In the Summer of 2010 I was one of many lucky people who had the opportunity to take a short trip to Haiti. I fell almost instantly in love and just can't keep myself away. I've spent about 11 months in Haiti since the first time I went two and a half years ago and my time there isn't over. I'm exploring my options on where to take my life from here but it WILL include Haiti in one form or another. This is where I record stories and thoughts about my experiences.

Thursday, May 31, 2012

Amy arrived safely in Haiti and came to my house to stay for the night. The next day we headed off to La Gonave (where Extollo is building) and I had to say my final goodbyes to the kids. It was really emotional and I cried of course. I really fell in love with all those kids. I miss the craziness of that house!

I got sick the day before I left Sue's (of course). I was worried to get on a boat (to the island of La Gonave) with no bathroom!! But I did it and I made it without too much trouble. It took a few days of laying in bed but I got better.

Now I'm in Leogane which has been lovely. It's been good being with all these sweet kids that made me fall in love with Haiti in the first place. A lot of the older girls are gone which is kind of sad. But from what I know, they are all in safe places and are happy. That makes me happy too. But I sure do miss them! There's a lot of new little girls at the orphange too. Right now, there's some sort of flu going around and about 8 of the girls are throwing up and have fevers. Please be praying for them! Tchaly has had a pretty high fever for a few days which is worrysome because he's had fever related seizures in the past.

When Amy and I first arrived in Leogane I was telling Amy that I hoped that the living situation wasn't extremely comfortable. I wanted to have something to look forward to when I returned to the United States. A part of me wanted things to be really hard for me at the end of my stay here so I could be somewhat excited to go back home. So I guess God does listen because things did go kind of crazy! The container that Amy and I are staying in has been having all sorts of problems. It didn't have lights for a long time and there are no windows. The water wasn't working. Our generator ran out of gas and there was no gas to be found in all of Leogange for a few days. Anway, Amy says it's my fault for wishing it. Whoops!! I don't think God accepts takebacks.... ;)

Probably won't be able to update until I get home because of limited access to internet.


Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Tomorrow's the day. I can't believe I'm leaving. I'm getting picked up at eight in the morning. Mallorie made me the BEST goodbye video ever with all the kids singing and saying "orevwa." I cried and laughed real hard watching it tonight with all the kids before bed. When I can figure out how to get it from Mallorie's computer I'll have to put it up on the blog. It's so sweet.

Amy came today and will be sleeping at my house. She came bearing a goodbye gift for me to share with the kids!

We're eating it for breakfast tomorrow :)

I love all these kids so much and it's going to be hard to be apart from them. I can't wait to come back to see them all and I hope it's sooon!!!

Sunday, May 20, 2012

I can't believe I only have two more days left. For a while, I would tear up every time I thought about it. And I thought about it A LOT. Now, I'm just feeling raw and tired of thinking. I hope that I can have the strength to leave without shutting down. I am not good with change (obviously) and this is a big one. What doesn't kill you makes you stronger, right?

I will be visiting La Gonave as well as Leogane for a few weeks before I go back to the Sates. It will be really nice to get to see the girls for an extended period of time. I hope that it will help me transition from being away from all the kids at Sue's because I really love and miss the girls and I will be happy to go see them.

I have really been enjoying Mallorie. She's jumped right into the swing of things and seems to be enjoying herself. The kids really like her! She does so good with the boys too and that makes me feel safe about leaving them with her for the summer. She's a really awesome girl and I wish I could have spent more time with her!

Mohawks are in right now

Jackson loves his new haircut




Mallorie and Noah

I know so many American moms who would freak out at babies playing in dirty water like this..


Friday, May 18, 2012

Roy and Cassandra the first time they held their boys

Roy reading a story

Cassandra with the boys



Kiss from Claudeson!



Kisses from Michaelle!











Jackson and Noah

Jackson (got his first tooth today!)



I am feeling RELIEVED. Roy and Cassandra Garza (the people adopting Jackson and Noah. came for their visit. I was so nervous waiting for them to get here. I was scared of so many things. I was scared I wouldn't like them. I was scared I wouldn't think they were good enough for my boys. I was scared that they wouldn't like me! I was scared I would be jealous of them. When they arrived, I picked up the boys and carried them out to them. Jackson and Noah went right to them without complaint. That never happens! Jackson just looked into Roy's face and was touching him and studying him. Noah laid his head on Cassandra's chest and seemed so content. I just felt so relieved from the second they met the boys and throughout their entire visit I just kept getting signs that this was meant to be. At no point was I jealous or sad that they were their parents. I have always thought of the boys as mine, and only mine. But meeting Roy and Cassandra and seeing them with the boys I realize that this was all in God's miraculous plan. I love the boys so much and I will always think of them as the first kids I've had, but I know that they aren't meant to be with me forever. Roy and Cassandra are supposed to have them. They can give the boys everything that I can't and more. I just wish that they could go home to the Garza family right now!

