Sunday, December 9, 2012

Merry Christmas & Haiti UPDATE

Hello Everyone! MERRY CHRISTMAS!!!!! I hope this Haiti update finds each of you well & being blessed during this Christmas season. I wanted to update everyone on where I am at, where I am heading, and when I am finally moving to Haiti to fulfill the calling & dream God has given me! I do not remember the last time I wrote an update as the last few months have been a whirlwind…so I will update from when I arrived back to my parents in August. I flew out of Haiti the middle of August back home to PA with my family. I immediately started looking for jobs and applied for my KY and PA licensure. As an Occupational Therapist I have to be licensed in every state I work in. PA and KY were 2 of the states that took the least amount of time to get licensure and were closest to home. It ended up taking about 6-8 weeks to get my KY & PA licensure. In the meantime I was talking to multiple travel companies and talking to people locally to try and find the job God had for me to work at for the next 3 weeks. I was really hoping to find a job fairly close to home to enjoy time with family & friends before heading to Haiti but I was not having much luck finding anything secondary to there being so many OT schools in the area. While I was waiting on my licensure I flew to NV & sold all my furniture and drove back across country with the smallest tag along u-haul behind. My dad was such a blessing to me….he took a week off work and flew out to drive back cross country with me. I was blessed to stop & visit with many friends on the way back to PA. I ended up taking a job with MedTravelers who contracted me to Flagship working for a nursing home in Philadelphia. I posted a flier at a few churches a friend suggested to try to find housing living with a family. I ended up finding housing with a very nice lady Joyce from 10th Presbyterian Church. She lives alone and is renting me her 3rd floor for the 3 months I am Philadelphia. It has been such a tremendous blessing on so many levels to live in community with her. 3 days after moving in she had a double knee replacement and I got the privaledge of meeting her closest friend from Florida who is a nurse and her sister-in-law from Indiana who were both here to help take care of Joyce post surgery. All 3 of these women have tremendous faith! My job has been tremendously challenging on many levels with long hours & intense days. After much prayer & discernment though God has revealed to me that just as My mission in Haiti is to change Haiti 1 child at a time…my mission right now is to change one resident at a time and be a light to both my co-workers and the residents. I know I can’t change the way this nursing home is run but while I am here I can brighten each residents day & be an encouragement to my coworkers by how I fulfill my work duties each day. It has been really awesome to see God use me as a light in my work environment here…2 weeks ago a coworker approached me late one evening when we were both still there finishing up paperwork and God really opened the door for me to speak about my life experiences and God. In the end my co-worker came to church with me on Sunday and accepted Christ. She is truly seeking truth and wants to change her life and follow Christ. She later told me what drew her to talk to me was the joy I had…she could tell there was something different about me :-) PRAISE GOD for answering my prayers to set me apart & let my light shine! My nickname at work is “Happy” :-) I like that nickname! I pray that I continue to live up to that nickname. The other day I had a….Be Careful What You Pray For Moment...Reading old blog posts from 2010 I realized why God places me in challenging work environments..." I want to be more like Caleb...He didn’t follow what others thought he should do Caleb longed to see God work in power and he knew he would be less likely to rely on God if he dwelt in the easy places.” (swindoll?) Caleb didn’t ask questions like ” what do the experts say” or “what do my friends say?” He was seeking more of the question, “what would God say?” God called him a man with a different spirit and he followed him wholeheartidly (Numbers 14: 24) I want to be more like Caleb. I don’t want to always think to myself ” what will others say?” or “what do others think?” or do as I did today and believe I am not qualified. God reminded me today that he doesn’t call the qualified, but qualifies the called. I DESIRE TO SEEK THE MOUNTAINS SO THAT I CAN WITNESS GODDOING THINGS THROUGH MY LIFE THAT ONLY CAN BE EXPLAINED BY HIS MIGHTY POWER. I desire to see Him glorified." So my prayer has been answered...It is an uphill battle ;-) PRAISING God that in the midst of this “uphill battle” that He is preparing me to lean more heavily on him to find my strength, joy, and hope in Christ Alone. One thing God has been walking me threw the last few weeks is clarifying my calling in Haiti. I sat down the last few weeks & prayed over my calling to Haiti and this what God revealed to me… My Mission Statement For Haiti: Making the Invisible…Visible through Christ, Church, Community. Showing the love of Christ first through my actions then through my words. Daily being Christ’s hands & feet to those living with a disability in a country that sees them as cursed for being different. Bringing hope to the hopeless…light into the darkness…AND Joy in the midst of hardship. Making Christ love Visible and Available to ALL! All while using the gifts and talents God has gifted me with as an Occupational Therapist to help each child reach their fullest potential! SCRIPTURE THAT CLARIFIES MY CALLING…. Specifically for children with disabilities and their families in Haiti… 1. God Has Called Me To DEFEND The Rights of The Poor And Needy • “Defend the rights of the poor and needy” Prov 31:9 • “Pure and lasting religion in the sight of God our father means that we must care for orphans and widows in their troubles, and refuse to let the world corrupt us.” James 1:27 2.God Has Called Me To FEED THE HUNGRY especially the malnourished disabled orphans in Haiti • “If you offer your food to the hungry and satisfy the needs of the afflicted, then your light shall rise in the darkness and your gloom be like the noonday.” Isaiah 58:10 • “For I was hungry and you fed me. I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink. I was a stranger, and you invited me into your home. I was naked, and you gave me clothing. I was sick and you cared for me. I was in prison and you visited me. Then these righteous ones will reply, ‘Lord, when did we ever see you hungry and feed you? And the King will tell them, ‘I assure you, when you did it to one of th least of these my brothers and sisters, you were doing it to me!” Matthew 25:31-40NLT 3. God has called Me To TAKE CARE OF THE SICK children (some of the sickest) • “For I was hungry and you fed me. I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink. I was a stranger, and you invited me into your home. I was naked, and you gave me clothing. I was sick and you cared for me. I was in prison and you visited me. Then these righteous ones will reply, ‘Lord, when did we ever see you hungry and feed you? And the King will tell them, ‘I assure you, when you did it to one of th least of these my brothers and sisters, you were doing it to me!” Matthew 25:31-40NLT 4. God has called me to CLOTHE the Naked. • “For I was hungry and you fed me. I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink. I was a stranger, and you invited me into your home. I was naked, and you gave me clothing. I was sick and you cared for me. I was in prison and you visited me. Then these righteous ones will reply, ‘Lord, when did we ever see you hungry and feed you? And the King will tell them, ‘I assure you, when you did it to one of th least of these my brothers and sisters, you were doing it to me!” Matthew 25:31-40NLT 5. God Has Called Me to COMFORT Parents Who Mourn The Loss of Their Children Who Went to Be With The Lord Before Them and At A Young Age. • “For He will deliver the needy who cry out, the afflicted who have no one to help. He will take pity on the weak and the needy.” Ps 72:12-13 • “The Lord comforts His people and will have compassion on His afflicted ones.” Isaiah 49:13 • “Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is Near.” Phil 4:4 6. God Has Called Me to SPEAK OUT for and DEFEND the RIGHTS of those Who Can’t Themselves (The children with disabilities & The Families of these children. • “Speak out for those who cannot speak, for the rights of all the destitute. Defend the rights of the poor and needy.” Prov 31:8-9 NSRV 7. God Has Called Me To Be His HANDS and FEET… • “Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.” Matthew 28:19-20 MOST IMPORTANTLY GOD HAS NOT CALLED ME TO DO THIS ALONE…I am so thankful for the team of AMAZING My Favorite Quote: “"Christ has no body on earth but yours, no hands but yours, no feet but yours. Yours are the eyes through which Christ's compassion for the world is to look out; yours are the feet with which He is to go about doing good; and yours are the hands with which He is to bless us now." ~Saint Teresa of Avila GOD WILL BE MY GUIDE…. • "YOU WILL SEEK ME AND FIND ME WHEN YOU SEEK ME WITH ALL YOUR HEART." JEREMIAH 29:13 GOD’S PROMISE…. • “AND LET USE NOT GROW WEARY IN DOING GOOD, FOR IN DUE SEASON WE WILL REAP, IF WE DO NOT GIVE UP.” GALATIONS 6:9 I finish up here in philadelphia the first week in February. I plan on flying into Haiti around February 28th (haven’t purchased exact ticket so date is still an estimate 1-2 days either way). I am continuing to look for churches to speak at and am currently support raising. I need to raise $2,000 a month to serve in Haiti. I currently have ~50 percent of this pledged for donations which is AMAZING. Please consider making a monthly donation towards my time in Haiti. No amount is too little $1…$5..$10…$15…$25…$50…$100…$200… a month or you can make a onetime donation as well. If you would like to donate to my ministry you can go to kimmys House website and in the special instruction section place “Autumn Marshall”. If you prefer mailing a donation you can send it to Kimmys House P.O. Box 151032 Lakewood, CO 80215-1032 All donations you make are tax deductable. P.S. Another piece of exciting news is that one of my co-workers Molly who is a Speech Therapist has prayed about it & feels God calling her to give up 3 months to come & serve in Haiti with me starting at of February to help set up a Speech Therapy Program & help set up feeding/swallowing plans for the severe & profound children I have been working with. This is a HUGE answer to prayers I have prayed over the past 3 years!!!! Though the past 3 months have been full of change…God has been my constant! He has been my faithful provider for all I need and I am trusting Him to continue to clear the path for my ministry in Haiti (spiritually, financially, emotionally, and physically). Thank you for all your prayers and financial support. My heart is aching for Haiti and I can’t wait to get “home” to my mission family, my kids, my staff, and my outreach families. I had a dream last night that I was back & I did not want to wake up this morning ;-) The saying there is no place like home …is so true! Autumn Marshall OTR/L Miriam Center Therapy Coordinator

