Friday, August 31, 2012

Follow-Up on Those One-Word Prayers

I spent a few years with State Farm as a speech writer, writing others' words.  Then, I spent a few years as a technical writer, documenting technology research and experiments.  Both of those professional writing experiences were challenging and rewarding... But, I gotta tell ya...Writing my own blog has been a thrill so far!  I am still surprised every time I log into Blogger’s dashboard and see the number of times my blog has been viewed.  I get so excited every time I see that someone has made a comment or emailed me that they read my post.  It just seems a little amazing that all of you take time in your busy days to read what I have to say!

Of all my posts so far, I think I received the most comments in response to what I wrote about one-word prayers.  I explained that I had chosen the word “brave” for my daughter, Danielle.  It seems that many of you are wondering if I’ve seen her demonstrate bravery since we’ve been here in Haiti!   The answer is a resounding “yes”!  She has repeatedly stepped up in her role as the biggest sis in the family, being brave so that her little sisters will follow her lead.  Next week, we all start school and I know she will need to be brave as she encounters new students, new teachers, and a school environment that is completely different from the one where she attended preschool-2nd grade.

Several of you also asked me if I have chosen words for my other daughters.  I have, and I’d like to share them with you now!

I home-schooled my five-year-old, Elli, last year instead of sending her to preschool.  I will forever cherish that year at home with her.  On Monday, though, she will go to her very first day of Kindergarten in a place that’s all new to her.  It’s all new to me, too!  I feel like I haven’t been able to prepare her very well for what she’s about to do.  I don’t have any idea what it will be like for her...  I can’t give her a heads up about what she’ll see and do.  I won’t be in her class to sit by her side and encourage her and her big sis won’t be there, either.  And so, I’ve chosen the word “self-sufficient” for Elli.  It’s time for her to start doing more things for herself.  In a way, this prayer is for me, too.  It’s my all-through-the-day reminder to stop doing things for her that she can do on her own.  We had a talk the other day about how she needs to remember to get her towel off of its hook before she gets into the bath and then she needs to hang it back up when she’s all dried off.  I made up a reminder chart for her morning routine, which includes making her own bed and getting herself dressed and her teeth brushed.  Tonight, at supper, she looked at me and said, “Mommy, would you get me a fork please?” She was as polite as can be with her request!  But, I didn’t even make a move.  I looked at her and said, “You have permission to go get your own fork.”  And she did.  These are simple things, really.  But, they’re important.  

     Philippians 4:13  “I can do all things through Christ, who gives me strength."

For Naomy, I’ve chosen the word “discovery.”  She will turn two in September, so isn’t that the perfect word for a two-year-old?  I don’t know how much of our year in Haiti she will remember as she grows... But, I do know that I want her to explore this new world around her and discover as much as she can about it.  She’ll see new things, smell different things, taste new foods, meet new people and hear people speaking in a whole new language.  I just pray that she will soak it all in!  Even if she doesn’t remember it all, I have a feeling that our time here will shape and mold her in ways I can’t imagine right now.  As her momma, it’s my job to keep her safe as she makes all of her discoveries, by providing limits and boundaries.  I can’t wait to see all that she learns and the ways she develops this year!

     Psalm 9: "I will praise you, oh Lord, with all my heart; I will tell of all your wonders."

I am so eager to know if you have considered one-word prayers for your kiddos or other loved ones!  If you have, please post a comment or email me and let me know the words you’ve chosen and why.  I want to be amazed at how we’re covering our kids and others in prayer throughout our days...

Thursday, August 30, 2012

The Rest of Week 1

Now, let’s fast-forward through about a week... During that week, we received some much-needed help from new friends.  There is a local pastor named Witney who has helped us, along with his friend, Sylove, who has taken me shopping twice.  She knows both Creole and English and has helped make sure I get good prices.  Then, there is a student named Johnson who has provided transportation help since we don’t have a vehicle.  And, we have Romain and Celine who are here to help us every day.  We have also received a lot of help and encouragement from the Bundy family, who are local missionaries through OMS (One Mission Society).  The Bundys have children the same ages as two of ours.  In fact, Elli and Danielle will be in the same classes in school as two of their daughters. Last but not least, the owner of the house we are renting visited and helped resolve several problems. 

