Tuesday, December 31, 2013

favorites of 2013

Sweet Kris.  Love when she curls up on my lap just wanting to be
loved on.  She has a smile that is hard to say no to!
Last year I posted a "best of 2012" blog and thought I'd do it again this year!  Between my facebook and blog I post a lot of pictures.  It's pretty clear why some of the pictures are my favorite while others have some more hidden reasons.  I hope you enjoy getting an inside look at some of my favorite memories from 2013!
My sister Mila came to stay with me for two weeks!
LOVE that she has a heart for Haiti and that she loves my kiddos too!
Daniella and Kris know they have my heart!  Not sure how they
got so grown-up looking!  They are quite the mischievous pair! 
Our field-trip to the playground was SO much fun.  The
kids talked about it for weeks!  I can still hear their laughter and
chatter as they discussed the day.
Rosamene has been on my heart since I met her last year.  This year she
was brought back into my life- love how her little body has literally
been transformed through our malnutrition program!  
Just love everything about my little man.  He knows he is
mine and is so quick to run and claim his spot on my hip each and
every afternoon.  So thankful that God has blessed me with getting
to do life with Davidson and his family!
I have three reasons for LOVING this photo-
1-Mirlandia is looking super cute and grown up!  I am still in shock at just
how big she looks- it seems like yesterday that she was the tiny infant who
slept the days away in the laundry basin!
2- Kris and Natamara- such sweet little sisters!  These girls love each other but it isn't often
that I'm actually able to capture their love in a picture.
3-If you look closely at the boards, the kids have used charcoal to
practice writing letters and numbers.  The lack of writing paper doesn't stop these kiddos!
I am so blessed.  Love that this little face is never more than
a few inches away from me=)
Daniella and Kris are such good big sisters- they walk me to the road
each and every afternoon.  This day the siblings (Davidson and
Natamara) decided to join.  The girls were troopers and gave them
 piggy-back rides for part of the walk=)
Sweet Daniella has my heart.  She is so full of personality.  Love the rare
moments she actually sits still long enough to cuddle or to take a picture.  
Love that this is my life.  Chaotic, yes.  Me being
outnumbered, always.  But I wouldn't change it for anything!
Mango season was so fun (that is until we found a worm in
a mango..)!  Loved all the sticky hugs and kisses!  
When the moms weren't looking the kids took full
advantage of the empty bathing/laundry bins!  Singing
is SO much more fun in the laundry bins!
Rose and Kris during the first week of school!  These girls love
everything about school.  One of my favorite parts of the
day is getting to hear a detailed report (who ate what for lunch, who
 kicked someone, who has a new dress on etc etc.) of the school day from them!
Love Melissa's little smile!  Also love how ALL the children
(especially Davidson!) absolutely adore her and will literally chant
her name when she toddles over to sit with us=)
Summer was HOT so the kids and I decided that popsicles would help us survive
the heat!  The vendor loved it when he saw us coming!
These little ladies walk me to the road each and every night
when I leave the village.  Love the little talks we have while walking.

Thursday, December 12, 2013

triplet update!

Triplets: Bedjine, Bedtchina, and Benardia- 23 months old.
In January Aubree and I met a family in our clinic that was instantly just extra special.  The parents came walking into our clinic with three little girls- all right at one year old.  At first we were confused and figured that the little girls were cousins to each other or perhaps they just lived in the same area.  And the parents looked too old to have children that young.  The parents just laughed as they told us their story. The little girls were theirs.  They were the parents of triplets.  The mother found out she was pregnant when she was 39 and already the mom to three other daughters.  During an ultrasound she discovered she was having twins.  It wasn't until she went into labor and delivered her "twins" up in the mountain inside their home that she realized she was actually pregnant for triplets!  These girls were literally little miracles!  The proud parents now had six daughters!
This photo was taken the first time we met the triplets in January 2013.
The girls were almost a year old.
The triplets were small for their age so they were admitted into our malnutrition program.  The girls came to our clinic every two weeks to be weighed, measured, and receive education about proper nutrition.   During each appointment the family was provided with rice/beans, milk, and Plumpy 'Nut (peanut butter paste for children diagnosed with malnutrition).  Over four months the girls quickly gained weight, learned to walk, started talking, and eventually met the requirements to graduate from the program.  Malnutrition appointments were much quieter once the girls graduated from the program=) 

Recently we were up in the mountain running a mobile medical clinic when we saw the father of the triplets.  He invited us to their home to see his wife and the girls.  When we arrived to their home we were greeted with lots of hugs.  This family had always treated Aubree and I as if we were extra special to them.  It wasn't uncommon for them to come to malnutrition appointments with a small gift of mangoes or avocados for us.  It was so fun seeing this family in their home instead of in our clinic.  The girls were thriving and looked really good.  The father was so proud as he gave us a tour of their garden and home.  He even showed us how he built his home by hand using various materials.  We loved getting to see how well the girls were doing and of course loved getting to see this sweet family again!  

