Category Archives: COTP Staff

This is Joy

Re-blogged from Kerry Nutting’s blog Of Being Occupied By Christ.

I was recently asked, “What about being at COTP brings you joy?”

Though put on the spot with the question, it was not hard for me to answer: One of things that brings me greatest joy here in my position at Children of the Promise is the opportunity I get to watch healing take place.

In January, we admitted a little girl – I’ll call her “Ella”  Though not as severely malnourished as some of the kiddos I’ve seen, Ella was visibly malnourished and dehydrated. Her daddy brought her to us out of concern because he knew she was doing poorly. Also, his wife, Ella’s mom, was really sick and in the hospital. He needed to go to the hospital to be with her and was worried that Ella would not be cared for well while he was away. So he brought her to us.

Thus began this story of healing.

Myself and a few of the other staff here took turns spending the night with Ella, waking her up at intervals throughout the night to feed her so that she would get enough fluids and calories to curb her
malnutrition and dehydration. As expected with most of our malnoursihed admits, she battled diarrhea and vomiting for a few days while her body readjusted to having a regular intake of nutrition. Before long, she was gaining weight and charming us all with her contagious smile and giggles. She moved into a room with other kiddos and nannies and continued to thrive. Health wise, within a few weeks, she was back on track. But as with most of our short-term admit kiddos, now came the task of discerning when would be the best time to reunite her with her family to ensure that she would continue to thrive.

By her dad’s description, I was skeptical that Ella’s mom would recover. His symptom report of “swollen legs, chest pain and on oxygen” sounded to me like some form of heart failure or kidney failure. Weekly, when he came to visit Ella, he brought me pharmacy prescriptions that he didn’t have the money to buy.  I gave him what I had on hand in our pharmacy and supplied him with money to get the rest. That’s one thing about the health care system here – before any health services or meds are given, they have to be purchased. So,if a patient needs an IV, whoever is with the patient must go to the pharmacy and buy the supplies and fluids needed and bring them back to the doctor to be used.

One day, dad showed up with a pile of orders requiring payment, which included tests (Xray, CT scan) and meds that added up to a pretty healthy sum of money…not outrageous, by any means, but definitely pushing the limits of our monthly community-aid budget. As I pondered how involved we were going to be able to become in this familiy’s financial needs, I kind of had my own internal crisis, a battle of reason, if you will.  Looking at the tests and the cost, I had to be realistic…would any of this make any differece? If I give him all this money, will it save her? Is she just going to pass away anyway? In which case, should the money be saved for the next person who will come to our gate asking for money who is not as critical as her?

As I talked this out with Erin, my fellow nurse who has lived here for close to 1 1/2 years, she said something to the affect of, “you have arrived.” Not necessarily a desirable place to have arrived to, but the place where, as a nurse in a third world country, I was weighing the possibilites and outcomes and deciding what would be the best use of our resources. What was realistic. How should we help? I decided that, before giving him the money, I needed to go and see Ella’s mom for myself. If she was as bad as I imagined, and on death’s doorstep (for lack of a better way to put it), I would then progress with the complicated conversation of encouraging that comfort measures be taken in preparing for her to pass away. But if it seemed as though the tests and meds could improve her condition and bring her home, then we were willing to invest in that. Again, I realize how horrible and raw that sounds, but that’s what it came down to.

Two things I’ve realized about my occasional thought process since being here:
1) I’ve become more skeptical. Appropriate or not, I am. In this story, I couldn’t help but wonder if Ella’s mom really was sick…or was this a really well acted ploy to get money from us?  But dad seemed truly genuine, plus he had legit prescriptions from the hospital, so I pushed that out of my mind.
2) I sometimes just see the medical cases and forget the personal lives behind them.  I think this can be true in many areas of occupation, not just medical, and not just in a third-world environment. I hand out the treatments, share medical advice and give directions and neglect to take in to account that they are someone’s loved one.  In this case, as I was rationalizing whether or not to give dad more money, I stopped to remember, “This is his wife. This is Ella’s mom. If she died, it would change their lives forever.”

Dad was very excited to hear that I would accompany him back to the hospital. I got a moto-taxi and made the familiar 30 minute trek to the hospital. Then I followed dad to her bedside. It was so special to meet Ella’s mom. First of all, the pure fact that Ella had both parents suddenly hit me.  Most of the time, kiddos are brought to us by grandma, aunt or sibling because mom was dead and dad may or may not be in the picture. Or dad brought them in because mom had fled and was nowhere to be found. But here, I was standing before two parents, mom and dad, who loved Ella dearly. Mom was beautiful.  Even though visibly sick, she was sitting up, smiling, and asking about Ella. Fortunately, I had thought to bring my camera with me and I had some pictures of Ella on it. She teared up as I showed her pictures of her daughter, and thanked me over and over again for taking care of her. Then, in my limited Creole, I asked about her health. Where was her pain? How was her breathing? All the while knowing that, even in America, heart failure/kidney failure (still not entirely sure what she had) was difficult to manage.

