Saturday, January 30, 2010

New Life

Seventeen days ago, the niece of one of our Haitian Snack Shop cooks died on our school soccer field from internal injuries sustained during the massive earthquake. 

This morning at 8:10 am, a healthy baby girl was born in our school music room, right under the bulletin board describing the treble clef.

Let me back up just a moment.

I woke up, feeling much better after two days of very, VERY ill. I gingerly got ready to teach. I headed over to the chapel where all grade levels are meeting each morning for singing, prayer, and short devotions.
They sang
"this is the day, this is the day
that the Lord has made, that the Lord has made
I will rejoice, I will rejoice
and be glad in it, and be glad in it".
They sang it in a cute round, standing up when it was their turn to sing.

After chapel, I have about two hours until it's time to teach my first class- 7th and 8th grade English. I went up the command center to use the computer to create new syllabuses (syllabi?) for the second time this month. On the way to the command center I hear the news....

a woman's in labor in the music room!

Not ten minutes later, little Thalina is born.
This is what my mother and I like to call "one freshly hatched baby"! Not one hour old! She's very healthy and mom and baby are now resting comfortably (still in the music room, mind you!), not 100 yards from where 175 doctors are ready to care for them.
The full story is this: QCS staff member Els Vervloet was working the overnight shift in the command center that is coordinating all our relief efforts (answering emergency phone calls, etc). Around 2 am, one of our Haitian guards comes to her and say that one of the Haitian women living on our campus (in the art and music rooms and adjoining porch/outdoor areas) is pregnant and is "having pain". Els goes to the woman, learns her name is Vanessa, and times that the contractions are really contractions and are about 7 minutes apart. She goes to wake a German doctor, and they try to figure out 1) if there are any midwives/OB's staying here, and, once they discover there is a midwife 2) where the heck she is sleeping among this Elementary Building/anthill of tents, sleeping bags, sleeping docs, and equipment sprawled everywhere. Somehow they find her and wake her. By the time morning came, the labor was progressing, but the first-time mother was becoming tired and discouraged. At this point, our school nurse Miquette joined in. When it was time to push, the baby was born within 15 minutes- and Els, the midwife, and Miquette were there for the whole joyous entrance of little Thalina.

Els is in LOVE! Els kept saying, "it's the day before my 48th birthday, and I've waited 48 years to be part of a birth!". Happy birthday, Thalina, and Happy birthday, Els! When I went in to see Vanessa and her baby, there were about 30 people in the music classroom, passing the baby around- not one hour after her birth! About 20 of them were kids. Vanessa was lying in the corner on the floor (beneath the aforementioned treble clef bulletin board- the whole contrast of the birth/elementary music classroom was pretty crazy to me) on some towels and sheets, looking happy and proud and tired. She had an IV in her arm. I've been to the hospital the day my friends the Bowlins had their precious kids Olivia and Jack, and the contrasts were so striking. No hospital, no nursing staff hovering, no children-kept-out, no hospital bed, no wall-mounted hand sanitizer every 25 inches, no "four guests at a time" or visiting hours, no whisked-away-for-APGAR-testing to the nursery, no incubator, no birth certificate, no little pink-or-blue hat.....

Little Thalina's birth was probably a lot closer to what Jesus' was like than anything I've seen before!

While checking on baby Thalina I got a quick update on Quincy - the little boy with the broken femur that I was so concerned about the night of the quake. He is no longer in traction or attached to a catheter. Today I saw him sitting in a chair with a thigh-to-ankle hard cast on one leg (the left one, the one we thought had the femur fracture). There were signatures on his little cast:) I love that that's a cross-cultural trend. His eyes were still pretty black, and he looked thin- we'll continue to pray for Quincy. I originally guessed he was about 3, but it turns out he is 5- it's hard to guess kids' ages in Haiti because I'm used to what American-fed kids' sizes are. Praise God that he is healing.
Also, in other joyful news, happy birthday to little Kyle Varnell, born to my sweet Buckner friend Jill just yesterday - welcome to this world, Kyle!

