Monday, August 31, 2009

"Mommy Gwenn"

Fritzie had a great first day here. Check out Nia's blog for some photos.

Just wanted to share two things before bed--

1. THANK YOU SO SO SO SO MUCH to all the people who donated items before we moved down here for the orphange. It was SUCH a blessing to go to the closet and have everything all ready for Fritzie! New sheets, new towels, deodorant, shampoo, toothbrushes, soap, lotion, underwear... It was SO great. When Fritzie saw all the new stuff laid out for her, she told Candice (the woman that she was living with for the past two months since the orphanage shut down), "I can't believe these people actually WANT me to live here!"

2. Tonight at dinner Fritzie asked what she should call us. Nahomie chimed in right away with, "You can call them 'Mommy Gwenn' and 'Papi Nick.' " I knew that it was probably a little soon to make her start calling us that, so I said (in Kreyol, of course), "You can call us that if you want. If you don't want to call us that, you can call me Gwenn, and him Nick." She said okay. Later, when it was time to go to bed, she came over and kissed me on the cheek and said, "Goodnight Mommy Gwenn," and then she kissed Nick on the cheek and said, "Goodnight Papi Nick." Seriously. My heart melted on the spot. I know we have a long road ahead of us. I am sure we will all struggle with the adjustment at times. But I also know that God placed her here in our family at THIS time for a purpose. And it is SO EXCITING to walk in that purpose.

Good night...

Sept 1, 2009. HCH Mangine-- Welcome Fritzie!

Hello friends and family—

We have some great news to share! Today we are accepting our first HCH kid into our home. Our family is so excited. Her name is Fritzie and she’s 13 years old.

This wasn’t something we were originally planning until December of this year, but some extenuating circumstances arose, and we felt like this was the best scenario. Here’s a little of her story:

Fritzie is the youngest of 5 children. Her mother left the family a long time ago and her father is not mentally stable. He tried to support her for a while, but she found herself living on the streets about two years ago. She was taken in by a local orphanage at that point, but recently that orphanage closed down, leaving 16 children without provision. It was a very sad situation. Most of the children were able to be taken in by family members, but not Fritzie. Some of the orphanage staff members agreed to take her in temporarily, but as their date to leave the country drew near, there was no good situation for Fritzie.

There were three things that exacerbated this situation in our minds.

First, Fritzie has problems with her vision. She recently had a large cataract removed from her left eye that had rendered her blind in that eye. She is now able to see out of that eye, but it is still very crossed. She needs to have an additional surgery to fix it. In Haiti, children who are different in anyway are often teased mercilessly, even by adults. Having any sort of “disability” makes it very difficult for them, and we knew that the likelihood of her being accepted anywhere else with her eye situation was slim.

Second, Fritzie is 13, actually almost 14. A sensitive age for ANY young girl, we know that in Haiti, if she was sent back to her birthfather, she would again end up on the street, which is terribly dangerous for a girl of this age. Her options would be to become a restavek (slave) in someone’s home (where she would likely be beaten/raped), or turn to prostitution , which is very prevalent here in Haiti. As you could imagine, neither option seemed good to us.

Finally, Fritzie is nearly 14 and only in 3rd grade. She’s had to work the majority of her life, and there was no option for her schooling in her family of origin. She attended school while in the orphanage, but she still has a lot of catching up to do.

After considering all these factors, we spent a lot of time talking and praying about the situation and felt like it was the best option to take her into our home a little bit early. We think it will be a good “phasing in” process for our family, and for Nahomie. Also, Fritzie comes from a background of always having to work, even while in the orphanage. We think that the next three months before we take in other children will be good for her to learn how to be a child. To be in a situation where she doesn’t have to lug water for hours, or doesn’t have to supervise other children, where she doesn’t have to prepare the meals or do the laundry for her family. Yes, of course she will have regular chores like all our kids have. But she will be free to play, and go to school and learn how it’s supposed to be when you’re a child.

