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do it afraid do it afraid do it afraid

Livesay Haiti - Feb. 25, 2014 - 9:44 am
If you read THIS STORY more than two years ago, you will want to celebrate today that Moses is on an airplane headed for Wyoming.  He sets the orphan free!   That post was one of the most shared posts ever - so grateful to you all. Most grateful to God for showing us all how valuable Moses is to Him.

This family is an example of courage and love to us all. It is not that they aren't afraid, it is that they showed up anyway.

With his Mom and Dad Sunday ...

With some awesome ladies (taken yesterday) that prayed daily for him at Heartline ...

L to R - Gran Rosemond, Andrema, Moses, Clermita, Lisa RiebOn an airplane today ... 

AND ...
A series (explanation here) on my friend, Glennon's blog - proving that all of us have fear and insecurity in our lives.  As G. said,
Here is the thing that the two groups have in common:  NO ONE REALLY KNOWS WHAT SHE’S DOING. None of the people in either of the two groups. The people who are running the world and the people who are sitting life out are exactly the same. They are all messy, complicated, confused people who are unsure of what to do next. They all have messy relationships and insecurities and anger and blind spots. They are ALL AFRAID.Here is the difference between the two groups: The Dream Followers and Servers believe that it’s okay to be messy and complicated and afraid and show up anyway. The second group believes that folks who show up have to be fabulous and perfect. So they’re waiting to get perfect. They are spending their lives IMPROVING instead of just showing up as they are. They are waiting till they’re “ready.” And the thing is that they will be waiting forever and ever, amen. Because all the good and all the beautiful in the world is created by people who show up before they’re ready.
Day One HERE

Day Two HERE

Day Three HERE

Day Four (mine is day four) HERE

Day Five HERE

Categories: Haitian blogs

Behind the Cover Story: Monte Reel on Traveling Across a Changing South America

New York Times on Haiti - Feb. 24, 2014 - 1:00 am
The new highway that crosses Brazil and Peru is transformative — both for the villages it now connects and for Monte Reel, who writes about his journey along the highway.
Categories: Haitian blogs

Deadly Attack on the Croix-des-Bouquets Prison and Other Insecurity

HaitiAnalysis - Feb. 22, 2014 - 7:32 pm

by Thomas Péralte (Haiti Liberte)
Heavily armed bandits in a gray Daihatsu Terios without license plates fired on the civilian prison in Croix des Bouquets on Mon., Feb. 17, 2014 at around 8:00 p.m., killing a policeman, Sadrac Nicolas, an Agent 2 officer in the National Prison Administration (APENA).             The attack occurred when Off. Nicolas approached the vehicle because it was parked in a dark area near the prison. The assailants opened fire on the policeman, who died at the scene, and also aimed bursts of fire at the prison.             According to preliminary reports, the policeman’s gun was found at his side. An investigation was conducted by the forensic police, who quickly arrived at the scene. Already, several witnesses have been identified. No prisoner escaped, said the Secretary of State for Public Security, Reginald Delva, who also said that more than 750 prisoners are incarcerated in the prison.            Businessman Clifford Brandt, the alleged leader of a powerful gang of kidnappers which was dismantled in October 2012, is among the inmates at this high security prison. Among the other prominent prisoners is Emane “Jacques” Jean-Louis, the owner of Sourire Rent a Car, who has been jailed at the prison since September 2013 on charges of money laundering. (Mr. Jean-Louis claims he was a victim of a police kidnapping in April 2012 and had filed a suit against the police.)
            It remains unclear what is behind this incident, which comes at a time when Haitians are denouncing the distribution of weapons to people close to the government of President Michel Martelly and a marked uptick in violent crime around the country. Is this a strategy to distract attention from the failure of the so-called “institutional and political dialogue” led by the Roman Catholic Church’s hierarch? Is this an attempt to force the release or transfer of prominent prisoners like Mr. Brandt and Mr. Jean-Louis? Time will tell if the investigation of this crime will join the many others that are classified as “the investigation continues.”            In Carrefour Feuilles, a neighborhood in the east flank of the capital, in the area of Fort Mercredi, on Wednesday, Feb. 14, policemen killed three people, including a woman, according to area residents. The victims were Jean Renaud, his girlfriend, and a man known only as Ti Pikan.            On Tue., Feb. 18, two students, Johnny Charmant, 20, and Marc-André Louis, 22, were killed in the area of the capital’s Upper Turgeau neighborhood, near Cité Georges, as they were on their way to the Oswald Durand school, located in downtown Port-au-Prince. They were apparently the accidental victims of crossfire between two armed groups in the area. The grieving relatives of the two young men are demanding justice.            Following such events, many people are complaining about the growing insecurity in Haiti. Bank customers are often victims of thugs who don’t hesitate to rob them as they are leaving the bank or follow them on their way home. Robbers often kill their victims after robbing them. This is apparently what happened to the general coordinator of the Platform of Haitian Human Rights Organizations (POHDH), Daniel Dorsinvil, 48, and his wife, Girldy Larèche, 46, who were both shot to death in Port-au-Prince on Feb. 8. He had just come from a bank branch.            In Hinche, on the Central Plateau, the father of four children and a currency trader, Tevnor Gauthier, 41,was killed by gunmen on Wed., Feb. 12, 2014, at the entrance to his currency exchange office. Six bandits on two motorcycles armed with 9mm pistols attacked him. According to his relatives, the gunmen fired at close range and fled with the suitcase he was carrying.             "They made off with several thousand U.S. dollars, gourdes and also packets of European currency," said one relative. Shot several times, Mr. Gauthier was rushed to St. Thérèse Hospital in Hinche but succumbed to his injuries shortly afterwards.            According to a report from the National Network for the Defense of Human Rights (RNDDH), released on Feb. 4, the climate of violence is closely linked to the impunity that reigns supreme in Haiti since President Michel Martelly and his Prime Minister Laurent Lamothe came to power. Between January and December 2013, at least 870 people died violently, an average of 73 people per month. Some 711 were killed by guns, 96 by knives,  and 63 by stoning, the report said.
            Impunity is now protected by the government. The Martelly government gives unconditional support to former dictator Jean-Claude Duvalier, even while there is an on-going criminal investigation against him for embezzlement and crimes against humanity. Others close to the Martelly government, including drug traffickers and those sought because of their involvement in wrongdoing, also benefit from the official tolerance of impunity and the climate of violence it begets.
Categories: Haitian blogs

