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Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Embracing the End


Sometime last spring, while I was tutoring at New Life, I was reading a book with my student that I had never personally read before. Apparently it is a book that has been read by many children all over North America, but one that I somehow didn’t end up reading in school. You might know it: My Side of The Mountain. I enjoyed reading the book as much as I hope my student enjoyed it. Towards the end of the book there is a chapter entitled “Embracing The End.” I found it noble of the young hero to not fight against what was inevitable. 

And that is the chapter that I am living right now: “Embracing The End.” I have not updated my adventure stories for quite a long time because there were things that I could not and did not want to share with a large audience. Not sharing those things might make it hard to understand why things came to pass. I couldn’t possibly begin to tell them all now, but regardless, for six months or so, I have been walking a path that has almost felt booby-trapped by the tactics of en enemy. I confess that many times I fell into the traps, and maybe the end is as much the consequence of my own short-comings as it is a a result of circumstances that were beyond my control even though I certainly tried to control them. 

Having said all that, I am leaving Haiti tomorrow on a 3:30 flight. My heart feels like an alien inside of me, both wishing that this wasn’t happening but also longing for home in a surprisingly deep way.  In one moment I can feel bitter sadness over the end of this chapter and then in the next be reminding myself “just one more day until I am home this struggle is finished.” How I long to feel so different. 

When I moved to Haiti, God has written a passion in my heart for this country that consumed every difficulty in my way. The inconveniences and the frustrations seemed to vanish in the light of how much I just loved being in Haiti and with the children and participating in a story way bigger than me. Somewhere along the way it seemed Haiti even began to be an idol and I had to continue to sacrifice and die to my desires to make sure that I was doing something to be part of the Haiti story and make someone else’s life in Haiti was easier or happier or better. Truly, I arrived at a point in my heart and my thoughts that I thought I would live in Haiti for as long as I was able to set one foot in front of the other.  I was, at times, extremely happy and peaceful and loved my story in Haiti. 

Then unexpected things began to happen: challenges within friendships, within work responsibilities, and within the direction I was heading and wanted to go. My passion turned idolatry began to erode my joy. Also, new arrivals came to my family, and I had a painful desire to split myself in three and be with all my families: Canadian, American, and Haitian. And yet, I continued to choose Haiti. 

But, Haiti didn’t return the favor. About 2 months ago, I left the orphanage I had been living and working at. I moved into a home in a relatively nice neighborhood and have had 4 roommates. During this time I have been immersed in more daily-living as a Haitian than ever before, and yet it was during a time that I was already beginning to feel that I was growing weary of the daily struggles in Haiti and the daily reminder that I was different. I wish with all my heart I could say that it doesn’t bother me to go without power from 7 am to 4 pm everyday, that I LOVE cold showers, and I don’t mind eating the same 3 meals all the time. I wish I loved roosters and barking dogs and could embrace the battle of the ants. I confess I want ice cubes and perishable foods and to be able to brush my teeth with the water from the faucet. I am truly regretful that I stink at hand washing my own clothes, that I’m too weak to carry a 5-gallon bottle of water from the water station, and that while I have practiced Kreyol for nearly 29 months, I still don’t understand many things people are saying to me. But above all these things, no matter how hard I try to assimilate or understand the money or be as much Haitian as possible, I will always, always be blan. And because of that, while I might be loved and embraced, I will always just be on the outside of belonging

Being blan in Haiti is a life of duplicity: in one moment I am the answers to a mama’s prayer for her little boy’s medical emergency and then in the next I am the reason the country is still struggling under repression. I represent generations of resentment as well as generations of hope. I am both the woman every man wants to propose to as well as the woman every man finds to be “to much trouble.” I represent access to money and the old bondage slavery. Before I open my mouth, my skin and my gender represents and makes me guilty of things I can’t begin to apologize for and betrays anything that might be inside my heart and my mind. And while my friends, when laughing or teasing blan, are always quick to say “its not you, you’re Haitian now,” I know that before they knew me, it was me. I am blan. 

