I feel an urgency to sit at the keyboard and spill out the story, lest my own heart forget. I don’t want the events to die away like the soreness of my leg muscles. Each day since Marathon Monday, I feel less aware as the glory of Boston fades, and I re-enter Haiti life which I love so desperately.

Like the Gatorade stands that gave energy and water, so God energized my soul through the process of marathon training. Like volunteers with paper cups of water God met me at every mile, washing me clean with heaven sent help.

I had only one goal and that was to finish the 26.2 miles. I’m older and slower than I was when I ran my first marathon 12 years ago but I knew I could still reach the finish line. What I didn’t know was how complicated training would become and how many people it takes for a runner to cross the finish line. My heart is so very grateful for the team of people that made this happen. I’m still overwhelmed by their goodness and love to me.

I flew into Boston a week early to enjoy my family who live there and settle in with my running sister Charleen. When I arrived the house had been taken hostage by a virus, causing hours of vomiting and diarrhea and days to recover from. Fear started knocking on my gate. After training in over 90 degree heat I was looking forward to a spring time marathon day. Day two after my arrival there was snow on the ground. Isn’t it spring yet? I couldn’t thaw out. I walked around in layers of clothing, dodging kisses from recovering virus victims. I did silly things like buy hand sanitizer and a fleece running jacket. The journey back to trust needed to happen. I needed to look back and see the hand of God through my training. I needed to drive the stakes of God’s mile markers back into my heart. I needed to remember He is faithful.

He is faithful indeed. Marathon Monday was a lovely day with spring sunshine and my fleece jacket got tied around my waist and given away as soon as possible. I felt great and was eager to run. The joy was palpable! Runners, at the starting gate,  seemed ready for victory. Fans cheered and there was not a stretch of the entire 26.2 miles that had an open space. Every spot was filled with fans who stayed from the start to the finish, many hours later.  Speedy elite runners and recreational charity runners all got support and encouragement. What a gift! What fun!

At mile 13 I saw Troy and Tara! Troy, the PR man had the camera and Tara was in running clothes. I pulled her in and we ran together the rest of the race side by side. It was fitting, we trained together and now we ran together.   Such joy!

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Beth and Tara

At mile 20 John, his sister, our daughter Morgan and others were there to greet us and cheer us on! What fun! Adoptive mom Karen came down from Vermont. Other friends were scattered throughout the miles and I heard their cheers.   At the finish we met up in the family area where cheers of joy greeted us. My speedy sister and Joanne from Calvary Chapel had finished earlier and were waiting for us.

Only the black toenail remains. Clothes were washed, planes boarded, and we are home in Haiti again.

My finisher’s medal is tucked away in my keepsake drawer. Marathon accomplished. I’ve slipped back into the never-ending race of life in Haiti.   It’s a race with lots to laugh about and some hard struggles with mile long hills. Heartline, with all its different programs, seeks to provide opportunity for men and women to succeed. So often all someone needs is a chance, a class, an opportunity, a skill and they are off and running.

We are still needing funds for the race. The marathon is finished but the race to help Heartline help others is still on. Join us! Run with us!  Click here to give to reach the total of $1000 per mile or $26,000

Beth McHoul

 

 

 

Monday, Monday

Posted: April 30, 2014 in Uncategorized

 ImageMonday. Monday usually means back to work. The start of a new week. Alarm clocks, deadlines and workday accomplishments.

 Last Monday I ran the Boston Marathon. I ran it leisurely and with joy, but it was still hard work. I look back and I see God’s faithfulness through all the training. I see answered prayer over and over. But it was still a huge effort. My muscles hurt, and I had to put one tired foot in front of the other. It takes a lot of energy to run a marathon, and you do a better job when you have a team. I had one. I’m so very grateful for them.

