Category Archives: birthdays

Birthday Time Again!

Another month of birthdays has come and gone (see R turn 6 here!) and I still can’t believe how old these kids are getting!  M turned 9, shortly followed by J who turned 10.  10 years old, you guys!  And still waiting for a forever family.  How in the world did even happen?!

Continuing the trend of ditching the whole party thing and celebrating with a special outing instead, we took M swimming at our favorite pool.  We decided to bring a friend along, Wilson’s nephew SonSon.  Whenever SonSon visits, he and M have a ball together, chasing each other around or SonSon pushing him in circles in his wheelchair, so we thought they’d have fun together in the pool.  And they sure did!  One of the great things about this pool is the large areas where it’s only a few inches deep throughout the parts that are about 4 feet deep.  So I can stand in the deep water, right next to M who is sitting in super shallow water that’s perfect for splashing and scooting around.  Don’t be fooled by the one picture of M relaxing in the floaty thing.  That lasted about 5 seconds and then it was back to the fun and games.  I always love the times we can get M away from all the nannies and kids, because he’s always much better behaved when he doesn’t have 11 other people competing for attention.  Understandable!  But he’s really a fun kid to hang out with this enormous amount of potential that I feel like we’re barely scratching the surface of.

And then we have J, who will be the oldest kid at COTP once L goes home with his forever family.  We had gone to the pool with J last year so we decided to ride horses with him this time around.  Some kids get scared their first time around large animals, but J was all smiles right from the start when we helped him pet the horse.  Now, when we’ve taken other kids riding, Wilson and I switch off who is holding them, but J is getting so tall that I just couldn’t balance both him and myself on those horses.  Wilson can do anything, of course, so he kept Josh and still guided his horse way better than I did.  Josh periodically arches his whole body, pushing his hips against the seatbelt of his wheelchair and stiffening everything up.  However, he spent at least an hour on the horse with Wilson totally relaxed, not tensing up once.  We took some paths through the fields down the road from COTP that none of us had been on before and ended up pretty lost, so eventually we just turned around and went back the way we had come.  You can see that part of the time, there’s a faint path to follow, and then at one point we just found ourselves in the middle of a random field.  If the bruise on my rear wasn’t growing with every passing minute and my fair Dutch skin wasn’t threatening to burn, I wouldn’t have minded wandering through those fields for hours with Wilson and J.  But, we headed back to the house where J enjoyed a cupcake we had bought from a restaurant the night before.  We’ve eaten there several times but this was the first time they pounced on us immediately after finishing our dinner to ask us if we wanted to buy dessert.  After 5 “no’s”, she kept insisting we buy a “Haiti cake”, so we did, neither of us knowing what that actually was.  Turns out it was a red and blue cupcake that we are pretty sure was leftover from Haitian Flag Day that week, and apparently they really wanted to offload them.  But J enjoyed the frosting and I didn’t have to bake a cake, so it all worked out in the end.

Children of the Promise has given explicit permission for the posting of photos on this site.  Photos taken of children in the care of Children of the Promise are not be posted publicly without explicit permission given by Children of the Promise.

R is 6!

R is 6!

In February we celebrated our first year as house parents in the Promise House and now we have cycled back through to birthday season.  There are three Promise House birthdays in May!  Technically, our sweet Nikensly would’ve been our first repeat birthday back in March.  I thought about and half-planned what we would do to remember his birthday but when it came down to it, I just couldn’t bring myself to do anything.  I did finally watch a few minutes of his funeral video but somehow even that didn’t seem real to me.  So I looked at some pictures (here’s a peek) and thought about our time together and thanked God that death is not the despairing end of life, but the glorious beginning to a life we can only imagine with Him.

And this month we have three beautiful kids celebrating another year of life.  R turned 6 this week (can you believe it?!) and since we took her swimming last year, we decided to call in Wilson’s cousin for some horseback riding this time.  While R has discovered laughter this past year, it’s still not super frequent, and her smiley moods are also sort of random, so it’s hard to tell if she really enjoyed riding or not.  But she didn’t give any indications that she didn’t like it, so I’m calling it a win!

