Saturday, November 22, 2014

Pruitt's in Haiti Update, November 2014

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Thank You:

We want to say thank you to our supporters of our work of teaching, discipleship and counseling at Quisqueya Christian School in Port-au-Prince, Haiti. Thank you for your financial support and your prayers! We depend on supporters like you to continue our ministry.

An update on the Pruitt’s in Haiti:

We are already almost halfway through our fourth year here. It has been a busy, good and productive year so far, and teaching, discipleship and counseling are going well. Several students re-committed themselves to Christ, and there have been many other ministry opportunities.

One highlight for Robbie so far this year has been helping to lead the Senior Hike to a pine forest tucked high in the Haitian mountains. The weekend retreat was truly Spirit-filled, as the students grew closer to God and to one another. A particularly meaningful moment for the group was an evening devotion time, during which students shared areas in which they needed to grow in wisdom. The students shared openly and honestly, and supported one another with true kindness, creating deep bonds of friendship and community.

We have also enjoyed hosting dinner and a Bible study at our apartment once a month. This weekly gathering (usually hosted by another couple), is an oasis of refreshment and fellowship for the community of teachers, who are often in need of a boost mid-week. Since we are blessed with a little more living space, we have been happy to extend hospitality to our friends and colleagues in this way.

Financial Need:

We continue to count on supporters of our work and we need committed monthly donors. We are currently running a deficit of $1,500 a month in committed monthly contributions. If you would like to financially partner with our work of Bible teaching, discipleship and counseling in Haiti, please click here. We appreciate your partnership in this ministry.

Prayer Needs:

  • For Robbie’s students, that they are open to grow closer to God and receive the Good News of the Gospel
  • For Robbie as he teaches and continues to take classes toward his Masters in Theology degree at CIU.
  • For wisdom for Irene as she mothers Grace and counsels students and staff.
  • For balance in life, ministry and work for us as a family, in a sometimes challenging place to live
  • For our travels and fundraising efforts around Christmas time
  • For Robbie as he prepares to travel on an Israel study tour in the spring, as part of his Master’s program
  • For opportunities to multiply influence and develop leaders around us

To read an article in the Quisqueya Christian School newsletter, click here.

You can keep up with more details about our work on our blogs here:

Our Life With a Little Grace:

Wednesday, July 31, 2013

One Month

Dear Grace,

A few days ago, we celebrated your one month birthday!  It’s hard to believe that you’ve already been with us for almost 5 weeks.  All of time seems to have a different quality since you’ve been born.  Hours and days of the week no longer organize our lives.  Instead, it’s your little sounds, your naps, your delightful periods of wakefulness, and your basic needs that give structure to our days.  Really, “structure” is not the right word.  It implies a kind of rigidity and order that don’t really fit here.  No, our days are not really structured by you—but, they are given their flow and their pace by you.  And so, we happily meander along, soaking up precious times of nursing, shared naps, and gazing with deep joy and love and your waking or sleeping face.

In this time, you’ve been growing and developing at an amazing pace.  From your original weight and length of 7 pounds and 19 inches, you’ve gained 3 pounds and 4 inches.  You look around much more intentionally than you had in the early days—your favorite things to gaze at are our faces, the jingly orange bird toy, and the sharp contrast between the white walls and dark frames, curtains and wall hangings.  And your neck is much stronger and more stable—you don’t feel nearly as fragile as you did as a newborn.  Most delightfully, you’ve started to give us little smiles from time to time, especially as you drift off into sleep in our arms.  And even with all these changes, you’re still our same wonderful little Grace.

Just in the last week or so, we’ve started venturing out into the vast and expansive realm of “public.”  Now that your little body is a little stronger and more resilient, we’ve taken you along on dates, hikes, friends’ houses, and even to the store.  As long as we’re close by and you can eat and sleep whenever you want, you don’t seem to mind or notice the change.  Of course, everyone around certainly notices you!  You have many admirers, my love.  The sweetest ones, I think, are the little children.  Though they themselves are small and adorable, they gaze and gawk at your tiny hands and feet, exclaiming what a cute baby you are.  

