Category Archives: Haiti

Status Update

I haven’t posted many exciting things that we’ve done this week as there has been a lot going on, but I thought I’d give an update on our “spending freeze”/Haiti fundraiser project.  First of all, I’d say the spending freeze went very well.  Brian and I even went on a date on Tuesday night as we needed a night alone and couldn’t go out tonight for our anniversary.  While we did “spend” money, we were able to pay for dinner entirely with a gift card we had from awhile back and afterward we went shopping for some things for Tallinn’s party and only spent less than $5 as Brian had also won a VISA gift card from work.  I’ve felt a bit like Winona Ryder on Reality Bites this week, using her father’s gas card to buy food in the gas station food mart, offering to pay for other people with her father’s card to get cash….perhaps because we have been a little sneaky still “spending” in a sense.  Or, it could just be called “resourcefulness”.  I think I’m going to call it that.

For our Haiti fundraising the kids earned a total of $55 for the bake sale, chores for chickens money and doing their daily chores.  Combine that with the $75 I saved (roughly) from not buying extra things or even groceries and we have $130 for Haiti.  This will help buy Pur Water Packets, food and necessities.  Not bad for a week! 

Today I had several thoughts about Haiti and raising money for things. As a family, we have several ministries we are passionate about and for the kids’ birthdays this year we decided to choose a ministry to raise money for instead of gifts from friends. (Along with that we also do a “toy trade” where everyone brings a small toy and draws a number and each child goes home with a toy.)  This weekend, Tallinn is celebrating his 6th birthday and he has a sweet heart for the Free Wheelchair Mission and decided to raise money for that fabulous ministry.  I love that FWM is also raising money for Haiti and Tallinn got so excited to get their recent newsletter with Haiti pictured on the front. 

There are so many needy people in this world and we have so much to give!  As we finished our spending freeze and I jumped right back into our normal shopping, I was reminded tonight after feeling “very full” after dinner that this small exercise should be more than that and I want to continue to be intentional and aware of how I spend money and use it instead to help those who have nothing. 

Tomorrow night I’m hoping to make a Haitian/Creole dinner, but, with Tallinn’s party approaching, I can’t make any promises.

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Cheap Art

Okay, so with this spending freeze has also come a halt in my buying of art supplies. But honestly, we do have quite a bit and didn’t really need much for this week, especially as it’s been more of a fundraising week.

So, coloring has been the “art” of choice and I found several pages of Haitian people/images on www.rainbowkids.org, an EXCELLENT site on adoption featuring children who need forever families.  They have fun coloring pages for many children of the world and Tallinn spent about 40 minutes coloring several of them yesterday.

(I actually think they’re quite beautiful!)

We also spent some time watching pictures/videos of the earthquake damage…then and now videos as well as actual videos of the earthquake in progress.  Tallinn was really interested and I don’t believe in completely shielding my children from reality, especially as where we live isn’t really “reality” for much of the world.  Then, we found a few YouTube videos of Haitian dancing. 

Now, I do have one confession….as we are running on bare necessities I gave in and had Brian get me some frozen yogurt last night.  I caved, I know, it’s terrible, I couldn’t even make it through a week, but I am trying and am proud of other things I haven’t bought and I didn’t actually “buy” this, Brian did and as he has said “he” didn’t sign up for the spending freeze, I did :).  Such justification, I know.  At least I have been coming up with some “healthy” resourceful meals with what we have left.  Last night we had spinach spaghetti with a garlic cream sauce and broccoli.  I even snuck in some crushed red pepper and the kids ate it all the same.  Before my yogurt indulgence we all had mango for “dessert”…shh! Don’t tell that I had the good stuff, although mango is always quite delicious.  We did say last night that it would be a good idea to do “spending freezes” more often.  Think of the money we could save for those who really need it.  Thankfully, we’ve saved quite a bit this week and I’ll be excited to count it up at the end of the week and see what we can send to Haiti!

Herbs for Haiti Sale…..and Snickerdoodles

So, today we did a little bake sale/herb sale for Haiti.  Yes, I did send Brian to the store to buy some sugar and butter as we also ran out of that.  Other than that, I feel pretty proud of myself for not having bought anything yet during this spending freeze.  Tonight we had friends for dinner, too and managed to pull it off with just a little help from them—a couple of cheeses for a frittata–otherwise, we used lots of greens from the garden, sage for a honey-sage cornbread and leftover snickerdoodles for dessert. 

