Thursday, January 29, 2009

Water Mage

Dear Dave,
I wish you could have seen the reaction here in Haiti to your filters. We had some time while we were waiting for a family that wasn't on our flights to get checked in and we were all hanging out on the parking lot of the hotel. Nadia, the orphanage owner was sitting in the open back of a little pickup truck (on a chair... there were a couple of them propped in the back there. I do imagine it would be more comfortable than sitting on the floor while traversing the bumpy, potholed roads, but it's definitely not safer!) Harry and his wife, Pascal were there as well and they were translating what I was saying into Kreyol for Nadia.

I pulled out one of the sport-sized water filter bottles you sent and told Harry that you could put "any" water in it and it would come out clean. He looked at me skeptically and so I took the lid off and motioned dipping water up from the street, and then putting the lid back on and drinking it. (we were in a parking lot - no water around). Nadia obviously could see where I was going and she started laughing like that was the most ridiculous thing she'd ever seen me do. (and she's seen me do some ridiculous things!)

I explained to them that the Church sends these out with missionaries now and that they sell them at the Missionary Training Center as well. That convinced Harry. He translated to Nadia. While I was explaining to Harry that he can order them for the missionaries in Haiti, Nadia and Pascal were talking rapidly back and forth. Pascal finally interrupted and said, "What about brown water?" Apparently she and Nadia had been discussing the filters and had determined that you still wouldn't use them on just any water, because that obviously just be dumb and Lori obviously doesn't understand what she's saying. :) I said, "Brown, muddy, nasty water from the ditch on the side of the road... YES. You could filter that and it would be CLEAN." Harry translated all my adjectives and their eyes got wider and wider with each. They hooted with delight at this new marvel!

We made it to the orphanage. When I took the filter back into the kitchen to see if it would fit, to my horror I discovered the faucets in both the sinks (I didn't remember there were two sinks in their kitchen, but there are) are different than what we've seen before. They're going to need a female-to-female adapter to connect the filter to the faucet. Harry's working on that (He hasn't actually been able to look yet because we had him booked today and tomorrow he and Chareyl from our agency get to attend an historic meeting on adoption between Haiti and the USA where the State Department from both sides will be signing an agreement on how adoptions will work and what is expected from both countries going forward. Hopefully that will clarify the process a bit for future adoptions. But I digress...)

A bit later I finally had Harry and Brent together and Brent could demonstrate the black bag water filter. (For those of you that have no idea what I"m talking about, it's a bag you can take camping and then hose is antibacterial and then there's one of the wonderful Seychelle filters at the bottom so you can get clean water from anywhere again. The bag allows you to get a larger qty cleaned at one time than with the sport water bottle size.) So Brent pulled out the three pieces and he said, 'You take this bag and you attach this and then you attach this second piece" as he was assembling it for Harry. When Harry could see what he was doing, he clapped his hands in joy and he said, "And you can take it WITH you!" He was so excited! The grin on his face was priceless.

We'll get the piece we need to get the filter hooked to the faucet. Harry's very resourceful. I'm sure they'll figure it out. But you've given them something they couldn't do on their own and that is "get clean water from the kitchen sink".

May God bless you and all of our other angels who have given Christmas money and time and energy and sacrificed to make and give things or buy things from the store to help save these children. Haiti is a world where "survival of the fittest" plays out every single day. And you've helped to increase the odds for all of our babies. Thank you so much!

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Update from Haiti

We made it! We had a lot of fun at the last minute trying to get out of Salt Lake (flights canceled because of bad weather in Dallas). But we got here and made it to the orphanage OK.

We actually met Jessica's birth mother today. That was a very special experience for us. I can't imagine what it's like for her to give up this beautiful girl - I can't even describe what it's like for us to become her parents. I'm so grateful she was there today (she wanted to see the people that were getting her daughters as Jessica has a half-sister who met her new family today as well).

Because we were able to meet with Jessica's birth mom, we were also able to find out that she's about 6 months younger than we originally thought. She's about 2 months older than Nathan. So, they're essentially twins but it's WAAY too complicated to actually explain to all the future well-meaning strangers that they're not biologically related and, yes, we know that they look nothing alike, etc, etc. Good times, good times. I'm SOO looking forward to our first eighteen hundred trips to Target when we finally get them home. :)

My sister-in-law gave me a diaper bag that folds really flat so we could fit it in our luggage. It has places on the front flap where you can put pictures and they show through these little openings on the flap of the bag. At any rate, I had two pictures of Nathan and two pictures of Jessica and one picture of our little family in the bag. It helped us get nice exit row seats because the lady at the airline counter asked about the pictures on my bag and she was so excited for us that she gave us the exit row. But the best part was that it meant I had pictures right there to give to Jessica's mother.

