12 December 2012

Introducing Peter Allen Harms!

Just a tired mom letting the world know that her son arrived just fine. He arrived on his due date, 12/12/12, at 3:07 AM. Christine was in labor about 16 hours, with tremendous help from David and her mom Melissa. Peter weighed in at 8 lbs 14 oz and 20 inches long.

He is amazing.

10 December 2012

Confessions at 39 weeks

Forgive me, blog readers, for I have sinned. It's been six weeks since my last post, and I realize that's far too long, especially given the state of things. And what's the state of things? Well, in case you missed it, our son is due in two days. I am large. I am uncomfortable. I am ready to get this party started. And in that vein, I have a few more confessions to make...

Today, I am wearing my favorite maternity shirt. It's grey with purple stripes. Two people complimented me on it. Because really, how often do I get to look good in horizontal stripes? I'd better enjoy it now.

I ask David to tie my shoes. I can still pick things up when I drop them, but for some reason, shoe-tieing just seems arduous and unnecessary.

I am one row away from finishing the large yellow blanket that I'm knitting for him. And when I finish it, the "non-mom" part of my life will really feel over. Not sure I'm ready for that.

I still think about Haiti every day. I ponder her problems. I compare her quirks to the U.S.'s quirks. (Oh yes, you people have quirks, too. Most of them have to do with personal space.) Much to my own surprise, I actually do miss it...mostly.

I would be willing to stay pregnant longer, except for my hips. My empathy for old people has increased a lot in the last few weeks, as I have to turn over every 30 minutes at night because of the pain. At least heartburn can be medicated. Sheesh.

I almost started crying during Elf. It's really not a sad movie, but it was just so...touching...sniffle...with the singing and the family and the Claus-o-meter on zero... ::blows nose::

We went shopping today, and I visited the bathroom at every stop. I am an expert on public restrooms, and if a politician ever becomes concerned about their state, I would be an excellent resource for suggestions on improvement.

Someday, my son will know what a goober his mom is. In advance, I ask him for mercy. 

Thanks for your prayers for a safe, healthy delivery. We'll try to post here when he's arrived, but you'll have to forgive us if we don't entertain visitors right away. Oh, and feel free to take part in Peanut's poll on the right. Thanks!

26 October 2012

And the rain came...

Living in a Western culture, I'm not sure we can really understand what an event like this rain means to people in Haiti.

Take my conversation today with my yard guy, O, for instance. I got a text from him around noon today. "I'm sorry to bother you, madam, but I wondered if you could pay me today. I'm out of food. I can come and get it if it works for you."

The rain affects so much more than just those displaced by flooding. Yesterday was payday, but he didn't come, probably because he couldn't find a tap tap (converted truck that serves as public transportation). Even today, I'm sure he had trouble finding one, as it's still been raining off and on.

Everything is closed today, because the government wanted people to stay home. But if everyone stays home, who sells food? And if I don't sell food today, what do I buy food for my family with tomorrow? Even if I pay O today, does that mean he'll be hungry until tomorrow?

I quickly texted him back that he could come any time today, then went to my kitchen to see what I had to give him. I still had some veggies sitting on my counter from last week's shopping trip that never got put in the fridge. They were going bad. My employee is going hungry, and I have so much food that I let it spoil. Opening the cupboard, I found a small bag of beans, filled a Ziplock with rice, and threw in some crackers in case he didn't have charcoal to cook with.

When he arrives an hour later, I slip him the bag with the money, using Kreyol phrases that try to pass it off as nothing. But I can see the relief on his face. He thanks me repeatedly, and I want to tell him that it's no big deal, that he's my brother--something they often tell me here, but I'm still uncomfortable with the intimacy of the word.

He offers to stay and work, but it's still raining and I can't let him, knowing he's hungry. We make small talk about the wedding he's going to tomorrow at our church, which lapses into a discussion about skin color. (Some people are clear skinned but still black, and others are just black. I fail to see the distinction.)

He turns to go home just as the rain starts to fall harder again. And I know hunger may be the least of Haiti's problems by the time it stops.

25 October 2012

Two Kinds of Flood

Right now, at 7:11 AM, I am sitting in my nice, dry, concrete house contemplating my day. My dog is crying because David just left for work. I was supposed to drive downtown with friends to do some Christmas shopping (family, you didn't read that), but that's not going to happen. The rain started yesterday and continued through the night from Hurricane Sandy, even though she's just skirting by us.

