Birthdays

A year ago, (yesterday) we were celebrating our Jett’s fifth birthday.  We were no doubt eating chicken and dumplings and downing some chocolate cake.  Little did we know, a sweet baby girl was born less than a mile away on the street to a momma who didn’t have a home or the mental stability to care for her new baby.  Three weeks later she came to live with us.  Aimee Espwa has been an absolute joy and privilege to care for over the course of her first year.

I love it that Aimee and Jett share a birthday!  Jett loves Aimee and now they have had their first birthday together.  It makes him feel special that he gets to share his day with his baby sister.

Aimee has two bottom teeth and has been toddling all over the house, especially since the last few days.  She is happy and content.  I am so glad that God has blessed us with a house full of kids.

Birthday Buddies, Jetty and Aimee!

Aimee wasn't quite sure how to go about eating her cake, but she figured it out!

Chocolate!!

Six Years, Jett, Wow!

Pictures From Home

Already, it has been a few weeks back in the warm Hispaniolian sunshine, back to the homeschool grind, and trying to keep up with the feeding of these hungry kids of mine.  I want to share a few pictures of some really important people in my life that I was able to see during my short visit to St. Louis.

My Sisters! Jeanna, me, and Joy

I was so blessed to spend quality time with my sisters.  Not too long ago I wrote about missing them while living in far off Haiti.  I wish the circumstances would have been better, but I am so grateful for our time together.  I know my kids would have loved to be with me so they could hang out with their cousins.  Our kids all have a special bond that I hope will continue throughout their whole lives.

Sweet Nieces Heaven, Megan, and Allie

My dad and mom with the Davis kids, Jonathan, Megan, and Justin

My last full day in St. Louis, my best friend from college, Krystal Jones, drove all the way from Bloomington, IN to visit a few short hours with me and my parents.

me and Krystal

Time was too short; however, it was time well spent!  I am blessed to have all of these beautiful people in my life to support, encourage, and challenge me to be a better mom, wife, teacher and friend.

My mom is doing well.  Her CA125  (blood marker for ovarian cancer) continue to decrease rapidly.  I am thankful that God is keeping her in the shadow of his wing and that His presence has been continually revealed.

 

Sipping Hot Tea

Today was the perfect day to sip hot tea all day long with my mom and dad.  The sound of the snow plow woke me this morning.  I jumped out of bed to see what the racket was all about.  Funny how I am used to the neighbor’s rooster waking me up in Port-au-Prince.  I really thought someone was dragging their trashcan to the end of their driveway.  Snow fell all morning around here which afforded a day of baking and cooking for my parents.

Just over a year ago, I really started seeking out information on nutrition and the role food plays in the health of myself and my family.  I switched from white flour and pasta to whole wheat, white rice to brown rice, and from using vegetable oil to coconut oil or butter.  As soon as I arrived in St. Louis (after a nice splurge of Mexican food 🙂 ) I started researching good healthy food that would be the very best for my mom and her fight against stage 4 ovarian cancer.  I took my first trip to the Whole Foods Market and then a couple days later to Trader Joe’s.  We stocked up the refrigerator full of kale, leeks, endive, bok choy, cauliflower, peppers and onions.  We have Brazil nuts, coconut oil, whole wheat, plums, and talapia.   I am still learning a lot about nutrition and its role in our lives.  I have been having fun looking up recipes and cooking with my dad.  I am proud of my mom and her willingness to eat what we are fixing for her.  We made some cauliflower soup and multigrain bread.  My dad even took seconds on the soup!

Healthy eating is a journey.  It is never too late to begin. I still have so far to go.  I am glad sipping hot tea is considered a healthy activity, especially in St. Louis in the winter!

Two Years Later

Today is the two year anniversary of the disastrous earthquake in Port-au-Prince, Haiti.  The eyes of the whole world shifted to and lingered upon the tiny nation on the island of Hispaniola on January 12, 2010.  Over the course of the past two years, many people have asked us to recount that day.  Sometimes I can tell it without too much emotion, other times I remember too vividly the wild adrenaline pushing though my veins for hours afterwards.  The fear, the instability, the ignorance that I had as I comforted my little Lotzes are all too real.  We were completely unaware of the complete tragedy that had unfolded around us.  With an attitude of humility, knowing that God’s hand was on each of us, we are forever thankful for the mercy that spared our family.  May we continue to live in Haiti to work and serve where our lives were spared tragedy.  May we forever be thankful for the huge blessings that God has supplied in our lives.  

Today is a national holiday in Haiti so the people can grieve, fast and pray.  Let us join in prayer for brothers and sisters in Haiti.