 This Monday I watched a marathon. I was not the runner, but part of the support team. Emma had a marathon labor, and at the finish line she met her new daughter Fritzline. It was hard work. Oh yes, we saw God’s faithfulness and answered prayer, but it took a lot of energy to push out a baby. She cried and asked God why this couldn’t be easier. We wondered that too. This marathon took so long I finally curled up on the birth room floor and went to sleep. You can do that when there is a team. Emma labored on. Eventually, after 24 hours of hard labor a yelling, gorgeous, baby came. The joy of the finish line!

 ImageEmma’s whole life has been a race without a team. She has lived in extreme poverty and has been forced to make painful choices.   When she came to us I doubted she would be able to come to prenatals every week. Her hemoglobin was so low I wondered how she would find the energy to get up from the corner of the one room house she lived in and come. She did. She never missed a week. She also never missed Bible Study. Not once. She lives in a volatile area where bullets fly around in the night and woe to the woman that goes into labor in the pre-dawn hours. Knowing this we moved her in with us for a few weeks before her due date.  

 Emma is at the very heart of our maternity program. This young woman had no family near by, no support, no way to keep her children. Circumstances took her children from her. She was alone and found herself pregnant again. Would she be forced by her lack of opportunity to give this child away as well?

 Emma gathered her courage several months ago, believed us, came to prenatals, became part of our lives and put herself in position for success. These are hard hills to climb. The hopelessness of poverty can steal away any flicker of life and change. Emma is doing it.   She is running a new race, she is going to raise her baby, she is going to succeed. We are standing on the sidelines cheering her and encouraging her. She and Fritzline – they are going to win!

Beth McHoul

Heartline Ministries

Beth ran for those that can’t.  Although she has run and finished the 2014 Boston Marathon, you can still help support those for whom Beth has run.  Click here to donate so that others can runs their races,

 

 

The Training Miles…

Posted: April 14, 2014 in Uncategorized

The training miles are done. Like 30,000 other runners I followed a 16-week program that started out with few miles and peaked at 2 twenty-mile runs and then tapered off. We run with little variation from programs like these since they are scientifically proven to get you ready for the big day. The marathon. 26.2 miles. Boston!

For 16 weeks, at our maternity center, different women reached their 40-week mark of pregnancy-swollen and ready, but not a one of them went into labor before a long run. A runner’s sleep and food are as important as the footfalls on the road. Not a run was interrupted. So different than last year when we could count on labors every weekend. The forces that bring about labor stayed still while I labored on the roads.

As is true in all of our journeys through life, some runs were easy and some were incredibly difficult. Each step was labored and awkward. Without reason my body, breath and soul found each step like lumbering through water and mud. Some days were just off. I had to push through. That’s where heaven steps in.

Other runs were easy, or sort of. As ultra-marathoner Barry McDonald reminded me, “Most runs are hard”. Indeed they are. Life is hard. Indeed it is. We push on, and that’s the point. The key is to run on with joy and with eyes to see the mile markers of God along the way.Image

In every marathon the miles are marked. Each runner counts them down as they run. From 1 to 26 to the finish, the mile markers are beacons of progress. The math gets blurry around mile 18 and the one thing you know to do is to keep pushing ahead, keep moving forward. Am I at 17 or 19? Did I pass 18 yet? Just keep plodding, one foot in front of the other and eventually a sign pops up.

My mile markers were many through this journey. Others labored with me and held my hand and kept my feet moving. When I was faltering on a road of puddles and mud (literally) my friend, Tara, stepped in as coach and changed the road and the plan. It made all the difference.

Week after week, without fail, my fellow midwife Beth KJ would wake in the night and send me applicable Scriptures to wake up to before running. Over and over I would sing, chant and recite those heavenly words. Apples of gold in settings of silver. The spiritual Gator-aid.

Troy and John did drop off and picks ups so we could run on better roads and avoid the mud, traffic and diesel on our local roads.