I have become a Twitter junkie, because information in Haiti is word-of-mouth and I don't have enough friends. Here's what I started to see:

Embedded image permalink
Flooding in Les Cayes, from the Twitter feed of @HopeforHaitiFL

Photo: had an hour break from the big rains and found this. This is the now collapsed entrance to the village through the river. Doesn't look like we are going anywhere soon. It's dark and creepy out right now with winds howling.  We are fine but soggy.  Pray for this amazing village.
Les Anglais, from the Facebook page of Shannon Kelley

Les Cayes, from the Twitter feed of

The hospital in Les Cayes is flooded. Civil Protection is reporting the water almost 20 inches deep there (you can see more pictures from them here), but reports of flooding are coming from all over the south coast. Airlines are canceling flights. Schools are canceled all over Haiti so that people will stay home...but it appears that home might not really be the safest place, either. Looking for more, I Google "flooding in Haiti," and am rewarded with two articles from June 2011 and several about Tropical Storm Isaac from two months ago. I am disappointed.

My brain starts wandering toward work. My airplanes don't have much time left on them before their next inspection. If we need to do relief flights, should I cancel on the people who'd made reservations? If their international connections are being canceled anyway, does it matter? How many bridges are washed out? Is going by road even an option for people? Are the boats running to La Gonave? Hopefully they can shelter in place and ride it out.

Then I stop--that's not my job anymore. I left that job on Tuesday. A whole new kind of flood washes over me, one I haven't really processed yet. For a year, this would've been all the focus of my attention, trying to figure out how to reschedule flights and keep our commitments and answer panicked phone calls from passengers wanting to get out of Haiti. But today, that's someone else's job. And it's a flood of sudden sadness because my job mattered and it's a flood of pure relief because days like this were stressful. And it's a flood of hands-tied helplessness because all I can do is listen to the water pouring off my roof. And it's a flood of private joy because it means my son is coming soon, God willing. It's a bit messy, too.

Just now, it's light out, and I get up to turn off our security lights and see who my dogs were barking at. It's my neighbor, George, looking down into the ravine. He's got family and friends down there. He's on the phone. I bet a lot of people are on the phone today.

Just now, I consider deleting this post, because it really makes no sense. There's no thesis. There's no happy ending, no resolution. But that's sort of where I'm at, right now.

12 October 2012

25 September 2012

Without Ceasing: Caravan

Note: I wrote this last Friday, but it took me a while to get the pictures together. Just pretend it's last Friday.

I was writing about something else this morning. I was working on a post about our decision to deliver in Portland. I left my computer open.

Then Julie and I were having lunch, and someone texted me. I don't get many texts, except from my fantastic husband or our phone company offering me an AMAZING DEAL! (And it must be amazing, because they text me about it five times a day.)

But it was John, our chief pilot. He'd been at a meeting to try to get the Caravan approved, and he doesn't usually text me (or anyone, as far as I know). Here is what it said:

"Full approval for the Caravan!"

It's a good thing I wasn't driving, because I probably would've crashed my car. Julie can attest--I gasped. My eyes filled with tears. It was more than I'd hoped for.

Let me see if I can put this in perspective: they've always wanted a Caravan here. Always. It was all I heard about when I got here. We used one after the earthquake and people got to see how great it was. It would be like trying to get 10 people from Portland to Seattle in a Tercel by shuttling back and forth, and then someone giving you an 18-passenger van. It would be like trying to fit your family into a red wagon for church (after having to send your purse and Bible with someone else) and then being given a minivan. Passengers kept giving me baffled looks when I told them they didn't have to send their cargo by truck.

Our "little red wagon."
See, these are the planes we've always had. They're good little planes--my girls get the job done. But the most they can carry to most locations is 1125 pounds...where the Caravan's minimum weight capacity is 2424 pounds. Yes, you read that right--more than twice as much. We quickly discovered that the Caravan's awesomeness was good for more than work teams. We could take four ladies and their non-collapsible wheelchairs to Cap Haitian. When a truck overturned on La Gonave, we took twice as many injured patients to Port-au-Prince as the U.N. because their helicopters were at capacity. It could carry oddly-shaped items like surfboards. (Hey, even missionaries need to hang ten sometimes.)

Did I mention how great it was? 

SP, the plane generously leased to us by Samaritan's Purse
 At that point, we could use it for humanitarian purposes. It wasn't ideal, but we accepted their regulations and stuck to them, despite some very ardent walk-up passengers who REALLY NEEDED THAT BIG PLANE.