Thursday, November 28, 2013

becoming thankful

Lately I've had a really difficult time feeling thankful.  I know, that doesn't sound kind or grateful or even very "Christian-like."  But if I'm going to be honest- I'm just not feeling it.   It wasn't until I read one of my devotions for this week that I finally realized why I was struggling with joining in on the "thankful parade" that starts every November.

"A thankful mind-set does not entail a denial of reality with its plethora of problems.  Instead, it rejoices in God, my savior, in the midst of trials and tribulations.  
He is my refuge and strength, an ever-present and well-proved help in trouble." 
(Jesus Calling).  

This month I met a little boy, Yves Adler, who at the age of 20 months weighed just 17 pounds.  His body was completely swollen as the result of being severely malnourished.  This little boy barely had the energy to sit.  He was immediately placed in our malnutrition program and was provided with the needed nutrition (whole milk, fortified rice/beans, and Plumpy Nut, a fortified peanut butter for severely malnourished children).  For days I couldn't get rid of the sensation of what it felt like to hold his little lifeless body in my arms.  My fingers literally enclosed the spaces between each of his ribs.  His mother tried to fight for him.  She tried to be brave and she did everything we asked.  In the end, Yves Adler was too sick.  His body wasn't able to recover and he died in the hospital.  His mother called me to let me know about his death.  The only words that I could say to her was that I was praying for her. I told her I know she was a great mother and that I know she loved her son.

I guess in my mind, choosing to be thankful was simply covering up how I really felt.  In order to be thankful I would have to lie about how I'm honestly feeling.  I would have to make up a pretty story to cover up the truth.  And the truth has shaken me.  Honestly, I just want to be angry at the level of injustice that keeps hitting me in the face.  I want to scream.  And yet, during my quiet time God used my devotional to let me know that where I'm at is OK.  That being thankful isn't simply glossing over the reality of life, but rather it's more about looking for Him in the midst of it all.  Because He is there.  In each and every detail of Yves Adlers story, He is there.  I am thankful that God allowed Katherine and me to meet Yves Adler and his mother.  I am thankful that He allowed us to encourage her and help her fight with dignity for her son.  I am thankful that even though Yves Adler didn't live, his mother was given a chance to provide him some type of comfort in his last days. This Thanksgiving, I am thankful for my Savior who now holds a resting Yves Adler.

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

november newsletter!

The November newsletter has finally been mailed!  Click the link below for the web version of the newsletter.  Let me know (brookes_00@yahoo.com) if you would like to be added to the mailing list!

And just in case you want to see more photos- click on the links below!  
(you do NOT need a fb account to see the pictures!)

Saturday, November 16, 2013

one momma

Elimene (30yr old, 69#) and Bedshaina (3months old,  7.72#)
Each and everyday there are a line of people waiting outside the clinic to be seen by our Haitian physicians and clinic staff.  The patients range in age from just a few days old, all the way up to the really old looking patients who honestly have no clue what their ages are!  There are many people who simply pass through the clinic.  People I probably won't ever see again.  And then there are some who become so much more than just a "patient."

I remember the day I met Elimene.  Aubree and I had started triaging patients when I noticed her and her young daughter sitting by themselves outside.  Elimene was so small and fragile looking.  I called them inside and it was then that I literally felt myself breaking for this family.  It took all the strength Elimene had to walk into the clinic while carrying her three month old little girl.

At thirty years of age Elimene weighed sixty-nine pounds.  Yes, 69 pounds.  She lived at home with her husband, an eight year old daughter, and a three month old little girl, Bedshaina.  During Elimene's second pregnancy her husband threatened to leave her and their first child.  There wasn't enough money to make ends meet with just the three of them let alone with another baby on the way.  Towards the end of her pregnancy Elimene became very sick.  She became so sick that she was barely able to walk or carry her newborn daughter. And yet she continued to fight for her baby and chose to breastfeed her daughter.  While we are 100% advocates of breastfeeding we knew that breastfeeding was literally killing this momma.  This momma needed more nutrition in order to survive. We committed to walking alongside Elimene and Bedshaina until Bedshaina's first birthday.  We committed to providing them with rice packs, whole milk (for Elimene), and infant formula for Bedshaina every two weeks.  We still encouraged Elimene to breastfeed, to keep that bond with her sweet little girl.  But we also provided her with formula to help supplement what her body wasn't able to provide.
Elimene (70.48 pounds) and Bedshaina (5 months and 10 pounds!)
I used to break when I would see Elimene walking towards the clinic.  Emotionally I couldn't handle seeing her.  And yet, I was drawn to her.  Drawn to love her and drawn to hug her.  There was something special about this mom.  There was something different about her.  She never asked me for anything besides what the malnutrition program provided.  She didn't ask for money or clothing or any other random thing.  She loved her daughters and I knew that if she was willing to fight for her health and for her family- then we would be willing to partner with her on that journey.  Both Aubree and I prayed for this mom and her little girl.  We prayed for her entire family too.  

