Barlow Family - Haiti



The WHOLE crew


Ted & Rebecca


Tania Grace


Ana & Oliver











In Prayer, For...
  • the orphans in Haiti
    a smooth moving process
    calm during the transition
  • our kids -
  • Tynan & Tania in college
  • Ana working in Germany
  • Twins' homeschooling
  • the future "additions"
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So much of life feels chaotic lately, but sometimes I think it's just me.

Now that we’re living apart for these weeks of work up in Hinche, and both working full time during the week, Ted & I are having to grapple with everything over brief cell phone calls or facebook messaging. With 6 kids, 2 ministries, a Haitian business and household to run you can imagine how difficult it must be to communicate even a fraction of the necessities and even less of our emotions or needs lately. I think we’re doing pretty well & yet often it just isn’t enough!

This morning’s chat we had time for some depth & at one point I wrote:

I feel broken in so many ways & yet hard as stone in others…

I wonder how we will ever process everything here when we're done...years from now...or will we not? instead just tuck it away into our past that we don't talk about much...and find distance from things we can't really understand or don't want to feel?

This is one of the places where our hearts often live here, dwelling amidst the poverty. EVEN when God is faithful and generally we are doing fine.

Being in Hinche with Midwives for Haiti has been a joy in some ways, but a stressor in many others. I have to admit I’ve been sharing more stress than joy about life here with my hubby lately, knowing that he would understand. He’s heard about:

- how hard it is to raise a child in a work/school/living space setting

- worries about Syndies recent tantrums (a new thing)

- how I really miss my kids overseas that are all spread out

- concern about how we will pay for our homestudy

- being unable to follow up on Kervensly while I am here

- unable to complete dossier paperwork while here

- missing my own bed

- increased loneliness & isolation at times

- feeling his difficulty of managing things in PAP alone

The ability to finally use my personal skills in a purposeful way, the gorgeous countryside, and the more evident needs everywhere here are my personal perks to the work at hand.

Yesterday was our first day onsite with the two nurses we’ve been training to provide post-natal care at the local government hospital. I want to explain that these nurses salaries are being paid by outside donors to provide this much needed care.

Up until now a mom would come in to deliver, if everything was normal she would go home 6 hours later - NO after delivery follow up appointments, NO head-to-toe assessment of her baby, NO discharge get the idea, she’d be on her own to figure it out (without even books or the internet). THIS is another reason that many moms & babies die...not during childbirth, but in the days & weeks just childbirth related or newborn complications.

As we worked our way through the moms being discharged yesterday morning, I had a hard time reconciling the medical care & resources available there to what I am used to in the states. There are 2 MFH trained nurses & 2 charge midwives for all of maternity (L&D, post-natal, ante-natal & post-surgical (c-section) wards. The wards are open - approximately 10-12 beds, no privacy & no toilets (they use buckets that go under the bed). NOT the beautiful private birthing suites & postpartum rooms that most of the hospitals I’ve worked in have.

This project is the FIRST time (in this hospital) that there will be a full newborn exam perfomed on each baby....even now, they have no chart, no vitals taken, no one checking on them in particular… Illa & Juslene will provide this care now, along with care for the moms. The hope is that the nurses will catch complications early & prevent fatal outcomes.

There was a mom yesterday who was laying ALL morning (over 6 hours) in blood & fluids... she had a c/s that morning & her baby was laying by her legs for hours with family nearby. I NEVER saw it eat. She was sleeping through the pain. Finally I saw that she was awake & that baby was awake & our nurses were finishing up their I snuck over & asked if I could help...took her breast & put the baby on it for it's first feeding ever.  I showed grandma how to help.  Finally a midwife had a free minute to check on see why she was bleeding...come to find out, I moved the foley & it started draining, then it pooled & splashed out the drain, which wasn't closed....hence the saturated sheets she was laying on...that her family would have to take home & wash. Still the first smile I saw on this mom’s face was when her baby latched on & started feeding as she lay’s universal..

moms just want their babies to be OK!

THAT smile was enough reward for the day.

AS we wrapped up our clinical for the day we reviewed how it went with the Illa & Juslene. They were happy and felt good. They talked about feeling slow in their interviews & assessment. We encouraged them that it would come with time & become routine.

