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Not only are many children & adults starving in Haiti everyday (which is just heartbreaking), so are many of the dogs, cats & livestock.

When we were in the states recently, one of the shows our children enjoyed watching on TV was the animal type rescue shows. Amazing what people with resources can do: both easy access to the means of properly caring for an animal & the many resources & organizations that are running to protect & save the animals.

Well, here in Haiti, I haven’t seen much of that. Never actually really thought much about it either because every dog you see on the streets here is hungry looking… just plain street & homeless looking. That is just the way it is. And for me, personally, after experiencing playing & working with starving children without much of any type of resources available to help them, the dogs didn’t become much of a concern to me…& this is coming from a major animal lover & advocate.

This little girl pup was wandering around on the QCS campus when we found her. No one else was around as it is summertime. She was growling & would not let us get near her but didn’t go far… she was weak. We decided we wanted to help her. We finally got her with a towel even though she protested with fear. Knowing that she would probably have some sort or many types of contagious things going on, we confined her to our bathroom shower & quarantined her from the kids & other dogs we have.

She smelled horrible. Not like a dirty dog smell but like sewer, which is, I’m sure exactly what it was. She was covered in fleas & we removed more than 25 little ticks off her tiny body, many of them lodged down in her ears….yuck. We used tweezers to get those guys out. Her belly was full of worms. She didn’t end up having any ringworm or distemper or parvo. Whew.

We have no business having another dog. But we weren’t going to just ignore her since she literally crossed our path that day & we can’t call any animal control or rescue, we can’t even take her to a shelter to get cared for or adopted out, they don’t exist here! If anyone knows of any around here…let us know 🙂

So for now, we’ll keep nurturing her to health & hope to find a home for her someday…in the meantime, she is a sweetie & many kids are enjoying her…

After we caught her, we just let her rest for awhile...

After we caught her, we just let her rest for awhile...

This was after we cleaned her up...she started to look better...

This was after we cleaned her up...she started to look better...

We celebrated Kathina’s 3rd Birthday this past week!! When we told her it was her Birthday her eyes lit up & she smiled & said “Me big!?!?!”….

All day she kept saying “Mwe fe” (I’m going to or I will do) & then she would blow real hard (because she did not know or remember the Creole or English word for blow out…so she would get all excited & say:

“Mwe fe ffffffffffffffffffffffffff”…… like that is obviously the best part of any Birthday 🙂

We are assuming that she has never celebrated any of her Birthday’s. They (Bethaina & Kathina) remember when we celebrated Easton & Banning’s in April & June…apparently Kathina’s most memorable part of those was the blowing out of the candles on the cake!

We are really enjoying their “Crenglish” phrases like…
“one for me, un por ou”,
“M’ vle candy please”,
“Ou come back?”,
“Me not cry en la gwo machine”

…sounds so cute 🙂

Here she is on her 3rd Birthday…

Making Kathina\'s cake

Making Kathina's cake

Kathina stirring the batter

Kathina stirring the batter

Opening her presents! …which we did outside because we did not have any electricity in the house for several nights…

She is a special girl & it was a great day for her & for us 🙂

We finally got in on Tuesday. Spirit, the airlines we were flying in with could not rebook us until this next Wednesday so we would have had to stay in FL for another week & 2 days…wasn’t an option at the time so we had to purchase tickets & fly in on American.

The one good thing about that was that American is still checking in 2 bags per person into Haiti so we did not have to mail 6 of our 12 bags & have them go through customs. Currently Spirit is only allowing 1 checked bag per passenger. You cannot even pay for an extra bag…only one…so travelers to Haiti keep that in mind.

We are happy to be “home”. It feels right & our kids are doing well. Haiti is hot & very humid now! We are re acclimating to the climate, noises & “way of living in Haiti”.

We had a wonderful time in the states & were blessed by so many people. Family, friends, supporters & strangers.

We experienced reverse culture shock the first few days in the states as it all felt very foreign to us just being there. Kind of felt out of place. The pace of life with all of the choices & abundance of resources, stores & restaurants was overwhelming to us after living here for a year.

Seems like there is a Walgreens every mile or so no matter where you go 🙂 The gas prices are outrageous just like here in Haiti. I still think the food prices are higher here in Haiti though.

We did enjoy brushing our teeth with faucet water; having showers with water pressure, fast food (wow, so fast & easy…really…it was amazing!), quiet nights, doing laundry the easy way, having electricity always, having a car to use when we needed it, driving on awesome, new, clean & repaired roads & having everybody know & following the traffic rules, reconnecting with our home church, being with friends & family, going to the movies, shopping & the many choices…many random things we used to take for granted…it was nice to be a part of all of that again 🙂

Oh yeah…less bugs was nice too! Although we were still concerned with Mosquito bites & West Nile. Remember Reagan contracted West Nile Virus when we lived in Idaho 3 summers ago & was very sick & was hospitalized & quarantined for 3 days ( the hospital & Dr.s didn’t even know what it was that was causing her horrible symptoms for the first 2 days & then they suspected West Nile or Menengitis as we waited for results). She was not the same & was sick off & on & was extremely tired with headaches & stomach aches for 9 months after that. Scary time.

Back to our trip to the states…

One example of our kids being “missionary kids” was when Banning walked into the room that Sean & I were sleeping in & asked to sleep with us that night.

Throughout that week he had seen several of the newer electronic advertising boards on the freeways that state the most recent & in area child abductions. (BTW Those are a great idea!) Every time we passed one, their was a new or different abduction & it’s main identifying details.

He said he “was scared & did not feel safe because we didn’t have a wall around the house & that their were not any guards outside watching us while we slept”. Not sure if that is good or bad or if there is even a way to properly perceive that but it is just where he is at at his age & with his life.

