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Saturday, December 26, 2009

Abbey's Top Ten

Haitian artwork for sale adorns many street walls.
Why I’m excited about visiting Indiana, and arriving in America in general, after five months of living in a third world county-
1. Daddy, Mamma, Tubs, and Drew! and Yoda.
2. My church family!
3. Worship music led by Steve! (Steve, can we sing your Heaven song? Please!)
4. Pastor Kirk and his PREACHING!
5. My Y-M-C-A!!!!
6. MY BED! Quiet, good SLEEP!
7. Target- it’s just so ridiculously clean and orderly. Ridiculously. It’s ridiculous.
8. Pow-wows with old and fabulous friends and especially my youth-groupers!
9. I am going to go out and walk around my block. At night.
10. I am going to watch the news! And not complain! Mr. Obama, bring it.
11. Vegetables.

What I will NOT miss about Haiti:
1. The neighbors’ music, the neighbors’ dogs, the neighbors.
2. Being tagged as a foreigner by the locals as I walk the streets. How can they tell?
3. Guys, I can’t speak Creole, I really can’t! Stop talking to me in Creole!
4. The black air my lungs inhale every breath I take.
5. People, people, people! This island is swarming with them! There is a person in every nook & cranny, around every corner, behind every door. The streets are teeming with them. Really people, it’s simple. Birth control.
6. My curfew.
7. The kisses I get from guys on the street. It sounds like they’re sucking spinach out from their teeth. Very attractive.
8. Mosquitoes.
9. The neighbors.
10. What did you say?
What I WILL miss:
1. 26 children who, amazingly, love me!
2. Coffee with Jack and Marcia in the mornings. Well, Jack drinks tea.
3. Greeting friends with a kiss!
4. My youth-groupers!
5. The bourgeoisie are so polite. They call me Miss!
6. I never set an alarm clock.
7. No TV.
8. Friendships with solid young adults whom I see regularly- almost daily!
9. Avocados.
10. Clean laundry right from the line. Washed by hand by fabulous Haitian women!

Friday, December 25, 2009

Your Vote COUNTS!

Hey friends, I NEED YOUR HELP! Let me please explain. This is in regards to an ongoing medical condition. I am going to be as thorough as possible in this explanation so that you are empowered to offer me your best suggestions! (Translation: prepare for this to be rather lengthy and boring.)

God gave me the wonderful privilege of playing a unique sport called field hockey for several years in high school & college. From this experience however, through my ignorance at the time concerning conditioning and training, I developed back “problems.” Looking back, I believe what I did was over-train my abdominal muscles without strengthening the opposing muscles in my lower back. If I understand synergistic muscle groups correctly, this means that the stronger muscles in the front of my body began pulling on the weaker back muscles. I first began experiencing problems from this in 2003-ish: occasionally, after sitting down for a length of time, when I stood up I could feel the bones along my spine in my lower back “shift” like, I was done moving (to stand up) but they continued to move forward, like a loose joint. No pain, though, so no problem. Just weird.

I was extremely blessed to play sports in high school and college essentially injury-free. I’ve always attributed much of this to my diligence in my workouts to warm up, stretch, and cool down. Well, graduate from college and welcome to Real Life. Stretching, etc. became less of a priority as time became less available- time enough to work out was the commodity; there were not enough minutes in my day to leisurely enjoy my former exercising routine.
So when in 2007 my right hamstring began tightening up, I attributed it to this. Change in routine = body rebellion. So I laid off from things like running for a time, but with no effect. My hamstring was unexplainably tight and I lost flexibility in it, but still no pain. So I bucked up and learned to live with it and began running again.

Then, enter the stress of a full-time job that drained me physically, emotionally, and spiritually, and I began experiencing more symptoms. I think my stress honestly went to my spine! In a period of maybe two months my back tightened up almost to the point where I became unable to walk. This happened in early April of this year. I didn’t know what to do. I was used to being healthy, mobile, and active and yet I was locking up and slowing down like an old woman. I’d heard that massage therapy helped loosen tight muscles so I pursued a kick-your-butt, oh-so-painful-but-good-for-you deep-tissue massage which literally restored to me the ability to walk normally again.

Temporarily. The back tightness returned not long thereafter (my hamstring continued to be tight) and turned into an ache-y, lingering lower back pain. Uncharacteristically of me, I decided after a few months of this to pursue professional medical care. I visited a back specialist in Avon (Indiana) who took x-rays of me which revealed a “healthy” back. His answer: take muscle relaxers and go to physical therapy. If this didn’t fix my pain, come back to see him. Well, muscle relaxers were a bad idea for me. I felt GREAT so I of course over-exerted myself. I did the stuff the PT told me to do-INCLUDING! not running- but still experienced pain. And no one could say what was wrong with me! Why the pain???

