madewithOverWe lost three women from our program today.  Three young ladies who were hoping they would deliver with us.  Three ladies eager to have weekly prenatal care, a meal at each visit, vitamins, class, friendship, and the security of knowing the midwives, who will care for them in their most vulnerable moments, when labor comes.

We are not a hospital and we do not specialize in high-risk care although we often are forced to be involved in high-risk situations.  It’s a catch 22 thing.  I sat with two lovely ladies today and told them their blood pressure is consistently too high for our program.  They are both early in their pregnancies and need specialized care.  More than we are equipped to give.  We told them where to go to find programs that are designed to help them.

But, will they go?  And if they do go will they get the help they need?  Will the long lines, hours of waiting, chaos and lack of friendliness cause them to give up?  Will they then get no care?   The system is difficult and almost impossible to navigate.  These two precious ladies may not get the help they need.

The third lady came in this morning in preterm labor.  She works for Haitian Creations and comes quite a distance across town to work and to be in our program.  She is 36 years old and this is her first pregnancy.  She and her husband have waited a long time to have a baby.

The contractions were strong and the baby too small.  Tara drove our ambulance and Wini took them in to the hospital we transport to.  They have a lot of success with tiny babies and perhaps could save this one.  We heard later they transferred her to another hospital that in turn transferred her to yet another.  Where will they end up on this critical, frightening, and catastrophic day in their lives?

The first hospital specializes in preterm babies and in obstetric catastrophes.    Why they transported, we don’t know.  Why did the second hospital send them off as well?  We don’t know.  As with our own program, having no space is often a reason for saying no.

Our dear lady delivered a 2.8-pound baby boy who survived only into the night.  Mom and Dad are now home grieving the only child they ever had.  We will support them, and encourage them to try again when the time is right.  Our hearts are heavy.

As all this is going on girls, from our weekly teen class, came bouncing in looking for their certificates of graduation from our Teen Ethics program.  They cherish their poster board certificates with their names in bold across the front.  I eye each one of them as they stride by hoping the lessons from their classes will embed deep in their souls.  I pray they will make good choices and that opportunity in this land of few opportunities, finds them.  I pray they don’t have babies too soon, have money each year for education and that they are not forced into bad situations.  Like teens anywhere they are full of life, full of joy, full of dance.  I pray the hardships of Haiti do not steal away their innocence or love of life.  We seek to empower them with tools.  Every Saturday they join us for skits, lessons, songs, role-plays and power points.  May they stay forever young in a world where many are far too old too soon.

We have a lot of success mixed with our sorrows.  Our ladies deliver healthy babies; our teens learn to make good choices.   Our women are empowered with more ammunition for having healthy babies and keeping them alive.    Sadness visits occasionally, a baby is lost, a mom has to leave the program due to high risk but for the majority help is found, community and health care works and the gospel thrives in the lives of these women.  It works.

Beth McHoul

Click here to donate and help Heartline continue to make a difference

Continue to read about Nick’s ongoing adventures as he oversees the Heartline Beltis Bakery

Bakery of Charity

December 26th, 2013

Someone from a nearby orphanage came by our bakery last week giving us a paper asking if we could please give them some free bread for their Christmas meal with the kids. 

That sounded like a worth wihle cause, so on Christmas Eve I purchased six platters of rolls (about 300) to donate to this orphanage for the kids dinner on Christmas day. 

I asked Bilhah, our secretary and cashier, to call the number for the orphanage (given on the paper) to let them know we would donate.  I also requested we verify where the orphanage was located so we could easily find them.

A little later, I asked Bilhah if she had called the orphanage yet?  She told me she couldn’t get ahold of them by phone, but Wilson (one of the men in our program) knew where the orphanage was and could deliver it no problem.

Sounded like a good plan to me. 

In the afternoon I decided to follow up with our charitable donations.  I caught up with Wilson and asked how the dropoff went?  Was the orphanage happy to get some free bread for Christmas?

Wilson responded, “No, I didn’t take the bread over there, Jovany was the one who ended up doing it.”  Oh, ok.

So I went and found Jovany.  I asked, “Was the orphanage happy to receive the bread we sent today for Christmas?” 

Jovany told me, “Oh, I didn’t end up taking that bread there.  Carl, our security guard, was the one who went and delivered the bread to the orphanage.”

I couldn’t find Carl, so I left the issue for the present.

Today I saw Carl and first thing I asked was, “Hey, did you deliver the bread to the orphanage?”  Carl speaks some English so I spoke to him in English.

Carl answered, “Yes, I can do that.”

I was puzzled.  “No, I’m not asking if you can do that, I’m asking if you went and delivered the bread to that orphanage on Christmas Eve? The bread we donated?”

“Yep, no problem, I can do that.”

“No, not can you do that, did you do that?  I’m talking about the bread we donated to an orphanage two days ago.  I was told you were the one who made the delivery.”

“Oh yeah, I did do that, I took it to them.”

“So, how did it go?  Were they surprised?  Did they say anything?”

“No, they didn’t say anything.”

Hmm.

Carl added, “I didn’t actually go to the orphanage because I don’t know where it is.”

Not too surprising. Wilson was the one who knew where it was, not our security guard.

“So, where did you go?  Did you deliver the bread somewhere?”

“Yeah, I delivered it to the grocery store.”

What?! 

“What did you do with the bread at a grocery store?”

“Oh, I gave it to Merlin.”

“Who is Merlin?”

“Oh, you don’t know who Merlin is?  He was the contact I was supposed to give the bread to.”

“Really?  So… let’s get this straight: you gave the bread to a guy named Merlin at a grocery store?  Well… did he say anything?  Like perhaps Thanks?””

“No, because Merlin wasn’t actually at the grocery store. I never saw him.”

“Of course.  That’s only natural. So who did you give the bread to then?”

“Merlin’s brother.  He was there and said he’d take the bread for Merlin.  I don’t remember the brother saying anything.”

I was a bit confused, so I went back where I had started and found Bilhah to get clarification.

“Bilhah, do you remember that bread we donated to the orphanage Christmas Eve?”

Yes. 

“Were you ever able to get ahold of the orphanage on the phone?”

“Oh yes, I was.” 

Aha, this would explain everything!  No doubt after Bilhah told me she couldn’t get ahold of the orphanage, she must have tried calling one more time and they answered.  In turn, they must have instructed her to drop off the bread for a certain “Merlin” at a grocery store.

I decided to make sure: “Bilhah, did they tell you anything about a man named Merlin?”

“No.”

“Oh, really? Do you know anyone named Merlin?”

“No.”

“Hmm. When you talked to them on the phone, what did you tell them exactly?”

“I told them we had a donation of bread and would drop it off directly at their place later that day.”

Oh, that’s nice. 

“And who again was the person who delivered it?”

“Wilson.  He’s the only one who knows where the orphanage is.  Because…. he knows the lady.”

The next logical question that came to mind was, “Which lady?”  But I decided to stop while I was behind.