My sweet friend Amanda even brought a couple of gallons of milk along, knowing that we still have a few days left….oh yes, and a FRAPUCCINO!  Thank you, Amanda!  Last night I dropped several major hints that turned slightly into begging for Brian to pick up some frozen yogurt.  Thankfully, he just cashed out on the couch or I would have given in and not held true to the “spending freeze”.  It’s actually been pretty fun to come up with innovative meals and  ways to get around spending money.  Yesterday, I made a chicken salad for lunch using broccoli, toasted almonds, cabbage, golden raisins, pink lady apples, red onions, a little mayo, apple cider vinegar and sugar.   My parents had provided us with some English muffins the other day as they had what seemed like 40 packages from Costco with only two people to eat it.  So, chicken salad with English muffins it was and it really was delicious!

Today, however, we couldn’t get around not spending anything, at least not with a bake sale approaching.  While Brian went to the store, I gathered lots of herbs from our garden, as they are doing insanely well, and grouped them into little bundles with twine.  Because of our compost bin, we  also have several little shoots of new plants coming into our garden–mostly tomatoes and zucchini–and we just don’t have the space.  I had purchased some plantable mini-pots at the 99 cent store not long ago and put a little plant into each one.

Sage Bunches

Mini Zucchini and Tomato Plants

 Then, the kids got into their aprons and hats and we got to work in the kitchen, baking, baking, baking. 

While the little ones took naps, Tallinn and I made some “Help for Haiti” signs and got everything ready to go.

Altogether we made $21, which brings our total up to $49, one dollar away from the $50 goal we initially started with!!!  The kids have been earning their dollars each day, faithfully doing their chores and if they keep it up we might even be able to give $50 for a food packet and $20 for another pur water packet.  Considering we’ve only being doing this since Wednesday, I’m quite proud of my sweet kids.  We even have some leftover snickerdoodles that we can sell tomorrow afternoon and definitely have more herbs, too!  Hopefully it will be warmer because it was quite chilly today.

Tap-tap

It’s amazing what you run out of when you’re in the middle of a spending freeze.  Take for example sugar….hmm? Not exactly sure how we’re going to do a “Haiti bake sale” without the much-needed key ingredient: sugar.  Honey?  We’ll see how this goes, but I might have to succumb and go get some sugar.  If someone is quite prepared ahead of time for a spending freeze, the running out of sugar problem would never exist because they would have calculated how much they need for the week and pre-purchased accordingly.  I however, am not that prepared person, rather I fly by the seat of my pants and make rash decisions to halt all spending in the middle of the week with no forethought.

Fortunately, I can be fairly resourceful.  So, even though I was just informed this morning that tonight we are bringing dinner to our friends who just had a baby, I think I can pull it off without buying anything (although they may have a honey-sweetened dessert). Or, as Brian did point out, HE is not doing the spending freeze so he could pick up something if need be. Thanks, honey, a coffee treat would be great, too :). (Don’t worry, I’m still going to make dinner.)

And, fortunately again, I was prepared for some Haitian activities, including the reading of a fabulous book I bought awhile back for this special week, called “Tap-tap”.  I loved this sweet story about a little Haitian girl, Sasifi, who helps her mother carry oranges in a basket on her head all the way to the market to sell them, all along wishing she could ride the local “tap-tap”.  Because they do not have the money, they are forced to walk and her feet grow tired and then they spend the rest of the long day selling their harvest.  Since they do rather well, Sasifi’s mother buys her a hat and gives her a little change to buy a treat, but instead of buying something tasty to eat, she uses her money for a “tap-tap” ride home.  On the way home, she discovers why this little truck is appropriately named “tap-tap”.

Inspired by the sweet watercolor illustrations of palm trees in this story, we painted our own watercolor palm trees afterward.

Spending Freeze

Okay, so this “not spending money” thing is proving to be much more difficult than I thought.  Good thing we’re starting off small with just a week because I’ve wanted to do this for an entire month before and now I am getting a taste of what it might be like.

First of all, the kids had swimming lessons today and they need new goggles.  For some reason we arrived a bit late and didn’t have time to get the goggles first.  SAVED!  Money not spent…this week anyway.  Also, we are now out of bread for lunch and I am fully aware that I could be making it, but, as I am super last minute in my preparations, I wasn’t ready for lunch today.  And, we often grab a slice of pizza at my favorite pizza place for lunch on Thursdays after swimming.  However, my wonderful parents just came home last night from a long vacation and were eager to see the kids and treated us all to lunch. Yes!  Money not spent again.  Maybe I can do this….and then there is the next reality….our anniversary, next Thursday, and I need to buy Brian a gift.  I already know what I’m getting him and it is something special that I know he needs and I can’t really get around not spending money on it.  I’ll have to deal with that in the next few days.