I then did three things things: re-commenced running, saw a chiropractor (I’d heard they were pretty helpful with these kinds of things), and consulted with my family doctor about pursuing an MRI. The chiro, in conjunction with monthly massage therapy sessions, must have helped me because I saw him several times. From him I learned that I have built-up scar tissue in my lower back. Not an answer to my pain Question but one more piece of the puzzle. I didn’t go back to the back specialist; my family doctor said the expense of an MRI was unnecessary at this point: take muscle relaxers and stop running. I didn’t do the former but did do (again) the latter.
During my 5,926 mile car ride this summer to the west coast I began experiencing tingling and temporary numbness in my legs- a sign of sciatica nerve problems. The tightness in my leg continued as did my low back pain.

I moved to Haiti in August in the midst of this unresolved back drama. Again, I had stopped running. The effect: pain decreased but not evaporated. Still no answer to the cause of the pain. And my low back continued to do its weird “out of joint” stunt. So to retain my sanity I began running short distances again. And I felt pretty good! But Haiti took its toll on my body (unpaved and uneven surfaces, merciless hills, poor sleeping conditions, etc.) and the pain, this time intensified, returned. And with it more problems- my right hamstring tightened more and my right quadriceps locked up: this felt (feels) like I am fighting my own body to walk. When I walk I of course am moving forwards but these muscles in my legs are pulling against me in the opposite direction. Walking is like trying to run in deep water but the resistance, rather than external, is my own body! My muscles are fighting against me.

About two months ago, nearly unable (again) to walk, I began seeing a chiro here. She adjusted me weekly and after some time and much progress released me to bi-weekly appointments. It was within that span of two weeks that I experienced totally normal (no tightness or pain ANYwhere!) running again- for the first time in nearly two years!!!! Miracle of miracles! But I, being the zealot that I am, over-extended myself and found that two weeks was too long to go in-between adjustments. The localized, ache-y pain in my lower back returned and with it the same symptoms I described above: numbness & tingling down my legs and the tightness and resistance in my leg muscles. I thought that getting back into weekly adjustments would do the trick but I’ve been unable logistically to make the appointments and my last one didn’t yield the result I anticipated.

I am near despairing. Sitting hurts, walking and standing hurt. I am in constant, unexplainable pain with no Plan to resolve it. Oh, one more potential piece to the puzzle. I have a friend at the Fishers Y named Todd who described to me a tight muscle problem he once had in his (I think) hamstring. He saw a physician who diagnosed him with built-up scar tissue on the insertion point of the muscle. The treatment: he went for regular appointments at which the doctor scraped away (using tools externally) at the tissue until it was broken up and the muscle relaxed. Todd said the treatment was the most painful thing he’s ever known but that he was completely healed as a result…

What should I do? Do I get an MRI? I am going back to Indiana Monday but am not able to see my stateside chiro until Jan 4th; I don’t want to spend my vaca in this kind of pain! Do you have a chiro you could recommend? What do you think? Marcia wants me to NOT go to a homeopathic or chiro doctor; she wants me to run the traditional route of medical doctors and tests, etc. The problem I see with this is that they want to push pills on me which I will NOT take- pills which only treat symptoms, not causes (and they have yet to offer me an explanation for the Cause of this pain) and I am not willing to undergo back surgery, so… What do you say???

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Christmas Eve Eve

What an exciting day today was! I awoke to the sound of rain. Rain! We have been in need of a shower for more than a month and last night our downpour arrived. With the rain came a damp cold. Cold! Today our storm veiled the skies, lingering long into the afternoon. The damp, the chill, the brilliant grey worked together harmoniously in our delightful December tempest to create in me for the first time this winter the feeling that we are in the Advent season.

Our school activities today included an interactive skit with the kids. What a blast! Our four wise men (plus me)- Steeve, Nicot, Kervens, and Daniel- met with King Herod (Reece) about the new star (Bethany). After a conference call with the scribes and scholars (Elmise, Ellie, Naitile), Herod texted them back and sent them to Bethlehem. Bethany shone brightly and led the wise guys to the abode of baby Jesus (Matu), whom they worshipped and offered gifts- a tow truck, dump truck, and a bus. (No irreverence intended; here in Haiti we have to degajé: use what we’ve got to do what we need where we’re at.) The kids and I love it.

After our opening exercises we made Christmas cookies and Christmas cards for our staff! We listened to Christmas songs! Later in the afternoon Jack, Marcia, and myself put together the kids’ Christmas gifts! Did I mention that today for the first time I felt like it was really Christmastime!? I love this chill that has descended upon us! What magic it is working! I think I’m going to make some hot chocolate tomorrow morning!

