Dear Mom

Posted: January 4, 2016 in Uncategorized

imagesM & M are two sisters ages 17 and 15, that were adopted from Haiti in 2002. They, since their adoptions, have returned to Haiti a dozen times to visit their biological family and Haiti. This letter was written on January 1, 2016, during their most recent visit, and is to be given to their birth mom later in the year when she graduates from literacy class, where she is learning to read and write. During this visit, she proudly showed the girls how she has learned to write her name. I have known M &M and their adoptive family for many years and am so thankful for how they encourage the girls to maintain a relationship with their biological family. They will be back to Haiti in July 2016 to conduct a Vacation Bible School in the community where their birth mom and siblings live.

John McHoul

www.heartlineministries.org

January 1, 2016

Dear Mom,

We are very proud and happy of the success you’ve achieved recently. You are a very beautiful woman that we both love and cherish in our hearts. The improvements in your life are amazing, from taking care of your children, getting a job, and taking time to learn how to read. We hope that your joy continues, and if something goes wrong that you will look up. We aren’t able to see each other everyday, but we hope that when we die we’ll be able to celebrate with you in heaven. Until then we hope blessings keep coming your way.

Love.

M & M

A GIFT THAT MATTERS

Posted: December 21, 2015 in Uncategorized
Every year, we in the western world celebrate Christmas by giving gifts to others. For some this is easy; they know just the right thing. They nail it. The art of good gift giving is itself a gift. I don’t have it. I dread it, struggle and end up with Amazon gift cards for those on my list.  
How do we keep meaning in how we celebrate the birth of Christ? How do we honor Him and the people we love in a powerful way? How do we keep our gifts from being next year’s regifts? How do we love and give well and not be consumed by consumerism.  How do we keep from being the grinch?
I went to two Heartline sponsor school Christmas parties this weekend. The kids sat all scrubbed clean and dressed fancy while they sang and performed their Christmas poems while we watched. These are kids from really poor homes.  Every Haitian parent values education, I’ve never met one who didn’t. The costs are never ending. The uniforms, the books, the pencils, the shoes, the backpacks, and on and on.  It’s a gift beyond measure when these kids are sponsored for school. Now that’s a gift that counts. Every child, everywhere, deserves to sit in a classroom.
Another gift worth considering: The gift of written words.  We meet ladies who weren’t sponsored as children to go to school. They missed out. A book is a mystery and she guesses at medicine bottle instructions. She’s never read the Bible for herself.  She’s never read anything. Her thumbprint is her signature. Sending her to literacy class is like giving sight to the blind. She sees!
The sewing ladies make dresses, suits and frilly things. But what they want to make most of all is a pay check so they can feed their kids and pay their rent. They want to learn to sew to have a future, a trade, a job, a salary.  Giving to Heartline keeps these ladies in school. Finishing school could mean a paying job that gives dignity, food and bills paid. A worthy gift.
A Christmas gift to Heartline is a gift to all these programs. The dough boys who are learning life skills as they learn to bake bread. The cooking and baking class. A future job in a restaurant? The discipleship guys learning how to give rather than only receive. They are visiting prisons and hospitals. Learning how to minister to others and become men of honor.
The Maternity Center is where pregnant moms receive quality care and lots of education.
A gift to Heartline keeps all these programs going. A gift to Heartline is money well spent. A gift that won’t be returned or put in the back of the closet. A gift that matters!
Click here to give a Gift That Matters
 Beth McHoul

DETOUR

Posted: October 27, 2015 in Uncategorized

Our grown daughter and her family came to visit us last week for a friend’s wedding here in Haiti. She brought with her a husband, a father-in-law, one baby, one toddler and one niece, our oldest granddaughter. Morgan grew up knowing important things, one being how to pack a multitude of American items in several suitcases bound for the third world. She is expert. She did this countless times growing up. It was more fun than Christmas morning opening frozen foods, fresh foods, supplies and fun things. Our children know their parents well. Both of our kids went on shopping sprees to bring home the loot. We raised them well.

The week went perfectly. No car crashes with small children riding on laps instead of car seats. A tough call for parents who are an ER nurse and a fire paramedic. The oldest granddaughter fell in love with our little island. The wedding was lovely and semi on time which is a victory in any country. The week was good.

The last day was a trip to the beach. Sun, swimming, lobster lunch, and playing that led to exhaustion.

By 5:00 PM we were ready to travel the one hour trip back to Port-au-Prince. Lasagna would be in the oven for our last dinner together. Airport in the morning after a week of family fun.

We were ready to take off home. Sleepy kids settled on laps, we were crammed into the pick up, salty, still wet and tired. A guy wanders over to the truck. “Are you headed into Port?” “Yeah,” I answer, “hop in back if you want a ride.” “No, madam, I don’t want a ride and you can’t get to Port.” “There’s manifestations, a road block, no getting through, today or tomorrow.”

This is where the perfect week turns sour. I started crying and couldn’t stop. I called John and insisted he come save us on the motorcycle. As if he could get through and make it better. I had several folks in Port checking on the situation. The guy was right, the road was blocked, no one, not even heroic John on the moto could get through and save us.

