Thursday, July 28, 2011

Letter to Kiki at the orphanage in Haiti

                                                                                                            January 15, 2011

Blessings to you Kiki!
Craig and I (Rebecca) met you while we traveled to Haiti with Pam Plasier’s Mission Haiti teams in March and early October of 2010. I was along on the trip when the bus broke down about 30 times on the way back to Port. The evening before we left for Port, I spoke with you about your orphanage and told you that Craig and I have been praying about adoption.
Since our return from these trips, we have continued to pray, and we have spoken with our three children at length about the potential adoption and their opinions. They are very excited as well. We are at the point where we would like to learn more about the steps to move in that direction. We would appreciate any information that would be available to help us finalize on our decision and to connect us with the people that help us make this a reality.
We are looking for a child or potentially two that are siblings that are under 5 years of age. Our youngest is currently 4.5 years old, and we would like an adoptive child or children to be younger than him. Our daughters are 6 and 8 years old.
We spoke with Pam Plasier, and she encouraged us to send you this message so you could help us to answer our questions and begin exploring the process.
We appreciate any advice that you can provide us with, and I am certain that we will have further questions; however, we are certain that the Lord is placing this on our hearts and we are determined to follow His plan for our family.
Thank you and may God continue to bless you for all that you do in His name!

Craig and Rebecca DeWit
4408 East Scranton Street
Sioux Falls, SD 57103

Update June 19, 2011

Craig started this Blog for me about one month ago and my intention has been to back log all of the events that have brought us to the point of adoption.  Now that we have been in the car for ten hours on the way to a family vacation in Colorado, I have finally been able to do just that. We only have to add the photos to the different entries and we will be able to be current in our correspondences.
It was wonderful to reminisce through Craig’s Haiti trip, my own trip and the events that have occurred since our return. We have continued to work locally with Lutheran Social Services in the adoption process. We have now been through two of the three home study visits and have attended a two day adoption seminar to begin working toward the required 24 hours of adoption education.
We met a man when we were in Haiti named Kiki who works at an orphanage in Port-au-Prince called For His Glory/Maison des Enfants and were so impressed by his love for Christ and his mission for children. We knew immediately that our adoption would involve his orphanage. We began to look for international agencies that adopted out from For His Glory/Maison des Enfants. We had the list narrowed down to three agencies. It was a difficult time because we were given different information from each agency.  One of them said that the waiting period was 18-24 months; another 36 months; and still another 42 months. One of the agencies said that they had never done the Presidential Dispensation and another said that they had been working on their first one. We prayed that we would choose the right agency for us.
After much consideration and prayer, we decided to use Children of All Nations (CAN) for our international agency and they have been wonderful. We filled out all of the preliminary paperwork and feel as though we have shared every possible bit of information about our past, present, and future plans. We think that we are about half way through the paperwork chase. Yesterday we sent the most recent mailer back to CAN and we will be instructed when to move forward with preparing our Dossier. The Dossier is the largest part of the paperwork chase. There are about 30 pieces of information that need to be gathered, notarized and verified by the government.  It will be a long and tedious process but it will be so wonderful to see the items being checked off the list. We know that each step will bring our Haitian children closer to their forever family.
Our next step will be to complete the final home study visit on June 27th. Then the local agency will prepare their report on whether they feel we are qualified. There hasn’t been any indication of problems with our paperwork or qualifications.
We will also be requesting certified birth certificates and a marriage certificate as the first portion of our Dossier. We are looking forward to this being complete.
We have some further adoption education that we need to complete. We have online computer education to complete in the next couple of months and this will complete that portion of the requirements to adopt from Haiti.
In the meantime, we have been frequently visiting the website for CAN. There is a list of available children and I have been frequently praying for these beautiful children that might come to be a part of our family…or at the very least are likely friends to the children that will become a part of our family.
Most people have heard that we are looking to adopt a sibling set with two children. I think that most people can’t believe that we are going to adopt two children at once. After much prayer, we knew that if we only adopted one child, we would likely be returning to Haiti to adopt another shortly after. We made the decision to do two at once in the hope that we will be able to keep a sibling group together. We are excited to see how this journey unfolds and are looking forward to the twists and turns along the way! It is amazing to watch God at work!

