Saturday, August 18, 2012

"From the Inside Out" Blog Series

Part Three:  “Act of Obedience (Sandley’s Story)”

On September 24, 2010, a baby boy was born in Cap Haitian, Haiti and was held tightly by his loving mother.  He would become baby brother to 3 older siblings.  He also had a dad that lived in the small home with them.  This baby and family would face many  challenges (as if they didn’t already have enough.)  This baby, Sandley, was different from his siblings.  He was small in size, but had bulging muscles.  He had a high pitched cry that never seemed to stop.  His eyes were big and he was always looking sideways. People looked at him funny.  People knew he was sick, but didn’t know why (Could it be true?  Was he seen as a curse on his family?  Was he going to die with nobody knowing him?  Would he be hidden from the outside world because his family was ashamed of him?)  With many “different” looking children in Haiti, this is true, but Sandley’s mother knew she had to do something for her son.  She would spend the next year seeking for answers for her son.  She would go from hospital to hospital looking for a “cure.”  She would spend much of the family’s money to do this and buy all the medications the doctors suggested (vitamins, IV fluid, antibiotics, etc.)  See, they either didn’t understand the diagnosis of “spastic quadriplegia” or they were too afraid to tell the boy’s mother that her son would not be “cured” by medicine.  If she knew of this diagnosis, would she still care for him or would she give up and let him die in a corner of their home?  After all, she had 3 more “healthy” mouths to feed and tend to, and that was a struggle in itself.

Sandley’s mother would be obedient to the feeling in her heart again.  In December of 2011, she brought Sandley to another hospital in Milot, Haiti.  The baby would be admitted for overnight care, and given a prescription for seizure medication.  Sandley and his mother would remain there for the next 3 days.  She was unable to buy the medicine prescribed because it was too expensive (in Haiti, you buy all the medications, fluids, IV, etc whether inpatient or not.) 

Pastor Daniel (a Haitian pastor who along with his wife has an orphanage) and Bill Waterman (a fellow missionary at Danita’s Children) were on their way to Milot to check on one of the “baby rescue” babies from Danita’s Children.  They checked on the baby girl who was sharing a room with about 4 other sick children and their families.  Pastor Daniel saw a mom and baby in the corner of the room.  Pastor Daniel and Bill walked back to the truck after saying goodbye.  They got ready to leave, but Pastor Daniel told Bill to wait in the truck and that he would be right back.  Pastor Daniel went back into the room to talk to the mother of the baby boy in the corner of the hospital room.  He spoke with her, and noticed the unfilled script for the seizure medication.  He also noticed that this baby boy was not well, and needed immediate attention.  Pastor Daniel went back to the truck, and asked Bill to come in and see this baby.  Bill did, and they took pictures of the baby and also paid for the seizure medication for the mother.  They then left the hospital…

Bill came to the main property of Danita’s Children, and said “I have a baby for you, Mami Heather.”  I was like, “excuse me.”  He said, “this one is for you.”  I asked to see the pictures, and I didn’t need to ask anymore.  I knew exactly what he had, and I thought, there is nothing I can do for this child.  Getting involved would not help this child or his mother.  I thought that I might be able to ignore it if I didn’t go see him or if I just convinced myself that I had enough on my plate.  This one lived too far away anyway.  Surely, there was someone else out there that would help them.  Well, that was not what God wanted, and He would keep me up that whole night thinking of this little baby.  In the morning, I called Pastor Daniel, and said, “When are you going back to the hospital?  I would like to go and meet that baby boy.”  The next day, I was in Pastor Daniel’s truck heading to the hospital. 