Got me to thinking that although Haiti has it’s risks, chaos, shooting & crimes, in Bannings eyes, we can’t really just have anyone innocently walk in & start shooting at our school here, at least not without a fight.

Our kids have asked this past year as we have learned about the various & tragic school & public shootings in the states “why don’t those schools (or stores) have armed guards like here in Haiti?”

Good question. Will it come to that? Actually with the metal type detectors at some schools & public places in the states, it already has.

They view the shootings here in Haiti usually (I know, not always) as a means of survival, like getting money or food in order to live, or perhaps because of a lack of no police in that area at the time, but the shootings in the states to them seem to be by young adults or even kids that want to harm many innocent people for no apparent reason, or by adults who want to just torment innocent kids.

I have to admit, it was kind of scary being there in the states for Sean & I as well as far as possible kidnappings or our kids getting possibly lost in large public places & what could happen to them if that were the case. The same fear we had about being here before we lived here…

A little off track there but again, things we thought about & realized on our trip…

Random things we realized we missed about Haiti; our “home”, our animals, the atmosphere in general, our orphan girls that are living with us, visiting the orphans we work with, not being cold, the QCS campus, the armed guards, the simplicity of shopping & our friends here that are family to us by the bond we all share…

… it hit us that we are bonded by having a common mission in serving Christ here in Haiti. A bond which we personally realized has created a deep sense of connectedness we have not experienced before we became missionaries…. So… to our fellow missionary friends & co workers that we work & serve with here in Haiti…you are another type of special family to us…we share this life not by a natural birth but by a spiritual birth… we can’t wait for you to return to Haiti! We miss you!

What’s so amazing about this lesson we knew but have truly realized?!?!?!

Christians stand strong when they stand together. Period.

Plus, you don’t have to be a missionary on the field to experience this! When believers live & serve under the lordship of Christ, they can see their lives intertwined in service, no matter who you are & no matter where you are! Plus, these special relationships will continue on into eternity! How awesome is THAT!?!?!?!

We are grateful for those who read this blog. We hope to encourage you & be used by God to teach the things He has planned for you. We are thankful for all who have faith & pray for those who do not.

We thank our family, supporters (known & unknown) & friends whom show us Christs love everyday by all that they do, give & say to help us be here & remain connected with them.

If you have not felt led to yet but have a heart for Haiti or an interest in what we are doing here, please prayerfully consider supporting us & our ministry here.

You can successfully support our mission by your faithful prayers, your encouraging comments or emails, your financial support…if you can commit to 10, 20 or more dollars a month, it would truly help us & those we serve here. Our purpose is to advance the Kingdom of God & to obey all that He asks of us.

We would be happy to answer your questions about our mission. We would also be happy to house & try to accommodate anyone who has felt called by God to visit Haiti & come help here. Our doors are open to you (even if you don’t know God, you are welcome!) as God leads us.

Thank you friends, family & supporters for helping to make us feel so loved & welcome while we visited the states!

We are grateful to be here. Thank you & praise God for His faithfulness!

We are in Florida right now & were supposed to be on the flight to Haiti. We are sitting in the airport & have been up since 4:30 this morning. We did not get on our plane because their is a luggage embargo for Haiti. What?!?! Only one checked bag per person now! We, as we have been learning this past year, carefully packed all we could at 50 lbs. per bag but for 2 bags per person…

…so we have 12 bags we were expecting to check in. We get to the airport early. We wait in line for an hour, not a super long line either, just a not moving forward at all line. The chaos from not being efficient or following the rules that we see in Haiti seemed to overflow in the lines & counters as we waited to check in our bags. But only in the lines for the Haiti flight. The section of lines to the south of us were for a flight to the Dominican Republic & things were quiet & moving along very efficiently & much more quickly. We found this interesting. We finally get to the counter, hand over our passports, get our 12 bags ready for hoisting them onto the scale & check them in… BUT then we are told about the embargo…that we can only take 1 checked bag per person into Haiti. We could have gotten on the plane with 6 of our bags…but what would have we done with the other 6 bags???? Thats 300 lbs of stuff & luggage that we would of had to leave behind in order to get on our flight today!

So now Sean is in line again rebooking for tomorrow. We will get another hotel & repack our stuff which is now extra stuff to ship it with Missionary Flights International. Which, once it all gets to Haiti & out of customs will cost us an additional $600. It costs us $2 per pound of anything that is shipped to us & then held in customs!

Thankfully, we heard & were warned about the recent box embargo…we usually use bins to ship & pack our extra stuff which counts as one of our 2 checked bags…it was a lot more difficult to pack different sizes of luggage & trying to weigh & make sure we get our 50 lbs in each one but not going over that weight…the totes/bins go much faster & easier as far as packing up…

With each piece of luggage right at 50 lbs. we made it all the way to Florida with our 12 bags checked in without any problems or having to pay more for extra weight…

Our kids are being awesome throughout all of this. We are all disappointed that we won’t be arriving in Haiti today. They were all up late last night in our hotel with excitement & eagerness to get “home”.

I think satan does not want us to return to Haiti. He won’t win this battle so easily though. We know in our hearts that God wants us there. We are tired, frustrated & have been on the go for over a month now but we are holding on to our faith, knowing that God is with us & that He will give us the strength & means to press on.

Thank you friends & family for your prayers & support, we appreciate them & look forward to continuing Gods work in Haiti.

***We will post more about our “first furlough”: our thoughts, the opportunities we experienced, the many blessings, the challenges, what we learned etc. after we get home & get settled…& get some rest & get on some sort of time schedule…our inner time clocks are all messed up & have been for the past 4 weeks… 🙂