Category Archives: Shared post

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


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…”


Waving Under the Mango Tree

Reblogged from Tori’s Stories, by Tori Rayle

2013… It feels like it has been the Exodus. Many children have finally been able to go home with their forever family. It is such a blessing to watch the parents and the children unite. To watch them learn to communicate with each other, to watch them bond, and to watch them live out the moment they have been waiting for and praying for, for so long.

A day that their families have waited years for.

A day that begins a life that our children cannot even fathom.

A day of tears of joy.

A day of question from the child.

A day where the child is excited to have someone to call their own.

A day where the child doesn’t really understand what is going on.

A day where we say good bye, never knowing if we will see the child we have loved on again.

A day where their friends wonder where their friends are going.

A day where their friends question when their turn will come.

Each time we stand under the mango tree, waving to a new complete family driving out the gate, a part of us leaves. A part of us is going to start a new life with a new family in a new country. It is always bitter sweet.  We are thrilled for them, but that doesn’t mean we do not miss the child we have come to know and love. Every time a child leaves the next few days feel like we are constantly missing someone.

It’s weird to think about where all of our children are. To think of how they are celebrating a holiday or wonder how they are doing in school. We are curious how they have bonded with their parents and their siblings. We wonder how they like so many things they never experienced here in Haiti.

So many things we can picture them doing, but the children still waiting are left to wonder. They do not understand. They are waiting to be chosen, they want to go home.

“My mommy and daddy are coming tomorrow?”
“No, buddy not for a few more months.”

“I want to go home.”
“Your family wants that too.”

“When my mommy and daddy coming?”
“They will be here as soon as they can. They love you so much and they pray for you every day.”

“I go on an airplane?”
“Yes, one day you will. You will go on a small one to Port au Prince and then you will get to go on a big one with your mommy and daddy.”

“I want my mommy and daddy to come.”
“I know. They want to come get you too. They love you sooo much and are praying for the day they can come.”

I could repeat those conversations in my sleep because they happen so much these days.

No matter how common they get, they don’t get any easier. Each question comes with a pang of sorrow and the holding back of tears on my part. I want to hug them and hold them and explain to them how their desires are the same as their parents. I want to tell them there are mountains of paperwork and lots of money that has to be done. But they won’t understand all of that. They don’t understand what the difference between tomorrow and next year are. Sometimes I fear that they are losing hope as the days go by. I fear that they wonder if the people on the pages of their family books are real.

Catching the blank stare of a child as they try to fight back the tears and then watching the tears win as they drip down their face breaks your heart. Those moments call for the tightest embrace I can do whispering how loved they are. Holding them tight until they are ready to go, even if that means hours. Occasionally it even means sitting by their side until they fall asleep at night.

Comforting a child who breaks down into a full blown out crying phase for no real reason is no easy task. Everything in me wants to show them how amazing they are and how loved they are but they resist. They don’t know what their mind is thinking, but finally they give in. Cuddles are what they needed. They needed to be reminded that they matter, that they are worth your time, that they are loved too.

Our older kids “get it” but their emotions do not. They just aren’t capable of it. I’ve shed tears for our children who are wondering and waiting. I pray that their hopes are never diminished and that they feel love daily and understand how much their forever family loves them even though they cannot be together right now. It feels like hugging them and holding them and reminding them how much they are loved is not enough.

Haitians often use the phrase “Bondye konnen” (God knows) for so many situations. He really does now, and I am so thankful that we can take comfort in that. God knows the perfect timing. He knows how long we need the kids here and he knows the best timing to send them home. He knows their fears and their frustrations. He knows what they are thinking even when we cannot get a word out of that blank stare. God knows. And He loves us. I pray that the kids know God’s love wherever they are and that they know he is always with them. We talk about this a lot in preschool and I can only pray that they understand even a glimpse of what I am saying.

Will you please join us in praying? Pray for:

-Our kids who are waiting on their families to come take them home

-The families who are aching because a part of their heart lives so far away

-The kids who are not yet matched with families that their families will find them soon

-All paperwork would move smoothly

-The staff who have to say goodbye to the kids they love so much

Written by Tori Rayle

Investing in Haiti

For all of us living in Haiti, learning a new language has become part of our reality.  For some it comes naturally, and for others it’s more of a challenge.  Regardless, it is a valuable tool for each of us.  Learning the language is a powerful way to show our investment in the relationships we form with our Haitian brothers and sisters AND their culture.  But it takes some time and the miscommunication in the early stages usually involves lots of laughter!

This post is written by Kerry Nutting, one of our nurses, from her blog “Of being occupied by Christ – a blog”

“Language is such an intriguing, incredible, mind-boggling concept.  One time, as I listened to a group of nannies here talk to each other, I had to laugh at myself (might have even laughed out loud) when I realized that I was thinking to myself, how do they do that?  How do they understand each other?  I know. Ridiculous. You are welcome to laugh, too, at the simplicity of my ability to reach a point of wonder and awe.  Just ask my parents – I always have been the ‘question-asker’ who found the most random things to ask questions about, paired with determination to understand the answer, however unanswerable or absurd the question….. But isn’t it cool?? Cool how a different arrangement of sounds and structures becomes an entirely different way of communicating?  I don’t quite know how to express, through language, my curiosity and fascination of this concept.

As I am learning to communicate here in Haiti through the Creole language, it is so exhilarating when what I say is understood.  I just arranged and vocalized sounds and letters and words into a pattern that make sense to this person!  Granted, most of my sentences are limited to simple one-to-three word statements or questions, but at least that is sufficient for expression commands and requests to the little kiddos around here. And the nannies are so patient and helpful as I piece together the words I know into incomplete sentences. Paired with some charades and actions, the point is generally communicated correctly…I think.