I walked into the room.  I went to the corner crib.  There he was, laying in his crib sleeping.  His mother was not there.  Had she abandoned him?  Could she not take anymore?  Did she have no choice?  I stroked his little arm.  I kissed my hand and then laid it on the top of his head.  Sandley’s mom walked into the room.  She had left to buy 1 jar of baby food for her son.  I was so happy to see her!  She truly loved him.  She was dedicated and devoted to her little one.  We talked and she asked if I would take her son to the orphanage.  She said that she wouldn’t be able to care for him much longer.  He was too sick.  I knew that I couldn’t do this.  I knew it was not God’s timing, and Danita helped me confirm this too.  At night I would rack my brain for what I could do for Sandley and his sweet mother.  I truly thought of so many living options, but none seemed right.  I felt like the mother loved her son, and I felt like I could offer some hope and help at the very least.  I had her come every Monday to our clinic.  Emily (our nurse) would check and weigh him every week.  I would supply his mother with his seizure medication, 1 can of formula, and less than $4 for transportation back and forth (they lived about 45 minutes away.)  That mother came every week right at 10am.  If I wasn’t there, she still came as she knew we had prepared everything for her and Sandley. 

When I got back from my 3 week visit to the Miriam Center, I understood exactly why I was asked to wait on a living situation for baby Sandley.  I made the decision to move to the special needs home in Northwest Haiti, and I had permission to bring Sandley with me.  I was so excited to tell the mother because I knew this is what she wanted for her baby.  The following Monday, I told his mom that I would be moving around April 1st, and that Sandley could come.  She said that she had been praying for this, and not only had she been praying, she was acting!  She had Sandley’s birth certificate made and was ready to sign the necessary papers.  She was not giving him up, but rather giving him a chance…

In February, Sandley’s mom brought him on a Monday as usual and delivered the news that his father had just passed away.  She was so sad, but was keeping it together for her children.  She was certainly a strong woman!  On March 27th, the day came for the big move.  We left Pastor Daniel’s orphanage at 4am, and we picked Sandley up on the side of the road around 4:45am in Cap Haitian.  His mother placed him in my lap, handed me the birth certificates, and then shut the door.  No tears were shed.  We simply locked eyes, and shared no words.  We didn’t need to.  This was all just an act of obedience on both our parts.  She simply placed her baby boy in my arms for safe keeping and a chance at life…

Sandley cried almost the whole way to the Miriam Center at NWHCM.  He ate a little bit, but I couldn’t get him comfortable.  He certainly did not enjoy all the bumps along the way.  We arrived and the staff immediately took him out of my arms.  The new baby had arrived, and they were thrilled to have a little baby to take care of.  He even got renamed “ti bebe” (which means little baby in Creole.)  He was stealing hearts right and left, but the real “steal” would have to wait a couple more weeks.

Justin Clark (the missionary who was coming down to focus on maintenance work for the mission) would be moving down.  I first talked to Justin at church in Haiti.  We were outside and I asked him what he would be doing at the mission.  He explained that he was there strictly to do maintenance and whatever else came his way (referring to “fixing things.”)  He made it pretty clear that he liked the idea of kids, but had “no clue” or “experience” with them.  Well, let’s just say, the rest is history…

Somehow, he found himself gravitating towards teeny tiny Sandley who seemed to be battling one illness after the other. I noticed Justin in the Miriam Center a lot.  I knew we had a lot of maintenance work to do, but I mean, Justin REALLY liked working in the Miriam Center.  It turns out that he might have had some other motives to being there…YEP, little Sandley!  That boy had stolen Justin’s heart forever.  It was one of the sweetest things I have ever witnessed to this date.  Justin even changed a diaper for the first time (and many many more after that!)  He learned to feed him with a syringe, give him medicine, hold him, play with him, and change some of the worst diapers EVER!  Who knew that God could work through something so smelly?  Haha.  Day after day, the relationship just continued.  It gets stronger each day, and Justin now calls Sandley “son” (or little feller,) and we refer to Justin as “Papi.”  Sandley is quite blessed to have Papi Justin, and I know without a doubt that Justin has been forever changed by his little feller, Sandley. 

LOVE…genuine, innocent, and pure.