Wilson was the hero who saved the day and I’ll tell you why.  It has rained most afternoons and/or nights for the past few weeks.  At least.  I can’t really remember, but it’s been in this rainy season pattern for a while.  After we took the horses through the COTP property, we thought we’d be a little adventurous and take a walk out behind the property.  We praised our horses for wading through little creeks and braving the mud in certain areas, but then we got to this little, I don’t know, 10-yard stretch of mud that was lined by barbed wire and apparently quite deep.   Neighbors’ fields were on either side which, of course, we din’t want to trample.  So Wilson has R at this point and is leading the way.  I am on my horse behind him, which is just a little more stubborn, or maybe–and this is entirely more likely–i Just have no idea what I’m doing.  So as their horse is shlupping through the mud, I see those hooves sinking deeper and those legs getting wobblier until I see the whole horse list to the right, lean further to the right, and fall flat on it’s right side.  In my mind, this is all happening in slow motion as I envision one or both of them pinned underneath a grown horse in the mud, entangled in barbed wire.  According to Wilson, it was not just my mind’s eye perceiving the fall in slow motion.  The fall actually happened quite slowly thanks to the viscosity and depth of the mud, so Wilson did not experience any life-flashing-before-his-eyes panic that I would have.  Rather, he just sort of stepped off the side of the horse with R in his arms as the horse laid down, with no more damage than a really muddy boot.  I was so relieved!  And in love: our very own muddy-horse-crisis hero!  The horse could not get itself unstuck so Wilson’s cousin had to pull each of its legs out of the mud and help it upright again.

Just in time for the rain.  Not a heavy rain, but a consistent light rain for the rest of our ride back home.  I’m sure we looked ridiculous taking a small child out on a horse in the rain when, mind you, Haitians really don’t ride horses for pleasure in the first place.  But we didn’t mind the rain and R didn’t seem to either and being out in the rain made home just a little cozier when we got back to sing “Happy Birthday” to R and eat some cookie dough brownie bars.  If you’re wondering why Wilson is lighting the candles like that, here it is.  We don’t use matches because Haitian matches are super flimsy and lame and since we have to light our stove and oven manually, we’d go through like a box a day.  We tried lighters but the nannies just couldn’t figure out that child-proofing mechanism and broke an entire Costco pack of lighters.  I am not exaggerating.  So to light the stove/oven, we have the top half of a blow torch, not attached to it’s own fuel source.  so to light the candles, Wilson had to light the stove, then that oil-dipped wad of paper, and then the candles.  It was really classy.  Because here is the Promise House, we’re always really classy.


Easter and Our Newest Addition

It’s been an exciting few weeks at the Promise House!  So exciting that we neglected to send out our e-mail newsletter last week. Sorry about that! Here’s a post to catch you up on the latest happenings before Wilson and I leave for a week in the Dominican Republic (thanks to our Aunt Arlene! J)

For Easter, my parents were able to fly down for a visit.  We’ve seen them a fair amount recently, since we spent November in California and Wilson and I both had week-long trips back since then, but it’s been a while since they’ve been down here to see us and the kids in the Promise House.  We were anxious for them to see the changes we’ve made and how well the kids are doing.  Perhaps my mom will write a little guest blog for you.  Mom?  And in case you all were wondering, frozen honey-baked ham, King’s Hawaiian rolls, the ingredients of cheesy potato casserole, and a frozen cheesecake all travel beautifully.  We enjoyed a full Easter dinner with the kids, ham bun leftovers all week, and I currently have ham-bone soup in the crockpot that is making the house smell scrumptious!


Mom and dad’s trip happened to coincide with our other big news: week one of the newest Promise House kiddo!  We’ve got 8 again!  E is 7 and has been at COTP since the summer of 2011.  Wilson vividly remembers his first day here and has had a special place in his heart for E since then.  I cared for E as his nurse during our first go-around, and now we get the honor and privilege of caring for him as house parents.  Even in this short time, we see an incredible amount of potential in E and are excited to love on him and see what we can accomplish together!  The nannies remember him well from the baby house days and were also excited to hear he’d be moving in with us.  Suzette in particular was very happy to have “her boyfriend” back!  Since E was not with us for his birthday back in January, we started out with a birthday trip to the beach.  It was fun to have mom and dad along (maybe we should have called them grandma and grandpa?!) to experience the day with us.  E is such a vibrant boy and even though the weather was less than ideal and we got plenty of drizzles throughout the day, we all had a really wonderful time!  His giggles were all the sunshine we needed 🙂


Please pray with us as E continues to transition to life in the Promise House.  Pray that God gives us the wisdom to care for him exactly as he needs to be cared for and also for the other kids as everyone gets used to each other again.

Children of the Promise has given explicit permission for the posting of photos on this site.  Photos taken of children in the care of Children of the Promise are not be posted publicly without explicit permission given by Children of the Promise.

