Saturday, February 23, 2008

Kenya, up close

I met this guy, Jack, when I was in the slums of Nairobi, and interviewed him telling me his story of growing up in the garbage. Parentless,he lived, literally, in the city dump. Then, some people from a local Assemblies of God church began to help him with clothes, shoes, food and a place to live. My church is building a dorm outside the garbage area for the kids there, and my project was to help church members see the life there and the need for the dorm.

Here is Jack singing in Swahili, accompanied by scenes from his neighborhood.

And this is part of an update I just received from Kenya:

Jack has a precious baby and young wife. He was barely able to get them out of their shanty in the slums when
the opposition attacked his home setting it on fire. He lost everything. He tried to put the fire out but they stoned him so he had to flee for his life. Though his home was a one tiny room mud floor tin roof, no water, no toilet dwelling but it was a mansion compared to the 13 years that he had lived in the city dump . . . He said "I lost my dishes, spoons and everything that I own."

They can't go back because this trouble could erupt at any moment. When he fled with his family his friend Moses also fled with him. Moses is from a different tribe. Those that were taking Jack wanted to kill Moses. Jack, thinking quick to save his brother [in Christ], said, "We must not kill this man for he can represent us to this other tribe and may come in handy as a go between. They agreed and Moses lived."

Though the media may be cooling on this Kenya crisis, the tribe-on-tribe violence remains terrible. Our friends are there, and Marigold, despite her recently erupted tumors, has just joined them. They are going to the worst areas and handing out food. Sometimes it is the first food people have had in WEEKS.

Thursday, February 21, 2008

Forever Day

It has been a rough couple of days. Today was another round of computer frustration, but yesterday was worse.

One of the guys at David's shop, I'll call him T, had an accident. David called me, and at his first word, I knew something was terribly wrong. He explained that a barrel got knocked off a warehouse shelf and landed on T's head, knocking him to the ground, where he now lay in a pool of blood, waiting for an ambulance.

I wanted to be at the hospital for T's wife, though I don't know her. But, part way there I started crying and realized I probably wouldn't be much help. I know other people have worse stories, but I've also spent cold ER time wondering if my husband would live after a terrible wreck, and if my child would survive brain surgery for a head trauma. I knew exactly what her wait might feel like.

Both of us felt this sense of responsibility and dread, similar to the feeling you have for a child. How could this have happened to someone in our care? And a feeling of utter helplessness - we can't fix someone's body - we can't give someone back his daddy or replace her husband. I cry just writing about it.

There are many times when I'm proud that David's business provides a living for some really neat families. But, last night, we talked about whether we can handle the emotional risk of someone getting hurt. I've always imagined the horror of hitting a child I didn't know was behind my car - or being in the shoes of that poor guy, so stressed out by work that he completely forgot he had his sleeping son in the back seat and left him in the car on a hot day. I know that is what it would feel like if someone working in our business got badly hurt.

Thank God - really, Thank You, God - that T is okay. And thank you, those of you I contacted to pray yesterday, for your love and your time.

The other wonderful thing today, besides the news that T is all right, is Zion's Forever Day.

Today is the second anniversary of our first meeting with our new daughter. We actually met before this day, but she was not officially in our family. David and Alden celebrated Zion's Forever Day at Chuck E. Cheeses. She felt the life size "mickey mouse" was not to be trusted, but, aside from that, had a great time.

We are blessed with a wonderful family!

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

This man is amazing.

David stood next to me and kept asking the kids this morning if we looked 14. Maybe it was because I was up editing all night, but I could not figure out what he was talking about.

He had to explain. It's so sad, because I am terrible with anniversaries. I completely missed our first one.

Then, our second one.

I've probably missed more since then, but, I don't remember. I'm terrible with dates. I really do think about our anniversary during this time of the year, and I think it is neat that we've been best friends for 14 years, but the actual DAY never seems to register.

So, in honor of my long suffering husband, David, I thought I would post 14 reasons why we are perfect together.

14. We have complimentary understandings of physics. David's morning laws of space and time are unique. Prior to 11am, he is convinced that it takes 30 minutes to get up, take a leisurely shower, dress, get 3 kids fed/ready/in the car and arrive at church/school/work/the beach/Amsterdam on time. However, when he cooks at night, ALL meal segments appear on the table simultaneously. This magical space/time balance does not exist in my world.