We’ve been busy getting all the plans in place to make this happen tomorrow. We got her bed, and picked out sheets and towels and clothes. We visited with her yesterday afternoon for a few hours, showed her around and talked a little bit about what to expect. My kids (especially Nia) couldn’t be MORE excited.

We’ve set her up with a private teacher for her first year of school. It’s more costly to do it this way, but we have hired an EXCELLENT teacher, and believe he can catch her up at least 2-3 years over the next year. We believe this will be best for Fritzie. It will help her self esteem to advance a few grades at her age, and we are also happy that it will allow her more time each day with our family during this big life change.

There are many other things happening within our family and HCH/Joy in Hope right now, but I thought it would be best to just focus on Fritzie today. So, as you pray for our family during the next couple of weeks, please pray for this transition.

· Please pray for Fritzie’s heart to be gently eased into our family. In addition to this being a hard age for girls, Fritzie has been through trauma and loss that we cannot even begin to imagine. Please pray that we could be patient and show her unconditional love. Please pray that over time, she’d come to see us as family.

· Please pray for Nia, Nico and Josiah during this time of transition- learning to share their parents and their “stuff” with Fritzie.

· Please pray for Nick and I. Pray that our marriage would stay strong during the first of many times of adjustment and “flux” for our family as it grows. Pray that we’d have the wisdom to be intentional about spending time together in God’s word and in prayer.

· Please pray for Nahomie, as she begins to work in the job she was hired to do—head nanny. We’ve been working with her to get systems in place—meal planning, preparing clothing, bedding, supplies, etc.

· Please pray for the language barrier. We feel like we are all doing well with Kreyol, but it takes everything to a new level to have a child who speaks a different language. Please pray we can understand and be understood.

A couple of people have contacted us about child sponsorship recently. We are in the process of getting Fritzie input into the system and I will make and “announcement” when all that is up and running.

Thank you for your prayers and support. It’s MORE THAN exciting to us to see our family making this transition. We’re happy. We’re excited. (In fact, I had trouble sleeping last night I was so excited.) We’re nervous. And we are always mindful that we are here, getting to do this because of you, living lives of generosity.

With a very, very grateful heart,

Gwenn, for the entire Mangine clan---

Nick, Gwenn, Nia, Nico, Josiah, Nahomie AND FRITZIE!

Contact info:



Our blog (updated several times a week): www.

Josiah, Nico, Nia and Fritzie

Sunday, August 30, 2009

Important HCH Mangine announcment!

Check Nia's blog for something WE ARE REALLY EXCITED ABOUT!

Hint... It's a girl.

Friday, August 28, 2009

"The probability that we may fall in the struggle ought not to deter us from the support of a cause we believe to be just; it shall not deter me." -- Abraham Lincoln
Photo credit: Leann Pye

Thursday, August 27, 2009


"The child who cries in the house and the one who cries at the door are the same."

-Haitian Proverb

Ti party

It's the end of the month. Our large monthly shopping in Port Au Prince is tomorrow. The end of the month always makes it tough to figure out what to eat. Normally, we are feeding 6 people-- us 5 Mangines + Nahomie. But on Mondays and Thursdays, Esther is here for meals too. Scrounging up food for 7 people is hard at the end of the month because we're running low on so many things. For example, today I have left one box of macaroni and cheese, 1 thing of Ramen noodles, no butter, no bread, no tortillas, half a block of mozzerella cheese, half a bag of shredded cheese, 2 overripe avocados, one overripe banana, about 3 TBS of peanut butter... a lot of little things, but not enough of any one thing for everyone.

I was just sort of at a loss but decided to send Nick to the market for some homemade Haitian bread, and just use what we had. 30 gourdes (about $.75) and about 5 minutes later, he returned and I commenced lunch-making. Here's what we ended up with...

A plate of (Haitian) salami and shredded cheese sandwiches. (Do yourself a favor and DON'T ask what Haitian salami is...)