I can't believe it, but I am leaving Sue's in one short week. My nine months here has flown by. I have been in a daze and can't really grasp the fact that I will be leaving very soon. I can't imagine how I will react. I pray that the sadness I will feel won't paralyze me. It seems impossible to just leave after being here and sharing life with all these amazing kids for so long. But it's happening. I will leave. And I will be OK. Not right away.. But eventually. I am very thankful that I'm leaving the kids in a place where I know they will be safe and well cared for. But that won't make me miss them any less.

A few days ago, I had an adventure. One that I'd like not to repeat. Ever. It was one of those days that for every step I took forward, I took one back. A while ago, I got a call from one of the older girls in Leogane named Roberline. She had left the orphanage and had no place to go. She kept me updated and eventually found a place with a friend who she called her older "brother." She felt safe but was worried that he wouldn't let her stay forever. She knew that she didn't have an option of going to school because of a lack of money. After being at her older "brother's" house for a few days, she called me crying saying that he was kicking her out. I panicked and called a friend that I knew may be able to help. She is an American who has a nonprofit and lives in an area close to Leogane. She had two friends who could help, a child psychologist and a social worker. She worked really hard to get these busy people all the way out to Leogane for a special visit to Roberline. I was so grateful! The plan was for all of us to meet at my friends house and figure out how best to help Roberline, whether it be helping her find family members, or helping her go to a school, or a different orphanage.

Of course, it didn't work out so smoothly as I had hoped. But this is Haiti and I should have expected that. First off, I had asked Frankie to help me get there but he showed up late, and without his car. We ended up having to take taptaps (public transportation) all the way from Bon Reops to Leogane. Since he was late, it was bad timing for traffic. On top of that, I couldn't get a hold of Roberline to tell her where to go. I was frantically calling Roberline and others to try and find her. Meanwhile, the child psychologist and the social worker had already arrived and were waiting impatiently. They have busy schedules and were getting angry that they had to wait around for us. Finally, they settled down and decided to wait. I finally got a hold of a different girl who is friends with Roberline who knew where she was and could help find her. I was still on a taptap in traffic with Frankie. Before I even arrived in Leogane, they found Roberline and had a meeting with her. It turned out to be good and they are going to help her find her mother. They are also going to keep in contact with her and make sure that she gets to go to a good school to graduate. Roberline will stay with her brother. It turns out that he never was going to kick her out and it was all a misunderstanding. I found all of this information out once I finally arrived at my friends house after everyone had already left and the meeting was done and over with. I stayed and talked to my friend a bit about the situation but had to leave in order to get home before dark.

After all that trouble I was thankful that it had worked out OK even though I didn't end up making it on time. But the trouble wasn't over. Traffic was HORRIBLE and after a while on taptaps I was worried that we wouldn't make it back before dark. Then things got worse. We were on a taptap in Port au Prince when a GIANT storm came out of no where. I was sure that it was either a hurricane or the end of the world. The streets quickly flooded. Car's all around us were drowning out their engines. Our bus driver stopped the bus and told us that he was not braving the storm and that he was turning around and going home. We had no other choice but to get out and start walking/swimming through the dirty flooded streets since no taptaps seemed to be running. There were several times that I thought that I wouldn't make it back alive but Frankie and I couldn't just stop to wait until the rain stopped because we were pressed for time. It seemed like we walked FOREVER. We were SOAKING wet. We finally got to a place where there were some motorcycles. The streets were so flooded that none of them were willing to go out for fear of flooding their engines or crashing their bikes. One guy agreed to take us on a different, less flooded route. Again, I truly thought that I was going to die. He went so fast and we almost hit so many people. I was scared and just wanted to be home safe. luckily, we didn't crash or hit any people and the moto driver finally got us to a place where the taptaps were running regularly again. We got on a taptap and sat in more traffic, freezing cold, but eventually made it back to Sue's alive. However, at home the gate was locked and everyone was asleep because it was 9:30. Of course, my phone had died earlier in the day so I couldn't call anyone to wake them up. Sue had no idea where I was either because I hadn't had a chance to call her before my phone died. We pounded on the gate for at least 15 minutes before Roy woke up and let me in. I was so happy to be home alive.

