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

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

July 15th

Hi Everyone, I hope this update from Haiti finds you all well. I have had an eventful few weeks with having a group of around 140 people here, making BIG decisions that will affect the next few months of my life, interns leaving/new ones coming into the Miriam Center, new projects, starting new weekly activities with kids/staff, fighting off being sick, etc. I will try to update you on what has been going on and hopefully note write a book ;-) Extending My Trip Till AUGUST 5th I have had to make a hard decision the past few weeks. I was originally suppose to come home on July 20th as one of my best friends wedding is July 21st. I was so excited to go home for the wedding. Ever since we were little we said we would not miss each others wedding. The past few weeks God has started opening my eyes to see the need to stay a few more weeks in Haiti to make sure everything was in order and were running smoothly before I headed back to the states. My heart hurts so bad over the fact that I am missing Autumn Hall’s wedding but I also have peace knowing that I am following God and am where he needs/wants me to be the next few weeks. I love you Autumn Hall and I hope you know how EXCITED I am for you to marry the love of your life and how sad I am that I am missing you BIG DAY!!! I will be praying for you and Aaron and anticipate seeing pictures and videos as dad promised to take lots! Miriam Center Church 3 weeks ago we started a church service at the Miriam Center on Sunday mornings for the staff and children. It is probably the most AMAZING times of worship I have ever had in Haiti (which is saying A LOT, as I have had many AWSOME times of worship). I don’t even know how to paint the picture but imagine 48 disabled children in 1 room some sitting on chairs, some in wheelchairs, some laying on the floor. 90% can’t talk, 75% can’t walk, 50% can’t sit up…YET all of them worshiping God in their own way whether by rocking, shaking a musical instrument, dancing and others singing their hearts out. The past 3 weeks we started out singing a few songs in English and I played guitar followed by the Haitian Momma’s singing some worship songs in Creole. Pepito read scripture and preached. We ended first part of church with a time of special music where different children have been coming up to sign songs in sign language, sing a special song, lead prayer or lead benediction. Today Steven and Den-Den and Jean signed the song “Our God is an Awsome God.” Last week Stephenson sang a special song and lead benediction. We then end church with watching a Bible story video and a Dr. Wonder’s Workshop sign language children’s church video. Worshiping alongside these children and staff just bring me so much JOY as I know this is truly what church is about…not a building…not the clothes we wear, not how the music sounds or what music is played but it is about the group of people worshiping God with EVERYTHING they have. (pictures and videos on facebook) Prayer Time with Staff A few weeks ago we decided to start doing Miriam Center Staff devos. At 2:00PM every Teusday and Saturday we all stop what we are doing and come together for a time of worship, prayer, and fellowship together for ~30 minutes (The mothers, cleaners, cooks, laundry staff, nurse, etc). I love this time to lift each other up in prayer and worship together. I am also EXCITED to see how God uses this time to bring deeper unity and rejuvination to our staff. So far this has been an AMAZING time of worship and prayer. I also love hearing our workers prayer requests and being able to pray for them. I believe God will honor this time by blessing our time together. I think it is a great way to refocus in the middle of the day back onto the reason why we are all doing what we are doing…which is for the glory of God. Boppy Pillows My friend’s mother sewed15-20 boppy pillows and pillow cases for the Miriam Center and brought them into in the middle of June. Last week I had a team from Canada stuff and sew shut ~7 and today a group of interns helped me stuff and sew shut the rest. I am so EXCITED for what these pillows mean for the kids. First it provides a good positioning tool for tummy time for some of our older Cerebral Palsey kids who don’t position well with bolsters. Second they are great positioning devices to help prevent bed sores. Third they are great to use as pillows for the kids who are always lying on the floor. Last week in preschool I had a blast testing out the waters with these pillows and realizing just how BIG of a blessing these pillows are going to be! (pictures on facebook) Terryn a Little Girl with a BIG heart and Calling on her life So the last group of teams that were in here had about 140 people total. God placed 1 very special little girl out of all those people into the Miriam Center