Wednesday, April 22, 2015

"hellos and goodbyes"

This "Hello and Goodbye" thing has been buzzing in my head a lot lately. We are coming up on a time of transition and unfortunately will be saying goodbye to many dear friends--this missionary life is HARD!

I've had several conversations about how sometimes I just wish I kept to myself and didn't form close relationships with anyone here because it seems that eventually there is always a "goodbye." Of course I realize that is not healthy and I have chosen to create some amazing relationships with some pretty awesome people.

But there is this "goodbye" that is coming and I am dreading it. I've even so much as started researching how to handle staying on the mission field when others leave. Tonight on Facebook the article below popped up in my newsfeed...thank you God for making it so simple! ;)

This article is titled: "To The One Who Is Left Behind". I always felt that coming to Haiti was so much easier for me than the family and friends that I left behind. I was going onto new adventures and creating a new normal. They were surrounded by the memories of our time together everyday. Now, that is me. I'm stuck in the same place surrounded by the memories that were created and my friends are onto new adventures.

Change is hard. This new season is going to be a great one, but it will take some getting used too. I am thankful for the friends and relationships that I have that will still be here with me. God is good for allowing me to be able to keep some good friends close by. :)

I also think about my little man and how I want to protect him from the pain. He's seen so many people in and out of his life. I don't want him to become hardened or just think that everyone he meets is going to one day walk out of his life. But how do you protect your child from that living on mission field with so many "Hellos and Goodbye"?? I don't have the answer but I'm praying.

Take a moment to read the following article if you can relate to being the one who is left behind. Please pray for us in the upcoming weeks and try to figure out how to say our "goodbyes."

There are many people that I could list off that I am going to miss but this woman has been a true God-sent. She will admit that when I first came she was that excited about it, but look at us now...were doing crazy stuff all throughout Haiti together!

She has been a saint to live with and has really become like an auntie to my little man. She has kept us sane, cooked us wonderful meals, traveled with us, given me 'mom breaks', and above all has loved us deeply with so much grace. 