So when our lease expired on Sierra Papa (that's her name in the phonetic alphabet: SP), it seemed logical to bring down an MAF Caravan. ...right? I mean, this was a great tool. I was routinely turning down flights because her schedule was full, even with purely humanitarian flying. Talking with the government, we hoped they would allow us to register the new plane in Haiti and fly for whoever needed it, including the many business people who'd create jobs and create an economy here. (It's hard to get out of poverty without jobs.) It felt like a pipe dream, but it was worth asking.

But there were more snags. More hiccups. More meetings that seemed to go...nowhere. The reasons why didn't seem to be clear...we were getting vague answers.

Lonely Mike Fox.

Mike Fox (MF) arrived on August 6th...and there she sat. Waiting. One pilot likened her to a lonely wallflower he'd like to dance with. Pilots are so romantic.

I tried to be optimistic at first. "It's a temporary situation," I told passengers. "We're hoping to have approval by the end of the week." Then the week ended. And two weeks ended...and six weeks ended. I started trying to work with the planes I had available, but it was tough--those little planes just had to make so many trips. It felt there weren't enough hours in the day. I changed the tone of my emails..."There's a situation, and I don't know when it will be resolved."

I was frustrated, but I didn't start to despair until this week, when our program manager mentioned sending Mike Fox to another program. After all, planes are a limited resource, and if she's just sitting on the ground here...he trailed off. What else was there to say? We'd exhausted all our earthly resources--we even talked to someone who thought they could put pressure on the director through his mom. (Yeah, we were that desperate. I would've cornered his grandma, too, if I thought it would help.)

Then we got a call: the director wanted to meet with us. We'd requested a meeting, but that was still surprising. Here's what happened next, in our boss's words:

John and I waited almost 2 hours to see the director, and once we entered the room we exchanged pleasantries. Then he asked how he could help us...[After discussing it,] the director said, “This is a new day in Haiti.  The Caravan is out of jail!”  I literally put my arms up and said a quiet “Hallelujah!” ...John very clearly expressed our desire to register the airplane in Haiti and have the C-208B on our operating permit. Almost without any hesitation, the director agreed. He told us to work out the details with Mr. D. Can you believe it? This is a huge, huge answer to prayer.

"Born free, free as the wind blows..." She's out of jail!

And that's just it--that's what I hope you take away from this. It's a huge answer to prayer. Your prayers. There hasn't been a Caravan registered in Haiti for a long time, but God willing, we'll have the paperwork in our hands by the end of next week.

A new day indeed!

05 September 2012

What I wouldn't give

I'm 25 weeks pregnant. I am getting bigger by the day. No, seriously. And the bigger I get, the more I need to move...and not just because my doctor says so. (Though he did, in no uncertain terms. Something about his deep French accent makes you feel twice as guilty.)

I've never been the best exerciser. I have good intentions. I even enjoy it, once I get my shoes on. But I'm still inclined to count things like watching football as exercise. (Not an exercise, you say? Then why is my heart burning?) Here are a few more things that don't count:

-Bending over to pick things up.
-Throwing the tennis ball for Grace. (I don't even have to wrestle it away from her. She drops it at my feet, bless her heart.)
-Tromping out to the port-a-potty for the tenth time.
-Sweating over scheduling since I still don't have our new Caravan available to fly.
-Racing upstairs to pull my laundry off the line as it starts to rain.

No, these things don't count. I know too many moms with severe back problems to take this lying down...so to speak. So I've pulled out my pregnancy workout videos...her first piece of advice? Work out in a cool environment. That's a bit tricky here...between the ceiling fan on full blast and the small fan pointed at my head, I feel like I'm working out inside a tornado. I call it the vortex. The dogs sit at the sliding glass door and watch me, their tails thumping the tile. David, having finished his run on the treadmill, sits on the futon and alternately cheers me on and makes me laugh. His comments today were directed toward the cheesy background music. As for me, my biggest objection is her use of the word "buncakes" to refer to my caboose...but even that, I can get over.

Because suddenly, it's for my son. It's not just about vanity or longevity. It's for my son, who is already the second-most important person in my life. Whom I would not trade for anything...certainly not sitting on my "buncakes" watching football in clear conscience.

It's amazing how my perspective is being changed in so many ways, just carrying him. I haven't even seen his face, except in profile. But I love him, and tonight I realized something somewhat profound: I would not give his life for you. Don't take it personally--I wouldn't give his life for anyone. And yet the part of the Bible I'm studying this week makes it perfectly clear..."see what kind of love the Father has given us, that we should be called children of God; and so we are..."

