Barlow Family - Haiti

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The WHOLE crew

 

Ted & Rebecca

(Haiti)

Tania Grace

(Texas)

Ana & Oliver

(Germany)

Tynan

(California)

Emma

(California)

Olivia

(Texas)

Syndie

(Haiti)

 

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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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Sunday
Mar302014

Life w/ Syndie: gotcha day - greatness & grief intertwined

This LONG awaited day - which is a miracle to have ever come - arrived quietly and joyfully yesterday afternoon. 

Ted, Bekenson & I drove to Carrefour to meet up with Syndie's godfamily who have been fearlessly working on her behalf the past month to remove her from the unstable & dilapidated orphanage that has been her home the past 4 years.

Syndie's mother died in the 2010 earthquake at 17 years old. Syndie was 2. We had been seeking God in orphan care ministry & adoption back in 2009 & were sure that God was calling us to interracial adoption & kids with specific medical needs. We had no idea that he would call us to Haiti until a few months later.

While he has given us plenty of kingdom work to do here over the past 3 years, one of the biggest plans that he set in motion was the slow process of us becoming Syndie's new forever parents. We actually met Syndie on Thanksgiving day 2011, merely 3 weeks after we hit the ground here. We knew that God would bring kids along that he planned for us to adopt & that we would know it by the fact that they had the special needs that He had laid on our hearts. When we met Syndie & another little guy that we also hope to adopt, Kervensly...our first instinct was to dismiss that just because they fit the details that God laid on our hearts, that THEY were the ones that He had in mind. Is wasn't until nearly a year later that we felt sure that we were supposed to pursue being their parents & now 2.5 years until the first one has entered our care!

In the meantime God has allowed our hearts to be knit steadily together through monthly MD visit days, several outings & retreats with a sponsoring church group from FL, and shared time while visiting and playing in their orphanage.

While Syndie knows us & has some trust development already, this is still a HUGE change for her. While she was crying "I don't want to stay here!" about the orphanage a little over a week ago, she really doesn't know any other life to this point. 

Yesterday was a mixture of beauty and tears. Her godmother, grandmother, god-auntie and her two kids all rode across town to visit our home, to make sure they felt comfortable with Syndie living here & to celebrate her birthday, freedom day & gotcha day all-in-one! We ate Haitian food & had a "woz gato" (pink cake) with "krem glase" (ice cream). It was simple, but special beyond belief. I never knew that Syndie had a god-family and how much that they cared about her. While they have made it clear that they have NO intention of raising her themselves nor the means, they truly care about her emotional well-being, they pray for her, they LOVE her. She is blessed!

They could not have been more encouraging & said over & over again. "Li bon, Mwen TRE tre content pou Syndie!" "It's great, I'm so so happy for Syndie!" They spoke of how we love her & of how smart she is and that she can go to school now too. They talked with Syndie about how she can come see them and that they will visit her that she can call on the phone to them. We are glad to have them a part of her life and forever grateful for their hard work to remove her from the orphanage. 

here is a peek at our first day together-

What a "lucky" little girl to have so much LOVE!!! 

Despite the fun, our day wrapped up with a flood of tears, grief, anger, sadness... Receiving good things even love often causes a form of delayed grief in post-institutionalized kiddos. For her it was a mixture of relief and anger at her stressful past as well as missing the familiar no matter how much she didn't like it. I couldn't help but cry with her in her pain.

When the tears finally subsided, we all snuggled up together to watch Doc McStuffins on Netflix and called it the END of our very first day TOGETHER!

Friday
Mar142014

Fridays @ The GROVE** - breathe

When I was the mom of 5 younger ones, one of my favorite sweatshirts had a vintage Winnie the Pooh design on it and the words “Just Breathe”. While I’ve never really mentioned it out loud, that has been one of my secret mottos ever since.

Being an L&D RN it was very applicable…who doesn’t whisper such quiet utterances at each & every birth…but ESPECIALLY the ones where I was grabbing a bag & mask while vigorously rubbing the back & feet of a limp newborn.

Baby…please…just breathe!

Self…stay calm…just breathe…focus…

Breathe for this baby…until he breathes for himself!

Something most don’t know about me is that many years ago, when my firstborn was under two, I went through a nasty, unavoidable, life-altering, course-changing, quiet, embarrassing, personal suffering period of life. Whether it was a post-breastfeeding change in hormones, my body’s unnatural predisposition to not recognize fatigue, underlying stressors, reactive hypoglycemia, or simply random shallow breathing…in one afternoon my world came crashing down.

