miércoles, 23 de mayo de 2012

Shepherds United & Reunited

Dad and Ilayas in Dad's McHale Realty office with his little John Deere tractor, December 2010.

Here's an e-mail I just wrote to my good friend Aimee.. or as my dad used to refer to her as Aimee Picci (pronounced "picky", a portion fo her last name). :) 

Over the past few weeks, my dad and I kept meeting on facebook and praying together. I am so thankful for that. My brother and mom visited in April and my brother was really critical of my family and lifestyle and that I guess opened up some doors of communication between my dad and I because after that we had more heart to hearts. I let him know how I felt hurt and apologized for hurting him.. and that seemed to do a lot of healing on both parts. I think I maybe convicted him of a few things too (and him of me) and he was just super loving every day after that. His lung collapsed last week and I called the house that night. My brother told me what had happened and that they were in the hospital. So I called my mom's cell and my dad and I ended up getting on facebook to chat. He didn't really write much but I prayed for him and it was just the most healing thing. See I was sort of pushing/encouraging/requesting them for him to do some sort of radiation again or more medical measures but they didn't want to.. and just wanted to remain in prayer and trust in God healing him. I was scared until I prayed that night but the next day I wrote to him and said that I now felt sure of his healing.. 100% expectant. He wrote back saying thank you. After that night of prayer, I now felt assured that everything would be okay. But cognitively I still had thoughts of.. will he live or will he die? And as I thought them, it was clear to me that it didn't matter. Because either way he would live. I was scared of losing him, but I just was so reassured that he would live whether on earth or with God. 

Then we didn't talk for a few days, I was really busy, traveling a bit, and then yesterday and the day before I was calling and writing to them for us to talk (mom and dad), and my mom just wrote to say that he had not been doing well after coming out of the hospital with the collapsed lung, which they had pumped back up and sent him home. She said she would call the Red Cross to see if they would give Maraya permission to come home before her paperwork was ready. The next morning I wrote to her just asking if they had decided to not do any medical intervention completely (as far as a more agressive attempt, not pain medication, which he was on), or what were the doctors suggesting, not judging, just wanting to understand, saying when I could come if we could work it out. Then I saw my dad was on facebook and messaged him to see if he was there. This was maybe 7 or 7:30am. Then my mom called me and let me know that he had just passed away shortly before. He had been spending the days on the couch so he wouldn't go up the steps. She stayed with him and gave him meds often as he was in lots of pain. She woke up and didn't see him. She looked around and couldn't find him and thought for sure he couldn't make it up the stairs. But not seeing him anywhere else, she went up to see and she found him laying across their bed. I told her after reflecting in an e-mail that I was so proud of him for climbing the stairs. :) 

A family friend just posted a picture of my dad and granddad and wow.. that got me crying.  I wrote: Wow, that brings me joy to think that they're delivering lambs together in heaven..two awesome shepherds. I now look forward to the day I can watch the baby lambs there with them. 

So we got an intern here yesterday and since I may / hopefully will go to the US tomorrow or the next day, I did everything today I had planned to do with him over the next few days. So I was really busy and my mom called the Red Cross to see if they would give special permission for me to travel with Maraya (you know Ilayas has his paperwork) but she didn't hear anything back so I got some numbers from US embassy people but by the time I could call it was too late so tomorrow I'm gonna work on that and hopefully can come home... 

This is not from the e-mail but some more thoughts and info. We went to the doctor's with Elisenia today among other things with Kondwani, the new intern from Rhodes College, and Centro Medico Cabarete was very helpful. I am to call for her stool analysis results tomorrow. We took Ebo to Pauline and company at Project Isobel in Sosua, assuming that I'll be able to go to the US. He could've stayed with Jireste but his mom has been acting a little weird and we plan on taking him to her mom, his grandmother, in Haiti next week, along with going to the embassy for Jireste's visa meeting, and I am slightly afraid that while I'm potentially gone she would come and take him just to exert her authority and not to think of what is best for him. I may explain more in a post I will finally write dedicated to Ebo without trying to go too much into critiquing his mom as I am not in her shoes, but I do think that the best next step is that he goes to his grandmother's and do fear that she would potentially come and want to take him if he stay here with Jireste. Plus Project Isobel is awesome, they were willing to take him, and I know he'll have a great time and be well cared for. 

