Tuesday, September 24, 2013


Today, I posted on my other blog--the one I set up when I was doing a lot of photography.  I dusted off my camera yesterday and did a shoot with my favorite 3-year-old.

Interested?  Check it out here.

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Ready or Not. (And I'm not.)

I recently had lunch with a longtime friend and mentor--it was the first time we've been able to sit down together since I've been back from Haiti.

Among other things in our long discussion, he asked, "Has your re-entry gone as expected so far?"

Answer: No.  It's been considerably harder.

It's like there's a race in progress here... But, we weren't here for the shotgun start.  All the other runners are full speed ahead and we've dropped in right in the middle of the whole thing.  Others are zipping past us, while we're still trying to tie our shoes and figure out which direction to go. 

I keep wishing everything could just STAND STILL a minute so we can have time to take a breath and catch up with everyone!

But, of course, that's not possible.

Life keeps moving, keeps charging ahead whether we're ready or not.

Mark is neck-deep in the work of trying to rebuild his business and reconnect with clients who stuck by him throughout our time in Haiti.  He hasn't even had a moment to consider how his transition is going because he's so busy catching up.  Some people have been patient and gracious toward him...and others not so much.  Through their eyes, he's been back TWO WHOLE MONTHS!  So, what's taking so long?  In fact, a few people have accused him of purposely avoiding them and they're threatening him as a result.  Perfect.

In the eight quick weeks we've been back, we've managed to offend family members and some dear friends who long anticipated our return and now feel slighted because we've had so little time to spend with them.

We came back to the States sick and exhausted.  But, within 4 weeks, we were packing the moving truck to head to a new place and we got busy doing settling-in things like finding food, setting up utilities in our home, and figuring out what day the garbage is collected in our neighborhood (a luxury we still marvel at when those big trucks rumble down our street!). 

We're not the only ones for whom school starts this week.  Physicals had to be scheduled with doctors brand new to us.  Supplies had to be purchased from stores we still needed the maps app to help us find.  My job search isn't going NEARLY as quickly as I had hoped.  And, while the items necessary for day-to-day life have been unpacked in our new rental home, half the garage is still full.  (I'm considering wrapping them in holiday paper and pretending they're our Christmas gifts.)

Phew.  Where is that finish line?!!

The Bible gives us a lot of direction about missions and what to do when we're going OUT.  In fact, I've heard it suggested that the entire New Testament can be read as a missionary document (David Bosch, Transforming Mission).   The New Testament is rich with descriptions (often through letters authored by the apostles) about many different aspects of missions, and through them, we can see a picture of the global plan of our missionary God.

But, where does Paul instruct about what to do when we're COMING BACK?

So far, all I've found is in Acts 14:26-27: "From there they sailed back to Antioch where they had first been commended to the grace of God for the task which they had now completed. When they arrived there, they called the whole church together and rehearsed before them all that God had done with them, and how He had opened the door of faith to the Gentiles."

At least part of my job now that I've returned, then, is to continue to tell the story of all that God did in, around and through me last year.  That I can do. 

As for all the rest... 

1. I will reflect often on all that God enabled me to do in the last year, and I will remind myself that with Him all things are possible.  He saw us through the transition into life in Haiti, and He will see us through here.

2. I will try my best to be gentle and patient with myself, even if others aren't.  I will allow myself time to continue to lean on the generous people who have provided for us, comforted us and lifted us up over the last eight weeks.  I will commit to extending that same grace to my husband and daughters, because I know they're feeling as overwhelmed as I am.

3. I will pray daily and listen to how God guides me and I will plunge into His word when I'm feeling shaky and unsure and tired.

4. I will give thanks and focus on all of our recent "small victories." We've been loved on and fed up.  We've had at least one fantastic "date night."  We've had little bits of precious, wonderful time with people we love. We've enjoyed luxuries, privileges, and amenities that we missed!  And recently, we celebrated birthdays with cake and ice cream...!

Apparently, I needed help with all my candles...now that I'm 33ish.

John 16:33 "I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace.  In this world, you will have trouble.  But take heart! I have overcome the world."

Thursday, July 25, 2013


At the recommendation of a cherished friend, I've been reading A Long Walk to Water by Linda Sue Park.  It's a very short story--only 115 pages.

It's based on a true story of events that took place in Sudan not too long ago.  I wouldn't say it's an enjoyable read.  If you're in the mood for a light, breezy summer book, do NOT read this one.  I'm eager to get to the last page and be done with it...And yet, when I'm reading it, I can hardly put it down.

Shall I share a brief excerpt?  Yes, I think I will.

 "There was a big lake three days' walk from Nya's village. Every year when the rains stopped and the pond near the village dried up, Nya's family moved from their home to a camp near the big lake. 

