Thursday, December 23, 2010

Saturday, December 4, 2010

Help Haiti Act passed!

Ya know, the more we look back on the journey over the last 3 years, the more we recognize the clear workings and movements of God's hands. "He sure is not a tame Lion, but He is good...."


“Today, the House passed the Help HAITI Act, an important piece of humanitarian legislation that continues America’s constructive response to the devastating earthquake that struck Haiti early this year. Following the earthquake, more than 1,000 Haitian orphans were brought to the United States by adoptive American families; the bill we passed today ensures that those children, just like all other children adopted from abroad, will have permanent resident status. For the adoptive parents who generously took Haitian orphans into their homes, the guarantee of permanent resident status means that their children will enjoy a full range of legal protections and will no longer be stuck in legal limbo.

“The adoption of more than 1,000 orphans has been in proud keeping with America’s tradition as a welcoming refuge. I am happy that this bill, which is now ready for President Obama’s signature, gives full legal recognition to these adopted children and paves the way for what I am sure will be their important contributions to our country.”

Monday, November 22, 2010

Big Girl Bed


Grace moved into a big girl bed this week. Elmo came with of course.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

The Next Hurdle

The next hurdle for our family is citizenship. As legislation currently stands, we will have to wait two years before we can even file for citizenship for our girls. The unique problem for us is that half of the family lives across the border in Canada. Legislation to expedite citizenship for Haitian humanitarian parolees has been making its way rapidly through Congress with lots of support. It was supposed to be voted on this week. Here is the latest from the Joint Council on Adoption:

The last week has been full of twists and turns for the Help Haiti Act. Monday it was on the Congressional calender for a vote, then removed. Tuesday and Wednesday we discovered that the House Democratic leadership intended to tie a somewhat controversial piece of legislation, the DREAM Act, to the Help Haiti Act. Doing so could mean that the Help Haiti Act might not pass this year and would have a long upward fight in 2011. Today, however, we have seen a little bit of light. Sen. Reid announced that he plans to introduce the DREAM Act into the Senate. Doing so would likely mean the DREAM Act would not be tied to the Help Haiti Act.

Politics can change very quickly here in Washington and everything could change again tomorrow, or later today. Therefore, over 1200 adoptive children from Haiti without a clear path to citizenship need you to continue to to call and email your Representative, asking them to support the Help Haiti Act. Please don't forget to ask your friends and family to do the same. The children need a loud and powerful voice - the voice of thousands of America's granting them the right every U.S. adopted child should have - citizenship. So, please keep the phone calls and emails coming!


If you have a minute, please send an email on behalf of our girls.
Thanks!

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Officially Ours!

2 years 9 months ago, we felt God tugging at our hearts and asking "Will you?" Just over 2 years ago our dossier arrived in Haiti. One week ago, a Michigan judge finalized our adoption. We are officially Mom and Dad to Daphna Hope Van Berkel and Grace Monique Van Berkel. No more guardianship, no more Grace "Jane Doe". Rejoice with us!

Friday, November 5, 2010

Pray for Haiti


Pray for Haiti today as Hurricane Tomas passes. H.I.S. Home is as ready for the storm as possible. There are currently 86 kids at the orphanage. Pray for the staff as well, as many live in the tent cities in the area. Cholera is spreading rapidly. Please remember Loubencia as well. This spunky 8 year old girl is currently in the hospital in the final stages of AIDS. Pray for comfort for her in her final days.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Look Mom, No Hands!

We did not know if this would ever happen.
Watching in wonder, our amazing daughter.
video

Wednesday, October 6, 2010


Today would have been my Mom's 80th birthday. Happy Birthday Mom. I miss you.

Thursday, September 30, 2010

Hello Feet! + Our Princess

Grace had her final set of casts taken off on Tuesday. Now she has short jungle animal print braces that are removable. Her feet are still healing from surgery, so she prefers wearing the braces and shoes to having her feet completely free. She is back to full baths again. Yeah!!

Friday, September 24, 2010

Happy 3rd Birthday!



Today our little princess turns 3. It has been 27 months since we were handed a picture of a tiny girl with huge eyes. So happy we get to celebrate this birthday at home with our whole family together!

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Closer...


Sorry Gracie fans, but you will have to wait another month for the new feet to be unveiled. She is back in casts. They are short leg casts this time with nifty walking boots over the top. She will wear these until September 28 and then will get a set of jungle animal print AFO's (braces). She will wear the AFO's 24 hours a day for the first 2 months, and after that she will only wear them at night. We were a little disappointed to not be able to take her swimming tonight, but also saw quite clearly that her feet still have some healing to do. (We convinced the nurse to let us take the pins they removed from her feet home if you ever want to see what we mean.) Grace is a real trooper and seems to have captured a few hearts along this journey.

Before Surgery....



Stay tuned for the big reveal...

Monday, August 9, 2010

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

She's Home...again

Gracie made it through surgery #2 to remove sutures just fine. We caught a real good glimpse of the depth of this little fireball's temper. Enraged by a toy that was affixed to the wall in the presurgery waiting room, Grace tried out her full lung capacity. The nurse decided she needed some anti-anxiety meds. Post surgery Grace screamed and writhed so much she had nurses running for morphine and blowing bubbles in her face to try to soothe her(?). When her Daddy asked if Grace wanted to go, she immediately stopped crying and said "yes". Turkey.

off for surgery #2

Gracie is off for surgery #2 today. This one is a little less intrusive, they will be changing out her casts, and removing internal sutures from her tendons and ligaments. We are hoping to get her home by the end of the day. Thanks for your prayers!

Monday, August 2, 2010

Nature vs. Nurture


In a recent case study of nature versus nurture, it was discovered that "Van Berkel-stick-your-tongue-out-for-pictures-syndrome" is not a hereditary disorder. Subjects were tested over a six month period. It was determined that in only a matter of several months of exposure to Van Berkels, the subjects developed the syndrome. No cure has been discovered at this time.