Tuesday, December 22, 2009


Dear Praying Friends,
Joyeux Noël! Happy Christmas! I am so excited about seeing so many of you very soon and wishing you a bon anné!
I have several personal prayer requests I’d like to ask you to pray! I want and need continued diligence in having a daily time with God. Pray that it will be my first priority! …The Holy Spirit has been making me more aware of the deep, deep layers of PRIDE and SELF which separate me from God and from loving and serving others. Pray that I will KILL these sins daily! …Praise God, I’ve been seeing a chiropractor weekly for my back pain and it helped- a lot. Two weeks ago, however, I over-exerted myself and now I am in very bad shape. Chiropractic care didn’t solve it like it did before and this week I was unable to make my appointment. Translation: in my lower back I feel constant pain and the muscles in both my lags are locked up. This means that I’m fighting my own body just to walk. Pray, please, for God’s grace to richly fill me and spill onto others; being in physical pain is so distracting. I am irritable, tense, and impatient. I am also asking God for a very specific thing regarding this situation. I am asking Him that on Tuesday the 29th when I visit the Fishers YMCA :) I will run into Todd. Todd has information that I think might be really helpful to me with regards to a doctor.
Love you guys and praising God for you.
“You who have shown me many troubles and distresses will revive me again, and will bring me up again from the depths of the earth.” Psalm 71:20

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Tuesday, 8 December, 2009

Elmise helps hang Christmas bulbs.
I realize my postings rarely correspond with my pics,
but I think this randomness better corresponds to the
Reality I experience down here of, well, Randomness!
Dearest of mothers,

Mamma! How are you! I miss you, Mamma! I miss White Christmas, your repetitive listening to Josh Groban's holiday album, and coffee in the mornings. I miss you, your insight into life, your humor, and the way you’re so hard on yourself! I will see you in 19 days, amazing!

Our team of 12 is leaving on an early flight tomorrow. We have a medical resident down who is staying another week, working with Dr. Jack. I have received a lot of help recently with the homeschooling from the input & suggestions of visitors to Three Angels and I thank God that it is progressing as it is. I also praise God that He is dealing with me on heart issues regarding my teaching. The whole Point is pointing these little ones to Christ. AND, I am responsible for their academic maturation! We may not be discussing Locke and Hobbes or arguing man as he is in the state of nature, but learning is learning, so I am laboring daily to have fun with it. Although it is not what I love doing, He does give me joy! :) Do you know how rewarding it is to have your students demonstrate that their little ears have been listening and they get it? Yes, you do. :)

Please pray that I will consider this trial of back pain and minor paralysis JOY (yes, minor, very, very minor). And pray boldly that God will heal! Most significantly, pray for my PRIDE to DIE. I am really hand wrestling this Monster and it is pinning me every time. How can I kill Pride?

What’s going on in the free world? How much longer will freedom reign?
Love you so much, Mamma!
abs Psalm 30: 2

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

A Feeding Program

Some of the amazing work going on here... Shelly Clay and her husband, Corrigan, have a ministry to street kids and malnourished children. They invite them into their home for a meal & a movie on Saturdays. They have discovered that old silent slapsticks get the best reception from the kids on the entertainment front. The kids' favorite meal? Beans and rice. :)
The Clays started out a few months ago feeding a dozen or so children. They now get numbers in the fifties and have had to cap it off. Currently they purchase food for the kids from their own income but are looking for outside finanial support as they would like to expland the program.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Paradigm Shift

A typical city scape: A market in Petionville
This move to Haiti has involved an immersion into Missionarydom. My life is swarming with foreign missionaries! My friends are foreign missionaries! I go to church with foreign missionaries- the faces that hang on your fridges at home, “Pray for the _____s,” these are the folks with whom I converse, worship, work, and play. It makes life interesting indeed.
“What do you do?” is the common question at social engagements in the states. “I’m a teacher,” “I drive trucks,” “I’m a doctor,” “I stay at home with my kids…” The question and responses suit the context. Here, in this context, although we do not phrase the Question in this way, we could just as appropriately ask, “So in what way are you saving lives?” and the regular responses would include… “I run a feeding program,” “I nurse kids in the ghetto,” I’m teaching women about STDs and prenatal health,” “My husband and I train church leaders,” “We run an orphanage…”
What a humbling contrast to consider, one I can hardly get my mind around. These peoples’ daily work involves saving lives! And I find myself still thinking in stateside terms: “What am I going to be when I grow up?” …

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Mom and Dad, meet Edward, my Haitian boyfriend.