  Nya's family did not live by the lake all year round because of the fighting.  Her tribe, the Nuer, often fought with the rival Dinka tribe over the land surrounding the lake.  Men and boys were hurt and even killed when the two groups clashed. So Nya and the rest of her village lived at the lake only during the five months of the dry season, when both tribes were so busy struggling for survival that the fighting occurred far less often.
  Like the pond back home, the lake was dried up.  But because it was much bigger than the pond, the clay of the lakebed still held water.
  Nya's job at the lake camp was the same as at home: to fetch water.  With her hands, she would dig a hole in the damp clay of the lakebed. She kept digging, scooping out handfuls of clay until the hole was as deep as her arm was long. The clay got wetter as she dug, until, at last, water began to seep into the bottom of the hole.
  The water that filled the hole was filthy, more mud than liquid.  It seeped in so slowly that it took a long time to collect even a few gourdsful.  Nya would crouch by the hole, waiting.
  Waiting for water. Here, for hours at a time.  And every day for five long months, until the rains came and she and her family could return home."

(For a visual to go with this story, watch this quick video from Water for South Sudan.)
Imagine spending almost all of your waking hours in a day trying to collect water--any kind of water, even if it wasn't clear and clean. I don't think I could have really imagined that before I spent time living in Haiti. Now, I can.

Since we've been back in the US from Haiti, I am often asked, "What's changed the most while you were gone?"  I wonder if most people are really asking what I think has changed most about America. I dunno.

At first it took me a while to think about my answer to that question, simply because so much has changed.  But once I found my answer, I was able to respond quicker and easier.

What's changed the most is my perspective on water.

I know a year ago, water wasn't on my mind like it is today.  Every time I touch the faucet and clean water instantly emerges.  Every time I shower in the same clean water.  Every time I fill a sippy cup for my daughter.  Every time I wash dishes.  Every time it rains. Every time I see sprinklers running on lush green lawns.

I think about my friends in Saccanville, Haiti, who are blessed to have clean water to draw from pumps in the village.  I think about my friends in Haiti whose homes are flooded by muddy streams when it rains.  I think about people like Nya who work all day for muddy, contaminated water.

During my first week back in the US, I took my kids to a nearby park to play.  It was hot and our water bottles emptied quickly.  We spotted a drinking fountain and went to fill up. 
  "Mommy, can we drink this water?" Elli asked.

  "Yes, it's clean water," I replied as she pushed a button and began to sip.  As we took turns refilling our bottles, Elli looked down.
  "What's this part for, Mommy?" she asked, tapping part of the fountain jutting out near the ground.  I was stumped, but a woman waiting for a drink near us spoke up.  "That's a doggie water bowl." 

Ummmm, what?  Did she say 'doggie'??  Yeah.  A convenient spot for your four-legged buddy to get a drink at the park.

Whoa.  So, American dogs drink better than 780 million people around the world.
I was reeling.

We're slowly but surely adjusting to life in America.  There are things we love about this country, and things we're not so excited about.  Days we wish we could tap our heels together and be back in Haiti, and other days we are overwhelmed with thankfulness to be here where we are.

We've been tremendously blessed through time spent with grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins, church family and many dear friends that we missed terribly while we were away.

We've enjoyed privileges like the post office, public parks and libraries, and access to SUPERFAST internet.

We've been to the movie theater, celebrated Independence Day with fireworks and sparklers, been swimming and bike riding and fishing...  We've been eating our fill of summer fresh foods like watermelon, strawberries (seriously. a pint a day--no joke!), leafy lettuce, sweet corn, cucumbers, peaches, apples, and more.

And, we do our best to indulge in ice cream as frequently as possible.

Somewhere in the last few weeks, we also managed to relocate from Illinois to Kentucky!  The path to Lexington, KY began to be forged while we were still in Haiti and we're pretty excited about following God's lead to this place.  We're praying big and waiting expectantly for God to direct us to the work He has for us here.  Mark has some new business opportunities, I'm on a job hunt, the girls are registered for school, and we've been told that we're now living in one of the biggest basketball cities in North America!  Perfect, huh?!  GO UK!

However, if you're a new neighbor, please accept my apologies now.  You know that car that stopped in the road ahead of you?  The one with the windows down and people gaping out the windows at the horses on the hill?  Yeah.  That was us.  Sorry 'bout that, ya'll.  (Note that I'm working to assimilate to local twang! Does that earn me a few points?)