As I was preparing to leave, a little defeated at my lack of being able to get to the bottom of things and wondering if our bread donation to orphans had instead went to the brother of a mysterious necromancer named Merlin, Bilhah chirped up with more information, “It’s really not an orphanage you know.  It’s an organization that takes care of kids…………”

By then I was already tuned out.

****

The moral of this story is if you want to know how something is being done, particularly a charitable donation, particularly in Haiti, you need to be present for every step of the process.  Giving money and walking away expecting for everything to flow how you would logically expect it to is a recipe for disappointment. 


 

Greetings in the name of our Lord and Savior, Christ Jesus.

I trust that today the joy of the given Savior is your strength.

Please receive my heartfelt thanks for being a part of Heartline, and for your love shown to Heartline, not just in words but in actions.

It seems that during this time of the year that I feel like the proverbial wet blanket.  In Luke 2:10,11 we read the words of the angel to the shepherds,

“Do not be afraid; for behold, I bring you good news of great joy which will be for all the people: for today in the city of a David there has been born for you a Savior, who is Christ The Lord.”

I can’t help but think of those who have not yet once heard the good news of great joy, that a Savior has been born.

It is a joyful time, one that merits celebration. It is a time for family, for the giving of gifts, for believers across the world to rejoice in God’s great gift of Christ the Savior.

I believe that the more we serve Him, the more we worship Him, the more that we love Him, and the closer that we draw near to Him, the more we will want others to know our Savior. The more we will want those who have not yet once heard of Christ, to hear and receive Him.

It is estimated that there are 2.87 billion people that have yet to, even once, hear the good news of great joy. They have never heard of the name of Jesus. I can’t begin to comprehend such as a figure.  Can you?

Our joy in knowing Him, should compel us take actions that will help toward all hearing about our Savior. It is possible and likely in countries where the gospel can be freely preached that many have not heard a clear message of the gospel.  What can we do?

1. We can pray.  Jesus in Luke 10:2 says,

” The harvest is great, but the workers are few. So pray to the Lord of the harvest; ask Him to send more workers into His field.”

2. We can let our good deeds shine. Jesus in Matthew 5:14-16 says,

” 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.”

3. We can go. Jesus in John 2021 says to the disciples,

“Peace be with you; as the Father has sent Me, I also send you.”

4. We can give.  Perhaps God hasn’t called you to travel to another country or to serve Him full time in evangelism. We can give financially in support of those who are in full time service.  We can support our church’s missions program.  We can financially support a mission that is proclaiming the gospel.  We can financially support a missionary who has, in obedience,  answered the call to go.

 Roland Allen writes,

“Missionary zeal does not grow out of intellectual beliefs, nor out of theological arguments, but out of love”

It is a joyful time of the year, filled with celebrations, thankfulness, family and friends.  And simply put, we want others to join in the celebration, but first they must be told of this good news of great joy. Because God loves us, we love Him, and we are expected to love those that He loves.  And so it is His love that compels us to go, to give, and to pray.  This is the Christmas story.

John McHoul

Guest Blogger: Nick Middleton

Nick oversees the Heartline Beltis Bakery, which is a part of the Heartline Men’s Discipleship Program. He writes:

“My first time to Haiti was a short term missions trip in Spring of 2011.  On that trip I felt a special bond to this country.  To be honest, it was a type of love-hate bond.  Now it’s mostly love, I think.  Since then, I’ve returned to Haiti twice short term working in an orphanage and then later with Heartline seven months in their driver position.  I had the cool opportunity to spend last summer living in a fishing village working to learn Creole.  Now I’m back with Heartline helping in their men’s discipleship program which I’m really excited about!  I’m planning to spend more time in Haiti and currently call it home.  The weird thing is my vocational background is aerospace engineering.  Go figure!”

Click on the link below to read about his adventure in trying to find small change for the bakery.  He later told me that he did find a place to change a 1000 gde bill, and after getting back to the bakery with the change, the place he changed the money with sent someone to tell Nick that the 1000 gde bill he gave to them was fake.  YIKES!

Finding Small Change in Haiti is an Uphill Battle

Haiti_money_coins

We at Heartline often ask, “How hard can it be?  Well, follow this series and find out.

This is the second post in the How Hard Can It Be Series.

Click here to read the first post: How Hard Can It Be To Pay For A Sponsor Student

ImageI gave a passionate speech to 13 American volunteers.  I told them we have a young woman, a new mom, struggling at death’s door and she needs their blood.   They faced whatever fears they had about giving blood in Haiti and climbed into our ambulance ready to give of their rich, red goodness to others in need.  The hospital told us our gal needed two units, we would give 13 – what a deal!  We would be helping our own maternity center mom and we would be helping others who desperately need blood.  They were ready to give.  We would fight the traffic, make our way downtown to the hospital, and give life.   Hospital number one gave instructions to give the blood at the center downtown.  We did what we were told.  The atmosphere in the ambulance was joyful.  This group had come to serve, give and love.  They would spend their evening on a table with a tube filling a bag of blood for others.  There is something profound about this: Giving blood for others who will never know you gave.  Giving so others can live.

The darkness hides how ugly the hospital’s grounds are.  A government hospital, funds are stretched, it’s shocking to sheltered eyes.  We park in the blackness, make our way to the office for giving blood, and pile in where we meet “Miss Fancy Pants” who speaks only French.  In Haiti we speak Creole and French (All Haitians speak Creole, but not all speak French).  She looked at our group with distain, told our nurse Wini, who can match her French fluently, that she only takes blood if it is for a patient at this hospital.  I’m thinking do the math sista.  We need two units, we give 13, and your hospital gets a giant gift.  Take two units each from these strapping, beefy American guys!  They will never miss it!  This is a gift, a herd of blood rich Americans landed in your office.  Get out your equipment fast!

No way.  Miss “Speaks only French” sends us off with tight lips and a sour attitude.  I don’t want to misbehave in front of this group of Americans so I keep my English/bad Creole mouth shut.  I’m aggravated and later sad that in my adopted country we have people that think they are too good to speak the language of the people even though they are Haitian.

Have it your way Fancy Pants, we are off to site number two to offer the blood from our veins.  We’ve got all night.  Meanwhile our patient who has a hemoglobin of 5 is laying in a pick up truck because she can’t sit up in the hospital triage.

At site number two we send in Wini, the lovely Haitian nurse on our staff who leads with grace, politeness and French if needed.  Wini returns to our ambulance with a downtrodden face.  “It is after 7:00 PM and they say it is too late to give,” she says.  But Kelly (the American vet who helps both people and animals and who has taken in our patient) is willing to sit all night and wait for the two units of blood while we go to a third spot hoping to give.

