Thursday, February 26, 2015

I am sitting in an airport in Tegucigalpa, Honduras. Before we left this morning I wrote down the names and addresses of four private hospitals that were on the US Embassy's website. I put the paper in my purse and said a prayer that we wouldn't need it as we drove the two hours to get here.

The only concern I had before we left to come to Honduras was that my children would be sick here. And just 10 days before we were scheduled to come home Elena became very ill. In the past 10 days, 9 of them have been filled with very high fevers, blood tests, shots and round the clock temperature taking, and monitoring to keep her well. The doctors here think that she has Dengue Fever, but possibly something else. Yesterday as we were planning to finally come home - our flight was cancelled. We returned to the Orphanage, emotionally and physically exhausted.

Elena's fever became very very high last night and we were able to get some medicine to quickly bring it down again. Joe took the first shift last night and at 12 am I woke up to check Elena's temperature and give her medicine. I found myself on the computer researching all different sort of flight combinations and options to get us as quickly to the United States as possible.

Joe found me and quickly wrapped his arms around me as I had a little bit of a breakdown. He reminded me of all the ways we have been protected this far. The good health that we have had every day. All the options available to us. The countless messages in my inbox from friends and family letting us know that they were praying for us, thinking of us, and encouraging us.
There have been family who have offered to fly anywhere if we needed and family who has offered to pay to get us anywhere if we needed, and 'friend' family who have prepared our house, brought us dinner last night, and lifted our hearts.
Last night, a nurse showed up at our door (before we even called) with medicine in hand just minutes before Elena's temperature rose.

And we know that God is with us and is providing for all of our needs.

Last night after we turned off the lights and crawled into bed with our baby, I laid awake and thought of all the mothers who are holding sick babies. The worry and stress is suffocating even with options, but for many mothers there are none. There is no backup plan to get medicine. They cannot fly to better medical care. They can not just get cleaner better water. They can not afford the injections.
There might not be family who offers safety net after safety net, or community support at all. Many mothers are holding sick babies there are no options.

But there is an option for us.

And today we are waiting in the airport and we know that Elena will be okay.  We have asked for prayers and all of you have supported us and brought us before the Lord praying for health and peace for our family.

If you have prayed with us, we know that it's because you believe in the power of people coming before God and asking for change. In hearts or in circumstances. It's because at some level, you believe that God hears you. We thank you so very much.

If you have prayed for us, believing that God hears you, would you act with us- believe that God also hears all the mothers of this world? The same God who heals, and moves, and gives peace and who is love- uses His people to bring about change and love in the world.

Here are two websites to organizations who provide medical care for mothers and children.

After you pray today, would you consider a 10 dollar donation to either one? 

We would be so encouraged if you would let us know if you donated. Are hearts are lifted because we know that God hears our prayers and petitions on behalf of Elena, and we would be so encouraged to know that prayers have led to action as well. To help those mothers with little babies, who are fighting and trying for life. We know God gives life abundantly. We believe God uses people to show His love to the world.

We will keep you updated on Elena- right now we are waiting to board and she has a good temperature and is drinking and is doing well.

Thank you so much for your continued prayers for our family.
We know God is with us wherever we go.

Love, Kate

Hi All,

Just wanted to update you that after a two hour drive to Tegucigalpa yesterday we found out that the only flight out of Honduras (to Atlanta) was cancelled. We decided to not try to find a safe place to stay in the city with five kids while we tried to look for more medicine for Elena (who is still very sick)- but instead returned back to the Orphanage.

We are leaving in a few minutes to try again today.
We are figuring out multiple ways to get home and get Elena some medical attention.
Right now we are still planning on the flight to Atlanta to MSP. Please pray for good weather and good health as we travel with our family. Our kiddos are READY to be home and Joe and I are exhausted from round the clock monitoring with Elena.

We will keep you updated and hope to see you - stateside- soon!
love Kate

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

It is quiet. 

Our bags are packed. The bathrooms are cleaned. The last load of washcloths and towels are drying. Our shoes are lined up by the door. In just 7 hours we will leave Orphanage Emmanuel and head home to the states. Our first night here three months ago, I fought a small strain of rising panic but was filled with joy and expectation.  I was excited and nervous but ready. I thought I was ready. 

