Thursday, October 17, 2013

Back to life... back to reality...

I am sorry that it has been so long since our last post.

A quick update:

Our kids are in school and preschool and doing well!

We are trying to slowly but surely understand how we can continue, even from a distance, to help the kids that we grew to love in Haiti. Leaving them behind has been a painful experience. Coming back to electricity and a comfortable, easy life has been very hard. At night, we talk as a family about the hurricanes, hunger cries, and voodoo drums we heard.

By day, we wonder, should we have tried harder to bring some kids back and raise them as our own children?

Is international adoption the answer for many of the children we cared about? It is a hard question to answer. The children at our orphanage had parents who abandoned them for many different reasons, yet, they still loved their parents and felt connected to them.

I respect what the Livesays have to say about international adoption. I respect the culture and values of the children we left behind in Haiti after learning to love them.

I find myself at a quiet, unprepared moment, walking into my kitchen, or to the park, or into a grocery store, STOPping. I think about the lives of the children I left behind in Haiti. Clara, Clarence, Daphne, so many, many kids that I loved, I weep for them. I know that bringing them all home with me was not a solution or even an option, but it was what my heart wanted, and the sadness of leaving the kids behind has kept me from posting on this blog, from breathing too deeply, and even from fully unpacking my boxes in my home.

I will always have a heart and love for the people of Haiti. I hope that real change can come to the country and I honor those that I met who are trying to help the people of Haiti elevate themselves and their homeland.

Haiti, you will always be in my heart.

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Notes from the aftermath...

So we are here, back in our own home in California, settling into the busy routine of suburban life. We are working on reestablishing jobs, friendships, home decor (much of our storage was destroyed by a rainstorm!), and a sense of normalcy.

We have learned so very much from Haiti. We hope that our journey has been a humble step towards our goal of making the world a better place. Carl and I do not not plan on ending our quest to care for children, in fact, we are reapplying for our foster license and hope that we will make a difference in the lives of kids in need in our own community.

Thank you all for following us on this journey!

Here is a very good video by the Travel Channel about life in Haiti:

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Last morning in Haiti

A light rain falls over our heads, drowning out the sounds of the unknown people in the car across the street, and giving us momentary relief from the hopeful crowing of roosters that lasts all night long. It is still dark and we had no power tonight, so I use my flashlight to try to drive back cockroaches as I get a drink of water from our 5 gallon jug. I hope our mouse isn’t nearby, or one of his unknown and possibly hundreds of offspring. We have caught 8 mice in our house in the last month.

Drums. Always the drums from all night church or voodoo services beat into the too-dark night. I listen for any sounds that someone is trying to break into our house. The kidnappings have become very common on our street and I am so worried that we will be attacked. Three weeks ago we lay awake two nights in a row listening to gunfire. We found out that it was an attempted kidnapping just down the street from us. At that point we decided to move up our return date. Yesterday one of our American friends was dragged from her car, beaten, and robbed while driving down a street that Carl drives on every day for his work. Haiti is not for the faint of heart.

The rain stops, and the world begins to lighten. Dump trucks begin their loud tired trek down our street. Roosters begin to crow in earnest, and dogs bark. Someone is playing “Oh, What a Friend We Have in Jesus” on the radio in Creole, and our neighbors wake up, banging their tin doors and tin pots around, getting ready for a day of sweeping dirt, wearing dirt, tasting dirt. Hopefully the rain will keep the dust down today, but then I remember that it doesn’t matter for us, we flying back to the States today.

I am not sad to leave this troubled island, but I am sad to leave behind the people that I have come to care about over the past 9 months, both Haitians and Americans. I will miss the children the most, the children with their bright, hopeful smiles, the smiles that don’t last into adulthood here. I will miss the adrenaline rush of Haitian traffic, the smile on my daughter’s face when the city power turns on, and odd freedom of living a developing country without all the regulations that keep life organized.

However, it is time to go home. The orphanage no longer needs us here. We have done what we could for them. It is time to support our own family, to give our kids their normal lives and friends back, and to find new ways of serving in our own community.

Thank you all for journeying with us. The internet has been so poor here that I haven’t been able to upload pictures, so when we are a bit settled I will post pictures from our trip. Please think of me today as I travel internationally with all three kids! Carl will be following in a week, he has to finish wrapping up our lives and his job here, and he is going to bring back the dog we got here who has faithfully protected us.

See you all soon!


Friday, February 8, 2013

This is our life...

Hello all,

Well, February is upon us, and we are all settled back into our life here in Haiti. This past weekend we went to the beach, it was wonderful!

Then this week hit us pretty hard. Our water pump broke and we spent two days without water. Last night when Carl amazingly got the pump fixed, we all gratefully took showers, so thankful for the slightly murky water pumped directly from our well to our tank and trickling down into our house.

Water is so precious! I didn't even have my normal worries about bacteria or the cockroaches that crawl in our pipes and burst out at the worst moments, I just wanted to be clean and to be able to clean my kids and do wash.

I really want to draw attention to this post by Tara Porter-Livesay, another missionary here in Haiti:

"You say you care about the poor.
Then tell me, what are their names?"
Gustavo Gutierrez

I haven't been lugging my camera back and forth to the orphanage this trip. I haven't been documenting the crazy amounts of bugs or the neighbors throwing rocks and brandishing machetes in the street or the number of voodoo ceremonies we hear. I haven't been doing this anymore because at first, everything was shiny and different and new, but now, this is our life.