He would. He did. He gave what I wouldn't.


15 August 2012

Water Thieves

I'm standing on my red rug at the kitchen sink, washing a cereal bowl, gazing at my security wall. David's sitting with me, keeping me company...but he didn't see her. Just a glimpse over the wall. Our eyes met momentarily, and she disappeared. I wasn't totally surprised to see her, but I stifled a yell just the same.

The house over that wall is empty--no one lives there. Or rather, no one's supposed to live there. According to another neighbor, people have been stealing things like toilets from the house ever since the back security wall started sliding into the ravine, creating a gap. We call it the "crack house," because of all the damage it sustained during the earthquake. It's uninhabitable, yet there it stands.

And last week, someone figured out that they're still getting city water...so now, every time the water comes on, I hear them over there. Filling their plastic buckets. Bathing. Splashing. Talking, gossiping, laughing, and basically, having a big ol' party over there.

And while washing a cereal bowl, I argue with myself. It goes something like this:

You should go yell at them. They're trespassing--they have no right to be there. 

But they're thirsty. Water is life here, and we've had almost no rain. Through a lapse of bureaucracy, you get your water for free, same as them.

That's different. I tried to pay for my water, but they wouldn't bill me. 

How is it different? Because yours goes straight into your cistern and they have to carry theirs? 

It's different because I'm not stealing it. They're thieves. I'd call the cops on them in the States. 

The cops here would just laugh at you, even if you did. What would it accomplish? 

It's about justice. And they're bugging me with their inconsiderate jibber jabber.

They're bugging you. That's really it, isn't it? Would you repay evil for evil?

It's still wrong.

Maybe. But you're an ambassador of grace. Grow your patience. Don't be selfish. Treat them how you'd want to be treated, in the same situation.

It's still wrong. 

Build a bridge and get over it. 

Still wrong.  

Eventually, that's the logic I can't argue with. It's wrong...but that doesn't mean I should get involved. It's wrong...but public utilities people and the landlord don't care enough or don't have the capacity to do anything about it. "It's wrong" is a fact I find I have to sit with a lot here. "It's wrong" is part of life, here and everywhere...but Haiti's feel heavier to me. Carrying the wrongs you can't right wears out your hope, like your sandals at the end of summer. It shows you why people gets discouraged here...why it seems like they don't care. They did care, at one time. They really did.

 And just as our cisterns are sacred here, so is encouragement. We've had some fresh infusions of it lately, especially in the form of out-of-town guests, and they truly stirred my soul. They reminded me that it's okay to call Haiti "hard." They reminded me that our efforts matter. They showed me that when we place our lives in God's hands, he can multiply our efforts beyond our expectations or imaginations.

And for that refreshment, I'm grateful...even if I have to listen to water thieves while I wash dishes.

15 July 2012

How the other half lives

I went to get a haircut on Friday. When I went in the States, it was never a source of anxiety...I booked with Kim, I went in, she cut, I paid. Bam. Shorter hair.

However, I only knew one lady who cut white people's hair in Port-au-Prince, and it seemed like our schedules never matched up. It got so bad that we finally had to go on vacation so I could get a haircut. A better solution had to be found.

Meet a better solution. This spa is located in a hoighty-toidy hotel in the hills of Petionville, and it gives you a glimpse into how the other half lives. We didn't come here when David's mom and grandma came to visit a few weeks ago, but we did go to another hotel with a nice restaurant for lunch. The look on Grandma's face was priceless--"I had no idea there were places like this in Haiti."

Yeah, they don't make very good news stories, so I can see how that happened. But more and more we realize that there's how most people live, and then there's how "the other half lives." Weirdly enough, even as "poor" missionaries, we're in the other half now. Sometimes that's uncomfortable...but sometimes, it's pretty great.

It was pretty great on Friday when I went to get my hair cut. It's now become kind of a mini-vacation, a respite--a small way to treat myself and escape for an hour. The waiting area has a waterfall. I turn off my phone. I take in the fresh flowers, the big comfy chair, the mature trees outside the floor-to-ceiling windows with colocasia climbing its way up their tall trunks. There's soft music playing involving wind chimes and a flute.