We were able to set up our power supply more efficiently.  See, we quickly learned that running our generator around the clock would be very costly.  Gas runs the generator and around here, it costs about $4 per gallon.  One tank of gas in the generator was lasting 11 hours and the tank holds about 6 gallons.  You can do the math!  There was no way we could keep that up.  So, after getting information from other folks, we learned that we needed to buy batteries that would power the house through a device called an inverter.  Basically, the generator charges up the batteries and then you turn off the generator and switch on the inverter and use the energy from the batteries.  We had to buy six batteries, which provide power for up to 10 or 11 hours, depending on how fast we deplete them.  For example, we can use the inverter and batteries through the night when all we’re running are three fans (we unplug the fridge from 9 pm - 6 am).  But, during the day, when the fridge is running, the water pump is on, and I’m using the microwave, then we might only get 5 or 6 hours.  Needless to say, we are quickly learning to be very frugal with how we use electricity!

After a couple of restless, hot nights, we went out and purchased three large fans.  One for each of our bedrooms.  It seems simple, but it makes a HUGE difference.  

We were also able to get our water supply fixed.  A plumber fixed the leaks in the pipes outside and also found a toilet that was leaking.  We’d fill up the reservoir tank during the day and have water for showers that evening, but then have nothing at the faucet in the morning.  The problem was that toilet that had a bad seal was leaking water all night and draining the tank!  So, now we only have to use the pump once every three days or so to fill up the tank.  There is no hot water, so we’ve all had to get used to cool baths/showers.  It’s actually pretty refreshing when the days are so hot.  When I need hot water for washing dishes, I heat it up on the stove (which uses gas).  

Tropical Storm Isaac also visited us late that week.  We thought at first we might experience our first hurricane, but the storm went just south of Haiti, hitting Port-au-Prince pretty hard, but mostly missing us on the north side of the island.  We had cooler temperatures for a couple of days (which was a nice break) and rain for about 24 hours straight, but that was it.  We are also sheltered here by some mountains, which was helpful because we didn’t get much wind.  

The view of Isaac coming in from up on a nearby mountain.
Another simple fix we’ve managed is getting screens attached to the doors in our house.  All the windows have screens, which is a blessing.  But during the days, we opened up the doors and the mosquitos got in.  We’d wake up with 5 or 6 new bites each every morning and itch all day!  (And yes, we were using repellent. I’d like to think it was helping.  Maybe if we hadn’t used it, we’d have woken up to 10 or 12 new bites each day??)  I know that malaria is a big health issue here, so we had to do something...  The doors all have a solid wooden door on the inside and an outside door of iron bars.  Using zip ties, we attached screens to those iron bars.  So, during the day, the breeze can come through, but the bugs can’t!  Ha!  We still manage to get mosquito bites here and there when we go outside, but at least they aren’t feasting on us through the nights!

Things are improving every day.  And, every day I feel more and more like I can make it through this year.  There is one thing we’re still praying BIG about, though.  

Remember the truck that we sent on a container a few weeks ago?  The one that  church family blessed us with for work here in Haiti?  It arrived about 5 days ago.  BUT.  Customs here doesn’t work like it does in the States.  Here, they are still trying to decide how much money they want to charge us to release it.  Maybe it will be $400.  Maybe $4000.  We don’t know.  We are praying that the contacts we’re using will be able to negotiate a price we can afford and that they’ll determine that price SOON.  

Thank you for praying with us and for us!  And thank you for all the words of encouragement you send our way.  It’s so reassuring to know we aren’t alone or forgotten.  We miss you and think of you every day.  We're sending prayers back at you, too.  We heard that rain from Hurricane/Tropical Storm Isaac is headed toward our hometown this weekend, so we're praying you're all as sheltered as we were!

A quick shot of our three kiddos. Celine did Danielle's hair in braids.