Hope Christian Church

Sunday morning I was blessed to attend church with my parents.  My mom was able to go for the first time since November, for the first time since her stage 4 Ovarian Cancer diagnosis. They are active members at Hope Christian Church in Waterloo, IL.  I followed them in through the front door where they were immediately hugged and loved on by the greeter and a few people in the foyer.  We went for second service with time to spare a visit to their Sunday School Class beforehand.  I stood back by the door and watched my mom and dad get many more hugs, conversations of treatments and concern, and much more love.  It kept bringing tears to my eyes, so I tried to busy myself by looking at the bulletin board and talking to a few people here and there.  Finally, we began to step out from the class and head to the service when the teacher called my mom back and gathered everyone around her for prayer.  After church, there was even more visiting and caring conversations taking place between my mom and dad and fellow Christians who love the Lord, and who love my parents.  There was even a pot of soup and a loaf of sourdough bread waiting in the kitchen for us to enjoy for lunch.

Later my mom said that she has never been prayed for like her Sunday school class prayed for her.  I love how God has placed my parents in a church that is actively seeking to be the church.  My mom is so blessed by so many loving, wonderful people.  I know that God has her right in the palm of His hand.  I am thankful that my parents are being so well cared for as I am going to have to return to Port-au-Prince all too soon.

Join us for Gratituesday at Heavenly Homemakers!

Going Home

Less than a week before Christmas, my momma received a diagnosis of Stage 4 Ovarian Cancer and just three days before Christmas started her chemotherapy.  It has been a hard month and a half for her and my dad with many days of uncertainty.  In times like this, it is hard to live so far away from home and so far away from my family.

God worked out the details for Eric’s mom to come for a visit in January this year.  Because she is going to be here, I feel like I can leave my family here in Haiti to visit my mom and dad in St. Louis.  I leave on Friday the 6th and get a whole week and a half to spend with my parents.  I am anxious to be there to serve them anyway I can.  I know that my kiddos will be in good hands while I am away.  I am trying to leave the freezer stocked with a bunch of food for my mother-in-law.  There is just something about these kids of mine…always wanting food!

In addition to seeing my mom and dad, I am looking forward to reading some books, catching up my blog, and spending time in God’s word.  These things somehow seemed to get pushed aside in the midst of cooking, piles of dirty dishes and dirty laundry, and educating my Little Lotzes.

Please pray for my mom and my dad.    I am so grateful for the opportunity to visit them right now!  Please pray for Eric’s mom, too, as she has to take care of six kids!  We will worry about school after I return (much to the delight of the kids).

 

 

Join us for Gratituesday at Heavenly Homemakers!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Facebook Without Ceasing

In the New Testament, Paul tells the Thessalonians we are to “Pray continually.” (1 Thessalonians 5:17)  I used to do this, as least I used to be a lot better at this than I am now…

When I am walking from upstairs to switch the laundry, God might remind me a bit about his everlasting love.  I will give him thanks.  While I am washing up a few dishes in the sink, He will remind me of a friend who needs prayer. I will ask for His love and blessing to be made known.  Folding a few towels, I will sing a little praise song.  While putting my sweet kids to bed, I pray for their protection and their salvation.  This is who I want to be and what I want to do throughout the day.

Unfortunately, since I have facebook/internet on my phone instead of allowing God to draw my thoughts, prayers, and praises to Him, I allow my brain to be muddled with where my fb friends are eating lunch, who they are hanging out with, and what they are watching on tv.  Please don’t get me wrong, I am not fb bashing.  I love keeping up with my friends and family.  I love sharing what we are eating for dinner!  I love the connectedness that it brings to our lives, especially living in Haiti so far away from “home”.  After the 2010 earthquake, I was amazed that it was the only reliable source for communication!

What I am confessing is facebook without ceasing instead of pray without ceasing.  I am wasting precious moments of everyday interacting with a screen instead of the little faces in front of me.  I catch up on everyone’s updates while I wait for my kids to fall asleep instead of praying for them and with them.  I look up after dinner and see that my kids have taken advantage of my Blackberry addiction to escape from the table (and hoping to escape from the dishes!).  Sometimes it happens during the school day. When my kids are hard at work, I think I have time to read a little thing that someone posted.  When I am finished, I notice that my kids were not focused because I lost my focus on them.  My family deserves my best, and so does my God.  I am have failing them.

So with this confession, comes repentance and a stubborn resolve to keep my phone in my pocket.  At times it seems to be an extension of my hand.  And since I am putting this out here for all to read, I want you to ask me about my time with my phone.  You can keep me accountable.  I did tell my kids to keep me accountable as well.  They haven’t failed me yet.

And please, someone tell me that I am not alone!

Haitian Marinad

I have written about Miss Jasmine before.  She is our school morning nanny for Aimee and Callie and also teaches Christa and Hannah French four days a week.  Sometimes Miss Jasmine likes to spice it up in French class (especially when the students are feeling a little overwhelmed and frustrated about French!).

