Sunday, January 31, 2010

The story.

Hey, if you're interested in hearing how the whole airport thing started out--
read Pam's blog... getting our kids OUT was the start of getting things/people IN.

Friday, January 29, 2010

I like the DR and all--

-- but it's got nothing on Haiti, the land I love.

Can't wait to get back bright and early tomorrow morning.

Doppelgänger week

Keeping it light--
here's something going around on facebook...

It's Doppelgänger week - who is someone famous you have been told you resemble?

The real me...

Ricki Lake

Kathy Najimy


Nick and I were able to hop a flight into the Dominican Republic this morning. We arrived before noon. We checked into our hotel here in Santiago, walked to a nearby restaurant called Montezuma, grabbed some ice cream on the way home and barely made it back up to the room here before falling asleep. I have been sleeping for the majority of the past 12 hours. I woke up to take a bath at one point. And I woke up at one point to eat after Nick had walked over to McDonalds to get us some dinner. But other than that-- I've just been sleeping. It's SO nice. We're here for tomorrow too and then head back on Saturday as soon as we can hop a flight out of here.

The first few hours here were really nerve-wracking for me. We're on the sixth floor and all I can think about is what happens if there's an earthquake. In fact, every time the air conditioning kicked on, the sound woke me up in a panic. Every now and then I keep thinking I am feeling tremors. I know it's not true. But it's getting better. Still not loving being all the way up here, but I know it's good for me.

Missing my American kids a lot. Missing my Haitian kids too. But I know this break is so necessary. I can feel the rest healing us...

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Patricia, a refugee.

Today Leann and I went down to see the big refugee camp in town. We'd heard there were 6,000 people living on the soccer field and we went to see this new section of "town" that's now part of our community. In many ways it was what we expected, but in many ways it was not. We walked around and talked with people and played with kids. As I walked from "tent" to "tent" all I kept thinking was, "this is their home now, this is their home now, this is their home now." But still, kids were kids, ladies were sitting around talking and doing each other's hair or feeding their children. Little boys were flying kites. Many people were injured.

There was one little girl I talked to quite extensively. Her name is Patricia.

Her family called me over to talk to them while I was walking by. She is 5. During the earthquake her house fell completely down. She was injured on her head and hand. Her face was very scraped as well, and starting to get infected but they told me that a doctor was looking at her every other day and changing her bandages. I didn't quite get the whole story as to specifically how she was injured.

I told her that I had a 5 year old son. Then her mom asked me how many kids I have. I told her I have 3 American kids, but that I also have an orphanage where I have 5 Haitian kids. Her face perked up right away and she started to hand me the 7 month old (pantless) baby boy on her lap. She said, "Oh, I am glad to meet you. I need to give you him. I can't take care of him anymore." I told her that I was sorry but I couldn't take her child. She asked why. As you can imagine, there were a million reasons swirling in my brain, but I just pulled out the easiest one.
"My orphanage only takes in kids between the ages of 5-12," I said. "We don't accept babies."

At this she pointed to her older son sitting next to her and said, "Okay, I understand. Then you can take him."


I explained that I couldn't just take her son. I told her that I knew things were very difficult but that I could tell she loved him very much. She asked me if I would think about it. I told her I didn't think I could take her son, but I would think about it. She asked me when I would come back. I told her I didn't know, but that I would try to come back again to visit. And I will. But I cannot take her child.

A change of plans?

So again we find ourselves at a point where we are just rolling with it. We've been working our tails off getting food out to the people-- but the requests just keep coming in. Faster than the food. Much faster. Today, unless we're able to locate another source of food (which we may be able to do as we have a few leads), we will be able to contact about two more churches and distribute food to them. And then we're out.

But, believe it or not, our hearts are not really discouraged by this. There actually IS plenty of food in Jacmel right now. Sure, a lot of it is sitting in warehouses still-- tons and tons and tons. But it is there. And larger organizations are beginning distribution on larger scales. It was never our desire or intention to switch our focus to being a disaster relief organization. Don't get me wrong, we're so glad to do it. I feel like God positioned us uniquely in the community for this time to meet many of these critical immediate needs. But now we find ourselves in a place where we're finally able to contemplate the long term. We're finally able to plan for the future and think about rebuilding our city. We've got so many ideas swirling around in our heads-- ways to provide HUNDREDS of jobs for newly unemployed people. Ways to empower the community to clean up the rubble and provide food for their families. Ways to move forward on making a plan to educate the thousands of newly school-less children in Jacmel.

It's all really exciting. And it's neat because we're finally at the point where we can start taking the big picture into account. The big picture of what we're here to do-- first and foremost, be houseparents and raise the 8 children God has given us. And hand in hand with that-- building our community to have strong families. It's exciting and life-giving at this time of great crisis to know that we can respond to this disaster well-resourced because of your previous and present faithfulness in giving. And we're excited to be brainstorming and discovering ways we can accomplish this well within the parameters of what Joy in Hope was created to do, but more importantly, well within the parameters of how God has shaped us to work. I. am. so. excited.

As a part of trying to return to normal, today Leann and I are going to drive around town and make ourselves SEE the things we've not really seen much of lately. We've been holed up in the airport first, and then the food distribution depot for the last two weeks. Pray for us as we do this. All of our trips into town lately have been just running out here or there to pick something up or drop something off. We're taken aback by the things we see "accidentally" along the way. But today our mission-- for an hour or so-- is to just go look at these things. To face the new reality we live in so that we don't have to be taken by surprise as much over and over in the next days and weeks to come. We know it won't be easy. Would you be praying for us?

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

"How are you holding up?"