Matthew 18:19-20  “Again, I tell you that if two of you on earth agree about anything you ask for, it will be done for you by my Father in heaven. For where two or three come together in my name, there I am with them.”
Loved this stone stairway. Taking one step at a time right now!

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

The Going Gets Rough

The first night in our house was a miserable one.  The only reason we were able to sleep at all was that we were completely exhausted.  The house we are renting had been vacant for almost a year.  And, although we were beyond blessed to have been greeted by the housekeeper with a simple Haitian supper, it was clear that we had a lot of work to do to get the house in good shape.  There was no electricity.  There was no running water. It was August in Haiti and temperatures in the hottest part of the day were hanging somewhere around 95 degrees.  Our house is constructed out of concrete, which holds in heat kind of like an old-fashioned stone oven.  

Haiti is close enough to the equator that we don’t experience changes in when the sun rises and sets each day like we do in the States.  Here, the sun comes up at about 7 every day.  And, it sets at about 7 every day.  That first day, there was a heavenly breeze that kept us cool as we unpacked our high-priority belongings.  But, as the sun went down, the house quickly became very dark and that cool breeze went still.  We used baby wipes to clean up, got the kiddos in their jammies, and tucked them in with their most precious loveys beside them.  They somehow fell asleep quickly, and Mark and I Iaid on our bed, whispering in the dark.  I got up with a flashlight to go check on the kids and noticed movement on the floor.  


Cockroaches.  Scuttling about on the floor in the dark.  


I think I did actually sleep at some point that night, but it was not for long.  Somewhere nearby, a rooster crowed repeatedly and woke me up... but it was still dark.  Dumb rooster.  It’s 3 am!  Aren’t they supposed to crow as the sun comes up?

Once I was awake, I was running through a list in my head of things to tackle first: 
  1. Hook up generator.
  2. Obtain gasoline to run it.
  3. Once we have electricity, turn on the water pump.

I had a knot of anxiety in my gut.  Yep, that was fear creeping into my thoughts.  Before kids began to stir, I let some tears flow as I prayed...  “God, I know this is where you want me.  And, I know this is gonna be hard.  I can’t do anything on my own here, Lord.  Take control. Please. Show me you’re here.”

Then, the sun came up and we jumped in. If we could manage to get electricity and water, we would be making big progress!  The thing is, nothing is easy in Haiti.  Putting together a generator takes tools.  But, our tools were in a box that would arrive in a couple days. So, now what?  God sent us Romain.  He’s the grounds guy for the house we’re renting.  He does not speak a word of English, but he knows what a generator looks like.  He dug around in a small shed and produced a few tools and Mark was able to fully assemble the machine.  Meanwhile, I fed our children a delicious breakfast of pretzel sticks and peanut butter and helped them get dressed.

As Mark tightened the screws on the generator, Romain (pronounced “Ro-mah”) looked at him and said, “Gazoleen?”  

Yes! We need some!  

After a 6-minute conversation (if you can call it that--it was all body language and gestures) we figured out that Romain would go get the gas if we gave him money to buy it.  It took another few minutes to figure out how much he needed and he was on his way.  

As we waited, we worked on unpacking boxes.  It wasn’t long before a few of us needed to use the bathroom.  So, what do you do with a toilet that doesn’t have running water?  I had never really thought about that.  If you can get some form of water from somewhere, you can pour it into the toilet tank and it will flush.  But, when there’s no water coming from your faucet and the spigot outside at the water well produces nothing, what do you do?  Well, you tell your kids to go ahead and use the toilet and you go looking for water.     

I didn’t have to go far.  Celine, the housekeeper (who also does not speak any English), arrived and realized we needed water.  She rounded up some big buckets and we walked across the street to a working water pump.  We filled the buckets one by one and returned to the house.  All I could think about was people I have read about in Africa who have to walk miles during dry seasons to get water.  Thank you, Lord, that I only had to walk 10 feet.

Soon, Romain was back with gasoline and if we had had more energy, we surely would have been jumping up and down as the generator fired up!  We hooked it up to cables that run to the house and TA-DA!!!  Electricity.  

