Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Orevwa (Goodbye) Lenise

This is Lenise and her daughter, Nica.
Lenise came to work for us as a live-in nanny a little more than a year ago. At that time, we didn't know she was pregnant. I don't know if she knew or not, but after several weeks of her looking bigger and bigger and Nick and I playing the “is she pregnant or did she just eat a lot of rice?” game, I just buckled and asked her.  

“Lenise, are you pregnant?” I asked.

“No,” she said, “that's just the way my body is shaped.”

“Oh!” I said and tried to pretend I wasn't embarrassed I had just asked her that.

Lenise's mother, Felecia is also works for us as a live-in nanny. She's worked for us for almost 3 years now. She's the greatest Haitian granny ever. We actually employ two of Felecia's grown daughters because we like that she gets to live together with her family. Besides, she totally keeps them in line for us. We now live in a ZERO drama house (staff-wise) because of the way she doesn't take any crap from her daughters. It's pretty great.

So back to the story.

A few minutes after I had asked Lenise if she was pregnant, Felecia comes upstairs and says, “Gwenn, here's the thing. Lenise is NOT pregnant, but she hasn't seen her period in over 4 months. She's not sure why.” ;)

Having a BFF here who is a midwife is helpful, and so we sent her over for a consultation at Sarah's clinic, Olive Tree Projects. Sarah did a pregnancy test, and sure enough, Lenise was pregnant. (This was not a surprise to us.)

Lenise got prenatal care at Olive Tree and little by little we learned more about her story. She is only 19 and already has a 2 year old daughter, Fedia, whom the dad has custody of. It's a long, complicated story and I don't really have the time or energy to discuss Haitian gender roles and women's “rights” in Haiti, but suffice to say, the more Lenise shared, the more Nick and I became convinced that we needed to help her in this situation.

She stayed with us working through her pregnancy. She had a healthy pregnancy with regular prenatal care. She had a fantastic delivery with no complications. Lenise took about 2 weeks off. We hardly saw her or the baby during that time. She stayed in her room with Nica and Felecia and Saintcia did her work for her and diligently helped her care for the baby. Nica nursed well right away and she was off to a good start. It was great having a baby around the house and Nica was the easiest-going baby ever. 

In early August Felecia and Lenise came to talk to Nick and I. Lenise was planning on returning to Thiotte. The girls' father told her that he was no longer going to care for Fedia and that Lenise had to decide what to do with her. She decided to parent both girls. With as good of an employee as Lenise has been, surprisingly, Nick and I were not disappointed at this news. In fact, we were both really encouraged. We love that Lenise is going to parent her daughter. She's worked it out to watch her niece as well, and together the working members of the family will be able to support her as she offers childcare. Having several employees in the same family helps the whole family, not just the ones who are working.

After expressing our support for her choice to parent, we asked Felecia if she had anymore daughters that were interested in a job. She didn't have another daughter who was available, but she did have a niece. (Marijo, age 19-- she's already started working with us.)

Yesterday was Lenise's last day here. My kids wanted to make her cards and have a goodbye party. So we did. Nick made a big pound cake. The kids made crowns for Lenise and Nica. We serenaded them with a song called, “N'ap sonje'w Lenise!” (We will miss you Lenise) to the tune of Happy Birthday. Nick and I gave her school supplies and some money to help buy school uniforms for Fedia.

And we said goodbye well.

This morning Lenise and Nica headed out. Felecia went with them-- she took a week off to go help her get settled in and prepared for school.

Thiotte is far. I am not sure whether or not we will ever get the chance to see Lenise & Nica again. But either way, I love the way that we got to love and serve her family as she loved and served ours.
(R-L: Felecia, Saintcia, Nica, Lenise)

Friday, August 24, 2012

Top 5 Ways to Support Our Family- #1

#1 Prayer

Very few days go by that we don't feel overwhelmed. And if we're honest, that feeling is not coming from a lack of material resources. That feeling usually comes because Haiti is heavy. We see things and experience things here that we have never seen before. We witness tragic accidents (and those affected by tragic accidents) up close. We experience the devastation of natural disasters (and those affected by natural disaster) up close. We have an area on our land that we call the baby graveyard. It's called that because this is where people in our community will come bury their babies that didn't make it. There are 6 babies buried there since we started doing this just over a year ago.