I have been getting a lot of emails with that question. We (our team) all has. While I can't answer for all of them, I thought I'd try to answer for me. I say try because I don't really know. It changes from day to day-- heck, sometimes from moment to moment.

I think the hardest thing is not knowing what you're going to see/hear/smell/feel that causes the pendulum to swing from doing great to struggling with fear or anxiety or helplessness all over again. This morning was the perfect example. I was doing a "normal" thing-- headed out for a trash run. We hadn't been to the dump since the quake (two weeks ago today) and it was getting to the point where I feared my staff was going to stage a walkout. We loaded up the trash into the truck and I was kind of hurrying because we had a busy day of distribution ahead of us. We pulled up to the dump, and across the way there is a big field. I guess I didn't really realize it was being used as a refugee camp, but that's exactly what it was. And it was not one of these red/grey tent cities we are seeing on the news-- there was a few tents like that, but it was mostly these things that people pulled together with whatever they could find-- blankets, tarps, sheets, palm fronds... a huge field of them. And again I remembered again that one minute can change everything.

When we were at some training we had before heading out onto the mission field, we were presented with this thought-- is it possible that sometimes God allows physical responses in our bodies as a result of stress (ie- ulcers, canker sores, etc) in order to give us a very tangible reminder how much we need HIS help to slow down? I have always been kind of an anxious person, but this situation has brought out PHYSICAL symptoms of stress that I cannot deny. For me, lately it's been puking. I have been thinking I've had a little stomach bug, but I recently realized that's not what this is. That realization happened the other night when we were at the Pye house having a team meeting and we all heard this loud BAM! I seriously thought the house was collapsing. We all did. ALL OF US-- 7 in all SHOT UP from the table and ran, pushing each other as we ran. When we got outside we realized it was just some tarps disconnecting and breaking strings, whipping into things, etc. Yes, we are all jumpy and under other circumstances it might not have caused such a reaction. But living through what we have in the past two weeks, it was so scary. I was so scared that I went outside and threw up. So yeah, it's been bad at times. We're desperately seeking out moments of rest and hopeful as the initial dust settles we will be able to search out more of them. (Hopefully some that include massages, because DANG, WATER IS HEAVY PEOPLE!)

That being said, there have been really good, happy times too. Times when things are filled with hope-- like being able to move 15 TONS of food/supplies yesterday... like providing meals for hungry people at the "hospital"... like seeing the tenacity of Haitians living on.

Guerrilla Aid

Barton Brooks (Guerrilla Aid- is staying with our family here in Jacmel. He's here to work and figure out how to coordinate volunteers to work in Jacmel in the future. Here's a quick video he shot yesterday...

And FYI-- He's generous, but mistaken, when he says that Nick is coordinating everything-- it's really everyone on our team on the ground right now-- Danny + Leann, Mikey + Georgette, John, us, PLUS some other great people who've recently started all working together-- Tiffany, Sarah, Patrick AND Barton! Great team effort. We're all in this together.

Monday, January 25, 2010

A new start.

This weekend was good for me. On Friday I had hit a wall. We're all hitting them at different times and to different extents. But Friday I just wasn't sure how I was going to push through any longer and took myself out of the mix for a bit. I laid low and hung with my kids, trying to get a little normalcy for them. I took a walk with them in the morning while Nick worked. And then at lunch time, the whole family hit the beach for an hour-- just an hour. It was good for us. The beach is something that looked exactly the same. We played like we used to. Well, the kids did. We tried. But it wasn't easy.

The ride home in the back of the truck we were up to our crazy old antics... It was fun to belly laugh with the kids.

The misery continues here in Haiti. But we are seeing hope. And, not to be ridiculous, but there's joy in hope... ;)


I miss these guys.


 Joy in Hope went and brought food and juice to the people at the hospital today.  About 300 meals. It was hard.  So many really, really injured people.  It was horrifying and so, so sad.

But there was this moment of light---  there was this little old granmoun (old person) walking around praying with people and leading people in mini-revivals all over the place.  She was reading from the Bible and praying with people and shouting out things like, "Jezi pi wo!"  (Jesus is bigger-- or actually, literally taller) and "Si ou la, ou bezwen di mesi Bondye!" (If you're here, you need to say Thank you Jesus!)  As I sit here and type this, it seems so trite, but man... it really rallied the spirits of many people there.  I loved it. What a bright spot in a dark place.

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Saturday, January 23, 2010

Fear and Chaos: my thoughts and a repost

Below is a repost from Leann's (my teammate) blog. It very accurately describes the feeling on the ground. Everyone in our house is still sleeping outside. Well, sleeping isn't the right word. I am not really sleeping much at all lately. My kids/staff aren't even bathing or using the bathroom inside most days. They are all just too afraid. Yesterday Nick and I were in our room getting ready for the day and the doorknob broke off. During the 10 minutes it took for him to get the door opened, I about had a panic attack. I just kept thinking, "What am I going to do if there's another earthquake? I can't get out of here." I was literally pacing the room and then stood out on our balcony ready to jump if I needed to. As I write these things, it sounds ridiculous. Ridiculous. But this is the fear that has overtaken us.

We do not know how to move on. We're all sleeping together as one big family outside under a tarp. We have no tents. We keep hearing they are coming, but they are not here yet. Since we've taken extra people in, our kids are literally sharing beds and I am sleeping side by side, squished in between Nick and my staff members. I know this is not a healthy way to conduct a marriage, but what are our other options? We've heard rumors that all schools in Haiti will be closed for the rest of the year. We know we need to re-establish rhythm we just don't have any idea how to do it.


Fear and Chaos

This is a picture of what many streets in Jacmel look like at night. A fire in the road for light and heat. People have pulled their mats out on to the streets to sleep. In the 'nicer' areas you might even see a TV on or hear a radio in the street to. Some need to, they have lost their homes and do not have any where else to go. Others do it out of fear.