Goodbye to an old friend


Suzanne Bishop 1973-2010

Adonai is my shepherd, I lack nothing.
He has me lie down in grassy pastures, he leads me by quiet water, he restores my inner person.
He guides me in right paths for the sake of his own name.
Even if I pass through death - dark ravines, I will fear no disaster; for you are with me; your rod and staff reassure me.
You prepare a table for me even as my enemies watch; you anoint my head with oil from an overflowing cup.
Goodness and grace will pursue me every day of my life; and I will live in the house of Adonai for years and years to come.

Psalm 23 - Jewish Bible

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

6 months

Yesterday marked six months since we were granted guardianship of the girls. What a whirlwind! It is such an honor to get to be momma and daddy to these little ones. I was reminded of this again in the hospital as Gracie would wake up in pain and call out to me for comfort. I'm saddened for the women who are missing this. Humbled at the responsibility to raise their daughters for them.

Sunday, July 25, 2010

How to keep a 2 year old down.

Some of you remember a few years back when our 1 year old border collie ate rat poison and was confined to her crate for 2 weeks- not allowed to run or play or get bumped because it may cause internal bleeding- by the fourth day she was vibrating, and by the end of the two weeks we thought the pent up energy just may cause her to explode- well now, the docs have ordered Gracie's feet to be elevated for around 2 weeks, and then no standing or walking until the end of August- already feels like we are living the rat poison days over again.
I have begun experimenting with duct tape and concrete blocks.
In other words, Gracie is starting to feel better.

Yesterday my youngest son Josh turned 7. Happy Birthday Josh!

Friday, July 23, 2010

Gracie is home!


Gracie and Jude finally made it home at about 1 pm. Gracie is doped up pretty good, the pharmacist was hesitant to fill it as prescribed because it is a pretty heavy dose of painkillers for a little girl. She had a good lunch, good nap, and is now playing. Doctor's orders call for keeping her on her back, no crawling or standing until the end of August- that should be interesting.
Thanks for prayers- next step, for everyone to get some sleep.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Surgery is finished



The surgery started about 8:30 am and finished up about 3:00 pm- a very long day for Gracie and her 3 surgeons. Dr. Forness is very pleased with how everything came together. Gracie drank some juice by 4pm, and is quite happy with the jello, pudding and mac-n-cheese she is getting tonight. Judy called a little while ago and said she had just fallen asleep. Thanks for all your prayers, calls, emails and visits throughout the day.
The "epidural" they gave her is starting to wear off, and she is on some pretty major pain meds right now. Recovery will take at least a couple of days until she can handle the pain with just oral meds. Jude is in the hospital with her tonight, unfortunately no private rooms available- so the hope is that her and Gracie get some rest.

Waiting

Only a 6 hour surgery today- have had our first phone call from the operating room for the 2 hour update- everything is going fine so far. By the way- the Kent County Circuit court has accepted our petition for adoption, so we are well on our way to adopting them for the second time......

Monday, July 19, 2010

Grace



We got the official word. Surgery is set for 8:30 a.m. Wednesday morning. Please pray for her as this surgery is quite extensive. She will be in surgery for over 4 hours and has to spend at least one night at the hospital.

Monday, July 12, 2010

We're back!!!

The HIS HOME 300 is over for 2010, we currently stand at over 52,000 raised for HIS HOME! Right now we are in Chicago and today we will bury Judy's father, who died late last Wed. evening. In 5 months and 9 days our family has welcomed Daphna and Gracie into our family and have said good bye to Mom and Dad- what a whirlwind this has been. Next Wed, July 21 Gracie will have her first major surgery on her feet, where they will release all her bones, then pin everything together in the right place. This is the first big step in getting her all lined up to walk properly, and boy, is she ready to go. Your prayers, as always, are coveted.

Saturday, June 5, 2010

The Ride

Hey all;
All of our attention right now is going to the HIS HOME 300 in just 16 days! Follow the link to the ride blog- we will be posting everything on there until after the ride.

Monday, May 24, 2010

Fox 17

We were given the opportunity to do an interview with Fox news to promote the HIS HOME 300- check out the link!

Sunday, May 16, 2010

We're looking for sponsors!

Most of you know about the HIS HOME 300- we are only a month away from this one week, 300 mile ride to raise awareness and funds for HIS HOME. Our family has been really busy putting together the route, and sorting out all of the details. We are also in process of gathering sponsors for Geoff's ride. Any amount is appreciated. Our desire is to be able to roll into Harrod on the 26th with tremendous blessings for the kids at HIS HOME. Let Geoff know if you would like to sponsor him, and amount you would like to contribute.
Thanks for all your prayers and support.
Check out the link to the HIS HOME 300 for more details, and to see the list of supporters who have already come on board.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

The Diagnosis


Today was Grace's appointment with the genetic specialist. She has a form of arthrogryposis (joint contractures). Specifically it is called Trismus-Pseudocamptodactyly Syndrome. It is a rare genetic disorder causing short tendons in the hands and legs and the inability to completely open the mouth. It will not get progressively worse or better. Her dislocated hips are not caused by this syndrome. So now we take a big sigh of relief that there are no surprises in the diagnosis and prepare for foot surgery in July.

By the way- those are play straw bales with velcro on them stuck on their heads- the hair is sooooo cool!

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Good Days





Just a couple pictures of what is going on around here. Had a visit from Uncle Greg, Aunt Kristin, Emily and Noah- they got to meet Daphna and Gracie for the first time. The girls have made it through church nursery 3 weeks straight (I think they are starting to have fun in there). Here is Megan at her Odyssey of the Mind State Finals- oversized glasses and fart putty- yes, I said fart putty, simply hours of entertainment.....

Monday, April 5, 2010

Thursday, April 1, 2010

Sunday, March 28, 2010

Grunting and gasping for air...