Just yesterday, Nick was out doing some hurricane preparation at our church and two of our kids got into a fight. Now, I get that all siblings fight and quarrel. But this was a Jerry fight. Jerry has big anger issues and when he gets mad... it's bad. Yesterday, Jerry was screaming out of control (like a mad man) with huge rocks in his hands that he was trying to throw at Fritzie. So. Yeah. Yesterday “parenting” for me mean physically restraining two teenage(ish) kids and trying to keep them separated until Nick got home to help me.

And then there's just normal day to day living-- things that still feel uncomfortable to us because we don't understand (from our previous life experiences) what it means to be materially poor. Helping our friends in material poverty brings with it a unique set of challenges. Similarly, not being able to help our friends in material poverty brings a whole other set of challenges.

These things wear on a soul.

Don't get me wrong. It's not all bad. We love Haiti. We love living here. At the same time, we recognize that the sets of challenges we face each day are still a bit foreign to us. And we recognize that no amount of funding can solve these problems. 

We need the Lord. The number one way you can partner with us is by making a commitment to pray for our family.

There's this story in Bible in the book of Mark. Let me give you the cliff notes: In this story there was a man who brought his son to Jesus' disciples. The son was possessed by a spirit that robbed him of his speech and made him have violent seizures. These episodes often included him trying to throw himself into fire or under water to kill himself. The disciples tried and tried to cast out this demon. But they were not able. Jesus enters the scene. He cures the boy. Later, in private, the disciples ask Jesus how come he was able to cast out the demon, when they were not able to. Jesus replied, “This kind can only come out by prayer.”

We need people petitioning Jesus on our behalf. We need people to stand in the gap for us and praying when we don't have any idea what is going on around us.   And we need people to stand in the gap for us and pray when we DO have an idea of what is going on around us and we still can't make sense of it. We need your help bringing Fritzie, Jean Louis, Yves, Jerry, Sanndy, Prisca, Nia, Wildarne, Nico, Manita, Josiah, and Schneider to Jesus for us in prayer. We need prayer for endurance. We need prayer for wisdom. For stewardship and for provision. We need prayer for our family. We need prayer for our marriage.

We need prayers because we believe that the prayer of a righteous man is powerful and effective. (James 5:16).

And so today the “ask” is to lay ourselves humbly before you and ask you to commit to pray for us.

Drop us a line at prayer@joyinhope.org and let us know you're in our corner praying for us. And also, feel free (at any point) to send us YOUR prayer requests so that we can know how to pray for you. Let us “gather together” (be it in in person or through a digital connection) and agree in the name of the Lord.

“Again, truly I tell you that if two of you on earth agree about anything they ask for, it will be done for them by my Father in heaven. For where two or three gather in my name, there I am with them.” Matthew 18:19-20

Much love to you and yours.

With a grateful heart,
Gwenn, (for the entire Mangine Many)

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Top 5 Ways to Support Our Family : #2

#2 Social Media

After three days of hard “asks” today feels easy, super duper easy, actually. We're asking all of our friends to simply LIKE Joy in Hope on facebook, and then share this post to ask your friends to like us too!

Here's the deal. I read an article lately that some companies have determined that it's worth paying $8 in advertising just to get one “like” on facebook. Regardless of the fact that we have paid $0/like, some of our most enthusiastic and generous supporters have come to us through social media like facebook/twitter.

We don't want to just “sell” people on what we do here in Haiti. We actually think our work speaks for itself, and we trust that the right people will be compelled to help without resorting to us nagging the same people over and over again. Will you help us spread the word so that a larger audience can be reached?

Here's a list of ways to follow us via electronic/social media:

Organization website: www.joyinhope.org
Facebook Info: Joy in Hope, Nick Mangine, Gwenn Goodale Mangine
Family blog (written by Gwenn):www.mangine.org
Personal blog (reflections on Haiti/theology by Nick): itsjustathoug.ht
Twitter: joyinhope, ngmangine, gwennmangine

Thanks for using your influence to spread the word on our behalf!

Here's an out-take of the countdown pics for your viewing pleasure...

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Top 5 Ways to Support our Family- #3

Top 5 Ways to Partner with Joy in Hope
#3-Mangine Support

When we moved down to Haiti in April of 2009, our monthly budget need was about $5,150. Thanks to the faithfulness of our supporters, we were bringing in about that amount (+/- 5%) for the next three years with almost no lack. Additionally, we've often had one-time gifts that have covered non-budgeted expenses that have cropped up-- ie illnesses, robberies, natural disasters, etc.

