Airporting-4/9/16

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Getting photo-bombed before departure

Well, after a full day of travel, I am happy to report that I made it safely to Port-Au-Prince!  It was a long day, full of very confusing airport rules.  I am the WORST at “airporting”.  Every time I go on a plane I just end up looking like a complete moron.  I decided to embrace it this time, and just tell the personnel up front that I don’t travel much, I am really bad at this, and please don’t yell at me if I make a mistake.  The girl at ticketing gave me the blank stare, but otherwise my honesty was well received and I got the support I needed to make it through.  Aside from a small snafu in the security check with a brand new bottle of specialized bug spray that cost $12 on Amazon that I was forced to throw in the trash, I came out relatively intact with my belongings in tow.

Once we arrived, the sun was already down.  We were driven from the airport in Heartline’s truck.  Check it out:

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Our chariot for the week

I am staying at the Heartline guest house.  It is very safe and secure, in a gated area with security guards and 2 large dogs.  We were fed a meal upon arrival and had some time to settle in and get the lay of the land.  I got to call my babies, which resulted in much weeping (them, not me!).  Everyone pray for Jeff this week, will you?

It is super hot here.  I am working up an Olympic sweat just typing this, even though I am sitting directly in front of a fan.  It is going to be a very drippy week!  Tomorrow we will be heading out to Chambone, which is a rural village where we will be attending church and spending some time with the people  there.  Can’t wait to tell you all more about it tomorrow!

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Prepping and packing

My trip to Haiti is just one week away now!  Yesterday I had the day off work and was able to use a big chunk of it making some much needed preparations.  After I picked the kids up from their morning day camp program, we headed over to InterVol, which is this really cool place in Rochester that sends unused and donated medical supplies to countries in need.  I contacted them several months ago after hearing about them from a friend.  So I set out with my two little helpers!

 

Leah wants to be the “poster girl” for InterVol

InterVol’s mission is “to connect the world’s neediest to materials, people, and opportunities”.  After arriving I was greeted by a nice man who was waiting for us with the surgical instruments we had requested a few months ago.  The kids were a little confused.  These are instruments?  They look like fancy scissors, not like the flutes and trombones we were expecting to see!  It really cracks me up that in their minds they were picturing me packing musical instruments to take on my medical missions trip!

We were told that we could go back to the warehouse, look around, and help ourselves to other supplies that might be useful for our trip.  I had been so curious to see what the warehouse looked like and what they kept in there, so it was very exciting to take a look around.

 

Walls and walls of supplies….

 

All of the flags represent countries that InterVol has shipped to

Anyone who has worked in the medical field knows how much of the things we use go to waste.  It was so wonderful to see a place like this where these unused supplies could be repurposed and put to good use.  It was hard for me to control myself in there, as there was so much to choose from!  I tried to keep in mind that anything I picked up would have to somehow fit in my suitcase!

The kids were enthusiastic helpers, and got to work looking for various items I had pointed out from Heartline’s wish list.  I heard them both expanding their vocabularies as they sounded out some of the big words on the labels.  “Ur-i-nar-y cath-e-tar.  What is that?”  Then, from across the warehouse I heard Nate holler, “Mom, hey Mom!  Do you need BUTT DRAPES?  Because I found some BUTT DRAPES!  Do you think they could use BUTT DRAPES Mom?”

 

What have we here?

 

A 9-year old’s dream come true! Potty humor is everywhere!

We left the butt drapes at the warehouse, in case you are wondering.  But we came out with a great haul:

 

We gathered some IV catheters, syringes, needles, gloves, sutures, surgical scrubs, and surgical (not musical) instruments

 

Then we headed home to add our haul to the growing pile at home.  Leah loves to help, so we set up in the basement and started packing as much as we could into 2 suitcases.  Nate got in on the action too.

 

Here are all the supplies we have been collecting for months!

I started to wonder how we would ever get all this stuff to Haiti!  First we made a huge mess, but after some effort we were able to get everything into 2 suitcases and 2 boxes.  I plan to ship the boxes later this week, and the suitcases I will take with me of course.

 

Suitcase #1, mostly personal care and hygeine items, some toys as well

 

Suitcase #2, all medical supplies!

 

Finished! Now, where will I put my clothes?

 

After packing, we discovered a little care package in the mail from Heartline!  Inside were some luggage tags, a travel journal, sunglasses, and an awesome t-shirt designed just for our team.  It is super fun:


My shirt makes me feel really special, and super excited.   It feels real now!

