Monday, September 15, 2014

Our sweet baby girl...Naomi

It has been extremely too long since I have written anything on this blog.  I am thinking there is no better way to get it back up and going than with our new little princess, Naomi. 

Photo Credit:  Rhyan Buettner

On September 4th, a friend had posted that she was looking for an orphanage to place a 6 day old baby girl that had been brought to her home.  I let a few hours go by, and nobody responded to the post.  I gained the courage to mention it to Papito (knowing he would think I was crazy,) and was quite surprised by his reaction.  He immediately said that we could look into it all further.  By the end of the night, we had basically called on God to open the doors if He wanted us to have this precious child.  After all, several doors would need to be opened for it all to happen.  Doors were not just cracked opened, it seemed as though they were flying open right before our eyes!  We just kept going through them, and before we knew it, we were on a plane from Cap Haitian to Port au Prince to meet the little peanut. 

Photo Credit:  Rhyan Buettner

We met and held Naomi just four days after the post, and we were quickly granted custody on Thursday, September 11th.  On Friday, we were back on a plane heading to our home in Northeast, Haiti holding our new little bundle of blessings.  Naomi is a sweet baby girl who has made the entire home melt!  We cannot wait to discover life with her, and show her all the precious gifts God has for us.  I whisper God's faithful words into her tiny ears, and I show her the love He has for all of us.  I look forward to the day that she interacts with her amazing brothers, Peterson and Christ-tcherry. 

              Welcome home little princess! 

A few friends have asked how they can bless Naomi as she now becomes part of our family.  It will not be as fun as baby shopping or attending a baby shower, but you would be helping Haitian merchants.  If you would like to give a financial blessing towards Naomi, we would be forever grateful.  We had no idea the Lord was going to send us little Naomi, and we definitely used many of our personal funds for the flights, hotels, and legal documents.  We know the Lord will continue to supply for all Naomi's needs.  Thank you for everything and continuing to be on this journey with us.

Friday, June 28, 2013

Starting Therapy...

I am taking a new route with this blogging...shorter but more frequent!  I hope you will enjoy it.

On Wednesday, Papito and I had a scheduled meeting with a Haitian therapist in Northeast, Haiti.  It was one of those meetings that has been in the works for quite awhile, but kept getting postponed.  It finally happened though, and it was perfect timing for both his foundation (Fonhare) and Footprints of the Son. 
We started our meeting with a prayer, shared visions,  mission statements, our gifts and hearts, etc.  Papito and I had our priority (getting Ange-Derlie into therapy) and Dr. Ivens had his priority (getting our extra TLC for five of his more severe and economically poor patients.)  We had our notebooks, pencils, phones, etc but didn't use them all that much.  Instead, we sat and talked.  We went through everything we could think of, and at the end of about a hour and a half this is what we came up with...

1)  Ange-Derlie would go for her therapy evaluation the following day so Dr. Ivens could assess her and her needs.  (the evaluation happened, he knew just what occupational therapy she needed, she spit on him a few times and he handled it perfectly with a smile on his face, her mom was pleased that her little girl could get some structure and help, we paid for the evaluation, and she is scheduled to go three times a week from here on out!)

2)  We agreed "on the spot" to take three of his patients into outreach, and agreed to meet and pray about the other two.  (We met 7 year old Kendy and his Mom on Thursday, and are scheduling meetings with the other four this coming week.) 

3)  Dr. Ivens will be coming to Terrier Rouge to evaluate all of our outreach children here, and he will let us know everything we need to have at our home to start therapy sessions here.  This will require a lot of preparation and planning, but will be best for these outreach families and children,  The parents will be trained during therapy sessions, so they can continue the work at home on the non-therapy days.

4)  We shared ideas on inclusion community events, inclusion school, etc!  That will be long-term planning, but we opened the box at least!
I will be coming to the states at the end of July for two weeks, and will be working a lot on sponsorship for all the outreach children!  It will take a lot, but we are trusting in God and know that it can and will happen according to His purpose and timing...slow and steady wins the race :)


Thursday, May 9, 2013

The Act of Love...