Excerpt taken from Rebecca’s Journal—March 5, 2011

So much has happened since I last wrote…hard to believe that it has already been five months. Time goes by so quickly. When I returned…the emotions were still so much on the surface. The experience was truly like none other in my life. Pivotal…we just didn’t know in what direction we were pivoting. Time and prayer has enabled us to understand where God’s plan is leading us more clearly now.
There is something that twists in the soul when a beautiful child with deep brown, dusty feet and tattered clothes reaches out and not only grasps the hand, but also the heart. That is how I felt with each of the kids I met on the journey in Haiti.
Over time…that grasping of our heart has turned into an ache. One that grows even more painful as the days pass. We have come to understand that this ache must be the Holy Spirit firmly nudging us in the direction of adoption.
We had wondered if our lives would move in this direction even before our trip…but now we are certain. We have been doing some research on agencies and have decided to go through Lutheran Social Services.
At first we were given several different bits of information about the requirements to adopt from Haiti and one of the requirements was that the adoptive family could not have more than two biological children. It was a bit emotional at first, but we discovered that there is a Presidential Dispensation that can be filed with the Haitian government that will allow us to adopt even though we have three children already.
I can’t wait for everything to fall into place and know that it will be another journey. I pray that the Lord will continue to prepare my heart for this transition. I pray that my strength and patience will be sufficient with the Lord’s help to journey through the months ahead. I also pray that He be with the children we will adopt and those caring for them.

Friday, July 15, 2011

Excerpt taken from Rebecca’s Journal—October 19, 2010

After I returned home from Haiti, I was so short on sleep from the travels and developed a powerful respiratory infection. I don’t recall ever feeling quite so fatigued. I spent every spare minute napping and going to bed early and sleeping in when possible in the hopes of catching up on some rest and healing the infection.

I had two days off at home with the kids and then it was back to the real world. It was overwhelming how different our world is compared to the Haitian world. How blessed we are with material things…and how conveniently all of our needs are met. I reflected on this so many times during that first week.

The longing I had for the people of Haiti initially was so much more intense than I had imagined possible! It is amazing how quickly we can fall in love with a culture, a people and a country.

I know that in the future the Lord plans for us to return to Haiti…to share in more memories with these precious people. I don’t know if it will be a family trip…individual trip…or something altogether different…but I am praying that the Lord will make His plan clear for us and will walk with us through this journey.

I hope to impact the people of Haiti in my own way over the years. I especially hope to encourage them in their faith walk and to journey closer to Christ-like-ness as we learn from each other’s example.

“If you say that seven hours is too long to walk for two families of patients, you’re saying that their lives matter less than some others’, and the idea that some lives matter less is the root of all that’s wrong with the world.” “You have to believe that small gestures matter, that they do add up.”   
—Mountains Beyond Mountains by Tracy Kidder

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Rebecca's October 2010 Haiti Trip

Shortly after Craig's return home, we received a phone call from Compassion informing us that Wichelanda was located. She was healthy but her home was destroyed.  Her family survived but they had relocated from Port-au-Prince to a small island located off shore from the mainland. We were able to resume our communication with her, but her new location prevented us from combining a trip to Haiti with an opportunity to see her. Also, the Compassion staff had suffered tremendous loss in the earthquake as well and would not be able to arrange a visit for an indefinite period of time. I was very happy to hear that she was well, but terribly sad to realize that we would not be able to arrange a visit.

“Then I heard the voice of the Lord saying, ‘Whom shall I send? And who will go for us?’ And I said, ‘Here am I. Send me!’” Isaiah 6:8

My team
Ti Rivier Youth Group
We decided that the Lord was still calling me to Haiti despite our inability to meet with Wichelanda. We spoke with Pam and began to plan my trip to Haiti. I signed up for a Medical Mission in October 2010. It originally began as a team of just myself and a nurse...but evolved quickly to include a total of 10. We clarified our mission and planned to hold several medical clinics in the village and mountainous schools and to have Vacation Bible School (VBS) at the schools as well.
Newborn at the new mom's training class we offered.
When we arrived, we were pleased to find out that there were several other ways that we were able to interact with the people of Haiti and to grow from the experience. We participated in the youth group held each evening and enjoyed getting to know the village youth! We served a meal for a family in the community that had been having many challenges. We helped repair the finger of a young boy that had a large laceration from his father's machete. We were privileged to pray for a family at their home after the tragic loss of their young daughter. We had a trip to another local orphanage and spent time with the kids and held VBS for them. I was able to provide communication templates I created with a coworker to two children that are unable to speak and possibly unable to hear. This will help them communicate with their families and friends. I enjoyed teaching the orphanage "mom" and two of the kids how to make cookies. We also held a shoe clinic where several local people were fitted with new shoes. I had a chance to hold a newborn baby at the New Moms educational session. My favorite moments were captured when I would snuggle up with the kids at the orphanage in the evenings to read books to them. They are all precious!
Helping make cookies
Reading to the orphanage kids