Haitian Dictator May Be Charged With Human Rights Crimes, Court Says

New York Times on Haiti - Feb. 21, 2014 - 1:00 am
An appeals court rejected an argument from Jean-Claude Duvalier, known as Baby Doc, that the statute of limitations had expired for the charge of crimes against humanity.
Categories: Haitian blogs

destroy the pedestals

Livesay Haiti - Feb. 20, 2014 - 9:05 pm
I had known her for exactly 7 minutes. She sat in the plastic lawn chair that doubled as an office chair in the room at the far end of the house.

"So, I have not had had relations with my husband in fifteen years", she said.

Uh. Whaaaa?? I turned to glance over my shoulder and see if her best friend was standing directly behind me. Why is she looking at me  - and saying that?

"Hold your face normal, hold your face normal", I screamed at my face.

To this day, I do not know if my face listened.

The story continued and I wondered what I'd done to be given this information.

It turns out that one night she denied him his marital privileges (headache) and after she denied him he never asked her again, for fifteen years.

She sat in front of me in Haiti and told me all of this even though we had never met and she was old enough to be a much older mother than the lovely mother I have.

This was my introduction to how some people view missionaries.  It is frequently (not always, thank goodness!) assumed that missionaries are brilliant psychologists and special holy rollers ready to give advice and wise counsel at the drop of a hat. It is also assumed that we have our shit together and don't have anything left to figure out. We have all the answers and everything has a place and there is a place for everything.  Tidy. Little. Boxed. Up. Life.

This is not so.  

"Missionaries" are an amalgam of everything you find in your day to day life and therefore they struggle with depression, and they sometimes have huge struggles with their faith. Some have affairs, have trauma and unresolved issues, use substances to numb their pain. They work hard to not feel things, run away to not feel things, and are pretty much the same as you and the people you know. The title sometimes offers them unmerited status as a big deal.  I speak for many of us (hopefully most) when I say, we don't want to be uncritically admired. We don't want to be propped up or placed on a pedestal. 

I read these words (entire post is here - please read) written by Tsh Oxenreider recently. 

We are witnessing a powerful cultural trend of celebrity worship—and I’m not referring to the folks adorning the US Weekly covers. As a member of the Christian subset, I’m referring mostly to us in the Body here, and the pedestal-putting of pastors, writers, bloggers, and speakers. I’ve had a post rattling in my head for months now, about why this isn’t a good idea, but I felt like I had nothing to say that hadn’t already been said 18,494 times. But then I remembered my own advice that I give people when they tell me they don’t want to blog because everything’s already been said—yes, but we haven’t heard you say it, and if you feel called to write it, the world needs you to have said it (both because you’ll say it differently than what we’ve yet heard, and because it’ll change you for the better). So? Pot, kettle, etc. etc. I’ll cut to the chase here—when we worship fellow human beings, no one wins. Neither the worshiper nor the worshiped is put in a good place. Here’s what I mean: The worshiped The blogger, pastor, writer, speaker, dog-whisperer, whoever—the one you idolize—does not win when you put them on a pedestal, even if they want to be there. If they want to be on a pedestal, you’re only exacerbating the problem in their soul, the lie they believe that says they’re better than those around them, that they’re a Special Snowflake, that because they’re unique, they’re exempt from certain rules of life. And when a colleague of theirs is elevated on an even higher pedestal, jealousy ensues; they can’t congratulate another person’s success. Their soul blackens. If they don’t want to be on a pedestal, you’re relegating them to a really lonely place in life. Their successes become a burden (even if they’re gifts from God). They’re in a place where they’re not able to freely share their struggles, lest they sound ungrateful. They start questioning the motive of everybody, feeling like people only want to be their friend because of what they could get out of the relationship. And friends are sometimes reticent to continue approaching them as real friends, because they either feel like they can no longer identify with them, or they grow bitter because they think their once-friend actually wants to be elevated. ~          ~           ~I wrote the following, along those same lines in 2012 ...

