTING ME DO MY JOB!"

To which I calmly responded the only good advice I ever got from a Junie B. Jones book, "A helper does not make the job harder."

To which she snapped, "WELL SOMETIMES THE HELPER GETS ANGRY. THAT'S JUST THE WAY SOME HELPERS ARE MADE!"

*************************

Seriously folks, I couldn't make this stuff up if I tried.

I am really glad that Nick picked a vacation package with adult beverages included.

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

Important Haiti updates



So yeah, it's a 4 post kind of day here at the Mangine house-- thanks for bearing with me.

Okay, so even if you don't read this whole post-- be sure to check out this video.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IrfvRBc5LSA


The long and the short of it is that our AMAZING church, Crosspointe, is taking up a collection to try to come up with the additional $385,000 needed to purchase a big chunk of land to grow the ministry of HCH. Here's an email about it from my pastor, Jonathan. Be sure to watch the video, it explains things well.

Please be praying about this. And if you are in a position to give, you can contact Mara (info listed at the bottom of the message) to do so.

And just as an FYI-- this is where we will live. We're excited and nervous this week as we petition God and our church for a miracle to make this happen...


*******

Sunday was definitely an intense day. Not in a bad way, but in a “big gulp” kind of way. I hope we’re always a community that is willing to step into these kinds of moments. DRIVE was one of those moments 18 months ago where many in our community sacrificed in a big way above and beyond their weekly and monthly giving to Crosspointe to fund some very important initiatives. At the halfway point of DRIVE, nearly $1.2 million of what was committed has come in—well ahead of pace in light of what was committed—and God has allowed us to be a part of some amazing things. (More on that in another upcoming email).

Now another moment has come—and while there will certainly be more—this is the one before us right now, that we, the leadership, are convinced God is inviting us into.

If you weren’t able to be with us Sunday, at the end of each service I laid out an amazing opportunity for our church to partner together in. You can hear the announcement by clicking here: http://www.crosspointe.org/messages/mp3s/Haiti3.mp3 or by downloading the podcast on iTunes.

In short, I, the elders, and the pastoral leadership of Crosspointe all feel like God is inviting us as a community to pursue radical generosity in partnership with the Haitian Children’s Home to purchase 17 acres of land in Raymond, Haiti. The vision for this property is to build 8 separate homes for orphaned and abused children to be brought into a family environment, 3 schools that will educate 800 local students who otherwise would not be able to receive an education, and the construction of a church and community center.

The remaining cost to purchase the land is $385,000.

Below, I’ve tried to make available as much information and detail as possible, as well as answer questions you may have after the announcement Sunday.

One thing that may prove helpful is that Steve and I recorded a short video that explains more of the background of “why this particular piece of property” and shows Steve on the ground in Haiti last week walking the very land we’re discussing, sharing more of the vision. You can watch that video here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IrfvRBc5LSA

Furthermore, for those of you who are interested in even more detail in regards to vision, philosophy, budget numbers, 501C-3 organizational structure, site plans, and photographs, a 26-page prospectus was developed about a month ago by the Haitian Children’s Home that provides a lot of that information. You can access that pdf file here: http://www.crosspointe.org/files/2008_Prospectus.pdf

Also, the website for the Haitian Children’s Home has a ton of great information and photographs that should prove helpful in your discernment process: http://www.haitianchildrenshome.org/

So, again, here’s the plan for this weekend. We’ll take a one-time offering this Sunday. Make any checks out to Crosspointe Church. The first $31,847 will go toward meeting our weekly budget. Every dollar in addition to that will go toward the purchase of the land. If more than $385K is given, then all the additional funds will go toward land development and the building of homes on the property (budget details are included in the prospectus). Some have asked what will happen to the money collected if we aren’t able to purchase the land in time. In that event, all the money will still go toward the partnership with the Haitian Children’s Home via the purchase of other parcels of land and the construction of new homes (for instance, the new home for Nick and Gwenn Mangine from our church who are moving there in the next several months to become the house parents of Home #2).

If you cannot be there this Sunday, but would still like to give, we will be accepting donations to count toward this offering through Friday, June 13th. We will announce to the church how much was given on Sunday, June 15th.

If you’d prefer to give through gifting stock, by electronic transfer, or in any other way outside of this upcoming Sunday morning offering, as always, you can contact our Administrator, Rick Smith, at rsmith@crosspointe.org or by phone at 469-9111, ext. 224. Additionally, you can contact him about possible options if your company does matching gifts.

Trust that I’m praying for you as you determine how you’ll be involved in this opportunity. It’s a moment that I know all of us will want to be able to look back on and say, “we were a part of that!” So, bottom line, I’m excited to see what God wants to do through all of us when we leverage our resources together to be a part of something far bigger than what we dream of doing on our own individually.

If you have any other questions, please feel free to contact my office at mgroegler@crosspointe.org or at 469-9111, ext. 227.

Grace and peace,

Jonathan

Always grateful

One year ago at this very moment my son was on life support. He had a machine that acted as his heart and lungs as his heart was repaired.

This is what he looked like when we first saw him after his surgery.