That is not an experience that I ever wish to have again. However, I think I learned a little more about what it's like to live in Haiti. Everyone I saw while I was walking in knee deep water through the flooded streets of Port au Prince freaked out. It's not every day that they see a white woman  walking in the streets during a monsoon. People hollered at me and thought it was so funny to see a foreigner soaking wet and walking right along with everyone else. I didn't think much of it until something happened that made me see what a spectacle I really was. A white man in a big, fancy truck drove by and was VIDEO TAPING me, along with all the rest of the stranded people. He didn't stop to help anyone. No one looked twice at him though, only me. Why is that?  It is more likely to see a white person sitting comfortably in a big, fancy truck hiding behind a video camera taping the real lives of Haitians than is it for them to see a white person walking beside them and with them. I didn't do this on purpose. I didn't CHOOSE to be walking along side everyone else in the storm. I would rather have been in a big fancy truck, safe and dry. But I wasn't. I felt awful when I saw that  man drive right by me. Why didn't he stop and help? Am I not worth it? Didn't he care how dangerous it was to be walking on those flooded streets?? It made me angry, sad, and confused. Although I would have been safer in a fancy truck, I'm glad I wasn't. I got to experience something that most white don't ever see. That day, I was walking WITH the people of Haiti. It's something that can rarely happen because I automatically come with privilege which makes me the "other." That's hard, if not impossible to change. But that day, I wasn't the one in the safety that an expensive, four-wheel truck can buy. I was on the other side. I was with the majority of the Haitian population that can't always afford safety. It wasn't fun, but I was experiencing something real. Something that I didn't have the privilege to change. I was in the same boat as everyone else that was caught walking in the storm.

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

On Sunday, I went to Mowee (no idea on the spelling of that one) for a day to meet up with some people from New Vision Ministries ( and and Celebration Christian Preschool. ( I went with Josh ( and we rented a car. It's amazing how freeing it is to be in charge of where we go and not having to pay someone to take us around! I envy those in Haiti who own cars. At one point, we drove along the coast up to Saint Marc which was cool because I've never been that far north before. It reminded me a little of Jacmel, but busier. One of the people we were visiting showed us this awesome spot on the coast. The view was beautiful! It is always so fun to go see new parts of Haiti.

One of the toughest things about living with 19 children is how emotionally draining it is. I feel like I give and give all day long and some days I get nothing back but dirty stares and bite marks on my arm. Sometimes I think that if I hear one more mean comment and don't get at least one "please" or  thank you" that I won't ever want to come back again. But then that feeling vanishes when I receive something like this:

Jennifer wrote me this letter on a particularly rough day for me, and boy, did it turn my day around!  Maybe it was just a perfect coincidence but I like to think that she noticed I needed a little something extra that day. 

Last Saturday when we went to the beach with the kids, I had another warm, fuzzy feeling day because of a simple conversation between some Haitians and Erline, Jennifer, and Samantha. The Haitian girls asked me if I knew how to braid hair. Before I could say one word my girls blurted out that I could indeed braid hair! They were very defensive and were adamant to make sure these other girls understood that I knew what I was doing. They boasted that I did their hair "lots" of times (when in reality, they never let me touch their hair..) These comments were coming from MY girls who have never once complimented me on my hair braiding ability. I only receive criticism from these girls when it comes to hair. It made me feel so good to hear those girls saying nice things about me, even if it was just about something silly. 

Other things that fill me back up when I'm drained is when Juilette runs up to me, tightly throws her arms around my waist and yells "BIG HUG!" 

When Jackson or Noah can only be comforted by me, and me alone. 

When Scheelanda and Betchina run up to me with the artwork they've been doing all afternoon and say that they made it just for me. 

When we go to the beach and Francesca gets scared and runs to me for safety.

When I'm reading a book to someone else and Peter stands behind me so close to listen and then starts reading along. 

When Erline rushes in the gate after school and rushes over to me to tell me that she got a perfect score on that days homework. 

When baby SonSon yells my name from his highchair every day when I go in to get my lunch and won't stop yelling till I go over to give him a kiss on the head.

When Michaelle can't stop smiling because I told her I am proud of her and think she's smart.

When Samantha stops eating and offers to help me with the babies when they're fussy during a meal time. 

When Dianna grabs my face between her hands and gives me a big smooch. 

When Jean cuddles with me and wants me all to himself. 

When Claudeson gets excited for me to teach him school on the rare day that Miss Sue or Katie was away. 