Talent is God given. Be humble. Fame is man-given. Be grateful. Conceit is self-given. Be careful. -John Wooden
Internet marketing & social media, they are the way of the world. Ten years ago Facebook hadn't yet been launched and 'tweet' was a sound that birds made outside of our windows. Today Facebook has over one billion active users and Twitter is one of the ten most visited websites on the Internet. Multitudes care a lot about it and pay attention to who is following and who is being followed.

I understand sharing our visions, dreams, day to day lives, and stories of those that need and deserve justice. I do. I love connecting to new like-minded friends via social media. Even so, I question: Where does God fit in to our habits? How much of my trust is placed in His ability to provide for our family and for the work of Heartline and how much of my trust is placed in my ability to promote it. I bristle a bit as I force myself to honestly examine what part of this might be self-promotion. Was I more trusting in His provision before the dawn of social networking? Before all of this became a part of our every day communication, was I more at peace? Can I see and distinguish the line between healthy and unhealthy promotion? Is there one?

This dialogue isn't meant to put anyone on the defensive. Hear this first: It's not about judging anyone but myself. That's what I'm doing here. I don't want to fall into the trap of self importance and loving the idol of self or the idol of social media. Does social media create false gods and false celebrity and are we, as Christians, considering who we want to make famous? Should any one of us be concerned with our "Klout" score. Doesn't that idea smack of something really icky?

Social media has a place and a purpose. I know this. Sharing the work of Heartline has sometimes meant financial support from folks and has meant continued ability to work here. I want to keep the baby from flying across the room as I throw out this bathwater.

I am cognizant that it must be used with caution. For myself, I'd like it to be about bringing honor to the One that gifted us in the first place. I'd like my words to reflectHis love and my respect for the Haitian people and I'd like to keep myself in check. I recognize how much I need to look to Jesus and His example and avoid the easy trap of elevating one another and/or ourselves.

It seems to me like Christian culture just mimics regular culture but re-labels it and calls it holy and acceptable. I expect there is already a  repackaged 'Klout for Jesus' scoring system in development with which to legitimize our narcissism as unto the Lord.

We're all excited about various Christian figures that we admire or respect. In and of itself it's not all bad  -- but we're taking it to new levels. Thanking or recognizing someone for the way God has used them to speak to our hearts and souls is one thing, swooning over someone and deciding they are better, more important, deserving of fame and even glory is quite another. We're labeling people as "A list" Christians and "most influential" and we're categorizing people according to their on-line influence. That makes me uncomfortable. While we are building up the influential, we are trampling on the faceless faithful that daily go about their life and work without pining for recognition. Worse than that though, I feel like we're getting tripped up and sucked in and often times forgetting that Jesus is the Famous One. 

photo credit: dks systems
Categories: Haitian blogs

Book Winner #LocustEffect

Livesay Haiti - Feb. 19, 2014 - 10:39 pm
...the forces of predatory violence will not simply go away... On the contrary, if the forces of violence are not restrained, it is the hope of the poor that will just keep going away...and there is nothing that our programs for feeding, teaching, housing, employing, and empowering the poor will be able to do about it.  

This, they say, is the locust effect. No matter how much money, effort, time, and heart goes into poverty eradication, when the locusts of violence sweep through the fields — destroying the widow’s ability to use a newly obtained microloan, a young girl’s desire to attend a freshly built school, a slave’s hope of obtaining treatment at a well-stocked health clinic — all of our well-intended works are useless.  

Read the entire Sojourners article here.

FREE BOOK WINNER from this post:  "TRYNSIMPLE" - Please write us at livesayfamily @ gmail.com with your name and mailing address and the folks at IJM will mail it right out! 
Categories: Haitian blogs

on shame and grace

Livesay Haiti - Feb. 18, 2014 - 10:29 am

I don't know what it is in us that makes us want to shame one another. 

Yesterday I was reading comments on a recent blog post I wrote.  Someone said, "Shame on you" at the end of their comment (not directed at me, but still so harsh). 

It strikes me how damaging those three little words are to us all.

I am going to introduce an idea to the "shame on you" crowd ...

In some instances in your life, when you are talking one on one with God, perhaps you feel some shame and you need to come to God with that and work through it. Fine, feel that about yourself in healthy doses. In all other instances, PLEASE, I beg of you, remove "shame on you" from your vernacular. 

In review: 'Shame on ME' is allowed in rare instances for a short period of time (because GRACE and because FORGIVENESS)--- but never never "shame on you".
~          ~            ~ 

I shared a little bit on Glennon's blog last year about the shame in my life during my late teens and twenties. (Read it here.)  
Categories: Haitian blogs

Telling Secrets

Livesay Haiti - Feb. 14, 2014 - 10:00 am

Disclosure: This is a sponsored post. This post is paid for by the AdCouncil. 

All words and thoughts are my own.

Revealing a pretty enormous secret here today.  Ready for it?

These kids (and their three siblings) do not have anything happening in their life that comes even close to "perfect" parenting or a perfect upbringing.  (So, not really a secret I suppose.)

Their freaky eyes say it all, don't they?

If you have been reading here long, you know that we do not think everyone should adopt. Adoption is not for everyone. I am certain of that.  Having said that, I do think that more people are qualified, able, and really ready for the job of fostering or adopting a child.  

It is not uncommon for people to say, "I could never do it."  Their reasons are not usually given.  On occasion, people hint at not being "good enough" to do it. Recently someone told me they could "never do foster care because the goodbye would be too hard".  