As in all families we have our roles. I had done really well this week taking care of everyone. When my daughter saw that her mother was in a heap of tears she jumped into action and called her savvy Haitian friends for the scoop and help. They were on it. The granddaughter, awesome Autumn, stated flatly “If we don’t have a gun at our head, it’s still a good day.” She has her grandfather’s optimism. I found a towel, wiped my tear filled face and agreed with Morgan that we needed a plan to get them back to Port before morning for the flight back to USA.

A missionary friend who lives in the area came to our rescue by sending a young guy who could lead us another way back to Port-au-Prince. If you don’t know the roads in rural Haiti you can take a wrong turn and not know it until you are looking across the water at Cuba. We started out the opposite way towards home. Up and around we went through Verettes, Saut d’Eau, Mirebalais and over the mountain and back into Port-au-Prince. The long way around. Four and a half hours long way around.

I felt dread. Driving at night on unfamiliar often pothole filled roads is not my favorite thing. I’m sure I annoyed every on-coming driver with my high beams. I certainly annoyed my passengers by slowing to a crawl every time a truck came towards us but they were too gracious to say so. As we entered Saut d’Eau we were greeted by a life size, voodoo scarecrow character in the middle of the road. Then the silliness set in. Home made speed bumps on dirt roads tortured the full bladders and made us laugh. Babies slept and adult males put up with us while my daughter and I found everything hysterically funny. You know those moments. You can’t plan them but they are gifts. The gift of joy and laughter at what isn’t even funny when you are in your right mind. The gift of being together, finding joy in what a few hours ago brought tears. The joy of a detour. A very long one.

God does that. He interrupts our lives with detours. He often makes us take the long route because He has gifts for us. When we stop crying and complaining we can enter into these moments and find Him there.

I’m learning that God likes the long route, the whisper, the waiting, the slow and the still. Light speed doesn’t seem to be His thing. Dark, unpaved roads through towns that don’t feel like home seem to be more to His liking.

So, if you find yourself at a detour, pay attention, God might be directing the traffic.

Beth McHoul

www.heartlineministries.org

John’s Syrian Grandmother

Posted: September 7, 2015 in Uncategorized
grand ma

Beth and our children with John’s Syrian  grandmother

John’s grandma came from Syria.  Yes, that country of ISIS, that country with civil war, that country where people are risking their lives in non-sea worthy boats trying to find safe haven elsewhere.

She came to the US as a young girl and married a boy from Lebanon.  They had several children and John’s dad was the eldest of them.  Wedad was her name and she outlived most of her children.  She was tiny but had a full bosom and feisty spirit.

She lived to be in her nineties and was spunky until the end.  She made grape leaves, yogurt and kibby.  Pistachios were always available and stained our fingers red. Pita bread held everything together. Her house was a grandma’s house with bowls of candy my children would dig into when we visited.  The decor was from the 50s or 60s and it never changed.  The garden outside the back door boasted an abundance of vegetables.

As a small girl she lived in a different Syria, a different time.  She was Catholic and grew up along side Muslims but they weren’t allowed to play together she told me.  I never got to hear much of her history but I knew their names, Wedad and Mansour.  I ate her food.  Grape leaves were my favorite.

I think about her now and wish my children could know her stories.  I think about how her heart would break for the country of her birth, her heritage, her food, her first language.  I think about what she might have to say about the land of her youth. I wonder where extended relatives might be.

Most of all I think about her sorrow and how she said a parent should never outlive a child.  She carried that sorrow in her heavy bosom and tiny frame.  She’s long at rest now.  Her country has no rest and it’s because of my children’s measure of Syrian blood in their history that this chapter of human misery moves me so.  When I see Syrians, I see people with names like Wedad who marry young men with names like Mansour.  I see children, grandchildren and great grandchildren.

Refugees have names, families, friends and they once had jobs and a country. They once had a home.  They deserve a new one.

Beth McHoul

The Broken Helping the Broken

Posted: March 24, 2015 in Uncategorized

It’s coming up on a year since I, for the third time, ran and finished the Boston Marathon. This year I’ll show up and cheer my running sister and therefore I get all of the fun, passion and joy without any of the work. That’s a benefit of nearing 60 – you get the joy while passing on the work to the “smaaht, young people.”   I still run and have for 20 years. Just recently I noticed, while running in Haiti, that I find comfort in my surroundings. Dirty cement walls, broken buildings with street vendors sitting out front, coffee makers sitting next to toilet plungers for sale, donkeys, pigs, street dogs, plastic jugs of kerosene, and on and on, the random list goes of what I might pass. I jog by a mom with her child we delivered, and stop for a quick chat, several people greet me by name, I am known. When in the 20 plus years did this become home? Why is it a place that resembles Gaza does more for me than running in the fields of Vermont? Since when did the familiarity of a trash pile make me feel at home? Oh yes, rural Haiti is so very beautiful but not the city where I live. Yet I find a loveliness here, a knowing, a belonging. Broken me running along a broken street. Yes, I’m home.

Broken. I’m going on day three of broken sleep. Two deliveries and one gal in early labor, who is demanding to have her baby and thinks she should have delivered days ago. In between these labors we have program and yesterday was Child Development. We have a very poor, quiet mom who comes each day to take home milk for her 3-month-old baby that she delivered with us. Our ladies pump and we fill in the rest with formula when we have to. This lady fell into boiling water when she was a child and severely burned her chest and the scar tissue left behind yields little milk. Her last two babies died. We assume they starved to death and we are helping to make sure this one doesn’t. Yesterday she nonchalantly told me that her 15 month old died the day before. He had a cold. She gave him “chico” (third world cheese puffs) for breakfast and then he died. While absorbing this info I hear that a 5 year old visiting with his teen mom told our housekeeper that he sees men beat his mom. This is a girl we love dearly. I went home deflated.