Woo-hoo! Just turn on the water pump and we’re in business, I thought.  

Well, the pump turned on alright...and blasts of smelly, dirt-brown water came gushing out of the spigot. Oh, my.

A couple more of those strange, half-English, half-Creole conversations later, we understood that the well would have to be completely emptied of the water that had been sitting in it for about a year so that fresh water could then fill it back up.  For over two hours that brown water poured out into the yard around our house.  Slowly, it began to get more and more clear (and by clear I mean that when you stick your hand in it, you can still see where your hand is--not the sparkling, crystal clear we’re accustomed to back in the good ol’ USA).  Finally, we were able to close the discharge pipe and let the water start to fill the well and pump into the reservoir tank that sits up on top of the house.  We waited as the tank filled and late in the afternoon, we tried the faucets...  

What a relief to see water trickling from the faucets and into the toilet tanks!  What a precious gift to have running water!!  

Unfortunately, the pipes from the well to the house and to the reservoir tank were not in great shape after not being used for a while.  There were several big leaks and for the next three days, we had water on and off again.  Eventually, a plumber arrived and made some repairs and cleaned out some pipes... and for the last 7 days we’ve consistently had running water.  We’ve even been able to do laundry (which is an interesting story in itself--I’ll have to do one whole post here about how differently household chores are done here). 

The water that comes into the house from the faucets is not drinkable.  So, every other day, Celine brings in drinking water for us.  

I’m not exaggerating when I tell you I thank God for Celine at least 12 times each day.  We would not make it without her.

And that’s the story of Day 2.  Our second night was a little more restful.  It was still hot.  But we were all able to bathe that day and the noise of the generator drowned out the scuttling of the cockroaches and the crowing of the rooster. 

By the time my head hit the pillow, my anxiety had lifted.  God had been present that whole day.  He was there beside me and I knew He wouldn’t leave me. I was confident that each day would get a little better.  

Psalm 46:1 “God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble.”

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Back Online

Internet, sweet Internet. I’m finally back online!  I’ve been feeling so....far away and disconnected....and those are not good feelings.

But, now I’ve got a little icon telling me I’m online and suddenly you, my loved ones, are right here with me again. 

I have so much to tell you!  Where do I start...?  Let me start with our arrival...

The day we left Bloomington, IL was whirlwind.  Our flight was supposed to go out around 5 pm.  But, upon arrival at the airport with all our luggage, three kiddos, and a group of friends and family there to see us off, we learned that the flight was almost SIX hours.  I was instantly filled with dread.  Why? Because flying with children is almost never enjoyable, but flying with them about four hours past their bedtime is a nightmare.  And then, I took a moment to remember that God had been in control of every detail of our journey so far, and I asked myself, “Why would He orchestrate this delay?”  Maybe there were a few reasons, but the one that occurred to me was that it gave us time for a peaceful, relaxed goodbye with our parents.  The day up until arrival at the airport had been packed with um...packing.  And packing stinks. Instead of rushing through final hugs and hurrying off through security, we were able to check all of our luggage in and go to dinner!  We ate, we laughed, we breathed. We parted ways in a much more peaceful frame of mind than if we had flown out at 5:00.  And, even though we didn’t collapse in our hotel room until after 2 am, I didn’t think through a list of “if only”s as I finally fell asleep.

Once we were in Florida, we had two days to relax and enjoy some time together.  We swam in the hotel pool, went out to eat, had ice cream, shopped for a few last-minute items at WalMart, and even spent some time at the beach.  

Then, we got up very early on August 16 and drove to an airport different than any we’d ever been to.  We flew with Missionary Flights International from Fort Pierce, FL to the Bahamas (to refuel), and then finally to Cap Haitian, Haiti.  The captain for our flight greeted us as we buckled into our seats and prayed with us for a safe flight.  Now, I’m not at all nervous about flying in airplanes, but it occurred to me that maybe people who do get nervous about flying would feel much more at ease if every flight started with a prayer.  