Everyday we have aftershocks. Some big enough that people refer to it by it's number. 'Oh, you remember that 6.1 that came the other day...' I'm beginning to learn that earthquakes are terrifying. It's not just the minute while it's happening, but it's also the weeks afterwards of aftershocks that come. In the beginning when I felt an aftershock, I ran out of the house. Then when they would come, my heart would stop and fear would flood in. Now they come and I curse my walls and the ground. I am so tired of this chaos, of this unknown, of this fear. I look back to my life 2 weeks ago and remember it with longing for the normal again. Instead one week and half later my home is still in chaos. Books that have fallen off my bookshelf in my room are still on the floor. The upstairs hasn't been swept or mopped since then. My staff has moved my stove out onto the front porch so they can continue to cook without having to go into the children's kitchen. My kids sleep under tarps and on the ground outside. Chaos and fear...this is our life now.

Danny and I were talking yesterday after one of the bigger aftershocks. We both agreed, I'm not sure that a lot of our kids and our staff will ever sleep in this house again. The fear that floods them when I even suggest them sleeping in the house next month, it's heartbreaking. Each aftershock that comes, the fear grows stronger. My daughter Riann calls the earthquakes 'the monster'. When I play with her, she'll ask me, 'Mommy, is the monster going to come now?' How do I answer that? During her nap yesterday, we had an aftershock. She woke up terrified, screaming, 'Manman! Manman! Kay ap kraze! Monster la! Manman soti!' Says, 'Mommy! Mommy! The house is breaking! The monster is here! Mommy get out!' She begged me tonight to let her sleep outside. What do I do with this fear that has consumed my family? My neighbors? My friends?

All of us missionaries are dealing with this fear. Can we even move forward? Is this the new normal for us? Where do we go from here? The cracks in my walls are getting bigger. There are new ones upstairs. How do I deal with this? Even as I sit here typing this, I swear the floor is shaking. I look up at some keys hanging and see them perfectly still, so I know that I'm imagining it. Fear and this our new life?

Friday, January 22, 2010

Neyade Lambert

Before we had any idea that Joy in Hope would spend 5 days running an international airport, we were involved in the community on a much smaller scale. Leann and I opened up our inboxes to people looking for loved ones in Jacmel. We were IMMEDIATELY overwhelmed with responses. So many people looking for loved ones. We printed out lists and took them one at a time, driving around with locals trying to locate missing people. I regret we didn’t have more time to do this, because it was greatly satisfying. As someone who very much believes in the power of family, there was no greater joy than to contact someone and let them know their loved one was found.

There are a few specific stories of “finding people” that will always stick in our memories—here’s one of them.

On Thursday, January 14 I got an email from a woman named Vikky Lambert. She was looking for her 75 year old father, Neyade Lambert. She was worried because he was in poor health and suffered from Alzheimer's. I inquired about more information. She sent me his photo--
My heart sunk when I heard where he lived, because he was very close to some hard-hit areas. Even so, Nick, Georgette and I headed out to look for him. We quickly located his home—well, based on the description we located 2 homes. One had the first floor completely crumbled, it looked as if it was a 2 story house, but in reality it had been a three story house-- the first story was just missing and it was sitting all off-kilter.

The other was intact, but with major cracks.

We asked neighbors. They said he lived in the second house and they quickly assured us he was fine but had left the area to stay at the refugee camp set up by the UN.

I communicated this information back to Vikky and then life got crazy. We needed to get out kids out and then we inherited the airport and all our time and energy was spent there.

I got a few more emails from Vikky, asking me to please try to do more for her father—to help him get out. At that point I didn’t know what to do, but I offered the only information I had about how we were helping US citizens get out. A couple of days later (the 18th) Georgette, who was handeling all of the flights out from our little airport, came to me and told me there was an old, sick man at the airport in his wheelchair. She asked if we could do anything for him. Immediately my mind flashed back to Vikky’s message and I rushed over and sure enough—it was Neyade.

I connected with the people around him. They were asking me about a potential escort for him because he was in such ill health. I knew I didn’t have anyone who I could send with him when a good (Haitian-American) Samaritan, (I never even got her name) told me she’d take responsibility for him on the plane. She said she was going to be on the same plane as him. I told her I could try to find contact information for his family, and she said, “If you can, that’s great, if not, when I arrive in the states I will dial 911 and we will figure it out from there.”

I was able to contact Vikky and get her contact information and shortly after, a US Navy chopper arrived, assessed the situation and airlifted him out on a stretcher.

And that was the last I heard of Neyade until I saw this message on facebook later that night—

"My dad suffered a seizure on his way to Miami tonite, the navy chopper had to make an emergency landing to one of the navy medical ship heading to Haiti. My sister talked to one of the doctors earlier, he said that my dad is stable and alert..and will be medevac to MIA tomorrow. "

My heart sank. I was hooked into this story and so I followed it everyday. Wednesday Vikki posted that she’d had no more additional word on her father’s wherabouts. I was worried about him, and then yesterday she posted that he had been found!

In her own words--

"He is in the intensive care ward at the USS Comfort. He is currently stable and is under going some blood work to see if anything else is going on. They did a CAT scan on him to make sure there are no other injuries. He will probably be there for at least a couple of days until they feel comfortable moving him. He is somewhat confused as to where he is, but that is to be expected."

This pic of him was on CNN…
I am so glad Vikky has the assurance that her dad is in good hands. Let’s all join together and pray they are reunited soon…

Update: 1/12/2015
Neyade was delivered home to his family.  Just over a week ago I met Vikky for the first time when she and her family were in Jacmel.  She reoprted that Neyade passed away about a year and a half ago.  (Three and a half years after the earthquake.)  It was so nice to meet Vikky and have the story come full circle.