When we get no rain and are suffocating in the clouds of dust, we are suffocating along with our neighbors and friends here. When it rains, we run outside to feel the cool relief along with everyone else. When roadblocks keep us from getting gas and we can't run the generator, well, our neighbors have no generator.

This is our life now, and we just hope that we can live it well and make as much of a difference as we can in the time given to us to live here, and that we can allow Haiti to teach our family all of the lessons we need learn.


Saturday, January 26, 2013

These amazing kids!

My kids are awesome. No really.

One year ago, we were a normal (mostly) suburban family. Their days were spent at school, daycare, sports, and playing with their friends in our amazing neighborhood. Life was good.

Over the past year, my kids have moved homes five times, said goodbye to all that they knew several times, ate strange food that they had never seen before, and have kept a loving and happy spirit throughout all of these changes.

Now, life is also good. Today the kids helped Carl and I do all our laundry for the week (we have access to a washing machine! Yay! We don’t care that it is halfway across town!) We took them out to lunch. It was the first time all week that they had left our tiny house where we do homeschool and clean all day long. The dry season brings so much dirt and dust into the house that we would not be remiss to clean the house every 2 hours!

Then when we got home they helped Carl clean the yard, raking the dead grass and collecting all of our trash into a pile to burn. We have no trash service here, we have to burn all of the trash that we have. Remember us the next time you roll your trashcans down to the curb!

Next up: mango picking. Our mango tree is exuberantly dropping mangoes all over our yard, and we love it!

I think of everything that my kids have done in the past year, and I am truly amazed by them. They have voluntarily sold all of their toys, moved overseas, lived in excruciatingly poor circumstances, and they have kept kind hearts and spirits. In fact, their hearts have grown, and I know that they have learned to care about people in a way that they would never have learned if Carl and I had taken the easy path and stayed in our comfortable house with our comfortable lives. Now we know that we can have fun without electricity or any of the comforts of life in a first world country. Uno by candlelight, fun! Sleeping on the porch, fun! 

I am so proud of these amazing kids!

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Back to Haiti... and loving it!

Here we are, back in Haiti. I was amazed by the kindness of strangers as my kids and I flew here without Carl. Everyone was helpful and nice to the children, from airline employees to fellow travelers. When we arrived, we got to experience the awesomeness of the new Port-au-Prince airport. It was clean! Air-conditioned! Organized! What a difference that made. Then we saw Carl at the exit and all was right in the world. Having our family apart is really difficult for all of us, we were so happy to see him.

Our house is unchanged, except that it is the dry season here so the dust is even more unrelenting in its quest to find its way into our house, our clothes, our food, and our eyes. I could focus on the 8 cockroaches Carl killed one night in our bathroom (one got away), or the fact that we have an undetermined amount of mice living behind our fridge and they nested in the bookshelf where we keep all our school books (we have caught 5 so far), or I could be annoyed that the power is being testy and the dark nights take some getting used to, but all in all I have felt really good about this trip back.

Our first couple of days we had dinner with friends, went to a fish fry, cleaned and unpacked, and even went to the beach with some wonderful missionary friends. Carl has been very busy at his job managing the fish farm for Operation Blessing. He loves his job and it allows us to be able to have a car to drive around and to have extra money for food. I am still getting used to how expensive food is here! I started homeschooling the kids already, I just love watching their minds figure out new ideas. I also love their nap time… but what mom doesn’t? J

Today as part of our home school we are going to plant seeds in old egg containers I had been saving. Once the seeds sprout and are strong we will take them over to the Good Rest garden and plant them. They are having trouble with the garden and it is my top priority to help them have a producing garden before we leave. 

It was such a wonderful welcome back to Haiti for our kids and for me. I was very worried about coming back, but so far, everything has been much better than expected. I can’t believe we are already halfway through the year that we committed to being here. We have so much more that we want to do here! 

With love from Haiti!!!

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Merry Christmas to all

Merry Christmas!
Hello friends!

I wanted to share with you a few thoughts as I am here in Texas helping my sister with her newborn twins.

The most wonderful thing we have learned on this journey is that we can be a happy family in almost any circumstances, whether or not we are living comfortably in the nice Southern CA home that we own, living in poverty in a small rental house in Haiti with inconsistent water and electricity, or temporarily living with a stranger (now friend!) in two rented rooms in Texas.

Our journey has been very different than we originally planned. We have learned that everything in Haiti has its own timing. We have learned how to live without most of the conveniences that we were used to as Americans. We have also learned how very complicated the situation is with orphans in Haiti, and how the most important thing is to try to keep families together, not to put more "orphans" in orphanages.

Carl has been working hard with Operation Blessing in Haiti to help with their fish farm, and we are so thankful that this opportunity was given to him so that we could be more self-sufficient financially. Life in Haiti is very expensive, especially food. We had many days when the contents of our care packages were the only things we had to eat!

We will all be back in Haiti at the beginning of January, and I am already starting to plan: what things will I be able to accomplish in the second half of our trip? Silly me. I need to remember the biggest lesson Haiti has taught me: it is not my plan, but God's plan that matters. It is not what I can do in Haiti, but what the kids of Good Rest can do for themselves to give themselves a future. Thank you all for your support and kind words  that have made all of this possible.

Merry Christmas to all, I hope that your holidays are filled with love and peace.

The Fielstras