And then, after all that, I had to go teach two classes. I mean, I was excited to teach, but it was quite a high to be a part of that joy. Felicitales, mama Vanessa.

Corrigan Clay, a real true friend and mentor to Ben and I since we arrived here, is now teaching the seniors for all their courses. Five were in class today, with a few more arriving next week I hear.
 The last hour of the day is intended for homework, so the kids don't have to take work home if they use that time wisely. Today, a group didn't have any homework, so I decided to teach them Chickenfoot, game-of-choice of the Blankenship/Kilpatrick clan! Thank you, Gran and Poppy, for teaching me to play! Here are my students Stephanie, Marlee, Maika, Ebony, and Raphael tallying the scores after a round. They really got into the game! It really helped me see some personality aspects that weren't coming out as quickly in the classroom.
The best part of my day, each day, is reading your notes and knowing we are prayed for. 
Team, you are irreplaceable.



  1. Katie

    Glad you're feeling better.

    Beth's Dad in Tennessee

  2. Wow, Katie. I always, always cry when I read your blog. Thanks so much for the photos of my kids. I miss them so much. This IS the day that the Lord has made - it doesn't look like what we expected at all but we WILL rejoice and be glad in it.

    And the baby! So wonderful.

  3. At Christmas, we once again heard the story of Jesus birth. Coming to Earth in such a humble way, the shabby stable or cave, with no hint of any conveniences. Your description of Thalina's birth and then the joy of all the 'shepherds' was so beautiful. Thanks to God for giving you a piece (and peace) of beauty in such chaos.

  4. Katie,
    Its been a cold, pretty nasty, wet end of the week this week in North Texas. As I've prayed for you the last few days days, during your sickness, I've had this recurring image of the little spring bulbs that grow in yards here in the spring. You know those random little yellow or white ones that come real early on when its still dark & feels like winter. Then I've wondered what kind of little flowers will rise from the ground & ruins in Haiti. It reminds me of Matthew & God's promises to us that we are so much more even than the lilies He clothes in such splendor. Your blog today is one of those little patches. He promises there will be more. I still feel very called to pray for you & all of Haiti even though I found you by a DMN link. He is so very present in our times of trouble. "This is the day, this is the day that the Lord has made, that the Lord has made, I will rejoice, I will rejoice and be glad in it, and be glad in it".
    Glad you are feeling better. Vicky

  5. Love reading your blogs. A friend of mine stumbled onto your blog one day and turned me onto it. I have been reading everyday since. I pray for you guys and for Port O Prince. You inspire me.

  6. Hi Katie,

    The best part of MY day each day is reading YOUR blog. You write so beautifully and bring such a sweet perspective to what I am sure is still pure craziness. I am encouraged and inspired everytime I read it (with tears I might add!). I am amazed and thankful too that you have been able to start school again. You will always have a special bond with your students having shared in something no one else could fully comprehend. I pray for all of you as you move forward with the school year and again, I truly believe that God led you to Haiti for those students because I am certain that you and Ben both have just the right measure of love and insight and humor to help them cope with their new "normal". Thank you for sharing your journey with us!

    Alway praying!
    Love you both!

  7. Hey Katie (and Ben),
    I think I found your blog through a friend on FB. My hubby and I are both from TX, met at Baylor, and attended Antioch. I'm thinking and praying for ya'll. I love reading your blog and hearing about what it is really like down there. I know that even though there is much tragedy and heartache, I know you will remember (maybe even with fondness) the primal need --> (God's) provision immediacy of life that you are living in right now.

    Also- I loved reading the birth story. I had a homebirth 2 months ago and everytime I look back on it, I think this is how it should be. Keep the updates coming as it is a highlight of my day as well!!