This morning I realized I just needed some downtime. Danny is off getting the transition at the airport handed off, Nick is off trying to work with the World Food Program, Mikey is doing something with the agency handling our security guards-- but today I am just not up for it. I was going to head over to sort food at our "undisclosed location" but I just can't. My body is literally too physically tired. In an effort to get things loaded up before dark yesterday I was in passlines literally throwing cases of water down the line. Apparently I thought I was much stronger than I actually am. :)

Wow. Never realized how much stopping something that's moving so fast can suck. It's not until today that all that has happened really has started to sink in. Don't get me wrong, I have had my moments of collapse, but just stopping today for a bit to rest... it totally blows. It's when you're still that all the memories come flooding back. That is when all the sights and sounds and smells haunt your brain.

Grief. There's no other word for it. It's here.

How my heart aches for this country I love...

Shifting gears.

Today the work of Joy in Hope changes gears a bit. Things at the airport have changed so much since Saturday when my kids flew out. More and more everyday the Canadian military has taken over control—which we love. They brought in official air traffic controllers and radar and all sorts of things. I overheard a briefing yesterday with them saying there were 160 aircraft into Jacmel yesterday. Most of them were military, bringing in supplies or people. As you probably know, we’ve granted permission for the Canadian military to set up a base on our land out in Raymond. They are bringing in several hundred troops for a few months until things here in Jacmel settle down. So a lot of the traffic through was about that. The US NAVY continues to send food in to be distributed by the World Food Program. And then of course there are the small planes, which we’ve been assisting on the ground. Small planes bringing supplies and people—doctors mostly—to help down here. That’s what we’ve been working with.

One of the biggest concerns we’ve had is the pace we’ve been running. We’re all run ragged. We’re all spending long hours at the airport. We’re all not getting time to spend with our kids. And at the same time, we see the situation in Jacmel escalating. People are getting hungrier and need help. The World Food Program is doing the best they can meeting needs, but have strict criteria as to who they can help—they virtually can do nothing for “the little guys.” That’s where we come in. Over the past 6 days, we’ve accruued a good supply of food and water and feel like the time has come to leave the airport (passing that on to others we know and trust) and move into sorting/distribution on a larger scale.

Yesterday we rented a house in an out of town location with a large wall around it and hired security guards. We began moving all of our supplies over to this house yesterday and will today begin the process of getting this out, distributed largely through local churches + organizations.

This is kind of a bittersweet thing for us. Bitter because it was so cool to be involved in something so much bigger than ourselves—I know we’ll all miss aspects of the airport. But sweet because we feel like we can now get back to what we’re here to do—build families. Sorting, inventorying and seperating food is something we can all do together with our families. I will be able to spend time serving alongside my Haitian kids, rather than leaving them early in the morning and returning late at night—too tired to really connect with them. This has been the hardest part for us—feeling the disconnect from our kids when they really need to be connected to us. They will be able to see and understand the ways we’re trying to help Jacmel. I am looking forward to posting stories and pictures about our new assignment…

Ayiti cheri

I am upstairs in my house right now. Nick is fast asleep on the floor by my feet. Downstairs the radio is blaring (because what kind of Haitian household would you be without a blaring radio) and our kids and staff are all singing along to Ayiti Cheri.

For this small moment, life feels normal again.

Interesting perspective about adoption from Haiti.

As I have mentioned, I have gotten a lot of inquiries about Haitian adoption. Let me again let you know that I have no idea what's going on with Haitian adoption right now. We did adopt from Haiti, but Nico's been home for the past 2 and a half years and we've not stayed up-to-date with the process since that. I do know enough to say that I think the international adoption process is very, very broken. The length of time that it takes to get children out of orphanages and into loving homes is just ridiculous. HOWEVER, that is the system we have in place right now. And it's aimed at providing the necessary checks and balances to assure that all the i's are dotted and t's are crossed. It's aimed at assuring children aren't being trafficked or sold. So yes, while it's maddening, until a better process can be put into place, in my opinion, it's necessary.

I am very glad to hear about many, many already in-process children being sent home to their families in the states. However, personally (me, Gwenn Mangine speaking on behalf of only myself), after reading this article: I am opposed to expediting the process for new families at a time like this. I am nervous about the long-term disruption rate. Like when a child is born into your family, adoption is forever.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Just a girl

Hey all--

I know I am bloggerific this morning with my bazillion posts, but this is the first time I've really had the chance to have some down time in the past day where no one else is needing something-- forgive the onslaught of messages.

I am so thankful for so many of you sharing encouragement with us lately. I won't lie, we need it. But I need to make one little request-- please refrain from using the word "heros." The use of that word makes me cringe because I know the humanity and sin I walk in each day. No one is good except for the Lord. I am just a girl. Our team is just our team. There's nothing, NOTHING special about us. Nothing. We don't know how to do what we're doing. We have no experience with this. We're not perfect. We're making tons of mistakes. We're not super-Christians... we're just people doing what anyone else in our situation would do. So thank you for the words, but remember, this is not at all about us. This is about Haiti. This is about Jacmel. But most of all, this is about advancing the kingdom of Jesus Christ. No matter where we are-- here, in the states, Egypt, Japan... we all have the same opportunity to walk in the grace that God affords. We are alive and breathing today because God gave us that. If you're reading this right now, he's given you the grace to live as well. We all have the opportunity to serve Him well where we are. And while we may fail
everyday, as people who profess to follow Christ, this should be our goal:

Philippians 2: 1-6
1If you have any encouragement from being united with Christ, if any comfort from his love, if any fellowship with the Spirit, if any tenderness and compassion, 2then make my joy complete by being like-minded, having the same love, being one in spirit and purpose. 3Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in humility consider others better than yourselves. 4Each of you should look not only to your own interests, but also to the interests of others.
5Your attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus:
6Who, being in very nature[a] God,
did not consider equality with God something to be grasped,
7but made himself nothing,
taking the very nature[b] of a servant,
being made in human likeness.
8And being found in appearance as a man,
he humbled himself
and became obedient to death—
even death on a cross!