“…and if you spend yourselves in behalf of the hungry and satisfy the needs of the oppressed, then your light will rise in the darkness, and your night will become like the noonday. The Lord will guide you always; he will satisfy your needs in a sun scorched land and will strengthen your frame. You will be like a well-watered garden, like a spring whose waters never fail.” Isaiah 58:10-11

Little boy with hernia
It is truly amazing to think of all the experiences we had while we were there. I just got done sorting through some of my pictures and am hoping to post a bunch of them onto the blog. The photos take me back to that time and it is so dear to my heart. It was a difficult journey in so many ways.

It was physically difficult because of the heat and humidity (95 degrees with 95% humidity), late nights and early mornings (thanks to the roosters), and strenuous hiking which led to soreness and blisters.

It was mentally difficult as we were always moving...always on a mission to make a difference and at the same time trying to soak up as much time with the Haitians we were coming in contact with.

Mostly it was emotionally difficult. It is amazing how an experience such as this one is difficult to convey in a narrative. I think it must be impossible to find the words to describe the emotional toll it takes and how it is a blessing to the soul even though it is a struggle. There was no doubt while I was there that it was exactly where the Lord wanted me in that moment! He had a plan for me all along and there was such a peace in my spirit during this time. I was charmed by the Haitian people. Even in the midst of such poverty and hunger, they are a loving, passionate, joyful and giving people!

Boy with broken leg
It was difficult helping with the medical clinic because we saw several children that needed immediate attention for their injuries and conditions but in some situations we were only able to add them to a list to be helped when the funds could be raised. I think of how easy it is for us to go to the clinic for a sniffle or a minor injury and receive the proper attention. I saw a boy with a broken leg and had to tell his mother that we would add him to a list. Another boy had an inguinal hernia that was so large it was considered life-threatening and once again, he was added to a list. We also saw a baby that needed the nurses' immediate attention at the Orphanage but his family didn't bring him to be seen. I still wonder if he is okay. I look at the photos of these boys and continue to pray for them. I am happy to say that the first two boys have had their surgeries now (I worked with a school in Sioux Falls and together we were able to raise the money for their surgeries!)

“In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world!” John 16:33b

The children in Haiti are beautiful, joyful and filled with a strength that I have never seen before. I learned so much from the people of Haiti and from my experience as a whole. I feel as though I am broken and stronger than ever all at the same time. I feel filled with the Spirit and at peace with His plan for me whatever that might be. I experienced some tough times in Haiti and the Lord was right there with me...even in the middle of the night in rural Haiti when our bus broke down literally dozens of times! He gave me a peace in that trial that is only explained by His presence. I am so small...yet He holds me in the palm of His hand! It will be amazing to see what this experience will lead to.

While in Haiti, the time went by so quickly. I attempted to make the most of every moment and tried to record the memories as they occurred. Once on the airplane home, I reflected on my experience in Haiti. I still wasn’t sure what direction the Lord was leading me and our family. I prayed for clarity and peace about whatever He might bring into our life.

“Wait for the Lord; be strong and take heart and wait for the Lord.” Psalm 27:14

“Mete espwa ou nan Seyè a! Gen konfyans, pa dekouraje! Wi, mete espwa ou nan Seyè a!” Jòm 27:14

Craig's March 2010 Haiti Trip

Our team plus a couple extras who were still there when we got there.
My trip was planned for March 2010. I was put in a group with six other men that I had never met. We were going to be working on the perimeter wall for the orphanage. On the airplane headed to Haiti, Cory Grimm our leader, shared with us that we would be stuccoing the 8 foot wall around the football field sized orphanage grounds. The reason for doing this was to get rid of the tarantulas, scorpions and bats that lived in the crevices in the wall.  Cory also informed us that there was a Haitian crew working on the wall previously but they were fired because they weren’t getting the work done. That crew vowed to kill any other crew that Pam (Mission Haiti founder) hired to finish the job. We laughed it off but were thankful that the Lord was guiding our way.