It was quite frankly a very hard day for me physically & emotionally, but I was SO PROUD of how well they cared for these moms and of how much they have invested in providing this care for them too.

As we arrived back at the MFH compound & walked in for a late lunch, Juslene came up beside me & slipped a cellophane wrapped card into my hands with a kiss on my cheek before rushing off.

When I picked it up to open in the privacy of my room a few hours later…

a huge crack in my easy-going but strong outer shell erupted.

I don’t really like doing what I do for any thanks, In fact it often makes me uncomfortable to be acknowledged. Just knowing something was the right thing to do, helping others and pleasing God is truly enough in my book. I typically feel reward in the moment by the peace that it brings.

Knowing the expense spent on this card was for ME and the beautiful words are so touching, but what stopped me in my tracks was one fact:

This is the FIRST and only thank you card I have ever received from a Haitian!

So sweet that it came from a fellow maternity nurse & sister in Christ too.

What might be lost in the cultural context is the fact that Haitians see giving KNOWLEDGE and skills to another as the greatest of gifts and sacrifice. These are providing her with a job too.

This simple gesture sledge-hammered “my world” and the fact that I’ve been focusing SO MUCH on my own stress lately, that I almost missed the JOY in serving here.

Picking up the pieces now...with a fresh heart & perspective.


from Hinche...

Last week, Syndie & I strapped on our adventure gear, climbed into the car with all of our tough chick power and made the trek 3 hours north into Haiti's central plateau...on our own! We dripped through nearly an hour of traffic in the blazing heat wishing the air conditioning worked and finally made it to the outskirts of the city. Syndie dozed a little as we climbed the barren dry mountains surrounding Port au Prince. The well paved but narrow roads wound up, over & down into the “provinces” (Haitian word for the “countryside”). Cresting the summit our surroundings went from brown and dry to lush and green. We weathered rain storms, crazy big trucks, slick roads and magnificent views. Syndie woke from time to time bursting out with "Sa bel, mama!! tre bel!!" (It's beautiful, mama, SO beautiful!!) We arrived at the Midwives for Haiti compound just in time for dinner and to settle into our room, which will be our home, away from home, for the next couple of months.

If I haven’t said enough about Midwives for Haiti...let me just sum it up now. MFH is a small humanitarian organization doing some pretty remarkable things here in Haiti. They started a training program for Haitian nurses to teach them the full-spectrum of maternity care and delivery. From that program they have invested into the local hospital where both their graduates & students provide moms with tender care during labor and assist in identifying and treating high risk and emergency cases. Some would say that anyone who comes to the hospital is likely a high risk case, as Haitians often prefer to deliver at home. MFH also has mobile clinics that go out 5-6 days a week into the remote areas of this region to provide monthly prenatal care & identify moms that need referral or transport to the hospital. They also provide a Matron Outreach training program for the lay or village “midwives” who have had very little training, but a passion and heart to help their community members deliver babies well.

That is where Syndie & I will spend the morning today…

I love how the health dept curriculum that is used includes songs to teach hand washing, warning signs and such. Many of the matrons have never been to school or ever completed it. Last week as I sat in on class the current students were teaching about the female anatomy...several snickered as they reviewed the external genitalia visuals in detail. When the flip chart page was turned to discuss the internal female reproductive organs the crowd gasped with delight. One matron shared that they had never seen what the inside looked like before!! They were such a happy and excited crowd of sponges with this new information in front of them. The midwife who helped get this program up and going shared that this class is 22 weeks long & if they don’t mis more than 3 times they will get to participate in a “graduation” ceremony for their certificates & receive an ID badge that shows they have had training. She said that for most of them this is likely the FIRST and ONLY graduation they will ever have. So not only will they be able to provide safer care & know when to refer moms for high risk needs, this course also serves as a lifetime highlight for them as their families gather around them to celebrate at the end.