Much love

From "A life overseas" facebook page

To the One Who is Left Behind
For Jo, and all the others who are left behind.
I watched with a sinking heart as my son walked through security and down the hallway to his gate. He was leaving from Logan International Airport for a gap semester in Oxford, England.
This was my youngest, my baby. The entire process of getting him ready and off was an event. I have said goodbye to many before — other family members, dear friends, other children — it was never easy, but this one felt different. It was the end of an era: An era of parenting that was finishing, a new stage beginning.
My husband and I had reversed the roles we had for so long; the roles where we were the ones leaving. Now it was our children and we were the ones left behind.
It’s always the same. I stand at the airport or in the driveway and the word ‘grief’ feels too shallow for what I feel, all the emotions that flow through my heart and mind. I watch as my life changes in slow motion as the people I love drive away or go through airport security.
“You sob like you will never stop. There is no one to hold you. There is no one to offer tangible, concrete comfort. Slowly the sobs swallow you up. You begin to feel such relief, the relief that comes only from a cry so deep you can’t explain it. And somehow you know that God is there.”*
I know with each parting, that life will never be quite the same and I’m never quite sure I will be able to handle it. I’m never convinced that this time might be the time where I become undone, where I can no longer pick up the pieces of those left behind — move forward when those I love are gone. But each time I do. Each time I survive, and I smile and laugh again, and though it hurts, somehow it’s okay. 
So this piece is for the one who is left behind.
I don’t know your exact situation, but I surely know this ‘deeper than grief’ feeling, I know what it is to leave, but I also know what it is to be left behind. Here are some thoughts for those who are left behind.
  1. Have an immediate plan. Whether it is to rearrange the furniture or go on an outing, have an immediate plan for that day or evening. There is something about taking charge and ‘doing’ that can be of tremendous help the day of departure. After each of my kids left home, I rearranged the furniture.
  2. Recognize that most of the advice and literature deals with those who have left, not those who are left. It’s maddening really, but there you have it. I believe being left is far harder than leaving. The one who leaves goes into a new situation, usually without memories of you that have to be faced. You are left with memories of everything from the mundane to the wonderful, and whispers and shouts of your loved one’s presence are everywhere.
  3. Face your feelings. Unresolved grief happens when you don’t face those feelings, you don’t admit the loss. Unresolved grief leads to depression, anxiety, and health problems. It can also lead to bad behavior. Facing your feelings means you might get angry that the person has left, that you might feel sad and lost, that you might feel a myriad of other things. Facing them means admitting and accepting them. Not forcing them down as unacceptable, foolish, silly, stupid, or not real.
  4. Don’t let anyone dictate what you should or shouldn’t feel. Job’s comforters come in every size, every shape, and every language. If you feel uncomfortable with the advice or supposed comfort you are getting from someone than you are probably face to face with one of these “comforters.” It’s okay to feel what you feel. It’s okay to miss people. And it’s also okay to move forward at your own pace. Best to separate yourself from these “comforters,” surrounding yourself instead with those who will comfort well.
  5. Eat right, sleep well, exercise. The mind/body connection is huge and it is so critical to take into account. Protein and Vitamin C are the bodies healers. Make sure your diet is high in both those things. Exercise releases the all important endorphins. Even though our circumstances have not changed, after we exercise our response to those circumstances is generally healthier. And sleep – such a gift! One of the morning prayers in the Orthodox prayer book says this: “…who providest us with sleep as a rest from our infirmities and as a repose for our bodies tired by labor.” That’s what sleep can be for us – true rest from the hard.
  6. Find ways to express what you feel. You don’t have to be a writer to express yourself in a journal. You don’t have to be an artist to pick up paints and paper. You may decide to express your loss through talking, through writing, through hiking, through decorating. There are a myriad of ways to express your feelings so don’t be afraid to explore these.
  7. Expect a roller coaster ride. Saying goodbye to people we love and beginning a new stage without them can result in a wide range of emotions. Don’t think you’re crazy if one minute you want to weep and miss them terribly and the next you are fine without them. This roller coaster ride of emotions is completely normal.
  8. Know what is normal and what is not. While missing someone’s presence is normal, prolonged grief and inability to move on with your life is called‘complicated grief.’ Complicated grief disrupts normal life and prevents you from healing. This is a time to seek counsel and help. There is grief and then there is complicated grief. While saying goodbye is difficult, it is something that we should be able to recover from, grateful for the time we had with the person but ready to move forward in a new normal.
  9. Try something new. As time moves on, it is a good thing to move into new activities. It’s a way to make new friends as well as engage your mind and body in something different. Learn a new language, take a cooking class, join a book or hiking club. Notice – all these things involve interacting with other people. It’s important not to wallow alone. Wallow with people. Your wallowing could well turn to laughter sooner than you ever thought possible.
  10. Lastly, learn how to communicate creatively with those whom you said goodbye to. Through letters, media, phone calls, emails – the list is long on the ways you can choose to communicate and keep in touch. Always keep in mind, however, that it is not healthy to want to spend every minute on the phone or texting with the person you said goodbye to. It won’t bring them back and it will prevent you from growing and moving forward.
Great writers manage to convey far more in fictitious scenarios than I can in ‘real-life’ advice, so I will end with words from a great writer:
“Well, here at last, dear friends, on the shores of the sea comes the end of our fellowship in Middle-earth. Go in peace! I will not say: do not weep; for not all tears are an evil.”
― J.R.R. Tolkien, The Return of the King
What else would you add to this list?

Thursday, April 16, 2015

Struggles of a missionary

I had a missionary moment I was at home by myself (hardly ever happens!) I was washing dishes and had a little mini melt down. Yep, washing dishes as water started to flood my eyes. 

It was a moment when I hate being in love with two countries and having loved ones in both places. A moment when I hated the fact that I would be missing out on yet another special event in the lives of my loved ones in MN.

I received the sweetest Evite today to one of the most special people in my life's 18th birthday party!! First of all I thought how in the world can this kid be 18! Then a huge sadness took over me as I realized I wouldn't be able to go back to MN to share in this special event of this special guy who has overcome so much! 

On April 5th 2012 Nathaniel was admitted to Children's Hospital and diagnosed with a rare blood disease called TTP. (you can read about his journey here) This was one of the scariest times! Seeing my favorite little buddy lying in that hospital bed with tubes and IV's everywhere was so hard. I still remembering the sight of that hospital room where he was sedated. Ugh such a horrible feeling. 
This was shortly after he started finally feeling better and we got to hangout!!
 I am so incredibly thankful for all of that to be in the past! And thankful for continued good blood counts at check up appointments! I am so incredibly sad that I won't be able to be there to celebrate with you but I hope you know how much I love you and miss hanging out with you!! Can we please hangout soon!!
This little stinker loved scaring me at the Haunted Maze thing!!!

 This kid has brought me so much joy I can't even begin to tell you!! I just love how God brought us together!! I can't imagine my life without you and all of our fun times together when we can just "Go with the flow" (insert rolling hand motion here) ;) 
The star athlete of the Western Wings!!