I was going about a great day at work one afternoon, when I suddenly felt light-headed. It was progressive & then I started to feel short of breath. The feeling went on for some time and I tried hydrating, sitting down at the nurse’s station, checking my blood sugar, relaxing…something felt very wrong. All of a sudden that first crashing wave HIT…adrenaline in full force… My heart rate soared to the 140’s, forcing me to gasp for more air. Waves of searing fight or flight hormone continued to wash over my body relentlessly. That first panic attack lasted over an hour & a half, I was rushed to the ER…went home undiagnosed, began months of diagnostic testing, counseling, significant weight loss, physical deterioration & facing my worst FEAR – being “damaged & non-functional”. The trauma led to chronic anxiety that it might happen again, wanting to quit work and stay in the safety of my home. It took nearly 2 years to gain full physical & emotional recovery.

God’s BREATH sustained me through that journey, and prepared me for new adventures.

Without diving into all the details of those painful years, I would like to share the two things that helped the most:

1)      A wise MD told me NOT to live like I was a cracked egg, NOT to avoid doing anything for fear of another attack, but to go out & DO everything I had ever wanted to just the same. 

2)      Learning to BREATHE. Apparently I breathe very shallow which helps to set a panic attack off. I learned that even as the adrenaline hit I could go into full body relaxation in the face of the fear-inducing adrenaline that washed over me. I also learned that if I felt one coming on, I could stop & make sure I was doing deep abdominal breathing & it would go away before it had begun.

Life has thrown it at me, at us, as family…at times...& yet I haven’t had a single “panic attack” since I learned how to BREATHE properly. It’s been nearly 20 years. One of the psychologists that I first saw told me “once you have panic disorder you always have panic disorder”, but I beg to differ! Four adopted daughters, raising 5 kids, special needs, attachment disorder, homeschooling, public speaking, surgeries, cross-country move, job loss, bankruptcy, a cancer scare, leaving it all behind, an overseas move, living in & learning a new culture, ministry changes, disappointments, STRESS, stress & more stress later…

SIMPLY learning to BREATHE,

leaning on God’s grace (in every situation)

& following one MD’s advice,

has allowed me to live my life quite imperfectly, but to the fullest…and despite myself, to His Glory!

So my two cents? My "inner dialogue" on a daily basis?

The one thing that you do FIRST on this earth is the key to LIFE…

Release everything else & focus on that. Glorify your CREATOR in the simplest way.

“Just BREATHE.”

 

**Velvet Ashes (& The Grove) is a global online community/ministry for women living overseas as Christian workers. 

Tuesday
Mar112014

Sharing Haiti...

This past weekend was busy with both work & play.

Friday night one of our ministry team families, Denise & Jerry Fudge and their youngest daughter, Audrey from Rockwall, TX came down to visit. While they were worried about coming at an inopportune time, with our recent upheaval of ministry plans, we felt like it was perfect & just what we needed right now. Their visit was an encouragement and reminder of the fact that while it may feel like it, once in a while, we are not here ALONE! God has put together a team that are walking this journey beside us from many parts of the US... & the world! The past 3 days we got to literally have them walk beside us here in Haiti & it was a refreshing change. It also helped in very tangible ways...they brought some portable closets & a shoe rack that were in great need, in this new house, helped put them together, delivered a few other necessities & treats, talked with and helped us continue to process our future plans, affirmed their commitment to our family & ministry, laughed, played games, ate, saw sights with us... I really can’t tell you how much their 3 day visit meant in the middle of our recent stress.

It was great sharing some of our favorite places & a beach sunset with these friends!

Saturday, I (Rebecca) was also invited to a maternity care/birthing center development forum hosted at the hotel Montana by Midwives for Haiti. It was a very interesting group of people working across Haiti from Jacmel to Cap Haitian to the island of La Gonave. Some came to share their experiences & others came to ask questions & absorb ideas. It was personally enriching to be surrounded by a room full of people carrying the same mission at heart..to see Haitian moms & babies to have safe deliveries! While it goes even one step further in the deepest place of my desire & calling...preventing more orphans, it was great to know that I’m not alone either. It was also a new experience to have so many in the same arena sharing resources, advice, encouragement & collaboration. This isn’t very common here in Haiti though it's much needed. It’s so much more effective to work together toward our shared vision!