This is the man who saved his life, Dr. Andrew Lodge. I will always be grateful.


Thank you, once again, to all the servant-hearted, amazing people we call our family and friends who stood alongside us and held us up as our world collapsed.

My AHA! moment yesterday

Yesterday I had the joy of watching one of the little kids in our babysitting co-op. He hadn't been over for a while and has just completed kindergarten. We had a lot to discuss and I asked him a lot of questions about his school, his teacher...

What followed a conversation something like this:

****************************************
Me:
So, did you learn how to read in kindergarten?

Him:
Yes! I know how to read now.

Nia:
(excitedly) I can read some words too!

Me:
And how about math? Did you learn any math?

Him:
Yup.

Me:
Okay, what's 3 + 2?

Him:
(without hesitation) 5!

Nia:
Mom, I knew that answer was 5 too. I am really good at math too.

Me:
Did you go on any fun field trips?

Him:
Yes, lots of them. They were really fun.

Nia:
We had field trips at my school too. And my mom took me lots of places too. I am going to have a lot of field trips in homeschool next year.

************************************

And on it went all morning. And it wasn't just one sided-- this little boy wanted to be recognized too whenever I praised Nia or Nico. Nico wanted to be heard just the same. And I just saw the nature of children so clearly. Don't get me wrong-- it was a fantastically fun morning. We had a blast. I just kept finding myself listening to these children brag and try to one-up each other.

And then it hit me. We as adults to the same thing, just not so obviously. (At least we THINK we are being less obvious.) But are we really fooling anyone other than ourselves when we -- drop a name to make us look more important/cooler/smarter/well-connected? talk about the new car/toy/computer/phone/ etc. we just got? when we talk about how important we are at work? or when we brag about our awesome vacation? (btw- have I mentioned we are going to the BAHAMAS???) or when we show off how much money we have? or talk about how much money we DON'T have to try to appear humble? or when we try to explain to other moms that homeschooling/private schooling/public schooling is really the best option?

What is it in us that is just NOT happy unless we can outdo (or at least equal) the experiences of others?

I have been noodling on that for the past 24 hours. And as I thought about it, I tried to think about the model Jesus gave us. He really wasn't much of a braggart-- except for when it was about God (some people might call that praise) or when it showcased the natural, awesome glory of who He was as the Savior of the world. He didn't brag to impress other people. He didn't one-up people to make himself look better or feel better about Himself. He didn't need to. He knew who He was as the child of God. So I guess the question that gets to the root of all this is this, "Why don't we know who WE are as the children of God?"

I think that if we knew that, and REALLY believed it, our bragging would look a little different, don't you?

Breaking News

I took ONE of the suggestions in the comments of the last post for the chub rub situation and believe I might just have a solution.

Email me if you want to know what it is. :)

Monday, June 2, 2008

One of my quirks and a super-serious question

I really like to wear pants to sleep in. Like long sleep pants (in a cotton knit to be precise) Even when it's really hot. I don't like the feeling of my legs touching each other in my bed. Now, this is not a chub rub thing because sleep shorts don't cut it for me, it has to be sleep pants. And it has nothing to do with whether or not I've shaved my legs recently (which, honestly, isn't very often these days-- I know-- LUCKY Nick-- toothless AND all stubbly.) I can't hack it even RIGHT after I shaved. I just don't like the feeling and I can't sleep without long pants on. Is that weird?

Speaking of chub rub- it's that time of year again. Now, many of you (mostly of the male persuasion) are sitting here scratching your heads thinking, "What is chub rub?" If you don't know-- don't worry about it. You'd probably be better off in the long run if you didn't continue reading. If you know (and apparently it's not just an issue for ladies of a, hem, certain size... Apparently even many skinny minnies (although not all of them) out there have the chub rub situation going on-- unless one of my dear, dear friends and an internet full of people are lying about it) you're probably just as lost as me. And I wouldn't even mention it, except that I am really looking for solutions. Dude, we are moving to Haiti y'all-- I need to get this figured out.

Here's the thing-- I don't REALLY believe that any lotion/powder/gel solves the problem-- and besides, that's a consumable thing, so you're always having to get more. And I have seen how much those products cost. ($14.95 for 4 oz!) So I much prefer the whole bike short scenario. Besides- when I am chasing after three spirited kids, I don't want to have to worry about my underpants showing. (Do you like how I called them 'spirited' instead of naughty?) The bike short problem is that they are pretty expensive. Anyone have a good source for discounted rates on inexpensive COTTON bike shorts? (They can have a little spandex in them since they need to be tight and not bulky under skirts.)

Or do you have another solution that you know works for sure? (I am not really willing to spend any money on it if I don't have a first-hand testimonial.) So comment away ladies. (And gentlemen too if you have experience with this-- but if you do, you might want to comment as anonymous-- because people might think you're a weirdo. :)

All you entrepreneurs out there should have your ears perked on this one-- this could be a bajillion, kajillion dollar idea. (ESPECIALLY in America-- we have an obesity crisis...) But you'd better act quick before someone beats you to it. When you're rich and famous I am not looking for any kickbacks other than free product.