Off we go again.  We have given blood here before at all hours of night and day.  They are open 24/7.  Wini again is our ambassador of politeness and goes before us offering gifts of red gold.  People die here and often for lack of blood.  Once again she comes back to the vehicle, face down, the bearer of bad news.  The tech was not interested in working this late at night even though she was there and the office within the hospital was open.  Nope.  Won’t do it.  We took our blood filled bodies and went home.  So, here’s the truth of the matter.   People often die because blood cannot be found.

I sit in our air-conditioned, fuel filled, top running ambulance that just went from place to place trying to give and receive blood.  This running to and fro is also expected from family members of anyone sick and needing blood or supplies like meds, IV supplies and so on.  So poor folks, with little money, have to navigate this system, ride on public transportation and hope pharmacies, and wherever they are instructed to go have the supplies their loved one needs.  People sit all day and into the night waiting to give and receive blood.  Many times their loved one dies while they wait.

This system is not “family friendly”!  It is hard.   Trying to get what you need at free hospitals is not free, is not easy and often does not happen.   People grow weary and even more impoverished trying to get what their sick family member needs.

We return to our guesthouse with as much blood in our veins as when we left.  We lost, Haiti lost, sick people lost, opportunity lost.

Kelly persevered and our very sick HELLP syndrome gal got a unit of blood this morning.  She has been through the doors of seven hospitals trying to get the help for HELLP that she needs.   Each hospital has done what they could and pushed her out because they are overcrowded, understaffed or don’t know what else to do.  We’ll keep on.  Her life is important.  She is our patient and we won’t let go.  It shouldn’t be this hard but it is.

We press on.

Beth McHoul

Postscript

Beth had posted on Facebook about her experience with trying to give blood and a friend who is a medical officer at the US Embassy in Haiti saw the post and contacted the head of the Red Cross here in Haiti and told her about Beth’s post.  The director gave her phone number and asked that Beth would call her.  Today, Beth did call her and the director was profusely apologetic and told Beth that she already had had meetings over the incident and that there have been other complaints.  She assured Beth that she will work so that this doesn’t happen again and she told Beth to call her directly if she again encounters such issues.

We here at Heartline can often be heard asking, “How hard can it be?” We usually ask this facetiously, as often the seemingly simple tasks can end up being incredibly difficult or complicated and time consuming.

ImageThis week I asked one of the Heartline staff to go the infamous slum Cite Soleil to pay the school that some of our sponsor students attend. Normally, he could be there and back in about one hour if he went on a motorcycle taxi.  But after three hours he hadn’t returned, and I became a tad concerned.

Now in Haiti, it often takes longer to get things done due to an mélange of reasons, circumstances and situations.  The most common reason these days is traffic, traffic, and more traffic.   After about four hours, he finally came back to the office and I could see by his face that what should have been relatively easy, had not been, and so I said, “Tell me what happen.”

He told me that he had paid the school and then he spent two hours hiding behind buildings because the Haitian police and the UN were in a gun battle with some of the gang members.  Finally he was able to navigate his way out of the slum, where he then was held at gunpoint (big guns) by the police, who suspecting him of being a gang member, told him, not in a gentle way, to lie on the ground. He, instead, lifted his hands and told them that he was there to pay a school bill, that he was not a gang member and that he didn’t have a gun.  They then, not so gently, frisked him and asked for some id.  He showed them his license, which didn’t impress them and then he showed them his Heartline id card and the receipt that he had gotten from the school.   This satisfied the police, who then let him go, but not before telling him that he was stupid to be in Cite Soleil that day.

In many respects the above is not an unusual day for us and other such organizations here in Haiti that are working to make a difference.  Helping people is not always easy, but that isn’t a reason to stop trying.  Often here in Haiti, what seems simple can be tremendously difficult.  And so I often think of the words found in Hebrews 12:1,2:

 “And let us run with endurance the race God has set before us.  We do this by keeping our eyes on Jesus, the champion who initiates and perfects our faith.  Because of the joy awaiting him, he endured the cross, disregarding the shame.  Now he is seated in the place of honor beside God’s throne.”

We then, by reading and believing these scriptures, gain the strength, determination, and heart to push on.  The sponsorship program is an investment into the lives of children and our hope in their children and children’s children, as well.  Is it easy, usually not?  Is that enough to stop us, no?

Some may wonder why we would go through this?  Why would we put ourselves in harms way?  The answers are simple really. We are grateful for what we have been given, and want others, especially those who would not have such opportunities without help, to be given a chance.

In Haiti, it is difficult to rise up out of the grasp of poverty without an education.  Those that have an education have opportunities to get a good job and can break the cycle of poverty that has held them in its grip.

We want these kids to know that there are people who believe in them.  We want them to know that there are sponsors that live hundreds of miles away, who they will probably never meet but who care enough to sponsor them.

We want them to know that God loves them, as do we, and we want them to understand that God’s love compels us to do what we can to make a difference and sponsoring a student is a wise investment into the life of the student, his family and into the nation of Haiti.

We are grateful for all you that sponsor through the Heartline programs and who support Heartline as we endeavor to be the hands of Jesus to the people of Haiti.    Check us out and see if you would like to join us and we live and minister in Haiti.

John McHoul

Heartline Ministries

Driving in Haiti

Image

 Initially, and even longer, it may seem to you that driving in Haiti is like the demolition derby or like a swarm of bees buzzing around.   But don’t worry, after a few days, you’ll fit right in with the rest of Haiti’s drivers.  Below are several suggestions to help you as you learn the art of driving in Haiti.

 1. Be sure that your driver’s license, and the insurance and plates for the vehicle are current.  And be sure that you have your license with you when driving.

 2. Police checks are common and generally the police want to see your license and the vehicle’s papers (insurance and registration).  If the papers are expired, you very likely will get a ticket.

 3. Tickets can be given for a number of reasons and recently Heartline folks have received tickets for: Not using the seatbelt/talking on cell phone while driving/having lights out.  If you get a ticket, the police will take your license until the ticket is paid.

 4. If in an accident, don’t panic and don’t allow yourself to be intimidated by the driver of the other vehicle or by those who have gathered around.  Call us for help.  Do not, if in an accident with significant damage, move the vehicle unless instructed to do so by the police or by an official from insurance.

 5. Use your horn

 6. When making a left hand or right hand turn, ALWAYS check your side mirrors.  Vehicles, motos, and bicycles, will often pass you on the side that you will be turning, even if your blinker is on or even if you are hand signaling like a wild person.

 7. Be sure of what fuel the vehicle uses: Diesel or Gasoline.  And check the dollar amount pumped before you pay.

 8. Be aware of what is happening around you.  A vehicle that has its right blinker on only means that the right blinker on.  The driver could turn left.

 9. If the vehicle has an issue, or if you have an accident, please let the Heartline office know.

 10. Vehicles are expensive; please drive carefully.

 11, Lastly, remember in Haiti it doesn’t matter until it matters and then it matters. You may be stopped for not having a seatbelt on as one hundred cars pass on by without the drivers’ having their seatbelts on. Well, for you, at that moment it mattered.  When the police stop you DO NOT ACT ANGRY OR RUDE, just go with the flow, and be polite.  Most time the stop is just routine, others times it may matter.