One of their favorite activities is to make “marinad” which is fried dough.  I love it that Jasmine teaches the kids French but I really love it that they get to learn Haitian culture and how to make Haitian food.  Marinad is a snack food that is typically sold on the street to passersby who need a little bite to eat.  When Eric and I lived in Port-de-Paix, he always bought marinad outside of the gate of the school to help him make it to lunch time.

First you mince some garlic together with some salt and pepper.  Dissolve Maggi (or chicken bouilion) in some water.  Mix in all of the spices and water with a couple of cups of flour and a teaspoon of baking powder. I understand that my measurements are quite vague, but I wasn’t with them while they were preparing the dough!  Add enough flour/water until a soft dough forms.  Heat up some oil in a skillet and drop spoonfuls into the grease.  Fry, turning after a few minutes.

Golden Fried Marinad

Callie likes to call them “sea turtles” because that is what they look like to my little three-year-old.  They are best served hot with some Haitian piklis.

I have to say that I think these taste a lot like Long John Silver’s batter..Maybe we have just discovered their recipe.

Fresh Water in Medan Belize

A week ago Sunday, our whole family was invited to attend a small ceremony signifying the completion of another joint organization project.  The Clinton Foundation, Greif, Caribbean Harvest, and Operation Blessing joined forces to build a small addition to a community building that Operation Blessing previously built for a small village located on Lake Azuei.  The purpose of this addition was to provide more surface area with which to collect rain water for those who live in Medan Belize, Haiti.  This group of people live right on the brackish waters of Lake Azuei, which is huge and beautiful, but can do nothing to help meet the fresh water needs of the people.  Operation Blessing provided the labor and know how to get the project from vision to realization on the ground here in Haiti. Eric was in charge of implementing the plan on a short deadline.  It is always tricky trying to get a project to come together, especially when you are waiting for important supplies in customs!

Many people from these organizations were coming Sunday afternoon to present the project to the village.  We showed up Sunday morning to spend the day at the lake while Eric had some last minute things to see to completion.  The kiddos had fun swimming with the little kids from the village.

Splashing in Lake Azuei

Lake Azuei, with Dominican Republic mts in the background

Lunch Break

Eric spent much of his Thanksgiving weekend altering these tables to hold the big containers that are to catch the fresh rainwater. He worked hard ensuring the details would come together at just the right time.  Thankfully, customs cooperated and released the huge water collection containers in time for the installation and the ceremony.

Rainwater Collection Containers

They worked great!

The Operation Blessing water truck was on hand to test the system.  They pulled the hose up to the roof to make sure the gutters would capture the water and lead it safely down into the reservoirs.

I am thankful that my husband gets to be a hero to a lot more people than just me.  I am thankful that there is another option for the people of Medan Belize to receive fresh water.

Eric hard at work!

One Step Closer

We have been working on obtaining legal custody of Aimee for quite a while.  Since Eric had Friday off of work, we finished up some things on our end that were not difficult, but only needed a little time.  Our lawyer asked us for a photo, like a passport photo, of Eric, Aimee, and myself, along with a dr’s report on the three of us, and Eric and my marriage certificate.  Having left a “box of important papers” with my mom, it was up to her to get the marriage certificate scanned and emailed to us.  Luckily, my brother-in-law Alan was at her house this weekend and helped her figure it out!

We went to a little photo store called Belle Photo for the necessary pictures.  Aimee did great and and we were in and out without any hassel. Eric and I were reminded of when we had to take Christa to a similar place to get a photo for her passport when she was only two weeks old.  Trying to get a two week old baby to open her eyes long enough to snap a photo was difficult.  I was glad Aimee cooperated a lot easier!

Waiting for the pictures at the Belle Photo

As we were upstairs in this little shop, I was sitting on a bench with my back against the wall.  I could feel the vibrations traveling through the walls from the endless traffic from below.  I didn’t like it; it makes me think about things like substandard building practices and earthquakes.  Luckily, our wait was short and we were on to our next assignment.

We went to a local ‘hospital’, but the best I could tell, it seemed to be like a one man dr. office.  There were vaccines for babies, a small drug laboratory, and a small pharmacy.  Our physicals consisted of taking the vitals, weight, and a blood test  (for AIDS) for all three of us.

Aimee getting weighed at the dr's office.

I thought it was funny the way they weigh the babies here.  Of course, all of my other kids have had similar experiences, but we called it a Johnny Jump-Up!  This was a lot like Eric’s fish scale.  Aimee didn’t seem to mind.

Aimee finally broke a tooth through this morning.  My housekeeper was sure she was going to walk before she ever got a tooth!  She will be surprised on Monday morning.