I realize it's been awhile since we posted. As I sit here typing there is a small Haitian princess currently in the ending stages of processing last nights dinner under my chair....oh yes, that is where the time has gone- a blur of diapers and doctors appointments and laundry....and tremendous blessings.
The girls hit the nursery at church for the first time this morning- Gracie lasted 5 minutes, Daphna did a little better. We are feeling pretty good about the bonding thing if we can't leave them for more than a couple minutes. Gracie heads for her third set of casts tomorrow- approximately 6 weeks until surgery for her feet. The specialists are conferring on her hips, and seem somewhat unsure as to what to do with them right now. Having grown apart for 18 months they are a little unsure if everything will ever fit right. We know God has held this little one in His hand for her whole life thus far- so we aren't so worried about this, His plan is best for her.
A significant praise to pass along- the HIS HOME 300 MICHIGAN ROUTE is set. All of our churches and business partners from Rockford to Harrod are lined up and ready to go- 21 different organizations who are joining together to support us as we raise much needed funds for HIS Home. Follow the link to the 300 blog page for information. We are capping the ride at 25, so sign up soon if you want to join us!
Today is my Samuel's 11th birthday. We are feeling blessed to have a son who has such a good and tender heart. He has become a friend and hero to his two newest sisters. Happy Birthday Sam!

Monday, March 15, 2010

March newsletter from HIS Home

Newsletter for March, 2010

 
Jan 12, 2010: Many thought it was the end of time. Many thought that the Lord was coming. Many thought that they were witnessing hell on earth. A day no one in Haiti will ever forget!

O God, thou hast cast us off, thou has scattered us, thou hast been displeased; O turn thyself to us again. Thou hast made the earth to tremble; thou hast broken it: heal the breaches thereof; for it shaketh. Thou hast shewed thy people hard things… Psalm 60: 1-3a

Feb. 12, 2010: A country called to put aside everything for 3 days of prayer and fasting. Carnival cancelled. Satanic worship and voodou drums silenced. The Prime Minister of Haiti declared his testimony of accepting Jesus Christ as his personal Savior on national television. A country called to turn to God Almighty… 3 days no one in Haiti will ever forget!
< BR>If my people, which are called by my name, shall humble themselves, and pray, and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways; then I will hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin, and will heal their land. 2 Chronicles 7:14

In the years of living in Haiti, the question I have been asked the most is: “Is there any hope for Haiti?” My response has always been to quote 2 Chronicles 7:14. God clearly gave the conditions to be met for any country in need of healing. We see rebellious people practicing sin in every country, not just Haiti. However, God will not be mocked. Just as a parent will warn a disobedient child that he loves, there comes a time when the child must face consequences for misbehavior. We accept this in the family structure as a way of teaching our children appropriate behavior. We accept this in the schools when a child doesn’t conform to established rules, or in the w! or kplace when an employee is not meeting expectations. Is Haiti being punished or is Haiti just suffering the effects of a natural disaster? Each of us has an opinion, however, the important thing to focus on is not what we think, but what God is doing. He is using this time in Haiti to wake up a country that has been deceived by the spiritual enemy. Lives are being changed because of the earthquake. As financial resources are being poured into Haiti, we pray that Christians everywhere will not only be praying for the physical needs in this country, but more importantly, that those lives being touched will find spiritual cleansing and healing.
It seems that much of our conversation is now identified as BTE, DTE, and STE. Before the earthquake, during the earthquake, and since the earthquake. Details of DTE will fade as time passes, but I will share a few things that have been significant to us in the past several weeks.

Imm! ed iately BTE, 39 of our toddlers were eating at tables on our back patio. They had just completed their food and moved to the far end of the table to line up for their water when the quake caused the side wall surrounding the compound to fall. The top 8 foot section of a 16 foot concrete wall fell over the table where the children had been sitting minutes before. Not a child was touched. Visitors helped evacuate special needs children from the third floor. 122 children were safe! Over the next few days with continuing tremors, it became necessary to move the children from the compound because of the risk of the house collapsing. Safety was found in the church yard, and having a ‘church home’ took on a new meaning. Babies and children were put to sleep on mattresses scattered under the stars. During one particularly cold and damp night, as I wandered through the maze of children trying to stay warm, in desperation I cried out to God for wisdom in caring for the c! hi ldren. Many were developing coughs and beginning to suffer dehydration from diarrhea from unstable water conditions. I had run out of dry blankets, and I had run out of ideas of what to do. As I prayed, God spoke to my heart and clearly said, “Take them home!” I was confused, knowing that we had no where to go. Again, God repeated the message. I spent a sleepless night, pondering where God was leading. In the morning, I discussed this with Hal and 2 pastors and we all agreed to begin praying that God would show us the way to accomplish His will. Over the next week, I spent 6 days at the US Embassy processing paperwork. Four of those days were with groups of 22-56 children. We lived at the Embassy for part of that time, and waited.

Embassy staff cared for us by supplying food, formula, diapers, and treating our sick babies in their infirmary. US military soldiers held and comforted our babies, adopting parents who had come to bring emergency suppl! ie s for us helped, and our staff continued caring for those children in the camp. Plans were made for an evacuation flight for Jan. 25, but as documents at the Embassy were being finalized on the night of the 24th, we were advised to leave Haiti immediately with the children because new laws requiring more paperwork would prohibit our exit in the morning. More prayers, and 57 babies and children in the camp were whisked into a truck, and the children still at the Embassy were loaded into an Embassy bus. There was no time to gather anything. By the early morning hours, 70 children were relocated to the US and within 2 days, 8 more went to Canada on Humanitarian Parole. These children will complete their adoptions while living with their adoptive parents Truly a miracle compared to the crossing of the Red sea! Just as God moved the Isrealites, He moved these Haitian children. The story doesn’t end there. More adoptive children are still being released and find! in g their new parents waiting for them at the end of the air flights. It would take a book to share all of the details, but the important thing is that God receive Glory for the miracles that we have witnessed!!!