Sarah Wallace, #3 most intriguing person in the world yesterday

According to CNN, my friend Sarah (the midwife here in Jacmel) is pretty intriguing...

Check it out.

She's doing great work here. Well done Sarah. And I would have had you as #1 if I got to choose...

M'ap Ede Haiti

One of our longtime friends and supporters, Shannon Mercer, has found a practical way to raise $$ for the relief effort... see below.

Tee's will be ready end of next week YAY!!
They are $25 each (including shipping), cardinal red with black ink.
Mens sizing S-XXL.

You can send a check made out to 'Joy In Hope' AND SENT TO SHANNON'S HOME. She will get all of the checks to us and we won't have to do the legwork...

DON'T FORGET to list sizes and ship to address and a contact phone number in case we need to reach you.

Joy In Hope
c/o Shannon Mercer
10401 E McDowell Mountain Ranch Rd
Suite #2181
Scottsdale, AZ 85255

Feel free to re-post;) Thanks SO very much for helping!!!


We don't have time to read the news here. (Which is probably for the best.) So I put something out of fb about wanting someone to collect articles about the relief efforts in Jacmel so I could go back later and read them. So, my cousin Greg has started a blog of links-- see info below. Please feel free to forward any of them onto him so later our whole team can see...

In his own words...
Gwenn, I'm trying to collect all of the articles people are link by and about you and Jacmel. If this is helpful and no one else is logging these, the blogsite is

You or anyone you want to can send a post to this blog directly by using this email address

You don't need to do anything, I'll just keep harvesting the stories and posting them, so when this is all "over" you guys will have a place to look through everything.

God speed - blessings, Greg


Top 2 questions I am getting everyday...

1. Can I come?
  • Please, PLEASE understand the heart behind this... Short answer. No. Right now ALL of our people. All of our resources, all of our time, all of our waking hours are being used (mostly) at the airport, coordinating getting supplies in. We are not the ones in charge of distribution or medical personnel. At this point, we do not need help with the airport stuff-- right now, it's centered around a group of about 6 people who have made all the relationships necessary to work with the US Military, the mayor's office, USAID, the Canadian Military, the UN, the World Food Program- as well as speak Kreyol and know Jacmel. That is our number one focus right now. If we can't get this stuff in, we can't get it out. Yesterday a whole lot of planes came in. But you know what, they were mostly filled with people, not supplies. People are great-- but we're not sure what to do with them because NONE of us here have the time to coordinate teams. Then people are getting frustrated because they are sitting around and not out there helping, but we simply cannot leave what we're doing right now. There's no where for them to stay. Our team housing currently vacant. It's been ransacked of all it's stuff because we've given it all away in the community. It has no power or water, we're not sure of it's sturdiness after the quake, not to mention the big aftershock yesterday. We have no one to be there with you. Teams are coming in with no one to meet and having to sleep on the floor of the airport with no toilets, no showers, no food available to them. We have no where to send them because right now that is not the focus of our organization. And I honestly don't know of any organizations around here who are coordinating teams. Right now we have tons of refugees in Jacmel. We cannot create more right now. So my suggestion is that if you don't have specific people that you are coming down to see that have the time, language skills and expertise to help you accomplish what you need to do-- DON'T COME. Please. We KNOW you all mean well and you want to help. We appreciate that. There will be time for that. I promise. Haiti has generations of work ahead of it.
2. How can I adopt/foster?
  • No idea. None. Things have changed very dramatically in the nearly 3 years since we adopted Nico, and even more so in the past week. I cannot speak with any kind of knowledge about the process. Further, Haitian Children's Home/Joy in Hope does not do adoptions. We love adoption. We see it as an awesome thing (obviously, as Nico is part of our family). We see a spiritual precedent for adoption. Totally see it as great. However, that's not our focus. We raise our children in Haiti to be Haitian. It is our desire that we are raising children who will become the kind of people that can influence their community in a positive way- by having an education, understanding the value and roles within a family, and by knowing the God who created them.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

A few notes on our pace.

We've had many comments about the pace we're running at. We know it's not sustainable. We know that. We also know that we're in a critical time in the life of our community, and for whatever reason, God has given us favor everywhere we turn-- with the military, with local government, with pilots, with other missionaries in this with us, with relief agencies... I don't know why, but God is granting us favor.

My personal take is that we can really be "all hands on deck" running hard for the first two weeks as we get systems and processes in place. After that time, I expect we'll be doing more shift work and resuming regular days off. We know this is an unending project we've begun. And I feel like there's a committed group of people here on the ground that are equal to the task. BUT yes, we all realize that we need to be thinking with the end in mind. When we start to lose it, we're intentional about taking 30 minute breaks away from everyone else to just BE. This morning I didn't go in to the airport until about 9... had a couple of good hours with the kids. It was nice.

And I just want you to know-- early on Joy in Hope told us that after all the drama has passed, we each get to take a vacation! Woot. Woot. Anyone want to come along?

I am older now.