Meanwhile Beth KJ, one of our midwives, took to chatting with the grandma of the baby yet to be born. Her daughter, who is in the earliest of labor, is sort of refusing to go home till this baby is out. Grandmas are fascinating in any culture and here they come with years’ worth of cultural information. What a story she had. Her own labors took many days so her friends and family took it upon themselves to speed things up. They gathered round and kicked a dog together thinking this would get things going. Poor beast.

Then when the baby finally did come, instead of giving him life-giving colostrum at mom’s breast, they gave the baby a concoction of amniotic fluid, mom’s blood and mom’s waste to drink. These are folks that love their babies just like you and I do. These are women that are trying to help and keep death from stealing their children. When a country lacks infrastructure, education, health care and good nutrition, then superstition rules the day. Superstition kills the babies and all too often the moms as well. We hear story after story that seem incredulous to us but are just fact to the one telling us.

Today we did our weekly teaching at the government hospital. We sing, we chat with each mom, we hope the nurses catch on and join us. I was drawn to an edematous, unresponsive mom with a man and sitting at her side. I tucked the baby under mom’s heart and dad tenderly held the infant at the breast. Mom, who has eclampsia, seemed unaware. Dad told me she had been seizing and he hopes she will be okay since she has 2 Beth at Cother kids at home. We prayed and as we did the baby began to nurse at the empty breast of a very sick mom. Woman after woman is preeclamptic here. This enemy of moms and babies fills the ward claiming lives one after the other.

It’s a broken world and here we are, all runners trying to make it to the finish line. Grandmas with their voodoo teas, men with their pounding fists, hospitals without medicine all fill a world we can’t fix. There is no stopping; there is no quitting. Only running step by step, helping all we can, for those we can, for as long as we can.

“Therefore, since we have so great a cloud of witnesses surrounding us, let us also lay aside every encumbrance, and the sin which so easily entangles us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of faith, who for the joy set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has set down at the right hand of the throne of God” Hebrews 12:1,2

 Beth McHoul

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I often hear from people about how much they enjoy the bread from the Beltis/Heartline bakery. And now this amazing bread has opened a prison door. ~ John

Guest Blogger: Nick Middleton-The manager of the Beltis/Heartline Bakery in Haiti

Friday, 2/27/2015

bAs part of the discipleship program, we have been looking to see if it would be possible to enter a local prison here for outreach.

Moise (Head of the Heartline Discipleship Program) started this process by going to the Delmas 33 juvenile penitentiary and asking for permission.  They told him he needed to visit the prison offices first.  He did so, and right away they told him “no” because visitors from ministries were not being allowed to visit prisoners after some opportunistic thugs used the praying/visiting excuse as a way to enter and break out some prisoners last Fall.

I thought this might be the end of things, but then had another thought.  I sent Moise back to the offices with a sample of our bread and a promise that if they allowed us to visit and do activities with the kids we would bring a gift of bread each time.

Moise returned to the offices with some fresh bread.  This made it to the desk of the Minister of Prisons who absolutely loved it and immediately made an appointment for Moise to visit with her personally the next week.

A week later Moise and I went together for our official “interview.”  Beforehand, we at Heartline were praying for favor.

cellThe head chief turned out to be a very friendly, Christian lady named Marjorie.  She gushed over how good our bread was, but also seemed genuinely interested in our plans for Christian activities with the prisoners.  She granted us a 3-month permission slip to do a Bible study and prayer time in the juvenile prison for boys.  She also encouraged us to look into developing a program for baking bread for the youth there to keep them occupied and provide some extra food for themselves.

We are supposed to give Marjorie a report after three months.

So the next stop was back to the prison.  With an official letter of entrance, we were ushered in to speak with one of the wardens there, another woman.  Surprisingly, she too was friendly, and after explaining what we were about, promised to facilitate our Bible study times with the kids.  She was totally on board.  Wow!

We were scheduled for another appointment, which brings us up to today.  Moise, myself, and the five discipleship guys visited this morning.

There were six large prison cells, each holding about 30 kids, for a total of some 150 boys ranging from around 12-18 years of age.

With several guards present, each cell was emptied one at a time.  Room by room, Moise explained who we were and that we wanted to share some physical bread with them, but also the spiritual bread of life.  Moise asked who would be interested in a weekly Bible study.  He clarified this wouldn’t be a weekly sermon, but a time where we could get to know them and they could ask questions.

Many kids raised their hands saying they were interested.  The warden told us to choose 5 from each room, which we did, for a total of 30 boys.  Many more than that expressed interest.  We took down the names of the kids we chose, and gave 2 pieces of bread to each prisoner.  They seemed happy to get the bread!

A few things I noticed in the prison:  1) The kids were clean 2) They were not in uniforms, but instead most wore non-matching T-shirts and basketball shorts 3)  I saw one young boy with a very swollen eye – one of the guards took him aside for a moment to ask him questions about it 4) Another boy told me they are fed twice a day, a corn-porridge dish for breakfast and rice and beans for supper, with meat only an occasional treat.