Maybe God will open a door for a cheap flight, extra cash, and to have days off of school...that's my prayer! Will you pray that pray with me!

Happy 18th birthday buddy!!! I still can't believe you are almost 18 years old!!! Stop growing up!!! I miss you tons!!!

 I love you so much buddy!!!! 

kdnvkdierjioejfvmoeirjok :) 

Thursday, April 9, 2015

Beauty through the frustrations..

TIH...This is Haiti...this is a little phrase that gets thrown around a lot here in Haiti. If you have lived or even visited short term you probably know all to well that nothing is quick and easy here. Its something you just learn to accept. Yes, we often say...well it would make sense if...but so often things don't make sense, but yet some things do get done, eventually. 

For the past several months I have been working on getting Lovinsky's birth certificate. Let me just start by saying it has been the most trying and biggest test of faith I have had recently. 

I am beyond thankful for the people in my life and Quisqueya Christian School for being so accommodating and allowing me to run to the many offices over the past couple of months. And of course Mr. Noel who has been a saint and taken me everyone and translated everything for me! I really wouldn't have been able to get any of this started if it weren't for them. 

I've written a letter requesting a birth certificate for my little man, dropped off the letter to be told 'we will call you when it's ready'....almost 3 weeks later no we go in, the Director has been out of the office but if we come back next week we should have the letter. *Sigh. 

Finally go back excited that we are finally going to be able to get this...only to find out that they put a birthdate on there that we never knew existed and is not accurate. *Sigh again. We talk to a man in the office and he tells us if we can prove a different age for him with a doctors letter they could change it. So of course we get to work right away...Thankful for a dentist letter from Michael Lindahl who saw him while he was at Grace Village. But we also had to have another letter. So we went to a doctor who told us we had to go get x-ray's of his growth plate to determine a more appropriate age. CHECK! 

After getting these letters we take them back....after waiting almost 45 minutes to see the guy, he basically tells us they won't change it now because then they would have to change all their paperwork but when the adoption process starts I could change it! Say What!?! Are you serious!! 

So I came to grips and just accepted it. I had to just let it go and trust that God was in control and he would take care of it all. 

So we take the letter which states that we need a birth certificate (with an inaccurate birthday) to the Mayor's office. Only to find out that the lawyer says they should not make the birth certificate if the birthday is inaccurate and we have letters from the dentist and doctor. Praise the Lord! They understood!! Thinking that they would just make it with the correct date--because it seemed that is what they decided--only to go back and pay and find out that they don't want to go against social services. We then had to set up a meeting with the lawyer--which took about 2 weeks to do. We went there once-he wasn't there. We tried going again-decided we would call first this time. He tells us we have to go there at 9:00 am if we want to meet with him. Ugh...a girl works you know!! Thankfully I have some amazing co-workers who covered for me! 

Today, we were able to go to the Mayor's office--which by the way is absolutely beautiful with chandeliers and all. (I was going to take a picture but when it was time to go my head was so focused on lets go!) When we got there we meet the lawyer and talked with him about the situation. At first he didn't really want to help us.  As I sat there silently praying (and knowing that others were praying as well) and picking up bits of their conversation, he finally decided he would help us! Praise the Lord!! We sat in his office while he told his secretary what to write in a letter that we would then have to take back to social services requesting a more appropriate birth date!

As we waited I was reminded of how great our God is and how He can move mountains. I had been so discouraged a few weeks ago, but now today God was moving. Of course there is a lot that can happen and social services can deny his request, but today there is hope! 

Despite the frustrations of Haiti and how the systems run I try to remind myself to enjoy this time and the beauty of where we are in this season of our journey. There truly is beauty all around us. Beauty in the people who have helped throughout this process, beauty in the people I see on the roads as we drive from office to office, beauty in the land as we drive through the crowded streets and beauty in the face of my little boy. 

My sister told me today "Nothing worthwhile is ever easy."  This couldn't be more true. I know that one day this will all be behind us but right now there are days where it seems so daunting. But I also know that with all my heart this little boy is worth it! 

Written all on his own...Love you too little man! 

 Being a single mom in Haiti has been challenging and we try to do things to keep our sanity but living in Haiti is not cheap and trying to file all this paper work gets expensive. If you would like to make to a one time donation or become a monthly support we would greatly appreciate it! Please click on the link on the top right of this blog!

Much love from us! 

Visiting our most favorite lady!! It has been way too long since we've seen her!!

Just us. :) 

We were able to spend a weekend with friends at their family's beach house.
Great time with friends and lots of memories and laughs!
It is truly beautiful there! 
Find the beauty around you and in your situations today!
 God is there! Blessings!