On September 24th, 2012 we will be celebrating Sandley’s 2nd birthday.  This will be quite the day for 8lb Sandley.  I think there might even be some pudding or dum dums involved!  I am simply amazed and inspired by Sandley’s story.  It has truly taught me obedience to God’s tugging.  A lot of people had to play a part in getting to this point.  Without everyone being obedient to the Lord’s direction, this little boy would not be where he is today.  He is fulfilling his purpose of sharing love with all he meets.  It is not about quantity of days anymore, it is simply about quality and Sandley has this!

I would like to say thank you to everyone that has played a part in this “act of obedience.”  It has been a blessing that can never be explained…

1)      Sandley’s Mother:  Thank you for never giving up!  Thank you for sacrificing so much to give your boy a chance to fulfill his purpose.  Thank you for taking in all the stares and comments that first year.  Thank you for listening to your heart and always going the extra mile to seek help.

2)      Pastor Daniel:  Thank you for going back into that hospital room to see this baby boy and his mother.  Thank you for your willingness to remain such a special part of Sandley’s life as his Godfather.

3)      Bill:  Thank you for sharing your heart and having faith in me to take on this little boy.  Thank you for that little nudge to listen to the whispers of my heart.

4)      Danita:  Thank you for confirming God’s perfect timing for both me and Sandley.

5)      Emily:  Thank you for taking care of all the “Monday” tasks of this little one.  Your faithfulness made a huge difference in that transition time.

6)      Miriam Center Staff:  Thank you for taking on one more baby without complaining!

7)      Stephanie, Courtney, and Autumn:  Thank you for allowing one more to join our family!

8)      NWHCM:  Thank you for having open doors to myself and my little ones.

9)      Justin:  There are no words…thank you for being the best “Papi” ever! 

10)   Sandley:  Thank you for just being YOU!  You are awesome!

*To everyone else:  Thank you for your continued prayers for Sandley.  Every day is a struggle for life, but we are making slow progress.  We appreciate all the support, prayers, and love from you.*

Monday, August 13, 2012

"From the Inside Out" Blog Series

Part Two:  "Change, Challenge, and Courage..."

Change never comes without challenges, and I knew this when I decided to listen to the Lord’s calling to move to the Miriam Center at NWHCM.  It was a challenge just preparing to move, but it happened and there I was.  Would it be easy?  No.  Would it be worth it?  Yes.  After all, if it is His plan, it is always worth it!

As soon as I arrived at the mission, I knew things were different from my visit in January.  Missionaries were coming and going, leadership was being revamped, and there was a noticeable “change” in the air.  There was even a sense of tension among many, and I would be lying if I didn’t say I thought about packing us back up and returning to Ouanaminthe within my first week of being there.  But, certainly that was not God’s plan for us, the mission, or the children of the Miriam Center.  I prayed so much that first week, and God gave me glimpses of the future and that gave me hope and encouragement.  This would simply be a season, and I had to know that He had already prepared me for this season of life.

Two weeks before I made the move, I found out that Courtney Pierce (the director of the Miriam Center for the last 4 years) would be moving stateside to advocate for these beautiful children on that end.  This would change my role drastically, and I would no longer be solely focusing on severe/profound and infant care.  The Miriam Center would now be home to 48 special needs children, and our family would also consists of many outreach/school children as well as 39 faithful staff!   WOW!  Was I really ready for this?  YES, but not without my awesome God!

This was just not going to be possible without supernatural strength, grace, and blessing.  I became completely submissive to my Savior, and placed everything in His hands.  This was not something I could nor did I want to do without Him!  The best part, Stephanie Mosier, was feeling the same way.  Stephanie had lived at the Miriam Center for almost a year before I moved there.  Her heart and passion is for the education development of special needs care, but she was also feeling God’s tugging to do more.  Together, we decided we could co-direct the Miriam Center and this would allow us to remain focused on our individual gifts.  This was a God ordained connection, for sure.  We had a lot to go through and talk about.  We had to come up with a proposal for the Miriam Center which consisted of explaining where we were at in the present time, what needed to be addressed immediately, where we needed to be in 1 year, and what “in a perfect world…” would look like.  It was all exciting, but also overwhelming at times.  A lot of BIG and HARD decisions had to be made.