13. We respond to suggestions of travel with the same two or four letter words.
"Honey, do you care if I go to Afganistan next week?"
answer: "ok" or "sure"

12. We have patience to support a dual platform household. He likes [virus ridden and annoying] PCs, and I favor [far superior] Macs.

13. We share humor that only we understand.

12. I support his invention ideas, such as the plastic freezer tester.

11. He supports my addiction to the Sitina Google group.

10. We call each other on cell phones, while in the same house. Often.

9. We both despise communism.

8. We dislike washing dishes and love that our kids fold all the laundry.

7. We like Steve Taylor's song lyrics.

6. We enjoy photography. I shoot for love and money, David for love and fame.

5. Somehow, in spite of ourselves, we ended up with 3 pretty neat kids.

4. We understand each other's unusual work schedules.

3. We favor booking hotels in close proximity to an IKEA.

2. We can discuss religion and politics and not get mad at each other.

1. He laughed when I surprised him a few years into our marriage by engraving his wedding ring -- with the wrong date.

I love you, David! Happy Anniversary!

A film I made

I found this on You Tube.

It is a short film I made a long time ago.

Monday, February 18, 2008

Wouldn't this make a fun Animation?

David has all these lists.

I used to watch each month, as he copied his lists from one Daytimer to the next. I have not seen him do it since he got a phone with a keyboard, so maybe he is doing them electronically now.

They are not to do lists, like mine, but rather lists of inventions, song ideas, top ten places he wants to visit, music he wants to buy.

Last night, he sent me this list with a request for your input. Some of these he came up with, others he heard. He thinks, and I agree, that they would make a fun animation script. I can see my brother Daniel doing it.

There was a song they sang at 4H camp with some of these. If you know it, please paste a link!

Descriptive artwork created this afternoon by the extraordinary Sarah and the amazing Lydia.

Have you ever seen a tree bark?

Have you ever seen a house fly?

Have you ever seen a cat fish?

Have you ever seen a shoe box?

Have you ever seen a star fish?

Have you ever seen a horse fly?

Have you ever seen a bell hop?

Have you ever seen a sword fight?

Have you ever seen a lunch box?

Have you ever seen a bacon strip?

Have you ever seen a salad dressing?

Have you ever seen a chimney sweep?

Have you ever seen an ear drum?

Have you ever seen a clam bake?

Have you ever seen a neck tie?

Have you ever seen an eye drop?

Have you ever seen a dish mop?

Have you ever seen a square dance?

Have you ever seen a pork chop?

Have you ever seen a beer run?

Have you ever seen a poster bored?

Have you ever seen a shoe lace?

Have you ever seen a tooth pick?

Have you ever seen a sword fish?

Have you ever seen a moth bawl?

Have you ever seen an eye lash?

Have you ever seen a yard stick?

Have you ever seen a beer mug?

If you want to draw a picture of one of these, I'll post it so we can all enjoy.

Sunday, February 17, 2008

More thoughts on Brutality

Yesterday, I shared with Sarah some of the horrors happening in Kenya. She asked me why the US doesn't do something to stop the violence. She has a wonderful sense of justice and desire to help others. We talked about other areas of the world where tribal violence erupts, including Iraq. It really got me thinking about American reactions to the war in Iraq, and how many of us want our soldiers out of there.

Many of my friends talk about tribal violence as something we don't understand that can't be changed. I've always agreed that it can not happen quickly - and I think my ideas are backed up by theories that make sense, such as the Spiral Dynamics, which basically says societies progress in a linear fashion and can not jump from (what I will call) a "lower" mindset to a much "higher" one without the time consuming process of taking every step in between. But, I wonder, must we plod, or can we run up the steps of change?

Later that day, my close friend and mentor, Frost came over. Sarah is doing a report on Maya Angelou, and was asking Frost what he remembered about racial tension during his childhood. He told her stories of lynchings - of how a family would watch a lynching on Saturday, and then head to church Sunday. He also talked about the KKK coming after his sister, who was the first black ballerina on Broadway.

Frost was born in 1941. Today, 2008, we are close friends, and he will not be lynched for talking to me. It is also unlikely I will have a cross burned in my yard because my kids are not white. There are no longer billboards on the road from Spartanburg to Columbia advertising the Klan. They still have a presence here, but public opinion has forced them underground.

Our society has changed, though a river of innocent blood was shed to make it happen.

What do you see as our role in helping other countries overcome tribal violence and experience positive change?

Saturday, February 16, 2008

Kenya, Brutality Update

I got another email today from our friends who are handing out food during the Kenya crisis. I have not been updating with each email, but suffice it to say these brave people risk themselves hourly to save lives with the food they deliver, and encourage the suffering with their words of love.