Now what? What comes next? We currently have 43 children at HIS Home, and are trying to get several of those medical children to the US for ongoing care. Additional adoption children will soon be released to join their families in the US, and we are preparing HIS Home for approximately 100 new children who will make HIS Home their home. These are children who have been orphaned as a result of the earthquake. The social service system has already visited to check on availability of beds for children who will need care. Our houses have been declared safe by structural engineers, and teams are arriving to repair the wall and cosmetic damage to the houses. We have teams coming to provide medical care for new children, and expect to begin accepting children ! ve ry soon. Please continue to pray for Haiti, and particularly HIS children .

Hal and Chris would like to thank each and every one who has prayed for safety for the children, as well as ourselves. A special thanks to everyone who has supported the ministry financially, enabling us to continue caring for the children, while preparing to care for the new children who will be joining us soon. We would also like to extend a very special thanks to the folks at HIS HOUSE Children’s Home in Miami who welcomed all of our evacuees and cared for us during in-processing to the United States.

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Jedi Knight or Darth Daphna?



Apparently peas and carrots belong to the "Dark Side"
May the force be with us.....

Gracie's first casts



Here they are, the first of many sets of casts for Gracie. She is sporting an attractive full length hard plaster cast on each foot. They even glow in the dark! She has really not seemed bothered by them at all, which is a huge blessing. They add about 10 pounds to her, so I think it is harder on us carrying her around. It sounds like new casts every two weeks then surgery once everything is pointing in the right direction.
By the way- the grumpy look on Daphna's face? The two year old "I will not eat my vegetables" battle has begun. She is not impressed.

Monday, March 8, 2010

Monday, March 1, 2010

Wall Street Journal pics

Here are some pictures from HIS Home that made it to the Wall Street Journal. Feel free to ignore the headlines, apparently the Wall Street Journal sides with UNICEF that the poor orphan kids should stay where they "belong". Follow the link to the right. We also received the video of the kids coming out of the Miami airport- most being carried by Red Cross workers- watch for Gracie- she is being carried by a hero!

Saturday, February 27, 2010

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Aftershocks

Check out the link to News headlines- there are still multiple aftershocks- a pretty big one yesterday. Most are living outside or in "shored up" housing. While the kids need to be in shelter, it makes us pretty nervous to have the only option be a damaged home.
The world has moved on from the Haiti "story". Alot of people have given generously and then detached themselves from the messy reality of what is going on down there. It is even hard to find news stories about Haiti.
Please continue to pray and support those who live in the chaos everyday, including our loved ones at HIS Home.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Gracie's first specialist visit

Gracie visited the orthopedic specialist today for the first of apparently many times. The "unofficial" diagnosis is Arthogryposis, which is a genetic disorder which causes joint contractures. She has limited movement of fingers, wrists, legs and feet. Her leg bones are not in the hip sockets- apparently she was born this way, the doc. doesn't know if he will be able to get them back in as the bone and socket have been growing separately for the last 18 months. She is going to be the lucky recipient of two nice casts in about a week, and they will recast every couple of weeks in order to get her feet pointed in kind of the right direction, then comes the surgeries. Probably in about 8 weeks they will do reconstructive surgeries on her feet, and possibly hips as well. Pray for her as she faces all this stuff she needs in order to be able to walk.

Our princess Daphna was just treated for a tapeworm......oh the glamor of it all!
That may just explain the appetites!

Looks like we are delivering supplies to Ohio this Saturday- thank you for all your contributions to HIS Home. We still have room in the container if you want to add to the shipment.
Blessings!

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Supplies

I just got word from Ohio that HIS Home supporters are filling up a shipping container with supplies to get shipped to Haiti. The shipment is going to be leaving from Richmond, Indiana on March 3. I am planning on driving to Lima on Sat. Feb 27 to deliver any supplies that we have gathered by then. Right now we have about 250 pounds of formula, medicines and clothing. If you would like to donate the greatest needs are childrens medicines (cough, fever etc.) and infant formula. If you can get it to me then I will make sure it gets to the container on time.

Also, the HIS Home 300 MI route is nearly completed. We are beginning to recruit riders for this large fund raiser for HIS Home. Check out the link to the his home 300 michigan route for all the information, and please contact me with any questions.

Daphna and Gracie are an absolute joy. We are having fun introducing them to everyone who has been praying for them for so long. Gracie should start seeing specialists in the next week or so and we will begin to determine the extent of her disabilities.

Also, continue to be in prayer for Hal in Haiti. The political situation has become very frustrating, and the adoption and humanitarian parole options are at a stand still thanks to foreign intervention, specifically UNICEF who has been granted authority over the care and movement of orphan children. UNICEF opposes international adoption of any sort, and while they do alot of good work in providing medical care, shelter, education and food, they also are proponents of abortion and population control. They are not allowing any children to leave Haiti at this point.

Saturday, February 6, 2010

Lois Dorothy Swieringa


On Friday night Judy's mom left us and as our daughter Megan said, "is skipping like a little girl" in heaven. We thank God for such a loving, accepting, serving and gentle Mom, mother-in-law and Nana.

Funeral arrangements are through Schoeder Lauer Funeral Home in Lansing IL. Look under the obituary link for Lois Dorothy Swieringa for details.

Friday, February 5, 2010

Bittersweet



On Tuesday we were called late afternoon to Chicago. Judy's mom has been suffering from congestive heart failure, pulmonary hypertension and stage 4 cancer for some time now, and had taken a turn for the worse. It was a huge blessing to be able to introduce her to her two newest granddaughters. As of Thursday, hospice has been providing comfort care and we are awaiting the celebration in Heaven when Mom goes home.
We also had a chance to introduce Daphna and Grace to their Grandpa. He is now living in a memory support apartment in Chicago.