I have been so grateful for the kindness that you have brought out of many strangers that we have encountered.  My favorite story of this kind is from our first date since you were born.  All three of us drove down to quaint riverside town of Occoquan for lunch, and then went to the Workhouse Art Center for the afternoon.  You slept most of the way there, but woke up very hungry just as we pulled in to the little town.  Your dad rushed to park, and I then raced around the side of the car to unbuckle you and find a place to breastfeed.  Thankfully, there was a shady bench not far from our parking space, where I plopped down to feed you.  Just as we were getting going, a woman rounded the corner of a shop and started walking towards us with a smile.  “We were just admiring your beautiful baby, and then I saw that you were nursing her out here.  Would you like to come into our boutique to nurse in a quieter place?” she asked warmly, as though we were old friends.  She welcomed us into the bridal shop next door, and ushered us to a sofa in the large dressing room, lined with hundreds of beautiful wedding dresses.  There, you nursed quietly and peacefully, while I also drank the cold bottle of water that the woman brought for me.  Both shop keepers were moms, too, they explained, and loved being with and nursing their kids when they were little.  Ah, I thought, they know the love and joy that I know, too.  Maybe it’s no surprise that caring and nurture is still flowing abundantly from them, now to me and my little one.

And so, Grace, it has been quite a month.  May God continue to bless you, to draw out the best in others through you, and to grow and strengthen you each and every day.


Tuesday, July 16, 2013

So loved

Dear Grace,

From the time we knew we were expecting you, and even before that, we loved you.  We loved the dream of you.  We loved your growing, forming body.  We loved feeling your kicks and squirms in my belly.  We loved the knowledge that you were ours.  And since your birth, we have fallen even more in love with you in ways that we couldn’t have imagined.  We fell in love with your eyes, gazing steadily into ours.  And your little hands with their long fingers (“She’ll play the piano,” Gigi predicted proudly).  And your soft baby skin and even softer baby hair.  And the little bird noises that you made when you sleep.  And the big grunts that you make when you’re awake.  And your sweet sweet facial expressions when you finish nursing, utterly satisfied.  
In these last few weeks, we’re not the only ones who have fallen in love with you.  You’ve also smitten our family and friends.  Babcia, Dziadzucz, and Sybie are transformed in your presence into cooing, delighted admirers who want nothing less than your total happiness.  Yaya and Grand-dude (AKA, Martha and Paul), have even joined in as honorary grandparents.  Today, you met Papa and Gigi on Skype—you are the 11th of their great grandchildren.  Gigi went on about what a pretty girl you are, and Papa kept saying that, of all the family members, you resemble him the most—no hair and no teeth.

Your cousins were so excited to meet you and hold you.  Zoanna, Evan and Dylan came from South Carolina to meet you, their only girl cousin.  Zoanna in particular was so happy not to be the lone female of the generation anymore, and wanted to hold you as long as she possibly could.  Wayde, Wesley and Will also sent their greetings in cards that they made themselves.

Zosia and Lily couldn’t stop exclaiming, “She’s so cute!  Look at her tiny little feet!”  Your feet were, incidentally, the only part of you that they were permitted to touch, so they seemed especially interested in them.  Hugo, of course, could not be limited by those rules.  He kept circling back to you, saying, “Reen!  Baby!” and then kissing your back.  At the next visit, he peered down on you in your bassinet, releasing an adoring (and adorable), “Aaaaawwwww!”  Also at the next visit, Zosia was allowed to hold you, which she did ever so carefully and gently.  At one point, I thought she may be tired and wanting to get up for a snack.  “No thanks,” she responded. “I’ll just stay here and hold her a few more minutes.” 
So, Grace, may you always know how deeply you are loved.  May you know, at the core of your being, that you are cherished and precious to us, and to God.  May this knowledge bring you joy and peace, even in the dark moments of your life.  May this knowledge shape who you are, and who you are becoming, even now.

I love you, Grace.

Friday, July 5, 2013

Happy Week Birthday!

Dear Grace,

Welcome to our family, beloved little one.  I remember with such fondness the first time I spoke those words of welcome to you, in late September of last year.  Since then, you have grown in our hearts just as you were growing in my womb.  And now, finally, the time has come for us to gaze at your beautiful face and to hold your precious body in our arms.  Welcome, welcome, welcome.

On June 27, you were born, and today, on the Fourth of July, you are a week old.  The spectacular fireworks that are being set off in the background as I type seem appropriate to celebrate the occasion.  Though, on the other hand, with your sweet, calm, sleepy newborn personality, a more fitting celebration may be cuddling and singing softly to you, which we’ve also been doing all day.

Even in this short week that we’ve shared together so far, there are so many stories.  My memory has been feverishly trying to capture and store every funny little expression that you make, every precious moment with friends and family, and every quiet time of gazing at your face while you nurse.  And I know that, in a way, my desire to remember every little thing is futile—there is just too much for my memory to hold it all.  But, there are some things I truly never will forget.  And these moments are woven together into a story—your story, and our story.  This story is one that I want to share with you, bit by bit, over the course of the coming weeks through these letters to you, and over the course of your entire life in many different ways and at various times.