A plate of avocado and mozzerella cheese sandwiches.

And a plate of peanut butter, banana and honey sandwiches.

I felt very proud of myself. Nick, pleased with my creativity, said, "This is a fun lunch-- it's like a little tea party." And me, being SO proud of my quick-Kreyol-thinking brain said, "No, it's not a tea party, it's a ti (little) party." (Tea in English and Ti in Kreyol are pronounced the same.)

I don't think he initially got my joke. But when he reads it on the blog, he's gonna laugh. And think I am clever.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Product review: Lady Anti-Monkey Butt Powder (LAMBP)

So-- I got some. And I tried it. And I love it. I LOVE IT. I REALLY LOVE IT.

Here's the skinny:
If you ARE skinny, you probably don't need this. BUT, if you find yourself in a situation like me, where you have *hem* ample assets, LAMBP IS YOUR PRODUCT.

It comes out of the bottle pink-ish in color and is satiny smooth. It's incredibly smooth. Made from a combination of cornstarch powder and calamine powder (yeah, the same thing you use for rashes and bites), it actually smells a lot like calamine lotion, which is not a plus, but you really don't need a lot. And it REALLY reduces friction. REALLY. I can't even begin to tell you how smooth. Like ZERO chafing. Which, is unreal. It is like a miracle in a $5.99 bottle.

Now, the price of the product (let me clarify this, it was given to me by the ever-generous Rick Smith) makes it a bit cost prohibitive. Therefore, I think it's best to utilize LAMBP only for areas of extreme chafing. It's not a good everyday powder-- you can use "Shower to Shower" or better yet, my favorite, Gold Bond. But for chub rub- this is the way to go. It's SO good, I didn't even wear bike shorts under my dress. Which, has NEVER happened since living in this ridiculously hot, humid, always-sweating-24/7-country.

The only other downside that I can see is that it tends to leave a slight trace of pink powder wherever it is applied. This is not a problem for me because I have a pretty strong opinion that anyone who has thighs ample enough to get chub rub, should probably not be wearing mini-skirts or short shorts. Thus, if your clothing were appropriate to your body size, no one would know about the pink trace of residue.

So check it out. If it works in HAITI with MY THIGHS, I think it will probably work for you and your thighs.

Monday, August 24, 2009

Mattress stank update-- We opened 'er up.

So with a large crowd of people-- (including our ex-pastor, Jonathan, and our ex-parenting coach, Rick :) we opened the mattress up.

This is what we discovered:

Despite the fact that it was wrapped in plastic, it was NOT, in fact, a new mattress when we purchased it 4 months ago. It was an OLD mattress, (a VERY old mattress) that someone re-covered with new fabric... We didn't dig around too deep. Once I saw that, I was done. DONE.

Only Sandra seemed to think the smell was filthy. In fact, I think her exact words were, "This smell is so bad it's burning my nose." I still think there's something dead in there... Sandra thinks that there's not necessarily something dead in there, but more likely, someone died on the mattress and was there for a while.

For now, an air mattress will be just fine for me. Plus it's lighter to lug back and forth each night since we sleep in the living room...


Sunday, August 23, 2009

The Probably House

We have agreed on terms with our to-be landlord... Still waiting to get the contract finished up, but should be signed this week! Move-in day: Dec 1, 2009. We're excited. It's a beautiful house where will have room to build our HCH family! I can't wait. Honestly, I wish it was today.

Sunday Best

As I mentioned, there was a big conference at our church this past weekend-- Friday night, Saturday morning, Saturday night and Sunday morning. Our church has about 700-800 or so people in it, and another 700 or so were bussed in from all over Haiti. All told, there were some rumors that there were up to 2000 people in and around the church at any one time this weekend. And because it was such a special event, most people were all dressed up in their Sunday Best.

I felt rude taking pictures of grown men and women (so I did not), but BELIEVE me when I tell you that I saw tuxedos, bridesmaid dresses, prom dresses, and even one wedding dress. Here's a sampling of some of this kiddos in their best...