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

HIS Home

We received word today that the deal on the new home that Hal had found in Haiti has fallen through. The plan for right now is to shore up the existing girls/babies home and move into it until God opens the door for a new building- they are in rather short supply right now in Port au Prince. Apparently the girls home has very few cracks in the walls, but it has shifted about 6 inches off of it's foundation. Unfortunately, it is no longer an option to keep the kids outside in the church yard, and no other long term option is presenting itself as of yet. Please pray for the wisdom of the workers as they shore up this damaged building, and for Hal as he continues to search for appropriate shelter for the 58 kids still in his care. Hospitals are beginning to contact HIS Home looking for places to release kids who have no one coming to pick them up. We know that Hal and Chris desire to make a place for as many of these "new" orphans as possible.
Daphna and Gracie are fitting in just fine at home. Daphna is having some "going to sleep" issues, but the rest of the time is a happy and healthy 2 year old is rather enjoys pestering her older brothers. Gracie continues to eat long after everyone else is done at the table and is smiling all the time. I noticed yesterday that many of the creases in her forehead are gone....we think she is relaxing and enjoying this new life. I can only imagine the stress there has been on this little body for the last 3 weeks. She is even beginning to dole out some rather sloppy kisses once and awhile...
Check out the link to the HIS Home 300 Michigan route coming this June. The planning phase is almost completed and rider and sponsor recruitment has begun. The need in Haiti is greater than ever, and it is our desire to do all we can to support HIS Home in being an example of Christ's love to the least of these. We would love to have you join us on the ride.

Friday, January 29, 2010


a new normal

Pack and play, car seats, diaper changer, sippy cups, that "not so fresh aroma" wafting through the house.....wow, I feel old!
Daphna has been having a little bit of a hard time getting to sleep- she seems scared of being left in her bed. As we sit and rock her we can't help but think of what these big eyes have seen, what she has felt, heard and smelt over the last 2 weeks. God has truly watched over her, but at the same time she has been through more trauma then most will ever expirience. Please pray for her as she settles in- that God would wrap His arms around her in these times (as well as Judy and I) and she would feel peace.
They both went to see Dr. Cox yesterday- 5 shots each, they are polka-dotted with Sesame Street band aids right now. Both aren't even registering on the growth chart yet- Gracie had 4 helpings of lasagna last night and typically is still eating 1/2 hour after everyone else is done. Daphna is in great shape. Gracie is being scheduled to go see some specialists. Dr.Cox suspects a couple different things going on in her feet, hands and hips. He is most concerned about the hips, which is a new symptom for us. Pray for this little girl- our heart aches that she will have a physical battle for life. Her heart sounded great and the Doc was very pleased with developmental progress.
So this is our new normal....Thank you Jesus. What a privilege to understand a little more just what Your love for us is like.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Gotcha Day!



Exactly 1 year and 11 months after being brought to the orphanage, Daphna is finally home.
More pictures tomorrow. Bed...now....

Home

We arrived home at 3 am. We were the first to be cleared for travel in Florida and had a 7:30 pm flight to Detroit- then drove home 3 hours in the snow. (I already miss Miami) The girls are happy- lots of smiling and cooing and eating. I am on my way to pick up Sam, Meg and Josh to introduce them to their new sisters. Today is a good day- Thank you God!

Your prayers carried 67 children from Port au Prince home this week. Words will never express what that looked like yesterday in Miami- the angels celebrated....

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

COMING HOME!!!

This is a friend of Geoff and Judy's writing. They just called moments ago and said that ALL FOUR are coming home!!! Praise God!!! They are on the plane at this very moment and plan to land in Detroit tonight at about 10:30, continue those prayers sleep has been very minimal. Their computer stopped working so they were not able to post anything online. They knew that many family and friends have been going through this time with them and wanted you all to rest tonight knowing that everyone is safe and coming home.

Fix Your Eyes

My face is shining upon you, beaming out Peace that transcends understanding. You are surrounded by a sea of problems, but you are face to Face with Me, your Peace. As long as you focus on Me, you are safe. If you gaze too long at the myriad problems around you, you will sink under the weight of your burdens. When you start to sink, simply call out "Help me, Jesus!" and I will lift you up.

The closer you live to Me, the safer you are. Circumstances around you are undulating, and there are treacherous-looking waves in the distance. Fix your eyes on Me, the One who never changes. By the time those waves reach you, they will have shrunk to proportions of My design. I am always beside you, helping you face today's waves. The future is a phantom, seeking to spook you. Laugh at the future! Stay close to me.

from Jesus Calling by Sarah Young

Tuesday...

the bad.....At the Florida office of HHS until 3am tues. and will go back at 10 am. The girls are there but we can't see them until all paperwork is processed. They are being very careful- therefore taking alot of time. We were on hold all day yesterday and are quite frustrated. American Airlines won't work with us on ticket changes due to all this and we are racking up fees for changes left and right- about 600 bucks so far.
The good.....67 kids out of Haiti- the system really slowed if not stopped after they got out. The kids are at a childrens home being fed, washed and cared for (and hopefully getting some sleep) We should see them today. God is really working and we need prayer just to wait for His timing on this.

Monday, January 25, 2010

miami

Things change rapidly- due to political things happening at the US Embassy, Chris and Hal felt it best to get out of there as quick as possible. Sounds like 67 kids flew into Orlando military base this morning and are getting processed there. They will then fly on a private jet to Miami and we will pick them up around 6 tonight at the airport. Praise God they are out of Haiti and on American soil.

Sunday, January 24, 2010

The Plan

Monday at 2 a.m., we will be heading to Detroit. We fly out at 6:40 a.m. and land in Miami at 9:45 a.m. Daphna and Grace (and hopefully 75 other HIS Home kids - Chris is still at the embassy) will leave Port Au Prince at 11:00 a.m. When they land in Miami, they will go through immigration and have a medical exam. We have been warned this may take up to 10 hours. The kids will then be released to us and we can take them back to a hotel for the night. We will fly home at 10:55 a.m. Tuesday. Hoping to be a complete family for dinner that night. Please pray for the kids as many are dehydrated and feeling ill. Pray for Chris and Hal as they have been fighting for these kids nonstop for many days now. Thank you for supporting us on this journey. Never in our wildest imagination would we have pictured all this happening. So thankful for the beauty coming from the ashes.