ONE of the reasons I am here for the next 2 months is to help out with a brand new training program. Jenna Schmitz one of the in-country staff midwives has been working hard to get a post-natal clinic off the ground. It may sound surprising, but at present mom’s receive monthly prenatal care, safe delivery care and then if all is normal they are discharged with their babies 6 hours or so later...never to be seen again. SO, in trying to help cut down the maternal & newborn complications & risk of death in the weeks following delivery TWO MFH graduate specialty nurses are being trained to provide all of the postpartum care in the local hospital here as well as follow up outpatient clinics for each mom during the 6 weeks after birth. They will eventually receive anyone who has delivered in the area, even if the birth was at home.

My other function here is to serve as a temporary “in-country coordinator”. I’ll be helping with volunteers that come to stay at the MFH house and work alongside the students or in the surrounding community. It's been a quick learning curve & my Kreyol is being stretched again too!

In the afternoons, Syndie and I have been going to a local hospital that is part of Mother Teresa’s ministries here in Haiti. We’ve been serving in the infant malnutrition ward, helping with feedings and providing stimulation, developmental play, physical touch and simply quick response to the babies needs as it is severely understaffed. The sister in charge is joyful and welcoming and Syndie LOVES “giving the babies milk” as she says. She is learning to hold and carry the little ones and truly enjoys our ministry there. We hope to go at least 3 afternoons a week and perhaps weekend mornings too as it is so nearby.

Here are a few highlights of our week:

Syndie running FREE in the countryside on the 4th of July...and every other chance she gets.

Ted came to visit with our new little guard pup… (no name yet)

A Sunday drive in the countryside. (yes this is a CHURCH!)

Post-Natal Care Training Classes

PNCP team - Jenna, Illa, Jusline & Rebecca



The icky gritty side of life in Haiti....

It is hard to write on this subject for many reasons,

but today I need to,

so I'll try my best.

It's not that we try to hide the "scary" or "dangerous" aspects of Haiti, I mean we came here after a HORRIFIC earthquake, in the midst of a cholera epidemic, tragedy here is no surprise.... Mainly I want our time here to be portrayed acurately.

Haiti IS a beautiful, warm, friendly, chaotic, colorful, impoverished, hard working, laughter & music-filled place most of the time to us...and then there are those odd moments where it is suddenly senseless, dangerous, head-spinning, tragic & fatal.

We don't LIVE in those moments daily, yet they sprinkle our existence here and there, leave memories, gaps, holes in hearts & fragments in our minds...of what could be, what should have been a less than fallen world.

Last week was one of those "moments" for us here in Haiti...

Friday, June 20th started in an average way. I (Rebecca) had been up doing our midnight laundry loads while power was on the night before. Ted was up early & heading out the door. I popped my head up to say good morning before he left & he mentioned going to the bank to get part of our new housing funds. For some reason my heart flip flopped at that moment & I called him back. I had a really bad feeling about the bank & asked him not to go...we argued over it briefly & I pleaded for him to find another way to get the funds transferred. He said, "don't worry, I'll be fine, I'll take a couple of security guys with me..." and left.

between 9 & 10 am we chatteded sporadically about our upcoming move across the street into the house of our friends' who were moving back to Australia...about Syndie's breakfast & medicines...

Ted at 10:20 am: looks like your brother is coming in around 1:30p. I don't have to go to the bank, someone else is doing that for me.  

and then a little under an hour later this gut wrenching message came: 

unfortunately we have a huge problem. One of our employees was just shot and killed this morning. Gerritt, you may have met him at Pizza...

he was followed home from the bank this morning and shot and killed in front of his house. Martial the driver just came back from the bank with $3000 of our housing cash and was held up at gunpoint on his way back. Fortunately they didn't hurt him. I don't know what to do. Please pray for me right now.

And for Gerritt's wife and 10 year old son.

and a half hour later:

I feel really bad, especially about Gerritt's death. But I also feel like I just got punched in the gut about Martial. Not sure what I would do if he had gotten hurt or killed (on our errand).

Gerrit was a very big hearted Dutch man that Ted liked the instant he met him at Operation Blessing.

Exactly one week before, I sat at the other end of the table from him and watched him take a slice of pizza offered to him and then give it to his stepson instead. I remember how his son looked up at him & smiled, how calm natured he was & thinking to myself that he was a good father. I barely knew him.

He lived very simply in Haiti, as a local. He had been out doing his own banking and stopped also at Western Union to send finances out. His bag that was stolen had not more than $200 in it. He went to his home, they followed, he tried to defend himself & his stepson that was in another room. They shot him, twice. He died in seconds.