This email told the story of a family carrying the brutally murdered body of their relative to bury him. The car was stopped by a the gang who committed the murder, who asked what they were doing. The driver said:

"Taking our family member to be buried because those who normally do this are too busy with all the deaths".
The gang replied "say the last prayer, you are going to join them." When they had spoken this they poured fuel over the car and burned the family and the body down to the asphalt.

The letter continues with stories of Christian pastors planning to burn down churches where opposing tribe members have taken their families for safety.

This church is one of the Assembly of God churches we visited in a Nairobi slum. I am not sure if it has been burned. Can you imagine nailing shut the doors and setting it alight? Or, sitting on the floor, comforting your children as the enraged crowd gathers outside? Or maybe you are the pastor, finding spots for each family on the floor of the church - unaware that you are settling them into what will be their graves.

These stories of Christian on Christian violence remind me of a conversation I had in Ethiopia. I sat for lunch with the custodian of the hospital in Soddo and asked him how he ended up working there. He told me he had lived in Shashamane, the city where Jamaican Rastafarians live in Ethiopia. There, he worked at a university. He wistfully described his big house and nice job. Then one day, an envelope appeared, half slid under his front door. The letter inside informed him that he had one month to vacate the city. If he stayed longer, he would be shot. The local tribe did not want him or his family there.
"Were they Muslim?" I asked.
"No. They are Seventh Day Adventists."
We continued talking about the tribal issues, and I asked him if he wanted a coffee.
"I don't drink coffee," he said, "I'm a Seventh Day Adventist."

Friday, February 15, 2008

Barrio Politics, part 1

When walking from the T.E.A.R.S office to the barrio, someone in rubber boots kindly carried me across the 15 inch deep nastiness that used to be Number One street. The muck signaled the start of political campaigning.

About 10 years ago, someone running for an important office promised paved streets for the barrio in exchange for votes. No one believed he would do it, so he had curbs put in to show good faith. Though the edges are chipped, you can still see all the curbs as you walk through the dirt ruts between them.

This year, the promise is sewers. Sewers might even be better than paved streets, but the big holes full of grey gook will be more annoying than hanging curbs if they don't materialize.

Back during the curbed promise of roads, Rod let a guy buy his vote for 300 pesos. I agreed it was a good financial move for him since he is an American citizen and can't vote in the DR. Now, the price is up to between 500 and 1000 pesos for a vote. However, if you look at it in terms of the current exchange rate now (33:1) versus the exchange rate when Rod sold his vote (12:1), buying votes costs roughly the same as it used to.

It appears these proposed sewer pipes will empty out into the creek that runs down T.E.A.R.S property behind Rod's house. I wonder if the candidate doing this civic improvement is the same one who bought Rod's fake vote? Perhaps the sewer plan is an elaborate payback for vote selling fraud.

I went to my friend Tracy's ground floor apartment and had to climb a wall of dirt on Street Twelve to get to her front door. She told me she was surprised more kids weren't playing on the hill now blocking the corner.

On cue, two children appeared and I watched them play as the sun set.

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Back Home

The family is back home. Mia did not appreciate her first car trip - she thought eating would be more fun, and let us know.

Luis took her into the grocery store under their apartment where everyone congratulated him and looked at pretty Mia. Jenn managed the stairs well, and has been settling in. They seem relaxed, and got to spend time talking to Jenn's family on the computer, holding up the laptop camera so everyone Stateside could see Mia asleep in her bassinet.

Tomorrow is my last day here. I'm missing my kids already, but, it will be hard to leave my new niece.

Mia, day two

This shot was taken when they brought Mia to Jenn to nurse for the first time. I should know in an hour or so if she is coming home today, or if she will spend one more day in the hospital. This morning she feels good, but she said last night was painful. I imagine the drive from Santo Domingo, then the two flights of stairs up to this apartment will be hard.

But, Luis is right when he says that Jenn will be happier home, where she can visit with friends and have help from people who love her. I can't wait to watch the faces of Luis' parents when they see Mia. They are so excited. The night before we left for the hospital, they came over and brought the most beautiful mosquito net for around the baby crib. It is all ruffles and lace, and makes the bed perfect for Princess Mia.

I've finally gotten Photoshop to work on the laptop, so I'm about to update the surgery post below with an explanation of why Jenn was not able to have Mia without the c-section.

