Saturday, October 27, 2012

I can still have Courage

I am afraid.

I have this necklace I wear.
I had it custom made as a reminder, not a statement, but lets call it a gentle nudge, lodged close to my heart...telling me what I already know.
It holds a moonstone, a tree of life, one angel wing and a medallion that says “Courageous”.

I wear it on days I need to be reminded to be brave.
Some days that is just getting out of bed and parenting children that are from hard places.
What I am learning about bravery, is that is does not mean "without fear."
You can be brave and still be terrified with every breath you take.

In one week I leave for my first of many Medical Trips for Haiti, as a new School Sponsorship Coordinator.

This time three years ago, I was in Haiti. I had led a small parent trip, and then with a dear friend, stayed an extra week to complete updates for the children at our Orphanage. It as a very difficult week. Sick children,  R.O.U.S. (rats of unusual size)...and one very very beautiful night burned in my brain forever.
We were invited to a dinner, and told to “Dress fancy", the nicest thing I had in my motley luggage that was still "somewhat" clean and child urine and vomit free was my black swimming suit cover up.
I dawned that, used my lip tinted chap-stick on both my lips and cheeks and called it “as good as it gets.” As my friend and I entered the dinner, it was as if we had entered a Prom/wedding/ball. Both women and men wearing their finest, professional hair up-dos and very formal taffeta dresses sashayed by.

People from all over the world greeted me as I was soon to learn I was at an International Rotary event where our Orphanage Director was being acknowledged.
Surrounded dear friends and live music, the incredible food, colors, company and laughter of that evening still stays with me to this day. It is the Haiti I remember.
In my minds eye, I can still sit at that table sitting next to Junior, Wilson, Kenia, Pascale, and Gauelle.
I can still hear Kenia teasing me about almost drinking the Icy pink Rum Punch, not knowing it was stiff with Rum, and that I don't drink. Teasing the men about how handsome they looked.
Junior patently trying to teach me some samba type moves I was clumsy at , and laughing.
The pride and beauty in my friends eyes as they danced around the ballroom.
Guesno as he stood to receive his award and speak about the good and hope that is happening in Haiti. How all of our eyes shown with pride and hope.
I remember crawling into bed that night with sore feet and a mouth tender from smiling.Little did I know the waltz was ending.

A couple days later, exhausted, heart aching from saying good bye to my children for the 11th time, kissing them as they wailed....I boarded my plane. Knowing this would be the 4th Christmas that would pass since their referral, and they still would not be home.
Reaching the states, I received a hurried phone call that Baby Faiths birth Mom was headed to the hospital, in labor.
On my next layover I learned a beautiful 8 lb. Baby girl had been born and my husband was headed to the hospital, by himself to retrieve her.
Oh the anxiety...I wanted to scream at everyone to “Hurry”...I felt like I might burst.

Once home I flew into the frenzy that is delicious/delirious newborn, complete with sleepless nights and 5 days later being Thanksgiving.
One month later Christmas.
Two weeks after that the Earthquake hit.
I remember calmly doing homework with my oldest, when my Sister in Law called and told me to check CNN, a huge Earthquake had hit Haiti, and after shocks were continuing to ravage the poor defenseless country.

I could not call, or get a hold of anyone.
Phone calls and emails from desperate parents began flooding my phones and e.mail.

We were all desperate for information, the biggest and simplest of plea's.
“Please tell me my children are still alive.” It was a prayer entwined with every breath we took every pounding heart beat, as all we could do was stare blankly at the T.V. Screen, try for hours in and out, every five minutes via phone, e,mail and text to contact anyone that would know anything....crying and praying.

It took 36 hours to have any word that the kids were O.K, Also learning the worst of losses, of friends, family and loved ones. 36 hours preparing myself for the worst, staying hopeful for others, and promising anything, anything to a God who had let this happen, that if the children would please be spared...and then feeling guilty and selfish when so many had already been lost.
Days and nights molded. Hours of phone contacts, with the Red Cross, different churches, being in on amazing missions of bravery simply to get food and water to the children.
Being apart of desperate phone calls with our government that was doing very, very little on behalf of the children that had U.S. Adoptive parents...and suddenly days later, everything fell into place. 9 nights without a full nights sleep, I spent the last preparing 40 + children's documents and pictures, we kissed our sleeping children goodbye, told my Mother, I didn't know when we would be back and left in a giant blizzard, driving over the icy Malad pass at 3 a.m. in the morning to catch our flight.

