Gotcha Day!

Today we finally picked up our sweet daughter, Rose Naicha Hubbell, to join our family forever. I don’t actually love the term “gotcha day” but that’s what it feels like right now. It was a very special day.

We flew to Haiti last night and were met by a family coordinator from our agency, America World. It was so great to finally meet someone from the awesome organization that walked us through the whole 2.5 year process. We rode to the guesthouse in the back of a tap-tap, an open air pick up truck common in Haiti! It was dusty and crazy hot and humid. We were so happy to relax there and dine with English speakers.

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So then after the America World staff all prayed over us we headed up the mountain to Kenscoff, where Chances for Children is located. We stopped at the grocery store to buy cakes for a goodbye party tomorrow. Once again I got suuuuper car sick on their roads. Had to shut my eyes, which stinks because I want to memorize everything for Rose’s sake, and still almost puked.

We were earlier than they expected so we waited a few minutes while a nanny got Rose dressed up for us, and then she walked out and I scooped her up. No smiles, no familiarity, just silent scared shock…which stands out when every other kid is smiling, acting goofy and begging to be held.

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We walked around talking and getting comfortable. At least she wasn’t terrified of Mike this time. Wary, yes, but she didn’t cry when he held her or I left the room. Eventually she fell asleep on my lap in the rocking chair.

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We were fortuate enough to meet Corrigan Clay, of the Apparent Project, and Zach Lee, of Alliance For Children, during this trip. Kathi Juntunen is in town too, which is great. C4C just opened an awesome medical clinic.

After awhile we left for the guesthouse, with Rose clinging to me for dear life. Driving through the public market in Fermathe is a sight to behold. Its a sea of bodies that barely move out of the way, only inches from the car.

Some snacks, a new dolly and especially a new outfit really perked Rose up. Her first real smiles and giggles came as I changed her diaper…she loves that! I practiced my Creole with her and understood a few words when she finally started talking. She ate a ton of chicken, rice and beans, and fried plantains for dinner. She is thrilled with her new sippy cup and sucks down as much water as she can.

Then it began to get dark and she seemed punchy, like silly tired. I put her in her pajamas and decided to try putting her in a kids bed with a rail next to the queen bed. She was laughing and playing and began to test the boundaries a bit. I tried laying down with her but that made it worse, she thought it was a game. So I walked out and left her with Papa in the room. She immediately crashed without another peep. Hooray!

Tomorrow is a big day of saying goodbye to all her friends and family at the orphanage. We have a party planned. We also hope our visa is ready so we can leave as scheduled on Wednesday! We are so grateful for all of your prayers and support thus far, and we can feel the Lord’s presence with us.

Gotcha Day!

Today we finally picked up our sweet daughter, Rose Naicha Hubbell, to join our family forever. I don’t actually love the term “gotcha day” but that’s what it feels like right now. It was a very special day.

We flew to Haiti last night and were met by a family coordinator from our agency, America World. It was so great to finally meet someone from the awesome organization that walked us through the whole 2.5 year process. We rode to the guesthouse in the back of a tap-tap, an open air pick up truck common in Haiti! It was dusty and crazy hot and humid. We were so happy to relax there and dine with English speakers.

20140818-201753-73073316.jpg

So then after the America World staff all prayed over us we headed up the mountain to Kenscoff, where Chances for Children is located. We stopped at the grocery store to buy cakes for a goodbye party tomorrow. Once again I got suuuuper car sick on their roads. Had to shut my eyes, which stinks because I want to memorize everything for Rose’s sake, and still almost puked.

We were earlier than they expected so we waited a few minutes while a nanny got Rose dressed up for us, and then she walked out and I scooped her up. No smiles, no familiarity, just silent scared shock…which stands out when every other kid is smiling, acting goofy and begging to be held.

20140818-203948-74388478.jpg

We walked around talking and getting comfortable. At least she wasn’t terrified of Mike this time. Wary, yes, but she didn’t cry when he held her or I left the room. Eventually she fell asleep on my lap in the rocking chair.