They call me in: "Madam 'arms?" (No one ever says my name right. "H" is a hard sound.) The first two times I went, I brought a picture--just to be safe. The receptionist asked me if I needed any help in communicating, and I said yes--the stylist, as it turns out, is from the Dominican Republic (where their hair is more like mine) and spoke only Spanish and a little French. I only speak English and Kreyol. Four languages, no overlap. I handed her the picture, taken just after my last haircut, and she smiled. The music  in the salon had changed to either 90's smooth rock or salsa music. I lay my head back in the reclined sink...the water's cold at first, but eventually warms up. She washes my hair with four different flowery-scented products...David's so lucky he's not a woman, because he hates "smelly stuff." In this case, I can't agree. I nearly fall asleep every time. Peanut must like it there too, because he was kicking away.

The stylist (I think her name is Belita?) talks rapidly to the bored lady who's supposed to be doing nails while she cuts. She hums along to the songs she knows in Spanish. A light-skinned Haitian lady in her 60's is having her toenails painted opposite me. We smile at each other, but can't communicate, either. Halfway through my haircut, she finishes, puts on a large white hat and leaves.

It's over too soon, but with good results--I didn't bring her a picture, and it's a little short, but I'm still quite happy with it. Vacation over--back to reality. And just for fun, here's another picture of my "work in progress:"

I go for a check up next week--can't believe it's already been 18 weeks!

Thanks for praying for us.

07 July 2012

The silver lining

WARNING: By the end of this blog post, you may think less of me. That's a risk I'm willing to take.

Is this day over yet?

I was up about eight times in the night. (I'll spare you the pregnant-lady details.) I gave up on sleep at 6 AM.

It's 11:31 AM. The construction started at our house a little before 8 AM this morning--before that, David had already left for the hardware store. They're increasing the height of our front wall by five blocks, and every 20 minutes, they remember another supply they need from me: a pen, a drill, an extension cord...

At 7:30 AM, the students started arriving across the street. No, you're not losing your mind (but I might be), it really is Saturday. School's supposed to be out...yet they and their parents came. Oh, how they came. Sometimes they stopped to stare at our workers and block our gate. {Edited sarcasm about how helpful that was.} I finally figured out they were having graduation...maybe it's the beginning of some quiet over there? {Insert skeptical snort-laugh. Demonstration available upon request.}

At 8:20, David called to say that the hardware store was out of the correct size of check valve to fix the overflowing tank on the roof. Thanks to my neighbor Rob, I didn't have to climb a 30 ft. ladder without a spotter to confirm that it was a half-inch pipe. David found it at another store down the road, after going through three employees...but it was slightly too short. It didn't fit.

As the noise peaked, I may have shed some stressed-out tears.

So between the singing, the sawing, the drilling, the hammering, the sweeping, the running water, the motorcycles coming and going, and my poor freaked-out dogs barkBARKbarking at e-v-e-r-y-t-h-i-n-g...it's not been a restful morning. I plopped my pregnant self on the couch to watch TV to drown out the din...and then I felt it. 

Somebody kicked me in the gut. 

I thought I had felt that at 2 AM, but being groggy, I wasn't sure. But sitting there, in the melee, I held perfectly still...and there it was again! Someone was kicking me! Someone was kicking me! 

I ran into the kitchen to tell David. Even he had to smile. "What does it feel like?" he asked. "Weird," I said. "It's really weird." What a silver lining--even better than a new wall.

I ate a cupcake to celebrate. You may celebrate today how you will.

20 June 2012

Oswald nailed it

I couldn't not share this quotation:

People do not really want to be devoted to Jesus, but only to the cause He started. Jesus Christ is deeply offensive to the educated minds of today, to those who only want Him to be their Friend, and who are unwilling to accept Him in any other way. Our Lord’s primary obedience was to the will of His Father, not to the needs of people— the saving of people was the natural outcome of His obedience to the Father. If I am devoted solely to the cause of humanity, I will soon be exhausted and come to the point where my love will waver and stumble. But if I love Jesus Christ personally and passionately, I can serve humanity, even though people may treat me like a “doormat.”
Oswald Chambers

I find this energizing, on a day when I needed to hear it; my love was waning. It's been a doormat kind of week.

Does this hit you where you live? 

18 June 2012

The Little Things

This is one of my passengers (on the left). She sent me this photo as a thank you for the fruition of our hard work and some of God's good planning.

See, she was coming to Haiti with a team...but they were flying in with Missionary Flights International directly to Pignon and wouldn't be stopping in Port-au-Prince. She really wanted to see the child she sponsors through Compassion International, but she wouldn't be able to without some extra help. They were coming in on Thursday--could she get a flight Thursday evening?