When Mislanda asks me to do her French homework with her and is happy for me to just sit with her because we both know I don't understand a word of French. 

When Bebej gets in her cuddly moods and just wants to be held and loved by me. 

When Josha calls my name from across the room and flirts with his precious little smile. 

Noah and Jackson

Best of buds. Ignore the bald spots!

Jackson, almost 8 months old!!

Noah, almost 8 months old too!!

Right before bedtime

Erline and I

Jean doesn't especially like hair cut day

But afterwords he thought the mowhawk was the best idea ever! But Grandma Sue made us cut it off.

Giggly Betchina

Singing songs with our visitors

The coast near Saint Marc


Um, I don't know who cares but this is an very baby cow I found crossing the road and I loved her.

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

I cut all the boys hair today. Not my boys, but all the older boys. They look so handsome and baldy. I love hair cut day.

For the past two days all the older kids have been working on sewing purses that Katie started with them. Mislanda finished hers but the rest of the kids aren't done yet.

A while ago Bebej had the mumps. Now Mislanda has it. It's not as bad as one would think it would be though. They're uncomfortable but still able to play.

Noah had another round of his skin condition, whatever it is. I still think he's allergic to something but can't figure it out. It started up again when I was in La Gonave. I'm giving him some anti allergen medication and putting cream on him. He's starting to look a whole lot better today. He's such a good sport and is never cranky because of it. He had a really high fever today but I'm hoping it's because his second tooth is just about to pop through.

I'm very excited and nervous because the people adopting the twins are coming to visit! I can't wait to finally meet them. I think it will really help me grasp the fact that they're not mine. I also think it will be comforting to know a little more about what they're life will be like once they get to the U.S. I am so thankful that I will be here for their first visit to see the boys. It will be amazing.

I'm really torn about leaving Haiti. It's really making me sad and stressed. I miss home and will be so thankful to see my friends and family. But I don't know how I'm going to make the transition. I picture myself shutting myself up in my room for a week and just crying. Maybe I will supprise myself like when I first came here. I thought I'd be bawling my eyes out on the airplane here but I  wasn't. I was strangely calm. Maybe going home I will surprise myself again. Maybe not.. I am sort of questioning whether or not leaving Haiti is what God wants me to do. This is so hard.

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

La Gonave

Katie and I took a little vacation to La Gonave (the big island in the middle of Haiti) to visit the Extollo team for a few days. We were so excited to get to hang out with them! They are there building a new orphanage village for an already existing orphanage. (For more info on what they're doing on La Gonave, check out the Extollo website Katie and I were even lucky enough to be there at the same time as the wonderful Sherman Balch! Katie and I spent a perfect amount of time at the beach relaxing and a perfect amount of time at the work site with Extollo. We had a nice boat ride over to the island and the second we stepped off the boat we got a moto (motorcycle) ride from their good Haitian friend Big Jean. Don't worry Mom, I made sure he went slow.

We had a lot  of cool opportunities and meet some really cool people on the island. The Extollo boys know a really neat lady who rents some property right on the ocean for a little school she runs. She let Katie and I hang out with her and use her snorkeling gear. It was the first time Katie snorkeled and it was amazing! We got to go both days we were there. I saw a sea snake and some jelly fish and lots of other great stuff.

We also spent some time at the work site. Katie and I got our hands dirty and helped out a little bit. We dug dirt and painted chalk boards and organized all the sheds and took pictures and... Yup, that's it... But my muscles are sore still from it so that counts for something, right? I talked Sherman into getting us girls some pink Extollo team shirts. Hopefully that can work out for reals. Amy, Katie and I would look good in pink shirts shoveling dirt!

It was a lovely little break and we had a lot of fun exploring a different part of Haiti. We both really love La Gonave now! Katie says it was a great way to end her stay here. I can't believe it but she left yesterday. I will really miss that girl! It will be weird to be without her after living with her for so long. The kids are really going to miss her too. We love you Katie!

In other news, Marvins left. The orphanage that Sue is connected with said they'd take him. I was a little worried about it but he seems to be doing so well. The kids all saw him at church on Sunday and informed me that he looks like he's happy and doing good. He was with friends and was well behaved during church. He hasn't bothered any of the girls there and they're able to keep a good watch on him. I know he will be well taken care of there and I'm glad to see that he's adjusting well. We miss him but we all want what's best for him and I think this is it.

The girls in Leogane are slowly leaving. There have been about 9 that have left so far. All of them claim to be staying with some sort of family member. I'm really worried still about where the rest of  them will go. Please pray for them. Please?