We left after an hour, with an appointment to return next Friday at 11 for our first official time with the kids.  Our plan is to sing songs with them, then some teaching, and then split into small groups (each led by one of the discipleship guys) for the boys to answer questions and discuss the teaching, and to pray together.  We’ll also have a brief survey for all the kids.

Keep praying for favor in this opportunity!

Nick

The Bakery Manager

The 1 Chronicles 16 Challenge

Posted: February 9, 2015 in Uncategorized

Back Story

ark of GodThe Ark of God, which housed the tablets on which the ten commandments were written, the staff of Aaron, and a jar of manna, had been brought back to Jerusalem. The Ark, an inseparable part of the Israelites’ history, had been carried by them during their wandering, and served as a focal point for God to manifest Himself to the Israelites. King David wanted to have it brought to Jerusalem, but he was afraid, after a man named Uzzah was struck dead, when he reached out to steady the Ark, after the oxen pulling the cart stumbled, as the Ark was being brought to Jerusalem.

We, in 1Chronicles 13:12-14  read,

David was now afraid of God, and he asked, “How can I ever bring the Ark of God back into my care?” So David did not move the Ark into the City of David. Instead, he took it to the house of Obed-edom of Garth. The Ark of God remained there in Obed-edom’s house for three months, and the Lord blessed the household of Obed-edom and everything he owned.

David, seeing how by having the Ark, Obed-edom was being blessed, wanted the Ark moved to Jerusalem, where it belonged. So he selected men to go get it from the house of Obed-edom. It was a joyous event with singing, instruments playing, with trumpet players walking before the Ark, blowing their horns, and even King David got involved, by joyfully dancing before the Lord.

The Ark was placed inside the special tent David had prepared, the people presented sacrifices to God, and they worshiped. The instrumentalists played and David wrote a song. And this is where we will begin the Challenge.

THE CHALLENGE

Over the next 30 days read this song of David. Read it slowly, while reflecting on each verse, even on specific words. I suggest that you:

  • Set aside time to read this song, apart from your regular time of prayer, Bible reading and worship.
  • Find a quiet place, where you can be alone. This may mean getting up early or staying up late.
  • Begin by waiting quietly before the Lord, by focusing your mind and thoughts on Him. If you, let’s say, set aside 30 minutes daily, spend at least 20 minutes of that time bringing your thoughts into focus. Spend that time meditating and dwelling on God and on His attributes. Once you have gotten to the place where you are focused, you will discover yourself to be more receptive to what God is saying.
  • Do not speed read this song.  Do not gobble it down as you would a fast food burger. Savor each verse, slowly drink it in. Allow the Holy Spirit to speak to your heart. Personalize each verse. Ask, does this apply to me.  Is this something that I should be doing?  Don’t feel that you have to read the whole song in one day. Take your time. Allow the song to minister to you, to reach your heart, to effect change, to bring you to the place where its words become your heart’s desire and your greatest joy.
  • I pray as we begin this challenge that there will be a fresh love in our hearts for God, a renewed hunger to worship Him and a fervent desire to tell other about our great God.

Let’s Begin

David’s Song:

I Chronicles 16: 7-36 NLT

On that day David gave to Asaph and his fellow Levites this song of thanksgiving to the Lord:

Give thanks to the Lord and proclaim his greatness.
    Let the whole world know what he has done.
Sing to him; yes, sing his praises.
    Tell everyone about his wonderful deeds.
10 Exult in his holy name;
    rejoice, you who worship the Lord.
11 Search for the Lord and for his strength;
    continually seek him.
12 Remember the wonders he has performed,
    his miracles, and the rulings he has given,
13 you children of his servant Israel,
    you descendants of Jacob, his chosen ones.

14 He is the Lord our God.
    His justice is seen throughout the land.
15 Remember his covenant forever—
    the commitment he made to a thousand generations.
16 This is the covenant he made with Abraham
    and the oath he swore to Isaac.
17 He confirmed it to Jacob as a decree,
    and to the people of Israel as a never-ending covenant:
18 “I will give you the land of Canaan
    as your special possession.”

19 He said this when you were few in number,
    a tiny group of strangers in Canaan.
20 They wandered from nation to nation,
    from one kingdom to another.
21 Yet he did not let anyone oppress them.
    He warned kings on their behalf:
22 “Do not touch my chosen people,
    and do not hurt my prophets.”

23 Let the whole earth sing to the Lord!
    Each day proclaim the good news that he saves.
24 Publish his glorious deeds among the nations.
    Tell everyone about the amazing things he does.
25 Great is the Lord! He is most worthy of praise!
    He is to be feared above all gods.
26 The gods of other nations are mere idols,
    but the Lord made the heavens!
27 Honor and majesty surround him;
    strength and joy fill his dwelling.

28 O nations of the world, recognize the Lord,
    recognize that the Lord is glorious and strong.
29 Give to the Lord the glory he deserves!
    Bring your offering and come into his presence.
Worship the Lord in all his holy splendor.
30     Let all the earth tremble before him.
    The world stands firm and cannot be shaken.

31 Let the heavens be glad, and the earth rejoice!
    Tell all the nations, “The Lord reigns!”
32 Let the sea and everything in it shout his praise!
    Let the fields and their crops burst out with joy!
33 Let the trees of the forest sing for joy before the Lord,
    for he is coming to judge the earth.