The kids, of course, had to try the t-shirt on for size too!



Thank you again to everyone who contributed to this effort!  I have been completely overwhelmed by your support and love.  I am so thankful that my friends and family could support me on this journey, whether you donated supplies, gave money, prayed, or just encouraged me and cheered me on, it is all very much appreciated!  Stay tuned!  I travel next Saturday, and I hope to blog while I am there to keep you informed of the day-to-day happenings.  Also, you can watch my hair get crazy frizzy.  That is 100% entertainment right there, trust me!  It will be something like this:

It’s a small world after all

 

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Today I got to make a new friend.  Her name is Kelly, and she is sweet, bubbly, and so cute and little I could just put her in my pocket.  Kelly and I are going to Haiti together next month to visit Heartline, and it turns out we live in the same city.

Can you believe this?  We have a total of 5 people from the USA going to Heartline, and  2 of us live in the Rochester area.  It gets weirder….

…we both work for the University of Rochester Medical Center…

…we both have husbands named Jeff/Geoff…

… We worked at Strong Memorial at the same time for about a year, somewhere around 2001, and we both thought the other looked vaguely familiar….

… Our husbands are both avid bikers and, in fact, when we met for lunch, both Jeff and Geoff were racing this morning, at the exact same race

…we even wore the same shirt to lunch (different colors, but same shirt).

It was a joy to get to know Kelly this morning, as our kids played with their food and we ignored them as much as possible.  The kids hit it off too!  When lunch was over, Nate suggested, “why don’t we head back to our house, and you girls can talk while we play?”  Alas, there were birthday parties to attend and errands to run, so we had to take a rain check on that.  Hopefully Kelly and I will be able to get more acquainted on the plane ride down, if we can score seats beside each other!

Only 3 more weeks until we depart!

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The offspring (minus Kelly’s youngest, who had better things to do apparently)😉

New list of items needed for children in Haiti!

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Hello family and friends.  I have been sick at home all week, on my couch.  It is not as relaxing as it sounds.  It is mostly very achy and chilly and sweaty, and there have been lots of tissues involved.  And now I have a little 7 year-old home with a fever who, once medicated with ibuprofen, wants to do things like ride her bike and go to the museum, like she’s on vacation or something.  Ha!  Kids.

Anyhow, I got an email from Heartline today, with a list of things they are collecting for the orphanages and schools they are affiliated with. We will be visiting some schools and orphanages on our trip, and interacting with the children there.  For anyone who hasn’t done their shopping yet and would like to still contribute, Heartline has a need for the following items:

Jump  ropes
Flip  flops
Regular  shoes
Children’s  size  T-­shirts
School  supplies
Backpacks
Soccer  balls
Frisbees
Jacks
Decks  of  cards
Uno  (card  game)
Stickers
Water  bottles  or  those  bag  type  water  bottles
Jump  ropes
Kazoos
Whistles
Bells,  Shakers
Rain  sticks
Chalk
Slap  bracelets
Matchbox  type  cars
Hats
Sunglasses
Clothes
Balls
Candy  (non-­‐sugar  like  jolly  ranchers)
Jewelry  accessories
Small  matchbox/hot  wheel  cars
Art  and  craft  supplies

I am still collecting supplies for the maternity center too.  If you missed it, that list is here, and their Amazon wish list is here.

I had my first conference call last week and will have an update for you, when I have the energy!

 

 

Haiti update!

I am so excited to finally update all of you about my trip to Haiti in April.  There were a few tense weeks earlier this month, when I got news that the trip might be cancelled due to low enrollment on our team.  Thankfully, the trip will be proceeding as planned!  Even though we didn’t get the minimum of 10 people for our team, Heartline decided to allow our team to travel anyway.  I am so relieved and thankful.

I have received many questions from family and friends over the past few months regarding what exactly I will be doing while I am there.  Those details are still not firm.  I was told that our team contains 5 people with varying types of medical experience.  They are going to try to provide us with some experiences that will use our skills as much as possible.  What that will look like, I am not sure of yet.  I am told that it is difficult to schedule things in Haiti too far in advance (something we, in our Western time-oriented society have trouble with!).  Also, the organization wants to remain open as needs arise.  I should know a little more as the trip gets closer.

