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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