34 Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good!
    His faithful love endures forever.
35 Cry out, “Save us, O God of our salvation!
    Gather and rescue us from among the nations,
so we can thank your holy name
    and rejoice and praise you.”

36 Praise the Lord, the God of Israel,
    who lives from everlasting to everlasting!

And all the people shouted “Amen!” and praised the Lord.

***************************************************************************

I have hidden your word in my heart, that I might not sin against you. Psalm 119:11

Your word is a lamp to guide my feet and a light for my path. Psalm 119:105

Tuesdays and Thursdays are our favorite days of the week when we celebrate success. Fat, breast fed babies on their mothers’ hips file in and triumphantly line up at the scale. We love the chub and glow in the victory of successful breast-feeding moms.

On Thursday the bellies line up at the scale, then sit while getting their blood pressures taken and eat a high protein meal while they wait for their individual prenatals. Happy midwives palpate bellies, give stern talks on drinking water and teach classes on birth.

Wednesdays and Fridays are harder. These are the days that we deal more with Haiti, than with the program’s ladies. Lives are complicated and answers are not easy. Sometimes we have no answers at all.

On Fridays we interview pregnant ladies for our program. This week a 16 year old with a half hidden swollen belly walked in accompanied by her mother. Her story had holes in it. Dates didn’t jive and the story was incredulous, but very well could be true.  The story was painful, horrific, sad, and terror filled. She told us of kidnapping, rape, forced tattoos, and a vague memory of the events. Tears coursed down her face as she poured out a story that made little sense. We do know this – a baby is coming very soon and this girl needs catch up prenatal care and lots of love.

At almost the same time another of our pregnant ladies came in with her husband. We told them we had to risk the mom out because her health issues had moved beyond our level of care. Her swollen legs dangled off our prenatal bed, her belly huge, her face filled with sadness and worry. We told her to go to the hospital and do it right away. Both mom and dad hesitated and didn’t want to go. They said they would be worried about the safety of their other children. I pictured little people, tinies. No, their kids were 17 and 19, surely old enough to care for themselves. But, they explained rape and theft are very common in their zone and they couldn’t leave their children to fend for themselves. How heart wrenching to care for the unborn child at the peril of the grown children. How can a mom check herself into a hospital while paralyzed in fear for her lovely teenage daughter.

These stories leave me heavy hearted and I push to get through the rest of the day. There is so much we can’t fix. Broken Haiti is filled with stories of real women with hurts and lives that are beyond difficult. Poverty is the foundation for so many ills. We patch, we fill, we cement, but the foundation is still broken.

We have scores of success stories and many tragic ones. We deliver babies and wonder about their future.  .

Fridays are hard, Fridays leave me worn out and I go home and eat a glutton’s amount of chocolate. The opiate of this teetotaler.

I’m reminded of another horrible Friday filled with sorrow and death. That Friday long ago that paid our way to hope. That Friday of death and destruction that ended in Sunday’s resurrection.

That power gives hope to our Fridays. It changes the stories we hear, the women we deal with, the desperation they face. There is always hope, there is always an answer, there is always redemption. Jesus promised He would carry us through this broken world, these broken Fridays. We can trust Him.

“These things I have spoken to you, so that in Me you may have peace. In the world you have tribulation, but take courage; I have overcome the world.” John 16:33

Beth McHoul

The Janitor

Posted: January 4, 2015 in Uncategorized

I had been a Christian for about a year, and now found myself, after spending that time in a Christian drug rehab program, back home in a suburb of Boston. I got involved in a church there that was accepting of the “Jesus movement” types that starting coming to the church. We came, ex druggies and druggies, with long, unkempt hair, dirty and ripped clothes and yet, we were accepted. We, outside the church, listened to music that was radically different than the songs we were hearing in church. Some called it Jesus Rock. The church folks were patient with us.

I back then didn’t understand the challenges that we presented to this group of older, conservative believers. But they saw something happening in church, and they liked what they were seeing. The altar, after the service, would be lined with young people, non-church looking, acting and sometimes bad smelling young people, who were giving their lives to Christ, and filling the churches’ pews.

I learned a lot from the people in that church. I lived about seven miles from the church and not having a car I would hitchhike to church, often arriving early as I didn’t want to be late. Waiting outside, I would see some of the older folks come early and go inside, so one day I followed them and discovered that they were going to a prayer room in the basement, where they would pray for the service, for the pastor and for those that would be attending church. And so, every Sunday I would join them. I learned a lot there.

Interestingly and perhaps you can say something similar, the pastor was wonderful and though I attended the church for several years, I struggle to recall more than a few sermons that he preached. I was a faithful attendee at Sunday School but I can’t seem to remember many of the lessons, even the ones that I taught after I became a Sunday School teacher. Throughout the years I have heard thousands of sermons and preached hundreds myself. And I even struggle to remember more than a handful of sermons that I, myself, have preached.

Clearly preaching and teaching are an essential part of spreading the gospel and of the growth of the believer.  I, though, am saying that we can learn much from those that live seemingly ordinary lives but who touch us in extraordinary ways. Let me give an example.