Saturday, January 23, 2010

Travel

Travel plans are changing...sounds like the pick up point is going to be in Miami on Monday. We scrambling to find some airfare and hotels right now. Two more days and we'll be holding them.
Please continue prayer for Hal and Chris- I would imagine they are just about exhausted and still have much to do- these are amazing people being used by God to rescue His children. What a privilege to be part of it!
Blessings
For so an ENTRANCE shall be ministered to you ABUNDANTLY into the everlasting kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. (2 Peter 1:11 MKJV)

The most ample entrance would be furnished; there would be no doubt about their admission there. The gates of glory would be thrown wide open, and they, adorned with all the bright train of graces, would be admitted there. -Barnes
Bright train refers to an American Airlines 747 (The Message Version :-)

What other nation is so great as to have their gods near them the way the LORD our God is near us whenever we pray to him? (Deuteronomy 4:7 NIV) -Be amazed!

When we choose deliberately to obey HIM, then HE will tax the remotest star and the last grain of sand to assist us with all HIS almighty power. -Chambers

Friday, January 22, 2010

The Embassy



Here are some pictures of the HIS Home kids at the embassy. If you look in the left corner of the photo with all the kids in it, you will see Grace with her "magic shoe" up in the air.

Tears are flowing.....

We received a call from Washington about 7pm. Daphna and Gracie have both qualified for the humanitarian parole....in other words, they are coming home!
Hallelujah- what a good God we serve!
We will keep you posted as things continue to develop....Hopefully they will be flying tomorrow!

another night....

Had our appointment for fingerprint renewal today- the original ones expire after 16 months. Made it feel like we were doing something useful anyway...
Here's the latest- they have been at the embassy all day again (apparently there is only one agent there right now) and some HIS Home kids are starting to receive their visas. We suspect they are working through all the HIS Home papers as we speak...so pray for them. The 6 kids being adopted by Canadians have received permission to travel and will be in Montreal soon- congrats Canucks..
We haven't heard anything yet- but we know that everyone is still good at HIS Home, Hal sounded confident this morning, and God is still moving.
Keep praying- hopefully all the kids will be coming soon...

Another morning....

There is only one relationship that matters, and that is your personal relationship to a personal Redeemer and Lord. Let everything else go, but maintain that at all costs, and God will fulfill His purpose through your life. One individual life may be of priceless value to God's purposes, and yours may be that life.

Oswald Chambers.

Another day of waiting....the kids stayed at the Embassy gates last night.
Follow the link to the HIS Home 300 on the left- there is a video of the kids and Hal and Chris from August 28- it is good to see the faces of the people for whom you are praying.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Kids at the gate...

No visas today...Junior spent all day running around. The team with 56 kids are camping out at the American Embassy gate (on American soil) in order to be first in line. The Embassy is really making them work for it. Please contact the Congressmen and President to let them know how you feel about getting these kids out of there. Congressmen Ehlers and Hoekstra have been advocates and deserve our thanks.
We have a big God- and He is moving...

Long day...

Very little news today, just waiting. 56 kids went to the Embassy for their papers this morning- we don't know who yet. An adoption agency in town is traveling to Miami this evening to pick up their kids who were released today, so things are definitely happening. We are packed and ready to go!

team

The supply team has reached the orphanage- they met with Hal at the Embassy. Right now the kids are fully supplied with what they need!- Thank you to all of you who contributed to HIS Home in the last week to make it happen. Even airfare to the DR was donated- so every cent donated went right to the kids- what blessing!

waiting....

Nothing more from Haiti overnight. It sounds as if the embassy is beginning to issue papers, so hopefully there will start being flights coming out of Haiti soon with orphans. Please pray for Hal and Chris as they work to process all the papers necessary at a chaotic US Embassy. It sounds as if Hal is working hard to find appropriate shelter for the kids that can't come right away- probably a good number of kids. Safe, strong and secure shelter is at a premium right now, so resource are definitely needed for HIS Home to continue. You can follow the HIS Home link to the website for giving options.
We will keep you as up to date as possible. God is on the move, the doors are opening.....
The supply team is at the Haiti border right now- they have permission to get through but wanted to wait until daylight to travel in Haiti- it is not the safest place in the world.....apparently the greatest need right now is diapers. I can only imagine.

Please continue to intercede for HIS Home with our heavenly Father.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

closer....

From Ohio:

Our holdup is on when the governments will release the children. We will be
flying them as soon as they are released and the govt has indicated they will be
prioritzing them in the three batches. Airline availability or airfare isn't a
concern. But Thank you for thinking ahead!

Don't know who or when or where- but things are happening....

From Hal this morning

Hal called about 7:30 am and said that they are well. He was adament that we
all need to calm down. God is working and He is in control. He said "We are not
going to take these kids to the Embassy and camp out there in the hot sun with
no water." They have done everything they need to do with the Embassy and are
awaiting their call.
We are to STAND READY and pray.
Stand ready means that we need to be ready at a moments notice to get our kids.
It is possible, though in NO WAY PROMISED that some could fly out even today or
tomorrow. Possibilities are Mansfield or Chicago????

Still a lot of unknowns. PRAY PRAY PRAY
Pray for Hal and Chris to have strength & wisdom. They are doing everything
they can to get these kids out.