A month before I moved to the Miriam Center, I really focused my prayers.  I asked daily for more discernment.  God granted this, for sure!  I still have a long way to go, but one of the most challenging parts of co-directing the Miriam Center is using discernment on priorities.  See, it is easy to think everything is “crucial” or “urgent,” but the truth is…it ALL can’t be!  I have had to really rely on God to work through me, and let Him prioritize.  Of course, there is a ton of administrative duties, but the children will always come first!  The paperwork will not magically get done in the middle of the night, so if it doesn’t get done before bed, it will still be there the next morning.  If a child is very sick, this is not always the case, so that naturally takes priority.  Forming relationships with our staff and tending to their needs is also priority.  We have to keep them healthy.  The place simply could not BE without them!  We all come together to put the Lord at the top…nothing is possible without Him and we all recognize and receive this.

There will always be changes and challenges, but after 4 months of serving the Miriam Center, I know I am able to commit to these changes and challenges.  It was all mapped out, and I was prepared.  I didn’t know it, but my 2 years at Danita’s Children really served as a platform for this next chapter of life.  I could not do what I am doing without that experience.  I am grateful for what was and what is to come…

“For where two or three come together in my name, there am I with them.”  Matthew 18:20

Thursday, August 9, 2012

"From the Inside Out" Blog Series

Part One: “The Next Leg of the Race”

On March 27th at 3am, the journey began. The day had come to move from Danita’s Children (Northeast, Haiti) to the Miriam Center at NWHCM (Northwest, Haiti.) Pastor Daniel drove, Papito and Christ-tcherry sat up front, Emily and I sat in the back, Peterson sat on Emily’s lap, Carlos sat in the middle, and after 45 minutes, Sandley’s mom placed her baby boy in my arms for safe keeping. No tears were shed…it was simply an act of obedience on all our parts (this is a blog to come in itself.) We made record time…about 6 hours!

I got out of the truck, and immediately filled up with tears. What was I getting into? I felt uncomfortable. Had I really done what was asked of me? Was this best for everyone, but more importantly, would it bring Glory to God? I had to take a minute with Emily as I was already feeling defeated. We exchanged a few words (mainly her encouraging me,) hugged, and said goodbye to one another.

  (Photo Credit:  Jen Wride)

The next hour is a bit of a blur, but I do remember seeing all the children, workers, missionaries, etc. The wonderful staff at the Miriam Center immediately took the children from me. They were excited to have them, but they also knew it added to their workload at the same time…four more children bringing the total up to 48! Carlos made friends within an hour of our arrival, and was getting into trouble with his new buddies, Joseph and Mackenly, within two hours…haha. Everyone was happy to have Peterson back at the Miriam Center, and they all immediately fell in love with Sandley (aka Ti Baby.) I had already created relationships with most of the staff, so I was greeted with open arms too which brought much comfort. Stephanie was pretty sick and in her room, but I was able to say hi and give her a quick hug any way.

I clearly remember giving Papito a tour of the Miriam Center that day…I remember seeing worry in his eyes. He looked at me and quickly said (in Creole,) “These children need so much and they need you too.” I responded with a very familiar Haitian saying, “Jezi konnan.” (Jesus knows) Papito simply nodded his head showing that he agreed with this statement. That is all I needed to hear at that moment. This was certainly a step of faith that included a lot of change. I knew at that moment that change does not come without challenge, and you do not overcome challenge without courage…SO, here we go!

“See, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up; do you not perceive it? I am making a way in the wilderness and streams in the wasteland.” Isaiah 43:19 (NIV)