Families that have adopted tend to be friends with families that have adopted. We get to help, encourage, and build one another up; it is a beautiful community.  In 12 years of being adoptive parents Troy and I have yet to meet anyone that is perfect.  None of us were raised by perfect people, and by golly, our kids won't be either. Fear seems to hold people back from really investigating the options.  From the conversations I have had, most of the fears are based on false assumptions.

Kids don't need perfection. Even kids that have lost a lot and have been hurt in their lives. They need stability. They need love. They need some structure and predictability. They need food and a bed. 

Statistically, studies show that imperfect people are parenting the vast majority of the world's children. This is good news. 

I submit to you that pain is a part of life. Goodbyes are a part of life.  Disappointment is a part of life.  Messing up is a part of life. Starting over is a part of life. LOVE and sacrifice are a part of life. They are worth the pain. Love washes over these things, love lights the path when things get dark or scary or very, very sad. Love gives you courage to do hard things.

Unlike many adoptive parents and foster parents I know, I did not grow up hoping to adopt. We ended up adoptive and foster parents without it being part of our personal five or ten year plan. We stumbled into it; I am so grateful.  While it has not always been easy and it certainly has not been painless, it has been worth it and has been so rewarding. The blessings of the children that have come into our lives via adoption and foster care are impossible to quantify. 

Kids don't want perfect parents - they want HUMAN parents. Most of you reading qualify! 

If you've ever wondered about adoption and/or foster care, ever thought about it but became afraid, or ever even considered the possibility, please check out these links:



It is not a secret anymore. You don't have to be perfect to be an adoptive or foster parent - perfect is a lie - kids need families and love - not perfection.
Categories: Haitian blogs

Livesay [Haiti] Weblog: ...On Compassion

HaitiAnalysis - Feb. 14, 2014 - 9:08 am
Livesay [Haiti] Weblog: ...On Compassion: This Valentine's Eve I am purposefully focusing on compassion rather than the February 14 hearts and cupids type of romantic love. ...
Categories: Haitian blogs

Times Minute | Goodell's Big Payday

New York Times on Haiti - Feb. 14, 2014 - 1:00 am
A big payday for the N.F.L.’s commissioner, Roger Goodell. Also on the Minute, rethinking the benefits of natural gas and an adventure to Haiti’s hidden waterfalls.
Categories: Haitian blogs

...On Compassion

Livesay Haiti - Feb. 13, 2014 - 1:02 pm

This Valentine's Eve I am purposefully focusing on compassion rather than the February 14 hearts and cupids type of romantic love. The dictionary meaning of compassion is a "feeling of deep sympathy and sorrow for another who is stricken by suffering or misfortune, accompanied by a strong desire to alleviate the pain or remove its cause" - The truth is, we are so inundated by images and stories of devastation and pain that it sometimes causes us to pull our knees to our chest, wrap our arms around our legs, tuck our heads into fetal position, and rock ourselves for comfort. I think we all need to do that sometimes. 

Once we have grieved a little bit, it is time to see again - and to stand shoulder to shoulder with the hurting and say, "your hurt is to be taken seriously" - and that is why we showed up today. 

To each of you practicing this radical form of criticism, Happy Valentine's Day! 

Photo Credit: Esther Havens
Categories: Haitian blogs

A Cautionary Tale: Expats & Expets (What not to do)

Livesay Haiti - Feb. 10, 2014 - 9:40 am
Britty and Peanut
The guys and the NutDogs 1, 2, and 3
Read it at A Life Overseas, today.
Categories: Haitian blogs

#LocustEffect Giveaway

Livesay Haiti - Feb. 10, 2014 - 12:36 am

Because the book sold out quickly, the Matching offer/grand has been extended: Buy the ‪#‎LocustEffect‬ by 2/15 /2014 & $20 will go to @IJM to fight violence against the poor. 
"Perhaps if the locusts of violence laid waste to everything at once like they did in the Midwest in 1875 it would get the world's attention—but all the daily slavery, rape, extortion, and dispossession gnaws its way through hundreds of millions of poor people one assault at a time, and the cumulative disaster of the locust effect is hard to see. Slowly but surely, however, the experts are starting to add it up, and the price tag is staggering." The Locust Effect: Why the End of Poverty Requires the End of Violence by Gary Haugen.
Like many of you, I long for a better world, especially for the poor.  It is easy to get overwhelmed by the injustices happening under our noses, and all around the world. When we are overwhelmed we tend to turn away. 
Down the street from us a man rotates through children that live with him and do his housework. In Haiti, they are called resteveks. Young girls are almost always on his arm, all the worst things seem to be going on with him. The system here is broken, there isn't an agency or authority we could tell that would do anything about it. Many have tried. 
A lot of us are waiting for Heaven. We think, at least then it will be all better. We'll just wait it out, lay low. Truth be told, we are all waiting. Some wait with eyes covered, some wait in fear, some wait oblivious and some wait to be resuced from the pit of earthly hell. Graciously, there are also those that wait while they go into the dark places carrying a tiny bit of hope and a shining light. 
I am thankful for freedom fighters and justice lovers that refuse to cover their eyes and ears and simply wait for it to end.  I am thankful they don't give up, they haven't given up. 
Gary Haugen's book opens with these words, "It was my first massacre site. Today the skulls are all neatly stacked on shelves, but when I first encountered them, they defintely were not. They were attached to bodies - mostly skeletal remains - in a massive mess of rotting human corpses in a small brick church in Rwanda."
The stories Gary tells are real. They are hard to read about, imagine, believe, or absorb. While their call to action is urgent, the authors of The Locust Effect provide hope and an ambitions way forward.  This book is a wake-up call.  
I am able to give one copy of The Locust Effect away to a reader.  It is an invitation to read a really difficult book, which is maybe not exactly what you came for, but I invite you none the less.  
Leave a comment to enter. Only comments on the blog will be entered, we're not able to track facebook comments. 
We will draw a name Valentine's Day.  (Nothing says love like a book about Violence and Poverty???)
(Winners need to live in USA or Haiti.  If the winner is in Haiti the book will come March 7th)
Categories: Haitian blogs