Monday, February 11, 2008

One day old

Day one breathing air for Mia. Jenn's medicine had not worn off in the morning, so when I went back to the hospital to see them, she was feeling pretty good. The baby is perfect. She is nursing steadily, and she knows her daddy's voice.

I laughed last night when we turned on the tv in the Jenn's room. Mia's first sport on tv was cock fighting. Not something you see on tv in the Carolinas. They fought to the death, not like most of the fights I've seen on the streets where they fight until one chicken runs away, or a passing motorcycle breaks up the crowd, giving the roosters a chance to regroup. The owner of a "chicken" rooster might get his head thumped by jeering spectators. I have this on tape somewhere, I'll try and dig it out. It is something you should see to appreciate.

Mia Grace has arrived

Sunday, February 10, 2008

Surgical delivery

I wondered if it would feel different to tape and photograph a surgery for a close friend, versus doing it out of interest, like this post from Ethiopia, or doing it for a client. In terms of shooting, it was a bit different because I was joking with Jennifer and Luis. And, I was more consious than usual about staying back because I really did not want to be kicked out.

A tripod would have been a HUGE help. With one, I could have focused on stills while getting video. Instead, I went back and forth, holding the cameras up high to see over the barrier between Jenn's face and her tummy. When I saw Mia's head, I thought I had somehow missed the doctors taking her out. I shot a bit of video, then switched to the still just as they pulled the rest of her body out. Missing that beautiful motion on video kept me awake last night.

Here it is in stills. Amazing, isn't it, that we live so perfectly in our mother's body? Simply incredible.

When the doctors pulled Mia out, they started talking in Spanish. I didn't catch what they were saying, but Jenn heard something along the lines of "wow, that's weird - no wonder!" Turns out, Mia's umbilical cord was less than half the length of a normal cord. Mia couldn't push down properly on Jenn's cervix and help the birth along. Here, one of the doctors shows us the cord, comparing it to the length of a normal cord. We are all glad Jenn didn't keep trying, as a normal birth would not have been possible.

Updates, more of them

Update, 6:45pm
Jenn is exhausted, but the doctor wants her to keep on for another 30 minutes. The baby, Mia, sounds good. She is not in any distress.

Jenn, Luis and Joy breathe together. Quick breaths for ten seconds, then a deep breath.

Vidal is on a new game. I forget he is watching because he has the sound off. Boston won, but now the Heat has to beat the Lakers. I’m having a really tough time getting internet, and things are getting intense enough that I don’t want to leave.

Watching this, I can not imagine what it must be like for young girls here to have their babies in the public hospital for poor people in La Vega. Their husbands and mothers are not allowed to be in with them. If they require a c-section, they must have brought their own suture material or send someone to buy some. Supplies at the public hospital are limited. People needing oxygen must stop at the hardware store to buy it or get a canister refilled. Seriously.

In contrast, this clinic is wonderful. It is almost like being in a room at home. The only other sound I’ve heard on this floor was a baby crying when we came in. Everyone is calm. No one comes in to boss us around and take a bunch of vitals, and no one seems stressed out like they do in the States. I can tell the doctor hopes Jenn can have a natural birth, and does not want to see her disappointed. At the same, she tells the truth about what is happening.
Before, I thought it was pretty crazy to have a doctor two hours from home, but, now I can see why Joy recommended her.

Update 7:25
Things are not as good as we have hoped. It has been 12 hours now since Jenn first lost fluid, and she is still only one centimeter dilated. The doctor says her cervix is still facing backwards, and the baby’s head is not where she wants it. Luis and Jenn have decided to go ahead with a c-section, and is now being prepped for it. She just got an IV. We will move to a new room for the procedure. Good news is that Mia will be here soon.

Jenn is not happy about it, and commented between contractions, “I’m going to be in some wretched pain for six weeks.” She is tired. I’m going to shut the computer down as we are moving.

Update, 5:50pm

Jenn has dubbed Joy her doula. Luis is timing, Vidal is water fetcher and backup timer. I’m on video. It is getting intense, with contractions less than 60 seconds apart. Doctor came in as I was leaving to update. She hooked Jenn up to some monitors and said the contractions are as strong as the machine can measure. But, she is still only at one centimeter. She wants Jenn to stay on the monitor for another 30 minutes.

Hospital Update

Joy and Vidal arrived and came up to the apartment. Workaholic Jen decided there was more to be accomplished before we could take off for the capital. Checks were signed, paperwork put into labeled bags and keys left with the proper people. Then, snacks were purchased at the grocery store under Jen’s apartment and we loaded the van. A man walked by and tried to sell me a child’s chair. I decided against it.