For all of our Illinois folks... Lexington is a quick 5.5 hour drive.  (Yes, 5.5 hours does qualify as "quick" in my book.  Haiti is MUCH farther away.  It's all relative, right?)  We'll be back often!  Mark will continue to do business in Illinois and we still have catching up to do with people we love and missed.  And if you ever feel like taking a road trip, we'd be happy to have you! 
Prairie sunsets can't be beat.
John 4:7-15  When a Samaritan woman came to draw water, Jesus said to her, “Will you give me a drink?” (His disciples had gone into the town to buy food.)  The Samaritan woman said to him, “You are a Jew and I am a Samaritan woman. How can you ask me for a drink?”  Jesus answered her, “If you knew the gift of God and who it is that asks you for a drink, you would have asked him and he would have given you living water.” 
  “Sir,” the woman said, “you have nothing to draw with and the well is deep. Where can you get this living water?  Are you greater than our father Jacob, who gave us the well and drank from it himself, as did also his sons and his livestock?”
  Jesus answered, “Everyone who drinks this water will be thirsty again,  but whoever drinks the water I give them will never thirst. Indeed, the water I give them will become in them a spring of water welling up to eternal life.”
  The woman said to him, “Sir, give me this water so that I won’t get thirsty and have to keep coming here to draw water.”

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Goodnight, Haiti

Mache sou pinga'w  pou pa pile si ou te konnen.

This is my favorite Haitian proverb.  It means "Walk on caution so you don't step on 'if I had known.'"

There were many times in the last year that I've either been thankful that I did exercise caution or realized too late that I was standing in "if I had known."

This morning my mind is drifting through some of those experiences as I'm sipping home-brewed Starbucks coffee from a Keurig from my mom's kitchen table in Illinois.  That's right, readers--We're back in the USA!  

Not long ago, we boarded MFI's DC-3 in Cap Haitien and slowly made our way back to Illinois. We've been working through some reverse culture shock and reconnecting with family and friends, and feeling completely blessed.

Ovwa, Ayiti.  We miss you already.

I miss hearing the choir sing "Alpha ak Omega" in church.

We miss the goats, dogs, and Freddy the Frog on my window each morning.

We miss your sparkly shore waters and palm trees on the beach.

We miss sunsets set to the sounds of waves crashing on the sand.

But most of all, we miss the people we came to love so much...

Our beloved Celine...

Buddies and classmates...

I miss my students...

We all miss Junior.

I miss these ladies who never, ever failed to greet me with a smile and who cared for us despite all the cultural mistakes we made.

We miss friends who came to feel more like family...

We miss people who took time to inspire the hearts and minds of our three girls.

And we miss many others that I can't find pictures of right now!

As we enjoy many of the comforts that life in America affords, we haven't stopped praying for and thinking about everyone we had to say goodbye to.

For now.

God willing, we'll see them all again soon...

1 John 4:19-21  "We love because He first loved us. If anyone says, 'I love God,' yet hates his brother, he is a liar. For anyone who does not love his brother, whom he has seen, cannot love God, whom he has not seen.  And he has given us this command: Whoever loves God must also love his brother."

Thursday, June 13, 2013

Teamwork Tales: Part Two

"Lost people matter to God, and so they must matter to us." — Keith Wright

We got right to work with the visiting team!  First thing on the list: clean up a couple of basketball courts that were already in use in the heart of Cap Haitien.  The team showed up with tape and paint, ladders and brooms, new nets and donated basketballs.  It didn't take long for community members to come out to see what was going on.  And, they didn't want to just stand around and watch--they wanted in on the work.  

Nevermind cultural and language barriers--let's get 'er done.


In Progress....


Later that day, we got to play in a game that was part of the festivities for the UN Peacekeeping Day.

Unfortunately, that game got washed out.  Literally.  A deluge that had knee-deep streams of water and sewage flowing through the streets...and people's homes.  A good day of hard work and partnering with community, wrapped up by the realities of life for many in Haiti.

Then, there was work at the Sports and Rehabilitation center.  We cleaned up another court, painted, and prayed with patients, with the help of our dear friend, Junior, who just graduated from the Emmaus Biblical Seminary in Saccanville.  

"Evangelism is not a professional job for a few trained men, but is instead the unrelenting responsibility of every person who belongs to the company of Jesus." - Elton Trueblood

There were many unforgettable moments during the week the team visited, but I'm willing to bet that the moments in which two people we prayed with accepted Christ were at the top of the list.

We worked with some young men from the Streethearts organization that day.  Streethearts is a nonprofit organization caring for street kids of Cap-Haitien, and it was a pleasure to work with them.   Nou pou lari a--We're for the streets, too, Lindsey!  

There was a basketball clinic...

And a pick-up game at yet another court.

Would you agree that the team earned their delicious meals each evening?  Prepared for them by four fantastic ladies of EBS, who were very entertained by their questions and curiosity.  And, we tried some fresh cassava bread, too!

There's still more!  Part Three is coming up next...