February 7: A symbol of the rejection of dictatorship

Michael Deibert's Haiti Blog - Feb. 7, 2014 - 11:37 am
Press release

February 7: A symbol of the rejection of dictatorship

Collectif contre l’impunité/Collective against impunity 

Platform for legal action against ex dictator Jean-Claude Duvalier et al with support from human rights organizations: 

Ecumenical center for human rights (CEDH) 

Kay Fanm (Women’s house)    

Haitian women’s movement for education and development (MOUFHED) 

National human rights network (RNDDH) 

Communication: Centre œcuménique des droits humains (CEDH)

February 7, 1986, when the Duvalier dynasty is overthrown, is the end result of many long and terrible years of struggle that cost the lives of thousands of Haitians.

After the brutal repression of November 28, 1980, which had particularly targeted the press, the population is once more excluded. The flame of resistance is revived in 1984 by young people, in particular those of the city of Gonaïves, who express their rejection of the hereditary presidency and the absolute power that it entails: «Down with poverty for life! Down with unemployment for life ! Down with torture! Down with dictatorship!» It is the outrage of wounded young people that brings the last blows to a regime which still dares to transform the only library in a city into barracks for the Tonton macoutes. 

The rejection of impunity, for the crimes perpetrated against three schoolboys, Jean-Robert Cius, Makenson Michel, and Daniel Israël, shot down during the November 28 1985 demonstrations in Gonaives, spearheads riots throughout the country. «The criminals who murdered the three boys should be arrested, tried and condemned as well as those who ordered to open fire on the population, even if it is one of the highest authorities of the State.»

These young people aspired to finally «see duvalierism uprooted forever.»

28 years after this victory over terror and obscurantism, it is again necessary to confront and stop the official return of duvalierism. It is again necessary to fight the will to ensure impunity for those who imposed silence and fear on our land, for those who systematically put in place that diabolical machine to  degrade, torture, assassinate, violate, exile, dispossess, and make so many disappear. They want to make today’s young people believe that the so called «Duvalierist revolution» was carrying ideals of freedom, fulfillment and progress. They want to disguise history in claiming that the regime ─anchored in the arbitrary, in savage brutality, oppression, the cult of personality, the domestication of the institutions and terror─ was no different than any government. 

The Collective and others, here in Haiti and elsewhere, are determined to continue to reject the unacceptable. In the name of truth and justice; in memory of our innumerable victims; in homage to the resistance of all the young people who, throughout these 29 years of dictatorship, went to the frontline to defend our right to freedom. To reject the unacceptable is to keep alive the spirit of February 7. 

Duvalierism was a tragedy for Haiti!  Impunity cannot be the destiny of Haiti!

Port-au-Prince, February 7, 2014

Daniele Magloire

Categories: Haitian blogs

lamp, lifeboat, ladder

Livesay Haiti - Feb. 6, 2014 - 9:43 pm

The best chance we have at helping someones soul heal, is to choose the discomfort of seeing the truth of their pain and seeing their suffering.

There is no way to be a lamp if we refuse to enter the darkness. Bright, sunny places don't need a lamp.

There is no way to be a lifeboat if we stay dry, safe, and tied up close to the shore. Those standing at the shore, don't need a lifeboat.

There is no way to be a ladder if we're afraid to leave ground. Those standing with two feet planted on solid ground, don't need a ladder.

The work of a shepherd is two-fold.  

A shepherd knows his/her flock. If you know someone, are you not more likely to enter the darkness to help them?  After knowing his flock, a shepherd puts the safety of his flock as first priority. A shepherd provides protection above all. 

Jesus said in John 10, “I am the Good Shepherd. The Good Shepherd puts the sheep before himself, sacrifices himself if necessary."

Walking out of our homes like a shepherd means knowing those around us (knowing their struggles, their pain, their suffering) and being willing to be uncomfortable and awkward and vulnerable. 

Knowing them eventually leads us into our roles as lamps, lifeboats, and ladders. 

There never seem to be opportunities to be these things to people we haven't ever tried to know.

Rumi isn't my teacher, but Jesus is. I have been learning that Jesus asks us to take our insecurities, our places of weakness and uncertainty (fear) - and risk some things  - in order to be a lamp, or a lifeboat or a ladder. 

Let's do this friends, walk out of your house like a shepherd.