I have a conference call scheduled with my team on March 3rd, at 8 pm.  What I like best about this meeting is that I am pretty sure that I can attend it in my pajamas!  Why can’t all meetings be in pajamas?

Let me give you a little more background about Heartline Ministries, as I have received many questions.  This organization has an amazing back story.  In 1989, two missionaries moved to Haiti to open a children’s home (also called a creche) to help place children that had been relinquished by their birth families for adoption into North America.  As they worked with these children, they learned that most of them were given up for adoption by their birth families due to maternal death during or after childbirth, extreme poverty, or other social issues.  Over time, their ministry changed from facilitating adoptions, to trying to address some of these underlying issues with the goal of keeping Haitian families together.

From 2007-2009, Heartline opened their Maternity Center, in order to address the unfulfilled need for maternal health care in Haiti.  The maternal death rate in Haiti is 1 in 83, as opposed to 1 in 3800 in developed countries.  There are many orphanages, but very few maternity centers.  In many cases, receiving proper pregnancy care prevents maternal death, thereby preventing children from being orphaned.  Through the maternity center, expectant women are offered prenatal care and education, delivery services, postnatal classes, and support.  The program is based on building relationships with the Haitian women who present for care.  They are currently in the process of expanding their maternity center so they can serve more women and families.

In 2007, Heartline also opened a small sewing school to help women learn a trade, so they could make money to help support their families.  Over time, this grew to a full Women’s Education Center, which today offers classes to teach women sewing, cooking, literacy, cake decorating, or crafts.

Heartline also partners with local schools and helps to sponsor children to give them the opportunity to attend school.  At school, the children receive a valuable education, and a daily meal.  They run a camp in the summer, specifically for girls, to give the girls a safe place to go when school is not in session, have fun, and stay off the streets.

Heartline also offers a men’s discipleship ministry aimed at teaching men job skills and supporting them to be involved husbands and fathers.  One of Heartline’s mottos is “strengthening families”, and they are committed to approaching this goal from many directions.

SO.  That is amazing, right?  Do you know what is even more amazing?  The way that my family, friends, community, and coworkers have rallied around me to support this cause.  I am completely blown away by your support.  Let me share with you some of the things that have been happening.

the people at my work have been throwing an ongoing “baby shower” for the maternity center.  We have a little corner set up in our lunchroom where people can drop off donations.  Here is a picture of that corner:

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I have already collected 2 boxes of donations in my office, and the giving is ongoing until the end of March.  Thank you to my coworkers at Clinton Woods!  You are awesome!

my kids organized a donation in their classrooms too!  They each picked a few items off the wish list for the maternity center, and the kids in their class brought in their offerings of love.  Here is their haul:

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-I am waiting on some used surgical instruments from InterVol, which is a local organization that collects medical equipment for use on medical missions trips, among other things.  A truly amazing humanitarian organization!  I haven’t heard from my contact person in a while, so I plan to reach out again this week.

-I have a sweet friend, Amy, whose mother works at an OB-GYN office.  Her office recently relocated and they had some surgical instruments that would have been tossed, but instead are going to Haiti!  Thank you Amy and Amy’s mom!

-My beautiful friends at Long Pond Pediatric Group, where I used to work, have committed to buying a baby scale for Heartline.  I love that they are doing this.  It seems so symbolic to me.  They care for children here at home, promoting health, and trying to keep kids healthy and safe.  This gift will help the children of Haiti to do the same.

-my super-cool friend Margo is a surgeon, and she has been collecting random supplies for me from the OR that would otherwise be discarded.  Thanks Margo, xo!

-the missions committee at Pearce Church, where we attend, has graciously offered to cover any shipping expenses for donations.  My current plan is to take one additional suitcase with me on my trip, with as many things as I can jam in there.  Anything that can’t fit in there I will ship ahead of time.

-this week I met with the Spencerport Kiwanis Club to tell them a little bit about my trip.  My friend Dominic introduced me to them.  I had heard of the Kiwanis club but never knew much about it.  This community organization exists to do good deeds.  Who knew such people existed?  But here they are:

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Thanks to my new friends at Spencerport Kiwanis Club, for your generous monetary donation!

For those of you who want to be involved, there is still time!  As I shared before, the maternity center has a list of ongoing needs.  You can see that here.  You can also shop on Amazon (in your pajamas!!)  for Heartline.  You can see that wish list here.

Thank you all so much for your support!  I can’t wait to see what the next few months brings as it all comes together!