20140818-204422-74662581.jpg

We were fortuate enough to meet Corrigan Clay, of the Apparent Project, and Zach Lee, of Alliance For Children, during this trip. Kathi Juntunen is in town too, which is great. C4C just opened an awesome medical clinic.

After awhile we left for the guesthouse, with Rose clinging to me for dear life. Driving through the public market in Fermathe is a sight to behold. Its a sea of bodies that barely move out of the way, only inches from the car.

Some snacks, a new dolly and especially a new outfit really perked Rose up. Her first real smiles and giggles came as I changed her diaper…she loves that! I practiced my Creole with her and understood a few words when she finally started talking. She ate a ton of chicken, rice and beans, and fried plantains for dinner. She is thrilled with her new sippy cup and sucks down as much water as she can.

Then it began to get dark and she seemed punchy, like silly tired. I put her in her pajamas and decided to try putting her in a kids bed with a rail next to the queen bed. She was laughing and playing and began to test the boundaries a bit. I tried laying down with her but that made it worse, she thought it was a game. So I walked out and left her with Papa in the room. She immediately crashed without another peep. Hooray!

Tomorrow is a big day of saying goodbye to all her friends and family at the orphanage. We have a party planned. We also hope our visa is ready so we can leave as scheduled on Wednesday! We are so grateful for all of your prayers and support thus far, and we can feel the Lord’s presence with us.

Going to See About a Baby

It’s here, it’s here, the day is finally here!

2014-04-25 00.30.15 (1024x683)[2]About five years ago, God reached into my life and shook things up. He opened my eyes and made me see what following Jesus was really about, and set my life on a totally new path, in a completely new direction. Over time he did the same thing to my husband.

Two and a half years ago we decided to take a huge leap of faith and pursue adoption of a child from Haiti. Part of us really knew we were crazy, but it was pretty clear that this was something we were called to do. We also knew it would be a long time of waiting. We prayed a lot.

Over a year ago we got the name and picture of a scared and sick little girl, not even a year old. Our friends in Haiti had saved her life and were nursing her back to health but she needed a family to love her. We said yes. We prayed some more.

In February we traveled to Haiti to meet Miss Rosenaicha, and loved on her for a few days. We did all the governmental procedure stuff we had to do, and then we kissed her goodbye as she cried and promised we would be back for her. We prayed it would not be long.

Now finally, here in August, we are at the end of the beginning. Everything is done and her case has been approved by all the powers that be. All we need is a printed visa to fly home with her. We are leaving NEXT SUNDAY to go snatch her up into our arms forever.

I’m not excited or anything. (that’s sarcasm, in case you missed it) I can hardly believe it. There is also much fear and trepidation. She’s about to have her world turned upside. My life is about to get a whole lot busier.

In the meantime my friends have been awesome, showering me with much needed gifts and prayer and even donations for the orphanage! My boys and I have been having fun learning Creole via CD in the car. They are catching on quick.

So many things are falling into place. We need to pray that the US visa printing system, which has been not working right, will get us our visa in time for our flight home on the 20th. We also will pray that 3 hours is enough time to clear immigration in Miami. But most of all, we need prayers for our hearts. And by “we”, I most especially mean sweet Rose.

So thank you for your support and prayers to get us this far in the journey.

Dr. Stanley Marple Jr. (Feb. 4, 1920 – July 16, 2014)

My grandfather passed away last week. I had been caring for him and enjoying lots of time with him for the past six years. I will miss him dearly, but the struggles he and I faced together are over and a whole new chapter in my life has begun. 

My sister and I sat down together to write a eulogy but I’ll give her most of the credit since she’s the professional speech writer. She delivered it flawlessly to many laughs and tears. I felt strongly that more people need to hear it, to understand the kind of man he was, because we can all learn so much from his life. So please read on.  

StanleyMarple-16-2In preparing for this difficult moment, my sister Sarah and I have had the privilege to read some correspondence between our grandfather and grandmother Stan and Gladys.  One Valentine’s Day card stuck out in particular: It was as you would expect, from a person who has known his wife since he was 5 years old and who has faithfully given his life for her.  “To my loving wife” and it went on and on. But the best part was that just below his signature was the word “over.” So we turned the card over.  And then in his handwriting, it read “If you doubt my sincerity, just look at the price of the card.”