 QUIZ:  (20% is the required passing rate)

1. If a driver has his arm out the window and is signaling as if he will turn left, what does that mean:

a. He will turn left

b. He will turn right

c. The window is open

d. He will go straight

 

2. How many people can fit in a taptap:

a. 25

b. One more

c. 20

d.15

 

3. When driving, make sure that the vehicle has:

a. A motor

b. A steering wheel

c. Brakes

d. A horn

 

4.  A rock is used for:

a. An emergency brake

b. A hammer

c. To put under the jack when jacking up the vehicle

d. All of the above

 

5. Some of the best entertainment to be found in Haiti is:

a. When stuck in a big time traffic jam

b.  At the theater

c.  On television

d.  At a concert

 

ANS:  1-C, 2-B, 3-D, 4, D, 5-A

COMMUNITY CARE

Posted: September 27, 2013 in Uncategorized

Driving moms and their babies home is usually Tara’s job.  She loves it.  Since she is away for a couple of months, I’ve taken over a few of her jobs.  Paperwork, yes, it is a mess.  Try as I might, I’m not good at documents, files, due dates, lists, and proper paperwork.  From across the electronic miles Tara and Beth C. are working to set it right, but I’m afraid I am hopeless.

I have though, become good at, and am enjoying, driving new families home.  I’ve not had an accident with the ambulance, not gotten too lost and I have avoided police stops.

ImagePart of the deal when moms deliver with us is they stay in our post postpartum until they feel ready to go and then we take them home.  Home can be a USAID tent, with or without a roof, or a cement house that looks pretty okay.  We have women at different economic levels in our program.   I’ve noticed that regardless of their economic status our ladies are rich in community.  As we wind down a dirt road barely big enough for the vehicle and come to a stop people come out of nowhere.  Squeals of delight meet us.  The mom and baby are welcomed, hugged, prayed with, hugged again and mom is swept off her feet as she is ushered into the house, be it a tiny cinder block house or a bigger house.  Grandma grabs and inspects the baby and declares the child perfect.  Siblings grab at the baby while they ooh and aah.  There is delight all around.  Recently (and I wasn’t on this run, I was back at the maternity center delivering another baby) the whole crowd erupted in worship.

worshipI am seeing this over and over again.   Post postpartum depression doesn’t have a chance in these neighborhoods.  Women like each other, they support each other, and they watch each other’s kids.  Family is extended and they raise each other’s children.  Relationships are close.   They fight, sure, but all families do.

We tend to get women from the same neighborhoods because they tell each other about the program and then advocate for their friend to get in.  It’s all about relationship.  Over and over I hear, “Madame John you must take her in, she is my friend.”  It trumps everything else.  I tell them we are full, her due dates aren’t dates we can do right now, she is too far along etc.  It doesn’t matter because friendship is involved and that cancels out all the “no’s” I can muster.  You can’t fight friendship.

Yesterday we drove a bunch of ladies home who live in the same neighborhood.  The ambulance, the all-important somber ER on wheels, was transformed by a howling, laughing, joking group of silly women.   We drove from house to house, had to get out, take photos, meet the family and the onlookers and then move on.  Each lady was gracious and proud to have us.  Poverty lost its power to joy and community.   Love pulsated in the air.   Our differences melted away.

Each house was in a group of other houses.  Small, open windows, open doors, open life.  Not much privacy but tons of community.    I’m thinking these ladies are rich indeed.

Beth McHoul

Heartline Maternity Center

Port au Prince, Haiti

Your prayers and financial support are making a difference in the lives of our ladies and their children.  Your help is needed.  Please, make a difference-DONATE TODAY

BPSometimes I stare at the blood pressure machine dumbfounded at the staggering numbers.  Since we take so many blood pressures in a day we use a digital machine that squeezes the upper arm and displays the news – good or bad.  I always agree when the numbers are good.  When they are bad I’m suspicious, blame the gadget and run for the manual and stethoscope.  The numbers are the same with both machines.  Way too high.  Killer high.

Pregnant teens, middle-aged women, skinny and chubby walk around Haiti with a ticking time bomb in their hearts and brains.   This week the bomb went off and took the life of a 37 year old mom who had been through our program.

She was poor, very poor.  A lifetime of an unhealthy diet, dehydration and stress can wear a body out far too soon.    She left behind children who won’t have a mother.  She left behind friends, ladies as poor as she was and they wonder if they will be next.  In fact, they might be.

These ladies live a day at a time with no focus or preparation on tomorrow.  They don’t have that luxury.  A screaming tooth must be pulled.  A flow of diarrhea must be stopped.  These things they know, they feel them, they can see them.  Blood pressure is stealth, silently causing damage until we explode.  Why treat what we can’t see?  Why take meds for pain we don’t feel.  Why spend money on meds when food is needed.   School bills need to be paid.  Haitian moms value school for their children and will sacrifice much for their child to go to school.

On Fridays we have a circus of activities going on at once.  It all starts with Bible Study.  Ladies gather on the porch and sit through a teaching by Agathe as they wait to get results of a pregnancy test, family planning, blood pressure meds or have another need addressed.

Our nurse Wini counts out meds like a pharmacist and sets people up to be on their regiment of  life savers.  She explains the dosages and tells them what day to return.  She either smiles or frowns according to the numbers displayed on one of our many BP machines.  She lectures, she teaches, she’s gentle and kind.  She hopes she gets through.  She knows what a stroke can do, she takes care of her own mom who had one.  Wini knows.

Our program is free and yet many still don’t take their meds.  Lives are complicated.  They miss their return day.  Pills get lost.  Pills get forgotten.  Blood pressure rises.  Disaster might be around the corner.

nonameMari’s death is a sad reminder of intangible killers.  Generational poverty kills and these women have no way out.   They hope and pray for better for their children, that’s why they sacrifice so much to put their children in school.

Change is slow but can and does happen.   Each program at Heartline is designed to bring about growth and change.  Women are being educated who can make money and buy better quality food.  Women are sitting through classes hearing truth that enables them to make better choices.  Women are getting some medical care and their needs addressed.  Women are being encouraged and loved.  This makes a difference and brings about trust and change.

And change makes my blood pressure go down!

Beth McHoul

Some of you may know Mari through the blog that Beth wrote in June 2011.  Please click on the link below to read about Mari.

 https://johnmchoul.wordpress.com/2011/06/11/mari/

TEEN TALK by Beth McHoul

Posted: August 9, 2013 in Uncategorized

Thirteen – they all seem to be thirteen.  Adorable, tiny, and most have little understanding about what is happening to their body.    A positive pregnancy test and they are ushered into our program like they have a fast pass at Disney.  The ride they are heading on is a bumpy one.  But they already know trauma.  They were raped or coerced or just wanted to be loved and probably had no idea it could bring about a baby.