The act of love has been part of me since I was a young girl. I was just that little girl that loved her baby dolls, her siblings, her friends, her family, dance, school, and even the color pink. I have just always loved!
That certainly did not change when I moved to Haiti either. I might have been put in a different country, but the love is still the same.
When Papito and I were first brainstorming the idea and vision of "Footprints of the Son," love was the first thing that came to mind (and, I don't mean the love we have for one another...haha.) We asked ourselves, "how does one show love?" We realized that we didn't just want to love the children of the ministry, but their families as well. We wanted to encourage, teach, and assist the whole family dynamic. We quickly knew that God was fostering this vision, and He was going to give us much work to do. We also knew that with being obedient to His purpose for the ministry, He was going to bless it and create beauty within it. Perhaps what we didn't know was that while we loved, we were going to be loved as well...

Meet Outreach:

Medjina and her family: They just get so excited when we come to their house and visit. One time Medjina got so excited to see us that her mom had to stop feeding her because she wouldn't swallow out of excitement! She needed friends...and we are her friends.

Woncito: When I first met Woncito, he screamed. He thought I was coming to take him away from his wonderful and precious family. I quickly told him "I love you and because I love you, I will come back another time when Mommy and Daddy are home." I came back after 3 days, and he greeted me with a smile! He trusts me now, and he knows I love him, but more importantly he knows I love him WITH his family!

Anchilove and her family: The love was instant on both ends. They are one of the poorest families when it comes to material things that I have ever met, but through thick and thin, they are a family. The appreciation that this family has for us is simply breathtaking. We deliver formula and cereal two times a week (along with clean drinking water,) and EVERY time they are so grateful. They see their little girl thriving, and they are not taking the help for granted.

Mackendy and his dad: The love between Mackendy and his father has made my heart melt. This dad has gone to extreme measures to make sure his little boy has the very best when it comes to his medical needs. He has traveled hours upon hours to get the colostomy bags Mackendy requires. The relief on his dad's face was evident when we told him that we were going to accept his little boy into our outreach program. This means that we will help with not only Mackendy's medical, but also his education.
Evans: Our happy butterball! Evans has a large extended family that adores him, but the love was shown through Woncito's mother. She knows Evans, and told us about him after we had been helping her family out for over a month. She asked Papito, "do you think you could help one more out?" The rest is history..

Katiana: We have yet to meet Katiana's family as they are never around, but we adore her. We tell her constantly that she was made perfectly by our great God, and that she has purpose! She is shy and often sad, but she knows we love her! We see her often and can normally get a smile out of her by just a little wave from afar.
Gerin and his mom: Love is sacrifice is the perfect way to explain this relationship. Gerin is 14 years old and cannot communicate his feelings or emotions except through yelling. He has difficulty sleeping and self soothes through rocking and hitting his face. His mother is the only one that can comfort him, and the only one Gerin trusts. This is love in a realm most don't even understand.

Waldy: We have only met little 3 year old Waldy, but are looking forward to having him in outreach when we really get things going. His mother clearly adores her son, and he clearly feels the same way. What a little blessing :)

Kervins: We received a call from Haitian social services on Kervins asking for assistance for his young mother and him. The mom lit up when we encouraged her to trust in the fact that he was born differently but shows great potential. We told her he can and will do everything God has in store for him! Encouragement can go a long way and speak volumes!

Ange-derlie: 7 year old beauty that is nonverbal, but shows huge potential for educational growth. She has parents that have poured into her life, and have not had another child in order to focus on their daughter. They are devoted to give her every bit of energy she deserves and needs.
Baby Junyson: Perhaps the greatest act of love so far has been with baby Junyson. He has already gone to Heaven, but it was worth every bit of love we poured out on him and his family to have him in outreach! He will remain in our hearts forever. We have also been so blessed by the gratitude and love of his family. They have thanked us numerous times for doing everything we could regarding his medical care, nutrition, etc. The hardest part, but most humbling was when his dad said, "and you didn't stop helped us give him a private and proper burial so he wouldn't have to go in a mass grave." That put the meaning of love in perspective for me. I always want to be able to love like that!

"And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love." 1 Corinthians 13:13
Thank you to everyone who enables us to love here in Haiti! It is the greatest gift you could give us.

Thursday, March 21, 2013

Training Advocates...