Upon review a few months ago, we realized that we are currently bringing in about $5,000 per month. Now, to be 3+ years out from the last time we'd solicited monthly support, this is an AMAZING number. We're so thankful for the faithfulness of our supporters who have never made us beg. In this same budgetary review, we started looking at the numbers. We were able to drop a few things but realized there was a desire to add a few things too.

The specific things we would like to add to our budget are:
-$200/month for security staff. We've had security staff for a while now. We would like to start adding this item to our regular budget as we feel we now live in a new security reality.

-$100/month for homeschool items. This includes curriculum for all four of our American (or American to-be) kids. (Since we homeschool, this number is actually LOWER per child than what we pay for our Haitian kids to go to school.) We were initially thinking that this figure had to be higher, but with a lot of good advise, purchasing previously-owned curriculum and combining Josiah and Nico into the same grade, we believe this to be a realistic number.

-$550/month for health insurance. Since living here we have not had medical insurance. Several close calls medically have lead us to believe that having international coverage that would work for us in the states would be a wise choice. Just one incident of having to be medically evacuated from Haiti could be financially devastating. As we look toward being here long term, this seems like a must-have.

So the grand total on our new budget is: $5,814/month.

Things that this includes:
(all figures are monthly)
Salary $888
Housing- $1033
Utilities- $482
Food- $635
Transportation- $400
Medical- $550
Household Items- $230
Education for American kids- $100
Furloughs- $750
Miscellaneous- $200

Raising another $800/month seems like a big leap, but we are confident that God will provide for these needs as he always has in the past.

If you're interested in partnering with us with a one-time (tax-deductible) gift to benefit our family or to donate on a monthly basis, please contact Nick-- nick@joyinhope.org. Donations can also be made securely online at http://www.joyinhope.org/donate/  .

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Top 5 Ways to Support our Family: #4

Top 5 Ways to Partner with Joy in Hope...
#4- Child Sponsorship

Here's something you might not know. Nick and I raise funds for our family that are separate from orphanage funds. Now, that might seem somewhat silly, but Nick and I never, EVER want to be motivated to add more children (or not add more children) to our family, because of financial reasons. Our kids are our kids, not our paycheck. Therefore, the Mangine family raises the money that it needs to live (for the six of us-- Nick, me, Nia, Nico, Josiah & Schneider). That number stays the same regardless of how many children are in the home. Our budget covers 100% of the costs that are required for running the home if we had ZERO extra kids in our family.

The rest of the costs are additional costs that we incur specific to each child. Having been at this for a while now, we have a pretty good idea of how much it costs to raise our Haitian children in our home. That number?

$258.75 per child, per month.

That number includes food, utilities, clothing, medical care, education (tuition/uniforms/supplies/tutor), household items, and orphanage staff (and their food, since it's customary here to feed staff members).

We only have 8 kids who are eligible for sponsorship (because the other 4 fall under our personal budget as I previously mentioned.) So how we do it, is we take the per child monthly cost, and split it into $32 sponsorship slots. That means, if we can find sponsors willing to partner with one of our kids at $32/month, we need 64 active sponsors. (We are at about 51.) The number of available sponsorship slots has recently increased. We have been at full sponsorship for some time now, but that was with 6 sponsors per kid. When compiling budgets numbers/costs for last year, we realized that the cost was greater that we had been budgeting for, so we opened up 2 new monthly slots for each child.

Now, there's a whole OTHER situation that we are facing, a unique challenge that has lead us to make some unique decisions. Our son Yves, age 14, has behavior issues related to Reactive Attachment Disorder that make special accommodations necessary for the safety of our family. You can click HERE to read about Yves.  The total cost of increased staff and related costs is $512 per month. We do not know how long these special arrangements will last, but at this point we want to plan them in to our budget, so that keeping Yves (and the rest of the kids) healthy does not become a financial hardship. (Up until this point, we've just been rolling these expenses into our normal budget and trying to cut in other places.) We are open to new, creative ideas on how to fund this expense, but for now, we're opening 16 ADDITIONAL sponsorship slots for Yves. That gives him A LOT of sponsors if he were to obtain full sponsorship. It seems a bit weird to have so many for him. There was some talk of us just rolling all the expenses together and adding a few more sponsors for each child. However, upon further discussion, we realized that Yves could use the extra moral support of additional sponsors as well as he is on this journey.

