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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!