    Bree in Denver, CO

  8. What a beautiful reminder that God gives and He takes away and every day is a day our Lord has made...a day to rejoice and praise His name. I continue to be amazed at the innocent, yet steadfast, faith of the Haiti people and your blogs capture that faith so beautifully. Thank you for sharing. I continue to pray for you and am glad you are feeling better.

  9. What amazing things you continue to experience and share with us! And it's so cool to be able to praise God for the miracle of birth AND chickenfoot at the same time!!! God is SO BEYOND our way of thinking, yet he blesses us in huge and tiny ways!

    I know you will never know how many people are praying for you and Haiti through reading your blog, but I wanted to remind you that it is A LOT! My mom in Louisiana reports to me how people she has shared your blog with have been impacted... and at church I hear people chatting about your latest posts frequently. You are on everyone's mind, and you are bringing attention to Haiti and Glory to God with every story shared!

    I also wanted to comment on what a FABULOUS image Vicky shared above - of the buds of beauty God is popping up even amidst the pain and suffering there!! And, just like here when we are busy with our lives and we pass by those little yellow and white flowers without notice of their beauty, so too it could be there... Busy with relief efforts, caring for the wounded, feeding the hungry, strategizing and planning for what lies ahead - all that could easily get in the way of the seemingly small miracles and glimmers of hope if you let it. You both are doing so well at seeing God in the little and the big things. Keep it up, and spread that perspective as far as it can go!

    As always, we love you and are proud of you and are praying!
    -Kim :)

  10. Don't know you guys personally but found your blog through mutual friends. I teach with Amber McAvoy and know some of your Richardson YL contacts. As a US History teacher and YL leader I have used your blog in class and discussion with kids and serving. God bless you both for what you are doing and thank you for sharing it with us. You are in our prayers.

    Michael & Michele Cone

  11. Katie...this is Ashleigh Nolen from Baylor... I wanted just send a quick note to say I am praying for you and your hubby. I have shared you amazing story with many friends as well as my students, and many of them are praying for you too! Take care

  12. Hey guys - been reading your post everyday and been prayin for ya! Just got smart enough to figure out how to post a comment. Thank you for what you are doing and for letting us share in your adventure by posting. We've been sharing your story with our kids and what a teaching/learning challenge that has been. I pray for your health and your spirits. Certainly more challenges ahead but I know a lot more blessings! I can't think of a better example of someone being placed somewhere by God "for such a time as this." Hang in there and let us know what you need. We're ready to help.

    - David & Shannon Dugger

  13. I found you from Ruth's blog a week or two ago and have been reading (and learning, and enjoying) since. What a thrilling birth story! And for what it's worth, my family calls that game Chicken Scratch. :^)

  14. Katie, this is Debbie Dittrich from Dallas. The woman whose friends you were trying to help get 2 little children out of the country. Been praying for you and so glad you are feeling better. Your blog is amazing, as are you. I so hope we meet some day. Our friends are doing pretty well. We have a team from Austin there now and they want to go to your school, while they are there.

  15. Katie-
    My name is Nikki and I met you at the November Women's Council meeting. I had just signed on to help co-host the Young alumni Cheer event. I want you to know I have been praying for you and your husband. I was so relieved to hear you were safe after the quake. I showed all the teachers at my school the video of the little boy singing Jesus Loves Me, there was not a dry eye in the room. I anxiously await your blog posts. Your hisband's stories are hilarious, a little humor in the middle of this is sometimes what you need. I am praying for strength, wisdom, and for God's hand to continue to be upon y'all and the team. I will specifically be praying for guidance and discerment as you start teaching. I can only imagine the task that is, so encouraging to see so many children came back! If there is anyway we can help please let us know. My class of 16 kindergartners would love to raise money or send supplies.
    Also y'all may already know this but the Men's Basketball Team beat Texas in OT in Austin yesterday. SIC EM BEARS!!!
    You are in my prayers.
    Nikki Weiss



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