But now, sweet baby Grace, we are both tired and it’s time to sleep.



Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Settling into Acceptance

When I first heard the idea, I couldn’t help but get excited.  A Spring Break adventure in Haiti with our fearless travel buddies!  The idea brewing was a trip to the beautiful South, backpacking through remote cloud forest known for rare orchids and wildlife, camping out on one of the loveliest beaches in the country.  What better way to spend a week off from work?
As we discussed details one Sunday night over sweet tea and peanuts, I was reminded of our Spring Break trip last year.  We hiked from outside Port-au-Prince over the mountains and to the southern coast of Haiti in a trek that was both grueling and cathartic.  There were two days of intense hiking through rugged mountains with packs.  The 16+ miles each day and a few thousand feet of elevation change left us exhausted and delighted when we finally made it to the coastal town of Marigot.  The few days that followed involved playing on the beach, swimming under a waterfall, and finding our way back to Port-au-Prince via public transport in lieu of hiking back over the mountains.

This year’s trip had the makings of an even more memorable and extreme adventure.  Nathaniel, the organizer, diligently made calls and gathered information, which can be a difficult task in Haiti.  He learned more about camping and hiking in the area from the overseer of the park, and even called the mayor of the beach town to make sure it was alright for us to camp there.  The pesky questions I asked were being answered and a solid plan was emerging.

And yet, as the days went by and the trip approached, I started feeling a sense of uneasiness instead of eager anticipation.  Even with a well-laid plan, concerns came into my mind.  Most of them pointed back to our little girl, expected to arrive in June.  What if I slipped on some loose rocks and took a hard fall like I had in Colorado in the summer?  Would she be okay?  What if I was injured and it took hours and hours to get to the hospital?  Would she be in danger?  What would hiking in tough terrain with a 30-pound pack be like while pregnant—it was usually fine, but would my body feel different now?  Would I hold the group up?  Was the open beach really a safe place to camp?  Would people assume that the “blan” had lots of cash and use the opportunity to rob us—or worse?  Questions spiraled around in my mind. 

In many ways, the risks involved in this trip were no greater than those of last year’s trip.  The only difference was me.  Gulp.  With that realization, guilt started to bubble in along with the questions.  Was I being too soft?  Have I allowed myself to view my healthy pregnancy as a disability or illness?  Was I being selfish and unreasonable to have these doubts about the trip?  Was I letting myself be controlled by my fears?  And, a little further under the surface, was motherhood going to be summed up in missing out on the fun stuff?

All of the questions kept churning in my mind.  They went around and around, like sand and water swirled together in a mason jar.  The view through the jar was murky at first, and there was little clarity.  But, as I quieted myself, thought and prayed, my anxiety let go of its undulating grip, and the jar was left to sit still for a little while.  Little by little, the questions settled to the bottom.  As they did, the water became clear.  In those moments of stillness, both the fear and the guilt seemed to subside.  The questions that had been stirring in me were not answered, but they somehow seemed less important.  

Out of the settling water, something new started to become clear.  A certain peace.  A kind of acceptance.  The frenetic movement of the noisy questions was replaced by a loving presence, whose voice I am grateful to know and recognize.  God’s words were not audible or distinct, but still seemed to say, “Be present in your life at this moment.  This daughter in your womb is a gift, not a burden or obstacle.  Honor her, who is growing within you.  Honor your husband, who is at your side.  Honor your own body, now the carrier of new life.  Allow yourself to accept this time of your life as beautiful and rich.”

From this place of listening, so much emerged.  Acceptance.  Compassion.  Renewal.  Joy.

Also, almost as an afterthought, a decision.  Our friends would travel without us this time.  Though it still stung to share the news with them, underneath, there was peace. 

Instead of the adventure to the South, Robbie and I put together our own plans, mostly at the last minute—a few days of rest in our apartment, then a few days alone together at a friend’s cabin in nearby mountains, with a finale of a couple of days at a local beach with friends.  The result was perfect—baking goodies, hiking for miles (I’m not dead, after all!), sunsets that made me gasp, quiet mornings of watching birds and leaves dance, playing cards by candlelight on cool evenings, laughter, walks on the beach, and falling asleep to the sound of the waves.
Yes, this is where we are right now.  And now more than ever, I can see, it’s beautiful.

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