I feel like all of a sudden I am an adult. In a literal sense I am only actually one week older than I was when the quake hit. But it’s so much more than that. I have aged weeks, and months and years—many of them—in the past 7 days. I catch my reflection every now and then in a piece of glass or the truck mirror and it makes me do a doubletake because I keep thinking I am looking at my mother. Now, that’s not a dig—my mom has aged beautifully and gracefully. However, she is 22 years older than me. I am still a hem… “young” woman of 32.

It’s weird—all of a sudden I see more wrinkles and age spots, more grey hair, bigger bags under my eyes-- I just look old. There are many logical things this could be attributed to—lots of time in the sun during the past week with no sunscreen, incredible amounts of stress/grief/adrenaline running through me, not drinking as much as I should be, not sleeping well, less than ideal eating habits, walking around filthy dirty from the dirt that dozens of helicopters has stirred up… But running around in my head is this idea that I am all of a sudden old because of what I’ve seen. The destrcuction and agony I’ve seen my community experience in the past week is more than enough for any lifetime.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

No pictures tonight

because I lost my card reader a long time ago. And the cord I can use to connect my camera to the computer. And then I was using Nia's little camera and switching out the memory cards... but now that's gone too. And then I was using Leann's card reader, but she was sick today and wasn't there, so I couldn't. So-- yeah, maybe tomorrow I will get them up there... nothing TOO interesting anyway.

Neat day. Long day. Encouraging day (at times). Discouraging day (at times.) Sad day. Frustrating day. Our new normal is so NOT normal for us. We're trying to have fun and laugh when we can, but it kind of feels disrespectful at a time like this to do that.

Mad props to my kids and staff. I miss being around them. Except Hugues, cause he's there working alongside of us. Really hard-- just as hard as we are, no, actually probably harder. Tonight he was just toast after another long day of carrying boxes virtually all day long. I told him that since tomorrow is his day off he should just take it easy and not worry about coming to the airport-- we'd find someone to do his work. He refused. He said he wants to be there as long as we're there. I tried to talk him out of it, but he says his country needs him now. I really, really love the spirit of Haitian people-- love it, love it, love it.

We are exhausted. Headed to bed now... Pray for our team, especially Danny and Nick who have been running the hardest and the longest. We are all just physically exhausted and it's taking a toll. Gotta go-- tomorrow will be here before you know it.

Dirty feet.

I have em. REALLY dirty feet.

That's it. :)

The oxygen story

I know tensions are high with everyone here on the ground, so please forgive me if I seem like I am bashing anyone... everyone is anxious and tense. Everyone is fighting for supplies for their families/kids/orphanages, etc. etc. etc... I get that. I totally get that. MOST people I have dealt with are extremely civil. Haitians are strong people-- they can withstand a lot. Most of them aren't complaining.

Today however, something happened today that I just cannot fathom.

We've been trying to locate oxygen for a team of doctors that came in. They need it before they can operate. We located a supplier in Jacmel. We paid for it and told that we can take it in the morning. So we went to go pick it up. Of course he wasn't there. So we went to his house. He has oxygen. He had tanks. He wouldn't give us the tanks. He said unless we have empty tanks to exchange we cannot have oxygen. I told him that we need it for surgery. He told us than we better get some tanks. I said I would pay him whatever he wanted. Anything. Just ask and I will pay it. He refused. I told him that people were DYING because they need surgery and we cannot do the surgeries without the oxygen. He said he didn't care. I asked him again, "So you're telling me that you want me people to die rather than give us the tanks?" He said, "Yes."
I just walked away and muttered, "Ok, thanks."

The truth is, I wanted to punch him in the face but I knew IF we could find bottles we'd have to come back to him. The story ends well-- we were able to get to the local hospital and get empty bottles. We were able to get them filled.

I understand business is business, but at what point will people decide to be all in?

Monday, January 18, 2010


Seriously long day. Lots of planes in. I don't know how many. Several times I looked around today and just thought, ARE YOU KIDDING ME??? People, we don't know what the heck we're doing here! But for whatever reason, it's working. We're getting MAD stuff in here. And then today the icing on the cake was the afternoon flights of rice-- 4 I think, from the Navy for the World Food Program. LOTS and LOTS and LOTS of rice...

Let me say this.
I love Nick.
I love Rick.
I love Kristi.

Tooting the JiH horn!

I always say that Joy in Hope exists to build Haitian families.

Here's a really cool thing that has happened-- part of the way God has created me is as a story-teller. I love to tell stories. And it's kind of how I unwind... which is why I blog so much. So on Saturday when our friend Clark who owned the Peace of Mind hotel in Jacmel came to me asking me if I would be able to help him share his story, take pictures, etc. I said sure. After we were done with work that day, I dropped by and he showed me around. I asked questions and took notes. I told him that I had been talking to some people from CNN and they'd been asking me for personal stories. So-- yesterday while we were waiting on the airplanes to come in I typed up my notes and sent them and some photos to my contact at CNN. She passed them along to a co-worker of hers who said he'd take the story. This had nothing to do with us or our ministry, but hey-- I figured it's what I can do to help a friend in a really bad spot.

Later that afternoon I logged onto cnn (which I do pretty often these days) and the BIG FRONT PAGE STORY on their website is the story I sent off and they even gave me the byline. The story and MY pictures. That was personally a little ego booster but mostly I wanted to talk to Clark to let him know that his story had gotten out as he'd hoped.

Later in the evening, Danny sees the story and starts talking about it and so Nick goes back and checks it again and there's a followup story--- if you have 2-3 minutes watch this video to see what happened after the fact...

Dude, building families! I LOVE it.

Today's plan-- Monday

So here's the funny thing. We've become airport administrators. By we I mean Danny and Nick. They are directing planes where they need to go, handling the flight manifests, checking passports, it's insane. INSANE. Why do you ask? Good question. Because there are flights coming in and there is NO ONE ELSE to do this. They mayor has turned over the airport to us. Which. is. hilarious.