This little girl hated me. Thus the pitiful-looking face.

I am pretty sure parts of this were on a wedding dress at some point.

Polyester fabrics + heat index of like 115F= recipe for disaster

Come one now, isn't she cute???

And she's even cuter...

There's a modern breed of "cool" Sunday Best-- complete with a Barbie purse, fishnet stockings AND fluffy socks.

And then there was this kid... no shirt all day. I think he had the right idea.

Friday, August 21, 2009

Stank update.

Nothing new. Still haven't slept on it.

Set up an airbed that we're using. It's sitting out on our front "porch"(ish) and this morning Nia said, "Mom, something stinks."

I said, "I know, it's that mattress."

She said, "Well can you move it? It's stinky-ing up our whole house."

When we have a chance we are going to open it up, but our next week is booked SOLID... (at least until next Thursday) so... not sure when that's happening...

In other news, we recently decided to do a VBS in Jacmel this weekend. There's a big missions conference happening, and so Danny told pastor we'd do a children's program during it. We don't have a team in for it, it's just our HCH missionaries and the HCH kids working at it. So, we'll see how that goes.

Last we heard Pastor Placide had bussed in an extra 700 people for the conference. We only planned for 150 kids MAX, so we're hoping that's mostly adults... Yikes.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Someone else's normal

"One person's picture postcard is someone else's normal."
Barbara Kingsolver, Animal Vegetable Miracle

My normal:

You should totally come for a visit and make it your postcard...

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Mystery STANK

So, for a while now, our mattress has had a weird smell to it.

Except I didn't know it was actually the mattress. I thought it was just us since we get so stanky after a day in the blistering heat. Well, let me clarify that last statement. I actually thought it was Nick. In fact, several times I have sent him to take a shower after he's already collapsed dead tired into bed because I just couldn't handle the stank. (Yes, I fully recognize and acknowledge the fact that I, at times, am a shrew.)

But the smell has become more persistent. Like when I'd change the sheets I'd notice it. Or when I'd make the bed, I'd notice it.

Now, this mattress was "new" less than 4 months ago. I put "new" in quotes because this is Haiti. And it was purchased on the side of a road. It was wrapped in plastic though...

So, often, Nick and I sleep in the living room of our house since there's ZERO ventilation in our bedroom. And by ZERO I mean NONE. It is the hottest room every created in the history of mankind. So, often we (meaning Nick) will drag the mattress out to the living room, we will sleep there and then we (Nick) will drag it back into the bedroom in the morning.

Now, Nick has been away for the past two days. So, I thought I'd have campouts with the kids in the living room while he's gone. The mattress is too big for me to pull it all the way back and forth to our room everyday, so I have just been standing it up on end in our living room and then putting it back down on the floor in the morning.

Well today I was doing this, and I could hardly MOVE the thing it stunk so bad. (It was the underside of it that stunk, so it didn't begin to smell until I moved it.) I layed it up against the wall and started sniffing around. It seems to be localized in one spot, which, honestly, concerns me. There are no spots or stains on the mattress. Just a mystery stank. And there are a few small holes on the side of it, but that's from where the handles ripped off (already) during transport. (Mattresses aren't exactly of the same quality around here as what I am used to back in the States...)

So... I had Nahomi help me carry it outside. She wiped down the mattress with a rag with Mistolene (the extra fragrant Dominican version of "Mr. Clean"). And we are "sunning it." She thinks perhaps the sun will help the smell go away.

While I agree with her theory that the sun can help stanky things become unstanky, what I ACTUALLY think is that there is something dead in there. Maybe a mouse or a rat. It smells like something that was living decomposing. I hope it's not a Haitian Boa Constrictor or I will probably never, ever sleep again. Ambien or not. I am not sleeping on it until Nick gets home to help me further my investigation. I will keep you posted.

And I would like to offer a public apology to Nick Mangine since I thought he was the source of the stank. But he still needs to shower before coming to bed.