And so these unexpected trials and weariness of my soul, the longing to be where I truly belong and to choose God over the idol Haiti, has led me to my inevitable: it’s time to go home. Its time to let go of control and believe God still has good plans for my future. I am trying to be the noble heroine and embrace the end, but my heart is also heavy wondering when or if I will ever see these precious friends and children again. I am trying to believe I am not guilty of bringing the end myself, that I tried my best in every difficulty and embraced every challenge with joy and confidence, but I confess there is a whisper in my soul that says it my be my own fault. Did I always submit when it was time to submit? Did I always hold my tongue when it was time to be silent? Did I always train my thoughts on what is true, noble, and right? Did I take every failure to God in prayer and leave it in His hands, or did I let it become bitterness in my heart? Did I really try to ignore the hurtful catcalls or did I just let them hurt? How responsible am I for my own ending? These are the questions that’ll make teardrops fall in my coffee over the next few weeks but I also know that God has been faithful through every heartbreak I have walked through in the past, and I know He will be faithful to carry me  through this one also. While I might have failed at a lot of things, God has always been there, always holding me, even catching me, with His Righteous Right Hand. 

So I am embracing the end the best way I know how. I won’t fight it, I know this is the right thing. I have no idea what is on the horizon or what I will with “do with my life” now. But, I am also choosing to believe the psalmist who said, “Surely goodness and love will follow me all the days of my life, and I will dwell in the house of the Lord Forever.” 

Thursday, May 1, 2014

Dr Mr. Airline

Mr Airline, I travel a lot. I've resided in three different countries now, and my family is still spread out across those three countries. I will never be able to escape doing business with you. So lets speak frankly: I hate that you make me choose.
Late last night I was packing my bags to start the long journey back to my current home base: Port Au Prince. Let me absolutely clear, you don't make this easy on me. Have you ever traveled from a country that is about zero degrees to a county that is daily 95 degrees? But lets forget about the clothes I might need to pack for a moment. Let's talk about something more important: my little friends in the orphanage which I call "home." 
As you might know, Haiti isn't really the hub of great shopping, and so when I visit these mega countries, picking up things for me and my 115 brothers and sisters is high on my priority list. We like things like shampoo and batteries, new sandals, m&m's, books, soap, toothbrushes. But its impossible to bring all these things back to Haiti with me because Mr Airline, you make me choose only 50 pounds. Do you know how far 50 pounds go when you have to pack all your own personal supplies/clothes for ninety days in addition to the things you'd like to bring for 115 children? Not far. 
So, lets talk about how you’d, Mr Airline, decide to pack when these are the conditions. 
Start by organizing everything needed for 3 months. First, you need clothes. This is the relatively simple part. In Haiti its hot everyday. No need for coats, heavy sweaters, or boots. Maybe one light sweater and a pair of jeans, and the rest can be summer weather items. But hold on, you don’t want to offend the locals and look too sloppy at church or during work days, so be sure to pack some nice items in with your summer wear. This takes up about 1/3 the space of the luggage. And, you have to pack detergent to wash those clothes. Detergent is heavy! Don't forget shoes- two pair of flip flops probably will last thirty days, try not to loose one!  You should probably throw in a pair of tennis shoes and some church shoes(hmm, those are kinda heavy too and take up a lot of space). Be sure not to forget all your undergarments- enough for a week maybe two. You should keep in mind the water you are washing all your clothes in is chlorinated, so they are going to wear thin quickly. On second thought, maybe you ought to pack enough undergarments for three weeks- You don't want to run out of undies. Once all the clothes are packed, you can start on hygiene products. Three months of shampoo.. That’s tough, how much should you pack? Shampoo is heavy and bulky; so is conditioner. Once you figure out how much, make the same decisions for soap, toothpaste, tooth floss (my dentist would be so proud!) contact solution, face cream, hand cream, makeup (who says living in a 3rd world country means you ought to look like the worst version of yourself)? You will need to decide if you want to carry an iron, if not, you'll have to either go with wrinkles (not ok in Haiti) or pack yourself a bottle of wrinkle release (expensive and heavy, and prone to spilling). If you happen to be a girl (um, yes for me) then you'll also need a adequate supply of "that time of the month" stuff for three months. After you figure out how much of all these things you need, and if you can fit it all in your bags, you might want to decide on some other "luxury items:" cotton balls, kleenex, Qtips. There are some special items to consider: bug stuff, sunscreen, medicine. You might be able to make the sunscreen last a long time, but don't skimp on the bug stuff. You might realize that your bags are starting to get full and if you pick them up I bet that they are getting close to your 50 pound limit. But be creative, you shouldn't be at two fifty pound bags yet. 
Oh, did I forget to tell you? You just have to swallow that bitter pill and know that you will be paying to pack a second bag, because you can't do this packing in one bag. 
So now its time to start on snacks, books, computer stuff, camera, phones, chargers, and batteries. You definitely need to pack snacks, because they will not be affordable in Port Au Prince. If you do plan on buying snack things in Haiti, be sure to pack a lot of extra cash. A box of Cheezits is $7. Now, it is definitely impossible to pack enough snacks for three months. You'll have to figure out how long you can stretch these snacks. Try to find things that last a long time and aren't too heavy. Keep in mind that granola bars get old after a month. Not old like moldy. Old like you can't force yourself to eat one more. If you’ve packed all your clothes, toiletries, and snacks, and you find you have space and weight, start squeezing in essential chargers and plugs; consider packing two- if you loose one charger finding another one in Haiti isn’t likely. Its easier just to buy an entire new device than trying to reply the charger you lost. 
Finally, whatever space and weight you have left over can be filled with “gifts” for your buddies in Haiti. 
This, Mr Airline is where I hate that you make me choose. Because you see, at this point, after packing all these personal items, you begin to realize there is little or no space within your guidelines for luggage weight for me to squeeze in anything else like markers or coloring books or comic books. There is no space for diapers or extra children’s tylenol. Forget extra tennis shoes for the boys, bracelets or bras for the girls, or even luxury items for yourself like epsom salts. You don’t make it easy on us, looking at the pile of things we want to take for our buddies and also knowing that if I don’t bring enough bug stuff I will likely be eaten alive by mosquitos, contract malaria, and have to be evacuated out of the country. 
And so the swapping begins. One less pair of jeans for a bag of jelly ranchers. One less box of tissue for a coloring book. Minus a bottle of shampoo (hope I can make the others last) so I can through in a box of markers for the kiddos. You’ll do this swapping endlessly in your mind and your bags until you come to the inevitable conclusion: its impossible to make it work under you weight limit. 
So, you just throw it all in your bags, and pray on the way to the airport to have a gracious check in agent or miraculously have only packed 49.9 pounds of stuff, all the while having the cash on hand to just pay the stupid penalty if you are over your limit. And all this just because you want to bring enough to live on and share for 3 months. 
2 suitcases for 3 months. I bet you couldn’t do it Mr Airlines. 