environment to show me God’s heart, love, compassion, mercy, and patience like never before. Terryn is a 7 year old girl from Canada. She came to Haiti with her family. She was off campus for part of her trip but almost every moment she was on campus she was in the Miriam Center helping me. I will give you a run down of 1 days of her helping me and I think you will begin to grasp how AMAZING this little girl was...First thing in the morning right after breakfast she came to find me and asked if I was ready to get to work. She help me mix up all the special feeds and feed them. She then helped me dish out the older kids food by peeling all the banana’s while I put scrambled eggs and peanut butter sandwhich on each plate. She chopped up Kem’s food and feed her breakfast. After breakfast she helped me paint the kids hands and feet to make a banner (which she did not know was for her as a thank you from the kids). She helped me feed lunch to the kids and had to be pulled upstairs for lunch because she was not finished helping me. Her mother said that was the quickest she has ever seen her daughter eat. After lunch I fell asleep and apparently when she found me sleeping she waited till I woke up so we could get back to work. She painted the girls toe nails and finger nails. She helped me all day long till dinner. She helped me feed dinner, bathe all 4 of my kiddos, lotion them, diaper and clothe them. I saw God so much in her and I know that God has an AMAZING calling on this girls life. All she could keep asking her mother is if she can come back next summer :-) (There are pictures on facebook of her helping me) Severe and Profound Preschool UPDATE The preschool is continuing to run well, Even in the absence of our presence the last week as we have been out sick. The last thing I taught them was how to use boppy pillows and bolsters for tummy time during music, bubbles, or vibration toy play. They are very comfortable with therapy brushing and lotioning. We need to work more on stretching, oral motor, and massage with different texture clothes. The thickened liquid drink break is going well during preschool as long as I mix up the drink and bring it in. Gilding is standing while leaning on the windowseal for longer periods of time, Lovejinnie can hold her head up while sitting for 5-6 minutes at a time, T-Jimson goes for longer walks, and Andy, Rachel, Berto, & Niaka enjoy tummy time. Progress is being made and I see sustainability in all we are doing! For Jonathan Sake UPDATE For Jonathan Sake is going super well. I have ~18 parents coming weekly with their children now. 2-3 children multiple family members come to learn. They have been taught how to do all the handouts in their binders (stretching, massage, oral motor, brushing, etc.) and so the past 2 weeks Allyson and I have been working 1:1 teaching them specific things they can work on their children with the meet their child’s specific needs and help their child get stronger. Presidue has been watching us and I continue to try to teach him for a few minutes after outreach throughout the week. I had planned to do a blessing giveaway and Bible study this past week but since I was sick I only got to do Monday but plan on continuing the Blessing outreach next week for the rest of the families (will write about it in a separate blog). Since I was sick and not present 3 days last week it really tested the waters for Presidue to see if he was ready to do this without me because when I leave he is the Hatian who will keep this program running. He did a good job! We still have a few things to work on and iron out but I am so proud of him! I love this program and I love watching the children’s families fight for and love on their kids. Please pray as I share God’s word with them next week that they will be receptive and also pray that the gifts God has provided me to bless them with would truly bless them and their families. Nutrition/Feeding We continue to make slow and steady progress in this area. Breakfast is now a power meal that is super nutritious for all the kids (little and big). Lunch has been a battle to get the cook to make the same food for the little kids just grounded as the bigger kids. The bigger kids were continuing to get all the vegetables and meat which was frustrating but today the little kids got the same food blended ☺ I was one happy girl!!! I continue to blend canned vegetables and fruit that was donated to supplement for the little guys as well as supplement protein powder when I feel meals need an extra boost. The check off system for feeding is going great so we know which kids have been feed and which kids have not. The special feeds are going well. We had a pediatrician in last group who helped me update/improve my nutritional plans for Derson and Sandley. Sandley is now eating triple the calories and is eating every 2 hours 1oz of food. He is slowly gaining weight and looking