Sunday, June 16, 2013
Marie is struggling today in the oppressive Haitian sun.
It's not that it's hotter than usual today, it's always hot here, but as the baby grows in Marie's womb, he takes the last of the nutrients out of Marie's already depleted body and today she feels it more than ever. She thinks of her other six children and remembers how hard their births were as she cried out on the dirt floor of her mud hut with only her sister to help her. She sees the faces of her two little ones that she laid to rest in that same dirt the year before.
Marie has heard stories of women in the United States, 2 hours away, who give birth in clean hospitals and are given medicines that take away the horrible pain. The babies there are put into warm clean incubators instead of filthy rags on the dirt floor. She hears that the mothers and babies there have enough to eat. But that two hours distance might as well be twenty hours. Marie lives in Haiti and she is struggling.
Why is it that two countries separated by a mere two hour flight have such vastly different stories? One of success and comfort and the other of failure and pain. One with more resources than can be counted and the other with starvation, disease and death.
Our Maternal Health Clinic seeks to bridge that gap. By offering food, prenatal vitamins, medical care and counseling, we hope to give mothers like Marie hope. We presently have funding for 200 pregnant women, giving them similar medical care to the care that American mothers get.
But Marie is not one of the 200. She is one of the 1800 who are not in the program.
For $10 per month, you can supply Marie with enough food, prenatal vitamins and medical tests to bridge that gap.
That's the cost of one movie ticket or two grande, non fat, extra hot
chai lattes at your favorite coffee house.
With ninety bucks, Marie will thrive during her 9 month pregnancy and her baby will enter this world with a robust cry on a clean blanket.
Be a part of the solution!
Thursday, May 30, 2013
We have a fun game that we play on our wedding anniversaries. We recite the the various places in which we celebrated our anniversaries through the years. The various places and restaurants reflect the various stages of our lives and marriage.
Initially, the restaurants were inexpensive (cheap) and accurately reflected our impoverished financial status. As kids came along, the places reflected proximity to children as baby sitters were scarce. As I finished my surgery training and our financial status improved, the restaurants and venues became more exotic. The Mansion of Dallas, Old Warsaw, Ritz Carlton.
But then something happened. Our world view changed. We started asking questions like why do we have so much and others are starving. How can we spend thousands on an anniversary when children are enslaved by cruel slavemasters. Why are we at home in comfort when Jesus told us to go into all the world?
As we listed the venues we used to celebrate our wonderful marriage, we saw a change. We began waking up on our anniversary under mosquito nets in places like Mozambique, Ghana and Honduras. Our "restaurants" were mud huts and the food was rice, beans and goat meat.
Today is our 32nd wedding anniversary and our mosquito net now permanently resides in Thomazeau, Haiti. Our "restaurant" is made out of tin and we have no electricity, running water or a sewage system. Our veal Marsala is replaced with rice, beans and goat with mangoes for dessert.
Now, we know former slave children by name, share our food with the starving and help bury the ones who lose the battle. My surgical skills, once used to make people beautiful, now are mixed with generator repair, setting up water purification systems and providing medical care to the poorest of the poor.
Laurie traded her accounting position to run the Wound Care Clinic and the At Risk Programs. Her days are spent bandaging festering wounds and caring for those clinging to the edge of life. It thrills her to spend an afternoon going from hut to hut giving out love and bags of food.
Interestingly, as our palates have lost their appetite for the finer things, our life has became richer.
I wonder where our mosquito net will be next year?
Happy Anniversary Babe!
Monday, May 27, 2013
Freedom is not something we think about very often. In the United States, few of us have ever been enslaved or oppressed and for that, we should be eternally grateful. Our country is one of the few that has not suffered under foreign control during our history. I believe that because our country has been based on a system that honors God, we have been blessed with freedom.
Freedom comes with a cost. Because Jesus paid the ultimate sacrifice for us, we have freedom. Because we honor Him in His sacrifice, He continues to bless us. But that will not always be the case, when we decide to honor other gods in place of the One true God, we will suffer the same fate as all the previous countries who similarly pursued other gods. We should expect no other fate.