My last issue is coffee, I am terribly addicted and do drink it every morning and we are running low.  But then I had a brilliant idea…gift cards!  We got a few in our Easter baskets and I think if I use those I won’t have to spend a dime.

Wow, this really might be possible, aside from the anniversary gift thing….oh yes, and there’s Tallinn’s birthday party….hmm?  At least I’m trying….and thinking of the people in Haiti and how all these things that are so readily at my disposal I take for granted almost everyday.

One Pur Water Packet

Well, we are already off to a great start with our fundraising.  We gathered up all the chores for chicken change and counted it…for a total of $9.  For the past several months I’ve been saving our recycling money just for extra change/whatever.  When I counted our recycling money we had just over $14.  After looking up some different ways to raise money for Haiti this morning, I found that World Vision (a trusted source for us) had some different options at dollar amounts I felt we could reach.  So, we decided to use $11 of the recycling money and bring our total to $20, just enough money to buy one pur water packet through World Vision!

Chores for Chickens Containers

Haiti Collections Bank-Wrapped in Haitian Flag

Inspired to show my kids a tangible way to help and see their money adding up, I created a little graph using the Haitian flag as the center and putting different dollar amounts on the side with pictures showing what each amount could purchase.

 

Besides teaching the kids about helping others and using their money to make a difference, this activity proved to be a GREAT math lesson.  We worked on counting by tens with dimes and they learned that 10 dimes=$1.00.  It was a great start into money math and I feel like a good entry point.  (Yes we’ve learned about this before, but this time it sunk it a little better.)

Tallinn excitedly collecting coins!

Later today I ran into a lady from church and she shared that there is another lady from our church  in Haiti helping with our partner church there and she is going to get us connected so the kids can send letters and perhaps find some other small ways to help financially!  Love it!!!

This Week’s Verse:

And if you spend yourselves in behalf

of the hungry

and satisfy the needs of the oppressed,

then your light will rise in the darkness,

and your night will become like the noonday.

Isaiah 58:10

The Aftermath

Our journey has just turned quite sober.  We have arrived in a land filled with great destruction and devastation, where the need is unimaginable and we often don’t know what to do in order to help, or even where to begin.  This is a trap that so many people find themselves in in the midst of unfathomable statistics (143 million orphans, 30,000 children dying each day from preventable causes…).  It is a scary place to say “I’m willing to help” even in just a small way.

When the earthquake hit, I thought about doing a detour  and visiting and learning about Haiti right away, but as I pondered about it a bit more, I was reminded that often in a crisis many people show up right away to offer help and shortly after forget about the great need that continues to exist.

So here we are, in Haiti.  We’re not sure where this week will lead, but we’re going to hope and pray and believe that any efforts we can think of to offer help and encouragement will be met by those who need to be reminded that God loves them and people across the world still care.

When we learned about Ethiopia I didn’t want to focus on the poverty as much but remind my children of all that great nation has to offer.  This week will not be different in that aspect, however, there is no getting around this tragedy in Haiti and I believe my children need to see people who are struggling and learn how to offer a hand.

This morning we spent awhile talking about Haiti and thinking of ways we can potentially help.  Granted the idea of coming up with grandiose plans in one week seem a little far-fetched, so we’re taking it day-by-day, with small steps, simple ways we can help.  Personally, I’m also feeling very convicted that this begins with me, so I’m planning on doing a “spending hold” for the week and seeing if we can make it on just what we have left in the fridge-no  coffee splurges, frozen yogurt, et…. The kids have been given a challenge that every day they do their chores, they get $1 (which is QUITE a lot for our kids) with the ability of making up to $10.  During Christmas-time we did a little “chores for chickens” challenge to help buy chickens for families in need.  Well, at the same time we ended up getting our sweet puppy Cocoa and things got very complicated and we didn’t finish the task, so the kids have decided to use that money now for Haiti as well.

If you have some great ideas for us, I’d love more!  Of course we might not be able to get to everything, but I’m open to everyone’s thoughts on this.  There will likely be a bake sale and we’re thinking maybe Meme and Papa would like some help around their house for some extra $ for Haiti as well.