Nope, my guys have strict duty hours and sunset limits. Plus, chartering the whole plane is a little pricey for one person. (I've been meaning to speak to the government fuel subsidy people about that...) Also, her sponsored child was actually from the northwest part of the island, but Compassion was willing to go and get her and bring her to PAP....but the timing just wasn't working out.

We went back and forth, and we were getting low on options, but I suggested that she spend the night in Port-au-Prince and head up to Pignon the next day with a cheap seat on our regular flight and regroup with her team. She wasn't so sure about spending the night in PAP alone, but I assured her that I knew a few good places that were safe, so we booked it. I gave her my cell phone number and told her to call if she had any problems at all.

Fast forward a few weeks later...I'm driving over to the international terminal to pick up David, who was returning from his medical renewal appointment in Florida. Stuck in traffic, I give him a call: "We're waiting under the shaded awning on the far side," he says. Traffic starts to move again, so I quickly say goodbye...then it hits me. "We?" Who's we?

Pulling up to him, he's waiting with a nice looking lady...who then proceeds to get into my car. After an awkward moment, he introduces us: This is the passenger I've been corresponding with--he helped her through customs and immigration when they had some difficulties. Man, those captains bars sure come in handy! I waited with her in the front office while her Compassion driver came to get her at the MAF office...and as we stood there, she noticed that her wardrobe was...um...malfunctioning, to use the phrase. We quickly dug a safety pin out of my purse and got her all fixed before the driver arrived so she didn't have to wear a sweater (and therefore faint from the heat). I got a hug.

The next day, David took her up to Pignon to re-join her group, and today, I got this email from her:

You two were a great help as I entered PAP.  David, thank you for a great flight to Pignon.  I'm so grateful for both of you!  Here are a couple of pics as I visited with our sponsored child and university student.  Christine, your safety pin helped keep things where they should have been. :)

It's the little things, isn't it? Our life here isn't always glamorous--despite our letters, it's not all medical evacuations and cholera supplies and chicken saving. But to an American traveling by herself who just wanted to meet the girl who's been on her heart, we were essential...and not just because of the flight. There's so many ways to be a blessing to someone--God reminds me through these small interactions that there's "MINISTRY," and then there's ministry. There's what I think I came to do (aviation) and then there's what He intends for me to do (safety pins).

Pray for us to be sensitive to his leading, in everything.

06 June 2012

You are a soul

Jay Erickson, who interned with us last year as part of his Moody curriculum, wrote this blog post on April 20th:

Oddly enough, I (Jay) have been pondering the concept of death since arriving at Chitokoloki (Zambia). Living next door to a bush hospital, we hear quite clearly the wails of mourning with each death. And these occur frequently, being about every other day.  In addition, I have been reading through Israel’s wanderings through the wilderness and all the times God’s wrath was poured out such that each time thousands were consumed, bitten, swallowed, or otherwise perished. Still again, I have been reading Out of the Silent Planet by C.S. Lewis, which though a fictional work, deals philosophically with death. Even in eating meat here when I saw the creature alive that morning reminds me of the topic. 
 I did not plan the correlation, but it caused me to think along these lines and realize again in a new way that there is nothing sad about the death of a Christian. The only sadness (and I do not intend to belittle this aspect) is in the loss of companionship by those left behind. And yet, to contrast this, the level of tragedy is so vast for the passing of an unbeliever. To borrow from physics, it seems the “equal and opposite reaction.”
 It warms my heart to hear the frequent and fervent preaching of the Gospel here. Perhaps it is the real presence of death here that we seem so surgically removed from in the USA which is the motivation.  At any rate, I hope it will inspire me to get over those inhibitions which so easily hinder me from speaking. 
I will close with a quote from C.S. Lewis which is at the foundation of my thinking: “You don't have a soul. You are a Soul. You have a body.” And I know that when this body dies, my soul will get a new one.
It's a nice blog post, isn't it? I probably would have read it and said to myself, "Good reflection. Nice insights." It probably doesn't strike you as profound, either, until I tell you that he and his wife Katrina both died in a plane crash last week. His wife came with him to Haiti, along with their daughter Marina, so I had met them as well. Coral was still "in the oven," so to speak. Now the girls are headed to Seattle to live with Jay's sister, because their parents are gone. 