I prayed silently as Trevor white knuckled drove the borrowed 15 passenger van in the white out, praying we were still on the road, praying we would make our flight.

Miracles began that moment, Angels tangible and heavenly were everywhere. I have never and will never experience anything like that again in my life. The way the divine was in the details is what carried me through hell and back. For you see, Walking off that plane, into my beloved earthquake torn Haiti was walking into hell.

The silence, the death, the despair and the fear were thick and heavy in the air.
It was a warzone,of pain, and loss, hollow eyed zombie's with bandages walked around in a daze, some carrying each other or limping next to one another. That first night our vehicle had to swerve to avoid clumps of people, careful of not to run over sleeping in the middle of the street too afraid to not only sleep inside a building, but anywhere near them.
The numb , blank, terrified hollowness in everyone's eyes, including the children's.
The bodies. The smell. The names of our lost loved ones not being spoken on our lips, but seen in all of our eyes when we looked at each other. The aftershocks, that weren't aftershocks, but earthquakes of massive proportion. I will never forget the shattering sound like an iceberg breaking off and falling into an ocean and how the ground actually rolled beneath me as I slept next to 30 sleeping children on cement. The way they screamed. The way I shook with 15 children clinging to me feeling powerless. Because when the ground beneath you waves as if made of liquid, there is no Power, there is no say, you just pray and hold on , and the thing you are holding onto is shaking too.
10 days. Many spent in the embassy. Many holding children that were meant to be life flighted to the U.S.A....some made it, many did not. Evenings ending at the Central hospital picking up our Pediatrician friend,and witnessing the hundreds of tents and people, so very many people, and so very much blood. I wrote a specific memory down here.

When we returned with our children, after spending days in limbo in a Florida children's' housing, we returned to our home, and other children.

Much like a Soldier must feel like after returning home ( and sheesh we had only been gone two weeks) We were in shell shock. After walking out of hell, to running water, a change of clothes, medicine, food that didn't come from a rations was like walking through hell, and no one could see it, or have any idea what we all had been through. They wanted us at family parties and church, they brought us balloons. Everyone wanted to celebrate us, and our kids being home, and we felt like these survivors of something no one could understand, worn, terrified, exhausted and feeling guilty that we had gotten out when so many of our fellow survivors didn't, or prepared for the rainy season living in tents.
Returning to a newborn, our fearful children, and introducing 5 traumatized siblings . Our family in less than 8 weeks had grown from a family of 5 people, to a family of 11.

I don't remember much of that first year.
I don't think there was a lot of sleep.
I don't think there was much of anything but, eating, sleeping, crying,and raging, and surviving .
I learned how to gather wagons.
I learned how to make my children's worlds small.
I learned how to wait out 6 hours of screaming and breaking things.
I learned how to restrain a child hell bent on hurting me.
I learned how to tell other people "no".
I learned that no matter how much you love someone, it really can't be enough.

I have grown so much in these last 3 years, I am stronger, I am braver, I have a better understanding of what is, and what is not important.
I have a differing view on Orphans, and the way I can believe to help solve a very small portion of that problem.
I am passionate still about my children's country, and country men, women and brothers and sisters.
I am actively doing something, now that I am standing on both feet again (most days), I am going to Haiti, and taking on a new responsibility and calling for the children of Haiti, seeking free education, food programs, goat programs, and Medical care with the Organization of Sionfonds.
I leave for Haiti in two weeks.
I am terrified. I have big feeling and hard memories attached to this first trip back.
And that is O.K.

I am not doing this alone. I am being carried by so many friends and family with their love and support, I am riding on the coat tails of so many other brave people in my life, who by walking up and doing what they do makes the world a better place. These warriors, walk with me, and even talk time out of their day to text, love on and emotionally support me.
I have been so very touched by the overwhelming support I have found in my Paypal box, propelling me forward into doing more, helping more...because of others bravery and generosity.

I can still have courage.

Courage is not the absence of fear, but rather the judgement that something else is more important than fear.  ~Ambrose Redmoon

I can still have courage.


  1. God be with you Lindsay, and the children of Haiti. Thanks for having the courage to do this. One day I hope to be stong enough to join you! Love you.

  2. Awesome! You are in my prayers. Still struggling as a mom to one adopted son who is sometimes improving and sometimes getting worse.

    Please describe how your views have changed about orphans, and what you think the best approach is now. Your courage and determination are so inspiring to me, as is all the knowledge you've accumulated to help you mother these children. If it fills another blog post or several, that's okay too. I just am hungry to share what you've learned.

