Friday, January 28, 2011


Pregnant women come waddling into the maternity center.

They are weighed.

Some of our ladies struggle to gain weight.  It's hard to look them in the face, with worry in our eyes, and say..."We know it's hard, but if there is any way you can eat must."

We take their temperature and blood pressure.

Pulses are high.  Lots of our women are poorly hydrated.  Dehydration causes many issues in pregnancy.  We beg them to drink every chance they get.  I always think about how hard it must be to be pregnant in this country.  The heat.  Lack of water.  Lack of food.  No comfortable place to lay your head.  Tons of walking.  We beg them to drink water, knowing many of our ladies don't have access to clean water or the money to buy it.  The more they drink, the more they have to use the bathroom.  It wouldn't surprise me if none of our ladies have toilets in their homes.  I'm reminded every week that nothing is easy here.  Nothing.

For the pregnant women who are due for exams, Tara plays with their pee does lab work.

All of our ladies are anemic.  Most are severely anemic.
Protein is expensive. We see poverty's effects in the lab each week.
It shows up in blood work and urine analysis.

The ladies eat a high protein meal together.

They drink high calorie/protein shakes and get their prenatal vitamins for the week.

We have girls that are young...who should be giggling with their sisters at home or braiding each other's hair.  Instead...they are alone and pregnant.  High risk pregnancies.  Too young with bodies that are not ready to birth a baby.

We see older women.  Lucille Pierre is 52.  This is her twelfth pregnancy.  And yet she's happy she is about to have a new baby.  She loves her husband and family.  She's one of the sweetest parts of our program.  Pure joy.  She's my favorite.  Shh.  Don't tell anyone.  Can you imagine being pregnant at 52?  I'm trying.  No.  Nope.  I can't.

The women come to class where they learn about a variety of topics.  Fetal development.  Nutrition.  Breastfeeding.  The importance of drinking water and taking vitamins.  Sex education.

And sometimes Beth gets up there and shares with them through passionate tears that God desires to use them...these change Haiti.  He wants to use them to raise Godly children who will one day change their country.  She reminds them that they are important.  They can influence others.  They can share knowledge.  God can use them to change their communities.  "You are not powerless.  You are not a victim.  You are important.  You...You...YOU can bring about change in your country."  I'm usually a snotty mess when Beth finishes.

We see 15 year old girls who are about to be mothers.
Enisse recently moved into the Harbor House.  She'll need a lot of prayer as she transitions into this new home and makes new friends.  You can follow along with what is going on at the Harbor House at Tara's blog.

The ladies who are due for exams are seen by talented midwives who love, respect, and care for them.

When they are due for an appointment on Thursdays each woman gets individual attention.

Isn't Beth hot beautiful?

We are given glimpses into these women's stories.  "My dad made me marry this guy.  He made me.  Then the man got me pregnant and left me."  The heartbreak never ends. 

We pray.  We ask God to do the impossible.  Sometimes we flat out beg Him.
A lot of other things go on every Thursday.  Woman stuff.  We do things that should not be talked about on a blog and throw around words that would make you blush.  They make me blush.

Women helping and loving other's an intimate, complex, personal thing we do at Heartline.  No men are allowed.  Every week I marvel at this maternity center.  This building filled with vulnerable women...all of us...the Haitian women and the "blans."  Insecure.  Unsure.  Trying to learn how to be women and take care of each other and ourselves.  Striving to be honest.  Wanting to respect one another.  To learn from each other.  To be a friend.  To love.  To help lighten the load. To never judge.  To be slow to speak.  Quick to listen.  To extend grace.  To pour out truth.  To encourage.  To be firm.  To stand firm.  To laugh.  Weep.  Pray.

Every week I am honored to serve with one of the most beautiful groups of women.  When we're all in one room talking, laughing, or bawling our mascara off, I still find myself wondering why God has been so gracious to include me in what He is doing through Heartline.  I find myself whispering to the Lord..."How did I get here?"  I really don't know, and I will never understand it, but I could not be more grateful for this undeserved gift.


Cami Franklin said...

I'm going for my annual exam on Monday. I say that and I roll my eyes because it's never any fun to go. But I read this and I am thankful. Thankful to have the medical care that I need - Thankful to have had two healthy children with very uncomplicated pregnancies. Thankful for God's grace and compassion to be here in America. And thankful for people like you who are honest and help to open our eyes to the difficulties of others. We really don't have a clue. Thanks Heather for allowing God to use you in such a powerful way. I think of you and pray for you daily.

Lara said...

Those women are so beautiful. Reading about them reminds me that we are all dearly loved by our Savior.

It's also coincidental that I just ordered a purse from Haitian Creations!

Talley Images said...

Wow, are those women and girls not absolutely beautiful.. thank you for telling them that and that they can make a difference.

Diana said...

Thank you for sharing God's work going on! How heartening! I just found your blog and I will be following.

Rachel said...

Oh what sweet words....

Trying to learn how to be women and take care of each other and ourselves. Striving to be honest. Wanting to respect one another. To learn from each other. To be a friend. To love. To help lighten the load. To never judge. To be slow to speak. Quick to listen. To extend grace. To pour out truth. To encourage. To be firm. To stand firm. To laugh. Weep. Pray.