In the town, nearimages where I was living, there is a Christian liberal art college. We would go there to attend concerts and special church services. I can’t recall the name of the pastor of the on campus church, or the name of the youth pastor, but I do recall the name of one of the college’s janitors. He had left the pastorate to take a job at the college, as a janitor. Some may see that as a step down, as perhaps a failure. But looking at it through a biblical lens, and through the impact that this janitor had on many students, and on those of us that would come around, I’m thinking that it was a significant promotion. This man, who would sweep and mop floors, and who would clean bathrooms and toilets, ministered to us in ways that a sermon couldn’t. He taught us by his actions and then by his words. I have long since lost contact with him, but four decades later I still recall how this janitor showed me Christ, by servant leadership. I believe that there are many serving Christ today that were greatly helped along by this servant leader.

It’s not my intention to trivialize or minimize the rolls of teachers and pastors, but rather to help us see the impact that servant leadership by vocation and calling can have in people’s lives.

Work willingly at whatever you do, as though you were working for the Lord rather than for people. Colossians 3:23

“You are the salt of the earth. But what good is salt if it has lost its flavor? Can you make it salty again? It will be thrown out and trampled underfoot as worthless. “You are the light of the world—like a city on a hilltop that cannot be hidden. No one lights a lamp and then puts it under a basket. Instead, a lamp is placed on a stand, where it gives light to everyone in the house.  In the same way, let your good deeds shine out for all to see, so that everyone will praise your heavenly Father. Matthew 5:13-16

It’s four decades later, and I haven’t forgotten the man with a mop, that has made a lasting imprint on my life.

John McHoul

OLEZ AND MARC LORY

Posted: December 11, 2014 in Uncategorized

Many of you reading this are familiar with Olez and Marc Lory, her handicapped 12 year old son. Many of you have visited her house with us in the community of Corail and have met Olez and Marc Lory.  He often could be found lying on a sheet on the cement floor. Clearly he had medical issues, but every time one of you took time to bend down and interact with him, you could see his excitement and the light in his eyes.  I’m sorry to write that this special young boy, who had been ill for several days, died Monday evening of undetermined causes. Olez had taken him to several hospitals but nothing seemed have helped, and sadly Marc Lory passed away. Beth writes below about Olez and her family.

Like many Haitians Olez goes by a few names: Rose Marie and Olez are two of them. I would name her Persistence, Strong, Bent but not Broken, Staying the Course, Fighting the Fight, Weary Yet Pursuing.

We met after the earthquake when the landscape was dotted with tents. On every vacant plot of land a community of tents sprung up all over the city. Olez and her large family lived in one. The baby, her grandchild, got stepped on in the tent so she came to the Heartline field hospital by night to find help for the baby. The child’s mother, Olez’s daughter, had died in that night of all nights on January 12, 2010. Crushed beneath the weight of cement she lost her life. Life itself almost crushed Olez. Hardship and loss are exacting their price, as weighty as the cement blocks when the earth shook.

Lise and Marc LoryAt the hospital Olez met Lise, (pictured left) a Canadian nurse volunteering at Heartline. Lise had been a child raised by her own grandmother after the death of her mom. Their shared grief instantly bonded them. They love each other still.

We have kept a relationship going with Olez. We moved her from the tent to a cement house in “Jerusalem” in the land of “Canaan”. A tribute to Haitian wit, this area was thus named after hundreds of tent cities were closed and families were relocated to this desert plain.

Unfortunately the old poverty moved into the new Jerusalem but in safer surroundings. Olez relocated with several family members. Her elderly mom, her husband, a few daughters, a deaf son, another son, and Marc Lory who looked like he had CP, all moved in together.

Our field hospital closed and we couldn’t keep up with the mounting health issues this family had. One young adult daughter was emaciated and in and out of the hospital. The husband had a variety of ailments. Grandma seemed ok. Olez worked on keeping them all together. Then one by one death took them. The emaciated daughter gone, the husband gone, a son gone, six in total since we met this dear woman. Their quality of life was poor, hospitals are over crowded, lab work was left undone, meds are often not understood-too little care too late. Doctors write prescriptions for medicines people can’t afford. Pills can’t cure a lifetime of bad nutrition and little health care.

The crowded house dwindled down to the sweet, twisted body of 12 year old Marc Lory and her deaf son. I sat with Olez once and asked her the story of Marc Lory, her handicapped son. This boy has spent his life on a sheet on a cement or dirt floor.   He was often soiled and undressed but his hair was braided. Braids of love. Braids that said his mom cared about him even if she couldn’t keep up with keeping him clean. Braids that said his life mattered.

She told me she had a uterine rupture and she lifted her blouse revealing a ragged, vertical cesarean section scar. The doctors at the government hospital got the baby out in time to keep him alive but not without profound damage. My midwife’s heart sank. Preventing such obstetrical catastrophes is one of the reasons we exist. Hospitals are crowded offering too little, too late once again.

RoseMarieOlez deeply cared, but she had to work and provide for the few people left in her household so Marc Lory was often left unattended for hours. We offered to try to help find a place that would care for this little guy and get him therapy and meet his medical needs. He died in the wait.

This little guy’s brokenness touched our own. I had a visitor to Haiti say to me recently that meeting him was the most profound thing that happened to her during her entire stay.   Seeing injustice, seeing unrelieved pain, seeing brokenness brings us to the cross where we look to the kingdom where things will be made right.

Come Lord Jesus. Come.