Thursday, November 1, 2012

Anestacia Surgery UPDATE

PRAISE REPORT from Stephanie: "Just got back from the Hospital getting evaluations for surgeries for Anastasia and Gabrel. God was truly watching over all of us. While we were waiting, I just starting talking to some of the medical people there. They wanted to know my story. One of the people was the doctor doing the cleft palate surgeries. When we were done talking he introduced himself as the doctor we needed and said he would get us in for evaluations first. Which he did. And he actually scheduled us for surgeries first thing tomorrow. Anastasia's palate and lip will take two surgeries, they will take care of her lip and Gabrel's lip tomorrow. Please pray for these two precious ones...On a side note, taking advantage of our time in Port au Prince. We went and met with Dora today, who works at a special needs orphanage here. We got to see the orphanage and the work that she is doing there, and it is a very precious place. Just felt blessed to be able to have that time and visit today. PLEASE continue to keep them in your prayers. For the surgeries to go smoothly and to be successful. For quick healing. We are still in need of $500 to cover the cost of these surgeries. If you are willing to donate you can go to paypal and donate to


Hi Everyone!
I hope this email finds you well. I have lots of things to touch on in this Haiti PRAYER  request/update. I will try to keep it as short as possible.

ANESTACIA- Anestacia was born with a cleft palate which in the united states is a simple surgery & a few months after birth there are usually no physical signs except a little scar. But in Haiti this is not the case, in her case, she was born with a disability and left at the baby orphanage. Getting surgery in Haiti is not an easy task BUT 3 years later it is finally happening!!! Anestacia became part of the Miriam Home (for the 2nd time) this past summer when the baby orphanage closed down. We agreed to let Anestacia come & stay at the Miriam Home until she was able to get her surgery with the goal of getting her back with her baby orphanage friends up at the Mole Campus after her recovery. Anestacia spent a few weeks in the Miriam Center when she was younger while I worked on developing feeding techniques for her & trained the baby orphanage workers how to appropriately feed her to prevent aspiration. Anestacia has stolen the heart of many and is a typical 3 year old girl who is cute as can be. Heather Meyer and Stephanie Mosier were able to set up with a surgery team coming to Pourt-Au-Prince (PAP) to get Anestacia her surgery. Nahum and Stephanie along with Anestacia left on a bus from the mission last night at midnight to travel down to PAP. She will be evaluated for surgery on the 1st by LEAP Foundation, and then hopefully be selected for surgery between the 2nd and the 5th.  Please pray for things to go smoothly, for safe travels, for Anestacia to be picked for surgery, and that the funds will come in to cover the expenses for this trip. If you would like to donate towards this surgery you can go to PayPal and type in to donate! THANK YOU FOR YOUR PRAYERS…I will keep you UPDATED!!!

SANDLEY- Sandley went to be with Jesus on October 25th. This boy was loved by so many…he certainly fought hard his entire life on this earth and though we MUST rejoice that he is free of pain, able to run, dance, play, smile, laugh, talk, sing…It is hard to not be able to hold, kiss, sing to, syringe feed, or love on that boy. I know my heart is deeply broken today alongside many other missionaries. I actually started writing this update the day I got news of Sandley’s passing…I ceased working on it…Sandley and I formed a special bond this summer. He became like my son. I helped develop a special feeding plan for this little boy which involved feeding him every 2 hours. Justin (another missionary in Haiti who called sandley his son & everyone knew him as Sandley’s Papi) helped with these feedings. It was a slow road but he started to gain weight & strength…THEN he would get sick & we would be back at square 1…it was almost a cycle…The poor little man never seemed to get ahead. He never smiled…never laughed…rarely looked not in pain…YET stole your heart the instant you met him. Sandley had a profound inpact on countless people in his short 2 years of life. As Heather Meyer reminded me “It is not about the Quantity of Life but the QUALITY OF LIFE!” I can sit here today and say Sandley lived a quality life that had a tremendous impact for the kingdom of God. 2 songs come in my head when I think about Sandley today “I can only Imagine” and the “Untitled Hymn” by chris Rice. I can’t imagine what Sanley is experiencing right now free of his earthly bondage of a body that traped him…able to dance, worship, singe praises to the king. Able to run, fly…Selfishly it is hard to let go BUT I must constantly remind myself that he is in a better place. Below is  a blog that Heather had written about Sandley a few months before he passed.