A good, exhausting, wonderful, fabulous day!

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Angels Among Us

I am surrounded by angels. Angels who bring shoes and formula for our babies. Angels who buy things from our Etsy store. Angels who create the items on our Etsy store.

Today I need to talk about two angels in particular: Bulletin Board Angels and Water Angels.

First, to my Bulletin Board Angel - who single-handledly created all the advertising posters for the women's conference that I'm chairing. She's done amazing things with these. The design is amazing, the letters are perfect, and she even has 3-D effects. Thank you, Rai. You'll never know the weight that took from my shoulders even though we didn't expect you to do that ALL by yourself.

Second, my Water Angels. Last month my friend at work mentioned that his father-in-law does research and development with water filtration and that he works on projects to get state-of-the art water filters into the hands of missionaries going to third world countries. He told me that they've made a water bottle that would allow the missionary to scoop up water from a muddy ditch and it filters it to pure water so they can drink wherever they end up. They've taken water from Utah Lake and put it in these bottles and it's immediately clean enough to drink. You can't eat the fish in Utah Lake, but with these filters you can drink from it. And the price for these wonders is amazingly reasonable.

He gave me Dave's number and I called him to see what his professional opinion was for the type of water filter we would need for our Haitian orphanage. It was obvious from the initial minutes of our discussion that a) Dave knows his water and b) Dave is very passionate about making sure those who need clean water most can have it.

We spoke for about 20 minutes and at the end of the conversation he said that he'd talk to his manufacturer and see "what they could come up with" that would work well for our orphanage. "I'll see that we get you the right thing," he assured me.

I spent a lot of time wondering what the unit would look like, what type of tools we'd have to take with us to get it hooked up at the orphanage, how easy it would be to train the orphanage manager how to maintain it, etc, etc. Would it fit in our suitcases? Would we need to pack it special and use the box as our 4th piece of check-in luggage?

Long story getting shorter, the water filters arrived last night. We drove down to Dave's to pick them up.

My first shock was the size of the boxes. It looked like it would fit a large pillar candle - it's that compact. This filter kills 99.999% of viruses, bacteria, "cysty stuff", heavy metals, pharmaceutical residue, you name it - it catches it. All of that in a tiny little space.

My second shock was the way they've hooked this up so that we don't have to worry about how to connect it to the orphanage's water supply. The unit has "quick connect" technology so that we can just swap out the end of the faucet in the kitchen and attach this unit it to it. It snaps right on! That means they CAN'T mistake whether they're getting water from the clean source or not. Everything from the faucet will be clean!

My third shock was that since they were making one unit for us, they figured it was just as easy to make TWO for us. Two filtration systems!

And by my fourth shock, I was in tears - Dave and his associates donated these state-of-the-art filters to our orphanage. They wouldn't let us pay for them. He said, "People are aware of what you're trying to do and the cost is all covered." Whoever Dave's "people" are; Thank you! Thank you! Thank you so much!

Turns out that Dave and his partner had just completed another new design for a home filtration system and their manufacturer was working on the prototypes when I called him initially. You can't even buy these yet. And Hope for Little Angels in Haiti is getting some of the first units.

With clean water, the illness at the orphanage will decrease. With clean water, other children will be spared the fate of Ellie and Gracie. With clean water, the orphanage's limited funds can be redirected to other items because they don't have to deal with the complications of unclean water and they don't have to buy water for the children to drink.

Our thanks and gratitude to Dave, the people at Seychelle Environmental Technologies and our unknown angels that paid for all of this. Thank you for helping us save and change lives.

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Why We're Counting Down the Hours Until They're in Our Arms again

This is from our first trip to Haiti - a bit over a year ago. We met our son Nathan on that trip. We also had his sister, Lexi, with us then as well. We had no idea at that time how much pain 2008 would bring us but you can see why we were immediately and deeply in love with this little man!