Categories: Haitian blogs

The Locust Effect - Please Share

Livesay Haiti - Feb. 3, 2014 - 10:41 am

About two weeks ago a young girl in a school uniform sat on the front porch in Port au Prince, at the Heartline Maternity Center.  She was waiting for a Depo Provera birth control injection. Beth McHoul, our Director, noticed her quickly.  It is unusual for young ladies in school uniforms to be on our front porch.  

The young girl was brought to a private room and asked, "Why do you need birth control? Are you having sex? Are you safe?" 

Her response is one that our orderly western paradigm often fails to understand or accept. She said, "I am living with my Uncle."  
"He is forcing me." 
"I don't want a baby." 
"My mother lives in the United States."  

Even for those of us with many years in Haiti, this reality stuns us.

It is quite easy for us as Americans with some protection and laws and order, to pass judgement on the women of Haiti (and the world).  

We often hear how "pathetic" it is that Haitian women "keep having babies".  The very next thing we sometimes hear is, "Why are you giving unmarried women birth control?" or "Birth control causes abortion, aren't you a Christian organization?"

This is painful. There is so much wrong with these black and white conclusions and so much wrong with quick judgment.  Mercy trumps judgment.  Grace trumps all. Let us be to others a lifeline of mercy and grace and understanding. 

While our minds seek certainty and answers, these women live lives without certainty or easy answers. This requires us to step out of our paradigm

This story is meant to say to you, dear reader, the rules of the world are not the rules of your life and your reality.  The women of resource poor countries do not have protection under the law and they often times have little  (to nothing) they can do to protect themselves from rape, abuse, and horrifying injustice.

That is why I am sharing these videos and this brand new book with you. That is why I shared the Haiti story above. The Locust Effect must find itself on every humanitarian course required reading list. It should be read by those heading into resource poor countries. It should be used as a tool to teach each of us that care to defend the marginalized and uplift the downtrodden. All who wish to see poverty reduced will want to read this book.

I long for His Kingdom Here and Now. Don't you? Let us continue the difficult work of bringing heaven to earth as best we can by standing up, speaking up, informing ourselves and others and ACTING on behalf of those trapped in systems of violence and poverty.

The Locust Effect is an uncomfortable and challenging read but it’s message is too important not to be heard.

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Categories: Haitian blogs

Grace a Dieu

Livesay Haiti - Feb. 1, 2014 - 11:08 pm

By Troy:

Recently I entered a room where a child had just been delivered and her surprise twin was on her way out. Six women were attending the delivering mother and children, and prayers and supplications filled the space. It felt like the Holy of Holies. A sacred place, one that I had no business being in. I had been summoned to drive an ambulance in case bad went to worse, and by the time I arrived the midwives, doctor, and nurses had realized the complication at hand was a second baby that no one was expecting. She was coming out foot first. I saw the foot and froze. In awe, I did not leave the room as quickly as I am accustomed to. 
That delivery room can be a scary place for a man, albeit beautiful and amazing. It is usually difficult to know where to safely cast my gaze. I typically try to direct my glances at shoulder-height and above. When I did not, I saw that foot. I heard those prayers. I sensed the intensity. I was handed a roll of tape to tear into strips for holding down IV tubes. It was then that I knew I could not escape and would continue to be witness to the miracles happening in our birth center that night.
Once the second baby girl had been delivered, I watched all the women continue to shift from one role to another - duty to another  - to the next move  - and utter the next prayer. It was stunning. I was overcome with emotion and nearly cried. I realized that in this setting, surrounded by women hard at work in the beautiful business of delivering babies, I should probably keep my emotions in check and not be the bawling baby in the room. 
This afternoon I was summoned to drive the ambulance again. This time, no emergency, no new miracles - merely the opportunity to drive Stephanie and her twin baby girls back to their home after a week and a day with us at Heartline for postpartum care. Being the first twins ever delivered at the Maternity Center, the first breech delivery, and having a miraculous birth story made them very popular around our place. Beyond all that, Stephanie is a sweet loving attentive mother and the twins are little beauties. All of the staff were sad to see them go. There were hugs and words of encouragement given as Stephanie left with me. They will be back in two days for a checkup, and then the day after that for child development class, but they will be missed in the meantime. The relationships and community formed at Heartline are real  - and go deep. 
We loaded Mama, Papa, and swaddled twins into the ambulance with their supplies. Babies have so much stuff. The father asked me if I would be their godfather…I awkwardly declined. I immediately regretted that decision but couldn't bring myself to awkwardly recant. Here, that relationship can carry with it a lot of baggage and expectations, and I selfishly said no. I'll never forget them or their birth. I should have said yes.
I drove them down a road in our area that I have passed ten thousand times but never entered. Throngs of homes and people lie down every alley in Port au Prince. A few 'blocks' in, I was told to stop. 'Kanpe la, nou gen tan rive.' I wedged the ambulance along an alley wall trying not to block other passing vehicles or crush the vendors stand beside me. While unloading the family and locking the truck doors, I realized a shoe shine business was nearly crushed by a front tire. The owner of the box and business eyed me warily, then picked up and relocated his business a few feet down the dusty path. 
We never know what to expect when returning mothers and new babies to their homes. Some conditions are pleasantly surprising; others are painfully discouraging. One constant remains, however - the families and neighbors and communities excitedly welcome them home and there we get a glimpse into Haiti's truest beauty. This home consisted of bare cinder blocks stacked into incomplete walls, a business at street level, a story above with unfinished openings for doors and windows, and a lean-to church with half a roof attached to the side. At first I felt a sadness creeping in considering this home for newborn twin girls, my judgement and paradigms taking over. Fortunately, all that was washed away by the hospitality and joy in the home as I met the rest of the family that shares it. I immediately lost track of the familial connections and count of the people in that space.  
I did not lose track or count when I was introduced to the father. The father of the father of the twins. Pastor of the church next door. Patriarch of the household. His eyes beamed as he insisted I stay to receive thanks and prayers of blessing for our ministry and he danced when I told him about being in the room when the girls were born and he laughed with me when I exclaimed how shocked everyone was to discover there was a second baby coming that night. Usually, when I meet a man here who introduces himself to me as a Pastor, I am skeptical at best. I have been taken for enough rides and had pockets emptied too many times to think that word always means what they think it means. This man was different. I sensed the sincerity of his heart and the joy in his spirit as we talked. He blessed me. We prayed together and posed for family pictures in the church and I walked out of that place thankful for this chance to be reminded of all that is right and good in this world, in this country, and in this ministry. 
Bouncing along the road back to the maternity center with a smile on my face, reflecting on this great experience, I looked up and read the words "Grace a Dieu" on the back of the tap-tap in front of me. The grace of God. All is grace. Mesi Bondye.