On September 24, 2010, a baby boy was born in Cap Haitian, Haiti and was held tightly by his loving mother.  He would become baby brother to 3 older siblings.  He also had a dad that lived in the small home with them.  This baby and family would face many  challenges (as if they didn’t already have enough.)  This baby, Sandley, was different from his siblings.  He was small in size, but had bulging muscles.  He had a high pitched cry that never seemed to stop.  His eyes were big and he was always looking sideways. People looked at him funny.  People knew he was sick, but didn’t know why (Could it be true?  Was he seen as a curse on his family?  Was he going to die with nobody knowing him?  Would he be hidden from the outside world because his family was ashamed of him?)  With many “different” looking children in Haiti, this is true, but Sandley’s mother knew she had to do something for her son.  She would spend the next year seeking for answers for her son.  She would go from hospital to hospital looking for a “cure.”  She would spend much of the family’s money to do this and buy all the medications the doctors suggested (vitamins, IV fluid, antibiotics, etc.)  See, they either didn’t understand the diagnosis of “spastic quadriplegia” or they were too afraid to tell the boy’s mother that her son would not be “cured” by medicine.  If she knew of this diagnosis, would she still care for him or would she give up and let him die in a corner of their home?  After all, she had 3 more “healthy” mouths to feed and tend to, and that was a struggle in itself.
Sandley’s mother would be obedient to the feeling in her heart again.  In December of 2011, she brought Sandley to another hospital in Milot, Haiti.  The baby would be admitted for overnight care, and given a prescription for seizure medication.  Sandley and his mother would remain there for the next 3 days.  She was unable to buy the medicine prescribed because it was too expensive (in Haiti, you buy all the medications, fluids, IV, etc whether inpatient or not.) 
Pastor Daniel (a Haitian pastor who along with his wife has an orphanage) and Bill Waterman (a fellow missionary at Danita’s Children) were on their way to Milot to check on one of the “baby rescue” babies from Danita’s Children.  They checked on the baby girl who was sharing a room with about 4 other sick children and their families.  Pastor Daniel saw a mom and baby in the corner of the room.  Pastor Daniel and Bill walked back to the truck after saying goodbye.  They got ready to leave, but Pastor Daniel told Bill to wait in the truck and that he would be right back.  Pastor Daniel went back into the room to talk to the mother of the baby boy in the corner of the hospital room.  He spoke with her, and noticed the unfilled script for the seizure medication.  He also noticed that this baby boy was not well, and needed immediate attention.  Pastor Daniel went back to the truck, and asked Bill to come in and see this baby.  Bill did, and they took pictures of the baby and also paid for the seizure medication for the mother.  They then left the hospital…
Bill came to the main property of Danita’s Children, and said “I have a baby for you, Mami Heather.”  I was like, “excuse me.”  He said, “this one is for you.”  I asked to see the pictures, and I didn’t need to ask anymore.  I knew exactly what he had, and I thought, there is nothing I can do for this child.  Getting involved would not help this child or his mother.  I thought that I might be able to ignore it if I didn’t go see him or if I just convinced myself that I had enough on my plate.  This one lived too far away anyway.  Surely, there was someone else out there that would help them.  Well, that was not what God wanted, and He would keep me up that whole night thinking of this little baby.  In the morning, I called Pastor Daniel, and said, “When are you going back to the hospital?  I would like to go and meet that baby boy.”  The next day, I was in Pastor Daniel’s truck heading to the hospital. 
I walked into the room.  I went to the corner crib.  There he was, laying in his crib sleeping.  His mother was not there.  Had she abandoned him?  Could she not take anymore?  Did she have no choice?  I stroked his little arm.  I kissed my hand and then laid it on the top of his head.  Sandley’s mom walked into the room.  She had left to buy 1 jar of baby food for her son.  I was so happy to see her!  She truly loved him.  She was dedicated and devoted to her little one.  We talked and she asked if I would take her son to the orphanage.  She said that she wouldn’t be able to care for him much longer.  He was too sick.  I knew that I couldn’t do this.  I knew it was not God’s timing, and Danita helped me confirm this too.  At night I would rack my brain for what I could do for Sandley and his sweet mother.  I truly thought of so many living options, but none seemed right.  I felt like the mother loved her son, and I felt like I could offer some hope and help at the very least.  I had her come every Monday to our clinic.  Emily (our nurse) would check and weigh him every week.  I would supply his mother with his seizure medication, 1 can of formula, and less than $4 for transportation back and forth (they lived about 45 minutes away.)  That mother came every week right at 10am.  If I wasn’t there, she still came as she knew we had prepared everything for her and Sandley. 
When I got back from my 3 week visit to the Miriam Center, I understood exactly why I was asked to wait on a living situation for baby Sandley.  I made the decision to move to the special needs home in Northwest Haiti, and I had permission to bring Sandley with me.  I was so excited to tell the mother because I knew this is what she wanted for her baby.  The following Monday, I told his mom that I would be moving around April 1st, and that Sandley could come.  She said that she had been praying for this, and not only had she been praying, she was acting!  She had Sandley’s birth certificate made and was ready to sign the necessary papers.  She was not giving him up, but rather giving him a chance…
In February, Sandley’s mom brought him on a Monday as usual and delivered the news that his father had just passed away.  She was so sad, but was keeping it together for her children.  She was certainly a strong woman!  On March 27th, the day came for the big move.  We left Pastor Daniel’s orphanage at 4am, and we picked Sandley up on the side of the road around 4:45am in Cap Haitian.  His mother placed him in my lap, handed me the birth certificates, and then shut the door.  No tears were shed.  We simply locked eyes, and shared no words.  We didn’t need to.  This was all just an act of obedience on both our parts.  She simply placed her baby boy in my arms for safe keeping and a chance at life…
Sandley cried almost the whole way to the Miriam Center at NWHCM.  He ate a little bit, but I couldn’t get him comfortable.  He certainly did not enjoy all the bumps along the way.  We arrived and the staff immediately took him out of my arms.  The new baby had arrived, and they were thrilled to have a little baby to take care of.  He even got renamed “ti bebe” (which means little baby in Creole.)  He was stealing hearts right and left, but the real “steal” would have to wait a couple more weeks.
Justin Clark (the missionary who was coming down to focus on maintenance work for the mission) would be moving down.  I first talked to Justin at church in Haiti.  We were outside and I asked him what he would be doing at the mission.  He explained that he was there strictly to do maintenance and whatever else came his way (referring to “fixing things.”)  He made it pretty clear that he liked the idea of kids, but had “no clue” or “experience” with them.  Well, let’s just say, the rest is history…
Somehow, he found himself gravitating towards teeny tiny Sandley who seemed to be battling one illness after the other. I noticed Justin in the Miriam Center a lot.  I knew we had a lot of maintenance work to do, but I mean, Justin REALLY liked working in the Miriam Center.  It turns out that he might have had some other motives to being there…YEP, little Sandley!  That boy had stolen Justin’s heart forever.  It was one of the sweetest things I have ever witnessed to this date.  Justin even changed a diaper for the first time (and many many more after that!)  He learned to feed him with a syringe, give him medicine, hold him, play with him, and change some of the worst diapers EVER!  Who knew that God could work through something so smelly?  Haha.  Day after day, the relationship just continued.  It gets stronger each day, and Justin now calls Sandley “son” (or little feller,) and we refer to Justin as “Papi.”  Sandley is quite blessed to have Papi Justin, and I know without a doubt that Justin has been forever changed by his little feller, Sandley. 

LOVE…genuine, innocent, and pure.

On September 24th, 2012 we will be celebrating Sandley’s 2nd birthday.  This will be quite the day for 8lb Sandley.  I think there might even be some pudding or dum dums involved!  I am simply amazed and inspired by Sandley’s story.  It has truly taught me obedience to God’s tugging.  A lot of people had to play a part in getting to this point.  Without everyone being obedient to the Lord’s direction, this little boy would not be where he is today.  He is fulfilling his purpose of sharing love with all he meets.  It is not about quantity of days anymore, it is simply about quality and Sandley has this!
I would like to say thank you to everyone that has played a part in this “act of obedience.”  It has been a blessing that can never be explained…

1)      Sandley’s Mother:  Thank you for never giving up!  Thank you for sacrificing so much to give your boy a chance to fulfill his purpose.  Thank you for taking in all the stares and comments that first year.  Thank you for listening to your heart and always going the extra mile to seek help.

2)      Pastor Daniel:  Thank you for going back into that hospital room to see this baby boy and his mother.  Thank you for your willingness to remain such a special part of Sandley’s life as his Godfather.

3)      Bill:  Thank you for sharing your heart and having faith in me to take on this little boy.  Thank you for that little nudge to listen to the whispers of my heart.

4)      Danita:  Thank you for confirming God’s perfect timing for both me and Sandley.

5)      Emily:  Thank you for taking care of all the “Monday” tasks of this little one.  Your faithfulness made a huge difference in that transition time.

6)      Miriam Center Staff:  Thank you for taking on one more baby without complaining!

7)      Stephanie, Courtney, and Autumn:  Thank you for allowing one more to join our family!

8)      NWHCM:  Thank you for having open doors to myself and my little ones.

9)      Justin:  There are no words…thank you for being the best “Papi” ever! 

10)   Sandley:  Thank you for just being YOU!  You are awesome!