Who would have thought a Snail would be so F.U.N.?
In Haiti, that’s how we roll.
I captured this little guy at the school (QCS) at which I spend so much of my free time. I thought he’d be a great creature to show my kids. These kiddos at Three Angels are so cloistered! No pets, no grass, only a few trees (which are not suitable for climbing L)… the highlight of my week with them is usually playing in the rain (or our impromptu Dance Parties)! I want so much for them to enjoy the amazing creativity of our God as evidenced in His creation so this week our learning moment was brought to us by a snail!
Edward, the Snail, was a dramatic guest during his stay at Three Angels. After his first night with us he disappeared and was feared dead. Upon his rediscovery, (which necessitated somewhat of a resuscitation since he was drying out) my elation prompted an Ode in his honor. Maybe I will share this piece of literature with you in the future. Mom and Dad, don't freak out. I did some soul searching, thought about the relationship, and Ed and I have since split. It's better this way. The cultural differences were just irreconcilable. :)
Reece was the only Haitian brave enough to hold Edward!

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Thanks, Friends!
Dear Friends!
Thank you for your sacrifices which make it possible for me to live and serve in Haiti. I am able to be here for at least two reasons. First, many of you are supporting me financially. Thank! you! I am in your debt and it’s my desire that God’s kingdom is the richer for it. Second (and I am increasingly beginning to believe, more significantly), you are praying for me, for Jack and Marcia, and for Three Angels. THANK! YOU! Please keep praying. God is honored by your prayers and takes great delight in them. I pray that we all grow in the delight that we take in spending time lingering in God’s presence and in laboring in intercession. Probably we are all ignorant on this side of heaven how effectual prayers for this ministry are. My prayer is that God will sweep back the curtain at intervals to reveal glimpses of the precious and powerful value of prayer. I know I need such glimpses to be encouraged to persevere in prayer and motivated to pray more! Here are some things that are on my heart for which you can pray...

· Praise God that I got to share the Gospel with the older six kids this week: Reece, Steeve, Daniel, Elmise, Bethany, and Naitile. PRAY for my sensitivity and obedience to pursue future opportunities. I know God will create them!
· PRAY I’ll slow down and serve more, especially making time for the kids individually. I want to invest into them outside of school “hours” and classroom “activities.”
· PRAY for God’s financial provision for Three Angels. This month Haiti passed into law a minimum wage increase that, unless God intercedes, will force us to let several workers go (and we don’t want to!). The wage increase is staggering- a woman who earned $75 US last month will this month and hereafter make $165 US! It’s just not sustainable. This law will lead to many economic problems here- already the gas companies have responded by limiting their operating hours to between 6 am and 2 pm daily because they can’t afford to pay their workers. God is sovereign.
· Praise God for Dave Voltz’s safe arrival this evening! We are excited about the week of teaching and sharing from God’s word ahead of us. PRAY for our staff who will be participating in the Bible studies and for our spiritual growth as well.
· Praise God that I am now enrolled in a twice a week Creole class! PRAY for my diligence to study and practice and that God will bless my efforts.
Love you my friends- anpil (a lot)!
-abbey mac

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Teenagers! Surprise!

God is my good, generous, and giving Father! I received an incredible gift from Him this week.
I discovered shortly after arriving in Haiti that within walking distance of our orphanage is a Christian school compound called Quisqueya. (The church that Jack and Marcia attend, Port au Prince Fellowship, meets at the chapel on this compound.) It is a large school, K-12, that serves missionary families and the Haitian bourgeois in the Port au Prince area. After school sports like soccer and volley ball are offered for students and staff so I put on my running shoes a couple of times per week and head over for some competition and endorphins. Through these expeditions I’ve met a handful of other young people (teachers at Quisqueya) who, like myself, heard the call to drop their lives in the states to get to know God better and love people in Haiti. The friendships I’m making here are sharpening, encouraging, and are good, plain fun!
But it gets even better than that! Each high school class at Quisqueya volunteers monthly at an orphanage in the area. Last month Three Angels received a phone call asking could we use some help with our children? Mais oui! But of course! So we were assigned a class and it was arranged for them to come the first Thursday of each month. This week was our first encounter with our assigned class. Thirty-two teens and one leader descended upon us and I found myself welcoming more than a dozen familiar faces- teens I’d played sports with or seen on campus. And they recognized me (You’re the girl with the pig-tails! I’ve seen you running on Delmas… or, Hey, you played soccer with us!) What energizing feelings of love and acceptance! I was drinking liquid happiness the whole day.

But it gets even better than THAT. These teens are the tenth grade class. DREW IS IN TENTH GRADE. What a joy, what an unexpected, undeserved little jewel of a gift from God. My heart was bursting with joy the whole day, thinking thoughts as, that guy is like a Haitian Drew and, that kid would be my sister’s best friend! Thank You, Jesus, for these surrogate brothers and sisters throughout this year of being an ocean away from my own! And they are the cream of the crop- every teacher friend of mine at Quisqueya drips with praise for this class.
The ratio of teens to orphans is something like 1.13 to 1 so they will be doing a lot of interacting with our kids. Marcia elected to have each teen paired with a child- some children have two teens. The pairs are permanent for the year so each orphan will get to bond with their teen. This month the teens played group games with the kids, ate lunch with them, went crazy with stickers and face paint and a giant parachute, and decorated cupcakes. Next month they plan on doing learning and activity stations. The kids loved the attention and affection. I loved the teens.