I don't care if he uses his blankie until Jesus comes, but...

...we are now a pacifier-free home.

Today Josiah was being a real nightmare. He was overtired and climbed out of his pack and play 5 times at nap time. I kept putting him back and telling him that he needed to take a nap. I would gingerly hand his pacifier back to him. And he would take it and wing it at me as hard as he could.

After the fifth time, I lost my temper. I went into the kitchen, got a steak knife, and cut off the pacfier nipple. (This is the last pacifier we have in our house.) I went back to his room and handed it back to him.

This was not a popular decision with the ole' J-man. In fact, he hates me and is crying over and over, "Fafier bwoken. Mommy, you bwoke my fafier."

I told him, "Yup."

Not trying to be jerky. But it had to be done.

The child speaks in complete sentences. In two languages. He's too old for a pacifier.

Hope tonight goes well and that I had had the wisdom to make this choice AFTER Nick came home from his trip... so he too could share the joy. Oh well.

Josiah: a boy on the edge

of the couch

Yesterday Josiah was sick. He had a fever and he was throwing up and he was just all over miserable. It was no fun for anyone. So when he decided he wanted to lie down on the couch instead of his bed for his nap, I didn't have it in me to argue with him. He fell asleep right away. Nahomi came through and saw him sleeping on the couch and she said, "Mwen pa kwe li bon la. M kwe li tombe." (I don't think he's good there. I think he's going to fall.)

I said, "No, li bon. Li bezwen donmi paske li malad, donk m pa vle leve li. M pa kwe li tombe." (No he's good. He needs to sleep because he's sick, so I don't want to wake him up. I don't think he will fall.")

Well, you probably see where this is going. About 1 minute after I snapped this picture, I head a THWACK (kind of like the sound of a bowling ball hitting the floor.) This was followed nearly immediately by a screaching cry... Yes, Josiah tombe. (fell)

A little later I felt like I had to come clean with Nahomi, that the fate she feared for little Josiah indeed did come to pass. So I explained to her what happened. Nia just stood there listening and when I finished she said, "Wi, Manman mwen pa bon." (Yeah, my mom is bad.)

Sunday, August 16, 2009

The TSP (Tropical Storm Preparation) Game

With Tropical Storm Ana headed our way on Tuesday morning and Nick headed into Port Au Prince tomorrow, we thought today would be a good day to do some yard clean up in advance of the storm.

So we invented a game called the TSP (Tropical Storm Preparation) Game.

I liked this game a lot because it allowed me to sit down in a chair with a fan on me while my family did all the work. I was the score keeper, or as my children were obliged to address me, "Sort Commander." They had to bring me various items that didn't belong in the yard, and I told them where these items would go. Then they would return to me when they put the item away and say, "Sort Commander Check" and I would grant them a point.

Here was the final total:
2nd runner up, Nico- 14 points
1st runner up (tie) Nick and Nia- 25 points
Grand champion- Josiah 26 points

After the game was over, Nia decided to make "awards" for everyone. She wrote everyone a note on a piece of colored construction paper.

The one to me said, "Mom. Gud job. Thak you for being a gd mom."
Her note to Nick said, "Dad. You work fast and fast and harb." (I think she meant hard.)
To Josiah she wrote, "Josiah wun. Gud job Josiah."
To herself she wrote, "I am sekint plas." (I am second place.)
And her note to Nico was my favorite, "I love you Nico. I am sorey you lost."

So yes, it has become obvious that we need to work a bit more on spelling this year, but she's only six and she's currently learning another language, so I am okay with her phonetic spelling.

Dang, isn't that cute?

Saturday, August 15, 2009

HCH Mangine Clothing Drive


The Haitian Children’s Home is a family style home for orphaned and abandoned children in Jacmel, Haiti. We exist to build Haitian families. As we anticipate new children arriving into our home in the next few months, we are in need of new and used clothing/shoes in excellent condition. We will also need school supplies. Our needs are extensive, but we know that as summer ends soon in the US, many of you will be discarding clothing from this previous season. It’s also a great time for clearance sales on summer clothing!