Elli and Danielle did fine for the whole flight--even got to go up to the cockpit and see the view over the ocean.  Naomy fell asleep and stayed asleep through our brief landing in the Bahamas.  I told the pilot he could now brag that his landings and takeoffs are so smooth that they don’t even wake sleeping babies.

Fast forward a couple hours...through the line for checking passports, the wait for customs....  Once those things were done, we had to find our driver.  I knew only that his name was Olin.  If we had arrived in New York or London or Sydney that may have been a problem.  But not in Haiti.  In the Cap Haitian airport, we were the one and only white and probably obviously American family of five standing and waiting around with a heaping pile of luggage.  Olin walked right up to me and said, “You are Aubry?”

We packed everything into his truck and he laughed at our Britax car seat with pink and brown polka dots.  He threw it in the truck bed with our luggage and our kids had their first experience riding in a vehicle Haitian-style--no seat belts, no car seats, but hold on tight, ‘cause it’s a bumpy ride! 

The kids’ wide eyes took in sights they could never have even imagined as we made our way slowly through the city traffic...and then out to a less-populated area--a suburb!  Olin never asked for our address.  And, if he had, we wouldn’t have had one to give.  Nevertheless, he knew of the house we were renting and he delivered us there safely.  He stopped the car outside of a big red gate and there, we waited until someone came with the keys to let us in.  And then, we had our first look at the house we would be calling home for the next year....

I have so much more to tell!  It’s been a very rough 12 days.  But, each day is getting better and we’ve learned so much already.  I’ll be blogging here every day to catch up--so stay tuned!

Great big heaps of love to you all...  Even though I’ve felt far away, I have known that you were there all along, praying us through.

Hebrews 11:1 “Now faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see.”

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Ready or not...Here We Go!

I received a question today that made me shake my head.  Not because of the question, but because I can't believe I haven't already answered it! 

Q: How can we support you, your family and your ministry? We are already praying, but do you need financial support?  If so, how do we contribute?

A: YES!  We need financial support. Support for both our family's living expenses in Haiti and for Hoops for Haiti teams and work that will be done.  Right now, we're just trying to get through the costs of GETTING TO Haiti.  It is so very expensive to move a family and household down there.  

We are flying down tomorrow through Missionary Flights International, an organization that is funded through donations for the purpose of flying airplanes to transport missionaries and the cargo they need to do their work.  One trip to Haiti costs them approximately $11,000, and we have to share a portion of that cost, especially since they are flying 700 pounds of our stuff in with us tomorrow (and they'll fly down additional shipments of our stuff next week). We also had a huge bill with UPS for shipment of stuff from our house in Illinois to the MFI warehouse in Ft. Pierce, FL. Once we get to Haiti, we'll have to pay fees in Customs to get all of our stuff moved through and released to us.  

We won't be shopping at Meijer in Haiti or buying back-to-school gear at Target (oh, how I already miss those two stores), nor will we pay much for "utilities" to run our house.  Instead, we'll have to buy gasoline (at about $5 per gallon) to fuel our generator which will power our house and truck, and pay to have access to a satellite so that we can keep our computers and phones connected.

Then, in October, a Hoops for Haiti team is coming down to Northern Haiti to build a basketball court and hold a basketball tournament.  There will be building materials to buy and airfare to obtain for the team, and shipping costs to cover for the loads and loads of donated basketball gear that has been collected (balls, uniforms, and shoes, mainly).

So, friends and family... If you are feeling led to contribute to help support us financially, we would be ever-so-thankful for your assistance! (God is doing a mighty work in my husband right now to help him with some pride/control issues and allow him to accept support graciously, but that is a story for another post!)

You can donate directly to us by sending a check to the address below.  Since Hoops for Haiti is a 501(c)(3) organization, you can make it out to Hoops for Haiti so that your donation is tax-deductible.
      Hoops for Haiti 
      411 Hickory Court
      Seneca, IL 61360

You can also set up an automatic monthly donation to be withdrawn from your account by visiting the donations page on the Hoops for Haiti website.