better. Derson’s feeding tube is doing well as well and he has a feeding plan. We have $1,300 of supplies heading our way from the Dominican Republic next week. Thank you to Patty Fletcher who raised $1,000 for pediasure. We were also able to get some disposable diapers, juice, and medicine for the kids. Movie Nights with Projector One of the greatest gifts to the Miriam Center this summer that has brought so much joy has been our movie projector. The children have had so much fun having movie nights on the pation. The other night we had a group of 40 canadians buy the kids popcorn and watched Curious George the Movie with them. It was AWSOME because almost all of our children including the severe and profound made it out to the patio and had loving arms to hold them and love on them during the movie. It was definitely heart warming. We have had probable 6-7 movie nights on the patio since getting the projector and the kids have so much fun! 2 nights ago Heather and I discovered that we could project movies on her wall in her room and bring in smaller groups of kids to have more intimate movie nights. 2 nights ago we had the boys in and watched a movie and had Nutella bread. They LOVED the nutella (their first time having it) and the movie. Last night we had girl’s ngiht and had the older girls in and painted their nails, giggles and watched a veggies tales on beauty. We had A LOT of fun the last couple nights. Allyson- GREATEST INTERN EVER So I was very sad that last week my Occupational Therapy Intern went home to start summer school. She was here in Haiti for 5 weeks and was one of the most AMAZING intern’s EVER. She was so good with the kids, she was super observant and a quick learner. She was not afraid to take initiative and was willing to keep going even when she was tired. She was willing to feed the hardest kids, change dirty diapers, hold heavy kids, work through hard situations and was willing to do anything I asked. She was so loving, caring, gently, and patient with the kids and staff. She had a joyful spirit that was contagious. I really don’t know how to put into words what a blessing she was to me, the kids, and the Miriam Center as a whole. I know that she is going to be an AMAZING Occupaitonal Therapist some day and is going to change so many lives. Really praying and hoping she interns agains next summer :-) Thank you Allyson for all your hardwork, dedication, and most of all the love you poured out to the kids, staff, and us missionaries. You were such a blessing! 2 New Miriam Center Interns A few days ago we had 2 new Miriam Center interns start Karisa and Kelsey Ham. They are sisters who grew up as Missionary kids in Africa. One is in her last year of nursing school and one wants to go to school to be either an Occupational Therapist or a Physical Therapist. They could not have come at a better time as bother Heather and I were down sick. They have been AMAZING at jumping right in and being so helpful. They are both super sweet and loving. They are so good with the kids and have such willing hearts. I am so excited for what God has in store for them the next few weeks. Please keep them in your prayers. So as you can see things are going well in here in Haiti. I fall more and more in love with these kids, the staff, and my mission family daily. Everyday this feels more and more like home. I can’t imagine my life without living here and am already having a hard time thinking about being separated from my kids for 6 months till I can move here full-time. I was away from the kids for ~3 days and when I got back I could not get enough of them. They each have such unique personalities and I love spending time with each and everyone of them. I am not going to know what to do when I go back to the states and don’t have to feed kids every couple hours, I don’t have kids to hold and love on, I don’t have to bathe, dress, feed children…I will miss kids calling my name and trying to get my attention. BUT I try not to think about the things I will miss or about leaving but try to focus on enjoying each moment I have right now, loving my children and staff fully with a love that only God can give me and having a joyful spirit to spread. Please pray for me 1. Saturday when I will be in Haiti and my heart will want to be at my friends wedding. 2. For me to find a traveling company to travel through to work for 3 months to raise money to pay my loans for the year while I am in Haiti 3. For my last 3 week in Haiti to be productive yet a time full of opportunities to love on the kids and staff 4. For my health as I have not been feeling great the last few days 5. For Heather Meyer- her health and ministry here at the Miriam Center 6. For Stephanie- for her time at home to be restful and for a safe return to Haiti August 2nd 7. For my Bible study with my outreach- for softened hearts open to the word Thank you again for all your prayers and support, Autumn