The minute the call came in, Ted called Martial and told him to be careful. He told him about Gerrit. Martial was doing OUR banking and a few other bank errands too. He said he had just finished and would come straight back. Instead, he got caught in traffic at an intersection minutes later...and again, several guys on motorcycles had followed. Before he knew it there was a gun at his temple & they were asking for the money he had, OUR money that had put him at risk...they knew exactly where it was in the bag. Thankfully Martial and another employee that was with him, knew to hand it over straight away & not make eye contact. They survived...

Ted was safe in the office, neither of us sure how to take it all in.

It's not that this kind of thing is just happening all of the time here...I've never even witnessed it personally, but it's something you know could occur on a rare occasion, that I've thought through once or twice in order to be prepared if it did.

And as it often does in went on for us at that moment, while others were left suffering. 

My brother arrived a few hours later on business and to visit his new neice. Ted picked him up. 

The director that Ted is replacing had left the country the day before, so he found himself and the deputy director suddenly in charge of everything...immersed in Gerrit's funeral arrangements. He stood over the body of a new friend and co-worker who he was at the beach with less than two weeks before & thought of the passion Gerrit had for his work, how it had lit up his eyes that day.

THIS is not the norm, but it IS the nasty, crummy, ugly side of life for us here the past week.

Grief, guilt, duty, being propelled forward by the daily tasks at hand...and all of it swirling together to be absorbed and doled out differently in various moments of time. 

Please continue to pray over us...over Ted, as he processes this. It always seems to take longer here to deal with emotions or reactions to an experience or an unexpected event. 

Syndie & I leave for the north in a couple of days as well. I have the blessing of two helpers for the next week as I embark on this short-term opportunity to help prevent the tragedy of maternal death.

Each day is so much more filled with "stuff" here, silly little "seems like a waste of time", 10-steps-to-get-one-thing-accomplished type of daily duties...where even when life is recognized as such a precious commodity and not to be taken for granted...we STILL struggle to grasp, fully appreciate and hang on to the many OTHER absolutely amazing, priceless, and treasured moments! PRAY that we will!!

Having had family here this past month has been part of that. We NEED them, we NEED you... being grounded in and anchored to the familiar and sharing our hearts and lives here with others from a different place than this seems more important than ever right at present. The stark polar-opposite realities that we have delighted in, cherished & suffered through the past few weeks will all ENRICH us over time through our faith and with the nurturing and companionship of others that walk alongside.

Posting "happy moments" is SO much easier...this was just not one of them

and yet it seemed inauthentic not to at least try to share,

to explain...

not to scare,

not to gain pity,

not to blight Haiti in any way,

...but to be "real" with the yucky bits of our life here too.

Gerrit's memory has been SEARED into the tapestry of our lives here now,

we wish it wasn't so and that there had been more pizza nights and beach days to share...

and his legacy at Zanmi Beni


Family Time.

We just had a great week here with Rebecca's mom, who traveled down with Tynan & Emma. Sandrea, our previous school teacher for Emma came down for the week too! Since Olivia was here as well, we were only a couple of kids short in celebrating our 25th wedding anniversary on June 10th. While there is a bigger celebration ALL TOGETHER, coming up in September along with Ted's 50th, it sure was a precious time to make new memories & to share our Haiti life with Ruth Carrico! We are SUPER proud of her for taking her first international trip ever in her 70's & to such a crazy different place. She was a natural traveler & kept right up on our excursions, she even visited Operation Blessing's school on the shores of Lake Azueil & ventured into Kanez village with Rebecca to check on a friend's little boy who is sick. Syndie got to meet her first grandparent in person. She sure LOVES her "Grandmere" & also got spoiled with lots of gifts sent down from "Tante Renee", Grandpa Bob & Grammy M! 

Life is taking a turn here now as we head into summer time - hot, Hot & HOTTER! It looks like a busy couple of months coming up. 

The coming & going continues as our company left Wednesday afternoon and Olivia flew back to TX this morning to pursue work, school and to catch up on her medical care now that we have U.S. insurance again. Rebecca's brother, Bob arrives in a week to kick off the computer programming business initial stages. We also have our honorary "neice", Bethany Hatley coming down from CA with a friend for 3 weeks and as soon as they leave our cousin Becca from Rhode Island!