Just the other night, a nanny came to me with a request.  She said a whole bunch of words that I did not recognize and kept pointing to her hand.  I nodded, pretending I knew what she said, went to the pharmacy and returned with lotion. She smiled, declined, and tried again.  Ok. Hand sanitizer maybe?  Worth a try, and I hoped I was right.  Wrong again.  Tried to pay a little more attention to her hand gestures as she went through the routine again.  I left and returned a third time with a pair of medical gloves.  Wi!  Gan! Mesi!  (Yes! Gloves! Thank you!) We laughed and hugged and reiterated a few more times the vocabulary word as she spoke it again and I repeated it after her.  She also asked me what it was in English. Gan = Glove. Glove = Gan. Got it. This is one of many charade and teaching lessons I have received. Must be a hilarious exchange to witness.

But as exciting as it is to be understanding and communicating in a different language more and more, it is also frustrating and limiting.  I’ve worked alongside these nannies for over a month now, and my interaction is limited to greetings and formalities.  Possibly a short conversation about how their family is doing, how many kids they have and what their names are, if I am feeling bold. Or the people who come to our gate from the community with a medical need – I will ask the simple question I’ve rehearsed and cross my fingers for a yes or no response, but inevitably they will begin talking at length about why they came and what they need.  Understandable.  That they would tell me why they came, that is.  Not understandable in terms of me actually understanding what they said.  Fortunately there are people around who can translate, but it just seems impossible to me that I could ever reach I point where I might understand even 75% of the sentence. That I could ever be able to explain what I am doing, give instructions, understand questions, and respond appropriately.  I am not overwhelmed, really, I know I will understand more and more with time.  I am just impatient.  I want to be able to do all that now!  Slowly but surely. Until then, Mwen pa konprann…Pale dousman souple (I don’t understand…speak slowly please) will have to suffice.

One more story – in this case, I understood the entire sentence that the nanny was asking me.  But in my literal translation, it just didn’t make sense.  In my small vocabulary reserve, I understood her to be asking, Don’t you remember your mom and dad in America?  I thought to myself, Of course I remember them. Why wouldn’t I remember them? How do I respond? What answer would make sense? As I thought about it, I wondered if perhaps the word I understood as “remember” also meant “to miss” or something comparable.  Whether or not that assumption is right, I answered, Wi. Mwen sonje yo.  Yes, I remember/miss them.  Correct in either case.”

-Kerry Nutting



Mwen Renmen Yo

Reblogged from Following Him to Haiti, by Erin Vande Lune

It is not news to anyone that I have hit a blogging wall…so much to say, not enough energy nor time to say it gracefully right now.  I decided this morning that I am going to focus on sharing the things that bless my heart in Haiti, here at COTP, for a while and I am really trusting that God will begin to bring to light as well the struggles and the heaviness in His way and in HIS timing if you are meant to see that as well.This morning, and SO OFTEN, my heart is found happy and full because of the love I have for our nannies!  Mwen remen yo ANPIL (I LOVE them so much)!!!Just this morning, a dear sister was at our gate to talk to Rob and he wasn’t here.  Usually for most people that results in them telling me all about their problem, me saying I will let Rob know and then them finding him later and telling him all about it :)This morning she shared something that was really heavy for her.  Something that we have been talking about in regards to her kids that is now something she was experiencing as well…It was something hard.  Something that I shouldn’t be excited to talk about with her.  Something that makes me sad.  So you may ask where the joy comes from?

JOY comes from the fact that she will sit with me on my steps and trust me enough with the hard.  That she would stand there with me, a blan, and trust me enough to cry and allow her true emotions and struggles to show through.  I am not always able to provide a solution.  Actually, I am hardly even able to provide a solution.  But a hand on the shoulder…the verbalization of the fact that I know she is in a hard place…the affirmation that she is BRAVE, NOBLE, and STRONG…that is why she comes to my landing.

Because of the nature of my role, both as a nurse and as the wife of the “gwo chef” (big boss), most of my interactions with our nannies involve some type of need.  Prescriptions for their families, advice on care for their kids, they don’t have enough days, they can’t pay for school…the possibilities for this list are really endless.  However, after enough interactions they know, because I tell them, that I love them…and because I love them I tell them honestly, “I can’t always help you.  I wish I had a huge amount of money.  I wish I had work to give you.  I wish your child was healthy and educated and fed.  I know it is hard.  And the best thing I can do is help you in praying, because Bondye konen tout bagay (God knows everything).”

They come to me now and first ask, “The nurse.  Can you help me pray?”


It is heavy to hear their burdens and I continue to find my self “striving to be brave”.  BUT God blesses our time and there is depth to our interactions.  Yes, I am often a means to an end.  But on days when nannies hug me and tell me they love me and return the help with a list off ways they want to help pray for my family, they become my means to an end as well.  A GLORIOUS end that is coming…”a glorious light beyond all compare.  There will be an end, to these troubles, but until that day comes.  We’ll live to know you hear on the Earth.” (You Never Let Go-Matt Redman)

We have seen the ways the evil one has tried to thwart us on every side.  And in return we have seen how God has commanded his angels and his people to also form a hedge of protection around us as well.

The current struggle in real and it is deep.  The pain and the suffering is thick.  But the PEACE and the JOY that the Lord brings-especially through these sisters…oh man, you guys!  It is DIVINE and for it I will be ETERNALLY grateful.

When I went to Idea Camp back in September, Jennie Allen said something that comes to my mind this morning.  She was talking about women and advised us to always have women in our lives who are outpacing us.  (Not so that we feel inferior), but rather so that we are constantly challenged and spurred on toward the goal that calls us heavenward.

I daily walk with women who are outpacing me!  They call me onward…they inspire me…they bring me JOY!  and for that, I love them!

-Erin Vande Lune

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.