Mission aviation is a small community, even though we're scattered across the face of the earth. I didn't know Jay and Katrina well, but I did know them. And despite his concerns about his inhibitions in preaching the Gospel, his story is now being told through news outlets all over the internet. And more than that, his life is being told. Another missionary at the same hospital shared this story:

Once when working on the Internet here at Chitokoloki, Jay and I were trying to work through some problems with not a lot of success. In the middle of the morning Jay disappeared and was nowhere to be found. When I asked where he was I was told that he went for “Tea” with his wife. Turns out every morning at 10am, he would stop what he was doing, go back to the house and make sure that his wife left with their two young kids were ok and what was going on in their day. She was left alone at home in a foreign land with two young kids. At the time I did not think much of it, but now that they have both passed, it makes you think. The Internet now works, the issues were sorted, that is of no consequence. However, the times we spend with our families, we never know how much of that we will have. What should we put our values on, each and every day, what do I value, a few minutes with my wife, or just getting the next job done. The work and things we fill our days with will always be there, but the people may not.

"The people may not." I'm feeling that acutely, knowing three families leaving Haiti, one of whom is very dear to me. Last Friday, on my day off, I spent a good chunk of the afternoon trying to organize a medical flight for one of the cooks at the Wesleyan Mission on La Gonave who had high blood sugar and trouble breathing. And just as I got my EMT to the airport, and just as David finished fueling the plane, and just as he was getting ready to leave, I got a call: "She passed away."

I can't tell you how frustrated I was.

Death is inherently frustrating. Here's Jay: he's poured years and mountains of money into getting to the field to serve God. He's there for a month and a half, and he dies in an accident. Death is inherently frustrating...and perhaps that's by design. After all, God sits patiently, separated from us, waiting until we're with him the way he meant us to be. I doubt he's frustrated, because he sees the end from the beginning, but he feels the waiting, too. "Precious in the sight of the Lord / is the death of his faithful servants," says Psalm 116. Really? Precious? As in, valuable? Desired? 

Of course it is. You don't send your Son to die for people who mean nothing to you. In fact, I'm pretty sure we mean everything to him. So did Jay, and Katrina, and our medical evacuation patient from La Gonave, and Ava. That's our message. "You mean everything to God, and you are a soul which is meant to have eternal life with him. Christ made it possible--but you make it a reality, when you believe in him." 

Please pray for comfort for Jay and Katrina's family, and that their story may speak this message loud and clear. Pray for peace for us, too--we know the dangers of what we do, but it's too easy to worry. Pray that we'd trust the Lord to take care of us, whatever His plans for us may be. 

To read Jay's blog, click here. To read more from the Chitokoloki Hospital blog, click here.

25 May 2012

Without Ceasing: Matt, Sara, Elizabeth, Ruby, and Hannah

You know when you were in school, and you knew you had a test coming up...and instead of preparing for it, you did other things? You ignored the facts and sort of blew it off? And then it came time to face the music, and it smacked you in the face?

That's a bit of how I'm feeling right now. Because I knew Ava was dying...but I didn't really prepare myself for it. Maybe there's no way I could have--after all, I never even met her.

The good news is that Ava doesn't need your prayers anymore. She's gone. Those of us in Christ have faith that Ava is with the God who loves her, because she's experiencing the undeserved favor of a gracious God, because Christ died for her. She's good.

But Matt, Sara, Elizabeth, Ruby, Hannah, and a host of other people she left behind desperately need them. As Sara put it, "Mamas shouldn't say goodbye to their babies." She's right, of course, and yet that's where they find themselves. And in the tension of "shouldn't" and "can't," I find that a small-but-heavy question presents itself..."how?"


How do we do this? How do we grieve? Comfort each other? Comfort ourselves? How do we have faith and believe that God works all things together for good for those who love him? How do we not become bitter at how wrong and unfair it seems? Jealous of those who don't seem to have these things happen to them? How do we stay tenderhearted?

"How" is hard when it comes to big things, but maybe even more so in the little things, especially for a mom...How do I keep getting laundry done and dishes washed when I feel like this? How do I make dinner feel normal? How do I make it through the grocery store without embarrassing myself?

"How" is hard. They'll need your help. Here's some ways to pray for their family:

-Elizabeth Joy, their oldest, has pneumonia, and Hannah, their youngest, is also sick. Pray for a quick recovery for both of them without any more hospital visits, so they can all be together.

-Hannah is probably too young to realize what's happened, but Elizabeth and Ruby are very much aware. Pray for the right words and actions for Matt and Sara to comfort them and help them understand it all.

-Pray for friends and family and community to come around them and supply their needs: physical, emotional, spiritual. Pray especially for people who like doing laundry and cooking meals and all those other things that just can't go by the wayside. Pray for friends who will sit and listen without offering that which is unhelpful.