Troy Livesay, Midhusband 
Categories: Haitian blogs

Push, it's supposed to hurt

Livesay Haiti - Jan. 31, 2014 - 10:01 am

~I sat with a woman that had lost multiple children. Over and over again her pregnancies have ended in the delivery of a baby without a heartbeat. She is pregnant again, hopeful again, trusting and having faith in God and hope for the unknown future again. It hurts. She pushes.

~I talked with a friend.  She is choosing to be vulnerable, hoping something again that she has hoped in the past, trusting and choosing to have faith in God and hope for the unknown future again. It hurts. She pushes.

~I heard from a friend that she has experienced loss this week.  Her heart is grieving. She is trying to find solace. She is daily trying to trust in God and place her unknown future in His care. It hurts. She pushes.

~My husband met with a person he had never met this week.  He was nervous and uncertain about the meeting. He sat across from the first father of one of our precious children and he chose to be vulnerable rather than feel threatened. He set up a time for us to all meet again. Troy is trusting that God is in the risky things and has faith that He can walk us through it.  It hurts. He pushes.

Everday.single.day. I am given a beautiful opportunity to look around at people I know that are inspiring me with their faith - with their willingness to push. They have experienced much loss, they have known deep pain.  They are people that are working through the pain and pushing through the hurt to love and hope again. That is what faith looks like.

*Photo by Esther Havens
Categories: Haitian blogs

What Can Come of the Current “Dialogue” Between Bourgeois and Macoutes?