Contractions on the way to the hospital made it to one every 8 minutes or so. But, they were not yet painful. Joy accused Jen of being in denial when she said she felt like we were going on vacation.

A quick stop at Wendy’s made hamburger loving Vidal happy. Louis admitted he was feeling quite nervous. Trying to get from Wendy’s to the hospital proved challenging. All the streets were one way the wrong way. Vidal went into Dominican driver mode and ignored the lights and signs. We (finally) arrived at the nicest clinic in the country, a few blocks back from the beach road where Carnaval wildness would take place soon. Carnaval is not as crazy here as in La Vega, however, so it is good we got out this morning.

The people at the front desk met Jen by name.

Jen’s doctor was in mass, so the doctor on call came in. He is Lebanese, and friendly. Even though Jenn had to sit on a towel in the car, he was not convinced her water had broken. He did a fern test and determined that she is losing amniotic fluid, but from a small tear, not a full blown water break. She is not dilated, and her uterus and cervix are facing back. He says there is a 50/50 chance at this point that she will need a c-section. They will check her again at 4pm.

Vidal asked Jenn if she minded watching a little basketball, so now we’re watching San Antonio play Boston with the sound turned down.

3:30 update:
The contractions are beginning to hurt. The doctor told us not to time the light contractions, but only the strong ones. Right now, strong ones are about 10 minutes apart. A woman just walked in and brought us coffee in white espresso cups. I’m heading up to the roof to see if I can grab internet from a neighboring high rise.

4:15 update:
Jenn’s doctor just arrived. She is not pleased with the one centimeter dilation and gave Jenn Prostoglandin gel to induce her, says she will give her 8 more hours before considering a c-section. Going to look again and try to connect – there are a dozen networks within range, and I can’t seem to grab any of them, even though the computer says I’m connected. Joy is desperate for a cappuccino and is asking everyone and anyone for three 10 peso coins so she can use the coffee machine.

The contractions are getting much more uncomfortable. Doc is saying things like, “pain can get very, very bad – nasty, without dilation.” I’m sure Jenn finds those thoughts encouraging, but has been promised an epidural if it gets too bad. She doesn’t want an epidural, or a c-section. So, we help out by telling her it’s pressure, not pain. Got that line from a comedian we watched last night. The other doctor told her if he was a woman, he’d want a c-section. Joy and Jenn gave his comment full thumbs down, but I was completely with him!

Boston is winning, and Vidal is content. Louis is looking green again.
Hotel prices are insane because of Carnaval – double the normal rate, but we booked two rooms for tonight because it looks like we will stay here for sure until this baby breathes air.

update, 20 minutes later

We're waiting for Joy to arrive. The doctor, who Jen said sounded like she was running on a treadmill, said she is on her way to a funeral (at 7am) and would call the other doctor to meet us. We think maybe Jen's water broke, or maybe she just peed on herself, which the doctor said happens, too. I'm really feeling the fact that I have NO valuable input to dispense regarding giving birth.

So, I'm taking lots of photos instead.

I wonder if there is an internet cafe near the hospital?

If not, I'll be back in a day or two with a long post.

"Oh my . . ."

We were awakened when it was dark by a Carnaval parade. I taped it because I just can't believe people got up that early to bang drums and march through the streets. I'm sure the tape is not great, because I was asleep while shooting. Water has been off for 8 hours in our apartment. I think Jen is going to have the baby soon. She had contractions and her husband is walking around, holding his head saying, "Oh my God."

Saturday, February 09, 2008

Gearing up for Day One

Jennifer and Luis are working today with the team that comes down every year from Canada. Fantastic group of people who put on a camp for kids that live in the ghetto, many of whom have NEVER been out of the ghetto, so it is neat to watch their faces when they first arrive at camp. It is a pretty place, with flowers, a pool, and swingsets.

I got to hang out with the incredible Rod and Twila today. We went to a new restaurant that is now my favorite, run by Taiwanese people and serving all veggie food, some of which looks and tastes like meat. They speak Mandarin, so my son Alden will enjoy meeting them when he comes.

We then drove around the Carnaval set up. It kicks off tomorrow, and I've received a coveted invitation into one of the team lairs. For a few years, I worked on a documentary about Carnaval. But, I have never finished it. My Spanish is too poor to edit the 30 plus hours of footage properly.

