Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Toddlers, Tiny Twins, and Transitions

This could easily be three different posts (and may indeed turn into that if it gets too long). It seems like months have passed in the 3 weeks since I last sat down to write. Such is the time warp that is living in Haiti...

School for the older kids started 2 weeks ago, and so did "preschool" in the toddler house.  We have circle time, centers, story time, recess, snack, and we follow a visual schedule. Sounds like a typical day in preschool, right? Until you throw in relatives of children (who are supposed to be in your class learning) coming to visit on the first day of school, a fellow missionary arriving with bullet wound in the shoulder that needs medical attention and prayer support, a mission team from another site who want to visit with half the kids in the house since they met on a previous trip, and a host of other inevitable and unavoidable interruptions to my "lesson plans". And somehow in the midst of all of it, the nine children in my house are flourishing...and learning! We are reading "Brown Bear, Brown Bear" and learning animals and colors in English, Kreyol, and sign language. Jameson, the youngest one in the house at 23 months, is giving the older ones a run for their money. :) He remembers the animals in the book (in English) and knows what order they go in! His favorite one to say is,"Yellow duck!" So cute!! While all this is going on, we're also tackling potty training. We had a group from Franklin, TN, a few weeks ago that brought 2 cushioned potty seats for the toddler house. This was a tremendous blessing, especially since prior to that, Tabi (one of my nannies) told me that I shouldn't try to potty train Luckson, "because he is too skinny...he will fall in!" We are chugging along, with two fully potty trained and 2 more (who may or may not be wearing bottoms on any given day) in line. Last week Marie-Denise told Tabi she didn't want to wear diapers anymore because she liked panties instead. We don't have much to choose from, but I'm happy to oblige them with whatever motivates! So goes the adventures in the toddler house...

A Baby Story - Episode 2
Just a week after I posted about the tiny twin with no name who was brought and then left in a strange series of events, we had a mother show up in the driveway with a set of even tinier twins, a boy (Wendy) and a girl (Wendia), weighing less than 6 lbs put together at 16 days old. Another tragic story, but this one has a much more hopeful continuation. Christella, the mother, is a 23 yr old widow. Her husband died from cholera in June. The twins were born 4 weeks premature and very underweight. The doctor told her she couldn't have any more children, so she didn't want to give them up, she just wanted help. "What kind of help?" we asked, expecting the usual answer of diapers and/or formula. "Just help." She replied, with a look of total exhaustion and desperation. Upon further questioning, we learned that she has no family (her mother died recently as well) and she (and the twins) had been sleeping on the floor of a friend's house, eating only sporadically and feeding the twins sugar water because the doctor told her she was anemic so she couldn't breast feed.
We quickly concluded that the best (and basically ONLY) option for keeping this family together and monitoring the health of the babies was to invite them to stay at Hands and Feet temporarily, to give Christella the support she needed to care for her babies and help the twins stabilize and gain weight. She was so exhausted, she slept the entire first 2 days she was here. We took shifts checking on her, feeding both her and the twins at regular intervals. With nothing more than a portable bassinet on the kitchen counter, a portable oxygen machine, and a bundle of baby blankets for an "NICU", we prayed it would be enough to sustain these tiny miracles. Days went by and they ate, slept, and pooped just as they should. On October 12th, the twins turned 1 month old. As of today, they weigh 3lbs 12 oz (Wendia) and 3lbs 12.5 oz (Wendy) and continue to grow and get stronger and more alert every day. Christella is a wonderful mama and I have faith that they will live long, happy, healthy lives as a family.

Time for Transition
Change is an inevitable and sometimes unexpected part of life. It doesn't get any easier as we get older, just more complicated. In August the staff here learned that Hands and Feet had chosen new leadership to oversee the day to day operations at the orphanage. Dr. Ken & Diane feel called to stay in Haiti and God has already opened new doors for them to start a surf ministry and infant rescue house. Their daughter Emi is returning to Hawaii this week to begin college. Tamara, one of the Hands and Feet interns, will be partnering with the Pierces when her 3 month term at HAF is finished. Cameron & Stacie, who have been interns here since January, have both decided to return to the States to finish school in order to have even more impact when they return to Haiti in the future. That's a pretty big chunk of our team leaving to pursue God's call for each of them individually.  It's bittersweet as we prepare for major changes individually, and at the same time welcome the new directors to Haiti next week. It reminds me a bit of the lessons learned from potty training...We have to be willing to face the unfamiliar, to balance the things we know to be true with the uncertainties of life, to celebrate small victories, and clean up and move on from the inadvertent messes we create along the way while letting go of the familiar. We can approach transition in two ways: kicking and screaming, or we can put our big girl panties on and deal with it. I choose the latter, and hopefully along the way I can teach a few more little ones to do the same.