When You Feel Surrounded
I have to admit I have not been the most up to date blogger. But I want to first say a big thank you to the more than 100 friends who have been lifting me up in prayer today. It means a ton. I feel I have been battling to not allow the feeling of hopelessness creep in when life doesn't deal a fair hand. Pastor Corey Kope, at Venue Church, shared a powerful and timely message last Sunday night that hit me right to the core of where I am at. He shared about the doubting prayer and how when we feel like we've lost faith for something, we feel surrounded by the enemy (like Elisha's servant felt like in 2 Kings 6), what we need is to look up and surround ourselves with our people, those who can lift us up in faith. Hence the reason for my shout out for prayer. In fact, before the message even rolled out Sunday, the words of every worship song and the gentle side-hug from Pastor Beth Kope, broke me down. Before I even knew what hit me I was a ball of tears. Why, you ask? What feels so heavy? A number of things that hit close to home.
First, as many of you know, we have been walking through an adoption process with Kiki for 3 years now. What we were told would take 8 months has drawn on much longer and at every turn has just felt even more hopeless, like it doesn't even matter that we have diligently gathered all the documents and information they have requested. There is always something more. The last thing they required was for me to apply for a Haitian resident visa. That may sound simple, but we are talking about Haiti here. Nothing is simple. You may think that after being in Haiti for 17 years, this would not be an issue. And for the fact that I am very conscious of respecting the rules of how long a foreigner is allowed to be in Haiti consecutively. But none of that matters to them. They want the paper and more likely, the money. So, I make the trip to apply for my Haitian resident visa back in June. The Haitian immigration and passport office where you apply is an overwhelming chaos of bodies lined up in zigzags throughout the stuffy building. I did a quick headcount and estimated about 1,500-2,000 people waiting to apply or pick up their passports. Thankfully, the visa office is a small room off to one side with only about 12-20 people waiting for service. Despite there were 6 capable workers, only 2 were serving those waiting, while the rest engaged in conversation, feet up on their desks and eating cake together. I was pleasantly surprised though that the actual application and photo process was not that long. They gave me a receipt and told me to return in August for my visa... which I would not be in the country at that time. I made arrangements by sending my passport back down to Haiti in August, sent someone to go fetch the visa, but unfortunately it was not ready. Fast forward 3 months to this past week when I traveled down for a 10 day trip to Haiti. My first Monday there I went again to the office, but was told they would call me Thursday. No call. Sent Ronald to go fetch it. Not there. I left Haiti still with no visa and no further along in the adoption process after another 6 months. It's painful. What really gets me is that Kiki is just in holding. When we are traveling back to Canada, he cannot accompany us. We arrange for him to stay with our nephew, Anel, and his wife, which is still in the family and he seems to do well there, but I feel the longer he has to wait, the more detrimental it is on his psyche.... and mine. I feel like I am condoning the very thing we strive to save children out of- restivek (a term meaning "to stay with" but often means child slave). Though in my mind, I know he is not a restavek, leaving him to stay with someone else, family or not, is not the best place for him. He really needs to be with us, his family. The 10 days I was there he came to see me every day, gave me long hugs, shared he much he wants to be with us, and cried when I left. I visited his class to check on how he's doing in school, took him shopping for clothes and supplies, and tried to help him understand that we all know this is not ideal, but it's just the way it is until we can get things approved. My big problem is I am feeling very hopeless. How much longer could this really take? 3 months? I doubt it. 6 months? Hmmm. Maybe. I would be utterly heartbroken if I have to leave him behind another time next June. So I need prayer. We need prayer. Kiki needs prayer. For faith, to believe God's got this. I am sure we heard him when we felt we should adopt and I know it's what Kiki wants. So we need God to make the way for us when the process seem unjust.
Marc and Kiki, who's growing up fast.