We sat with a 13 year old yesterday and heard her story yet she doesn’t even know her story.  Pregnant but she never knew it, had pain, that she knew, and then she ended up with a cesarean section.  She’s told she had a baby but she has no understanding or connection with that.   True story.

Heartbreaking.

We have another teen that for the first several weeks of her prenatal care was disinterested, flat, bored with us and unfaithful in attendance.  During a prenatal I explained how our little machine could hear the baby’s heartbeat and together we heard the thump, thump, thump of a heartbeat twice the speed of an adults.  I looked up to tears streaming down the face of this teen.  Connection.  Love.  Faithful attendance and engagement.  Hooked by the power of mother love.  She will need lots of support and help but she is on the road to keeping and raising her little one.  She can do it!

Another 13 year old with a positive pregnancy test.  She escapes us and the truth momentarily by hiding her face under our pillow.   She cries and we send for family to talk to.  She returns the following week and her test is negative.  Her stories don’t jive.  We do an exam, treat her for infections, she eats food and hangs out with us all day.  She basks in the love of our community.

It has long been our policy to accept older pregnant women and teen pregnant girls into our program.  The older women who have had many children tend to hemorrhage and die during childbirth at home and leave a family full of orphans.  We have drugs and midwifery skills to prevent this so we invite them into the program willingly.  We accept teens so we can support and educate them, give them a safe birth and help them to parent.  Some are amazingly great moms.

Our program works and it was designed to keep moms and babies alive and together.

But our neighborhood is full of 12,13, 14 year olds who are not pregnant but could be.  The sperm and egg are no respecter of persons.  As a result of rape or love the sperm makes it way and meets an egg and another person is made.  The mom could be 13 or 30.  Understanding or not understanding.  Wanting a baby or ignorant of how they are made.  Life begins wanted or unwanted.  Our job is to help them be wanted, cared for and cherished.

Our co-worker and incredibly great nurse Wini said recently, “We need a program so young girls won’t need our program!”  Indeed we do!  A class, a club, with cookies, and games and information on their bodies, their emotions and their spiritual life.  A prevention club.   A safe place to learn about how their bodies work and how to make really good choices.  Some girls don’t have the power of choice but if we can arm them with information and help perhaps some pregnancies can be avoided and 13 year olds can be in the school room instead of the birth room.

We are feeling the tug of the Holy Spirit in this.  We are sensing the nudge to educate, love and help teens navigate this tough world in which they live.  Even with her head hidden under our pillow, her face wet with tears, God hears and loves each young girl.  We pray to have Him use us to touch a few.

Beth McHoul

Heartline Maternity

The other day I took an unexpected trip as my thoughts traveled back fifty-two years to a medium size town about thirty minutes south of Boston.  As so often happens, this trip back in time was triggered by an event that at the time seemed to have no relation to me fifty-two years ago in the second grade in a town south of Boston.

The trigger to this travel back in time happened as I stood in front of about sixty young girls who had come for the first day of our first ever summer camp put on by the Heartline Women’s Center.  In the two month long camp the girls will learn sewing on sewing machines, craft making and cooking.  On this first day, I had been asked to say a few words in greeting and to pray.

Looking at the girls, largely from poor families, I thought of the Heartline teachers who had come to me several months earlier asking if we could put on such a camp.  I found encouragement in their desire to touch the lives of these young girls.  Perhaps, they were remembering when they were the same age and didn’t have such an opportunity. Or perhaps they recalled times when adults showed interest in them, to help and encourage.

As the decision was made to move forward with the camp, we would need supplies, and money to run the camp. We were not sure how this would happen but we trusted that God would provide as we looked to impact these young lives.  And now standing in front of me were the girls that God has entrusted to us for the next two months.

While I stood in front of these young girls,  simultaneously I found myself remembering  fifty-two years ago as a young boy living with my parents and sister in a two story house next to a Baptist church.

What I remember about the three years we lived there is hopping the slow moving freight trains at the train yard, playing in the WW 2 era tanks, playing Farm League baseball, having a crush on the second grade teacher and playing outside until dark.

I mostly remember though,  the family that lived behind the church’s parking lot. I remember they had the first color TV that I had ever seen and it had a wired remote to boot.  I remember that they were always gracious and welcoming to me.  I remember playing basketball in their driveway and often eating at their table.  I remember attending Cub Scouts at their house as the mom there was the Den Mother.  I remember the stability in their household, something that mine didn’t have. I remember getting a little fingernail clipper set as a Christmas gift from Cub Scouts and not knowing how to use it.  I remember how this family reached out to me and showed me the love of God.  All of this and more as I stood looking at this group of girls on the first day of the Heartline Camp.

Fifty-two years later and I still recall the touch of this family in my life.  I pray that these young girls will be touched in such a way that years from now they will fondly recall the time that they were loved, supported, encouraged, prayed  for and told of their specialness at the Heartline Summer Camp.

When you support Heartline, I believe your support will still be evident years and decades from now.  I pray it will be seen in how these young girls will one day love and support their own children and the children of others.  Thank you for making this camp and all the other Heartline programs possible through your generous support.

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Several months ago I posted three blogs about a woman named Magareth, whom we have known for several years.  She had come to our gate and with her youngest child standing right next to her asked if we would find an orphanage for the little girl.  I wrote about how I felt at that moment as I looked into the face of this young girl whose mothers had just asked if we could find an orphanage to put her in.

I as well wrote about our efforts to find an answer other than separating this mother and daughter and finally I wrote of how you helped Magareth and her daughter and her other children get out of the tent in which they were living and into a small house.

You can read more about Magareth by clicking on the three links below

Can you find a place for my daughter?

Can you find a place for my daughter?  Part Two

Can you find a place for my daughter? Part Three

Magareth Graduates from Literacy One

On June 14th the Heartline Women’s Center celebrated its graduation with almost 100 ladies graduating in areas of sewing, craft making, cooking, and literacy.  While I rejoiced with each graduate, I must admit that I found the most joy when Magareth walked across the stage to receive her diploma as a graduate of Literacy One.  This was the first diploma that Magareth has ever received.  Image

The plan is for Magareth to return this year for Literacy Two which is heavy on math, and then for her, the next year, to take the entrance exam for our sewing school.  She worked hard, faithfully came and earned her diploma. We are proud of her. We will continue to help her with housing as we look to helping her become self sufficient. We could not have done this without your support and we want you to know that your support matters and is making a difference.

Registration for next Women’s Center school year

Today several dozen ladies  came for the first day of registration for the upcoming Women’s Center school year.  I expect that about 500 ladies will vie for the 100 spots.  I am asking God for more like Magareth that we can  love, encourage, support, instruct, and demonstrate God’s grace.

Thank you for making a difference here in Haiti.

Click here to stay up to date with what is happening at Heartline by receiving our e-letter.