Beth McHoul

I have said often, that of all the people I know in Haiti, Olez  has suffered the most.  We would like to help her with the funeral cost which is way beyond her means. The cost of the funeral will be $2000.00.  This is for the services of the funeral home, the casket, the burial service, the location and food for a reception. Perhaps you have met Olez and Marc Lory and would like to help.  If so please click here and designate your donation to “OLEZ-FUNERAL  EXPENSE”, which you can do before sending the donation.  This morning Olez came to the office and she looked so tired, so weary.  Please, as well, lift Olez and her family up in prayer. Pray for strength in this difficult time.

John McHoul

The enemy of our souls always targets the little guys, the helpless ones, the tiniest. God in His wisdom created all breast milk good. Moms in fancy houses and moms in third world shanties can all feed their babies this liquid goodness. It is a gift. It is sterile, the perfect temperature, and is complete nutrition. So, why is breastfeeding such a hard sell? Why do moms who are resource poor disdain breastfeeding? Somehow they got the wrong message.

Every Wednesday morning we midwives and helpers pile into our ambulance, armed with gift packs, a guitar, and hope as we travel 4 miles to a government run hospital. The paint is old, the rooms overcrowded, the moms and babies are often two to a bed and the nurses don’t have modern, working equipment. The NICU sports a line of bassinets with too tiny, yellow colored, still, doll like babies. Their moms sit hopeful. We sigh. We pray.

We gather in the large postpartum ward and like singing minstrels we belt out a jingle each week with rhyming words admonishing moms to breastfeed their babies as soon as they are born. We clap, we dance around, and we make a scene. The nurses seem to like this and join in. It’s a little like church as we sing the praises of colostrum and mother’s milk. It’s a lot like church in that the enemy is lurking, attempting to harden hearts and block ears from such a worthy message.   We pass out papers with the lyrics, we pass out gift packs and we attempt to get the new moms hooked on what we are singing about.

We go from bed to bed. Most often the baby is bundled and ready for the Alaskan winter. Mom sits by weary with the cares of her life, she might be eating, visiting, or just staring, trying to recover from her birth experience.   Her life is hard whether she is a teen mom or a 40ish mom of six. Life isn’t easy and now she has another person to look after. Not much hope abounds in the weary, overcrowded, ghetto neighborhoods of Haiti.

Midwives, comrades and nurses, we spread out and visit each bed. Sometimes those beds hold a lone woman whose baby died. We cry with her, we pray with her. Other beds have twins. Still other beds hold two moms and two babies, strangers till they shared a hospital bed, blood and fluids mingling from one mom to the next.   We try to engage each woman. We attempt to help her baby latch on to begin the process of receiving life-giving nutrition. Most times moms state they can’t put their baby to the breast till the milk comes in. That could be two, three or even four days after birth. Word has it, from grandmas and aunties that colostrum is bad and must be thrown away. This first milk is full of exactly what a baby needs. Throwing it away is like throwing natural vaccines and health down the sewer.   So we strum the guitar, belt out the lyrics and try to beam the message across to the moms that baby needs this liquid gold and baby will thrive if given breast milk.

Moms light up when a baby who they thought couldn’t feed latches on and sucks heartily. We light up too! We feel like we are starting a little revolution that moms can join and their babies will be healthy. Lies are broken, superstitions are exposed, and light breaks through every time a mom who would not nurse puts her baby to the breast.

It’s deadly if they don’t: Diarrhea from bad water, foods babies can’t digest and fillers that rob their bodies take thousands of precious lives. If moms only knew. We are here to tell them.

After a few hours we pile back in our ambulance and drive the few miles back to our safe haven. Our maternity center looks more beautiful when we return. We check in with our postpartum mom who is in our bed with pretty sheets, in a clean nightgown with her almost 9 pounder at her breast. We sigh. Tears come as I think of the dozens of ladies we left in such bad conditions.

But superstition is never far away. The enemy is prowling and grandma is trying to buy off the devil. She states she must make a tea from boiled cockroaches and feed it to the baby to keep the newborn safe from evil spirits. Her daughter-in-law rises up in new mother indignation and threatens to call the police if grandma tries such a thing. Battle won. Mom listened in class every week of her pregnancy and she will have none of this! The maternal grandma tells us that she too is pregnant and has been for years. The baby just isn’t born yet.

These lovely grandmas, these matriarchs, these women who could be giving the new mom sage advice instead give wives- tales and fear based admonitions. It is their truth, their old ways, their paradigm.

So, week-by-week we bring the good news in prenatals and class at our Heartline program; in song and pamphlets at the local hospital.   Jesus came to set us free from superstition and beliefs that strangle our souls and kill our babies. Like Herod of old, the enemy wants to kill the children. We say Jesus came to set them free and they shall be free indeed. Darkness flees when light comes in. Babies thrive when moms understand to breastfeed. When superstition is broken and God’s light pours in, a culture changes and grows. The difference is eternal.

Beth McHoul

Port au Prince, Haiti

GUERDA: Mademoiselle Miracle

Posted: August 8, 2014 in Uncategorized

g1
We met Guerda right after the earthquake in 2010. She was 8 weeks pregnant and came in for a prenatal visit. She wore a Donna Karan cap with dollar signs all over it. It would be her signature lid for months. I knew her by her cap. That was just before I started to know her by her blood pressure. At her first visit I took her BP. I was a new midwife and the stroke level numbers the machine read made me stop, stare and go get another machine. Not possible. A young, thin, healthy looking girl can’t possibly have this high of a blood pressure. But, she did. She still does. We just know how to manage it better now 5 years down the road.

g2 We were still picking up the pieces from the earthquake and the Heartline Field Hospital was in full swing. As Guerda’s pregnancy advanced and her BP went even higher we put her on bed rest at the field hospital. She had a cot in our makeshift community and she joined in on church every night. She believed. She trusted. She lost the baby like she had lost several before.