Beach Birthday


Usually the birthdays I blog about are for our kids, but a few weeks ago we celebrated another special birthday: Frandy!  If you haven’t heard, Frandy is out newest sub and the first male nanny at COTP.  Even though it was technically a work day, he was so honored that we took him to the beach for some fun with three of the kids.  We typically only take one child out at a time, given the challenges of travelling with our kids in particular, but we got brave and took L, M, and J.  I had a bet with Wilson which of the kids would fall asleep on the way home and I’m pretty sure he won because I fell asleep!  These are our three highest functioning kids but still require one to one supervision and assistance and almost constant hands-on care.  Picture, if you will, a 5-year-old and 8-year-old in diapers with nothing even sort of resembling a changing table.  We were done swimming for the day and needed to rinse off and put clothes on so we could eat in the restaurant.  The 5-year-old can stand, so as long as I can keep him semi-still for more than a second, it’s not too tough to get a clean diaper at least covering the most important bits.  The 9-year-old cannot stand alone, and we were at the outdoor shower pad since the little bathroom stalls are slippery and icky, but modesty is important so I tried to maintain a shred of it while doing a crazy balancing act and not getting either of us too wet or dirty since he’s so squirmy and jumpy, and even if I thought I could just lay him on the cement for a second to change him, the people already staring at the spectacle would be horrified at my obvious disregard for the health of my child.

There really isn’t a place to change kids anywhere we might go.  We took H to the eye doctor a few weeks ago and she had a BM while we were there.  Most bathrooms are super cramped with just a toilet and a pedestal sink.  H is 3 and has very little muscle control, but big involuntary muscle jolts.  Wilson held up her head with one hand with all her things in his other hand while she was draped over the lid of the toilet seat, feet flopping around off the other side while I tried to clean her up without getting poo on her flailing feet, myself, or the room.  I’m just saying, the next time you use or see a little koala care changing station, say a prayer of thanks don’t take it for granted.

But back to the beach.  M has a great time no matter what we’re doing, and the beach was no different.  Getting splashed was all part of the fun!  If you remember how cold and shivery J was from the trip to the pool for his birthday, imagine more of the same.  He clung to me like the most adorable chattering monkey you ever did see.  He loved toddling around on the sand, though!  L just likes to do whatever we are doing so he played in the water with us, played soccer with Wilson and Frandy, and thoroughly enjoyed his lunch with a bit of Wilson’s Coke to wash it down.  It was a really wonderful day together!

Children of the Promise has given explicit permission for the posting of photos on this site.  Photos taken of children in the care of Children of the Promise are not be posted publicly without explicit permission given by Children of the Promise.

H is 3 and K is 9!

I’ve gotten a little behind on posting birthdays, so I’ll catch you up on the last two.  H is the youngest in our house and recently turned 3.  K is one of our older boys and just turned 9.  We took each of them to Villa Cana, the local hotel with a pool that seems to have become our most popular birthday destination.

Sweet H does not show much outward response to stimulation or interaction.  If left alone with nothing to see or do, H will usually just recline quietly in her chair until she gets hungry or uncomfortable.  But as we’ve said before, we did not move back to Haiti into the Promise House just to sustain life.  We came so these kids could thrive, so they could experience the love of a family and we could help them work toward their full potential.  To that end, we just pour as much love into H as we can and try to provide her with new sensations and experiences.  H hasn’t shown us a full smile yet, but she got pretty close when Wilson was playing with her in the water.  The water is usually a calming environment for our kids and H was no exception.  The only time she fussed was for the moments we were setting up lunch before I could actually feed her.  But hey, who doesn’t get a little cranky when they’re hungry, right?

K can be a tricky kid to understand with various medical issues that can cause pain and discomfort and such a limited ability to communicate.  When we moved into the Promise House, K was fussy most of the time, crying and clenching and arching his whole body.  The nannies told us that was just kind of normal for him.  After a lot of trial and error, guessing right and guessing wrong, small victories and not-so-small frustrations, K’s baseline has become much calmer and he seems considerably more comfortable most of the time.  When we got here 10 months ago, taking K outside COTP, especially through mealtime, was too daunting a task to even attempt.  We are so grateful that we were able to celebrate his birthday and actually have a really pleasant day with K.  The water was a bit chilly, but even when he started getting cold, K was still not as stiff and fussy as he once had been just sitting in his chair at home.  This was also the first time we’ve given K a g-tube feeding away from home.  I think the staff at Villa Cana are seeing and experiencing a lot of new things with each of the kids we bring, and hopefully it is putting a positive light on special needs in Haiti.  We praise God for K and for the opportunity to know him, love him, and learn from him.

Children of the Promise has given explicit permission for the posting of photos on this site.  Photos taken of children in the care of Children of the Promise are not be posted publicly without explicit permission given by Children of the Promise.
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Posted by on December 20, 2016 in birthdays, Life in Haiti, Sheila, The Kiddos, Wilson


L is 10!

It’s birthday time in the Promise House again, which is a great reason for me to break my 3 month blog silence.  Sorry about that!  If you want guaranteed updates more frequently, let me know if you want to be added to our e-mail list.  We send out a monthly e-mail, without fail, because my mom and sister will hound me until I write it! 🙂

Anyway, back to L and his 10TH BIRTHDAY!  I still remember the day L came to live with us at COTP and it has been a great joy to be part of his life and part of his journey since then.  What a long way he has come!  After a Fourth of July party at a missionary guest house with a pool last month, we discovered how much L liked being in the water, so it worked out perfectly that the group of volunteers visiting that week needed a driver/chaperone for their trip to the beach on Saturday.  If you see any extraneous white people in these photos, that’s them.  They were lovely.