*To everyone else:  Thank you for your continued prayers for Sandley.  Every day is a struggle for life, but we are making slow progress.  We appreciate all the support, prayers, and love from you.*


Christ-Tcherry- First off thank you to all of you who have been praying for his surgery…It was a success!! After having his tongue clipped and adnoids/tonsils out 2 days ago he is already breathing better! He is out of the hospital as of yesterday and seems to be doing well!!! Please continue to keep him and his daddy papito in your prayers as their still is a road to recovery. Thank you to everyone who financially donated to his surgery and made it possible! Heather, Peterson, Christ-Tcherry and Papito are still in the DR awaiting the biopsy reports and CT scan results for Christ-Tcherry and waiting on various test results to come back for Peterson & Heather. Hopefully in the next few days all the results will be in, they will get to meet with the neurologist…receive good news and be able to start their journey back home to the mission. Their plan is to stop in Quataminth, Haiti for a day or 2 so Papiot & Christ-Tcherry can visit with family before heading home to the mission.
1.     I also wanted to share with you some more of Christ-Tcherry’s story I learned from Heather over the past few weeks. In my last email you learned that Christ-Tcherry’s mother died during child-birth and Christ-Tcherry was born prematurely & so was in the the hospital for weeks. Most fathers in Haiti would have left the child to die…in fact his wife’s whole family wanted him to leave the baby telling him that it was Christ-Tcherry’s fault that his wife had died. Papito refused to accept their advice (and has since never talked to his deceased wife’s family) INSTEAD he started working 2-3 jobs to earn enough money to pay for Christ-Tcherry’s hospital stay and to buy formula for him to drink. After LONG days of work…every night he would drive to the hospital on his moped to check on Christ-TCherry. One night on the way to the hospital he he had a pretty back wreck…one in which he needed medical attention. He got back on his moped and drove straight to the hospital TO SEE CHRIST-TCHERRY first and once he made sure his son was alright, he checked himself into the emergency room. Talk about 1 dedication and loving father.
2.     Another story Heather told me the other day was that Papito was back at the hotel room in the Dominican Republic (DR). She came back from running errands and Papito could not wait to show her a video he took on his phone…She sat down and watched the video…Papito had taken a video of a commercial on the TV in the DR of a father taking his special needs child to the doctor to get help…He then explained (with passion) you would NEVER see this happen to Haiti…children with disabilities are cast away & fathers don’t stay…Heather made sure to point out that He made sure to get his son help, He stayed with him, and has POURED LOVE over him…The though that he is probably in the 1-2%. CRAZY how different it is between 2 countries that share the same island…
I could go on and on and tell you stories about this AMAZING father who has such a BIG heart for not only his son but now for all the Miriam Center children. He has not only become the supervisor of the Miriam Center but more importantly has taken on a fatherly role to these children!

Sydney- I found out the same day that Christ-Tcherry had surgery in the Dominican Republic…my sweet little outreach girl Sydney had corrective foot surgery at the mission while the surgery team was there. Sydney holds a dear place in my heart. 3 years ago her mother asked if I would be her God mother :-) She was brought to the mission by her father as baby Sydney was very sick. Courtney saw her in the waiting room & could tell that she was an extra special child. Long story short we found out mom was super sick and the family would not take care of her. Baby Sydney was malnourished & no doing well. The Miriam Home agreed to take Sydney to love on her & get her healthy. A few days later a frantic mother arrived at the Miriam Home looking for her baby girl! She was so sick she did not know her husband had brought sydeny to us. The moment we saw the love & dedication of this mother to this girl we knew we had to get momma & baby healthy. We provided Sydney’s mother with medicine and food to get her healthy over the next few weeks while simultaneously working on getting little Sydney healthy. I love the fact that before the end of that summer these 2 were back together. LOVE LOVE LOVE this girl & her momma!  Last year when surgery team was at the mission, Sydney’s mother was informed that Sydney would need to be able to bear weight on that foot in order to have surgery. Her mother worked all year to get her to put weight on her foot. I will never forget the first day of my outreach program this past summer when Sydneys mom ran to give me a hug and passed Sydney off to me to hold (Sydney does not like white people so cries every time I hold her ;-( BUT mom insists that every week I get to hold her ;-) Then she informed me she had something exciting to show me…she proceeded to show me that not only is Sydney weight-bearing on her foot but is walking!!! This mother has so much love  & dedication for her daughter!!!

1.     Please pray  for me as on Sunday Nov 4th I make a BIG transition…I will be moving to Philadelphia for 3 months working as a contract therapist to a nursing home. I have not worked with adults since my fieldworks back in college and have never worked in a nursing home setting. Lots of unknowns! BUT I am excited to see what God has in store and how he will use me.
2.     On November 11th I will be back home for 2 speaking engagements. I will be speaking Sunday morning at Cintonville Presbyterian Church in Clintonvile, PA and that evening I will be hosting a dinner at New Bedford Presbyterian Church at 5:30 to share videos, pictures, and about last summer and my future plans as I move full-time to Haiti. If you are able please come! The dinner is free (donations accepted) so bring the family out :-)


ps. Attached is a little picture handout to go with this email update :-) Hope you enjoy!

Autumn Marshall OTR/L
Miriam Center Therapy Coordinator

Monday, October 22, 2012


Hello Everyone!
I hope this email finds you well. There has been A LOT going on the past few weeks in Haiti and I have been meaning to write an email update (I am much better at updating my facebook then getting an official email out) BUT I really wanted to take the time tonight to update you all and petition your PRAYERS. Over the next few days I will write you some updates and prayer requests. I want to start with the most IMMEDIATE one. Tomorrow Christ-Cherry is having a life saving surgery in the Dominican Republic (DR)

Dominican Republic Medical Adventures….
12 days ago Heather Meyer (Co-director of Miriam Center specifically working with severe & profound children) headed to Santiago, Dominican Republic seeking medical help for herself, Peterson (her “son”), Papito (father to Christ-Cherry & Hatian Supervisor of Miriam Center), and Christ-Cherry started on a medical Adventure. Below are the updates I have received thus far

October 11th-Been holding off on this update until I had more details, so here it goes...The Miriam Center at NWHCM is blessed to have a seizure team come down a few times a year to check on our children who are on seizure meds. They were around to witness my seizures as well, and highly advocated for me to get more testing and evaluation done before the scheduled November trip. In November, Papito, Christ-tcherry, Peterson, and I were all scheduled to go to a hospital in Santiago, DR for follow ups, testing, med changes, possible tonsil/adnoids surgery for Christ-tcherry, etc. Well, I immediately broke down as I didn't think it was possible to do this all right now and it would cost a fortune to do it now for me and again for them in November, but of course God works in crazy, special, and amazing ways. So, last night, the four of us along with Nahum (who came along to hold Petey the whole time so I could rest and take my meds knowing my baby boy would be good on our night journey,) came on the Haitian overnight bus to Port au Prince. We arrived here at a hotel at 9am. The boys and I have rested in the room all day while Papito was able to obtain his visa in less than 5 hours (Praise God!) I received a generous donation to help with some initial funding like transport, accommodations, visa expense and that has relieved so much anxiety. Pastor Daniel "happens" to be in PaP today and is going back to Ounaminthe tomorrow so he is picking the four of us up and taking us back with him. We have passports, visas, referrals, etc so we should be able to make our way to the hospital on Saturday morning. I have called the neurologist and he is willing and ready to receive us when we get there. He knows we are on a tight budget so he is going to do as much "outpatient" as possible. So blessed to have so many understanding hearts. If you feel led in any way to help (and yes, prayer is definitely needed too,) please contact me and I can let you know the needs. We feel blessed and loved tonight and know that ONLY God could have orchestrated all of this! (side note: thanks to Stephanie and Ashley for doing an awesome packing job...definitely deserves an IOU

October 12- Journey Update: Papito just went outside to meet Pastor Daniel to show him out hotel. We will be on our way to our next stop Ouanaminthe in just a few more minutes. Peterson had a small seizure this AM, and Christ-tcherry woke up cranky but all of us have had our meds and now have full stomachs. Praying for sleepy babies on the ride :) Thank you for the continued prayers. I will update again when we arrive in Ouanaminthe.

October 13th MORNING- We knew there would be bumps along the journey, but nothing too big for our God. We are in our taxi on our way to Santiago now! A big thank you to everyone who helped make this possible. Will keep you updated as possible.