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Tara and Beth

Mid-stream I needed to remind myself why I am doing this. I’m doing this because we face evil, we don’t let bombs stop us and we come back when terror visits our lives. I’m doing this to raise awareness for Heartline. That every day women, against all odds, get up, have their babies, raise their children, learn to read, learn to sew, learn to cook and grab hold of success! Every day young men start up the ovens, shape the bread and learn the skills of life while they sell the bread of life. Every day Haitian women and men who have found their way to Heartline succeed. I run to shout their names and support their efforts to have a normal, successful life.

I’m asking if you will give money for every mile marker I pass on the Boston Marathon on April 21st. Haitian men and women face a marathon of their own each day trying to find work, feed their families and keep a home together. Heartline helps them to do this. Will you support them with us?

As we celebrate Easter I’ll be eating pasta rather than the traditional turkey in preparation for the marathon the next day. Christ is risen and that gives us the power to run whatever marathon life gives us. Let’s join together and help Heartline help Haiti!

Port au Prince, Haiti

Beth McHoul

Your support makes a difference.  Click here to give your support as Beth runs for those that can’t. 

 

Slinging Mud – A Gift From God

Posted: February 25, 2014 in Uncategorized

My weekly long runs are increasing in mileage as the date draws closer to Boston Marathon Monday!  There is no way around the weekly long runs.  They have to be done.  The body has to know how to put one foot in front of the other and pound the pavement for hours.  There is no short cut, no cheating, no passes, no talking yourself out of it.  

 Most of the obstacles on the road, I can block out.  The vehicles, the people coming and going, the trash piles, the goats, the occasional donkey, the dogs, and the heat are all part of living on this island.  I find comfort in these surroundings.  They are home to me.

 The one foe I have been losing the battle with is dust.  We are in the dry season.  Stretches of road have inch thick powdery dust, and as I run through it, I pretend I’m running through snow.  Now this takes a lot of imagination since it’s 90 degrees, sunny and I’m sweating profusely. 

 Each week after my long run I’d return home with an annoying, non-stop, incessant, aggravating cough thanks to the clouds of dust (not snow) that I has been plodding through each week.  If you know what Kegels are I need to say I have not done enough of them and coughing so much has been bringing me very close to needing Depends!  When my daughter jokingly asked, “Mom, do you have TB?”  I realized this cough was dominating my life. 

 I hate rain.  I just do.  Our roof leaks in every room although many visiting groups have tried to fix it.  Our neighborhood roads flood quickly when it rains; it causes traffic jams and all sorts of third world, lack of infrastructure havoc.  Never mind that it fills cisterns, waters plants and makes our little island green again.  I still don’t like it.

 Last night I set out my running clothes, my goo, my watch, my water money and my sneakers.  I set my alarm (which plays “Chariots of Fire” for encouragement).  Then I heard it: Drop, drop, drop, it was raining, and it pounded on our roof for several minutes.  It gave just enough of a downpour to make some mud, cause the dust to settle, put a puddle here and there and give me smooth sailing through the dusty stretches of my run.  My feet slung up mud, my shoes got wet and I filled with tears at the goodness of God.  Just a few minutes of rain and my run has become so much easier!   

 When we feel God nudging us to do something hard He has such wonderful gifts along the way.  My praying friend, Beth Johnson always messages me before a run telling me she is praying for me.  John always holds my hand and prays with me before I head out.  Tara meets me to run beside me when the miles are wearing me out. 

 Today He sent the gift of rain, the gift of prayer and the gift of friends.  Right at mile 10 Jen and Tara showed up to help me take it home. 

 It’s a gift doing something hard, when you get to meet God in new ways.  I see Him at every birth. A woman feels she cannot go on.  The labor is too much.  She feels weak and powerless.    God gives her the strength and she comes through victorious and beaming.  I see Him when we are at the end of ourselves.  I see Him in the rain.

 Beth McHoul

 You can join Beth by supporting her as she runs for those that can’t.  Click here for more information.