HaitiAnalysis - Jan. 30, 2014 - 1:07 am

by Isabelle L. Papillon (Haiti Liberte)
After rallying Duvalierists in Gonaïves on Jan. 1, 2014, President Michel Martelly is now trying to peddle what he calls “political and institutional dialogue” in an attempt to escape from the growing political and economic crisis engulfing Haiti.            This new round of “dialogue” has ostensibly being orchestrated by the Catholic Church hierarchy, which historically always takes the side of the propertied classes against the disenfranchised masses. This “dialogue” between the executive branch, legislative branch, and some political parties, with a few “civil society” (read bourgeois) groups as observers, has three basic themes: governance, elections, and amending the constitution.            What is the real goal of this dialogue? Will it lead to the dismissal of Prime Minister Laurent Lamothe and his government and of the Transitional College for a Permanent Electoral Council (CTCEP) of Emmanuel Ménard? Do the political players involved in the dialogue have any credibility with the public? Why are some parties not a part of this “dialogue” while others complain that they were not invited to these meetings? Who will implement any resolutions which come out of these talks?            The “political and institutional dialogue” began on Fri., Jan. 24, 2014, at the El Rancho hotel in Pétion-ville, in a room filled with government officials, parliamentarians, political parties, and civil society. Tellingly, two major opposition sectors, the Lavalas Family Political Organization (FL) and the Patriotic Movement of the Democratic Opposition (MOPOD), a center-right coalition of parties and organizations, were not in attendance, while several other very small parties demanded to be included.            Following a heated debate over the core document around which dialogue is taking place, President Martelly, the new Haitian cardinal Chibly Langlois, and Senators Steven Benoit and Edmonde Supplice Beauzil all spoke at the opening session of the talks, which should last for two or three weeks, according to the Catholic mediators.            President Martelly thanked the members of the Mediation Committee of the Catholic Church and all other actors involved in the process. He then invited political players to engage in deep dialogue and negotiations. "The key for us now is to be able to talk among ourselves, to resolve our differences, and to think of the greater good of Haiti," he said, adding that there was an urgency to act now and to introduce into all levels of the state qualified people to modernize the Haitian political landscape and consolidate democracy.            Cardinal Chibly Langlois, meanwhile, insisted that there be real change and a focus on the main objective of these discussions: the collective search for durable solutions. "This search for solutions must be done truthfully," he said.             Sen. Edmonde Supplice Beauzile, representative of the Fusion of Social Democrats party, welcomed the “dialogue” initiative, saying it implies it should be the work of Haitians themselves . She also said that the participants do not have room for error because the Haitian people “expect a lot from these discussions,” especially a commitment to put Haiti on a path towards change.            Sen. Steven Benoît, representing the parliament in the absence of Senate President Simon Dieuseul Desras (who was in New York over the weekend), thanked the initiators of the talks and asked for the FL and MOPOD to join the discussions in order “to give the nation a chance.”             The FL’s Executive Committee apparently heard Benoît’s call and rushed to get on the “dialogue” train. In a Jan. 27, 2014 press statement, the party wrote: "Following the letter of the Episcopal Conference of Haiti (CEH), dated Jan. 25, 2014, in which Monseigneur Chibly Langlois, President of the CEH invited the Lavalas Family to join the dialogue process, the Lavalas Family, which wants dialogue and always encourages dialogue, has decided to participate [in the talks], as requested by the CEH which is playing the role of mediator... The Lavalas Family, while participating in this dialogue, does not put aside [the need for] a national dialogue with the participation of all sectors, creating the conditions necessary to bring to the dialogue table all popular demands."  The note was signed by four members of the FL’s Executive Committee: Dr. Maryse Narcisse, the party’s coordinator, former deputy Lionel Etienne, agronomist Anthony Dessources, and businessman Joël Edouard “Pasha” Vorbe.             The same day, Jan. 27, Narcisse, Dessources, and Vorbe showed up at the talks. (Interestingly, FL Executive Committee member Claude Roumain, the former leader of a right-wing party, Generation 2004, did not sign the note and has not yet attended the talks.)            Along with the FL leadership, this “dialogue” involves only political parties from the same political family as Martelly: the Struggling People’s Organization (OPL), the Fusion of Social Democrats, the Konbit of Workers and Peasants to Liberate Haiti (KONTRAPEP), and the Democratic Unity Confederation (KID ).            The West Department’s senator, John Joël Joseph, expressed doubts about the outcome of the talks. He doesn’t think the president is acting in good faith, but rather that the difficult political situation compels him to take part in the talks. He advised Cardinal Langlois to proceed with caution so as not to be manipulated by both national and international players, who want simply to waste time. However, since the country is at an impasse, Sen. Joseph doesn’t dismiss the need for “Haitians from all sectors to talk” and be serious about it.            The deputy representing the southwestern town of Dame-Marie, Acclush Louis-Jeune, took a position diverging with his own party, the OPL, on the issue of dialogue. He called on the CEH to stop the process of dialogue until many other national sectors were participating in the discussions. It does not make sense, he added, that someone like MOPOD’s Dr. Turneb Delpé, who has long advocated dialogue in the form of a National Conference, not to be involved. For Dep. Acclush, the parties involved in the discussions are not mandated to represent the peasantry and other key sectors of Haiti. Furthermore, he said, the participating parties are not in conflict with the Martelly government in the same way as the member parties and organizations of MOPOD and some progressive popular organizations which have repeatedly condemned the way Martelly wields power.            Béguens Théus, the deputy for La Gonâve, also deplored the lack of other national sectors at the discussion table. He also chided the three branches of the government for not being able to resolve their disputes and called on participants to discuss the real obstacles to development in Haiti.            Paul Denis, a spokesman for the Unity party (INITE), said that the real problem of Haiti is none other than Martelly himself and does not believe it possible that Martelly would respect any resolutions that might possibly be taken as a result of discussions. Mr. Denis also believes that Haiti’s real problems will not be on the table, nor will the many outrages already committed by the Martelly/Lamothe government.             Lawyer André Michel, who has brought corruption suits against the Martelly regime, thinks that the “dialogue” will result in nothing substantive and that only some government posts will be given to some of the participants. He called it a “gathering of friends” and asserted that none of Haiti’s real problems are actually being raised.            Meanwhile, MOPOD held a retreat this past weekend to discuss how to the to structure and transform itself from a political platform into some kind of new party. During 2013, MOPOD’s slogan was "elections or resignation," but there were no elections, and President Martelly remains in office. So MOPOD is having to revise its strategy. Nonetheless, it has so far refused to take part in the “political and institutional dialogue” and continues to demand Martelly’s resignation.            We should recall that the de facto coup government of President Alexandre Boniface and Prime Minister Gérard Latortue (2004-2006) also had initiated a supposed “dialogue” of this kind, which led to nothing but a waste of state resources and time. In 2012, a similar dialogue was led by Religions for Peace, which resulted in the formation of the CTCEP, which was supposed to organize elections for one third of the Senate and for municipal posts. But the CTCEP was vassalized by the Martelly government and elections have never been carried out to date.            In short, President Martelly is afraid of elections and cannot overcome the troubles that confront him. To save face, he and the international community are hiding behind the Catholic Church’s robes as it organizes this meaningless “dialogue” of principally bourgeois and Duvalierist (Macoute) parties.
            Free, fair, and sovereign elections will require Martelly’s resignation and an end to Haiti’s military occupation by U.S. imperialism’s proxy force, the UN Mission to Stabilize Haiti (MINUSTAH). Neither of these conditions have been mentioned by the initiators of the current “dialogue.” It is quite clear that the “dialogue” participants are more interested in salvaging what they can of the status quo than in any revolutionary transformation of Haitian society, which will be necessary to create a participatory democracy.
Categories: Haitian blogs