Now back to my Daddy... I remember when I laid in bed the night before the first day of sixth grade. In Frederick County, Virginia, USA, elementary school is K-5, middle school is 6-8, and high school is 9-12. I was extremely excited to go to middle school - James Wood Middle School. My dad came and sat on the bed and talked to me. He had come from a bible study, I believe. He talked about Jesus coming... he was ranting and raving about it and how awesome it would be. He said, "I wish he would come tonight!" I said, "I don't." He asked why not. I told him that it was because I hadn't gone to middle school yet. He said okay, he wished he would come after I got to go to middle school. 

Oh my the memories I have of my Daddy at basketball games, volleyball games, and track meets in middle school and high school. And the memories of feeding sheep with him. And the memories of him telling Sarah and I stories of.. what were their names? Maria and Abraham? A family he invented who fell in love and got married and had child after child... and just a beautiful life on an old fashioned farm. He would tell us pieces night after night. And the memories of him counting down slowly from 10 to put me to sleep when I used to have trouble sleeping. He would speak quietly and gently and have me close my eyes. He would tell me slowly to relax parts of my body until my whole body was relaxed. Then to imagine a white ten on a black screen. Slowly he would count down to one...each time removing the previous number and putting up the lower white number on the black screen. 

Of course, perhaps the most influential memories on my life were the ones where he received calls from AA guys he was sponsoring in the middle of the night. After receiving them, he got up, got dressed, and went and rode around in the car talking to them, helping them get through the night. This is perhaps the most influential thing in my life. These memories are HUGE in the understanding I have of God and his love and his transforming power. This inspired me to leave a comfortable place and go to an uncomfortable place because of love for those in the uncomfortable place. This portrays my heart. For this I thank you Dad. I thank you that you did that in front of me week after week growing up. Thank you. 

I now am sure of your healing. 100% expectant. Rest in peace, live in peace, sheperd in peace. And please tell the Shepherd that I'm long done with middle school now so he can come any time. 

martes, 22 de mayo de 2012

Santo Domingo

I have no time to write!!! But I need to write a quick update. First of all, in my last post, I had just spent time with my brother who really critiqued me and Project Esperanza.. that's just the kind of guy he is. What had upset me the most was that he had judged Ilayas. Well, for the record, the thing that he had judged him on is the way that he sometimes behaves with Ebo, the little boy we are fostering. He gets territorial over items and hits him and gets rough with him. But he really doesn't do this all the time and they quite often play very peacefully and cutely. They often remind me of Sam and his friends on the wonderful movie I Am Sam, the way they communicate in a positive manner that doesn't quite make sense but they are communicating among each other and working together. I, of course, don't want Ilayas to hit Ebo, but realize that the situation is tough and I don't plan to hit him back, or at least not on every occasion, but at certain times to strategically teach him, not overly punish him, just because I knew it would be tough for Ilayas from the beginning to share everything he has, including his mom, just four months after he became a big brother.

Actually, Ilayas often pleas on Ebo's behalf when I lose patience with him. Ebo eats a lot!! About three times what Ilayas eats. So sometimes when he whines after I know he has eaten, I lose patience asking, "What's wrong!?" Ilayas seems to know and tells me that Ebo wants milk. Ebo also is very active and takes things off the table and plays with things that aren't toys. He has improved soo much in this area from when he first moved in, but he still does it. The other day I kept taking things out of his hands that he would climb up and take off of higher shelves or table tops and then he grabbed a light bulb box and took out the light bulb. I grabbed it from him and got angry and told him to sit down, as he was standing on a chair. He just looked at me as if to say "Make me," so I did, and with anger and force. He cried and yelled even though he was unharmed and I was glad that he did so that he would learn submission as he is 2 and I am his 27-year-old caregiver. But then Ilayas said, "Ebo, I'm sorry..." which he was trying to tell me that Ebo apologizes and I should forgive him. So I quickly hugged him to let him know that it was okay but don't do it again, and he quickly quieted. So he pleas on Ebo's behalf. But he also loses patience with him as well, but his behavior is apparently normal.

My good friend Crystal who has run a day care for a number of years read my post and e-mailed me lots of encouragement. I told her what had most upset me about my brother's critiques and she let me know that that is completely normal, especially at that age, and how she deals with her sons having to share their toys, space, and mom since she runs a day care out of their house. Thanks again Crystal! I also believe I said in the last post something about Jireste just being "a crazy Haitian man". Well, that was coming from my brother's strong critiques as well and it was basically my way of saying.. DON'T JUDGE! but in a too compromising way. I apologize. Really, when one's life has been so very very different than yours, you're just setting yourself up to be wrong. I think dealing with different cultures and such is quite tricky and... well I've learned many times that if you base your judgments on what you have seen in your own culture, then you are making a mistake.