October 13th NIGHT- We've made it to Santiago. Boys are changed and fed. We won't go to the hospital until tomorrow. With it being at night and a Saturday, and no emergency...we will go tomorrow and check things out and proceed as we are directed Keep praying. The prayers are greatly felt! I will write more later once I figure out Internet situation.

October 14th- Update: Annie (and Francimene) so graciously are helping Papito, the boys, and I out today. We went to the hospital today so Papito could see it, went to the neutologist's office to know where to go tomorrow, called the neurologist and have to be at his office around 11am tomorrow. He acted over the phone as though we would have to be admitted via ER but would walk us through the process if needed. Everything is going smoothly. We got an Internet USB so hopefully we will be able to figure it out and have better contact. Thanks for everything. We are super blessed!

October 15th- Well, as we figured this will be a process. We got to the neurologist office at 11, and just got back to the hotel. He spent 2 hours with us going through everything we need. Peterson and I have EEGs scheduled for Friday and Monday, labwork referrals, I have a MRI referral, Christ-tcherry has a CT scan and the BIG stuff for Christ-tcherry we will know tomorrow as he has a referral to a pediatrician who will direct us regarding his tonsils and asthma. For now, we are happy to be back at the hotel. It has been a long day and tomorrow will be long too. We are grateful to be able to do this mostly outpatient and are happy to be staying in a hotel that is $35 a night. The medical bills will start adding up though, so I will let you know that help is needed. If you feel led to help in any way (small works great,) please let me know. Knowing that God has orchestrated all of this and it will be taken care of.

October 16th- Nobody ever wants to hear from a specialist the sentence, "Wow, look at this!" Christ-tcherry indeed needs surgery to remove tonsils/adnoids. His airway is severely blocked. So, he is getting his 3rd X-ray for the day now and then we are off to the hotel as we have to be back here at 7am for blood work for 3 of us. Thanks for the prayers. Everyone is doing well and hanging in there like true troopers.

October 17th- Feeling so blessed today! Christ-tcherry’s lab work, EKG, chest x-ray, and doctor consults went very well today. He passed it all, and has been booked for surgery at 7am on Tuesday! The internet is causing us a bit of a problem as I want to stay more connected with all of you, but hopefully this weekend, I can get a blog together. Tomorrow, we have our 4th day at the hospital in Santiago. We have to pick up Peterson’s “special” lab work, Christ-tcherry and Peterson have CT Scans, and I have a MRI. Other than that, we are good. Papito is hanging in there too. He is such a loving father, and it is amazing to hear him speak of his first few years with Christ-tcherry. He worked two jobs so that he could buy Christ-tcherry baby formula when he was a baby since his wife passed away during Christ-tcherry’s birth…one dedicated daddy! Christ-tcherry’s surgery is estimated at $2,000USD for his surgery, anesthesia, recovery room, and one night in the hospital afterward. We will then have to stay another week to get the “clear” and for the tissue biopsy results, so I am estimating that we need about $2700-$3000 to finish this all out. Please let me know if you are at all interested in helping out. It’s going to happen! I just know it! God has had His healing hand on this little one forever, and He placed him in my care a little over a year ago. Thank you for helping and praying. We feel it so much!!!

October 18th- Another long day in Santiago at the hospital. Peterson ended up just going along for the ride again as he actually didn't need a CT scan. Christ-tcherry got his and I had to schedule my MRI for tomorrow at 8:30pm (no mistake there...PM!...haha.) So, Papito will have the boys while I get my EEG in the afternoon and MRI at night. Today, I had to fight a mischarge from a prior visit, but God is working that out and the fight should be over tomorrow! Thanks for the prayers. They are needed and appreciated

Yesterday- About to head to the hospital to see Christ-tcherry's surgeon and to pay for his surgery (believing in faith that the funding will come in as God wants.) Peterson has a 3 hour EEG at 2pm today too. If you have a chance, please read my latest blog on Christ-tcherry and the present need to fund his surgery. Thank you for the prayers and support. Below is the BLOG POST Heather Wrote Christ-tcherry (Miracle Baby!)

Although, I wish I had more time to write and update everyone, I am crunched for time today. So, the goal is to get this blog out today to get people praying for this little miracle boy! Many of you already know Papito and Christ-tcherry's story and how they have impacted my life forever. We were scheduled to come to the Dominican Republic for medical care in November, but because of events with my health, we had to come a month earlier. It has been evident that everything has been in God's timing as it has all worked out relatively smoothly. (it could have been a very rough road) We have been here for 9 days doing a lot of outpatient medical stuff (doctor consults, testing, lab work, etc.) All the doctors have been wonderful as they are working with Peterson, Christ-tcherry, and myself. Christ-tcherry was seen by a neurologist last week, and we were referred to an Ear, Nose, and Throat surgeon for his Tonsilectomy surgery where he will also have his tongue "clipped." The surgeon looked at his X-ray and was appalled by what he saw. Parts of Christ-tcherry's airway are only the size of a needle where it should be the size of a pen cap all the way through. This is causing major respiratory problems for Christ-tcherry and he is being deprived of more and more oxygen every day. The surgeon said at best we have up to a year to get this surgery done before his airway closes completely. I do not tell you all of this as a "sob" story, but mainly for facts and proof of God's perfect timing! All the doctors believe that this will be a life saving surgery for Christ-tcherry and that he will begin to really thrive after it. Because we came a month early, I had not had time to fundraise for this surgery, and am asking if you will consider contributing directly to his surgery. I have been able to cover most of our other expenses by a generous initial donation of $1,100. This is what really prompted me to "go out on a limb" and seek all the medical attention needed at this time (in the long run, saving money.) Tomorrow, I have to pay $1,800 for Christ-tcherry's surgery, one night hospital stay, and tissue biopsy. I am believing in faith that the funds will come in...I have to! The Lord has guided me thus far, and I know it is in His will for this precious boy to get this care. The hospital has been so generous in making us a "package" deal where a huge deposit is not needed. Christ-tcherry's surgery will be done at 7am on Tuesday morning. His dad (Papito) and I will be with him. Peterson will come visit once he is out of recovery and in a regular room. The two boys have become very close over the past 9 days...their bond is sweet! If you would consider donating to Christ-tcherry's surgery, please let me know and I will let you know how best to do so considering your needs as well. Everyone can pray, so please keep Christ-tcherry and his daddy in your prayers this next week. Their bond is precious and something unheard of (even in the states!) We really have felt much love, and are blessed beyond measure to have you along with us for this exciting journey. I will keep everyone updated as well as I can via Facebook, and hoping for a "PRAISE REPORT" blog afterward! TODAY: Well, the little man (Petey) slept through his entire EEG just like he was suppose to and it was 3 hours long! I guess waking him up at 5am and not letting him fall asleep until the test at 2pm worked. Thanks for the love and support!

TOMORROW is Christ-Cherry’s Surgery. I am asking all of you for you PRAYERS for this sweet boy and his AMAZING Father For everything to go smoothly, for quick recovery, for peace for his papi, and guidance for the doctors.

