The Tale of Two Mothers

It was nearly Christmas 1963 when one mother received a call confirming their foster home was able and willing to take in an almost 12 month old girl and her 4 year old brother while another mother was attempting to take care of her so that she could be reunited with her children… one day.


Through a variety of circumstance, with God weaving details and lives in a way only God can do, I and my brother Mike were both adopted being gifted with the last name Murphy. What a gift adoption is; being offered a family and a name saying… you are wanted. You belong.
We arrived into a home ran by a full-time homemaker and ex-Marine. The orderly home was exactly what these children needed; every meal at mostly the same time every day. Routine and consistency. I was expected to follow the rules without question and without complaint. (I actually think I did that pretty well until my teenager years when I decided to become a little more vocal with my opinions- not really well received. )

Fast forward to my 10th year of life to the day a car pulled up along the street in front of our house as a stranger called my name. I approached this car meeting the mother who was now ready to be reunited with her children.

She asked if I was happy and I assured her that I was. It would be nearly 20 more years before I would lay eyes on this mother again. More years later I heard that my mother -the one who worked to be reunited with her children – was offered the opportunity to have her two children that were adopted years earlier returned. That would have included that then 10 year old daughter she met on the sidewalk that summer day. It was then that she made a decision that only a mother could make. She said “no”. She said she knew the family I was adopted by was the only family I knew. This mother sacrificed what her Mother’s heart longed for to offer what she believed was best… for me.

My life continued as it had- full of safety, love, and the usual normal fun childhood experiences. I fished with Dad, cooked with Mom, pretend ironed Dad’s hankies, ran in the summer rain, snow forts in the winter with bread bags over my socks, you know, regular kids stuff prior to computers.

Being 3: A Snapshot in Time

Being raised by World War II veterans offered to me the example of responsible living while introducing me to the God who created me allowing me plenty of opportunity to grow in my faith in God (translated means we went to church…a lot.) I really tried my best to hold back my desire to be a voice for justice-though mostly justice for me at that time. I once sighed or made some groaning sound at what my mother made for supper when I was in high school and I was promptly told that I would “not be invited to join them for dinner” and that I was invited to make my own meal. I initially thought it a fairly fine idea until a few nights later she made something I really liked. Now, looking back, I actually think she just may have done that on purpose….. I was invited to re-join her and Dad for supper if I felt like I could now “accept what was prepared without complaint”, my slightly rebellious nature wanted to say, “maybe I’m not ready yet” but the pull of whatever she made won and I agreed to return to the respectful mannerly ‘no complaint’ expectation.

At the age of 40 I completed by degree as a nurse choosing to work on the reservation I was born into. It so happened that the mother who chose life for me decided to retire to her same reservation having reached 70 thinking it a good age to stop working full-time as an alcohol and drug abuse counselor.

Living on the same reservation brought many more opportunities to get to know my mother, Betty. It didn’t take long to discover where my drive to fight for justice came from as well as my story-telling gene and sense of humor. Sadly my two families collided just one year earlier at Mike’s funeral as we all mourned the loss of someone we all believed was too fun, too full of life to have ever believed he wouldn’t just always be here. Or, maybe, I always believed he would always be here…

My two mothers both loved the same children and both lost their son, Mike. Both went to Flandreau Indian Boarding school though nearly 10 years apart. Both mothers found more opportunities to connect through Tribal meetings for old-er native people and developed a friendship as widows and mothers who both loved their children,

Today is a very special day as the mother who God chose to give me life through celebrates her 86th birthday! Today also marks Day 2 in heaven for my mother – who God also chose – who gracefully stopped aging at the beautiful age of 97… now eternally young living in the presence of Jesus.

I have been doubly blessed to have two mothers. I hear from so many who had one mother who they lost so many years ago; for some when they were but a small child. I have no answer as to why I would be offered this gift of two mothers and for so many years. Though each were not perfect they each loved and love in their own way as living examples to press on and face each day with purpose. They lived in all their imperfect humanity so that I can be an imperfect Mom to my own children hopefully having taught and modeled living life with respect, love and laughter teaching my children and now grandchildren to trust in the God who created us all and loved us first.

The Tale of Two Moms is my true story. Today my emotions waiver from sadness to joyful anticipation of future reunions, gratefulness to still have a mother this side of heaven getting to experience another birthday then I’m back to sadness for me and others without their mothers.

I must press on facing each day with purpose, taking all the best I’ve been offered by the warrior-mothers God chose for me, take time to pray, to laugh, to fight for justice, maybe iron a little, cook sometime and love….really love.