Today we're making our operations mobile. We're hauling the big generator over from Rue Petion so we can set up our command center back with the states in the same place we're working. That's our biggest obstacle. This way we can have computers and internet with us. We're all assigned jobs. Here's the breakdown of who's on what jobs today:
  • Danny-- Point person on the ground at the airport--will handle air traffic, work with pilots, UN (if necessary), work with the Mayor to communicate what's coming in and going out.
  • Nick-- 2nd Point person (see above for details) . Nick is also on the list as a driver.
  • Leann-- Communications point person/inventory/sorting Leann will be monitoring communications with the home office about plane information-- distribution information, etc. She will also be in charge of making sure what we're receiving is inventoried so that the mayor knows what's coming in and going out.
  • Gwenn-- Media contact. Many of the people that came in on the planes today were media. They are showing up to Jacmel to see what's going on. We're showing them. We think this is useful because it gets the story out that Jacmel has had NO AID come in from any official or governmental organizations. We need people to realize that we need MAJOR help from some large organizations who actually have the skills to accomplish this thing we're trying to do. Even minor help would be great. So today that's my job and I am also a driver for when supplies need to get to places.
  • Georgette- She's got probably the crappiest job out of all of us today, but she's the only one I think that could do it without spending the day screaming. Georgette gets the job of organizing people trying to flee via these charters. We've worked out with the airline that's doing all this flying in and out that as long as people have valid US passports, they can get on the plane. The problem is the controlling the "line" of people waiting. They get really mean at times. Which honestly just makes you want to say-- forget it, nobody goes. But whatever. Pray for Georgette today. Pray for all of us today.
Once the flights are done for the day we have to get all our sorted/inventoried items into the hands of the people that need them. And pack up our "mobile" command center-- which I speak of VERY loosely because it includes and 800 lb generator. Not EXACTLY mobile... but we'll get er done.

Sunday, January 17, 2010

The "hospital" part 2

So, as you know from a previous post, the hospital here doesn't really exist. Patients are lying in beds out in the courtyard of the hospital with tarps and blankets haphazardly tied into place to try to keep people out of the sun. I thought about them a lot last night when it was raining. A lot.

So here's the deal. We went there on Friday and there was no supplies left. Additionally, they needed basic, basic things like toilet paper, towels, soap, toothbrushes, etc. We knew there was no way of getting these things in any time soon-- so... we decided to just give what we had. We went through our own personal and team house pantries/medicine cabinets/linen closets in all our houses and loaded everything up. This is where having a team house really comes in handy! We were able to find dozens of towels and sheets and pillows-- all stuff that was needed. (Sidenote: if you come in on a team soon... we don't have any of that anymore... might need to bring a sleeping bag!) We brought all the mattresses from the boys home over too... big truckload full.

Then we headed to market-- bought food and toilet paper and bleach and soap and toothbrushes and toothpaste... etc. etc. etc. (Two truckloads full.)

And then we noticed that the main pharmacy in town was open. And so we went in and bought them out of everything they had from the list--- alcohol, hand sanitizer, peroxide, wound care items, meds... (another truckload.)

Yesterday we were expecting a big shipment of supplies, but we got one box. Still-- we rushed over to the hospital with it. Mostly antibiotics and trauma care supplies-- both were desperately needed. The doctors were thrilled.

They are going to be SO excited to know that the mother load is about to hit!



This is Berline-- one of Danny and Leann's daughters. She lost family members and her boyfriend. The other day I was over at the Pye's house and heard these gut-wrenching sobs and looked over to see her laying on a pile of suitcases crying so hard she was almost vomiting.

She's just one in a country of 8.7 million. Everyone here mourns. The Bible says, "Blessed are those who mourn for they will be comforted." I ultimately trust God and believe his word is truth... but man, right now-- there just is no comfort to be found... everyone has lost someone. There is no one here to be the comforters.


Yo la. (They are there.)

My heart overflows...
thank you all for the time and money and prayers you all put into this.

Saturday, January 16, 2010

letting go

Today we put our kids on a plane with Pam-- a friend we love and trust completely -- so she could deliver them into the loving hands of their grandparents tonight. This was a hard decision for us. We have always knew that moving to Haiti meant there would probably come a time like this-- where we'd have to split up our family for security reasons. We just never thought it would be so early into our Haiti career. :)

That being said-- we have every confidence in our families and friends to love and care for our children during this time we are separated. We don't know how long we will be separated. A few weeks certainly. When we feel that things are stable enough here on the ground from a medical, public health, and security standpoint, they will return. We have vowed that it will not exceed 3-4 weeks until we see them again, even if we have to return to the states briefly (one at a time) to see them. Still that seems like an eternity. But even so-- we're cannot leave the rest of our children without us here in Haiti. We cannot. (So please don't ask us to consider this.)

Letting them go was kind of tough. But at the same time, I have a giant sense of relief and peace in my heart. I also am super motivated to GO and DO right now. In spite of all the drama in the past few days, things are finally starting to really move. Aid is getting her-- it's starting slowly, but we're expecting a huge amount in the next couple of days. It's very exciting. I can't wait to tell you more about it. But for now I will leave you with a few images of the letting go-- can't wait to let you know about the welcoming!

I like how Hugues put it after they left.
"Ke mwen fe anpil kontan konye a. Epi ke mwen fe anpil tris konye a."
Translation: My heart feels really happy right now. And my heart feels really sad right now."

Well said. Dako. (I agree.)

the plan.