Here is a blog Heather wrote about Christ-Cherry and his father Papito
As I was in church on Christmas morning, I had tears in my eyes for so many reasons. First of all, I was just thankful and filled with pure joy to be in Haiti celebrating and remembering the Savior’s birth. I was also missing my little Jean this Christmas season, but realizing that being in Heaven has to be the best place to be on Christmas day! Then, I focused on the fact that I was holding a little miracle… On October 16th, a young man came up to me after church telling me that he had a son at home that was 2 ½ years old. He said that his friend told him that Mami Heather could help since his son did not walk or talk (the word has gotten around that I love all children that look a little different, can’t walk, and can’t talk…haha.) I immediately told him to bring his son the following day for me to evaluate and see. At 9am, this father arrived with his son. I had never seen a cleaner child in Haiti in my life! I picked him up in my arms, and knew that “crackling” sound oh too well. This little one had obviously aspirated, and needed to be tended to. I brought him and his dad up to the clinic where our nurse, Emily, was. We both knew that this little boy had cerebral palsy, and was suffering from aspiration. We weighed him, put him on an antibiotic, and gently told his father that his son had a condition where he might not ever walk or talk. I watched this father’s heart just break right in front of me. His little Christ-tcherry was all that he had. His wife had a C-section with Christ-tcherry and died when he was 2 months old due to an infection in the incision (a death that could have been prevented, for sure!) What could I do? In front of me was a 25 year old widowed father who obviously loves his baby boy with all his heart. He is educated and intelligent, but will not work because he does not trust anyone else to watch his severely disabled child. The day I met Papito and Christ-tcherry, I gave them cereal, baby food, and a stroller. I figured the stroller would help keep Christ-tcherry in an upright position to help with aspiration. I told Papito to come to church with his son every week, and that if he did, I would continue to help them. Every Sunday since, Papito has brought Christ-tcherry to church. I have continued to help him as much as I can. On December 3rd, Papito came to the property of Danita’s Children around 3pm to tell me that Christ-tcherry was very sick and struggling to breathe. Blake and I jumped on a motorcycle, and hurried to their home. I didn’t have to walk inside to hear Christ-tcherry; I could hear his labored breathing from outside. I immediately looked at Christ-tcherry’s chest concaving in each time he tried to breathe. Little air was passing through. I picked his limp and tired body up off of the bed, told Papito to grab a few things because we had to go to the clinic across the border immediately. The border was about to close, but I knew we didn’t have any other choice. I knew this child would certainly die if we didn’t go right then and there. In my heart, I knew it would take a miracle from above to breathe life back into this child. I wanted this father to know that we tried everything, and that there was HOPE in our Lord. We got to the clinic, and the doctor was called. She took vitals right away, and had no way of getting an x-ray until morning. Thank goodness she was compassionate and understanding, and started the IV antibiotics and oxygen right away. I was scared and nervous. I wasn’t with Jean when he passed away, but I could only imagine that this was similar to the same situation. We were dealing with aspirating pneumonia, a high fever, and we were even in the same room of the clinic. I prayed and asked God to be in control of the situation. I pleaded for life and a miracle, but also told God that if it wasn’t the day for that, I understood and would still trust Him with everything! I could see that Papito knew his son’s life was in danger. I could see the worry in his eyes. He didn’t say much. He just held his baby boy tightly, and comforted him as needles were going in and out of his son’s tiny body. After a few hours, things seemed to be settled down, and Christ-tcherry’s breathing was not as labored with the oxygen. I went home for the night, and asked the nurse to call me during the night if anything changed. I would return in the morning. Christ-tcherry had made it through the night. He was a fighter. I asked Papito if they slept, and he said that Christ-tcherry did. When I asked him if he slept, he said, “No, I could not sleep. All I could do was pray. Mami Heather, he is all I have left.” This is love, this is true love. This father/son love is a rare find especially in Haiti, and it has been such a blessing to me to see. I left the two of them in the clinic by themselves for the day while I went to Haiti. I crossed back into the DR around 5pm, and checked on them. All seemed to be going ok. I ate dinner with some visitors, and then brought food to Papito. I was with Bill (a missionary who was a paramedic in the states) and we both thought that Christ-tcherry had taken a turn for the worse. His breathing sounded horrible, and the oxygen didn’t seem to be helping very much. The doctor had rigged something up to help keep the oxygen in Christ-tcherry’s space to give him all the help he could get. She looked at both of us, and said that it didn’t look good and that Christ-tcherry might not make it through the night. Bill contacted another doctor in the states, and they both agreed that this was probably going to be it. This could quite possibly be the night for Christ-tcherry to enter the Kingdom’s gates. I left the room because the tears started to flow, and I needed to still talk to Papito and prepare him for what might come. I prayed and just asked the Lord to prepare our hearts and be with all of us through the night no matter what He chose to do. I had made the decision to stay in the clinic with Christ-tcherry and his dad. I didn’t want his dad to be alone if Christ-tcherry died in the night. I wanted to be there for the both of them. Blake and Bill took shifts to be there too. I was sitting on the bed with Christ-tcherry and I read the back of his jacket that he had been wearing for the past two days. In big letters it said, “Forever Yours.” It was so fitting and just a reminder that this little boy belonged to God. He is forever His and that brought so much comfort during this time. Each hour passed, and Christ-tcherry fought hard! God was holding him tight, and when morning came, I realized that God had performed a miracle. Christ-tcherry was alive and breathing better! Everyone agreed that only God could have done that. Christ-tcherry’s chances of survival went up drastically because he had made it through the night. After a couple more days, he was taken off the oxygen. After 6 nights of sleeping in the clinic with his daddy by his side every minute, Christ-tcherry had received all his IV antibiotics and was ready to be discharged. What a great miracle we just witnessed. His dad was excited to bring Christ-tcherry back home to Haiti where he would show off his son and the good work the Lord had done! The homecoming was priceless! His uncles, aunts, cousins, and neighbors all greeted him with big smiles and laughter. Christ-tcherry had a check-up at the clinic and is still doing great. He will continue to struggle with all that comes with cerebral palsy and living in Haiti, but he will forever be the little Christmas miracle of 2011!!!
Heather Meyer, Peterson, Christ-Cherry, and Papito
Papito and his son Christ-Cherry
Christ-Cherry and Peterson
Peterson during his EEG Today