Sunday, June 1, 2008

One year ago today--

Life changed. My sweet, yet tardy, son Josiah breathed his first breath.

Here's a recycled post of his birth story--
WARNING--the birth is discussed in medical terms, and some terms/photos may not be suitable for young children or queasy men.

Birth Story of Josiah Stephen

I had a normal pregnancy, however, as I was 13 days overdue my doctor decided to induce me. I was more than ready as I had been very uncomfortable for some time. I suspected the baby was big—the 2 ultrasounds I had to measure the baby were conflicting. One said he was totally average, one said he was large.

I got the call to come into the hospital to start the induction at 6:01AM on Friday, June 1, thirteen days past my due date. They wanted me there at 7:15-7:30AM. So we hopped out of bed, got my daughter up and dressed and brought her to be dropped off with Nick’s parents.

We arrived at Rex Hospital at 7:18 AM and checked in.

About 8:00 AM things started to get busy. Three women came in— one was doing a mobile check-in, one was putting in my IV and one was playing around with the monitors. We were in room 238 and our nurse’s name was Trisha—she was from NY and she was a riot.

At 8:30AM the woman from the blood bank dropped by as we had decided to donate the cord blood. At 8:31 they started the pitocin.

At 10:10 Dr. Tosky came in intending to break my waters, but instead determined I wasn’t really far enough along. I had regressed from my appointment the week before—was at 2 cm and -3 station.

At 12:22 I decided to have the epidural. I wasn’t in a ton of pain, but the contractions were getting stronger and the nurse said there was no reason to wait as I knew I was going to have one anyway. It really hurt as the epidural went it—much more than last time.

At 1:35PM Dr. Tosky came back and broke my waters. There was meconium in the fluid, so they assured us that the special care team would be there when the baby came out.

By 4:40PM contractions got noticeably stronger. Dr. Tosky checked me again and I was at 6 cm and 80% effaced, but baby was still high.

At 5:15 PM the pain started getting bad (even though I had an epidural my bottom REALLY hurt). They increased the epidural.

5:21 PM- 9+cm and 100% effaced, but again, the baby was still high, so they started me on the “rotisserie” (Turning from left side to right side every 20 mins) to help the baby come down. I started on the left side. Was in a lot of pain.

Not enjoying childbirth at this particular moment.

5:32PM Turned to the right side, got a strong urge to push—was still in A LOT of pain.

5:44PM-- 10 cm, tried pushing but it wasn’t productive just yet because baby was still high and we decided to wait another 20 minutes before pushing.

6:12 PM- It was weird, when I was lying on my side it felt like the baby was about to fall out of me, but when I would turn onto my back the sensation would go away… Have I mentioned I was in a TON of pain? The epidural did NOT work as well as it had during my last delivery. Started pushing though.

6:35 PM Dr. Tosky arrived and I continued pushing. It became apparent that the head wouldn’t come out without an episiotomy so I agreed to one—Trish had been trying to stretch me since the beginning, but he just wouldn’t come out. It was frustrating because my contractions started to slow down and so the baby would make progress during a contraction, but then rock back into the canal between contractions. It was so frustrating, and it really hurt. Once I had the episiotomy the head came out in 2 more contractions, but then the shoulders got stuck. It was very scary. Dr. Tosky kept calling for all sorts of people to come in to assist. He had me pushing and pushing without stopping or waiting for the contractions. Because of the meconium in the fluid the baby needed to be suctioned right away, but since he got stuck he wasn’t able to be.

Finally at 6:50 PM the baby was all the way out. He was 9 lbs, 7.3 oz and 20.9 inches long. His heart rate was 115 and he scored 8 & 9 on the Apgar test. I was so relieved when he was finally out, but then my placenta didn’t come out. Dr. Tosky kept trying to massage my uterus, but it didn’t seem to want to come out. We weren’t able to hold Josiah or anything because of the meconium situation, and the special care team started caring for him as Dr. Tosky started stitching me up. (Nick didn’t get to cut the cord either because it was somewhat of an emergency situation.) In addition to the episiotomy, I had a cervical tear that he had to repair.

A hefty 9lbs, 7.3 oz

Blue Josiah with nurse Trish

The first time I held sweet J-man (other than the 42 weeks prior, that it.)

The regular nursery came in to give Josiah a bath and realized his breathing wasn’t normal and whisked him off to the special care nursery. We didn’t get an update for a long time, but when we did, the news was not good. Josiah couldn’t breathe on his own for what was (at that point) an unknown reason. They suspected it had to do with getting stuck and aspirating fluid, but they did mention that “worst case” it was a problem with his heart. An hour later they called Nick back to the special care nursery and told him definitively it was a heart problem and that Josiah would have to be transferred to Duke University Hospital. They rolled me back in a wheelchair to see him briefly while we awaited the cardiologist’s report. It was before he left Rex that we had the diagnosis—“Transposition of the Great Arteries” and learned that he would need open-heart surgery soon.

At about 1:00AM Josiah was finally transferred to Duke.