Another one

Another earthquake hit this morning- apparently a 6.1. Thankfully the kids are living outside as this will probably great add to the damage and confusion. No word from Haiti yesterday- we are all waiting holding our breath. The governments have cleared the way for humanitarian parole, but the reality is that there is mass confusion and no movement at the US Embassy in Haiti, who is supposed to be processing the kids in order for them to travel. There are reports of kids flying out right now on the news, but this is just a tiny number of kids. Please pray for Chris and Hal- they are doing all they can to keep the kids safe while working through the paperwork. Julie is somewhere on a road between the DR and Port au prince with food- pray that God's hand of protection would be on that team.
Please write emails, make phone calls or send letters to your government officials asking them to ask the US immigration service to get moving on this. there are alot of organizations to help facilitate, but everything stops at the Embassy right now.
Blessings

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Waiting

Today was another day of waiting. No new news. None of the HIS Home children have been evacuated. There is a team on the way to them with 5000 lbs. of supplies. In the US, we have been scrambling to send copies of paperwork to government agencies proving we are linked to our children. Decisions are being made on a case by case basis as to who will come to the states.

Monday, January 18, 2010

God is Good, All the Time

Hal said on Skype Chat:
> "The kids are all safe at the chapel soccer field. We have water and rice.
Our biggest need right now is for shelter. Tents are scheduled in tomorrow
(Tuesday), pray that they are not stolen in the process. The drinking water
system is operational, we have formula and food for the near future and more is
on the way. God is Good, All the time!!!
> Tell them [news and government] we need to get these kids evacuated to Ohioi.
Most of them have adoptive families. We have shelter in place at a church. We
have host families to take the children that don't have adoptive families.
Every parent needs to contact the U.S. Senators for their state and tell them
they want their kids out of Haiti
> Tell everyone that will listen that you want your kids out of Haiti. There is
no infrastructure here. The gangs are going wild and we need them evacuated
immediately. Let's get these kids to Ohio!!!"
>

questions.....

There is a lot of questions and information and rumors flying around today about humanitarian visas and expedited adoptions. Pray for all involved.......

Water- hallelujah!

The following is the fourth of many field reports that will be sent from our Haiti field reporter Kirk Noonan.
Water is scarce in Port-au-Prince. So much so, that if relief groups advertised they had clean water to distribute they would, according to officials here, be overrun. So, one Convoy of Hope team worked behind the scenes on Saturday to provide clean water for the residents of Port-au-Prince by installing two modified bio-sand filters at an orphanage in the capital city.
“Since the earthquake struck the orphanage has had to ration water for the children,” says Gary Higgins, director of international projects for Convoy of Hope. “The children were surviving on only a half a cup of water per day, which obviously is not nearly enough for the hot and humid conditions in Haiti.”
Please give now to help provide water and other supplies for Haiti.
On Saturday morning, Higgins built and installed two filters using two technologies Convoy of Hope has come to rely on in its efforts to provide clean drinking water in impoverished countries.
“Getting the natural material for a bio-sand filter in a disaster area is not possible so we merged the bio-sand filter with one of our Sawyer water filters,” he says. “Now, these children will have access to clean drinking water every day.”
The hybrid filters will each produce 1.2 liters of clean water each minute. Clean water will help stop the spread of diseases, which officials here will run rampant in the coming days as residents settle for unclean water.
According to a UN development report—for every dollar spent on providing clean drinking water in places like Haiti there is an economic return of $8 worth of productivity from those who have access to the water.
“In other words,” adds Higgins, “it improves people’s lives and provides opportunity for them.”
Chris Nungester, director of the orphanage, is just happy her children will have access to clean, drinking water.
“This is going to be life changing for our orphanage,” she says.

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Sunday Morning

This is the latest

As far as an update she said to tell you all that they are doing good. The Kids are all having fun at the Church yard as they get to run around a little more! They have went down to 2 meals a day to ration the food a little better and for breakfast they have been having pop tarts that someone gave them. Hal is sleeping in the truck, his back has got to be killing him, and Chris is staying with the kids. The search is on for a place to move into and the UN has been going around with structural engineers and checking homes. They have not made it to the girls or boys homes yet.

Food is starting to show up, 8 tents are on the way. Sounds like rain in the forcast, which could make things a little nasty. HIS Home is in need of a home.
Our God is good!

Saturday, January 16, 2010

Saturday Night

We read Ps:27 for devotions tonight- a couple things jumped out.

Verse 5- "For in the day of trouble he will keep me safe in his dwelling; He will hide me in the shelter of His tabernacle"- the kids are camping out at the Quisqueya Chapel for the forseeable future. That is God's dwelling.......

Ps.27:10 "Though my father and mother forsake me, the Lord will receive me"- God is holding these kids safe in HIS House!

We have had alot of people asking us the last few days about what happens next....A.W. Tozer answers that much better than I ever could.

"The profoundest sentence ever uttered by human lips was the spontaneous cry of the prophet Ezekiel in the valley of the dry bones when asked by the Lord whether those bones could live:
"And I answered, O Lord God, thou knowest."
Had Ezekiel answered yest or no he would have closed off his heart to the mighty mystery which confronted him and would have missed the luxury of wonder in the presence of the Majesty on high. For never forget that it is a privilege to wonder, to stand in delighted silence before the Supreme Mystery and whisper, "OH LORD GOD, THOU KNOWEST!"

Waiting

Well, pretty short post today....no news from Haiti. Watching the news coverage isn't real comforting either. Hanging on for dear life to PS 46:1
God is our refuge and strength, and everpresent help in trouble.
There you go- everpresent strength. Just think, God is holding the hands of our Daphna and Gracie while they are camping out at the chapel. Oh God, please let all the kids at H.I.S. Home to be very concious of your hand of protection and provision.
Blessings

Friday, January 15, 2010

Aftershocks

This just in from another adoptive parent. Please join us in praying for an end to these aftershocks.

I just talked to Chris for about 2 minutes.

This is accurate as of this minute. The boys home was damaged (as we knew) after this mornings aftershock (small) the girls/little kids home is not safe. They are moving all of the kids to the church. They will be set up with a small corner of the property by the swingsets. They are all ok.