John McHoul

This week several of us went to visit some families that live in a community several miles away.  This community, prior to the January 12, 2010 earthquake, did not exist.  The land is desert like with trees having long ago been cut down to make charcoal, which the Haitians use as cooking fuel.  After the earthquake many who had lost their homes came to this land that the Haitian government made available for people to resettle.  Although I don’t know the number of houses in this vast community comprised of a number of zones, I would simply say that there are thousands of houses.  Some are made of cement, others of wood, others of tin, and some are still made of tarps.  The building is ongoing with houses in various stages of completion.

We, while there, visited with a family of eight that live in a one-room house.  Although I have seen this family dozens of times, I hadn’t until yesterday actually been inside the house.  Looking inside I noticed right away that there were eight people but one single person cot.  When I asked where the other seven people slept, I was told that they slept on the cement floor.

We only stayed several more minutes, but I couldn’t get the one cot and seven people on the floor out of my mind.  Upon arriving back at Heartline, we did a search of our supplies and came up with seven cots for this family and four for another family in the same area.

Several of our men brought the cots today and showed them how to put them together.  The family was ecstatic.  While it may not seem like a big deal, I know that I will sleep better knowing that there are seven people no longer sleeping on a cement floor.

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Thank you for your ongoing help that enables Heartline to make a difference here in Haiti.

John McHoul

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I was recently in the States for one of my rare visits.  I came primarily to see our newest grandson, born to our daughter and her husband.  We now have four amazing grandchildren.  During my visit I was in the same room with our son, his three children, and with our daughter with her first-born.  Sometimes I feel as if I am just an outsider looking on from a distance.  Where did these people come from? How did they get here? Where are they going?  Where have I been?  It seems that I have missed a lot.

I simply can’t grasp, that once upon a time, I was like them; raising a family, trying to figure it out. Sometimes I’m afraid to think back that far as I don’t always like what I see and feel.  Now, years later I can see the wisdom in this well known quote by Robert Brault.

Enjoy the little things in life, for one day you’ll look back and realize they were big things.

Perhaps I am feeling a bit melancholy because while in the States we visited an aquarium and now that I am sixty I got my first senior discount.  Sixty, when and how and where did that happen?  Where was I when this was happening?

I feel that life can often be like a plane ride.  You get on; take off, fall asleep and then you wake up sometime and somewhere before you land.   Sometimes even though we may have achieved success, so to speak, in that we are financially secure, we have a house and family and all the things that should make us content; we discover that we have been asleep.  And as it is with being asleep, you don’t know you’ve been sleeping  until you have woken up.

I’m thinking that there should be some type of health warning that comes with your first senior discount.  Just as a hospital will ask if you are on medications or are allergic to medications, there should be a special line for first timers with someone asking, “Have you ever had a senior discount before?  Is this your first time?  Are you sure? Why don’t you just sit here and think about it? Take your time”

The blessing of being able to see your children and grandchildren loving and being loved is invaluable. The riches of the world pale in comparison.  No discount wanted there.

I’m thinking that I could get used to this senior discount thing, but next time I hope it is more than just two dollars.

Ecclesiastes 12:13

All has been heard; the end of the matter is: Fear God [revere and worship Him, knowing that He is] and keep His commandments, for this is the whole of man [the full, original purpose of his creation, the object of God’s providence, the root of character, the foundation of all happiness, the adjustment to all inharmonious circumstances and conditions under the sun] and the whole [duty] for every man.

The significance of what you do before God is not measured by how many get to see what you are doing, but by the obedience to God in the doing.  John Meadth

Click  here to check out our recent e-letter. Read about a few days in the life of Beth.

John McHoul

Home Alone

Posted: May 14, 2013 in Uncategorized
I should have known.  John scheduled a two-day trip to the States to meet our new grandson Zachary and to hang out with the other growing by the minute grandchildren.  I’m sort of famous for things going wrong when John is gone so he doesn’t leave often.  Troy and Tara were fully committed to make sure I, the vehicles, the house and the dogs were all alive and functional when John got back.  Troy is an awesome stand in leader.
 
Then Isaac Livesay got bit by a bat.  Vaccine could not be found in Haiti so Tara had to fly Isaac out to Florida to have him vaccinated.  We talked before she left and I said “Not to worry, no ladies are due right now, I’ll be fine”.  
 
I drove John to the airport Monday morning, returned home, jumped on the treadmill and not three steps later my cell phone rang.  A new lady in our program was at the maternity center bleeding.  I jumped off the treadmill and into the car.  Sure enough this sweet and very poor lady was miscarrying.  Her husband was with her, they were newly married and really wanted a baby.  Sad stuff the day after Mother’s Day.
 
Just as I was finishing up with her another of our ladies came in walking bent over with premature contractions.  Doubled over she seemed near ready to deliver.  I quickly called our nurse Wini to come help me.  After all our checks we realized she was not really in labor at all but was definitely having contractions due to dehydration.  We put her on some fluids and had her rest a few hours in our birth bed that wouldn’t be used for birth today.  She wasn’t eating or drinking.  Why not?  She lost the water bottle that we gave her and a clean water source is neither free nor convenient.  Eating – well, she hasn’t felt much like eating.  Her body rebelled and put her into premature labor demanding food and water.    Marie France has a hard life and things like enough food and water just aren’t guaranteed.  We offer both those things daily but getting to us is a chore.  She used to have a job to feed herself and her children but her employer raped her and here she is pregnant with her former employer’s child and no job and no money.  Drinking water is the least of her problems.
 
Tuesday morning and I leave for the maternity center.  The road is blocked so I go the back way.  A giant pile of rocks meets me half way so I twist and turn through our neighborhood and somehow come out a mile or two away.  I finally find a road I know and eventually make it to program.   I walk in expecting a normal program day.  One of our soon to be graduates is telling Agathe a story and she has tears dripping down her sweet face.  Come to find out her house and neighbors were robbed and her husband was shot in the chest and in the back as he tried to run.  He is now at Doctors Without Borders Hospital.  This husband and dad who worked each day to care for his little family is now fighting for his life.  His wife has good reason to cry.  Our shoulders slump and we cry with her.
 
As the child development program starts one of our pregnant moms arrives with a worried look.  She hasn’t felt her baby move since yesterday and she is concerned.  I grab the Doppler and quickly pray I will hear a reassuring baby heartbeat.  I do.  Loud and strong!  Crisis averted – we smile, I complete her prenatal and send her on her way.   As program ends she is back, this time her skirt is soaking wet.  Her bag of waters has broken.  This is not good news for a mom who is only 31 weeks along and measuring really small.  Not good news at all.
 
This is beyond our skill level and we start to look for back up.  The first hospital states if she doesn’t have high blood pressure along with the broken waters they won’t take her.  For the first time in my midwifery career I am hoping for a high bp.  Nope, perfect.   We crank up our ambulance and prepare for hospital number two.  While waiting for family to arrive and all the wheels to be set in motion dear little Guernise lays on our birth bed weeping.  For the second time today our bed is used but not for its intended purpose.  At one point I enter the room and there is Cherline, our loving housekeeper (and so much more) holding Guernise in her arms praying and crying.   Women with women.  Praying for one another in those grief filled and frightening times of life.
 
