I'm glad you're here.

Welcome to my blog! I'm so excited to share with you! Thank you for your prayers, your support, and your encouragement. It means a lot to me, the other volunteers at Children of the Promise, and especially the dear little ones I get to work with. :)

Thursday, March 11, 2010

I'm Home!

I wrote this blog entry last night. You can probably tell that I am super excited based on this ENORMOUS entry on night #1.

I fell in love with this place, or more specifically these kids, within the first 10 minutes of being here. You see, right away someone handed me a baby. That was it. It was a pretty cute baby, an 8lb, 6 month old bright eyed baby girl. I love this place because as soon as I had that baby in my arms I felt in my element. All day long it was all about taking care of these kids, bathing them, feeding them, changing them, treating their sicknesses, making them laugh, and giving them one-on-one time. These children are precious and everybody that is working/volunteering here just wants to give them as much love as possible. I love that!

The long term staff:

I was introduced to quite a few people today. I will tell you about two of them.

Rebekah. Rebekah is an RN and she lives at COTP in the same apartment as Maria (see below). She is no longer committed to serving as the RN at COTP and instead works for a different organization in Cap Haitien but she still lives here and helps out A TON. This is a huge blessing for me to know that I have her to call on if I ever need help. She is a young nurse like me. However you can tell that her experience working at COTP has given her an immense amount of knowledge and skill in community health nursing. While she was showing me some of the meds and the supplies in the pharmacy, three different adults came in from the community either with an injury or to see if they could have her fill a prescription their doctor had written. I know I am going to learn a ton not only about nursing care for infants and toddlers but about the treatment of communicable illness in adults as well.

Maria. Maria is from Ireland. She’s been living and working at Children of the Promise for 3ish years and is now serving as the Site Director. Although not a nurse, she’s been fulfilling the nurse’s duties in the absence of someone permanent. Tonight she took me around to the baby rooms to give evening meds. During these rounds we gave the kids one last hug, kiss, and “I love you” goodnight. The evening med time is also a great time to allow the nannies to give updates on a child’s progress and to express health concerns. I mentioned to Maria that I’ll need to at least learn enough Creole to be able to ask the nannies these questions. She told me that they were actually thinking that they’d have me start Creole lessons on Monday! What a surprise!! I can’t wait.

The short term volunteers:

I knew in advance that a group of 8 COTP volunteers would be joining me on my flight to Haiti. What I didn’t realize is that they’d be from PHOENIX!! I am really enjoying their company and am happy to have this fun team around at least until the end of the week. This group consists of a mixture of ladies and gents probably from age like 26 to 50. Tonight, after all the babies were in bed we came back to the volunteer house to mix up some snacks for our third meal. Breakfast @ 10 AM and lunch @ 2 PM are provided by Mod the cook. Dinner is a fend – for –yourself situation and meals can be made from a variety of foods we have stored in bins in the Volunteer House’s kitchen. Guess what I found in those boxes?? Oatmeal, raisins, and popcorn. Yep, I’m set for life!!!

A look around the room gave away the fact that no one had slept since Monday night due to a layover in Florida and a 4 AM check in time. People were tired. But instead of going to sleep at 7:45 PM we tossed a few worship songs around the table. We had itunes blasting Phil Wickham, Planetshakers, Hillsong, and some other good ones. These people have great taste. ;)

The Nannies:

I can’t wait to get to know these women better. They seem so fun. While I was playing with some of the 12-18 month old babies two nannies were pointing at me, laughing, and saying “beccasista, beccasista?” One of the nannies slapped a mosquito that had landed on her leg while she said this so I assumed she was trying to teach me that the word “beccasista” was Creole for “mosquito.” Wrong!
In reality, the nannies thought I looked similar to Rebekah the RN and were wondering if we were sisters. We all laughed about this the rest of the night. Let me tell you one thing. With laughter, there is no language barrier.

The Mango Tree:

Right outside the volunteer house there is a huge mango tree that provides shade for a courtyard in the center of the compound. If I’m standing at the door of the volunteer house and I look straight across the courtyard I can see the Baby House and the Pharmacy. To the left of the volunteer house is the house that holds the Special Needs Nursery the offices of both the Director and the Adoption Liason and an apartment for a few of the long term volunteers. If I look to my right I see the generator shed; a key fixture in the livelihood of COTP.
There is also a shaded play pavilion, a playground for older kids, the laundry house, and a meeting place for women going through the pre-natal program. Oh, and four dogs.
But back to the Mango tree. One of my favorite moments of the whole day was giving a tiny and hilarious 2 year old an oatmeal bath. With rubber ducks and toy boats. Outside. In a bucket. Underneath the Mango tree. I have a feeling that there will be many more wonderful baby moments beneath this tree. It’s the perfect spot.

Hey, hope you're doing well!

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

To good to be true? Nope. Definitely true.

