Thursday, June 9, 2011

A New Perspective

We received our first document yesterday that had our daughter's legal name on it - BRANDALENE JEAN-BAPTISTE! It listed her birthdate as March 19, 1998. That's right! She is 13 years old! Now, with that said, we don't know if that is her "actual" birthday or one they "made up."

The document also showed her parent's names, and listed them as deceased. They showed her 66 year old grandmother's name, where she lived and had her signature as the one relinquishing Beatrice to the orphanage. From previous discussions with the orphanage, Beatrice lived with her grandmother in Cite Soleil after her parents died. At this point, we do not know how long she was there.

Trey asked me if I knew about Cite Soleil. I said no. He explained that it was the worst part of Haiti. Is there such a thing? Oh yes!!!! Just Google it! After finding the below article and pictures, I absolutely, 110% changed my perspective of where Beatrice is currently living. I have gone from "How can they only feed her beans and rice?" to "I am grateful she is able to eat beans and rice." I am also thankful that she has a roof over her head, is safe, and can openly praise and worship our Heavenly Father.

In America we called them Hoovervilles and Shanty Towns. They’re called Favelas in Rio De Janeiro and Dharavi in Mumbai. In Kenya, the place where desperately poor people live en masse is the Kibera. But in Haiti the largest and most notorious version of a “slum” is called Cite Soleil (Sun City), located at the northwest edge of Port Au Prince.

 Cite Soleil began as a massive garbage dump created by the Duvalier dictatorships (“Papa Doc” 1956-1971 and “Baby Doc” 1971-1986). Tens of thousands of impoverished people eventually and successively encamped atop the dump as their only hope of finding food. As a result, Cite Soleil became one of the world’s largest communes with more than 300,000 people living there permanently.

 Cite Soleil has no sanitation, virtually no electricity and essentially no protection. The United Nations forces stationed in Haiti, MINUSTAH, maintain an armed checkpoint at its entrance but there are no police or UN stations or checkpoints within its boundaries. It is a dangerous place largely under the control of dozens of gangs whose boldness in carrying out kidnappings and murders has grown. According to the BBC, when the January 12 earthquake collapsed the walls of Port Au Prince’s federal prison, more than 3,000 inmates escaped, with most believed to have melted into the trackless mobocracy of Cite Soleil.

In a cruel irony, the earthquake did very little damage to this blighted area of Haiti. But it took more than two weeks for earthquake supplies to arrive in Cite Soleil, in part because of widespread reluctance to enter this forbidding place. Various sources report that human rights in Cite Soleil are “catastrophic” and that “anarchy prevails.”

 In a July 2008 article, Flak magazine reported: “Haitians in Cite Soleil were so hungry that new expressions sprung into colloquial usage. ‘Battery acid insides’ and ‘Clorox stomach’ are common ways to describe the corrosive hunger felt by so many. The AP broke a story that said that Haitians were eating ‘dirt cakes’ made from mixing dirt and water with vegetable shortening, salt and baking in the sun.”

Over my three trips to Haiti, Cite Soleil is the one place our driver, Leonard, said he will not take us. Still, not all efforts to bring help to this zone of suffering are daunted. Doctors without Borders, which left Cite Soleil in 2006, reopened a hospital in the center of the slum after the earthquake. Even the Haiti Lutheran Mission Society (HLMS) maintained a church and school there until they were demolished by four successive hurricanes in 2008. Still, HLMS plans to rebuild in Cite Soleil and I have already set my own eyes on helping that effort when it begins.

 The below photo images are from Cite Soleil including the dirt cakes mentioned above. All photos were obtained from various sources on the internet.  Article written by Richard Bearup in April 19, 2010.

Tough words to read and tough pictures to see! Lord, thank you for revealing this to me so that I may be grateful for the path you have given to Beatrice. Help me to continue to see the good in all situations, and to trust in Your perfect journey.

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Answered Prayer?

I purposely titled this blog with a question mark, because I don't know how I feel about the email we received today. It stated that a lot of paperwork has been done, and the remaining paperwork would be completed shortly for Beatrice to move to Port au Prince.

We have heard this type of info before. Matter of fact, several times before. At what point do we believe that it really is happening? Honestly? When I see it...meaning when Beatrice moves to Port au Prince. I know that I should be saying things such as "God's timing is perfect" or "It's in His hands." Well, I do most of the time. But tonight, I am frustrated. Is it ok to feel this way?

Maybe I need to focus on the good things, God's handiwork, that I have clearly seen lately:

  • Christian and Austin have embraced changing schools next year.
  • Austin started a new Bible study last week, and LOVES it! He came home extremely happy and couldn't stop talking. He was beaming with excitement! What an answer to prayer!

    Oh wait! Let me tell you how this happened. I walked into the Church office to purchase a Kroger Cares' card. The electricity was out, so the Middle School Pastor, John Steen, and some of his staff were meeting in the front lobby. John asked if Austin was going to camp. I said yes, only because I am making him go; not because he wants to go. I explained that we were moving him from Davidson Academy to Hunter Middle School next year. Another guy, Evan Cantrell, that was sitting right in front of me jumped in. He graduated last year from Davidson Academy and was leading the Hunter boys in a Bible study over the summer. He went outside and talked to Austin who just happened to be in the car. Evan came back inside and stated that he was changing the Bible study from Tuesday to Thursday, so Austin could join them (Austin sees his father on Tuesday nights).

    There is not one single person that could convince me that this was not God's handiwork. The electricity was out, the staff was meeting at the exact time I walked in, the student leading the Hunter boys graduated from the school Austin was leaving and he changed the day they were meeting just for Austin. Whoa! God is amazing!
  • Spending one hour with Dr. Bernard.
  • Trey "accidentally" running into Brother David (our pastor) at the gas station the day before he left for Haiti. This gave Trey the perfect opportunity to express our concerns about the adoption process and ask for his help.
  • Faulkner graduated high school and received a full ride to UT.
  • Faulkner asked Trey if they could serve in Haiti together this summer before she started college. What a wonderful gift for Trey to spend this quality time with his 18 year old beautiful daughter!
  • We received substantial contributions toward our adoption last month.
Yes! I feel better now. My morning routine should begin journaling our blessings instead of focusing on my frustrations.