The Doughboys’ Baptism

Posted: February 19, 2014 in Uncategorized

Guest Blog by Nick Middleton

Awhile ago, three of the guys in the bakery/discipleship program made decisions to follow Christ with their lives (Richemond, Wilson, and Manno).  As a result, they wanted to get baptized.

Moise and I started looking around to find a place where we could do a baptism.  Moise is the Bible teacher I work with.

In the churches I have visited here in Haiti, I have never seen a baptismal inside the church building, like is common in the States.  I think they usually do it at a river or such.

Moise knew about a park that had just such a river running through it with a pool where he told me baptisms are frequently done.  We went and visited it during a weekday, and it seemed like an ideal location.  There was hardly anyone there and it was quaint and peaceful.  The park even had a short walking trail we looked at.  Voodoo paraphernalia was littered about said trail and stuck on the trees, which took away from some of the ambiance.  Moise told me that at night the park was sometimes used for voodoo ceremonies.

Finally the scheduled day came. Yesterday (Saturday) a group of us went out to do the baptism.  I was surprised when we arrived and the place was packed out.  It was a lot more of the happening place on Saturday afternoon than a weekday morning.

Nevertheless, we all gathered in a circle and had a brief service by the side of the pool.  We prayed over the guys and each of the three guys shared a few words of why they wanted to be baptized.

The Three Guys Getting Baptized

Then Moise and the first person got in the water.  Imagine doing a baptism at a public swimming pool on a Saturday afternoon in July.  That’s kind of what the scene reminded me of.

As Moise was getting ready to baptize the first guy, a rowdy fellow did a cannonball almost on top of him!  But soon some bystanders spoke up and told those being disruptive to stop and be respectful as we were doing something serious here.  By the time of the third baptism, many people at the pool had paused from their activities (swimming, bathing) and were watching us.

So it turned out OK after-all.  Baptism is supposed to be public, and this one was very public.  Everyone in the picture below was a bystander and you can see we have their attention!

Bystanders

Moise & Manno

Please be in prayer for Wilson, Manno, and Richemond in their walk with the Lord. Mesi!

Nick Middleton

Victory Comes One Step at a Time

Posted: February 13, 2014 in Uncategorized

 ImageOne step at a time – that’s how I run.  Can I do one more step?  Yes.  Can I do one more mile?  Yes, if I take it one step at a time.  That’s how our women get through labor – one contraction at a time.  Can they do just one more?  Yes, with support they can.  One more, one more, one more.  Then the baby arrives.  Victory.  Marathon work done!

 Can a lady learn to sew at Heartline and make a living?  Yes one step at a time.  Perhaps she can’t read to measure the cloth.  First step, literacy.  One letter at a time.  Can you learn a word?  Yes, one word at a time until it becomes a book.  A book becomes an open world most of us take for granted. 

 Moving the treadle sewing machine peddle one push, one stitch at a time until it becomes a dress, a suit, a purse.  One stitch at a time. 

 Day after day, lesson after lesson, a lady grows and changes and becomes confident.  She’s proud of her work. 

 One step becomes a mile.  My feet pound the dirt, the dust blows up, the vehicles swerve around me.  Fear tries to take hold at mile one spitting out thoughts like it’s too far, I can’t run this far, I’m tired.  Stop.  I tell fear I can do one more step, one more mile, until the miles add up to 12.  I did 12, next week 12 will turn into 16 then 16 will turn into 18 then 18 will turn into 20.  Then on Marathon Day, training will turn into 26.2 miles of victory.

 Any victory comes a step at a time.  A woman who has lived in poverty can make a step to take a class and learn to read.  A woman can learn to cook or sew.  A woman can have a skill and be able to bring money into her home.  Step by step she gets there.  One letter, one word, one stitch, one class, one semester, one year, two years, graduation. 