Ready or not, we are set to fly our family to Haiti tomorrow morning at 7 am!  The kiddos are already asleep--maybe dreaming about the beach we visited today or the crabs, shells, fish, and little geckos we saw...  I am shutting down my computer after I publish this post so I can hopefully get some sleep myself.  

I'm giving thanks tonight for all of you who are following along on this journey with us.  Your prayers, thoughts, encouragement and financial support lift us up to continue to step out in faith and follow where God is leading!  We love you.

Psalm 91:11 "For He will command His angels concerning you to guard you in all your ways."

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Yesterday, Today, Forever

This world we inhabit is constantly changing.  Sometimes, it seems to be changing so fast that I can scarcely wrap my brain around it.

Just a week or so ago, my two oldest daughters and I went to my parents' house once the moon was up and my dad hauled his telescope out onto the deck.  Now, I'm not talking about a little tabletop telescope.  I'm talking about a ginormous, free-standing telescope that I can barely get my arms around.  This guy takes his star gazing seriously.

That evening, we were looking at the craters on the moon.  It was an awesome sight--the first time the girls saw those craters up close.  We talked about why the moon has craters and the moon's relationship to Earth and men who walked on the moon...  But what really astonished me amidst those conversations was that every time a minute passed, dad had to adjust the telescope because the moon had moved out of viewing range.  I started to think about how fast the Earth spins... and how the moon zips around, orbiting it... and how the two are catapulting around the sun together at the same time... and I suddenly felt a bit dizzy!

Sometimes, I think, "Can't everything just stand still for ONE stinkin' minute?!!"

Maybe I should be careful what I wish for...  Life moves at a much slower pace in the Caribbean.

It seems like a lot of people I know are in the midst of a big life change right now.  Kids are going back to school in new grades with new teachers.  My father-in-law and sister-in-law are both starting new jobs.  Beloved babysitters are going off to college.  New babies are scheduled to arrive soon.  Football seasons are kicking off.

I can't think of another time in my life when I've been facing as much change as I am right now.  We have moved out of our home of seven years, away from a community I've been part of since I was five years old, and in less than 48 hours we'll be stepping into a long list of changes: new home, new culture, new language, new school, new job, new climate, new EVERYTHING!

And then, just as my blood pressure starts rising, I remember that not everything is changing.  There is one thing that never changes.

Hebrews 13:8 "Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever."

He never changes and no matter how chaotic everything in life seems--no matter how many unknowns we are stepping into--our relationship with Him gives us a rock-solid foundation to stand on.  When we stand with Him, we stand strong and steady.

Revelation 1:8 '"I am the Alpha and the Omega--the beginning and the end," says the Lord God. "I am the one who is, who always was, and who is still to come--the Almighty One."'

Monday, August 6, 2012

The Countdown Begins...

One week from today, we'll be hopping a flight to Florida.  We'll have two days there, and then off to Haiti on August 16.  I am getting butterflies in my tummy just typing that.

Tonight, I want to share some general updates with you...

1. Mark is on his way home now from Chicago.  He left Saturday night and drove the Haiti truck down to Miami.  Somewhere along the way, the windshield was cracked and he had to have that fixed today. But now, the truck (its bed full of tools, a generator for the house we'll live in, and other stuff) is in a container waiting to be shipped down to Haiti later this week.  Mission accomplished!

2. We found a home for our cat!  A friend from Calvary UMC has room in his home for our Daisy.  She'll have two cat companions there, which I think she'll enjoy after she gets to know them.

3. Most of our household belongings have been either given away, loaned out to friends and family, sold, or put in storage.  Two big items remain:  our dining room table, 6 chairs, and china hutch; and an antique upright piano.  I've had a little interest in the dining set on craigslist, but no buyer yet.  If you know of anyone who is looking for a set, please let me know--I'm ready to make a deal!  And, I've had zero interest in the piano.  It seems antique pianos are being found more and more frequently in garbage dumps.  Fortunately, the folks renting our house are understanding and don't mind if it stays in the house a little longer while I figure out what to do with it.  If you have any ideas, please let me know.