Today, we take a well deserved day to honor those who have served and sacrificed for our freedom. I know that I have been guilty of not sufficiently honoring those who have preserved my freedom until my oldest son, David, served in Afghanistan for ten months. Because of the countless days wondering if he was on the helo that crashed in Kabul, or in the firefight in Ghazni or the IED explosion in the Hindu Cush, I am now much more grateful for the men and women who protect us.
Likewise, let's not take for granted the freedom that Jesus' sacrifice bought us until after we suffer. Rather let's celebrate the freedom now.
Celebrate Memorial Day everyday.
Celebrate Memorial Day everyday.
Monday, May 20, 2013
"Women will be safe through childbearing" (NIV)
This passage in 1 Timothy has a great impact in our adopted home of Haiti. Haiti has one of the highest maternal mortality rates in the world, so to say that a woman will be safe in childbearing means a lot. Women here fear childbirth because all of them have seen many of the friends succumb to the rigors of birth.
Anyone who dies leaves a hole in their friends' and families' heart, but a woman who dies in childbirth not only leaves children without their mother and a husband without his wife but also leaves a marginal community to raise a child. Often this community, while willing to raise an orphan, simply doesn't have the resources to feed another mouth. This puts another child on the street.
In a country with 300,000 orphans, this is a crushing problem.
Our Maternal Health Program is attempting to address this problem. We are providing prenatal vitamins, food and education to 200 pregnant women in Thomazeau, Haiti. Why food, you ask? We asked the women if they were taking their vitamins and they said they weren't because the vitamins made them hungry and they had no more food. So we give them food. Our Haitian team teaches them about infant nutrition, maternal health, hygiene and when to bring the baby to the doctor.
This is all great but there are 2000 pregnant women in our area, we are only reaching 10%.
With more resources, we can reach all 2000 women and beyond.
Be a part of the solution...Live Beyond.....
Sunday, May 19, 2013
Our transition to Haiti is complete. We've finished our first full week here in our new home and we have loved every minute. Even though we've spent 1 year out of the last 3 in Haiti, this time the move is permanent. We've left Brentwood, TN with electricity, air conditoning and smooth roads to live in Thomazeau, Haiti without any of these supposed necessities. We left Nashville with all its beautiful churches and Chrisitans to a country where 60% of the people are voodoo worshippers. And this is the crux of why we left.
Many aid workers have come to help Haiti only to leave discouraged and disillousioned. Bringing typical American solutions, has failed more often than not. Governments have thrown billions of dollars in the direction of Haiti only to realize the same fate. The hope for Haiti doesn't lie in the implementation of more programs or further government subsidy but in the Gospel of Jesus Christ.
Voodoo is a religion of curses and hopelessness. Two concepts every Haitian knows all too well. The western assumption that money cures hopelessness has been endlessly refuted by the constant anti-depressant use by the rich. Similarly, we should not assume that endless governmental subsidy would have a different outcome.
The Gospel of Jesus Christ which is to be spread by all Chrisitans offers all the hope any culture needs.
The salvation of Haiti belongs to Jesus Christ.
And this is why we moved to Haiti.
Sunday, May 5, 2013
"If you would be perfect, sell all that you have and give to the poor."
Our move from Brentwood, TN to Haiti has been tough, but not in the way you might think.
Haiti is a country without electricity, running water and sewage systems. There are few paved roads, no malls and no Starbucks. The people aren't just hungry, they are starving. We've moved from one of the richest zip codes in America to the poorest country in the world.
But surprisingly, that wasn't what was hard.
Haiti has earthquakes, hurricanes and malaria. Bone jarring roads, lots of orphans and heat.
But again, we can adapt to that.
What was hard was selling our stuff.
I don't mean that it was hard to sell our stuff because we were attached to it. We weren't.
It's just takes an incredible amount of work to sell your things. Things that you've collected over 32 years of marriage, 3 kids and countless pets. Things that mean something to us but that no one else will buy and sometimes not even take for free.
It was exhausting work and we are not even through. We've sold, given away and thrown away everything we could but still there's more.
Once our stuff is gone, we've promised ourselves never to re-accumulate it. It's gone for good.
It's just too much work.