 A pregnant teen, an unwanted baby.  Fear grips like a noose, tears fall, someone suggests she head to Heartline Maternity.  She takes a step to enter our gate, a strange world where everyone has a giant belly except the midwives.  She fears us but is drowning in hopelessness.  One step at a time we nourish her body, care for the growing baby and earn her trust.  One vitamin, one meal, one class, one prenatal at a time.  Labor comes and she holds our hands, grabs our shoulders, cries our names and works her way through one contraction at a time.  We do it together – step by step.  She emerges a mother.  A loving mother, a victorious mother. 

 So this is why I run.  Step by step.  Footfall by footfall.  Breathe in, breathe out just like we teach our ladies in labor. 

 Our programs are free to our women but they are expensive to run.  Our budget numbers make me dizzy.  Funding is needed.  I’ll run to shout awareness.  I’ll run to state that our women are working hard to be successful but programs need money to function.  Dollar by dollar you can help provide what women need to be cared for and educated.  They do the rest.   They do it step by step. 

 Boston strong step by step.  Successful Haitian women step by step. 

Join us!

 Beth McHoul

 

 

 

Marjorie: Victim to Victor

Posted: February 3, 2014 in Uncategorized

ImageWhen visiting Haitian Creations, one of the first people you could meet is a thirty-two year old woman named Marjorie.  She is not much more than five feet tall, has a Minnie mouse voice, but she has the heart of Aslan, the lion.

On January 12, 2010 at 4:53 PM, Marjorie was downtown Port au Prince on the top floor of a five story nursing school, and the earthquake that killed 200,000 in Haiti, hit. The school collapsed and Marjorie was buried under tons of cement, blocks and rubble. She stayed there in complete darkness, unable to move as she was pinned  under the weight of the fallen school.

It was three days before she was rescued with severe damage to her head, foot and to her left arm, which had to be amputated below the elbow as it was too badly damaged to be saved.

Marjorie came to the Heartline field hospital shortly after the amputation.  She stayed with us for one year as she slowly recovered from her injuries.  She, while with Heartline, received physical therapy for her foot injury and we were able to get her a prosthetic arm.  Her road to recovery was long, slow, and painful.

Marjorie became part of the Heartline family.  We built a house for her family, as their house had been destroyed in the earthquake.  We offered Marjorie a job at Heartline, and gave her a place on the property where she could live while working with us.

I clearly recall the day that Marjorie came  and told me that she wanted to go back to school.  We encouraged her to look at places in our area and to bring us the information.  I remember sitting at a table and going over the brochures and choosing with her a school close to Heartline.

And so a couple of days later, she got all dressed up and went to the school to get an application.  Later that afternoon, and I will never, never, forget this, Marjorie came to the office and she was sobbing, her body heaving with each sob.

“What happened, what’s wrong,” I asked.  It took perhaps 15 minutes before I was able to understand what she was telling me.  She through her sobs and tears told me that the school would not accept her because they said she is sick.  She told them that she wasn’t and they said, “Yes you are, you only have one arm.”

Let me fast track here and say that the next few months were difficult as we worked to cox Marjorie out of the devastation she felt and that had gotten a hold of her.  But the heart of Aslan rose up and she said that she would try again, at a different place. And she did.

This time she was accepted and Heartline was there to help her.  We had a job with us that worked around her school schedule, she had a place to stay with us, and we for two years paid for her to go to school  as she worked hard and persevered to complete her schooling and get her diploma.

On September 13th 2013 Marjorie graduated and received her  Medical Technician diploma, which will allow her to work at a medical testing lab.

Marjorie had risen from the debris of the earthquake; as she refused to stay down and Heartline has been there to help, encourage, support, pray, cry and cheer her on.

Your support has helped Marjorie rise up from being a victim, to becoming a victor.

She will soon be starting her internship at a medical lab in Port au Prince.

Click here to help Heartline support others like Marjorie, that just need someone to believe in them, enough to give.

If interested in participating in Heartline’s sponsorship program, you can write Cortney at  <cortney.donelson@heartlinefoundation.org>

John McHoul