Carnaval here has changed since I began the documentary. Perhaps I can show the change in a future piece if my language skill ever improves. I've skipped the past few years because the energy is different and I lost interest. More commercial, certainly. Before, I rarely saw people from outside at Carnaval. Now, it is packed with tourists and journalists and company logos. Outsiders want to dip into the local energy, but their presence here waters it down.

Been there, bought the tee shirt.

I hope as a journalist (of sorts), my presence is more low key - observing rather than interfering. Do you think that hope is possible?

Friday, February 08, 2008

China, the sad truth

I'm in the Dominican Republic. My plan was to write about the political process here. However, I just got this email and wanted to share it. The adoption agency we used to get Alden - an agency that dropped all their fees so he could be adopted in spite of his age and needs - can no longer do Chinese adoptions.

Here is part of today's letter, asking for help to keep their care centers open. Closing the adoption program did not make these orphans disappear. Here is a link about their work. Also, a very short video about a child in one center.

We are faced with a crisis! Our Foster Care Centers in Changchun and Siping had been supported by China adoption fees. However, many of you may know that last spring we went to bat for an African-American parent that had received pre-approval by the CCAA to adopt a special needs child and then was denied the child when the CCAA saw her photo and realized she was African-American. We fought with her against the CCAA for her right to adopt the child and we won. She now has her daughter. We did the right thing by standing up for her human rights but the price we paid was the loss of our adoption program in China.

I'm glad Alden's adoption was not stopped when I publically joined voices over this issue. I thought we might lose him and it was scary. And, there was fall out, though we personally did not suffer.

I think this story is a perfect demonstration of China's absolute disregard for the dignity of EVERY human life. They did the right thing with this woman to stem our outcry, but, they punished the people who disagreed with them. A communist government that rules by fear is amazed and frustrated by free speech, so they try to squelch it.


Wednesday, February 06, 2008

How to Deliver a Baby

Dr. Ruth, from Ethiopia, was kind enough to send me these instructions (see this post for details on why). She also says she has lots of faith in me.

A. Basically a birth is an biological event and not a medical one. It becomes medical when things go wrong.
Of course, this would be my CONCERN!!!
It might help to know that a couple of years ago, a comatose woman who was pregnant delivered her baby in coma without any problems. It is a reflex thing.
I'm so relieved. I'll be sure to let Jenn know.

B. When the head is down it pushes with the contractions of the uterus basically by it self in the right way. It will make a turn in the birthcanal but that happens normally also by it self. (you can help a little bit, by turning it with your hand, but basically it is not necessary).
Can you see me doing this?

It is handy though, to support the baby with your hand and let your hand follow the movement of the baby, so it doesn’t fall on the floor.
Handy, yes.

C. When it goes to fast in the end there is a risk of tearing, but you can help to put some fingers between the vagina and anal wall to give some extra pressure at the skin.
Is this with the hand that is not busy keeping the baby from falling on the floor?

D. Now, what is good to have with you, in case the child gets born in the car!
Some pair of gloves, some blankets to wrap the baby in, two pieces of wrope ( 15 cm long and clean) to tie the cord, clean scissors. (and tissues/pieces of cloth).
Okay, I don't remember ANYTHING in the previous instructions involving rope!

In case the baby is born you have to tie the cord, otherwise blood floes back.
Oh, yeah. Just in case this birthing process ends with a BIRTH.

First you tie the cord (wrap it, knot it, wrap it around it, knot it: three times) 1,5 finger width (1- 2 cm ) from the bellybutton. Really tight. Then you tie it around 2 fingers width from the first tie, also really tied. Then you can cut it, in between, so the baby is loose, but you can also wait for the ambulance. Wrap the baby in warm blankets and/or lay it next to the mother. And wait for the placenta to come.
The ambulance. Through the crowds of demons. Right. But, now I see what the rope is for. What do we do with the placenta when it comes?

(when the baby is not responding: rub it firmly, slap its buttocks and when there is saliva at the mouth remove it with the tissue, so the baby breaths better)
I guess that is better than ME screaming "the baby is not responding, get a doctor!!!"

E. Now in case when things go wrong: arms or legs first, shoulders stuck, lots of bleeding, big tear: you have to go to the hospital. But know that, and you do not want that of course, but sometimes mothers arrive here after two days with a prolonged delivery and the child and mother get out alive. You will probably be in the hospital before that.
Here is where my mind starts to go blank . . . .