I began a journal on my trip and will try to incorporate segments of the journal when appropriate. "It's very evident to me looking back that God has been ahead of this trip for many, many years! I have 100% peace and comfort knowing that…no matter what happens anywhere and anytime on this trip."

Haiti's National Capitol
When we landed, we were amazed by the heat, humidity and smell of Port-au-Prince. The temperatures were in the mid-nineties and humidity was 80-90%. Immediately upon leaving the airport, it was obvious already what my “word” for the trip was…Unbelievable!!  Throughout the trip I learned about the unbelievable destruction from the earthquake, the unbelievable hope of the Haitian people, and the unbelievable joy regardless of their circumstances.  

This is a boulevard in the middle of two lanes of traffic. Yes, those are homes!
Seeing the busy-ness and craziness of Port-au-Prince two months after the devastating 7.0 earthquake, was more eye-opening than I even expected. Despite the piles of rubble everywhere, it seemed as if life was going on as if nothing had happened. The streets were full of concrete rubble, people, cars, motorcycles and tap-taps (colorful Haitian taxis/buses). We drove around Port-au-Prince for about an hour picking up people to take to the orphanage.

The scenery wasn’t like anything that I expected. “Once out of Port, the countryside is beautiful, the coast, the mountains, the people are all amazing.” My first five hours in country were spent in the back of a pickup sitting on a 2x6 board, padlocked inside of an iron cage. “It really wasn’t that bad, and only the last four hours did my butt hurt. A small price to pay to help these people.”
As we drove through the mountains and along the coast, my excitement grew because we were getting closer to the orphanage and meeting the kids. The final two or three hundred yards in the cage were very bumpy and we were thrown around whacking our heads on the roof of the cage. It was a relief to get out.

When we got out of the truck, the kids were there greeting us and helping us unpack and move into the Mission house. We had already worked up an appetite and enjoyed our first of many meals of rice and beans that evening. (Or was it beans and rice?)

 It was quickly obvious that God had a different plan for our trip. The sand needed to stucco the wall didn’t show up until our last day. Rather than working on the wall, we spent time doing various construction jobs around the orphanage and Mission house. We built bunk beds, cabinets, shelving, school benches and a bed for Fern, the orphanage mom. We also got to deliver school supplies to Mission Haiti sponsored schools. We hiked to “Mountain School” where I met our newly sponsored Haitian family (the Noel family).

Because we were waiting for stuccoing supplies, I was able to lead two more days of trips to the “Mountain School” delivering “Mission Balls” (soccer balls with Bible verses written on them) and more school supplies. It was during these three trips up and down the mountain that I really connected with the people and fell more and more in love with them. It is hard to even think about this portion of the trip, I feel so emotionally connected with the people. It was enjoyable interacting with the people in the mountains. We couldn’t understand each other’s languages but we communicated well non-verbally.
Our new sponsored family in Haiti, the Noel Family
I had a blast making the locals laugh with my less than ideal farming skills!

Kenlove (Kenny) and I
I had a strong connection with the people in the mountains, but my favorite part of the trip was hanging out and loving on the kids at the orphanage and spending time with the youth group from Ti-Rivier, the village. From the moment we got out of the truck when we arrived, the kids had stolen my heart. I played cards with them, did chores with them, played soccer, ate with them, tucked them into bed, chased chickens, prayed with them, went on hikes, took them to school and thoroughly enjoyed loving on them.

There were seven kids at the orphanage (Francia, Rose, Santia, Lucy, Schneider, Nestle and Kenlove) and learning their stories throughout the week broke my heart. The abuse, loss and abandonment that some of them had been through at such a young age was unbelievable. I knew that going on this trip would change my life but didn’t know how. As I said goodbye to the kids and was sobbing uncontrollably, I knew that I couldn’t just come home and do nothing more.
Lucy and Francia
Lucy and I
 On the plane ride home, I couldn’t sleep because I had to figure out how to tell Bec that our lives would never be the same. God hadn’t made it clear yet what exactly that meant, but the two most obvious options were either moving to Haiti or adopting from Haiti.

“Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after the orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world.” James 1:27