A couple of things to keep in mind:
• We will be accepting children between the ages of 6-12, but most children will be in smaller sizes than children of corresponding ages in the US. Therefore, as you see, we will be collecting clothing from sizes 4T-children’s XL.
• Remember, we can only use SUMMER clothing. (It’s hot here year-round!)
• You can also send giftcards for Walmart and Target. 100% of this will be used for new clothing and supplies for our children.
• Culturally, we need to honor the customs and traditions present for Haitian Christians. Therefore, we cannot allow our children to wear bikinis, spaghetti straps or short skirts/shorts. Please only select modest clothing.
• We will be collecting clothing and supplies until the end of October.

Girl’s Black shoes:
Size children’s 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13

Boy’s black dress shoes:
Children’s sizes, 4,5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13

Girl’s flip flops:
Size children’s 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13

Boys flip flops:
Size children’s 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13

Church dresses for girls (no strapless, no spaghetti straps):
Sizes from 4T- girls XL

Knee length (or longer) skirts for girls:
Sizes from 4T- girls XL

Girls Shirts: (no spaghetti straps, no strapless)
Sizes 4T- girls XL

Girls SUMMER pajamas (no long sleeve, no flannel, etc.)
Sizes 4T- girls XL

Boy’s dress pants:
Size 4T- Boys XL

Boy’s dress shirts:
Size 4T- Boys XL

Boys athletic shorts:
Size 4T- Boys XL

Boys tee-shirts:
Size 4T- Boys XL

Boys belts (black is preferred):
Boys small- XL

Girls bathing suits: ONE PIECE bathing suits—no bikinis. Tankini’s that cover entire stomach are fine.
Size 4T- Girls XL

Boys Bathing suits (trunk style, no speedo style)
Sizes 4T-Boys XL

School supplies:
20 backpacks
20 packs of pencils
20 packs of crayons
10 packs of blue pens
10 packs black pens
100 folders
20 packs of notebook paper
20 1-subject notebooks
20 (individual) pencil sharpeners

We will have two drop off locations in North Carolina—one in the Triangle area, and one on the Outer Banks. If you are not local to either of these areas, I can provide you with addresses for shipping.


Please email me at: with any questions or for drop-off locations.

August 15, 2009-- Mangine Family HCH Update

The Mangine 5
(left to right: Nico, Gwenn, Nia, Nick, Josiah)
Hello all.

***Please note: you will receive TWO messages of correspondence today. This one will contain our regular bi-weekly update, and we will be sending out another, separate message with info about our clothing drive for the orphanage.***

I hope this summer has been treating you well. I have heard it has been very HOT in many areas of the States this summer… I sympathize! We’re doing very well here in Haiti—we love it here and are so happy to call this our home. There are many, many things to mention in this update, so I will keep this as brief as possible. Always feel free to email us at if you have any follow-up questions.

Since my last update we had an EXCELLENT team of youth visit us here and work VERY, VERY hard in the nearby village of Chabin, running a Vacation Bible School for children. I don’t know the number of children who attended—several hundred. It was a joy to see children being loved and served so well. There was a special comfort knowing that several hundred members of a community would not go bed hungry those four days. Our own children, (Nia, Nico and Josiah) enjoyed the VBS too—it was especially rewarding to watch our daughter, Nia, serve so joyfully and selflessly. She has a very tender heart and I love that she has numerous opportunities for developing the compassion that is just a natural part of who she is. We LOVE being able to serve together as a family!

We are in the midst of working on a solution for getting more content about our family and what we’re doing for HCH/Joy in Hope back up on the web. Look for major updates to our family blog: in the next two weeks!