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

There Are Pleasures Forevermore

I like to reflect back a year at a time. It helps me evaluate how I have learned and grown, but mostly it gives me a chance to see what God has done. I love when I reflect back like this I can see how God has demonstrated His faithfulness and how He has answered prayers. These times of reflecting back are always times when I sit back and say, "Wow God, wow." Because even when the answers weren't what I was hoping for and a lot of times not what I was expecting, they are answers that in the long run make more sense than what I wanted or was praying for. They are answers that show how limited my sight is and how incredibly God weaves life together.

So, I've been reflecting back to last year. This time last year, last Easter, I was about to walk into some painful days. I had no idea at the time what the upcoming weeks held. Actually, I thought I was on the brink of celebrating a major success, but what really happened was I found myself standing in an X-ray room watching as we learned that Gerald's surgery had not been successful. Then I found myself outside an OR waiting for a surgeon to say he has solved Gerald's problem, then I found myself hearing that he couldn't solve it, and then I was reading an email that said "full open surgery in 6 months." Lastly, I found myself in a little exam room watching as the doctor found a bladder stone attached to the catheter. And, the scripture kept returning to me on way or another was Psalm 16:11 "You will make known to me the path of life; in Your presence is fullness of joy; In Your right hand there are pleasures forever." Honestly, I didn't feel like I was in the fullness of Joy. I felt like I was in the absence of joy.
Walking through that season forced me to trust God had not abandoned me or Gerald, that God would demonstrate His glory in His timing, and that there is joy available even in the seasons when it seems joy is entirely absent: missing in action! This has been one of the intensely difficult lessons to understand and comprehend and embrace: Joy is present always if we just can figure out how to embrace it. The Haitians have mastered this. My Grandma said to me two times this week when looking at photos of our orphans, "they look so happy." I have to confess there are times when I have envied how easily my Haitian brothers and sisters laugh while walking through circumstances that would have crippled me. They smile and have genuine joy, with peace that I just can not comprehend. Their whole lives can be falling apart at the seams, and they can still turn and share a smile or their last bite of mango with their neighbors.