I don't remember what day or month it happened, but there was a day when Elimene walked into the clinic and for some reason I didn't just want to cry.  She looked good.  Really good.  Her body had been transformed.  I remember thinking thank you Jesus because that was the only answer and reason that any of this was actually possible.  It was a privilege to watch Elimene not only grow in weight, but in confidence and in respect for herself.  She went from a mom who would sit in the back corner by herself, to this mom who would sit right in the middle of all the other mommas and visit with them.  She laughs now too. It isn't an awkward laugh, but rather a laugh that comes from her heart.  Recently she told me that she saw some of her husband's family and they were shocked at how well she looked.  She said, "I simply looked at them and said God is faithful."  
I still get teary eyed when I think about this journey with Elimene and Bedshaina.  God has truly allowed Aubree, Katherine, and I to watch a miracle unfold before our eyes.  He has forever changed this family and in so many ways we too have been forever changed and impacted by them.  In October, Bedshaina celebrated her first birthday!  As we sang happy birthday to her and gave lots of hugs and kisses, my emotions were all over the place.  Mentally, I knew that once Bedshaina turned one she would graduate from the program.  I forgot to tell my heart all of this.  I might have even made Katherine keep them in the program an extra two weeks just so I could see them one more time!  I know that I'm going to miss seeing this family every two weeks, and that our malnutrition appointments won't be the same without them present.  I love that Elimene wasn't just a random patient that walked through our clinic but that she truly became a friend to me.
Elimene and her daughters
Bedshaina (103 pounds!!) and Elimene (15 pounds!)

Saturday, November 9, 2013

fun with math

Just because today is Saturday doesn't mean Katherine and I gave the kids the morning off from doing school work!  Even though we didn't have any paper, ink pens, or pencils we were able to practice our addition and multiplication facts.  The kids each quickly claimed an area on the wall of the house and used pieces of charcoal to write out the problems we gave them.  They even wrote out problems for Katherine and I to solve, thankfully I think we both passed the test.  Daniella was "creative" enough to climb up as high as she could possibly go to write out her problems.  Thankfully she didn't fall and break any of her limbs!  Not wanting to be left out, the younger kids used small sticks and made designs in the dirt- I'm sure they thought they were doing math problems too=)  Who would have thought practicing math could be this much fun!
Notice Daniella standing on the wall=)

Saturday, November 2, 2013

saturday morning fun!

Saturday mornings in Chambrun have always been my favorite time of the week.  I love getting up early and walking down to the village.  There is something so peaceful about passing the women on the road with their donkeys fully loaded for market.  The weather is actually enjoyable and not as hot and humid as the afternoons.  And there is something extra special about being there when the kids first wake up.  Today was an extra special time of visiting the kiddos because Aubree is here for the week so she came along too.  Aubree moved back to Indiana three months ago and the kids were all beyond excited to have her back for a visit!  She decided to be a little daring and brought a new game along to teach the kiddos.  I am not going to lie, I completely doubted her "great idea" of teaching the kids to play Hungry Hungry Hippos.  I knew that more than likely this new game would lead to complete chaos.  The kids aren't used to having toys/games so keeping the pieces together and trying to be fair with who gets a turn etc is a lot of work!  The kids were intrigued as soon as they saw the game and instantly wanted to help assemble it.  They actually took turns and none of the marbles were swallowed!  They laughed and were amazed at how quickly the hippos "ate" the marbles and wanted to play the game over and over.  I'm still amazed at just how well behaved the kids were and how eager they were to share and take turns.  They loved the game and I know that they will be requesting to play it again soon!  I never dreamed I'd spend my Saturday morning playing Hungry Hungry Hippos in Chambrun! 

Monday, October 14, 2013

school days!

The fence rows are now lined with freshly washed uniforms!  
As a child I remember that the last day of school was one of my favorite days of the year.  I loved knowing that I had the entire summer to swim, play outside, and simply have fun with my family and friends.  Here the last day of school is so different.  The children don't celebrate the last day and always look so depressed when they walk home.  The children know that the they are truly blessed to have the opportunity to go to school and it isn't something they take for granted.  They love that they get to learn and that their teachers truly care about them.  In school they are challenged to do and be more.  They are presented with the opportunity to dream.  And while school is in session each child receives a meal each and every day.  This is huge.  They no longer have to wonder or worry about if they will be able to eat that day.  I truly believe that one of the ways to break the cycle of poverty is through education.  Knowing that these children are learning to read, write, and how to mentally process and work through different problems makes me so proud and excited for each of them.  School officially started October 2nd and it has been so fun to have all the students back on campus.  I love that the playground is once again full with kiddos running around and that you can't walk anywhere without hearing the the chatter of kids!  Praying for each of these children as the school year begins.  Praying that their little minds will absorb all the new information and that they will grow spiritually too.  Also praying for their teachers as they truly help to grow this next generation of leaders, nurses, teachers, doctors, construction workers, pastors, and so much more!   
Yes- even here there is always that "one" kiddo that just likes
to cause a little trouble- I mean what is wrong with sitting under
the table at lunch?!