He was about 5 months old here. The little crooked grin when the video hits the :43 mark melts my soul. I have every coo, every lip smack, every motion of this little video clip memorized. I've said before, Brent just KNEW from the first time we met Nathan that he was our son and I think that helped him to get through the 9 months we lost him this past year.

But 2008 also had some joys and surprises in store for us. This is from the October trip when we were reunited with Nathan. He still does this random singing thing - mostly to amuse himself and he does it a lot when he's tired. Just ignore Jessi and me in the background. Yes, that noise that sounds like a cat meowing is Nathan. Even at 17 months he still just coos. He's such a sweet little boy.

And sweet and wacky Jessica... this one was taken within the first hour of getting Nathan back. She didn't know him because he hasn't been at the orphanage but she did really well letting this strange little boy into her new world with her Mommy and Daddy. Her fake laugh completely kills me. As does her little tongue.

We can scarcely wait to be back with them. We leave on Tuesday and we'll be in Haiti with them on Wednesday! I'm anxious to see if they remember us, how they do those first minutes we're reunited, how much they've changed in 4 months, if Nathan being at the O with her has had an impact on how they play together....

Two points for the Lord!

Sunday, January 18, 2009

Gracie Cristella

We received the heartbreaking news that our friends' little girl, Gracie, passed away on Friday. This is the 2nd little girl our friends have lost in the last year. It seems like our families have gone through more than their fair share of heartache with this adoption process. It's a long, arduous ordeal no matter who you are, but to repeatedly have your children taken away like this is nearly unbearable.

Gracie, like her sister, Ellie, was a sweet, tender little girl. As you can see from the picture she had the greatest dimples. Her little life has had more struggle and heartache than most of us will ever see in a full lifetime. While I'm happy for her that she will no longer struggle and that she's endured all that God needed her to, my soul and my heart ache for my dear friends who are feeling the void she's left behind.

It seems that part of this Haitian adoption process is to develop a single-minded "obsession" with Haiti. It consumes you and you're constantly thinking about your children and the orphanage and the country and what you can do to ease or lift or better or change some part of the whole big mess. You're praying constantly for various government officials to WANT to do their job so that necessary paperwork can be processed and procedures can be followed. I understand the need for caution and care, but I also KNOW how much we need to get these children home. I know Scott and Michelle have gone through this in the past year. Michelle's been working on creating a newsletter that we can send out to help companies know about our orphanage and its needs so that we can get necessary funding. She's been working on things for the school teacher. She's been trying, with all that she is, to pray these girls home.

It's not wrong to want to parent these children. We need them as much as they need us. It doesn't make it any easier when your righteous desires feel like they've been trampled on and yet another child has died way before what I think they should have. But that's the point, I guess. This isn't my plan, and it isn't my thoughts that make this all work. "My thoughts are not His thoughts and my ways are not His ways..." I know, as I know the sun shines, that the Lord never cheats anyone. Not Ellie, not Gracie, not Lexi, not Malot, not Michelle, not Scott and not Brent or Lori. Somehow we have to bear each other up and try to lift each others burdens and some how bring light to this whole situation.

So we keep obsessing about Haiti. And we pray and we cry and we miss our children. And we ache. We plead. And we risk losing them and when we do lose them we remember that families are forever and the Lord never cheats anyone. Ever. Not aching mothers in the USA. Not even orphans in Haiti. Especially not orphans in Haiti.

Our thoughts and our prayers and our love are with Scott and Michelle at this time, as well as with Harry and Nadia and all our staff. We've all lost a family member. But we'll get through this together.

Thank you for letting us love you, Gracie. We love you.

Friday, January 16, 2009

I'm in Love with Mr. Handsome

We received an update picture of Nathan this week. Surprised us as we didn't expect to get any more info until we get there (in 11 days, not that we're counting) (And oh, we're TOTALLY counting the days. I'm just pretending that we're casual about it)

Check out the lashes and lips on this boy! Goodness! Why do the boys get the amazing lashes?? It's like FRINGE.
He's almost 17 months old now. What a handsome young man!

We can hardly wait to see them again. Will they be excited to see us? Will they remember us? Will they cry, will they come to us, will they get along better now that they've had a few months in the O together?

Anyone have a time machine? I'd like week of the 27th to move as deliciously slowly as possible and the time between now and when we finally get to bring them HOME to fly by. Can you work on that for me?

Monday, January 12, 2009

Merry Christmas Again!