Saturday, October 3, 2009

GOD wrestled Jacob

The mountains heave under the weight of thousands of people and concrete houses

Some random thoughts...

  • God, WHAT? were You thinking when You deposited me into a volitile city where I visibly stand out as foreigner? Culture SHOCK!
  • Ahh, I get it! There are so many men just loitering about, sitting around, looking unproductive all the time because over 50% of the population is UNEMPLOYED!
  • I will celebrate the day I can shoot the neighbor's dogs.
  • The Quoteable Dr. Jack: On gaining passage to the Promised Land- "If I were a Haitian, I'd apply for a visa to Mexico and walk across the border into America!"
  • On the criticism he's received by Haitians concerning his command of Creole- "Well, the way I see it is that, when I was a baby, I first spoke baby-talk. I then became coherent in my pronunciation. I then learned how to complete sentences. So, I figure that in two or three years I'll get the hang of this thing!"
  • It is not generous of the neighbors to share their music with us at ungoldly hours of the night.
  • The litter everywhere, the filth and noise of the city, and the cultural chasm between "them" and "us" cannot deter my ardent infatuation with this Carribean sky! Tres belle!
  • My purpose in this Blog is to report on life here at an orphanage in Haiti, to be transparent about things between God and I, and to share my scribblings from the past and present, praying that God is glorified and His kids are encouraged by these offerings...
Sunday, 20 September, 2009

“Then Jacob was left alone, and a man wrestled with him until daybreak. When he saw that he had not prevailed against him, he touched the socket of his thigh; so the socket of Jacob’s thigh was dislocated while he wrestled with him.” Genesis 32:24,25

You wrestle with this sinner’s heart.
Uhg. grr.
I shouldn’t be surprised to discover that my heart is sinful.
You told me that.
And I believed You.
But this?
You really do want everything.
I can’t blame You,
I reject the old notion that You are a cosmic killjoy, that You want to beat me into submission, stifling me, suffocating my personhood.
I choose to believe You are good, You gave me Jesus.
Oh but Jesus, my heart throws doubts upon Your generosity and kindness. I am stuck on me, my kingdom come.
You see me clinging tenaciously to This?
Please! help!
You know that song, Please take from me my life when I don’t have the strength to give it away to You. Hear me praying it now. Remember what I am made of. You made me a mere human girl- I’m not much.
But oh! You breathed the strength of Your Spirit into my own.
And that changes everything.
So, You know I’ve given You permission to batter my heart, Three-Personed-God.
Yes, sigh.

Inside Karibe Hotel, the Paradise in Petionville at which Mr. Clinton and Mr. Preval recently spoke. We go there for lunch when we need an escape.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Check it Out!

Check out the amazing kids I get to live with, love on, and teach!

God bless these little sinners- It's to their advantage that they're so CUTE! :)
Pray that I will communicate God's truth & love to these kiddos.

O-R-E-O! (which I've been having too many of, thank you, Dr. Jack!) : Michelle, me, & Mikile. These ladies care for the upstairs babies.

Monday, September 7, 2009

Into the Hills!

On Sunday
I took my first trip

into the mountains! God knew I needed a respite from city life. Jack, Marcia, & I visited a Haitian-American woman named Gerta, whom Marcia met recently on a flight home from the states. Gerta is launching a village football program this fall and it looks like the 14 soccer balls that a friend of mine had the vision to collect for me will soon be serving Haitian villager children!
Gerta cooked pumkin soup for us! We enjoyed this hot meal as our skin breathed in the cool, damp mountain air. She showed us her home which has been under construction for the past 6 years. She is building it into the mountain out of cement blocks- the most common building material I've observed here (both in and out of the city).

The drive up the mountain took us an hour- too short! I could have driven days on that road! Each twist in it unveiled a richer feast for my eyes and in so doing nourished my soul. It was better than church! Dear little villages clung to the mountain sides. Extravagent homes boasted acres of land for their wealthy families. Hundreds of simple farm plots transformed neighboring mountains into a patchwork quilt of textured greens and browns, rows of earth and crops mingling with trees and rock. The mountains were mesmerizing- pure and dazzeling as the laughter of a young girl at first glance but a deeper gaze suggested the silvering wisdom and poise of a very, very old woman. So it was like a perplexing but very attractive riddle, or a good song to which you can't remember the words but the soul of the music gives your own soul a little thrill.
A Haitian staff member of Three Angels has been reported to have said that "There's nothing good about Haiti." Has he never been to the mountains? I now have and I will be returning there as soon as possible!