The second hospital takes her and we are relieved.  
 
I saw a lot of sadness packed into the last two days.  I also saw women who know how to pray for each other, women who know how to comfort each other and women who love each other.  Our maternity center sees a lot of joy, we have a lot of fun and witness the miracle of birth over and over.  Sometimes it is required of us to dip our cups into a well of sorrow and grieve with people in loss.  And this we willingly do because the word midwife means to be “with women” and Christian means to be “like Christ”.
 
Tara gets home tomorrow and for this I am very glad.  She carries all this along side me.  John gets home Thursday and he carries us all.
 
Beth McHoul
 

 

Haiti Mothers

Posted: May 13, 2013 in Uncategorized

I listened to a speaker recently who spoke on the dangers of a single story. I am referring to the unfairness of knowing one thing about a culture, a country, a situation, a person and then making assumptions.  For many people the only thing they know about Haiti is poverty.  That’s it.  Poverty compounded by a catastrophic earthquake.  Poverty compounded by political troubles, poverty compounded by cholera and so on.

The heartbeat of our maternity center is our relationship with our women.  That is why it works.  Over the year and a half women spend in our program we get to know them.  They begin to trust us, accept what we teach and then see the fruit of it.   A healthy pregnancy, a safe birth, a healthy, good sized baby, a breast fed fast growing, chubby baby are things they can expect when they are part of our program.  We have exceptions but they are few.

Haitian women love their babies and have dreams for their children just like moms everywhere.  They value education.  They want to make right choices and do so when new ideas are presented in an atmosphere of trust and relationship.   Haitian moms love and care for their babies while dealing with hardships most of us can’t imagine.  We have a mom who is nursing her second set of twin girls.  She is tired, she is weak and yet she keeps going.  She shows up every Tuesday for class with both girls.  She delivered them via cesarean section and I noticed she didn’t seem to be rebounding.  She hedged questions on how much she was eating, she made excuses, she didn’t want me to figure out that she wasn’t eating much.  Too many other mouths to feed.  Yet, she is breastfeeding her girls because we taught her to do so.  Because of time spent together, because our staff has relationship we were able to get to the bottom of this and help with food.  She is a woman of dignity who cares for her family at a cost to herself.

Our moms come to love each other and they form community while going through our program.  They visit each other in our postpartum wing after they give birth.  We hear them laughing and joking while they visit.

Haitian culture is rich in so many aspects.  We notice when we drive our moms home after they deliver that the neighbors come running and cheer the mom and the newborn.  These are folks that live in tiny cement houses without plumbing or often electricity.  Yet they have community, they have friendship, they have joy.

Haiti is not the single story of poverty.  It is so much more.  Yes, people are often poor.  They often struggle.  They survive in terrible circumstances.  But as we care for mothers through their pregnancy, birth, postpartum and well baby months we grow to know mothers.  Mothers with dreams, struggles, hopes, grief and joy.  Mothers like mothers everywhere.  Mothers who want the best for their children, mothers who sacrifice for their children.

On this Mother’s Day I want to honor the mothers who trust us with their prenatal care and birth.  I want to honor the women who attend our program week after week and practice what they learn.  I want to honor the women who teach what they learn to their neighbors and other mothers.  I want to honor the women, who against all odds, will be agents of change in this country.  In so very many ways they are rich indeed!

Beth McHoul

I Didn’t Even Know His Name

Posted: April 30, 2013 in Uncategorized

The man, probably in his fifties, sold ice creams that he would have in an ice cooler that he carried on his head.  He would walk the streets hitting the side of the cooler with a stick while calling out, “Crème Mayi.” Everyone, hearing the noise of the stick hitting the side of the cooler and the voice of the man calling out, knew that one of the hundreds of ice cream sellers throughout Haiti is passing on by.

I, a few times a week, would buy an ice cream which costs about twenty cents each, from such a seller and eventually had this man once a week come by the Heartline programs.  I would have him go to the Women’s Center, Haitian Creations and the Maternity Center and give an ice cream to each of the ladies.   Typically he would sell to us about 100 ice creams each week. I got to know this man as you would expect over the two years or so that he sold ice creams to us.

One day it occurred to me that I hadn’t seen him for a couple of weeks and so I asked one of our workers if he had seen him.  The man responded, “Oh yeah, he got hit by a truck a couple of weeks ago and was killed.”

I felt stunned and sickened as his words penetrated my mind and heart. I, for two years, had established a relationship with this man and had purchased thousands of ice creams from him.  And now he was dead, just like that.

And then it occurred to me, that although I had known him for two years, I had not known his name, as I would simply call him ‘Mr. Crème Mayi.’ I didn’t know if he was married, if he had children or where he lived.  I didn’t know if he went to church or if he was a Christian. I felt ashamed!

Haiti is a country that has largely been evangelized. While the gospel must still be proclaimed, there are churches seemingly on every street corner and churches can be found in the remotest places in the country as well.   So while the work of evangelism and the church goes on, much of the work of Christian missions here as well as secular organizations are in the areas of education, health care, vocational training, orphanages, feeding programs, adoptions, home building, micro loans, and helping people establish small businesses.

Therefore it is possible for there to be not much of a difference in the way that a secular organization works in Haiti and how a mission works in Haiti.  I know that this is a strong statement, but I believe that the greatest danger facing missions here in Haiti is that we can become Christ less missions.  This is amazingly easy when working in a country such as Haiti where people’s life needs are so often lacking, and where you work to help alleviate their suffering and to raise their standard of living.

When looking at a brochure of a mission in Haiti you will most likely find a list of their areas of involvement and often even a list of how many students they send to school or how many meals they provide or how many people they employ or how many houses they have built and so on.  Please, understand that I am not saying that this is bad, I am just saying that for the believer it is easy for us to stop there.  I know that from experience.

People will often ask me what our biggest challenge in Haiti is and my immediate response is that, “It is working to stay focused on Christ, and not on just meeting life needs.”  Can we do both, of course, and many do.  But it’s easy to lose focus and to concentrate on the temporal needs and let it stop there.  It is easier than you can imagine and often simpler and can it ever look good on paper.

For the believer: Heath care, building homes, providing jobs, education, orphan care, adoptions, well drilling, feeding programs, and whatever else MUST BE IN THE MESSAGE AND NOT THE MESSAGE.

I, for over two years, bought thousands of ice creams from the ice cream man.  I treated him with respect and helped him, but I never knew his name, or if he was married and if he  had children and I never, not once, took time to share the message of The GOOD NEWS OF GREAT JOY

 For this is the way God loved the world: He gave his one and only Son, so that everyone who believes in him will not perish but have eternal life.  John 3:16

Perhaps, there are people in your life that you see on occasion, perhaps often, some even daily.  It could be your auto mechanic, or your hairdresser; it could be the person who takes your coffee order at the coffee shop, maybe a fellow employee or a neighbor.  It could be a number of people.  You treat them well, perhaps help them when needed, but you have never, not once shared with them the GOOD NEWS OF GREAT JOY.