One of my high school friends and his sweet family came by tonight. They gathered some of their friends up and told them about our orphanage and together they donated a very generous sum of money to the kids. It's so amazing to see people reach out to these children and do things to make life better for them. Thank you so much, T & S!

Their girls also drew us pictures:

This one is from Anna. The back says "To: Hatey From Anna" and it's a picture of our two kids, Jessica and Nathan. She also included a whole dollar from her very own allowance that she wanted to give to the kids in "Hatey". Thank you, Anna.

This one is from Grace. I LOVE our little family in this picture. She even made Brent bald!

I'm getting so excited to see our babies again. Just two more weeks until we can kiss their cheeks and hold them and tuck them in at night. There's still a very big part of my heart that is waiting for the bad news before this trip. I told my friends tonight that I'm going to end up with an attachment disorder if something happens to these kids. I pray and plead that our Heavenly Father feels we've learned enough to let us keep these two and let us be a family. PLEASE let them come home soon!

Sunday, January 11, 2009

New Updates to the Orphanage's Website

We're still in the process of working with a graphic designer to get it totally redesigned, but there's some new information out there today.

Can't wait... 16 more days, Nathan and Jessica, until Momma and Daddy can pick you up and hold you and kiss you and play with you and feed you and love, love, love you.

16 more sleeps....

Saturday, January 10, 2009

New Cards Have Arrived!!

We received our 2nd batch of handmade banana leaf cards from Haiti. Right now, as I type this, I'm in the process of posting them to the Etsy site. Please go check them out!

Here's a link to the back story on the last batch of cards.

We added clear labels to the back of each card this time (based on feedback from our fabulous shoppers). We want the recipients of the cards to know how unique and special they are. The labels say:

This card was handmade by an artisan in Haiti. The purchase of this card provided work for the people of Haiti and food for the Hope for Little Angels of Haiti Orphanage. Thank you for your support.
We're also bundling them differently this time. They're being shipped in a clear cellophane bag tied with a ribbon and with our logo sticker card attached.

They are a bit more this time because the designs are more intricate and therefore we paid the artisans more to create them.

We go to Haiti again in just over 2 weeks. It would be fabulous if we could take additional funds down to the orphanage with this trip. Even if you don't purchase some yourself, please spread the word to anyone you can think of so that we can get more funds to these kids.

Friday, January 9, 2009

You Look Good.... For a Fat, Pregnant Woman

Yesterday my dear Perla posted about a little episode of social whiplash that she recently experienced.

Her post says:
When the guy that comes to deliver your dry wall says to you, "You look good for your age." Is that a compliment?
It reminds me of an "incident" several years ago. I was the lead of a team of mostly women. We had one woman in her seventies that would come in to do filing for us. She was sort of the "Team Grandma". Anyway, another woman on the team (in her very early twenties) was about 5 months pregnant with her first child. One day Team Grandma says to Pregnant Woman:
"Your baby must be a boy because when the baby is a boy the mother tends to carry all the weight on her butt and that's definitely where yours is."
There were a few tears shed that day, let me tell you... (and I'm not sure where the "baby boy-butt weight" correlation comes in)

It'd be a pretty dull world if we were all the same.

So share the love and leave us a social whiplash story in the comments.

Wednesday, January 7, 2009


My older brother told me last night that my childhood best friend had found him on Facebook.

In case you were wondering, ladies and gentleman, THAT is what it takes for me to finally join the Facebook revolution.

Emily and I grew up around the block from each other. Our birthdays are 11 days apart and they're both in the summer so neither of us ever had the "bring a treat to school day". Our brothers were similar ages and the entire clan of us spent long summer days running around in the fields around our houses in the tiny, little 8-block square farming community where we lived.

We went to church together. We were in nearly all the same classes in elementary school (which isn't hard to do when there are only 50 kids your age). We dealt with the same bullies. We walked to and from school together every day for years and years. We were both tall and it was awesome to be "the tall girls" together.

And then on my 16th birthday we moved. We didn't leave the state, but we were far enough away that we couldn't talk to each other much. For you younger readers, back in MY day we didn't have cell phones, or text messaging or email. I'm not even sure if the word "unlimited" had been created when I was a kid. We had something nefarious called "LONG DISTANCE" and it was expensive.

When Emily got engaged our first year of college, we went dress shopping together and picked out the perfect dress.