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

The People Behind the Girl

Jesus Is Lord!
Mardi 25 Aout 2009
Three Angels Children’s Relief,
Petionville, Haiti

Dear Centennial Family,
Hello! I am so exciting to be greeting you from my new home here in Haiti. For just over two weeks now I have been acclimating to life here and think that an update is appropriate. I hope to report to you all many of the things I have been experiencing, learning, and doing, as well as the general goings on of the Three Angels orphanage, school, and clinic.

The American “on the ground” staff here at 91 Delmas (our street address) consists of Dr. Jack & Marcia Nonweiler, Megan Haug, a twenty-something from Evansville, IN, and me. Jack & Marcia serve as the Field Managers of the orphanage and medical clinic. I am learning that a typical day for them begins at 5 am or earlier depending upon how early the sick babies need attention or how soon they are awakened by the crows of our neighboring roosters. They might even arise as early as 3 am, the time at which city power enables them to best access the internet! I have been enjoying my mornings with them, my newly “adoptive” parents (Marcia decided that I am to be their sixth daughter & claims that it will make Amy, their youngest, happy to no longer be the baby J). Their apartment, which includes a bathroom, pantry, kitchen/dining room, sitting room, and outside veranda, and my room share the upper floor of the orphanage, so we take most of our meals together upstairs. During the morning hours J & M read some scripture and pray, work on small projects (such as color-coding adoptive file folders), and overview their vision for the tasks of the day, which necessarily requires the flexibility to adopt Plans B through E! After breakfast they get right to it. Daily tasks include a variety of things. In the past two weeks they have wired the new office with electrical wire, daily treated +/-10 patients who visit us from the neighborhood with diverse medical needs, shopped twice at Mega Mart for orphanage supplies, and mucked through the adoptive process for our now 26 children, among other things!

I have been charged with the homeschooling of our 10 oldest orphans. Colleen Monfills (you’ll probably hear her name quite frequently so I had better introduce her) is an adoptive mom of two of our little guys here and serves as our stateside Orphanage Director. She and her husband Mike are based out of Chicago and she makes frequent trips down here, helping us immensely each time! Hers was the idea to pull the older orphans out of Three Angels Christian Academy, the on-site Haitian grade school, and teach them from a homeschooling program in order to better prepare them for their transition to American schools. She elected to use the A Beka home school curriculum- a choice for which I am praising God! It basically includes a “Teaching Preschool & Kindergarten for Dummies” manual on which I completely rely, being a dummy so far at teaching preschool and kindergarten. J Praise God that Marcia is helping me with the schooling! I am thankful for her experience as a mom and grandma, for her energy, and for her logistical help. Currently she is undertaking the mathematics and I the phonics, but we tweak and modify things as we go. I am learning that in Haiti, you have to be flexible.

Challenges that I continue to encounter in now our second week of school must be specific to teaching in an orphanage in Haiti. For several of my students language is a major barrier. Bless their hearts- I don’t yet speak Creole and they can’t yet fully communicate in English! Obviously the goal is for them to get up to speed in their English skills but it would be immensely helpful to them if I were able to speak both languages (and helpful to me as well). Several of my kids know their kindergarten basics in French and Creole but you can see on their faces their little minds searching desperately for the English terms. Another major challenge I’m facing at this time is 8 younger kids for whom (Haitian) school doesn’t begin until September 7th- these little guys are quite a distraction. For the next couple weeks until school begins for them my few schooling goals are to create a routine for my students and to instill within them the basics of sitting quietly, listening, and OBEYING!

Along with acclimating to orphanage life, I am laboring to develop a life outside the orphanage. I that think church will be a good outlet for this. Port au Prince Fellowship Church has been for me a breath of cool air on these hot August days. Services are held in English but 90% of the congregation is Haitian. Pastor John Mchoul and his wife, Beth, are ex-hippies who have been serving in Haiti for years. Their authenticity and their love for Jesus are very attractive. Recently Pastor John has been teaching on Elijah the prophet. I am encouraged that our God pursues us so specifically and that He is sympathetic with our human limitations and frailties. For me a highlight of the service is the worship music which lasts for no less than half an hour! What a delight to be praising our God in a foreign land together with men and women of so many shades! What a healthy thing for me to be in the minority!

It is evident that you all are praying for Jack, Marcia, myself, and the people we’re serving here. Thank! you! Keep praying for us. We are grateful for your support and have a lot of joy in praying for your needs as well. Here are some specific requests that are currently on my heart…

Disciplining the children. I’m trying to learn my boundaries as a non-parent responsible for so many little hearts and minds. These kids are good kids but when they disobey they need spanking! Pray that I will have wisdom and love to use discipline as an opportunity to share the Gospel with these little sinners!

Staff members. We’re seeking to serve the needs of the staff here & have a burden for their spiritual needs. Cultural disparities are cumbersome obstacles that make our tasks even more difficult. For example, when (as a cultural generality), Haitians “tell you what (they think) you want to hear,” how do you form authentic relationships? Whom do you really trust? Pray for wisdom and for God to go after our staff members’ hearts. Pray that we as Americans will not be a distraction to the Gospel we desire to communicate to the nationals. Also pray for the spiritual maturity of the believers who work for Three Angels.