We've had dozens and dozens of people working on trying to help us get our kids out of Haiti since Port Au Prince isn't an option for us at this point. With and itty bitty landing strip, no airport personnel, no way to get "official" clearance to land, needing someone other than us to travel internationally with our kids out of here... Well, the moving pieces and arrangement are a NIGHTMARE. Thankfully, we have a team of people-- a HUGE team of people back in the states who love our family and who really have our backs in every way imaginable. Thank you, thank you, thank you to all of you who have worked so tirelessly to ensure that our children are safe.

Here's Pam (our dear and very trusted friend coming to drop off supplies and pick up our kids) describing what her day will look like today. The Plan: Saturday AM fly from RDU to Puerto Rico, catch a supply plane and fly to Jacmel, Haiti and pick up Mangine kids, fly to Dominican Republic with Mangine Kids, fly to RDU and deliver Mangine kids to grandparents. Pray that all connections go smoothly. Spread the word.

Lots of connections. Pray. Please. Will keep you updated.

Friday, January 15, 2010

Startling UN statistics for Jacmel

Danny went to a meeting today with the UN. There they disclosed some statistics that were heartbreaking-- as we knew they would be.

Out today from the UN in Jacmel-- statistics ON Jacmel, which is a city of 34,ooo...
  • 1,785 homes completely destroyed
  • 4410 homes partially destroyed
  • 87 commercial businesses destroyed
  • 54 schools destroyed
  • 24 hotels destroyed
  • 26 churches destroyed
  • 5730 families displaced
  • Death count approaching 3,000 (nearly 10%)

Pray. And give. (Btw-- got some exciting stories to share about ways your $$$ is already saving lives-- stay tuned.)

the "hospital"

St. Michel (the general hospital in Jacmel) partially crumbled in the quake.

There's a general triage set up in the courtyard but they are no longer accepting patients because they are out of supplies. Completely. Nothing. At all.

Right now Nick is out trying to purchase any medical supplies he can find in Jacmel (plus we also raided our persona and team supply of sheets/towels/medications... We're hoping and praying that we are able to get a plane of medical supplies in later today. Pray that we can get this organized so we can get our kids out.

Ironic, but true, name for a pharmacy

Translation: with Jesus everything is going to be alright

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Francette and Roro

This is Francette, pictured here with her aunt. Francette comes three times a week to hand-wash all our our laundry for the orphanage. She is very young and has a 2 year old. They live with the aunt. The walls of their house came tumbling down on Tuesday.

This is Roro. He works for Joy in Hope. He's really Danny's right-hand man. He is our mechanic, our driver, our errand-runner... and most of all, our friend. He and his wife and daughter have been living with his father while he builds a house for them. Tuesday his work came crumbling down. Even so, the next morning he was there for work bright and early.

Thanks for your donations. These are just two of the people we will be able to help.

"What can I do???"

I have gotten dozens (probably nearly 100) of emails from people who want to help. That's so awesome. We need your help...

But here's the situation--
right now the meeting of immediate needs (food, water, shelter, etc) are things that can only be done by Kreyol-speaking people. We have no where to host teams-- we don't have the time to host teams right now. We love that people are interested in coming to visit-- we want that. Our longer term dreams (still in their infancy) include a number of medical teams a number of rebuilding teams... lots of dreams. But for now there isn't A) a way to get into Haiti. Or B) a way to get from Port Au Prince to Jacmel. We don't know when either airport/charters will be running again.

The other main inquiry we're getting has to to with sending supplies. People want to help and we're so glad because we know a lot of people here that NEED help. The problem is there is no way to ship supplies to us. No way. Literally. Even before the earthquake we didn't have a good method for getting supplies here, now it's impossible. Additionally, the more supplies we can buy locally, the better of the local economy will be. Water, food, clothing, cement, concrete blocks-- we're supporting our neighbors when we buy from them... And frankly, our neighbors need all the help they can get right now!

What we need, (and what other organizations need unless they tell you otherwise), is funds to work in the community. Joy in Hope (the organization we work through) is a 501(c)3 non profit organization. All donations are tax-deductible.

You can donate here:

Or if you'd prefer-- donate to ANY other organization you trust doing work in Haiti. But I am going to level with you-- people need funds the most.

Bondye-- mwen pa kapab fè anko!

I have been at a four births since being in Haiti and without exception, all of these women when they are nearing transition yell out, "Bondye-- mwen pa kapab fè anko!" (God, I can't do this anymore!)

Today as I was out checking on Francette (the lady who does laundry for the orphanage), I saw the Haitian Red Cross attempting to rescue someone who was trapped and still alive under a collapsed cement building. (And had been for 2 days.)

As I stood there listening, I heard people around me talking. Her first child was taken out from the rubble and was dead and lying in a body bag right in front of me. She wailed and wailed because of the death of her child.

But she sat there, clinging to her husband for support because she knew she still had a living child under the rubble. The rescue went on for a while. The smell of death made everyone cover their faces until someone finally brought out a jug of formaldehyde and started splashing it all over the body bag.

We waited and waited while people continued to dig. After some time had passed they were passing water in as they'd apparently found the person and were getting them water. More time passed... and while the rescue continued, the child died.

When they came out with the news that the child died the mother wailed and wailed and wailed, "Bondye! Mwen pa kapab fè anko!" In my mind, images of women delivering their babies flashed through my mind in a slideshow... "Bondye... Mwen pa kapab fè anko! Mwen pa kapab fè anko! Mwen pa kapab fè anko!"

And I realized as I was standing there that every time a woman said that during labor I knew she was wrong. I knew she could. I knew she was in pain but it would pass and it would be totally worth it. Today, my heart sunk as I realized this woman who was in such pain today was in a pain that would never pass...