During that season I decided to make a record of things that inspired Hope in me. Looking around at things other people struggled through but God provided answers for helped me to walk confidently in faith that it was ok to Hope.
And so I allowed myself to hope and I committed to pray and fast. Let me confess, I hate fasting. But something in my heart told me it was time. Weeks I pleaded with God, "Please Heal Gerald. I believe you can do it now as I pray." I'd even envisioned Gerald suddenly being healed. All sort of people prayed for him- visitors, pastors, friends, family. He was covered in a multitude of prayers (and still is). It took me months to get to where I finally felt deeply peaceful, when I could lay down my will and honestly say, "I let go: heal him or not, You are God and I will love and trust you no matter what You decide to do. Its in your hands." It was scary and peaceful all at the same time.
And then the doctors came to do surgery again. Right away they were hopeful but cautious, and I was too. I remember the day of surgery feeling more peace than I could explain. There was a slight chance that they couldn't proceed with surgery, but peace reigned in my heart. I can't understand even now how God made me so peaceful that day. Surgery happened, the little blip they were concerned about turned out to be nothing, and soon I was sitting with Gerald as he started to wake up from the end of a long surgery and a even longer season of prayer. He was happy, he was hopeful.

The day of surgery I broke my fast. I felt like it was time to believe that God is God and He heard those long months of prayers. The week before Christmas we went back to the hospital, back to the Xray room, back to the room that I had watched hope vanish 6 months before. This time we had the best news; the best Christmas gift of the year: surgery had succeeded. The struggle was over, the wait finished, our prayers answered with a resounding "Yes, I see you. I know."

I recently was able to join the doctors who had done Gerald's surgeries for supper in Port au Prince. They were in Port Au Prince after doing more surgeries just like Gerald's in the mountains. Gerald had an amazing set of doctors on his team, we couldn't have prayer for better doctors or better people.  We laughed and smiled like old friends, sharing our experiences in Haiti and our hopes for the future. They care so much about Gerald and they cared about me too- even providing humorous reading to keep my mind entertained while I waited through 8 hours of surgery. They are the team that promised to do surgery when I said I was unwilling to drag Gerald across the country just to hear them say "impossible." They are the team that answered my crazy emailed questions and concerns, even answering questions about things that had nothing to do with the surgery. They are the team that came back on their own dime to repeat the surgery when we learned the first one was not successful. They have been true doctors, and better, true friends.

Had last spring been the end of the story, had the first surgery gone perfect, yes I would have missed a lot of heartache. But I also would have missed a lot of seeing God at work in Gerald's life. I would have missed getting to know his doctors and I would have missed hearing how many people were praying for him and for me. I would not have started the "Sightings of Hope" list or realized that I needed to start one. I wouldn't have experienced peace on a day when anxiety should have been supreme. I would not have begun to learn that joy is available on days when it seems unimaginable. I won't say I'm thankful for that painful season, but I will say that I am thankful for what it produced. And, I will say I am thankful that looking back over this year I can confidently say I saw God at work; in me, in Gerald, through friends, through doctors. It felt like walking into the fiery furnace, but just like Shadrack, Meshach, and Abednego saw God in their fire furnace, I saw Him in mine. And, what more could we ask for than to see God?

Saturday, January 18, 2014

Cite Soliel

Yesterday I spent the morning in a place that I feel both drawn to and repulsed by. Most people just feel the repulsed part of that, but insane as it is, there is a big piece of me that can’t ignore the tugging at my heart when I’m there. I know it’s not actually the place itself, it’s the people there.  
Canal full of trash, rancid water, and sewage

To be honest, when I am preparing to go to Cite Soliel, I am usually a jumble of emotions. Part of me feels excited while another part of me feels anxious. There is always an element of danger when heading to Cite Soliel, and while our leaders are diligent to make sure we do not show up on a day when Cite is “hot,” Cite Soliel is unpredictable at best. Just, this past autumn we had to cancel any trips planned to Cite Soliel because of some political upheaval and manifestations, and a pastor friend of ours who runs 40 schools closed his schools for several days. Since then everything has calmed down, the schools reopened, and trips could safely begin again, but there is a still the element of unknown. So we hire guides who are respected in the community and know the neighborhoods as their own, and make sure everyone going is aware of the dangers and given constant reminders to stick together and hold onto their person things tightly. There have been times we’ve left early or paid off someone who wanted to cause trouble, but there has never been instance when we felt in danger or unwelcome. And yet, when I am getting ready to go, there is still a big of tug at my thoughts: what if something goes wrong. 

There are no toilet facilities in home; the community outhouses
So then why would I ever care to go to Cite Soliel? Wouldn’t it just be easier to stay here in the safety of the compound? Wouldn’t it just be better to go to a different neighborhood where we know we are safe? Sometimes I think it would. Sometimes my mind starts to battle with me heart. It starts to come up with reasons why “today” is not a good day to go: there is work to do here, kids I haven’t had time to work with, blog posts to write! But in the end, my heart always wins. You see, in my heart, I love to go to Cite Soliel. 