Autumn Marshall OTR/L
Miriam Center Therapy Coordinator

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

My Journey To Haiti

MY JOURNEY TO HAITI I took my first international mission trip when I was 12 years old to a small orphanage in San Luis, Mexico. When I had to leave, I left a part of my heart there. I returned to Mexico six times, and every time, I left more and more of my heart. At that point in my life, I thought I would someday live as a full-time missionary in Mexico, never thinking I could be more in love with and feel more called to a different place. Well, God had other plans. When I was a sophomore in college, I went on a prayer walk. As I walked down the road with another girl, I talked all about Mexico (my passion at the time), and she talked about Haiti. Something on that walk really hit me, and the next summer I was on a plane to Haiti. I had anxious feelings because I felt like I was betraying my Mexico family by going to Haiti. It only took a few days before I realized that this was where God was calling me, and this is where my gifts and talents would be best used. At the time, I was going to school to be an Occupational Therapist. Why Occupational Therapy? Well, I always knew I wanted to work with kids, and God had given me a heart for children and for helping. In 6th grade, a lady at my home church had quadruplets, and I loved helping out with her kids after school. I asked her who the people were who came into her house and played with the children when they were little. She told me they were Occupational Therapists. I decided that would be the best job ever…get paid to play with kids. In school, I soon found out that Occupational Therapy involved so much more, and I fell in love with it! That first summer in Haiti, I fell in love with 14 children in an orphanage called Heaven’s Waiting Room (now the Miriam Center), a home for children with special needs. When I found out how society in Haiti viewed them, my heart broke. They saw them as worthless, cursed, and possessed, and they were often hidden away, starved to death, abandoned or worse yet, killed. At Heaven’s Waiting Room, they were being taken care of and better off than they would have been on the streets. As the week went on and I saw these children getting very little interaction from the American short-term missionaries at the mission, my heart broke even more. By the end of my 10 days in Haiti, I knew I had to come back. I had to fight for these kids to be seen. I had to find a way to increase the quality of life for these precious children and help the Haitian people see their worth and potential. Since I was in OT school, I knew I would not be able to come back until the next summer. As soon as I got home, I applied for a summer internship in Haiti but later found out that I was not accepted. I was CRUSHED…I was ANGRY…WHY GOD…I had so much planned. These kids need me! It took me about a month to come to peace with this decision that had been made for me. I decided to still go to Haiti that summer for a 10-day trip to work with the kids and love on them. I later learned that God said “NO” to an internship at that time so I could spend the rest of my summer at a 10-week residential disability camp that taught me so much. The summer of 2009, I did my first summer internship in Haiti under the Miriam Center. I evaluated each of the children, worked one on one with them, and developed treatment plans for each of them. I was really making a difference and using my major! My heart ached to stay in Haiti. Part of me wanted to just stay and forget everything in the states, but deep down, I knew my time in the states, learning and gaining experience, would ultimately benefit the children in Haiti. I graduated with my Masters in Occupational Therapy in May 2010. Three days later, I returned to Haiti for another summer internship to continue doing OT with the kids. At the time, we had a waiting list of about 50 children (who all had parents) for the Miriam Home. We saw this as a problem and therefore started the For Jonathan’s Sake Outreach Program. This program was created to train parents how to take care of their children, provide the resources to do so, and show them how special their children are to God. God revealed to me that this program was going to change the view of disabilities in Haiti and cut down the number of orphans with disabilities. During the same summer, I decided to take on the role as Miriam Center Therapy Coordinator. While working stateside to pay off my loans, I had the opportunity to advocate for these kids. I emailed therapy companies to ask for donations and share the work that we were doing at the Miriam Center. I also talked with other therapists about the ministry opportunities in Haiti that they could use their OT degree in. Summer of 2011 was a time of implementing ideas and making therapy sustainable. While teaching the outreach parents how to do therapy with their own children, I trained Presidue, a Haitian staff, to oversee this program. I also trained Nahum, another Haitian staff, to be an OT. He was AMAZING with the children, a quick learner, and a hard worker. I was most EXCITED about the Visibility Box system that broke down the barriers of not knowing how to work with the children. Each box included a picture of a child, their biography, the goals they were working on in therapy, a picture of each toy in the box, and directions for how to use it with the child. Any short-term missionary could walk into the Miriam Center and walk right into any child’s world. The missionaries and children LOVED the boxes. The children would drag the missionaries to the cupboard asking for them to get their box out and play with them. At the same time, this provided a way for the missionaries to do therapy with the kids. My dream of broken barriers had become a reality after 3 years! I returned to the states and took an Outpatient Pediatric Job in Las Vegas, NV, where I gained more experience working with children with disabilities. While in Vegas, I also took 3 continuing education classes to give me resources and skills that I could take to Haiti and train others in what I had learned. This past summer of 2012, I spent the majority of my time working on increasing the nutrition for the children of the Miriam Home. I also trained Miriam Home workers and For Jonathan Sake Parents to do therapy brushing, stretching, oral motor stimulation/massage, appropriate feeding techniques, full-body massage, and tummy-time. I continued training Presidue (the Haitian overseeing For Jonathan Sake) on how to do therapy and help the children progress while I am back in the states. I put a lot of thought into my training and only set up simple programming that I believe is sustainable. It was a very successful summer, and for the first time, I feel very confident that what I did this summer will continue when I am not in Haiti. While in Haiti this past summer, I felt God lay heavy on my heart that the time for me to go to Haiti full-time is now. After much prayer and a few phone calls, there was no turning back. I recently returned from Haiti and will be moving back to Pennsylvania to be close to my family. I am searching for a 3-month position as an Occupational Therapist to pay off my student loans for the next year while I serve in Haiti. I am also raising financial/prayer support to be in Haiti full-time. There are so many unknowns and uncertainties, BUT I am trying to TRUST my BIG God who has each step planned out and has guided me every step of the way. He is FAITHFUL, and I know He is working every detail out. I plan to be in Haiti full-time by January 2012. I will serve for 8-9 months out of the year and come back to the states for 3-4 months to work a therapy stint to earn enough money to pay my loans for the following year. This will also give me time to travel around to raise support and spread the word about all the AMAZING things God is up to in Haiti. I am INCREDIBLY thankful that God has chosen and called me to serve the AMAZING staff, parents, and children at the Miriam Center. My daily prayer is that God would use me to be His hands and feet and that I could bring the Joy of the LORD into my work. Through Christ, I can do the IMPOSSIBLE and Bring Hope to the Hopeless. The journey God has me on is by no means easy…I never know what tomorrow holds but I do know who holds my tomorrow! For More Youtube videos of the work I do in Haiti type Haiti4Life99 into the search engine on youtube page and all my Haiti videos will come up. Thank you for all your prayers and support. Autumn Marshall OTR/L Miriam Center Therapy Coordinator Email: Blog:

Monday, July 30, 2012

HAITI UPDATE July 28th- Extending Trip for 2nd Time

Hi Friends, It has been about 2 weeks since I have updated. As always A LOT has happened in Haiti in 2 weeks. As I write this I am at a point of being EXHAUSTED on every level and am planning on taking the next few days to rest and get rejuvenated and filled back up spiritually/emotionally for next week. As part of that I wanted to fill all of you…my faithful prayer warriors and supporters in on what is going on. EXTENDING my Trip for the 2nd time this summer… Well once again this summer I hit a hard crossroads of decision-making. Last email I informed you all that I made the tough decision to extend my trip till Aug 5th. God has confirmed my decision multiple times over the last 2 weeks and I am so thankful that God gave me the wisdom and resources to do that. God knew the plans He had the next few weeks and wanted to use me. God has laid it heavy on my heart to extend my trip for 2 more weeks till Aug 13th. My reasoning for extending my trip is multifaceted BUT one of the BIG reasons is I want to leave all the things I started including the special feedings, the sensory classroom programming, the Severe and Profound Preschool schedule, afternoon tummy time, and my outreach program to be at a place that when I leave everything is set up for it to keep running because Haitian staff have been trained and empowered to keep it going. Obviously most of the time we will have an American here to work alongside them and help them keep things going BUT there is always the chance and will be time when none of us American’s will be present and the children need to get the same quality care and I realized we are not at that point quite yet. This is a hard decision because if I want to move to Haiti by January I really need to go home and sell my stuff in Vegas, Move back to PA, find a traveling job for 3 months, and fundraise support to be in Haiti. The more time I spend here now the harder it is going to be to get everything done to be back here by January. I am also starting to get homesick, as I have not been home to see my family and friends since Christmas. I will also be missing another dear friends Wedding Reception and a good friends bonfire. Along with the chance to see some of my friends who will have only be home for a short time. I had also been planning a trip to Douglas County, NV for a few days... BUT as hard as it is to make the decision to stay over the past 24 hours God has given me so much peace about it. Job Hunting Since I keep extending my trip in Haiti secondary to feeling God’s call, I have started job hunting from Haiti for a 3-month position. I have a few friends who do travel therapy and I have started contacting their companies to see what is available as far a travel and pediatrics. My first desire is to be near home so I can have family time while I work. Unfortunately so far I am having no luck finding any temporary pediatric positions. The closest one is in New Jersey. I have decided if I cannot be near my family I will have them search cities near friends/mission family. I do have a few job offers one being in Reno, NV. I am asking for prayers as I discern where God is calling me to work for 3 months to raise enough money to pay my student loans for the year while I serve in Haiti 8-9 months out of the year. Support Raising I am beginning to support raise for my year in Haiti and am asking all of you to prayerfully consider supporting me financially and through your prayers to continue to do the work I do in Haiti. It looks like I will need to raise about $1,000 to $1,300 a month to cover my expenses. This would cover my housing, food, transportation in country, back/forth to United States, health insurance, and leave a little each month for personal ministry. The number I am still waiting on is for how much health insurance is going to be. When I finalize all the numbers I will send them out. When I get back to the states I will also be sending out pledge cards where you can pledge a monthly donation, a one-time donation, or to be a prayer warrior for me. Thank you for your prayers and consideration to help me fulfill the calling God has given me to serving Him in Haiti through Occupational Therapy to the children of the Miriam Center. Afternoon Tummy Time in Birdcage with Severe and Profound About a week and a half ago I started a new afternoon routine with the severe and profound children. Instead of being laid on the foam mats in the hallway after afternoon nap they are now placed in the birdcage on their tummies using the boppy pillows and bolsters or placed sitting up in a wheelchair, or in a swing. This arrangement has multiple benefits. First it gets them off their backs, second they get fresh air and sunshine, third it makes them more visible for the groups to interact with them, and fourth they are feed out their and thus the boppy pillows and wheelchairs put them in better feeding positions. I am so thankful that God placed this idea in my mind and on my heart because it is such a simple/easy change for my workers but has such HUGE benefits for the children. Eventually I would like to add a thickened liquid drink break into this time but do not feel that at this point it is sustainable so I am going to wait. Fun…Messy Friday Last Friday we had a BLAST in the Miriam Center. It all started with a group of 17 on the RESTORE retreat that wanted to take the children to the playground at Bonneau. For multiple reasons this was not possible and so I set up special activities in each of the 3 classrooms that morning. The severe and profound preschool was to do music time then special treat of chocolate pudding followed by shaving cream play. The sensory classroom was going to have shaving cream and water play in the birdcage and the Luke 2:52 school was to make cookies and play with playdough. Well things started out well but by the end the Luke 2:52 children did not want cookies and playdough but wanted shaving cream and water play. It turned into the war of shaving cream with kids running around getting all the blancs and Miriam Center staff covered and the Miriam Center staff and blanc retaliating. I have not seen our staff or the kids have so much fun in a long time. What a great time of Joy and FUN! I posted some pictures of facebook and plan to post video as well. Working on Setting up Sensory Classroom Before Stephanie left for her month at home in the states she asked me if I could help her organize the sensory classroom and help her with ideas. So this past week I have focused A LOT of energy, time, thought, and prayer over this classroom. This is a tough classroom secondary to such a wide-range of abilities and needs. I have so many GREAT ideas for this classroom but it is hard because there are only 2 teachers to 10 sensory/Autistic children. The first thing I did was split the classroom into 2 sections. One side has foam floor matts with therapy swing/therapy balls and will have a box of sensory toys (brushes, vibrating toys, oral motor toys, lotion, etc.). With Justin’s help I got the therapy swings fixed and ready to use. The other side of the classroom with has desks for FM activities. I have written out a temporary daily schedule of activities. One teacher will run sensory side of classroom and the other teacher will run the seated/desk education part. This week I followed the following schedule Monday- building activities- legos, blocks, Lincoln logs, etc. Tuesday- coloring, cutting, dobbers, stickers, etc. and Puzzles/bead boards Wednesday- noisy toys/light up toys (toys they use now on a daily basis) Thursday- Gross Motor- different texture balls, taking kids for walks, possibly locking back gates and patio play/time to run around Friday- MESSY PLAY- water play, playdough, shaving cream, silly string, pudding play, painting, cornstarch/water play, etc. Everyday but Tuesday went really well. The only problem is that I had extra hands everyday that helped it go so well. I am nervous that this plan is not sustainable the way it is. I plan on spending the next few weeks really helping Stephanie come up with a sustainable plan that helps meet each of the kids individual needs. Organizing Depot This past week I have been taking time each day to work on organizing the toy/supply depot in the closet. My goal is to make it very functional where 1 side will be everything for the severe and profound preschool and the afternoon tummy time in the birdcage. The other side will be everything for the sensory classroom all organized and functional. The center and back wall will be activities for the older/higher functioning children for afternoon play and activities that groups can do with them. For Jonathan Sake UPDATE I have spent the last week really focused on organizing Presidue’s cabinet so that everything He needs while I am gone is available to him and ready to grab. I have given him 10 extra copies of the parent education handouts for binders in case he gets any new families. All the toys are organized for the toy lending program. I really feel that the outreach program is at a self-sustaining place. BRAVEHEARTS I have been trying to do a Bible Study and handout with my families for 3 weeks now and have only gotten Mon and Friday done in those 3 weeks. I swear Satan really does not want me to do this Bible Study and handout. Asking for you to come alongside me and pray that next week I will not only be able to do the Wednesday and Thursday groups but that their would be good turnouts and for softened and open hearts. The Bible Study is on how they are Bravehearts for fighting for their children in a country that sees them as worthless, cursed, and possessed and looks down on parents who have these children. I start out telling the story of Kyler … There once was a teenage boy whose name was Kyler. He was a regular kinda kid but he loved Jesus with all of his heart. He loved playing soccer, tap dancing, paintball, and reading. He loved his younger brother Connor and felt responsible for keeping him in line. He decided it was time to go on a mission trip with his church. He earned money through fundraising at garage sales and a fireworks stand; dancing in the street to bring people to the booth in 120 sweltering heat. He couldn’t wait to get to Haiti and work hard!! He was so happy to help use build and do whatever needed to be done. This made him so happy. He had the time of his life on this mission. As soon as he got home and was picked up from the airport he said “When can I go back?” He had the mission fever. He felt the love of Jesus like he knew deep down in his heart but he saw it alive and real, up close and personal everywhere like never before. Soon after he returned he found out he had cancer, which had developed many years ago. He suffered so much until the end of his life on earth and on December 7, 2010 he got to go home to his glorious home to live with his Heavenly Father forever and ever…. BRAVEHEARTS FOR JESUS Ephesians 6:10-17 I then shared (plan to share with Wednesday and Thursday groups) the following. I have handwritten in a lot more to share as God has spoken over the past few weeks but this will give you the gyst of what God has laid on my hearts to tell the parents Kyler was a very brave boy. He faced cancer head on and fought the battle hard and with a positive attitude touching many lives for Christ because of how he fought with such a positive attitude never taking his eyes off of Christ and knowing God had a perfect plan. Kyler can be a role model and encouragement to each of you and to me to have the same attitude when we face challenges, set-backs, and battles in this life. All of you have been given a challenge of raising a disabled child in a country that sees them as worthless cursed possessed and where you as a parent are often ostracized from your communities and looked down upon. You fight a daily battle of the looks people give you/your child. The comments people say…you also face set-backs of not being able to afford tap-taps, buy diapers, afford clothes, and the list could go on and on. You each have such BRAVEHEARTS as you are willing to fight. (go into detail about each of the pieces of armor and how apply/why important) As you stand in the Gap…battling for your children in a society that sees them as worthless, cursed, possessed…YOU MUST have the armor of God to fight the daily battles that will arise. Some battles with be physical (hunger, shelter, sick child, etc.) while others will be spiritual battles (negative thoughts, heavy/burdened hearts, etc.) I wanted to share an Illustration with you that someone shared with me the other day -If God wanted everyone on the earth to have food, He would have sent his son to make this happen -If God wanted everyone on the earth to have a house, He would have sent his son to make sure this happened -If God wanted there to be noone sick or with a disability, He would have sent his son to make sure this happened BUT the ONE thing God wanted above all else was your HEART…ALL of YOU…God did send his 1 and only son to die on calvary to make sure we all have access to salvation and eternal life with Christ. PRAISE GOD That life on this earth is temporary... PRAISE GOD That JOHN 3:16-17 is true “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his son into the world to condemn the world but to save the world through him.” PRAISE GOD that God is preparing a home for us in Heaven…a mansion…streets of gold…an AMAZING PLACE…A place where there will be no more pain, no more sorrow, no more disabilities, no more hunger, everyone will have a house, we will worship Christ for ETERNITY…What a glorious day that will be I then shared 2 scripture and told them why I love these verses and what it means to their situation. 1. Jeremiah 29:11-14 “For I know the plans I have for you declares the LORD, Plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you a hope and a future. Then you will call upon me and come and pray to me and I will listen to you. You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart. I will be found by you, declares the LORD and will bring you back from captivity.” 2. Psalm 139:13-14 “For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mothers womb. I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well.” Plan For the Next Few Weeks My next few weeks will be focused on getting everything I started and worked on this summer self-sustaining with the AMAZING Haitian staff God has blessed the Miriam Center with. I will be working to get all the special feedings into simply picture schedules that the Haitian mothers can follow. I will be working on putting the preschool into a picture schedule so they know the rotation of activities throughout the week. I will be working on making sure Tummy-Time in the afternoons is sustainable. That the nutrition with meals continue to runs smoothly. I will work on getting a schedule for the sensory classroom as well. There is A LOT to do the next few weeks but am thankful that God has extended my time and allowed me to be here in Haiti for such a time as this. Please surround me with prayers the next few weeks that God would strengthen me and give me the wisdom I need to do the following. Autumn Marshall OTR/L Miriam Center Therapy Coordinator