Papito and I are getting anxious to get Footprints of the Son started with foster children, a more established outreach program, and a special needs activity center functioning out of our home but that is all a process.  We are happy to say the process has definitely started and we are moving forward!  Praise God!

So where is our focus now?  Besides fixing stuff around the house, getting furniture made to accommodate the needs, advocacy, communications, and paperwork…we are focusing on training two young men who will play vital roles in the ministry, Manickson and Lele!  Perhaps you are thinking we put word out, conducted interviews, gave them the “test,” etc. but that is actually not the case.  They were placed here for us by our ultimate Provider.  We simply listened to the tug on our hearts, and took them for all God has made them to be!

Meet Manickson (23 years old):  
Manickson is a natural leader with a father’s heart (I should also mention that he cooks like nobody’s business!)  He was immediately interested in the vision of Footprints of the Son.  He is our landlord’s brother-in-law, so he has every reason to keep our house safe and protected.  Medjina (our 17 year old outreach girl) is one of his relatives, so there was already a fostered love for special needs children as well.
Manickson is trustworthy and full of life.  Christ-tcherry adores him and vice versa.  He is attentive to Peterson’s needs as well, and actually takes pride in knowing how to meet Peterson’s every need!  We have been able to watch his attitude and love with the two boys, and through that we see the joy that God has put in his heart for these precious children.  He wants this opportunity, and is willing to work hard to be part of the ministry. 
Meet Lele (18 years old):
Lele is sweet, gentle, and compassionate.  When we first moved into our home, Papito noticed a young man pacing the village street studying and memorizing his lessons for school at 6am every morning!  When Papito approached him, he shared that his name was Lele and he was putting himself through school in the afternoons.  He asked Papito to consider his mom for a job if we ever needed someone. 

God had different plans, we would take on Lele!  We started out just paying him when we needed him and seeing how his school schedule would work in with our needs.  The rest is history; we can’t imagine not having him as part of our ministry.  He has a humble spirit, and lives right on this street so he relates to our community in big ways!  One elderly neighbor who has known Lele his whole life told us, “Lele is a good boy.  He always has been so kind and has never had trouble with anyone.  He is a friend and well loved by everyone.”  We couldn’t have asked for a better recommendation. 

We are really enjoying “training” these two young men.  We are growing right alongside of them as well.  We pour into them spiritually, and they pour into us through their servant hearts.  We have been able to pay them a very fair wage for their time and commitment (they both are choosing to bless their families abundantly…Lele bought a cow with his first month’s pay!) They are so grateful to be part of Footprints of the Son, and we are so thankful that God placed them here for us.  He is showing us the importance of “training advocates” BEFORE ministry begins, and we are grateful for this time.  A standard is being set, and we are expecting to only serve with a “spirit of excellence” which excites us.  Please join us in prayer for these two young men as well as our family as we step into the next chapter of this journey…


Monday, February 18, 2013

Don’t Underestimate Small Beginnings…

All week I have been writing down the little things that are happening with Footprints of the Son.  I want to remember it all.  I don’t ever want to forget this time.  I can see us looking back on this very blog in 2 years, 5 years, 10 years and remembering the blessings God gave us in the very beginning…

People may think it is simple or even easy to start a ministry in one of the poorest countries in the world, but that is not the case when you are trying to achieve Kingdom excellence.  I have had many mentors in my last 3 years here, and one piece of advice that stands out the most is this… “Don’t just do it…do it WELL!”  
Doing it well means taking our time to pray, plan, and prepare.  As you look at my Facebook posts and pictures, you may say, “Alright already, where are the kids?”  Trust me, they are coming and that is why we are taking this time to prepare ourselves, our family, our community, and our home!  God has already showed us some of the need, and we know there is much more to come.
What are we doing now exactly (well, here is the fun part of the blog…)
1.       We are pulling buckets of water up with rope from our well to bathe, wash clothes, flush toilets, clean dishes, water plants, etc. (As of last night, our water pump was lowered deep enough to bring water to our tank on our roof and run through our pipes…so no more buckets…ok, maybe a few still!) 

2.       We are eating a lot of peanut butter sandwiches, Tampico, and food made by neighbors!  (A stove top will be purchased soon so we can cook for our family…after that; we will get the outdoor kitchen set up for outreach and our future foster children.)