The coming days & weeks will continue to show us where and what God has in store next, but it was crucial to see His hand at work in more than one way this weekend as we shared our calling, our life here & our vision with a few who are in it with us in very different ways!

Thursday
Mar062014

a visit to Midwives for Haiti

Tuesday afternoon Ted, I & Hugo packed it up to get out of the city for a couple of days. We picked up Jenna Schmitz, the education coordinator for Midwives for Haiti & three of her friends, Sam, Jordan & Mary who are global health fellows working in a remote medical center in Thomasique, Haiti, who were all returning from a long hike through the mountains from Furcy to Jacmel. We had a pleasant 3 hour drive through the plush farmland up north to the homebase of MFH in Hinche.

It was fun & new to be with a vibrant group of young people all working in the medical field here & sharing dinner with the resident staff of MFH. Part of the plan was just to learn more about the organization first hand, to get to finally meet face to face with Nadene Brunck the founder and also to tour the local facilities where they teach their skilled birth attendants kind compassionate, quality, hands on care. I also hope to return & provide preceptorship for the new class of midwives late this spring & wanted an idea of what it would be like beforehand.

photo: MFH

We had great conversation & I was intrigued by a firsthand look at the rural Haitian hospital setting and the scope of care. There is a group from Ohio State, currently working alongside the pediatric nursing staff, to develop better neonatal care for preemies & high risk infants. We enjoyed visiting the bedside of day old preemie twins as the American RN modeled and explained necessary care of the little ones for her Haitian nurse counterpart.

photo: MFH

The disparity of care here in Haiti vs the US, where I’ve recently practiced, struck me solidly. We helped examine the mother of the twins, who had a vertical abdominal incision as well as a small unrepaired episiotomy from the birth of her babies. I watched as her mother changed the saturated rags that took the place of the nicely wrapped fresh white disposable peripads that I handed out to my patients these past few months. Patients or their families bring all of their own care items, including food. I could actually see that working in the US where my family would bring all of the best for me & yet we have each necessity included. Here in impoverished rural Haiti, there wasn’t much to choose from for families to provide.

photo: MFH

On Thursday morning Ted & I took a small hike on the land behind the MFH compound and went up to the top of the local hills. We shared our personal thoughts & ideas while pondering further where God was taking us next. The view that we had up there struck me as very SYMBOLIC of our current place in life & ministry right now…there were roads leading in EVERY direction around that hillside!

SO MANY roads...which one should we travel? where will it lead us? That prompted us to spend some time in prayer then & there and afterwards we built a small monument of local rocks (a tradition I follow whenever I meet with God in nature) to commemorate our time with Him there.

We drove back to the beauty of the central plateau, soaking up our thoughts & experiences. I’m looking forward to spending this International Women's Day, this Saturday (3/8) further immersed in maternity care at a forum on birthing center development that MFH is hosting in Petionville.

Monday
Mar032014

and...SNAP!

Life can change in a moment's notice.

I haven't the heart to rewrite another version of this current announcement...it saddens my soul at the moment. 

So I am just going to post a LINK HERE to an important announcement that we sent out today.

If you want the short version:

We no longer work for Apparent Project.

While we've had a million thoughts & emotions related to this abrupt & unforseen turn of events, God has granted us perspective & peace for the moment. We are sad without a doubt & a little confused.

PRAY for us.

PRAY with us.

We need clarity, guidance & provision -

we have the same attitudes,

the same hearts,

the same calling,

we have a home that is paid for the next 10 months,

a car,

a community,

a life

& a vision that we've been given here...

that we have just finished preparing for...

and we don't intend to make any SNAP decisions ourselves. 

I'm thankful to my cousin who tagged us in a facebook message earlier today with this scripture:

He will rescue the poor when they cry to him; he will help the oppressed, who have no one to defend them. He feels pity for the weak and the needy, and he will rescue them. He will redeem them from oppression and violence,for their lives are precious to him.

Psalms 72:12-14

He had no idea of this announcement, but the passage has been a salve of encouragement today as we pondered on our next steps. It confirms that we have been on the right track in seeking to put action into areas close to His heart. More importantly it reminds us that HE is the one in charge of the needs here in Haiti. We hope to be able to continue on here, but rest assured that HE has a plan either way!

Read today's announcement letter HERE.