I am indebted to you all for your friendship and support. You all, my fabulous family, are the reason I have been able to make the move to Three Angels and your prayers sustain me and the work God is doing in and through me. Love you my friends!
Abbey McArthur/ Jeremiah 17: 5-8

Friday, August 21, 2009

Obesity Observed

Yesterday I witnessed a sad but laughable spectacle. (Yes, I did laugh.) I was sitting on a Haitan form of public transportation, the tap-tap, comfortably squeezed in with 20 others- my sweaty best Haitian buddies. We were waiting for the driver to decide that there were enough passengers to go when a pleasantly oversized woman approached the vehicle. She walked toward us and the tap-tap slowly began to move forward. Not fast, but sllow-ly. She continued to waddle behind us. The driver continued to move forward- just out of her reach. The passengers around me began to wisper to one another and laugh quietly. Obviously, our driver wasn't willing to take this woman on board. Taking her he would lose money since her plus size would take up two seats. So this game continued for several meters until the defeated woman turned away. I had to think, America, obesity isn't uniquely your problem, although you have uniquely made it fashionable!

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Glancing at the Rear View Mirror

My journey to Three Angels, Haiti was a whirlwind experience from the initial conception of the desire to come to its actual birthing- around 13 weeks from start to finish. But during those 13 weeks (which actually felt like 13 months!) God was doing a work in me that I am confident now needing doing. The work itself is not at all done, but interspersed with the current happenings of my new life here I'd like to provide you with some samples of what was going on prior to my arrival, that work God was initiating...

Monday 27 April 2009

O silly, silly Heart!
Are you laboring to be Woman when underneath,
the soul of you is all girl?
Who is it that says you must be woman?

Little Heart, do not tremble.
Your Maker passes by, takes notice of you. You are a frail creation, your blunt edges and patchwork pieces held together by adhesives of your own human strivings. But He is making you stronger, replacing tape with permanent bonds. And He is ordering your chaos until He becomes fully the center of your orbit. The work He does may be frightening- everything outside of the ordinary, the expected, the comfortable, the known, can sew doubt or fear- but to remain this jumbled mass of confusion would be more so. As He does His awesome work, look intently upon His character, relive His past faithfulness, rejoice in His promised provision.

Little Heart, grow.
Stronger in your Maker’s hands.

Dreams and wonderings of Womanly pursuits, joys, experiences- patiently entrust them to Him, your wise and loving God.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Have You Hugged Your Trash Man Today?

My fellow Americans! It was a startling discovery for me when after my dad’s retirement from the Air Force and our subsequent move to the civilian world I learned that living in that world entitles one to many freedoms, including the liberty to choose one’s own trash removal service. In Indianapolis I believe choices include Rays, Republic, and a few others. This discovery was shocking at the time but, seasoned civilian that I now am, is a normal part of life in the Indy ‘burbs.
Therefore my recent move to Petionville, one of the ‘burbs of Port au Prince, Haiti, is quite a regression. A choice in one’s trash removal service? Hahahaha, Ha! Let’s start with first things first. First, is there a trash can available? and is it being used for trash? If you live in PAP and you can answer yes to both questions, congratulations, you make up about 60% of the population! Now, what to do with the trash you collect. Hmmm. Well, we haul it up the hill and dump it in a green trash receptacle. (Word on the streets is that these green receptacles, randomly located along the sides of major roads in the city, were introduced recently by Wycliff Jean, a Haitian rapper who made it big in the states and hasn’t forgotten his roots. This philanthropist is on a green kick and has a vision [among other things] for a cleaner Haiti so he’s organized this nouveau system of collecting trash.) But, new challenge: what happens to the trash once/if it reaches the receptacle? I actually don’t know. I can tell you what appears to happen to it- it spills out over the side and into the road, replacing what was once (prior to advent of the receptacles)more evenly distributed refuse covering a larger square footage area with a more concentrated mound of rubbish. (Hopefully I’m just out of the loop about who/how the trash is removed from this last step but my senses don’t leave much room for optimism. It’s filthy out there!)
So, have you hugged your trash removal man/woman today? If this response to my little lesson in public sanitation is a somewhat uncomfortable one for you, you might at least consider remembering to put your trash man on your Christmas list this year. You know, make him up a batch of cookies to express your enthusiasm for his service! Or, write your senator to express your gratitude for the work he/she is doing to keep America the Land of the Free and the Home of the Clean!

Abbey, Out!

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Thank You, Jesus, for the little swimmies in the water...