Yesterday Nick and I took a ride into Port Au Prince to bring Mackendy, one of the Pye’s children, to the dentist. He had a few bad cavities that were giving him a lot of pain. We are fortunate to have connections with an excellent dentist in Croix de Bouquets who was able to take care of this. We’ve also had some concerns with a few of Josiah’s teeth and some discoloration we’ve noticed. We were able to get that checked out also which was great. Our friend (and fellow missionary,) Kyle, tagged along for the ride and was able to get two fillings as well. So it was very much worth driving nearly 8 hours (total) to visit this particular dentist—she does excellent work!

Another big development during the last two weeks is that we’ve had some serious conversations about some serious needs we’ve been confronted with. It is too soon to make any major announcements as we don’t have everything in order yet, but we are very close to making decisions on accepting children into our orphanage. As soon as we have more information, we will be getting YOU that information, as we need to find sponsors for them! We need all the word of mouth we can get!

Speaking of difficult needs—we’ve had several more requests lately that just break our hearts. Two nights ago at about 8:30PM, Jocelyn, (one of the street boys that we occasionally hire to help us, )came by and was asking for money. He claimed his mother was dying and he needed money to buy meds for her. Nick and I were so very confused as to what to do. We wanted to be able to help this family if this was a legitimate need, but we’re very leery of just handing out money, especially right in front of our gate. (We live in a pretty busy section of town and get several requests daily—we’ve been encouraged not to give anything out directly in front of our house, as it set a precedent for begging in front of our gate. We’ve seen this firsthand as we try to navigate these new waters.) We didn’t just want to send Jocelyn away, so we told him to get a list of the medications she would need and we would purchase them for her. So far, Jocelyn hasn’t returned. Please pray for his mother.

The same day, Esther, the lady that washes our laundry, approached us about financially helping her continue school. Again, we’re torn. We want to be able to truly help and support our staff members, but we know we can’t say yes to every need. Please pray for us as we try to discern the best way to be of service to the families here… it is extremely difficult and there are many factors to consider.

School starts for the HCH kids in less than a month, and while we were initially encouraged to wait 6 months before starting school with our children, we feel like Nia is ready, and it would serve her best to commence when the other children around her are beginning. So, we’re officially “back to school” on September 7th. By following the same schedule that the HCH kids will be using, we can break when they break and have school when they have school. We think it will set us up well for the future to start now.

I have been promising an update on support for a while now! Nick has started a pretty extensive financial audit of the past three months, as he prepares to share with the Board of Directors how things are going for our family financially. We are happy to report that during our first three months here, we have received 88% of our budgeted need. (We came here with about 92% pledged.) While this serves our family well at this point, we realize that overall within our organization giving is down. The economy is causing our organization to often receive notification that families in North America are no longer able to support the work being done here. This is causing a lot of stress as we (as an organization) need to determine what to continue to fund, and what we are going to need to let go… Please pray for provision for Joy in Hope.

Finally, please pray for Haiti as the Atlantic hurricane season is finally beginning to show signs of potential trouble spots. While this is a far bigger deal for many Haitian people than for us, we have a very leaky kitchen roof, and are not sure our roof can withstand much in terms of rain and wind.

We grow more in love with Haiti and it’s people every day. As we begin to feel more and more at home here, we are ALWAYS mindful of the people who sacrifice to make this life a reality for us. Thank you for your giving, for your prayers and for your encouragement.

With very grateful hearts,
Gwenn, for the entire Mangine 5—Nick, Gwenn, Nia, Nico and Josiah

Because of the team from Crosspointe, we were able to feed a community for 4 days!

Recipients were appreciative!


Nia helping me clean out the wet cabinets after a particularly bad rainstorm. Pray for our roof during the upcoming tropical storm season. Thank GOODNESS for Tupperware modulars!

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Oh. My. Word. Product I NEED!

My friend Christine sent me a link for THIS PRODUCT.

Description of the product from their website:
(Comments in parenthesis belong to me, and not the Anti-Monkey Butt Corporation...)

