Saturday, August 31, 2013

a little baby girl

Erlange and Thierry
On Monday Katherine and I took a visiting team to the village.  As we were walking around Chambrun visiting several of the families, the children told us that Erlange had her baby that morning.  I have watched Erlange's belly grow over the last nine months and have been so excited to meet this little baby.  We eventually made it to her home and were quickly invited inside to meet the newest resident of Chambrun.  As I made my way to the back of her small mud home I tried to focus on not tripping.  All of the windows in the home were closed so I couldn't see a thing, and it literally felt like I stepped into a sauna.  Erlange was laying in the bed and next to her was the most beautiful little baby girl.  Erlange looked exhausted and yet amazing for having just birthed a little girl in her home six hours before we arrived.  The little girl had the chubbiest little cheeks and was adorable.  Her big brother Thierry ran around outside and was so excited to tell us all about his sister. 

Tuesday I went again to visit them and found Erlange looking more rested.  She told me the baby had a fever and that she was planning on bringing the baby to the clinic tomorrow morning.  I talked with her about removing some of the layers of clothing and hats that the baby had on, and maybe opening a window to allow a breeze to enter the home.  Many new moms will wear multiple layers of clothing (pants, skirt, tshirt, sweater, head scarf, socks-all at one time) in order to prevent themselves from getting sick and passing it on to the baby.  The new babies are bundled with multiple layers too.  Other than the reported fever, the new little girl was breastfeeding well and according to her momma seemed to be doing well.  Big brother Thierry even gave his new little baby sister a kiss which was so cute to watch.

Wednesday morning as Katherine and I triaged patients, we anxiously waited to see Erlange pass through the clinic with the baby. We couldn't wait to learn her name and hold her again. As we finished the first round of triage, one of the children from the village popped into the clinic and told us the baby had died around 7p.m. night before.  I stood there shocked as one of our co-workers who lives in Chambrun confirmed the story. Instantly I was overwhelmed with sadness for Erlange.  She carried this beautiful baby girl for nine months, delivered her in their home, and already loved her very much.  I knew she was broken and hurting.  After talking to some of the other women I found out that Erlange had previously lost another little girl before she'd had Thierry.  My heart broke for this momma and her family.

When I visited the home for the third time this week, I was greeted with hugs from the family. But this time there was a deep sadness in their eyes.  I found Erlange resting inside the home.  As I knelt down beside her I noticed the tears that were pooling in her eyes.  She softly said, "The baby died just a few hours after you left Tuesday."  I held her hand and told her that I loved her. I told her that while I had only known the baby for two days, I loved her daughter very much too.  I told her I was praying for her.

At times it seems like all the odds are stacked against all the women I meet.  I see them walking around with their pregnant bellies and I wonder if they will be able to afford to deliver in the hospital.  I wonder if some of the women will even be healthy enough to survive the labor.  Who will support these women? Who will hold their hands when the pain begins and who will help them when they struggle to breastfeed?  And when the unthinkable happens, I wonder who will be there to hold these mothers as they cry tears for their child who has died?  There was no funeral service for Erlange's baby girl. She wasn't even given a name before she was buried near their home.

I started this week praying that Erlange would have the needed physical strength to recover from her delivery and to care for her newborn daughter.  I was excited at the thoughts of seeing this little girl grow and develop her own little personality and voice.  Wednesday my prayers changed for this family.  I now pray that Erlange would feel loved, and that she would be given the space and time to mourn the death of her daughter. Most importantly, I pray that she will cling to Jesus for the strength she needs right now, and that she will feel His arms around her.

Friday, August 23, 2013


Davidson, Dania (mom), and Daniella
Haitian proverb:
"Se anpil dlo ki lave kay te- It takes a lot of water to wash a mud hut." 
(It can be difficult to change ones ways.) 

There is something that most people who visit here would probably never guess.  I used to dread visits to the village.  When Aubree, E'tienne, or Leslee would suggest walking to the village in the afternoon, I simply would go along out of obligation.  I was overwhelmed with the language, I didn't know very many people, and honestly the culture just confused me.  I loved holding and playing with the kiddos but after 15-20 minutes I was ready to leave.  I typically left angry and frustrated.  I didn't understand what I saw and I didn't understand the dynamics of the families that we visited.  

I remember when Davidson was a little baby.  When I visited the village I would find him sitting outside of his house naked and covered in mud.  Typically he was crying and just appeared to be hungry.  When I scooped him up he would cuddle in and fall asleep.  He lived in his grandmothers home along with his mother (Dania) and sister (Daniella).  After a few months his mother, sister, and him were all kicked out of the home because his mother wasn't feeding them or caring for them.  Several months later we started to hear about how sick Davidson was.  How he was puking acid and how his entire body was swollen.  In January of 2012 his grandmother took him and his sister back into her home.  It was then that he started to come to the clinic each morning, we'd spend the day taking care of him, and each evening we would walk him back to the village.  
Davidson and his grandmother
I don't remember exactly what day but it was, but one of these trips God caused me to feel at home in the village.  In the beginning I was very firm with myself at setting limits about how emotionally vulnerable I would be with this family.  I would support them and encourage them, but I would not fall in love with this family.  I would not allow myself to be hurt by this family or dream of simply running off with Davidson and making him my own.  I proceeded to visit this family each and every day and little by little, He started to break my heart for them.  Little by little He started to heal the anger I felt towards this family.  I wish I could say that I always thought kind thoughts about Davidson's family, that I trusted them, or always treated them with respect.  I didn't.  It wasn't easy loving them.  Loving them meant flipping every definition I had of family upside down.  Loving them meant removing each and every brick around my heart.  And loving them meant I had to allow God to heal the anger I felt towards them.  I had to learn to love them in their brokenness.  I couldn't change them but I could walk beside them.  