(Well actually, they are more like little floaties becuase most of them are dead.)
Jesus, thank You for providing for our needs!
At Three Angels two huge underground cisterns hold our cooking & cleaning water reservoir. Recently a water drainage system was installed/repaired (?) to drain rainwater into these cisterns. For the past three weeks Port au Prince has been drying out from want of rain. When the cisterns dry up we have to purchase water. City trucks drive around to deliver this precious resource. Yesterday both of the cisterns reached the bone dry point This was bad because it required us to hand over cash for water. But it was also good because it gave Renald, one of our workers, the opportunity to clean them out. We purchased some 300+ gallons to tide us over ‘til a heavy rain, which God provided that evening!
I feel so incredibly blessed for the resource that these cisterns are to us. They are a water reservoir and we, unlike so many of our neighbors, have the privilege of filling it up from an outside source when we are in need. In the poorer parts of our city Haitians drink this water that for us is only suitable (safe) for cleaning & cooking (we daily purchase drinking water) which means it is only available to them when the rains have been faithful. Can you imagine? No, not even face-to-face with the reality of this poverty, can I. Praise God for this water! And pray for continued nightly rain for our neighbors.
On a lighter note, the water delivery trucks, in the spirit of our ice-cream delivery trucks, play the theme song from The Titanic, “My Heart Will Go On”! You can be sure that I frequently find myself humming this tune! And, on an exciting note, I believe I'll be able to help haul water on a regular basis from the cisterns to our buckets around the compound at least twice a week! Working on my guns, you know... :) It's just fun!

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

A Letter Home

Lundi 10 Aout 2009-

Dearest of Mommas,

Megan is here! I enjoy her very much (like I've said before, she has great theology) although we are extremely different. She will return to Evansville (home for her) in September for two weeks & then back there again for a month- Thanksgiving through Christmas. Apparently, House Managers (such as she was until Jack & Marcia arrived in April) receive(d) a small salary for the work they (did) ((I’m using parentheses here because HMs are now obsolete with J&M serving as they are)) and soon her salary will be terminated & she will, like me, need to raise support. She told me today that she feels like Haiti is home and wants to return to continue with her work for Three Angels. She just needs to determine how long she will be staying. I think Colleen’s visit will help her with the timeframe.

Mamma, I got to work out this morning using the exercise bands –Thank you SO MUCH!!!- and the jump rope in my normal workout clothes! This is a small but such a significant blessing to me,,, Marcia OK-ed it. (I was concerned that the short Nike running shorts & skin-tight tops wouldn’t meet “dress code” but she said that Tara, an American missionary here for 20+ years who trains here & runs marathons in the states, wears the same gear on her runs,) Praise God! because to wear anything else in this heat would be prohibitively uncomfortable. Oh, and I can’t say enough for iPods! Mine is incredible- I loved listening to my tunes (Family Force Five this morning!)… just the motivation I needed to get pumped; although at this point, should God restore my ability to run long distance again, I’m still a stubborn adherent to listening only to the sky on a run- that’s the magic of it.

I am loving my room. A mission team sent by Woodstock Baptist Church in New Brunswick, Canada, transformed it from the bachelor pad it had been for 4 years (Junior & Jimmy, staff members of TA, formerly occupied it) to a sweet little sanctuary. One of the girls even wrote “May God provide you with quality rest in this room.” Oh, Rebekah, what a prophet you must be to know I will need it!

This morning I awoke to a beautiful sky… maybe I’ll describe such a sky and the trees and rooftops that frame it from my window in a later message. I am excited to include pictures of this room and the warm-hearted wall the children created for me when Dr. Jack brings my camera in a few weeks. Unpacking is pretty much complete. Just need hangars for the clothes and a few nails to mount my message board.

My day thus far has been spent pretty leisurely and I have invested more time in this ‘lille Note than I anticipate will be available to me in the future (so don’t get used to this lengthiness). Colleen, my home school coordinator (who is an adoptive mom & is based out of Chicago), comes in this afternoon & I expect we will get right to work!

Hopefully future correspondence will require fewer parentheses- their over-use is aggravating me as a writer. I just feel like so much background info is necessary to fill you in!

Love you much, Your-

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Having a Go at It...

Greetings, friends!

Thank you for visiting Something Borrowed and Shared.

My upcoming life-transfer to Haiti for the next year is the motivation for launching this Blogging Expedition. Through this blog I intend to share with you images of the challenges and adventures I encounter as I take up my editorial pen and interject my thoughts about it all.

The picture to the right represents in a way at least one of my anticipated roles in this Expedition. In it I am capturing the image of my super-model sister & best friend, Tabitha, as well as my own image as we both stand in front of a mirror. Similarly, I expect that this blogspot will be my forum for sharing with you reflections of the people, stories, & adventures that I meet while my delivery of these images imprints an image of my own picture in the background!

Your Word Photographer and eyes & ears for Three Angels, Haiti!