I will be traveling to Haiti (not sure when I am leaving - within a week). Chris said that they need protien (she specifically mentioned peanut butter) and cash - She said that soon they will be able to use cash, but no access to banks. I am doing whatever I can to gather cash and provisions.


Because He lives and loves us greatly.....

From Hal's Mom in Ohio

Just talked with Hal and Chris and some of the children at HIS Home. They are all fine - living out in the yard because of stress fractures in both houses, but basically everything is good. They have food and water and Chris has been helping at a clinic, doing all the things her medical training prepared her for. Both houses are in good shape - and what a miracle that is! God led them to these two houses out of the many that were available. In fact, two of our former board members left the board because we rented these houses instead of some cheaper, less sturdy houses (which, by the way, are completely gone!) God's provision! If you can get the word out to your e-mail friends, I would appreciate it. Thank you for your prayers.

More news...

This is from another parent adopting from HIS Home;

I just got through to Chris and was able to talk for
a while. They are still doing OK. The boys home has been damaged enough that
they are moving the furniture out of the house tomorrow and will be looking for
a new place to move them into. Please Pray that a new home is found quickly.
They are still all sleeping out in the yard at the main house as the tremors are
still happening occasionally and they are playing it safe.

The security wall will need to be fixed but at this time even finding the
materials to do the work is out of the question.

They are understaffed but getting by and from what I understood they have not
heard from some of the nanny's and staff at this point.

She was in good spirit for the situation that they are in right now.

She thanks everyone for all the prayers and please continue to pray!


Julie will be flying out of Boston Tueday with as much formula and cash that she can carry. Following the HIS home link or the free formula delivery link on this page will bring you to our donation sites.
Blessings

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Free Formula Delivery

There is an adoptive mom in Boston who just received permission from Delta Airlines to bring as much formula as she can scrape together down to Haiti on this tuesday.
You donate money through paypal or a credit card, then Julie will go to Walmart and buy formula in Boston and ship it on Tuesday.
Just think, the babies will be eating it by Wednesday morning- it doesn't get any faster than that
God is opening the doors....

Contact!

Well everyone- this showed up a couple minutes ago...


My brother got a text message from my dad (Hal). They are still doing okay and
send their love- sorry but thats it & we'll take it for now! Just wanted to
share- I know everyone would want to know.


Exhale, inhale, exhale, inhale....okay, we can breathe again.
Thanks for the tremendous outpouring of blessing.

Another text this afternoon:

My husband (Hal's son) received this message from Hal approx 3:25pm today...
very limited telephone. no internet. no electric. limited fuel for generator.
food supply ok. water supply ok.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

No news today...

Communication is very difficult right now. All communication is through satellite links which are completely overloaded, so there has been no know communication with HIS Home today. Looking at the new stories and reports, it looks pretty horrible down there right now.
We have received many reports today from friends who are lifting up prayer to our Father on behalf of these children. Please pray for wisdom for Hal and Chris as it will take all their energy and experience to get through this. Pray that God's upholding hand would be extremely clear to them.
If you feel the need to help them out- follow the link to the left to HIS Home for Children and you can donate there. Thanks on behalf of HIS Home.
Blessings

the day after....

Thoughts that tumble....
The kids are safe- awesome
We are scheduled to fly there in four weeks- will we be able to go?
How will food and water hold up- 126 kids to scrounge for food for.
Many government building collapsed....our dossier is somewhere in one of those buildings....
I spent some time in Ps. 46 this morning;
God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble. Therefore we will not fear, though the earth give way and the mountains fall into the heart of the sea, though its waters roar and foam and the mountains quake with their surging. There is a river whose streams make glad the city of God, the holy place where the Most High dwells. God is within her, she will not fall; God will help her at break of day. Nations are in uproar, kingdoms fall; he lifts his voice, the earth melts. The LORD Almighty is with us; the God of Jacob is our fortress. Come and see the works of the LORD, the desolations he has brought on the earth. He makes wars cease to the ends of the earth; he breaks the bow and shatters the spear, he burns the shields {9 Or } with fire. "Be still, and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth." The LORD Almighty is with us; the God of Jacob is our fortress. (Psalms 46:1-11 NIV)

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Earthquake

A major earthquake hit Port au Prince today.....headlines make it sound pretty bad in the city- lots of collapsed buildings and homes. We received an email from Chris to let us know that a wall fell down in the orphange and they don't know if the building is safe, but NO ONE GOT HURT!- all the kids are safe, although they are going to be sleeping outside for awhile....
Please pray for them- supplies are going to be hard to get, and an already desperate and not so safe place just got a little scarier. Chris and Hal are back after Christmas Break, so we know the kids are in capable hands.
Pray, Pray, Pray- they are gonna need it.

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Getting ready to ride

Hey all,
November and December have been some very busy months for us. We are in the process of organizing the Michigan spoke of the H.I.S. Home 300. This is a 300 mile bike ride to raise funds and awareness for H.I.S. Home. The ride originated four years ago with Tony Scott from Joliet, IL. to Harrod, OH. Last year a route was added from Champaigne, IL. to Harrod, and this year we will be organizing a route from Rockford, MI to Harrod, Ohio. We have started a blog to keep everyone up to date on what is happening with the ride, and will have all pertinent information linked to that site- follow the link to H.I.S. Home 300 Michigan Route. (we are still under construction)
We bought tickets to Haiti a couple weeks ago. We will be there from Feb. 16- 23. We are linking up with a team from Illinois and will be working on the sponsorship packets (visit www.hishomeforchildren.com and follow the "sponsor a child" link.
We are also planning on spending a lot of time with two certain young ladies there as well.
We are packing heavy thanks to First Jenison CRC. in Jenison, who had a baby shower for HIS Home just before Christmas. We are hauling 300 lbs. of formula, vitamins, socks, underwear and medications. Thank you First Jenison!
The girls are doing well- we are missing them terribly and are praying the next few weeks will go by quickly....
Thanks and blessings!