Jonna Howard and I were the midwives on staff at the time. Every few days we would check Guerda, shake our heads at her BP in spite of meds and check the baby. Heart rate still galloping along. And then it didn’t. Stopped. Silent. A precious baby girl had slipped away and Guerda was left with the grueling task of labor and delivery. We attended her with tears of sorrow rather than joy. Guerda was quiet, sad and accepting.   Her husband was quiet and loving.

Guerda came back looking for work from time to time. I am still mocked that I tried to get her to use a solar oven to make cakes and sell them. Troy rolled his eyes when I asked him for the solar oven. Guerda hadn’t a clue. It was a fail. She came back looking for work again and we hired her to help out Cherline at the maternity center. She once again became part of our family.

Pregnant again and back on bed rest she went. This time we gave her a bed and a TV. No more earthquake conditions. Guerda set the TV on the Haitian gospel station at full volume and never turned it off. We joined in whether we wanted to or not. She prayed, she sang, she took her meds, she rested, she believed and her baby grew. This time the heart beat never stopped. Her BP continued to taunt us with high numbers but the baby girl persevered in growing and developing.   Meds that costs $15 US daily were donated to keep this high-risk pregnancy going. A box of meds costing thousands was worth millions and millions for the life they were saving. We all got involved, we all dared to love and believe. Day by day, heartbeat-by-heartbeat we were daring to believe that Guerda might have a living baby. We held our collective breath, prayed without ceasing and scheduled a cesarean at 34 weeks.

g3 Guerda, the girl who lost several babies at different stages of pregnancy came home to us with a living, perfect little girl! Guerda, who watched moms come and go in our program, now has a baby of her own. It is precious watching her lovingly care for this tiny miracle baby. Cherline calls her “Mademoiselle Miracle”! Indeed she is! I am so grateful for Guerda’s persistence, her trust in her Savior Jesus and the skilled team who took care of her.

“Weeping may endure for the night but joy comes in the morning!”

Beth McHoul

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

ImageWhen I arrived in the morning he was down, his legs had betrayed him, the lioness figure that he was, could no longer prowl about the property in stealth.  He lay on his side, swollen from inactivity, body worn out, age had caught up.  He lifted his paw, used it like a hand as only mastiffs can do, and reached out to me.  Recognition.  Love,

His goodbye was grand.  The women of Heartline, surrounded him, caressed him, spilled tears on him and each other as he slipped into that mystery of death.  He died in our birth room, a fitting place for a dog who watched over many women in labor and observed many a child’s entrance into the world.  He often stretched out in the doorway causing us to step over him when we went for coffee or a supply. Laying in the way but still on the job.  The sounds of birth never disturbed him but the sound of a man at the gate or an unknown sound would wake the sleeping giant and he could be fierce.  God help the man Marley did not like.

He ruled, he dominated, he loved and he won over our Haitian staff.  This is no small thing in a world where poverty has robbed the population of pet love.  Our precious cook, Gran Rosemon, had tears streaming down her face as she bid him farewell.  Cherline and Guerda spent the day full of sorrow.  This animal had won them over with his protection and love.  He spent many hours under their feet, protecting their turf, eating meat scraps from their dishes.

Books are written and movies are made about the wonders of dog and human relationships.  Once in while a dog is extraordinary and touches our lives and teaches us to love better.  Marley was a dominant male who had a knowlege of who should be at the maternity center and who should not be there.   A hundred women could step over his sleeping form and he would not move.  One unknown male at the gate and he would rise up, the years instantly shed, and he would bound toward the gate terrorizing the man who was ringing the bell.   He knew his purpose, he was not confused, he did his job well.

Finally the years caught up, his muscles wasted away, his beard grew gray and his legs gave out.   Thirteen is really old for a mastiff.  We said good bye.  A veterinarian,  a pediatrician, midwives, a nurse, a photographer, a cook and a housekeeper all gathered round to witness a canine life well lived and to support each other as Marley ended his days.

Even emaciated he was heavy so Tara suggested we use our stretcher to take his body from the house to the pick up truck.  The stretcher was too long for the bed of the truck so we used our ambulance to transport him to his burial spot next to our other mastiffs, Maguire and Larry.   This all seemed quite normal and fitting to us who loved him.  Cherline said “li merite” “he merits this”.  Indeed he did.

Our dog graves are on our land called the Okay.  There are several men working there building the foundation of our new maternity center.  The bakery is also there as well as our school.

It wasn’t until John called me, that I thought through the strangeness of a dog’s body in an ambulance.  He said the workers at the maternity site were astounded when an ambulance pulled up and a giant dog on a stretcher was rolled out.   They talked about it all day long!

He did indeed merit a memorable send off.  I am profoundly moved by all those who loved him.   I am so grateful to those who sat in a circle of love to say good bye.  Kelly, the most faithful and loving vet on the planet, Tara, Jen, Beth KJ, Jenny, Wini, Cherline and Gran.  You made yesterday’s pain so sweet.  And lastly Marley,  I thank you.

Beth McHoul

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