Christians should be involved in health care, and in education, and in feeding programs and in working to abolish trafficking, and should be known for and by their good deeds.  But in all this,  let not these things be the message; but rather, be in the message

The believer has  a message to be shared in word and shown in deed.  Share it, show it, be it.
John

One Plus One Equals Three

Posted: April 15, 2013 in Uncategorized

“John,” said the man sitting across from me, “In the States one plus one equals two, but in Haiti one plus one equals three.”

We had been in Haiti for several weeks and had hired the man sitting across from me to care for the yard and to help out at our house.  He, although in his thirties, was not able to read or write and asked if I would pay for him to go to literacy school.  I, of course, was glad to do so and that is how I found myself sitting across from him on that day.

He asked if I would help him with his math, and thinking how hard could it be, I agreed.  Well, so little did I and do I know.  We started with one plus one which I said is two.  He disagreed and told me that one plus one equals three. So, I got two rocks and then two beans and showed him how one plus one equals two.  We went back and forth as he insisted that one plus one equals three. And then he told me that in the States one plus one may equal two, but in Haiti one plus one equals three.  That was the first and last tutoring session we had as he no longer had confidence in me.

He, of course, was incorrect, sort of, and after many years of living in Haiti I now know for sure that one plus one may equal two today and perhaps three tomorrow or even fifty.  After living here a while, all as I can say is, that what used to add up, often no longer does,  and what would have made no sense at all, does.

We Will Cut You Off

While I can think of a number of examples of what should have made no sense, but somehow did, here is the first one that comes to mind.

We for four years lived in a house that we were told had city water.  Port au Prince has an antiquated water system that is suppose to, a couple times a week, bring water to an under ground cistern that most houses have.

Three years went by with me paying the water bill monthly but we never, not once, received water.  So I went to the water company and told them that I was not going to pay anymore since I had paid for three years and had not received water.  The person I talked to simply said that if I stopped paying they would cut me off.  I responded that they couldn’t cut me off since  the water has never been on.  He then told me if the water did start coming I wouldn’t get any because I would be cut off.  For some reason what he said made sense,  even though I for three years had paid and not once received water.  So I paid for the remaining  year that we lived there, but never received water.  But I am happy to say that I was never cut off.

So you see, sometimes one plus one does equal three,  or least it did then; today it could be 12.

FYI: That house completely collapsed during the January 12, 2010 earthquake. We had moved from it several years earlier.

I highly recommend the book African Friends and Money Matters if you plan on living in an African country which is very much what Haiti is.

John (the mathematician) McHoul

CHRISTINA

Posted: March 8, 2013 in Uncategorized

From Beth

Christina came to prenatals for the first time today and she sat in the front row in class.  She is 17 but could pass for 12.  She is tiny, adorable, sad with a baby bump bursting through her ill-fitting clothes.  She watched every move I made while I taught a lesson on post-partum do’s and don’ts.  I reminded the class that one woman around the globe dies every minute and a half of childbirth related causes.  I told them our program exists to fight that statistic.

Christina came to us through a knock on Haitian Creations gate – our neighbor and sister program.  Her own sister was looking for an orphanage to place her kids and heard that Haitian Creations might be such a place.  It is just the opposite actually, Haitian Creations is a place that helps to empower women to keep their children.  A place of busy activity and artisans at work who are earning a living to support themselves and their families.

Christina had heard about the maternity program.  She heard rumors of who gets in and who doesn’t.  Not credible information and John who was passing by, told her to come see us and check out if she might be able to get in the program.  He told her to come in the morning at 9:00 AM and don’t be late.  She came at 8:00.

From the information gathered she is due to have her baby in June.  We have lots of babies due in June.  We might not sleep and stay awake the entire month of June on coffee and chocolate because of so many babies.  We midwives all told each other we can’t take anyone else due in June – but we all agreed we had to take this 17 year old.  She is worth losing sleep over.

Her history is sad and no teen should have experienced such things.  She should be in school, she should be protected, she should be giggling and carrying a backpack full of heavy books rather than a belly full of a baby.   She was in the fifth grade when she “fell pregnant” as they say, with no hope of ever moving on to grade six.  In Christina’s world, life happens to you and you sadly try to cope with its consequences.  If her family fails her then she would look for a man to give her a roof over her head and keep on despairing as life happens to her.  It isn’t fair.

As the weeks roll on in her pregnancy Christina will get prenatal care, food, and a safe birth.  She will also learn about responsibility, making good choices in our circumstances, and she will hear the gospel.  She will hear things she has never heard before.  She will be loved.   We are a community where women really do care about one another.

Some of our teenagers have turned out to be great little moms.  They listen to us, look to us for help and truly love their babies.  They need support, encouragement and love.  When shown a better path they take it.

Haiti has no shortage of Christina’s.   Young, pregnant, hurt girls with no escape route.  But this time, this Christina has our program.  We can’t be all she needs but we can be a key piece.  We can help.  And sometimes that’s just what they need to flourish.

Beth McHoul

 

Some months ago I posted several quotes that I have found to be particularly meaningful and helpful as I endeavor to be a Christ Follower.  And now it is time to post additional quotes, that I hope and pray  you will find helpful as you continue on the journey that God has placed before you.

My newest favorite quote and one that I am still trying to understand is:

Pain pushes until vision pulls. Michael Beckwith

 

Others

The first step toward success is taken when you refuse to be a captive of the environment in which you find yourself.  Mark Caine

Our goal should be to live life in radical amazement …  get up in the morning and look at the world in a way that takes nothing for granted. Everything is phenomenal; everything is incredible; never treat life casually. To be spiritual is to be amazed.  Abraham Joshua Heschel

We asked for workers. We got people instead. Max Frish

Every time I have had a breakthrough in my life, it has been because of Prayer. John Maxwell

Keep your heart right, even when it is sorely wounded. J.C. Macaulay

The will of God will never take us where the grace of God cannot sustain us.  Billy Graham

Make your interactions with people transformational, not just transactional.  Patti Smith

You never know how strong you are… until being strong is the only choice you have.  Cayla Mills

You cannot fulfill God’s purposes for your life while focusing on your own plans.  Rick Warren

Enjoy the little things, for one day you may look back and realize they were the big things.”  Robert Brault

How can we understand forgiveness if we haven’t recognized the depth of our sin?  John Henry Newman

Legalism keeps you from becoming what God wants, as it makes you into the image that others want.  John McHoul

Eventually you realize that not all opposing viewpoints come from people who oppose you. Robert Brault

Inexperience is an asset. Embrace it.  Wendy Kopp

 

LINKS

 

John McHoul