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Tears From a Movie

In 4 days  it will be 2 years exactly since we traveled to witness a beautiful  wedding in India. We stood on a train station platform not aware we were almost missing our train yet the most profound and painful memory is the little boys.  Begging. Staring with those empty and sad eyes. I  prayed so often for them, that they would be found or if not lost at least have a family that loves them, protects them and cares for them and offers a home for them to return to every night. As time went on there were more and more days between my prayers. Life, my family, my needs.

wp-1488773002177.jpgTonight I was back on the platform as I watched the movie “Lion”.  A little lost boy, separated from his family with only memories to haunt him and call him back to India.  This little guy’s true story is so sad yet turned out so much better than others; getting a family who loved him and years later finding and reconnecting with his birth family.

I feel burdened to help, a burden  that hurts  so deeply… to do something….  I am  praying again, for “our” little train station boys and for the thousands and thousands who are lost. Tears. For all children who are lost, hungry, lonely and alone.  It is beyond me to know what I can do but pray to the God who can.   My God who can find, save, deliver, love, and adopt for all eternity.

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Good Wednesday Morning 

Praying for the day ahead; for a precious teacher who has cared for  her mother for years praying for healing to watch her slip into eternity questioning God as so many do when the preferred response was earthly healing,  praying for my time later this morning with the school administration and additional groups of teachers. Thankful for time spent yesterday with 2 separate groups of teachers as well as getting time with the school cooking team to encourage them in their important ministry of providing nourishment; for many the only food they get in a day.

No TV, radio or endless WiFi to stay informed about the world. Time just to talk, build  relationships and communicate with the God Who gratefully brought us here.

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We Made It Up The Mountain

We had to do it and we were racing to beat the dark as we didn’t have a flashlight. We greeted everyone with a “Bonswa” and kept a pretty good pace for 2 old and outta shape Wisconsinites. We reached the top only needing my phone flashlight for the last 5 minutes. We arrived at the building gate greeted by a couple of security guards we had yet to meet. They were not yet informed we were staying on the property so we had to wait until they confirmed it with their boss. Very safe. Of course I don’t know how often they have white people knock on their gate out of breath saying ‘this is our home this week’. After we were considered safe to enter Randy brought them some Ginger snap cookies he baked today and some lime sun tea to thank them!

I begin my mental health teaching tomorrow and I am needing Godly wisdom to share some difficult things. Randy will be experiencing his first Haitian market along with his first ride on a Haitian motorcycle to get there and back! The ride starts at the top of this mountain and he admits he is a little nervous!

I already think Randy will miss his open air kitchen as he is now making his mango soup for tomorrow’s lunch unsure of how long this market journey will last tomorrow. I am going to do some more preparation for my teaching now and snap some more pictures of my cook hard at work.

Blessed to have the prayers of so many as we attempt to serve and bless others.

 

 

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The One House Phone

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I came across the picture today just after I had a conversation with a friend about what life was like before cell phones.  We ONLY had one phone.  One phone in a public area of our house; no privacy, no pictures, no texting. Just talking.  There was no voice mail. I still do not know how we survived having to wait to talk to someone until we arrived home. This was also a time when we wrote letters needing to wait days or weeks for a response.  If I don’t get a response to my text  in under 3 seconds now I am feeling impatient. Just a few moments ago I was talking on my cell phone (speaker) while using the same phone to scan a picture sitting in my wifi enabled printer upstairs while typing on this computer  to download the picture that was just scanned to be able to upload to this blog.  Wow.

With the amazing advances in technology there has been drawbacks to our interactions as humans, neighbors, colleagues and friends.  We can easily tap an angry face on social media now to share our outrage to a situation rather than persuasively and eloquently sharing our opinion with words.  I personally do not want to imagine life without my smart phone but thankfully I love words, love talking, writing and love hearing the stories of others. So, fun to reminisce about simpler days, ponder on how we’d communicate with ONLY one house phone and be grateful for technology, America and the times in which I am allowed to be alive in. Oh…heard a beep, gotta run….

 

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People Sometimes Surprise Me

I know that everyone has their own unique journey that has made them who they are today; beginning with their genetic make-up passed on to them from their parents and then every experience good and bad goes into creating who they are today. Who you are. Who I am. I talk about this daily and I believe this yet there are still times when people surprise me…when an adult can behave in such inappropriate ways in front of guests, in front of children and not see anything wrong with their behavior. People often respond to life’s challenges the way they saw it modeled when they grew up-children learn what they live-it is true. I grew up in a family that expected and taught me to show respect for others, for everyone and it is beyond me to understand how people can treat another human being so rudely. How a person doesn’t even know that they should be embarrassed by their behavior. So many thoughts tonight; nature vs. nurture, spiritually alive vs. spiritually dead, addictions vs sobriety, family,poverty,hope vs. hopelessness, love and faith and God.

suanne-pic-rotated-left I look back to my 4 year old self and love the innocence of youth I can see in my smile. So tonight I will continue to ponder and accept that we each have our own story and I will remain grateful for my story, for the genes that were woven into my every cell, for the expectation of respect that was modeled for me and the love I will strive to have for every person whose path crosses mine.