Tonight- I am tired. I am so tired. Our boys are asleep in bed. Our little boys whom we have asked so much of over the last few months. Our little girl's body is wracked with fever. She is lying still while this illness courses through her body. Tonight the nurse came to our house to evaluate Elena and while we waited for our daughter's fever to rise or fall we sat at the kitchen table and discussed the special needs population of children in the orphanage, and how best we could help take care of them. Today was discombobulated with impromptu doctor visits and testing and last minute odds and ends. 

I had planned on finishing strong. My last week was supposed to filled with important moments and meaningful conversations.  I had plans to end this time here with something like a party. We are leaving! We have done it! I wanted to do everything right the last week. Storytime, and bathtime, help with homework, give gifts and have a special goodbye with each girl.

 Some part of my pride was insistent that this was the way to finish strong. Instead- beginning last week- it felt more like I was petering out. Schedules changed and I ended up doing dishes more than I spent speaking with the girls. Elena became ill and I spent most of my time with my precious girl. 30 little girl's laundry overwhelmed me. A wonderful new volunteer came to the Little Girl House and instantly I was completely replaceable.

 And this quiet fade out slowly crushed my pride, until there was enough room for the truth to overwhelm my heart and remind me of what we believe: we are not here to leave our mark. We are here to love those whom God loves.

The world will try to tell me that I must leave my mark. Do something to say that I was here. 
 But Jesus just tells me to bear His mark, and acknowledge that He is already here. 

The world will try to tell me to be remembered. 
Jesus just reminds me that He has always remembered. 
Jose' , Jeremiah, Suyappa, my Elena- He remembers.

The world will say more. Do more. Be more. 
 Jesus says softly: Enough. I am enough.  

The world will say love. Love. Love. Love. 
But this is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid down his life for us. And we ought to lay down our lives for our brothers. If anyone has material possessions and sees his brother in need but has no pity on him, how can the love of God be in him? Dear children, let us not love with words or tongue but with actions and in truth. (1st John 3:16)

Yesterday I hung laundry in the morning light on the lines still damp with dew.
Tomorrow I will kiss 30 girls on the top of their heads one more time.

These are my actions and I will tell them the truth:

God loves them.

And it has been a great honor, a high privilege and a perfect joy to have had the blessing of being here to love them too. 

Friday, February 20, 2015

Hi All, Please pray for Elena. After days of unexplained, very high fever, her lab came back to conclude that she has Dengue Fever. We just need to wait for her fever to run it's course (7-10days) and monitor her with daily blood draws. For two days now her fever has risen too high and we've needed a shot to lower it. Please pray that this will pass quickly and she will be well soon. Also prayers for peace and wisdom as we navigate her care would be much appreciated. We'll be back in the states next week. I'll update as I have internet. Thank you friends!

Monday, February 16, 2015

Valentine's Day

This is Martiza. Or Marixa. The spelling is still unclear. 

Her birth certificate, and file in the office says Martiza, which is how I spelled it when I handed the fifteen year old a card about three weeks into our stay here. But man, oh man, did she come back with some words for me. IT’S MARIXA I was told. Which is more accurate to how she says it.  I was confused. I asked her to spell it. She took a crayon and slowly, very very slowly, made a M, R, I, X, A.  Her friend corrected her and she squeezed in the first A. Ah. I said. Now I know. Marixa. 
Marixa is the cook in the Little Girl House. She is 15 years old which means she should technically be in the Big Girls House. But is out on good behavior. She didn’t have good enough behavior, and wasn’t quite old enough to be a Big Girl Leader in the Little Girl house, but she did qualify for the cook position. So she’s here. Every day, heating up goats milk and making beans and rice and tortillas and chopping veggies with a big old knife.  She barely breaks five feet tall but is built strong enough to take anyone down. Her black hair reaches all the way to her hips and her voice booms across the whole orphanage especially when she is calling out to some boy way over there. 

She first told me she came here two years ago (that part’s true). She told me all her family was dead (not true). Then she told me she had 5 brothers and they all lived in Tegucigalpa (not true). Then I find out her two sisters are here as well, in different house.  Marixa’s a little intense. She knows zero English, and my Spanish was painful the first few weeks, so maybe we’ll blame that for the miscommunication on her past. Her laugh is LOUD and frequent and sometimes she accompanies it with the swinging of a dish towel. Everyone’s a little on edge around her, or as Dalia, the other Big Girl in the Little Girl house said, “Everybody knows she’s crazy.” 