This one simple card sums up so much about our grandfather and the man you all knew and loved.  It so beautifully encapsulates his tremendous wit.  Stan Marple delivered great one liners that everyone enjoyed.  In particular, as he had some health struggles in these last years, the medical staffs at various hospitals and rehabs would fall in love with him because he kept them laughing.

Another reason this card struck a chord with us was that in a small way it speaks to the legacy he left of personal responsibility and fiscal stewardship.  As the son of a minister, a child among 5 siblings and someone who experienced the depression era, Stanley understood the value of hard work.  He was willing to do what it took to invest in things that matter, like working his way though both undergrad and the obtainment of his PhD.  You’ve heard it said that some people know the cost of everything and the value of nothing.

On the contrary, Stan Marple understood exactly what had value in this life.  He invested in a few key areas and the dividends paid off during his lifetime, the lifetimes of the two boys he loved so deeply and will continue throughout the lives of his grandchildren and even great grandchildren.

Stan’s top investment was in his family.  He leaves behind a legacy of faithful marriage.  In a world where marriage has become more about feelings and emotions than lifetime commitment and “till death do us part,” Stan modeled the role of  loving and dutiful husband so well, my sister and I watched it replicated in our father and we chose exactly those qualities in our spouses.  And on that day, when I married my husband, Stan wasn’t just there on the sidelines as a model of marriage, he stood in my dad’s stead and walked me down the aisle.   While we all felt the missing piece from my dad’s death, granddad was the glue that held the whole family together.

In a time where “mother in-law jokes run rampant,” as little girls we watched Stan care for Gladys’s mother even when Elin Farren no longer knew who he was or where she was.  In recent days, we watched this patient devotion repeat as he cared for his wife while she struggled with her memory.  Finally, at the spry age of 80, we watched Stan embrace new members of his family with joy when our Uncle Mel married Joan Moore and added her three children Jina, Beau and Buck. In some of his last moments the day before he died, he held his newest great grandson with such a smile and listened to Daniel’s laughter with delight.

While already mentioned, Stan invested in education.  Not just his own and not just in the usual way.   Yes, anyone who undergoes the academic rigor of a PhD at MIT clearly values education but there’s so much more to it.  Stan wanted everyone to understand the value of education and share his joy of learning.  I loved the twinkle in his eyes as my son Timothy would work through the math problems his great-grandfather presented.  He also funded the education of others, gave generously to the institutions that contributed to his education and taught Plant Design, Thermodynamics  and Physics at University of Houston.   But his love for learning wasn’t just books and classroom.  It was taking a job assignment in the Netherlands, being a member of Rotary, traveling the world, patroning the Ballet, Opera and Symphony and doing the daily crossword puzzle.

He also took great pride in the education of the ones he loved.  His smile was ear to ear when he learned his granddaughter Sarah was going to be an engineer and that she could go to any of the top programs in the country.  To top it off, she married an engineer and all of this gave him great pride that he expressed by showing her off to his Rotary Club.

The last significant investment Stan made that I want to mention is in the people around him.  Everyone has a story.  Stan was the guy who wanted to hear that story.  He believed in the value and dignity of every human being regardless of their station in life.  Whether the trashman or the waitress, Stan learned their name and asked them their story.  More than that, if your story had a need and he could help your need, he would.    He had a generosity that generated from the command to love one’s neighbor as oneself.  He worked to get to know each person at his beloved church Riverside UMC and the church where his father had been a minister, First Church of Weymouth. To each of you, he loved being apart of your lives.

Stan gave a wonderful autobiographical talk to his Rotary Club where he included everything from Shakespheare to how Shell’s research labs worked on making better wax coatings for ice cream.  He summed it up by listing several things they don’t teach in college (and here I thought MIT taught it all!).  A short list in his own words,

1) God is real, He will help you when you need Him.

2) Try to be positive. Negative pep talks are absolutely worthless.

3) Help the other guy.  It will make you feel good and your own work will also benefit.

4) If you have some important knowledge or ability, be eager to teach it to others.