It's hard not to, it's true. I used to be sure that people were doing drug deals, just because I was so used to seeing that among young men in the US in high school and college. I found out that they were talking about things such as loaning and returning a pair of shoes, and no drug deals were in sight at all. And why did this venting come out on my blog? Well, I think I went into submission and shut down mode when the critique took place and then needed another outlet to share. So that's that.

Now, I just wanted to say that we went to Santo Domingo for Maraya's consulate report of birth abroad meeting, which went well. We ended up killing two birds with one stone and took Elisenia to CURE International's clinic there. I wrote in my last update that we took her to the CURE center in Santiago. That is not as supervised or really as functioning as the one in Santo Domingo and we didn't receive the care we had expected there, so after communicating with the medical staff through e-mail, who have been so super responsive and helpful, we took her with us to Santo Domingo. We already had an x-ray done. It turns out that she does not have a typical club foot that can be fixed through a series of casts but that she was born with a rare disorder where she has no tibia. The most likely solution/ course of action is to amputate her foot and put on a prosthetic, but I guess a lot will depend on her future with adoption, etc. Speaking of which, I am finally in communication with the wonder lawyer from Port-au-Prince who can help out with her adoption and those of her siblings. Dr. Dan Ruggles who consulted us at CURE said that I could send him (via e-mail) another x-ray in a year or so so that he could see if her tibia was starting to grow, in which case there is some hope of salvaging the foot.

Since Elisenia has been at the hostel for two months with a caregiver (although she will be moved to my neighbor's house tomorrow), I don't see her every day and sometimes just have to run in and out and not spend much time with her. Sometimes she has diarrhea and I always let her caregiver know that if it continues, we have to take her to the hospital, but she lets me know that it doesn't last, just has little bouts. However, if we were to take her to the hospital, it would be difficult because both I and her caregiver have little kids which makes it difficult for us to sit at the hospital with her. The new caregiver has older kids, speaks Spanish much better, and has a disabled child with lots of experience going to the doctor's. So she will more be able to do things like this should they come up. But the issue before was, who would go and sit with her? And would the Purto Plata hospital even do anything as they didn't before? If not, it's even less feasible that someone goes and stays with her in Santiago.

Well, when we picked her up Thursday night to go to Santo Domingo and then slept at Jireste's Aunt Mari's house in Santiago, I realized as I changed her daiper that she had withered away to skin and bones, even more so than before. I became fearful and hoped that at CURE they would put her on an IV or something. The next morning at CURE the doctor agreed that she was dehydrated and needed immediate medical attention, but they are an orthopedic clinic and don't admit sick babies. Willy and Enso had come along to hold her during the trip and to see the capital for the first time. Enso (for those of you who know him, not Luckner Enso, Ti or Little Enso..who is not little now), refused to hold her and it was a discussion throughout the day but I resolved it by rewarding Willy with 200 pesos for his willingness. They stayed in the car with her and continued to give her her bottle while we went in the consulate, which went very quickly and smoothly, and then we headed back north with the plan of going straight to Transformation House in Cabarete.

Well...I just got a call from my Mom who said that my sweet, sweet Daddy passed away this morning. He had lung cancer for the past year and a half. So we'll try to see if they'll let me go with Maraya although her paperwork isn't done yet. I hope that they will as I really would love to be with my mom and siblings. If I can't though, I can't leave Maraya and... it'll be okay. I thought maybe I should erase the first part of this post since it portrays somewhat of an argument with my brother but I'll leave it since it's the truth and I highly doubt he reads my blog. But for the record, I love you Brother and I pray for nothing but unity for our family and strength for Mom. My Dad taught me so much... and instilled so much in me. I thank God for him and I am so proud of him for the life that he lived. And I'll miss him so much... but I do feel confident that he has life where I just don't get to see him right now. Thank you Lord.

To finish up, Transformation House was closed but we took her to Centro Medico Cabarete who were not working but a nice man perscribed Pedialyte (can't believe I didn't think of it but thought she needed something more) and told us to come back with a poop sample. Sounds like from the color of her poop (very white, never changing color even when she eats other stuff it doesn't seem) that she has a bacteria infection that may be messing with her nutrient absorption and overall health? We're actually heading to the doctor's with her today. So that's that. Not gonna read over this but just post it.

Love, Caitlin