So, all that is to say-- We have open sponsorship slots! $32/month. Are you interested?

Here's pics of the kids and how many slots are open for them:

1open slot for Manita (age 6)

1open slot for Jerry (age 10)

2 open slots for Prisca (age 10)

2 open slots for Wildarne (age 8)

2 open slots for Fritzie (age 17)

2 open slots for Sanndy (age 11)

2 open slots for Jean Louis (age 14)

17 open slots for Yves (age 14... ish)

For more information or to become a child sponsor, please contact Trish at Trish@ joyinhope.org!

Monday, August 20, 2012

Top 5 Ways to Support Our Family-- #5

Well all, furlough is over. We've gotten to visit so many friends and supporters. We've gotten to share the things God is doing in our lives, specifically the ways he is shaping us to look more Himself in the context of community.

As a wrap up to the fantastic trip we've had, I want to share my “top 5” list of ways that we can continue to journey together. As friends, family, and supporters, you are an integral part of Joy in Hope, and I wanted to spend a bit of time this week detailing ways we want to enter into/continue a reciprocal relationship with you!
With that in mind, let's get started-- here's #5.

#5 Board Membership
We are blessed to have many people that are truly bought in to the journey of life change that is happening in Jacmel/Raymond, Haiti. We see love and support every where we turn. Recently, Joy in Hope has transitioned from having a full time staff member who served as director, to a volunteer-run organization, with an “administrative governance board” where each member has a specific role necessary to supporting JIH in addition to the overall leadership responsibility of a board. This change has come with a lot more opportunities for our supporters and friends to really get involved in the day-to-day operations. In other words, we're seeking more people to link arms with our family (and with Joy in Hope) by serving on our Board of Directors, as well as individuals who would be willing to serve on shorter term committees, or as advisers to the board.

We're looking for people with all kinds of skills: technical, administrative, medical, accounting, experience with children, experience with non-profit work, grant writer, fund-raising, event planning, travel coordination, security, pastoral care, psychological experience, social networking, ... This is not a complete list. If you have something else that you feel would be an asset to our organization and you're willing to share yourself with us, please let us know!

We know that's a big ask. But we also believe that God is already working in hearts of our friends and supporters-- nudging them to come along on this journey. If you feel like this might be a good fit for you, please contact the current Board of Directors at board@joyinhope.org for more information on the process.

Thanks, friends!

Gwenn (for the entire Mangine Many)

note: each segment this week will also be duplicated on the Joy in Hope facebook

Sunday, August 19, 2012

Easiest way ever to help us.

Hey-- I NEED you guys to do this.  PLEASE?!?!?

You may have seen this on the JIH Facebook page but it is such an awesome thing that we had to make sure we got the word out! 

Qdoba Mexican Grill has created a text campaign for us. 
Send "joyinhope" to 67463 and we will receive $1.00 for your text. 

Friends, PLEASE take a moment right NOW and send the text. Then forward this e-mail to anyone in the continental U.S. and ask them to do the same. We can very easily raise thousands with your help! And with a volunteer led organization, every dollar donated goes directly to helping Haiti. 
Much love,

Nick and Gwenn Mangine

Why I am sad for Pat Robertson.

I am sure, by now, everyone has had the chance to see (or at least see someone gripe about) this clip where Pat Robertson gives the world yet another reason to hate Christians.  And gives Christians another reason to cringe because this man claims to represent them.  (As a side note-- he does not represent me... I will just quote a bumper sticker Nick saw the other day, "I support the separation of church and hate.")  But I digress.

Don't feel like you need to watch it-- I will give you the 3 sentence summary.  A reader sends in a question to Pat Robertson asking about why she (as a single mom of three children adopted from different countries) can't seem to find a man because the children are adopted.  Pat said (essentially) that men don't want to "take on the United Nations" and that sometimes kids who are adopted "grow up weird."  But he also said that he does a lot to help orphans.


I cannot stop thinking about this clip.  And not really from the "I hate Pat Roberston" club.  I mean, yeah, I don't like the guy, but really, I just felt really sad for him when he said this.  A friend of mine brought this topic up on facebook and I wrote this on her wall--
 I saw this this morning and was fuming. My frustration was that he was basically saying, "We should help orphaned kids, but we don't need to go so far as to offer them families." I am not saying that it isn't a challenge to raise children who have suffered abuse/abandonment. I am, however, saying that the message of the gospel is redemption. And if we, as Christians, are not committed to being part of redemption, then we have no business claiming to carry the name of Jesus. God himself adopted us while we were full of problems and drama. I've grown up to be "weird" and never fully accepted the heritage I've been given in Christ. It's a daily process. But, man, I am thankful that God adopted me into his family rather than just sending some money to help me in my orphaned state.