4. We're currently coordinating the logistics of our arrival in Cap Haitian, Haiti.  Mainly, we need someone we trust to pick us up at the airport and get us to our new home.  We are in touch with a couple of contacts...  Please pray for God to oversee that detail.

Thank you for reading my blog and going along on this journey with us!  Your prayers are so powerful.

Matthew 7:7  "Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you."

Saturday, August 4, 2012

Let her be Brave

I can't remember where I was when I heard a speaker talk about One-Word Prayers. (Although, if I had to guess, it was at a Hearts At Home conference one year).  The main point that I retained from her session was that in the mad rush of daily life, it can be helpful to have ONE word that you claim as a prayer for someone specific.  ONE word that you silently focus on with God for a fraction of a precious moment.  You know, that one second here and there in the midst of answering phone calls, putting a load of laundry in the washer, running down a flight of stairs to hold your crying five year old who smashed a finger, going outside to water the half-dead flowers in pots on your patio, replying to three emails, paying a bill and frantically searching for a stamp because you can hear the mailman's truck just down the street, preparing a meal, moving the laundry to the dryer....and on and on until you collapse into bed at night.

I choose a one-word prayer for each of my three daughters.  I chose a word for each of them the day after I attended that conference--maybe two years ago.  That first time, the three words I chose were CONFIDENT, GENEROUS, and DEVELOPMENT.  Oldest daughter needed confidence to be a leader in her grade school classroom.  Three-year-old needed to be generous because she was, well, three--and had a new baby sister on top of it.  Baby just needed God's watchful eye over every aspect of her development in that critical first year.

After some time passed, I decided to choose a new word for them each year on New Year's Day.  But, our impending move to Haiti has motivated me to choose new words for them a little early.  I haven't chosen new words yet for daughters #2 or #3 (and I'm open to suggestions if you have any!)...  But, I chose Danielle's word yesterday.


She's turning 8 this week and had an early birthday party.  We had pizza and then went to see Disney's latest princess movie, Brave.  It was the third time we've seen it!  One of the taglines from the movie is:
      "In every age, family is king...And the bravest journeys are never taken alone."

Ok, and I'll admit that I also ADORE the fact that the movie is mostly about a positive, loving mother-daughter relationship.  I've been sore at Disney for several years now over the fact that so many of their movies feature mothers (or step-mothers) that are either a) dead; or b) pure evil. Snow White's and Cinderella's moms--both dead AND they have evil step-moms.  Belle's mom--dead.  Ariel's mom--dead.  Jasmine's mom--dead. Even Bambi's mom--dead.

So, anyway...I'm feeling a wee bit happier with Disney.

Back to my one-word prayers...  I like words.  The English teacher part of me is a little obsessed with them.  BRAVE is a pretty cool word. It's an adjective, verb and noun--three in one!
   brave (adjective): having or showing courage
   brave (verb): to face or endure with courage
   brave (noun): an American Indian warrior

For Danielle, I'm focusing on the first two meanings. God, help her be brave about packing up her stuff and leaving her grandmas, grandpas, aunts, uncles, cousins, and friends.  Help her be brave for her little sisters because they look to her to know how they should feel.  Help her be brave when we step out on the tarmac in a different country that is unlike anything she's ever experienced.  God, give her courage those first few days of school when she isn't familiar with anyone or anything.  And, Lord, no matter where she goes all the days of her life...  Let her be brave in her faith and brave enough to share it. Amen!

Deuteronomy 31:6  "Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or terrified because of them, for the Lord your God goes with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you."

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Driveway Delivery

Matthew 6:34  "So do not worry about tomorrow; for tomorrow will care for itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own."

I'd like to tell you a story about how God has met a series of challenges with amazing solutions.