Dear Friends and Family,

I can't wait to fill you in on what has been happening in my life lately. Many of you have been praying with me as I searched for a nursing job. Well, God has answered our prayers and has set a "job" opportunity before me that is more exciting, and closer to my heart, than I could have ever imagined. I get the privilege of volunteering as a nurse at an infant care center in Haiti. It is amazing what God will do when you entrust Him with your future. I encourage each one of you to remember that God has a special plan for your life that is exciting, unique, and intricately intertwined in the kingdom of God. Don't settle for less!

Where am I going?

In a few hours, I will be leaving the Ft. Lauderdale, Florida airport in a small plane that will land in Cap Haitien, Haiti. I will be volunteering with Children of the Promise, a non-profit, non-denominational, Christian organization that runs an infant care center in Cap Haitien. Staff from Children of the Promise will pick me up from the airport and we will travel to the site. I will live on Children of the Promise property in the "volunteer house." I will try to give a more complete description of what I will be doing in the next section of this post. Feel free to check the http://www.childrenofthepromise.org/!! You will see pictures of the "volunteer house" and the "baby house(s)", pictures of the staff, pictures of the babies.. and a description of the organization and how you can get involved.

The mission of Children of the Promise is to promote the physical, spiritual, and emotional well-being of children in the community (I got that lovely description from their website. ;)) By having an infant care home staffed with field directors, adoption coordinators, a nurse, maintenance workers, Haitien nannies, and other volunteers, COTP can really provide for the needs of orphaned infants in a big way. I'm really excited to get to play a part in the service they are providing!

What will I be doing?

Good question! I will have better insight and an answer to this question in a few days. I do know that I'll be loving infants and toddlers while paying special attention to their health safety, growth and development, and present medical needs. But I'll let you know more specifically what that looks like in future posts.

How did this happen?

This is a long story.. with a lot of details that I think are AWESOME. But, i'll do my best to keep it short.

Have you ever been at a place in your life where you felt completely at peace, like you were exactly where God wanted you? That's where I am at right now. I wish I had started blogging sooner so that you would be able to see God at work in all the little details. It really is amazing.

Without going into too much detail I will try to give you the basic outline of how this opportunity came to be.

Ever since returning from my semester abroad (I studied community health nursing in South Africa), I knew I wanted to continue to work with vulnerable populations in under served nations. While searching and applying to nursing jobs here in the States, I remember praying for guidance and help with applications and interviews. But sometimes, I would sit in front of the world map on my wall with a face full of tears, a broken heart, and a stream of images running through my mind of the sick and dying in South Africa and I would change my pray just a little. (Shh... that crying business is a secret!) "God," I would say, "if there is a way for me to serve people like these, PLEASE open those doors." I share that just to say that I think God sees the desires of our hearts, and remembers.

Not long after the earthquake in Haiti, I got a post on my facebook wall from Ashley Symens, fellow alumna from Azusa Pacific University's School of Nursing. It was so out of the blue! She told me about an email her mom had received from an orphanage in Haiti that was in need of nurses. I thanked her profusely for thinking of me and jumped on the opportunity that she regretfully had to pass up due to her own job commitment. Praise the Lord, I'm unemployed!, I thought to myself.

I've thought that very thought a number of times in the past few months as I have had the opportunity to spend quality time with family and friends! I'll give a little synopsis of what I've been up to these last few months for those of you I don't see as much. After graduation in May, I spent 3 amazing months working as an RN for Camp Friendship and Camp Eden Wood in Minnesota. After camp I had the opportunity to travel through Arizona, Nevada, and California with my international friends ;). In October, I was able to take a road trip up to Northern California to visit family and high school friends. In March, I took another road trip to California to visit friends from college. I spent both Thanksgiving and Christmas with my family and in December/January I returned to Minnesota to work as the RN at Camp Friendship. After Winter Camp, I spent time with wonderful friends in Chicago. All the while, I was building and maintaining solid friendships with a group of young women in Tucson. (Tribe girls, I treasure you!) God has definitely used various people in the churches and Bible Studies I have attended while living in Tucson to really teach, encourage, and prepare me. Thank you all!

After I received that email from Ashley the last week in January I began communication with Children of the Promise right away. I saw God's hand in a million tiny details... and now I'm at the airport and will be checking in for my flight to Haiti in about 30 minutes. I'm especially in awe of the way God has worked through the financial details (which sometimes aren't so tiny). To a few: THANK YOU VERY MUCH FOR YOUR SUPPORT! Your generosity is a blessing to me.

How can you get involved?

Well, I'm glad you asked! You can start by visiting www.childrenofthepromise.org to learn more about this ministry. You can also follow the COTP blog: www.childrenofthepromise.blogspot.com

And if you would like to pray, please pray
-that we will have a safe flight
(I am flying with a group of 8 volunteers that will be staying for a week)
-that I will build great friendships the long-term staff and other volunteers
-pray for the health of the infants at the orphanage
-pray for children in the Cap Haitien area for safety, health, and protection

Well, I have to walk across the street to the international terminal so I better get moving! I'm glad I have friends like who want to take this journey with me!