F. And first babies usually take 8-14 hours.
Very good news. I can breathe again

Love you, Ruth

Tuesday, February 05, 2008

It's going to be a long night

And, I'm not going to make it - my bed is calling me. Watching Super Tuesday returns is even better than scanning the Super Bowl to see the ads.

This election is more interesting than any I remember since I voted for the first time at age 17. People who were 18 by November could vote in the NC primary caucus way back then . . . back in the time of global cooling.

Obviously I'm too tired to be writing.

This is crazy!

When Jennifer and Luis asked me to come to the Dominican Republic for the birth of their first child, I was thrilled. But, as the time draws close, I have to say I'm scared. I'm not afraid of being at the hospital, or seeing blood, or hearing Jenn scream at Louis.

Nah, I can handle that stuff.

But, when Jenn told me the hospital they chose is in the capital, 2 hours away, I freaked a bit. Then, she explained that our friend Joy would drive her to the hospital. Okay, Joy lives in Santiago, which is 1/2 hour from La Vega, where Jenn lives. So, we are talking 2.5 hours MINIMUM from phone call to hospital arrival.

Yes, this is Jenn's first baby, so labor should should take awhile, right?

I hope so. The other challenge is Carnaval. Jenn was awakened to that fact last weekend when a parade announcing Carnaval drummed under her window at SIX am.

This is my mental picture. Jenn's water breaks on a Sunday morning. We call Joy. Joy makes it to La Vega in record time. We pile into the car and start the trip to Santo Domingo. Then, we are waylaid by a hoard of demons in the street. Jenn tells us the baby is coming. Joy honks the horn and moves through the demons. Then, Jenn screams that the baby is coming NOW! We have to pull over.

I'm going to stop now, because this is as far as I've let my imagination go. Remember, I have three kids, all of whom I gave birth to with wallet pangs, not labor pains!

Can anyone recommend a book on how to deliver a baby in a car during a parade of drunk demons whose job it is to run around and beat people with sand filled cow bladders? I want to have that with me when I leave here Thursday.

Imagine if this was the first thing you saw when you arrived?

My Family

Life is good.

Monday, February 04, 2008

Kenya Update 3

It is hard for me to read this, as it is from the Masai man whom I interviewed. I see him, his wife and his children as I read. I believe he is a leader over at least 60 Masai churches. His name is Moses.
"Trouble is still rampant in our country killings & riots
especially recently they have killed two opposition's law

The major problem we have is hunger not able to meet daily basic necessities our members are starving.

We need a miracle from God."

Moses is a good man. I share his words in hope that you will send your strength, in thoughts or prayer, to the people of Kenya. We are all connected, don't you think? Let's also focus on holding up the arms of Moses so he can continue to encourage and help his people. This conflict, from what I can tell, is not of the Masai, but they are certainly among those suffering.

Click here to search for posts about this ongoing crisis.

China crisis update

It is great to hear that people are giving to the orphans in this weather crisis. I've been watching the lists of needs daily to see if Sarah's orphanage has shown up. The Google earth map shows snow, but I'm not sure how often it is updated, anyone know?

Here is the report from Alden's orphanage. Looks like school is open, so it must not be as bad as some of the towns that have been without power for over a week. Here is a picture I took of his class last May.

It is easy to bring Alden's good friend into my mind's eye. She is a tall girl, with a scar on her lip. I hope she got something warm to wear. It's difficult for me to release the eyes of the older children after I visit an orphanage. This girl looked like she really wanted to go home with us, and it is much too easy to bring that look to mind. I don't think I can post her picture on line, but you can imagine. It is not the easiest look to read, honestly. Is she hoping we will want her, too? Or, is she wishing she did not have to say good-bye to her friend? My guess is that she was at least eleven, Sarah's age. Is eleven past the age of hoping for a family?

Lianyungang, Jiangsu – is doing the best they can despite the lowest temperatures in history. While they still insist we help others first, they do request winter jackets for the children, warm mats to cover the floor and bottles for babies with cleft lip/palate. The last item we’ll have to ship from Beijing as soon as we are able. UPDATE: Lianyungang bought a covered cargo tricycle for each of the Family Village families to keep the children protected on their way to school. They also bought winter quilts and jackets for the Family Village. UPDATE: HTS is sending extra funds for heating the family village apartments for the next month - 495 yuan per family = 3960 yuan along with 36,600 yuan to purchase 100 sets of winter clothing, 100 quilts, 100 blankets and two heater/air conditioners.