Second, also as I am sure many of you heard, during my 10 day trip, Marc and I had a most elated phone call to come rescue a newborn baby to bring into the Children's Village. We rushed to the mayors office at about noon to learn the story. I am grateful for the relationship we've established with the local government officials that they would call us first. When we arrived, they immediately gave us the baby and explained he had been found in an outhouse, just born. Who does that? A mom traumatized by an unwanted pregnancy? A woman not in her right mind? A young girl in fear of the future? Or maybe she didn't even know she was pregnant? I can't imagine that one... Anyway, they think he could have been born the night before and he was found at 5am when someone went to empty their nighttime pee pot and heard his cries from inside the toilet. I cannot even imagine the trauma this little guy had already been through in his first hours of life, discarded, unwanted, cold, scrapped up, not to mention the worst of unsanitary conditions to be laying in. And then how in the world did they rescue him? Thank God they had the heart to do so. So we took this little tiny bundle that could not even be 5 lbs, into our arms, wrapped in blankets. We stopped to pick up a woman who had her own newborn to have her assist us in breastfeeding, if at all possible. The baby was cool to the touch and was having a hard time taking in an milk. I attempted to bathe him, stripped him down and cleaned his tiny body in warm water. Then I really noticed how cold he was and not very responsive. We decided to rush to the Petit-Goave hospital about 1pm. He was emitted immediately, although we had to go buy the IV bag, pay for the oxygen and purchase medication before they would start. That's how Haitian public hospitals work; pay upfront or not be served. They got him hooked up to an IV and put him on oxygen and within minutes his little body turned from blue to bright pink, and began breathing regularly, he even cried and made his first poop. Things were looking up. They weighed him, measured him, cleaned him up some more and we really thought he was going to make it. They informed us he was premature by maybe two months and there was a high chance his lungs were not fully developed. Then they asked us to go register him. What was his name? They had to have a name and the names of the parents.... we were on the spot and unsure what to do. They said, "You rescued him right? You name him then. You're the parents." In the excitement of the moment, of saving this child's life and considering the potential he had, we named him Junior Marc Solomon, after Marc and a declaration that he would make a mark on the world for peace. Then my mind went reeling. I couldn't believe it. Our names were on this child's birth certificate. He was actually ours. This made a much deeper impact than I had anticipated. I thought, with all the struggles and ridiculous laborious time it has taken to adopt Kiki, this baby could simply be mine. We would actually have all rights of parents. I felt elated, excited and nervous. Tammy Love, who'd been documenting the whole story by FB Live video, and I decided he was stable enough we could go find some baby clothes that might fit him in the market near the hospital. During the half hour we were gone, they moved Junior Marc to the pediatrics unit and hooked up again to an oxygen tank. We came back in and waited for hours with him. The doctor was not there, but there were plenty of nurses in training that would periodically check in on him. To me he didn't seem to be moving enough and seemed like he was getting cold again. They had jury-rigged a lamp that was hanging by a thread of duct tape from its pole and pointed it towards the baby in an attempt to warm him, but I had a feeling it was not doing its job. The doctor finally showed up around 6pm and was suddenly concerned that he was not getting enough oxygen, that maybe the tank was not working properly and why had no one checked on him? She changed the tank and found his heart rate was extremely low, that she began pumping his heart to bring it back up to regular. This went on for almost an hour. We had called someone in to stay overnight with him since he would have to stay in care. She arrived and the doctor assured us they would do what they could. A bit apprehensive we left around 6:45pm. We were not even half way to Grand-Goave, when we received a call from the doctor... he hadn't made it...we were all silent, then angry at the lack of care or neglect in the pediatrics unit, then trying to figure out what do we do next. We had such high hopes for this little guy, I had already envisioned retelling him the story of his survival when he was 6 or 7, cuddled in my arms. But now that wouldn't happen. This whole experience hit us both harder than I thought, and I still seem to be struggling with it. But one thing I know. Junior Marc Solomon did not die a nobody. He did not die unloved, unwanted. He did not die in a heap of shit. He was loved, owned, and clothed. I know we will see him again in Heaven. I had the reminder of that movie, "Heaven Is For Real", when the little boy who'd experienced Heaven told his mom that he had met his sister, the one with no name and the mother was speechless because she had never told a soul that she had miscarried and had never named that child. So I have the peace that at least Junior has a name, and he is in Heaven and he knows his story. And he did make a big impact. This little bundle less than 5 lbs, with his head smaller than the palm of my hand, will be forever embedded in my heart.
Baby Junior Marc Solomon
I can't wait for the day when truth and justice win. When everything will be right in the world again. Where we get to bask in the light of our Savior, who truly does save us from this sinful, unjust world. And when we try to save others, we may not always be successful at saving them the way we would imagine. But someone God still uses it to work out an even deeper salvation in us.
Thirdly, I've just felt under the weather since returning back to Canada from Haiti. Maybe it is the emotions that have worn me down. Maybe it's the extra long flight after missing two planes and having to overnight and get home a day late (though I had fun travel partners). Maybe it's just that my body is tired and I came back home to sick kids, which in turn have shared their friendly bug with me. But since Monday, I've felt in need of that circling of prayer by my people. I need to be reminded to lift up my eyes, to where my help comes from. I need my eyes to be opened to see there are so many more that are for us than are against us. I need to rest in that peace that He's got it all worked out, in His plan somehow it will turn out for our good if we don't give up hope. So thank you to all of our friends who have lifted me up in prayer. Please continue. We'll need it until we see the victory of the Lord on our behalf.