Marixa and I have had it rough. The five other Big Girls and I figured out our relationship in the first few weeks. (They are in charge of the toilet paper and saying which girls are being disciplined- I’m in charge of the keys, the laundry, second helpings of food, and saying no to things.) I buy cokes and they share chips. I carefully walked into this relationship with these teenagers and the result has been true friendship. But oh Marixa. Four weeks in I thought we were doing well laughing and joking, but then she didn’t speak to me for four days. The reason finally came out. One day when I was walking by the house she called my name and I had ignored her. We finally clarified that it was because I had three children with me, was talking with another adult I was walking with, and probably didn’t hear her. But I was in hot water. 

We cleared that up and we were good. I spent extra time doing dishes with her. I brought her presents. I gave her attention and tried everything I could to get to know her. I thought we were good. But then school started. Marixa is 15 but is only in the 6th grade. She is unable to read or write so sixth grade is challenging. Not to mention embarrassing. She has to wear a white collared shirt and walk with the Elementary School while her friends go to high school. She hates school. With a passion. So the week before school and the week of school she hated me too. Probably because I existed. The behavior was really hard to pin down. It was a lot of yelling, but also laughing and manic and hyper.  I didn’t catch all of her words but even with the language barrier, rude still comes through. It didn’t matter what I did. This girl, whom I had carefully, and painfully tried to build a relationship with was only obnoxious back.  I let it go for a week before I finally confronted her outside by the mops.  

Marixa has been in more than just a few fights. Not just physical. This girl fights anyone that tries to get close to her. Friendship and vulnerability is her great enemy. A little girl’s great enemy. She is exhausting. And everyone tells her she is exhausting. Imagine fighting the world.  My pride wanted to punch her. My Mama’s heart  told me that she must be exhausted too. 

So, in my broken Spanish I told her how I very much wanted to be her friend. How I thought she was wonderful and smart and sweet. I told her she didn’t have to be my friend back but she better knock off her behavior or I was going right up to Carelia (the boss) and she knew what that meant. I told her that I loved her. I really loved her. My tears spilled over and I told her how sad I was but that I still loved her. She was argumentative. Then quiet. She wouldn’t look at me and didn’t apologize but didn’t pull away when I hugged her.

 The next day it stopped. Her behavior was calm. She brought me gifts of cups of coffee for a week and played with my children. Then Valentine’s Day came. 

I was mopping the walkway on Valentine’s Day morning when Dalia called my name. I set the mop down and went over. Dalia dragged me into the kitchen and I saw Marixa. She was standing there with her hands over her eyes. Dalia told me Marixa was just so embarrassed but wanted to give me something. Marixa covered her face and handed me bags. 

Inside one was a brand new skirt and shirt for Elena. Marixa was so proud and left all the price tags on. Brand new!! She kept telling me in Spanish, and over and over, I bought it I bought it!! There was a brand new shirt for me as well. With a heart on it for Valentine’s Day with peace and love written all over it. She insisted I wait and open the rest at home and when I got home and opened the remainder of the gift- I cried as it all spilled out over my table. Nail polish, granola bars, headbands, bracelets, makeup, necklaces, bookmarks, gum, candy, etc. 

You guys, this was the good stuff. After being here three months I’ve learned what has value to the high school girls (scotch tape and nailpolish, lotion) and what is on the low end of the scale (stickers). This was the high end stuff. This was either all her savings from Christmas gifts or  from sponsors or she made trades with others for all of it. A whole bag. A whole bag of the best stuff. I have never been so humbled as when I received Marixa’s gift of her very best.

 A note was tucked in an envelope for me. “To Key”. She had laid down her pride and had dictated it to a friend to write for her. The note spoke of friendship and love. Of course I read it through tears.
And sometimes there is striving and no good ending that you can see. And sometimes you just trust that God’s grace is there even if you don’t feel it. But sometimes, just sometimes- the gift is an actual gift that sits on your kitchen table.  

And please say it out loud for those who can’t read it. Love never fails. 
It transforms because it is true. God's love never fails.

Wednesday, February 4, 2015

Hi All!

Hope this Wednesday finds you well! School started for all the children on Monday and our schedule looks a bit different now. I do the crazy breakfast hour and clean up at the Little Girl House, see them off to school, then we head to the toddler house for the rest of the morning until school breaks for lunch. Then normal schedule from lunch on. It is BUSY but all still good.

I want to post some photos of their school - but until then here are some of the last days of 'summer'.

Love, Kate