3.       We pray every night at 6pm that the government street power will come on so we can charge everything for the next day (we will need to purchase a generator before the hot summer months, but for now we are grateful the weather is beautiful!)

4.       At 5pm, we hang out on our roof looking down at the children playing soccer in the street and enjoy the nature around us.
5.       We are building relationships and trust with the community so they know we are not “scary!” (One day a little boy told Papito he was scared because we have a big house and he thinks Papito could shoot him with a gun…Now, that same boy hangs out right outside of our home and greets us with a smile on his face!)

6.       We are making a 2013 budget (which is a lengthy process of planning, price searching, getting quotes, etc…we can’t have foster children until we have beds for them to lay their sweet heads on.)

7.       We are finding some beautiful families that have been raising special needs children with no assistance.  We are seeing hope in their eyes as we tell them of our vision to assist them as they raise their special children.

8.       We are helping where we can (Anchilove got a pink portable crib yesterday that we just “happened to have” and not need!  We also took her to the doctor, got blood work, and medicine as well as cereal and formula for her…we have seen her parents go from seeing her as a burden to treating her like a “princess” in less than a week!)

9.       We are learning to be a “family” because this will be the foundation of the ministry, Footprints of the Son.

10.   We are seeking God’s guidance, listening to His whispers, and thanking Him for the blessings!

I head to the states for two weeks on Wednesday, and will be gathering supplies and getting some necessary paperwork so we can complete the Haitian foundation process when I get back.  Please be praying for Papito as he will have much on his plate here in Haiti while I’m away (Christ-tcherry, Peterson, the home, banking, outreach, etc.)  I am more than confident that he will handle it all with a smile on his face but a few prayers could never hurt!
Thank you to all of you that are already supporting us in such great ways…each prayer, each thought, each donation, each word of encouragement is greatly appreciated! 

“He who is kind to the poor lends to the Lord, and He will reward him for what he has done.” 
Proverbs 19:17 NIV


Friday, February 1, 2013

Dreams Become Reality...

As I sit in this little room with four concrete walls and two of the sweetest hearts (Christ-tcherry and Peterson,) I remember playing “babies” when I was a little girl.  I always dreamed of the day that I would be a “Mommy,” and at the age of 29, that is exactly what I am!  Humbled, blessed, and loved…

As I graduated from playing “babies” around age 10, I started talking about adopting.  I remember my mom asking me, “Heather, why do you want to adopt children?”  The answer was simple, “Mom, I don’t need to have any children because there are so many in the world that need help already.”  By no means am I saying it is for everyone, but I am amazed how God planted that seed and desire in my heart so early.  The journey was already in the works…
At age 13, I started helping with a dance class for children with special needs.  That class quickly became the highlight of my week (along with ballet, of course!)  I later became the teacher of that class for over five years.  Oh, God is so good.  The parents of my students encouraged me so much.  They became my examples of patience, advocacy, determination, etc.  Once again, the Lord using everything He could to prepare me for the BIG plans He had in store…
“…No eye has seen, no ear has heard, no mind has conceived what God has prepared for those who love Him”  1 Corinthians 2:9 NIV
Now, I jump to this day…almost three years have gone by serving full time in Haiti.  Many dreams have already become reality, but the biggest is coming RIGHT now!  God has blessed me abundantly.  He has given me so many to love and care for including Jean, Denise, Fitson, Peterson, Derline, Christ-tcherry, Junika, Emmanuella, Rosalie, Emma, Chama, Henry Claude, Sandley, Carlos, etc (the list goes on and on.)  The Lord has even taken some of these home to heaven, and I have JOY knowing I will see them again!  They each have taught me lessons, given me experience, shown me that LOVE is the greatest of these!
“And now these three remain: faith, hope and love.  But the greatest of these is love.”  1 Corinthians 13:13 NIV
In case all of this wasn’t enough…
God even decided to show off how truly big His love is as He gave me something special that I never even dreamed of…a HUSBAND!  Wow, talk about a loving Father.  I literally just smile sometimes because He created Papito for me, and now His plans will fully be executed for the fullest of His glory!  CRAZY LOVE…
Seriously God, what else do you have in store?
Coming (VERY) Soon…
Footprints of the Son/Les Emprintes du Fils
Terrier Rouge, Haiti

 “Now that I, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also should wash one another’s feet.” John 13: 14 NIV (English Version)
 “Si donc je vous ai lave les pieds, moi, le Seigneur et le Maitre, vous devez aussi vous laver les pieds les uns aux autres.” Jean 13:14 (French Version)

Friday, January 11, 2013

Big News From Haiti For The New Year...