Ted's first few weeks at OB have been interesting to say the least. The area of one of their big projects has been literally invaded by an egotistical group of "do-gooders" from the US that have a heap of money & seem to think that they can just take over two villages & do whatever they want. It's a VERY sad and scary situation. PLEASE pray...these Americans are extremely RUDE, vague, ARMED with both guns & video cameras and possibly dangerous. Strange, never thought we would worry about needing security from the Americans here. 

Our main ministry NEED right now is a helper for Rebecca from July 28th through the end of August! She will be up in Hinche with Midwives for Haiti most of that time & will have Syndie with her. We are hoping to have someone who will help out with Syndie during the hours that she has to give her attention to work. It may include educational tutoring & play for her and also being a personal assistant for Rebecca who will be teaching / training on postpartum & newborn care for midwifery students for several weeks.

We are also looking for a teacher for the coming school year. This could start sooner if the same person wanted to stay for the year. See the post under Ministry Team for this position...!


More NEW ministry developmentsā€¦

Life has SO not been dull the past three months...

Quick Recap -

When Apparent Project decided to suddenly change course back in February, International Hope & Heritage immediately stepped up as our fiscal sponsor to receive all donations. What a blessing!

At the same time, Rebecca’s brother, Bob, began conversations with us and created a timeline for the first business as mission development project under our ministry org - Ten Million Toes. The first phase of a computer programming outsourcing business / training (& eventually post-orphanage transition program) will roll out July 1st!

Rebecca was asked recently to fill in at Midwives for Haiti for July & August in several capacities and started preparing to open a free-standing birthing center collaboratively with them and Hopital Albert Schweitzer later this year. She has just submitted her final application for an online midwifery school program this fall & already has a partial scholarship.

Our family size here IN Haiti has doubled at the moment!

Syndie joined us on March 30th & is pretty much as excited as we are about her in progress!

Last week, OLIVIA joined us here again too, after 2 years away. She is enjoying being a big sister for the first time ever & some family “face time” while seeking God’s next steps. She plans to be here through September. 


God has been rolling out plans for us that we never even dreamed of!! (Imagine that)

A few weeks ago, Ted was approached by a friend of ours here and asked if he would be interested in taking over his own ministry position with an organization called Operation Blessing. After quite a lengthy time of prayer & discernment over this semi-change in direction, we decided that it was a perfect fit for Ted’s personal skill set & previous experience here in Haiti. 

As of TUESDAY this position offer became official - Ted will transition into the role of National Director - Haiti for OB this summer!

Read more about the organization:


WHAT DOES THIS MEAN for our ministry? 

Well we expect that nothing will change at all, with what we currently have in development. Ted will continue to oversee our highly qualified Haitian manager as the business unfolds. Rebecca will look after everything else...with some help! 

The BIGGEST difference with this organization for us is that they use their donations to provide ALL of our personal living expenses & housing! 

This is where we get REALLY excited...& yet somewhat fearful…

While we won’t need personal support financially in order to stay here anymore, we DO need a continuing ministry team to engage, to PRAY, to work alongside us in so MANY WAYS! 

So we admit, we’re a little worried that you might step back and let go or even leave the team… just when we need you the MOST. 

We have always said that anything above & beyond our personal needs that comes in each month will go to ministry supplies or projects. Now EVERYTHING will go to support the actual ministry work at hand!! 

We will continue to post specific items or needed resources monthly as they come up and report when they have been fulfilled. 

Syndie’s adoption is another way to continue to support us this year! You can designated that through our ministry fund at IHH or through our pureCharity adoption site:


Teammates to consider how they can engage more actively in ministry here!!!!!

There is a lengthy LIST of opportunities to come serve alongside us in the coming year OR to provide stateside support services as the organization grows. 

We are also looking for additional field staff to join us here. If this is something you would consider, please CONTACT US: 

You can always reach us via Skype phone: 916.790.2319 - we’d LOVE to hear from you!

We cherish the constant support & encouragement that you are for us day in and day out... knowing that we aren’t ministering here on our own always keeps us going!