Problem #1: We needed a truck to use in Haiti.
But, on the list of 107 other things that had to be done to get us there, finding a truck was near the bottom. We were running out of time.  Mark spent a whole Saturday at dealerships around town, looking at vehicles and asking questions.  He called me on his way home that day. The conversation went like this:
   Sarah: "So, what did you find?"
   Mark: "Nothing.  There is no way we will be able to find a working truck that fits our needs AND
   our budget. It's just not going to happen."
   Sarah: "Well, let's have dinner and worry about a truck tomorrow."

So, tomorrow arrived and there we were, worried about a truck again.  Mark was ready to visit dealerships in other towns and I didn't want to see him waste another day.
   Sarah: "Mark, I want you to let God take care of a truck."
   Mark: "What do you mean?"
   Sarah: "I think you're supposed to call Clinton."
   Mark: "Were we not just talking about a truck? What does Clinton have to do with it?"
   Sarah: "Well, remember that Sunday that we were talking to Norman at church about going to
   Haiti and we said we needed to find a truck?  Norman said we should call Clinton.  He said Clinton
   gets things done."
   Mark: "Yeah...He did say that. Should I just call him out of the blue?"
   Sarah: "Yep.  Just see if he has any ideas."

I went off to tend to kids.  Mark went to make the call.  I could hear him talking for maybe 25 minutes.  After he hung up the phone, he found me upstairs.  He was shaking his head like he was confused.
   Sarah: "So, what did Clinton think?  What did he say?"
   Mark: "He said he wants to take care of it."
   Sarah: "He what?"
   Mark: "He's going to take care of the truck."
We stood there blinking at each other for a minute.  Interesting!

A week and a half went by and other than a few calls, Clinton and another friend, Jerry, took care of ALL of the truck research, calling to get details, price negotiations and more on their own so that Mark and I could attend to other things.  Then, Clinton called and told Mark they had found just the right vehicle--it had everything we needed.

Solution #1: Truck found.

Problem #2: The truck was a couple thousand dollars out of our price range.
Little did we know that Clinton, Jerry, and Linda had already been networking at church, spreading the news about their search for a vehicle for us.  I received a text from Linda last week that went like this:
   Linda: "I am sending emails out that invite folks to be in ministry with you through contributions for
   the truck. We are directing checks payable to Hoops for Haiti and sent to your address asap."
   Sarah: [blinking, re-reading to make sure she understood that correctly] "Wow. I'm speechless."
   Linda: "Rest in His arms...and ours.  And, watch your mail."

Solution #2: I've been watching the mail, astonished as donations roll in, many of them accompanied by notes of encouragement that move me to tears.  As of today, the truck is fully paid for...with extra to help cover the cost of having it shipped from Miami to Haiti.

Problem #3: The truck is in Colorado.
   Mark: "So, I should probably leave tomorrow to go get the truck."
   Sarah: "But, I need you here.  Can you think of anyone who would go get it?"
Monday, Mark was talking to his dad about all that had taken place.
   Jim: "Buy me a one-way plane ticket.  I'll go get it."
   Mark: "Done."

Solution #3: Jim flew to Colorado on Tuesday, bought the truck, and drove it straight to Illinois.  At about 9:30 this morning, God delivered an answered prayer right to my driveway.  Signed, sealed, delivered...and paid for by the GRACE of God and the GENEROSITY of godly people who love us.

I took it for a drive tonight.  It's perfect, of course.  Four doors with room in the back for three little girls to sit safely and comfortably.  Open truck bed to haul all kinds of things, including materials for building basketball courts and/or approximately 10 Haitians (they have very, very different laws about riding in and on vehicles--that is, they have no such laws that we know of).  It's in good working condition, meaning we won't break down on potholed dirt roads. And, it's not TOO new or nice--so we won't stand out TOO much.  At least, we won't stand out because of the truck.  Because of being a white, obviously American family with one blonde and two fair-skinned, freckled, red-headed kiddos?? Yes.  But, not because of the truck.

To all of you who prayed for this truck with us, thank you.  To all of you who donated to this truck, thank you.  And, to those of you who did the work to obtain the truck, thank you.  Glory be to God Almighty, who sees us through each day and its troubles.

We.   Are.   Blessed.