And really, that's what makes me sad for old Pat.  I think about the verse in Luke where Jesus tells us that greater gifts mean greater responsibilities (Luke 12:48).  I don't think Pat fully understands the magnitude of the gift we've been given by being adopted into the family of Christ (Ephesians 1:5.)

I would be lying if I told you that adoption is free of pain.  It is, by definition, rooted in pain... on all three sides of the triangle of adoption there is loss.  But so is our very own salvation.  God had to give up his very own son.  Jesus had to surrender unto death.  And we have to die to ourselves.  There's PAIN.  But that is the point.  The point of redemption is that God is ABLE to buy back ANY situation, regardless of the pain involved.  And it is his pleasure to do so.

Yesterday Nia and Prisca were in the living room with the craft supplies and it was obvious that they were making me a "surprise."  Every time I'd walk through the room they'd freak out and hide what they were doing.  I pretended I didn't notice.  So later when they walked out on the porch with this craft in hand, I wasn't actually super surprised. But I still teared up.

The left side of the card was made by Prisca and translated into English it says, "Mama Gwenn.  You are a good Mama.  Thank you for all the things you give us.  I love you, Prisca."  The left is similar but written by Nia, "Mom, thank you for everything you gave me.  You are a good mom.  We wanted to do this for you because you gave us everything we need.  I love you! -Nia.")  There are also various languages saying thank you and I love you and an uber-flattering picture of me.  Glittered and bedazzled, it's a treasure to me for sure.  Here is this expression of love from two of my kids-- one born from my womb and one born from my heart.

And as I was reading this yesterday, I thought again about Pat Robertson.  And again, I felt sad for him.  Had I not decided to "take on the United Nations" and risk my kids "growing up weird," I'd never have the love of Prisca in my life.  Or Nico, Fritzie, Wildarne, Jean Louis, Jerry, Yves, Sanndy, Manita, or Schneider.

Pat may have missed the point of what our adoptive heritage means, but you don't have to. I get that not everyone is called to be an adoptive parent.  I totally get that.  Different people are called to play different roles in the redemption story God is writing in our lives.  But I believe that as Christ-followers, we are all called to at least acknowledge and celebrate the scriptural precedent for adoption. Because whether or not we choose to adopt, we are already a part of the adoption triangle, having been adopted by our heavenly Father.  God sees you as chosen and permanent.  Live in that gift.

Wednesday, August 15, 2012


The night before we left the states to come back home I found a fortune cookie in my purse from a trip to a Chinese restaurant the night before.  I opened it, not to eat the cookie but to read the fortune.  Given the past two and half weeks of near constant celebration and visiting times with friends and family, I chuckled at this fortune:

I thought, "I should have gotten that at the beginning of this trip rather than at the end since the past few weeks have been nothing BUT reuniting with old friends."

Now, don't get me wrong, I am not really thinking that a fortune cookie could actually be an actual fortune-telling device.  However, just a few minutes ago I looked at the picture I had taken of the fortune and thought, "What a great fortune for the end of the trip."

There were so many goodbyes after all the hellos we said while on furlough.  That part was sad.  But what a neat reminder that I will see most of you again.  Maybe not this week, but heck, even though it had been a decade or more since we'd last seen some of the friends we recently visited, it felt like no time had passed in terms of the friendship and we were just able to pick up where we'd left off.

Thankful for all of you we got to see on furlough.  You are fantastic friends.  I can't wait until the next time we're reunited.

Monday, August 6, 2012

Ice cream crystal ball.

We've often made the observation that Nico loves America and everything American. (He could take or leave Haiti.)  Nia loves both America and Haiti and all things American and Haitian.  And Josiah loves Haiti and all things Haitian. (He could take or leave America.)

With that in mind, I chuckled the other day when Nico ordered vanilla ice cream, Nia ordered a chocolate/vanilla swirl, and Josiah ordered chocolate.  

We're having a great (and fruitful) time in the states.  Visited with several churches and have a few more to go on this whirlwind trip.  Missing the kids back home, but LOVING the time with all our family here.