As I ended my time with them, I told them we were praying for her and then I held her hand and prayed for her (in English). I kissed her cheek, dad hugged me, and I handed him the money from COTP that he needed to cover the physician orders and pharmacy scripts. This momma needed to get better. She was going to get better.

A week or two later, I was at the hospital again for other reasons, but was able to go and visit her again. I had printed a picture of Ella to give to her. Printed pictures are a rare treasure here – she was overjoyed. I prayed with her again, and on the way out, pleaded with God to make her well and able to go home soon.

Praise the Lord, this past tuesday, I got to witness this story come full circle. Like my response to the question, this is what brings me joy: Seeing mom and dad walking together toward the pharmacy to pick up their daughter together; Seeing their faces light up at the sight of their beautiful, chubby little girl; Gathering in the pharmacy together – Haitian nannies and international staff – to sing and pray over them and say our goodbyes to Ella; Sending them home with a giant bag of supplies – diapers, wipes, formula, toys, clothes – to help in the initial days; Knowing that their family was restored.


Not all of the stories end like this. Some kids in our care are brought to us because no one wants to care for them, so we counsel them through the process of filing for abandonment. Some were found abandoned in the streets and brought to us. Some are true orphans, no father or mother, and other extended family members simply do not have the resources to care for them. But while they are here, we love them as our own as we wait for their family – through adoption – to come and take them home, too.

-Kerry Nutting


COTP Church

Written by Dan Willis, pastor at COTP

My hope, prayer and vision for the church plant here at COTP begins with the glory of God.  Each Sunday, we gather together as believers to worship the Lord and rejoice in His amazing grace in Jesus Christ given to poor, weak, needy sinners.  God’s precious plan of salvation by grace alone through faith alone in the finished work of Jesus Christ alone brings comfort to our hearts and glory to His name.  God is glorified as needy sinners come to faith in Christ and as believers are built up in the faith.

Our worship services are designed to engage the mind, stir the heart and motivate the will through prayer, song, the preaching of the Word and through communion.  When we stand in awe of the Lord and see His greatness, His grace, His power, His holiness and all His amazing attributes, we long to offer our hearts to Him promptly and sincerely.  Sunday morning worship services are a time for servants who have expended great energy in their God given tasks to be refreshed and renewed in the Lord and to gain hope, strength and confidence in the promises of God.

We also have a heart to help the community through almsgiving.  We have the luxury of very little overhead and so money given can go directly to meet special needs that arise.  We are also in the process of distributing Bibles in the community of Lagossette.  Another aspect of the church plant is the Thursday evening services.  These are designed to uplift worshippers through a focus on singing praises and praying together.  I have greatly appreciated the efforts of Rob and Erin Vandelune and their children to make these mid-week times food for the soul.

Please pray for us.  That we will continue to grow in Christ together and that great unity will be a reality for us.  Above all, pray that God’s name is glorified in all we do.

-Dan Willis



No Such Thing

At COTP we have 3 international nurses as well as 2 Haitian nurses.  These ladies work hard to take care of the health needs of all the babies in our care, the nannies, yard workers, and the people in the community.  Staying up late into the night tending to the needs of extremely malnourished babies, doing daily meds, and caring for unexpected injuries, these nurses wake up every morning not quite knowing what their day holds.  You ask, “what does a typical day look like for a COTP nurse?” Well…to be honest, there is no such thing!  Nursing in Haiti is unpredictable and at times very challenging. The only way to answer this question is to give an example of ONE day of nursing through the eyes of one of our nurses, Erin Vande Lune.

Reblogged from, “Following Him to Haiti“, by Erin Vande Lune

My Day…a glimpse into life as a COTP nurse

“As I was looking back on everything I have done today I thought about putting it all into a Facebook status, but then I realized it would be like the LONGEST status ever and I have been known to be made fun of for that at one point in time 😉

So I thought I would just use some bullet points and walk you through what I have done and where I have been today…