I asked her to smile pretty
You read that right. I love going to Cite Soliel. Usually when we are driving into Cite Soliel, all the fears and anxiety melts away, and love replaces it. While the others in the car, often times first-time visitors, are overwhelmed with the sights of shanties, rancid trenches of trash and sewage and naked, dirty children, I am smiling a silly, face-splitting grin. I’m sure its strange to our visitors who are holding back tears (and rightly so) to see me welling up with joy. Sometimes I feel guilty I am not also teary-eyed, and I have to check my compassion meter. The thing is, I love to go to those dirty, often naked children and their poor mamas. The joy of holding their little hands and seeing their eyes light up with the simple treat of a candy far outweighs the pain of seeing how they live. There is something in me that says when I am there, among the poorest of the poor, I am living closest to whom God created me to be. It doesn’t matter if we are just walking side-by-side, sharing a handshake, or I’m opening a candy for a little one. All that matters is that I am there, with them. And sometimes I think, that’s the only important thing. Yes bringing food and water and clothes and medicine is desperately needed, but the thing we all have, the thing that is needed more then stuff is us: our care, our love, our affections. Sometimes I wonder, when was the last time someone actually saw this child? When was the last time someone smiled at her? When was the last time someone held his hand our hugged him? When moms and dads are filling their bellies with mud cookies to fend off hunger and have enough strength to pulled together something to feed their eight children, working from sun up to sun down, I wonder who is telling this child that he is precious and wonderful? And, in these conditions can a child feel precious and wonderful? In a neighborhood where life is cheap, death is all around, sickness rampant, how can a child feel important or special?  These things are what make my heart flood with happiness when I am going to Cite Soliel, because for a moment, I am there to say, “Yes! I see you, you are valuable and worth far more than this neighborhood is telling you.” I get to go and share a smile, a handshake, a hug or song with someone who maybe hasn’t been smiled at in weeks. And I consider this to be one of my greatest privileges: to be the hands and heart of God saying, “Yes! I see you! I have not forgotten you.” 

Mud cookies drying in the sun 
Our trip yesterday included feeding 1500 children a hot lunch of rice and beans with fish. My role was ladling the Kreyol sauce on the rice. At first is was a just a task to accomplish, and the way I was standing, I didn’t get to see any of the children we were feeding. But as I ladled, the gravity of the situation struck me: I was helping hand out the one plate of food those 1500 children will get that day. It was probably the only thing that they ate yesterday, and likely for some of them the only thing they will eat for a few days. As I watched the plates pass though my hands, I suddenly was blinking back tears. It was a plate full of food, but it seemed like such a small thing, a good thing, but a thing that reminded me that I have no idea what the struggle is like for the hungry and how small my hands are in the face of such huge obstacles. I felt the desire to be able to stand in the gap daily, ladling hot Kreyol sauce always as long as it meant none of them ever went hungry again.  

My grief passed as the serving finished and we spent time with the children, taking silly pictures and laughing together. We smiled and sang and hugged, and I felt like I had been in God’s presence for a little while sharing love with children who are truly beautiful. 

A sucker and condom balloon 
Later, when I arrived home, I immediately took some time by myself. I showered, and felt guilty at the ease it was for me to get clean, and then put on my headphones to begin thinking of what I would say about the morning. The first song was one of my favorites, but instead of making me joyful and hopeful, it made me return to my morning. The lyrics are “Its the song of the beautiful, Jesus loves me.” I can sing that easily, because my circumstances around me make me feel hopeful and loved and beautiful and not forgotten. But how many of the children in Cite Soliel can sing that confidently and can know in their hearts they are God’s beautiful ones? How can a child filthy and mostly naked feel confident in their hearts they are one of God’s cherished ones? It only confirmed in my heart that I can’t ever give up going to them, reminding them they are God’s beautiful ones. No matter what the world has handed them, God sees them and hears their cries and they will only know if we who are called to love the poor go and love them. And so I’m counting the days until I will go again and be with those beautiful children of Cite Soliel. 


Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Amazing

Amazing.
I’ve grappled with this word before. Its one of those words that people like that give me. Usually it sounds like this, “what you’re doing is amazing.” Most times I just smile and say, “thanks,” but in my mind I’m thinking: “I’m not sure if you should call ‘this’ amazing.” I get it though, living a life for the good of orphans seems like an amazing thing to do, something that seems to the onlooker as a act of selflessness. And, sometimes it is: I get millions of opportunities to die to my desires and my will and my opinion. But I’m not sure if I’m convinced you should call me amazing. 
You see, the truth is, I’m not. I wake up grumpy and irritable and when guests ask me questions at breakfast, I usually have to take a deep breath and put on a smile and try to be polite, when inside I am saying, “I just want to drink my coffee.” I get annoyed with the roosters, all the time. I chase them away from my door, throwing rocks at them, and when I am too busy to get up, I yell “ROOSTER” out the window. The cold water makes me dream of hot showers even though I should be grateful to have indoor, treated water at all, and while our cooks are hard working and cook well, pasta has been ruined for pretty much the rest of my life, as well as anything ground beef. 
I am, as you are, human. I get happy and I get sad. I feel fully satisfied with my life at moments and at other moments feel loneliness like I’ve never felt before. I love our children like my own family and at times I want to bury my head in the sand to just have a bit of quiet. I am reminded daily my endless need for grace and Jesus. 
When I lived in America, I was all these same things. I had millions of opportunities to die to myself, I woke up grumpy and irritable, and I had an endless need for grace and Jesus. The only difference is now, these things are more apparent and I get more chances to practice these tests of faith. And, I fail often. 
None of that really seems amazing to me. But we’re not really talking about the same thing, are we? You see me teaching and tutoring orphans and say “That’s amazing.” But what I see is a huge privilege. I have been given the opportunity to spend my life to help ensure others less fortunate than me get a fighting chance at life. You see me going to the hospital  with kiddos who have no parents to hold their hands. But what I see if the incredible gift it is that I get to be there for a child that just wants a hand to hold. 
This weekend I sat in the hospital with my little friend having surgery, again. The doctors have been a huge help to us, and made a special trip to help my little friend, and they said the word, “Amazing.” I sat and thought about that as my little friend was waking up from anesthesia. And while I sat on the edge of his bed, he grabbed my hand in his and just held it against his face while he tried to wake-up, coming in and out of grogginess. If you could just be in the moment with me, feeling that God-given love for a child, then you’d know why I don’t think of myself of amazing. I think of myself as blessed and greedy. I am wildly blessed with the chance to be love for a child who needs a hand to hold after surgery. I wouldn’t give up that chance for anything in the world. And I greedily wait for the chances to be love for children who just need someone to hold their hand and cradle them in my arms when they need a compassionate heart. 

Blessed and Greedy; You can call me those things and I will agree. Amazing; I am still gonna just say, “thanks” and disagree in my head. I’m not amazing, if you stood in my shoes, you’d see, I’m just like you: flawed and in the need of grace, living tests of faith, and loving the blessings of being a part of God’s story. 

Friday, September 20, 2013

@ Clinic

I'm sitting on the concrete ground, outside the doctors' offices, at MediShare. I'm hot and not amount of fanning helps. I've been here for nearly 6 hours, and I'm ready to go home.

We're here waiting to see a team of neurosurgeons. I have two hydrocephalous babies with me and three helpers: one adult and two teenage girls.

We're not the only ones waiting. There is probably 100 people crammed in arch-way-turned-waiting room. There isn't enough space for us with them, or for 20 others who've all found some semblance of "seating" with us in the adjoining parking lot. It will be a small miracle if we're all seen today: though we've been here since 8 am, the crowd never seems to shrink. Name after name is called, but none of them ours, and those called seem to disappear and never exit.

I feel like am experiencing the flip side of the coin. When volunteers show up to do medical clinics, I'm usually there to help, not there to be seen. I know that if we're not seen today, the babies won't get their surgeries- but there are so many people here. It feels hopeless.

As an added bonus, I'm being regarded as a kind of circus act today. I'm the only "blan," and both our babies have the largest heads here. People just walk up to state at us. I feel like making monkey sounds just to really give them something to look at.

I've also somehow forgotten my water bottle. Until a few moments ago, I thought I might pass out from heat and dehydration, but in a genius moment I remembered I had a few goudes with me, and sent my adult helper out to buy us some cold waters. Thankfully, water off the street is really cheap, and really cold. When she comes back, I'm tempted to down the whole bottle at once... But, I resist, knowing there is still a long wait.

I've already eaten my gourmet lunch: Peanut butter and Jelly sandwich. I just want them to tell us if the can't see us all so I can take my hot, tired entourage home.