It was during one of these visits that I became a part of their family.  I don't know when it happened, but somewhere I changed from setting personal boundaries to literally jumping in head first.  I started to see this family in a new light and I realized just how much they were really fighting for each other.  I watched as his grandmother would divide a small piece of bread between Davidson, his sister, and her other granddaughter who also lived in her home.  I watched as she lovingly held Davidson as he napped.  I rejoiced with them when he learned to walk and as he started to talk.  Each and every afternoon Davidson would literally come running to greet me.  My heart broke when his cousin and other people would tell me that he didn't run to greet Dania (Davidson's mother).  Dania would visit occasionally but not enough for him to see her as his mother.  
One afternoon Daniella (Davidson's sister) whispered a secret into my ear.  Davidson and Daniella's mother was pregnant.  I left the village defeated.  I couldn't talk about her pregnancy and cried for a week.  It was then that I realized I was still angry with Dania.  I was angry at her for not feeding Davidson for days on end.  I was angry that she quit him.  And most of all I was angry that she held the title I wanted so badly for this boy of "mother."  I didn't understand how I could be so angry towards someone that had created two of the children I loved so deeply.  God started to show me that it wasn't my place to judge Dania or to proclaim what she was doing right and wrong.  It wasn't my job to mentally calculate how impossible it would be to divide the resources for yet another mouth that would need to be fed and a body that would need to be clothed.  This wasn't my decision.  Jesus was once again simply calling me to love her.  And so I started to intentionally seek her out when I would see her in the village or on the road.  I would lovingly tease her about the new baby and I tried to spend extra time with her.  

In July, Dania delivered her third baby- a beautiful baby boy who after several weeks (and several different names) was officially given the name Woodensky.  He is perfect in every way.  I waited for three weeks to finally meet this little boy and oh was it worth it!  Dania was so excited to hand him to me and I simply sat and just stared at how perfect he was.  It was then that Dania told me something that truly spoke to my heart- she said, "My family told me you ask for me everyday. They said you ask about how I am doing and how the baby is doing."  Loving this family hasn't been easy.  Honestly, it's been really messy and some days it hurts a lot.  And yet, it is so beautiful.  
Daniella, Davidson, me, Woodensky.  I think I'm officially outnumbered!  
He has captured my heart already!

Friday, August 16, 2013

happy friday!!

Their faces just scream trouble! 
It's been extremely hot the last few weeks.  The kind of hot where you feel like you are literally going to melt hot.  Honestly it has been all I could do to keep the kiddos entertained and from teasing/hurting each other.  There is something about hot and humid weather that just leaves everyone a little more sensitive.  Most afternoons the kiddos and I sit huddled under any tree or piece of shade we can find.  I try to come up with "quiet" activities (or at least ones that don't cause us to sweat more!) like counting, learning colors, playing with rocks, and singing lots of songs.  This afternoon the kiddos were super excited when a merchant came walking by with a huge bag full of frozen popsicles!  They agreed to share with each other so I sent them off to the fence to make the big purchase and of course choose their favorite flavors.  Needless to say the frozen treat was a huge hit with all the children which made for a fun start to the weekend!  
Davidson wasn't going to waste a drop!

Friday, August 9, 2013

lemon shake-ups..haiti style!

(Photos taken by: Shelby Lamb)
All summer long I've seen facebook posts about how amazing the food has been at each and every county/state fair.  Some people are even kind enough to include pictures of the elephant ears, potato rings, fried veggies, and the list is nearly endless.  I try to be happy for each of you and excited that you are enjoying all these amazing treats but there is always this little part of me that is secretly drooling and wanting just one bite!  It wasn't until I was walking home from the village the other day that I realized I had a "county fair" experience right here in Haiti.  A older woman in the village gave the children a pile of sour orange halves.  The kiddos didn't care that these little orange bowls were already juiced or that they were really sour.  They were simply excited about their treat and that each of them had two!  They are all about sharing with me so I "got to" try each and every orange and oh were they tart.  After awhile I teased that they should put water in the little orange bowls.  The children immediately thought that I was brilliant (pays to have friends that are all 5 years old and younger!) and ran off in search of a house that had a full water bucket.  Even though the oranges made the water taste a little tart the children were literally gleaming with pride.  These Haitian style lemon shake-ups weren't quite as cold and sweet as they are at the fair but the fun I had in watching my little friends prepare them truly made them taste far better than any of the others I've ever had.  And they weren't nearly as expensive=)