Finally, this morning I saw Sarah's orphanage. CWI stands for Child Welfare Institute.
Zhuzhou CWI, Hunan - need winter clothing, quilts, school supplies and medical assistance. Estimated cost: 100,000 yuan; total child population: 325

Here is the site to find out more. I need to get a scanner so I can make my photos from Sarah's adoption digital so you can see her orphanage, too.

Sunday, February 03, 2008

Suggestions Needed

My friend Robert is in trouble. He forgot his wife's birthday yesterday.

She reminded him at midnight. He also forgot to tell her she was invited to a good friend's baby shower.

Oh, did I mention his wife is pregnant?

This is a shot of their firstborn child. She started preschool this week. I estimate she will finish college in roughly 6 years or so, if she takes summer breaks.

So, ladies, what should Robert do to bring peace back to the house?

Saturday, February 02, 2008


Took the kids to see the Excavating Egypt exhibit at the Columbia Art Museum (COMA) today. I have to say it is just not the same as being there. Basically, in Egypt or in Italy, stuff that is older than our dirt kind of heaps up. Yeah, it's pretty neat, and people like to come over and comment on it. But after awhile, how many death masks or 3' olive jars can a person fit in the living room before there is just no place to sit?

It's different seeing these phenomenal pieces displayed behind 1/2 inch thick plexi, in a room where people stand softly and stare knowingly, lips pursed, at a hieroglyphic laden goat head.

It is nice that they post notes you can read next to the objects. In Cairo, if you want to know what you are looking at, be prepared to spend your life savings on a guide who may or may not speak your language, and may or may not know more than you do about the Rosetta Stone, but will be happy to introduce you to an low-priced, locals-only, approved-by-the-government-for tourists, no-pressure-sales, authentic (!) perfume factory owner/rug dealer/camel renter/papyrus maker when you are done at the museum.

Friday, February 01, 2008


I feel I've almost hit excessive on the number of "issue" posts lately. So, I will keep this one short. China, as you know, has experienced severe weather. Many orphanages are in trouble. I received an email this morning about one nanny walking FOUR hours to the orphanage she they works, others are leaving their families to be with the orphans instead of staying home to celebrate Chinese New Year. Here is a site with more info on specific orphanages and their needs. Info is at the right hand side of the home page. This photo was taken at Alden's orphanage, before we adopted him. He was lucky to have a coat. I can't imagine what snow at Sarah's old orphanage would be like, and they say the weather in Hunan, her province, is horrible.

Had an interesting conversation with Alden last night. We were on our way home from the kid's "Age of Aquarius" performance. If anyone knows how to get that song out of one's head, PLEASE COMMENT!

We stopped by ACS, David's business, to get his phone.

Alden asked, "Mommy, why Daddy have keys ACS?"
This began a challenging discussion about Daddy owning the business. It quickly became obvious that Alden has no concept of someone OWNing a business.

We left it at "So all people at ACS have to listen Daddy?"

Alden liked that idea.

Kenya Update 2

Here is the most recent Kenya update from our missionary friends. Mike is Marigold's husband. You can hear an interview with her in an earlier post, and I hope to post another soon where she talks about being in a car that was attacked by thugs. Mikey is their son. They have two vehicles, I guess this was one of them. They bought the vehicles to help some of their local workers make extra money by doing tours.

May God Bless you for your prayers.
I just spoke to Mike and Mikey. Mike said that things were much worse than they had even imagined. They took food today, over 3000 lb. to a refuge camp in Lamuru were 7500 people are staying. One of our vehicles was attack by a mob. They shot out the windows and would have killed our driver but a young man that is being trained to drive was in the van and persuaded them to let them live. Their lives were spared. Today yet another minister of Parliament was killed. Tomorrow Mike and Mikey are heading to Gilgil near Navasha, where the latest burnings and riots have been. Please pray for their protection.

I am trying to speak to them everyday. I will keep you posted on their whereabouts and well being. Mike and Mikey was so thankful that they have funds to buy the foods, blankets, clothing and other needs. Because you gave and are praying!

I took this pic in Argentina, and was reminded of it when I read the story. The energy in a crowd about to bolt is heart stopping. I can't imagine being in one when the last few drops of water hit an already over-full glass.

If you wish to send money to help buy food and supplies,
please specify your desire and mail checks for Firewind Ministries to:
Mike and Marigold Cheshier
Firewind Ministries
1629 North Washington Ave.
Springfield, Mo. 65803
417 831 4779