  • Woke up at 2am to give an IV medication.
  • Woke up for the day at 6:30 to go for a run with, Stori
  • Organized who was going to go to Milot hospital with one of our babies
  • Showered, got ready, found paperwork for baby…
  • Oh, yes…I am going to the hospital!  Went to get the baby…
  • Got asked, “Joy!  Do you have Joy or does it just say it on your shirt?”  YES!  Today I am claiming JOY!  Especially after a crazy weekend 😉
  • Baby not in the room, Fifi (one of our Haitian nurses) doesn’t have him…where is he?!?!
  • Look frantically for baby, who by the way is only months old and couldn’t run off if he wanted to b/c he has casts on his legs 😉
  • Found baby!  After many laughs with Fifi and the other nannies 🙂  (a volunteer had him and was getting him bathed and dressed to go 🙂
  • Truck won’t start-wait until they jump it with the skid steer.
  • Milot for 2 hours–great chat with Fifi!  Didn’t have to wait long at all–successful trip!
  • Van ride home-not the smoothest trip in the world.
  • Clean house up so cleaning lady can come (ironic? I think yes)
  • Eat fruit snacks with Toby
  • Finalize folders of adoptive paperwork for families that are here PICKING UP their kiddos 🙂
  • Eat lunch-rice, kibbe, green beans, cashews, cabbage, carrots, plantains…YUM!
  • Rush to pharmacy to take care of one of our workers who got their foot crushed by the bucket of the tractor.  Worked with two other GREAT nurses to fix him up (Rachel started the IV!!!) and sent him to the hospital for xrays.
  • Lay Toby down for a nap
  • Try to get online for meeting for grad school
  • Hang up laundry
  • Head back to pharmacy when worker is back (way too soon)
  • No xray-the tech had already gone home for the day 😦
  • Assisted visiting Dr./adoptive dad in giving worker stitches, squeezed current IV bag in quickly
  • Cleaned up blood on pharmacy floor when done
  • Headed upstairs to make dinner….nope, wait…
  • Removed maggots from a wound on the back of the campus dog (it is healing, a vet has seen her…but, yeah…)
  • Found out husband is making supper-WHAT A GUY!
  • Prepared NG feedings in the pharmacy with Gracie…well, Gracie did it and I watched her 😉
  • Fed the boys
  • Ate french toast and prayed with my family for out greater COTP family (Manno, Melissa, Emilio, Wilson, Rikerns, Kerry, Christina, adoptive parents, our friends going home…)
  • Back to the pharmacy to give meds
  • Consulted with long term staff who has been ill
  • Back upstairs-girls to bed
  • Read to Toby…while he was in the shower 😉  (only way he would get in!)
  • Chatted on FaceBook about family planning and Haiti and family photos
  • Looked at the AMAZING family photos that E. Moxon took for us!!!
  • Blogged
  • Set alarm for 2 am
  • To bed…..
Oh man…someone asked me today, “If you would have known it was going to be like this, would you have still done it?”
Definitely something to ponder…but at the end of the day…YES!  Yes, I would…so richly blessed by the Lord and His mercies and his gentle teaching and guiding ways…”


What’s in a Name?

Reblogged from Opening our Hearts to Make a Home, by Melissa Johnson.

I love names.  I like thinking about them.  What they mean, where they’ve come from.  So much is wrapped up in a name.  It’s a huge part of our identity.  In many ways it tells who I am and who I belong to.  This really struck me when I got married.  No longer was I Melissa Sieperda, but Melissa Johnson.  Especially when I had been called Miss Sieperda for the previous 9 years.  On a daily basis I was reminded to whom I now belonged.

Seth and I are now the parents to seven beautiful children and our home is in full swing of everything chaos. 🙂   Throughout the course of the week, I have been called Mama, Madanm Set, and Sister. 🙂  Each of these reflects unique relationships I now have in Haiti.

Mama – Jean, who has been with us almost two months, has called me Mama almost the entire time, but now six more children are learning to call me that.  Wow! What a unique and amazing calling to be called Mama! What a relationship that needs to be cultivated and grown with these kids in my home!  What an honor and a responsibility! I am only their temporary Mama, but I’m asking for God’s grace to be the Mama they need right now. To be patient with their tantrums, to laugh with them, to guide them in God’s ways, to cuddle, to comfort . . . to show love.

Madanm Set aka Mrs. Seth –  No, that is not a typo, Seth’s name here ends with the “t” sound.  No “th” sound. 🙂   I love being called this because it is again a reminder that I am not here on my own.  I am here with my husband.  I’m identified as being his wife.  Again, this identifies a key relationship here in Haiti.  Seth will be my husband no matter where we live, but with our life in Haiti our marriage faces daily challenges that are different than any we faced in the United States.  I’m thankful for a name like Madanm Set to remind me that we are in this together.  We need to stand united as one to face whatever challenges may come our way.

Sister – One of the nannies that works in the house doesn’t call me Melissa or Madanm Set, but Sister.  I love this!  When first talking to the nannies about working in our home, we emphasized that we were in this together like a family.  They would be aunts (tant) to these kids.  This nanny is close to me in age and she totally grasped the concept and has called me Sister ever since.  Another unique relationship identified in a name.  She is now a part of my family as much as these kids are, as are the other nannies that work for us.  We have the same goals in caring for these children.  But much more than that, she is a sister in Christ.  We ARE part of the same family in a much more real way spiritually.   I am honored to be called Sister.

Each of these names represents who I am, what I have been called to do, and responsibilities that I can not fulfill without the grace and love of God.  I’m excited to see how each of these relationships develop in the coming weeks, months, and years.

Written by Melissa Johnson on November, 1st.