In conclusion, I wanted to share some words to comfort us on this difficult day.  Granddad struggled, just like all of us, to understand pain in this life.  Quite possibly the most meaningful conversation I ever had with him was about this 2 summers ago in Boston when I had flown up to be with him because he had fallen and had severe head trauma.  Prior to heading into a scary surgery, he asked me the question of the ages. Why does God allow suffering?

I reminded him of the story of Jesus and how it was in fact the death of God’s only son and the suffering on the cross that allows those who surrender control of our lives to God to have eternity with a perfectly holy and loving God—that suffering is in fact a path to our salvation and that our trials are a path to more fully taking on the character of Jesus in our lives.   I shared with him many of the promises in Scripture such as, “In this world, there will be troubles, but take heart, I have overcome the world.”  It was a precious memory but today, I want to conclude by reading Stan’s own words regarding the suffering we feel today.

Earlier this week, I found a Sunday School lesson Stan wrote entitled, “When All Seems Hopeless.”  It begins by discussing 9/11 and cites scriptures out of Job, so you know it was heavy.  But in it, he writes this message I would suggest we all take to heart on this day when our souls are sad and we are searching for understanding.

“But God is good, not evil. He loves us.  Why? I don’t know.  But I am convinced of it.  God gave us his own son to tell us, ‘I love you, my children.’ And in the big picture, not restricted by earth’s bounds, everything will be all right.  I believe this.”

 

Grief, Peace, and Alzheimer’s Disease

The last few weeks have been eventful, to say the least. You may recall this post about my grandfather’s health deteriorating to the point he needed a hospital stay. They didn’t find anything acute but insisted he be discharged to a skilled nursing facility for rehab. I did my best in choosing the best one around, but things went from bad to worse once he got there. The doc there prescribed him with a steroid for pain in his foot and then three days later he literally lost his marbles, in an ugly way. gracecare2

He turned overnight from being the kindest, most loving and pleasant man you’d ever meet to being agitated, negative, depressed, throwing things, swearing and soliciting the other female patients. A total psychosis. It was a nightmare, and thankfully I was there and could advocate for him. Eventually I convinced them to stop the steroid and prescribe some antidepressants, but that took days. In the meantime he decided to stop eating and drinking entirely. It seemed very purposeful, that he was hastening his own death. After a week or so of this, with him growing weaker and sleepier all the time, the facility tried to intervene with a feeding tube and IV fluids. I refused both…well he really refused the IV fluids himself and I told them that was ok. He is 94, his outlook and quality of life right now were terrible, and if he wanted to be done suffering that was his choice. He was very clear to me previously and in his written health directive about prolonging his life.

I think the steroid finally left his system and the second type of depression meds kicked in, because he got nicer and started eating and doing PT again. But by this time he was so weak and not talking much. I talked to lots of nurses and other folks about hospice care and made the decision to move him into the memory care center where my grandmother is staying.

In the meantime, my grandmother is confused as can be and anxious about being in a new, unfamiliar place without her husband. But the folks at Autumn Leaves have been awesome and they keep her engaged in activities and happy in the moment most of the time. My friend Rhonda, who teaches my boys Sunday school at church, works at Autumn Leaves and has talked me through this whole process. She is fabulous with my grandmother.

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So now they are at least in the same place with loving, capable staff and a more homelike environment. Far less institutional. Gladys gets her hair and nails done there weekly and someone has obviously been helping her put her makeup on in the morning because she always looks gorgeous! The have separate rooms because Stan said he would feel better that way with a bit of space from her dementia related badgering. I’m sure she hates that, but at least they are together all day. She is visibly worried about his condition, not understanding why he is suddenly so weak and tired and irritable. But she’s content to sit and hold his hand as long as he’ll let her. He is fidgety with his hands, always has been.

Right now I have some sense of peace that they are where they should be to live out their days. I still feel anxious and guilty that I need to visit them often because I have a hard time fielding my grandmother’s incessant questions about why they are there. But it’s the right thing for sure. I have certainly been grieving the loss of my grandfather, even though he’s not gone yet. He is a wonderful, brilliant man. Among the most generous you’ll ever meet. I owe so much to him.