:Say Good-bye to Chafed Thighs! (ie: Chub Rub) Lady Anti Monkey Butt Powder is specially formulated with patented satiny smooth powder to minimize the frictional discomfort that women often experience when using exercise equipment, running, driving, cycling or just walking. (Or possibly just sitting, if you happen to live in a 3rd world tropical country without air conditioning.) Its unique ingredients work quickly to absorb sweat and provide cooling effective relief of irritation on the inner thighs and other areas of the skin prone to rubbing."

This sounds too good to be true... COULD THERE BE A CHUB RUB PRODUCT THAT ACTUALLY WORKS???

Anyone with ANY information about this MUST let me know. I need to find a way to acquire some of this before the next team comes down...

Mosquito net FAIL

I have been wondering why Nico has been getting so many skeeter bites when he sleeps with a mosquito net. I think I figured it out.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

And so it begins?

After an eerily quiet June, July and August, the Tropical Atlantic is beginning to show signs of activity. There are 4 "areas if interest" being monitored by the National Weather Service.

Hurricanes and Tropical Storms are DEVASTATING for the people of Haiti-- most of whom already live with more devastation than we could ever imagine. Today I saw two little kids collecting dirty water out of the river in water bottles... it broke my heart.

I had no clean water on me to give them...

Monday, August 10, 2009


There were so many pretty flowers in the yard I couldn't NOT pick some for a little (well, big) arrangement today.

It's CRAZY beautiful here. Insane.

Near tragedy averted

FACT: Haitian matches suck.

They have a bad habit of breaking in half mid-strike.

Today that happened. I was lighting a mosquito coil (it FINALLY rained last night!) and the match broke in half the split second after I struck it. Usually this isn't a problem because flying through the air generally is enough wind required to blow itself out. That didn't happen today. It landed, while still lit, on the top of the chest freezer.

Thinking quickly I went to blow it out. Unfortunately, the match was so light that I didn't blow it out, rather, I blew it OFF the top of the freezer. It fell behind the freezer while still on fire. Dude, my heart stopped. There isn't exactly a reliable fire service in Jacmel. As a matter of fact, a house burned down just this past week because the "fire company" didn't arrive until about 18 hours later. (How do you like THAT response time?)

Fortunately, the match went out and we didn't have a tragedy on our hands. I think I am going to bring some American matches back to Haiti with me on our next furlough...

Saturday, August 8, 2009

I miss Andrew Brown.

We had a game night tonight.

It was girls against guys, which, we, the Mangine's, generally have a rule against because I usually end up crying.

But I put on my big girl pants and we played.

It was wickedly uneven because there were two girls and three guys. The guys "technically" won, but if you divided by 2/3rds, the girls would have won. But I digress...

We laughed and laughed. It was so much fun. I knew it was a good night because I nearly wet my pants.

It solidified in my head that I need to plan game nights more often. But now I miss Andrew Brown, (our favorite game-playing friend,) and my hands are ITCHING to beat him at Dutch Blitz.

Edited to Add: Sometime ask Leann how she would draw "The Blues Brothers" if she was given that to draw in Pictionary. I promise it won't disappoint you...

Ugly Betty-- my stylist?

So, I noticed the other day that me and Ugly Betty share the same sense of style in eyewear...
Boy, that makes me feel really... um, proud?


Thursday, August 6, 2009

Why I love my daughter.

Funny Nia story from today.

Before I get into the story, let me share this picture for reference. This is Cecily (one of the teenagers visiting with the Crosspointe team) and Nico.


We arrived to pick up the team at team housing today before VBS and Teresa, one of the women on the team says to Nico (who happens to be wearing a tye-dyed shirt), "Nico, Cecily is wearing a VERY similar shirt today. I don't know how we'll be able to tell you apart."

Without skipping a beat (or meaning to be funny for that matter), Nia says, "Miss Teresa, it will be EASY to tell them apart. Cecily is wearing a skirt!" (Like, DUH!)


Nia cracks me up.