  3. I can really understand your zeal and passion for this, but I wonder how your poor husband will cope with you gone....and Faith's mom.... My kids get "abandonment" tremors even when I go to a conference for a weekend, if I went somewhere that was already connected with traumatic events, I can't imagine.... So how will you prepare them and cope with their anxiety?

  4. Great blog. Thanks for sharing and having the courage to do what you do. You are an inspiration to us all.

  5. Sweet Annie.
    We are working through this, and have been for six months, practicing trips with me away, maintaining for the most part their schedule not being messed with at all, being able to stay at home on the same schedule. We have learned new coping strategy's and asking for whole lot of God's Grace to aid us.
    The kids are in a good place, they have been actively helping me prepare.
    We have anxiety busters prepared at every corner.
    Letters from me everyday.
    I text a picture of myself everyday of what I am doing. Every 4 days there is a gift from Mom for them to open, a paper chain of how many days, and much, much more.
    The most I have been gone is 6 days, and they did great.
    This is a marathon we are preparing for. Trevor has 10 people on call at any time for still may go a lil nutso, but I have faith, and hope, and know no matter what it is like for my kids here, they are safe,and can depend on three meals a day and a warm bed to sleep in and the kids I am going to help are not remotely close in the same boat.

    Tatiana,I guess what I mean by this, was when I was younger and looking into adoption, I believed all children given up to an Orphanage, or in the name of adoption, should be adopted. I don't believe that anymore.
    When their is capable birth family available, and when finances are the one thing that keeps these families from being able to choose to keep their children, the Christian thing to do is not "rescue the child", but enable the family to succeed in maintaining a family until.
    NO matter how young, a child being taken away from a biological parent suffers something.
    In Haiti Specifically,85% of the children have living parents. I am becoming part of an organization that says "Hey, if we can give you a goat, provide school and meals for your children, can you keep them home with you."
    I deeply still believe all children deserve the opportunity to have parents, unless the parents or the child are emotionally or physically incapable of that bond...Children with dead or incapable parents absolutely need the opportunity to be adopted...however families with the road block of poverty, wouldn't our charity be better served maintaining an original family unit, to "rescuing a child"?
    That is just my thoughts...right or wrong. :0)

    1. Yes, I believe you are right. Adoptive parents frequently don't remember that adoption is about pain and loss and grief. We gain a child but everyone else in the picture looses something very profound. I'm not against adopting (being an adoptive mom) but efforts to keep families together first is important. There will always be children who need homes, but we are all helped when the poorest among us is helped. The choice to give up a child for adoption should be a CHOICE and when in extreme poverty these people have no choices and no power and that's not right. We all have enough to share a little so they can live a little better (and share as in education, pigs, chickens, goats, seeds, etc NOT our hand me downs, etc.)

      There's a real neat organization called Real Hope for Haiti that is working on health care, re-forestation, education, etc. They are much like what you are describing.

      Hopefully someday there will be less orpanages in Haiti.

    2. Thanks, Lindsay....I'm exhausted just thinking about it! (But should have known you would have taken it all in hand and be doing it BEAUTIFULLY.)

      Yes; my ideas have changed a bit, too....that's why, despite what everyone thinks we should do, we did not push Anastasia to let another family have Monica. I do think, though, that so many of the efforts to keep families together end up hurting the children because the birthmothers are so very unable to parent appropriately, scarred to the depths of their being....or, perhaps just empty. No six week or six month, or even six year "parenting class" can "teach" what needed to be taught and learned subconsciously via being loved themselves as infants.

      You are right, though, about "mere poverty" Ilya had a loving grandmother, who was unable to get him to school, and they lived in abject poverty, but he loved her dearly, and probably if he'd stayed in Russia he would be alive today.

  6. Moved to tears. Covered in goosebumps. Such a beautiful story of love, determination and courage! May you be blessed my friend.

  7. Have a great trip .... I know you will. Prayers for all of your group that you will stay safe & have fun! Please says HI to our friends on the Island.

  8. Oh Lindsay...this is fantastic and I'm so proud of you for going. I think it's a very profound thing for the kids to see their mom helping their home country. They are still pretty young, but it matters. I think it's amazing to keep a wonderful and hopeful bond with their home country and my mind spins with the hope of the things they might be able to do as they grow. I hope God carries you through this and shows His hand in the 'details.' Thank you for your hard work in Haiti and here at home ;-)
    Love you girl.