Some of the big news (please be seated while reading)…

The matchmakers have completed their job!  Peterson and Christ-tcherry (with a lot of assistance from our Great God,) have succeeded in making a "family" for themselves!  It took over a year, a lot of good times, hardships, surgery, etc but Peterson's mommy and Christ-tcherry's daddy have fallen in love and tied the knot! 

On Christmas Day, we ran around Ouanaminthe on a motorcycle talking to our Christian mentors, our families, and a judge getting acceptance to be ONE.  God worked a miracle and on December 26th, we were married with Pastor Daniel and Mami Karris as our witnesses (of course, the two little matchmakers were present too!) 

We are thrilled to have made the commitment to be Mr. and Mrs. Dasmin Gabaud for the rest of our lives, and we look forward to having a celebration in Haiti on May 25th with some family and friends!


The new endeavor…

On February 1st, we will be moving into our new home in Terrier Rouge, Haiti (northeast Haiti.)  We will be getting the home ready for the birth of the new ministry…Footprints of the Son.  It is simply the following…

1)    A temporary foster home for severe/fragile special needs orphans needing more TLC than their current orphanages are able to offer

2)    An outreach program to aid and train Haitian families in raising their special needs sons and daughters
Why the name Footprints of the Son? 
Being a temporary foster home, we would like to leave the footprints of God’s love on each of these little ones that He entrusts us with for their most fragile time on earth.
Mission Statement: 
To nurture, love, and protect the severe and fragile special needs children living in Haiti by assisting, teaching and guiding their forever families through the love of Jesus Christ, our Savior. 
Verse that represents the heart of the ministry: 
John 13:  1-17 (passage speaks of Jesus washing the disciples feet…a literal example of bringing understanding to the importance of serving others and also teaching what is right.
Our heart for the foster home…
(The following was written by Heather)

Being a mother in Haiti for the last three years has been such a blessing, and I can’t imagine doing anything but caring for some of the most severe/fragile special needs children of Haiti.  It is my heart, it is my passion, and it is simply what I love to do.  I know it does not come without heartache, but the blessed times always surpass the dark days (my little Jean was the first evidence of this…if it wasn’t for my sweet little man, I would never have known my true gifting and calling!) 

The home will serve as temporary care and aid to larger orphanages and families trying to care for these fragile ones.  The goal of the home will be to offer the proper medical needs, nutritional needs, and extra TLC that these children require in order to strengthen them to be integrated back into their forever families.  We will have about five foster children at a time to ensure that they receive the quality of care and attention they need.  We will celebrate with great joy when one child is well enough to go back to their home, and we have the ability to assist another precious one!

Our heart for the outreach program…
(The following was written by Papito and translated into English.)

Because I am a parent of a special needs child, I have lived the life that many other parents are living in Haiti with their different children.  On behalf of our great God Jehovah, my heart begins to rejoice about our outreach ministry to assist these parents and children.  I will never forget my past with my first son, Christ-tcherry.  I can now be an example to teach other parents how they can be important in the lives of their special children.  I have an open heart for them.  These children are very important and they have the same power as us.  They do not have the opportunity to speak and act as others, but they are valuable nonetheless.  Within the ministry of Footprints of the Son, the outreach program will be my priority.  I want to give them all I am to make them feel well, taken care of, and loved.  I pray that the Lord will use me for this outreach program and that it will give much glory to Him.

That is probably enough shock for one night…
Please stay connected and let us know if you want to be on the Footprints of the Son mailing list.  We are in the beginning stages and would like to ask you for your thoughts, prayers, and encouragement.  We feel so blessed for everything that the Lord is doing in our lives and are so excited to give the glory to Him!  Thank you from the bottom of our hearts for standing behind us as we continue on this blessed path.