Boy, do I look pale. But look at those two handsome boys!


After some fun in the water, we took a little break in the lounge chairs up on the beach.  Immediately, L saw all the sand stuck to his feet and wanted to wash them off.  It only took him one time rinsing them off at the water’s edge and climbing back up to the chairs to realize that plan was not going to be sustainable.  But gradually, he got used to the sand, and it didn’t bother him as much by the end of the day.

We ate lunch at the hotel restaurant just a short distance from the water.  My favorite thing that L does right now is pray for our meals.  Sometimes he is praying along with us, sometimes he just starts praying because we’re taking too long and he wants to eat.  We usually can’t understand more than a few words of what he is saying, but it’s different each time and we can pick out phrases in Kreyol like “Thank you Lord” and “Jesus, I’m praying”.  Of course the “Amen” at the end is always very clear!  He was not deterred in the least by a table full of people and jumped right in to pray before lunch.

I wish I had snapped a picture, but we found an old cell phone in the sand under the water that became L’s new phone.  He kept it in his pocket for days and would take it out now and then to make a pretend call, which was pretty adorable.  We did take the phone away after I retrieved a piece of the broken plastic that he had put in his ear.  It’s definitely not the first thing I’ve taken out of L’s ears and I’m sure it won’t be the last 😉

After a big day out, L fell asleep in the truck on the way home.  We’re not sure if he really understood that it was his birthday, but I’m pretty certain that he knew he was special and that he was loved.


I love these two!

Children of the Promise has given explicit permission for the posting of photos on this site.  Photos taken of children in the care of Children of the Promise are not be posted publicly without explicit permission given by Children of the Promise.
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Posted by on August 27, 2016 in birthdays, Sheila, The Kiddos, Wilson


J is 9!

J is 9!

We have finished celebrating all the May birthdays, which concluded with our oldest nanny, Yvonne, and our second oldest child, J.  At the start of the day, neither of them had any idea it was their birthday, but by the end of the day, I think both felt loved and honored.  It was a preschool day for J, and his teacher, Melissa, made him a birthday crown to wear and had all the kids sing Happy Birthday to him.  She said he was grinning from ear to ear!  He had yet to stop smiling when he got home from preschool and just had this gleam in his eye like he knew the day was all about him.

As I’ve mentioned before, eating can sometimes be challenging for J, so we decided to have lunch at the house before heading out.  Wilson and I took him to the same hotel where we celebrated R’s birthday a few weeks prior, but to the new pool on the other side of the grounds.

In the Promise House, we have four mobile (either walking or scooting) kids, and four more immobile kids, for lack of a better word.  J is unique because he seems to be the only one of our “immobile” kids who loves high energy play.  We had the best time getting smiles and laughs from J while playing in the pool.  We were able to get some video and if you listen closely, you can hear J talking.   We say he speaks whale, like Dori in Finding Nemo, because that’s what his adorable voice sounds like.  We actually watched that with the kids and nannies the other day and I guess I had forgotten what a tiny part of the movie that whale is! (sorry I don’t know how to rotate the movie so it is upright!)

We had some time for relaxing and lounging, too, which he also enjoyed and gave our arms some rest from all the heavy lifting.

I’ve been thinking a lot about what we’re trying to do here, so I looked back at our vision for the Promise House:

The Promise House will be a place where children considered weaker or less honorable by society are treated with special honor.  We will create a stable, Christ-centered home, where each child is loved, encouraged, and supported as we help them reach their full potential.  We delight in these children and their special challenges and hope to inspire the Haitian communities around us to do the same.

In addition to celebrating each child’s birthday, these outings are one way we can work toward the latter part of our vision, inspiring the Haitian communities around us to take delight in people considered by society to be weaker or less honorable.  They were still landscaping around the pool where we were playing with J, so there were several Haitian men watching us throughout the afternoon.  Whether they thought J was our biological child or suspected that we worked at an orphanage, they could see J being treated with love and special honor.  I can’t guess their thoughts or how they may have been affected, but I pray that God would use us to show others the inherent value in Every Single Person.  Inherent value simply because we are made and loved by a God who does not make mistakes.  J, we thank God every day that he chose us to care for you in this time and place and we pray that you would know just how valuable you truly are.  Happy birthday!


Children of the Promise has given explicit permission for the posting of photos on this site.  Photos taken of children in the care of Children of the Promise are not be posted publicly without explicit permission given by Children of the Promise.