Every week I am honored to serve with one of the most beautiful groups of women. When we're all in one room talking, laughing, or bawling our mascara off, I still find myself wondering why God has been so gracious to include me in what Heartline is doing. I find myself whispering to the Lord..."How did I get here?" I really don't know, and I will never understand it, but I could not be more grateful for this undeserved gift."

I know that was a long copy and paste from your blog but as you left for Haiti I remember thinking to myself...."hmmm I can't wait till the days comes when I hear these words....why God, why did you choose me, why I am so blessed to get to do this"

I know that being in Nicaragua is not like Haiti. However, I was there long enough to experience just what you are. "Wow, God you choose to use me to do this, AMAZING!"

All the other "sacrafice" is so worth it! I can't wait to be in it again.....

Tasha Via said...

That is so beautiful! I love that these women get to be taken care of and that they are taught what they hold inside of them and who the Creator is.

ELC said...

I am so happy to have found your blog. You are doing what God calls us to do--to be His hand and feet--and are advancing His Kingdom in a real and powerful way. Bless you!

meagan said...

I simply cannot read these posts about Heartline without tears in my eyes, and a longing in my heart to say goodbye to this life I have and march myself to the first airplane I find that's heading to Haiti.
I've been reading your blog for quite awhile -- not sure I've ever commented before (I'm a career lurker) -- and I cannot explain the way I long to be a part of this ministry that is such a tangible way to be the hands and feet of our Savior to these beautiful women and their babies.
I cannot, in my comfy heated home on a nice quiet street, even begin to known the ways that your life got exponentially harder when you moved to Haiti. But I can say with certainty that you are to be where you are and do what you do for these women.
And if I ever find an unattended plane just sitting around...

Ashley said...

Thank you for writing. It is my heart's desire to come and serve these women some day. Thank you for being brave enough to follow God's calling and go. Please let them know that there are many women and mothers here in the US praying for them each and every day as well.

Michelle said...

Every post about this ministry, makes me cry. It just makes me tear up with gratitude to the Lord for what my country has. Thank you for sharing what God is doing in Haiti.

Marci said...

I LOVE heartline! Seriously, it is my favorite all time ministry! I pray for you often and LOVE to hear how you love women, glorify God and build up Haiti!!!
Thank you for sharing!

John said...

Amazing ladies, all of you.

Jen said...

Hi Heather,
I've never left a comment on your blog before, though I've been reading it for a while. I came across your blog through Jen Bacak's (I don't know her well, but our husbands did their residencies together). My husband and I have a deep love for Haiti and her beautful people; I even got to stay in the Heartline Guest House in Novemeber on my way through PAP.
Anyways, I read a verse this week and have been daily praying it over the women of Heartline. "He tends His flock like a shepherd: He gathers the lambs in His arms and carries them close to His heart; He gently leads those that have young," or in another version "He gently leads the nursing ewes." (Isaiah 40:11) What a beautiful picture of God's tender care for these young mama's and thier little ones.
Blessings to you and your family. The Lord has used you to open the eyes of many to His heart for the lost and broken.
Jen Whitmarsh

Claire Elise said...

Heather, I have not forgotten y'all over there, I have just been keeping up on Google Reader and forget to leave comments! You are in our prayers and we both think that all that y'all are doing over there is amazing. And now that we have a little one, we are even more grateful for your work with heartline--inspired actually! Let's just say that The Walkers are praying for God to do big things in Haiti through you guys (and maybe through us?!?!). We love you so very much!

Sara said...

This is just heart wrenching, but at the same I wish I was there to help in some, small,itty bitty way. You women are speaking in the Spirit. God Bless ya'll and God Bless those Haitian women.

Heidi said...

These women are so inspiring! I can't get over their resilience and their ability to love, laugh, and overcome despite it all. Thank you for so graciously sharing your experience, so that we can become more aware. What a blessed community of women!

yellowgirl said...

the verse jen quoted was my theme verse for our birthing clinic which we had from 1990-2005 here in the Philippines (metro manila). we delivered about 5000 plus babies over those 15 years. an average of almost a baby a day. you guys are doing what we did, but i do believe in an even tougher setting. God bless you.

Sharon said...

Dearest Heather,

I have been following your blog for awhile. I am currently serving in Haiti. My 1 year contract will end on April 30th. You and your family truly inspire me.


mandi said...

Thank you for giving us a glimpse of what goes on. The work that is being done there is incredible. And I'm thankful for all that you guys are doing. And for those moms- for choosing to come to Heartline and get prenatal care.

I love the way God writes His story for our lives. So unexpected. So much better than we could ever ask for.

Marla Taviano said...

Thank you, thank you, thank you for sharing this, Heather. God has really laid Heartline on my mind and heart.

Going to e-mail you about what we chatted about earlier (women in the States praying for women in Haiti, week by pregnant week).

Praying, praying, praying for those precious mamas!

mbs said...

As I listened to James McDonald's message on the "radio" (computer :-) this morning about what the word "fellowship" really means, biblically - I thought immediately of what you ladies have at Heartline! Pure, biblical, gospel-serving fellowship. What a sweet gift that is.

Blessings for you today (Tues.) as you go back to those beautiful young moms at HH.