We mostly lost touch with each other after that. But still, when I got married 6 years or so later, she let me wear the dress we'd picked out together. I still think it's the perfect dress. Except for that flower thingy at the waist. I don't think either of us were too keen about that.
And so, Em-ha-hee... I'm glad to find you again. It's interesting that neither of us have ever been able to have children and that we're both career women. Neither of those things were in the plans we made as little girls. But you're healthy and happy and I'm glad to find you again!

And thanks again for letting me borrow the dress.

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

I Fooz, You Lose

I've never been much of a "gamer" of any type. I'm 6 ft tall and have the wingspan to match. People often ask me, "Did you play basketball in High School?" I say, "No, I played the saxophone." And they don't usually know what to say to that, but facts are facts.

I guess my family was much more bookish than athletic. In the nearly 11 years I've been married to Brent, I've had a very specific role in our athletic endeavors. I have 3 jobs: A) cheer him on, B)drive him to the emergency room when needed, C) fill in as a warm body when some of the women don't show up on his co-ed softball team. They've learned that I'm as coordinated as Frankenstien in a tutu. They don't expect much from me. "Just TRY not to strike out, Lori."

So with that background, let me just say, I work with a great group of guys. I've had that privilege (working with great people) at my last two jobs. On my current team, it's just me and 6 guys - developers, QA and graphic designers (I'm the Project Manager.) The team works hard, they put out great code and we deliver on time. It's a fun and productive environment.

In the software world, you reach points where you just have to step away from the computer for a moment. You can only stare at lines of code for so long before your mind goes numb. So there's a foozball table in our building. The boys will often take a Foosball break and they've become quite adept at the game.

I don't normally play. It is only a 4 person game for one thing. They play more competitively than I care to for another thing. It's just kind of evolved that Foosball is what the boys do.

Well, last week, during the holidays, we had some people out. They were a man short. They asked me to step in for Foosball a few times. I've only played this game MAYBE 4 times in my entire life. But I'll make the attempt. I'll "try not to strike out". I'm certainly not the Marylou Retton of Foosball. But I'll take one for the team or whatever.

So we were playing and I was doing what I could, which apparently wasn't much. My friend, J and I were on the first team together. I blocked some shots and I didn't block some others that would have been good to stop. He missed some too. That's how these things work. We ended our first round and so we rotated one position at the table. My dear friend, J, lets out this little Freudian gem, "Oh, good.... now A has the handicap on his team." HELLO! I'm standing right here!!

You cut me, J.... you cut me deep. I probably should have shown him what my 6 ft wingspan can do across a tiny little foosball table... :)

Monday, January 5, 2009

Next Item Up For Bid...

One of the odd challenges of the Haitian Adoption Process is trying to find clothes for your child. When we take these parent trips to Haiti, we bring everything we'll need to clothe and care for our kids while we're there for those few days in the hotel.

If all goes well, this will be the first time (out of four trips to Haiti) that we will have had the same set of children for two trips in a row. It's hard to plan with all the turbulence we've had this year.

So we're trying to get things gathered for the next trip. 22 days til we go.

We have clothing for Jessica. We got a little exuberant last trip I guess and we have enough clothing to take care of her. Nathan, on the other hand.... we didn't know we had him back until the last trip was nearly over.

Have you ever tried to find toddler sandals while living in Utah's 20 degree weather?

Thank heaven for eBay. I've found some items there and I even won a few. We'll see if we can get stocked for him before the week's out.

Friday, January 2, 2009

Nice Way to Start the Year....

We received update pictures of Miss Jessica yesterday. She looks so much more grownup than she did the last time we saw her. She looks more like a little girl and less like a toddler.

We didn't receive pictures of Nathan. Not sure why.

Still no word about Malot.

We also have tentative dates for the next trip - Jan 27th - Feb 2nd.

That means in a few short weeks we can hug and kiss them again.

Thanks to Lynnae and Vivian and Maggie for your orders on the Etsy store. We hope to sell as much as we can in the next 3 weeks so we have more money to take to them.

We're taking Feed My Starving Children rice again this trip. I think that's helped - all the children looked a little bit more round-cheeked than they did in October (based on the update pics I've seen).

We're taking down a water filtration system as well.

A lot to get pulled together. A lot to sell. A lot of prayers and waiting left to do.

Can't wait to see you again, Nathan and Jessica!