-Pray for time alone for each of them to process and sit with God. 

-Pray for strength as they plan her memorial. Pray that it would glorify God. Pray for safe, easy travel for those coming to join them.

-There's a whole, huge network of people following Sara's blog, worldwide. Pray that it would be a testimony of God's grace that would lead them to Him.

Thanks, friends. You can follow their story here: www.msharms.blogspot.com

16 May 2012

Guest blogging!

I was the guest blogger today over on the MAF blog--their theme right now is aircraft maintenance. They picked the right lady for the job on this one! I probably know more than most wives, just because of my job at the hangar.

You can read it here: http://www.mafblog.com/mafaviation/high-maintenance

Funny Food

As opposed to Accountant cheese? Firefighter cheese? Dentist cheese?
Don't try to drink this straight. You NEED cereal.
The sun killed them. RIP, tomatoes.
Maybe this isn't that funny, but I thought it was. Is this normal?

11 May 2012

Double Love

Many of the people we serve here are missionaries...some would call them "short-term," but a decade-long commitment, coming and going, time after time, doesn't really seem short-term to me. I think of them more as "in and out" missionaries, as "here and there"...they just can't seem to stay away. These guys are often self-supported and on a tight budget, so I do my best to get them the best reservation set-up I can.

One of them, Bob, came through on Monday, headed up to Mole St. Nicolas in northwest Haiti. He had three other guys with him and a bunch of supplies, so they had the Caravan on the way to Mole. Coming back, however, he wanted to know if they could fit in a five-seat plane, as it would save them quite a bit of money. We had them separate out what they wanted to bring back and weigh themselves to do an estimate. They were right at 1,015 pounds...the max is 1045. David said it would have to be one of our lighter pilots (like him), but that we could make it work. I told them if they promised to take it easy on the rice and beans, we could cancel their second plane. They promised, I canceled it, and everyone was happy.

Until...I got a call on Wednesday, from Bob. "Our Haitian pastor up here has a doctor's appointment in Port-au-Prince on Friday...is there any way he could ride back with us?" This is where my job gets tough. The plane just can't take that much weight. As much as I'd rather say yes, I've got to protect our passengers, our pilots and our equipment. I told him I was sorry, but no, unless they wanted to leave all their luggage behind, there was no way.

"Is that second plane still available?" I told him it was. "And it would be double what we'd planned to pay, right? It would be the same price, only twice over?" I confirmed that it was. "I'll call you back in a few minutes." I went back to scheduling, fairly sure that they wouldn't want to double their costs for just one guy who's used to a tap-tap.

He called back. "We'll take it."

Isn't it amazing, the "double love" we find around us some times? Isn't it amazing that two men from completely different cultures, different economic strata, different languages...can become brothers?

Pray that we'd be a blessing to these "in and out" missionaries, helping them maximize their time in country and their effectiveness for the gospel.

01 May 2012

Tomato Love

For those who may have missed the news, I am pregnant, due in December. (I'll give you a minute for any happy dance or loud whooping that you may feel is necessary.) We certainly have had our own share of joy as we get to spread the news, especially in telling the grandma's and grandpa's. It's quite a thrill.

Here in Haiti, my friends and coworkers are thinking that this is well overdue. After all, the total fertility rate in 2011 was three children per woman. Let that sink in for a minute. For every woman, three children. It's no wonder I always felt like everyone was pregnant but me. Also, a woman who's been married seven years without children? Unheard of. One stranger even chastised me for "withholding" children from my husband. Yeah, because I totally planned that. (This is me, rolling my eyes.)

I can't say that I'm one of those gals that relishes the pregnancy experience, sweetly smiling through every nauseated moment. I wish I could glory in the adult acne, the mood swings, the "space case" brain moments. I sort of think it's a pain.

Today, however, it was put into perspective for me. Our baggage handler, Marc, came up to me, grinning from ear to ear. "My boss," he said fondly, "You are going to be a beautiful tomato!" It was explained to me that I would be glowing, radiant and fat round.

Well, there are worse things in life. (Better a tomato than a whale.) While I'm not in love with "tomato-ness," I am certainly thrilled about its byproduct.

Please pray with us that this little person would grow up healthy and strong!

27 April 2012

Without Ceasing: Ava

This is Ava. She doesn't live in Haiti...but she's important to us. Her dad Matt is David's cousin; we stayed with him and his wife Sara in St. Louis while I was getting medical testing done. And their daughter, Ava, needs your prayers today.