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Called To Serve

Do you wake every morning feeling you were created to do what you are doing? I am blessed to say I do. Serving those who have served our country.  Teaching, educating, listening and sometimes just really hearing the heart of those who are willing to allow me into their pains, joys, and memories. flags

Watching a broken heart heal is something pretty miraculous. Watching relationships restored and joy return after years of numbing faking smiles  always inspires me, always heals my wounds just a little more too.  God has taken my brokenness and broken  dreams on this journey of healing and offered me hope that I might in turn offer the same for others.

This week I was reminded that to be called into a career does NOT mean that everyday is full of Willy Wonka Chocolate Factory type fun and that I actually  may discover that not everyone believes, like I believe, that I was meant and sent to serve them and will only do my best to walk with them into a life of wholeness and healing. So, I will tell you as I tell myself, “Press On!” and I will wake up tomorrow, thank God for another day and go into my world, my career, my calling and know that I have been called to serve those who have served this great country.

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Mwen Pral Tounen

I will return.  There are few moments when I wonder if I physically can manage being in Haiti. Moments like when you’re stuck in traffic for hours with air conditioning that stops working so that you need to open the windows just to get some air movement even though the air is full of exhaust or when the car breaks down and you have to walk…up a hill… in humid air so thick you should need an inhaler even WITHOUT asthma. OR moments your mosquito bites itch so bad that your two anti-itch sticks don’t even help.

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THEN there are the moments that guarantee I will return. There’s the mother washing clothes on the top floor of their cement home who has been living in severe depression for nearly 3 decades following the loss of her children. This mother who can still cry. Often. Crying as she occasionally sings the hymns she used to sing before she stopped attending church. This mother with the far off stare when I engage her to find a way to break through her pain. I know that for this woman who lives in a home with the cracked walls from an earthquake and a broken heart from loss I will return.

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The moments that remind me there are teachers here committed to train and teach the the must vulnerable of this country-the children; the orphans and restaveks. To support their efforts I know I will return.
There is so much more on my heart this morning but right now I’m trying to navigate this ever changing airport so I don’t miss my flight to return to my non-Haitian life.
Until I write again…

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Still Under the Net

Writing with the glow of this phone tonight. The generator is running powering my fan on the other side of the net so I could turn the light on if I wanted.I’d rather not draw in any more mosquitoes just in case one is flying around the neighborhood with the dreaded malaria disease. Especially as I am without my 99% Deet right now. Just can’t re-apply after my final bucket bath for the night.
I have been blessed to have a ride up the mountain to the school (and church on Sunday) every day only having to walk down the mountain for the past 3 days. My calf muscles aren’t hurting anymore so that’s nice. I imagine I will get the opportunity to walk up Bellevue Mountain once before this week is over and place my feet in the steps that potentially 500 students have walked to attend a school that God built.
This mountain top once used mostly for voodoo ceremonies just 5 years ago now used solely by God. There is not only a school but a full clinic and pharmacy. God brought a full time occupational therapist and they also offer mental health services. They are set up to care for children following surgery as well as an area for dental services when God brings His dental workers.
It is amazing how many talented professionals God called to leave a paying job to serve without pay. On a mountain for His children needing God’s love. And healing.
I watched teachers truly teaching with the bare minimum of supplies and children truly learning who may never attend school if not for this school founded by God through one young lady who obeyed the heart of God. She walked up this mountain only to see a hungry little girl. And a tree.
I’ve seen “the tree” and the little girl now a beautiful and amazing young lady herself.
My journey here began with a book. A true story that captured my attention and once I read it I could not look away and pretend I didn’t know about children in slavery.
I am so blessed to be here. Not just here surrounded by a mosquito net but here at the base of this mountain. The heat and humidity is intense for this northern Wisconsin Grandma yet I know God has guided me here for His glory and purpose to join Him in the work He is already doing rescuing and healing-one beautiful child at a time.
Off to sleep safe within my net to the hum of the best gifts here; a running generator and a purring fan.
Good night from Haiti. Until the rooster cockadoodledoos. At 4am.

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Wisconsin to Haiti- TRANSITION

Transition. From electricity without fail(for the most part) to electricity sporadically with the hope that you can have at least a running fan.
Transition. From springtime temperatures to a hot and humid heat offering little relief in the shade.(did I mention it is hot?)
Transition. From running water and showers to cisterns and bucket baths.
Transition. From road construction areas to roads that badly need road construction.
Transition. From working along side of others who work for a living and earning a salary to working along side those who have chosen to work without pay and actually have to ask others to financially support them so that they can work to serve others in a third world country.
Tomorrow I look forward to teaching mental health expecting God to be the ultimate translator breaking through cultural and language barriers with the goal of healing hearts and minds.

I love this transition into Haiti even IF the air is so thick I feel I struggle to breath at times. I love that God has taken my heartaches and loss and then healing to now allow me the opportunity to serve others that they too may find the same.

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